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Growing Calls For The Chairman Of The House Intelligence Committee To Recuse Himself From The Russia Investigation; President Says He Will Work With Democrats On Health Care; Trump Administration Is Cracking Down Undocumented Immigrants Who Have Lived In The U.S. For Decades. Aired 11:00-12:00mn ET
Aired March 27, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:02] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news. Growing calls for the chairman of the house intelligence committee to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Devin Nunes defending his visit to White House ground he said he had classified information that he claims suggests that Trump team's communications may have been picked up during surveillance of foreign nationals. Well tonight, the top Democrat on the committee says he has yet to see those documents and calls on Nunes to step aside from the Russian probe. Growing number of Democrats calling for him to step aside.
Let's go right to CNN's Evan Perez, justice correspondent.
Evan, what do you have?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, you know, there's been a lot of twists and turns in this story just in the last 24 hours. And of course towards the end of the day in an interview with Phil Mattingly, Adam Schiff, a top Democrat on the House intelligence committee said that one or suggested one reason why Devin Nunes, the chairman of that committee should step aside from this, is that the communications he's talking about, the intelligence reports he might be talking about may include his own name. You know the Devin Nunes served on the Trump transition as a member of -- as an advisor, Donald Trump's transition. He is on top national security advisor to the now President. And so, Devin Nunes might be conflicted according to Adam Schiff in his handling of the investigation.
Earlier in the day, obviously, Devin Nunes began the day by essentially outing his own source as being someone who he met with at the White House. That was an unusual statement today from Devin Nunes. We still don't really know exactly what intelligence reports he has talking about. One intelligence, one Republican on the hill who talked to Gloria Borger tonight said that one of the things that he might be talking about or reports has simply capturing foreign diplomats and foreign officials talking about their interactions with the Trump transition team, Don.
LEMON: And he still saying, Nunes is doing done nothing wrong despite those calls and recuse. But Evan, I want to talk to you about another big story that you are following for us tonight, previously undisclosed meeting took place between Jared Kushner and a Russian banker. Since we are getting varying explanations for what exactly took place. What do you know?
PEREZ: That's right. This is a bank called VEB. It's a very closely tied to the Kremlin and the Russian government. And Jared Kushner met with the president of the bank, the chief of that bank. His name is Sergey Gorkov (ph) and we have had various explanations as to exactly why he met with him.
According to the White House this was a simply a routine part of Jared Kushner serving as essentially the top conduit for meetings with foreign officials during the Trump transition. We now have seen a statement that was provided to "The New York Times" by the VEB bank. And Gorkov (ph). And they say that they met with Kushner in his capacity as a developer, as the President of his own development team in New York.
So the question is now what -- which story is it? We know that the White House has had trouble sort of explaining all these meetings with Russian officials. We have even tried to get to the bottom of this over the past week and they have tried sort of been very reluctant to provide all this information. But this could pose a new legal problem for Jared Kushner, Don. Simply because, you know, if he is using a transition meeting, a meeting, an official government meeting for his own business purposes, that could raise some legal questions for him and for the White House.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Evan. I appreciate that.
I want to bring in now Bill Kristol, the editor at large of "the Weekly Standard." CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, Betsy McCaughey, the former Republican lieutenant governor of New York. And political commentator Alice Stewart, a Republican strategist.
Good evening to all of you.
Betsy, what is your reaction on Evan's reporting?
BETSY MCCAUGHEY, FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR, NEW YORK: Well, first of all, I think it is shameful the effort on the part of the Democratic Party to taint, to smear Devin Nunes, a person of great integrity who has done something very important for this country. Not just for the Trump administration or the Republican Party. He is unmasking the -- he is disclosing the efforts of the permanent establishment in Washington to taint, to undermine the effectiveness of the Trump administration. And I'm very glad he did it and I wish he had it done it before last Monday.
LEMON: You have no problem with him going to the White House first?
MCCAUGHEY: I do not.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, in that role, first and foremost is to notify your colleagues in your committee, Democrats and Republicans.
LEMON: Because the evidence doesn't change no matter who you take it to.
STEWART: Absolutely. And I think at the very beginning, he would also brief the committee and have a press conference. From a constant point, I guess that otherwise he is going to be bum barded with phone calls by every reporter in town. So that make sense. But the fact that he went from, you know, a press conference to the White House and then his colleagues in the community, I understand their frustration.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And not only that, he is actually apologized to them for having side stepped and gone instead to President Trump. But perception matters on this. And it matters because we are talking about something that is the pillar of our democracy, the integrity of our elections.
If I were a Trump supporter which clearly I'm not America as you all know, I would want an investigation that is above board in every aspect so they can finally get this monkey off their back. I frankly think it's time for Republican voices to raise the question about Devin Nunes' ability to conduct a full and fair investigation because Americans watching this are going to wonder if Republicans who are in charge are capable of doing this and if they are not, let me tell you, they are going to take it out in the ballot box, maybe not against Devin Nunes but certainly against some Republicans in very marginal tight districts.
[23:05:47] LEMON: So you think one of those Republicans --?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT-LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. And leave on the outside. They said there should be an outside panel empowered. President Trump could do it tomorrow. He could appoint any two distinguished former judges, former attorney generals, former senators he want and say have access to all the documents. There is no problem here. Make it all public.
This Evan Perez' report was good and your panel discussion. (INAUDIBLE). I don't understand it. Why the stuffs leaking out? Why don't they tell us everything? Why do you find out one thing after another? I'm going to take a wild step hypothesis. The reason they are not telling you everything is they don't want you to know everything, because, you know, there might be problems there. I mean, otherwise this is pretty easy to handle from a communication. Is this really a tough challenge? If there's nothing to hide hire two very distinguish people to look into it and say, hey, nothing to hide. No problem. No problematic context with Paul Manafort. Nothing was done that was wrong. Kushner is fine. He can meet with this guy who is under sanctions in both his capacity as a businessman and his capacity as a representative of the White House. There's no problem with that in America. We are used to having people, having two both things at once, right. That's why this meeting wasn't made public. This meeting is a problem.
LEMON: Before we go - to far and I just want to get his title right because Steve Hall is on the retired chief of CIA Russian operations. He said this whole unmasking thing is a ruse.
KRISTOL: Totally. I have seen that.
LEMON: But that is cracks of our arguments.
MCCAUGHEY: I do not believe that is a ruse.
KRISTOL: It's ludicrous. What was leaked? What was leaked? Why he didn't do it?
MCCAUGHEY: It's an inappropriate method by which the permanent establishment in Washington attempts to discredit members of the Trump administration.
KRISTOL: What has been leaked?
STEWART: Well, look at what they did to Michael Flynn?
KRISTOL: Nunes says this has nothing to do with Russia. What leaks have there been from the CIA? You just sit there and say the permanence that you are saying that intelligence officers - I'm sorry, let me finish. Intelligence officers in the CIA, and the DIA, and the NSA, you think people who have worked 20, 30, 40 years for this country many of them in the military, they are just out there doing the Obama administration's bidding.
MCCAUGHEY: I can tell you that it's also true in the justice department. We saw early on that high ranking members of the justice department were disloyal to the new President and spoke against his policies.
KRISTOL: What a horror.
MCCAUGHEY: Why just using their first amendment right, instructing their underlings to defy the President.
STEWART: I think out of it is just such a side show from the real issue is. What are we talking about here? How did this begin? Did Russia interfere with our elections? That is a concern everyone --
LEMON: OK. You have been saying that. (INAUDIBLE) because you are saying the phrases for us. You don't believe that Russia interfered with our elections?
MCCAUGHEY: Yes, because it is an incorrect phrase. Did Russia attempt influence public opinion? Probably. Did Russia tamper with our ballot boxes, with our voting machines?
KRISTOL: So interfering with public opinion is fine. Stealing emails and releasing them strategically is fine for a foreign power.
MCCAUGHEY: I'm sorry. That's not the same as tampering with an election.
LEMON: How is that not the same as tampering the election?
MCCAUGHEY: Because interfering with public opinion is very different from actually tampering with how the votes are counted or how the votes are count. Let's make this distinction.
NAVARRO: The difference is if they had interfered or tampered with the voting booths, we would have a measurable metric of what they have done. What the influence and what the result in effect of the influence that they did wield and what they did with the cyber hacking, we cannot measure.
NAVARRO: But either, either --.
MCCAUGHEY: I would like you to name one election in an American history were foreign governments did not attempt to influence public opinion.
NAVARRO: Does that mean we should allow it? Does that mean we should not - we should not vote and won't defend the integrity of our election? Does that mean we should allow our democracy to be threatened?
MCCAUGHEY: I'm objecting to the phrase "influencing public opinion." I can see that (INAUDIBLE).
KRISTOL: Stealing emails is OK?
MCCAUGHEY: That has nothing to do with tampering with the election.
LEMON: How does that have nothing to do with tampering with the election? Do you understand that?
MCCAUGHEY: Because tampering the election implied --.
KRISTOL: Donald Trump said release these - Betsy, Donald Trump said release these emails.
LEMON: And it undermined the credibility of one of the Presidential candidate.
KRISTOL: Why did he quote from these emails? Why do you think the emails are so damaging to Hillary Clinton.
MCCAUGHEY: Because I think he quite correctly understood that this is just craziness to attribute the outcome of an election to the releasing of a bunch of emails. That's ridiculous.
[23:10:02] KRISTOL: And I want to attribute to anything. Do you think it was appropriate to site those emails, it was a great thing they released those emails?
MCCAUGHEY: I think it's irrelevant to the outcome of the election. And when you say tampering of with an election or interfering with an election, that misleads ---.
KRISTOL: Donald Trump thought it was very helpful.
NAVARRO: Look. Here is the bottom line.
MCCAUGHEY: There's an illegitimate outcome.
NAVARRO: The truth is we are never going to know as the effect of the influence wielded by Russia had on the election. We are never going to know if Donald Trump won or would have lost had that not happen. That is probably not going to change. I frankly accept that.
What I don't accept is that we, as Americans, put away partisanship, are not going to vigorously investigate until the last dam thing what happened in this election so that we don't allow it to happen again.
LEMON: OK. Let me get this in. I don't even have to say remember the old phrase don't touch that dial. I don't think you will because we are coming right back.
[23:15:04] LEMON: How bad was the health care loss for the Trump White House? Was it like hitting a pot hole or driving off a cliff?
Joining me now "New York Times" magazine writer Robert Draper whose new article is called "Trump versus Congress, Now what?" And Sally Quinn, "the Washington Post" contributor and founding editor of "On Faith" join me as well. And we will get back to our panel in just a moment.
Thank you both so much for joining us.
Robert, you first. You wrote an in-depth article for "the New York Times" magazine on where the President and his advisors find themselves after the epic defeat of the health care bill on Friday. Is health care dead and what's the impact on the rest of his agenda you think?
ROBERT DRAPER, AUTHOR/WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: It's a dead for the moment, that's for sure, Don. I mean, I think that, you know, it could influence of factors that it end. We have a president with no governing experience, a house Republican conference that has no experience in getting to yes, Republicans as a whole not really ever forming a consensus about what they wanted an alternative to Obamacare to be and I think finally, the fact that Obamacare, for all of its worth, changed the paradigm by adding tens of millions of people to the rolls and the prospect of this people going off the rolls became sort of an added the kind of turned up the tension and left a lot of people at sorts as to precisely what's going to happen.
I do think that they have to abandon it for the moment. The President has said over and over he wants a win. He didn't get it here. He thinks tax reform will be that win for him there's now there's a report that they will do tax reform and infrastructure at the same time. I think the best advice to probably learn the art of mastering, one deal of legislation before trying.
LEMON: Yes. And if he goes back to and then loses again, how would that look? That would not be pretty.
Sally, I want to ask you. The President says he will work with Democrats on health care. Is that likely?
SALLY QUINN, FOUNDING EDITOR, ON FAITH: Well, I would just like to say that I think that Donald Trump has created an atmosphere in Washington of hunger games. Somebody is going to have to die every week. And I think that he may ultimately be the one who shoots himself in the foot or maybe the head. But if you look at all the people around him and the people who have stocked by him, everyone seems to be getting hurt. I mean, it just keeps rubbing off.
I mean, people who try to help him and there's Paul Ryan who is ended up practically losing his reputation because of his involvement with health care. And Reince Priebus is probably on his way out if you read the inside White House gossip. Gary Cohen is probably on his way out. Bannon is still very strong. Jared Kushner may be one of the people who has to die if things do not go well in the intelligence committee briefing.
LEMON: And you mean, all of this metaphorically, right, Sally. I mean --.
QUINN: Of course. You know what I'm talking about, the hunger games. Yes. I'm just talking about that somebody has --.
LEMON: OK. Just want to put it in the right context here because people get a little alarmed when you say shooting and things.
QUINN: Right. No, no, no. Yes, exactly. But what I'm talking is all a metaphor is that somebody has to go. Walk the plank is what I'm talking about.
LEMON: OK. That's a better analogy. Thank you.
QUINN: You had Flynn and who by the way, maybe about to rat on Trump, who knows. And you have got all these people on both of the intelligence committees who are sort of fighting - in fighting with each other. And I just don't see the atmosphere changing. I think it's so toxic now and so poisonous and people are sort of scrambling away. I just don't see the cooperation coming.
LEMON: Well, let's get into that because this is what Robert gets into in this article. You talking about new detail, Robert, you are going to great detail about Stephen Bannon and long ago his pursuit of economic nationalism. How long ago he was pursuing national - economic nationalism as a philosophy. Is there any doubt in your mind that Bannon is the intellectual driver behind the President's agenda?
DRAPER: No. There's no doubt. And I think that, in addition to that, Don, I mean, he is an achieved a mind meld with the President that goes well beyond the ideals. I mean, their peers, Bannons is successful financially just as the president is. He works late in for the night, you know. They are basically has no social life much like the President himself as, you know, as far as other than golfing and yelling at you guys on the TV has no known hobbies.
And you know, I would say, I would inject a note of caution to what Sally has just said that she had described a very chaotic and toxic atmosphere. I think we have heard this before. It was called the 2016 Presidential campaign and I'm sure bodies were thrown overboard, pick your metaphor.
[23:20:00] QUINN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Careful.
DRAPER: But Trump prevailed. I don't think that Trump is going to bend Washington to his will, but I'm also not sure that Washington is going to bend Trump to Washington's will.
LEMON: Let me ask you real quick because I asked Sally the question. Do you think that Democrats would work with the President and vice versa?
DRAPER: It depends. I mean, on a bill like infrastructure, they are going to be tempted to because there may be goodies for their --.
LEMON: On health care?
DRAPER: On health care, no.
LEMON: Because they say repeal is off the table. Democrats, the repeal is off the table.
DRAPER: That's right, yes. And I think that unless President Trump actually says we will go into Obamacare and try to fix it as it is, the notion that Democrats were going to actually come on board and participate in the repealing of the one great piece of legislation, the monumental I mean, that the Democrats participated in, in the last few years was never a realistic possibility and President Trump is now tweeting to the effect and saying out loud that this is all the Democratic Party's fault doesn't really pass the smell test.
LEMON: Yes. Go ahead, Sally.
QUINN: But you know, I do agree with Robert that I don't think that the Congress is going to or Washington is going to bend Trump to its will. That's never going to happen. But I just don't see - I think that trying to sort of create some sort of -- you're going to have to have an incredible blender to put these two together, the Trump White House and the Washington quote "establishment." And you are not going to come out with the smoothie, you know. This is just not -- and I don't see the Democrats in any mood to do anything to help Trump on any level. And you know, it also - but it ends up being determining how these people are seen back in their home districts. And if they get any whiff at all that they are hurting, they are not going to play.
DRAPER: And by the way, Don and Sally, I would just mention that one body we have not spoken about is not just the Democratic Party but the Senate. And so, I mean, Obamacare repeal and replace failed in the one body that we thought would be the most hospitable to President Trump, the House Republicans. He has yet to deal with Democrats and he has yet to deal with the Senate. And you know, when he tries to get, for example, tax reform with the border adjustment tax through the Senate, he is going to find a wall waiting for him.
LEMON: OK. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
LEMON: All right. I want to get back to my panel now. Bill Kristol, Ana Navarro, Betsy McCaughey, and Alice Stewart. Please no metaphors.
LEMON: I love those guys but like --. I was like how am I going to clean this one up?
So let's talk about -- I think we talked about this Russian investigation a lot. Can we talk about -- unless you had something else to add, I want to talk about the President's tweeting and Judge Jeanine and the first thing out of Judge Jeanine's mouth is Paul Ryan must resign. Do you think that was a coincident?
NAVARRO: I don't understand the secret code between Donald Trump and Judge Jeanine, thank God. But I think that it doesn't take Judge Jeanine to interpret what was a debacle for the Republican Party. You can talk about the Democratic Party all you want and you can try to blame it on them all you want. But the bottom line is it was Republicans who defeated this ACA repeal. And it's the question is, is it precedent setting?
You had right wing Republicans and the freedom caucus and you had mattered Republicans who both had so many issues with this piece of legislation that together they coalesced to bring it down. That's set the president.
Steve Bannon went into freedom caucus meeting and told them you have got to vote for this. And one of them said, you know what, nobody has told me what to do since I was 18 years old and that was my daddy. And I didn't listen to him either. And though, I think they have learned some of the Republicans that they can buck the President, they can buck leadership and wave and pay no consequences.
STEWART: Absolutely. To her point, they are answering to their constituents back at home, not to Steve Bannon, not Paul Ryan.
STEWART: Absolutely. And here is the problem when you have a bill with one-sixth of the economy drafted really not with input from the two main facets of the Republican Party. Those in the Tuesday meeting as well as the house freedom caucus, the more moderate and the conservative. And it is brought forth and says we are going to pass this thing in 18 days without really more input and that was frustrating to them. And the freedom caucus members were loyal to their people. They were not going to be swayed by Bannon or any of the top officials. And I think that it demonstrated more than anything that they were beholden and they are going to make -- keep their promises to the people back in their district.
LEMON: Hold on. My question is, do you think I'm going to ask you guys, after this, and you can answer it after the break, can they really work with Democrats on a bill for health care? Do you think that that happened? What's interesting to me is that it seems like the affordable care act was the best option out of all of the options on the table and it wasn't even on the table because it is still here. We will talk about. We will be right back.
[23:28:51] LEMON: All right. And we are back with my panel.
I have so much - so quick if you can. Can they -- will he work with the Democrats on health care?
KRISTOL: He could do small bite size thing. He has to give up the fantasy of a comprehensive reform of the tax bill, comprehensive at this point, I think reform, repeal and replace of Obamacare. He could work on moderates to get prescription drugs down. Get prescription drugs down. He could say I want money for the defense. He just needs to do - I not, he hasn't asked my advice. You would be surprised to hear that. But if he did, he could do a few things.
MCCAUGHEY: Americans want the penalty for not having the insurance repealed and they want the employer mandate which is such a job killer of repealed so that employers can hire more people full time.
LEMON: But does it have to be repealed or can they adjust? Can do make some adjustments?
MCCAUGHEY: Well, those two elements must be repealed and the Democrats have made it very clear that they are not going repeal --
LEMON: I think on the repeal of the entire affordable care act.
MCCAUGHEY: That's different.
MCCAUGHEY: They're going to have to act soon because in literally five weeks insurers are required to announce whether they are participating in Obamacare for the coming year and what their premiums will be. And most insurers are heading for the -
LEMON: But don't you think they are hurting people at home by saying, by the White House being so down on Obamacare that insurers may want to get on it. Don't you think it is actually hurting people?
[23:30:11] MCCAUGHEY: The lost $3 billion.
NAVARRO: In an ideal world you would think that we would be able to put partisan aside and fix what we all know, what both sides need fixing. But we don't live in ideal world. And I think that if Democrats are their hearing Donald Trump say I'm going to let Obamacare collapse on his own, Democrats are looking at this and say, well, you they're have a 36 percent approval rating, I'm going to buy a bag of popcorn and watch you collapse because after this failed attempt, the big problem Republicans have is that they now own this ugly baby.
MCCAUGHEY: They cannot be nice eternity.
NAVARRO: Yes. It is pottery barn rule. You break it, you own it.
LEMON: OK. So listen to this exchange between - I have to get this in, this exchange between Sean Hannity and Ted Koppel also took place this weekend. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We have to give some credit to the American people that they are somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show. You know, you are cynical.
TED KOPPEL, JOURNALIST: I am cynical. Because, you know --.
HANNITY: You think we are bad for America? You think I'm bad for America?
HANNITY: You do?
KOPPEL: In the long hall I think you and all these opinion shows --.
HANNITY: That's sad, Ted.
KOPPEL: No. You know why? Because you're very good at what you do and because you have attracted a significantly more -- let me finish the sentence.
HANNITY: I'm listening. With all due respect.
KOPPEL: Yes. You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I believe - listen. I'm not saying just about Sean but there are people who think that ideology is more important than fact. And every single night in this program, you try to point out was is true and people do not believe the truth. They believe ideology over the truth. But you have been talking to Sean who I know and what does Sean say?
STEWART: He says, first off, he said it was a good substantive interview. It was 45 minutes. He can went away feeling good about it. But seeing the one minute that Koppel used, used it to fit his agenda. Koppel was trying to point out that opinion hosts like him, and Sean will openly admit he is a talk show host, use their opinions to sway people and it's not based on fact which is not true. They use their opinions and people can - and Sean says I respect the intelligence of the American people to make the up their mind. They know I'm a host and I'm a journalist. Whereas Koppel is supposed to be journalist yet he injects his opinion in this interview and he is the one that is hypocrite here because he is supposed to be the journalist and he is the one using his opinions.
LEMON: What do you think, Bill?
NAVARRO: I give Sean some credit for bringing on Ted Koppel, somebody who is a newsman and who I think, you know, Sean could have expected would be critical.
LEMON: It was on Ted Koppel's show.
NAVARRO: Well, I give him credit for having gone on Ted Koppel's show. Because obviously, this entire issue of fake news versus real news coming from a journalist like Ted Koppel, an old-fashioned journalist was going to come up.
I will tell you something, I really hate this cackling hen between the anchors of the different networks. I mean, it is bad enough that we have to deal with the President of the United States being a cackling hen against cable news. But this of Joe Scarborough versus Hannity versus Cuomo versus - it is just drives me crazy.
LEMON: I never get into that. Someone if he tweets something about me and I will never -- exactly. Always take the high road. But go on. What do you say? And we're all in the same business.
KRISTOL: We are entitled. I don't think though Sean Hannity has changed anyone's mind about anything. Sean had and he features to true believers at this point. He never like argument anymore. It's all about reinforcing people's true believes. So I don't think he is doing any damage. I don't think he is do any good.
MCCAUGHEY: But you know, this is like making argument that we should have Maureen Dowd or Paul Krugman. The same people who read the editorial page, watch opinion shows at night and they are smart enough.
LEMON: I don't think I was saying that. You shouldn't have that. I think there is room for opinion, definitely. I mean, you have 24 hours. And people give their opinions --.
MCCAUGHEY: Well, he is saying is that for America.
LEMON: Well, when people he is saying what's bad for America and when people don't believe facts. When people believe ideology over facts. He's talking about people.
NAVARRO: If you want to live in political isolation as some today, you can. If you only want to listen to things that affirm your believes, if you only want to read things that affirm your believes. If you only want watch things that affirm your believes, you can. And so all this times, we don't understand everybody else.
LEMON: I got to run. But I think every one - I watch --.
MCCAUGHEY: That's why I like being on with you.
LEMON: I watch and read everything and I think people should do that as an exercise all the time. If you're conservative, you should watch a program that you believe to be liberal. Well, read a paper that you believed to be liberal, just so you know.
NAVARRO: And if that fails, watch CNN.
NAVARRO: Actually they probably think we are liberal.
LEMON: I know.
KRISTOL: I just watch for crazy.
[23:35:00] LEMON: I'm liberal, I'm conservative, I'm crazy. Sounds like the prince - maybe I'm just like my mother. No, controversy. Wrong song. We'll be right back.
[23:39:05] LEMON: Tonight, the Trump administration is cracking down on sinks where Yusidis and ramping up deportations even undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for decades are now at risk. And one of those people is Roberto Beristain. His wife voted for President Trump because she liked the idea of keeping criminals out of the country, never imaging that her own husband, a non-documented immigrant with no criminal record could be a target.
So joining me now is Adam Ansan. He is a spokesman for the Beristain family.
Adam, thank you for joining us. How is the family doing?
ADAM ANSAN, SPOKESMAN FOR THE FAMILY OF ROBERTO BERISTAIN: You know, they are doing as best they can. They are obviously distraught right now. They have a father that is going to be removed from this country any day.
LEMON: Yes. So give us a background here on this story. Your client, Roberto Beristain, has been living in the U.S. illegally while checking in with immigration officials every year for five years to show that he was say staying out of trouble. So is he being detain why now? [23:40:03] ANSAN: You know, it is -- quite honestly, it's the
administration. In early February when the administration said that they were going to make individuals with a prior order of removal, a final order of removal a priority as well, that's when Roberto, like he had been doing the past five years, walked in an immigration office for his yearly check in and was immediately detained. It wasn't that immigration officer went to find him. He voluntarily walked in to their offices.
LEMON: It is perplexing this some people because his wife actually voted for President Trump because she believed his campaign promise that he would only remove bad hombres. And when our affiliates interviewed his Helen, that is his wife, three weeks ago, she had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HELEN BERISTAIN, ROBERTO BERISTAIN'S WIFE: I think our President is going to keep all the good people here. He is not going to tear up families. I don't think he wants to do that. He just wants to keep us safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So as I said I meant bad hombre. So sorry for that.
Then a couple of days ago she told her local newspaper that, South interview, she said I wish I didn't vote at all. I did it for the economy. We needed a change. Does Helen he regret voting for President Trump?
ANSAN: Absolutely. I mean, she only got bits and pieces from what President Trump actually was saying during the candidacy. I think we can all agree this run for President was on the news constantly and so she only heard a little bit about that. And when she heard it, it was saying that they are only going to remove dangerous people. So if she had heard absolutely everything and was listening to your show, maybe every day, she may have voted differently. But she listened to him at his word on couple of instances. And unfortunately his word, just, you know, he doesn't follow it or I mean, he doesn't follow it.
LEMON: Yes. And which is part of our last conversation about being informed and getting out of the bubble if that is to what you listen to.
You know, you told our producers that Helen feels ashamed of her vote. Not that she wished she hadn't voted probably. She is ashamed of her vote. And her children had been asking her why she did it. What can you tell us about that? What is she saying to them?
ANSAN: You know, I think she is saying she didn't -- she wasn't fully informed at that time. She didn't necessarily believe that President Trump was actually going to start targeting every single illegal immigrant, including the ones that were law abiding, including the once that, you know, were documented, showing up every single year into ICE immigration offices. She didn't believe that this President was going to start targeting absolutely everyone, especially the ones that were contributing to her community. I mean, in her mind, you know, her husband wasn't really illegal. In her mind, he was a productive member of the society.
LEMON: So Adam, let me ask you. If he had been here for so long, why wasn't he able to straighten out his immigration status and become legal?
ANSAN: So in the year 2000, he had been here roughly two years at that time. Him and Helen were trying to take a vacation to Niagara Falls. They sort of missed their exit started going towards Canada. At that time, they tried to pull a U-turn and INS (ph), you know previously what ICE was. You know, thought that was suspicious, detained him and he was detained for two weeks. It's a little bit unclear but it sounds like he didn't have sort adequate legal counsel and he entered into a voluntary deportation order. That voluntary deportation then turned into a final order of removal when he didn't leave this country.
But he also didn't leave this country for very, very good reasons. He had a wife that was, then fiancee, that was pregnant with his first child. And she was having a little bit of complication with the pregnancy. He did what any good father would have done and stayed with his wife.
LEMON: Thank you, Adam. I appreciate it.
ANSAN: Yes, of course.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[23:48:18] LEMON: When President Trump spoke of the people he called bad hombres coming from Mexico, he probably didn't mean people like Roberto Beristain.
I want to bring in now, political - CNN political commentators Peter Beinart, Kayleigh McEnany, Kevin Madden and Symone Sanders.
Everybody in studio is cracking up because I said bad Andres. I didn't realize I said until my floor director told.
So, you guys heard it. Symone heard it. Kevin heard it. You are cracking up, I'm sure.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I was like, no, Don, no.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would say it is not bad.
LEMON: Bad Hombres.
So, Peter we just heard from Adam, the attorney for that family. Her family doesn't understand why, you know, he voted -- she voted for him. I'm sure, you know, the husband doesn't understand why now. What do you think about it, though?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. The government has to make decisions about how they prosecute the law. There are limited resources. So when you decide you are going to spend taxpayer money to deport this guy, right, by all accounts a really upstanding person, beloved by their community, who has been in the United States a very, very long time and only made this country better. At the same time you are deciding you not going to, for instance, enforce environmental laws, right. These are decisions the Trump administration is making based on its priorities. I think their priorities to serve the United States very poorly.
MCENANY: But look I was interning at an immigration nonprofit during law school when Obama was President. I was in a city where people like Roberto said to me I was caught up in Obama sweep of my house and I'm being deported. I heard these stories firsthand. They happen in every administration. And I'm sympathetic to them. I think there are a lot of good immigrants in this country. Roberto is one of them. I don't want him to be caught in this but we also have to be sympathetic stories like Kate Steinley who lost her life at the hands of an illegal immigrant.
They are sympathetic on both sides. And we have to find the policy of compromise takes into account the innocent person that wants to work here legally and the person who loses their hands at the hands of an illegal immigrant, as well.
LEMON: Who is going to like?
SANDERS: I think what Kayleigh - look. I agree with Kayleigh there. I think what she is saying is we need a humane immigration policy. We do not currently have that.
Look. I'm not going to mention any words here. The Obama administration departed a lot people. Actually more people than any of the U.S. president in history, actually. And that's a qualm in the immigration rights community has with the Obama administration. But we're talking about the Trump administration here. And Donald Trump and his administration has seemingly targeted, anybody that is an immigrant that did not come here, quote/unquote, "legally."
And to be frank, if half of you had to take the test for citizenship, we probably wouldn't pass the, either. So we need a humane immigration policy in this country that takes into account that folks crossing the border, folks that are here working things out. These are mothers, fathers, daughters, sisters, aunts and uncles. And that's currently not what we do not have under the Trump administration.
LEMON: Kevin Madden?
KEVIN MADDEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. No, it's emblematic of just how complex this issue is. Kayleigh is right. You know, there are folks out there who care about border security care, about enforcement. And there are some people out there that have to be targeted with those enforcement measures.
But this is somebody who is emblematic of the kind of citizen that we want in this country. Somebody who becomes part of the American fabric, somebody who becomes part of the American dream. And helps grow our economy. And that is the challenge I think that the Trump administration is going to face.
You know, they are only 60-plus days in. But they are going to continue to face this for the next four, possibly the next eight years which is you campaign in poetry but you govern in prose. And the decisions that they make on a daily basis, related to enforcement are much more complex than just trying to draw a contrast on the campaign trail.
LEMON: Wow. I mean, I think there's a lot of agreement. This panel usually disagrees.
SANDERS: Who knew, right?
LEMON: But I mean, I need someone who owns a business, who is a productive member of society. Those are the types of immigrants that you want that make America great.
MCENANY: Absolutely. And there seem to be that realization, Trump primary candidate, which was, let's deport everyone.
LEMON: I just wonder if they are going to think twice so now because they are saying - he is saying I'm going to, you know, deport the bad hombres and then he deportees that will make them think twice again about voting Republican again.
BEINART: But there is a larger question. If you look at most of the people who are crossing the southern border into the United States now, a very large number of them are refugees, fleeing the incredible violence in Central America. And this is the president who essentially said he doesn't want to allow any refugees into the country. This is an astonishing kind of moral failure by the President.
LEMON: Yes. I want to move on now because there's so much to discuss. I want you -- this is President Trump talking about the former president Obama golfing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Obama - it was reported today, played 250 rounds of golf. He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods.
He plays more golf than people on the PGA tour.
Golf, golf, golf. More, more, more. Learning how to chip. Learning how to hit the drive. Learning how to pot. I want more.
I love golf. I think it's one of the greats. But I don't have time.
Because I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf.
I wouldn't leave the White House very much because you know, like little things, like these little trips, where they get cost you a fortune.
If I were in the White House, I don't think I would see Turn Berry again. I don't think I would see Doral again.
I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off, make great deals, right. Who is going to leave?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So that was President Trump when he was a candidate, campaigning talking about President Obama playing golf. That was since 2011 and 2016. President Trump has tweeted 26 times about President Obama playing golf too much. The president tweeted these in 2014. Trump paid for golf. We pay for Obama's travel so we can fund raise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then, we pay for his golf. And on and on. You can put them up. I don't have to read them.
But I mean, however, since taking office nine weeks ago, the President has visited one of his golf courses 13 times. How is this not completely hypocritical?
MCENANY: Look. Every party uses vacationing and golfing as a hit against the other party. It's kind of a cheap shot.
LEMON: But you don't think it's hypocritical?
MCENANY: A little.
LEMON: You don't have an issue with him golfing so much?
MCENANY: I do think there's a difference between, you know, President Bush, who took time away from vacationing, away from golfing, in honor of the Iraq war, versus President Obama, who --
LEMON: You tweeted about the President golfing.
MCENANY: Of course.
LEMON: You said work things that offend Obama. Work outside the golf course. And then you said DNC in four words, find a golf course. And you said President is annoyed. He just left a golf course and he is counting down the minutes until he can go back. #Presidentialdebate. I mean, you tweeted about it.
[23:55:07] MCENANY: And I tell you why. Because when President Bush took time off from the golf course in honor of the Iraq war, you had President Obama, who after the - I believe it was the beheading of Daniel Pearl, spoke to how upset he was about that and rushed off to a golf game. I think when we are in a state of war or when we are in a state of mourning, you should take time off from the golf course.
LEMON: But do you remember now watch this drive.
SANDERS: Hold on. There's somebody you can find anywhere in America right, Don, that's in a state of mourning. Look, Flint still doesn't have clean water. They are in a state of mourning. And guess what, Donald Trump has still been at the golf course. I just think we should just all agree that this is contradictory. Donald Trump says one thing about everybody else. And then when it happens to him, all of a sudden, it doesn't apply to him.
LEMON: Is that Kevin saying yes?
MADDEN: Yes. Look. It's not just Donald Trump like the answer to the question is, is it being hypocritical? It is absolutely yes. Look. I criticized President Obama on the economy, health care, national security, foreign policy. I never, ever once criticized him for playing golf. Why? I love to play golf. I know that it is relaxing. It's something you do with friends. It's something you can do with people that you work with. And we knew this was eventually was going to happen. That we're going to have another President, a Republican, who actually happened to play golf. And it does look hypocritical. President Trump would be well served to say I was wrong and I'm going to play golf.
LEMON: Sean Spicer said in 2012, about President Obama, wish I could go on the golf course but have to work. Must be nice to be President. Sure must be nice, Sean.
BEINART: This really like a news flash that Donald Trump says things that are not true, right?
LEMON: Are we coming back or are we done?
BEINART: You think about the kind of things that Donald Trump has said that are not true. This is really - we are really scratching the surface here.
LEMON: We are done. I don't play golf. But maybe I should learn.
MCENANY: I'll take you out.
LEMON: And I too could be President of the United States. Can you imagine?
MCENANY: Probably shouldn't do it after an American citizen was beheaded like President Obama did.
SANDERS: Flint still doesn't have clean water.
BEINART: Maybe if you don't start the Iraq war in the first place you don't have to worry if you're golfing during the Iraq war.
LEMON: My God. Snap. We will be back.