Return to Transcripts main page


Counting Down Into President Trump's First 100 Days. Aired 11:00-12:00mn ET

Aired April 28, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:27] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: It's 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast.

The eve of President Trump's 100th day in office. One hour to go until that happens.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The President has been running hot and cold about his first 100 days at one point calling it a ridiculous standard but then saying this --


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think anybody has done what we have been able it do in a hundred days so we are very happy.


LEMON: So tomorrow marks 100 days since this happened on day one.


TRUMP: January 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.


LEMON: That went smoothly. A parade. A ball. A weekend to celebrate and get ready for the task ahead. It lasted until day two.


TRUMP: I made a speech. I looked out, the field was, it looked like a million, million and half people.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.


LEMON: First priority, the full force of the presidency aimed at crowd size. The White House will not be this one, not business as usual.

Day eight the President signs a travel ban, executive order. And there are those crowds again, an outcry and ultimately two defeats in the courts.

Day 25 the President's national security advisory lieutenant general Michael Flynn resign under a cloud of lies and suspicion.


SPICER: As a result of this situation and a series of other questionable instances is what led the President to ask for General Flynn's resignation.


LEMON: By the way that cloud hangs over this White House to this day.

Day 40, an address to a joint session of Congress that even be President's critics call one of his finest moments.


TRUMP: What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit. Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: This was the most Presidential speech that I have ever heard Donald Trump give.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: I have heard from at least one senior congressional Republican source tonight who said the President was Presidential.


LEMON: Very Presidential. Business as usual, even. Is this the pivot, people ask? Could it be? Well, doesn't take long to answer that question, all thanks to an itchy twitter finger on day 44. Here it is. The President tweeting how low has President Obama gone to tap my phone during the very sacred election process? This is Nixon- Watergate, bad or sick guy.

The White House kicks into high gear trying to justify this lie and it gets even worse on day 60. What's that? The FBI director a announcing a criminal investigation involving the President, the President's team in collusion with an enemy to interfere in the election. Definitely not business as usual.

Day 64, a huge failure on Obamacare repeal, a signature campaign promise.

Day 77 a missile strike on Syria after a dictator gases his own people.

Day 81 is banner day with the swearing in of Justice Neil Gorsuch a promise fulfilled.

Day 85, seventh trip back and forth Mar-a-Lago at $1 million to $3 million per trip.

And this week a mad scramble to rack up a score of accomplishments ultimately falls short.

The President says the 100 day milestone is a ridiculous standard and that may be true. But it is a guideline he said, perhaps not realizing as he admits day 98.


TRUMP: This is more work than my previous life I thought it would be easier.


LEMON: Mr. President, I don't know where you got the idea that being president would be easy. But if the first 99 days had changed your mind then that is a good thing. Tomorrow, you will have 100 days under your belt with 1360 more to go. You are the leader of the United States of America, of all of us. Please make the most of them.

And of course this is the beautiful White House where the President will wake up tomorrow to his 100th day in office.

And I want to bring in now and discuss all of this, let's bring in investigative reporter David Cay Johnson, author of "the making of Donald Trump," Barbara Res, an author of "all alone on the 68th floor, how one woman change the face of construction" and William Cohan, the author of "why Wall Street Journal matters." Go out and buy some books tonight, everyone or go online and buy some books.

Welcome everyone.

David, I want to start with you by playing a clip from the interview President Trump did just tonight. Listen.


[23:05:37] TRUMP: You keep forgetting to say the biggest beneficiaries are the middle class people who have been absolutely hurt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But your critics are going to say, well, real estate companies like President Trump's company will benefit along with it.

TRUMP: Well I'm telling you what if I'm individually paying 35 percent I will tell you that's war, OK. I'm going to end up paying more than I pay right now in taxes, all right. I will pay more than I pay right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: OK so we are probably know more about how much he would pay if he released his tax returns but just from what the ones you managed to obtain which is from 2005, David, would he pay more?

DAVID CAY JOHNSON, AUTHOR, THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP: No. He would probably pay 15 percent because they would apply that rate to all of his businesses. And that's what he gets his money from his businesses, not from salary.

And you know, helping the middle class the current rates are 0, 10, 15 and then 25. They would go 10 to 25. Now we don't know where the break point would be but that's a huge leap to go from so to 25. And then when you get to higher income people they only go up 10 more points. The reasonable way to do this if you want to help the middle class would be 10, 20, and then 35. But they are focusing on the prosperous middle class because they know they can squeeze them and they don't have a lot of political power.

LEMON: William, Donald Trump won the presidency largely because he was not a politician but an outsider who said that he could use his skills as a CEO to make America great again. So why have the first 100 days been so chaotic?

WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, WHY WALL STREET JOURNAL MATTERS: Because he's not a good CEO. He was not a good CEO at the Trump group. He is not a good CEO of our country. In fact I think all of the clips you showed show that he is absolutely and demonstrably delusional. And he has been in the first 100 days. He has been delusional since he came down that escalator in June 2015. He has never had to report --.

LEMON: He did win, though. He did win. He wasn't delusional about that.

COHAN: He did win. He did stitch together an Electoral College victory. That's true, Don. But he has been an awful steward of our country. And if had a board of directors, he is lucky he lives in the United States where we don't have a parliamentary system where we could call a snap vote like they did in the UK and him a vote of no confidence because he would be out.

LEMON: But the latest poll show, if there was an election again, maybe in the parliamentary system if there was, you know, an election today he would beat Hillary Clinton not only in the electoral vote but also in the popular vote as well.

COHAN: Well, I think can shatter it any number of times you want and see that Hillary Clinton was not a great candidate and also had her problems. But Donald Trump has been a terrible steward of our country in the first hundred days.

But you know, in preparation for coming on, I have to give think what has he done? I have to give him credit where it is due. The market is at 21,000. I give him credit for that. He did not - he reversed himself on China. He said they are not a currency manipulator. I give him credit on that. And at the last second he decided he wasn't going to tear up NAFTA. Give him credit on that. LEMON: OK, Barbara now. Barbara, you worked for Donald Trump as head

of construction in the 80's and you witnessed his way of doing business. Why hasn't he been able to translate that success to the government?

BARBARA RES, AUTHOR, ALL ALONE ON THE 68TH FLOOR: I think in one word, accountability. I mean, he could do anything he wanted basically when he was boss of the job sites as developer. He had tremendous amount of political clout then. And the way he saw politics is a way of getting things for himself and making influence to win permits and things like that.

As a developer and as a businessman he didn't have the electorate of the United States entire population of the United States to be responsible to. He was responsible only to himself. And what he did, the way he approached things was he came out do this, just do it, and he found people that would just do it and nobody challenged whether it was done properly or done correctly or done honestly. He tried that here and is finding out the people he has around him certainly go out and do it if he says say this they go out and they say that. But Congress, the press, other sources that will look at him and verify what he has to say are coming out and saying no, you can't just do it.

[23:10:11] LEMON: Well let me ask you this, Barbara, because would you consider you had a positive or negative work experience with Donald Trump?

RES: I worked for him for a long time and over that period of time I had both positive and negative experiences.

LEMON: So then why didn't you support him in this election?

RES: I didn't support him primarily because of his positions. Especially in terms of immigration, abortion, his financial plans, and deregulating industries that I think need more regulation. I mean, to be honest with you, on every issue I disagreed with him.

LEMON: OK. So then, just so to sort of refute what he has said about women and what is believed to be some of his actions about women talk about how much he has promoted women, you are one, you wrote a book about it, do agree with that? Is there any grievance to that?

RES: To him being great to woman as he claims, no I don't see that. First of all, he says he has all these female executives but I don't see them. He said he put women in construction, I don't believe that there's another engineer that he put on his staff besides me. He hired me because I was good. He didn't hire me because I was a woman. It wasn't an affirmative action plan. I was the best person the contractor had working on the Hyatt which is where I met him. And when he hired me he said you are a killer. And he said that men are better than women but a good woman is better than ten good men. And that's what he thought about me. And some other women he hired at the time. Subsequently I don't see him hiring very strong people, men or female. But certainly not a (INAUDIBLE) high powered women. He has never produce it. LEMON: David, Trump came to presidency with perhaps the least

experience of any modern president. And for all his business and money he is not deeply knowledgeable in the policy - in policy or issues. At the 100 day mark is he -- do you think he is learning?

JOHNSON: Well, yes. Donald wants to be successful. Despite all of his deficits, he wants to be successful. And Bill was quite right in pointing out his dropping the currency issues with China. His being persuaded that you can't just blowup NAFTA and it was done principally by telling him, you know, the red states like Texas who supported you will be hurt the worse if you do this because we now have this an integrated economy in north America, his willingness to understand he can't just be a dictator and that's how he thinks of and talks about the job of President. He is beginning to learn that. What he doesn't seem to be learning at all is that Congress is a co-equal branch. Because Don, he doesn't have any understanding of what the constitution says. I'm sure he has never read it even though the job description is in article 2.

LEMON: Yes. William, finally though, many of the President's closest advisors including Ivanka and Jared have no government experience either. How much has it contributed to the confusion?

COHAN: I don't think they know what they are doing, Don. I really don't think they know what they are doing. Any interaction that they had with Congress has been a disaster. They tried and failed now twice to repeal Obamacare. This tax plan is like giving the keys to the candy store to every kid in America but it is going to be dead on arrival in Congress because the deficit consequences, debt consequences of adding something like $7 trillion to the national debt over 10 years is a disaster. That it will never get through Congress. You are going to see another civil war in the Republican Party over this issue. He has just clueless, absolutely clueless.

And Don, he doesn't even want the job he said so to Reuters the other day. I don't even want the job. I don't even like it. I thought it was going to be much easier than it is. What kind of President is that?

LEMON: Well it's the one we have in office now. Thank you. I appreciate it. Have a great everyone.

When we come back, how the president supporters think he is doing so far.

But first, this moment from day 83, here is President Trump recounting his first airstrike while ding with the China President.


TRUMP: I was sitting at the table, we had finished dinner. We are now having dessert and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate case that you have ever seen and President Xi was enjoying it.



[23:18:05] LEMON: American voters are paying attention to President Trump's first 100 days. Let's discuss now. Syndicated talk radio host John Fredericks in this corner on the right. And on the left, Bill Press, the host of the "Bill Press" show. Maybe sometimes he is on the left. Ok, left while I'm on right. All right.

So Bill, welcome, everyone. Bill, in the past few days the President has done - he has a bunch of interviews even on outlets he calls fake news. So, is the president trying to brand his presidency in these last few days or moments leading up to the 100 days mark?

BILL PRESS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. You know what I find funny about this is first of all, he has said that the 100 days mark is a ridiculous measure. It's silly. We shouldn't pay attention to it. And on that point I absolutely agree with him. We should have dropped this thing a long ago. It is nuts.

LEMON: But he started saying that about 10 or 15 days ago, though. Before that he didn't say it.

PRESS: Yes, I know. But these last weeks, he is having his interviews to say look what I have done. Just look what I have done. Yes, he is trying to get the word out. And so, he has made a big deal of it. I think it would be wiser not to. And then when you look at his record he has accomplished less than any Presidents since, I don't know, Calvin Coolidge maybe. I mean, by his own tests he flunks his tests. So I think he should have forgotten about the 100 days.

LEMON: I think John Fredericks agrees with everything you just said, right. That was sarcasm, John.

JOHN FREDERICKS, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO HOST: Well, look. What I agree with Bill is that 100 days is not the real number. Here is the real number. The only number that matters to Donald Trump right now, President Trump is 96. Ninety six percent of his base supports the President. They believe in what he is doing, what he is doing and they are going to stick with him. That's the real number here tonight. They want him to succeed.

This is an unprecedented number. You know, President Trump's base is unique in American politics. They have stuck with him. They believe in him. But Don and Bill, they also hold him accountable because at the same time when we had Ryan-care, 95 percent of that base was opposed it to it because they thought it would sink his presidency. So this is a very unique situation.

You look at some of his accomplishments he is doing exactly what he said. He got rid of TPP. He is bringing jobs back. He is bringing tariffs in. He is challenging NAFTA and he is upsetting the status quo.

[23:20:34] PRESS: Wait, wait. Come on, John.

LEMON: John. Go ahead, Bill. Bill, I will let you handle it. Go ahead. PRESS: Hey, come on, John. You been drinking too much Kool-Aid.

Number one, look. His base, this is a guy who said about his base, he could walk out on to 5th avenue and his base would still support him. That's true. That speaks a lot about his base. And as President, you expect him to do more once he is elected than to just throw red meat to his base. And again, on his accomplishments, look, he gave a speech on Gettysburg in October 2016 where he said here are the 38 things I'm going to do in the first 100 days. Take a look at it, John. He hasn't done one single one of those things.

LEMON: I think, John, by the way, I think the "Washington Post" did a fact check on this and I think it was like he promised 60-some odd things during the campaign. I think he has done five of them. Five of them he hasn't done. And the other rest of the 30-something he just has not addressed.

PRESS: In fact if I could just add to that. If you look at the big five, OK. Repeal Obamacare, infrastructure, build the wall, the Muslim ban and tax reform, right? Those five, none of them, none of them has he done. So where he is?

FREDERICKS: Bill, he just rolled out a major bold tax reform plan. And look --.

PRESS: It's not big, it's one page.

FREDERICKS: He ran against the same Congress that can't get anything done on his behalf so nobody faults him for that. But he has done a lot, Bill, and he is moving forward very quickly.

LEMON: Bill, before you jump in.

FREDERICKS: The reality isn't 100 days. The number is 96 percent.

LEMON: OK, let me ask you this, though, John. Because you say 96 percent of his base and then you mention the Congress. So he has a Republican Congress, he has got a Republican Senate and he is Republican in the White House but can't get this stuff done. So how does that -- I don't understand that, 96 percent of his base which is probably not 96 percent Republicans. I'm sure it is a very odd number.

FREDERICKS: Here's the answer to the question, Don. It's a great question but Trump got elected by running against the establishment, the status quo and running against Congress. He is the President because a Republican Congress failed its base.

LEMON: But John, he needs the Congress in order to get things accomplished.

PRESS: OK, Look. I would like to point out.

FREDERICKS: That is going to come as we go forward. If you look at the tax plan he just rolled out it's bold, it's big, it's different. We'll see how it plays out.

LEMON: Go ahead, Bill.

PRESS: Look. But let me just talk about the tax plan for a second, alright. One thing you got to understand that Donald Trump has to understand, there's a big difference between saying here is a one pager of what I want to do and actually doing something. That's the same thing with Obamacare. It is the same thing with the wall. It is the same with the Muslim ban. He talks, talks, talks, big talk, do nothing. And the fact is he is President now. He is supposed to get things done. He supposed to represent all Americans.

Don is right. I mean, Republicans control the House and the Senate and at White House, they control everything and can do nothing. Now, that is not something to brag about, 100 days or not.

FREDERICKS: The only thing that Congress couldn't get through was the Ryan care crony care, Obamacare repeal and replacement bill that was a terrible and lousy piece of administration that is --

LEMON: So let me ask you this, John. Hold on Bill. So then because I just read the breaking news last night as it happened that they weren't going to have the vote this week before the 100 days mark. That they would try to do it after. That means that they didn't have the vote twice. So the question is, really, why would he do it again?

PRESS: Well, we have got to fix the problem. The Obamacare program is imploding. He is the President of the United States. We have got to find a way to fix this. They got to get there. They got to find a plan that work.

LEMON: John, can I ask you an honest question? Can you be honest with me?

FREDERICKS: Yes. Honesty is the best policy, Don.

LEMON: Seven years with the Obamacare, right, with the affordable care act and 60-some odd votes to repeal and replace it. And even when you have the majority of everything you still can't get it done. What's that say? So are you blaming that on, is it the President's fault? Is that Republican's fault? Is that a mutual fault? So what's the reality there for you?

[23:25:17] FREDERICKS: Let me tell you the difference between the tax reform bill and the Ryan care crony care bill. They turned Obamacare repeal and replace over to Paul Ryan and the Congress that --

LEMON: I got ten seconds, John, don't mean to rush you - Bill, I got five seconds.

PRESS: The tax reform bill is the President. If the President takes control of this he is going to succeed. If he turns it over to Congress he is going to fail.

LEMON: I will give you 20 more seconds quickly.

PRESS: All right. There is no bill. I keep him at the back to that. There is no bill. There is a one-page memo. That is not a plan. That is not a bill. That is not reality. And he has got to get that same bill through that same Congress.

LEMON: So what's happening here, Bill, is they don't know how to govern? The Republicans haven't realizes they need to govern that. Seriously, I'm going to -- the producer is going to kill me, is that what's happening, Bill?

PRESS: I think the President has realized, but somebody said that earlier that he is not a dictator. He just can't say this is the way things are folks.

LEMON: I got to go.

PRESS: You got it.

LEMON: Have a great weekend.

When we come back the President admitting the new job is harder than he imagined. How many of his campaign promises does he actually managed to keep?

But first another look back at memorable moments from his first 100 days. Day 81, the big one. Trump keeping his promise to get a conservative judge appointed to the Supreme Court.



[23:30:35] LEMON: I want to talk about President Trump's first 100 days in office with Frank Rich, writer in large for New York magazine and executive producer for HBO's "Veep."

Hi, Frank. Thanks for joining us.


LEMON: You have a great piece in "New York Magazine" where you talk about President Trump's first 100 days you say that so far, (INAUDIBLE), and this is a quote "remains the only consistent ideology at this White House. Explain that.

RICH: Well, I think the only real - the biggest concrete results he has to show for 100 days besides a single as Supreme Court nominee getting on the bench is plugging his own wares. He is constantly at Mar-a-Lago. Double the initiation fees from $100,000 to $200,000 just as he took office. His products, his hotels, everything is being plugged. There are all these conflict of interest things going on with him, his family, the Kushner family. So it's really a tremendous pay day for him, it is not for the American people.

LEMON: So despite his rocky first start, his rocky first 100 days, the President's supporters are sticking by him, why do you think his failures are a win for America, Frank?

RICH: Because I think the more incompetent, the lazier he is, the less damage he can do. I mean, the history of his administration so far is every big plan he has had, whether be repeal, replace Obamacare or change immigration law has been blown up by either the courts or Congress controlled business his own party. So basically except for bunch of executive orders of varying nuisance equality he has just not getting much done and I feel better. Let's not have him build the wall. It would be great if there's an infrastructure program to get people jobs but he is not doing that either.

LEMON: OK. So that was one of his major, one of his main campaign promises. And Frank, the "Washington Post" back checked the President's campaign promises. They found out of his 60 promises he has kept five, he has broken five, and he has taken no action on 34. And you say his promised have, and again a quote her "roughly the same value as diploma from Trump University." So you see this is a win for Democratic.

RICH: I don't know if it's a win for Democratic but it is - Democrats are in a certain amount of disarray, but it certainly a win for the country that he is not doing much to - including his more ridiculous plans. And if I get Trump University diploma, the sense that there's a lot of, you know, dog and pony shows. There is a lot of blaster, the press conferences where he is signing executive orders. And it seems like something is happening even though nothing is.

LEMON: Like a reality show.

RICH: It is like a reality show and a very fast paced one. 100 days seems like a decade far as I'm concerned.

LEMON: Here's what the President told Reuters as he prepares to hit that 100-day mark tomorrow.


TRUMP: Well, I loved my previous life. I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. I actually, this is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier. I thought it was more of -- I'm a details-oriented person. I think you would say that. But I do miss my old life. I like to work so that's not a problem, but this is actually more work.


RICH: Detail-oriented person. He is exactly the opposite of a detail-oriented person. He released a tax plan that was just a bunch of bullet points where you can't even tell how many taxes you will have to pay as an American citizen. He learned that healthcare was more complicated. Amazing, he learned it is harder to be President of the United States than to run a New York real estate business. Who would have thank it?

LEMON: But isn't it fair to say that most Presidents, you know, they don't realize how hard it is maybe, but I think the difference maybe is that he made it seem on the campaign that this would be easy for him. That everything would be easy and now he is saying, you know, this is hard. But so early on in 100 days to say that, to say I miss my old life or I love my old life. RICH: Yes, exactly. I mean, he seems -- he doesn't really know how

government works. Yes, other Presidents have been shocked by the weight and the gravity of the Presidency, but he is saying something else. He is saying it is hard to do the job. He thought it would be easy as picking up the phone to call room service at the Trump hotel or calling the Carrier corporations to get some jobs back. I don't think he knew when he took office the simple high school civics course lesson how a bill becomes a law. I think it's all new to him.

[23:35:06] LEMON: Yes. Looking forward to the next 100 days, so what do you will likely see, seriously, from the president's next 100 days? What challenges remain for him, Frank?

RICH: Well, the one thing for his party he has to deliver is some kind of tax plan and there's nowhere near -- there's no plan, it was just a press release and a sort of announcement the treasury department. And then he is going to international crisis. And then of course the one thing that every President faces is a crisis that you never saw coming, a Katrina, whatever it is, a 9/11, God forbid and we don't know how he reacts in those situations. He is going to have a challenge of some sort and we are going we are going to see in real-time. We have to hope that he will grow into the job.

LEMON: Yes, that mean being leader of the free world is a hard job, every single President before him as said that.

Thank you, Frank. I appreciate it.

RICH: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: And all you have to do is look at the pictures on how they age, you know, in four years or eight years.

RICH: Question is will we aged just as much.

LEMON: Thank you, Frank. Always a pleasure.

RICH: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, from the Apprentice to president, how Trump uses reality TV tactics to run the White House.


LEMON: And look at the Trump family's first Easter egg roll at the White House. Day 88, the President and first lady hanging out with the Easter bunny.


[23:40:57] LEMON: Drama, conflict and ratings, sounds like a reality show but actually is the Donald Trump presidency.

CNN's Brynn Gingras has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From reality TV to the White House.

TRUMP: You're fired.

GINGRAS: From the board room to the campaign trail and into the oval office, Donald Trump the former star of "the Apprentice" brings the skills he learned in reality TV to his new reality in Washington.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Donald Trump lives by being unpredictable. He likes the element of surprise. He like the element of shock and he employs that shock value in his communication strategy.

GINGRAS: Shock, surprise, and strategy. Where have we seen that before?

TRUMP: Rebecca, you're outstanding. Randall, you're hired.

GINGRAS: Remember the drama around choosing the secretary of state would it be Rudy Giuliani, that dinner with Mitt Romney, a twitter tease whether I choose him or not for state Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil is a world class player and deal maker. Ending with stay tuned. Or when he narrowed down his Supreme Court choices to a two-person finally--.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you potential Supreme Court pick?

GINGRAS: Saving his pick for prime time.

DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR REPORTER FOR MEDIA AND POLITICS: He is very much trying to master mind his presidency, market his presidency with that sort of reality television sensibility.

GINGRAS: TV Trump and President Trump love grand entrances. Boasts.

TRUMP: And I won.

We had such great success.

I think it's the best success so for.

It's going to be great job for American workers.

It is going to be great.

Make America great again.

GINGRAS: And ratings. He bragged to the AP about giving a network morning show its best rating since 9/11. And defended press secretary Sean Spicer after calls to fire him over comments about the holocaust saying quote "that guy gets great ratings everyone tunes in.'

Just this week, a made for TV bus trio senators to the White House to discuss North Korea. But the dramatic showcasing isn't exclusive to Trump. President Obama held a beer summit. And in 2004 George W. Bush landed on an aircraft carrier. So what's different about Trump?

CHALIAN: I don't think he runs the White House like a reality show. He has taken from his reality show days and his New York tabloid press days, is the understanding of how to capture attention, through being a captivating personality. And I think he uses that more to his benefit than not from inside the White House as well.

GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, New York.


LEMON: Thanks Brynn.

When we come back I will ask former celebrity apprentice contestant whether he think the President has changed since taking office or is he the same reality star as we seen on TV.

And a countdown to Trump's 100 days continues with president - the president surprising a tour group on day 47. The Trump getting a surprise of this own. His photo of taking place right under Hillary Clinton's portrait.


[23:48:29] LEMON: Donald Trump has been called a reality show President. It was a winning strategy during the campaign but what about now. Here to discuss CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and Penn Jillette, the illusionist, actor and comedian who was a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice."

Hi, Penn, good to see you. Brian, always a pleasure to see you.


LEMON: Pen, you were on "the Apprentice" with Donald Trump. Do you think he has changed since he has become President or is he acting like the reality star you knew?

JILLETTE: He hasn't changed one bit as far as I can tell. I mean the country may have, but he didn't. I mean, in order to go on a reality show, no skills really required at all except for an absence of shame and an absence of embarrassment. And you have to cultivate that. And he seems to be exactly that way now. Would have thought anybody in that powerful position would have some sort of decorum and cool. But that's going to way and people don't seem to miss it.

LEMON: Are you saying the President has no shame and lack of decorum?

JILLETTE: I almost think I said that, didn't I?


JILLETTE: But I don't think I'm the only one has noticed it.

LEMON: Brian, you know, President Trump before he was President, he used his skills he learned from reality TV to become President. IT was a winning strategy for him then, what about now?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You elect a reality show star, are going to get a reality TV show star. I think it is essential to understand in President Trump, that he thinks like a television producers, not just a reality show producer but a television producer. He thinks about clip hanger, he thinks about twists, surprise endings, new plot lines. That's the mind that rewarded him through "the Apprentice."

I think see that on display now whether it is buses coming over from the Senate to the White House, whether it is a second Supreme Court nominee that might be on the way to Washington. He is thinking in that way, dolling out stories for the media. Yes, there is a lot press to cover. We have to make sure we don't get distracted by his own plot line sometimes.

[23:50:28] LEMON: And everything is always like a tease. But wait until you see would be coming up. I think we are going to --.

STELTER: It's always coming up after the break. That's right. He might be a better tease than you, Don, in terms of, stay tuned after the break. This is what's coming up next.

LEMON: Do you think it's working for him, Brian?

STELTER: To some degree, I do. I think we see in the polls, there is a divide in the country between folks who are supportive and approving right now and those that don't. The President loves ratings. But ratings only tell you if people are interested, if people are appealing that the programming is appealing. It doesn't tell you if people approve of the program. And that's why the approval rating numbers from all of the five major networks are so important. Because they all line up. They all tell the same story, between 40 and 44 percent approval for the President. No doubt, he has seen those numbers. And those should matter at this point and more than television ratings.

LEMON: Penn, from your previous answer, though, the question I have for you is that are you concerned that the President is too wrapped up in production and the style, rather than the nuts and bolts of governing?

JILLETTE: Yes, that's the exact question, you know. The question you asked was, is it working? And my question would be what does working mean? I mean, staying President, keeping his cliff-hangers, even getting high approval ratings is not what Presidents need to do. I mean, we have wonderful examples of real statesmen and women throughout history who have done something that might have been the most popular thing to do. I mean, we are not supposed to be mob rule. There's supposed to be some sort of idea and some sort of morality and ethics behind it. It is just not to get cheers. And someone who is just interesting to ratings, I even think on TV, being caring nothing but ratings, does not lead to a well-lead life or the best possible TV show you can do. I think it could be working 100 percent and he could still not the best President we could have.

LEMON: Yes. You can have a highly-rated show and still not inform people. It is all just fluff.

Brian, do you think the reality show President comes naturally, that title? And that thing for him to the President?


LEMON: Or is it carefully planned, do you think?

STELTER: It's been almost two years since he entered the race by coming down the escalator. Well, almost coming up on to your mark. And back then, it was the Trump show. that's why o think we were all watching in the summer and the fall, as he was campaigning before anybody actually voted. And in that term, the Trump show can apply today. The issue -- I don't mean to sound like a high school social studies teacher, Don, is that government is sort of supposed to be boring, right. There is part of government, functions of government that is not supposed to be entertaining, not supposed to be all that suspenseful or exciting. And what we are seeing in some cases in the President who is, you know, making it exciting, making it suspenseful. That's why a lot of people dread looking at their phones in the morning, wondering what kind of news alerts come across overnight, of what's happened in the administration or in the world.

We are in this environment and a lot of anxiety, right. It is an anxiety partly because we are experiencing a show that this administration is putting on. There's good parts to that but bad parts to that, too.

LEMON: I thought it was interesting, Penn, when he said that, you know, I didn't - you know, when Reuters interviewed him about what it was like to be President in the last, you know, almost 100 days. He said I didn't realize it was going to be so hard. It was about him, him, him. So is this keeping people hooked or is it about feeding his - the ego, the President's ego?

JILLETTE: You know, I only spent probably six or seven hours talking to him in my life. But I never saw any evidence of a huge plan. And think that that's one of the things -- I mean, random reinforcement, you know. People getting interesting stuff here and there. I mean, if you had Bill Gates host "Celebrity Apprentice," we would have been the most boring show in the world. He would have made the smartest choice.

You wanted someone that is capricious. And that gets him the news. I'm even stronger in that. I think the government shouldn't be our focus at all. Government is supposed to be in the background, so we can live our lives with freedom and individuality. And all of us watching the government as though it were some sort of show, is not anything that I want out of a government.

I want the government to just be going on in the background so that my family, my friends and my co-workers and I live our lives, with the government in the background. Not as get up every morning and see what's going on like its some sort - it is not a spectator sport. We are supposed to be the stars of our own lives.

[23:55:08] LEMON: Thank you, Penn. Thank you, Brian. I appreciate it.

Now I want to turn to CNN heroes. At 14, this week's hero (INAUDIBLE) was living alone on the streets. After years of struggle, she managed to find stability. And for the past 32 year, she dedicated her life to help vulnerable youth in Israel, providing them with not only a safe haven, but something more, a family.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very lonely. When you don't have your family, you will always have a black hole. I know exactly what they are going through. I want children to breathe. I want them to feel alive. I want them to feel secure. I want them to feel that they can be hugged and they will not be in danger. We can see it in a different way and win life.


LEMON: And to see how (INAUDIBLE) helps these young adults win at life, go to And while you're there, nominate someone you think should be the 2017 CNN hero.

That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching.