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President Donald Trump Strikes Back At The Bombshell Testimony Of The Former FBI Director James Comey; Bill Maher On HBO Found Himself In Some Hot Water When He Said This Word On His Show; President Trump Trying To Assure NATO Of America's Commitment. Aired 11:00-12:00mn ET

Aired June 9, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:16] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Trump versus Comey. One of them is telling the truth and one of them is not.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The President striking back at the bombshell testimony of the former FBI director, accusing James Comey of lying. And to finally telling reporters during a news conference in the Rose Garden how he is prepared to respond.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of events?



LEMON: A classic example of he said-he said.

I want to begin this hour with Joe Madison, a host on Sirius XM and syndicated talk radio host John Fredericks.

My dream team of radio guys back right now. Good evening to both of you.


LEMON: Joe, I'm going to start with you. Yesterday we heard from former FBI director James Comey, long awaited, bombshell testimony. What was your reaction?

MADISON: Well, my reaction was that I think he was extremely credible, he did exactly what a lot of times I used to tell people when I worked for the NAACP. That if you think you are going to have an issue with an individual, the best thing to do is make sure you immediately go out and memorialize the conversation. And you don't have to always go into detail. What it does, it in essence jogs the memory, and that's really what you saw. And you can always be certain that the other side, the other side probably didn't take notes, unless there is a recording. Now, if there's a recording, then very simply, we will know exactly who's telling the truth.

But I think what's more disappointing than anything that I heard with the news conference is a grown man who is President of the United States, 70-some years old, playing hide-and-seek with a recording device. That is so un-precedential. I have never seen anything like it. And actually, it's childish.

LEMON: So, John, I'm guessing you disagree. What'd you think of Comey's testimony?

JOHN FREDERICKS, SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, his testimony, I think, is the turning point in this administration, because it's the great elixir now for Trump's presidency. After 12 months of exhaustive investigation, this James Comey (INAUDIBLE) drama show coming to Washington with mainstream media was running around for a week with their hair on fire. There's nothing there, Don. There's no obstruction of justice, there's no wrongdoing, there's no evidence of collusion, there's nothing. They have absolutely nothing.

Now what this administration has to do and what this President has to do is move on and start getting his agenda done. I thought on Thursday it was a tremendous win for the President.

But I'll tell you something else, Don. It's backfiring for the Democrats, the mainstream media and the Trump resistance because what they have done is they have taken a match and they have tossed it into the simmering Trump base. The Trump base right now, the callers on my radio show - I have never seen anything like this in my career. They are stoked. They are fired up. These are the forgotten people that nobody thought would turn out on Election Day. They came out and now they are reignited. And they are going to keep turning out. Handle is going to win in Georgia in two weeks and they are going to win the midterms. But this thing is backfiring on the Democrats like crazy.

LEMON: Two things there. None of the things that you have said have been determined. It hasn't been a determination about collusion, about obstruction, none of it. That's what's being investigated right now. So that hasn't been determined. So to say that there's no evidence there, we don't know. We are not investigators.

FREDERICKS: Well, there's no evidence now, Don. There's no evidence now.

LEMON: There could be, but that's yet to be determined. I think that offers people - that gives people sort of false hope. It also gives them misinformation when you say there's nothing there because the investigation is still going on. And by the way, --

FREDERICKS: But Don, is there anything there now, Don?

LEMON: Hold on, yesterday's testimony. I'm just informing the viewers, yesterday's testimony was not about collusion. It was about why the former FBI director was fired. So -- and remember -- within that 34 -- he has a 34 percent approval rating. It's a small part of the country, just so you know.

MADISON: Everything -- look, everything John is saying about the base, it's probably absolutely true. And you know, he talks about his callers. Well, I spent four hours today. And I'm going to tell you, in four hours, solid calls where everybody believed exactly what Comey was saying for all kinds of reasons.

But here, John, is what I think everybody should understand. There are three investigations going on. They haven't been completed. We have got a long way to go on this one. One, you have got the house investigation. Two, you have got the Senate investigation. And there's a young guy by the name of Mueller who is now putting together a staff, and he's looking into criminal investigations.

You know, I made the point about when they went after John Gotti. They didn't start off with Gotti. They actually got people to flip. And I think the flipper in the crowd is going to be Flynn, Flynn the flipper. That's what's going to happen. And it might lead to Donald Trump. I don't know that, but let's not tell the American people tonight that it's all over.

I would also agree with you, the Republicans are going to have to figure out a way how to legislate while all these investigations are going on. They're dead in the water in '18.

[23:05:53] LEMON: OK. So, listen, the President -- I'll let you respond. Go ahead, John.

FREDERICKS: Well, look, Joe, I agree with the potential of what might be out there. But the point is now after 12 months, endless testimony and all of the investigations so far, there is absolutely nothing to suggest that the President did anything wrong. Some people don't like his style. They might be snowflakes. They don't like the fact that he looks them in the eye and asks them direct questions. They are uncomfortable. The guy should have resigned.

The biggest mistake Trump made with James Comey was he should have fired him 12:01 January 21. That was the biggest mistake he made. The guy is incompetent. I'm glad he is out there. Wray is a much better chance.


MADISON: He wasn't incompetent when he was going after Hillary.

LEMON: Let me follow up on that. Why do you think he waited so long, John?

FREDERICKS: I don't know, because --

MADISON: I know why. I think he wanted him to drop the Russian case. That's why he fired him. He said so! He told you why he fired him.

FREDERICKS: You know what, look. If you know the President, he tries to get along with people at first. He tries to work with people. That's what he tried to do. He gave the guy a shot. It was a disaster. He fired him. I would have fired him. If I was in the White House advising him, I would have said 12:01, done with your great - (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: My question was why do you think he waited so long to fire him?

FREDERICKS: Donald Trump is -- the President's a really nice guy. This is a side of the President nobody understands. They only see the sound bites of him. You get to know President Trump. He is a really nice guy. He doesn't like to fire people, even though he had a show about that, but that's the irony of it.

LEMON: But you still haven't answered my question. Why did he fire him? He said he fired him because of the Russia investigation. That's what he said. That came out of his own mouth. You don't think that's why he fired him?

FREDERICKS: Don, I think he fired him on May 9th because he was frustrated with James Comey and his behavior as FBI director that he wasn't doing the right thing. And that's why he fired him. And he has got a constitutional right to do that. He didn't like the guy. They didn't get along. He didn't have a --

MADISON: John, this is ridiculous!

LEMON: Go ahead, Joe.

MADISON: Excuse me. I'm sorry, excuse me.

LEMON: Go ahead, Joe.

MADISON: Presidents of the United States of America do not hire and fire people based on the fact whether they like them. My goodness, this is not a question of he's a nice guy. So I will keep him around because I'm a nice guy. He already said why he fired him.

FREDERICKS: He gave him an opportunity, John. He gave him a fair shake and a fair opportunity.

MADISON: You John. I'm Joe.

FREDERICKS: I'm sorry, Joe. He gave him a fair opportunity, Joe.

LEMON: But a fair opportunity to do what? You said he didn't do the right thing. I'm trying to get down to the bottom of why you think he fired him. What was so wrong with what he did? What was the right thing for him to do?

FREDERICKS: The right thing for President Trump to do --

LEMON: No, no, for Comey.

FREDERICKS: -- was to fire James Comey on January 21st. That was the thing --

LEMON: You said he fired him because --

FREDERICKS: Waiting until May 9th --

LEMON: All right. We are going in circles. I'm not getting an answer. OK. So listen, today --

FREDERICKS: I gave you an answer, January 21st. That's the answer.

LEMON: That wasn't my question, though.

FREDERICKS: He waited to see if this FBI director would respond in a way that Trump wanted, which was --


FREDERICKS: -- basically, are you going to run the FBI --

MADISON: That's a heck of an --

FREDERICKS: Are you going to run the FBI?

MADISON: America, listen to what he -- wait a minute, do you hear what he just said?

LEMON: That's what I wanted --

MADISON: That Trump wanted you to do.

LEMON: Right.

MADISON: And excuse me. There is a separation between the FBI director and the President of the United States. And you just spilled some beans if you think that somehow the President of the United States has to make sure that the FBI director gets along with him? That does not work that way in my country and certainly with this situation when you are part of an investigation or your campaign is part of an investigation. What Comey should have done --

[23:10:01] FREDERICKS: The investigation had nothing to do with it.

MADISON: Come on.

FREDERICKS: The investigation was going to go on whether he had him or not. It didn't matter.

LEMON: Well, look. When I asked you, John, when I -- you said because it wasn't the right thing to do, that he wasn't doing the right thing. He fired him because Comey wasn't doing the right thing. I was trying to get at, what was the right thing? And you said he didn't do what Trump wanted him to do. That was --

FREDERICKS: He didn't think that James Comey was running the FBI in a professional manner. He thought he was seeking publicity and he had a separate agenda from the President --

LEMON: So, do you think he's lying then - (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: John, do you think he's lying then when he said he fired him because of Russia? Because that's what he said.

FREDERICKS: He didn't fire him because of Russia. He fired him because he was incompetent. I mean, the guy has been a total disaster since he has been there --

LEMON: That's not what he said, though. Look, maybe he's been a disaster, I don't know. Look, it's not for me to decide. I'm not in government. I'm not in office. But he said he fired him because of the Russia thing. So, do you think that is -- which is it? Is the President lying when he said that or is he not lying? Because that's not what came out of his mouth. He didn't say he was incompetent.

MADISON: And I haven't had a single FBI -- I have not had a single FBI agent who is a former, because most of them are current, will not call a talk show and tell my audience that he has been incompetent. As a matter of fact, he is just the opposite. But you know what, the reality is, the President of the United States, as Brian said, he is new. He doesn't know how the FBI is running. Remember, Brian said, he is new to all this. So, if he is still new, how in the heck does he know how the FBI is run? Come on.

LEMON: John, we will talk about this on the other side. We have more to talk about. I'll let you jump in on the other side. We will be right back. We are going to talk about Bill Maher as well. Back in a moment.


[23:15:24] LEMON: All right. We are back now with Joe Madison and John Fredericks. This is my radio guys dream team right here.

So Joe, I have to ask you, last Friday's HBO, Bill Maher on HBO found himself in some hot water when he said this word on his show. Let's listen again.


BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: I have got to get to Nebraska more.

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: You are welcome. We would love to have you work in the fields with us.

MAHER: Working the fields? Senator, I'm a house nigger. It's a joke.


LEMON: So, this evening, Bill Maher addressed what he said last week on the show and he spoke with Michael Eric Dyson about it. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAHER: There is a lot of bullshit apologizing in America, and I am against that. But you know, we shouldn't apologize for slavery and Japanese internment and Abu Ghraib and Indian genocide and Tuskegee. So, when appropriate, this was appropriate, because I'll tell you why, because for black folks, that word, I don't care who you are, has caused pain. I'm not here to do that.


MAHER: Now, the guy who was here. It's not his fault. I feel bad about him, the senator. It's all on me. But he said a weird thing. The comic mind goes to a weird place sometimes.


MAHER: But it doesn't matter that it wasn't said in malice, it wasn't -- if it brought back pain to people.

DYSON: Right, well --

MAHER: Then that's -- and that's why I apologize freely and I reiterated tonight. That's sincere.


LEMON: What do you think, Joe?

MADISON: Well, I think it was sincere. I think what Bob means, as much as Bill Maher -- and he is right. And I know a lot of great comedians. (INAUDIBLE) have made a career out of that word. But you have to understand, he comes from an entirely different psychological, social aspect of it. The thing that bothered me most, and no one has talked about it, is when Bill Maher made that mistake, you know the audience applauded? The vast majority of those people in that audience, they didn't boo, they didn't hiss, they applauded.

LEMON: Well, some of them gasped. They were like, ooh.

MADISON: Yes, well --

LEMON: You don't think there was maybe some nervousness or no?

MADISON: Well, there might have been. I wasn't in the audience, but I heard a lot of applause. You know, on my show, I'm going to say this. Jewish people have made, to their credit, they have gotten rid of the "k" word. When I bring this up on my radio show, I have grown people who say, what's the "k" word? And there's a reason they have done that, because they are not going to allow themselves to be undervalued, underestimated or marginalized, and they understand what that word has meant historically, and it's about time that this --

LEMON: Do you say that word on the show? Do you people what the word -- the word is kike. Do you say that on your show or --

MADISON: Only if asked.

LEMON: Only if asked.

MADISON: Only if asked, because I'll tell you, if Bill Maher had said that on his show, he would have been through.

LEMON: What do you think, John? Do you think he adequately addressed it, and what do you make of what Joe said?

FREDERICKS: Well, I agree with Joe. But it's really the total desensitization of America where it seems to be acceptable to have these people go on various television shows and they say things that are just offensive to millions and millions of Americans in this way. And think they can get away with an apology, whether it be Kathy Griffin or a Bill Maher or someone else. And it really is not a fun time that we are in.

But look, everybody's got choices. And here's the bottom line, Joe and Don, is that if you don't like Bill Maher, don't watch him. Don't turn on HBO. Cancel your subscription to it. It's real easy to do. I have got a much better choice for late-night TV on the east coast in America, CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon, much better choice. That's what I would do if I was watching late-night TV, Don. I would watch you.

MADISON: I like both of them, to be quite candid, and I also like being on with you. And the reality is that people on the left and the right do it. The reality is that he was sincere in his apology. I think most people have accepted it and moved on. And he had the right person on, Michael Eric Dyson, to lecture him. He just needed a good lecturing, and he got it.

LEMON: Yes. Do you guys -- do you remember when the whole "Duck Dynasty" thing happened?

MADISON: Oh, God, yes.

LEMON: And with the gay. And my stance was that, you know, the market will decide. If you don't -- you know, don't tune in. You know, the show, they lost a whole bunch of viewers. I don't believe in boycotting or, you know, people for whatever. Just don't watch them, you know?

[23:20:10] MADISON: You know, Don, it is kind of --.

FREDERICKS: You're so right, Don.

MADISON: I'm sorry, the last segment with the "f" word. You know, if that senator had not used the "f" word, you know we wouldn't be talking about what she said.


MADISON: The reality is, that's true.


LEMON: Because I see people out there all the time. There's this whole thing that wasn't addressed that Hannity does about boycotting. It's like, why would you want someone to boycott someone? This is America. It's about freedom of speech. No one should be boycotting people. The boycott should be, if you don't like what they say, then don't watch them. Listen, there are exceptions, if somebody does something horrible. Like what Kathy Griffin did, I don't think it is the right thing to do, neither does she. She has apologized for it.

MADISON: I agree.

LEMON: Bill Maher has apologized for it. So, they have apologized. Move on.


LEMON: People should not be castigated for their entire life, their career should not be ruined for their entire lives because they did something wrong once. And if they sincerely apologize for it, then the market, the people who accept them, go ahead and watch them. If you don't want to watch them anymore, you don't want to go to their concerts, you want to watch their show or what have you, buy their music, then don't do it, but stop trying to boycott people. It's absolutely ridiculous. Go on, John.

FREDERICKS: Don, you are spot on. I mean, you are so spot on tonight. Just don't watch it. That's all you have to do. And it's kind of like a free-market economy, you make decisions by what you do. You feed how you spend your money, but --

LEMON: But I have to say, listen. I have to say, though, freedom of speech comes with consequences, because if I say something on this show, I have got the freedom to say it, but people also have the right to react the way that they're going to react to it. I have to accept the consequences. Go on. Sorry to cut you off.

FREDERICKS: Let's get -- your "Duck Dynasty" example is classic, because I used to watch "Duck Dynasty" once in a while, not often, but I'm a staunch gay rights Republican. I have been fighting this battle for gay rights for Republicans for three decades.

Now, when that came out on that show, I just couldn't watch it again. So I didn't watch the end, which means I didn't see their advertisers, which means I'm not involved. And so, that's all people have to do. If you don't like something, you have got a lot of choices. Everybody's got cable or satellite today or something. There's thousands of channels. Just make your decision. You're spot on.

LEMON: What channel are you on again, Joe?

MADISON: Are you talking to me?


MADISON: I'm on Sirius XM, on 28, the Urban View. And let me tell you, every time I'm on this show, you know, I get folks who love us. They appreciate the exchange, and then I get some of the most visceral, nasty --

LEMON: That's great! You're doing - we are doing something right. And John, what are you on? You are syndicated, right?

FREDERICKS: Yes. If you can get 50 percent of your audience mad at you, 50 percent of the time, you're doing the best job you possibly can in America. That's our mantra. That's what we try to do.

LEMON: Read my twitter feed. Thank you all. Pleasure to have you both on.

Up next, President Trump trying to assure NATO of America's commitment, but it's what h is not saying that's raising questions.


[23:27:07] LEMON: President Trump addressing reporters in the Rose Garden this afternoon.

I want to bring in CNN global affair analyst David Rohde and political analyst Tara Palmeri.

Thank you both for joining us.

David, I'm going to start with you. President Trump had a lot to say on former FBI director James Comey today, but it's also what he didn't say that's interesting. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many of the countries on the flank of NATO, including Romania, see Russia as a threat to the security and the peace in the region. Do you share this vision, and do you think that the United States should act under article five if any of this country will be under military aggression? Thank you very much.

TRUMP: Well, I'm committing the United States and have committed, but I'm committing the United States to article five. And certainly, we are there to protect, and that's one of the reasons that I want people to make sure we have a very, very strong force by paying the kind of money necessary to have that force. But yes, absolutely, I would be committed to article five.


LEMON: So, the President committed to article five, but he ignored the question on Russia. Does he see them as a threat? What do you think of that, David?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: That's what's sort of odd about the answer to the question. He completely, you know, didn't talk about Russia at all. That was the point. This is a Romanian reporter. Romania is one of the eastern European countries that fears Putin, and he doesn't respond to that.

And then again, it's odd, he sort of -- you know, when he was at the NATO summit, this is exactly what our biggest and longest-term allies, most historic allies wanted to hear. He won't say it to them, but he says it in the Rose Garden in a press conference with the leader of Romania. And it's good he said it, it's just why, and why will he not criticize Russia?

LEMON: Tara, he did commit to article five, something he didn't exquisitely do, right, and to the disappointment, as he said, to the world leaders while at NATO. Was this an attempt, do you think, to fix that mistake that David talked about?

TARA PALMERI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Perhaps it was. I think that when Trump went to the NATO headquarters, he really was thriving, according to some White House aides that I spoke to, on the idea of beating them over the head to tell them that they needed to increase their military budget to two percent. And so, that was his mission. And I don't think he wanted to give anything to the members of NATO unless he felt like he got something in exchange. And his mission was to tell the world, his base, that I am not a globalist, I am coming to Brussels to tell them to pay up so that they are not being unfair to the American taxpayers, and it just -- he decided that was his goal, and I think he decided at the last minute he didn't want to pledge to article five, and then Pence, you know, obviously did commit to it, and a lot of -- McMaster committed to it and others. So maybe he thought I have to do it as well.

[23:30:02] LEMON: The President did add this caveat when it comes to every country's defense spending. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Yes, they haven't paid what they should be paying now. But for many years they haven't been paying. So I said, do we ever go back and say, how about paying the money from many, many years past? Now, I know no President has ever asked that question, but I do. We are going to make NATO very strong. You need the money to make it strong. You can't just do what we have been doing in the past. So, I did say, yes, you haven't paid this year. But what about the past years, the many past years where you haven't paid? Perhaps you should pay some or all of that money back.


LEMON: I have got to ask you, David, I mean, does he understand how NATO works? As "The New York Times'" David Sanger said earlier, these are not -- he said it's not country club dues. This is what is spent on your own military.


LEMON: What do you think?

ROHDE: Yes, that's correct. I mean, there were sort of two, frankly, false statements the President, you know, said. He said no President had dared say this before. That is untrue. President George W. Bush pressured, you know, countries to spend more on their defense spending, and Barack Obama brought it up as well. And then these countries, all the NATO members have been paying their dues to the NATO budget itself. That is not behind at all. There was a voluntary commitment. He talked about years and years of not paying. There was a voluntary pledge by countries in 2014, three years ago, to try to spend two percent of their GDPs on defense. Some countries have not done that, but that's only since 2014.

And you're right, as David Sanger said, it's for their own defense budgets. The NATO dues are being paid and have been paid, you know, year after year.

PALMERI: And they don't necessarily have to spend it on military, either. It can be spent on equipment, office personnel. It doesn't need to actually be spent on artillery.

LEMON: Yes. The President also spoke about the fight against terror and what's going on with Qatar. Watch this.


TRUMP: The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level. And in the wake of that conference, nations came together and spoke to me about confronting Qatar over its behavior. So, we had a decision to make. Do we take the easy road, or do we finally take a hard, but necessary, action? We have to stop the funding of terrorism. I decided, along with secretary of state Rex Tillerson, our great generals and military people, the time had come to call on Qatar to end its funding. They have to end that funding. And it's extremist ideology in terms of funding.


LEMON: So, Tara, what do you make of the President's message today, because this comes after he essentially took credit earlier this week via twitter for countries cutting diplomatic ties to Qatar?

PALMERI: I think he is obviously unclear of his position on this. And we have seen this with Trump. I mean, even with the Syria crisis, he said Assad should stay in power, and then a week later said that they need to remove him from power. He is really doing shoot by the hip diplomacy. And we could hear something completely different tomorrow. But it depends on, you know, what his thoughts are and what news is placed in front of him.

LEMON: What do you think? There's a different tone now, David, in the message than what we are hearing from the secretary of state, Rex Tillerson who called on the gulf nations to de-escalate the crisis with Qatar, even saying that the blockade has hindered military actions against ISIS.

ROHDE: Yes. Again, you are hearing these different messages from different parts of the administration. The key issue about Qatar is that there is this very large American air base that's supporting the bombing campaigns against ISIS, supporting U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, and that's what complicates this.

He is right, though, this funding has to stop. Qatar has been a problem, but so is Kuwait, and so has Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is resented by many Muslim nations, many moderate Muslims because Saudi Arabia's seen as a source of funding and this hardline ideology that can lead to terrorism and you don't hear President Trump talking about that.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.

Coming up, is it a case of he said-he said? So, who is lying, the President or the former FBI director?


[23:38:40] LEMON: President Trump calling out James Comey over his Senate testimony.

Let's discuss now with CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, Richard Painter, former White House ethics lawyer, and Stephen Kohn, a founding director of the national whistleblower center and the author of "the whistleblower's handbook."

I'm so glad to have you great to have you legal minds on this evening.

So Paul, we saw a defiant President today. He is calling Comey a liar and saying he is 100 percent willing to go under oath. Surprising that he would say that. Where does this leave us legally? Is it he said-he said?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is a he said-he said. However, Comey would seem to have the edge because he took contemporaneous notes of his conversation with the President.

LEMON: Are they a factor?

CALLAN: I think they will be a factor, because when a jury is looking for who is telling the truth, they are always looking for collateral corroboration. And if somebody actually recorded it moments after leaving the conversation, that gives him a little bit of an edge. Now, who knows, maybe the President was tape recording. Maybe he was keeping notes, too, but he is not known to be much of a note-taker.

LEMON: If there is a legal case, does it make a difference that the President and his attorney seem to be cherry picking what Comey said, taking the parts they like and discounting the parts they don't?

CALLAN: There's a charge in criminal cases that judges actually give to the jury, which says, if you found someone is lying in their testimony, you have the right to ignore all of the testimony, but you can cherry pick it. You can say, I believe this part of the testimony, but I don't believe other parts of the testimony. So, that's what his lawyers will ultimately say. That that's a standard jury charge that's given in American courtrooms.

[23:40:12] LEMON: Richard Painter, what are the circumstances that the President would testify under oath? I mean, who would call him? Would it be public? Would it be private?

RICHARD PAINTER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS LAWYER: Well, I would assume that the first would be for Bob Mueller, the special counsel, to request his testimony under oath about matters that pertain to the investigation. That would include the obstruction of justice, which appears to have occurred with the FBI director, but also some of the substantive issues with respect to Russia and the coordination by anybody in the Trump campaign and the Russians.

I'm not sure the special counsel is going to want to take multiple depositions of the President under oath, so it may be a while before he actually does that. But it is going to be very important that that happen. And I think the President will probably agree to at least answer some questions on some topics under oath. At least he said he would today. So, that's where I expect this is going to go, but it's going to take a while.

LEMON: Steve, the President is going after Comey as a leaker after Comey said this yesterday during his testimony.


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: The President tweeted on Friday, after I got fired, that I would better hope there's not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn't dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation, there might be a tape. And my judgment was I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter.


LEMON: So, Stephen, President Trump's outside counsel says they are planning to file a complaint against Comey for doing that with the justice department inspector general and the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Comey's a former employee, so he is former, right? So, is there any real bite here? Do they have a case?

STEPHEN KOHN, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL WHISTLEBLOWER CENTER: None whatsoever. Comey's speech is constitutionally protected. Under the constitution, you have a right to amenity when you are blowing the whistle. And Comey was defending himself from specific charges that had been leveled. So, he is constitutionally protected. In fact, it's the opposite. If Trump and his cohorts file a complaint, that could be viewed as retaliation and illegal.

LEMON: So, does that -- does the President put himself at further risk, if you're saying -- you said unconstitutional and illegal, is that what you said?

KOHN: No doubt, and --

LEMON: So, is that further obstruction of -- is that the risk of obstruction of justice for going after Comey for leaking?

KOHN: I would say yes. Back in the Nixon administration, Nixon personally fired a whistleblower named Ernie Fitzgerald. And the Supreme Court found that Nixon had immunity. So, unlike a boss, a typical employer, you can't sue the President for retaliation. That would be up to Congress when they evaluate his overall conduct.

LEMON: All right. Richard, if Comey is a liar, right, do the leaks matter here?

PAINTER: Well, I don't know what he would have lied about. I would have to hear what it was that he turned out to have lied about. At this point, I'm persuaded by his testimony. It sounds like he kept accurate records of what happened. He would have no reason to lie.

The leak is absolutely irrelevant. It's a decision he made to communicate with "The New York Times." That's not criminal. And I have to say that it is obstruction of justice for the President to use his lawyer to retaliate against Comey by starting to try to get something going over at the department of justice to investigate Comey for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

I will be surprised if he follows through with that next week. And indeed, you could find, bar a complaint filed against the President's lawyer as a result of that. It's just going to make things a lot worse. That is a continuation of obstruction of justice.

LEMON: What do you think, Paul? Do you think that Comey could be in legal trouble for leaking contents or no?

CALLAN: No, I don't, because Comey was taking notes of his conversations with the President. And frankly, if you look at biographies that are done through the years of, you know, politicians, they take notes about conversations all the time with other people. So, it's not -- they were not classified documents, so there's nothing illegal about him leaking them to "The New York Times."

LEMON: I want to ask you about this, Richard. The White House director of social media, Dan Scavino, right, was reprimanded by the U.S. of special counsel for violating the hatch act on April 1st when he sent out a tweet calling for the defeat of GOP congressman (INAUDIBLE) in a primary. Explain what the hatch act is and what do you think about this?

[23:45:17] PAINTER: The hatch act prohibits a United States government employee from using his or her official position to interfere with a partisan election or to endorse a candidate, and that's exactly what he did. It was a so-called personal twitter page, but it had all the White House pictures on it, his official title on it. He was clearly using his official position to try to influence the outcome of an election. That was a clear hatch act violation, and that's the kind of thing that the office of special counsel will investigate.

If it's a current government employee -- now, I will note that I filed a hatch act complaint against director Comey about what happened last October in the election, and that was dismissed after he was fired because they do not investigate the conduct of previous, former government employees.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it.

Coming up, President Trump's management style, is it preventing his administration from attracting the best and the brightest?


[23:50:10] LEMON: Are there tapes of Donald Trump's oval office conversations with James Comey? The President was asked about the existence of the tapes today.


TRUMP: I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future. I'm not hinting. I'll tell you over a short period of time.


LEMON: All right. So I want to bring in now CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, the author of "the truth about Trump" and contributor Salena Zito. Hello to both you.

Salena, the President was asked twice about whether he was recording his conversations with James Comey. I don't understand the game here, why he is not answering the question. But I'm sure he has his reasons. What do you think?



LEMON: That was an honest answer! As honest an answer as you can get.

ZITO: I mean, he always has an interesting economy of words, beginning on twitter. When that's where the insinuation of this began, right? So it's the whole seriously thing, right. He says things that are sometimes a great exaggeration about what happened. And when he first tweeted that, he put it in quotes. Now was that like a joke or a tease or the truth? I don't think any of us know that. I did interview him in the oval office. He had someone there who recorded it while I also recorded it. But it was right out in front of me. So if there was, you know, I mean, he could have had a secret tape, but I think we just don't know it until we know it.

LEMON: You say, Michael, that this is a pattern with the President. He dangles things out there, and he says he will talk about them in the next few weeks or soon, right?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, we still haven't seen his taxes. This is a fellow who promised that I think two years ago. So it's a really confusing thing to try and get anything straight out of Donald Trump. It's always been that way. I think part of what he goes for is options. So if he puts it in quotes, like President Obama tapped my phones. We still don't know if he tapped his phones. We still don't know if there were detectives who went to Hawaii to check out his birth certificate. We have been waiting for the evidence on that since about 2011.

LEMON: Do you think that the Trump administration gets anything out of making this seem like a reality TV show? D'ANTONIO: I don't think the administration gets anything out of it.

So we have got a President who wants attention. This is a man who very desperately is interested in impressing us with his intelligence, but yet he does things that seem really stupid. I think it is confusion. I think it is chaos, management by chaos. But it is what he has done for a long time. And as long as he was a private business person running a family-run business, he could get away with it. I think being the President is a far different thing, of course.

LEMON: The President's lawyers and other members of his team have criticized the former FBI director James Comey for documenting his interaction was the President the way he did. But here is Comey explaining why he felt the need to write down his conversations from the very first meeting.


COMEY: The subject matter I was talking about matters that touched on the FBI's co-responsibility and that related to the President-elect personally. And then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting. And so I thought it really important to document.


LEMON: What does that tell you that the former FBI director says from his first meeting with the President, he felt he was a liar?

ZITO: Well it, you know, I mean, police - you know, he is a law enforcement expert, right? Or a career law enforcement guy. I mean, there are certain instincts that people in that profession have. Through years of interacting and watching people's behavior that probably prompted him to do that. He is also a manager and again, a law enforcement guy. These are people who typically do make notes all the time, regardless of their interactions. It's just sort of one of those best practices things. So that you always have a documentation of what's going on.

I'm not surprised that he did it. I'm also not surprised that he said what he did, you know, the reason that he gave. You know, sometimes people just make you uncomfortable. And Comey directly said that that is what inspired him to do it immediately.

LEMON: Michael, it was extraordinary to hear the former FBI director just flat-out saying -- calling him a liar.

D'ANTONIO: Well, it was. You know, to tell you the truth, Don, I took a witness with me. I took my tape recorder. He brought his tape recorder. So when you deal with Donald Trump, there is an assumption that there is going to be a dispute over what was said. So you are wise to be the one recording it. I think Comey wasn't quite smart enough to do that. I think he should have had a device.

LEMON: You know him well enough to do that.

D'ANTONIO: Sure. LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate it. Have a good weekend.

We will be right back.


[23:49:13] LEMON: This week CNN heroes sold everything he owned, his house and his car to start a boxing gym so kids from Detroit's toughest neighborhoods could have a safe place to go and grow. Having personally experienced many of the hardships these children face every day, he knows what it takes to show them the way to a brighter future. Meet coach Collie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have been shot at multiple times. Shot 26 rounds at the car. It was a reason that he didn't hit me, it's for me to be here for these kids. I have been there. So when they hear from me, they're OK, he is not sugarcoating it. No mentors, no positive role models. You put them in a position to be ready for prison or the county morgue. I don't see bad kids. I see a kid who haven't been heard yet.


LEMON: To see how coach Collie is changing the lives of children in Detroit, go to And while you're there, nominate someone you think should be 2017 CNN hero.

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