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POTUS Has Not Impose Sanctions On Russia That Congress Has Passed; Sanders Dodges Questions In White House Briefings; White House Chief Of Staff Kelly's Job In Jeopardy; Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Lying About Interaction With Rick Gates; Mueller Indicts 13 Russians For Election Interference Says They Communicated With Unwitting People Tied To Trump's Campaign; Russian Bots Target Voters Throughout America. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired February 20, 2018 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:45] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast, we are live with new developments. President Trump claiming today he has been much tougher on Russia than former President Obama and encouraging people to look at the facts. We're going to do just that. Here are some of the actions President Obama's administration took against Russia. Ok. Here we go. After a prominent known critic who called out the Russian financial corruption dies in prison. Obama signs the MagNitsky act that imposes travel and financial restricting on some Russian officials and human rights abusers in response the Kremlin halts the American adoption of Russian babies and in early 2014 the Russians began military operations in Ukraine, ultimately taking parts of the country by force and in response the Obama administrations begins imposing multiple rounds of sanctions over the next two years. The sanctions target Russian defense, financial, energy and technology companies.

The U.S. joins allies in suspending Russia's membership in the G8. The Obama administration also provides $350 million in military equipment to Ukraine. In May of 2016 the U.S. deploys a ground based missile defense system in Romania. Russia calls the system a threat to its security and threatens protective measures to guard against it. Top intelligence leaders briefed Republican and Democratic leaders about Russia's attempts to undermine the election. It was senate majority leader Mitch McConnell who expressed skepticism about the claims. After a brutal offensive launch by the Russian-backed Syrian regime with countless civilian deaths the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations publicly calls them out.


SAMANTHA POWER, FORMER U.N. AMBASSADOR: To the Assad regime Russia and Iran three member states behind the conquest and carnage in Aleppo, you bear responsibility for these atrocities. Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians no execution of a child that gets under your skin?

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: President Obama makes public the Russian's cyber disruption

efforts in the U.S. announces sanctions against two Russians intelligence services, four individual Russian intelligence officers and three Russian companies providing material to support to those cyber operations. 35 Russian diplomats whom the administration said were intelligence operatives were given 72 hours to leave the country. Two Russian compounds are closed.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And so in early September when I saw President Putin in China I felt that the most effective way to ensure that that didn't happen was to talk to him directly. And tell him to cut it out and there were going to be serious consequences if he didn't. And in fact we did not see further tampering of the election process.


LEMON: Now let's look at President Trump's actions related to Russia. In April of last year he orders a cruise missile attack against the Russian backed Syrian regime. It's the first direct attack by the U.S. Military in the country's lengthy civil war. Under President Trump congress has taken the most aggressive actions against the kremlin, it was acting on the intelligence presented during the Obama administration. In August of 2017 congress overwhelmingly passes new sanctions on Russia for disrupting the 2016 U.S. Election. Critically, the bill limits President Trump's ability to lift them. Trump did sign what he called the significantly flawed bill and argued it limited his authority. And then in October President Trump delays at the very sanctions congress voted to implement. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, the administration said Russian sanctions weren't necessary because the threat of sanctions was serving as a deterrent. A few months ago Trump signed off on an additional $40 million in arms sales to Ukraine as the country battles pro-Russian forces. It is a continuation of an Obama era policy.

[23:05:00] Facts first. The Obama administration publicly call the Russian -- called out Russian election interference and followed up with sanctions. The President Trump failed to follow up on those sanctions. Trump says he pressed Putin about it saying quote, every time he sees me he says I didn't do that. And I really believe that when he tells me that he means it. Those are the facts. Let's discuss now. With CNN national security analyst James Clapper the former Director of national intelligence. Thank you for joining us sir. So I laid it out there, the facts of what the Obama administration did and the Trump administration did and have done so far. So President Trump falsely claiming that he is tougher on Russia than Obama, which is laughable when we won't call out Vladimir Putin.

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Don, I think first, that is an excellent and accurate recitation of sequence of events here in terms of dealing with Russia, both Obama administration and this administration. And increasingly the administration is reminding me of the minister of information in George Orwell's "1984" where up is down, black is white and war is peace. And the assertion that President Trump has been tougher on Russia than the Obama administration is laughable. He has yet to acknowledge the profound threat that Russia is posing to our system and the way they undermine still today our political fabric. And what's worse, he has failed to lead the -- what has to be a whole of government approach to thwarting this and stopping it in the future. And Russia is a threat to us. And in my view his failure to recognize, for whatever reason, and do anything about it is derelict.

LEMON: What is preventing the President from actually being tough on Russia? He could have imposed the sanctions I mentioned that were passed by congress with bipartisan support, by the way. But his administration refused to do it. The tools are in front of him. And he is not using them.

CLAPPER: Well, I don't know the answer to that. I do know -- and I saw this when we briefed him in January of '17 on the community intelligence assessment, that anything that is said or done that in any way questions the veracity or the legitimacy of his election, he just can't accept that. So, you know, is it naivete or something else? I just don't know. Regardless of why he is behaving that way, the important thing is the impact. And, again, my concern is -- which I think is -- it's very serious situation where this country in peril, because of his lack of leadership in doing something about this.

LEMON: Yes. Maybe he doesn't want to hear it because deep down he believes that maybe he had some help. But I have to ask you. You know, you heard me read out the actions from the Obama administration. You know, still I think its fair question, should President Obama have done more?

CLAPPER: Well, you can always do the, could have or should have. It's always difficult to go back and reconstruct the environment that existed then. I think there were constraints on being more aggressive. One of which was the White House wanted -- badly wanted a bipartisan statement. And bi-branch, I guess I would call it meaning the executive and legislative branch, on a bipartisan basis to put out a statement that explained what the Russians were doing and the threat that posed to our system.

And the White House, Dennis McDonough, the chief of staff, fought this battle for a month trying to get the congress on a bipartisan basis to sign on that. And the Republicans wouldn't participate. Well, we finally went out with a statement -- I say we, secretary of homeland security J. Johnson went out with a statement on the 7th of October before the election, which played I thought pretty straightforward and compellingly what the Russians were doing. Unfortunately our statement was (inaudible) by the revelations of the Access Hollywood audio tapes and so that drowned out I think our statement. You can always do the post mortem, 2020 hindsight, could have done more earlier and that all.

[23:10:07] I always felt, I will tell you Don, while we were deliberating all this and debating and arguing it, I felt that whatever we did was -- it would be a first step. And one of the motivations that President Obama had for directing the intelligence community to put together our assessment, gather all the reporting we had, put it in one place, tell the story as authoritatively as you can, because the first thing he wanted to do was hand that to the next administration with the expectation they would do more in way the sanctions or whatever ways we could to penalize Russia. Well obviously that didn't happen.

LEMON: Listen, I have to ask you about this. There is another big story that tonight that "The New York Times" is reporting. The Jared Kushner is resisting giving up access to classified information. Which is prompting an internal struggle with the chief of staff John Kelly. This, of course, follows Kelly's memo last week that we have been discussing so much, saying there would be a new security clearance rules. Kushner is working off an interim clearance. What do you make of this?

CLAPPER: Well, first, a definition here. The conventional definition of an interim clearance normally means, you know, if it's GS-12 Kushner someplace in agency X, what it means you get a lesser level of access, meaning say a secret clearance. The requirements for which are less demanding and the background checks are less rigorous. And then you can only be exposed to classified information to that level and be in an area that that is the highest level of classification, meaning secret, which is well below what given his massive charter of curing world hunger for everything, that he would need. And just to take one issue, the Middle East peace, negotiating between the Israelis and the Palestinians. It's absolutely critical that he have access to the most sensitive intelligence information to know what's going on. And so I'm -- I hope chief of staff John Kelly sticks to his guns.

LEMON: Director Clapper, always appreciate your time. Your perspective, your expertise. Thanks you so much.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: When we come back the first White House briefing in a week today and Sarah Sanders takes questions for only 20 minutes, dancing around the truth the whole time.


[23:16:26] LEMON: So we have breaking news tonight on Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law, and senior adviser reportedly fighting to keep his access to highly classified information against the wishes of chief of staff John Kelly. That is according to the "New York Times." So let's discuss now with CNN contributor Frank Bruni of the Times and Mark McKinnon former adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain the executive producer of show time's the Circus. So good to have you on. Frank I think it's appropriate to start with you, since you work for the New York Times. What do you make of the new reporting that fighting of his access to the classified information is not limited?

FRANK BRUNI, NEW YORK TIMES OP-ED COLUMNIST: I'm not surprised. A lot of the items in Jared's portfolio are things that you would want access and clearance for. But I don't know how it gets resolved because the main problem is (inaudible) right, I mean he is the President's son-in-law. When he makes a complains like this, when he is feeling boxed out and he tries to remedy that, is he treated like any member of the administration or is he treated differently? That is the question with him all along. I think it belongs to a long line of questions including whether he is qualified for the items in the portfolio. And this is a guy with little experience in the world coming into the White House and we haven't seen great results so far.

LEMON: What was interesting -- John Kelly -- looking for the exact quote. Kelly issued a statement basically saying we have full confidence in Jared Kushner. I wasn't really talking about him but if you look at the letter of the memo and what it says, Jared Kushner -- put the statement up. Jared Kushner shouldn't have access according to John Kelly. As I told him a couple of days ago, full confidence in his ability --

BRUNI: Jared Kushner runs afoul of the (inaudible). So again exemptions made for him because he is the president son in law or did actually kind a get their act in order here.

LEMON: So, listen, Mark, Kushner is one of the highest ranking staffers in the west wing without permanent security clearance. Should he have access and is there a power struggle underway right now between Kushner and Kelly do you think?

MARK MCKINNON, THE CIRCUS ON SHOWTIME CO HOST: Well, first of all, we had the staff secretary that didn't have clearance. And that is one of the most sensitive positions in the White House handling supersensitive documents. Then you have another member of the President's family without clearance. I mean, the bigger question is why didn't owe isn't there clearance? Nobody in that position should be hired in the first place if they don't have clearance. And look at his portfolio. Part of his portfolio is the Middle East for god's sakes with highly classified, with highly sensitive information. So anybody with -- any of those senior positions of the White House in any White House should have clearance. If they don't they shouldn't be there.

LEMON: So, I mean, "The New York Times" is also reporting that Trump was surveying people about whether he should get rid of Kelly after hearing negative comments about him from family members. Where do you think this ends, Mark?

MCKINNON: Well, it's just -- it's a revolving door. And it's just -- the chief of staffs will only last as long as -- until, you know, the next issue happens with the President. It's always something with the President. It's rarely something with the chief of staff. It's usually -- so the problem with the chief of staff is not so much the chief of staff. It's the person they're working for and the people working around them that are dealing with factions. That it is Bannon on the one hand and/or or son-in-law and daughters on the other hand. Factions in the White House. The problem is partially Kelly, but it's not the same Kelly most people knew when we went in. So the point is that whoever is in there is going in become as creature on puppet of Donald Trump and that is the real problem.

[23:20:00] LEMON: Listen, I want to talk about -- MCKINNON: There is not a process that is important in any White

House. I thought this when Trump went in. Even somebody like George W. Bush who have watched carefully his father's administration, he knew as do most other Presidents that go in, ideology is important. Lots of things are important. But in a White House it's hard enough to get the job done under any circumstances. You have to have a perfectly buttoned up process. That includes starting at the top and a really wired together chief of staff.

LEMON: Chief of staff. Makes all the difference. So the briefing today, the White House press secretary stepped up to the podium the first time in a week. A lot of ground to cover. This is just part of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President doesn't really think that the FBI failed to stop the parkland shooter, because it was too involved with the Russia investigation does he.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he was speaking not necessarily that that is the cause. I think we all have to be aware that the cause of this is that of a deranged individual that made a decision to take the lives of 17 other people. That is the responsibility of the shooter. Certainly not the responsibility of anybody else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So did he miss-tweet when he said that? He was direct. He says it's not acceptable they're spreading too much time trying to prove Russia --

HUCKABEE SANDERS: He is making the point that we would like our FBI agencies to not be focused on something that is clearly a hoax in terms of investigating the Trump campaign and its involvement --


LEMON: What --


BRUNI: She remains a marvel doesn't she?

LEMON: What on earth is she talking about? Let's put up the President's original tweet and then you can respond. What's your reaction to what she said today?

BRUNI: To what she just said. We all heard Donald Trump say one thing very clearly she decided she heard something or spin it another way. She has an impossible job. She is trying to launder and defend a man who does ridiculous and dishonorable things. That is what you see when she comes out like this and clearly is the mouthpiece for alternate reality.

LEMON: That was one of the many fact challenged things that Sanders said today. Have you ever seen a White House press secretary -- as you said she has an impossible job? And no one has to do that job, I mean -- with less credibility- -- maybe Spicer did.

BRUNI: I think she has outspicered Spicer. I think she is probably the least trustworthy press secretary in my lifetime and she is working for the least trustworthy most dishonest Presidents so it follows.

LEMON: OK. Mark as the former adviser to President Bush, is this about as big a political circus as you have ever seen?


MCKINNON: Well I just remember when we first came up with the idea of the title "The Circus" which was really just as Trump was getting in the race. We thought that might be over the top. Now, of course, you know it's fascinating -- it's really difficult because we did a lot of episodes for standard network -- or premium cable television. And at first they said you're doing 26 episode for the first run. We thought that is a lot of episodes that is just there are weeks where not much is happening and that never happened. Our challenge is always been what do we cut every week? We never put anything on the air that we haven't shot early on Monday. But even by Thursday, the stuff we shoot Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in this administration seems incredibly old. And the problem is whenever we go off the air stuff happens and everybody says, why are you not on the air right now? We are not on the air because we have a budget and we have to maintain our health. We will be back up on April with 18 more episodes.

LEMON: And show time has to get other things on the air. Listen we know, I went to a taping tonight at 9:30. I came out of the taping about 9:20 and the whole the whole world. There was Jared Kushner -- every night, 9:30, 9:45 our entire show blows up because something has happened at the White House. It's unbelievable isn't it?

BRUNI: The metabolism is like nothing we have ever seen before, 100 percent.

LEMON: Thank you all, thank you both. I appreciate it. When we come back a European lawyer and son of Russian oligarch pleads guilty to lying to Robert Mueller's investigators after he covered up his conversations with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, What message is Mueller sending? That was earlier today.


[23:29:00] LEMON: The special counsel has secured another guilty plea in the Russia investigation, this time from lawyer with connections to the former trump campaign aide Rick Gates. What's next for the special counsel investigation? Let's discuss now with Robert Wray a former federal prosecutor, a Michael Zeldin a CNN legal analyst and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the Department of Justice, and John Flannery a former special counsel to the senate and house judiciary committees. So Attorney Alex Vander Zwaan pleaded or pled guilty for lying to investigators to cover up his conversations with Rick Gates, a former aide to the Trump campaign. To the Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and quote one other person. Who worked with Gates and Manafort? What's your reaction to this guilty plea? Michael, you first.

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well so I think there are two rules that Mueller set down for us. One is, do not lie to my investigative team. And if you are part of a group of people, do not endeavor to fraud the United States government of its lawful functioning. That's the theme among the Manafort and Russian indictments, and the guilty pleas of Papadopoulos and Flynn, and now this lawyer.

Mueller takes truth telling and honesty very seriously. And anyone a who think that is Mueller is not turning over every stone to see whether or not people are truth telling, only to look at this indictment to see the level of detail that he went into to look at the e-mails that this young lawyer deleted, which gave rise to the lies that gave rise to his guilty plea. It's a very thorough investigation.

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: So, it's Alex van der Zwaan and one other person. Any idea -- any guess who that other person might be?

ZELDIN: No, I don't know.

LEMON: You don't know, OK. So, John, van der Zwaan is a Dutch citizen, a son of Russian oligarch, worked in London. He apparently was preparing some sort of report on Ukraine that Gates and Manafort asked for. Are you surprised by the reach of Mueller's probe?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEES: No, not at all, because if you think about it, the way for Manafort to be helpful to Trump and vice versa is -- his connection with Yanukovych for whom the report was written, to show that he wasn't the evil character that we say.

And it leads us to the Crimea sanctions. So that entire pot, that with the Magnitsky and meddling are three sanctions area all of which Trump has shone himself to be weak on, suggesting as you did in your earlier report say, that this is the quid pro quo among the things.

So, I think that what we are doing with this lawyer, which I think is our first lawyer in this case as compared to Watergate where we had many more, the -- I think what we have here is an effort to squeeze Gates who may already be cooperating to force Manafort to reconsider his position and to point upwards.


FLANNERY: And I think the washing of money and what was going on in Ukraine and Crimea are that third aspect of the sanctions.

LEMON: I want to play the Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, and i'm going to ask this to you, Robert, about this guilty plea on -- he is saying there is no collusion. This question is for you. But play this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: We do know that this indictment just like the one on Friday only reinforces our over arching point when it come to the Special Counsel's investigation, which is that as the president has long stated, there is no evidence of collusion because none existed, And that there is going to be no findings of wrong doing.


LEMON: OK. So he is saying collusion and wrongdoing. Other people are thinking this is more about interference. What's your assessment? And the White House is saying, we have nothing to do with this. Other people are reading this as I have said, no interference in the election.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Well as, Michael, said quite correctly initially, obviously, the first message is don't lie to FBI investigators attached to Special Counsel Mueller's investigation.

And that would be true with regard to any criminal investigation. But, you know, every time you have one of these guilty pleas who are talking about false statements or obstruction of justice, it naturally raises the question, why are they lying?

What are they, you know, trying to conceal? And what are they trying to shield from investigators? That would be a natural and logical, you know, place to start.

What's a little strange about this one is that the prosecutor who appeared in court today made it clear that this was not a cooperation agreement with this defendant. This was just a straight plea agreement.

So it doesn't suggest at least, you know, superficially at least that this is the sort of thing that it's cooperation leading toward, you know, other things directly.

Although, you know, it should be said that this -- by the same token that any time you send the message that you are going to prosecute people for false statements or obstruction of justice, that's clearly sending a message to other people that the investigation encounters that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated.

LEMON: So, why is the White House saying or at least -- they're saying they see no -- you know, this means that there is no collusion. This brings home the point to them that there is no collusion. And why are they seeing this in that?

RAY: Well, I think they were really more talking about the indictment that proceeded last week, which was of the 13 Russians.

You know, I think it's just -- it's important for the White House to make the point that so far as what we know publicly about the Mueller investigation, there does not appear to be any evidence of quote unquote, collusion. And that, you know, obviously is subject to further review by the Special Counsel office. That's important point for the White House to make and they have made it. But mostly that related to the prior weeks.

LEMON: Go ahead, John.


LEMON: John, first. Go ahead.

FLANNERY: OK. What I think is going on here is, first of all, why do you shake a tree? And why do you shake an apple tree. And I think that's part of it. The rest of it is to tell the story -- the back story.

[23:35:13] Because if you enter into a conspiracy as we suggest that Trump and his team did, that things that you don't necessarily know that are part and necessary of their delivery system or part of it -- and you got to ask yourself why did they favor Trump going back to at least April of 2016?

And what you have is you follow upon the Magnitsky Act in Congress, and you follow up on the names that list the key supplier, and the person who is Putin's chef in the middle of this who is part of this troll factory.

And early on they're picking Trump. It suggests that June 9th is not as important as we thought, and some date before that, there was an agreement, that anybody who is against Trump in the primary and anybody who was against Hillary would be knocked out.

LEMON: So, what are you saying is -- I want to get, Michael, in before we run out of time. What are you seeing?

ZELDIN: Well, it seems to me that there is an evolution here toward an effort to get Manafort's cooperation. I think while Robert is right, this case really doesn't lend itself necessarily to cooperation.

It may a little bit pressure Gates to make sure that he is cooperating and pleading. I think they want Manafort's testimony badly.

And that's why I think we saw in court just last week Mueller telling the judge that Manafort may have engaged in bank fraud in terms of a mortgage that he used to secure his bond. There is a lot of pressure on Manafort to cooperate with the FBI.

RAY: And there may be additional charges. That's an important point to make. I mean, they're obviously applying pressure and that's -- that Special Counsel Mueller's job to press.

LEMON: Thank you. When we come back, America is spreading Russian a misinformation on the internet and most of them have no idea they're doing it. What you need to know about how people are getting caught up in the lies and how to avoid it yourself. [23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicting 13 Russian nationals for interfering in the 2016 election using what the Russians themselves called information warfare. We are learning about the methods they allegedly used. But not everyone believes it. The story tonight from senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She may well be one of the unwitting Americans, Trump supporters who helped the internet trolls infiltrate U.S. communities by spreading Russian made messages without knowing it.

But Florine Goldfarb still runs the Team Trump Broward Facebook page think that's all B.S. Right down to the timing of when Robert Mueller decided to release his indictments.

FLORINE GOLDFARB, TEAM TRUMP BROWARD: They are covering it up that they have blunder on the -- on the shooting that was done at the high school.

GRIFFIN: One group, the Russians operated under was called, Being Patriotic, calling themselves an online community, they were actually Russian internet trolls according the FBI, trying to direct unwitting Americans to holding rallies, posting Russian made anti-Hillary Clinton messages, even telling them what to print on their homemade signs.

According to the indictment, the Russians under the online name, Being Patriotic, encouraged supporters to stage a flash mob on August 20th, and 2the Team Trump Broward group responded. Florine Goldfarb posted the information for the flash mob on the Facebook page she still runs.

Co-chair of the team, Trump Broward, Dolly Rump, was there holding a crooked Hillary sign. Dolly Rump, wouldn't talk to CNN. Her husband told us by phone, we are disgusting and not to bother them. Florine Goldfarb told us, we are fake news. But what part of this is a cover- up? Are you saying that's not true or what?

GOLDFARB: The Russians? I don't care if they were the involved or not. That's -- that to me is the least important thing.

GRIFFIN: But they were involved with you. Did you guys know that?

GOLDFARB: They weren't involved. You know, just make sure that you report it correctly, that, you know.

GRIFFIN: But you guys were involved with being patriotic, right?

GOLDFARB: Very, very patriotic. But not...

GRIFFIN: Being Patriotic was the group that contacted and helped organize some these activities that you posted on your own Facebook account? GOLDFARB: Those were legitimate.

GRIFFIN: Those were Russians.

GOLDFARB: They were not Russians. I don't go with the Russians. Come on give me a break.

GRIFFIN: That group was Russians.

GOLDFARB: I have nothing with the russians.

GRIFFIN: Well, apparently you did.


GRIFFIN: Even though the indictment says the Russians organized the rally, Ms. Goldfarb, says she never communicated with any Russians and no one at any of her events were anything about Americans for Trump.

The Russians pretending to be Trump organizers also reached out to Harry Miller in Boynton Beach, Florida, paying him to build a cage large enough to hold an actress depicting Clinton in prison uniform.

He did just that, appearing at rallies. On Friday, Miller who now lives in Pennsylvania tweeted, this is the cage the Russians paid for.

By phone, he says he learned about his unwitting involvement from the FBI. And now believes it was Russians who called him on the phone, paid in between $500, to $1,000 to build the cage.

HARRY MILLER, TRUMP SUPPORTER (via phone): How can you be embarrassed? They have the beautiful website, they very supportive of the candidate. There was nothing -- nothing at all to lend to you think that it's anything other than people trying to support a candidate.

GRIFFIN: The Russians weren't just recruiting unwitting Trump supporters. As CNN reported last October, a group calling itself Black Fist turned out to be Russians, trying to infiltrate black communities and seed social unrest.

[23:45:06] Other groups were encouraged by Russian Internet trolls to hold protesting against police for and against immigrants, sometimes encouraging both at the same location to increase the possibility of violence.

The indictment also reveals this post election protest outside New York's Trump Tower was organized by Russians on Facebook. It grew so large even CNN covered it.

Micah White, one of the original Occupy Wall Street organizer says he believes he was contacted by Russian trolls in May of 2016. He worries about the long-term effects.

MICAH WHITE, OCCUPY WALL STREET ORGANIZER: If it's true that a Russian created activist group is indistinguishable from an American created group, that will make -- that will have negative impacts on our ability to create social movements that are positive, that actually benefit ourselves and not some sort of foreign power. So that...

GRIFFIN: People will always be wondering, well, is this a real event.

WHITE: And I think that may have been part of the goal of the Russian thing.

GRIFFIN: To Florine Goldfarb there is no Russian thing. It's all as she repeatedly told us, B.S.


GRIFFIN: B.S.? 2 GOLDFARB: And please, please report that, I don't believe that. That's bull shit. I know all the people that were with me, OK? They were at my meetings. They're all Trump supporters, OK?

GRIFFIN: But did you realize that you guys were in communication electronically with Russians?

GOLDFARB: Not me. Not me. I don't know.

GRIFFIN: You were posting stuff on Facebook.

GOLDFARB: Hillary -- Hillary Clinton was and so was all her bandits.

GRIFFIN: You are in charge of the Facebook account, right? You were posting and reposting almost word for word the information that was coming out of this Internet Research Agency...

GOLDFARB: No. Goodbye.

GRIFFIN: ... in St. Petersburg.


GRIFFIN: You don't believe that?

GOLDFARB: No. It's bull shit.


GRIFFIN: Don, she just refuses to believe what appears to be fact, that these Russian trolls were so adept at infiltrating the online political discussion in this country, they even at times convinced Americans where and when to stage protests, demonstrations, and even to build a Hillary Clinton cage on the back of a pick up truck. Don.

LEMON: Thanks, Drew. Unbelievable. When we come back Russian trolls didn't stop trying to influence Americans after the election. In fact, they're busier than ever disrupting the conversation on gun control in the wake of the Florida shooting. More on that next.


LEMON: So let's discuss what we saw in, Drew Griffin's, piece just before the break. Russian bots set their sights on the United States in an attempt to sow seeds of division and anger, by all accounts it worked.

What's next for Russian bots -- the Russian bot army? And what's being done about it? Let's discuss, Julia Loffe is here, she is staff writer at The Atlantic and Mark Jacobson of Georgetown University. I appreciate you joining us.

So, Julia, I have to ask you. I'm struck by the woman in, Drew Griffin's story, completely unwilling to even listen, to understand. I am floored.



LOFFE: Well, I think -- look, when you say the Russians were sowing seeds of dissent and division, I don't think they were sowing the seeds. The seeds have been in the soil for hundreds of years. I think they were tilling and you know, watering, and fertilizing the field, first of all.

Second of all, I think, in a society that's so politically polarized, you don't believe anything coming from the other side, that's two.

Third is, you know, when somebody confronts you with a camera -- an on camera for a national network says, you messed up, and you may have been guilty of a crime, I think the natural response -- I don't think it's the right response, but the natural response is to get defensive, get your back up, and deny everything. Also...

LEMON: And not say, well, really, how so? Show me your evidence that I did it and then once you show it say, well, this is terrible for our democracy and all Americans should know this.

LOFFE: Maybe. But you know, if you're dealing with...

LEMON: She just refused even to believe it.

LOFFE: Then you're dealing with a political activist, somebody who isn't necessarily for truth but for a particular side. And the interference helped her side.

LEMON: I just -- wow. So what do you make of that, Mark?

MARK JACOBSON, ASSOCIATE TEACHING PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, actually, I agree with, Julia, there. I'm a little sympathetic towards Ms. Goldfarb's reaction. I mean, look, St. Petersburg, Florida, St. Petersburg, Russia, it's kind of close. But I mean there is something about that.


LOFFE: Same weather.

JACOBSON: Yes, exactly. However, look at the response by both Mr. Miller and Mr. White. Miller, embarrassed as well, in fact he says that. But at the same time, he understands, look, it's the Russians.

You've shown me that this is what they try to do, and then for Micah White, I think his insights are pretty prescient. He's saying, look, if we have a legitimate campaign here and we can't tell the difference between where Russian campaign is, and where our campaign is, we are in real trouble, it's going to take away from the legitimacy of it. And now joking aside, that's the real issue here.

LEMON: I think that's right, but listen, I have to say, no, I don't feel sorry for her. And I'm a compassionate person. But she needs to know the truth. And if not, we're not helping. We're hurting her by saying, I feel sorry for her, I understand her position.

No, I don't understand her position and I don't care if you're a political activist. If you are, in fact, unwittingly helping the Russians and someone offers you legitimate proof, whether you think they're on the other side or not, the facts are real.

More people should be standing up and saying, hey, lady, listen, you helped the Russians, the Russians interfered, you need to get your head around that.

LOFFE: But I think a lot of people are saying that, right? And I'm sorry to...


LEMON: But you guys are saying -- you are saying, I feel sorry for her.

[23:55:02] LOFFE: I didn't say I feel sorry for her, I'm saying I understand where the reaction comes from.

LEMON: I get that.

LOFFE: I think empathy is not sympathy. But I think it doesn't really matter whether we convince this particular lady or not. The fact that people see this report on a national news network, the fact that this is being covered, I think most people will see and understand what happened. I think this particular lady is not necessarily the issue.

LEMON: I don't mean to pick on her. But I meant, I am using her as an example of many people -- many, many people. And still get, like, you know, people saying things on social media, like that is completely not true.

LOFFE: Because they want to believe -- you know, it's that selective bias, right? You want to believe the things that reinforce your side that make you feel better about your choices, your political position.

LEMON: My selective bias is because you're in the studio, I'm giving you more time. So, I will give you the last word quickly. I have like ten seconds here, Mark.

JACOBSON: Yes, I think this is the challenge. There's a certain segment of the population that just will refuse to believe it. We saw this with the heart of Texas website.

Even when it was exposed, they wouldn't believe it's the Russians. I'm concerned with those people who are willing to give this thought and willing to take an alternative view, and look at what the Russians have been doing.

LEMON: Thank you both, fascinating conversation. I wish we had more time. We're counting down to a very important event. It's tomorrow night, The students of Stoneman Douglas High School speaking out to demand action and to end gun violence once and for all.

Stand Up, a live CNN town hall hosted by Jake Tapper. Senators Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, Congressman Ted Deutch will be taking questions from students and parents.

That is Stand Up, a live CNN town hall is tomorrow night at 9:00 eastern. That's it for us tonight. Thank you so much for watching, I'll see you right back here tomorrow.