Return to Transcripts main page


Matthew Whitaker Dodges Questions; Lawmakers Not Impressed with A.G.'s Tactics; President Trump Gets Annual Physical; National Enquirer's Reporting on Jeff Bezos Under Scrutiny by Federal Prosecutors; VA Lt. Gov. Fairfax Takes Leave of Absence from Law Firm. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 8, 2019 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I've heard so many people talk about him and nothing -- nothing but good things about him. Sheila Jackson Lee was on speaking about him. I've heard about other people on this network and others say, talk about his commitment to the public and public work and for doing good things. We could use a whole lot of that these days.

You know, I think it's interesting that you talk about, you know, why this particular person was attracted -- was attractive to enough people to have him elected as president of the United States. Yes, that's part of it. People wanted change.

But we also have to look at the facts, Chris. If you look at the facts and if you look at studies, the biggest thing -- it wasn't economic anxiety. It wasn't change. It was because people were afraid of losing their status in this culture, in this society. That's why he plays to his base when it comes to things like you call the brown menace. That was the biggest reason that he got elected.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: There is no question that he tapped into something. Look, it is never the case in any political contest that one thing winds up being overwhelming, right? You can get a critical mass of something. You can get a tipping point. But it's always an equation.

LEMON: That was overwhelming. I'm just telling people do the research. Look at the studies. It will show you that is the number one issue --


CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- that people said --

CUOMO: By why were they afraid? Why were the identity politics in play for them?

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: Economic insecurity, the feeling the process doesn't look out for them.

LEMON: I'm glad you pointed that out because the right is always accusing the left of identity politics. And there is no greater identity politics than what is going on now.


LEMON: With the Republican Party and with the Trump supporters. Go on. Sorry.

CUOMO: We haven't seen this in a generation. We have not seen this in a generation. We have not seen somebody actively dividing the country along lines of traditional bigotries like we do now.

And it makes you think when you're our age, and you've been in this a while, people warned that you think it's over. You think the fight is won. You think everything is OK in this country now. And you're wrong.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: This is an experiment. And I remember being like, yes, yes, yes, we could always do better. Come on. I mean, look how far we've come. And look how far you can fall back and how quickly you can do so.

Look what we're talking about. You've got like a whole cadre of politicians in one state alone that may be out of office because of blackface and much uglier and more dangerous allegations with Fairfax, the lieutenant governor. But, so really how far have we come? And how much farther do we have to go, and how constantly cognizant must we be of how fragile progress is?

LEMON: There -- some of the best -- well, two things. One, when you're talking about what's going on in Virginia, you've got to read Robin Givhan's piece on blackface in "The Washington Post". Eye- opening. She explains why is it that people of color -- why is it that black people are costumes and fetishes?

And if you look at what is the norm, it's saying that being a white American is the norm, and anything outside of that is considered, you know, unusual. It's the baseline.

And so, if you are a person of color, it means something different to you than it means for the larger culture. Many people within that culture making excuses, saying it is just a costume. It is just this. It is just theater because it is -- because it's not personal.


LEMON: And hurtful to them.

CUOMO: And that's the power, though. The power of division -- and, you know, and I'll make it short. The power of division is this is a really fragile thing we have working here in America. And if you start pulling at the threads of what makes us different and why we should have problems, it's going to unravel. It just will because what hold us together is the diversity and the

recognition of our differences as strengths. That's what Dingell was talking about.


CUOMO: You got to remember that you're all Americans. Don't become consumed with how you can be different and how you can divide.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: It will be too effective. It will be counterproductive, but it will be effective to that person's cause. And he gave us a much better way forward. I just hope people will listen to it.

LEMON: I think a good exercise when it comes to this considering the moment where we are now culturally. If you can consider, if you imagine living in a culture -- let's just say you, right? You're a white guy. Imagine living in a culture where you weren't the baseline. Let's say the baseline is black, or it's Hispanic, or it's Muslim. It's some other thing. And someone used you as a costume, as something that was so unique and so foreign, so unusual that you can dress up as if you were it.

And have all the relish and all the fun and all the jokes, and then the next day go back to the other thing without facing the consequences of being that thing for life. Do you understand what I'm saying?

[22:04:57] CUOMO: Unfathomable.


CUOMO: Remember the movie with Travolta and I think Harry Belafonte where they did -- they did a race reversal movie. It wasn't like "Trading Places."

LEMON: John Travolta and Harry Belafonte?

CUOMO: Yes. It's loose like the whites were the minority. I think it was Harry Belafonte, and they were the majority.


LEMON: You're ringing the bell.

CUOMO: I'll tell you at the time of the movie, it was "White Man's Burden" it was called. Thank you, Ellie. The director just told me.


CUOMO: I'll tell you what, it was a really eye-opening thing. Do you know how many people tell me that the reason they enjoy you and me -- and let's be honest. I mean, you and I have been friends for a while. We're both surprised at how much people like us talking to each other. How many people have said to me that the fact that you're black and

I'm white is part of the reason that it's so good to see and that, you know, there's something healing about that.

And while I'm, you know -- I'm always happy for us to make a positive difference as journalists, it saddens me that that's resonant for people, you know, because I had never thought of that before. I've loved you for years. It doesn't Matter to me who you are, what you are. But it Matters to people, you know?


CUOMO: He's black, you're white, and look how close you guys are. Look how good you get along. Why wouldn't we?

LEMON: Well, I think that one important thing is that when people -- I hate that expression color blind because I see you for who you are and what you are. I'm not blind, right? I know who you are. And I don't want to race who you are as a person, as a man. I don't want anyone to erase who I am as a person, as a man. I'm a black man. You're a white man. I don't want anyone to erase that.

But in spite of that, we are still, we can still love each other, and we don't necessarily have to agree. We don't necessarily always have to get along, right?

But if we have that understanding that somehow, we're going to work this out and that we're both in this together, it's almost like a marriage, right? That's what friendship's about, right? You make a commitment to being a friend.

And if someone -- if you disagree with someone, you work it out. You try to come to some sort of understanding.

The other thing is -- and I really believe this -- is that people have to stop being so judgmental and become curious about other people's lives, what makes them tick, and not just hanging out with people at work. I have black co-workers. I have Hispanic co-workers. I have white co-workers. I have Muslim co-workers. I have, you know, Asian co-workers.

Not that. Do what we do. Pick up the phone on a weekend and say, what are you doing? You want to meet? You want to have wings? You want to go for a run? You want to go out on the boat? You want to go fishing? You know want to, you know, Cha-Cha and I want to come over, right. Cha-Cha and I want to come over and we want to say hi to your mom.

Just little things like that, making an effort to spend time with people. Maybe you want to go bowling. Maybe you want to go to church together. The real difference comes with relationships and not just lip service.

CUOMO: I think that is so beautifully said, and it's right. It's true. And it's easier than people make it.

LEMON: Yes. Now I'm going to be wah-wah, because we live in a world where the president of the United States calls someone a bozo today. That was the most shocking moment of the day for me as I sat getting ready in makeup. I'm only in there for two seconds. They don't have to put too much on me.

I heard Erin Burnett reading a tweet where the president of the United States called Jeff Bezos "Jeff bozo" and I said - she read it today. I know it wasn't today, but he said it, and it's in the news today that he called, the president, Jeff bozo. He called Jeff Bezos "Jeff bozo". The president --


CUOMO: Yes. That's where we are.

LEMON: The president -- wow. OK. We got a lot to get to. Have a great weekend. I won't see you this weekend. I'll be having fun doing some other stuff.

CUOMO: Enjoy yourself.

LEMON: Catching that --

CUOMO: I'll be watching you on the Instagram. Have a great weekend, D. Lemon. You're the best.

LEMON: See you later. Say hi to the family.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And what a performance. The acting attorney general, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker dodging questions, bobbing and weaving, running out the clock.

Six hours of political theater designed to impress an audience of one, by a man who's only going to be acting A.G. for just another few days and may very well be angling for his next job. So how did he do?

White House officials telling CNN, quote, "the hearing went as expected." I bet it did. And here's what officials were really expecting to hear. They were expecting to hear Whitaker say that he didn't discuss the Mueller investigation with Trump, and the acting A.G., well, he delivered.


REP. ZOE LOFGREN, (D) CALIFORNIA: The question is whether you shared your private opinions of the special counsel investigation with President Trump, other White House officials such as John Kelly, Trump family members, public surrogates such as Rudy Giuliani at the time that I'm referencing you were a private citizen -- this is before you were hired, so it is not covered by executive privilege. Did you do that?

[22:10:03] MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congresswoman, just to be clear, you're asking me whether or not I talked with anybody essentially in the president's circle or at the White House about my views of the special counsel's investigation.

LOFGREN: Correct.

WHITAKER: When I was a private citizen, not at the Department of Justice.

LOFGREN: Correct.

WHITAKER: No, I did not.


LEMON: OK. So, let's face it. He didn't have to talk to the president about Mueller. He didn't have to. He got the message across the same way just about everybody does with this president. You know what he did? He talked to him through the TV, specifically on this show. Matt Whitaker, July 2017, more than a year before he was appointed acting A.G. Roll it.


WHITAKER: I can see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment, and that attorney general doesn't fire bob Mueller, but he just reduces the budget so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt.


LEMON: Just two months later, Whitaker was named chief of staff to then A.G. Jeff Sessions, later taking on the job of acting A.G. when Sessions was fired by the president, speaking to an audience of one just like he did today on Capitol Hill.

This is Whitaker trying to act cute when Chairman Jerry Nadler wanted to know if he'd been asked to approve any of Mueller's actions. Here it is.


REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D) New York: Now, in your capacity as acting attorney general, have you ever been asked to approve any request or action to be taken by the special counsel?

WHITAKER: Mr. Chairman, I see that your five minutes is up, and so --


LEMON: That went over like a lead balloon. And Chairman Nadler was not having any of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In all your time in congress, have you ever had a witness tell you that your time is up?

NADLER: No. But I've never been chairman. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you offended by that?

NADLER: I laughed at it. I was surprised by it. I laughed at it. It was arrogant, but OK.


LEMON: Yes. Whatever, I'm not bothered. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was definitely not amused.


REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE, (D) TEXAS: Mr. Attorney General, we're not joking here, and your humor is not acceptable. Now, you are here because we have a constitutional duty to ask questions, and the Congress has the right to establish government rules.


LEMON: She was channeling my grandma. That's how my grandma used to speak to me. You're not funny, Don. Cut it out. That's exactly what she did to Whitaker.

Again and again, Whitaker dodged questions about the Mueller investigation, saying he couldn't talk about an ongoing investigation.


NADLER: Yes or no? Since your appointment as acting attorney general, have you been briefed on criminal or counterintelligence Matters within the special counsel's purview?

WHITAKER: Chairman, thank you for that question. As you know, I cannot talk about ongoing investigations.


LEMON: He can't talk about ongoing investigations. But he changed his tune when it came to a question from Ranking Member Douglas Collins.


WHITAKER: The office of inspector general is currently looking at the Carter Page FISA application.

REP. DOUGLAS COLLINS, (R) GEORGIA: Which is very much of a concern.

WHITAKER: And it is also being reviewed at the same time, simultaneously by Mr. John Huber, who is the U.S. attorney from Utah who was asked by Attorney General Sessions to conduct a review of certain Matters at the Department of Justice.


LEMON: Huh? That was pretty detailed. It sounded like he was talking about an ongoing investigation, didn't it? Which has to make you wonder, is it just a Matter of whether the question is coming from a Republican or a Democrat? Listen to this exchange with Congressman David Cicilline.


REP. DAVID CICILLINE, (D) RHODE ISLAND: Did the president lash out at you after Michael Cohen's guilty plea for lying to Congress about a Trump organization project to build a Trump tower in Moscow?

WHITAKER: The president specifically tweeted that he had not lashed out.

CICILLINE: I'm asking you, Mr. Whitaker, did the president lash out at you? I'm not asking what he tweeted. I don't have a lot of confidence in the veracity of his tweets. I'm asking you under oath.

WHITAKER: Congressman, that is based on an unsubstantiated --

CICILLINE: Sir, answer the question yes or no. Did the president lash out to you about Mr. Cohen's guilty plea?

WHITAKER: No, he did not.


LEMON: Well, that's not what multiple sources told CNN. He kept trying to get out of answering the question. We reported in December that President Trump vented to Whitaker not once but at least twice, angry after Cohen's guilty plea.

[22:14:58] But a little later the acting A.G. was back to the same old bobbing and weaving, refusing to answer questions about his conversations with the president about Cohen.


REP. VAL DEMINGS, (D) FLORIDA: Mr. Lieu asked you if you ever communicated with President Trump about investigations in the Southern District of New York. Instead of answering, you referred him back to your statement, referred him back to what was written for you.

But all you said is that you didn't make any -- your statement, that you didn't make any promises or commitments to President Trump. I want to know whether you talked to President Trump at all about the Southern District of New York's case involving Michael Cohen.

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, as I've mentioned several times today, I am not going to discuss my private conversations with the president of the United States.


LEMON: Whitaker also didn't want to talk about whether the DOJ might keep the Mueller report from going to Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D) CALIFORNIA: Has there been discussion at the

department about keeping the Mueller report from going to Congress?

WHITAKER: No. In fact, we continue to follow the special counsel regulations as it relates to the report. We haven't received the report.

SWALWELL: Has there been a draft opinion about keeping it from going to Congress?

WHITAKER: You know, congressman, I'm not going to talk about the kind of ongoing investigation that is the special counsel.


LEMON: So where does the Mueller investigation stand right now?


WHITAKER: Bob Mueller is going to finish his investigation when he wants to finish his investigation.


LEMON: OK. So, the acting attorney general spent six hours not answering questions today. Six hours of saying a whole lot of nothing. You know that saying, talking loudly and saying nothing? Which seems to be a theme for members of this administration when it comes to the Mueller investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about anyone in your life that you love?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being involved?

TRUMP: I'm not. I'm really not. You mentioned the Moscow example. That's a perfect example. There's nothing there. Yet it's creates weeks and weeks and months of headlines. So, no, I have zero concern.


LEMON: Zero concern from the president's daughter, a White House senior adviser, check. A whole lot of nothing from the acting attorney general, check on that. OK. So, let's check this.

Thirty-seven people and entities have been charged by Robert Mueller. The list includes six Trump associates including Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Roger Stone. Mueller has brought almost 200. In fact, a total of 199 criminal charges in all.

The American people deserve answers about all of this. So much to talk about from that combative hearing today. Congressman Jamie Raskin is a member of the committee. He's here next.


LEMON: The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee threatening to call acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker back for more questioning. Congressman Jerry Nadler saying that he's not satisfied with Whitaker's testimony today's firing and combative hearing.

Let's discuss now. Congressman Jamie Raskin is here. He's a Maryland Democrat who is a member of the committee. I'm so glad you're on. Thank you, sir.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Thank you for having me, Don.

LEMON: Whitaker tried to make clear that he did not speak to the president about the special counsel investigation, but there were a lot of questions that he would not answer. I'm guessing you're not satisfied with what you heard.

RASKIN: Well, yes. Basically, he invoked some kind of quasi- presidential privilege or some sort of customary right that he thought he had not to talk about conversations that he had had about the Mueller investigation. But that was a principle he turned on and turned off. So, there was no consistency in his testimony.

And of course, right after saying he wasn't going to delve into the details of particular cases, he immediately started answering questions about the Roger stone case and even throwing CNN into some conspiracy theory, that they're ginning up over on the GOP side.

So, it was a very disappointing performance by the acting attorney general of the United States of America, who was dodging and equivocating and filibustering. You know, we only get five minutes to answer questions, and so he obviously had been coached to speak for as long as possible on each question.

He would start by saying, thank you so much for that very thoughtful question. I really want to tell you I know how important it is to you, and on and on until finally members started saying, stop thanking us for the questions. Just answer the questions.


RASKIN: So, it was a disappointment overall.

LEMON: You had some fiery moments questioning the attorney general, the acting attorney general. Let's take a look at it.


RASKIN: According to "The Washington Post", in the three years after you arrived in Washington, Whitaker received more than $1.2 million as the leader of a charity that reported having no other employees.


WHITAKER: You have challenged my character --

RASKIN: No. No. I'm asking you a question. I control this time, Mr. Whitaker. If you want to ask the chairman for time of your own, you can do it. This is my time. Mr. Whitaker, you don't run this committee. You don't run the Congress of the United States --



RASKIN: -- and you don't run the judiciary committee.



LEMON: You know, that is a tactic. People don't want to answer the question, right. They feign outrage. It's happened a lot over the years on this network and people I've interviewed. Did today show why many have said the acting A.G. just doesn't qualify for the job? There's a lot we don't know about him even now.

RASKIN: Well he's superbly qualified for the job is the job is essentially to be a flunky for the president of the United States and to do whatever the president wants him to do.

What I was asking him about actually was a really shocking and stunning reversal in office of legal counsel opinion, which has stood since 2011, which has said that there's a ban in federal law on internet sports gambling, but it doesn't apply to the states that are having their lottery online.

And so, in a lot of states that have done that, the person who hates that the most is Sheldon Adelson because he views it as competition. And he spent more than million dollars lobbying Congress to try to get Congress to change it. Congress wouldn't change it.

[22:24:59] So then he went to the Department of Justice to try to lobby them and to use influence there to get them to change their interpretation of the law. And we believe that Whitaker was very much part of that when he was chief of staff to Sessions, and we know Sessions took part in it. And they got that reversal.

And that's what I was trying to ask him, where did that $1.2 million come from to this mysterious charity that funneled the money to Whitaker before he went into the Department of Justice. I mean who just pays you $1.2 million? So, there's mystery money out there. Who paid him to go out to be a right-wing polemicist all over America? We don't know.


RASKIN: And he wouldn't answer the question. He filibustered on us.

LEMON: He didn't answer. Yes. He was upset that you're impugning his character. Thank you, Congressman. I appreciate your time. RASKIN: You bet.

LEMON: I want to bring in now Pamela Brown and Jack Quinn.

Good evening to both of you. Pamela, you recently reported along with our Laura Jarrett that President Trump lashed out at Matthew Whitaker over Michael Cohen. Whitaker denied that characterization today, right?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, he did. He denied the characterization that the president ever lashed out at him about the SDNY investigation involving his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Our reporting, though, Don, is that the president did bring it up to him, vented to him. He was upset that he felt like he was unfairly implicated in this investigation when he was listed, as you'll recall, as individual one, for this hush money scheme that Cohen pleaded guilty to. So, you saw Whitaker sort of dance around it. I think we have the sound we can play.



CICILLINE: Sir, answer the question yes or no. Did the president lash out to you about Mr. Cohen's guilty plea?

WHITAKER: No, he did not.

LEE: I want to know whether you talked to President Trump at all about the Southern District of New York's case involving Michael Cohen.

WHITAKER: Congresswoman, as I've mentioned several times today, I am not going to discuss my private conversations with the president of the United States.


BROWN: OK. So that was key, Don, because that's completely inconsistent from what we heard from Matt Whitaker earlier in the hearing when he said that he did not speak about the Mueller probe to the president.

And yet, when he was asked about whether he spoke about the SDNY probe with the president, suddenly he said, I can't talk about my conversations with the president. So, there you saw an inconsistency.

Of course, again, our reporting is that, yes, the two did talk about it though we should make clear we didn't report that there were any promises or commitments made, just that the president vented to him and felt like he was treated unfairly, Don.

LEMON: Why do you think, Jack, why do you think Whitaker refused to discuss whether he had conversations with the president on the SDNY investigation of Michael Cohen or other straightforward questions about his conversations with the president?

JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think he was determined to avoid revealing anything about communications with the president or showing what the president was thinking or feeling about any of these investigations.

I also suspect, by the way, that if he did try to talk to the Southern District of New York, they might just well have told him to go pound sand, and so he would have nothing to say and be embarrassed by his answer.

But, look, to me, Don, the focus of the hearing was on whether he was interfering, whether he did things, be it in the Southern District of New York or with the special counsel, designed to obstruct the investigations of either of those offices.

I think what was missing here was his role as the periscope. He was there, I think, more to report back to the White House what he was learning because he had a line of vision into these investigations. He knew what was going on. He knew he couldn't influence them. They weren't going to all of a sudden fall in line to what he and the president wanted done.

But he was able to give important information to the president, the president's team, so the people -- so that the gang frankly could align their stories. And I think that aspect of his role in this thing was completely overlooked in this hearing.

LEMON: Listen, I'm at the end of our time, Pamela, but I've got to get you to respond to this, about Whitaker raising these concerns that CNN was tipped off somehow about the Roger Stone raid. We weren't. It was good old-fashioned reporting, old-fashioned --


LEMON: -- journalism, something which would be shocking to them, I'm sure.

BROWN: Right. It was really remarkable seeing the acting attorney general peddle these conspiracy theories that CNN was tipped off about the raid to Congress when we were not tipped off as we have been very clear about, Don.

We were able to do some good fashioned journalism, piece together clues about the grand jury meeting Thursday rather than Friday, the prosecutor in the Roger Stone case having a suitcase dressed casually on Thursday. We thought he maybe going to Florida, something maybe happening. So, we sent a producer and a photographer down.

But, Don, you know very well if we really received a tip that this was happening, you probably would have been down in Florida. A lot more people from CNN would have been down in Florida ready to go.

[22:29:58] LEMON: And the camera work wouldn't have been so shaky once the FBI arrived trying to get --


BROWN: Exactly. I think we would have had a better shot. We would have had a better shot. I mean, our team did an amazing job down there on the ground.


BROWN: But if they really have this tip and most of the time stakeouts don't go anywhere. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they don't.

LEMON: Right.

BROWN: This just happened to come to fruition, but it's just pretty remarkable.

LEMON: That's just how it goes. Hey, this is me talking. I'm not speaking for my colleagues who are both here. You know, when you're a crook, you think everybody else is. And that's not exactly the truth. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

President Trump got his annual checkup today with a new doctor. So, how is his health? CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. There he is. Look how handsome that guy is. And he's smart. We'll discuss, next.


LEMON: President Trump has had his second physical since taking office. So, what do we know about his health? I want to bring in CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Dr. Gupta, thank you so much for joining us this evening.


LEMON: Let's talk about the president. He got his annual checkup today. What do we know?

GUPTA: Well, so far, we've just gotten a pretty simple statement. You know, you'll remember a little bit about last year, and I'll talk about that in a second. But the statement from this year talks about the fact that the exam lasted four hours. There were 11 different consultants involved.

And it's the last sentence there that's on the screen. That's the last sentence of the statement. "The president of the United States is in very good health, and I anticipate that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency and beyond." Very enthusiastic. You know, it's obviously very hard to predict the future. No one has a crystal ball.

[22:34:56] So, it's a very enthusiastic statement which is in line with Dr. Ronny Jackson, who was the physician to the president last year, in how he talked about the president's health. You'll remember that. There was some basic data that was presented last year in terms of the president's height and weight, 6'3" inches tall, 239 pounds. Cholesterol, a little bit high, 223. You can see all the numbers there.

There were some recommendations in terms of what the president should do to try and, you know, take care of himself in terms of his exercise and his diet. But I wanted to play -- if you will let me, Don, a couple of exchanges from last year's press conference. Take a listen.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain to me how a guy who eats McDonald's and fried chicken and all those Diet Cokes and never exercises is in as good of shape as you say he's in?

RONNY JACKSON, ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP AND CHIEF MEDICAL ADVISOR: It is called genetics. I don't know. Some people have just great genes. I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old. I don't know.

GUPTA (on camera): He doesn't have heart disease? Is that what you said?

JACKSON: He does not have heart disease.

GUPTA (on camera): Because he had a CT scan before that showed calcium in his coronary blood vessels.

JACKSON: He does. He did. He had -- so technically he has nonclinical atherosclerotic coronary -- coronary atherosclerosis.


GUPTA: Coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, heart disease. They are all synonyms. Maybe this is semantics, but it was interesting, Don, that Dr. Jackson did not reveal that President Trump had even had this scan, did not reveal the results of that scan, a very important test when someone is concerned about heart disease.

I'll quickly show you the numbers here. Anyone who has had concerns about their heart has maybe heard of this test, a coronary calcium test. Bottom line, when you get over 100, it's concerning.

What the Mayo Clinic will say is that your chances of having a heart attack within the next three to five years goes up significantly, and that's why the doctors need to be paying attention to his heart, addressing any potential heart disease, his cholesterol. I'm sure that's where a lot of the focus was today, Don.

LEMON: I'm trying very hard to focus. You almost lost me at 239 pounds.


LEMON: OK. Anyway, can you speak to the president's theory that we've all heard that he thinks that, you know, exercising is a waste of energy. He sees people like a battery. There's a finite amount of energy.

GUPTA: I've heard that. I heard him say that. Look, it's not true, right? I mean, there are all sorts of crazy theories out there. You hate to even give them any more attention because that's simply not true. I will tell you this, and Dr. Jackson was asked about that last year and he kind of avoided the question.

But when it comes to losing weight, I think there's no question that the diet part of the equation is far more important than the exercise. Exercise is very important. But when it comes to losing weight specifically, all of our calories in come through food. And when we exercise, you know, most of the calories out actually come from just keeping the machine running. We only burn like 10 to 30 percent of our calories through exercise.

So for President Trump, the big question is going to be the diet. It's not to say, again, that we're a battery and we run out of energy, but diet is still going to be the most important.

LEMON: Yeah. Admittedly, he likes red meat. He likes French fries, Diet Coke. I think he has an affinity for McDonald's. A lot of Americans do. Not to make fun because a lot of people struggle with their health and their weight in America.

GUPTA: No question.

LEMON: But 239 pounds? OK. Thank you, Dr. Gupta.

GUPTA: Let's see what it is this year, OK?


LEMON: I appreciate that. Federal prosecutors now looking into possible wrongdoing by the publisher of the National Enquirer after Amazon chief Jeff Bezos accused it of blackmail and extortion. Was a crime committed?


LEMON: Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are now questioning whether the National Enquirer's parent company may have violated its cooperation deal in the wake of Jeff Bezos's accusation that the Enquirer's publisher attempted to extort and blackmail him. Today, AMI's board says they are going to investigate the claims made by Bezos.

Here for some analysis, Mr. Dan Abrams. Dan, thank you for joining us. How are you doing?


LEMON: So if federal prosecutors, Dan, in New York, find that AMI's actions are criminal, what happens?

ABRAMS: That's huge trouble for them. They've then got two sets of legal problems on their hands. First, they've got the immediate problem of the crime that the federal prosecutors thought that they committed, if they believe it was extortion, whatever it is. And then the other issue, which is probably the larger one, is that they had this immunity deal and a very standard term in an immunity deal is you can't commit other crimes. If you commit other crimes, the immunity deal effectively goes away.

And interestingly, that's up to the prosecutors to decide, meaning you don't need a conviction on a crime. It could be prosecutors deciding, we think you have violated our deal. And as a result, we can prosecute you there, and we can prosecute you there. So, that's why they have to be particularly concerned about what they do now.

LEMON: A source familiar with the Bezos investigation is telling CNN that people on the Bezos side believe that Michael Sanchez -- Michael Sanchez is the brother of his girlfriend, right? That he could be the person who gave those personal and intimate texts between Bezos and Lauren Sanchez to AMI. Will federal prosecutors need to figure all of this out, how they got the pictures, who put them out there?

ABRAMS: Well, sure. Look, if someone hacked into the phone of Lauren Sanchez, whoever that may be, or Bezos, that could be a crime, period. No doubt about that.

[22:44:56] It's not a crime if he got access to the photos without hacking it and then gave them or sold them -- again, no evidence to suggest that yet that we know of, but if someone got access to them and sold the pictures, that's not a crime in and of itself.

Now, Bezos could sue over it in civil court and say, you know, they're copyright potential issues with regard to the pictures. There's a potential invasion of privacy tort. But when it comes to the criminal law, there really would have had to be a hack to hold someone responsible for getting the photos.

LEMON: It's the board, right, acting on behalf of -- it's not just Pecker anymore. So, they're saying that they're going to investigate. They believe fervently that the tabloid acted lawfully. So, translate that for our audience. Are they backtracking?

ABRAMS: They're not backtracking, but someone else is taking over, meaning, beforehand, it was AMI who was speaking for them, saying -- you know, they would typically say, we did nothing wrong, we had every right to do this, this was just a dispute.

Again, their argument is, in essence, we thought they were going to about to publish falsehoods in "The Washington Post". They thought we were about to publish pictures in the Enquirer. We were trying to work out a negotiation or a deal. That's AMI's essential defense here. You know, whether that holds water, it's not an easy defense, but it's also not a frivolous one.

LEMON: Yeah. Dan, in 2016, the National Enquirer went after Hillary Clinton, and once Trump became president, they moved on to new foes. In 2017, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC wrote an op-ed in "The Washington Post" and said this. "Top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas."

Is this tabloid doing the president's bidding? And I wonder also, on top of that, if you look at all of those negative headlines and stories about Hillary Clinton, many of them that were not true, if there's any recourse there. One, are they doing the president's bidding? Two, can Hillary do anything about it?

ABRAMS: Well, first of all, on the deal that AMI made with federal prosecutors, it's clear they're admitting some sort of wrongdoing here and it relates to, you know, the payoffs of people on behalf of Donald Trump. So, that's already in the public record. That's not, you know, up for debate or discussion.

Could Hillary Clinton or anybody else for that matter -- it's not just Hillary Clinton. I keep waiting one of these days for a very high- profile person who is attacked either by the president or the National Enquirer, someone, you know, you wouldn't expect to say, I'm going to sue. I've decided enough is enough. This is false. It's defamatory, and they should have known that it was false.

The standard, as you know, for a public figure to sue is very high. It's the reason there are not a lot of lawsuits out there. You have to be able to demonstrate that the media entity effectively had a suspicion that it wasn't true or should have known that it wasn't true.

And that can be tough to prove. When they would say, look, you know, this is the information we had. You know, we thought it was true. So, that's why you don't typically have public figures suing entities, and that's what makes this so unusual.

The fact that Bezos is coming out and taking on the National Enquirer head-on, and again the fact that now their board is stepping in and saying, we're going to investigate, that's big.

LEMON: Yeah. Dan Abrams, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.

ABRAMS: Good to be with you, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.


LEMON: Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax taking a leave of absence from his law firm, according to the internal memo obtained by CNN. That as a second woman is accusing him of sexual assault, alleging Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were students at Duke University.

He denies the allegations, but the calls for him to resign are growing louder. Democrats in Virginia's House and Senate say Fairfax needs to step down. So do top Democrats, national Democrats, including the former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, senators Cory booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris. And tonight, Senator Mark Warner says if the allegations are true, Fairfax must resign. Let's bring in Robby Mook and Alice Stewart. Good evening. A lot of ground to cover. I'm so glad you guys are here. Robby, you first. Fairfax got to go?

ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You're hearing pretty unanimous take on that from Democrats and the evidence is, you know, pretty troubling at this point.

I think what's really unfortunate for Democrats in Virginia is, you know, Governor Terry McAuliffe did a really fantastic job putting Democrats in a strong position, picked up more seats than Democrats had in over a hundred years, and build credibility for the party on women's health and on civil rights.

That trust is being eroded and we're going to have to do a lot of work to gain it back.

LEMON: CNN did obtain an e-mail from 2016 between the second accuser -- her name is Meredith Watson -- and a Duke classmate responding to a fundraiser for Justin Fairfax. She wrote and said, "Justin raped me in college and I don't want to hear anything about him." This was back in 2016. Robby, quickly, so I can get to Alice here. How damming is that?

MOOK: The evidence is mounting here. I mean, I don't want to prejudge anything, but what matters here is whether Fairfax can do his job. And these questions are so serious, I don't think he can moving forward.

LEMON: Very fair answer. Alice, Fairfax issued a statement about the second accusation. Here is what he said. He said, "I deny this latest unsubstantiated allegation. It is demonstrably false. I have never forced myself on anyone ever. I demand a full investigation into these unsubstantiated and false allegations."

He says he will not resign, but can he continue to be an effective leader with this cloud?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It will be extremely difficult given the calls from the right and the left for him to step down. Look, I have always said, I think due process is important in any of these situations. These women that say they were sexually harassed or sexually assaulted deserve to be heard. They should have the opportunity to speak out. But the men also should have the opportunity to defend themselves. I've said that all along.

But as I said the other night, Don, if the Democrats are going to stick with their policy and their stance that zero due process in the political arena, and if the "Me Too" movement is to move forward and all women should be heard and men should not be believed, Democrats need to stand by what they have -- the standard they've held for Republicans, and the women should be believed, the men should not be believed, and he should step down.

[22:55:04] I am encouraged to hear Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats say that these accusations are serious, they are credible, and they are corroborated. And therefore, it is his best interest and for the state of Virginia for him to step down.

LEMON: I wonder what this does, Robby, for Northam, because I wonder if the Fairfax accusations make it easy for Northam to keep his job.

MOOK: Well, I think the fact of the matter is all of these guys are in hot water and there is just no getting around that. But what I'm concerned about as well is the fact that the president of the United States has made racist statements in office. He has boasted on video about sexually assaulting a woman.

And so, you know, I would hope that yes, we're paying attention, as Alice said, to the standard the Democratic Party is holding and I'm proud that we have a high standard, but I also think we can't forget that there are individuals in the Republican Party, Steve King, who defended white supremacy just this year in the Congress.

You know, we have to hold all of our elected officials to the same standard and it should be a high standard, including the president of the United States.

LEMON: The conversation will continue. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

MOOK: Thanks.

STEWART: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: The Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, was on the Hill today for a fiery hearing with the House Judiciary Committee. What Whitaker said about the special counsel and what he did and didn't say about the president? That's next.