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Sign It or Leave It; A National Emergency Just to Get Funding; Interview with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Andrew McCabe Inviting Members of Cabinet to Invoke the 25th Amendment; Donald Trump in Good Overall Health; House of Representatives Preparing for a Vote. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 14, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: We are one moment away from taking action. You really think we can't do better? We can't identify kids, adults who were at risk and do more to control access to weapons? Google the Columbia protocol. Google that, Columbia protocol. It works. Brought down suicide rates in the air force, the only branch of service that saw reduction because of that protocol in part.
The only failure is doing nothing. Indifference is the opposite of love. Remember that today. When we say we do things for the love, remember what it is we do and do not do. Happy Valentine's Day. May it be good to you and may you be good to others.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now. Happy Valentine, my friend.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You as well. You're so optimistic that I think people have been asking me what are you going to give Chris for Valentine's Day. And so here it is, Chris. I have a card for you. And there you go.
CUOMO: It's beautiful.
LEMON: I knew you would think it was beautiful because you're surrounded.
CUOMO: You didn't want to put your face in here, why, wouldn't fit?
LEMON: Because that would be like me loving myself. That's what you're about.
CUOMO: First of all, can we for the sake of Valentine's Day can we stop this projection where I am the one who's so into my myself and you are like this monk, like the self-less guy and a cynic?
LEMON: Are you kidding me? Chris.
CUOMO: I am a self-loather.
LEMON: Maybe that's it. Maybe --
CUOMO: I'm just better than you. That's all. Doesn't make me anything special.
LEMON: Well, that part is certainly true. Maybe that's why you're in the gym so much. You're just, you're compensating.
CUOMO: Yes, I'm compensating huge. Huge. I'm about to buy a big truck, I got big dogs. It's pathetic.
LEMON: Are you driving a Ferrari, a sports car?
CUOMO: Every crisis, every trapping of every type of problem involved, I check the box.
LEMON: I've got to say I feel sometimes we have -- you're a good sport, by the way. I mean, but I've got to say I feel you're right. We've lost our optimism in many ways and I'm talking in general as a whole. And there's some good reason for that, and then, but it would be great to get that back. That's what America is about, really about being optimistic and making things that we thought were impossible become the possible.
CUOMO: It's all about collective will. Look, we had a glimpse today before it was stolen by this next chapter in the wall brawl. They came together. Left and right did something reasonable.
CUOMO: They didn't like it, they weren't happy with the deal but it was better than a shutdown.
CUOMO: They did their damn jobs.
CUOMO: But now here we go again. Tomorrow is going to start a whole new chapter.
LEMON: Yes. I've got to go, but can we just put that back up, so that Chris can see how much love he has for his favorite person. Congratulations.
CUOMO: It's really not my favorite person. I mean, I would gladly let anything bad happen to me in a moment just to save my kids and in nights of bad --
LEMON: Now you're getting all serious and mushy on me. Get out of here.
CUOMO: Well you take a lot on me. And today is supposed to be about for the love.
LEMON: Happy Valentine's day, Chris. Happy Valentine's Day, Christina, the most important one in the family.
CUOMO: Don't forget Bella. She's your fan.
LEMON: Get out of the -- Bella. Now get out of here. See you later.
CUOMO: Happy Valentine's Day.
LEMON: You as well.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.
We have got a lot more on our breaking news to tell you about now. The House finally passing a compromised border security bill tonight. A bill the president is expected to sign tomorrow, but he's really not happy about it at all.
He's getting only $1.375 billion for his wall, that's far short of the $5.7 billion he demanded before he shut down the government for 35 days forcing 800,000 federal workers to go unpaid.
So, what is the president doing? Creating a huge mess with his plan to announce an executive action tomorrow that will include a national emergency declaration. An effort to do an end run around Congress to get more money for the wall.
A White House official says that the president is expected to announce he'll get some $8 billion for his wall. No word on exactly where all that money would come from. But members of the president's own party really, really don't want the president to declare an emergency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I continue to believe that this is not what the national emergency was intended to be used for. It was contemplated as a means for responding to a catastrophic event like an attack on our country or a major natural disaster.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: What about if somebody else thinks that climate change is the national emergency, and then what will they do and how far will they go?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want you to listen to the president's nemesis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:05:02] REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: That the president can declare an emergency on something that he has created as an emergency, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think of what a president with different values can present to the American people. A Democratic president can do that. A Democratic president can declare
emergencies as well. So, the precedent that the president is setting here is something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What a mess. Really what a mess. Especially for Mitch McConnell, the man who said this about President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration 2014. Roll it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER, KENTUCKY: It seems to be about what a political party thinks would make for good politics. It seems to be about what a president thinks would be good for his legacy. Those are not the motivations that should be driving such sweeping action, and I think the president will come to regret the chapter history writes if he does move forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Things that make you go. Now McConnell is back and President Trump's national emergency move -- just listen to what Donald Trump himself said about -- as I always say there is video and a tweet for everything. This is what Donald Trump himself said about President Obama in 2014. By the way, a hat tip to our friends at the KFile who dug it up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now we have executive action and this is very, very dangerous thing that should be overwritten easily by the Supreme Court. So, we're looking now at a situation that should absolutely not pass in terms of constitutionality. But depends on what these justices do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: My gosh, my how things have changed. The man who once opposed unilateral action by a president now seems to think it's fine. National emergency declaration is fine. As long as he gets what he wants.
Speaking of national emergencies, you might be wondering what kind have other presidents declared. Over the years a lot of them had to do with international hot spots and sanctions, OK? There were others like the two by President George W. Bush related to terrorism. That was in the days after 9/11, clearly an emergency.
There was one by President Obama related to the swine flu outbreak in 2009, an emergency. But definitely nothing like this one, to build a border wall? Sixty-six percent of Americans in the latest CNN poll are against declaring an emergency to build a wall.
And American presidents both Republicans and Democrats have opposed a border wall. The presidents from Ronald Reagan -- this is President Ronald Reagan's final address to the nation. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've spoken to the shining city all my political life. In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God blessed and teaming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace.
A city with free ports that hung with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Remember that was President Reagan, the gold standard of Republican presidents. Now a Democratic President, Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Suggesting that we can build an endless wall along our borders and blame our challenges on immigrants, that doesn't just run counter to our history as the world's melting pot. It contradicts the evidence that our growth and our innovation and our dynamism has always been spurred by our ability to attract strivers from every corner of the globe. That's how we became America. Why would we want to stop it now?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Here's a really, really disgraceful thing. OK, are you listening? All of this, this whole mess is manufactured. It's a manufactured crisis, a non-crisis at the border that's really not fooling anybody.
People may think people hear, it's crisis, crisis, they know it's not a crisis. That's all for political expediency, all for getting what they want. All for saving this president's rear end.
[22:09:53] After all, what kind of emergency is it when you do absolutely nothing about it for the first two years of your term? When you let 35 days of shutdown go by and not incidentally force 800,000 federal workers to go without their paychecks?
When you give Congress three weeks to make a deal for far less than you wanted and then and only then declare an emergency? What are we, stupid? A manufactured emergency.
All to keep a campaign promise that the majority of Americans don't want you to keep. What kind of emergency is that?
A lot to talk about. John Dean is here, Chris Cillizza, Doug Heye. We'll dig into it, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Here's some breaking news. The White House says President Trump will sign the funding bill that Congress has passed, but he's not happy about it at all. So, he's also planning to announce he'll get $8 billion for his wall through executive action including declaring a national emergency.
So, let's talk about it now. John Dean is here, Chris Cillizza, Doug Heye.
Gentlemen, good evening to all of you.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Hi, Don.
DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening.
LEMON: So good to have you on. John, how does this play out legally?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's interesting. The National Emergency Act, Don, it was a Watergate reform to deal with this very kind of problem. It was adopted in 1976.
[22:15:00] It didn't define national emergencies, however, and left that power with the president. It did create checks in Congress, the ability to have a joint resolution forcing the issue to have the Congress vote on it.
Whether Congress will do it or not we don't know yet. I would assume the House would do it in this instance. Also, if he does this, they'll likely end up in court. I think most likely an imminent domain or one of the state attorney generals might get jurisdiction.
LEMON: So, Doug Heye, I found it interesting you tweeted this. You said, "Make no mistake, the next Democratic president will declare national emergencies on guns and climate change and cite the Trump precedent when doing so."
That caught the attention of Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted. He said, "Make no mistake, anyone who think they wouldn't do this all anyway hasn't been watching." Well, how do you respond to that, Doug?
HEYE: Well, I think there is some truth to that. And I'll tell you. When Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted you, you don't get a lot of Valentine Day greetings, you get but a lot of Valentine Day messages but they're not really warm unfortunately.
LEMON: How those bots treating you?
HEYE: Well, it's a lot of them, I'm not sure what countries that they are all from.
HEYE: But that's fine. But, look, ultimately what we've seen over the past few years is an increase in presidential power at the expense of congressional power, which is isn't the sexiest issue in the world but it's something we all pay attention to when Barack Obama does it on immigration or now Donald Trump does it when it comes to the wall.
One of the things that's really frustrating for me is, having worked in House leadership and at the Republican National Committee, is when we were upset about Barack Obama's executive overreach and what we viewed as executive overreach, we were pretty vocal about it, and a lot of those times I would help draft the statement, then I'd send them to Chris and Chris would write about how Republicans were outraged. Well, fast forward a few years, well, now not so much.
LEMON: Does it seem like small potatoes now considering what's happening?
HEYE: Yes. Well, welcome to politics, unfortunately. You know, you played earlier that Nancy Pelosi is warning about what a Democratic president could do as well. I'm also reminded of what Mitch McConnell warned Harry Reid on the nuclear option where he said be careful what you wish for. Republicans, be careful what you wish for on this.
LEMON: That's what -- that's what I want to talk to Chris about. Chris, listen, because I go on, your piece mentions that on .com. I just -- I want to make it clear because earlier I was talking to Chris and I said maybe the smartest thing for Democrats to do would be to say go ahead and do it, right, because then the president wouldn't want to do it.
LEMON: Because if the Democrats agrees, like, I don't want to do that. He doesn't want to deal with anything the Democrats want.
CILLIZZA: I think that's right.
LEMON: Because it sets a bad precedent for a president to do this, so maybe the best strategy is to say hey, we'll let you go ahead and do it and he'll say no, I don't want it. But, you know, Doug has a very good point that you talked about in your piece. What do you say?
CILLIZZA: Well, first of all, I think you make a really important point which is if it's such an emergency, why has it taken this long? Remember he walked up to doing this before and didn't do it.
If you have to go to the emergency room, you don't spend a month deciding to go to the emergency room. You just go, right? So, I think that that's point one. Point two is Doug's point.
Harry Reid changes the rules on federal judge nominations in the early 2000 -- earlier this decade. Essentially, McConnell says, well, you know, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. He's right because under those same rules is why you have Neil Gorsuch and especially Brett Kavanaugh.
Supreme Court justices confirmed with a simple majority vote because the rules changed. Precedent matters. It's not the sexiest topic, but Mitch McConnell understands that. He understands this will set precedent. He also, I think realizes politically speaking another government shutdown would be exponentially worse than this first one they had this year, and that was bad enough, and so he's choosing the lesser of two evils in his mind.
LEMON: What do you think would happen, Chris, real quick because I want to get to John again --
LEMON: -- if there's a Democratic president and then all of a sudden there's restrictions on the kind of guns that you can --
CILLIZZA: Well, I mean, that's --
LEMON: -- because of an emergency?
CILLIZZA: I mean, --
LEMON: How will Republicans react then?
CILLIZZA: Not well. But, look, I actually think -- I mean, your -- it could be on climate, it could be on education, could be on lots of things. I think you have to realize that the Constitution, article one, it's right in there, Congress appropriates the money the government spends.
If you allow the Executive Branch to take money appropriated to other things and spend it how the Executive Branch sees fit, that is not how the Constitution laid out how our government should work. Not for Democrats, not for Republicans.
LEMON: John, I think you do consider this -- I'll just ask you. Do you consider this -- you sort of referenced it in your first answer. Do you consider this an abuse of power, of presidential power? And how has this fake crisis turned into a national emergency compared -- compared to the other times that this has been used?
[22:20:04] DEAN: Well, Don, let's just set aside the fact this is very typical step for an autocrat in a democracy that wants to take it into a dictatorship. We've seen this in other democracies and this is the kind of actions. So, let's just set that aside.
Is he abusing our power? Absolutely. As I said the National Emergency Act was adopted to deal with Nixon's abuses of power. And this is exactly what has from an inattention to the law by the Congress, they've allowed to happen.
LEMON: Doug, weigh in here. Because two years of Republican control, weeks of, you know, of a shutdown and still no declared emergency. The spending bill gives $1.375 billion for a barrier. Trump wanted $5.7 billion. It's also getting less funding than was put on the table before the shutdown.
HEYE: Yes. LEMON: Doesn't this all show you he's only doing this now to fulfill a campaign promise?
HEYE: Well, I think he could have actually allowed all this to happen and fulfill the campaign promise. Democrats moved here, he moved a little bit as well. He could have said I got my wall and let the Democrats say, no, you didn't.
And ultimately, politically, I think one the things that's really frustrating to a lot of Republicans is we know the leeway the Trump's base gives him. And it's broader than anything that Barack Obama's base had or George W. Bush's base had in their respective presidencies.
So, Donald Trump can be that great deal maker that he tells us he is. He can cut the deal on immigration that say a president Jeb Bush wouldn't have been allowed to by the Republican Party and said not only did I get this done, I got the deal that Barack Obama couldn't, which would show him to be the deal maker he tells us that he is, the great negotiator and claim big credit for big things.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason he's not going to do so, so that's why we see this executive action that's really a half measure but one with really broad implications.
LEMON: Doug, I apologize and I apologize to everyone at home and on the panel because the first question should have been, Doug, what happened to Mexico paying for the wall?
HEYE: Well, that was never going to happen anyways. I think all of us can agree on that.
LEMON: Yes? All right. Listen, the national debt just hit $22 trillion. Did you guys -- when the headline went out the other day or I got the CNN alert and I said, gee, we don't -- we don't talk about this enough.
President Trump looks at the debt crisis as a future president's problem. He's quoted by sources to the Daily Beast by saying that he won't be here to take the blame for it. Does the president, Chris, look at declaring an emergency in the same way that he wants his wall, let Republicans deal with the future blow back?
CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean, I don't -- he's not really a student of history or politics in any meaningful way. There's not -- I don't think there's much debate about that. You can hate Mitch McConnell, but Mitch McConnell is an institutionalist, and I think that's why I'm so surprised that he did what he did.
I think Donald Trump's view is hey, I got up today, I got this ability to make a national emergency thing happen, I can get the money, we can keep the government open, I could keep Mitch happy and I can get what I want. I'm going to do it.
We'll worry about all that other stuff down the road. Look how he managed his professional career. He said this, I got up in the morning, I went into the office, I didn't have a lot of set of meetings, I have a blank desk and I just kind of let things come to me. That's who he is. That's what he does.
He is not someone who is thinking well, in 50 years' time what does this mean, not just for the Republican Party but for the country. It's just not in his -- it's not in his DNA.
LEMON: I appreciate all of you. Thank you so much for coming on this evening.
The president is set to declare a national emergency over the wall. What will Democrats do next? I'm going to ask Senator Jeff Merkley. There he is, next.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tonight, top Democrats and a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill denouncing President Trump's plan to declare a national emergency at the southern border. Doing an in- run around Congress to get money for a border wall.
The White House says that tomorrow the president will announce he is getting $8 billion in wall funding through executive action.
Joining me to talk about this is Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon. Good evening, sir. Thank you for being with us.
SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Well, good evening. It's very good to be with you. And Don, if you don't mind if I can start out by noting you are, my wife's, Mary's favorite host and today is Valentine's Day so I want to send her a Valentine's greeting and a big thanks for being my soulmate and partner in life.
LEMON: I think you just got out of the doghouse. Maybe you didn't send flowers or candy today but I think you just made up for it.
MERKLEY: I hope so.
LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us. I know that you're very busy this evening and it is Valentine's Day and you have, you know, important places to be and you chose to be here so we appreciate it.
So, Senator, the president is declaring a national emergency to help fund his border wall. What happened to Congress having the power of reverse?
MERKLEY: Well, absolutely. This is a situation in which Congress gave some flexibility for national emergencies that involve a declaration of war or essentially the equivalent.
A national emergency that requires the use of armed forces. And of course, this situation doesn't require the use of armed forces and the funds can only be used for facilities necessary to those forces.
Picture, for example, we're overseas and our troops have to build fortifications. That's what this is for. It is not for creating a project like this. And I think it's on very thin ice and there's going to be a lot of push back by Congress.
LEMON: You think he's in a shaky legal ground?
MERKLEY: I think very, very weak ground, absolutely.
LEMON: Republicans are also expressing concern, Senator. But do they stand up to this president? Do they join in on a resolution of disapproval, or are they politically too afraid to even cross the president?
MERKLEY: No, I think will -- some will stand up on this. It only takes a simple majority in each body to set aside an emergency declaration. It will absolutely happen in the House. In the Senate I think Democrats will be unified and the question will four or more join us?
[22:29:58] And I can tell you so many colleagues have said this is -- this absolutely this is outrageous. We have a Democratic republic, not a dictatorship. We have to protect the constitutional assignment of the power of the purse that goes to Congress. And while there is some flexibility, this is way over the top in terms of what Congress has authorized.
LEMON: So let me ask you something. To avoid another shutdown, I am wondering if Majority Leader McConnell had any other choice other than to green light the president declaring a national emergency. Because just hours before the Senate voted, President Trump was telling people he was considering not even signing the bill.
MERKLEY: Well, it's a calculation that Mitch made to get us out of the immediate situation and to send a message to the Trump base, which is so important to all of the senators who are up for election, that the president's going to fight to the end. If I could imagine what the majority leader is thinking, he's thinking I can green light this.
The court's are going to stop it, and maybe even my own members will stop it, because many of them will feel quite strongly that they have a constitutional duty to block this.
LEMON: CNN is reporting, Senator, that the president was privately griping that Republican negotiators were outplayed by Democrats, because funding for the wall was so small. Is he right? Were Republicans outplayed?
MERKLEY: Well, from their perspective the president wanted $25 billion and ends up with 1.37. That's a pretty big blow. In fact, less money than before the shutdown began. But it's not really the negotiators in Congress that were outplayed, the president was outplayed. The president painted himself into a corner by taking responsibility for the shutdown. You could hear the groans across the floor of the Senate.
You know our leader has made us responsible for this tragedy we're inflicting on the American people. And so they had to absolutely avoid it happening again. But this is -- this just shows this president is not up to the task. He didn't -- he does not have skill in negotiating. That is a big myth.
LEMON: You're saying only himself to blame?
MERKLEY: He has himself to blame on this.
LEMON: I also want to ask you about William Barr being confirmed as the Attorney General today. You say he doesn't belong anywhere near the Justice Department. Are you concerned that he will block Congress from seeing the Mueller report?
MERKLEY: Absolutely. That report has to go through the attorney general. This attorney general wrote an application, if you will, a memo designed to say I am the one, because I believe I have the biggest vision for the power of the presidency. It's almost unlimited. And I wonder if the president said that's the guy I want.
And certainly, the conversations that took place, I imagine the president doubled down on making sure that he would get protection from his attorney general because he was so disappointed he didn't get that protection from Jeff Sessions. And so I am very concerned.
LEMON: Senator Jeff Merkley, thank you, and Happy Valentine's Day to Mary as well. I appreciate you joining us.
MERKLEY: Thank you so much. Take care. Good night.
LEMON: The Former Acting FBI Director, Andrew McCabe is describing how DOJ officials discussed using the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office in the wake of James Comey's firing. We'll talk ability that next.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: New claims tonight from former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He is describing high level discussions at the Justice Department about recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump. This all followed by the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Let's discuss now. Elie Honig is here and Josh Campbell who worked for both Comey and McCabe.
Man, this is fascinating. Good evening to both of you.
Josh, what made these officials think that they needed to take such extraordinary actions against the president at the time? Do you think there is a missing piece that we don't know about?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know I think the missing piece is unknowable. And that is the context that these discussions took place, and if they did in fact take place. I mean we know that they're written about it in the book. I also say that we know that, you know, something looks very different when you're reading it on the page of a book and when you compare that to someone having a conversation. Again, we don't know, you know were they joking when they were talking
about wiring the president up or, you know, wiring the president and then possibly removing him. You know these were very tough times inside the FBI. It was a highly stressful period. And so you don't know kind of what the context was. That's still left to be seen.
And again, I go back to I don't think it's knowable, because you have two people, Andy McCabe and Rod Rosenstein, who apparently are saying two different things happened. And so it will be up to the American public to decide, you know who you believe.
LEMON: You were saying it's very unusual and stressful times. Tell us about that period. What was it like? Describe more, please.
CAMPBELL: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, you go to these eight days in May we talk about. So from the time that James Comey was fired until you have the actual appointment of Robert Mueller as a Special Counsel, inside the FBI we were left wondering was James Comey removed because of the Russia investigation. And all signs certainly point to that direction.
If you go back to the calendar, you had Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor who was obviously lying. He was fired. You have the president asking Comey to go easy on him, and when he didn't, Comey was fired. And so again, the question was left, was he fired because he was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation, or at least according to the reporting, the bureau then took steps to investigate that and determine, you know, what was going on.
LEMON: Let's bring Elie now, because McCabe also explained why he ordered the team investigating Russian meddling in the election, to look at whether Trump obstructed justice by firing Comey. Watch this and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:39:51] ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR: I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground in an indelible fashion that were I removed quickly and reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Interesting. Elie, does that seem like overreach to you?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think the 25th Amendment in the appropriate mechanism to do -- what McCabe was trying to do. The 25th Amendment is designed to remove a president who's really been incapacitated. It was passed after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the general thought was what happens if a president is attacked and he's put in a coma?
Look. Perhaps, President Trump was acting irrationally or drastically. There are other political remedies for that. That said, I think what McCabe was trying to do that I do agree with was he was readying the life boats, what if worse comes to worse. I think the thought, as Josh said, was he's already fired the FBI director. There's some question on whether he's working on behalf of Russia or he's compromised.
And the president throughout his tenure has shown an inability to keep his hands off of the FBI and off of the Department of Justice, and he has caused trouble for himself, from Comey, and Flynn, all way up to a couple weeks ago with Whitaker, trying to have Whitaker get the Southern District off his back. And I think McCabe was preparing an emergency out if the president started firing more people or shutting down investigations.
LEMON: Josh Campbell, I want you to weigh in, because the president is slamming McCabe now, calling him a disgrace to the FBI and a disgrace to our country. You worked closely with McCabe. What's your reaction? What do you think about these comments?
CAMPBELL: So I think this is the president's usual strategy, right? We know that he likes to lob insults. He goes after people. He attacks them. That is nothing new. I think when I talk about Andrew McCabe, and I think this the view of a lot of my former colleagues' take as well. You distinguish Andy McCabe from the person and some of Andy McCabe's actions. Now, there's no question that he was a dedicated public servant, served over two decades in the United States government.
While other people were out making money, you know, building sky scrapers, he was building cases and throwing people behind bars and making the country safer because of it. So there's that side of him. Obviously, the inspector general, who is also very highly regarded, his integrity is unimpeachable, found that Andy McCabe lied to investigators. So Andy McCabe is not pure here when it comes to, you know, his career.
But I think what is happening here is again, we've seen this president do this over and over again. He'll take one thing, try to a drive a wedge into it, you know? Try to drive a Mack truck through a small, you know, wedge and try to make it out to be something, you know, much larger. Obviously, the lies that Andy McCabe told are terrible, and, you know, he has to atone for that. But I think what the president is trying to do and what we can expect with this book is we continue to get these revelations, is you're going to have the White House saying because Andy McCabe lied to the inspector general.
Everything he said must be a lie. And as Elie knows as well, when you're dealing with, you know, defendants, you have people telling certain things, just because they maybe of questionable credibility, their own candor doesn't mean that everything that they tell you is lie. But again, that's a strategy that the White House has employed, just to try to destroy people that they perceive as their enemies.
LEMON: How about that, Elie, his credibility -- he's accused of -- the inspector general concluded that he misled investigators about his role authorizing the release of information to The Wall Street Journal. Does he lack credibility? HONIG: I agree. He's got a real credibility problem. Those lies
that he told to the inspector general were serious. He essentially leaked and then denied it. And he did that under penalty of perjury. And there's still may be further consequences for that. That is very serious, so he does not have a clean record. But as Josh says, in the real world of criminal cases and trials, you almost never get a witness who's purely one thing or another.
Every witness has their strong points and their weak point. And when you get a situation like this, you have to just apply your common sense. Whose version of events makes more sense? Whose version of events is more consistent with other experiences we have seen? Have other people talked about the president doing things like this?
And you have to sort of look at all the evidence together. When you do, I think there's a fairly compelling case that McCabe's version of what happened is accurate. But he does have credibility problems. And as Josh said, the president is certainly going to take advantage of that, and he will -- as he has already done in his tweets, just saying McCabe's a liar, that's that, no one should ever believe him. I think that's an oversimplified approach.
LEMON: So in an excerpt from his book, for The Atlantic, McCabe also claims Rod Rosenstein confided in him after the Comey firing. And here's what it says. He said he started talking about the firing of Jim Comey. He was obviously upset. He said he was shocked that the White House was making it look as if Jim's firing had been his idea. He was grasping for a way to describe the nature of his situation.
One remark stands out. He said there is no one that I can talk to about this. There is no one here I can trust. No one here I can trust, Josh? What did those comments say to you?
CAMPBELL: Yeah. That's touching. But if you go back to -- you know, if you look back in history, the reason why we are where we are is because of what Rod Rosenstein did, essentially, you know, in listening and, you know, serving the president to come up with this memo to fire Comey on the pretext of the Hillary Clinton investigation, which, you know, obviously baffled most of us.
[22:44:59] No one really believed that the president was firing James Comey because he was too tough on Hillary Clinton. Yet, you had Rod Rosenstein who was the Deputy Attorney General, who, you know, knew according to reporting that Russia was on the president's mind because of his question about whether that should be included in this firing memo. Yet, he went along with it.
And Rod Rosenstein is a very smart man. He's an accomplished lawyer. He had to have known what he was doing. So he's not going to find a lot of sympathy. That said there's also no love lost between Andy McCabe and Rod Rosenstein. So I think part of this may be Andy McCabe trying to, you know, settle some unfinished scores here.
LEMON: Thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate it.
HONIG: Thanks, Don. CAMPBELL: Thank you.
LEMON: The results of the president's physical, they're in. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, there he is, will break it down next.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump's physician says he is in very good health overall. That's a quote. That's according to the results of the -- his physical at Walter Reed Military Hospital last week. But he also put on a few pounds, making him clinically obese. So let's discuss now. CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here.
Hello, Dr. Gupta, so good to see you.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening.
LEMON: So his physician released the results of his annual physical today. We've got the results up on the screen right now. What stands out to you from these test results?
GUPTA: You know what stands out to me overall is how little we found out today, Don. I mean it was a four-hour exam. There were 11 consultants. It took six days, and this is what we got back, which, you know, my point is, is it's not very much. But still, you got the numbers up so you can compare the numbers. As you say, gained a little bit of weight so his body mass index is now over 30, that's why he is considered clinically obese.
The cholesterol came down. You can see. But look at the very bottom line, the medication Crestor as a Statin drug for cholesterol. They quadrupled that dose. That's what brought his cholesterol down. It's concerning a little bit as that LDL, which is the bad cholesterol. That should be lower, you know? With this much of the Statin medication, that should at least be below 100.
But, you know, we'll see. We get an idea now of the impact of this year has had on the president despite the medication increase.
LEMON: Didn't you point out, Sanjay, that he -- that there was a heart disease in the last report that wasn't indicated. So with these HDL, this LDL, that is a risk factor, right, for heart disease?
GUPTA: Yeah. So the -- you know, when you look at the lipids, the cholesterol, and the various components of the cholesterol, you're looking at that to try and figure out what are his risk factors for heart disease. He also had a bunch of tests last year. They had a list of these tests that they talked about last year, and they made no mention of these tests this year. So, you know, we don't know. Did he have the tests?
They're just not talking about it. Did he not have the tests? I will tell you when it came to the coronary calcium score test, that's a big one in terms of predicting risk. That was never in his official record last year. The only reason they talked about it at all, you can see it there, is because I asked about it. Last year, it was 133. And when you get to the 100 to 300 range, that puts you at increased
risk, increased risk for a heart attack over the next 3 to 5 years. That's something the doctors, you know, didn't comment on. And I thought they would have.
LEMON: Let's talk about his weight, Doctor, 243 pounds. His height is six-three. Puts his BMI at 30.4, which is, you know, in the obese category. But lots of Americans would fall into this category. How much of a concern is that for you?
GUPTA: Well, you know, BMI, body mass index, is not a perfect sort of thing when it comes to assessing health. It's imperfect. You can have people who have a high BMI because they have -- they're very muscular, you know? And as a result, their BMI is high, but they don't have very much fat. Chris Cuomo, for example, likes to brag how muscular he is all the time. He probably has a high BMI. He is not probably obese. But you got to -- you know him, right?
LEMON: That's a whole other show, but go on.
GUPTA: A whole another show. But once you start combining the BMI with the other things, the cholesterol, you know, the coronary calcium scan that we were just mentioning, the fact that he is on the Statin drug. These things in combination then, you know, could cause a fair amount of concern. As you point out, and very fair that this is not an unusual concern for someone of his age living in this country.
But, you know, as president of the United States, that's something they're going to need to focus on with regard to his risk for having a heart problem in the next few years.
LEMON: So, you know, most people sort of embellish about their height and their weight. Does that happen with the president of the United States? And I am being serious. Does the doctor give him, like, give me OK, you're actually six-one, six-two. You say you're six-three, no, yes?
GUPTA: You know, look. I wanted to tell that a lot of the testing when it comes to these things is done in the White House residence probably. And then it's just as more sophisticated tests done at Walter Reed. So I think, you know, when you're that, when you're the president, you're going through this thing. They may ask you, look, how tall are you?
GUPTA: They may ask you how much you weigh. I don't know how they do this. So, you know, you take the numbers for what they are. But even when you take the numbers for what they are, but what they have put down in the official record, he is clinically obese. He has concerns about coronary artery disease. He has high cholesterol. These are, you know, things that definitely need to be addressed because of the risk that they may pose.
LEMON: Dr. Gupta, you're the best. Thank you. Listen, I used to lie about my height. GUPTA: You look great, by the way.
LEMON: Oh, thank you.
GUPTA: You don't need to. You don't need to. You just look great.
LEMON: Trying to be like you, Sanjay. Have a good night, always a pleasure.
GUPTA: You too.
[22:54:56] LEMON: Former FBI director -- director -- Deputy Director, I should say, Andrew McCabe is detailing what happened in the aftermath of the firing of his boss, James Comey. We're going breakdown the 72 hours that shocked the country.
LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I am Don Lemon. Our breaking news, House of Representatives voting tonight to approve a compromise federal funding bill, which averts another government shutdown, the bill now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it tomorrow, even though he threatened not to because it doesn't include enough money for his wall.
One administration official telling CNN that the president will announce tomorrow that he is taking executive action to get an additional $6.6 billion for the wall, the executive action includes a national emergency declaration. And the whole thing is an end run around Congress, top Democrats on Capitol Hill calling it a lawless act and abuse of presidential power.
They may challenge the president's actions in court. So let's talk about all of this now. David Axelrod is here, Douglas Brinkley, gentlemen, good evening.