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Paul Manafort to Spend Two Decades in Prison; Mass Shootings Claimed Five People; Interview with Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA); President Trump Declared National Emergency; Manafort Associate, Konstantin Kilimnik's Russian Connections Significant to Mueller's Investigation; Democrats Vow to Fight Trump's Emergency Declaration; Democrats Call Trump's Executive Action an Unlawful Declaration Over a Crisis That Does Not Exist; Ann Coulter on Trump's National Emergency. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 15, 2019 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Maybe his party will find its spine because now we know something crystal clear that this president will clearly do only what he thinks is best for him.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I hope his party finds their spine because isn't this supposed to be the party of strict constitutionalists?

What happened to that and all the criticism for -- I just remember during -- you remember when the last president, President Obama, towards the end of office, he was trying to get a whole lot of things done and no one was working with him. So he did, you know, he said, I've got the power of the pen. And just about every Republican came out, you can't do that. You're subverting the authority --


CUOMO: You're a king!

LEMON: Right. You're not a dictator -- you're not a monarch. You're not royalty. What are you doing? And now crickets. Well, some of them are. I shouldn't say now crickets --


CUOMO: Well, but a lot of them. There's enough that you hear the crickets. You know?

LEMON: Right.

LEMON: There maybe something there in quite (Ph), but there's enough for the cricket sound to be apt. Look, this is why people hate politics. This is one of the big reasons that Trump was able to become president, because the level of disaffection is so high, the expectations are so low that when somebody comes in who seems like they're going to be disruptive and they're playing to your outrage and your anger at the system and at these other things that other people are too afraid to talk about, it's not that they're too afraid. They're too smart. They're too subtle. They're too sophisticated. But it appeals to you. Boom.

Now you've got a guy who has a shot who should have never had one. And look, it continues. They said about Obama everything they truly believed in. Now they say none of it.

LEMON: That means they --


CUOMO: I'm not crazy about the Democrats that have threatened to do the same thing, but that's the game. That's the game.

LEMON: Yes. Well, as an observer of politics -- because you know I sit here, and you came from a political family. You're not in D.C., you're not -- but we do politics every night. That's what we've been doing --


MACCALLUM: -- really since Trump took office. But we're not doing the horse race, right?

CUOMO: Right.

MACCALLUM: And like the folks who are in D.C. So, I'm not really a political reporter nor a political animal. I know people may think that, but I'm not. And I don't -- I don't give a damn about Democrat or Republican.

As an observer, the hypocrisy on the Republican side for the last few years, I can't even fathom when it comes to Evangelicals and conservatives, when it comes to this president and his past and what he says and what he does, how he treats people, he cheated on his wife, blind eye.

If it happened on the Democratic side or to even the former president, president nick black man, they all freaked out. Like, my gosh, he wore a tan suit, and Michelle Obama had her arms out. They don't say anything about the current president who, you know, slept with a porn star, lied about it, or even the former first lady.

Do what you want with your body, who was a model and did, you know, nude or semi-nude pictures. That means nothing to them. And then on this thing with this president, who subverts the Congress who is supposed to hold the power of the purse, they say nothing about that either.

I think the hypocrisy on the Republican side is far beyond the hypocrisy on the Democratic side. It happens. Yes, there's enough hypocrisy to go around, but this is just on steroids. It is unbelievable to sit here and watch it.

CUOMO: Well, look, and the tragedy is that there's a real opportunity for them in this. You know, Howard Dean was on tonight making a case. It's just true. It's not a partisan argument. It's just perception off of fact, perspective off of fact.

He's at about 40 percent. Let's put him at 44 percent, OK?


CUOMO: I know that we don't have any polls that we respect that have him there, but let's just say he is. That's not enough, and he knows that. And he's so winning sensitive that you would think in his brain, there would be a light going off, shining under the sign grow your base, grow your base, and for some reason, he doesn't get that.

So, he'll listen. You know, it's funny, I had all these people saying to me on my radio show today, why would you say Sean Hannity is the most powerful person in the media? I said, the president does whatever he says.

LEMON: Because he's got --


CUOMO: How do you get more powerful than that?

LEMON: He's on the president's back doing like this, telling him what to say.

CUOMO: But I mean, now people saying no, the Hannity is the president's puppet. The hell, he is.

LEMON: No, it's the --


CUOMO: Hannity has been saying this stuff for years.

LEMON: It's a --

CUOMO: I've known him a long time. He says it. The president does it.

LEMON: That's --

CUOMO: And I just can't believe that the Republicans are okay with that.


CUOMO: And they don't see, like, look, man, when it comes to this Constitution stuff, we don't play with it. We went after Obama for this, and we mean it.


CUOMO: Now they let him do this?

LEMON: Yes. A marionette. You know what this is, right? CUOMO: Puppet.

LEMON: And the guy, the puppet man, correct?

CUOMO: I'm not a puppet. You're the puppet.

LEMON: He's just sitting there, going, OK, now say this.

CUOMO: You remember him with Clinton?


CUOMO: When she's like, and Putin would rather have this puppet. I'm not a puppet. You're the puppet.

LEMON: I know you are, but what am I?

CUOMO: And it worked.

LEMON: Yes, it did.

CUOMO: My god.

LEMON: Have a good one.

CUOMO: You too.

LEMON: I loved the interview with Mr. Nadler.


LEMON: He's a big guy.

CUOMO: Can you believe how much he has on his plate?

[22:05:00] LEMON: Yes. I talked to him after your interview. He's a good guy. I got to run. I lot lots of news to get to. Have a great weekend.


CUOMO: I'll be watching.

LEMON: Thank you.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

We have big news to get to on the Mueller investigation tonight involving three key players on team Trump. First up we have Paul Manafort to tell you about.

Prosecutors want the former Trump campaign chairman to get up to 24 and a half years behind bars for financial crimes, which would amount to a life sentence for a man who is nearly 70, not in great health.

They laid out just how serious his crimes were, saying, quote, "Manafort acted for more than a decade as if he were above the law."

Let's not forget he's still facing a separate case in D.C. So that's not the end of it. That has prosecutors say in another court filing they have evidence of Trump ally and dirty trickster Roger Stone communicating directly with WikiLeaks during the campaign.

And there's more. We've learned today that Mueller's team has interviewed White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Hopefully she told them the truth because that's not exactly her forte lately, her style. And they're likely to have asked questions about the statements she made on the podium defending the president on the Russia investigation. We're going to have more on all of that Mueller news coming up.

But we've got to talk tonight about our national emergency because we really do have one right now. Not the president's manufactured crisis on the border. I'm not talking about that. You know what I'm talking about, the national emergency of mass shootings in this country. We all know it. We saw it again today.

Five people dead in America's latest mass shooting. This one at a manufacturing company in Aurora, Illinois. Five police officers wounded, who ran towards the danger, trying to save others. The shooter believed to have worked there.

And this comes just one day after, one day after the first anniversary of the Parkland shooting. Look at the faces up on your screen. It left 17 people dead, teenagers, their teachers and coaches, shot to death in their school on Valentine's Day.

At the time I talked about how we need to face the fact that all of us, all of us are just playing the odds at this point, hoping that we won't be the ones who get hit when the bullets start flying the next time, hoping we won't get the call that someone we love is gone.

Parkland was supposed to change everything. It was supposed to galvanize our leaders, forcing them finally to have the courage to stand up and do something to protect us from this very real emergency.

Those same leaders who did absolutely nothing, nothing after Sandy Hook, after Las Vegas, the Tree of Life, Mother Emanuel AME, Pulse Nightclub. I could go on.

And in the face of all this, with more and more Americans dying, shot to death in our workplaces, our schools, our churches, our synagogues, places where we should be safe, in the face of all that, this president wants to distract you with all his talk.

Lies about criminals at the border, with his fake national emergency, while ignoring the real one that's killing our children, our parents, our co-workers, and the people we love.

To show you just how politically motivated, how cynical this whole thing is, the president admitted today that he didn't need to declare a national emergency to get his wall.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this. But I'd rather do it much faster, and I don't have to do it for the election. I've already done a lot of wall for the election, 2020.


LEMON: Can we just stop pretending that this man is playing three- dimensional chess? He admitted it on television. The president said he didn't need to declare a national emergency to get his wall.

And then jetted off to his lavish estate, presumably for a weekend of golf, leaving five more American families to mourn their dead as others pray their loved ones will survive. But the president would rather talk about his manufactured crisis.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You are presenting information about what's happening at the border, calling it an invasion, talking about women with duct tape over their mouths and so on, and yet there's a lot of reporting out there.

[22:10:00] There's a lot of crime data out there. There's a lot of Department of Homeland Security data out there that shows border crossings at a near record low that shows --


TRUMP: That's because of us. But it's still -- excuse me.

ACOSTA: -- undocumented immigrants committing crime at lower levels.

TRUMP: It's still massive numbers of crossings.

ACOSTA: It shows undocumented criminal -- or undocumented immigrants committing crimes at lower levels than native-born Americans. What do you say --


TRUMP: You don't really believe that stat, do you? Do you really believe that stat?


LEMON: Lies, lies, and more lies. Lies on top of lies. Lying about the things he lied about. Facts do matter. Facts first, OK? As we always say here. And we're not the only ones.

The folks at the blog law fair have submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to find out whether the data the president is using to argue for the wall even exists. His wall, his political stunt of an emergency declaration, one he knows full well could be tied up in the courts for years. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And we will have a national emergency, and we will then be sued. And they will sue us in the 9th circuit even though it shouldn't be there. And we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we'll get another bad ruling. And then we'll end up in the Supreme Court.


LEMON: The first lawsuit has already been filed, and the House judiciary committee has launched an investigation of the emergency declaration, the emergency declaration that a majority of Americans don't want.

Look at it on your screen there. Sixty-six percent say no. Should Trump declare a national emergency to build a wall? Sixty-six percent, no. But here we are tonight with a fake national emergency while the real one is ignored.

Lots to talk about. Eric Swalwell is here. We'll dig into it next.


LEMON: Major news on the Mueller investigation tonight involving some big names of teen Trump -- team Trump.

Evan Perez joins me now with all the details. Evan, good evening to you. What a week we all have had here, especially when it comes to the Mueller investigation and investigating this particular administration.

Prosecutors reveal that they have obtained communications between Trump associate Roger Stone and organization one, a.k.a. WikiLeaks.


LEMON: Stone has denied communicating directly with WikiLeaks. How significant is this?

PEREZ: Well, it's significant that this is the first time we've seen prosecutors, special counsel prosecutors, making this allegation.

Remember, they didn't mention this in the indictment against Roger Stone, and they're saying this is the first time we're hearing them say that they have what they say are records of communications between WikiLeaks and Roger Stone.

Now, we don't know what the content of that communications is essentially. We've seen in the past there have been some direct messages that were exchanged. This appears to be something other than that. So that's the big question, Don. What is the content of that?

Again, this has been the holy grail, right, for a lot of people who have been following this investigation is trying to figure out whether or not any communications between Roger Stone or anybody else connected to the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which we know was receiving this information that was stolen by the Russian intelligence services -- whether any of this amounts to conspiracy. We do not know.

LEMON: Organization -- remember individual one was a person. Now we've got organization one.


LEMON: Individual one was the president. Organization one is now WikiLeaks.

PEREZ: Exactly.

LEMON: Prosecutors are also telling the court what they think former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort's sentence should be. What are they recommending, Evan?

PEREZ: Between 19 and a half, 24 and a half years is what the guidelines are. And the prosecutors are simply endorsing what the guidelines are and what the probation office essentially says is the guidelines for this crime.

So, look, we're looking -- this is a man who is approaching 70 years old. If we're looking at between 19 and a half and 24 and a half years, this could be the rest of his life in prison. Now, it's not clear that the judge in Alexandria who is overseeing this case is going to go there.

But they're saying -- the prosecutors, Don, are making the point that Manafort shouldn't get any credit for or any break because of his age. They say that he has acted for a decade like he was above the law and that they should essentially throw the book at him.

LEMON: They didn't really know how to define the sort of activities they're claiming that he's guilty. Thank you, Evan. I appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

PEREZ: Thank you.

LEMON: Joining me now is Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House intelligence and judiciary committees. Congressman, good to see you on a Friday evening.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: You too. Good evening, Don.

LEMON: Roger Stone -- absolutely. Roger Stone has insisted that he communicated with WikiLeaks only through intermediaries, but now prosecutors say they've got evidence. Does that prove this is collusion?

SWALWELL: It's certainly intending to work with enemies working against us, Don. Also, the communication I think that is most important to get to the bottom of is did Roger Stone communicate this to his best friend Donald Trump?

We have evidence from our investigation that these two were friends for decades. Roger Stone for a long time, going back many elections, wanted Donald Trump to become president of the United States, and that they would talk routinely even after Roger Stone left the campaign.

It's hard for me sitting here to believe that knowing all of that, that Roger Stone had this information from WikiLeaks and told everyone but Donald Trump. It just doesn't really add up.

LEMON: Well, let's (Inaudible) that because he testified before your committee, House intelligence. Did he lie about those ties to you, is that what you're saying?

SWALWELL: Well, he's already been, you know, indicted for some of the lies that he's told to us. But it looks like the Mueller team when they went in and seized evidence, they're starting to add up more of those lies.

Now, Don, today, of course, the court put in place a gag order against Roger Stone, which I think is probably his best shot at beating these charges.


LEMON: That's the worst thing that could happen to him.

SWALWELL: Yes. Well, no, no, I think it's the best thing. If he stops talking, he's probably going to face less time. He's his own worst enemy.

LEMON: Well, I mean, Roger Stone loves the spotlight. That's what I'm saying.

SWALWELL: That's right.

LEMON: He loves talking and being on television and be in the media.


SWALWELL: Hit him where it hurts.

[22:19:57] LEMON: Let's talk about Paul Manafort. He turns 70 in April. So, for prosecutors to recommend a sentence of around 20 years, that amounts to a life sentence pretty much. Has all this been about a pardon play, do you think?

SWALWELL: I do believe the pardon is still being dangled out there. The president should affirmatively say, I will not pardon Paul Manafort. The reason he won't say that is because he wants Paul Manafort to not cooperate and save the president from the exposure that he faces.

But, Don, again, just to put all of this together, the president's chairman, right after the Republican convention where they changed the platform so it more benefited Russia, goes just a few days later and meets with a Russian agent and shares polling data from the campaign at the same time that the Russians are attacking our democracy. That should offend everybody.

Russia does not want us to succeed. They're doing everything they can to work against us, and the president's team was doing everything they could to work with them.

LEMON: Yes. What's sketchy about that? Nothing. Just coincidence, you know? OK. Let's talk about Sarah Sanders. She was press secretary during key periods that Mueller's team is studying. We learned today that she was questioned by Mueller's team. What information do you think they're looking for from her?

SWALWELL: Well, a number of times, you know, she would go out, whether it was, you know, Trump tower, ties that others on the campaign had, lies that the president kept getting caught up in around the payoffs that he and Cohen were involved in, and she would tell a story that didn't match either the indictments or the public reporting.

And so, the question is, you know, she talked to the president. She's a witness to, you know, his statements. And so, if he was telling her, you know, we did this, but we need to say that we did that, well, she's a -- you know, a peripheral witness.

Also, if she worked with the president to undermine the special counsel's investigation with all the statements that they've made to attack Sessions, to attack Mueller, to dangle pardons, then she's also a potential obstruction of justice witness.

LEMON: National emergency. The president declared one today. There's an invasion at the border. In the same breath, though, almost he said he didn't need to do this, and he just wanted to get it done faster. What's Congress going to do about this? Were you like, wait, did he just say that?

SWALWELL: Well, Don, the president will be met with a phrase that he is probably quite familiar with, which is, we'll see you in court. We don't believe he has any standing at all to declare an emergency here.

And also, when in the history of national emergencies has a national emergency ever been debated by the public? Generally, when an emergency is declared, everyone's like, yes, that's an emergency. Swine flu, September 11th, you know, Ebola, other issues that we've had. Those are emergencies.

But failure to work out a compromise as Republicans and Democrats did in Congress does not constitute an emergency. But most importantly, Don, is the cost of this emergency. And it's more than just building the wall. The cost is that it's going to take money away from military families. It's going to take money away from military hospitals.

And also, Don, we must do all we can to protect against the corruption and graft that could take place as the president tries to build this wall, circumvent Congress, and potentially help out his friends as he's done with the V.A. and other projects.

LEMON: You're going to speak at an event in Sioux City, Iowa, tomorrow.

SWALWELL: That's right.

LEMON: When are you announcing?

SWALWELL: I'm getting pretty close, Don. We've got a team now all around in Iowa --


LEMON: So that means yes?

SWALWELL: I see all green lights ahead. But I'm -- you know, Don, I'll tell you, I'm encouraged because I think the country wants someone who is going to go big, go bold, and do good. And I'm excited to offer that vision. We're getting very close, and you know, my friend, you'll know when we get there.

LEMON: OK. You'll announce it here, I'm sure.

SWALWELL: That's right. That's right.

LEMON: We expect to see you. If you become a stranger after you start running for president, you better look out.

SWALWELL: Don. I'll be in the first 10 minutes.


LEMON: You are going to get the rat of the CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon team.

SWALWELL: I don't want to be in facts first. I don't want to end up there.

LEMON: Thank you, Congressman.

SWALWELL: Good night, Don.

LEMON: Good luck this weekend and have a good one.


LEMON: Thank you so much, and we appreciate you coming on.

We're going to dig deeper into Robert Mueller's filings. Paul Manafort essentially looking at what could be a life sentence. Is Roger Stone going to be just as much -- be in just as much trouble? We'll talk about that.


LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight. Robert Mueller's office saying that Paul Manafort should be sentenced to up to 24 and a half years in prison for his conviction on eight financial crimes in Virginia.

Let's discuss now with Laura Coates and Max Boot. His book is "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." And he actually wrote it. MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I did. For better or for worse.

LEMON: Unlike some folks we know. Good evening to both of you. Laura, the special counsel prosecutors are saying that Manafort deserves up to 24 and a half years in prison for those financial crimes I talked about. That is a life sentence. What stands out to you?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the fact that he has lied to special counsel, that he had an opportunity in many respects to have a very favorable recommendation by their team.

Remember, they already agreed to not pursue the remaining charges the jury was hung on. They weren't going to pursue the other case against him. He really had the best of the best he could possibly hope for when he said, I'll agree to cooperate. I'll have a plea.

And you will do what's called an allocution where you'll tell the judge, look, you don't throw the book at this person. They're cooperative on the back end after the actual conviction. Now he's thrown that out, and the consequence of that is them saying, look, I don't care how old you are. You're going to spend really the remainder of your life in prison, and all you had to do was tell the truth even after a jury conviction.

LEMON: Max, separately the judge in D.C. is saying that Manafort's relationship -- we always hear about Konstantin Kilimnik, right, with Kilimnik is at the core of the special counsel's investigation. He is the link between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. What do you make of this?

BOOT: What I make of it is that there is growing evidence that the president's campaign manager was a Russian asset. This is what the judge said in the transcript that was released. She said that Manafort was involved in a problematic attempt to shield his Russian conspirator from liability, and it gives rise to legitimate questions about where his loyalties lie, where Paul Manafort's loyalties lie.

And that seems pretty clearly the judge is suggesting that his loyalties may in fact lie with Russia rather than the United States. And, you know, I was also struck by what the special counsel's office said in their filing, where they said given the breadth of Manafort's criminal activity, the government has not located a comparable case with the unique array of crimes and aggravating factors -- this is the president's campaign manager.

[22:30:04] LEMON: Crazy.

BOOT: This is not El Chapo we are talking about. This is the president's campaign manager, who has the unique array of aggravating factors and whose loyalty to the United States is highly and deeply suspect. This is off the charts, Don. This has never happened before. This is shocking.

LEMON: Laura, as a legal expert here, given what he said -- let me read that Max's had the quote somewhere -- it says, given the breadth of Manafort's criminal activity, the government has not located a comparable case with the unique array of crimes and aggravating factors. They're saying this is so crazy and out of the ordinary that we have never seen any, you know, what like this before.

COATES: I mean, can you imagine that? Of all the thousands of cases the government prosecutes every single year. I mean, the idea of there being money involved, financial failures, financial conspiracies, the idea of somebody doing tax evasion, all of those things the government has never seen before in this unique combination. Well, it just solidifies the mandate.

And remember, when people who are always wondering why this is a connection to Trump and how he tries to inoculate himself. Remember, the mandate that Mueller is following is not to figure out how to implicate Trump. It is whether or not somebody who was part of the Trump campaign had ties that could lead to a collusion-like behavior.

Well, as Max points out, you've got somebody who as a campaign -- the chairman of the campaign is involved -- I mean, the government, who is based on all the case they've seen before has never seen anything like this. The fact that it's unprecedented should confirm to you this is not a witch hunt into figuring out who may be a problem. They can tell you who it is, and it's Paul Manafort.

LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about Roger Stone now, Max, because Roger Stone -- the special counsel saying that they have Roger Stone's communications with WikiLeaks. He's denied that he is ever directly spoke to them or communicated with them. This is big, right?

BOOT: This is huge, Don. I think this is even bigger than Manafort, because this is even more direct evidence of collusion. I mean, look at what was said in the court filing that was released today. The government obtained and executed dozens of search warrants on various accounts used to facilitate the transfer of stolen documents for release, as well, also discussed the timing and promotion of their release.

So what that is saying is that Roger Stone was communicating with WikiLeaks, which was a Russian intelligence front organization, to discuss the timing of the release of these Stone Democratic Party documents. This is collusion. This is the very definition of collusion. This is -- or in legal terms, this is a conspiracy to defraud the United States by affecting the course of our election in concert with these foreign actors who are hacking Democratic Party accounts.

LEMON: All right. Both of you stick around. We have much more to talk about. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Democrats on Capitol Hill vowing to fight President Trump's declaration of a national emergency to get the money for his wall. The president undercutting his own argument about an emergency by saying, quote, I didn't need to do this.

Back with me now, Laura Coates, Max Boot. We're joined now by Brian Karem, who was at the president's event today. Was that -- I mean, everybody just didn't deny it. When he said that, were you all like, what did he just say? That he didn't need to do it? That means it's not an emergency.

Brian, let's talk about this. Welcome to the conversation. I just want to play this moment from today's presser in the Rose Garden.


LEMON: You tried to pin the president down on his facts or where he get his information.

KAREM: Where he got them.

LEMON: Yes. Here's this.


KAREM: I'm asking you to clarify where you get your numbers, because most of the DEA crime reporting statistics that we see show that drugs are coming across at the ports of entry, that illegal immigration is down, and the violence is down.


KAREM: So what do you base your facts on?

TRUMP: Come on, let's go. No, no. You get one. You get one.

KAREM: Well, the second question.

TRUMP: Wait. Sit down. Sit down. Sit down. You get one question. I get my numbers from a lot of sources, like Homeland Security primarily. And the numbers that I have from Homeland Security are a disaster. And you know, what else is a disaster? The numbers that come out of Homeland Security, Kirstjen, for the cost that we spend and the money that we lose, because of illegal immigration. Billions and billions of dollars a month.


LEMON: It's really something to see the president say that he doesn't believe the numbers and the facts.

KAREM: From his own government.

LEMON: That are coming from his own government.

KAREM: Right. And I asked him if he would share his numbers with us, and he didn't -- he wasn't having any of that. He was trying to get me to sit down, and that didn't go over real well. But I -- this entire press conference today, Don, was just -- it was out of the bizarre world. Every bit of it. I mean, when you talk about how he didn't need the wall, but he was going to have the wall. He couldn't come up with facts. Like I said to him, he mentioned that there was a shooting while he

was down there. And I said, yes, I know. I was there. It actually happened in Laredo. And all the crime that he is quoting is happening on the other side of the border. It's not happening in the U.S., and it doesn't transfer to the U.S.

There is a lot of cooperation among DEA, local, and federal and state law enforcement down there, and it's actually a very safe place to be. And those places get tainted all the time with it being dangerous, and it's simply not the case. It's not at all.

LEMON: Laura, do you think the White House lawyers are pulling their hair out after hearing the president say, quote, he didn't need to do this. I mean, that's just one more example that shows that this isn't a real emergency.

COATES: Don, they have no hair left at this point in time. And imagine, if you will, the president's scenario here.

[22:40:04] BOOT: They look like me.

COATES: You call 911, well, -- you look good still, Don, but they call 911, and then you say, but take your time with the ambulance. Why did you call 911 if I could take my time? If you could make your way to the hospital at your leisure or maybe your doctor come Monday morning. That was the essence of what the president of the United States was saying.

And why that is important is because while there has not been a real test of this national emergency declaration act, in what, over 40 years, because there was intended to be a check and balance by Congress and a common sense element that says, you're not going to declare a national emergency if there, one, is not one. And, number two, if it's meant to be some form of a naked end run around the fact that Congress has the power of the purse.

And so, what the president is intending to do here, on the one hand is say, yes, he can flex his power. He has the right to declare a national emergency if there is one, but now that he said that there is not one combined with the fact he is going to have two really big legal hurdles, one about how he is trying to go around the appropriations element, and, two, whether the money he is trying to take from is actually should be given from the military. I mean, these are already things that the White House counsel is slamming its head against the desk for, and justifiably so.

LEMON: Yes. By the way, that was Max, saying just like me.

BOOT: Don has a lot of hair.

LEMON: No, we have about the same amount.

COATES: Max, you look good too. It's OK. Fellas, you're all pretty. It's fine. Your hair looks great today.

(CROSSTALK) BOOT: I'm falling through Stone's myself (ph). OK.

LEMON: So, listen, I got to ask you, Max, because this is your latest column from "The Washington Post." And here's the headline, it says, Trump's emergency is the latest assault on the norms of American democracy.

And you write this, this is arguably nothing that Trump has done to date has been as alarming as his misuse of the 1976 national emergencies act to pander to his nativist base, which has been conditioned by his propaganda to imagine that the United States is under incessant assault by caravans of brown-skinned newcomers. The most alarming thing yet -- I mean that says a lot coming from you.

BOOT: Well, he is got a high hurdle to clear. I mean, I think his assaults on the Department of Justice and his attempt to obstruct justice, those have been pretty alarming. And what is actually kind of interesting in both cases, he is oddly honest for a guy who lies all the time. He is actually can be fairly honest about what he is doing, because he said he fired FBI Director Comey to stop the investigation of the Russia thing.

LEMON: Right.

BOOT: And now, he is saying that he is declaring an emergency even though he doesn't have to, so basically admitting there is no emergency, but in this case, I mean he is really transgressing the separation of powers in article 1.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I just want to say, you say -- hold on one second, you say what I -- sort of what I've been wondering. Where are the strict constitutionalists in the Republican Party as they had been before? You said that Republicans have violated a norm, and that is subverting the constitution or putting the president ahead of the constitution.

BOOT: Yes. I mean this is so shocking, Don, that Republicans were critical of President Obama for using his executive authority, they've called him a King, they said that he was impinging on the constitution, but President Obama never did anything remotely like this where proud Trump is trying to build a wall which has not been funded, has not been appropriated by Congress.

This is flouting the will of the legislative branch which under article one has the sole authority to appropriate funds, and he is admitting there's no actual emergency. Now, it's possible -- just possible he might be able to get away with this legally with a very conservative Supreme Court and given the very vague language in the 1976 national emergency act, but this is wrong.

We know that this is not an actual emergency, and Congress has to step up and show that they actually believe in the constitution, which sadly most of the Republicans don't seem to. They seem to believe in Donald Trump over the United States constitution.

LEMON: Go ahead, Brian. KAREM: Yes. Max says two things that we really need to take a look

at. Number one, it's the brown-colored people that are coming across the border. I've said this for a while. The real secret, the dark and scary little secret behind all of this is most illegal immigrants are from overstaying visas. And that's not -- those are sometimes part of the donor class and GOP voters.

These people are going to vote Democratic, so he doesn't want them here. And that's -- and he is been honest about that too oddly enough. You know, Latin American people coming across, he doesn't want. That is the secret that they don't really talk about too much, but Max mentioned.

And the other thing that you mentioned, Max, was that, when you're talking about what the president is doing and being oddly transparent, one of the things that he is also oddly transparent about is the fact that it is his whim. It is all -- and it's based on the fact that -- what reason why the GOP is giving him the clean slate is because he is put in all of those judges that he wants, and he is packed the Supreme Court.

The GOP will turn the other way, Don. You were talking about strict interpretation of the constitution. They'll turn a blind eye to that, because they're getting the judgeships that they want.


KAREM: But how long they continue to hold their nose is the question that is really right now at the forefront, because a lot of people are upset about what's going on.

[22:45:01] LEMON: Laura --

KAREM: And that is in the GOP.

LEMON: I've got to run. I've got to run, because I have a lot of show ahead, and we're almost at the end of the hour.


LEMON: There's a lot going on. It was very good to see you.

COATES: You sound like Trump.

LEMON: then we can go to the Supreme Court.

KAREM: Future is so bright we got to wear shades.

LEMON: Good night. Thank you guys, I appreciate it.

KAREM: Thank you very much.

LEMON: The president taking time out of his national emergency declaration to publicly praise several conservative media hosts and pundits. Is this essentially the Fox News presidency?


LEMON: President Trump would like you to believe that he is not influenced by at all, not at all, by conservative media, but he sure does seem to listen closely to just about every word they say.

[22:50:02] You don't have to -- I mean, listen, Mark McKinnon, he is the executive producer of ShowTime's The Circus. He'll talk to us about that. So, Mark, before we talk. This is what Fox News, this is Sean Hannity on Fox News, right? What he said the president should do on Tuesday and this is what the president did three days later. Watch this.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX HOST: The president would need to declare a national emergency. This is the time. That is a necessity.

TRUMP: So I'm going to be signing a national emergency and it's been signed many times before. It's been signed by other presidents.


LEMON: Well?

MARK MCKINNON, CO-HOST, SHOWTIME'S THE CIRCUS: Well, there's the proof in the pudding, right. And not only that pudding, but it is -- the press conference today -- was it today?


MCKINNON: Stuff happens so fast.


MCKINNON: I mean, he went out of his way to say yes, he talks to Sean Hannity. Yes, he talks to -- yes, when right down the list, the separated out Ann Coulter and we can talk about that in a minute, but, you know, the misnomer that a lot of people in the media universe talk about a state run media. It's not a state run media, it's a media run state. Fox News is running the state. The state is not running Fox News.

LEMON: Right.

MCKINNON: And who can blame Sean Hannity. I mean, what a great deal for him? I mean, he picks the phone calls of the president, he has some point of view. I don't blame Sean Hannity.

LEMON: I'm -- look, as they say, I'm not mad at Sean Hannity, but what the problem is, is the misinformation, is the -- I know Sean will say I'm not a journalist, you know, I'm a host, or whatever. Well, that is problematic, because by saying I'm not a journalist, it means we don't have to abide by the fact.

MCKINNON: Right. LEMON: And, you know when he says, when we tell what we are going to

do, but no. Then if you are going to be an opinion host, right? When I say Don's take at the top of the show. I give my take, it's clearly labeled at the bottom. If you don't label at the bottom of the screen that this is opinion --

MCKINNON: Then people are going to interpret it.

LEMON: Then people are going to interpret it as fact.


LEMON: And as you saw with the president today, he's fact challenge and -- Brian, great question, Brian, but he is getting his information from Fox News which is not, you know, part of their network, the opinion part of the network doesn't have to abide by those facts.

MCKINNON: That's is exactly right. That is why there was that great exchange today where you just had a back and forth again about whose facts are we going to believe? I used facts on B, a different set of facts. There's one fact that we should all be working off of. But you're right, if you have opinion people in the commentary that are being perceived as truth tellers when they are telling opinions, that is going to create a problem.

LEMON: This is what the president had to say when he -- when it was suggested today that he was influenced by right-wing media. Play this.


TRUMP: Sean Hannity has been a terrific, terrific supporter of what I do. Not of me. If I changed my views he wouldn't be with me. Rush Limbaugh, I think he is a great guy. He's a guy can speak for three hours without a phone call, try doing that for some time. For three hours he speaks. He is got one of the biggest audiences in the history of the world.


MCKINNON: Well, here's the problem, again, I don't blame Rush Limbaugh, I don't blame Sean Hannity. They've got a constituency.

LEMON: Right.

MCKINNON: They know that can set you, they know how to work it. The president should have a different constituency. It's not Rush Limbaugh's audience, although, that is part of it. I mean, it should be much broader than that. He is governing the country, not those radio shows or not those television show audiences, that's all (inaudible).

I think it's going to be his undoing as problem for the re-elect. At some point you got to broaden the base. I mean, when Bush was elected, I remember, you know, we said, we got elected with 43 percent of the Hispanic vote, you know, that's a growing demographic in order to get re-elect, we got to get more. And you know, you got to grow and not shrink it.

LEMON: you said something -- you said, they know how to work when you said listen, you can't blame Rush Limbaugh for that. Are they using him?

MCKINNON: Oh, hell, yes. Of course they are.

LEMON: He's being used. But he -- do you think he knows he is being used? Does he realize how badly he is being played, maybe it's just a mutual beneficial?

MCKINNON: It is totally mutually beneficial. And I think about those that are written in the history of Fox News, but I think, you know, when the younger Murdock's came in, I think there was initially right as the president was elected, a moment where there thought maybe there is going to be a different kind of ecosystem over there.

And but then very quickly they saw that their success was going to be tied right to Donald Trump's success and the same thing back. You know, it was just a mutually beneficial kind of pact, an unspoken pact where if Fox did well, he's doing well, if he did well, they are not going to do well.

LEMON: Interesting. I wonder if the American people know they're being played. I think, most of the American people do. They get it. OK, so, Mark, let's talk about this, one of the long conservative dissenters (ph) is Ann Coulter. And then she said this, quickly, let's watch.

Oh, there it is. We haven't -- this is the only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.


LEMON: Is that going to be a problem? Is this a problem for him?

MCKINNON: You know, she is the ultimate provocateur and I think he's --she is covering herself out and now he's carved out. It doesn't matter what ever he says at any time, she is going to take it one step further, because that's just her brand. And so, you know, she -- he kind of say, I've never met her today and -- but that's kind of -- it's great for her.

[22:25:17] LEMON: Yes.

MCKINNON: I mean, that's exactly what she wants. It doesn't matter what he does, she will never accept it. She is always going to take it one step further.

LEMON: I thought we are going to play the part where he said you, I don't know her, but she's off the reservation, right? And then give her response. Let's talk about who you spoke with. Your team spoke with Congressman Will Hurd about the border wall policies in this episode, this week's episode of The Circus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CONG. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Why was everybody in Texas last night,

because Texas is purple? Just because we don't have a statewide elected Democrat in Texas, it doesn't mean we are not purple state. I know a little something about operating in a purple district. My district is two time zones and it's roughly the size of the size of the state of Georgia. I have more border than any member of Congress.


HURD: Eight hundred twenty miles, we should be talking about the strategy to secure our border, not one tool within that strategy.


LEMON: More border than anybody else and he is saying it's not about to why's (ph) to the president.

MCKINNON: Let me make one thing clear here, he is a Republican. That is a Republican Congressman from Texas who has more border than anybody else. So he is the expert.


MCKINNON: And he is a conservative. I mean, he is a Republican. Some conservatives might argue about how conservative he is, but he is in the purple district, but the point is, he is an expert and he is living with those constituents. He knows what those issues are on the wall and he said it's not about one tool. So, I mean, he is the guy there and we should be listening to Will Hurd. And the president should be as well.

LEMON: It doesn't line up with what the president wants to portray to the public rather than the facts.

MCKINNON: No, but I think, if you want truth, go to the border, go to somebody like Congressman who represents that district.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. Always a pleasure.

MCKINNON: Thank you, captain.

LEMON: We'll be right back.