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CNN TONIGHT

Cohen Testifies in Public Hearing; Out of Topic Exchanges Between Lawmakers; Michael Cohen Has Implicated President Donald Trump; Mark Meadows Disputed Cohen's Assertion; A Surprise Guest at the Cohen Hearing, Lynne Patton. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 27, 2019 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You sound like Elijah Cummings. His closing remarks we're better than this. We are better than this.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: But he is part of that dynamic. And I thought today, look, you have to look at the right. They had no curiosity about anything Cohen had. They get on the high box of credibility is everything when they're backing a president who certainly doesn't have good credibility.

The Democrats, though, this playing to advantage is going to be a problem going forward, that if you're constantly looking for angles to make a move on the president, you're never going to get buy in by the other side. It's a tough like to walk but it has to be walked.

LEMON: Well.

CUOMO: Let's have it.

LEMON: OK. There's a lot. Are you ready for this? A lot of people I'm watching are delusional because I sat there today, and I said, are these people living in the same world because you cannot care about one liar, one lie, and then not care about the other.

And if you are saying, if you believe that Michael Cohen is a liar, aren't you tacitly saying that Donald Trump is a liar too? If you're admitting that he lied to Congress about hush money payments, that means the president lied, but you don't care about that lie. That is total and complete hypocrisy.

CUOMO: I'll tell you, it's interesting. We had Congressman Higgins here from Louisiana.

LEMON: Yes, I saw him.

CUOMO: Colorful character. He --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I'm from Louisiana, by the way.

CUOMO: -- minds me -- LEMON: And let me tell you -- hold on. I'll give it. Here's what he said. Here's what my family visits here or we go to other places, and they say they feel like they're in an alternative universe when they travel outside of Louisiana because a lot of people are sucked in, have been conned by what's going on now and are living in a state of hypocrisy.

CUOMO: So Higgins says today, very hard on Cohen.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He doesn't believe him. He didn't believe Cohen about the --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He doesn't believe evidence.

CUOMO: Right. He didn't believe the production of the documents. And what I said to him is well, then you've got Cohen going back to jail because if he lied to you about where he got the stuff today, he's a dead man.

But what's interesting to me is that, on the credibility point that you're making, I said, what do you do with the president? They're lying about the same things.

LEMON: That has yet to be --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And he did not -- well, he didn't, you know, yes. He didn't have the same comfort going there because that's the political calculation.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I'm backing the president. The problem is this president has lied to you a lot about the same things that now we're debating.

LEMON: Yes. You see I have all the lies. These are significant lies.

CUOMO: That's it?

LEMON: That's the significant ones about the hush money payments, about the mortality of drugs, about Obama wiretapping, about -- I just keep them handy when people say, it's not been proven that this president is a liar. Of course, it has.

CUOMO: Yes. Again and again and again.

LEMON: Again and again and again. But you know what's interesting? So, Michael Cohen testified. You know, he's going to go to jail for lying to Congress.

CUOMO: Yes. But he took an oath, and he did it. You know a good way of disproving

Michael Cohen is for the president to do the same thing. Take an oath, the pledge. Talk to Robert Mueller.

CUOMO: Better chance that you and I --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Do that to Senate or Congress.

CUOMO: -- will wake up tomorrow two inches taller.

LEMON: Well, I'm just saying if they want to do that, then why doesn't the president --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: He wouldn't even --

LEMON: -- go through the same scrutiny that Michael Cohen?

CUOMO: He wouldn't even do what Clinton did.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: You know, Clinton was in a box, right? They had Clinton, right?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He went in there. He did that deposition anyway. Then he had to deal with these things.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And then it became a legal matter for him, so they started to duck and bob and weave, and we saw what happened there. This is very different in that this president from jump, he made these big boasts. Talk about lies. How is this not a lie? The president said to you, I can't wait to do it. I can't wait to do it. And then he says, well, my lawyers -- when have his lawyers ever made him do anything? Come on.

LEMON: Remember his lawyer said that he can't do it because he can't tell the truth. Basically, he said he cannot tell the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No. They said, we think he's going to walk into a perjury trap.

LEMON: Please, if you're -- if you're not lying, how is that perjury? That's what I don't understand. Here's the thing.

CUOMO: Well, the concern is that they try to get you on some very little thing just to get you in that box. But, look, here's the deal. He's the president of the United States. If he has such confidence that he's telling the truth about these things, Don, --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He'll do it.

CUOMO: -- he'd do exactly what you said.

LEMON: He should do it.

CUOMO: And he never did.

LEMON: By the way, I give him props.

CUOMO: He won't even come on with us.

LEMON: He's the only -- well, he can't do that.

CUOMO: Why not.

LEMON: You could do it. We're not carrying water.

CUOMO: You call him right now.

LEMON: If it's the truth.

CUOMO: Nobody defends that man better than he does. The president is his best defender.

LEMON: Yes. And the Trump news channel. But, listen, I have to give him his props. He's the only person who at 77 years old actually grew an inch according to doctors in the White House. So, I give him, you know, he went from 6'1 --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Being president that makes you --

LEMON: or whatever, 6'3 or two inches or one inch, you know.

CUOMO: Makes me feel better. I thought I was taller than him. But I'm like --

LEMON: He weighs less than both of us.

CUOMO: Power. Power does things for you.

LEMON: Yes, I know. Power corrupts all too.

Good to see you.

CUOMO: Thank you. I look forward you carrying for.

LEMON: Absolutely. OK. So, let's talk about this.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. A search for the truth, that's what today's hearing was supposed to

be. It was supposed to be a search for the truth, a search for the truth about Donald Trump and his presidency from Michael Cohen, the man who stood by Trump for a decade. Instead, here's what we got. We got this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:05:05] REP. PAUL GOSAR (R), ARIZONA: Liar, liar, pants on fire. No one should ever listen to you and give you credibility. It's sad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It is sad. It's sad all right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I just find it interesting, sir, that between yourself and your colleagues, that not one question so far since I'm here has been asked about President Trump. That's actually why I thought I was coming today, not to -- not to confess the mistakes that I've made. I've already done that, and I'll do it again every time you ask me about taxes or mistakes.

Yes, I made my mistakes. I'll say it now again, and I'm going to pay the ultimate price. But I'm not here today, and the American people don't care about my taxes. They want to know what it is that I know about Mr. Trump, and not one question so far has been asked about Mr. Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Now, the fact is Michael Cohen was apparently perfectly willing to do a legal and unethical thing until he got caught, and he's going to pay for that as he should pay for it.

But you cannot care, as I always say, you cannot care about one lie or liar and then dismiss another. That is the definition of hypocrisy. If you believe that Michael Cohen lied, then you've got to believe that the president lied too. That's how it works.

Logic, fact, reality, that, it works that way. If Michael Cohen lied about hush money, didn't Trump? Come on, people, use your brain. But Cohen says the GOP is falling into the same trap that he did. Do anything. Say anything to protect Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: Everybody's job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day most of us knew we were coming in, and we were going to lie for him on something, and that became the norm. And that's exactly what's happening right now in this country, and it's exactly what's happening here in government, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So, let me ask you this question. So, is this what the Trump presidency has done to us? Has it turned us into a nation that will accept anything from a man who told us that he could shoot somebody in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose voters?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COHEN: The president, unlike my Cohen for Trump that has 1,000 followers, he's got over 60 million people. And when Mr. Trump turned around early in the campaign and said, I can shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and get away with it, I want to be very clear. He's not joking. He's telling you the truth.

You see, you don't know him. I do. I sat next to this man for 10 years, and I watched his back. He's sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants. This is his country. It's becoming an autocrat.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And there was another pretty shocking thing that came up again and again in today's hearing, OK? Did you see this? Republican Congressman Mark Meadows, he brought a special guest, Lynne Patton, who is a Trump administration official, as if she were a live prop, trotting her out in an attempt to prove that this president couldn't possibly be a racist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I asked Lynne to come today in her personal capacity to actually shed some light. How long have you known Ms. Patton?

COHEN: I'm responsible for Lynne Patton joining the Trump Organization and the job that she currently holds.

MEADOWS: Well, that's -- I'm glad you acknowledge that because you made some very demeaning comments about the president that Ms. Patton doesn't agree with. In fact, it has to do with your claim of racism.

She says that as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way that she would work for an individual who is racist. How do you reconcile the two of those?

COHEN: As neither should I as the son of a Holocaust survivor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I have a black friend prop, a black employee props. Come on, you all. What he's essentially saying is this president can't be racist because he's hired this black woman. That's not how racism works.

And by the way, in fairness, in truth, we asked Mark Meadows to come on. I wanted to hear from him himself, to explain, to have a thoughtful conversation. But he went on Fox News with Sean Hannity tonight.

[22:10:07] And I think I could have had a really good conversation about this with him. I'd still like to have that conversation.

And by the way, Lynne Patton didn't say a single word during the hearing. Congressman Brenda Lawrence was outraged.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D), MICHIGAN: I just want to put on the record as being a black American and having endured the public comments of racism from the sitting president as being a black person, I can only imagine what's being said in private.

And to prop up one member of our entire race of black people and say that that nullifies that is totally insulting in this environment of expecting a president to be inclusive and to look at his administration speaks volume.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I am going to be talking to the congresswoman about that in just a few minutes, so stay tuned. But that wasn't the end of it. Here's Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Would you agree that someone could deny rental units to African-Americans, lead the birther movement, refer to the diaspora as shit-hole countries, and refer to white supremacists as fine people, have a black friend, and still be racist?

COHEN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes. But things really got heated when Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: Just to make a note, Mr. Chairman, just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them, does not mean they aren't racist.

And it is insensitive that someone even say -- the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman, in this chamber, in this committee, is alone racist in itself. Donald Trump is setting a precedent --

(CROSSTALK)

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, I ask that her words be taken down.

TLAIB: I reclaim my time. Donald Trump is setting a precedent. MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman --

TLAIB: -- that the highest office can be --

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, the rules are clear.

TLAIB: -- attained to potential illegal activity, cover up and hold on to business assets to break campaign finance laws and constitutional clauses.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: These young women are really getting under the skin of the establishment, old guys, aren't they? They're probably more in touch with the people than most of the people who are in Congress now. And they don't like it because things are changing. Finally, Chairman Elijah Cummings had to step in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Ms. Tlaib, is it, I want to make sure I understand. You did not -- you were not intending to call Mr. Meadows a racist, is that right?

TLAIB: No, Mr. Chairman, I do not call Mr. Meadows a racist. I am trying --

(CROSSTALK)

CUMMINGS: Wait a minute. Hold on.

TLAIB: -- as a person of color, Mr. Chairman, just to express myself and how I felt at that moment. And so, just for the record, that's what was my intention.

CUMMINGS: All right. Mr. Meadows --

MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, there's nothing more personal to me than my relationship. My nieces and nephews are people of color.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, look, the Congressman obviously loves his family. You saw how emotional he was there. But honestly that is just not the point. It's not the point that you have loved ones who are people of color. It's not the point that you've hired a person of color. It's not the point that some of your best friends are people of color.

This is what especially people of color try to get people to understand all the time, OK? It is entirely possible for any of those things to be true and for a person to still do things that are racist. It's like you can do something that is dumb. It doesn't mean that the whole, your whole entire being is dumb. You made a stupid decision.

So, you did a racist act, or you made a racist statement. Does that make you entirely a racist? No. But the act of what you did can actually be racist and short-sighted.

Frankly, though, a whole lot of what we heard today was beside the point. What we were supposed to be doing is trying to get to the truth. This is where I started. We're supposed to be getting to the truth. But instead we spent more than seven hours sorting through lies, the president's lies, which he will never admit to.

Michael Cohen's lies, at least he admits to them, one lie after another from the people surrounding this president and the president himself.

[22:15:04] Lies that distract us from what really matters in this country. Listen to the Chairman Cummings, his closing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUMMINGS: We're better than that. We really are. And I'm hoping that all of us can get back to this democracy that we want and that we should be passing on to our children so that they can do better than what we did.

When we're dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact. Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing? We can do more than one thing, and we have got to get back to normal. With that, this meeting is adjourned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: How do we get back to normal? How do we do that? Can we? We learned a lot of new things from Michael Cohen's testimony today. Let's dig in. Jack Quinn, Gloria Borger, Pamela Brown after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is one of the most anticipated congressional hearings in years. Michael Cohen had a lot of new things to say about President Trump's alleged criminal behavior in office, a lot of ground to cover.

Jack Quinn is here, Gloria Borger and Pamela Brown. Good evening. So good to see all of you and to be on set.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Welcome to D.C.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate the hospitality and for you being such a great guest and open with your answers.

Pamela, I'm going to start with you, because I want to focus on the things we learned. That $35,000 check Cohen says that Trump reimbursed him for the hush money payment while he was still in office.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That was --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He was in office, I should say. BROWN: While he was in office. That was one of the most astounding

things that came out of this hearing today and one of the key observations from our team that's been covering the SDNY investigations and Cohen, because basically Cohen said the president committed crimes while in the Oval Office and he brought proof.

He brought the check that the president signed for $35,000, the payment that he apparently reimbursed to Cohen for the fact that he paid Stormy Daniels off at the end of the election.

And so that was really interesting because basically the implication was that the president is an unindicted co-conspirator in the hush money scheme. The fact that Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws. And so that stood out.

And then the fact that he claims that the president told him to lie about his knowledge of it, that when Cohen put out the statement, that he said, cover it up. Say that I didn't know anything about it.

That also, the implication there is that he was trying to cover it up. It is true that Cohen has credibility issues. That was raised several times today. But also, he's been cooperating in at least two federal investigations.

Investigators, you can imagine, were watching today. And if what he said didn't match up with what he told them, he risks lengthening his prison sentence for perjury.

[22:20:04] LEMON: I'm stealing this from David Gregory as I was watching you guys earlier. He said Michael Cohen has credibility issues but was totally believable today.

BORGER: Totally. I think he was.

LEMON: So that's problematic for him with the check.

BORGER: Yes.

LEMON: But what's also problematic is this alleged phone call between Donald Trump.

BORGER: Right.

LEMON: And Roger Stone regarding the WikiLeaks dump that eventually hurt Hillary Clinton. How big of a problem is that?

BORGER: I think less problematic than the $35,000 check because what you have is a situation where Michael Cohen says, I'm sitting in Donald Trump's office. He gets a call from Roger Stone. He puts it on speaker phone like he puts everything on speaker phone. And Roger Stone said, I just talked with Julian Assange. There's going to be a WikiLeaks dump. And the president said, that's great, whatever. But you have a he said/he said situation.

LEMON: For now, unless --

BORGER: And neither one of these people --

LEMON: Unless the SDNY or Mueller or someone has --

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: A tape?

LEMON: -- phone records or something.

BROWN: They've asked for those phone records.

LEMON: Go on, Gloria. Sorry.

BORGER: So, the question is you have a he said/he said. And Cohen's credibility is in question. Roger Stone is a serial exaggerator. We know that.

LEMON: That's a nice way of putting it. Go away.

BORGER: Right, it's a nice way. I thought so. And then you have Trump kind of in the middle here.

LEMON: Right.

BORGER: Probably saying that never -- that never happened. I have no recollection of it. That phone call never occurred. So, I think it's less convincing, and I think that there's a lot of groundwork that needs to be done to kind of uncover that. And of course, today Roger Stone said, you know, that never happened.

LEMON: Yes. Jack, let's talk about this because I thought Congressman Krishnamoorthi was on last night, and he talked about Michael Cohen said that he had a conversation with the president after that raid, right, that the SDNY after the FBI raided him. Congressman Krishnamoorthi tried to get more out of that. Here's what he said, and then we'll talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI, (D) ILLINOIS: Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven't yet discussed today?

COHEN: Yes. And, again, those are part of the investigation that's currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Multiple SDNY investigations?

JACK QUINN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It sounds that way. It certainly sounds that way. And, look, the fact that there is all this secrecy around it makes it hard to know exactly what it's about. It's not out of the question that it's about the Stone phone call which, by the way, I think, you know, the shocking thing there -- remember, around that time, Trump and Clinton were being advised that Russia was active in the campaign, all right, and that they were working with WikiLeaks.

So, you know, here he gets this phone call from Roger Stone, who says, WikiLeaks is going to dump this stuff. His reaction is not, well, we better tell the FBI.

BORGER: Right.

QUINN: Right?

LEMON: Good point.

QUINN: His reaction is --

BORGER: Yay.

QUINN: Cool. You know?

LEMON: Yes. It's a very good point because even if -- even if, let's just say, they'll say, Roger Stone was making it up. How do we know?

QUINN: Right.

LEMON: But shouldn't his reaction be --

(CROSSTALK)

QUINN: Yes. I mean even if it's puffery, his reaction as somebody running for the highest office in this land should be shock, dismay, concern. This is problematic. Russia is meddling. He doesn't care. In fact, he welcomes it.

And, you know, that's all consistent with the fact that he and his -- well, at least one of his sons have been signaling to Russia, hey, help us. We'll help you. We'll make it worthwhile. We can talk about sanctions.

LEMON: With that meeting, right, remember the meeting they had at Trump tower.

QUINN: Yes.

LEMON: Where there were -- you know. He said, I love it. Shouldn't it be, we got to contact the FBI?

QUINN: Right.

BORGER: Or call the general counsel.

LEMON: Or call the -- or call someone.

BORGER: Right?

QUINN: It's precisely opposite. And, look, to me what was shocking about today was the sheer number of, you know, earth-shattering disclosures here.

LEMON: Yes.

QUINN: I mean I have to make a list, you know.

LEMON: Yes, but as we were watching -- I was watching it with people, and we were live texting and talking about it. We were like, is this going to matter? Nothing seems to matter anymore even though all of this has come out. And I think that's perfect.

Gloria, this is for you. This is what Congressman Cummings, the ranking member, the chairman said, I should say, after the hearings today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that the president committed a crime while in office?

CUMMINGS: Based on what -- looking at the checks and listening to Mr. Cohen, it appears that he did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Raise a specter of impeachment?

BORGER: Well, let me just first talk about Cummings, then I'll get to impeachment. Cummings is saying, you know, we have corroborating evidence here. We have the checks. Campaign finance crime. Republicans will say this is not a crime. Don't worry about it. No big deal.

[22:24:54] Impeachments a whole other story. Are the Democrats going to want to rely on a campaign finance crime and a cover-up or whatever you want to call it on the hush money to impeach the president?

I think there's a lot of reluctance. I think there's a lot of reluctance, and there's a lot of Stones that need to be overturned first before they can get there.

The committees now, particularly in the House, where they are in control, will call Allen Weisselberg. They may recall -- they may call Donald Trump, Jr. They're going to -- you know, they're going to try and get to the bottom of this in public.

LEMON: Yes.

BORGER: Because what they need to do is convince the public because impeachment, after all, is a political act.

LEMON: Yes.

BORGER: And, you know, Trump in a way -- Republicans say to me, who have talked to him about it, well, he kind of welcomes it because then he has a fight.

LEMON: Yes.

BORGER: And he can say you're trying to just take the election. LEMON: Last word, Pamela. I'm sure on time but they're going to have

a lot to work at, especially considering what he said about he inflated and deflated the value and all this stuff on his taxes or whatever. They're going to have a lot to look at coming up.

BROWN: Right. And as Gloria said, one of the people you can imagine they're going to want to talk to in front of the committee is Allen Weisselberg. In fact, Cummings alluded to that today because he is known as the financial gatekeeper.

And his name kept coming up repeatedly in the hearing by Cohen. At one point he seemed to suggest there is a conspiracy with Allen Weisselberg to cook the books at the Trump org to cover and hide the payments to the women.

And so, these are serious accusations that he is raising today that you can imagine lawmakers will want to get to the bottom of publicly. He, I should say has limited immunity.

LEMON: I'm out of time. That's got to be the last word. I'm sorry. So, we have to run. But I can't believe people are like, well, did anything come out of this. Hello? Were you guys watching television?

QUINN: Yes.

LEMON: So, I got to go.

BORGER: I just have to say one other thing.

LEMON: OK.

BORGER: I just wanted to say --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Jack is going to kill me.

BORGER: Michael Cohen actually said that he didn't believe that Trump was under audit for his taxes.

LEMON: Yes.

BORGER: Hello?

LEMON: Who thought that? No one thought that.

BORGER: Yes, but that's his excuse.

LEMON: How did Michael Cohen do today? OK. Jack, go on.

QUINN: OK. This was like a racketeering disclosure, OK? I mean, the sheer number of crimes in which this organization is involved, seriously. I mean, everybody remembers the RICO statute, right?

LEMON: Yes. QUINN: I mean this is the statute that was written to go after organized crime. What we witnessed today were disclosures of so many different crimes and near crimes that this is a racket.

LEMON: Yes.

QUINN: The president is running a racket.

LEMON: I thank this little lady -- I shouldn't say old lady, but I said she was, on the airplane and in the airport, and I said, I really don't understand what's going on. And she said, it's very simple, Don. I've been around for a long time. People protect their own. And that's what's happening right now. People are protecting their own especially in the --

(CROSSTALK)

QUINN: Their own.

BORGER: Until they don't.

LEMON: Yes. There you go. Thank you. Until they don't. Until it becomes a Michael Cohen situation.

How did Michael Cohen do today, by the way? I'm going to ask someone who probably knows better than anyone. John Dean is next.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Michael Cohen implicated President Trump for -- on so many things, some hush money payments during the campaign to financial shenanigans at Trump to orchestrating lies while he was in the Oval Office. But was Cohen a credible witness? Was he a credible witness? Who better to ask than John Dean, and he joins me now.

John, it's good to see you. Thank you so much. Watching to you today, I'm sure you saw of the hearings. So let's discuss now. You have been in that hot seat. You've testified against a sitting president. So speak to the history of today. How did Michael Cohen do?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he did a pretty good job. I thought his statement, his opening statement was a little short. He'd spent 10 years with this man, but he really didn't take very long to roll out what he knew in his prepared statement. So that was one reaction I had. I was delighted the way he sat alone at the table, as I think a witness should, without counsel surrounding him on both sides.

And more importantly, he pushed back when they pushed him in a phony direction on several people. When Jordan, for example, pushed him, Michael stood up and just didn't roll over. And I think that's important for a witness, particularly one who is telling the truth.

LEMON: Let's take a look at some of that, and then we'll discuss. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a pathological liar. You don't know truth from falsehood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I am sorry. Are you referring to me or the president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, this is my time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you referring to me or the president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I ask you a question, I will ask for an answer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Wow. Do Republicans have a difficult time making this argument given the president's constant lies?

DEAN: Well, Don, if you notice, they didn't defend the president. What they did is attack the witness. That shows a certain weakness, and it also showed a lot of concern by these Republicans. This is the harder right that we're speaking of today. And they, as I say, had nothing to offer in defense of this man or the president's character.

Rather, they went after -- sometimes pushing a minor point into an exaggeration. Because of confessing to one lie, everything else is a lie. Well, that isn't true. This man -- Michael Cohen has no incentive to lie at this point.

LEMON: It's interesting. Michael Cohen pointed that out about the questions. Like you guys have been attacking me, but not one question so far. Remember in the hearing when he did that? So why were Republicans with the exception -- Michigan who asked interesting, substantive questions, only interested in taking down Cohen. They weren't interested in addressing the president's actions.

DEAN: No. And as I say, that's a sign of weakness. You know, his key points, he made four charges of criminality by the president. Some of them we knew about. Some of them we only got a hint about, like the investigations he was unprepared to talk about because they're in the southern district. But they didn't probe very deeply on the Republican side to find out more about that, whereas the Democrats did focus on trying to be -- draw out facts and build a record.

And what they've done is opened up several new avenues for this committee to go down if they choose to further investigate, calling people like the president's secretary, personal secretary, or Allen Weisselberg and some of the others that were mentioned by Cohen who could corroborate him. And I wouldn't be surprised if they would do so, Don.

LEMON: John Dean, we're very lucky to have you as always, but especially in these moments. We appreciate it. Thank you. DEAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Accusations of racism spilling out onto the House floor when Congressman Meadows used a black HUD official in an attempt to prove that the president isn't racist. I am going to speak to one congresswoman who called him out for doing that. Congresswoman -- there she is, Brenda Lawrence. She's going to join me next.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So an unusual exchange during Michael Cohen's hearing. Republican Congressman Mark Meadows challenged Cohen's assertion that President Trump is racist. Meadows brings out a surprise guest, Lynne Patton, a black woman who is a Trump administration official. He brought her out to stand with him as he said this to Cohen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You made some very demeaning comments about the president that Ms. Patton doesn't agree with. In fact, it has to do with your claim of racism. She says that as a daughter of a man born in Birmingham, Alabama, that there is no way that she would work for an individual who was racist. How do you reconcile the two of those?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As neither should I, as the son of a holocaust survivor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:39:59] LEMON: Democratic Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence is just not having it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D), MICHIGAN: I just want to put on the record as being a black American, and having endured the public comments of racism from the sitting president. As being a black person, I can only imagine what's being said in private. And to prop up one member of our entire race of black people and say that that nullifies that is totally insulting in this environment of expecting a president to be inclusive and to look at his administration speaks volume.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, thank you for that. You were saying what a lot of people of color at home were saying. You were angry. You were frustrated about what Representative Meadows, how he used Lynne Patton as a prop. Explain to us, talk to us -- explain to our viewers what a lot of people color saw happen there.

LAWRENCE: I was sitting there. First of all, I am a member of Congress. I have sat through hundreds of hearings, watched hearings. I have never seen a human being brought out as a prop for an issue you're trying to make. And then to bring out this one woman, who I don't know where they found her, because she's not in his executive team. I have never seen her. I am sure she's a good person. But to bring her out -- and I am

sitting there, knowing what we have gone through in America with Donald Trump as our president. You know, to hear the comments he made before he was president about Barack Obama. I mean openly and with such authority and pride, he says racist things all the time. And you insult me by bringing one single woman up.

And when you look at the Trump administration, it is not one that reflects the diversity of this great country. And why would you do that? And I sat there. You know, it wasn't my turn, right, after Meadows. And it just kept building up and building up. And I could not, not address that.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, thank you for doing that. She does work for HUD. She's close to the family. So I am sure, as you said, she's a good person and a friend. But this action was, I think, just not a good move, OK? It was insensitive.

LAWRENCE: It was not. It was not. It's like the cliche, you know? Some of my good friends are black, or I have a black friend, or I have a Jewish friend, or however you want to put it. It was just -- it was so wrong on so many levels, and it was insulting. And, you know, something my grandmother told me. She said, Brenda, being a black woman in America, you're going to spend most of your life forgiving people and educating people.

And I hope today was an education for a number of people who thought that was a good idea.

LEMON: Let's talk about some of the anecdotes that Michael Cohen used when he said that the president is racist, OK? He claims the president said name a country run by a black that isn't a shit-hole. Only blacks would live like this. Blacks would never vote for him because they are too stupid. Do you think your Republican colleagues are excusing the president's behavior? Are they complicit in a way?

LAWRENCE: It's hard to sit there and see people whom you respect, you work with. And for them to be confronted, and we know he called African countries shit-holes because he tweeted it. We know that he has said things about, you know, the African-American players. We know that he has said all of these things. So why would you even try to erase it? It is troubling.

And that whole -- when you listened to the hearing today, it was repeatedly attacks on Cohen without acknowledging any of the issues, any of the issues that are real, factual, and he was sharing as being in the bubble, the Trump bubble for 10 years. So even Cohen said it's surprising to me that not a single one of the Republicans has asked any substantive questions about the allegations, about things that we know happened.

[22:44:55] I have shown you the check that I was reimbursed for paying the payoff to these women who were suing or trying to bribe the president because of his sexual relationships. And you don't even address those. It's nothing. It's just -- and, you know, everyone knows even a broke clock is right twice a day. This man may have lied.

But we have not had an opportunity as Congress to address and ask questions of someone that's been in the Trump bubble for 10 years, someone that was side by side with this man.

LEMON: Yeah. Congresswoman, I really appreciate it. Come back anytime. Thank you so much.

LAWRENCE: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. I want to bring in now Tara Setmayer and the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening. What a day. It's been a day.

LEMON: You know, I always say it's not funny, but it's laughable. OK, so Mark Meadows thinks, Tara, that President Trump is -- he can't be racist because he has a black employee. I will let you tackle that one.

SETMAYER: Well, obviously it's one of the most asinine things to come out of the mouth of a congressman during one of these hearings. And then to pull the stunt that he did to use a black woman as a prop to say, see? No, look. She's going to dispute what you said, Michael Cohen. She works for Donald Trump. She doesn't think he's a racist.

LEMON: And she's black.

SETMAYER: And she's black. And to have her stand there on display like that was something I have never seen. You know, when I worked in Congress, I have been in a lot of hearings also. I have never seen anything like that. And it infuriated me to watch it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Shouldn't someone get him and say, OK, listen. All right, maybe you don't think you're a racist, but what you did was certainly racially insensitive.

SETMAYER: Yes.

LEMON: You need to learn.

SETMAYER: And this is the problem when you don't have diversity on staff, when you don't have people of color in decision-making positions, because anyone worth their salt would have said that that's not a good idea because it was tokenism at its worst. And it was laughable. And on top of that, you're going to pick someone like Lynne Patton, who is basically the wedding planner for Eric Trump, who had no experience whatsoever working at HUD.

She was a family friend of the Trumps in a major position. And that's who you're going to trot out? Someone who was like the personal assistant of the family to say, oh, well he's not racist? I mean anyone who knows Donald Trump knows that he has a history of this. And Mark Meadows, of all people, he was one of the birther guys.

There is video of him out there now talking about we're going to send Barack Obama back to Kenya or wherever. Mark Meadows really needs...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: All right, let's play that. Let's play that part.

SETMAYER: Think again.

LEMON: Yeah. Play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what we're going to do is take back our country, 2012 is the time that we're going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is. We're going to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So this was not the first time that he pushed this racist conspiracy theory that Obama wasn't born in the U.S., and then he's offended by people calling him racist. What gives here?

WES LOWERY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Of course. I mean first of all -- and we shouldn't even have to still say this in 2019, right? The theory that President Obama was not born in the United States of America is racist. It was peddled by racists. It was racist when Donald Trump did as a -- before he was even a candidate. It was racist when he did it as a candidate.

And members of Congress were elected on that type of rhetoric, where engaged in racism, using racism for political gain. What we saw here today with Congressman Meadows was fascinating for several reasons. First, the initial tokenism of Lynne Patton, right, here is a black woman who works for Donald Trump, and so therefore Donald Trump cannot be racist, which on its face is ridiculous.

Second, she doesn't even get to speak. She -- stand up, black woman. See? She likes Donald Trump. OK, you can sit down now. We're going to go back to talking, right? The framing of it was remarkable. But then to have a woman of color congresswoman later on speak the way that many of us at home watching this were thinking, right, that this was offensive. This was strange.

LEMON: Yeah.

LOWERY: Having heard you -- use her voice and her platform, a newly elected member of Congress to say that, and to then have this congressman to almost hysterically respond to her, well, I couldn't be a racist. I have a black friend. His name is Elijah Cummings, and I have black nieces and nephews.

(CROSSTALK)

SETMAYER: He was looking for Elijah Cummings to bail him out. It's like come on, you know me.

LOWERY: He gets called out for tokenizing Lynn Patton. And what does he do? He tokenizes Elijah Cummings and then he tokenizes his own nieces and nephews.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: She did it on her own volition.

SETMAYER: Yes, she did. You know what though? I am going to say that too. She likes the attention. Did you see? She tweeted it out ahead of time that she was going to do this. She's part of that same cabal of Trump attention-seekers that were nobodies before, that have a taste of power now, and they're milking it, and allowing themselves to be used as props.

And shame on the Republican Party for doing this over and over again. This was a frustration I had as a woman of color in the Republican Party for 20 years now, trying to get them to get past these kinds of racially-tokenized acts. They think that this is what is -- shows that they're racists and they aren't bigots, but it's racially insensitive.

And they don't have anybody, like I said, in decision-making positions to tell them no, that's really not how it works.

[22:49:59] LEMON: I've got to get this is in, because in an interview with Roll Call, Meadows clarified his remarks. He says I think it's a non-issue, he said. Obviously, bring it back is probably a poor choice of words on my part more than anything else. I believe he's an American citizen and I believe in my district he is going to lose overwhelmingly.

SETMAYER: It is always an excuse.

LEMON: It is always an excuse.

SETMAYER: There's always an excuse. You know, enough is enough. To Wes' point, it is 2019. We are still pulling these kinds of stunts.

LEMON: Yeah.

LOWERY: Of course.

LEMON: I got 10 seconds.

LOWERY: So much of the conversation we're having now is Mark Meadows doing something racist, getting called out on by a woman of color, and him being offended at the suggestion, right? And that is a perfect encapsulation too (Inaudible) conversation (Inaudible).

SETMAYER: Indeed.

LOWERY: The white guy feeling really upset that someone might think he might have done something racist.

SETMAYER: It flows from the top.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The Chairman of the House Oversight Committee says he believes Michael Cohen's testimony may show the President broke the law while in office. Joining me now is a man who questioned Cohen today, Democrat Congressman Harley Rouda of California. Congressman, it's such a pleasure to have you here.

REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you for having me on the show.

LEMON: So what did you think? He said that he believed that he broke the law. Do you think that in this testimony?

ROUDA: I think it is clear that he did break the law. I think the evidence shows that. And we need to continue to develop more evidence to the investigation. It is also very clear that -- a high likelihood that he lied under oath. And whether this rises to impeachable offenses, time will tell. But we certainly have something to continue the investigations.

LEMON: When you got -- what was the feeling when you got there? Did you ever see anything like this?

ROUDA: No. It is once in a lifetime in history when you see something like -- and I was there from day one. From the moment I came to the office today, you can feel the energy in the building, and thousands of people lining the hallways, press everywhere.

LEMON: You asked Michael Cohen about Trump's relationship with Russian mobster Felix Sater, OK? This is what the president said about Sater under oath. This was in 2013. And what Cohen said to you today -- sorry, we got to play it because I said it. Can we play that please?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About how many times have you conversed with Mr. Sater?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the years?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over the years if you can...

TRUMP: Not many. If he were sitting the room right now, I really would not know what he looked like.

[22:55:05] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it true that President Trump knew convicted Russian mobster Felix Sater in 2013 when he made that statement?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it true that because of Mr. Sater's

relationship to the Trump Organization that he had an office in the Trump Tower?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the 26th floor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the 26th floor is important, why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's Mr. Trump's floor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Why was he -- why was the president downplaying his relationship with Sater?

ROUDA: Well, I think he's trying to deflect the deep relationships he has with Russia, Putin, and indirectly the oligarchs and those that work for the oligarchs. When you look at the number of condominiums that have been purchased in Trump properties by those with Russian ties and cash deals at market value, we have to deal with that and follow the money. We have to find out what is the real relationship.

LEMON: When I said I had to play it, I was talking to my producers because they were -- I wanted to give you more time to talk. But I will get this question in anyway. How -- for you and the other incoming, the freshman, right? How does it feel to have so much influence at this point?

ROUDA: Well, it's -- first of all, I got to tell you, there were two different hearings today. There was the Democratic hearing and there was the Republican hearing. The Democrat hearing was very focused on trying to get to the truth. Yet, the Republicans -- we didn't see any questions to speak of whatsoever in trying to find the truth, the higher understanding.

And to me, that was incredibly disappointing. I wish we would've seen more of our brethren on the other side of the aisle taking action to find out the truth.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time. It's been a long day and you have got more of it to come.

ROUDA: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you so much. If you didn't see all seven hours of the testimony today, we have got you covered. All the biggest moments and takeaways from the Michael Cohen's hearing, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon. History made today on Capitol Hill. Michael Cohen, President Trump's former personal attorney and fixer giving explosive testimony before the House Oversight Committee, slamming the president as a conman, a racist, and a cheat, accusing him of engaging in illegal activities before.