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Bill Barr Won't Follow Sessions' Decision; Investigations to Personal Attacks; Trump Asked Aides to Block AT&T-Time Warner Merger; Senate Has Votes to Reject Trump's National Emergency. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired March 4, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[23:00:00] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks, Chris. We'll be here all week and this is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Erin Burnett in for the one and only Don Lemon who is off today.
The House Judiciary Committee launching a broad investigation into President Trump taking a look at this administration, his campaign, his transition, his businesses, pretty much everything there is about the guy, the committee sending out letters to 81 people and entities. So that includes the White House, Justice Department, senior campaign officials, Trump Organization officials, the president's sons. Tonight, I asked the chairman of the committee what all this is about, what does he want to learn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Our goal is to hold the administration accountable for the obstruction of justice, the abuse of power, and the corruption. Our goal is to vindicate the rule of law, to protect the rule of law in this country. And that's our core function as a judiciary committee of the Congress. And we have to find out what's been going on and we have to lay out a case to the American people and reveal it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Lay out a case and reveal it. Well, today at the White House while meeting with college football players the president brushed it all off.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you going to cooperate with Mr. Nadler?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I cooperate all the time with everybody. And you know the beautiful thing? No collusion. It's all a hoax.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: The White House put out a statement slamming the judiciary committee's investigation. The Press Secretary Sarah Sanders saying in part, quoting her, "Today, Chairman Nadler opened up a disgraceful and abusive investigation into tired false allegations already investigated by the special counsel and committees in both chambers of commerce. Chairman Nadler and his fellow Democrats have embarked on this fishing expedition because they're terrified that their two-year false narrative of Russia collusion is crumbling. Their intimidation and abuse of American citizens is shameful."
All right. In just a moment I'm going to be speaking with a member of the judiciary committee. Also, tonight, though, another big development. Possibly important for the Mueller investigation.
The new Attorney General, Bill Barr announcing that he will not recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Now, in a sense that's not a surprise, but some Democrats had concerns because of a memo that Barr wrote last year, a very detailed memo where he argued that the firing of former FBI director Jim Comey did not constitute obstruction of justice.
And joining me now, Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat who sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Thank you so much for being with me, Congressman. So, let's start with this.
Eighty-one people getting letters like these. I've been looking through them today. I got Mr. Kushner's and Donald Trump, Jr.'s here. What's your response to people who say look, all you're doing is fishing?
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you, Erin, for your question. Let me first say that I hope our investigation turns up no wrongdoing because I don't want to think that we have a criminal in the White House.
But I fear that our investigation is going to expose some wrongdoing. We're going to leave no stone unturned. We're going to connect the dots if they are to be connected. And we want to hear from these individuals and get their documents and at the time American people what happened.
BURNETT: So, you know, Chairman Nadler was telling me you're going to subpoena, you're going to do whatever it takes. If any of these 81 don't comply, you're going to go all the way to the mat?
LIEU: That's correct. And a number of them did not work in the White House or they were not senior White House advisers. So, they can't claim executive privilege. There really is no reason that they shouldn't produce these documents. We expect to get most of the documents. And we've asked for an expedited investigation. So, we're asking for these documents within weeks.
BURNETT: Wow. Within two weeks. OK. So, we don't have a lot of time to do this. I mean, when I spoke to Chairman Nadler he was saying, look, this is not a pre-impeachment hearing. That was the words he used. That's not what this is. So I guess what I'm wondering is if it's not pre-impeachment, what do
you say to people who say OK, fine, but this is death by a thousand cuts, you're just trying to bloody the president with blow after blow after blow because you don't think you can succeed with impeachment?
LIEU: Well, let me first say that the special counsel investigation is narrow in its scope, which is basically did anyone commit a crime in relation to Russian interference. The House Judiciary's oversight responsibility is far broader. There are three things we want to know. Did Donald Trump, his associates or his family members commit any crime?
Second, did they do anything that was unethical or misconduct, whether or not it rises to a level of a crime? And third, how do we show this to the American people? So, we're just exercising our oversight responsibilities. We all took an oath of office. We're part of a separate and co-equal branch of government. And we're going to act like it.
BURNETT: So, Sarah Sanders has just come out with a statement tonight, Congressman Lieu. And she describes this investigation as disgraceful and abusive. Your allegations as tired and false, that have already been investigated by the special counsel. So obviously taking issue with your description of it as being narrow. And she references committees in both chambers. She calls it a fishing expedition. What's your response to the press secretary?
[23:05:03] LIEU: Many of these issues we're looking into have not been investigated by the special counsel because it's not within his mission. And if you look at what happened in Watergate, Nixon was impeached not because he did the substantive crime of stealing from the DNC. He was impeached for the cover-up, a totally separate offense.
And that's what we want to know. Did Donald Trump engage in corruption, abuse of power or obstruction of justice? And want to take the facts wherever it may lead us. And we hope to get these documents soon.
BURNETT: So, when Sarah Sanders says the Democrats are not after the truth, they are after the president, you say no?
LIEU: We haven't been able to investigate because for the last two years the Republican-controlled Congress stopped us from doing so. This is really the first time the House of Representatives is conducting investigations to seek the truth. And the White House and Sarah Sanders and Donald Trump did nothing wrong, they would not fear what the truth is going to show.
BURNETT: Congressman, I want to ask you also about the developing news on the Mueller investigation, or at least it certainly appears very well to it, the Justice Department officially announcing that the attorney general, our new Attorney General Bill Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation.
Obviously, you know, the ethics panel had looked into it, they had not recommended that he recuse. Do you see any reason why he should?
LIEU: Well, Bill Barr did write basically a pretty lengthy memo saying that he didn't think the president could commit obstruction of justice. He then reversed himself during the Senate hearings. I will take him at his word that he has reversed himself and that he will look at these facts objectively.
But one reason that the House Judiciary Committee has to go forward with these investigations is because the Department of Justice has taken the position that a president cannot be indicted. I disagree with that but that is their internal decision.
And if a president can't be indicted and then to have this separate policy that says well, you can't say any bad things about someone if they haven't been indicted, it's going to turn out we aren't going to get any information from the special counsel's investigation. That's why the judiciary committee has to go forward.
BURNETT: OK. So, I'm curious whether you think we're going to get information or not. The former FBI director Jim Comey has just come out with an op-ed in the Washington Post, I don't know if you saw it, but you know, he's arguing for transparency from Mueller.
And the operative quote, I think congressman is, quote, "providing detailed information about a completed investigation of intense public interest has long been a part of Department of Justice practice. It doesn't happen often but department tradition recognizes that transparency is especially important where polarized politics and baseless attacks challenge law enforcement's credibility."
So, it is now going to be Barr's call ultimately whether the American public sees this. Are you saying you don't think that he will allow us to see it?
LIEU: I hope Attorney General Barr allows Congress and the American people to see the full report. Especially, again, if they take the position that a sitting president cannot be indicted. Then really Congress is the only institution that can hold the president accountable.
And if we don't have the information, we can't do that. So, either they have to reverse their policy that a president can't be indicted or they've got to give a full report to Congress.
BURNETT: So, I also want to ask you about another committee you sit on, foreign affairs, along with oversight and intelligence. You're requesting communications between President Trump and Vladimir Putin, president of Russia. Now, of course President Trump has been trying to hide these communications from his own team, right? When it comes to what his translators actually heard. Do you think you'll actually get access to this information?
LIEU: I hope we do. First of all, it's bizarre that the American president would have a meeting with the Russian president and former KGB agent with no American staff in the room and then second, to not tell his staff what happened. And third, to try to prevent any documents from coming out as to what happened at that meeting. I hope we do get those documents because those actions are very suspicious.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time tonight.
LIEU: Thank you, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Well, tonight the White House is slamming the judiciary investigation, all those 81 letters, calling it shameful. Is the committee's focus too broad? Well, we're going to talk about that next.
[23:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee told me tonight that President Trump has attacked the core functions, those are the words he used, of American democracy. Congressman Jerry Nadler vowing that Democrats will hold the president accountable. Today the committee opened a sweeping investigation.
And I want to talk about it with Shimon Prokupecz, Juliette Kayyem, and John Dean. Everyone watching knows who all of you are.
So, Shimon, let me start with the overall thing here. When you print out these letters, they were kind of long.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes.
BURNETT: And all these -- they wanted it all in two weeks. You just heard Ted Lieu talking about it. We've got 81 people and entities. Right? The NRA is on the list. The inaugural committee, you know. So, you've got all kinds of Venn diagram overlap too. Sons, son-in-law, campaign officials. So, when you look at this, Shimon, is this all the same stuff that Mueller and the SDNY have already or are in the process of investigating?
PROKUPECZ: Yes. Certainly, these names don't come as a surprise to any of us who have been covering this investigation from the Mueller team, you know, up to New York where they're now involved in a pretty hefty investigation of really perhaps the Trump Organization.
So, a lot of these names are not new to us. The difference here is that this perhaps could ultimately put a lot of this into the public space. Right? There's a lot of concern that the Mueller team, that what the SDNY is doing we may never know publicly.
But this may give the opportunity for a lot of this information to eventually become public. You know, I know they're asking for a lot of this information to be submitted in two weeks. It's going to take months to get all this and put this all together when you think about it.
But some of this is already available. Right? Because some of these people have already provided a lot of this information to investigators. Certainly, under subpoena. Some have been requests by the Mueller team, by the SDNY. [23:15:01] So we'll see how long all of this takes. But I do think the
one difference is that this ultimately could become very public, which of course a lot of the people that have been involved in this investigation probably don't want it to.
BURNETT: Right. And I guess in that sense, you know, John Dean, this could be all right, well, if we don't see Mueller, we get this. Although I don't know, I can't imagine at this point we're not going to see Mueller in some way, shape or form.
But do you think they could find something new, John, or are you concerned? And by the way, I want to make it clear, Chairman Nadler made it clear to me this is an initial list of 81. So, there's going to be more lists which actually may be different topics and maybe new topics. But so far, you know, this seems to be more of what we've seen.
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think we'll learn publicly a lot of new information. We'll put -- we have skulls of information right now, Erin. And this, I think will put flesh on it and we'll begin to see a bigger picture of what's going on here in this administration.
So, I think this is very important. I can't -- it's been decades since the House Judiciary Committee has really gotten down into this kind of oversight investigation. And with this president it's very important. In fact, the Democrats won the Congress on the mandate that this was a president that needed to be checked and balanced. So, they're doing exactly what they were sent to Washington to do.
BURNETT: So, Juliette, you've been calling this new phase, the 81 phases as I'm going to call it tonight, you've been calling it's bloodline scenario. What do you mean by that?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: So, this is the first sort of public reckoning potentially for the children. It's been noted all day that Ivanka Trump is not on the list, although we think that she might be. But I've always worried I think publicly, I don't -- you know, not that Donald Trump's reactions have been anything but tame so far, but to the extent that the children are on the list, the sons excuse me, are on the list and, and Jared Kushner and they are not protected by the OLC memo that says you can't indict a sitting president.
This is just a scenario that cuts close to home, much closer to home than Trump, who clearly views all of his associates as sort of expendable as we've seen.
KAYYEM: I mean, all these men who sort of went to bat for him and are now in jail or facing jail. So, this does seem different to me in a very, very pointed way that I suspect as we're seeing tonight his reaction will be hostile.
BURNETT: Right. And you know what's interesting, Shimon, to Juliette's point. The boys are on this, as they call them. Right? Donald Jr. and Eric, and of course Jared as well. But Ivanka Trump isn't. But I think it was very clear from the conversation I had with Chairman Nadler that she is going to be. Maybe they see her as part of another investigation, emoluments or something else. But let me play what he said when I asked about Ivanka.
NADLER: She's not on the initial list. That's what we can say. We're also saying that all the people on the list have given information already to either the special counsel or the southern district or somebody and all we're asking for at this point is information they've already turned over so that it can be done quickly and without questions of privilege.
BURNETT: I'm just trying to understand.
BURNETT: You're saying everyone on this list has gotten requests before --
BURNETT: -- from various places. So that might be one way you sort it. But is she eventually conceivably on --
NADLER: Conceivably, certainly. I can't say. But quite conceivably.
BURNETT: So, we shouldn't read anything into anybody not being on this list.
NADLER: That's right.
Conceivably certainly. I would say certainly, Juliette, is how I heard that.
PROKUPECZ: Yes. I mean, look, I do think -- I'm sorry. Go ahead, Juliette.
KAYYEM: I was just going to say that's how I interpret it, is this is a first list. For some reason Ivanka is sort of protected, as is -- this Kellyanne Conway, which I never get this. I mean, she was the campaign manager. I don't know. These women are at the center of this. And it's an odd thing.
BURNETT: It certainly is an odd thing. All right. John Dean, let me ask you about something else that just is coming out this hour. The Wall Street journal reporting that lawyers for Michael Cohen approached Trump's attorneys about a pardon. Right? A presidential pardon. And they did so after the raid. Right? Of Cohen's hotel room and office. Remember when they came and door-stopped the door and took all the
phones and everything else. And now the House Judiciary is looking at that as well. Right? According to document requests today. What's your reaction to this, John? Do you think that this could be significant?
DEAN: Well, I don't know how serious the request was. Apparently, it came up when they were inspecting the documents that the FBI had obtained in the raids and they were going through them with Trump's attorneys and Michael Cohen's attorneys to determine what -- excuse me -- might be attorney-client privilege.
DEAN: And it was in this context that this issue came up. And apparently, Ryan raised the fact would the president consider pardoning Michael Cohen.
[23:20:02] So that's kind of remote and doesn't seem like it was too serious a request. Of course, Cohen testified that he had never asked and would not accept.
BURNETT: So, let me --
DEAN: So, I --
BURNETT: Yes. Sorry.
DEAN: I just don't see it as a serious matter.
BURNETT: But the one thing about it that could be serious, Shimon, I'm trying to understand whether it should be, would be that Cohen did testify that he never has asked for a pardon. Right? But if it is true that his lawyers asked for a pardon, that would appear to be a lie.
I mean, certainly you and your lawyers, it doesn't really matter who it is doing the requesting to try to say I didn't actually do it would seem to hurt Cohen's credibility yet again.
PROKUPECZ: Right. That would certainly hurt Cohen's credibility. But understand also there have been other questions raised about whether anyone, remember, whether lawyers for Paul Manafort had reached out to the White House in seeking a pardon as well for him.
What's interesting in this Cohen thing is remember when he testified before Congress, he said there was communication with the president or an agent of the president. It wasn't very clear what he was referring to. But they asked him if he had communicated when was the last time you communicated with the president. And then he basically said he couldn't talk about it because that is now something that is under investigation --
PROKUPECZ: -- by the Southern District of New York. So, I don't know where this fits in there but it seems like they were trying to paint a picture there certainly. Perhaps there was something going on here. And that we don't have -- again, in a lot of situations with Michael Cohen you don't always have a complete picture.
And perhaps we'll learn, you know, in due time what exactly he was referring to. But that was something that stuck with me from the hearing. When he talked when they started asking him questions about his recent communications, when was the last time you had communications with the president, he said it was post the raid, about two months or so after.
So, I don't know if they were conversation that's were ongoing about a pardon or something else. But certainly, the fact that he's going to raise that with the Southern District of New York I think is interesting.
BURNETT: All right. All of you, please stay with me. Jim Comey is calling for transparency when it comes to Bob Mueller's report. Is he really right?
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: All right. Decision tonight by the new Attorney General Bill Barr. He will not recuse himself from oversight of bob Mueller's investigation.
Shimon, Juliette, John are all back. All right. Shimon, obviously this is a big decision. And you know, there had been an ethics recommendation which we all know for Whitaker went one way, for Barr went another. They said go ahead, we don't recommend recusal.
But obviously, this could be significant for Mueller's report. This now means Bill Barr is the one who will make the decision as to whether or how much of it is public.
PROKUPECZ: Right. And it's official now. We can say that Bill Barr is now overseeing the Mueller investigation and that any decision that's going to be made is going to come from him. You know, we have been expecting it obviously to wrap up, things to come to an end, where the report would be submitted to Bill Barr any day now, and this could have been holding it up.
Bill Barr could have come into the Department of Justice and wanted to do everything on the up and up and said I want an ethics review before I make any kind of decision. And so perhaps this is what we've been waiting for. This ethics review now that he's been approved that he can take over the investigation. It could be we could see this report in a week or two, maybe sooner.
It's so hard to, you know, kind of guess and we've kind of stopped trying to figure this out. But I do think it's significant because this could have been the one final step that Bill Barr needed before he takes any kind of action in relation to the Mueller investigation.
BURNETT: Yes. I mean, John Dean, though, obviously the big question of course is whether this is going to be a good thing in terms of transparency or not. Right? Barr had written a 19-page memo in which he went into detail why Trump's firing of Comey shouldn't constitute obstruction of justice, which as we know is one of the core pillars of areas of investigation for the Mueller report.
And Barr testified you know what, it's not going to interfere with how I act as attorney general or if I'm overseeing the investigation. But what do you think now?
DEAN: I suspect the attorney general has walked away from his memo. He did it so in his hearings. He had bad citations. He didn't have the correct statutes involved in his memo. It was not something I think he'd be terribly proud to hang on to.
So, I think he's moved on from that. And now he'll have to make a real decision as the person who controls this investigation and what's reported on it. And I think he will probably report more than less.
From all reports I know, that he's an establishmentarian and he doesn't want to end his career as his second run as attorney general on a sour note of suppressing information. I just don't see that. So, I think we'll eventually one way or the other get the information.
BURNETT: I mean, Juliette, you know, Jim Comey writing an op-ed. And you know, some people say kind of roll their eyes, here goes Jim Comey again getting on his high horse. But OK, here we go. In "The Washington Post," he says "Republicans are wrong when they claim Department of Justice rules forbid transparency about the completed work of the special counsel. It's harder to imagine a case of greater public interest than the one focused on the efforts of a foreign adversary to damage our democracy in which the president of the United States is a subject. Sometimes transparency is not a hard call."
You know, Juliette, there are a lot of Republicans who agree, right? That are 100 percent on board with this thing being fully released. Is this just such a force in that direction that we should at this point assume Bill Barr is going to release it or do you think he could shock us all and say no, it's highly redacted or not at all?
KAYYEM: Well, we have to remember which part -- there's going to be a counterintelligence side to this investigation that ought not be made totally public --
KAYYEM: -- because of sources and methods having to do with the Russians. So, when people say we need to see it all they actually need to think about what that means. There's going to be pieces of it that will be public regarding what the investigation showed.
[23:29:58] And let's be honest here, we're seeing a huge part of the publicness of it in these indictments. I mean, we are seeing the Mueller report right now. As for Comey, you know, the Comey redemption tour just I find tiresome at this stage. I believe in rules, and I believe in rules for the president. I also believe in rules for the FBI director. And so while I support Comey's conclusion, we should have as much transparency as possible. He spends the entire editorial defending his decision, coming out and criticizing Hillary Clinton. And like -- you know, the reasoning does not hold. I mean, in other words, he broke the rules that he should have abided by, which has sort of unleashed this whole mess right now. And basically, no one -- you know, no one asked Comey and maybe he should realize --
KAYYEM: -- it's, you know. Sorry. I just don't think he has that moral clarity that others who support transparency might.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you all.
BURNETT: All right. "Rupert wants Donald Trump to win." How would this one sentence, a reporter was told to quash her breaking story, that Donald Trump had an affair with none other than Stormy Daniels, and the many other ways that Fox News is so intimately tied into the Trump administration. That's next.
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: A new report in "The New Yorker" says President Trump personally ordered his chief of staff to make sure the Justice Department blocked the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. The president also reportedly asked his chief economic adviser at the time, Gary Cohn, to intervene months before the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block the deal.
Now, the DOJ ultimately lost the legal battle and appeal with AT&T and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, which I guess is now Warner Media.
I want to bring in Brian Stelter, Elie Honig, Joe Lockhart, and Margaret Hoover. OK, thanks to all.
So, Brian, let's just start with the possible significance here.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yeah.
BURNETT: The president, you know, says to John Kelly with Gary Cohn in the office and here's the quote. "I've been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing's happened. I've mentioned it 50 times." Probably 50 times, I mean, OK. "And nothing's happened. I want to make sure it's filed. I want that deal blocked."
I laughed at the 50 times, but obviously making a serious point. If he's saying that, it's something that he had pounded on the table on and put a lot of pressure on someone to do.
BURNETT: How significant is that exchange in that context?
STELTER: It's clear abuse of power. If this is true and if there is evidence of it, if Cohn or Kelly will confirm this on the record, perhaps under oath, it's a clear abuse of power. It's not only unethical. It moves into this realm of abuse of power that the Democrats are going to be very interested in. We've already heard today several top House Democrats say they are interested in this, they are concerned about this, and they want to get to the bottom of it.
BURNETT: Elie, you know, tonight the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who could be among, you know, investigating this, said to me that it was an abuse of power. I don't want to talk about what is an impeachable act or which is not an impeachable act. Would it be an impeachable act?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'll start with --
BURNETT: Anything could be theoretically.
BURNETT: I mean, legally.
HONIG: I look at it from sort of a criminal perspective. It could be obstruction of justice, right?
HONIG: It would not be your textbook obstruction of justice case but if you sort of break it down, it kind of meets the criteria. So, first of all, it would be an attempt because didn't ultimately succeed in blocking the merger. What you need second of all is corrupt intent. That goes to sort of what Brian was just saying. It would be an abuse of power. It's corrupt intent if you're asking out of personal or political animus.
BURNETT: Which he was --
HONIG: Clearly. I think --
BURNETT: -- because a lot of it was about CNN and not liking its coverage, right?
HONIG: He's made that perfectly clear.
HONIG: It can apply to any official proceeding. That means criminal or civil. I mean, the classic example -- sorry, Bill Clinton, right? It was obstruction of justice of a civil deposition. The only comeback would be this idea of the unitary executive, that because he's the president, he can do whatever he wants relating to the executive branch. That's something that we've heard from Brett Kavanaugh, from William Barr, from Matthew Whitaker. I don't think that holds. I think ultimately our system tells us that nobody can be above the law.
BURNETT: You know, look, the Fox chairman, Margaret, Rupert Murdoch, was opposed to the deal. We know that Murdoch and Trump spoke often and we know that the -- whether you want to call it a revolving door or just an open door between Fox and this administration is a pretty incredible one, right? You've got a whole lot of people that have gone one way or the other, whether it's John Bolton or Bill Shine.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The line that really stood out in this piece that hit in The New Yorker that Jane Mayer wrote was that there's never been anything quite like this in the history of television, media, and presidency. That is -- that it is the closest thing to state-controlled television, right?
You have this -- and by the way, I say this as a former Fox News employee. I was a commentator at Fox News from 2008 to 2012 before I came to CNN. Fox News was different then. Fox News was run by Roger Ailes, who we all know had a dramatic fall from grace.
But there was still in its own way a sense at least in some quarters to have certain lines in terms of reporting and what would be appropriate in terms of -- for example, Hannity was chastised for going to a rally, a tea party rally, by Roger Ailes because he viewed that as an inappropriate and improper place for news media to go into a political rally, OK? Those lines have completely blurred. They're entirely gone after Roger Ailes's demise. And you have not only a revolving door --
BURNETT: Now he's on stage.
HOOVER: -- but you have the former president of Fox News directing communications at the White House and as the number two deputy assistant to the president.
[23:40:07] That is the equivalent of a two-star general in the White House in terms of rankings. There is -- the Fox News apparatus, the base, and the consumer base are all the same thing. There's a total blending.
BURNETT: I mean, Joe, is there any precedent for an administration being so tied to a media outlet?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's nothing even close. I'm old enough to remember when there was outrage that George Will, the conservative commentator, went to debate prep with Ronald Reagan in 1984. And this was a big story. There's nothing close to this. And I think, you know, Jane really puts her finger on something important, that Fox is no longer the conservative alternative to the so-called liberal media.
She focuses in on why there is such a symbiotic relationship because they're the network that plays on people's anger, fear, insecurity and disenfranchisement. They're sort of a network that wants to make everybody angry. And it works. And that works with Trump.
STELTER: And it warps the public debate. There's this new NBC journal poll that finds that most Fox viewers think the president is being honest about Russia. Most CNN viewers know the president has lied for two years about R0ussia. But most Fox viewers think he's telling the truth. As a result, Fox warps the public debate.
I think ultimately the Hannitys of the world actually do a disservice to the viewers by misleading them about what's really going on because if Trump is impeached, if a year or two from now Trump is out of office, Fox viewers are going to be so confused. They're not going to realize what happened.
They're not going to realize all of these scandals are what led to his downfall. Maybe that won't happen. But if it does, then Fox viewers have been misinformed. And the details about AT&T and about Cohn, it's just one of many examples of scandals and controversies that Fox viewers are in the dark about.
BURNETT: Right. We talk about this revolving door. There's also of course the echo chamber, right? We know Hannity and the president speak all the time.
BURNETT: Just to give everyone an example of what we're talking about, you know, this -- let me play it.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: President Trump is now getting tough on Russia. The mainstream media is spinning in circles. Didn't they claim he'd never get tough on Russia?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been nobody tougher on Russia than President Donald Trump. With the media, no matter what I did, it's never tough enough because that's their narrative.
TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: There was no collusion. Everybody knows that. Everyone's always known that.
TRUMP: There has been no collusion. They won't find any collusion. It doesn't exist.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This migrant caravan, it's not a caravan, it's an invasion.
TRUMP: Large, well-organized caravans of migrants are marching toward our southern border. Some people call it an invasion. It's like an invasion.
DAVID WARD, FORMER ICE AGENT: They're coming with diseases such as smallpox and leprosy and TB that are going to infect our people in the United States.
TRUMP: People with tremendous medical difficulty and medical problems are pouring in and in many cases it's contagious.
GRIFF JENKINS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL PRODUCER: The migrant caravan marching toward the U.S. border.
TRUMP: As we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the United States.
BURNETT: OK. It's humorous and yet it's not humorous, OK? Because you have a president of the United States access to all the intelligence from the CIA, which he scoffs at, right? He regularly demeans and says, you know, he'll take a dictator's side instead of the CIA. And instead, he's getting his talking points it sounds like from talking heads.
HONIG: Yeah. And if I was advising the president and Fox News, I'll give some free legal advice, when the news media starts to get too close to the newsmakers, lines get crossed and the news media before they know it are going to become witnesses. Look at Sean Hannity last week. He announced Michael Cohen told me that he acted alone on these hush money payments. If I'm looking at that as a prosecutor, he's getting a subpoena, right?
There are lot of privileges in the law. There is attorney-client privilege, doctor-patient privilege. There is no media versus covered privilege. So All those late-night chats that the president reportedly has with Hannity, those are open game to investigators.
BURNETT: OK. Were those happening though in the past with other, you know, let's just say liberal commentators? You know, somebody that you know isn't a journalist but you know has your ideology and is going to --
LOCKHART: Yeah. I think if you go back before in pre-Watergate days, there's legions of stories from the Kennedy administration about Ben Bradlee and Katharine Graham having the Kennedys into the power and Joe Albright (ph) and all these people. So I think there is some precedent for media having influence and being cozy with the president. I think that all changed around Watergate.
And trust me, there's -- as much as I'm troubled by this, I'm also jealous. If I had these instruments where I could just call up people and say here's what you're doing tonight or if I had some brilliant TV person calling saying here's what you should do tonight. But it is dangerous. It is dangerous because it has become state-run TV and it has become propaganda.
[23:45:04] And if you go back through history, you find that all of the terrible tragedies where governments have gone too far have a strong arm of propaganda because the people believe what they see. And if you're watching Fox News right now, you believe the president is tough on Russia. There is no collusion. In fact, the real scandal is Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. You can have a rational conversation with the regular viewer of Fox and they will tell you that hundred times out of a hundred.
HOOVER: The problem is that what it does, and to put a finer point I think on the point you're making, Brian, is that it weakens our institutions, the institutions of democracy that are so fundamental for that portion of the electorate that believes everything that Trump is saying and that the press is saying and isn't willing to have it contradicted.
To the extent that a former CNN contributor who is now working for the president's re-election campaign, Kayleigh McEnany, said in a statement tonight that the campaign of Donald Trump simply will not face a legitimate challenge and if it doesn't win its re-election it will have been an illegitimate presidential campaign, sowing the seeds of fundamental distrust in our electoral process.
By the way, not from Russians but from our own -- that is a partisanship that corrodes freedom. And that is why we have to talk (ph).
STELTER: Kayleigh got to apologize for that. It's shameful to talk that way.
HOOVER: That is an official statement from the president's election campaign.
LOCKHART: Let's remember that Donald Trump himself said the same thing when he thought he was going to lose.
HOOVER: That's right.
LOCKHART: So he won't apologize. She won't apologize.
BURNETT: People drink his Kool-Aid (ph) --
BURNETT: -- of his overwhelming character. Thank you all very much. Republicans are turning against President Trump on one very important thing, his national emergency for the border wall. Will he lose his biggest campaign promise? That is next.
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: The Republican-controlled Senate now has enough votes to block President Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. Now, they're going to plan to vote on the resolution this month. Mark McKinnon is with me now, executive producer of Showtime's "The Circus," the most excellent show. OK, so now, when it comes to this vote, this is obviously significant, this is the republicans telling the president to cut it out.
Rand Paul, now the fourth Republican senator to come out to block the national emergency declaration. So, what do you think, are these just four single acts of defiance or the beginning of something bigger?
MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "THE CIRCUS": Well, they are, but they're important acts of defiance. And it's so refreshing to see somebody like Rand Paul stand up to say we can't have one standard when President Obama was president and then have another standard just because that's a Republican standard. Let's have the same standards for both presidents no matter who they are, no matter what party they are.
And so I think -- you know, listen, Trump is going to come back with a veto and override, most certainly, but we have Republicans now standing up and saying --
BURNETT: They won't be able to override it.
MCKINNON: No, no, almost certainly not. But they've begun to lay down some markers to say, we have some precedent here. We have to be careful about what we do here because by allowing this to happen, we say that when there's a Democratic president, we can't contest when they decide to call a national emergency on opioid or gun control or climate change or whatever it might be.
BURNETT: I was with Chairman Nadler tonight, the Judiciary Committee, and obviously we were talking about the investigations. But after the interview, we were talking about this, and he said, "Here's the problem. It's precedent." He said, "What's to stop the next Democratic president from saying 39,000 people died --
MCKINNON: Of course.
BURNETT: -- from guns this year? So, guess what, we're going to go and seize individual guns." What are you going to do about it? Do Republicans realize that is the president that they could be setting?
MCKINNON: I don't think they do realize it. They can't see beyond the next election. That's really what they're worried about, just retaining power. They're under the thumb of a president who is very popular within his own party. They're worried about that. They're worried about being primaried in a re-election campaign. So, they can't see out that far and they rarely do beyond re-election.
BURNETT: And now they clearly see their fate tied with his.
MCKINNON: Completely tied to his right now.
BURNETT: Completely tied to his, which is stunning turn of events when you think about --
MCKINNON: That's the case for now. But Republicans are tied to him because he has political muscle, not because they like him, not because they think he has an ideological framework that they agree with, it's not ideological alignment, it's not kinship, it's just political power. If that political power begins to evaporate then it becomes a man who would be king, you see blood, and boom it's gone.
BURNETT: And they'll be like sharks in the water. All right, I want to play a clip from the latest episode of "The Circus." Your colleague, Alex Wagner, sat down with the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Adam Schiff, to talk about the investigations and maybe who is going to be next. Let me just play the clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRA WAGNER, CBS NEWS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: The names that came up a lot today include Allen Weisselberg, who is the CFO of the Trump Organization and has been there for a very long time, and Donald Trump Jr. Do you imagine we're going to see subpoenas for those gentlemen in the coming months?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, in terms of Mr. Weisselberg, I think it's going to be necessary to bring him in. And Don Jr., we are obviously looking carefully at his prior testimony. We now know additional information and it may very well be necessary to bring him back before the committee. Those are decisions that we'll make in consultation with our members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, what camp are you in right now, if you were betting, death by a thousand cuts or actual impeachment proceedings?
[23:55:00] MCKINNON: Oh, I think death by a thousand cuts, and it's not just these cuts. I mean, it's Mueller. It's the Southern District of New York.
MCKINNON: This could go on for years. And it goes back to the old Occam's razor, which is the idea that at some point the simplest explanation is the -- is the obvious one which is that Donald Trump never expected to be president. He never thought that all these things will be looked into.
And so there's this argument that I have with a lot of friends of mine who say, well, special counsel has only a certain jurisdiction, they shouldn't go beyond that. Well, my view is that anybody who committed a felony any time in their life, whether they are president or not, should be accountable for that, especially if you are president. If you are committed other high crimes and misdemeanor, you should be accountable for that.
BURNETT: Well, we'll see if more people end up agreeing with you. A lot of Republicans of course certainly don't right now in Congress. All right, thank you so much, great to see you. And of course, "The Circus," Sunday nights, 8:00 on Showtime, and it is awesome.
OK, thanks to all of you for watching. We appreciate you. See you back here tomorrow. Our coverage continues.