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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Harley Rouda (D) California Was Interviewed About Rep. Steve King's (R-IA) Inability To Answer About What He Posted On Facebook; Deputy A.G. Protects The Mueller Report; President Trump Attacks McCain Again; Fox News Contributor, Katie Pavlich, Claims America Gets No Credit For Ending Slavery; Trump Escalates Attack On Late Senator John McCain, Prompting Meghan McCain To Respond. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired March 19, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Big developments in the Russia investigation. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general is not leaving his post this month after all. And tonight, we know why.

A source telling CNN that Rosenstein will remain at the Justice Department until special counsel Robert Mueller files his much- anticipated report. The source adding that Rosenstein's sticking around so he can act as the heat shield, in other words, absorb the punches if there's fall out or backlash from Mueller's report. We're going to talk more about that in just a moment.

Also, tonight, what could be a clue from Mueller's notoriously tight- lipped office. A senior lawyer asking a federal judge to extend the deadline for Mueller's team to respond to a request that documents in one part of Paul Manafort's case be unsealed. The deadline is this Friday.

They're asking for a two-week delay due to a very busy week. What's unclear is if that means they're wrapping up their investigation. So, there's a lot to discuss.

Shimon Prokupecz is here, Matthew Rosenberg, and Jennifer Rodgers.

Good to have all of you on this evening.

Shimon, you first. We are told that Rod Rosenstein is staying at the DOJ longer than planned, all right, this heat shield thing, absorbing the blow back from Mueller's reports. What does that say to you, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I think what it's making things very clear to all of us is that Rod Rosenstein wants to stick this through, stay with this until it's entirely complete. That is that the Mueller report is handed to the Department of Justice and that Robert Mueller actually gives this report over to the attorney general. And Rod wants to stick through it. He wants to stay there until it's done, until it's complete. And we'll

see what happens afterwards. And if there are any issues, I think it's very clear that Rod Rosenstein wants to be the one to answer them, because it is he who initiated this whole thing. Right? He's the one who put this Robert Mueller in place, he's the one that appointed the special counsel and everything that's happened since then is in many ways --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But the point that so many key players who are no longer there.

PROKUPECZ: Yes.

LEMON: So, he may feel that he has to stick it out, right?

PROKUPECZ: Exactly. That's right.

LEMON: To see that to put this thing to bed, so to speak. What or who might Rosenstein be trying to protect, Jennifer, this is for you. I mean, could it actually be the new Attorney General William Barr or he's just trying to protect the whole process? What do you think?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's hard to say, you know, he obviously put Mueller in place in the first place, so I think he is invested in making sure that no one interferes with Mueller's work.

But what also may have happened is, you know, Bill Barr comes in. He doesn't know anything that's been going on behind the scenes. And I'm sure he eventually wants to put his own deputy in place, but he may have realized once he got there, this is a complicated investigation, there are a lot of tentacles to it.

It may make sense for Rosenstein to stay in the short-term until the report comes in and he can help kind of answer questions. And so, it may have been more of a joint decision.

LEMON: Matthew, I want to bring you in now. Why do you think Rosenstein feels like he can't leave until the report drops?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, I think, there's certainly it sort of looks like. Yes, he wants to be there to take the fire. But I think we have to be careful about who we assume that fire's going to be coming from. That, you know, for a big chunk of the public, for a big chunk of Congress Rod Rosenstein being in place there gives credibility.

And I think when this report comes if it's something let's say isn't that bad for the president --

LEMON: Right.

ROSENBERG: -- there are going to a lot of people with questions having Rosenstein in place. Well, I've asked them, now I don't know what this report is going to look like. And it could be they want to take fire from the president and his allies.

But it kind of gives the DOJ, Mueller's team and probably the attorney general a fair degree of cover from both sides if Rosenstein remains in place.

LEMON: So, Shimon, we also learned today that Mueller's top appellate lawyer told the judge that he is unable to respond to a media request on Manafort documents due to a press of other work, right, that's a, quote, "press of other work" that he has this week. What's keeping him that busy?

[23:04:57] PROKUPECZ: Yes, it's not really clear. When we saw that today it certainly was surprising to all of us because we weren't expecting that, for them to say they're too busy to respond to something that appears kind of not to be that complicated.

It's information that "the Washington Post" is requesting that's been sealed and some transcripts and court documents. So, it's not really clear why this would be so complicated.

The only thing that I could think of is that one of the lead prosecutors, some of them obviously have been leaving. But one of the ones that did leave is now at the Department of Justice handling other national security matters, and that could be the reason why.

I mean, it's really not entirely clear. Because what this request is all about is not very complicate, but we really don't know, Don.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, you said it's not clear. What do you think? Is this another sign that this might be wrapping up or that they need a bit longer?

RODGERS: It's very strange, you know. The government is always ready. I mean, that is the position that you take as a prosecutor.

LEMON: Right.

RODGERS: So, for them to come in and say we're not ready even though, you know, their ranks have been depleted in recent weeks it doesn't make a lot of sense.

You know, it makes me wonder if they're just, if there's something in there that they don't want to disclose and they're just buying a little bit of time, you know, which might imply that there are more charges coming or something down the pipe but it's really hard to tell.

LEMON: Yes. Matthew, I want to get to the Michael Cohen documents, OK? So today, we saw almost 20 pages of redacted information in the section titled "the illegal campaign contribution scheme." How likely that this is all about Trump?

ROSENBERG: I mean, it's all about an ongoing investigation. And we know from previous court filings U.S. person number one is the President, is Donald Trump.

PROKUPECZ: Individual one.

ROSENBERG: Yes, individual one. That's what it is.

LEMON: Yes.

ROSENBERG: And that is the president. And, you know, if there were 20 pages of redacted -- redacted pages or redacted information -- 20 redacted pages in court filings that I knew touched on an investigation that related to me I'd probably be pretty worried about it.

I mean, overall, I think there are about 150 pages that were fully redacted. And there are lot of redaction through that over a total of 900 pages that were released. I mean, there's a lot in but there's also a lot we're not seeing.

LEMON: Yes. Shimon, we also learned that federal prosecutors used a new law actually signed by Trump to go after Cohen. Explain that.

PROKUPECZ: Yes. So, you know, we had to go back and kind of look at this because it was kind of interesting to read this. So, essentially, this is something that Trump eventually signed. It's called the CLOUD Act law.

And what it now allows is investigators to be able to retrieve information on servers that are abroad, that are outside the United States.

And for a while, companies were a little nervous. They refused to allow the FBI and the U.S. government with search warrants to have access to this information because they didn't want to violate any treaties or any agreements that they have with these countries.

But this now law now allows the FBI to go ahead and have access to it. What happened was in this case was the FBI when they went and wanted this information that's on these servers, the company said, no, you can't have it because it's overseas, it's abroad.

Well, then when Trump signed a new law just weeks after the FBI had asked for this, they got it. They went ahead and were able to get that information because of this new law. So, it's a little interesting in terms of how things developed here and the FBI had to wait just about a month or so before they had access to this information.

LEMON: Jennifer Rodgers, these documents really reveal Mueller's extensive reach into Cohen's data and communications. And I'm wondering what these tactics tell you, if anything, about the way Mueller is conducting this investigation?

RODGERS: Well, you know, Mueller, of course, did the first reach into e-mail accounts and then when they found the campaign finance violations and the bank fraud, they turned it over to SDNY who then did another round of e-mail search.

This is what law enforcement has been doing for years. You know, you want to talk to witnesses, you want to develop human sources of information, but you also got to go for the documents, you got to go for the hard-physical evidence. So that's all they're doing here.

They're trying to build a case based on, you know, hard pieces of evidence, documents, e-mails, communications. That then helps them develop more leads, more witnesses. It's how you put a case together.

LEMON: Matthew do you think that people like Cohen, how worried should the current Mueller targets like Roger Cohen -- Roger Stone, excuse me -- be about his extensive access to Cohen, even before the raid?

ROSENBERG: I mean, look, it can't feel good. If you were dealing in the president's circle before the election or even after, the prosecution is getting all out. Look, it's not just Cohen they've had access to. They've been aggressive with a number of people that we do or don't know about.

I mean, one of the amazing things in these documents is realizing how long it took us and the public to learn about what the special counsel was doing. There were discussions of a payment from a Russian oligarch with some ties to the Kremlin.

You know, Mueller's team was on for well over -- nearly a year before anyone in the public figured that out. There's a lot going on behind the scenes here that we don't know about.

[23:10:03] LEMON: We're also learning tonight, Shimon, that a lot of people are cooperating with the House Judiciary Committee's investigation into Trump, including the former senior adviser, Steve Bannon, head of Trump's inaugural committee, Tom Barrett. They've provided thousands of documents to the committee.

You've covered the story from the very beginning. Any idea what could be in them?

PROKUPECZ: No, I think a lot of this information what's important to note has already been produced. And I think what's making it easy for them to give this to the committee is that a lot of this was given over to the Mueller team.

And so, these documents, some of them have been given back to these people. Some of them have duplicate copies, and so they've been able to so easily give it to members of Congress.

And I think this also tells us is that some of this stuff is already done. Mueller has looked at it, he's reviewed it and he's now said, OK, guys you can go ahead and give it to members of Congress because eventually this is going to be made public. And that's what important.

And this, a lot of this, so when you look at a guy like Tom Barrack that has to do with the investigation. You know, he led that. So that's still, you know, of a lot of interest to federal investigators in New York. So that's where that is.

You know, obviously, Steve Bannon is going to have to do with a lot of communications and e-mails. I think that was really interesting how cooperative Steve Bannon is being. But a lot of this has already been out there and certainly has been with the Mueller team. And I think Congress is now going to get all of their hands on this eventually.

LEMON: Shimon, Jennifer, Matthew, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

Remember that Facebook meme from Congressman Steve King about a new Civil War that he said red states would win because they have, quote, "eight trillion bullets" while the blue states, quote, "don't know which bathrooms tonight?"

Well, tonight he's facing some tough questions from CNN about it. And we're going to tell you what he said. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Tonight, we're hearing from Congressman Steve King on the meme he shared on Facebook alluding to a new Civil War that red states would apparently win because that side has, quote, "eight trillion bullets while the blue states," quote, "don't know which bathrooms to use."

No one asked King about his post at his town hall today, so Gary Tuchman jumped right in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I just want to give you a chance to explain the posting on Facebook, which talked about red states having eight trillion bullets in case of another Civil War.

REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: I think it's interesting that nobody here has asked that question.

(CROSSTALK)

TUCHMAN: Yes. Can you explain why you posted it though?

KING: Anybody here that's interested in that question. It was this, that I found about it being posted yesterday morning at the same time and I thought that it had been taken down about 8.30. It wasn't until a few hours later. The only people that care about that are national news media. Nobody has raised the issue around.

TUCHMAN: Well, you posted it. So why did you post it?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I answered your question. And we don't -- we aren't going to take any questions from press. I've answered their question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We care about it.

KING: OK. I've answered your question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He posted it, and he asked people not to react to it? Sara Sidner joins me now. Mind-boggling, Sara. How is it that Gary was the only person who asked Congressman King about that post? There was someone in the audience who said we do care about it, but how was Gary the only one to ask?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's a good reporter, but beyond it is partly because there is a sense in these meetings, they are very small, you are putting your congressman on the spot and you're also there to ask him for things or see what he's doing for your particular district.

And sometimes a lot of folks worrying, for example, about economic developments or there are very specific personal things that are going to affect their personal lives that they want to ask him and have access to him.

But there's certainly a strategy here. I have seen this before right after the GOP stripped him of his committee assignments after he made those racist remarks, even the GOP, his own party saying that was just way over the top, and they removed him from committee assignments.

He went to a town hall, it was his first one. And it wasn't publicized. Even the mayor of the town, it was Primghar, Iowa about 900 people in that town, a very, very small place. The mayor didn't even know he was coming. He was not told by Steve King's folks.

So, it seems to be partly a strategy to have folks in there, very small number of people and also people that aren't necessarily going to ask him the tough questions when he is there to be put on the spot.

And lastly, to be honest with you, having been at one of these meetings before there are some folks who think it's funny in his constituency and some folks who agree with him. That is there.

I saw that plain and simple, a woman saying to him that she was proud of him and that he should stand up and continue his comments about white Europeans being important and the most important to civilization. She also said let's take the sting out of the word racism. So, there are some folks who actually agree with him in his constituency.

LEMON: Did anybody, did anyone in that audience ask King any tough questions about his offensive rhetoric?

SIDNER: You heard the person there saying yes, that we actually do care about it. So, there was a follow-up and there was someone who asked the tough question. I'll let you listen to the question here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think a white society is superior to a non-white?

KING: I don't have an answer for that. That's so hypothetical. America is not a white society. It's never been a completely white society. We came here and joined the Native-Americans there were here many times numbers greater than ours. I've long said that a baby can be lifted out of a cradle anywhere in

the world and brought into any home in America whatever the color of the other folks in that household, and they can be raised to be as American as any other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SIDNER: So not having the answer to a question about whether he believes white folks are more important to a society than people who are not white, and saying, well, I don't really have an answer for that is an answer.

He has also made comments that actually very much say that, that nonwhites have not contributed enough to society. Here's some of the things he's said, some of his racist comments from the past.

[23:20:00] This is January. We all, you know, looked and talked about this. I even asked him about this, and he refused to answer. What he said to the New York Times questioning why white supremacy is considered offensive and why that language is even considered offensive.

Then he before that, called for a caravan, travel ban for Central American countries, he endorses Faith Goldy, a white nationalist running for the mayor of Toronto, raises questions what does this diversity bring that we don't already have.

And that was in response to saying that nonwhites have not contributed as much as whites have to civilization. And he talks about western civilization being a superior culture.

I mean, on and on and on. These are just a few. There are a lot more. It goes way back to, you know, 2000 -- whenever he's been in office. He's been re-elected many, many times he'd been making these comments, Don.

LEMON: Yes, the cantaloupe cat comments about --

SIDNER: Yes.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Sara Sidner.

SIDNER: Sure.

LEMON: I appreciate your reporting. Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda of California. He sits on the House Oversight Committee.

Thank you, congressman, for joining us this evening. I've got to get your reaction to your colleague Steve King's inability to answer about a white society being superior to a non- white society. How is that a hard question?

REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, right, Don. Isn't that a softball? Isn't the simple answer, no? I just find his comments so atrocious because it's continuing this refrain that it's OK to talk about white supremacy or nationalism in ways that can be a dog whistle for folks out there.

In my community, in our district, we are dealing with a rise in white nationalism. We are dealing with Nazism. We are dealing with people painting Swastikas on schools, churches and synagogues. And this is a real issue. And we need our leaders to take this serious and not make fun of take memes and put those out into the public and suggest that's OK.

LEMON: Let's talk about the work of your community because the House Oversight chairman Elijah Cummings says that the White House hasn't turned over a single piece of paper to your committee or made a single official available for testimony. Give me some next steps here.

ROUDA: I think if we cannot get the cooperation of the White House and the administration to meet their obligations under the Constitution, to work with us in providing that information, then we're left with no other choice than to start issuing subpoenas.

LEMON: Yes. Let's talk about the Mueller report now. We're told that White House lawyers are preparing to review the special counsel's findings before Congress or the public sees it. Red flags? Does that raise any red flags for you?

ROUDA: Not necessarily. If the end result is that we still make sure that members of Congress are reviewing the report, making sure that anything of national security concerns is redacted and the rest is shared with the public, then I'm comfortable if that process takes place.

But if there's a process that's taking place where they're attempting to prevent members of Congress and the intelligence committee and other individuals from being able to ascertain whether that information should be distributed or not, that's not satisfactory.

LEMON: So, does that mean executive privilege? Because if the White House exerts executive privilege, then what are -- what's your recourse? Are you going to sue for Mueller's reports? Are you going to push Congress to sue for it?

ROUDA: I would -- I think we're going to look at that option. You also have to remember there's three investigations going on right now. We've got the Mueller report and we expect that out very soon.

And you also have what's going on in the Southern District of New York as well as the Eastern District of Virginia. And those two cases also have bearing on what has transpired before the campaign, during the campaign and during the presidency all need to come to fruition. We need to see all three of those full investigations to ascertain exactly what's going on.

LEMON: Congressman, I want to ask you about the State Department's refusal to release a transcript or list of attendees from a briefing -- from a briefing call with Secretary Pompeo last night. The department's press corps was excluded and the only faith-based media -- the only faith-based media was allowed. Is that problematic? ROUDA: It's problematic throughout the administration. I just

submitted a resolution to try and make sure that when the president meets with foreign leaders that that information is held and preserved.

You know, we go back and look at what transpired between him and President Putin in both Helsinki and prior to that at the G20 summit where the G20 summit he actually took that interpreter's notes and hid them and then also told the interpreter you can't share the information here.

And then did a two-hour meeting at Helsinki with Putin where there were no notes taken whatsoever. This is not how our government is supposed to work. And we have to hold the administration accountable.

LEMON: Congressman, I appreciate your time. See you soon. Please come back.

[23:25:01] ROUDA: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

It's not unusual for this president to lash out. But this week his attacks seemed wilder than ever. What may be behind this combative mood? Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Is President Trump feeling the pressure from Robert Mueller's impending report? He's lashing out and ramping up his attacks on Senator John McCain who died in August. And George Conway, Kellyanne Conway's husband.

Let's discuss now. Mike Shields is here, April Ryan, also the author of "Under Fire: Reporting From the Front Lines of the Trump White House." Douglas Brinkley is with us, as well, who's out with a new brook -- book next month. "American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race."

We don't play around here. We've got heavy hitters on this panel. So, I appreciate all of you joining us.

Douglas Brinkley, I want to start with you. When you see the president attack everyone from Senator John McCain to (Inaudible) of SNL, George Conway, does it feel like this presidency is reaching a crisis point? What do you make of this?

[23:29:58] DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I think the core is Donald Trump pouts sometimes on weekends and on days where he doesn't have a lot to do and does all those crazy tweets.

But I would separate what he did to John McCain the last few days is just disgusting. I mean, John McCain is an American profile in courage hero.

He is in the Theodore Roosevelt tradition of public service. And here is Trump who was a chicken hawk during the Vietnam War using bone spurs as his excuse, starting not just to speak ill but to, you know, destroy or try to destroy the reputation of an American veteran and hero.

It's mind-boggling to me, but it tells you how much that thumbs down that McCain gave got under Donald Trump's skin. And he seems to be in believing, Don, that lashing outright now at these people that he feels have slighted him in his past, scores him some points.

"Saturday Night Live" was a rerun going on. I don't know what got him upset about the rerun. Again, it's all very babyish and immature in the case of McCain, just really horrific.

LEMON: Probably didn't see the original, caught the rerun as, like, I don't like this. So --

BRINKLEY: It was a Christmas rerun, too.

LEMON: It's been a while. So, all these attacks and tweets, Mike, what do you think? Is it pressure? What do you think is going on here?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, it's not like he just suddenly started doing it and so he now is under pressure. He talked like this many times especially about John McCain. I mean, this came about because the report came out on Friday that said that McCain had something to do with giving the Steele dossier to the FBI, and so he was responding to that.

And, you know, obviously, it is not something maybe I would tweet about someone like that, but he is very sincere. He is not one of these people that you'd see at a funeral where they suddenly are glowingly nice about the person who passed away and everyone is going, what are you talking about? You hated that guy.

He never liked John McCain. He is very open about that. He still doesn't care for John McCain. He is upset about what John McCain did. He's going to keep talking about it. There's an authenticity to him about that that there are voters in the country that actually appreciate because they think politicians are (INAUDIBLE) all the time.

LEMON: I know you want to get in, April. But let me just -- it wasn't like it was new news about the Steele dossier because John McCain wrote in his book that he turned it over to the FBI, and he said anybody who criticizes him, to hell with them. So I don't understand what's new and then the facts that he tweeted about or what he tweeted about in his tweet, it was inaccurate.

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Don --

LEMON: This is for Mike. Hold on, April. Mike, I mean, it was inaccurate. You're saying that he was responding to this information, this is not new information.

SHIELDS: Well, there was a report that came out. There was a new report that came out that talked about it again on Friday, so this was sort of brought back up. My point is that's not him feeling pressure from Mueller. That's him responding to a news report which he kind of does all the time.

LEMON: OK, point taken, but, I mean, does it bother you that he is attacking a war hero?

SHIELDS: Look, I respect John McCain's service to the country. Of course, I do. He was a war hero. I completely disagree with John McCain as a politician. He wrote what I think is the biggest threat in the First Amendment in modern American history.

LEMON: I understand that, but do you -- does it bother you --

SHIELDS: I disagree with him. I openly disagree with him. He is a public figure --

LEMON: Does it bother you that the president is attacking a war hero? That doesn't bother you?

RYAN: Oh, my God.

SHIELDS: No, look, I disagree with the president's take on John McCain when that first happened. As for the war hero stuff, I disagree with him on that.

LEMON: OK. April, I know you want to get in. Sorry about that. Go on, April.

RYAN: No worries. You know, for anyone to question -- and I don't care if you're Democrat, Republican or whatever you think you are -- to chastise this man who was a prisoner of war for our freedoms, so we could sit here and talk the way we're talking, he was a prisoner of war who was beaten, bloodied and broken. I've said that over and over again.

SHIELDS: Hey, April, I want to ask you a question about that.

RYAN: And he was supporting -- yes.

SHIELDS: I want to ask you a question about that.

RYAN: Go ahead.

SHIELDS: How much did you talk --

RYAN: But -- it shouldn't even be a question. It shouldn't --

SHIELDS: How much did you talk about that when he was running against Barack Obama?

RYAN: Excuse me, wait a minute.

SHIELDS: The media suddenly hated John McCain during the 2008 cycle --

RYAN: You want to bring Barack Obama -- LEMON: OK, hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

RYAN: Let me finish. Let me finish. You want to bring Barack Obama in this. Let me finish. Let me finish. I'm not in the military. My father was in the army, OK? I have family members who are in the military. OK, this man stayed when he could have left. His family has a history at the U.S. Naval Academy. Now, they served this country. This president has not. That is blaring disparity.

Now, when it comes to John McCain, John McCain -- I used to ask John McCain, Senator John McCain for interviews. I never got one. I was hoping to get one when he was pushing the issue of Jack Johnson.

[23:34:59] John McCain was a politician who had a very -- he was sometimes -- he was prickly, but I respected him as --

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Yeah.

RYAN: He was a little prickly. But I respected him as a politician, as someone who fought and bled for us, who was held for us for our freedoms.

LEMON: So, April --

RYAN: That has nothing to do with Barack Obama. And let me say this to you. When that woman at the end of that campaign, that presidential campaign when he was running against Barack Obama, he told that woman, where that woman said, oh, he's an Arab, I don't like it, he chastised her kindly and she sat down. He corrected the record. You don't hear anyone that's doing that.

LEMON: Yeah.

RYAN: There is a respect for him.

LEMON: I think she said he was a Muslim --

RYAN: That you don't seem to have.

LEMON: -- about Islam. But listen, here's the thing. We get off tracked with these shiny things. What is it?

RYAN: Exactly.

LEMON: Barack Obama -- I don't remember Barack Obama attacking John McCain and saying, I prefer heroes who weren't captured, and then going on to demean him.

SHIELDS: That's not my point, Don.

LEMON: People challenge each other during election and the election process all the time, but to continue to do it --

SHIELDS: No, but Don, I have a different point there. The point is that for conservatives --

RYAN: Well, what was your point?

SHIELDS: We kind of roll our eyes when we hear liberal media people now have stolen the amazing virtues of John McCain and what a war hero he was --

RYAN: Who said I'm a liberal? Because I'm black, you assume I'm a liberal? Because I'm black, you assume I'm a liberal.

SHIELDS: No, I think you're a liberal because I listen to your words. I listen to what you say --

LEMON: We're getting off tracked here. I think that --

RYAN: Let's go back to the --

LEMON: Hold on. Please, please, please. I've got a time to crunch here. I think the whataboutism should stop because people compete against each other for an office. They talk about each other's records. Most people try not to disparage people personally except for during this particular campaign, at least to their face and calling them names. I think people of all stripes have respected John McCain as a war hero.

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: They may not have liked his policies. They may have disagreed with his policies, but you have to respect him for being a hero, for doing what he did, for serving this country.

RYAN: Yes. But Don --

LEMON: And here is what I'll say.

RYAN: Don, I do want to say something.

LEMON: The number one thing that your mama taught you when you -- the number one thing, don't speak ill of the dead.

RYAN: Yes.

LEMON: That's it. We'll be right back.

RYAN: Exactly. But Don --

LEMON: I got to go.

[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A Fox News contributor actually tried to argue that since slavery existed throughout history, America should get credit for ending it within 150 years. Katie Pavlich said that.

Back with me now are Mike Shields, April Ryan, and Doug Brinkley. So, listen Doug, I want to play the clip of her. She was responding to Elizabeth Warren's call to talk about reparations. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: They keep blaming America for the sin of slavery, but the truth is throughout human history, slavery has existed and America came along as the first country to end it within 150 years, and we get no credit for that to move forward and try and make --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: So she said that America doesn't get enough credit for ending slavery. What credit is she looking for and where is she getting this from, and isn't her math off? But go on.

RYAN: Off.

(LAUGHTER)

BRINKLEY: Well, I think everything's off with that clip. She was just speaking off-the-cuff, kind of an idiotic response to that question.

Any time people talk about slavery not being very bad and America should get credit for it, whether it's her or Kanye West when he did it, raises eyebrows, makes people realize you don't really understand history and haven't taken time to go to places like Montgomery, Alabama where they just opened up a museum that deals with slavery and lynching and beatings and what's it's like to be an African-American in the south.

So it seems to me it's sad that she isn't more educated and offers that kind of garbage on the national airwaves.

LEMON: So, her argument is actually inaccurate, April. There are several countries that outlawed slavery before the U.S. did in 1865. What do you think when you heard this?

RYAN: Ignorance. Not knowing. She needs to read. She needs to go to the new museum in Washington, D.C. for one. The first exhibit you go through is the slave exhibit. So let's go back. Let's go back factually. This year marks 400 years since the first slaves were brought to this country from Africa.

Even though slavery was abolished, there's still a residue. Descendants of slaves in this country, blacks, African-Americans still have the highest numbers of negatives in almost every category. So you may have ended slavery, but there is still a disparity and there still racism and bigotry. We do not have on the books yet, I believe that lynching law, anti-lynching law, it's not a federal crime, OK? There was lynching back and slavery.

So for her to say this, she needs to understand her history and the history of people who are still oppressed. And I'm going to say this, our Jewish brothers and sisters always say never forget so it won't happen again, but yet this person and others who think like her want us to forget.

[23:45:02] We will never forget because the residue still lingers. And the Democratic Party is right. This is something that needs to be dealt with, and it hasn't been dealt with as of yet, an apology to correct the wrong.

LEMON: Mike, Pavlich walked back her comments slightly later on, saying that she should have said, one of the first countries, and she says her argument stands. Do you find that persuasive?

SHIELDS: No. The advice I want to give is the same advice I give other people when they want to make a Hitler or Nazi analogy. For Republicans or Democrats, just stop. If you're going to talk about slavery, just stop. You're going to step in it. You don't know what you're talking about. You're going to completely offend millions of people.

Slavery is hatred. Slavery is the worst thing that America ever did. It is a stain that we still live with. We have to continually find a way to overcome what happened. There was a war that was fought over this. She's acting like, yeah, we ended slavery. She got credit for that. There was a war. People died. We're still dealing with it.

We have people arguing over monuments throughout this country because we still haven't really finished having a national conversation and reconciling ourselves over what happened because of that. So, to delve into that and make a political point is just like -- something should just trigger in your head to stop, I'm not going to talk about this, this is not going to work out.

LEMON: Yeah. OK, well, listen. I got to say I feel the same way about dead war heroes. That same thing should trigger in your head when you're talking about somebody who died and served this country. Just don't do it. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

SHIELDS: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: As the president steps up his attacks on John McCain, we're going to show you what the McCain family is dealing with only months after his death and how the feud with Trump has escalated over the years.

[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump lashing out again at late Senator John McCain today, disparaging an American hero who devoted his life to public service and doing it from the Oval Office. But the McCain family has had enough of the attacks. CNN's Miguel Marquez has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was never a fan of John McCain and I never will be.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The president won't stop attacking the late Arizona senator, John McCain, even in death. Now McCain's family says enough. Cindy McCain, 38 years, the senator's wife, always respectful and courteous, today posted this to her Twitter account. "Your husband was a traitorous piece of warmongering shit and I'm glad he's dead. Hope your Mrs. Piggy daughter chokes to death on the next burger she stuffs down her fat neck, too." The woman added a C-word at the end of the tweet.

Cindy McCain tweeted the message in full John McCain sarcasm mode, saying, "I want to make sure all of you could see how kind and loving a stranger can be." How did we get here? Again, the president apparently spending another weekend in front of the television watching Bill Clinton's prosecutor Ken Starr, who is selling a book on Fox News, making unsubstantiated claims about John McCain and the way the now infamous Steele dossier became public.

KEN STARR, FORMER SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: John McCain was an American hero who did so much for the country, but this is unfortunately a very dark stain.

MARQUEZ: That was Saturday morning. This is from the president Saturday afternoon. "Spreading the fake and totally discredited dossier is unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain. Ken Starr, former independent counsel, he had far worse stains than this, including thumbs down on repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace."

The president is still angry about this moment when McCain along with two other Republican senators voted with Democrats killing Trump's effort to repeal Obamacare.

MEGHAN MCCAIN, DAUGHTER OF JOHN MCCAIN: He spends his weekend obsessing over a great man because he knows it and I know it and all of you know it, he will never be a great man.

MARQUEZ: John McCain's near state funeral last September a bipartisan who's who of Washington from George W. Bush to Barack Obama was meant to be Trump-free. The president specifically left off the invite list. Meghan McCain in her eulogy sent a pointed message.

MCCAIN: We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness. The real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly.

MARQUEZ: Jared and Ivanka attended. Months later, McCain told Stephen Colbert they crashed her father's funeral.

MCCAIN: I was surprised when they were there and it made me uncomfortable. And I hope I made them uncomfortable, honestly.

MARQUEZ: The enmity between McCain and Trump started as far back as 1999 when Trump said this on "60 Minutes."

TRUMP: Does being captured make you a hero? I don't know. I'm not sure.

MARQUEZ: In 2015, as the primary heated up, Trump returned to the same claim.

TRUMP: He's not a war hero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a war hero.

TRUMP: He is a war hero --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five and a half years --

TRUMP: He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you.

MARQUEZ: A month after Trump said McCain wasn't a war hero, McCain said this.

JOHN MCCAIN, FORMER ARIZONA SENATOR: I don't like to respond to Mr. Trump because there's an old line about you don't want to get into a wrestling match with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

MARQUEZ: In 2017, McCain didn't hold back, calling Trump and his rhetoric --

J. MCCAIN: Half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems.

[23:55:01] MARQUEZ: Donald Trump who considers himself a fighter, still throwing punches at the war hero maverick John McCain nearly seven months now in his grave.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: May he rest in peace. Thanks for watching. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night at 10:00 when CNN hosts a presidential town hall with 2020 candidate, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. And then I'll be on right after that at 11:00 p.m., so make sure you tune in.

And then next week, I'm going to be hosting a town hall with another candidate, there he is on your screen, Senator Cory Booker, Wednesday, March 27th, right here on CNN at 10:00 p.m., so make sure you tune in to that as well. Our coverage continues.

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