Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Former Gov. John Kasich (R) Ohio Was Interviewed About His Reaction On President Trump's Insult To The Late Senator John McCain; President's List Of Enemies Getting Longer Each Day; President Trump Is Confident About The Mueller Report; President Trump Says He Doesn't Mind If Public Sees The Mueller Report, But Blasting Special Counsel's Credibility; Trump Ramps Up Attacks On McCain; New Book Details The Rise To Power Of Ivanka Trump And Jared Kushner. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired March 20, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[23:00:00] (TOWN HALL)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Dana, thank you very much.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

You just heard from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in CNN's town hall. Still there in the room. The Democratic presidential candidate answering questions from the audience for about an hour.

Questions about the rise of white nationalism, the toll of young black men killed by police, health care, legalizing marijuana, climate change and a whole lot more.

So how did he do in terms of making his case with you, with the American voters?

I want to bring in now CNN Senior Political Analyst, Mr. Mark Preston who was at the town hall in Atlanta.

Mark, thank you very much. For many people, you know, across the country this is the first time that they're being introduced to the former governor. What are your takeaways from Governor Hickenlooper's town hall?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, a couple of things, Don. No doubt about that the headline out of this town hall is John Hickenlooper acknowledging that he took his mother to perhaps the most famous pornographic movie ever made --

LEMON: And they stayed.

PRESTON: -- in history. And they stayed for the whole thing and they thought the lighting was very good.

LEMON: Yes.

PRESTON: But beyond that, I will tell you I believe he did very well tonight. He is somebody who is very likable. He was able to connect with the audience even in between the breaks.

He elicited a lot of applause for some of his answers. And he's an interesting candidate because he walks that middle road. Not only does he talk in progressive tones but he also talks about being a centrist in some ways. He doesn't use that language, but he is.

He talked about being a capitalist, he talked about health care about how while he believes that health care is a right, he also said he doesn't believe in Medicare for all, which is being pushed by Bernie Sanders.

In addition to that, we also heard him talk about the death penalty. He said he would suspend the death penalty, Don, if in fact he is elected president.

Again, another headline that has come out tonight. John Hickenlooper, the governor, or former governor of Colorado right now trying to make inroads with the CNN town hall, Don. I think he did well tonight. We'll see what he does in the coming days.

LEMON: You mentioned the sort of centrist lane that he is taking. I interviewed the governor back in January, and he told me that when it comes to taking on Trump competing in rust belt states it's going to take than a progressive vision that is going to take accomplishments in bringing people together. Is that message, will that resonate with voters, do you think?

PRESTON: Well, it's certainly going to resonate with voters in the middle of the country, Democrats down here in the south that don't see themselves as ultimate liberals.

But he does have a little bit of a challenge because right now the energy seems to be on the left, it seems to be with these young Democrats that have been elected to the House of Representatives who are pushing issued such as socialism.

He took question tonight on socialism. It's clearly a tag right now that is not going to work for Democrats if they're going to run against Donald Trump because it is going to be hung around their neck.

But I will say this. John Hickenlooper seemed to get deftly past that. But again, the problem for him, Don, and the problem for all these Democrats right now is that there are a lot of them running and they're all buying for the same voters.

LEMON: That's why he's going to a lot of place. His response to the president's response in New Zealand shooting. So, we'll be watching for that. Mark Preston, thank you. Mark down in Atlanta at the CNN center.

I want to turn now to what the president has been saying about the Mueller report, about his nemesis from beyond the grave, John McCain, and about his other nemesis, Kellyanne Conway's husband, George Conway. So, let's start with the Mueller report. The president now says he wants people to see it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't mind. I mean, frankly, I told the House if you want, let them see it. Let it come out, let people see it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, you heard the president. He says he wants the report to come out. Great. Perfect, because that's what 87 percent of Americans want.

The House voted 420 to nothing, to demand the public release of Mueller's report. Of course, Lindsey Graham blocked the Senate vote, and if you think he did that on his own without the president's say- so?

Just remember, Lindsey Graham can't even take a strong stand against the president's constant attacks on his friend John McCain. Be that as it may, the attorney general should absolutely take the president at his word. He should let the American people see the Mueller report. He should, but we all know this is trick the president has played before.

Remember when he said he wanted to sit down with Mueller and answer questions under oath? Remember how that worked out?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of the events?

TRUMP: One hundred percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?

TRUMP: I'm looking forward to it, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would do it under oath?

TRUMP: I would do it under oath.

[23:04:59] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you like to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you.

TRUMP: I would love to. I would like to speak because we've done nothing wrong. I would love to speak. Nothing I want to do more. I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me. In fact, against my lawyers because most lawyers they never speak on anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you more likely to sit for an interview now?

TRUMP: My lawyers are working on that. I've always wanted to do an interview because, look, there's been no collusion. CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Is that your final position, that

there's going to be no sit-down interview and nothing written or in person on obstruction?

TRUMP: I would say probably, probably. I mean, I can change my mind but probably.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He sure can change his mind. We'll see if he keeps his word on the Mueller report. Now, let's talk about what the president said today about John McCain. You probably thought it couldn't get much worse. Unfortunately, you're wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of people are asking because they love me and they ask me about a man named John McCain, so I have to be honest. I've never liked him much, hasn't been for me. I've really probably never will, but there are certain reasons for it.

And I'll tell you, and I do this to save a little time with the press later on. John McCain received a fake and phony dossier. Did you hear about the dossier? It was paid for by crooked Hillary Clinton, right?

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: And John McCain got it. He got it. And what did he do? He didn't call me. He turned it over to the FBI hoping to put me in jeopardy, and that's not the nicest thing to do.

You know, when those people say because I'm a very loyal person -- John McCain campaigned for years to repeal and replace Obamacare. When he finally had the chance to do it, he voted against repeal and replace. He voted against at 2 o'clock in the morning. Remember thumbs down.

We said what the hell happened. He said two hours before he was voting to repeal and replace, and then he went to thumbs down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, this president apparently thinks an event at a plant that produces tanks for the military with many members of the military listening, he thinks it's an appropriate place to slam a deceased war hero. Wrap your head around that. That wasn't even the worst of it.

And even the low blows we've heard from this president over the past few days he managed to sink even further. The president actually complained -- he did -- that he didn't get a thank you for McCain's funeral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve. I don't care about this. I didn't get a thank you. That's OK. We sent him on his way. But I wasn't a fan of John McCain's.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, I want you to remember President Trump refused for two days after McCain's death to put out a formal statement praising his service. And he ordered the White House flag to fly at half-staff until McCain's funeral only under pressure.

Can you even imagine any other president complaining because he didn't get a thank you for the funeral of his perceived enemy? A funeral for an American war hero. Thank you, Mr. President.

But there's more. There's much more. President Trump taking his feud with George Conway to DEFCON 1, with Conway who, of course, is the husband of senior White House advisor Kellyanne Conway giving his good as he gets.

Tonight, retweeting Maggie Haberman referencing a belief among some of the president's advisers that one reason he is running for re-election is that he could have criminal exposure in the Southern District of New York cases if he isn't in office.

Conway tweeting, quote, "that isn't particularly compelling, a particularly compelling reason for voters to re-elect individual one." And going on to tweet a pretty sarcastic mock campaign slogan, quote, "vote for me and keep me free." Individual one, 2020."

I can't believe on it. Wow, that happened. Just wow. It comes after the president said this about Conway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:10:00] TRUMP: He's a whack job, there's no question about it. But I really don't know him. He -- I think he's doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife. Kellyanne is a wonderful woman and I call him Mr. Kellyanne.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's not all. There's also this tweet. The president of the United States calling Conway, quote, "a stone-cold loser and husband from hell."

George Conway pinned that to the top of his Twitter feed which pretty much guarantees the feud is not far from over. But he called him the husband from hell, someone married three times, cheated on his wives, a porn star, paid her off while his wife was at home with a baby and paid off a playboy playmate. But he calls somebody else a husband from hell?

As I've said before, we all know why the president is piling on the insults and doubling down on his feuds, why he's waving the same shiny objects right in front of you. It's all about distracting and deflecting. Distracting and deflecting from what could be in the Mueller report. The question is, will all his distracting and deflecting work? The

president's attacks on the late Senator John McCain, well they have my next guest saying enough already, enough.

Former Governor of Ohio John Kasich joins me now.

Governor, so glad to have you on. Thank you very much. We're going to talk to you right after the break.

FORMER GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: OK, Don.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump visiting an army tank manufacturing plant in Ohio today and using that as an opportunity to continue attacking a war hero, the late Senator John McCain.

Joining me now is former Governor John Kasich of the Great State of Ohio. Again, it's an honor to have you on, sir. Thank you very much. The president is once again attacking the late John McCain and you're saying enough.

KASICH: Don, I've said this. I don't know how many things I've had to say about this over the last few days. But, Don, you've kind of said it all. I mean, there's a basic decency in our country where particularly with, I mean. a war hero but with anybody who is departed --

LEMON: Right.

KASICH: -- that we don't spend our time attacking them. Obviously, they can't defend themselves. And to continue this day after day is, you know, it's just to me a pathetic thing.

And Don, I was hoping, you know, after the primaries that we'd see a change. And now I don't believe there is any change coming. And I will tell you that I think people of Ohio don't approve of this and don't like this.

One of the things that's very odd to me, Don, and something I can't quite figure out is, yes, I mean I know people have a little bit more money in their 401k. I know there are more people working. I agree with all that. But maybe the Beetles said it right. You know, the money can't buy you love.

It's not just about money. I don't tell my kids that the only thing that matters in life is that you have money. That there's a sort of values, a set of standards that we must uphold in our own lives. And none of us here are to be saints, but there are certain things expected of you.

And look, John McCain was a guy, Don, who I was elected with him first time in 1982. John McCain was a guy that couldn't even raise his arms because of the torture that was inflicted upon him because his father was somebody special, they then just beat the living daylights out of John. And he never folded, never caved. I don't even know how he with stood all that.

And then he came off that airplane just a shadow of his former self, just a tremendous leader in the United States Senate. Everybody loved him. And we all heard at his funeral where John was put to rest, and --

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: -- I just don't know why everybody is not as angry about it as I am. I mean, some are speaking out, but I mean, this is terrible.

LEMON: Well, I want to talk about that. But before we talk about the people who are not speaking out, the thing that got me, Governor, is when he said I didn't get a thank you for the funeral for a war hero.

I mean, John McCain was sent off in a way John McCain should have been sent off. The president of the United States, I mean, should he want to be thanked for doing what the president of the United States should do for anyone who served this country the way John McCain did?

KASICH: Well, you know, Don, look, I went to that funeral and I also went to the rotunda, the capital. And in fact, had an opportunity to actually kneel and put my hands on that coffin and say good-bye to my friend.

But there were long, long lines of people who wanted to go there and to honor John McCain's life because, you know, deep inside of all of us when it comes to the military and heroic actions it doesn't matter your party. It doesn't matter your race. It doesn't matter your religion. These are people that we honor. We give them medals.

But John didn't stop there, of course, his service to his country. And by the way, I heard the president talk about, you know, repeal and replace Obamacare. One of the great moments for me is when John McCain put his thumb down because you see they were about to strip health care coverage from 20 million Americans.

LEMON: With nothing to replace it and that's the --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Well, that's exactly right.

LEMON: Right.

KASICH: I mean, if you have something to replace it, fine.

LEMON: Right.

KASICH: But you just can't strip the healthcare coverage away from 20 million Americans and say we'll get to it later.

LEMON: Yes. Everyone forgets, Governor, the replace part. They said, well, John McCain ran on repealing and replacing, there was no replace in that bill and that's why he voted down. He didn't like the way the president did it. I've got to ask you while I have you here if we can move on, a handful of Republican senators -- you mentioned this -- they have spoken out against the president's comments.

[23:20:00] But the response has been really quite tepid. Even John McCain's close friend Lindsey, Senator Lindsey Graham appears to be rolling over in his grave now. Why haven't -- why hasn't there been a stronger rebuke from McCain's friends and his colleagues?

KASICH: Yes, Don, this is very interesting because the other day I got in a Twitter conversation, something I swore I wouldn't do, with a friend of mine who was mad because I said that Americans should put or that Republicans should put the country ahead of party as it related to this national security designation on the border. And this gentleman was really angry at me.

And, you know, we -- I knew that if I continued to argue with him it wouldn't go anywhere. But, you know, what I think the problem is that some of them are afraid to take heat. I've never been afraid to take heat.

You know, pleasers -- there's two kinds of politicians, Don, really. There are pleasers and there's leaders. If you're a pleaser you might be successful in the short run, but it doesn't work out in the long run.

When you're a leader it doesn't always feel good in the beginning but you respected in the long run.

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: And I'm starting to wonder how many pleasers we have in the United States Senate as opposed to leaders.

LEMON: Would you --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: So, this is a guy we should be standing up for.

LEMON: Listen, I got a couple of things to -- I was surprised to actually hear people applaud when, you know, at that plant when he talked about John McCain. That was shocking to me.

But, listen, I have to -- I want to move on and ask about the president continuing to escalate this feud with Kellyanne Conway's husband, George, calling him a stone-cold loser, a husband from hell.

I mean, one would think that the president, usually the president of the United States doesn't punch down, that they were better things to do. What do you think?

KASICH: Well, the whole thing is so bizarre. I mean, there's no other way to describe it. I mean, the whole situation, and I don't want to get into the personal lives of Kellyanne and her husband --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But they are putting it out there, though.

KASICH: Yes. I'm not -- I don't like all that. Look, I was in the Congress and had a chance to work with Reagan, got a chance to work with Bill Clinton, got a chance to work with the senior Bush when all of them were presidents.

This is unprecedented. I mean, I guess they say Andrew Jackson was this way. I don't know that I believe that. I don't understand it.

Look, some people, Don, wanted to just throw everything off the table. Throw all the chess pieces off the chessboard. Let's just do something completely out there, and anytime it goes against the establishment I'm for it.

Now, right now we're seeing a good economy. I hope it continues for a long time. But if you look at the projections, the rising debt levels, we begin to see slower economic predictions.

Now, here's the question. What would it be like today if the president had a lower economic situation? What would people be saying? Because what you don't want people to do is to say money buys my love. To me, it's not good enough, Don.

This is about the way we expect our leaders to act and to be able to lead us. And I'm very disappointed in this. I mean, that's an understatement. I'm disappointed.

I didn't go to the convention, I didn't endorse the guy. I've been outspoken now for two years, and it doesn't make me happy. I don't like to have to do this stuff. But you know what? Sometimes you have to say what's on your mind.

LEMON: What's happened to your party?

KASICH: Well, you know, it's -- Don, look, I mean, the party is, again, they're concerned about, you now, whether they're going to be unpopular with their base, OK?

But let's not just talk about the Republican Party. Down in Virginia as you have covered yourself, you got a governor that's in trouble, a lieutenant governor in trouble, and an attorney general in trouble. They're all Democrats. And they don't know what to do.

And what they're worried about is if all those three guys get taken out there'll be a Republican governor. You take a look at we couldn't even have the Democrats condemn anti-Semitism on the floor of the House here a couple of weeks ago.

It's not just one party. It's that we are not seeing the kind of leaders, Don, that you and are I have studied and that some of us have actually grown up watching. It is a shortage now.

Now, here's the good news, Don. The good news is that change rarely comes from the top down. Change in the America comes from the bottom up. Civil rights, environmental awareness, women's suffrage. Change comes when the people where they live say we've had enough. We've had enough.

And remember in regard to the president, President Trump, he's got 60 percent of the country that doesn't agree with him. They just don't and almost a shrinking number of Republicans who identify themselves as Republicans.

[23:24:59] So it's going to be a very interesting 2020. The question is, are the Democrats going to pick somebody who's so far-out of the mainstream that they're not electable? We have to watch that.

LEMON: Listen, I think it's good advice that you just gave. I enjoyed hearing your perspective, and I can't wait to have you back on.

KASICH: Yes, Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

KASICH: I like to have a conversation like this. And I very much appreciate you taking the time and asking me to be here tonight.

LEMON: John Kasich, thank you, sir.

KASICH: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

So, President Trump says that he doesn't mind if the public sees the Mueller report, but he also is blasting the special counsel's credibility. So, what's with the president's newfound desire for a public report?

Here to discuss, Matthew Rosenberg and Jennifer Rodgers. Good evening to both of you. The president says he wants this report made public. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let it come out. Let people see it. That's up to the attorney general. We have a very good attorney general. He's a very highly respected man. And we'll see what happens. But it's sort of interesting that a man out of the blue just writes a report.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:30:00] LEMON: So just last week, Jennifer, he tweeted that there should be no Mueller report. What's behind this about face here?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I think he is doing the same thing that he did with respect to releasing his taxes and sitting down with Mueller, right? He wants to play the good guy. Oh, I've got nothing to hide.

Sure, let the public see all of it, but then he's going to hide behind his lawyers when the truth comes through, you know, when he sees the report and they're negotiating. So, I think he's just trying to get something out of this, but if it says anything negative about him, which it's almost certain to do, then he won't want it out.

LEMON: Yeah. He said, you know, he wanted the report public. But do you remember when he also said on multiple occasions that I want to speak directly with the special counsel 100 percent? Should we take him at his advice?

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No.

LEMON: At his word, I should say?

ROSENBERG: No. I mean, there's a little giveaway at the tip of his hand there where he said, oh, the attorney general will decide, we've got a great attorney general. So he basically just said, I want it out there, but now I'm going to put it on him, you know. And then suddenly he's talking about they're certainly writing a report out of the blue. I mean, this isn't out of the blue. We all know the report was coming.

LEMON: I thought it is interesting. Out of the blue, what did he mean by that?

ROSENBERG: Beyond me. I mean, has he not been paying attention? We all knew this was happening. Surely he knew, too.

RODGERS: It's in the regulations.

ROSENBERG: Yes.

RODGERS: He's required to write a report, so of course he knew it is happening.

LEMON: OK, all right, I guess we shouldn't try to make sense about some of these things. The president also spoke about Robert Mueller's qualification to write his report. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm saying to myself, wait a minute, I just won one of the greatest elections of all-time in the history of this country and even you will admit that, and now I have somebody writing a report that never got a vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, so, he went on to repeat this is lie, that Robert Mueller and the fired FBI director, James Comey, were best friends. Is this the likely White House line of attack, do you think?

RODGERS: So, this one is really troubling to me because Mueller is a federal prosecutor in this role, right? Federal prosecutors are not elected. They are appointed, all of them, always, for our whole country's history. So there's no way that he is elected. To me, this is another attempt to undermine what prosecutors do, what judges do, and basically saying, I'm above the law. You know, a prosecutor shouldn't be able to touch me. A judge shouldn't be able to touch me. He shouldn't be able to do anything to me. That's just another way of him saying, I'm above the law. That's why that should trouble people, I think.

LEMON: Matthew, one thing he was right about is that releasing this report is really up to the attorney general, Bill Barr. Here is what he said about Barr. This is what Barr said at his confirmation hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I also believe it is very important that the public and Congress be informed of the results of the special counsel's work. My goal will be to provide as much transparency as I can consistent with the law. I can assure you that where judgments are to be made, I will make those judgments based solely on the law, and I will not let personal, political or other improper interests influence my decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yet still, the attorney general, he has a lot of wiggle room when it comes to releasing this report.

ROSENBERG: I mean, a tremendous amount. And, you know, we could be in a situation where Mueller himself, you know, delivers an incredibly terse report that says, you know, these are the people we charged, this is why we didn't. Doesn't explain why other people, other crimes or potential crimes were in charge. And there's a whole counter intelligence piece, which is not about criminal investigation, which is not about criminal prosecutions.

And that is likely to remain classified because they would be under the idea that there's this foreign intelligence service that's still active and we're countering their intelligence, and this is the report on that. And so there are huge chunks of this that we're probably never going to see whether the president wants it or not.

LEMON: Go on.

RODGERS: I was going to say what's interesting, though, is the president is actually the one person in this country with the power to give that report to the American people because not only can he say, listen, White House counsel's office, I am not going to assert executive privilege. I don't care what you guys say about precedent and so on. I'm not going to assert it. He can also declassify anything he wants.

So, he wouldn't do it, and we wouldn't want him to do it if there really are truly national security concerns there, but he really could release this report the moment it's handed over if he wanted to.

LEMON: Our previous reporting was that Rod Rosenstein, the deputy A.G., was supposed to leave the DOJ sometime in mid-March. Now, the reporting is that now he has said he's going to stay on until the Mueller report drops because he wants to be a "heat shield" to absorb the punch if there's fallout from the report." Does that mean that something is imminent?

RODGERS: I mean, who knows? It's anybody's guess, right? I mean, I don't think he is going to play the role of a heat shield here. I think it's smart for him to stay because of the knowledge that he has about the investigation.

ROSENBERG: I can also imagine Barr's attitude here. It's like, look, you got the thing started, so you better be here when it ends. You know, from the left or right, you're going -- somebody is going to be unhappy with how this thing comes out.

LEMON: Yeah.

ROSENBERG: And if Rosenstein is there, it gives the report credibility, gives the entire investigation credibility. If he's gone, whoever is unhappy, especially if it's from the left, if they are unhappy, they can say, oh, well, look, he was gone and they corrupted this report, you know, that this is Trump's influence.

[23:35:06] LEMON: But don't you think he would want to stick around just to see its fruition? Because, you know, he started the whole thing, he appointed Mueller and a lot of people who are gone now. But to look back in history, to say that he was, you know, the acting A.G. or --

RODGERS: I think he --

LEMON: -- the deputy A.G. when this --

RODGERS: I think he wants to see it through, you know. It is common that Bill Barr coming in would be able to choose his own deputy. So it's the right thing to do for Rosenstein to say, of course, I will step out and let you do that. But if given the opportunity, I'm sure he does want to stay on and complete the work.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it. We're going to dig further into the president's attacks on Senator John McCain. How do people serving in the military view what the commander in chief is saying about a war hero?

[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president unloading on late Senator John McCain in his event at a tank factory in Ohio today. He even complained about not getting thanked for McCain's funeral.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president, I had to approve. I don't care about this. I didn't get a thank you. That's OK. We sent him on the way, but I wasn't a fan of John McCain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I want to bring in now General James "Spider" Marks and Ryan Lizza. Good evening.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Don.

JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Hi, Don.

LEMON: General, you knew John McCain for many years.

MARKS: I did. I did.

LEMON: What do you think when you see the president go after McCain for nearly five minutes?

MARKS: Yeah, well, obviously it's very, very disturbing. Look, John McCain is one of our greatest servants, incredibly selfless for years, his entire life, spent five years in a box, never asked for anything.

And when he comes out of that, he has his dignity. He maintains his dignity through all of that, and then makes a decision to serve our nation over the course of the remainder of his life. And he does it with incredible -- gained incredible respect both in his party, outside of his party, but more importantly globally. He really commanded a lot of respect and represented us so incredibly well.

I would say -- look, I'm political, but I'm not a partisan. I had to work for every commander-in-chief, and I did that proudly and honorably. But I would say that this president is just incredibly tone deaf, doesn't really understand, and I don't know on the political side what part of his base responds to that.

I'm not sure who he is trying to embrace and who he is trying to ensure that he is meeting their obligations that he is in fact representing them well. I just -- I simply don't get it, kind of at a loss for words.

LEMON: Yeah. Many people are. I think most people are. Ryan, you heard the president complaining that he never got a thank you for giving a celebrated veteran, a dedicated public servant, the funeral he deserves. I'm sorry, but doesn't this just prove what George Conway said, the point about the president's narcissism?

LIZZA: I think it does. I mean, you know, I do get it. Trump cannot stand the fact that this person was such -- was so celebrated when he died. And, you know, one of the most important instructional moments of the last couple of years was that day when John McCain was given a public service at National Cathedral here in Washington, and everyone in American public life was there except for the president, who was out playing golf.

And I'll never forget there was a picture that day of Trump alone on a golf course, and then next to a picture of the National Cathedral with all of these people celebrating John McCain. And when in our history has it been that the president of the United States couldn't go to a senator from his own party's funeral because the family didn't want him there? I mean, and there's just no doubt that that has infuriated Trump ever since, that he was sort of left out of this national celebration. And remember that day, all of the speeches were about McCain's bipartisan record, what a great military person he was, what a great colleague he was in the Senate, how he famously had a streak of forgiving people.

Remember, he led our (INAUDIBLE) with Vietnam after they tortured him for five years. So -- and all of those speeches were seen as a rebuke to Trump, not because Trump was ever mentioned in those speeches, but because all of the characteristics that McCain was celebrated for, everyone knows Trump is not praised for.

LEMON: He's lacking in all of those traits. You said you're at a loss for words, general. But what it does say about this president that he is making the late Senator John McCain's funeral seven months later about himself?

MARKS: It's amazingly disappointed that the leader of the free world is that petty in that regard. To say, look, it's not about me, but clearly it is all about me. But what Ryan just described is really juxtaposition between two incredibly different men with a different arc of their lives and the differences could not be more stark.

You know, this president will always harbor really the anger and the angst and the complaint about John McCain in that Senator McCain did not vote for the repeal of Obamacare.

[23:45:05] But my comment to the president would be, look, if it was that compelling, I don't think the vote would have rested on one man. Maybe you need to look yourself in the mirror and say, maybe I needed to make a better argument about this. But if you're exclusively looking at an individual to help carry your water, you have failed in your effort to lead us in a particular direction.

Again, I'm not trying to be political here, but what I am trying to say is the president has an obligation. In the position that he is in, he really could assume the high road. We all know that there's precious little traffic when you get up on the high road, but it's just impossible for this president to do that. You like him to say, Senator McCain, thank you for your service, God bless you, period, say nothing else.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, you're speaking like a leader and that's how leaders should speak. Thank you both for your time. I appreciate it.

MARKS: Thanks, Don.

LIZZA: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: My next guest wrote the book on Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and she is warning that "you can't underestimate the dangers of these two." What's behind that claim, next.

[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: The author of the new book about Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner has a stark warning about the White House advisers who also happened to be the president's daughter and son-in-law. Vicky Ward says, "I think that you can't underestimate the dangers of these two." She is the author of "Kushner, Inc." She joins me now.

So, it's good to see you.

VICKY WARD, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Thanks, don.

LEMON: Fascinating book with lots of accounts. Why do you say this? Again, "You can't underestimate the dangers of Jared and Ivanka." What should we be worried about?

WARD: Because they're in disguise. They're not what they seem. You know, I think that President Trump is very much in plain sight, right? I mean, 50 tweets over the weekend, you know, his stream of consciousness comes at us all the time to the point that we're saturated.

These two, you know, came into this administration and everybody thought that they would be moderating influence on the president, kind of like the adults in the room, but I think what my book shows is that, you know, they went in not for public service, not for altruistic reasons, but for self-service.

LEMON: A brand. Wasn't it a branding thing?

WARD: Well, I think it's for branding, but really for money, Don. These are people who really, you know, come from a culture that disdains rules.

LEMON: I want --

WARD: Jared -- one rule for him and Ivanka, one rule for everyone else.

LEMON: OK, I want you to hold that thought. I want to talk about that in a little bit. But I just want to get to this. The book is called "Kushner, Inc. Greed. Ambition. Corruption." So tell us about the corruption part. Do you believe they've broken any laws?

WARD: I think one of the most startling things I talked about in the book is the fact that it was really Jared and not the president behind the closure of the White House visitor logs in the first spring of the transition. And it was said at the time that that was done for security reasons.

But actually, what my book shows is that it was really done because Jared Kushner was networking phonetically (ph), doing all sorts of things that would cause an outcry.

A year later when the White House logs were reopened by John Kelly, he was meeting with Lloyd Blankfein, the then CEO of Goldman Sachs, which was an investor in a company that Jared Kushner had a stake in and had co-founded with his brother and had not divested from and those were not even disclosed initially. It was wrapped up in something else called BFPS.

LEMON: His father has a new opinion piece out tonight --

WARD: Yes.

LEMON: -- "The Washington Post" where he defends his family's business and he writes about his son, Jared Kushner.

He said, "At the recommendation of his legal counsel, in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics, he diverted from more than 80 partnerships, including 666 Fifth Avenue, at a substantial financial sacrifice. Jared's service to the country has brought on unprecedented scrutiny of the Kushner companies from the media and government investigators.

We are happy to assist with all inquiries, but I must note that we are already voluntarily adhering to the strictest standards to avoid even the appearance of conflicts. As a result, we have passed up many business opportunities that we normally would have pursued."

So you write about the 666 Kushner property.

WARD: Yes, I did.

LEMON: His father is pushing back against that --

WARD: I just read what Charles Kushner wrote. I think this is a fairy tale. This is -- from start to finish. This is a version of events that Charles Kushner wishes were true.

LEMON: So, you write about Ivanka. You said, "Ivanka has made no secret of the fact that she wants to be the most powerful woman in the world. Her father's reign in Washington, D.C. is, she believes, the beginning of a great American dynasty." And then you go on to talk about as you think is like the Kennedys and like the Bushes.

WARD: Yes.

LEMON: So at the convention, one of their surrogates told me the exact same story --

WARD: There you go.

LEMON: -- that it was -- that's how they perceive this to be.

WARD: Yes.

LEMON: As a dynasty.

WARD: Yes.

LEMON: Much like the Kennedys.

WARD: Right.

LEMON: Where does she get all this confidence? (LAUGHTER)

WARD: Well --

LEMON: Seriously, for someone who is not qualified to be in government.

WARD: Yeah. So I used to tell in the book that (ph) one of Jared's employees used it (ph) about him but, you know, he and Ivanka are very similar, the reality distortion field. You know, I think they live in a bubble. And, you know, Ivanka herself wrote in one of her books, "Perception is more important than reality."

[23:55:05] And I think that explains exactly --

LEMON: That explains her father. More than anything, he wants to appear strong, more than the reality of what is actually happening. Another antidote from the book that really stands out to me is how Ivanka defended her father when Gary Cohn was considering resigning because of the very fine people on both sides. This is what she said. She said, "My dad is not a racist. He didn't mean any of it" That's not what he said. That's exactly what he said. It is on tape. How shocking is that?

WARD: Well, I think that that story is the sort of moral center of the book. You know, that is the heart of the book. You just have to think about that and think about what that says about who she really is.

LEMON: Yeah. White House officials have dismissed the book. A spokesperson for Jared Kushner's attorney said that you have written a book of fiction. How do you respond to that?

WARD: Well, that was Sarah Sanders, right? I'll take my credibility against hers any time.

LEMON: Yeah. Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Vicky Ward.

WARD: Thank you.

LEMON: It was fascinating. Thank you.

WARD: Thank you.

LEMON: The book is called "Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption." by Vicky Ward. I want to remind you that next weekend, I'm going to be hosting a town hall with Democratic presidential candidate and Senator, Cory Booker. That's Wednesday, March 27th, right here on CNN at 10:00 p.m. Our coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)