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President Trump Moves on After the Mueller Report; An E-mail that Cause a Lot of Questioning in the Russia Probe; Rob Goldstone Speaking Up About the Trump Tower Meeting; Backlash Over Jussie Smollett Case; Rahm Emanuel Demanding Smollett Pay for Fees for the Hate Crimes He Alleged. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 28, 2019 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: The Mexicans are helping. They are great partners. Thank for them. They are offering people help.

She contradicted what you said tonight because you're not telling the truth. Just because you beat a felony rap doesn't mean you can run roughshod over what should matter for this country. That's

the reality on the border. We're going to keep talking about it because it matters.

I hope they're wrong -- I hope they're wrong about how bad it's going to be because you can't care once you have a body count, it's too late.

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

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: What you just said applies to so many different issues when it comes to this president and this administration. What is the truth and what's the not? People are confused about it, they don't know.

And the people at that rally who are cheering him on for saying, well, you know, they want to release these criminals. How does it -- what lawmaker, what person in their right mind wants to release criminals?

What lawmaker, Democrat, or Republican, or otherwise, wants there to be more crime in this country? It just does not make any sense. It is promoting fear. It's fearmongering.

CUOMO: It is fearmongering. And I'll tell you, I mean, I would answer the question this way. You tell me you've got a bunch of murderers and, you know, drug mules who are coming in illegally, and the wall will stop it? I'm all in, great.

Build the physical barriers. You want to tell me that the problem down there is that? You're a liar. Because the problem is kids. And that's what you hear from his officials that he put in place. And he didn't deal with it because it doesn't sell, Don.

Fear and anger sell in politics. He knew it during the election. He carried through with it on the wall. That's great, you got the wall. He should have done this too. He wrote about it in his emergency declaration. He didn't deliver on it. This is on him. He is they. The people who he says are going to let people go, that's him. Those are his people doing what they have to under his watch.

LEMON: It's tough listening to some of those sound bites. You know, I had, I listen to it because I have to. But there's so much propaganda and so many lies. And to -- we would spend -- if we -- let's just say that we ran that whole thing. We would spend more time than the president actually spoke, for an hour and whatever, just doing the fact checks, just correcting what he said, just explaining what he said or what he --


CUOMO: That's why his friends want the standard of behavior to be a felony or it's fine. That's why they're jumping up and down. That there's no crime, it's OK, move on.


CUOMO: Because that's what they're dealing with.

LEMON: That's why they want the summary. When you think about this. The Starr Report, this was 300 and some odd pages, they said.

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: The Starr Report was 400 pages.


LEMON: The Starr Report to my knowledge and we were both around then and lived it, on a Wednesday. You know when the public had the Starr Report? Minus the, you know, the underlying --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- all the evidence and sources and methods. On a Friday.


LEMON: Two days later.

CUOMO: Look, I'll give him -- I'll give him the grand jury. I don't see the exigency of tomorrow, you know, of needing it, but you got to get it as soon as you can get it.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: They may slow walk it for good and bad reasons. Good reasons, it takes time, you don't want to get a judge sideways on what they process and what they don't. And the bad reason is they want to slow walk it because they like this victory and they know there are bad things coming their way in that. How do they know? Barr told us.


CUOMO: Mueller couldn't make a call on obstruction. That means there has to be evidence of wrongdoing that he was worried about. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: That has to be true even on even with Russian interference. It has to be true with counterintelligence. There has to be wrongdoing. Did it rise to the level of a crime? Obviously not, at least on the one count.

LEMON: You know who else said that? The very smart and articulate judge on Fox News, Judge Napolitano said the same thing.

CUOMO: Italians, very savvy.

LEMON: You cannot want transparency -- we want -- the president, we want transparency, and someone needs to investigate the Smollett case and the people in Chicago but you can't -- and then not want transparency when it comes to the Mueller report.

CUOMO: Sure, you can, it's called politics.

LEMON: Well, yes.

CUOMO: That's why people are sick of it and they're OK with just about anything.


CUOMO: Because they expect nothing and they're never disappointed.

LEMON: Mr. Cuomo, I missed you last night. I hope you tuned in.

CUOMO: I didn't miss you, I watched you, I thought you did a good job. I thought it was robust.

LEMON: Great job.

CUOMO: I thought it was exactly what a town hall is supposed to be about.


CUOMO: I was happy to carry the load for you afterwards. You deserved the rest.

LEMON: Thank you. It was good because people get to hear directly from the candidate. And their questions, I think are always better than hours because they talk about what's important to them.

CUOMO: Yes. Yes, because there's no guesswork.


CUOMO: This is actually their lives. But boy, did Booker make you look small. Tiny. Little Don.

LEMON: Yes. I know. Little Don, that's going to be my new nickname. Thank you, both sides Cuomo. I'll see you. CUOMO: All right. I'll be watching tonight, great guests.

LEMON: Thank you.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

We've got to talk about what the president said just a little while ago at his MAGA rally in Michigan, a state he won in 2016. He needs to win it again in 2020. It is his first rally since the end of the Mueller investigation. And the president spoke for a whopping hour and 25 minutes saying exactly what you would expect him to say.


[22:05:01] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The collusion delusion is over.


TRUMP: The special counsel completed its report and found no collusion and no obstruction. Total exoneration. Complete vindication.


LEMON: So, he says it over and over and over. Which doesn't make it true. We know very little right now about what is actually in Robert Mueller's report. Just the summary. Handful of quotes and the attorney general's letter.

But we've got some important new details for you tonight. The primary obstacle to getting the full Mueller report is the grand jury information it includes. That is according to a Democratic staffer who says Congress may get a court order to release the information from the grand jury.

And we now know something else about the Mueller report that is really pretty significant. It's between 300 and 400 pages long. That's a question the DOJ declined to answer when we asked about it just two days ago.

But now we have some numbers from two separate sources. Here's why that's important, because it comes down to arithmetic, simple math. Let's take the low end of that estimate, OK?

Say the Mueller report is 300 pages long. Barr's summary letter is just four pages. With only a handful of quotes from Mueller. So why would anybody just accept the attorney general's summary, which is at best only a 1.33 percent of the length of Mueller's report? Why would they do that without seeing the full report?

The American people need to know what's in Mueller's report. You need to know what's in that report. This is your country. This is our country. Everyone needs to know what's in that report especially since the president continues to insist, falsely, that he has been completely exonerated. Even though he acknowledges he hasn't seen the report himself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Beautiful conclusion. But the result was great. No obstruction. No collusion. No anything.


LEMON: Guess what we know about that? That it's not true, what he just said. One of the few quotes, one of the few quotes from Mueller in Barr's letter says so. It directly contradicts what the president just said.

"While this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him."

And even though Mueller is quoted in Barr's letter as saying the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities, Americans aren't so sure about that.

How do I know? Because 56 percent in our CNN poll say the report does not exonerate the president on collusion. All the more reason that we should all see the full report. So, we know the facts rather than relying on the attorney general's summary.

That is certainly what Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks.


NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I have said and I'll say again, no, thank you, Mr. Attorney General, we do not need your interpretation. Show us -- show us the report. And we can draw our own conclusions. We don't need you interpreting for us. It was condescending. It was arrogant. And it wasn't the right thing to do.

So, the sooner they can give us the information, the sooner we can all make a judgment about it.


LEMON: But as the president falsely claims, as he claims he was totally exonerated, his congressional allies are on the attack against one of his harshest critics, Congressman Adam Schiff who chairs the House intel committee.

The nine Republican members of that committee calling on Schiff to resign. But guess what? He's definitely not backing down. Listen to his heated response today.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: My colleagues may think it's OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign. You might think that's OK. My colleagues might think it's OK that when that was offered to the

son of the president, who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president's son did not call the FBI, he did not adamantly refuse that foreign help.

[22:09:57] No, instead that son said that he would love the help of the Russians. You might think it's OK that he took that meeting. You might say that's all OK. You might say that's just what you need to do to win.

But I don't think it's OK. I think it's immoral. I think it's unethical. I think it's unpatriotic. And yes, I think it's corrupt. And evidence of collusion.


LEMON: That made a whole lot of people mad. Are you going to let us talk? Are you going to yield your time? No. Man. Crazy.

Well, you should know tonight I'm going to talk to the man who set up that infamous Trump tower meeting right here on this show in just a moment, Rob Goldstone. He's going to be here in just a few minutes. But there is something else that the president wanted to talk about tonight. Jussie Smollett.


TRUMP: How about in Chicago, he said --


TRUMP: -- he said he was attacked by MAGA country. Did you ever hear that one?


TRUMP: Maybe the only time I've ever agreed with the mayor of Chicago, ever. That's a terrible situation. That's an embarrassment not only to Chicago. That is an embarrassment to our country, what took place there. Remember that. But they're looking at it.


LEMON: Transparency in Chicago. Investigate, release the records. But when it comes to the Mueller report, no, no, summary is good.

By the way, I'm pretty sure that Rahm Emanuel wouldn't say that he agrees with the president. But the city of Chicago wants more than $130,000 from Jussie Smollett to cover the cost of the investigation into his claim that he was attacked in a hate crime. Here's Rahm Emanuel, the mayor.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, (D) CHICAGO: When he does pay the city back, I'm just purely -- what the taxpayers have fronted. In that memo section he can write, I'm sorry and I'm accountable for what I've done.


LEMON: Well, tonight you should know, you should stick around, remember the witnesses and the people and that surveillance tape, they were trying to figure out who they are were and they caught up with them and they turned out to be brothers who he knew from the set, and they are Americans, they are Nigerians, it went on and on. Remember that?

Well, I'm going to talk to the attorney for the brothers who police say were paid, police say were paid by Jussie Smollett to stage the attack. You don't want to miss that interview.

And I just told you the man who set up that infamous Trump tower meeting with Russians, he is speaking out tonight. His name is Rob Goldstone. He's going to be here on-set with me, next.


LEMON: Tonight, the man who so set up the infamous Trump tower meeting between members of team Trump and Russians is speaking out. Before we talk to him, let me just refresh your memory, though, OK?

On June 3rd, 2016, publicist Rob Goldstone who represented singer and businessman singer Emin Agalarov e-mail Donald trump, Jr., writing in part, "The crown prosecutor of Russia met with his father, Aras, this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but it's part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump."

In less than 20 minutes later Donald Trump, Jr. responds, writing in part, "if it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer."

Rob Goldstone joins me now. He is the author of "Pop Stars, Pageants, and Presidents: How an E-mail Trumped My Life."

Thank you, sir, I appreciate you joining us here. So, you know that many people see this letter as an attempt at collusion, right? And they thought it was evidence of collusion. Are they wrong?



GOLDSTONE: And people say to me, was I surprised by what we've learned so far from the Mueller report, i.e. no collusion. I always thought, if my e-mail and the subsequent meeting at Trump tower formed a cornerstone of that investigation and collusion, then this would be the finding they would have, because I know why I wrote the e-mail the way I did, and I know what went on in that meeting because I happened to be there. LEMON: You think it was a cornerstone or just not possible evidence

of one attempt at collusion? Because remember, Mueller's report never said they found no evidence of collusion. They said the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government. And that's -- that means didn't meet the legal threshold.

GOLDSTONE: I think, you know, there are people that are far smarter than me and far higher pay grades than me that have spent two years investigating this.

All I know is what I know and it's what I've testified five times, I've spoken to the grand jury, I've been on Capitol Hill, I've spoken to the Mueller team. On each occasion I felt that the story needed context. And when people understood the context, the collusion side of it became less important.

LEMON: So, let me ask you this before we go on. Because what we do know, because of the -- this is one of the quotes from Robert Mueller in the summary letter, that Russians did interfere in the election, do you feel or have some regret that you may have helped them in that?

GOLDSTONE: You know, I've been asked in the past, what, if anything, do I regret. I regret two things. One is that I sent the e-mail. Let's be really clear. If I could wind the clock back, when I tried to discourage my client from having me do this, I should have fought maybe a bit harder.

And I would read later that he told other people that he also had doubts about setting up this meeting. If he had even had an inkling of that, if I had had an inkling that he thought that, I would have fought back.

[22:20:02] The second thing I regret is naming Hillary Clinton, because it really had nothing to do with Hillary. If Joe Biden had been the candidate, if you had been the candidate, it would have been your name that I used.

LEMON: But you said it was hyperbole, but still you did, you mentioned the candidate you said it was damaging and there was a Russian connection.

Can I -- I want to read something from your Washington Post, you wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post tonight explaining yourself. And in it you say that you would have said anything to set up that meeting. But why would you say that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in an effort to support Trump? Of all things, why would you choose that?

GOLDSTONE: Because I didn't make up the e-mail. I made the scant details that my client had gave -- given me better or worse, depending on which side you're on. I knew that --


LEMON: OK. Let me ask you, but let me ask you. Why did you think that would appeal to anyone in Trump's orbit? GOLDSTONE: Because as a publicist, I pitch people all the time. I

have done for almost 30 years. If I pitched you on somebody for your show and said, they're OK, it's OK, it's kind of interesting, you wouldn't even read the e-mail.

If I puffed it up, you'd probably read it. And to me, the most important line that I wrote in that e-mail was maybe, to Don Junior, you should just speak with Emin about this directly.

And when he responded, "If it's what you said it is, I love it." I take that differently to people. I thought, thank God. It's "if it's what you say it is, I love it."

I thought he's getting it, that I have no idea what I'm really talking about. And then he goes, "you're right, perhaps I'll just speak with Emin." As soon as that was said, I didn't care anymore. I thought, let those two people sort it out. All I've been asked to do is to create a meeting.

LEMON: I have to -- I don't think that makes much sense.

GOLDSTONE: It makes sense to me. I hype an e-mail based on scant information that my client has given me which, again, is public record. He had said to me -- it was an attorney who was well- connected. I pushed back a couple of times, what does well-connected mean? Well-connected.

And I said flippantly, connected to what? The power grid? It's obvious to me who this attorney is connected to. So then if this attorney, as I'm then told, has potentially damaging information about illegal Russian funding to the Democrats and their candidate's campaign, well, the rest of it I puffed up. But I didn't make it up. I puffed those facts up.

LEMON: OK. So, you're saying, Rob, that you were --


GOLDSTONE: I was a publicist.

LEMON: OK. I get that. But I don't mean this in a derogatory way, that you were ignorant of the outcome, and of the severity of what you were writing. But then you say, I knew enough about what I was writing that they would entertain it, I knew exactly -- because you said they were doing -- the Russian government was supporting -- who would think that?

GOLDSTONE: I would, because I was in Russia with Donald Trump during Miss Universe. I saw how he charmed this rumored the sternest-looking Russians I had ever seen in my life, they were like something out of Central Casting.

I've been to Russia many times. I had seen on TV what Putin had said about Trump and what Trump had said about Putin. And I'm entitled, I believe to my own opinion, in what was a private e-mail from me, a private citizen, to Donald Trump, Jr., who I've met I think twice who was a private citizen, and whose father against all odds, there was as much chance of Donald Duck becoming president as Donald Trump in most people's opinion.

LEMON: OK. So, I have to say this. I'm not a publicist. But I would know if I sent to an official campaign, an official candidate, and I'm mentioning a foreign government, I would know enough, like this could really get me in trouble because if this actually happens, this is something that people turn over to law enforcement.

GOLDSTONE: Two things. I did not know that. I did not even think that for one second. Am I saying that's good? No, I've never said that. But I didn't think that.

And also, I didn't -- I'm trying to say this without sounding derogatory. I never considered Don Junior really a part of the campaign. You may have seen it. I get it, it's in public testimony.

I questioned whether I should send it to Mr. Trump via some method, whether it's his assistant. And then I decided to go way down on the food chain and I chose Don Junior because I've met him a couple of times, to run it past him enough to put it him in touch with my client. So I didn't consider that I was sending it to the official --


LEMON: You didn't think he had enough juice with his own father to --


GOLDSTONE: This is what I think. I think I was ignorant and oblivious and I think if I had to guess, he was marginally more or marginally less ignorant and oblivious than I was.

[22:25:01] But there was a campaign chairman in that meeting. I don't mean to throw Paul Manafort under a bus because he threw himself under his own bus, but I do think that, people say all the time, how could you, Rob Goldstone, publicist from England who works in the music industry, not know this was potentially a crime?

The chairman of the campaign was in that meeting.

LEMON: And his son-in-law.

GOLDSTONE: Shouldn't one of them have said, you can't do this? And Rob Goldstone would have gone, that's interesting, stop.

LEMON: Yes. Well, that's kind of my point. What do you think? Should they have said that?

GOLDSTONE: Well, knowing what I know now, yes.


GOLDSTONE: And I know you're like -- and I know -- I know it sounds ludicrous.


GOLDSTONE: And that's why people on social media vilify me.

LEMON: OK. I get that. And that's awful when people do that. By the way, don't read social media.


LEMON: I mean, you know, it's the --


GOLDSTONE: I'll read it the minute I go off the air.

LEMON: But listen, so the reason I said that, because, shouldn't they know better, they probably -- they should have turned it over to law enforcement officials. And I think Barr thinks so too. That's why -- that's why people say, maybe there it didn't rise to the level of criminality, but it was an attempt at collusion.

In Barr's letter he said, "multiple offers from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign." Do you think that you did -- that what you did was right, and that if it's not criminal, you think it was right to do?

GOLDSTONE: I think having sat in on the meeting, that it was a classic case of a bait and switch. And when people say everyone told lies about it being about adoption and how could it be about adoption, what I've learned since that meeting and in the last two years, adoptions is a huge part of the Magnitsky Act. As you may know, it's the sanction that Russia put in place.

Well, at the time I've never heard of Magnitsky or an act. So, adoption to me sounded strange. But it's the only thing I took away from that meeting. The only thing I remembered.

So, if someone had said to me what was that meeting about, I would have said adoption. It was weird, but it was about adoptions.

LEMON: Why was it weird?

GOLDSTONE: Well, because the premise of my e-mail based on Emin's facts was this lawyer had something to say about funding to the Democrats. What's that got to do with adoptions?

As it so happens, it had everything to do with it because what she said was that people like Bill Browder and the Ziff Brothers were funding illegally to the Democrats. And I would later learn that they were the architects of the Magnitsky Act. So, it does complete the circle. It just makes no sense to people when taken out of context.

LEMON: OK. So, when all of this was happening, and apparently, you know, the president would allegedly helped them draft a letter saying that it was about adoption, the Magnitsky Act, were you saying, something is not sitting right here in the moment? Did you --


GOLDSTONE: No. I didn't, because again, and I know it's hard for people to understand. If someone had put a gun to my head and said what was that meeting about, I would have said it was about adoptions also.

LEMON: Are you aware of any other Russian offers or attempts to assist the Trump campaign?


LEMON: You're not? All right. I want you to take a listen to this. This is the chairman of the House intelligence committee. This is what he said today.


SCHIFF: My colleagues may think it's OK that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as the Russian government's effort to help the Trump campaign.

You might think that's OK.

My colleagues might think it's OK that when that was offered to the son of the president who had a pivotal role in the campaign, that the president's son did not call the FBI. He did not adamantly refuse that foreign help.

No, instead that son said that he would love the help of the Russians. I think it's immoral. I think it's unethical. I think it's unpatriotic.


LEMON: What do you think?

GOLDSTONE: I've seen that a few times today. One of the things that strikes me whenever people say it, in this case it happens to be a politician, is that they state what is in my e-mail without stating that I've explained in great detail, much greater detail than we've had time today, including to Congressman Schiff's committee, why I wrote what I wrote, what it was based on, and that it isn't what they thought it was.

So, it's almost like you're saying something -- it would be like me saying you're wearing a gray suit and you putting on a blue jacket on it and I'm saying, Don, a gray suit is great.

It's not -- I've already explained why that was, that it wasn't some official outreach from the Russian government as far as I was giving it. I had given my explanation why those words were used the way they were used.

LEMON: OK, I get that. That's on your behalf. But as you said, someone who is, the campaign manager, the chairman of the campaign who happened to be in the meeting and other people, one would think that they would know better.

[22:30:03] And now that you're on the other side, once you realize that, you don't think that's evidence that they were trying to get dirt and in a way conspire in some way to -- for help for the Russians?

GOLDSTONE: I would have thought that if I hadn't ended up attending the meeting. People say to me, weren't you mad that you were asked to stay because I was never supposed to be there? I am actually glad I stayed, because I heard what was said. So what I'm saying is if this was a bait and switch, that whether (Inaudible) chose to or didn't know enough to tell me what it was really about.

The dangling of the carrot about the funding to Hillary's campaign was still all to do with Magnitsky. I just didn't know that at the time.

LEMON: Do you think you were a dupe? And I will explain in just one second why I ask you that.

GOLDSTONE: I don't know. And I hoped that either the Mueller report, which remember, none of us have seen, we've seen these four pages or whatever, or one of these congressional committees. And I have to say, I never thought that until I heard the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, say I am an informant. And I nearly fell off my chair.

I was like, wait. Well, that could mean everything I wrote and I puffed up may have been 100 percent correct, but I didn't know that.

LEMON: So you hope the Mueller report shows that you were a dupe?

GOLDSTONE: No. I hope the Mueller report will show, if there was something untoward, that I don't know about it.

LEMON: OK, so listen. The reason I asked you that is because there were people on television. There were people out there in the media who were, you know, on the president's behalf that were saying, well, they knew nothing. It was nothing. For one example, Rudy Giuliani was asked by Chuck Todd about that meeting. And he said, you know, you ask me (Inaudible) do you think that they knew anything about Russians.

And then he responded, and I am paraphrasing here, I just think that she had a Russian name and they knew nothing about her. You would know at that point that he's lying because of what you said. That didn't set off any alarm bells for you. Whoa, wait a minute, there's a whole lot of lying going on here?

GOLDSTONE: As I have said, over the course of the two years. I have heard things said, including by the attorney herself that caused me to kind of go, wait a second. And one them -- probably the most major one for me was this person saying I am an informant. There was also a report, I think in the New York Times, that (Inaudible) she shown her report to some official in Russia.

Well, I didn't know any of that. So that makes me think who were these people? I didn't know who they were. But I didn't need to know. According to my client as kept saying, it doesn't matter. All I am asking you to do is set up a meeting.

LEMON: Did you -- lightning round, if you can. Do you think the full Mueller report should be released?

GOLDSTONE: I think when those of us that did the grand jury, I believe you're assured that this is confidential and private and confidential. So I understand why there are issues with that. But outside of that, yes.

LEMON: Yeah. Did you think you were going to go to prison? Did you think that you would suffer consequences from this?

GOLDSTONE: I thought --


LEMON: Besides the social media backlash and sleepless nights?


LEMON: You did not.


LEMON: You said when the Mueller report came out or the Mueller report and the letter from Bob Barr, from the Attorney General William Barr, you said what. It was the first time you --

GOLDSTONE: It's the first time in about 500 nights that I had slept without this feeling of being scared. And it wasn't being scared for something I had done. It was scared of the unknown. When you live your life under a microscope for almost two years, and we live in a social media world where things are said all the time and then they're picked up by mainstream media outlets, I have been called everything from a KGB puppet to a Democratic plant to sabotage Trump.

So the reality is -- and it was actually your colleague, Chris Cuomo, that said it one day when I tuned in almost 18 months ago. I was a publicist doing my job. And if you speak to a thousand publicists, you'll get a thousand amazing stories of where they've gone over and above what anybody would expect to keep their clients happy.

LEMON: But not breaking the law -- you know?

GOLDSTONE: It's not breaking the law.


GOLDSTONE: It's sending an e-mail. It wasn't breaking the law.

LEMON: You can read Rob Goldstone's account of what it's been like for him in the Washington Post. And you can also read his book. It's called Pop Stars, Pageants, and Presidents, How An Email Trumped My Life, again, by Rob Goldstone. Thank you.

GOLDSTONE: Pleasure. LEMON: I appreciate your time. The president taking a victory lap

tonight, saying, "The collusion delusion is over." But we still haven't seen the full Mueller report. Should the president be reserving judgment until we actually get the contents of the report, especially since he said that he wouldn't mind if the American people got to see it?


LEMON: Rob Goldstone, the publicist who set up the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians, a meeting he said would provide dirt on Hillary Clinton. He is speaking out tonight. You heard what he has to say. Now, let's hear what they have to say now. Ryan Lizza is here, Kirsten Powers, and John Dean. Good evening, everyone. So give me -- Kirsten, start with you.

Give me your reaction of what you heard from the man who set up that infamous Trump Tower meeting.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the biggest takeaway I had from it was, at a bare minimum, you had Donald Jr. and Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, being receptive to a meeting with somebody representing, whether -- as he claims, maybe it was bogus. Maybe it was just to get in the door. But the thing we're open to a meeting where someone tied to the Russian government was going to give them, "dirt on Hillary Clinton."

Now, that's not a crime. But it's very, very shady behavior. It's very problematic behavior. And, you know, I don't think it's something that completely exonerates the Trump organization, that that happened.

LEMON: So, you know, it's not a crime, according to Kirsten. I am not an attorney, John. But if you're on the other end of that and you're receiving this information, and you know it is a hostile foreign entity, and you're having a meeting. And there are direct relations to the Russian government, what does that say?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it says more than Rob has said to you. His e-mail really says it all. They're responding to his e- mail, which was obviously passed around. And as a result, people like Paul Manafort showed up at the meeting. He certainly knew that dealing with a foreign government was not something you do in a U.S. campaign. He's an old hand at this.

But yet, he was interested in coming to the meeting. It may well be that Rob was a cutout, as he describes himself. The Mueller report certainly tracked on beyond him to his clients and got some answers that we don't know.

LEMON: I was sitting there, and, you know, I hate to do all this what-about-ism, but I was just thinking. I just wonder if this was an associate or someone who was connected to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the same thing had happened. I just wonder what the other side would be saying.

POWERS: Yeah. I don't think you have to really wonder that much. Yeah, it would be massive.

LEMON: Imagine that. But this is nothing at all.


RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Actually when the e-mail investigation ended and Comey wrote a 300-page report and gave it to Loretta Lynch, and Loretta Lynch put out a four-page press release, saying there's no crime here, everyone. Let's move on to the next thing. Imagine what people on the right would say.


[22:39:58] LEMON: Nothing. We should take her at her word, don't you think? I am being facetious.


LIZZA: What I find most incredible about Rob was that he's open to the idea that he was a dupe. He's open to the idea. And when he learned that this lawyer, according to what he told you tonight, said that she was an informant, and he learned a little bit more about her background in the Russian system, he did think, well, maybe I was put up to something here.


LEMON: But that's someone who can be honest, I think and examine their own behavior. And someone who has been through this and come on and take those questions, because not many people are -- will come on and do that. There are people who are associated with the Trump campaign or administration that are afraid to come on, because they know the show is about truth. They won't do it, because they're afraid of what the truth will expose.

I got to ask you before we go on. He said -- what he said did about Don Jr., basically saying Don Jr. is not that bright. And he's either a little bit -- that was kind of surprising.

LIZZA: (Inaudible) his oh, this was no big deal because I went to Don Jr. and he's a nobody. I actually don't quite buy that. I mean he's the president's don. Everyone knows he was involved with the campaign. So that I found less credible than some of the other things he said. And look, the responsibility was not with Rob not to take this to the Trump.

The responsibility was for the Trump people to say we don't take meetings with Russian agents offering dirt. We go to the FBI.

LEMON: That I asked John about. What did you want to say, Kirsten?

POWERS: That's what exactly what I was going to say. It doesn't really matter what he was trying to bring to them or what he was promising to bring to them, or whether he had anything or not. It's what they thought he was bringing to them. LEMON: Exactly. It's how they reacted to him, and that they didn't

turn it over to law enforcement. John, here is what the president had to say about the investigations by Congress. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have to now decide whether they will continue defrauding the public with ridiculous bullshit, partisan investigations, or whether they will apologize to the American people, and join us to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. Bring down the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, which we're doing incredibly. Help us fix our broken trade deals.


LEMON: John, ridiculous BS, redemption, apologize, what's your response, John Dean?

DEAN: Everything he says, the opposite is the truth. It's just remarkable. This business of the Democrats need to apologize, he's the one that needs to apologize. He doesn't get it yet. And I hope the Democrats don't back off. We don't have the Mueller report. We need it. They're covering up at this point. We've -- it's been around for six days.

I am quite confident that when Mueller prepared that, he's probably got an annotated copy. He knows where everything came from. And they can very easily clean it up and put it out. And we don't even know how long it is for sure. We know it is 300 pages plus. And I read today on CNN that it may go as high as a thousand words, so there's a lot of information we need...


LEMON: A thousand pages?

DEAN: It could be a thousand pages, yes. But I think he's going to have to back off on this celebration he's on, taking victory laps. It's going to wear thin very quickly. And he's going to be caught short on it.

LEMON: All right. Thank you. That's all we have time for. I appreciate your time, everyone.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: There's been a lot of backlash since prosecutors dropped charges against Jussie Smollett, including from the president tonight. We're going to speak to someone at the center of the investigation, the lawyer who worked with the brothers, who said they helped stage the alleged attack. She joins me next.


LEMON: President Trump blasting Jussie Smollett at his rally tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: How about in Chicago? He said he was attacked by MAGA country. Did you ever hear that one?


LEMON: Well, that's after Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, sent Smollett a bill for over $130,000 thousand to cover the resources used in the investigation of Smollett's claims of a hate crime. So Gloria Schmidt is here. She is the attorney who worked with the Osundairo brothers. Police allege Jussie Smollett paid them to stage an attack on him in January.

Gloria, thank you so much for joining us. So let's talk about this. The president says that this case is an embarrassment. What do you make of the charges being dropped?

GLORIA SCHMIDT, ATTORNEY WHO WORKED WITH THE OSUNDAIRO BROTHERS: Well, you know, I have to agree with the characterization of this being an embarrassment. I originally, OK, was planning on going on spring break with my family. We were literally in my living room packing. I had told the state's attorney, you know, I am going on spring break with my family.

You know, I will see you next week. I had just been in touch with them a few days ago, OK? And then I see the news on, you know, just like everyone else, and was baffled, baffled.

LEMON: So you got no warning. And correct me if I am wrong. The brothers, who you represented, were they cooperating witnesses. And if they were, one would think that they would be notified of any changes in this case, am I wrong?

SCHMIDT: Well, they were cooperating witnesses to the extent that they were witnesses and they wanted to cooperate. But I don't want that to get confused with, like, a cooperation agreement. There wasn't any kind of deal or plea deal or immunity offered. But they were witnesses who were fully committed to cooperating. And they had -- nothing had changed. And Don, something that I don't think -- I am sorry go ahead.

LEMON: You said something you don't think what?

SCHMIDT: (Inaudible) something -- I don't think many people realize this. But I had just been in touch with the state's attorney's office just days ago. They had assigned a victim advocate for each of my clients. We were going to be present at the April 17th hearing. I had a front row seat at the March 7th hearing. So this was something that they were coordinating with us.

[22:50:13] So for the state's attorney's office to not give my clients and me, at that time, any notice of these proceedings, it's very un-courteous.

LEMON: OK. So listen, we -- our time is short here, because we have so much news. If you can answer quickly, the brothers stand behind their story.


LEMON: Right? Do they stand behind their story that...


LEMON: -- that they were paid to do this -- $3,500 check to stage this event. You told Anderson Cooper that that check was for training services. And then you told George Stephanopoulos...

SCHMIDT: It was for both.

LEMON: OK. It was for both.

SCHMIDT: It was for both. It was for both. Yes, they stand behind the fact that Jussie had also promised them $500 when they came back from Nigeria for their role in this attack.

LEMON: So they never recanted their story?

SCHMIDT: They never recanted their story.

LEMON: Do they face the possibility of charges? Are they going to be charged in this case, because if he didn't...

SCHMIDT: No, because they didn't...

LEMON: Then...

SCHMIDT: I mean what charges could they face? Because they were not -- they did not commit a hate crime. They did not stalk Jussie out and attack him for his sexual orientation or for his race. This was completely a publicity stunt that my clients had trusted with their friend. And once this got so big and they saw that this was affecting so many people.

They stood up and said we're not going to be part of this fraud. And that's what happened. And they were committed to doing that.

LEMON: One more thing before I let you go. One of the attorneys said that the brothers could have been wearing whiteface that night?

SCHMIDT: I heard that. And I think that's absolutely just atrocious. It adds to, I think, why people are giving lawyers a bad name. It's to distract from the real issues here. And by putting out conspiracy theories that, perhaps, my clients were wearing whiteface, it just adds to the ridiculous and the offensiveness of this entire thing.

LEMON: Gloria Schmidt, thank you for your time.

SCHMIDT: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. We've got a lot more to talk about when it comes to the Jussie Smollett case. A former Cook County prosecutor is going to break it all down next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:54:56] LEMON: So back with the latest on the Jussie Smollett case. Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, wants Jussie Smollett to pay more than $130,000 to cover the resources used in the investigation into Smollett's claims of a hate crime. The Illinois attorney general has also been asked to review the handling of the case.

Joining me now, someone who knows full well his way around a courtroom, knows about the charges. He was there when the charges were dropped. His name is Andrew Weisberg. He's criminal defense attorney and a Cook County prosecutor. Am I correct? Were you there when the charges were dropped?


LEMON: Good evening to you. Thank you so much. So let's talk about this. So what in the world is going on here? The Cook County state's attorney issued a statement, saying -- this is Kim Foxx, did not formally recuse herself from the Smollett case, rather she informally separated herself from the decision-making. What does that mean?

WEISBERG: Well, that's confusing. Because my initial interpretation was that she recused herself and was going to completely stay out of the matter. And then apparently, now she's back in at least on the back end discussing the case. So I was there at the time that this happened, just happened to be in the courtroom. And when I heard the decision to drop the charges, I was stunned and my jaw dropped.

LEMON: Why, because you had never heard anything like it? Why?

WEISBERG: Well, I have dealt with many cases like this that end in a similar fashion. It's not uncommon in Cook County for the state's attorney's office to offer some sort of pretrial diversion program. But generally, the program that they run is a one-year program. So you accept this, and you have to earn it through the period of one year.

Stay out of trouble. Go to court once every three months. See a probation officer, community service. And if you complete it after nine months to a year, then the charges are dropped. The pace in which this case was dismissed is something I've almost never seen before.

LEMON: So Andrew, then what happened here? What do you think happened, because no one seems to understand?

WEISBERG: Well, I don't know that I do, either. I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how we got here. What really puzzles me is that the case was set initially for April 17th. And they decided to advance the case, run in early on March 26th or whatever the exact was, and dismiss the case kind of quietly. So that raises some questions.

I don't believe anything nefarious took place. I don't think anything corrupt took place. But there's some explanation for why this had to be so quickly dismissed. And I just have not been able to figure it out yet.

LEMON: Andrew Weisberg, thank you. I appreciate your time.

WEISBERG: Any time, Don. Thank you.

LEMON: The president is railing against Jussie Smollett tonight. Why Smollett is his latest favorite target and what it signals to his base.


LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I am Don Lemon. The city of Chicago going after Empire actor, Jussie Smollett, demanding he pay more than $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation into his claims that he was the victim of a hate crime. Smollett was charged with staging the attack against himself. But prosecutors dropped all the charges against him on Tuesday, stunning just about everyone, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel.