Return to Transcripts main page
The System Is Rigged When Votes Go To Opposition Party; Democrats Want To See Full Mueller Report Without Redactions; Federal Prosecutors Say A Woman Illegally Entered President Trump's Mar-a- Lago; Two GOP Attorneys General Call For Court To Uphold Obamacare; The President Pedaling Paranoia. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired April 2, 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] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We begin this hour with breaking news. The President of the United States falsely implying tonight that Republicans lost because last fall's midterm elections were rigged. Elections in which Democrats took back the House of Representatives in a big blue wave. Here's what he told a group of congressional Republicans this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to watch those vote tallies. You know, I keep hearing about the election and the various counting measures that they have. They were a lot of close elections that were -- they seemed to every single one of them, went Democrat. It was close.
They say the Democrat -- there's something going on. Hey, you got to be a little bit more paranoid than you are, but we have a be a little bit careful because I don't like the way the votes are being tallied. I don't like it, and you don't like it either. You just don't want to say it because you're afraid of the press.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, let's remember President Trump also falsely claimed the results of the 2016 presidential election were rigged, even though he won the Electoral College and therefore the Office of the President. But Hillary Clinton beat him by almost three million votes in the popular vote count. Doesn't want to go there. He doesn't like that.
I want to bring in Max Boot, though. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." And you know it's got to be rigged because he didn't win the popular vote. I mean, you know, there were thousands of people --
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Exactly.
LEMON: -- illegally voting and on and on and on. Max, good evening to you.
LEMON: The president implying this, he's done it before about, you know, as I said in 2016, but implying the 2018 midterms are somehow illegitimate and telling Republicans that they should be suspicious of upcoming elections. Give me your reaction.
BOOT: Well, I thought one of the ironies of the president's remarks, Don, was that he told Republicans they needed to be more paranoid. This is on the same evening when the President of the United States said that the noise from wind farms causes cancer.
Now, needless to say, there is zero evidence for any vote fraud carried out by Democrats in the 2018 elections just as there is zero evidence that wind farms cause cancer. So, I would say the president is plenty paranoid enough as it is. If he gets even more paranoid, he's going to be hearing aliens talking to him through his tooth fillings.
I mean, this is very disturbing what he is saying. Because on one level, you know, you can sort of say it's just Trump being Trump, he does says stuff. He doesn't mean he doesn't know what he's talking about. But this is the President of the United States, Don, calling into question the legitimacy of our elections.
That is very dangerous thing to do, and it makes me wonder is he setting it up for 2020 in case he loses for him to claim that he was somehow robbed or the elections are illegitimate. That is something that is incredibly dangerous. You could see the potential for violence there.
He is really undermining one of the core principles of our democratic system, which is that the losers accept the legitimacy of the election and congratulate the winner. And he's refusing to abide by the rules here.
LEMON: So, let's talk about this. And as I mentioned he's done it before. He has been -- he's been pushing the lie of a rigged election system for years now.
His own, remember this, and you know well, his own presidential advisory commission on election integrity was the name. That commission was forced to disband when they could not produce any evidence of election fraud. So why does he keep renewing this charge now?
BOOT: Well, that's a great question, Don. I think it comes down to fact that he has basically authoritarian instincts. He does not really believe in democracy per se. he only believes in elections when they sanctify his rule.
And I mean, you have this bizarre instance after 2016 when he actually won the election and he was still calling it into question because his ego could not take the fact that he lost the popular vote. I mean, he is really playing with fire here. Remember he's not just calling into question with the legitimacy of
our Democratic process, he is also flirted with inciting violence. In fact, just last month he was talking about how he has so much support with biker gangs, and the police and the army and they'll play very rough if the liberals don't cut it out.
I mean, this is a very menacing and dangerous message to send right before a massive presidential election that's going to be very emotional, that's going to be very hotly contested.
[23:04:56] There has to be some kind of guarantee here that if Trump in fact loses that he will accept the legitimacy of that outcome, something he refused to say in 2016. When he was asked about it in a presidential debate, he would not say that he would accept the outcome if he lost.
Now he's the president and in charge of our entire Democratic system, and he still refuses to accept the legitimacy of the system that he presides over.
LEMON: You know, he also said that he called Chinese President Xi Jinping a king during a 2017 visit to China, and that the leader liked it. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was in China making a speech. President Xi, who's a strong man, I call him king, he said, but I am not king, I am president. I said, no, you're a president for life, and, therefore, you're king. He said, huh, huh. He liked that. I call him king. I get along with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Listen, I get it, you know, that to me appeared to be that he was joking sort of tongue and cheek. But, you know, he has joked for being president for like before, we've talked a lot about how he seems to envy dictators. I don't know, is this more of the same or do you think he was cracking a joke there?
BOOT: Well, with the comments about President Xi I think it was kind of a joke. But remember that jokes can also reveal deeper truths. They're a way that we can say things that are considered socially unacceptable.
And I mean, what he was basically saying is he would like to be a dictator, he would like to stay in power. Now I don't think he's going to be able to do that because we do have a democratic system.
But I think it is actually a very dangerous kind of comment to be making here because remember what happens in November of 2020 if Trump loses, is he going to go gracefully or is he going to claim that there was massive voter fraud and call on his followers to take to the streets to prevent the deep state from stealing the election?
I mean, that a real question. And not because I don't -- you know, I don't think there's any chance that Trump can stay declare himself president for life or stay in the Oval Office.
And definitely, but he can certainly insight his followers. He has a lot of crazy followers. I mean, remember it was just a few days ago that one of his followers Cesar Sayoc pleaded guilty to sending pipe bombs to CNN and to various political opponents of President Trump.
And this is, you know, I think reacting to some of the very incendiary kind of language that the attacks that the president makes on his opponents as being traitors and evil doers, that is very dangerous thing to do.
There is a reason why no previous presidents have talked like this. Because precious presidents have had a greater sense of responsibility, and they understand that what they're -- that engaging in this kind of rhetoric is deeply irresponsible to the country and that's possibly inciting violence. But Trump just doesn't care.
LEMON: Well, I hope it doesn't insight violence. Because we know if you believe in the Constitution and you're a true patriot then you believe in the peaceful transition of power.
Max Boot, thank you. I appreciate your insight.
BOOT: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: I want to bring in now Andrew Gillum. He is the former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida who was a Democratic nominee for governor in Florida. That was just last fall. Also joining me now Mike Shields, the former chief of staff of Reince Priebus at the RNC.
Gentlemen, good evening. Thank you so much.
MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR REINCE PRIEBUS: Good evening.
LEMON: So, Mike, I have to ask you.
FORMER MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM (D), TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA: Good evening.
LEMON: Why does the president keep pushing this lie to undermine people's faith in a fair election and telling the GOP to be paranoid about vote counting?
SHIELDS: Well, look, I'm surprised that people are disagreeing with him. I mean Stacey Abrams still hasn't conceded, and in Florida. The mayor can -- the former mayor can talk about this. The Democrats after the election descended thousands of people down there, hundreds of lawyers to go and challenge the election because they didn't think it was a fair election and they challenged the actual Florida state laws that they ran the election under, so they didn't even like the laws.
In North Carolina, the Democrats are very upset because of ballot harvesting. We now have special election, as the election was overturned, and yet they got the Democrats passed the law in Arizona and passed the law in California to create ballot harvesting.
So, what I think is interesting is Democrats are sort of against President Trump talking about ballot security when they want to attack him, and then when it suits them, they are really for ballot security and they think we should have tons of ballot security in places like Georgia and Florida.
And so, the hypocrisy of this is sort of astounding, and I think we should have ballot security, everything. And think that's what President Trump is saying.
LEMON: OK. So, you are agreeing with the president that Republicans lost because it was rigged?
SHIELDS: What I'm saying is he raised an important issue that we should have people checked to verify that they're actually citizens before they vote and that we know that they're registered to voting and they're voting in the right precinct. Some basic tenets of understand who the voters are is a sound way to approach elections. And I think a lot of people across both parties should agree with that.
LEMON: Andrew Gillum, go ahead. I know you want to get in.
GILLUM: Well, I actually want to agree that if the president wants to ensure to free and fair elections, elections where votes that are illegally cast are legally counted, then let's get at it.
First, he should begin in North Carolina where the Republican ended up having to pull himself out of the race because of ballot stuffing that took place in that election.
[23:09:58] In the state of Georgia where my good friend Stacey Abrams was cheated out of her race. You had the candidate for governor on the Republican side playing referee and also being a player on the field at the same time, --
LEMON: He was in charge of the election actually.
GILLUM: -- for hundreds of thousands of voters. Also not only just purging those voters but changing voting precincts, making it more difficult for voters of color to vote. And then when we finished in those two states, we should head to Wisconsin where during a lame duck session Republicans then passed a legislation make it harder for people to get access to the ballot box.
And then we can go to Michigan. We're doing a lame duck session they did the same thing in Florida. We can go to my home state and deal with the unfortunate situation where people who have had their ballots invalidated due to signature mismatch because their signature this year didn't match the one from the year before.
So, if we want to talk about how it is that we ensure fair and free elections and elections that stamp out voter fraud then we should do it, but the president needs to start in his own house first.
LEMON: All of these are examples, Mike, of where Republicans won. SHIELDS: Look, the interesting thing about what the former mayor just
brought up was North Carolina. In California the practice that got that election overturned is legal. It's called ballot harvesting. It means that I can walk down the street and grab people's mailed ballots, and put them in my pocket and go and cast them for them.
And the Democrats in their legislature passed a law to allow ballot harvesting in California. They also passed one in Arizona. The Republicans challenged it, and we lost.
LEMON: Yes. Mike, listen --
SHIELDS: And so, this is what the Democrats -- the Democrats are fine with ballot harvesting in California and Arizona but they don't like it in North Carolina.
LEMON: OK. We're actually giving you're debating this like there's some legitimacy to what the president is saying about the 2018 midterm.
SHIELDS: Well, sure.
LEMON: And there is no legitimacy on most of the examples when you see the people who are rigging the elections, most of the examples that we've had recently have been on the Republican side.
SHIELDS: There are Republicans --
LEMON: And I'm not saying - I'm not saying that Democrats are innocent in this, but there is no proof of what the president is saying. His own election advisory commission was disbanded because they could not find any major examples of voter fraud, any legitimate examples of voter fraud and rigging --
GILLUM: Don, just a real quick --
LEMON: -- in the way the president --
SHIELDS: Can I respond to that?
LEMON: Yes, go on, Andrew Gillum.
GILLUM: The correction has to be made, Don, that there was fraud found and it was found on the side of the Republicans. We saw that case in North Carolina go to court. We saw the Republican Party abandon their nominee. We saw what happened in the state of Georgia. We saw cases that have been gone --
SHIELDS: But Mayor, what happened in North Carolina with ballot harvesting.
GILLUM: -- and have resolved differently.
SHIELDS: It was ballot harvesting, right?
LEMON: What did happen, he was --
SHIELDS: We can agree on that. What they doing was ballot harvesting.
GILLUM: What we can agree is that --
SHIELDS: And that's exactly how Democrats won in California was ballot harvesting.
LEMON: No, listen.
GILLUM: I'm not here to debate fantasy --
LEMON: The GOP chairman of North Carolina was indicted today on federal charges.
GILLUM: The fact is, is that the courts threw that case out. Correct.
SHIELDS: The case in North Carolina was about ballot harvesting. It was about collecting ballots and then taking them to a polling place, and that is actually what the Democrats passed into law in California because it suits their purposes there. And so, the hypocrisy --
LEMON: We're not talking about California.
SHIELDS: -- what they're trying to do with the court case.
LEMON: We're talking about where --
SHIELDS: Well, there is House -- the president has talked about House races in 2018 and we lost a bunch of House races in California in 2018 where there is ballot harvesting. And so, that is --
GILLUM: Republicans lost fair and square, lost fair and square and when they lost --
SHIELDS: Just like Stacey Abrams in --
GILLUM: -- in states like Wisconsin and Michigan they then -- they then sought to change the rules. That's the fact. That --
(CROSSTALK) SHIELDS: I mean what's amazing is that we're calling the president sort of paranoid, and yet Stacey Abrams undermining democracy, calling into question legitimate election still hasn't conceded in Georgia. She won't concede. The election is over. We have a new governor in Georgia. She's trying to undermine the election. Everything that you've accused the president of, there are Democrats who do when it serves their purpose.
GILLUM: She's not trying to undermine the election. Stacey has only called out what is rightful to be called out and that is you had a candidate for governor who oversaw the elections, who closed polling places in super minority districts, who purged voter rolls of minority voters because those voters were showing out in record numbers to support his opponent. Those are the facts of the case. Now Stacey has acknowledged --
LEMON: Listen --
SHIELDS: Now can I -- I want to ask, is it OK to collect people's ballots? Can we collect, do you think it's OK to go down the street and collect people's ballots for them and cast them?
LEMON: So, listen, --
SHIELDS: Do you think that sound --
LEMON: None of this is any evidence that the election midterms in 2018 was illegitimate. If you say that was illegitimate then maybe you're saying that the president is the illegitimate president of the United States, because he certainly --
SHIELDS: I would love to know if the mayor thinks it's OK to harvest ballots. If it's sound practice to gather people's ballots.
LEMON: Well, Mike, quite honestly -- hang on. Hold on, hold on. That is shiny object.
[23:14:58] LEMON: That is a shiny object. So, we're talking about the legitimacy of the 2018 midterm elections. So, if you're saying that's illegitimate then you must be saying your own win is illegitimate because it means our system is fraught with what, fraught. And so maybe he's not the legitimate president of the United States.
SHIELDS: I think the president brings up a great point tonight which is that we should have ballot integrity, we should have ballot security, we should have voter I.D. --
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: That's not what he said.
SHIELDS: I know the people that are --
LEMON: That's not what he said.
SHIELDS: he brought an issue.
LEMON: He said, you should be paranoid --Mike, that's not what he said. I've got to -- listen, you can't do that. That is not what the president said. The president said that it was rigged, and he also said -- basically saying that Democrats cheated. That's what he said, and that their losses were because not because Democrats fought on issues but it's because somehow the system is wrong because Democrats won. That's what he said.
I'll give you the last word, Andrew. We have spoken a lot. Go on.
GILLUM: Well, I mean, you've laid it out perfectly, those are the facts. The cases that we saw that went before judges were judges were able to impartially decide ended up invalidating a congressional election, and unfortunate for those residents in North Carolina they are still without representation, congressional representation because Republicans decided to cheat.
And then in cases where Republicans lost, they then went in lame duck sessions in important states and changed the rules.
Listen, I am all for it if there's going to be a real conversation in how we ensure fair elections in this country then let's do it. But this, you know, flying this red herring is unfortunate, but when you're losing, I can see why people result to that kind of, quite frankly --
SHIELDS: Democrats challenged the election in Florida after they lost. In Florida. They challenged the elections in Florida and they actually challenge the law that they --
GILLUM: We were within -- the law -- the law because I happen to know a little bit about the race in Florida, the law in the state is that when the election is within less than a percent that there's a recount, and within a half of a percent there's a hand recount. That's the law. We followed the law, and after the election was over, we've now moved on.
SHIELDS: But Mayor, you know that there was --
GILLUM: Now let's go back and make sure that we fix the law -- SHIELDS: -- suits filed by the Democratic Party, multiple suits over and over again they challenged that state law.
GILLUM: I'm not going to debate --
LEMON: OK, this is circular argument, but I appreciate both of you joining us.
GILLUM: It isn't circular.
LEMON: Go on. Finish your thought.
GILLUM: Thanks for having us, Don. It's fine. I mean the point is that the person who's sworn into office ought to be the one who got the most legally cast votes. That's it. That's the way democracy works.
LEMON: OK. Thank you, both. We'll be right back.
[23:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The House Judiciary Committee will vote tomorrow to authorize a subpoena for Robert Mueller's full report without redactions. The chairman Jerry Nadler insisting to CNN earlier tonight that Congress will see the complete report and its underlying evidence.
President Trump is doing an about face on this. At first, he said the report should be made public, that he has nothing to hide, and now he's calling the move by the committee ridiculous and a disgrace.
So, I want to discuss this now. Elie Honig is here, Olivia Nuzzi, and also, Garrett Graff. Garret is the author of "The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the War on Global Terror."
So good to have all of you on.
By the way, Olivia, I love your New York magazine piece. We're going to talk about that here. So, you know, you spoke to officials inside the White House and aides for the president is overselling as he falsely claims his exoneration.
OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right. Well, I mean, we should be clear that the, Attorney General Barr quotes the Mueller report as saying this is not an exoneration, but obviously the president and the White House immediately went to work calling this an exoneration after the letter came out last Sunday.
And I was speaking to some White House officials over the last week, Donald Trump's first week in the White House since the letter came out. And some of them were saying that they're worried that he will kind of overplay his hand, that he will overstate, you know, how good this letter really was for him.
And when the results of the Mueller report come out and they fear that there will be negative information about him in there, they'll look foolish. And we will all have a lot to talk about with the disparity between what the White House has been saying since the letter came out and what ends up being in the actual report.
And of course, Trump, you know, initially said as you just mentioned he wanted there to be a full report. He wanted to see it, they don't have any problem with it. And now of course, the White House is really changing its tune. So, I think there will be a big fight over this, and it will probably be not exactly what the White House has been claiming.
LEMON: Well, let's talk about that, Garrett, because you heard the president today go after House Democrats over the Mueller report. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Nothing you give them, whether it's shifty Schiff or Jerry Nadler who I've known he's been fighting me for half of my life in Manhattan, and I was very successful, thank you. But Nadler has been fighting me for years and years in Manhattan, not successfully. I will tell you anything we give them will never be enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK, so he said it's been years and years if he knew that Nadler has been fighting, why didn't he say that earlier because he previously said, Garrett, that he wanted the full Mueller report released, and we all knew that he would likely shift on that. Is that because maybe he knows there's some damaging information in there?
GARRETT GRAFF, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think we, as Olivia as we almost sort of have to assume that there's damaging information in there in part because Robert Mueller has already told us that.
You know, his report says as quoted by the Barr report about the Mueller report, that Mueller on obstruction does not exonerate the president. That means that there's clear evidence on both sides of the equation, as Mueller says.
[23:24:53] But, you know, this is a place where Republicans are sort of in a difficult position because in Whitewater you saw this information be handed over directly to Congress, this protected so- called 6E grand jury testimony information.
And then the Republicans also demanded successfully the release of the raw FBI 302s, their interview reports in the wake of Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation where the FBI made those available within mere weeks of the conclusion of their e-mail investigation into Hillary Clinton.
So, there's good precedent for making this politically sensitive information public. From the cases in the past where the Republicans have demanded it themselves.
LEMON: So, Elie, let's talk about this. Do you think the fact that the Mueller report does not exonerate the president on obstruction, are the details that -- there are details that might surprise people or support -- excuse me, support that argument, is that something that the president should be worried about or is worried about now?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I think the clear danger for the president out of the two main areas that report lies in obstruction and we know that is simple matter of logic because we know that Mueller concluded there was not enough to charge beyond a reasonable doubt on conspiracy with Russia.
And again, let me note. That's not necessarily the same thing as exonerate, right? Mueller never uses the phrase exonerate. There's a lot of room between beyond a reasonable doubt that you would need to charge a crime and exonerate meaning proves the innocence. You can have plenty of evidence but still, clearly short of a crime. But we know that --
LEMON: Even on conspiracy and coordination.
HONIG: Yes. Sure. You can have -- you can have evidence what lawyers call preponderance between 50.1 percent. Right. You could have the weight of the evidence. But beyond a reasonable doubt is the top standard. And if you're short of that you're not charging.
So, we know that it came up somewhere short of there, but we know that he found even more evidence on obstruction. Right? So much evidence that he wasn't, Mueller wasn't able to make a decision.
And the key thing to keep in mind, I know we've said it over and over, but we've seen it not even 1 percent of the Mueller report. Four hundred pages versus four pages. And I think the transparency issue is going to become a problem for Barr and for Trump.
The more they fight to keep things away from the public whether it's grand jury materials, whether executive privilege, there's various things that are being thrown out there as sort of barriers to the public getting the full report, they're going to lose the public.
LEMON: So, everything that's in the report, every bit of evidence that they have maybe doesn't meet the legal bar, but it gives the Democrats and that the doubters roads to go down and other things to chase, possibilities.
HONIG: Yes. One thing that I learned from doing trials, and I know this is not necessarily a trial setting but I think it's a point about human nature. The best way to lose a jury is if they think you're hiding something from them. Right. And I think that translates the politics to if the American people feel like Barr, Trump, whoever is trying to conceal something, that's going to backfire.
LEMON: So, well, you heard the president say Democrats, Olivia, that they're asking too much from this. That seems to be the change now. Before it was like, hey, listen, everything now the Democrats are asking for too much seems to be the talking points here, and it will never be enough. And that's another reason they say this is ridiculous. It should not be released. NUZZI: Right. And I think by saying that they're also kind of
implying anybody asking for more transparency, anybody who wants to see the full report which obviously includes a lot of Americans it certainly includes the media, is also asking for too much. Which is of course is not what they were saying when this letter first came out.
But you know, you just said that the -- Mueller didn't use the word exoneration. He did but as quoted by Barr, he said that this did not exonerate him.
So, when I was having conversations with White House officials over the last week, I would say well, what do you mean he's fully exonerated? It says right here that he was not. And they were kind of implying, he's using it in a spiritual way somehow. You're using it in a literal way.
And the letter is, I'm paraphrasing, but the letter is using it in a literal way, and that's not the way that the president was using it or the White House was using it, which is ridiculous. But as always with Trump, I mean, that is how people explain what he says and what those around him have to say.
LEMON: So, listen, Mr. Officer, I wasn't speeding in a literal way, it was spiritual way.
NUZZI: Right. It was really poetic.
LEMON: It was really poetic. The spiritual, which should be exonerating. Thank you. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.
NUZZI: Thank you.
LEMON: A woman with two Chinese passports, four cellphones, a laptop and a thumb drive full of malicious hard drive enters Mar-a-Lago. She's now facing federal charges. So, who is she?
[23:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Federal prosecutors filing charges today against a woman with two Chinese passports, who they alleged illegally entered President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club. She was also carrying four cell phones, a laptop, a hard drive and a thumb drive that contained malicious malware. This is while the president was spending the weekend at Mar- a-Lago, but he was out golfing when the incident occurred.
According to prosecutors, the woman claimed that a Chinese friend named Charles told her to travel from Shanghai to Mar-a-Lago to speak with a member of Trump's family.
Let's discuss now. Jonathan Wackrow is here, Shawn Turner and Laurence Leamer. Laurence is the author of "Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump's Presidential Palace." Good evening to all of you. I'm going to ask you. You're a former Secret Service Agent. I'm going to start with you, Jonathan.
It was a receptionist, as a matter of fact, not a Secret Service or Mar-a-Lago security, who confirmed that this woman was not authorized to be on the property. This is where the president of the United States was for the weekend. I'm just wondering, and he goes a lot, how concerning this is for you as a former agent?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, overarchingly there is concern here, but I think what you have to do is take a look at the way that the Secret Service sets up their security program, anywhere that the president goes.
They operate with concentric rings of protection. Yes, she got through the outer ring of protection, the first layer, and with malicious intent. She lied to the Secret Service agent that was out there. She came to the second check point. She was cleared of all physical threats, meaning she didn't have any weapons on her, she didn't have any explosives.
So at no point during this incident was the president or the facility at any risk of physical harm. So this now turns into a separate issue.
LEMON: Is it a cyber threat?
WACKROW: It could be a cyber threat. It could be, you know, a Chinese intelligence operation, that someone is trying to garner to see how well the security perimeters are. There are a lot of things that this could be. What we will find out is once we do the forensics on the thumb drive, the cell phones and further interviews, to understand really what's going on here. Is this an intelligence operation or is this someone that was just at the wrong place at the wrong time?
LEMON: OK. So, Shawn, let's bring you in because I hear you there speaking. You said that the woman had with her -- let me just give it to you -- four cell phones, a laptop computer, and external hard drive-type device and a thumb drive with malicious malware. So, why would she be in possession of these things, Shawn?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, you know, I mean, it's a good question, Don. One of the things we're going to have to look at is, particularly to that thumb drive, you know, she had four cell phones, she had a thumb drive, it's not unusual for people who travel to the United States from China to have a couple of cell phones.
[23:35:07] Sometimes they'll have one that works in China and one that works in the United States. But the real key here is going to be to look at that thumb drive. Thumb drives are devices that are used in multiple computers so it's not terribly unusual for those devices to have some sort of malware or virus on them because they're moved around between a lot of different computers.
But what we'll want to look at is whether or not the malware that is on this thumb drive is a kind of thing that is just a nuisance or whether or not she actually brought in some sort of software that could be used to either collect information if it was put into a computer or to destroy a computer network system. So, there are still a lot of questions to be asked here. Don, I'm skeptical of the idea that this woman may have been an official Chinese spy. You know, her story fell apart fairly quickly, and it appears as though she was there for no other reason other than to probe security. So, I think that this is probably something less than an official Chinese spy operation.
LEMON: So for what purpose then?
TURNER: Well, it could be a number of purposes (ph). If she was there to probe security, then there certainly are individuals who would be -- a lot of individuals who are interested in the level of security around the president. I also think that, you know, we've got to think about this from the perspective of understanding Mar-a-Lago.
As you pointed out, Don, the president goes there a lot. And the Secret Service does not control who has access to Mar-a-Lago when the president is there. This is member club that is open to anyone who can afford the cost of entry. And so understanding how tight and how strong the security is there is a kind of thing that a lot of different actors would want to understand.
LEMON: OK. Laurence, you've been standing by patiently. Thank you so much. Let's bring you in now. The woman, her name is Yujing Zhang, OK? This is part of the complaint. I want to read it to you, Laurence. "The Mar-a-Lago manager on duty at that time informed Mar-a-Lago security that Zhang is the last name of a member at the Mar-a-Lago club. Zhang was asked if the true member, who shall be referred to as 'HZ' herein, was her father, but she did not give a definitive answer."
So, listen, Zhang is a common Chinese last name, and she didn't even confirm that she knew this other person with that last name. Is this normal protocol for Mar-a-Lago? If you know -- if you're a guest -- you know, if you know a guest, are you OK?
LAURENCE LEAMER, AUTHOR: Look, Don, I thought this is something that is going to happen sooner or later. Look, these presidents have had their winter White Houses in Florida before JFK just down the road in Palm Beach. But in the season, figuring the members and the guests and their friends and people coming to the ballroom for events, there are about 10,000 people seasonal who will come in there. Imagine that.
Imagine what a task it is for the Secret Service to have security. I lived down there. I walk on the beach. I walk right down at Mar-a- Lago. You can -- there's no security on the beach there. You can walk right into the pool there. Nobody is going to say anything. You can't get beyond that because there is a tunnel under the road. But I just felt that sooner or later, something is going to happen.
I'm happy it was something that was benign like this. I hope it will bring attention to just the problem of President Trump being there, insists on being there because he needs to be stroked all the time, he needs to be in that situation. But as far as the presidential weekend home, it's not ideal.
LEMON: Listen, there are a lot of weddings and parties and such at Mar-a-Lago. How many other times do you think things like this could have happened, Laurence?
LEAMER: It could have happen all the time. I mean, how do you have security in this situation if you have to vet everybody that comes in there? The Secret Service is terrific. It's a different world when President Kennedy came to -- there were only 36 Secret Service agents period for him.
Now, when he comes -- NBC said there were 750 the first time he came down there. Plus, there are the local police, the sheriff's department, enormous number of people there, but it's still an almost impossible job with all the people running in and out of there.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate your time. I wish we have more time to discuss this. Thanks a lot.
Two Republican attorneys general are breaking with the president, warning that a court decision to strike down the Affordable Care Act could have major consequences. One of those attorneys general joins me next.
[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump says the GOP will be the party of great health care. For a lot of Republicans including the president, that means getting rid of Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act, right? But two Republican attorneys general, well, they are trying to save it.
Joining me now is one of those Republicans, Montana's attorney general, Tim Fox. Mr. Fox, I really appreciate it. Attorney General Fox, thank you so much for joining us. You're a Republican urging a federal court to save Obamacare. Tell us why.
TIM FOX, MONTANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, specifically, we want to save coverage for pre-existing conditions. There are 152,000 Montanans. These are non-elderly adult Montanans that depend on coverage for pre-existing conditions. That's a viewpoint that needs to be stressed, I think. It certainly is something that I agree with President Trump on.
He wants to have pre-existing condition coverage. So do I. He has agreed that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. I agree with him there. He believes as I do that Congress needs to get their act together and they need to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
[23:45:05] I'm frustrated just like the president is that that isn't happening. And what we need to make sure that we do this in a way that doesn't create problems for those 152,000 Montanans.
LEMON: So for that until there's something to replace it with, it seems like you're saying you need to help now, you want to keep the pre-existing conditions, which is what the Affordable Care Act is about at this point. But if there's something better, you'd rather get rid of it and do better for your constituents.
Listen, I got to ask you, though. You're a cancer survivor. Has your personal story made you more aware of other people who are suffering, and has it shaped the way you feel about this issue because you seem so passionate about it?
FOX: Well, this is about the rule of law certainly. And even though the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and again I agree with President Trump's administration and the Department of Justice on that issue, this is solely about the rule of law. This isn't about me. It's about the 152,000 Montanans that may go out without coverage for their pre-existing conditions if Congress doesn't get their act together and get something done to fix these problems.
LEMON: You know, the president said that Republicans will be the party of great health care. He says that they have a plan to replace Obamacare and make it less costly. Do you or anyone you've spoken to know what this plan is?
FOX: Well, there have been a number of plans I know in Congress, and unfortunately the president has been thwarted time and time again. And as you know, he's made a campaign promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act to make sure that we have a system that works, that is actually affordable for a change and makes it happen so that Americans can keep their insurance policies and choose their doctors.
Those are all things that can be done, but Congress has to do it. Again, I share President Trump's frustration that not only is the current Congress not doing anything, but unfortunately we've squandered some opportunities when the Congress was held by republicans before the last election.
So, I stand with President Trump on this. We want to make sure that we get this done right, and it's not a problem that he caused. It's a problem that was caused from the previous administration. And we've gone on nine years now without a fix for this. But we can't do it on the backs of those individuals who are relying on coverage for pre- existing conditions.
Congress needs to act. They need to get this done. Quit squabbling. Here in Montana, we know how to work together. Our legislator meets every two years. We get things done. We work across the aisles. We don't point fingers or call each other names. We need to make sure that we do these types of things in Congress as well.
LEMON: Well, listen, you said it's been nine years. It looks like it's going to be two more because the president is saying it won't happen, that he won't reveal the plan until 2020, so we shall see. We thank you, attorney general. I appreciate you joining us.
The president is spreading more conspiracy theories and lies tonight. What he's saying about the damage of our democracy. We'll talk about that.
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tonight, President Trump is falsely implying that Republicans racked up big losses in the 2018 midterms because the elections were rigged. Let's discuss now. Douglas Brinkley is here. He is the author of "American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race." It's published today and I just got a hold of a copy. So, thank you so much. I can't wait to get started with this.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thanks, Don. Thanks for having me on.
LEMON: I'm going to start by asking you about the breaking news tonight, that the president is saying that Republicans need to be more paranoid about vote tallies and on and on. You know, that the midterm elections were somehow rigged or fraudulent. What is your reaction?
BRINKLEY: It's the beginning of 2020. Donald Trump is starting to stoke his base. He's trying to say to Republicans and his hardcore Trumpians, be aware, get going, I'm never really lost, I'm not a loser, I didn't really lose the midterm. It's just more Donald Trump, what we kind of expected.
But there's a danger, as you were saying with Max Boot, about promoting the idea of constantly saying everything's rigged, everything's rigged, because people no longer trust our democracy when you do that.
LEMON: It's interesting, sitting here watching the next segment after Max when they were arguing about, you know, ballots and all of that which was really talking points that had nothing to do with anything, if that is the talking points or the strategy that Trump supporters are setting up, not necessarily Republicans, are setting up for, in case Trump doesn't win, they can contest it, say it is rigged and it was stolen.
BRINKLEY: Absolutely. And it will allow Trump, if he lost, to keep a group of Americans, the deep state, screwed them over, you know, tapped into things, it was all a rigged deal.
LEMON: Sad, isn't it?
BRINKLEY: It's deeply, deeply sad.
LEMON: I feel bad for people who believe that. So, listen, let's talk about your book because we're coming up on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Still, one of the most inspiring moments in American history, it was. I want you to listen to that iconic moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
LEMON: Talk to me about how that one moment really shaped the United States as a country and a world power.
BRINKLEY: Well, everybody is going to be remembering this summer of a certain age, where you were when Neil Armstrong uttered those words. I was nine years old in Ohio and Neil Armstrong was my boyhood hero. I ended up getting to do the official NASA oral history of Neil Armstrong, and I spent hours getting to talk to him before he passed. [23:54:59] We were in need of a morale boost in the 1960s. Jack Kennedy made the space race about beating the Soviets, but it was also about creating technology for America. And, you know, Armstrong is a sustainable hero, in my mind, and Buzz Aldrin, still alive with us, Michael Collins.
But you know, Don, so often, we have big moments in history, Pearl Harbor or 9/11, the Kennedy assassination, the tragedies, but Neil Armstrong going to the moon has brought the country together and believing that an aroused democracy can accomplish about anything.
LEMON: Let's listen one more to that moment of history that you talked about. This is iconic. This is JFK capturing the nation's imagination, 1962 address by him. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we're willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win and the others, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: You say that Kennedy was an amazing salesperson for space. How important do you think his personality and his leadership in inspiring America to go to space, to go to the moon?
BRINKLEY: It was everything. When he debated Richard Nixon in 1960, he scored a lot of points when he looked at Nixon and he said, you told Khrushchev (ph) that America is, you know, greater at making appliances. I don't care about appliances. I want to be number one in rocket thrust. Then he said that we don't want a Soviet flag on the moon, we want an American flag.
And there were many factors why we went to the moon, but Kennedy sold the program. Twenty-five billion dollars it cost, Don. That's about $180 billion in today's terms. It was bipartisan. Almost everybody bought into the idea. But it was really a hangover effect of World War II. In World War II, we did the Manhattan project.
And, you know, FDR did big dams. Dwight Eisenhower built the interstate highway system and St. Lawrence Seaway. This was a generation that believed that Americans together in a bipartisan way could do big, giant things. We haven't done that since we accomplished it in 1969.
LEMON: I really can't wait to read it. It looks fascinating. The book again is called "American Moonshot."
LEMON: "American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race" by Mr. Douglas Brinkley. Thank you, Douglas. BRINKLEY: Thank you, Don. I really appreciate it.
LEMON: And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.