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No Space for Illegal Immigrants in the U.S; More Suspense and Confusion Looming Over the Mueller Report; Trump Falsely Claims There Is New Border Wall Being Built; Trump Willing To Fight Democrats' Demand For His Tax Returns; 2020 Democrats Vow To Sign House Reparations Study Bill; John Hickenlooper (D), Presidential Candidate, Interviewed. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 5, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You need more. People care about these kids. They care about their families. Show that you do too, and there's a win in it for you. How about that?
Thanks for watching. CNN Tonight with D. Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Did he go visit the kids?
LEMON: Just checking.
CUOMO: You feel good about yourself?
LEMON: No, I'm just telling you, I just -- I've just come to realize he's never going to change, he's not going to do -- it's great that you're so positive about it. I would love nothing more than for him to do that, but he's not going to do it, and it is a --
CUOMO: You do realize --
LEMON: -- it's a fait accompli, it's like, you know, you keep wishing the same thing over and over, you know what that means.
CUOMO: I got you. You don't have to throw the French at me.
LEMON: All right.
CUOMO: What I'm saying is that even though I like Polyanna, and I like the books, and I don't see it as a criticism, I believe in being optimistic. I believe in coaxing your leaders to be something that they haven't been.
LEMON: You're right. You are right.
CUOMO: Not because I'm just, you know, some romantic. We both know that's what I am. But I am a pragmatist.
LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: And I know that they often go where the opportunity is and
they're our elected leaders act out of fear of consequence more than out of good conscience.
CUOMO: And he has to expand his base.
CUOMO: This was an opportunity.
LEMON: Well, I stick by my thing. This is not politics as usual. This is not about left versus right. It's about right versus wrong. This is about fact versus fiction. This is about reality versus alternate reality or alternative facts. That's a great way of thinking, it doesn't play with this particular person. He's never going to change. He likes being in power. He likes dividing people. He likes the chaos. He thrives on it. He does not want to be a uniter. He is a divider by nature.
LEMON: It's not going -- he's 70 some years old, it's not going to change.
LEMON: What we have to do is figure out what do we do with that? And quit wishing -- you know, wish upon a star, that is not going to happen, he's never, ever, ever going to change. He is who he is. And in some ways, you have to respect that. That's who he is. That is who he is. He's true to it.
CUOMO: Yes. I don't respect it because to respect it would assume that he knows it gets him to the right place. I don't see how he gets that rationale. Even like on closing the border, it's still possible for someone to get to him and say this is crazy talk, don't do it.
But also, remember why I say what I say, even if he doesn't do it, it resonates with people around him. I don't think it's a coincidence that Democrats found their way to the border.
LEMON: Well, it resonates with who around him, his inner circle?
CUOMO: People, other people -- no, no, no. Forget about them, other people in power. You know what I mean? They hear you saying there's an opportunity in this. You know, if the president were to do this, he'd look good, nobody is stepping up. There's opportunity here. They're looking for opportunity.
And I have to tell you I don't understand why the Democrats are sleeping on the border. I see so much opportunity for them there to swoop in. I mean, the president has left this -- you know, he's left it there. He's basically just saying you guys do something about it. There's opportunity there. You give them resources, you give them
emergency funding, you show that you care about these kids and these families, now that's something about being our best. Now that's an America that people can believe in.
LEMON: Do you think they could win -- if Democrats did that -- there's a reason I'm asking you this question. Do you think they could win over Evangelicals and Christians who support this president?
LEMON: OK, because the reason I ask that, you had the fact checker on earlier, one of the things we're full, meaning America's full, and it was false.
One of the tenets of the bible is that we're supposed to take care of the poor and the needy.
LEMON: But you remember the whole story about in the Nativity scene with Jesus there was no room in the inn?
LEMON: And they didn't realize that the person that they were keeping out was actually Jesus, the chosen one.
CUOMO: And he winds up in a manger.
LEMON: So, you never know who you're trying to keep out, if you believe in the bible, if you are a true Christian.
CUOMO: Even if you don't, the allegory stands.
LEMON: Yes. But you never know, the next person that could become the next senator, the next scientist, the next person who has a cure for cancer.
CUOMO: Very true.
LEMON: That's not to say that we should not have restrictions and laws and people should not follow them.
CUOMO: A hundred percent.
LEMON: But we should be more humane.
LEMON: And if you believe in Jesus and God then you should be more of a Christian and you should follow the tenets of what your religion tells you. This is not doing that. This is doing the exact opposite.
CUOMO: Absolutely. There is a Christian hypocrisy involved in it, there's no question about that. And listen, you know, to your point, the reason that they have Jesus in a manger, manger, you know, you like to use French, that is a French word meaning to eat --
CUOMO: -- because he was the food for life.
CUOMO: He was the food for creation. And these people are the food of our future. They are at least part of it. And I just see opportunity in there from a pragmatic perspective because it's doing the right thing and addressing an obvious need.
CUOMO: And there's opportunity there, Don, there just is. I just don't understand why they're not taking it.
[22:04:59] LEMON: Listen, do unto others, just because there may be people who are coming in, I'm sure there are for nefarious reasons, but there are people who are coming in for the right reasons.
LEMON: And if I were in their position, I would want them to give me -- everyone to give me the benefit of the doubt and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, very simple.
CUOMO: Well said and true --
LEMON: Very simple.
CUOMO: -- words to live by, but not always easy to do as we experience it.
LEMON: No one does it.
CUOMO: Every day.
LEMON: Everyone likes to twist that whole bible Christianity thing into what they want it to be, instead of exactly what it should be.
LEMON: And so, then you get hypocrisy and then you get what you have now.
CUOMO: Well, the new Christian perspective seems to be God helps those whom God has helped already. So, if he hasn't helped you before he must want you out the door. You know what I mean? So that's what they're going on now and it's just completely hypocritical.
LEMON: It seems to be the end justify by the mean, even if it means grabbing someone by the you know what, cheating on your wife, lying, all those things, saying you can shoot someone, you know, I -- (CROSSTALK)
CUOMO: They look the other way on all the character counts because they gave him the judges --
LEMON: I grew up in the church all my life as a Baptist --
CUOMO: -- that will help him deal with Roe v. Wade.
LEMON: -- studied Catholicism in Catholic school, it never taught me anything as to what is going on right now.
I've got to run. You had a great job. Hope you have a good weekend. You can -- wait a minute, I'm going to see you this weekend. Don't say --
LEMON: I'm going to see you. We're going to have fun.
CUOMO: See you tomorrow night.
LEMON: Did you just -- you are so weird.
LEMON: Because you are way just kissing --
CUOMO: Why can't men show affection in --
LEMON: Are you Anthony Scaramucci?
CUOMO: Why does it got to be an Italian guy. Why must you always hit me with an Italian stick? I have to use the word fugazi.
LEMON: All right.
CUOMO: I have to be Scaramucci.
LEMON: Code switching. Come on, man. Come on, bro.
CUOMO: Diglossia, who gave it to you?
CUOMO: Who have it to you?
LEMON: I'm educated. I did it myself. Someone told me, I would tell you.
CUOMO: You'll tell me tomorrow.
LEMON: Don't be -- don't hate.
CUOMO: I don't hate.
LEMON: I appreciate.
CUOMO: I love you, Lemon, that's why I kissed you.
LEMON: All right.
CUOMO: I'll never do it again because you're ashamed.
LEMON: You're embarrassing me, the audience is going -- my God. This is cringy.
CUOMO: Their favorite part of the day.
LEMON: I know. Everyone's like when are you and Chris going get your show together, do a show together? No, you all don't want that.
CUOMO: It'd be Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
LEMON: He doesn't want that. His ego is too big.
All right. See you.
CUOMO: See you.
LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
What a different -- difference a week makes, 168 little hours, just think about how things have changed for this president. He started the week on a high, shouting total exoneration to anybody who would listen, even though that's not what the -- what Mueller said.
And now it's all empty threats. It's lies, it's flip-flops on his own favorite policies, all to distract and to deflect. So, what doesn't the president want you to know? Think about that. What doesn't the president want you to know?
Well, it sure seems like there's something in his tax returns that he wants to hide, to keep secret. A source telling CNN this is the hill, the administration is willing to die on, and they're willing to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court. Can you believe that?
You don't say something like that unless you think it's really, really important to keep those returns under wraps.
The source also saying this about the battle for the returns, quote -- this is a quote. "We will see you in court." Lawyers hired by the president have been preparing for months for this fight. And today, they sent a letter to the Treasury Department claiming that the request for the returns, quote, "is a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his political or his politics and speech," while the president says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm under audit. But that's up to whoever it is. From what I understand the law is 100 percent on my side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I have said this before. But it bears repeating every time since the president continues to use the issue of an audit as an excuse to keep his returns hidden, people. This is just the facts, just the facts.
The fact is, and if you don't believe me, just look it up. The fact is an audit would not prevent him from releasing his returns, just as past presidents have done. OK? Every year dating back to the early 1970s the IRS has audited the personal tax returns of every sitting president and vice president.
That is not an excuse, a legitimate one. It's a false excuse, but it's not a real excuse. It's a flat-out lie. Since Nixon every president has released his tax returns, except for Gerald Ford who instead made public decades long summary. So an audit has nothing to do with it.
[22:09:57] But of course if there's something in there that you don't want anybody to know about, you're going to fight tooth and nail, right?
And then there's this president's photo op at the border today, photo op. He tweeted that he checked out the new wall on the border. Now, the president would like you to believe that's a new wall.
There's even a plaque claiming this is, quote, "This is the first section of president Trump's border wall." Don't believe everything you read, even on a plaque. Customs and Border Protection said more than a year ago that the project was replacement border fencing, a local infrastructure project that had been in the works for some time. Not part of the president's promised wall.
Shouldn't the facts matter? Especially if you're one of his die-hard supporters and he's telling you this and he's lying to your face and you're making excuses, well -- it's a lie. He wants you to believe him and he's trying to trick you. Does that not bother you at all? The wall or no wall the president seems determined to double down on his anti-immigrant message claiming today the country is full.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The system is full, can't take you anymore. Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, illegal immigration, can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore, I'm sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, if he really believes that you have to wonder whatever happened to the president's threat to shut down the border this weekend? Not only did he backtrack he claimed he never said it in the first place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I never changed my mind at all. I may shut it down at some point but I'd rather do tariffs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, never changed his mind, huh? Let's go to the videotape.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mexico is going to have to do something, otherwise, I'm closing the border.
I can't imagine it being any worse than it is right now. So, there's a very good likelihood that I'll be closing the border next week, and that will be just fine with me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it your intention, sir, to close the border this week, and what would it take to not close the border.
TRUMP: I haven't made that intention known. And I'm ready to close it if I have to close it.
If we don't make a deal with Congress, the border's going to be closed, 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He never said it. And yet there he is saying it. And speaking of the border, the president's nominee for ICE, ICE director, I should say, Ron Vitiello got stabbed in the front today when his nomination was suddenly withdrawn, just as he was supposed to fly with the president to the border. Awkward.
Even the DHS Secretary Kirsten Nielsen was caught by surprise and ICE leadership thought it was a clerical error. The president said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going in a little different direction. Ron is a good man but we're going in a tougher direction, we want to go in a tougher direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And by we, you mean Stephen Miller. Two officials tell CNN that Miller told the president that Vitiello was not 100 percent on board with closing the border. Let's not forget the rest of this very, very Trumpy week.
The president doing a 180 on health care, going from his empty promise of a plan that would be better than Obamacare to postponing the whole thing until after the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch.
I understand health care now, especially very well. A lot of people don't understand it. We are going to be the Republicans, the party of great health care.
We are going to have a plan that's so much better than Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
TRUMP: We're going to always take care of preexisting conditions.
I wanted to delay it myself. I wanted to put it after the election. When the plan comes out, which we'll be showing you at the appropriate time, it's much better than Obamacare.
We should have done it when we had the position but we're going to get it back. And it's going to be a better plan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But we're going to show it to you after the election. There was no time for a better plan when he had the House and the Senate, and the seven, eight, nine years before that there's no time for a better plan, but this it's going to take two more years. OK, that makes sense.
[22:15:02] There's also his outrageous rant to congressional Republicans urging them to be more paranoid about elections and implying that the midterms were somehow rigged simply because Democrats won.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're going to watch those vote tallies. You know, I keep hearing about the election and the various counting measures that they have. There were a lot of close elections that were -- they seemed, every single one of them went Democrat. If it was close, they say the Democrat. There's something going on.
You've got to -- hey, you've got to be a little bit more paranoid than you are. But we have to 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: Yes, it's -- you know, you don't have an explanation for things and you just say a lot of words and things. Yes, a word salad. You just hope no one catches on. I mean, honest, it happens to me sometimes. What did I just say? You all keep falling for the okey- doke. And of course, there's Mueller. And the constant drip, drip, drip of
news that doesn't fit the president's exoneration narrative, some on Mueller's team breaking their silence this week saying their findings are more damaging for the president than the attorney general has revealed.
That as the House judiciary committee approved a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report. And more revelations, could be right around the corner. None of that bodes well for this president. So, it's probably no surprise he has flip-flopped on releasing the report now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the American public have a right to see the Mueller report?
TRUMP: I don't mind, I mean, frankly, I told the House if you want let them see it. Let it come out. Let people see it.
Up to the attorney general but it wouldn't bother me at all. Up to the attorney general, wouldn't bother me at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, the attorney general said today that he intends to release the Mueller report in full to Congress and then the public. Do you agree with that decision or do you want the White House to take a look over it for privilege?
TRUMP: Well, I have great confidence in the attorney general and if that's what he'd like to do, I have nothing to hide. I think it's ridiculous. We went through two years of the Mueller investigation. So, there's no collusion. There's no obstruction. And now we're going to start this process all over again? I think it's a disgrace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: One of my late famous dear friends said, you can Google this, lies, lies, and more lies, lies on top of lies. Just look it up, empty threats, lies, and flip-flops, all to distract and deflect.
So, the question is what is -- what is it that the president doesn't want you to know? What doesn't he want you to know? Think about it. And will we ever learn the whole truth and nothing but the truth? So, will Congress and the American people settle for anything less than the full Mueller report?
We're going to discuss. Philip Bump, Max Boot, April Ryan, next.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The Attorney General, William Barr, set to testify on Capitol Hill next week about the -- his department's budget. But you've got to wonder whether questions about the Mueller report will come up. That's as Barr is under growing pressure from Democrats as well as Republicans to release it in full without redactions.
Let's bring in Philip Bump, national correspondent for the Washington Post, also Max Boot, the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I left the Right," and April Ryan, the author of "Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House." Good evening to everyone.
Max, we're getting close to the 14-day mark for the attorney general sending his letter over to Congress, battle lines are already drawn. Anything but the full report going to fly?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: No. It shouldn't fly. I mean, you know, Barr has committed to releasing the report but there's a real issue as to how much of it is he going to redact? And of course, he can hide behind the fact there's some classified information here, there's some grand jury material but that should not be an obstacle because what the classified information, Congress is clear to see that. They can see the classified report.
Now, with the grand jury material it's a little bit different but there is ample precedent for him to go to a judge and ask to unseal the grand jury material because there is an overriding public imperative here for the country to see the report. So, he can do that. And if he tries to hide it it's not going to be credible.
He has no credibility right now because we're seeing members of the Mueller team, after 22 months of silence, leaking that Barr is distorting their findings. That is damning and devastating to Barr's credibility right now.
LEMON: That is surprising they've kept -- Phil, they've kept quiet for so long. You have poured over the polling, and you said there's one group that would not be surprised if Barr is -- that Barr is undersold this Mueller report.
PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, the only group that would not be surprised if Barr is sort of oversold how Trump got off was most Americans. The majority of Americans feel like -- are skeptical, are skeptical of what Barr put forward. There's good reason to be skeptical, right?
I mean, he himself say, he quotes Mueller's saying that he wasn't exonerated in obstruction. He comes up with this rationale for why obstruction doesn't apply. He quotes Mueller midsentence about the issue of collusion or conspiracy. He doesn't actually say the word collusion.
There are all these reasons to be skeptical, and polling. Poll after poll after polls shows a, the vast majority of Americans want to see the full Mueller report, b, they are skeptical that Barr actually represented what Mueller said accurately and/or completely. Right? And so those two things combined. If no other reasons just the pure politics of it, Barr should release this to protect the president.
LEMON: But, listen, we don't know. We don't know what's in that report.
BUMP: Right. LEMON: And maybe it's not incriminating, who knows, right? But I think people just want to know for themselves. And why should they? Take a summary as the gospel?
[22:24:58] BOOT: Well, we know it's not all that innocuous. Otherwise the administration would be rushing to release it, right?
LEMON: Do you think, April, that the president overplayed his hand when he falsely said that the report exonerated him, basically, because we have only seen the letter?
APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, most definitely. The president overreached on this. You know, there is a cloud of darkness over this report. I'm not talking about an April showers cloud, I'm talking about a cloud of, you know, truth versus a lie.
The president is saying he's exonerated and then you're hearing his own Justice Department saying that, look, he was cleared on the issue of collusion, but not on obstruction of justice. People need to seem the American taxpayers, those who even voted for this president. This is not about politics, this is about career clearing up any confusion that the president is putting out and his Justice Department is putting out. That's plain and simple. This is not politics, this is just truth.
LEMON: Go ahead.
BUMP: I'll just note very quickly, in Barr's letter we know there is information that is not yet public about that speaks to obstruction. He himself said most of this is public, not all of it is public. That we know there's information in there which speaks to that issue itself, which is still behind wraps.
LEMON: Yes. Before Barr's letter the president attacked Mueller countless times for months, remember 13 angry Democrats, they were clearly worried before that Barr letter came out but after the letter, we heard this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you think Robert Mueller acted honorably?
TRUMP: Yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President --
TRUMP: The Mueller report was great. It could not have been better. It said no obstruction, no collusion, it could not have been better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, April, now we're hearing from some on Mueller's team for the first time that they are frustrated with how Barr summarized their investigation, Max talked about that, you know, they kept quiet for a long time and now they're speaking out. So, what will we see from Trump when the report actually does come out?
RYAN: You know, this president is concerned, no matter what. He was able to shape the narrative before people saw the report. And he still is shaping the narrative, wrongly, maybe, but even so this president is concerned because once that report comes out it will refute. If the report is given in its entirety, and without redactions, it will refute what the president is saying and he will have egg on his face and they will try to shift it, craft it, mold it in a way that makes the president look good.
But right now, the president is kind of concerned because he does -- he says one thing, but he really feels another. He says he wants it to be out. But if it comes out it will just totally change what he has said.
LEMON: OK. Everybody, stick with me. We have lots more to talk about. The president visiting the border today and declaring that, quote, "our country is full." Well, what a message for an American president to say.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The president continues to mislead Americans over what is happening at the border. He says he was there today to show off a new section of wall being built. A reality check. That is not new wall. It's a replacement for an old fence that has been there for years. There is no new wall.
Back with me now Philip Bump, Max Boot and April Ryan. So Max, the president visited Calexico, California this afternoon and in this border city there is a two-mile stretch of replacement barrier which was authorized prior to Trump becoming president. Let's take a look at this. Yes, look at this. There's a plaque on the bollards calling it the first section of President Trump's border wall. Lies are being sign posts now.
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: Right. The lies are migrating from Twitter into actual plaques on walls and that's scary because that means the federal government is basically cooperating in helping Donald Trump to deceive the world.
LEMON: Do people care?
BOOT: Well, clearly Trump cares, I mean, he thinks that his followers care, because he promised them this damn wall and it's not -- it still hasn't been built, but he has to pretend that it is being built.
LEMON: I mean, do people care that he is lying? That is like, you know, saying -- like putting a plaque on the statue of liberty, saying, the first place for, you know, something that is a total lie, wouldn't people be outraged if someone did that? BOOT: They should be. I think, people are a little bit inured to
Trump's lies, because according to the Post fact checker, he has uttered more than 9400 falsehoods since taking office. And so, you know, a few lies from previous presidents would stand out and we'd be all over it for weeks.
With him the cascade of lies is so heavy that it's hard to focus on any one lying, we kind of get used to kind of rolling our eyes and saying that is just Trump being Trump. But we should not accept, you know, this kind of daily assault on the truth from the president of the United States. That is extremely dangerous and destabilizing to our democracy.
LEMON: So, he limited his trip to be with just government personnel, law enforcement officers, he did not visit any detention center and he had this message for anyone who may come to the U.S. seeking asylum. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full. Our area's full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore. I'm sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The sector is full. That sounds like one of those movies. Sector alert, sector nine, someone has escaped. So the country is full?
PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. No, it's actually not. If you look around here right now, you will see lots of space, we can store people if we need to. I mean, look, the point that Donald Trump is trying to make, and being very generous, the point he is trying to make is that the asylum system in the United States has a massive backlog of cases, a lot of people had come to the border, they've claim asylum, they go through a legal process that is, you know, something the government has to adhere to in which they have a hearing and are evaluated for whether or not they deserve asylum in the United States that is a process which is right now a massive backlog and is a problem.
LEMON: That is fair. Why not just say that?
BUMP: Because it's Donald Trump. I mean, this is what he does, right. I mean, he -- you can see he had the talking point there to say, oh, look, we have over -- the system is full, but we had to extend it to the country is full. I mean, look, the United States is literally one of the least heavily populated countries in the world.
If you take actually do the math on this, just the houses that are right now vacant, because they are rental properties or for sale, you can fit 45 million people in those houses. That means the country is not full, but Donald Trump can't help be hyperbolic, because that's who he is.
LEMON: April was the cruelty the point?
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: Yes, most definitely. This president and his administration and Stephen Miller, we can't leave him out, early on they knew, they had zero tolerance on their mind. The only reason why they changed that is because of an outcry from Americans.
They want people to realize there is punishment for crossing the border illegally. And basically they're saying even before this when the president sounded like he was talking about a cup of coffee being full or a cabinet being full, basically what they're saying if you come you're going to suffer the consequences. We don't have any room. You're going to go back. We're going to push you back.
This is about the browning of America and they don't like it. They're trying to push back any way they can by any means necessary using that term once again for Malcolm X.
LEMON: All right, thank you all, I appreciate it.
Sources telling CNN the president is willing to fight all the way to the Supreme Court to keep his tax returns under wraps. The big question is, what is he trying to hide?
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The fight for President Trump's tax returns is turning into a major political battle. The president hiring an outside law firm to use every legal maneuver to keep his returns out of the hands of House Democrats. One administration official telling CNN that Trump is prepared to take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
A lot to discuss, Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor is here, also Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The truth about Trump," and the David Cay Johnston, author of "it's even worse than you think, what the Trump administration is doing to America."
Good evening, everyone, thank you so much. So David, I've got to ask you, you've investigated this. At least his business dealings and on and on. What is President Trump hiding? Is he concerned that people might learn that he is not as rich as he claims to be or that he is cheating on his taxes or that he is not paying any taxes at all or little or not very charitable or he is not as good a business person as he says, what is he afraid of? All of the above, I don't know.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR: Everything -- Don, everything that is on your list, plus some other things. Remember, Donald was tried twice for income tax fraud, lost both cases. So, he likely has manufactured things on his returns. If he has revenues reported on his streams of income or expenses reported on his tax returns that don't match up with financial transaction records, which can be obtained later he could have other serious problems.
So, I'm not the least bit surprised he is trying to fight this. The problem he has is there's an absolutely crystal clear anti-corruption statue. What Donald is really saying is I'm above the law. LEMON: OK. Michael, an administration official is -- says that the
president is willing to take this all the way to the Supreme Court and this is the hill that they're willing to die on. Why is any talk of finances always a third rail and always a red line and you can't go there? Why is that?
[22:40:08] MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the president, and before he was president, businessman Donald Trump, is allergic to facts. So, he is always resisted any form where there's actually raw numbers, in this case numbers that he is attested to and affixed his signature to. It's sort of like the issue with his health.
You know, someone goes in, and they have a medical exam and then the doctor comes out and says, well, you're an inch taller than you really are and you weigh 30 pounds less. You know, he can fudge it when it's his doctor and he is going to try and give him a big job in the next day, but he can't fudge it with the IRS and he can't fudge it with banks.
Now, I think, David also pointed to something really significant and that is that I'm sure his taxes and his financial statements do not align well. This is trouble for him. And then finally I think that the American public will likely find out that he is paid almost no taxes, because real estate is special when it comes to the income tax laws.
You're able to write off huge sums and then when you're done writing off that property sell it and roll it over into a new property, and then start writing that off too. Most businesses can't do this, and I think Americans would be shocked to learn how little he has paid in taxes over the years.
LEMON: Interesting. So, Jennifer, I have to ask you, listen, one has to wonder if he is fighting so much to take this all the way to the Supreme Court, the Hill that they're willing to die on, see my lawyers, what have you, wonder what is it that he doesn't want people to see that is -- that's obvious, right? It's the logical conclusion that, I mean, he may be right, is the law on his side?
JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, it is not.
LEMON: It's no, OK.
RODGERS: I got to say, I never get to say this so definitively, but this is a slam dunk. The law is not on his side. There's a very clear statute that gives the Ways and Means Committee a clear path to getting this. There's no legal obstacle in his way. And that is why the letter -- that his letters -- that his lawyers wrote today was so weak.
I mean, it had no legal argument in it at all. All it did was allege that this is a political issue, just his political opponents trying to get this for political purposes. And they have all sorts of reasons to get this pursuant to their oversight responsibilities. I mean, there's so many conflicts of interests here with financial
dealings he has had, so there are plenty of legitimate reasons, there's no obstacle on their way, they're going to win this legal fight.
LEMON: OK. So, listen, let's just put up -- this is what his lawyers said, this is a quote, his lawyers are arguing letter to the Treasury Department basically saying, even though they have, you know the Ways and Means with the legitimate committee purpose for requesting the president's return, the purpose is not driving Chairman Neal's request, insisting that it is politics, they don't like his politics and his speech. Is that --
LEMON: Does that -- carry any weight or water?
RODGERS: No, no. I mean, look, in order to win in court they would have to prove that this is a bad motive. They would have to prove that this is just political harassment and there's no legitimate reason to get these, but they have all sorts of legitimate reasons to get these. So, this is just their way to say, you know, we're going to throw these out there, this is the argument the we're going to make and by the way the real thing they're trying to do comes at the end of the letter where they say, we think this is a really important issue, we're asking the office of legal counsel to write an opinion about this and you have to wait for that.
So what this really is, is a stall tactic. They want to get this going, they want justice to start writing legal opinions to the Treasury Department and they can start talking about this. This is all the way just to delay the inevitable.
LEMON: So, will Ways and Means get what they want?
RODGERS: I think they will.
RODGERS: But you know, but I also think that prosecutors already have a lot of his tax returns, because they're investigating the business. They've already seen these things. If there's tax fraud, they're going to find it and that is where he really has trouble on the criminal side.
LEMON: His lawyers, David, are also arguing that this would set a dangerous precedent, but isn't the real dangerous precedent a candidate and a president not providing their returns like we have seen every president from every president since Nixon?
CAY JOHNSTON: That is absolutely right. And we should probably have a statute enacted that president's returns are made public. And remember, Donald also files in New York State which strictly follows the federal government, except for retirement income. So state prosecutors in New York are looking at Donald Trump. He is not going to be able to escape this. And if he gets to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts is not
Mitch McConnell. He is not going to sully the Supreme Court's reputation to help Donald Trump evade the tax police and the chairman of the committee that oversees the tax police.
LEMON: Interesting. Michael, I've been wanting to talk to you about this since this story broke, I think yesterday, there's also the reporting that the president nominated Michael Desmond, someone who -- he knew and who had briefly advised the Trump organization on taxes. Nominate him to be the URS chief counsel. Does it make it look like that he wanted a fixer there as well as in other places that he is put people in place?
[22:45:07] D'ANTONIO: Absolutely. Now, I've heard people say that Mr. Desmond is a fine attorney, and no one would cast out on his reputation, but there's also no doubt that Donald Trump always tries to seed the field. He wants to put people into whatever conflict he might be approaching, who will rule in his favor, who will act in his -- on -- in his benefit.
And so, the strange thing about the administration, though, is that they have lost, by some estimates, 90 to 94 percent of the cases that have been brought against them challenging their policies. So this doesn't speak well about hiring all the best people. And I'm not sure this suggests that Mr. Desmond is exactly the right person for this position if it's other than defending the president. So I would assume that that is part of the motive here.
LEMON: Thank you all. Appreciate your time.
Certainly seems like Joe Biden is running for president even though he hasn't officially declared, with the Democratic field growing bigger and bigger, is the party prepared to take on Trump. I'm going to ask Democratic candidate, there he is, Mr. John Hickenlooper, next.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: White House hopefuls swarmed Al Sharpton's national action network convention this week in an attempt to woo black voters. Well, today, candidate John Hickenlooper called for a presidential apology for slavery and promised to sign a bill creating a commission to study reparations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I look at the opportunity to provide every person a real chance at creating their own version of the American dream as one of the fundamentals holdings of this country. And one of the reason we pass it on when I was mayor of Denver.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes or No.
HICKENLOOPER: We spent 30 months and we've got -- yes, I'm going to pass it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper joins me now. That was a good response there. You answered right away. You seem to go very well, at this conference. Good evening by the way, you also said a great country should acknowledge -- this is a quote from you, a great country should acknowledge its mistakes and that apology should come from the Oval Office. Do you believe President Trump would do anything about reparations for descendants of enslaved black Americans?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, he certainly hasn't shown any indication so far. You know, I look at -- slavery really is -- slavery is a nagging, unrelenting shame of America. And I think that we have to own it. We have recognize it and I think that at some point there has to be an apology.
LEMON: Why do you think so many people are so hesitant to the idea of even a commissions or studying it or discussing it, or the possibility of some sort of reparation?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, I mean reparations could take a million forms. Obviously, it's very hard to figure out how you would divide reparations up. I mean, older people get more or less. Younger people, other groups that have been treated unfairly -- I mean, but I think you look at things like education and certainly one thing we should make a commitment to is make sure that every, you know, every kid who is struggling to keep up with their grade level in terms of learning how to read when they are in third grade or learning how to do fractions and multiplication division in fifth and sixth grade, that we make sure that they aren't left behind.
LEMON: Are you concern -- because I got a lot to talk to you about on this issue of reparations is the last thing. Are you concerned that this is going to be a litmus test for all Democratic candidate, this whole idea of reparations and that it can somehow lock you in or it may not be so favorable?
HICKENLOOPER: You know, I'm not sure how that is going to come down. I don't really worry about that much. You know, after I left NAN, I came down -- I spent the afternoon and the evening in Birmingham at Brian Stevenson's, you know, museum and memorial, which looks at lynching all over the United States from about 1875 right up until 1950. And that is so sobering.
If you don't really understand the reason why this country should apologize for allowing slavery to exist as long as it did and after slavery, allow state-sanctioned racial bias and discrimination, you know, going all the way from Jim Crow, all the way up to equal housing, equal employment opportunities. Come down to Birmingham and go -- you know, spend a couple of hours in this museum and I guarantee you it will open anybody's eyes.
LEMON: It's fascinating, I lived there and I know exactly what you're talking about or visit the 16th street Baptist Church there as well, where the four little girls were killed. Listen, I got to ask you, black voters -- and the reason I asked another question is, black voters makeup some 20 percent of all Democratic voters. How do you plan to energize those voters and convince them to support you?
HICKENLOOPER: Well, you know, what I've done, you know, the eight years as mayor and eight years as governor, I tried to go to people, to go to every voter and go to where they are, go to their places of worship, go to their homes, go to their meetings, their symbolic places like certain memorials and museums and really try to listen and understand.
[22:55:15] You know, part of running for president is you're out there looking at the future creating a vision and you know, describing your vision to the public, and the part of it is also has to be looking backwards and really reflecting and understanding our history, so we don't repeat it.
HICKENLOOPER: I think that is very precious to many African-Americans and I think at a certain point, you know, I have to go and listen and really demonstrate that I can hear the issues that African-American voters care most about.
LEMON: John Hickenlooper, appreciate your time, sir. Thank you. Have a good weekend.
HICKENLOOPER: It's always a pleasure. Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you. The fight for Robert Mueller's report heating up. What's on the line? Next.