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CNN TONIGHT

A.G. Barr Sounds Like President Trump's Defender; Attorney General Barr Echoes Trump By Falsely Claiming 'Spying Did Occur' On Trump Campaign, Offering No Evidence; President Trump Trash-Talking The Mueller Investigation; NYT: Retiring As A Judge, Trump's Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role In Tax Dodges; Arrest Made After Burn In Three Black Churches In Louisiana; Lori Loughlin Faces New Charges In College Admissions Scam. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired April 10, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And you just watched our CNN town hall with Washington Governor and Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee, answering questions from the audience for more than an hour. Talking about his signature issue, which is climate change, as well as legalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform and health care.

They discussed a lot there. But you know, we've got to talk about what we saw from the president of the United States and his attorney general. Did you see it?

A two-man show, one bombastic and braggadocios, the other more soft- spoken with a sterling reputation in Washington. It depends on a U.S. -- but pretty -- but make no mistake. Today, they were both working toward the same man. The attorney general dropping an absolute bomb today, saying that he thinks the Trump campaign was spied on, offering absolutely no evidence for his claim.

And minutes later trying to walk back what he said himself. Well, it started would this exchange when Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Barr is the one who brings up the spying here. Shaheen gives him an opportunity you could drive a truck through, an opportunity to take back his spy claim. He doesn't. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It's a big deal.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), NEW HAMPSHIRE: You're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?

BARR: I don't. Well, I guess you could -- I think there's a spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You heard that? You heard that, stopping and thinking questions. Thinking about what he was going to say and then diving right into -- diving right in and then repeating his outrages claim that the Trump campaign was spied on. A claim that's right at the president's alley. You know that.

Remember when he tweeted, this was two years ago, quote, "terrible, just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump tower, just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."

There is no evidence that that ever happened. But it didn't stop Barr from going on to say this today in a blatant attempt to have it both ways.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I'm saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That's all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So that one he says. Do we have a sound bite before that one where he said, OK? Can we can just play them back to back, please. Thank you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It's a big deal.

SHAHEEN: You're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?

BARR: I don't. Well -- I guess you could -- I think there's a spying did occur. Yes, I think spying did occur.

I am not saying that improper surveillance occurred. I'm saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it. That's all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes, you are. That is exactly what you're saying. We just played your own words back for you. This is a transparent attempt by the top law enforcement officer in the country to make an incendiary charge without a shred of evidence and then dodge responsibility for even saying it. Not to have to stand behind it. Democrats are furious. I want to listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Let me just say how very, very dismaying and disappointing that the chief law enforcement officer of our country is going off the rails yesterday and today. He is the attorney general of the United States of America. Not the attorney general of Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But the president delighted with the attorney general who, don't forget, replaced Jeff Sessions who he really, really didn't like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's doing a great job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, of course he thinks Barr is doing a great job. It is increasing -- it increasingly looks like he is doing the president's dirty work here and that's exactly the job Trump wants everybody in his administration to do.

And there's more. The attorney general playing into the president's favorite conspiracy theories about a deep state that he thinks is out to get him.

Remember when he tweeted this. This is last year. Quote, "why didn't the crooked, highest levels of the FBI or justice contact me to tell me of the phony Russia problem?"

And now I want you to listen to this exchange between Barr and Lindsey Graham today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[23:04:56] SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: So, would it be odd that candidate was never really briefed by the Department of Justice that your campaign may be targeted by a foreign entity?

BARR: That is one of the questions I have is I feel normally the campaign would have been advised of this.

GRAHAM: OK. And can you think of a good reason right now why they wouldn't have been?

BARR: I'm interested in getting that answer. I don't understand why the campaign was not advised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The attorney general should know that, the facts. We're going to give you the facts now, OK. The fact is the Trump campaign was advised. Then candidate Donald Trump was personally warned in August of 2016 by senior U.S. intelligence officials that foreign adversaries, including Russia, were likely to try to infiltrate his team or get intel about his campaign.

Maybe he wasn't listening. But they advised. That's the facts. But Barr put it out there, not only without any evidence but in contradiction to known facts. He put it throughout and now the damage is done. But with the Mueller report expected in a matter of days, the president really sounds rattled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This was an attempted coup. This was an attempted take down of a president. And we beat them. We beat them. So, the Mueller report, when they talk about obstruction, we fight back. And you know why we fight back? Because I knew how illegal this whole thing was. This was an illegal witch hunt and everybody knew it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Witch hunt? Guess who else was talking about a witch hunt today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: Do you believe the investigation that director Mueller undertook was a witch hunt or illegal as asserted by the president?

BARR: As I said during my confirmation it really depends on where you're sitting. If you are somebody who's being falsely accused of something, you would tend to view the investigation --

(CROSSTALK)

REED: Well, you're sitting as the attorney general of the United States with a constitutional responsibility. So, if you could answer in that regard.

(CROSSTALK)

BARR: Well, I'm not going to characterize. It is what it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You heard that. I just want to compare that to what Barr said during his confirmation hearing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: Do you believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt against anybody?

BARR: I don't -- I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Come on. We all know that none of this is a coincidence. Afterall, we've heard witch hunt about a million times before from this president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a total witch hunt. I've been saying it for a long time.

It's a witch hunt. That's all it is.

Witch hunt. Witch hunt.

It's just a terrible witch hunt.

Witch hunt. Witch hunt. The Russia witch hunt.

So far, this thing has been a total witch hunt. And it doesn't implicate me in any way.

This was a witch hunt.

It's just a continuation of the same witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Pretty talking point and sound bite for us to play back here for you, but let's give you the fact again. No matter how many times he says it, it's not true. OK? These are the facts. Look at your TV.

Mueller has brought criminal charges against 34 people, three companies, including a half dozen members of team Trump. There they are up on your screen. Michael Cohen, Michael Flynn, Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, and Roger Stone.

Here we go, another group. Five people have been sentenced to prison, including Manafort, Cohen, and Papadopoulos, plus Richard Pinedo and Alex Van der Zwaan. That's no witch hunt. No matter what the president and his attorney general say. All of this comes down to one thing for this president, winning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have not seen the Mueller report. I have not read the Mueller report. I won. No collusion. No obstruction. I won. Everybody knows I won.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Nobody wins when the president of the United States is all about us versus them, us versus them. Divide, divide, divide. When he doubles down on lies and conspiracy theories in the face of facts, he doesn't win.

You got to wonder why he's doing all of this? Why is he doing it now? Is it because he's got reason to fear what's coming? I told you about the Attorney General Barr repeating the false claim that the Trump campaign was spied on.

Well, nobody knows the truth better than my next guest and that's former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper.

[23:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Attorney General Barr sounding a lot like the president today with a baseless claim that Trump team was spied on during the 2016 campaign. I say baseless because the nation's top enforcement official didn't bother to offer one shred of evidence for that incendiary charge.

Joining me now a man who knows all about what went on during the campaign and that's the former Director of National Intelligence, Mr. James Clapper. Before I get your response about when you heard. Is it -- it became clear to me during these hearings, watching it, that the attorney general is appearing to be a political operative? Do you agree with that assessment?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I tell you, Don -- in fact, I think I made this comment to you during his confirmation. And I was impressed. I don't know attorney general. But I was impressed with his demeanor and his responses during the confirmation hearing. And it struck me this guy has got no ambition. He's already been the attorney general, doesn't have anything to prove there.

[23:14:59] And that I thought, you know, he's got to be concerned about the rule of law of doing the right thing and taking care of his legacy.

But today was both stunning and scary, frankly. Because my expectation and my vision of attorney general is neutrality, objectivity, stay above the political fray and protect the rule of law. I had question -- I had doubt -- I had reason to question that today.

LEMON: So, then what did you think though, when you heard him echoing that false claim about spying?

CLAPPER: Well, I was taken aback, stunned, you know, whatever adjective you want to use. First of all, the term spying has a very negative connotation if you're an intelligence professional, it has a very negative connotation to it because it involves doing something against a foreign adversary or foreign power.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, he's smart, he's savvy enough to know that. So that word didn't just slip out.

CLAPPER: Well, I mean, he did pause there and I guess that it was a delivered choice of words and he is pretty careful, at least what I've seen and what he's written and what he's said about picking language and selecting the phrases he's going to use. So, I was taken quite aback by then.

Moreover, I think the fact that he doesn't have any evidence or wouldn't mention any, I mean this is something he could have determined his first day on the job. And it's not like he just fell off the turn up truck. He's done it before. He didn't wander in the Department of Justice saying hey, what does this outfit do? He already knew all of that.

So it seem to me that if he had doubts or concern about that he could have asked the inspector general, who's already got an investigation underway to brief him quickly on his preliminary findings (Inaudible) legality and impropriety.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Well, director, he made the assertion. He made the assertion and then he back tracked saying well, it's just his suspicion, which is -- which I thought as a, you know, as one of the chief law enforcement officers in the country, that was odd.

CLAPPER: Well, and to say so publicly in that form. And again, if he had suspicion or concern about it, it seems to me, that's something he should have determined or asked about, certainly the first week he was in office.

LEMON: By that point though, right -- but what I just mentioned when he said it -- there were already a bunch of headlines. The attorney general says that Trump campaign was spied on. Too little, too late for the clarification I would imagine. Do you think that was the point?

CLAPPER: Well, absolutely. The damage was done. I mean, that statement will be picked up, amplified by Fox News and everybody else. I think it really does a disservice, which is, you know, we've got a mountain of that already, a disservice to the FBI.

LEMON: So, Director, if --

(CROSSTALK)

CLAPPER: The other way -- one point I need to make, Don, here --

LEMON: Yes.

CLAPPER: -- is which is important to me is, you know, with all this distraction, we are losing site here of the threat posed by the Russians. That's how this all started. Was what the Russians were doing to meddle in our political processes?

And to the extent that anyone in the Trump camp was under surveillance, it was a factor of their association with Russians who were validated intelligence targets. And that's what concerned us before the end of the last administration. Why all these meetings with Russians?

So, I think -- I would argue that the FBI would have been derelict had they not at least looked into this. And indivertibly with counterintelligence investigations they try to be as discrete as possible, limit the exposure as much as they possibly can and also be careful about who they talk to about it until they know who is, who might be complicit or not.

LEMON: I want you to watch this, Director, because it's really surprising. Barr doesn't seem to know a key detail about the investigation. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: So, would it be odd that the candidate was never really briefed by the Department of Justice that your campaign may be targeted by a foreign entity? BARR: That is one of the questions I have. I feel normally the

campaign would have been advised of this.

GRAHAM: OK. And can you think of a good reason right now why they wouldn't have been?

BARR: I'm interested in getting that answered. I don't understand why the campaign was not advised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, director, as we know the campaign was informed about Putin's involvement in 2016. You know that because you were there. Why doesn't Barr know that or say that?

[23:19:59] CLAPPER: Again, if he had a question about it, certainly could asked about it earlier and in private and not mused about it publicly. And essentially, it appears to me kind of reveal his ignorance there because both of the campaigns were given defensive briefings.

I know when we started briefing the candidates after their respective conventions, we briefed about the Russian meddling. So, there was an awareness about -- in both campaigns about what the Russians were doing. And I'm sure both campaigns were given defensive briefings about, you know, watch out for what the Russians might do.

LEMON: So now that we've talked about what happened today, let's talk about what's happening with the Mueller report, Director. It's to be released. Barr said hopefully next week. With what we saw today are you more or less confident that we'll get full story of the Barr Justice Department?

CLAPPER: Well, I have to say, to be honest, less. Now I'm concerned about how heavy handed the redaction blotter is going to be. And again, not to be the dead horse, but I will.

One of the things I had hoped to come out in the Mueller report was documentation of the Russian interference and the profound threat that what the Russians are doing pose to this country and I was hoping that Mueller report would go into that.

And if the two key indictments of February and July of last year are any indication, I think it would be quite enlightening for the public to know what the Russians did. And I worry now about the redaction pen compromising or marginalizing the commentary about the Russians.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I think it's fascinating. I remember you being on the show and you gave him the benefit of the doubt. You said listen, you know, he's worried about his legacy. I don't believe he's going to, you know, do this in a way that would be detrimental to that. And now you have these concerns. It's interesting to assess. Thank you, director. I appreciate it.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don. LEMON: President Trump sure seems to like what he's hearing from his

attorney general. Is he helping the president undermine the Mueller investigation?

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Attorney General Barr dropping a bombshell today falsely suggesting that Trump campaign was spied on. Barr also refused to say whether anyone in the White House has seen the Mueller report.

Let's discuss now. Elie Honig is here, Jennifer Rodgers, Matt Rosenberg, and Max Boot, the author of "The Corrosion of Conservative: Why I Left the Right."

Hello, everyone. I'm so glad that you all could join me here in New York City. What did you think when you saw Barr today, Elie?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Boy, I thought today was sort of an important moment where I thought OK. He's in the bag politically for Donald Trump. And I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but you have to think to the entire history of William Barr.

He prejudged this case. He said negative things about collusion and obstruction before he became attorney general. he declined to recuse himself, a decision I still don't understand. And then today we see him sort of playing dumb and refusing to answer any question having to do with Mueller's report, what's in it, his process, yet jumping out and making this wild statement on spying.

The spying that happened within the FBI and DOJ and it just seems that everything he does he always comes out on the same side politically, everything he does always favors Trump, mirrors the talking points and I have not seen one sign of independence from him yet.

LEMON: It was amazing to me when he said in one breath spying happened. And then the -- and then the next when asked to clarify he goes well; I don't believe anything happened. And like, so then which one is it? The headlines have already been set. The news narrative is already been set. Do you think his independence, Max, do you think it's in question now?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think it is very much in question, Don. I mean, the mystery for me is why somebody like Bill Barr who this a paid-up member of the Washington establishment.

This is his second stint as attorney general. He had a reputation to uphold here. He was somebody who was fairly well looked upon in Washington and it feels to me like he is setting his reputation on fire that he is going to be remembered now as a Trump partisan, that he is basically going the full Nunes here.

He is descending into conspiracy theories. He's acting I think now more like the president's attorney, rather than the attorney general of the United States. That is not a good look. I mean, I'm frankly a little bit surprised here because I did not oppose his nomination. I wasn't critical of -- (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: A lot of people on this network gave him the benefit of the doubt.

BOOT: Right. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I thought he would at least be a big improvement on Matt Whitaker, right? But he is not. He's actually doing more to impede the investigation than Whitaker did as far as we know.

LEMON: Can I ask you something, because he comes across as a mild- mannered guy, Max, especially, you know, compared to President Trump and Rudy Giuliani. Right?

BOOT: Right.

LEMON: Do you think his demeanor and his reputation that it makes it seem like he's more reasonable than he actually is?

BOOT: Yes, absolutely. I mean, he comes across like, you know, the prep school English teacher but he is acting very much like Rudy Giuliani this partisan who is defending President Trump. And I think as we've been talking about here, I think he is getting less and less benefit of the doubt the more and more that he talks.

LEMON: Do you think he's helping the president undermine the Mueller investigation, Jennifer?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I definitely think he's try doing that. I mean, we all expected the Mueller report to surface at least in redacted form shortly after he received it. I don't think anyone expected what we got, which was his interpretation of this bottom-line conclusions, including his own decision on obstruction that no one expected.

So, he gave the president such a gift there because he gave them the benefit of a couple of week of being able to say no crimes, nothing to see here, total exoneration. And only now are we even thinking about, you know, getting to the meat of the Mueller report and we've had all time when he's been allowed to do that. So that was kind of the first sign.

And then, you know, as Elie was saying, you know we have all of this additional stuff he gave him today, this whole spying thing, which was a ridiculous statement. Akin to when someone calls a government informant a rat, you know, something that really should never come out of the mouth of the attorney general.

[23:30:05] LEMON: All right. Let's discuss the question that Matthew asked during the break, and that was whether -- when he was asked whether anyone in the DOJ, outside of the DOJ, had seen the report. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who if anyone outside the Justice Department has seen portions or all of the special counsel's report? Has anyone in the White House seen any of the report?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not going to -- as I said, I'm landing the plane right now. I've been willing to discuss my letters and the process going forward, but the report's going to be out next week and I'm not just going to get into the details of the process until the plane is on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Has somebody seen the report? I'm still kind of in the somewhat benefit of the doubt camp on this. Look, he's landing a plane. He doesn't want to talk about it. He's trying to shut down the conversation.

But yeah, if I were going to bet, I'd bet somebody's seen portions of it. Like Jennifer pointed out, there's grand jury stuff in there, outside information, but it certainly seems possibly the White House counsel's office, possibly somebody else has seen parts of that report.

LEMON: Do you think they've seen the report?

RODGERS: Well, I hope not because showing to the White House is a violation of Rule 6E --

LEMON: That's different --

RODGERS: It's illegal.

LEMON: Violation of --

RODGERS: Of Rule 6E, the grand jury restrictions, right, which we have been talking about at length and Barr has said he's very strictly going to adhere to. So to show it to the White House in violation of that rule would really be outrageous. I suspect it is more of a comprehensive briefing about the report than actually showing it.

LEMON: OK. We're going to discuss treason next, and we're also going to talk about hush money payments and investigation. We'll be right back.

[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We are back now with Elie, Jennifer, Matthew and Max. OK, so listen, while Barr was headed to the Hill today, the president really went on the attack against the investigation. I just want to play some of it. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Everything about it was crooked. Every single thing about it. There were dirty cops. These were bad people. You look at McCabe and Comey, and you look at Lisa and Peter Strzok. These were bad people. And this was an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a president. And we beat them. We beat them.

Hopefully the attorney general, he mentioned it yesterday, he's doing a great job. Getting started on going back to the origins of exactly where this all started because this was an illegal witch hunt and everybody knew it and they knew it, too. And they got caught. And what they did was treason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Max, is that what you -- that's what you -- like a 180 is a turn around. He did a 180 after the report came out. He praised Mueller, saying he did the right thing, right? And now he's gone all the way around 360 where he is back to calling it a witch hunt and talking about all the -- does he know what's in this report?

BOOT: I would say, Don, a foolish consistency is not the hobgoblin of Donald Trump's mind because he has no problem saying things that are flatly contradictory. On the one hand, he's saying this is an illegal hoax, a witch hunt investigation. And on the other hand, he is saying the findings of the investigation are absolutely accurate and I have been entirely exonerated.

I mean, how does that add up? It doesn't make any sense. But it's just telling his followers whatever they want to hear, even if it doesn't -- you know, minute to minute, you can't reconcile his statements.

LEMON: Yeah. So you -- do you read into that that he's seen or knows about the report?

BOOT: I don't know. I mean, I think he's been briefed on it or read it, probably hasn't read it, but I think he understands there's going to be stuff in there that's going to be embarrassing for him. I mean, we all know that because we know that Mueller actually said although that he's not recommending prosecution, this also doesn't exonerate him. So if he's not exonerating him, there's some really bad stuff in there, and I think Trump understands that.

LEMON: But to the point you're making before, I mean, it may probably be someone or people close to him have been briefed on this and now he's getting (INAUDIBLE) on some of the things that are in there.

ROSENBERG: It doesn't rise to the level of criminality, but -- that's the thing. Any reasonable (ph) person who has just been basically exonerated, even if it says you're not exonerated, you're off, so why then criticize the investigation that you've now got an off from, you know?

But of course, this is Donald Trump. That's the logic that doesn't apply here. So I think Max is probably right. There are things that are going to be in there about obstruction. There are probably meetings, people close to him and some Russians, some of the collusion stuff that doesn't add up to conspiracy but doesn't look good either, you know. He's got to know that.

LEMON: I want to ask you, guys, about this before we go, Elie. This is a story that is out "The New York Times." "The New York Times" is reporting that President Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired from her position as a federal appellate judge. She is stepping down to avoid an inquiry and to tax schemes that reportedly benefited the Trump family. Does this raise red flags about the president's role here? What is going on?

HONIG: Sure. I think she is trying to avoid an internal investigation or judicial investigation into her conduct here. And look, to the extent that family's money is intermingled, it could be an attempt to try to shield herself and potentially her brother, the president, from further investigation. We know the president is in the midst of fighting this battle. They are about to fight this battle about disclosure of his tax returns.

[23:40:00] We've already seen Secretary Mnuchin and others start to take bizarre and twisted legal positions about why they don't have to turn it over even though the statue says they shall furnish it and they're making this ridiculous argument that the case was already litigated when the American people voted him into office, they didn't want his tax return, which is not the way the law works, not the way the courts work.

So, there is a lot of money intertwined here. There seems to be a firm wall set up. They do not want to turn over those tax returns. They're ready as what some from the administration said, they are ready to die on that Hill. I don't know why, but they are.

LEMON: She needs to step down to avoid an inquiry. The president is still in office.

RODGERS: So it's not a criminal inquiry, right? It's a judicial inquiry because she is a judge. So, the statute of limitations is almost certainly run on these tax fraud crimes. So no one is going to be going to prison for this. But if you're a judge, there is a judicial code of conduct that you have to adhere to. They are entitled to look into misconduct that occurred, you know, going way, way back. There is no statute of limitations on that behavior.

So, I think what she was concerned about is that all of this was going to come out in some fashion. She's disciplined or even impeached, which she could have been, then all of that material is going to become public and that implicates not just her but of course Donald Trump because the siblings were in this together when their father was turning over his fortune to them.

LEMON: There's always something with this family. It's really, really amazing. Thank you all.

I've got to turn some breaking news that we have been covering on this show. Officials are telling CNN an arrest has been made in connection with fires at three historically black churches in the same rural Louisiana parish. Josh Campbell joins me now by phone from Lafayette, Louisiana. Josh, thank you so much. What's the latest? What do you know?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Hey, Don. As you mentioned, the subject has been taken into custody, we were told by law enforcement officials here in Louisiana. The subject is described as a 21-year-old resident of St. Landry Parish. CNN has been provided the subject's name. We are not providing that yet at this point. We are waiting for law enforcement officials to officially announce that which we expect to happen tomorrow.

There is a press conference. The governor was actually traveling from state's capitol here to the local area to make this announcement on the latest development, this arrest. As you know, you've been covering this on your show at length. This is a case that has really rocked the community.

You've had three churches, historically black churches that were burned to the ground. The question at this point, was this someone who did it, was it one person? There are multiple people that are absolutely part of this ongoing investigation. We are learning tonight that one person has been taken into custody, and we expect to get more details on that from local officials here tomorrow.

LEMON: So listen, no -- we have no idea about the motivation, whether this is someone who is a fire starter or if his intentions were racial-on anyone.

CAMPBELL (via telephone): We don't as of this point. As we've been looking at the facts, obviously there are commonalities with the churches. These are three churches that are historically black churches. I can tell you our team that's been on the ground, we've surveyed the area. There are number of houses of worship is the local area. In this part of the country, the house of worship is the local point of the community.

And so the fact that this person decided to target African-American churches, again, that is the commonality, and we haven't heard from law enforcement officials that this person has actually admitted to that motivation that that's, you know, what actually caused him to do this. None of us know (ph) that this is what has happened.

We also know, as I mentioned, the community has also been really ratcheted up and wondering if this is something that is going to happen again. We talked to a number of people who told us that pastors were actually staying overnight in their churches in order to serve. There is an early warning detection system, if this person happened to strike again, and they can then call law enforcement.

Again, it's really been a community that has been gripped. They have been in fear. We talked to people who told us now that has ratcheted down a bit now that they're told that this person was actually been taken into custody. Again, there is that lingering question we don't have yet answered. Does this person act alone? That's something we're still continuing to gather.

We were also told, Don, as we are talking to the people, that we don't yet know if this is a federal hate crime or whether this will remain a state charge. We'll find that out tomorrow once we hear from the governor.

LEMON: Yeah, when they have that press conference tomorrow morning. Thank you very much, Josh Campbell, reporting from Lafayette, Louisiana.

Actress Lori Loughlin is facing new charges and more than 20 years in prison for allegedly using bribes to get her daughters into college. Why she's not pleading guilty while some other parents caught up in the scandal have, that's next.

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LEMON: New developments tonight in the college admissions cheating scandal. Law enforcement source tells CNN "Full House" actress, Lori Loughlin, never engaged in substantial plea deal talk. Loughlin and her husband are now among 16 parents facing new charges for allegedly using bribery and fraud to get their kids into elite schools.

Let's discuss now. Joe Tacopina is here, Frank Bruni. Frank is the author of "Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania." And Areva Martin, the author of "Make It Rain."

Good evening to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us.

Areva, I'm going to start with you. Did Loughlin and her husband and their attorneys misjudge how serious of a situation they're in now?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Don, it's kind of curious as to why the reports are that they didn't engage in any kind of substantial plea negotiations given how clear the prosecutor was. When this whole cheating scandal was announced, the prosecutor gave a press conference and he was very clear that they were going to be seeking jail time for everyone involved in the scandal.

And there are other parents who were named initially by the prosecutors who have been indicted for similar things, for similar charges like Lori Loughlin and her husband.

[23:50:05] So, I don't think they understood perhaps the gravity. What we're hearing is that the audiotapes or videotapes, there's text messages, e-mail messages, and a mound of evidence that's going to make it pretty impossible for them to mound any kind of credible defense.

So, it's not clear to me what their strategy is. We haven't heard from them. We haven't heard from their legal team. It's not really clear how they tend to defend themselves given the seriousness of these charges.

LEMON: Agree. And you don't know everything that's on the table, off the table, Joe, but I'm just going to ask, if you were advising, if you were the attorney for Loughlin and her husband, would you have advised them to plead guilty and take the original deal?

JOE TACOPINA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Based on what we know -- again, we don't know everything, but based on what we know, absolutely, because it's not going to get any better. You know, some of the top defendants in this case, including one of the top lawyers in New York City has pled guilty so he acknowledged -- I mean, this is a slam dunk case from what we've heard with audio recordings and the like.

Now, what's happened is the ante has been raised. The stakes are now much higher. The guidelines are significantly higher. And you lose certain things in the prosecution which will give you any plea negotiation. So, I don't think anybody's necessarily going to jail on this case. I don't think that's a (INAUDIBLE) complete, by the way. Just because the guidelines say there's a range of imprisonment doesn't mean they have to go to jail.

LEMON: But I wonder how optics and contrition -- I wonder how important or how they factor into it. So let's compare and contrast, Frank, that, you know, I said that Loughlin smiled and waved, signed autographs at her court appearance, and I want you to compare that to Felicity Huffman who avoided eye contact and on Monday pled guilty to similar charges of using wealth to cheat on standardized tests and bribe college administrators.

Huffman also took responsibility in a written statement. Do you think that is going to factor into the outcomes?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't know from a legal perspective, but I have to tell you I read that statement and I thought it was extremely well done. I was really glad to see it. I liked in particular something she said in it that I think we haven't said much during this whole scandal, which is she apologized to all those kids --

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: -- who by (INAUDIBLE) real talent and hard work got into these schools. And now we're feeling less pride about that because there is a whole cloud over the entire admissions scandal when all of us are looking and saying how did you get in? How did you get in? How did you get in?

She recognized that not only had she done wrong by her own kid in terms of the example she was setting, not only had she kind of participated in and furthered a corrupt system, but she tarnished the good names of all of those kids at some of these schools who really earned their places there. I was really happy to see that element in her statement.

LEMON: You know, there's been a lot of talk about privilege, especially now that there is a campaign underway, but a lot of talk about privilege. I am wondering, Areva, if this scandal is an ultimate example of white privilege or just wealth privilege, class privilege.

MARTIN: Well, definitely, Don, it raises the issue of celebrity privilege and whether there is a dual justice system, one for affluent famous people and one for poor people. Joe said something that I think is really causing people like me and around this country to be concerned, he says it's not clear that any of these people are going to serve jail time.

It reminds me of the Atlanta cheating scandal. Teachers in Atlanta were charged with falsifying test scores so that the schools could, you know, appear to be doing better than they were. And some of those teachers were accused of getting $4,500 as a bonus as a result of that cheating. Most of those individuals that went to trial, they are serving time. They're actually in jail anywhere from one to three years.

I would hope that this is an opportunity for our justice system to really make a statement that we don't have a dual system and that individuals can't buy their way out of a situation, just because of their wealth or their celebrity status.

LEMON: This will help you. This goes into what I'm saying. I'll give this to you, Joe. Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, they had an additional charge of money laundering announced yesterday. I'm wondering if they learning the hard way that you don't gamble with federal prosecutors. Go on.

TACOPINA: Yeah, they do. I mean, they are learning the hard way. You don't gamble with federal prosecutors unless you believe in your case. Look, because the charge is levied doesn't mean that the person is guilty. I mean, I've had a federal trial a month ago. My client was acquitted. He was charged by federal prosecutors. Doesn't mean you're guilty. But in this case, I don't think anyone believes that these people are wrongly charged.

BRUNI: I think what we're all wondering is whether she and her husband are in a kind of denial because they don't really see what they did as being all that wrong. The truth of the matter is they were doing a kind of -- string polling, very extreme, that parents do all the time. They don't take it to this level. They don't end up breaking the law. But I think they saw what they were doing as just what all parents of privilege do to get privilege for their children.

LEMON: You wrote a book about this. Your book is about the college admissions process. In it you write, you said, "The college admissions office is no longer a mere screening committee. It is a ruthlessly efficient purveyor of Ivory Tower porn."

(LAUGHTER)

[23:55:03] BRUNI: Yeah.

LEMON: What does that -- do the colleges have any role in the scandals?

BRUNI: Oh, yeah.

LEMON: the admissions processes --

BRUNI: At hundred percent. What I was talking about with that sentence is all of these elite schools are sending out glossy literature, sending out all sorts of information to try to get as many kids to apply, even though they know most of those kids aren't going to meet the criteria and get in.

It is called recruit to deny and they do it because the way you bring your acceptance rate from 20 percent to 15 percent to 10 percent to five percent in Stanford's case, is to get more and more people to apply even though you're going to reject them and it creates this sort of desperation and madness in parents that you see playing out in this admissions scandal.

LEMON: Quick, I'm out of time. Go ahead, Areva.

MARTIN: Yeah. I just want to say I don't know if I buy that these parents didn't know that they were committing crimes because one of the things that we've heard through reporting is that there was very elaborate effort to keep what they were doing a secret.

So if they thought what they were doing was OK or wasn't criminal, then there wouldn't have been all of this cover-up involved. I think these people knew exactly what they were doing and I thought they were above the law.

LEMON: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Tomorrow night, I'm going to be moderating our CNN town hall with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Julian Castro. That's tomorrow night at 10:00, only on CNN. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

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