Return to Transcripts main page


Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Is Interviewed About the Upcoming Redacted Mueller Report; A.G. Barr's Tough Decision on Immigration; Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Still Have the Charisma to Donors. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired April 16, 2019 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

We begin with breaking news on two fronts. A major reversal tonight on immigration policy by the Attorney General William Barr, a reversal that could led to thousands more immigrants being kept in jail indefinitely.

The attorney general deciding that those who cross the border illegally and claim asylum can no longer be released on bail while waiting for their cases to be heard, even if they have been deemed to have credible fear of persecution in their home countries. We're going to talk about that in just a moment.

Also breaking tonight, President Trump and his attorneys preparing for a major battle with House Democrats over the growing number of investigations.

The Washington Post is reporting this could set up a long legal battle that may test the power of congressional subpoenas. This all happening as we are counting down the hours to the release of a redacted version of Robert Mueller's report. The attorney general expects to make it public on Thursday morning.

And tonight, sources tell CNN that many current and former White House officials are dreading it. Fearing it will provide credible accounts of chaos inside the West Wing and that it might prove embarrassing and politically damaging to President Trump.

And don't forget plenty of current and former top aides testify to Mueller's team under penalty of lying to federal investigators. Many are now worried that if they -- their testimony is exposed publicly they'll face the president's wrath.

As one GOP source tell CNN "Trump is going to go bonkers." That is a quote.

I want to bring in now Chris Swecker, he's a former FBI assistant director for criminal investigative division who worked under Robert Mueller. Also joining us is Juliette Kayyem and Jennifer Rodgers.

So good to have all of you on. Jennifer, I'm going to start with you and I want to start with this new Washington Post story out tonight about the new battle lines that are being drawn.

They're reporting that President Trump and his attorneys are moving to resist all House requests on everything from his taxes to security clearances at the White House, cabinet agencies, conversations with foreign leaders and so on.

They're reporting that White House attorney Pat Cipollone -- Cipollone -- I hope I got that right -- is preparing for an extensive legal battle if necessary. How do you see this playing out?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think the key word there, Don, is extensive legal battle because that really is what this is all about. Delay is the name of the game here. At the end of the day when all of this is litigated, I think that the House has the better of this argument. I think they will get most of what they're seeking in all of these different categories.

The problem is it takes time. And with an election coming up next year this is mostly about the administrations wanting to hold the stuff back not let these things see the light of day and hopefully they can get through the election, and of course, they're hoping that maybe they retake the House and the president gest reelected and all of this goes away.


LEMON: So, but how much time are we talking in reality? How much time here do you think if this goes on --


RODGERS: It just depends. There's so many different matters. I mean, you have security clearances, you have the tax returns. The tax return is maybe the simplest one. I think that one actually will take the least amount of time.

But we're still talking about at least a few months before it works its way through the courts. Because these are not deemed emergences as far as the court system is concerned.

So, all of this when you put all of these things together, we're talking about many, many months of litigation and that's really, I think what it's all about from Trump's perspective.

LEMON: It's a delay tactic here. Juliette, I just want to get your reaction to this. The slew of demands from the House committees has infuriated Trump who has told aides that he does not want to cooperate with the inquiries, according to people familiar with his thinking.

Cabinet agencies have been told to seek White House permission before giving any documents to Congress and lawyers in the counsel's office are closely monitoring the requests aides said.

So, Juliette, they want every single thing approved by the White House. Is this how this should work? JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Generally, not. I

mean, it depends on the nature of what the request is from these House oversight committees. Some of them will cut directly to Donald Trump which would implicate the White House counsel's office.

But remember, every agency has normally a Senate confirmed general counsel whether it's DOD, DHS, the CIA that are getting requests all the time, oversight requests that they have to satisfy because that's the nature of the constitutional oversight process.

[23:04:59] The Congress needs the information to determine what's going on. It appears what the White House has done is that almost all of that oversight capacity now moves to the White House. So, it's not only to stop it, as Jennifer is saying and delay it and delay it in either the hopes that they win or they lose and everyone doesn't pay attention after 2020.

But also, just operationally it's going to slow everything down. Because any time you -- as someone who's working through agencies any time you involve the White House it's just going to add extra time. That is going to lead to incredible frustration by the House and there will be hearings about the delays, and then more hearings about those delays about the delays.

This is a delay tactic as we were saying, and one that ultimately is just going to, you know, for most of the stuff, it's just going to make it more important and more suspicious than it likely already is.

LEMON: I'm exhausted already listening to you.

KAYYEM: I know.

LEMON: And I know you're right. Chris, I just want to get your reaction here because it's obvious that this president doesn't like oversight that we're now seeing on Capitol Hill.

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Yes. I mean, look, you're talking to somebody who doesn't have a whole lot of faith in congressional investigations. We've been doing this for two years now. And it just seems like a lot of us would like to see -- I'm just a country lawyer from North Carolina in a gump show. I don't want to give political opinions.

But it would be nice to see the legislature just get back to legislating and fixing problems. I mean, I do think that, again, from North Carolina, the four (Inaudible) and the four corners. And there's a lot of delay going on. It's very deliberate delay. And I think as we've mentioned previously, I think he can get come very close to running out the clock.

LEMON: Yes. So, Juliette, I also want to get more on this breaking news.


LEMON: There's breaking news story and this is about the Attorney General William Barr. A major reversal decided today that some -- he decided today that some asylum seekers could held indefinitely. And we're talking about people who have established that they have credible fear, that they will seek, you know, persecution in their country.

KAYYEM: Right.

LEMON: They will no longer be able to ask a judge for bond. I mean, it seems incredibly harsh. But what do you think?

KAYYEM: So, there's going to be a couple of challenges to that. One is going to clearly be the legal, which is whether a well-founded basis of asylum that is approved by a judge would constitute or allow there to be no bond. Because you basically going to detain for a period of time.

So, there will be legal challenges on this. I'm well aware of all of the immigration debates right now. But I want to bring up two other quick points. One is operationally this is just a joke at this stage. What are you going to do? You're going to now start detaining more people when we already don't have enough beds. We're already detaining plenty of people.

This was the joke when Sessions said that no longer are we going to have catch and release. They didn't have any operational planning behind it so you had the nightmare that we've been seeing at the border.

The third thing I want to say is this is consistent with how bad their immigration policy is. The harsher they get, there is no impact on the flow. They sort of refuse to look at the underlining reasons why we have this immigration problem which is, you know, lots of problems in other countries that we should be supported, clear rules and structures here in the United States.

So once again, it's another harsh rule, it will have no impact, none whatsoever on immigration numbers. And as we've seen with Donald Trump's and Steve Miller's entire immigration plan, it's been a failure. The numbers are abysmal for this administration.

LEMON: Yes. So, let's move ahead and talk about the report. Jennifer, there's the Barr report that releases on Thursday.

As we wait for Thursday's release of the redacted report, the question is, what will this redacted report look like? Will it serve to help President Trump? How do you see Barr playing it?

RODGERS: Well, I think that Barr is the gift that keeps on giving to the president and we'll see that again on Thursday. The redacted report is going to be, I think heavily redacted. We won't see a lot of the information if it can fall even tangentially into one of the four categories that Barr has described as redactable.

So, I think it's really going to be up to Congress to hold his feet to the fire and try to get more and more of that material unredacted because I do think he has shown himself to be a supporter of the president in ways that many people did not expect. And so, I do not expect that we will see as much text as we should on Thursday.

But I think we'll see some things. And I really hope we get a better sense of if I had to have my very top priority, I want to know why Robert Mueller did not decide the obstruction question and I hope that the report explains that, that he lays out the evidence that was on either side and gives us some sort of sense of why he felt he couldn't make a decision on that very important legal question.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, and I'm just quoting you here, Chris, because you said you're a dumb country lawyer, right? You know, and I know you don't want to make this political. But you know, Democrats, they don't want redactions here. So, the big question is how much will we actually see in this report? What are you expecting?

[23:10:00] SWECKER: I think Bill Barr is going to surprise a lot of people. I think he's going to release more than what a lot of people realize.

LEMON: Interesting.

SWECKER: Because I think it's in his best interest, it's in the best interest of the country to do that and a lot of this information is already out in the public domain. He's not going to release grand jury material. You have to get a court order from a judge to do that.

But I think he's going to be a little bit looser with things that are already out there in public source, you know in the social media, in the media in general. So, I think we might hear more, see more about the lead up to the investigation, the predication for the investigation. I hope so. And then the course of the investigation, I'd like to see all of it out there.

LEMON: Do you think the devil is in the detail and that's what the concerns in Washington are. Maybe it doesn't rise to the level of criminality. But people are concerned about the everyday workings or goings on -- going on, what's going on in the White House and in the administration that will really be made fact instead of just through sources.

SWECKER: And one thing I was aware of for the 24 years that I serve in the FBI is just the awesome power that you have just by initiating an investigation or investigating somebody. So, I think Bill Barr's sort of sensitive to that. And I don't think he's going to protect public officials, people who are already out there.

But I do think you're going to see some efforts to protect some people that haven't been charge consistent with our presumption of innocence. But I really think you're going to see a lot more detail than people are talking about it.

LEMON: Juliette, what do you think here?

KAYYEM: I think that's right. I mean, you know, we tend to think of the Mueller report as only being about the past. I do think it's also about the ongoing and the future. In particular, we forget why Mueller is there in the first place which is what did Russia do and why are potentially is ongoing efforts to destabilize --


LEMON: You read my mind.

KAYYEM: -- and undermine our democracy.


KAYYEM: I mean, the second thing, though, let's not forget when we talk about ongoing, so future is there may be material out there that we find out about that show the president not for criminal behavior but has ongoing ties with foreign countries. This is a big part of what Mueller investigated that can lead a reasonable person to conclude that the president might be compromised, I think.

And that's a political decision. I get that. That's for politics. But nonetheless, that is worth knowing. And we'll see whether Barr -- we'll see how much Barr discloses. But I don't like thinking about the Mueller report only being about a nice package about the past.

It really will disclose the present-day sort of freedoms of the president, you know, whether he does have compromise ties to the Russians or other nations and then, of course, what the Russians plan in 2016, 2018 and the not so far away 2020 at this stage.

LEMON: I think a lot of it will be left to interpretation depending on your political perspective. But what I'm interested in is the extent through which Russia tried to infiltrate and affect our election. I want to see the details on that. I think that's really important to American democracy in our election process.

Thank you all. I appreciate it.

Team Trump and Congress doing battle over how much material House Democrats will be able to get through their investigation. I'm going to ask Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee to weigh in. She's next.


LEMON: So, here's the breaking news. President Trump and his attorneys are preparing for a major battle with House Democrats to resist a growing number of requests for information. That is according to the Washington Post. Aides tell the Post that the White House counsel and the president's legal team are ready for the legal fight over subpoenas from Congress.

So, joining me now to discuss is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. She sits on the House judiciary committee. So, it is great to have you here to discuss the story.

Congresswoman, thank you so much. I'm going to get your reaction to this breaking news from the Washington Post. And here's what the report say in part.

It says, "The administration does not plan to turn over information being sought about how particular individuals receive their security clearances, Trump's meetings with foreign leaders and other topics that they plan to argue are subject to executive privilege according to several aides familiar with internal investigation."

So how will you respond to the White House?

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, obviously this is the last grasp for breath of this administration. And the reckoning that there is new leaders in town and the article one body, the United States Congress, in this instance the House of Representatives is prepared to do its job.

We knew after a period of time that there would have to be some gas and some attempt to fight back by the administration after giving a sense of cavalierness, not caring, not being concerned about what this Congress was attempting to do.

But once we began to unravel the whole litany of unfortunate and inappropriate incidences in the White House and its administration, the tactic now is to set up barriers and walls and begin to have their counsel start the defense, to start shooting back.

But it is not going to overcome us because the law is on our side and the rule of law is on the side of all of the committees, including the Ways and Means Committee which is operating and in particular statute, the oversight committee which has the responsibility of determining what are the goings and comings of the administration or the executive, and the judiciary committee which has under its authority rule of law, abuse of power, public corruption, obstruction.

And the only procedure that can be ultimately used if it is decided to be used, impeachment, that can be utilized against a sitting president.

LEMON: So Congressman, let me ask you --

LEE: So, you don't have to be fact-finders.

LEMON: Let me ask you this because you're talking about the law. They're saying that that is indeed the purpose is to use the law, to use the courts as stalling tactic, a deliberate tactic to try to get the stall, either until the election is over or he's out of office.

[23:20:05] LEE: Well, as I indicated, they are preparing to put up their defense. We have subpoena power. There are going to be persons that are going to be too concerned about their ultimate legal posture that they will not stand with the president and the administration.

They will come before our committee. They will respond to the subpoenas and with that in mind, that will allow us to continue block by block to build our case.

What Attorney General Barr is doing, for example, with the redacted documents, the narrative that he put out two weeks ago that has tainted anyone's view of the document, the Mueller report, it's just not going to stand.

We're going to subpoena Mr. Mueller. We're going to subpoena Mr. Barr. Mr. Barr is supposed to be in front of the judiciary committee at the beginning of May and he will be required under law to answer truthfully under oath questions ask by the House judiciary committee and they will be pointed and focused.


LEE: So, we have ways, Don, of giving to the American people what they ask for and that is the truth.

LEMON: Well, let me ask you about the reports, you know, release is coming nearly a month after Mueller handed it over to Barr. You just mentioned. You said, you know, it will shape the narrative.

Do you believe the redactions took that long or was it a delay just to try to harden public opinion?

LEE: Well, I'm absolutely disappointed in the individual who has had experience with an attorney general before, is a chief legal officer of the American people and not of the White House.

There's no question that the delay was for a purpose. It was purposeful. It was either to ensure that the White House had an opportunity for rebuttal or in this Holy Week to present it at a time when Americans are focused on their faith and then to of course delay it to do every -- how should I say it? Every manner of difficulty that they could imagine.

I am disappointed, as I said earlier. I am concerned about the attorney general saying that he is redacting classified information, investigations, public privacy matters and grand jury matters. That's literally the whole report.

And I expect that there will be completely redacted pages. Right now, I'm going to say unacceptable, and we will pursue this, particularly the grand jury information.

The attorney general knows full well that we could get an immediate response from a court if you go in on a specific grand jury information and the court could make a response as to what is allowed and what is not in which he chose not to do.

And so, this is self-produced. It is produced by the Department of Justice. The attorney general has already shown himself to be the lawyer for Mr. Trump and not for the American people. And I'm disappointed because he has been known to be a professional lawyer.

And so, we're not going to be able to accept a document to give to the American people that is 60 percent plus redacted. That's not a report. And we will call Mr. Mueller before this committee, if we have to, and go page by page if that is what has it takes in order for this report to be fully viewed and for us to make a determination as to what actually did occurred under then obstruction of justice and the issue dealing with the Russians. And mind you, Don, the attorney general -- excuse me, -- Director

Mueller could not find a criminal charge under collusion. A conspiracy has nothing to do with the protocols that presidency -- of the presidency and the close relationships between the White House, the campaign and Russia and Russia -- and Russian operatives. That is completely different.

LEMON: I think this is one of many conversations that we're going to have. And rest your voice. It sounds like you're losing your voice, Congresswoman. We appreciate you joining us here on CNN.

LEE: Thank you for having me. I apologize. Thank you. Have a happy holiday.

LEMON: No, you don't have to apologize. Thank you as well. Happy Easter in advance to you. We'll be right back.

LEE: Thank you.


LEMON: So, official first quarter fundraising numbers for the 2020 Democratic candidates are -- they're out from the FEC. There they are. Look on your screen. Bernie Sanders leading the pack with a whole of over $18 million. Kamala Harris is in second, followed by -- she had $12 million. And there's Beto O-Rourke, $9.4 million. And then you got Pete Buttigieg's $7.1 million and then Elizabeth Warren.

So, let's discuss now. There's the list. You can look at the numbers. Joe Lockhart is here, Bakari Sellers, Alice Stewart. I'm glad you all could join us this evening.

So, let's talk about this. That's a lot of dough, Joe. When you look at all those numbers, the top 10, Bernie outraced the next closest candidate by $6 million this quarter. It's early, but that is a lot of staying power, right?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is a lot of money. It's not surprising. He's got a base that he built in 2016. I think some of the more surprising numbers are as you go down that there are a lot of people raising a lot of dough.

I think, you know, the trick now is to raise enough money to start to build staff in the states in the early phase and get to the debates, you know, use the debates to shine. I think the people who haven't raised a lot of money, unless they can do something remarkable in the debates, just start seeing some people fall off.


LOCKHART: But there's no doubt that Bernie Sanders is going to have the funds he needs to run a very aggressive campaign.

LEMON: Last week, there was a New York Times report talking about Democrats and how you would think if you look at the leading -- many of the leading voices in the party that it was really far left and was filled with socialist when actually it's more moderate and maybe a little bit further, you know, sort of liberal right then -- led to believe.

But the New York Times reported tonight that the establishment Democrats, right, they're worried that Bernie's -- about his momentum that he is too far left to represent the whole Democratic Party. Is that legit?

[23:30:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: -- Bernie's about his momentum that he is too far left to represent the whole Democratic Party, is that legit?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I think there is something to that. I think -- and I'm not sure about his momentum, he does have the money. If you look at the polls though, he some -- he's been stalled lately. You've got people eating into his support, particularly young Mayor Buttigieg from South Bend.

My problem with Bernie is not what some of the establishment is. It's that somehow he believes and his supporters believe that they've created the progressive movement in America, that it started in 2016, and there's not a lot of respect for the other people in the field. There are a lot of really good progressives in this race. It's a welt of choices for Democrats and he gets a lot of negativity. You know, from the Sanders camp about everybody else that you're not peer enough. And that are those division at the time when the rest of the candidates are falling over each other to be nice to each other.

LEMON: Right. But isn't that always the case with young people? They always think they invented it. And so, but, you know, --

LOCKHART: Well, Bernie's 70 something. So, I guess that votes well for me being young.

LEMON: Bakari, when you look at the percentage of money that each candidate raised from a small donation, $200 or less, Bernie Sanders remains on top. How important are those smaller donors? Can they make a difference for lesser known candidates you think?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I'm usually someone who is very critical of Bernie Sanders for some of the reasons that Joe Manchin and some others. However, I can tell you that one of the things that Joe Sanders -- Bernie Sanders has shown us over the past four to five years is the power of the small donor. He has drilled this home within the Democratic Party.

He has spurred on a new donor base which is very important and cultivated this new group of donors that now you see other people is tapping into. I think that Bernie Sanders deserves full credit for that. The reason I say that is because these donors who give that threshold of less than $200, these are people who keep campaigns going. This is the reason that Bernie Sanders will be powered through the convention, because he can go on top on this donors for three, five, 10, 50, 100 bucks at a time and they have the ability to give without risking maxing out. A lot of people that you see at the bottom of the list, Kirsten

Gillibrand of the world, you see that a lot of their donors were max donors over donors that had given a substantial amount of money and donors who gave in both the primary and general cycle. What you see with Bernie Sanders is these donors -- these small donors which you are going to fuel him to the primary and so this is something very, very healthy that Bernie Sanders has brought to the discussion, the value of small donors and cultivating an entirely new base.

LEMON: So, Alice, I want to talk to you about this -- I got to move on, because we're just -- the president is going after Bernie Sanders in a tweet saying this tonight. He said, "Bernie Sanders and his wife should pay the pre-Trump taxes on their almost $600,000 in income. He's always complaining about this big tax cuts except when it benefits him. They made a fortune off Trump -- off of Trump, but so did everybody else and that is a good thing, not a bad thing."

OK, two things. Number one, Bernie Sanders voted against the tax cuts and said that he would rather pay more taxes because he earned more money and he doesn't want a Trump tax cut; and number two, that is petty rich coming from someone who doesn't want to release his taxes. So Americans can't see whether he profited by his own tax cuts.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. this is not this is not a that President Trump need to swim in, because he's not releasing his tax returns, but it is really rich when you have Bernie Sanders who is as really railed against the 1 percent, now we realize that he is one of them. And now we also know that he is doing everything he can to avail himself of the tax benefits that are out there for people that do make more money and do benefit from our great capitalist society.

It's interesting that in the debate he had on the other network last night, he didn't have a better response to that. I think he's going to have to fine tune that to continue to convey his message to his base. But, look, his numbers while it's good compared to the rest of the Democrat field, his numbers pale in comparison to Donald Trump. And I talked with some senior advisers in the reelect campaign, they are not impressed in anyway shape or form with the money that a lot of these Democrats have raised.

President Trump in the affiliated groups that are working to reelect him have raised almost $49 million. That is more than three times as much as Bernie Sanders.

LEMON: But that is one person compared to --

STEWART: So, I think and that's the risk of who you primary with almost 20 people, right. And that's the risk of the primary.

SELLERS: That is not an accurate. That's not accurate.

LEMON: One thing, I just want to add, can I just address one thing and Bakari, I'll let you finish and then we are going to have to take a break. I'm going to bring you guys back. But Bernie Sanders only rails against the 1 percent who don't pay their fair share. He doesn't say that there's anything wrong with making money.

[23:35:00] He just wants people who make the money to pay their fair share in taxes. There is a difference there. It doesn't say, oh, you make a lot of money, you're a bad person. He just wants him to pay what they should pay, pay more in taxes. Go on, Bakari.

SELLERS: Well, I was going to talk about the talking point of Donald Trump raising all of this money, comparison to the Democratic field. Let's not forget that Hillary Clinton raised $45 million in the first quarter of last year. Barack Obama even said a standard high and add in 2008, when the first quarter of last presidential election.

And when you look at the totality, when you look at the numbers of the total amount of money raised by these Democratic candidates in this cycle, now I'll be it, it's almost 30 of them, but they have still raised more money than Donald Trump has. So, there he is, energy on the Democratic side in terms of fundraising. You can't look at Bernie Sanders and his 17 or 18 million and compare it to Donald Trump. That is apples and oranges.

LEMON: Yes, but $30 million. That is a lot of dough. Alice, we are finish. I'll get you on the other side. I got to take a break. We are going to talk about -- Alice, you'll get your chance. And we are talking about Mayor Pete Buttigieg as well, admitting his campaign has a weakness. I'm going to tell you what it is and that's next.


LEMON: We came back with Joe Bakari and Alice. Alice, I cut you off, I have little time so make your point quick, please.

STEWART: Yes, I think in terms of the Democrat fundraising that will spread out a little bit more. Once the field is set and people will start getting of their money and more money will go into the field, but I think the person to watch certainly moving ahead would be Mayor Pete.

LEMON: I'm glad you said that, because that is who I want to talk about. So let's talk about Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He has come under criticism for his lack of diversity among his supporters, he was asked about it this morning on CNN. Watch this.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we need to do better. You know, as I've been on the trail, we've found, to some extent it depends on geography. We have very diverse crowd at my first stop in Nevada, but less so in South Carolina. And one of the most important things you can achieve in South Carolina is engage with African-American voters in particular which represents such an important part of our party's coalition.


LEMON: So, Bakari, he knows the problem. Is that the right reaction? SELLERS: I don't understand the geography part, but that the fact

that what makes Pete such an attractive candidate is that he's who's willing to learn and willing to grow and he knows that it's essential to that outreach. And some of the things that Mayor Pete is doing which are going to be helpful in the long run is he actually has an agenda to woo black voters into his camp.

He is actually talking about improving conditions with African- American communities. HBC used criminal justice reform, housing, the economy, etc. And directly targeting those messages to black voters.


SELLERS: So, that is important. But look, you're not going to get a black voter to vote for you or do anything else if they don't know you. Black voter simply don't know Mayor Pete and he's going to have to spend some time and it's going to be tough in the next three months ingratiating himself within the black community. That's going to be extremely tough.

LEMON: He was almost -- he's almost a complete unknown in the national level, just a month or two ago. Now, you know, he's got to get to the Democratic base behind him. Does he have the time and the message to bill the support he needs, Joe I'm sure he does? I mean it's early.

LOCKHART: Yes, listen. So far he is done everything right and I think that answer. He was in Brooklyn last night and they take questions from the audience and I think that, you know, they picked the questions and the first one they pick was this one about, you know, someone saying, you know, you're not a very diverse campaign to your supporters. So recognizing the issue I think is important.

If you look back to 2016, what Bernie Sanders did to go from -being, you know, I'm the far left, he branched out engaged a lot of youth and a lot of working class Democrats. The mayor has got to do this. He got to go beyond to just sort of his Midwest base, young people, but to go to the other constituents in the Democratic Party. He's got time. He is got a moment in, you know, the spotlight right now and the very fact that he recognizes this and is talking about it I think is pretty positive.

LEMON: You're eating up Alice's time. Alice go ahead.

STEWART: Don, if I can and just quickly, you know, Mayor Pete went to Harvard here and I spoke to some students here earlier and they're inspired by him and they say of all the candidates right now he reminds them the most of Barack Obama, because one of the words he used many times in his announcement speech was "hope" and he does.

He inspires young people and he himself has acknowledged he is gone from adorable to plausible. And with poll numbers going the way they are. He is someone certainly to keep an eye on. If he is got the young vote, that is a long way to getting a lot of grass roots supporters to go out there and hot the campaign.

LEMON: Going from what to plausible?

STEWART: Adorable.

LEMON: Adorable. That's the way to say that.

Listen, I got to run. You think he is a formidable foe, Trump? For Trump?

STEWART: I think he is a formidable foe across the Democratic Party, but when it gets down to the general election, Donald Trump will be hard to beat.

LEMON: OK. Thank you all. See you next time. We will be right back.

STEWART: Thanks, Don.

SELLERS: Thank you.


LEMON: Well, tonight investigators in Paris say it appears the devastating fire that destroyed much of Notre Dame Cathedral was likely accidental. CNN's Nic Robertson live for us in Paris right now. Nic, its early Wednesday morning now in Paris. What questions remain for investigators as they continue to comb through the damage?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first is just to make sure that the building is secure to get, you know, a forensic investigation in -- forensic investigative team in who can really get to the bottom of how the fire started. They believe it was accidental, they believe it was in the attic.

But the fire alarm system went off in the cathedral at 20 past 6:00 in the evening on Monday evening and it was enough for the security officials there to do what they always plan to do in such situations which is get everyone out of the cathedral, make sure no one's going to get hurt, but what they weren't able to do was find the cause of the alarm.

Twenty three minutes later it went off. That is when they saw the smoke, that's when they recognized there was a fire. So the thing to do for the investigators now is to find out obviously why that fire started, how it was started.

They're had been already questioning a lot of the construction -- a lot of the, you know, restorative workers who were working on restoring and repairing the cathedral. What they learn from them will be key to that, but obviously getting a forensic team inside the building is going to be one of the key things here, Don.

[23:50:09] LEMON: Indeed. So today, we learn about this chaplain, Jean-Marc Fournier, he is being hailed as a hero on social media, Nic, after this photo was shared by a French journalist. Tell us what he did. ROBERTSON: Yes. This is a man with a history, if you will. You

know, the chaplain for the fire service, he was spent time in Afghanistan with French forces. During the terror attacks in Paris in 2015, he helped tend to the wounded, helped those who were dying from the terrorist attack. But on this occasion, here he is, in the heat of the fire, going into the heart of the cathedral to help save the holiest of relics.

The Eucharist, we understand he helped save. There was a human chain, the police help get out the very famous crown of thorns which Jesus was believed to have worn prior to the crucifixion and many of those sort of historic artifacts. So there he was, this man has a history of sort of almost going beyond to serve his nation.

He is here, the heart if his nation, doing his best to preserve what this country cherishes most. And he did it. And I think that is really why you are seeing him proclaimed as a, you know, as a hero. And there were heroes that night. And it does appears he was one of them.

LEMON: Nic Robertson, I appreciate your reporting. Thank you so much.

Now, I'm going to bring in Caroline Bruzelius, a professor Emerita Art and Art History at Duke University. Thank you for professor, I appreciate you joining us.


LEMON: So, listen. I just want to put up some before and after images inside of the cathedral. You can see beams that have fallen from the ceiling along with significant water damage. What's your first impression of the damage?

BRUZELIUS: I have to say, when I looked at the photographs this morning, I was encouraged. I thought it would be much worse. The big question yesterday with that terrible fire was how many of the huge beams would be falling down on to the vaults and falling through them. And, although a few did, as you say and there's rubble from that, and the rubble from the vault, plus the charred beams, and who knows what else, it's not as bad as it could have been, by far. And that was a great consolation to me and I'm sure to everybody looking at the damage.

LEMON: Yes. We heard last night that the Crown of Thorns and the Tunic of St. Louis were both saved. We now know that a set of copper statues which represents the 12 apostles were removed from Notre Dame's roof just last week as part of a renovation project. So, tell me about those statues and what else was moved to safety.

BRUZELIUS: Well, what had been moved to safety last week was part of an ongoing restoration project that was especially focused on the spire. The spire that is now gone, and that indeed collapsed on to the cathedral itself. On the one hand, we might imagine, but we don't know that, that work

they were doing, might have in some way triggered the fire, either by dislodging an electrical cable or something like that. On the other hand, that work took away and preserved certain, beautiful bronze statues that otherwise would have been lost.


BRUZELIUS: This is all the work of the mid-19th century, by the way. It's not technically medieval, it's deo-medieval (ph) done by Violett- le-Duc, right starting around 1857 for that spire, but still beautiful. Very beautiful. And I hope they will find a way to restore it and the torn -- those statues of facsimiles of them to their original position.

LEMON: Well, still, we don't know what caused the fire, but that was a lucky break that that was actually moved out earlier. Listen and let's talk about more, because officials say that the iconic rose windows are in good condition. The organ has some water but damage, but not fire damage, minus the extensive damage of the roof and the structure itself, you actually think that this could have been much worse. You just said so. But not having fire damage to that organ that is a pretty big deal.

BRUZELIUS: And those rose windows. I mean, that is priceless stained glass. And then down below, even very near that pile of rubble you describe, there are some beautiful statues that would have been heartbreaking to have lost and they seem to have survived with little or no damage. And that's -- I would say miraculous. If you think about that fire and how horrible it looked, the fact that this morning we could look at these pictures and actually see that the damage was not as bad as we might have imagined it would be. That is something to be grateful for.

LEMON: Professor, when you look at Notre Dame from the outside. And this was taken before the fire. We have a picture up now. It looks like it's, you know, it's all made of stone. But I want you to look at this picture, some of the wood used in the roof dates back to the 13th century.

[23:55:00] And there's a picture of -- I don't know if you can see it but just a sum of the wood that is in there. I mean, it looks old. It's beautiful. You have spent countless hours inside the cathedral. What more can you tell us about the challenges of reconstruction here? Because Emmanuel Macron says, five years to rebuild. That seems like, you know, he's a little bit ambitious, but tell us more about that.

BRUZELIUS: Well, give me a minute to describe. The walls of the building are stone, all the way up to the edge of the roof, but hidden from view, so, no tourist would ever see it, above the vaults and underneath the roof, is an extraordinary forest of beams, the framework that holds up that roof.

And it is, it was, enormous and heavy and ancient, as you pointed out. The fire was there. And in fact, the state of the building is kind of proof of the pudding in the sense that gothic architecture was meant to be fireproof. And this fire demonstrates the extent to which, I think, the building largely survived this terrifically terrible event.

Now, however, one thing that happens, when you have great heat next to stone, limestone in this case, from the area of Paris, is that the stone becomes very powdery and soft, it can crack, it can lose its structural integrity. So, it's going to be really very important to look at the whole part of the upper walls and the surviving vaults to make sure that they have not been weakened, to the extent that they need to be replaced.

This is going to take some time to really review that situation and, before that even, they have to stabilize those fragmentary vaults. Make sure nothing else is going to fall down. They have to cover the building and make a plan for the restoration. All this is going to take time.

Now, I hope Macron is right. It would be lovely to have the cathedral back in five years. But, honestly, whether its five years or 10 years, the really wonderful news here is that the building will be restored. It will come back. We will be inside it again. And it will continue to be a central part of life in Paris and France.

LEMON: I think everyone hopes you're right and agrees with you. As long as it gets back to, you know, what it once was or at least close to it, people will be happy about that. Thank you, professor. I appreciate your time.

BRUZELIUS: You're so welcome.

Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.