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President Trump Doesn't Agree With Aides Testifying To Congress; Democrats Divided On Impeaching President Trump; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) Maryland Is Interviewed About Trump's Refusal To Cooperate With Further Investigations; Elizabeth Warren Making Headlines; Joe Biden To Run For President Of The United States. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 23, 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: Remember the graph, with all the good fortune he's had, middling. You can't win that way.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I could have used you the other night at dinner when I was trying to convince people that this all wasn't about the economy or economic disenfranchisement because if it was then his approval rating would be a lot higher. This is about something else. And that's a whole another story, a whole another show.
CUOMO: He is his own worst enemy.
LEMON: Enemy. But I got to tell you, it's all projection. Everything he projects onto other people is really about him. So, I am glad you take the high road and you are not going on Twitter and responding to him. I wish you would do that about some of the people who are eggs on Twitter, you know, how we talk about that.
But it's always good to take the high road because he's attacked me before. And it's, you know -- it's the best thing to do because he is projecting when he does that. And you know what they say about projectors, right.
CUOMO: Yes, I do. Look, I choose --
LEMON: Eventually the bulbs burn out.
CUOMO: I choose to defer - I choose to defer to the office. People get frustrated with me about that. I'm not going to badmouth the office. I'm going to respect it despite whether the president is respecting it himself.
CUOMO: I respond on Twitter because I'm here to engage. I'm not going to get into a tit for tat with the president.
LEMON: You just like the fight.
CUOMO: I love to fight.
LEMON: You like the fight.
CUOMO: I like the good fight that's why I do the job. But I think when it comes to the president. I don't really think it's my place to go back and forth.
CUOMO: If he were on my show that would be one thing. But he and his people, you know this is where the Trump man fears to tread and that's OK, that's their choice. But I do believe he should take his own advice.
CUOMO: It's easy for him to find flaws he should look at himself because he needs to do better.
LEMON: They won't come on. He won't come on because he only wants to present a certain narrative and he doesn't want to be challenged with facts and with, you know, with reality. So, he won't come on.
Listen, I agree with you. I've always said that it's tough to be in this position and have more respect for the office than the person who is sitting in the office. So, I will criticize the president. You do it every night. But I will also have respect for the office.
And if the president doesn't want criticism or, you know, what he calls negative media coverage then he should stop being so negative and he should respect the office of the presidency that's befitting a president of the United States.
So far, he has in the done that. And I don't think any Republican, any Trump supporter can say that he has because he certainly has not. If any previous president -- and I don't just mean Barack Obama, but any previous president had exhibited - exhibited the same behavior as this president, Republicans would have lost their minds by now, the impeachment papers would already be drawn up. And they would be trying to kick at least the last president out of office already.
CUOMO: And look, I mean, you don't even have -- there is nothing speculative about that.
LEMON: It's the truth.
CUOMO: Look at the sound bites from the late 90s with Bill Clinton. The things that Lindsey Graham, Senator McConnell and others were relevant at that time some now still are, were exactly what's being said by the Democrats in there. Every bit as justified now as they were then.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you, creepy Chris.
LEMON: From both sides Cuomo to creepy Chris.
CUOMO: I like both sides. Creepy Chris, that stings. She made me do something I never do, I stepped back right away.
LEMON: You're talking about Amy Klobuchar, the final moments.
CUOMO: I saw the senator afterwards and she was saying no, no, I was joking. I said you were joking but of all the words to you as any verb. Creeping, never the one you want.
LEMON: But you're lurking in the back like Trump like this.
CUOMO: I had -- yes, I was standing on my head, what? What? Just trying to get in the eye line so I can ask the next question. It worked though. That was a great pushback moment.
LEMON: Yes. It goes. It goes with your initials C.C.
CUOMO: Yes. Look, have fun with it.
CUOMO: Have fun with it, Don Lemon.
LEMON: See you next time. Nice job last night.
CUOMO: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
This is -- well, you could have said that I had a nice job too but that's OK.
CUOMO: I'd be lying.
LEMON: Did you say something disparaging about me to Anderson. Did you call me the weird looking guy?
CUOMO: Never. Who says that? Fake news.
LEMON: Please. Got to role the tape back.
CUOMO: Fake news. There is no more tape, old man. It's all digital now. See you later.
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
And we have got so much to talk about. We have got to talk about this president's abuse of power. We've been discussing it just a bit there, his disrespect for the rule of law, and for our Democratic institutions. It is happening again and again and again in the Trump White House. And it seems to be the strategy du jour in the wake of the Mueller report.
The president telling "The Washington Post" this tonight about aides testifying to Congress and I quote here. OK? He says "There is no reason to go any further and especially in Congress where it's very partisan. Obviously very partisan."
[22:04:58] OK. The latest example of the White House just outright stonewalling. The Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin ignoring the deadline this evening for turning over President Trump's tax returns for the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee.
Chairman Richard Neal made a lawful request for the president's returns. A lawful request. He gave the IRS until 5 p.m. to respond. Then Mnuchin, well he stepped in. Saying his department will take what he called final action on the committee's request by May 6th.
And what are the odds that the final action will be complying with the lawful request and turning over the tax returns? After all the president throughout the campaign and the first two years of his term refused to release his tax returns, refusing now even though that has been the norm going back to President Richard Nixon.
But this is just another page. It's right out of the Trump playbook, disrespecting the rule of law, running right over the norms that presidents and their staffs have followed for decades.
There is also the administration reportedly trying to prevent former White House Counsel Don McGahn from complying with a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee which is investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president.
A source telling CNN the White House could assert executive privilege even though McGahn has already spent 30 hours answering questions from Robert Mueller.
And then there is this whopper from Jared Kushner today. Claiming the Mueller investigation was more harmful to this country than the Russian's election interference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Quite frankly, the whole thing is a big distraction for the country. And you look at what Russia did, you know, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent do it and it's terrible. But I think the investigations and all of the speculation that's happened for the last two years has had had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Make no mistake about what the president's senior adviser and son-in-law by the way is saying. Here is what he is doing. He is claiming that investigations under the rule of law, investigations intended to find the facts are more damaging to this country than Russia's long-term and continuing attack on our election and on our democracy.
That is stunning disregard for the actions of one of our most dangerous enemies.
And it's no surprise after all that while Robert Mueller found that members of the Trump campaign didn't take criminal steps to help the Russians, he also found that they knew that they would benefit from Russia's election interference.
And Jared Kushner is 100 percent wrong when he says the Russian effort to sow dissent amounted to, his words, "a couple of Facebook ads." It was much worse than that. Here are some facts. OK.
Facebook itself says that Russians reached more than 126 million Facebook users with more than 80,000 posts between 2015 and 2017.
The Mueller report states that social media accounts controlled by the Russian Internet Research Agency attracted hundreds of thousands of followers, for example, at the time, they were deactivated by Facebook in mid-2017.
The IRA, United Muslims of America Facebook group had over 300,000 followers. The Don't Shoot Us Facebook group had over 250,000 followers. The Being Patriotic Facebook group had over 200,000 followers. And the Secured Borders Facebook group had over 130,000 followers. Just a few Facebook posts. All of that part of a successful disinformation campaign against unwitting Americans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being patriotic was the group that contacted and helped organize some of these activities that you posted on your Facebook account.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those were legitimate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those were Russians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were not Russians. I don't go with the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And his written threat assessment. Justify just a few months ago the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said this and bluntly, quote, "Russia's social media efforts will continue to focus on aggravating social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and criticizing perceived anti-Russia politicians."
In the face of all that Jared Kushner would like you believe that the real threats to our democracy are from unlawful investigations. Not the Russians. Like I said, straight out of the Trump playbook.
[22:10:08] And there is more. The White House is ordering a former official, Carl Kline, in charge of the security clearance process not to comply with the subpoena from the House oversight committee. Chairman Elijah Cummings says the White House and Kline, quote, "now
stand in open defiance of a duly authorized congressional subpoena with no assertion of any privilege of any kind by President Trump."
All this sure sounds like a deliberate plan to prevent Congress from doing its job, which is oversight, the foundation of our system of checks and balances, the foundation of our government.
So, is it any wonder that president -- the president started his day rage tweeting, blasting Democrats, and the media? Among others. And is it any wonder that the White House -- this White House is picking fights with the press, the people whose job it is to cover this White House, the people whose job is protecting the very first amendment.
Ordering administration officials to boycott the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. The president himself will also skip the dinner for the third time opting to go to Green Bay, Wisconsin for his first MAGA rally since the release of the Mueller report.
So, there you go. Think about this. That is the president's strategy post-Mueller. Surround himself with cheering fans. Ignore lawful requests from Congress. Trample over Democratic institutions and norms.
The question is, will he get away with it? The question is, will you let him get away with it? The Democrats are divided over whether the best way to stop him is the ballot box or impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I do believe that impeachment is one of the most divisive forces -- paths that we could go down to in our country. But if the path of fact finding takes us there, we have no choice. But we're not there yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says, we, meaning America, we're not there yet. But will there be any consequences for this president who is continuing to defy the rule of law? What happened to the rule of law party? The Republicans?
So, the president who won't accept the rule of law and a Congress that's not ready for impeachment, now what? Joe Lockhart is here. Max Boot, also a former member of the Trump transition team J.W. Verret who knows and he says it's time for impeachment. That's next.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump clearly trying to stone wall investigations by Congress, breaking news that we have tonight, the president telling "The Washington Post" that he doesn't want any current or former aides to testify, claiming that complying with requests from Congress is unnecessary since his administration already cooperated with the Mueller investigation. Let's discuss. Joe Lockhart is here and Max Boot. Max is the author of
"The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam." You switched up on me.
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I was trying to promote the Pulitzer Prize finalist.
LEMON: What happened to the "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." I was ready to read that and then that was.
Thank you, gentlemen for joining us.
Since you switched up on me let me ask you about this Washington Post interview, OK, Max?
LEMON: Good evening to you. He doesn't want current and former aides to testify on Capitol Hill. And here's what it says. He says this. "I allowed my lawyers and all the people to go and testify to Mueller. And you know how I feel about that whole group of people that did the Mueller report. I was so transparent. They testified so many hours. They have all that information that has been given."
I mean, I think it's pretty rich considering he tried to shut down the investigation more than once, he never testified. He gave these written answers that even Mueller said that he wasn't satisfied with it. I don't -- you know, he answered some version of I don't recall 30 plus times.
BOOT: Right, I don't think that President Trump actually is familiar with the meaning of the word transparent. He might want to look that up in the dictionary. Clearly, he was anything but.
And of course, it is, you know, kind of a perfect pass for the Trump administration to come to where the president is doing his damned best to obstruct an investigation into obstruction of justice. That's essentially where we are.
And I think that plays into this debate that we are going to have about whether he ought to be impeached. Because, you know, I'm sure Joe will say his piece in a second and explain why I think that's not a good idea from a prudential standpoint.
I'm sympathetic to a lot of the stuff that he says. But Trump is making it very hard for moderate voices in the Democratic Party to say we don't need to impeach this guy because we can investigate him, we can uncover his crimes and we can put him before the American people.
He is making it very hard to investigate what he did because he is making clear that he will not cooperate, he will obstruct, he will force Democrats in Congress to go to court to try to force some openness. And it's not clear to what extent the courts will get involved. It's not clear that officials who refuse to cooperate will be prosecuted.
It's going to be very, very difficult. And so, at the end of the day it's making it less likely that you can avoid impeachment because of the way that he is acting since the Mueller report came out.
LEMON: Interesting, Joe, so let's go there.
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.
LEMON: You mention -- you heard what he said about impeachment. You were the press secretary under President Bill Clinton. You were saying that you don't think it's wise for Democrats to go with impeachment. Why is that?
LOCKHART: It's for a couple of reasons. One is, there is a fundamental misunderstanding with the American people about what impeachment is. And my biggest concern politically is Democrats impeach the president in the House and then it goes to the Senate. And the Senate acquits him on party lines.
And the public believes the president is vindicated. And that should be avoided. There is no way the Senate will remove the president.
[22:19:55] So the impeachment process is a political process that you know what the answer is at the end. And you can't start it -- I think if the Democrats start and saying we're going to impeach the president and then stop. That's also a signal that I think to a lot of people that well, they didn't have the goods on the president.
So, I think what you can do is what Nancy Pelosi saying she is doing, which is go through the process of the fact finding.
We have the same problems I believe if they opened a formal impeachment proceeding getting the president, getting them to not assert executive privilege and getting the people up there. The people who want to testify will and the people who won't.
LEMON: Let me jump in here.
LEMON: So, then, what about the rule of law?
LEMON: And what about the Constitution? Because what you are saying is -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- what's best for the party and not necessarily what's best for the country or for the Constitution.
LOCKHART: No, I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying what's best for the country is to have Donald Trump removed. And I think the best way to have him removed --
LEMON: Is at the ballot box. LOCKHART: -- is at the ballot box because using the impeachment
process will not remove Donald Trump from office. I can 100 percent guarantee you that. I can't name one senator who I think would vote a Republican senator to have him removed no matter what evidence is uncovered.
So, what's the best thing politically to do? And I think there's a couple of things. One, you do what -- you expose on a daily basis. Remember in Watergate we had the Senate select committee do their public hearings over that summer before the House moved to impeach. And exposed all the things Nixon was doing.
And remember, he had just been re-elected. Now Donald Trump has got to face the voters. The second thing is that for Nancy Pelosi she's got to protect the -- we have 40 new members of the -- in Congress of Democrats most of whom are moderates who ran and won because they were talking about health care and they were talking about taxes.
LEMON: But the voices on the right are focused on a few members of the Democratic Party. And the research shows the Democratic Party is a lot more moderate than --
LEMON: But the narrative is important. I mean, they're carrying the narrative.
LEMON: Let me just jump in here, because I want to bring in someone who can help us out with the conversation, someone who has a very unique perspective on all of this. J.W. Verret was a Trump transition staffer but the Mueller report was a breaking point for him. He joins us now.
You also sign -- good evening by the way. You signed a statement from a group of prominent attorneys organized by George Conway, who is Kellyanne Conway's husband. And here's what you said. Let me read tis before you respond.
You said "We believe the framers of the Constitution would have viewed the totality of this conduct as evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. Accordingly, Congress which carries its own constitutional oversight responsibilities should conduct further investigation." You say it's time to begin impeachment proceeding.
J.W. VERRET, FORMER TRUMP TRANSITION STAFFER: I do. Absolutely. And frankly, I think it's ironic that at the same time Democrats in Congress are criticizing Republicans for making a political calculation not to take this seriously enough. They're doing precisely the same thing and making a political calculation not to begin the necessary impeachment hearings.
And I think you can extend the impeachment hearings out quite a bit time to educate the public. That's part of the process. It was part of the process with the Nixon hearings in advance of impeachment. But it's time to call it what it is.
VERRET: Let's not play this word games. This is a serious stuff. And I think as time goes on, I think more and more Republicans will feel comfortable with the findings in the Mueller report. What that tees up for the impeachment hearings.
LEMON: So, the politic -- Joe -- I know Joe wants to get in but let me get a couple of questions in and then I'll let you respond. So, you don't think there should be a political calculus in this after all it is Washington, it is politics.
So, to what end should Republicans on Capitol Hill -- they disagree with -- if they don't disagree with what the president, right, what the president is doing they have not spoken out against this president. Do you see Republicans actually eventually standing up to President Trump?
VERRET: I think it's a dynamic process. The founders always envisioned of on the one hand political will and the mood of the country, and on the other hand the representatives in Congress.
The founders were very smart and I think they understood that would be part of this process led by an institution they chose to lead it in and begin it. And I think they are going forward. You'll see slow moves in the right direction.
I think the first brave thing Republicans in Congress should do and I admire a lot of them out there, is just start to ask serious questions at the hearings. It doesn't mean you have to admit guilt.
But the pure sort of block and tackle for the president in it just to show loyalty on TV when he watches it later that's got to stop. It's time to ask a few serious questions to get more answers and I think as that moves forward they'll be comfortable moving together as -- in lockstep as a phalanx to eventually do the right thing.
LEMON: Yes. So, listen, I want to ask about your experience on working on the Trump transition. Because you said "I wanted to share my experience transitioning from Trump team member to pragmatist about Trump to advocate for his impeachment because I think many other Republicans are starting a similar transition."
[22:25:08] But then you go on and talk about how politics as a team sport. And you end by saying "There is a point though at which that expectation turns from a mix of loyalty and pragmatism into something more sinister, a blind devotion that serves to enable criminal conduct."
So, did you think it was going to be different after months, if not years, of this president saying odd things, going up against norms, calling people names, refusing to turn over his tax returns? You disagreeing with him on his stance on many issues. You thought this presidency was going to be different? VERRET: I hoped that it could be guided in a constructive direction.
I believe it has and I'll disagree with many Democrats on that on a number of policy issues. But the Mueller report is something I was waiting for to come out and speak out. And directly speak out against the president.
Because I wanted to see the findings, I trusted Mueller as a person. I've always had issues with this president even when I joined the transition team. He was never someone I admired. I worked for Marco Rubio in the primary on policy issues.
I admired him and most of the other folks in the primary. I watched Trump systemically who call all of these people I admired names. I never admired him. But I hope that we could work constructively on these issues. But the Mueller report I think is something you can't look away from. I mean, you have to admit it. The emperor has no clothes.
LEMON: So then why are people looking away from it then do you believe? Because all you have to do is read it. You said you read it twice. You said you read it twice and there is no other conclusion to come to. You actually signed this letter with Kellyanne Conway's husband saying that there are high crimes and misdemeanor there.
Then why is it being spun even by the attorney general of the United States, the voices who support this president no matter what? Those reflexive voices. Why is it being spun that way as it if it's some sort of exoneration of this entire presidency and campaign.
VERRET: I can't speak for the president's close advisers. But I will say this. I think that as public mood shifts over time as people digest the report, we're moving from a couple of years in which we were arguing over top line and assertions without much detail.
We're going to move now toward digesting the 400 pages of detail that we have. And I think public mood will shift. And as a result -- I mean, I tell people all the time if you don't like Congress. Congress is just a mirror for us. If you think there is something ugly there. There is something ugly in us in all of us on both parties.
I think that as mood shifts that mirror will reflect that shift and I think we can trust that. And the first people to step out in Congress will be the people I admire most.
LEMON: Did you believe the first letter when you saw, you know, that first four-page letter from the attorney general, did you believe that his assessment of the summary?
VERRET: No. I mean, I thought he was doing a political job that most attorney generals do in trying to protect their president. And I didn't give it much weight at all.
LEMON: And then the press conference, that subsequent press conference.
VERRET: I didn't even watch it. I went directly to reading the report.
LEMON: All right. Joe, you want to respond.
LOCKHART: Yes, it's rare that someone answers that many questions and I can honestly say I don't agree with a single word that he just said. It is an absolute pipe dream to think that Republicans all of a sudden will shift with the mood.
The country, the president is at 37 percent job approval. The president has committed appalling acts. Not just obstruction of justice. Not just lying 10,000 times. He equated in Charlottesville neo-Nazis with good people.
There is no -- he was right when he said I could go down Fifth Avenue and shoot people and Republicans would stay with me. They are going to stay with him. There is no evidence, none, zero, that any Republicans are going to move.
And I think the real benefit -- and I argued in the piece and Max has a better perspective on this. I think Trump is a cancer on the Republican Party and it is hollowing it out. And maybe -- maybe if we get rid of him at the ballot box the Republican Party can reform in a way that the Democrats can work with them and we can actually start getting things done.
But the idea that somehow men of principle in the Republican Party are now going to stand up in the aftermath they've been -- there's plenty of seats here. They are not seating in these sits. They're not -- they are going to defend the president until the end.
LEMON: This is why you wrote the book that ends with "Why I Left the Right, The Corrosion of Conservatism."
BOOT: Right. And I think conservativism has corroded. I think Joe is right. Even if you had a phone call taped between Trump and Putin would start talking about working together to undermine the election. Republicans will just say, hey, that's great. We're working with Russia, isn't that what you want.
There is no piece of evidence that would cause any Republicans in Congress I think to turn against Donald Trump. But that said, I don't -- I'm very ambivalent about this. I don't fully agree with Joe. I think a lot of the things that he says make sense on prudential grounds.
But there is a part of me, Don, that wants to see justice done. We have seen the president of the United States obstruct justice. We have seen him break the law. We have seen him invite foreign meddling in the U.S. election. There has to be a price to be paid for that.
[22:30:06] And part of me thinks that even if the House only passes the impeachment motion and the Senate does not convict, nevertheless Trump will go down as one of only three presidents in U.S. history who have been impeached.
It will still be the first line of his obituary. People will remember that he did something wrong. But I have to balance that desire for justice against the potential consideration that I don't want to do anything that would help to get Donald Trump reelected, because that would be a disaster for American democracy.
LEMON: J.W., I'm over. I will give you 10 seconds. I'll give you the last word. Now, we don't want people to think and we don't want you to think that we're beating up on you. But it's a fascinating conversation. Give us the final word.
J.W. VERRET, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF LAW: I think going forward. The Democrats need to stand for something, and they need to do something about this. The precedent for the future will weaken Congress as a check on the presidency. And I worry for the future if the Democratic Party doesn't stand up now.
LEMON: You got some nodding heads in disagreement and Joe (ph) is one of them. Thank you, all. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Tonight, a congressional crisis is -- a constitutional crisis, I should say, is looming as the White House strategy for dealing with House investigations becomes more transparent by the day. Ignore deadlines and requests for documents, and instruct current and former administration officials not to comply with lawful subpoenas to testify. Let's talk about this now with Congressman Jamie Raskin.
He's a Maryland Democrat who sits on both judiciary and oversight committees. Having a little trouble talking, Congressman, thank you for joining us, help me out here. Listen...
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): I'm delighted to be with you, Don.
[22:35:01] LEMON: I want to get your reaction to this new Trump interview. It's in "The Washington Post", where he doesn't want his aides to comply with congressional requests, OK? And let me read it here. He says there is no reason to go any further and especially in Congress, where it's very partisan, obviously very partisan. What is your reaction? And also claiming there that he was transparent and he, you know, complied with everything the Special Counsel wanted. What do you think?
RASKIN: The obstructionism, which was discussed by Special Counsel Mueller in at least 10 different episodes of the president interfering or attempting to interfere with the Mueller investigation, has continued and is on full vivid display today with the president refusing to comply, and having the IRS refuse to comply with a lawful mandatory order to turn over the president's taxes.
They've told Mr. Kline, the Former Head of the White House Personnel Office, not to come for an interview that he was scheduled for with the Oversight Committee. They have not turned over a single document or made one witness available to oversight in that investigation, relevant material that we're looking for. And now they are saying that they're actually going to go ahead and try to prevent Don McGahn from testifying in our committee. Despite the fact that we have made a lawful request of him to testify,
and he's got to testify, they're making noises about executive privilege, ignoring two critical points. One is that Don McGahn already spent 30 hours with the Special Counsel, so they've waived whatever executive privilege there is. And the other point is that they can't stop him from coming. That was established with Harriet Myers a long time ago.
So if they are looking for a way to unify the Democrats, and we're hoping some of the Republicans, they have found it, which is they are totally defying the will of Congress and trampling our legitimate --
LEMON: So then, what do you do then if he doesn't show up, if they don't comply? What are you going to do?
RASKIN: Well, for -- take the case of Mr. Kline. Now, the reason we're subpoenaing him, and we want him to come and testify is because we have a whistleblower, Tricia Newbold, who has told us that in 25 different cases the professional staff rejected security clearance for people because they were compromised by foreign powers or they had a business conflict of interest or they were otherwise disqualified.
And yet, the president or the White House overruled the professional staff and gave these people security clearances. And we're just trying to get to the bottom of it as a matter of national security. And they're not turning over material.
LEMON: So my question is, what are you going to do?
RASKIN: We can go to court.
LEMON: OK, find them in contempt.
RASKIN: Explaining what we can do is we go to court. We can go to court and we can hold them in civil contempt for refusing to turn over documents and refusing to testify. And they should also be aware that Congress has its own contempt powers, inherent contempt powers that were exercised as long ago as the early 19th century. So remember, Congress appears in article one of the institution. We are the lawmaking power.
The president appears in article two. His primary job is to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, not thwarted, not undermined, much less violated. And we're going to act like the lawmaking power, the primary branch of government.
LEMON: All right. We're going to be watching this scene. We appreciate your time. Thank you so much. I'm going to bring -- thank you, Congressman. I appreciate it. Let's bring in Jeffrey Toobin. He is our Chief Legal Analyst.
You heard what the congressman said there. He said, look, you know, Congress has this power. They're going to find him in civil contempt.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Correct.
LEMON: Can they do that?
TOOBIN: They can. But I wouldn't overstate the effectiveness of that. You know, Eric Holder was held in contempt, the attorney general under President Obama. And it was a meaningless gesture over a fight over documents. I mean, you know the relationship between the executive branch and Congress presupposes a certain level of good faith on the part of the executive branch that they will turn over documents.
Make witnesses available, except in certain circumstances when there is really a good faith fight over whether Congress has the right to it. What we're seeing here is that the Trump administration is objecting to everything.
LEMON: Is that legal?
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, I don't think it's legal. But what's legal is what the courts say are legal. And once you're in court, things slow down. And, you know, I think what the Trump administration is counting on is that, you know, it takes time to be found -- to have a contempt citation. It takes time to get before the district court. Anything in the district court will be appealed to the D.C. circuit.
You're talking about months. You're talking about months for the tax returns. You're talking about months for the security clearance investigation. You're talking about months for Don McGahn, and, you know --
[22:40:08] LEMON: We'll be in another election by then.
TOOBIN: We'll be in another election by then, and that's what they are counting on, not the merits of the case, but the ability to delay into oblivion.
LEMON: And will that -- do you think that will matter to Americans?
TOOBIN: Well, I mean, I don't know. I mean, the odds are it won't because...
LEMON: Because I think most people are dug in. We talk about this, and you look at the polls, and they don't really change.
TOOBIN: You know, it's funny, we take those polls and we say we went from 42 percent to 40 percent. And it's all noise. The polls haven't changed since --
LEMON: Jeffrey, I got to go. But I just want to read this. And you tell me if it's clear or not. Because on the taxes, it says -- in the tax code, upon written requests from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.
TOOBIN: Sometimes, you need a law degree. You don't need a law degree for that. Shall furnish, you know what shall furnish means?
LEMON: Do it.
TOOBIN: Shall furnish.
TOOBIN: I mean it is not an ambiguous law. It's never had a complicated enforcement procedure before. It's -- no one has ever been confused what it means. But if you go to court, you can eat up months, even if you ultimately lose.
LEMON: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you, sir. I appreciate it.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Five Democratic presidential candidates participated in a series of CNN town halls last night, among them Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who grabbed headlines this week with a bold plan on forgiving student loan debt, as well as a call to impeach the president. Here is some of how she answered when asked if she'd be Hillaried if she became the nominee. She talked about winning her first Senate race as an underdog, and then she said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I jumped in the race. And sure enough, you know the early coverage it's about what I am wearing. It's about my hair. It's about my voice. It's about whether or not I smile enough. I didn't. It was every part of that, and this kept up. And I thought, you know, look, I am going to be in this race. I am going to make something count every single day.
So the way I see it is here we are in a presidential. And it's the same kind of you stay after it every day. One might say you persist, organize, build a grass roots movement. Fight for working people. And that's how I am going to be the first woman elected president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Jess McIntosh is here, Karen Finney, and Scott Jennings, good evening one and all. How did she do? How did she handle it, Karen?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: She did a great job. Look, she is right about the things that she mentioned, or what we know from the research are the kinds of things that go into how voters tend to establish whether or not they think a woman candidate is likable. And one of the things that we know is that voters need to like a female candidate in ways they don't need to like a male candidate.
But the thing I would offer her would be that when you are running for president and there is a whole body of research about the fact that running for a legislative body, which is collaborative leadership, which is seen as a women's forte, it's executive leadership where you really have to, I think, be in tune with some of the different conscious and unconscious biases, both racism and sexism, that I think you need to be aware of and understand how voters interpret what you are telling them and what they are looking for from you has a little bit of that bias in it.
LEMON: OK. Let me bring in Jess, just because make no mistake about it. Every single Democratic candidate has to make their case about, you know, how they're going to beat Trump. But why does a woman get this? Why does have a woman have to worry about being Hillaried?
JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think women have different challenges, obviously, than men do. There is a little bit of a misperception that is happening right now that the white guys are at some sort of disadvantage, because we are so excited about the diversity of the field. And we are excited about the diversity of the field.
But we have never elected a woman president, which means it cannot possibly be an advantage to be a woman running for president yet. They have to deal with likable. They have to deal with authentic. They have to deal with electable, which is a phrase that we honestly just need to get out of, like, electability is not a thing that we are good at predicting.
Nobody knew that Obama was electable until he won Iowa. Nobody knew that Trump was electable, not even Putin until he actually won. We don't know who is electable in these completely unprecedented times.
LEMON: Scott Jennings, your turn now. Do you think female candidates like Warren and Harris have to prove their electability in the way that male candidates don't?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually think there's never been a better time to be a female candidate. I mean, look, for all of the talk about Hillary Clinton being unlikable, she did win the popular vote by, you know, three million votes, female candidates --
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: Don't tell that to President Trump.
JENNINGS: Yeah, right.
MCINTOSH: Plenty left.
JENNINGS: Twenty eighteen midterm candidates, female midterm candidates did very well. So I actually think the environment for female candidacy is really good right now. We also saw a number of people, you know, in state offices around the country as well. So I think the environment is right. I think, you know, some of these candidacies have unique problems. I thought Elizabeth Warren did a fine job last night.
[22:49:58] It just so happens she fighting Bernie Sanders for a very similar group of people. So I don't really know that it has anything to do with being likable or not. I think Bernie has a built-in base from the previous election that has remained loyal. But I actually I thought she did pretty well. I wouldn't count her out of this race yet.
I am concerned, if I were here, about her burn rate on her campaign spending, but I don't think she is going anywhere just yet.
LEMON: I think you have, you know, you have a point there. But let me just point something, especially considering -- you have a point. If you look at the reviews, I think people think, those who are watching, and if you look at social media, that this was Elizabeth Warren's -- this is her forum. This is where she shines, right, in front of people.
And I got to say, if you think about Elizabeth Warren, she has put forward some of the most detailed policy proposals, from student debt relief, two percent tax on super wealthy, the first candidate to openly call for Trump's impeachment. She is driving the conversation to a point where other candidates are having to respond. Yet, she is not polling as the frontrunner, which I think is very interesting.
We'll talk about that -- talk about other candidates who are polling higher, and we're going to talk about Biden. We'll talk about Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. We got a lot to talk about. We'll be right back.
LEMON: CNN has learned that former Vice President Joe Biden will officially join the race for president with a video announcement on Thursday. Back with me now, Jess McIntosh, Karen Finney, and Scott Jennings, OK.
We'll see if it's going to happen. They've been talking about it for a long time. He's going to be the 20th Democrat. Most people thought it was going to be right up there.
The 20th Democrat to jump into the race, but he is arguably the most well known. So what do you think his rivals -- his arrival, I should say, means for everyone else? Karen, that's for you.
FINNEY: OK. Look, I think it's a couple of things, right? I think each of the other candidates is going to have to figure out how to handle him as a competitor. He is a former vice president. So there's a bit of deference that he -- and respect that he obviously deserves.
[22:55:06] He also comes in with the most sort of executive experience because he's been in the White House for eight years. At the same time, I think it also gives -- opens up opportunities for contrast, because remember, what we'll be looking at with Joe Biden in terms of policies are some of the unfinished business of the Obama administration, like some of the -- a lot of people are still angry that we didn't go after more folks in the banking industry, for example, and as well as his own record as Senate. So I think it opens up both opportunities as well as some challenges for the other candidates.
LEMON: Yeah. I think a point that Republicans are going to make -- if you knew that Russia was such a threat, why didn't you do something about it before Trump came on the scene, right? That's going to be a big issue for him. He will have to answer for that.
So Jess, a poll that was discussed (ph) today shows that Biden is at the top. Look at that. He's seven points ahead of Senator Bernie Sanders. How do you explain that he's in the lead right now?
MCINTOSH: He was our favorite president's vice president. I mean I have super warm feelings for Joe --
LEMON: They call him Uncle Joe.
MCINTOSH: For exactly that reason. But I haven't heard anything that suggests that he understands where the progressive movement is going. We don't want to go back to an old style of politics. The old style of politics left me out of it entirely and millions of other Americans too. So I need to hear something more forward-looking and more inclusive from Biden, which is frankly, what I'm hearing from the women already in the race.
LEMON: Scott, what do you think? How do Republicans feel about a Biden candidacy?
JENNINGS: You know he is going to be, I think, very good right out of the gate. I think we're going to see him fade over the course of the year. I think his best day will be his first day. You know he does have a loyal base of support among older voters. But this fragmentation in the field, which he's now part of, I think is really going to cause Bernie Sanders to have the best chance to get the nomination.
As long as he is stealing older voters and as long as there's fragmentation for the rest of the thing, Bernie's got the most loyal base right now. So right now, I think for Republicans, the more the merrier, because it drives us towards a situation where Bernie's the nominee, and frankly I think that's who Trump wants to run against.
LEMON: Twenty. Count them, something for everybody. Thank you, all. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.