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Trump Team Sues Deutsche Bank And Capital One To Keep Them From Turning Over Financial Records To Congress; Joe Biden Targets Trump In His 2020 Presidential Campaign; New Poll May Spell Trouble For Trump; White Nationalists Interrupt Discussion Of A Book About What It Means To Be White In America; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Resigns; Rep. Harley Rouda Rouda (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Rod Rosenstein's Resignation; Director John Singleton Dies At 51. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired April 29, 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] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. We have some breaking news to tell you about. It's a lawsuit over the Trump's family finances. The president along with his children, Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka and his business, they are suing Deutsche Bank and Capitol One to block them from turning over financial records that had been subpoenaed by Congress. It is the latest salvo in the president's battle, fighting tooth and nail to defy lawful subpoenas.
We've got more on all of that in just a moment. And it comes as Joe Biden holds the first rally of his 2020 campaign in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state. Speaking to voters at a Teamsters Union Hall in Pittsburgh, Biden telling supporters he is a proud union man. He supports a $15 an hour minimum wage and slamming Trump's tax cuts saying wealthy Americans and corporations got all the benefits, making clear he is going to fight for every vote if he gets the Democratic nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also came here because quite frankly, folks, if I'm going to be able to beat Donald Trump in 2020, it's going to happen here. It's going to happen here in western Pennsylvania with your help.
Say this simply and clearly and I mean this. The country wasn't built by Wall Street bankers, CEOs and Hedge fund managers. It was built by you. It was built by the great American middle class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, let's discuss all of this now. Chris Cillizza is here, Keith Boykin, Catherine Rampell and Scott Jennings. I'm so glad to have all of you on. Welcome to the program.
Chris, I want to start with you because we have this breaking news that we're learning tonight about the president, President Trump along with his children, Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka and his business suing Deutsche Bank and Capitol One to block them from turning over financial records to congressional committees that had issued -- these committees that issued subpoenas. Does this show that they're worried about the information getting out? What's going on here?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's all with a piece, I think, with fighting members of the administration testifying before Congress. You've seen other lawsuits that are all aimed at the same thing, which is Donald Trump is going to fight on all fronts to keep any and all things related to his financial records and really more broadly decision making within this administration private.
He is not going to -- no, these are all going to be legal fights. This is not the end of the line. There's going to be subpoenas. They're going to resist them, then it's going to go in -- the courts will decide whether the subpoenas need to be complied with or not. But they are fighting in all fronts.
This is Donald Trump. He is, you know, legally -- as it leads to Congress and Oversight, it's not really a big believer in balance of power, separation of power and sort of co-equal branches of government. We shouldn't be surprised if the last two weeks of what we've seen in terms of the resistance whether it's on, you know, his taxes, whether it's on a variety of other issues. This is in all keeping with the same fight on all fronts approach.
LEMON: I guess my -- you know, my question, Catherine, and I will tell you what the complaint filed today says, but if it's all on the up and up, and there's nothing there, then why not juts release it and let them have it because then you would have no exposure. That's what I would think.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That is an excellent question. I mean, why is it that Trump said that his business' finances were the red line for Mueller? Why is it --
LEMON: Let me read this. Because this is what it says, Catherine.
LEMON: And then I'll let you respond. In the complaint today, this what Trump's attorney said, the subpoenas were issued to harass President Donald J. Trump, to rummage through every aspect of his personal finances, his businesses and private information of the president and his family and to ferret about for any material that might be used to cause him political damage. No grounds exist to establish any purpose other than a political one. Sorry, but go on. Is this stalling our --
RAMPELL: Yes, I mean, look, there's a reason why this was the red line that Trump declared on the Mueller investigation. There's a reason why he has defied a nearly half century long norm for presidents to disclose their tax returns.
[23:05:10] Look, Jim Carter had to put his peanut farm in a blind trust, for God sake, right? I mean, the American public has a right to know whether the president of the United States is acting on his behalf or on their behalf, whether the president of United States has conflicts of interest. That was the story behind why Jimmy Carter decided to put his peanut farm in a blind trust to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
And we know based on copious amounts of reporting from the New York Times, from "The Washington Post," from lots of other organizations, including CNN, that there's a lot of suspicious activity that is gone on within Trump's business dealings.
So, there's clearly something he does not want the public to be aware of. And that is why he is fighting tooth and nail to defy this norms and to keep the public from knowing what's been going on in his business dealings all of these years.
LEMON: So, Scott. Let me bring you in here, and I have to ask you because, you know, congressional oversight is part of the constitution and I mean, Congress has congressional oversight, they have the right. Why does this president think that congressional oversight doesn't apply to him?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think there's a legitimate question about whether Congress needs to look into private dealings of things that happened before he was the president, but this is why courts exist. The Democrats have the right to go after it. The president and his family have a right to contest it, and we will have a court battle over it and we'll see who comes out on top.
I do tend to agree that the Democrats are looking for information here that has nothing to do with government, but everything to do with finding nuggets that would help them defeat Donald Trump in 2020. So, I think the president has a point on that. But again, you know, this is why courts exist. And you know, we will see what happens. I tend to think that these aren't going to be the issues that decide the 2020 election in my view.
LEMON: You said that they're -- you said they not go toing to be issues that decide, but the president thinks that Democrats are looking for issues in order to win the 2020 election, right?
JENNINGS: Of course. Of course, they are. Look, Democrats have proven they will look for and take anything out of context to embarrass this president. I'm sure they could find things in any complex business filings. So, I would contest it too, but we will what the courts say.
RAMPELL: No. There is legitimate oversight rational for Congress to get this information. We don't know, for example, where Trump has been getting his money from all of these years, including the hundreds of millions of dollars in cash that he is been paying for golf courses, for example.
LEMON: OK. So, why is that important? Why is that important, Catherine?
RAMPELL: Because it looks really suspicious. If you know anything about real estate finance, you know that debt is highly tax advantage. That unless you're the world's worst real estate investor, which Trump, of course, does not hold himself out to be, there is no reason why you would be making these huge transactions in cash unless there's something really a little off going on here. We don't know also who Trump still owes money to and under what circumstances they might be able to demand --
LEMON: And if he is compromised.
RAMPELL: Right. If they might be able to demand repayment on those loans. If you look at comments that his own children, his own sons have made over the years, they have said to reporters that they're getting money from Russia. They've since denied that they made those comments, but they've made those comments in the past to journalist, including like a golf reporter, of all people.
So, look, there's a lot of legitimate oversight rational for Congress to be to asking about what Trump's financial entanglements are. That's why I'm saying --
RAMPELL: -- it's important for us to know whether he is acting on behalf of the American people or in behalf of his own pocket books.
LEMON: I'm tagging in Keith Boykin right now who is standing by very patiently and I know he wants to jump in. What do you want to say, Keith?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let's not forget that this guy, Donald Trump, came in office with six bankruptcies in his background. He paid a $25 million fraud settlement two days before he took office. His foundation was shut down for shady business dealings. He has a record of corruption and Congress has the right. The American people have the right to know whether he continues to engage in corruption, continues to engage in self-dealing that benefits him.
LEMON: But how to do you respond to Scott? Scott says these are things that happened before he was president?
BOYKIN: He is still benefits from this things, today he's still violating the emoluments clause because of his hotel, and he is the guy, by the way, who also campaigned against Barack Obama declaring that he was not transparent because he wouldn't release his birth certificate and his college transcripts. And now, Donald Trump refuse to release any information about his own business, which is far more relevant to his conduct as president, than President Barack Obama's birth certificate.
And not to mention lastly that Donald Trump also campaigned by saying he was going to drain the swamp and Hillary Clinton, Obama and everybody else was corrupt. You can't come into office and say the other people were corrupt and then saying you're doing no worse than they were. Once you get in office, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard.
[23:10:05] LEMON: OK. OK, I got to move on. But let's talk politics now. OK? Chris, this is for you.
LEMON: Joe Biden said right away in his campaign kickoff, if I'm going to beat Trump in 2020, it's going to happen in Pennsylvania. Skipping right to the general election, is that a smart move?
CILLIZZA: Yes, because Joe Biden's best argument for a Democratic primary electorate is, hey, do you not want Donald Trump to be president anymore? I'm the guy who can do it.
In to that end, Don, five tweets about Joe Biden today from Donald Trump's Twitter account is literally the greatest gift Donald Trump could give Joe Biden because Joe Biden will go to every person might be a little bit on the fence about him, activists, donors, grassroots folks, staff and say look, there's a reason that he sent five tweets today about me. He is worried, he thinks I can beat him because this election ultimately will come down to Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, maybe Florida, you can throw in a few more, but the industrial Midwest.
That is where he beat Hillary Clinton, that's where I'm the strongest. Trump and his people know it. That is why they're reacting the way they did. Because remember, Biden's argument is not in a -- in the current state of the Democratic primary and Democratic Party, Biden's argument and Biden's politics are not a perfect fit. His overriding strength is, theoretically, I'm the guy you can beat the guy you dislike more than anyone else.
LEMON: And that's what Democrats -- that's what rational -- I shouldn't say rational Democrats -- Centrists Democrats are saying, do you want someone to beat Donald Trump and that is what Joe Biden is running on.
LEMON: Listen, Scott. I got to ask you. I got to ask you about what Chris has said. Because his advisers -- the president's advisers have been telling him Scott, not to get stuck in to a one on one fight with any Democratic candidate, especially Joe Biden, right? And -- but clearly he isn't taking that advice, as you heard, Biden -- he tweeted about Biden five times today. Why is he hitting such a nerve?
JENNINGS: Yes. I tend to agree with the president's advisers, whoever you are quoting there. I wouldn't take the bait on this stuff. And as Chris said, you know, if you're looking at the math, Trump can actually do worse in this election and still win. He can lose two of the three states in the industrial up in the Midwest and still win the election.
And so Biden, I guess, is running on his idea that he can win all three of them. I wouldn't elevate Biden. You know Biden's politics don't match the current Democratic Party. But by elevating him, it makes people feel like that, you know, that he is above all that.
I would ignore Joe Biden and as long as Donald Trump is engaging Joe Biden and he can have a conversation about Trump and not a conversation about -- I don't know -- Anita Hill or whatever, then that is a good day for Joe Biden. So, I would definitely ignore this guy and make him fight it out with the rest of the socialists. And until he clears that, I would just pretend like he doesn't exist. I tend to agree with his advisers.
LEMON: All right. Stick around everyone. I'm not -- I was looking off, I'm not ignoring you. I was just looking at this, because I want to tell you about a new poll that makes trouble for the president re- election effort.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We're back now with Chris, Keith, and Catherine. So, listen -- and Scott, excuse me, I forgot -- Sorry, Scott, I didn't mean to forget you. But I'm going to start with Catherine. So Catherine, Biden is successfully baited Trump on Charlottesville and labor workers, but you think this is a risky strategy for the former V.P.? How so?
RAMPELL: Yes, well, so Hillary trough a larger extent, basically, ran on Trump campaign, right, in 2016. It obviously did not serve her well. She won the popular vote, but she did not win the presidency. So I think it's risky.
I will say that it has served Biden surprisingly well and maybe there are a few reasons for that. Look, he has to stand out somehow, none of the other candidates are really aiming their message squarely at Trump in the same way that Biden is.
So Biden's not going to stand out by being the left most candidate or the freshest face candidate or even the oldest candidate in this race, but maybe he'll succeed in baiting Trump and Trump has certainly taken the bait here. He's basically made Trump relive what is arguably the lowest point in his presidency, which has been full of lots of low points as, i.e. the Charlottesville, none sense. So, yes, I mean it's seems to have serve Biden better than I would have expected so far.
LEMON: Keith, Biden says that this is a battle for America's soul. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We're reminded again that we are in a battle. We are in a battle for America's soul. I really believe that.
Donald Trump is only president -- he is the only president who's decided not to represent the whole country.
We Democrats, we independence who -- we have the same view we have to choose hope over fear, unity over division, and maybe most importantly truth over lies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, you know, Keith, this kind of similar to what I asked Catherine. Is this the message that Biden should be focusing on or at this point are American's minds made up when it comes to Trump's character?
BOYKIN: Well, I think it's a good message for Biden. I don't agree entirely when he says Trump was the only president to not focus on the American -- on the entire American country. I can think of a few 19th century presidents who didn't do that as well. But I think he is making a good point about the divisions that Trump has exacerbated with the incendiary rhetoric.
We need a president, especially at these times, when people are killing each other, shooting each other in places of worship, when people are attacking each other online and offline. With all the tragedy that is going on this country, we need a president who's going to unite us and try to bring us together. And Donald Trump has not even attempted to do that. He continues to govern only by appealing to his base and never reaching out beyond that.
[23:20:04] And he is the first president in the history of modern polling who has not crossed the 50 percent threshold in public approval rating. That is an indication of just how disliked Donald Trump is.
So, I think it's a good strategy for Biden to focus on this, but it's also not a guarantee that just by talking about Charlottesville and issues like that you are going to get the black community, and whoever wins the black community is go having to the best chances or the most likely chances to win in the nomination, but I think more --
LEMON: You can't -- do you think that is -- that's not just -- I mean the soul of America in the context of, you know -- it's not just the black community that, you know, who --
BOYKIN: No. I agree. I was referring to the soul of -- I wasn't so much referring to the soul of America, but to the Charlottesville comment, that he was making about earlier. And I feel like if you are going to talk about Charlottesville, that was obviously I think and part as we are referred to the lowest point in Trump's presidency but also an appeal to African-Americans.
BOYKIN: But I'm saying that African-American is going to need more than just a talk about Charlottesville. You got to talk about the (inaudible), you got to talk about Anita Hill. You're going to have to talk about the past issues about segregation in Bosnia (ph). You got to talk about his whole record and put that into context of today and say why he has the best candidate, and as the best policies for 2020, in order to get the votes for African-American.
CILLIZZA: And Don, I do think -- I don think the Biden -- the Biden argument is sort of -- it is similar in a way to what Hillary Clinton argued, to Catherine's point, which is you don't really want this guy, do you? At the same time -- that did not work. People didn't like Donald Trump 34 percent favorable in exit polling. They didn't think he was honest and trustworthy. One in three said that they didn't think he had the right to be president, and he still won. So there's danger in making it too much about personality, but the Biden --
LEMON: I can tell you, you know why he won. Why he did it, because Republicans fall in line. Democrats want a perfect candidate, i.e. what people are saying, we want this, this, and this. Republicans say he is our nominee. We're going to stand behind him.
CILLIZZA: Well, the Biden argument is not -- I don't think at the end of the day all that dissimilar from the Clinton argument, the difference will be, one was arguing what Donald Trump would do as president, potentially; the other, Biden will argue this is the four years you have lived with. This is not an idea of what it might be like. This is -- this is --
LEMON: This is what has happened. And what is happening now.
CILLIZZA: Correct. And that will be a difference. I don't know for the --
LEMON: That's a perfect segue -- that is a perfect segue to what I want to ask, Scott. Biden also focused on the economy today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The stock market is roaring, but you don't feel it. There's $2 trillion tax cut last year. Did you feel it? Did you get anything from it? Of course not. Of course not. All it went to folks on top, the incorporations that pay no taxes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So a new "Washington Post," ABC News poll shows, 62 percent say the economy works to benefit those in power. But the economy, Scott, has been strong under President Trump. So, how he run against Trump on the economy? He is saying -- I know he is going to say it, but do you feel it? Yes.
JENNINGS: Yes, this is a fool's errand for Biden. I mean, look, if he is going to out and argue the economy is not good, he is going to lose that argument. I thought his opening video, where he didn't mentioned the economy and try to draw Trump into other conversations, that's the correct terrain for a Biden candidacy. But, you know, I said he was out of step with the modern Democratic Party. He is clearly instep with his whole, you know, falsehood on a tax cut, falsehood on the economy.
Look, unemployment is low, wages are up. By the way, if you have a 401(k) or a pension or any kind of retirement account, you are feeling the stock market booming because all that stuff is up. So arguing all this is going to be revealed as nonsense. He is probably smarter to try to draw Trump and bait him in on none economic issues. If he ends up fighting Trump on the economy, he is going to lose and it won't really be close. So, if I were him, I would try to fight it out. It's a --
RAMPELL: I don't know. I mean, I think that there is still a lot of frustration about who the biggest beneficiaries of the tax cuts were, right? It is true that most Americans got a tax cut, but by and large, the biggest tax cuts both in terms of dollars and as percent's of income went to the highest income Americans.
LEMON: Catherine -- can I say this, Catherine?
RAMPELL: I don't think -- yes.
LEMON: I think he does have a point when he says people don't feel it and here's why. I've been speaking to a lot of people, middle class folks, my family included saying, I have to pay more taxes this year. And they say, well, my accountant -- I say, what happened? They said, my accountant says that I got it throughout the year, but they say they don't feel it. It was so small that they don't feel it. I do think that there's something in that --
[23:25:02] RAMPELL: Yes, that's true.
LEMON: But you can't argue against the economy is good.
RAMPELL: Yes. Look, the economy is good. The benefits of the economy, just like the benefits of the tax cut, are not equally distributed amongst the American population. So, I think to the extent that people look around and say, hey, how come these numbers look so great and I'm not feeling it? I don't feel a lot more flushed than I did a few years ago.
For example, I have a job. That's great. But the job doesn't pay super well. My health insurance is still quite expensive. A lot of my other bills are still quite expensive. That is going to still breathe some resentment about the fact that Trump claimed that he was working on behalf of the forgotten men and instead his one and only major legislative accomplishment was this tax cut which, again, predominantly helped rich Americans and corporations.
LEMON: OK. I got this for Keith, all right, and this is two polls. I got to put it up because this is what I promised before the break. I just want to get -- there's a new poll that shows that some problems -- there are some problems for Trump, 53 percent of seniors say they won't vote for Trump in 2020. That's a group that he won by nine points in 2016.
And then there's a poll that also shows that 62 percent of women and 57 percent of white college educated women say that they won't vote for Trump in 20202. So, he is losing ground, I'm just wondering, what does that spell for him and which candidate is best position to pick up these voters. BOYKIN: I think that is a dangerous position for any candidate to be
in with the demographics of the country. Women are the majority of the population. So, obviously, if you're losing among women, you're not likely to do well on the election, if women turn out in that percentage.
In terms of seniors, seniors are reliable voters and Democrats used to get those votes. But over the course of recent years, they haven't been able to get those because the seniors have been trending more conservative. And so, if the Democrats can peel off those seniors again, especially by talking about issues like Social Security and Medicare, I think that is a very important issue that can work for Biden or for any of the Democrats.
But the Democrats still have the advantage I think in terms of the structure is because they've won six of the last seven popular votes in the presidential election. So, even though Trump won the election in 2016 because of the Electoral College, the Democrats will still go on with a strong situation. I don't know if necessarily benefits anyone candidate or another because it's too early to tell at this point which candidate -- which among the Democratic candidates would likely pick up those extra votes.
LEMON: I got to run. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
RAMPELL: Thank you
LEMON: An author trying to read from his book at the D.C. store, was interrupted by white nationalist singing "This land is our land." The author says they proved his point. His book is called "Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland." The author joins me next.
[23:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: A group of white nationalists interrupted an appearance at a Washington bookstore by the author of a new book about what it means to be white in America. The protesters are chanting "this land is our land." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE/UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This land is our land! This land is our land! This land is our land!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The book they were protesting is "Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland." The author is Jonathan Metzl, and he joins me now.
Jonathan, good to have you on.
JONATHAN METZL, AUTHOR: Thanks so much.
LEMON: What -- what -- OK, before we go, what on earth -- what is going on?
METZL: You know -- I mean, this is a perfect illustration of kind of how discourse is possible and how discourse is breaking down. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in D.C. I was giving a talk about my book. It was at politics and pros in D.C. It was an audience full of all different kinds of people.
It was the moment in my talk where I was acknowledging an 80-year-old man who had helped my father escape, you know, the holocaust basically from Austria, and I was talking about how America is great, the most generous, the most, you know, the most open.
And at that moment as I'm acknowledging this, I'm talking about the bravery of Americans in times of need. All of a sudden from the back of the room, I see -- I think it was nine men and one woman kind of marching in, who were definitely not feeling the vibe in the room and they marched to the front with the bullhorn, and for about five minutes held a kind of song and dance protest about how this land is our land and exactly the opposite of the kinds of things I was talking about in my talk.
LEMON: It looks like sort of "Jews will not replace us" crowd and feeling there. I mean, it's amazing that you had this astounding moment. And just tonight, you respond in an op-ed in The Washington Post and you write, "It's time to talk about what means to be white in the United States."
OK, what do you mean by that?
METZL: Well, part of the issue is that -- I mean, we're being faced with a definition of whiteness that is being furthered by people like these protesters and tacitly and overtly by the president. And I think it's time for white Americans of conscience to push back and say actually there is a different version of whiteness that needs to move to the fore, the whiteness I found in my research, my book, and also be generous and communal and strong.
And so, in a way, part of what I'm saying in the op-ed and what I try to say in my book is that it's really the responsibility of white Americans to take back this narrative of whiteness from the protesters because that really doesn't represent the history of our country recently or in my personal history. And it's time to really start speaking up not just about policies that we disagree with, but about the racial politics and furthering a better narrative of what's going on.
LEMON: Jonathan, you know this point out the -- president didn't invent racism but he is skilled at exploiting people's fears. Is that what's hitting home for the folks you talk to for your book?
METZL: Well, for my book, it's funny because part of the story of my book was somewhat similar to what the protesters were saying. In other words, in my book, I make an argument that white America is suffering. There are depths of despair, shortened life spans, all these factors.
[23:35:00] But the issue I show in my book is that part of what's driving life spans down for white Americans are actually the GOP policies of President Trump and people who are in this administration. So the story of my book is what happens if you live in a southern state and block health care, undermine schools, roads, bridges.
So part of the argument I show is, we have little to fear from immigrants. Immigrants make this country better. The real threats are politics and things like tax cuts and matters like that.
LEMON: Listen. It's interesting because your research also showed that some white Americans in deep red counties also felt an obligation to help communities of color and immigrants. Is that message being drowned out by all of this hateful, dumb, ignorant talk?
METZL: In my book, I found so many remarkable people who are standing up. Basically they were saying yes, I'm Republican, yes, I'm conservative, I'm for small government, but I'm also for social responsibility, I'm also for community.
And what I found in my research was it was impossible for them to have their voices heard because of this bigger story which is that these issues of being, for example, anti-government, anti-immigrant, pro- gun, factors like that, really become litmus test for politicians. And so there was no room for those kinds of voices to be heard.
And part of what I'm hoping in writing my book and speaking out right now is that there is some communal narrative in which people who are, you know, Republicans or Democrats but don't want our country headed this way will have a place to come together.
LEMON: Jonathan, that's so fascinating. Thank you for your book. Thank you for your bravery. I appreciate it.
METZL: Thanks so much.
LEMON: In these times, it is brave to write something like this. Thank you. Thanks for coming on.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is resigning today. Will Congress subpoena him to testify? And with all the fighting between Congress and the Trump administration, will he comply? I'm going to ask Congressman Harley Rouda, next.
[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, has officially resigned. Rosenstein spent nearly two years overseeing the Russia investigation from the appointment of the special counsel to the release of the Mueller report. His resignation is effective on May 11th.
I want to bring in now Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda to discuss this. Congressman, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us this evening. You know, in the final weeks of his job, Rod Rosenstein's allegiance to this president has become more apparent, telling the president that he could -- this is according to The Washington Post, by the way, land the plane with the Mueller investigation. How do you judge his legacy now that he is officially resigning?
REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D), CALIFORNIA: I don't want to overread that. I actually read into that the fact that here was an individual with the FBI who was trying to make sure that this investigation stayed on course and we got through the finish line because we have a president who is constantly talking about firing Mueller. He fired Comey. There was obvious possibility of obstruction of justice.
So I actually appreciate the fact that he was trying to make sure we got this investigation to us even though it is in redacted format, but we will get over that part soon.
LEMON: Are you going to subpoena Rosenstein to testify to Congress?
ROUDA: I think we will ask him to come. I'm not sure we need to subpoena him. Subpoena is only for those witnesses who are unwilling to come forward. And I would imagine Rod Rosenstein would be more than happy to come forward and tell his story and his involvement in an honest, truthful way just as we expect Mueller to do the same.
LEMON: Congress and the administration are fighting on so many fronts. The White House is threatening to stop McGahn --
LEMON: -- from testifying. They sued your committee to stop the president's accounting firm from handing over records. They told an official not to speak to your committee about security clearances. Are they trampling all over Congress right now, you think?
ROUDA: Don, this is unprecedented in our history. To have a president actively fighting in this way and denying the obligations that we have as members of Congress under Article One to do our job, we never see anything like this. It is usual to see in Congress and the White House, the White House do what is called slow walking. But the actual outright denials of their obligations under the constitution, this is frightening.
LEMON: I want to play this. Speaker Pelosi answered -- this is what she answered when asked if she changed her mind about impeachment. Watch this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Are your views on impeachment changing at all with all the stonewalling from the White House?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: I think that the president is demonstrating on a daily basis his obstruction of justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, if the stonewalling continues, should Congress consider impeachment?
ROUDA: Here is how I look at it. I encourage everyone to look at the Mueller report. Just look at the table of contents. It will blow you away. We have in that document clear understanding that Congress needs to investigate further.
And if that investigation leads to clear evidence that we need to move forward with impeachment, I am hopeful that my Republican brethren will recognize for the good of our country, this cannot be partisanship, that all of us need to do what is obvious and what is right if that's where the investigations lead us.
LEMON: It's very interesting -- you know, a man of the law, right, who is the attorney general, I'm talking about Attorney General Barr --
LEMON: -- threatening to pull out of his testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee this Thursday if staff lawyers are allowed to ask questions.
[23:45:02] Is Barr just trying to avoid answering tough questions because he knows legally he is not on the right side of the law? What is going on here?
ROUDA: I don't know what he is scared of or what Trump is scared of. We do have an AG who has acted in a way that is inconsistent with what we've seen in the past, almost as a P.R. person for trump rather than acting as the attorney general for the United States of America, and I can't fathom why he would be worried about tough questions.
He is an attorney general. He should be thick enough skinned to be able to handle this. He should understand what he needs to answer and whether it is a question from a member or their staff member should make no difference.
LEMON: The Senate Judiciary Chair, Lindsey Graham, said on Sunday that he is done with the Mueller report. Listen to this, congressman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Did Mueller -- was Mueller allowed to do his job? And the answer is yes. Name one thing that they did to stop Mueller from doing his job. And if you can't, then there's no obstruction.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you call him again to testify?
GRAHAM: Me? No, I'm done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the special counsel?
GRAHAM: I'm not going to re-litigate it. I don't know how clear I can be, Margaret. It's over for me. He didn't collude with the Russians. Obstruction of justice in this situation is absurd. I fought hard as hell to make sure Mueller could do his job. I introduced legislation to make sure he couldn't be fired. It's over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, let's -- let's think about this. This is the same Lindsey Graham who wants to revisit the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. You're old enough, I'm sure that you remember Bill Clinton and that impeachment process. The same Lindsey Graham who was a prosecutor in Bill Clinton's impeachment trial who said, I believe, I'm paraphrasing here, that a sitting president, even if he doesn't commit a crime, can still be impeached.
There's a Republican in the White House who says, you know, now he's done investigating him. Is this just complete hypocrisy? What else could it be?
ROUDA: I do think it is hypocrisy. Don, I think I shared this with you before. I used to be a Republican. I was a Republican for the first 20 years of my life. And I know if this report was on a Democratic president, we know exactly what the Republicans would be doing. Their hair would be on fire. They would be demanding and yelling from the top of their lungs, impeach, impeach, impeach.
And here we are simply as Democrats saying let's do the appropriate investigation to educate the public. And gosh, wouldn't it be nice if our Republican counterparts would do the same for the good of our country and pursuant to our constitutional obligation? This hypocrisy has to stop. We need help the American public understand what's going on.
LEMON: Well, good luck with that.
ROUDA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you for coming, Congressman Rouda. I appreciate it.
ROUDA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Legendary Director John Singleton passed away today. You probably know him from "Boyz n the Hood" but that's not all you should know him for. Remembering John Singleton, next.
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Groundbreaking director John Singleton has died at the age of 51. He was best known for his debut film, "Boyz n the Hood," an unflinching look at life in South Central, L.A. Stephanie Elam takes a look at his life and legacy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At 24, "Boyz n the Hood" earned John Singleton a place in movie history as the first black director and the youngest director ever nominated for an academy award.
His 1991 debut film told the story of three childhood friends coming of age in violent South Central, Los Angeles, place Singleton called home. He loved movies from an early age and that passion took him from South Central to the University of Southern California's famed film school.
Singleton's college screenplays won writing awards and landed him a Hollywood agent. In surprisingly short order, he turned his senior thesis "Boyz n the Hood" into a movie.
JOHN SINGLETON, FILM DIRECTOR: I look at the time, my senior, and school is kind of a hallmark in my life, you know, because I was young and didn't have anything. All I have was promise.
ELAM: With dramas like "Poetic Justice," "Rosewood" and "Baby Boy," Singleton led a new generation of black directors, making films that spoke to the African-American experience.
SINGLETON: It's been my life's dream to make films, the films I want to make, the films I want to make that come straight from my soul and to just do what I want to do, not only to entertain an audience, but to raise people to a higher level of consciousness with every film.
ELAM: He helmed action films as well, including the 2000 remake of "Shaft" and the second instalment of the blockbuster "Fast and Furious" franchise, "Too Fast, Too Furious." He later worked mostly in television, directing episodes of "Empire, "The People Versus O.J. Simpson," and "Billions."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who set you up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody.
ELAM: He also created the series "Snowfall," which chronicled the '80s crack epidemic in Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here to buy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't sell (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you sell?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We sell kilos to people with money.
ELAM: John Singleton, a pioneering filmmaker whose journey took him from the hood to Hollywood.
[23:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Everyday people are changing the world and too often their work doesn't get the attention it deserves. Well, you can help shine a light on their efforts by nominating them as a CNN hero. It takes a few minutes. Here's Anderson Cooper with some important tips.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Since 2007, CNN heroes has been featuring hundreds of everyday people whose extraordinary acts are changing lives and making the world a better place. We need you to tell us about that amazing person in your life, and you can do it right now at CNNHeroes.com. Here's the inside scoop on successfully nominating your hero.
[23:59:58] Think about what makes that person truly special and write it down in a paragraph or two. We also want to know the impact that they're having. Tell us what sets that person apart. Who knows, you might see your everyday hero in the CNN Hero of the Year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And remember, you don't need to personally know your hero to nominate them. And you can do that right now at cnnheroes.com. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.