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CNN TONIGHT

Former FBI Director James Comey Comes Out Blasting President Trump and Former Colleagues; Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein Leaving DOJ in Good Hands; President Donald Trump Upset that Donald Trump Jr. is Being Asked to Testify Again; Boston Red Sox White House Visit. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 9, 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: -- madness of pointless violence, we all say we care. At a minimum, there's no need to joke about shooting anyone, especially not now.

I argue to you that America has become great not because of our difference, but our shared values. Don't forget what makes us uniquely great in this country.

Thank you for listening to me tonight. There's a lot of news off this Jim Comey town hall. And D. Lemon has that on CNN Tonight right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: There is a lot of it. Yes, who lasted a joke like that. I was flabbergasted. But same people who cheered them, though, when he said knock the hell out of them when you see -- so, there you go.

Chris, you know, I think I overlooked something. I got a big show ahead. But I just want to get your -- you to talk about this a little bit more. You -- when I mentioned the Red Sox who did and did not go to the White House, you seemed to get a little -- you wanted to get a little deeper and I didn't really go there with you.

CUOMO: No, look, because, one, it's just so disruptive on so many different levels. You know, team, team, you're awarding a team. The team holds together, sticks together through thick and thin, they are one, they are not color, they are not creed, they are team.

And then you find a way for something that becomes divisive and you see that everything is fragile and I think it's sad and I think it's troubling that some went and some didn't. And I get that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Would you have not gone?

CUOMO: No.

LEMON: If we were on that team and I said Chris, I'm not going.

CUOMO: I wouldn't go.

LEMON: You wouldn't go. CUOMO: I wouldn't go. Now look, you can argue it both ways. I've heard it both ways. I'm not judging it. I wouldn't because I'm a team guy. And I'll tell you what.

I remember being down in nowhere, Georgia playing rugby in college and I had a guy on my team named Sid who was Nigerian and this guy was beautiful and a beautiful player and we were in nowhere, Georgia and these guys were saying some ugly things. Not about me. They were loving me. I was having a great match. They were saying it about Sid.

Second time I heard it and it registered what was going on, there was a brawl on that field, not because of what they were doing to me, you attack one, you attack all.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I believe in that idea of unity. And I think it extends beyond the Red Sox. I didn't like the Red Sox. I'm a Yankees fan. But I respect their victory and I respect their cohesion and I think they have to keep sight of that.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: You're a team in one thing, you're a team in everything.

LEMON: I remember when I was in high school there was a neighboring town -- well, I walked about a town but it was a neighboring town. I went to Baker High School. Everyone will know what the neighboring town is.

And a group of us went to a party at that neighboring town, it was in the gym at their school. And I was with a bunch of friends, most of whom were white. It was me and another black guy and we got out of the car and when we got out a group of people screamed at us don't even get out of the car, n-words, and we all looked at each other and said, OK, and all the white kids who were with us says if they're not going to go in, we're not going to go in.

And I can't believe that you a-holes are saying stuff like that. So, if you want to be a friend to someone, if you want to be a team member to someone, you have to stick by them even when you want to do something that you think is good, even when you have an opportunity to go to the White House, which many people don't.

Of course, you can go tour, the White House is open, to meet the president, you've got to stick with your team, I think you're exactly right. And you can't -- some behavior you just cannot stand for. It's as simple as that.

CUOMO: Look, we dealt with it in the NFL too. People had to make a choice. And I don't think it's about judging the choices and delving deeper into the animus.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: I think it's a mistake we keep making, we keep making judgments as a function of which negativity we choose to endorse.

LEMON: Well --

CUOMO: Instead of just finding examples of rewarding the virtue and start focusing on that more and the teams that don't go or the teams that do go and all do one thing together. Maybe that's better than just continuously trafficking in it. But I thought that was a sad demonstration --

LEMON: Well, I think --

CUOMO: -- of where we are and things that matter.

LEMON: Here's, you know, only for evil to prevail is when good men do nothing.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: And I think if this president continues that and his assault on our institutions and exhibiting racist behavior, I think people, even if you like him you have to stick up for the right thing.

So -- listen, it happened during the Civil Rights movement. It should happen now. I think it's just as important. We're in different times but it's still just as important. I've got to run, got a big show.

CUOMO: I got your back, D. Lemon.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, sir. See you soon. Tyra says hello, let's get after it, she says.

CUOMO: Not that I care.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I read for the articles.

LEMON: Yes, right.

CUOMO: See you.

LEMON: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

We have some breaking news. And that breaking news is the former FBI director James Comey telling CNN he believes President Trump obstructed justice in several of the episodes the special counsel investigated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So, in your opinion there was corrupt intent, at least in several of those episodes in --

(CROSSTALK)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER UNITED STATES FBI DIRECTOR: It looks that way from the reports, factual recitation.

[22:04:53] COOPER: If -- you know, they're now -- what, it's up to 800 former federal prosecutors who've worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations who have signed a statement saying that Mueller's findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump if he weren't president. Do you agree?

COMEY: Yes, I agree.

COOPER: No doubt.

COMEY: No doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: No doubt. That is stunning. Stunning. And there's more. The man who ran the FBI goes on to say that he thinks it's possible that Russia has something on the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think the Russians have leverage over President Trump?

COMEY: I don't know the answer to that.

COOPER: Do you think it's possible?

COMEY: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He goes on to say that he thinks the Attorney General, William Barr, has not behaved honorably and has lost his previous good reputation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think he's behaving less than honorably?

COMEY: I do. And look, I'm sorry to --

(APPLAUSE)

COMEY: He's an accomplished and very smart person and who had nothing to lose in taking this job but his reputation. But I really -- it doesn't make me happy to say this but I think he has lost most of his reputation with the way he's conducted himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Ran the FBI, James Comey. We got a lot more on that and we're going to talk about that coming up.

And it comes on the day that the president is circling the wagons around his son, Donald Trump, Jr. Here's the big picture. This is all about revisionist history. Keep that in mind. The president trying to rewrite inconvenient facts, trying to downplay the Republican-led Senate intel, Republican-led, by the way, Republican-led Senate intel committee's subpoena on his oldest son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My son testified for hours and hours. My son was totally exonerated by Mueller, who frankly does not like Donald Trump, me, this Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I said keep revisionist history in mind. That is revisionist history. This is the fact. Donald Trump, Jr. was not exonerated by Robert Mueller. In regard to that infamous Trump tower meeting with Russians Mueller said, and I quote, "The government would unlikely be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the June meeting participants had general knowledge that their conduct was unlawful, which is not being exonerated."

And listen to this. This is from Senator Lindsey Graham today talking about his fellow Republican Richard Burr subpoenaing Trump Jr.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Burr though, issued him a subpoena --

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Yes. I like Richard Burr. I just don't know -- to me, Mueller is the last word for me. So, I'm over, I'm done. He testified before the committee. Testified for the special counsel.

In this environment I'd be very reluctant if I were a lawyer to let my client get back into this mess. But that will be up to Don Jr. and his lawyer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. Another fact check alert. The fact is Donald Trump, Jr. did not testify to Mueller. He declined even to sit down for a voluntary interview with the special counsel. And he was not exonerated. Neither was his father.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I could have stopped everything. I didn't have to give them a document. I gave them 1.5 million documents. I gave them White House counsel. I gave them other -- anybody you want you can talk to. At the end of the testimony no collusion, and essentially no obstruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Did you catch that? Did you catch that? Essentially. No obstruction. Essentially no obstruction. The president usually claims that he has been 100 percent exonerated.

This is the first time that he has hedged even a little bit on obstruction, slipping in the word essentially in there.

But he's wrong. That's not what Robert Mueller said at all, not at all. Listen to what he did say in volume two of his report and this is page 182. Please read the report, everyone. Don't necessarily believe what the administration is saying and what Barr -- how Barr is framing this. And this is a quote from that page.

"If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would do state." Did you hear that? "We would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards we are unable to reach that judgment."

"Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime it also does not exonerate him." Does not exonerate him. It's right there in the report. That is really clear. So, given that you've got to wonder whether the president wants Mueller to testify in Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:10:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you allow Robert Mueller to testify in Congress?

TRUMP: I'm going to leave that up to our very great attorney general and he'll make a decision on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, sure he is. Sure, he is. Why wouldn't he leave it up to his handpicked attorney general? Very same attorney general who wrote a letter misrepresenting the findings of the Mueller report, who kept that report under wraps for weeks. Along with Mueller's letter complaining that the A.G.'s summary didn't fully represent his work or his conclusions, who is now refusing to turn over the unredacted report to Congress.

Of course, he's going to leave the decision up to the attorney general. The man who's proved he'll carry the president's water at any turn.

One headline after another from CNN's town hall with James Comey tonight, one of the biggest, the former FBI director says he believes the president obstructed justice. And anyone other than the president would face charges.

Josh Campbell, Chris Swecker, Jennifer Rodgers, Max Boot, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Breaking news, former FBI director James Comey telling CNN just moments ago he believes President Trump obstructed justice in multiple episodes investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Let's discuss. Josh Campbell is here who worked for both Robert Mueller and James Comey at the FBI. [22:15:01] Chris Swecker, Jennifer Rodgers, and Max Boot, the author

of "Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Good evening, one and all. Lot to get to and I want to hear from James Comey a lot, so let's go quick, if we can. Comey says he believes the president obstructed justice. How significant is that, Max?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I mean, it just adds to the chorus of voices saying that. I mean, there's already 800 former federal prosecutors on the record saying that and Comey is one more high level former federal official who is adding to that chorus. I mean, I hope they can get through. But, you know, I fear what the president's supporters it doesn't make any difference. They are going to believe what they believe.

LEMON: It should carry more weight coming from the former director of the FBI.

BOOT: Well, it should, except I think Comey has been somewhat tarnished and discredited and roughed up politically. So, I don't know that it carries much more weight than having this other 800 federal prosecutors saying that.

LEMON: Right on. Josh, I want you to listen what the former FBI director said about the 10 areas of obstruction Mueller investigated. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: And so, in your opinion, there was corrupt intent at least in several of those episodes --

COMEY: It sure looks that way from the report's factual recitation.

COOPER: If a -- you know, they're now -- what, I think it's up to 800 former federal prosecutors who've worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations who have signed a statement saying that Mueller's findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump if he weren't president. Do you agree?

COMEY: Yes, I agree.

COOPER: No doubt?

COMEY: No doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, no doubt. So where does that leave this president, Josh?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: So, I think the question isn't did the president obstruct justice, the question left by the Mueller investigation is can the president actually be prosecuted.

Again, Max alluded to the number of federal prosecutors who have gone on record saying if he was anyone else, he would have been indicted. We'll never know the president's view for certain because he wasn't subpoenaed so he wasn't under oath telling his side of the story. We're only hearing him talk to the cameras.

But one things it's interesting about Jim Comey in having this town hall tonight is we're hearing from someone who was on the receiving end of the obstructive behavior when the president was telling him to drop the Flynn investigation, and on this very day two years ago here in Los Angeles, by the way, the president fired the person who was running the investigation into him. Which, by the way had that never happened the president wouldn't be facing all these problems.

LEMON: Weren't you at that event with him when that happened?

CAMPBELL: I was, I was indeed.

LEMON: Yes.

CAMPBELL: He was addressing employees just a few miles here from the L.A. CNN bureau when it all happened. And again, I think if the president had to go back and do it all over again and if he actually listens to his advisers beyond the son-in-law, he may have done it a lot different.

LEMON: Jennifer, Anderson also asked Comey about Trump and the Russians. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think the Russians have leverage over President Trump?

COMEY: I don't know the answer to that.

COOPER: Do you think it's possible?

COMEY: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, the former FBI director saying that it is possible the Russians had leverage over the president of the United States. I mean, that is a stunning statement, I think, coming from the former director of the FBI.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is and he's said that before.

LEMON: Yes.

RODGERS: You know, we've known that for quite a while. It's one of the great unknowns and, you know, one of the things that may surface if we ever get to see the tax returns is whether there's some kind of financial things that are being held over his head. So, I think that's one of the reasons that it's important to get to the bottom of that.

LEMON: Is it possible that there are issues that pertain to that in the redacted portion and maybe that's one reason they don't want people to see it?

RODGERS: I don't know what's in the redacted portion. We're still waiting to hear, hopefully the public will learn more about the counter-intel side of this. That's obviously a key piece and why I think that Richard Burr is not yet ready to wrap up what his committee is doing. I do hope we learn. You know, I don't know what's in there. I hope we get to see it --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But that's kind of the point, right, we don't know what's in there. And if it's information that the American people should know, then we should know it.

BOOT: Yes, I didn't -- I mean, I didn't see any indication that there is anything on the counter-intelligence stuff in the redacted portions. I mean, there could be. But a lot of it seemed to pertain to the Roger Stone trial which is upcoming, I think.

LEMON: Chris Swecker, I want to bring you in now. Based on what we know at this point do you agree with Comey's assessment?

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: On the obstruction part?

LEMON: Yes.

SWECKER: I mean, there are some -- most of the rationale that Comey cited didn't have anything to do with his interaction with the president. That's what I heard him state. And the Mueller analysis goes through the corrupt intent.

He talked his way, almost talked his way into an obstruction prosecution and it's all based on conversations that he had with no underlying offense. But that was pointed out by Mueller as well.

So, I can see why Director Mueller punted to the attorney general. I think he decided to kick it up to someone at a higher pay grade who was the ultimate authority on the topic and he made that decision.

LEMON: You don't agree, Jennifer?

RODGERS: No, he did not punt it to the attorney general. He said it wasn't fair to conclude that a crime was committed because the president couldn't be prosecuted and therefore couldn't defend himself. But he went through each of the obstructive acts with each of the three legal elements and found on six or seven of the 10 that all three elements were met.

SWECKER: Well, by -- he did punt it to the attorney general because that's where it landed. Someone had to make the decision.

[22:20:02] LEMON: Yes.

SWECKER: And that's the ultimate authority in this country.

LEMON: You think that he did land there, are you saying that's not what it was meant, that Barr took it upon himself to make that judgment? RODGERS: Exactly. I don't think that that's what Mueller meant to

happen. I hope that we can hear about that from Mueller at some point.

LEMON: OK.

RODGERS: But his conclusion was not I don't know what to do, please, Barr, save me from that problem.

LEMON: We will know when and if we hear from Robert Mueller that will be solved. Max, Comey also talked about the Attorney General, William Barr. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think he's behaving less than honorably?

COMEY: I do. Yes, and look, I'm sorry to --

(APPLAUSE)

COMEY: He's an accomplished and very smart person, and who had nothing to lose in taking this job but his reputation. But I really -- it doesn't make me happy to say this but I think he has lost most of his reputation with the way he's conducted himself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Max, here's what I find interesting, like a lot of folks and maybe even you too, that he gave Barr the benefit of the doubt in the beginning.

BOOT: Sure.

LEMON: And then all of a sudden now he's really -- he's done a 180. What does this change of tune say to you?

BOOT: I think what it says, Don, is that Attorney General Barr has behaved reprehensibly. I think Comey is absolutely correct that Barr has shredded his reputation by becoming such an outspoken defender of Trump, by twisting the evidence and essentially forcing Robert Mueller to disagree with him and to tell him, hey, cut it out, you're giving the public an erroneous impression of what our report said.

I think, you know, the fact that you had the Mueller letter which finally came out was devastating, I think what Comey said is very telling. I think this is really anybody who's not a Trump partisan will see that Barr is really discrediting himself and, you know, further discrediting himself now that he is being held in contempt of the House Judiciary Committee and basically playing hardball with Congress as a defender of the president, not as the defender of the rule of law.

LEMON: Listen, it is illegal for any person who's in the public eye, especially a politician to lie to Congress. And to lie to a law enforcement agent. But is it illegal or should it be to lie to the American people? James Comey is going to weigh in on President Trump's lies right after

this.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back with Josh, Chris, Jennifer, and Max. I like to say Max Boot. I like that name. So, listen, Chris, Comey also talked about the former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: I think people like that, like Rod Rosenstein, who are people of accomplishment but not real sterling character, strong character find themselves trapped. And so, they start to make little compromises to stay on the team, echo his words, use the term spying, talk about collusion or just be silent, thinking that's what I need to do to survive, and in the process, he has eaten their soul. They're lost.

And so that's what explains what happens to so many of these people. They become trapped. They're not strong enough to push out of it. And they end up making compromises that they lose everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is a scathing assessment of a former colleague. Do you think Comey is right?

SWECKER: Highly judgmental. No, I don't. And here's one of the issues that I have with Jim Comey is that he had several opportunities to push back, to do the very same thing that he said Rosenstein didn't do. He was asked to let Flynn go. He didn't say anything. He just kept silent. He was asked for honest loyally or loyalty, he said I'll give you honest loyalty.

And he talks -- he talked tonight about all the different occasions he sat there and listened to the president's lies but he never pushed back. He was fired. He didn't resign. He didn't draw a line in the sand and step back and say I won't do that. So, I'm not sure if he's in a position to be that judgmental about him.

LEMON: Well, he talked about, he said reached to -- go ahead, Josh.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL: No, I was just going to --

LEMON: He reached a point in there where he said I can't do this anymore, but go on.

CAMPBELL: I was going to say, and respectfully disagree with my friend Chris. You know, if you go back in time and look to what Comey was facing, I think he was treating each instance as an investigator. They didn't yet know inside the FBI whether or not the president was complicit in the investigative activity and the violations that they were looking at. And so, each one of those instances was a data point. Collecting

information. You know, what is the president doing? And it wasn't until the time that he actually fired Comey, taking that overt step to obstruct an investigation that suddenly that became material, so I think he was in collection mode.

And I'll say just real quickly. I don't know Rod Rosenstein; I can't judge what's in his heart. I can judge his behavior. And I do know that if you talk to the people inside the FBI, they look at the actions, his complicity and helping fire Comey over this pretext of the Hillary Clinton case of all things, and then his refusal to defend the department until there were instances of him personally being attacked. That's a data point.

And the last thing I'll say with respect to Jim Comey off left the script. It's important to someone in journalism now I'm not going to defend his actions, Jim Comey, he can defend themselves but I will talk about him as a person.

And I'll say the person that we saw tonight at that town hall is the person that I know and many others inside the FBI. That's an honorable person, and again, who was faced with terrible consequences. People fault him for being sanctimonious. But in an era where our leaders are lying to us with reckless abandon, if the worst thing that we can say about him is that he's too more to his values and maybe we all need to look in the mirror.

LEMON: Jennifer, you're shaking your head.

RODGERS: Well, I worked with Jim when he was the U.S. attorney in Manhattan. So, I know him as well. And he was an exemplary leader. I mean, you really would follow Jim Comey off a cliff as we used to say.

And I don't agree with everything that he did in connection with the e-mail investigation. But I agree, he's a good person, he has very strong values, and I agree with what Josh said.

LEMON: Today Rod Rosenstein, was his last day at the DOJ, and here's what he said. Max, this is for you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: I leave here confident that justice is in good hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, with Barr at the helm is justice in good hands?

BOOT: No. And you know --

LEMON: That was the shortest answer I've ever heard you give, but go on.

BOOT: And Rosenstein, I think, is undermining his own reputation, by the way, he is leaving the job basically as a -- somebody who is validating what Barr is doing.

[22:29:56] And remember, you know, he signed off on Barr's very deceptive summary of the Mueller report which Mueller called him out on and Barr was very careful to implicate Rosenstein in all that because he wanted to make it seem like they agreed on (Inaudible) Rosenstein went along with that, just as he went along when Trump fired Comey.

So, you know, I think -- you know, Rosenstein's legacy is more ambivalent than Barr's, because Rosenstein did do some good things. He did try to resist some of Trump's pressure, some of the pressure from Trump's toadies on the Hill to politicize the Justice Department and block the investigation. But he's also somebody who's basically a political survivor.

And as Comey suggested, he has made moral compromises along the way, including in the way he's leaving office.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yeah. I thought this was a fascinating moment during the town hall, where Comey talked about the president's lies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: You cannot have a president who's a chronic liar. I don't care what your passions around tax cuts or regulation or immigration. I respect difference there. The president of the United States cannot be someone who lies constantly. I thought Republicans agreed with that. It's one of the reasons I am no longer a Republican.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The Corrosion of Conservatism, Why I left the Right, that's your book, does that resonate with you?

BOOT: One hundred and ten percent, Don. I mean that's a lot of the reason why I am not a Republican either. I am also somebody like Comey who was a lifelong Republican. And I am just disgusted by the fact that Republicans are displaying no devotion to the rule of law. Right now, they're basically acting as accomplices for him in his obstruction of justice, his attempts to resist congressional subpoenas, and backing him up as he lies indiscriminately. I think it's disgusting what the Republican Party has come to.

LEMON: Chris, what about as far as law enforcement and the intel community? Has the president's lies affected them or us as a nation?

CHRIS SWECKER, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIVE DIVISION FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Yeah, I am not going to throw anything out there about his lies, because I think 40 percent of the population think one way and 40 percent think the other way. And there's about 20 percent with an open mind. But I will say that -- I don't think that the intelligence community or the FBI appreciates his comments.

You know, he has taken the FBI and thrown them up as a target. And frankly, I think Jim Comey contributed to that with his press conference on July 5th and dragging the FBI into politics, instead of handing the investigation off to the attorney general to make a decision. So, you know, no, the short answer to your question, Don, is he's probably not real powerful with law enforcement in general, other than most, you know, Republicans are pretty strong law and order.

LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate your time. The president is circling the wagons around his son after the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee served Don Jr. with a subpoena. What's he afraid of?

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Tonight, sources saying that President Trump and his inner circle are frustrated that a Republican-led congressional committee Senate intel has subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr. to testify again. The president falsely insisting his son was exonerated by the Mueller report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My son's a very good person, works very hard. The last thing he needs is Washington, D.C. He would rather not ever be involved. I remember he said to me a long time ago when I was thinking about running, Dad, if I can help, let me know. It's not my expertise. It's not something I really like, whatever I can do.

You're my father, whatever I can do. He's now testified for 20 hours or something, a massive amount of time. The Mueller report came out. That's the bible. The Mueller report came out and they said he did nothing wrong. The only thing is (Inaudible) research.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So let's discuss now. Michael D'Antonio is here, the author of The Truth About Trump. So Michael, the president -- good evening by the way. He was really defensive about his eldest son. Do you think this subpoena and the scrutiny he's (Inaudible) do you think that's getting to him?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what's getting to him more than concern for his son, and I am not sure how concerned he really is for his son, because he doesn't have the same feelings that the rest of us have for our families. I think he's concerned for himself. He's very much afraid that whatever Don Jr. said the first time he testified to the same committee behind closed doors will be contradicted by his subsequent testimony.

And as of now, the president clearly thinks that he's in the clear. But in Senator Burr, he's run up against somebody who's not ever going to run for office again. And a lot of senators become diplomats and become patriots when they don't have to run again.

LEMON: We've noticed that.

D'ANTONIO: Yeah.

LEMON: A couple questions. So if he's in the clear, then what is he afraid of testifying for?

D'ANTONIO: Well, right. I don't think he is in the clear. And who else testified and then had to come back and correct his testimony? Michael Cohen.

LEMON: Michael Cohen.

D'ANTONIO: And these are two peas in a pod. These are the two younger men who are closest to the president.

LEMON: The other thing he said, this is the last thing, you know, Washington, D.C., you know, handling his son or whatever. I'm paraphrasing here. His son is deeply involved in his campaign.

D'ANTONIO: Deeply.

LEMON: Always tweeting. He's always out on the campaign trail. He's always out defending his father. If he didn't want to have anything to do with Washington, wouldn't he just not be involved in the campaign and the administration?

D'ANTONIO: Precisely. And why is Don Jr. contemplating a political career for himself? He wants to be Mayor of New York City. And this is something he's made clear to lots of folks. So it's not that this isn't his business. This is very much his business. I just think he's running a risk of getting caught in a crime.

LEMON: He is out campaigning all...

(CROSSTALK)

D'ANTONIO: All the time.

LEMON: All the time. Today, Trump Sr., the dad, referred to Trump Jr. as a good guy. You said he doesn't feel the same way about -- I'm not sure...

(CROSSTALK)

[22:40:06] D'ANTONIO: Well, can you imagine if all your father could say was that you're a good guy? You're talking about your son. You're a hard worker and you're a good person. I would hope that given the opportunity, my dad would have said something a little more personal about me and would have praised me in a sincere way.

But this is what he says about everyone, everybody that he talks about. The president does this filler where he says well he's a very good person. He works very hard. He's very strong. Well, that's meaningless stuff.

LEMON: This is contrary to what the president said today and what his allies said today, Lindsey Graham. Donald Trump Jr. never spoke to the special counsel. The Mueller report said in the Trump Tower meeting -- said the office spoke to every participant except (Inaudible) and Trump Jr., the latter of whom declined to be voluntarily interviewed by the office -- where are my glasses, so followed by multiple redactions there. What do you think the redactions could reveal?

D'ANTONIO: Well, I think there might have been some negotiation to get Donald Trump Jr. to testify. There was probably some sticking point that they couldn't resolve. I think the special prosecutor didn't want to poke the bear, the bear being the president of the United States. But, you know, we're several steps beyond where Mueller was when he was doing his investigation.

The country is in much greater crisis. And I think there are senators and members of the House who want to do something about it.

LEMON: Yeah. I mean it's not the truth. If you look at what's in the report and you look at what Don Jr. -- we know that about the Trump Tower meeting and also about the involvement. Michael Cohen said he knew about the Trump Tower Moscow project.

D'ANTONIO: There's no chance that the president didn't know about all of this personally.

LEMON: Yeah. New York Times, you see the report I have. This is from the New York Times that says Rudy Giuliani plans Ukraine trip to push for inquiries that could help Trump. He's going to pressure the incoming president to pursue investigations related to Joe Biden. There's no evidence that Joe Biden or any -- did anything improper. Is this all about a vendetta that Trump -- the Trump team can't just let go?

D'ANTONIO: They want to cut Biden off now. I think the president feels very threatened by Joe Biden. These are two men who I think have been circling each other for a couple of years. I think Biden understands how to get to Trump. And they're going to try and cut him off. You know the -- if they can kneecap him. And this is -- you know think of Don Jr. as a henchman. Giuliani is also a henchman. They're going to go after Biden viciously.

LEMON: He's worried about Biden the most, you think?

D'ANTONIO: Absolutely. You know, this is a guy who can connect with the voters that Trump thinks he won over from Obama.

LEMON: It will be interesting to watch.

D'ANTONIO: Going to be a heck of a ride.

LEMON: Thank you, Michael D'Antonio. Appreciate that. The World Series Champion Red Sox visiting the White House today, but not everyone went. None of the team's players of color was there, and we all know this isn't the first time something like this has happened. What is it about this president that he can even divide teammates among racial lines?

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: The Boston Red Sox visited President Trump at the White House today. Well, some of them did. Nearly every player of color on the World Series-winning team skipped the visit. Team Manager Alex Cora, who is Puerto Rican, he passed on attending, also passed on attending today. Here to discuss, Jemele Hill, she is a staff writer at The Atlantic, and also Martellus Bennett, or Marty B. as Jemele calls him, a former NFL player and the author of Dear Black Boy, so glad to have you on.

And we're going to talk about this book, because I think it is fantastic. So thank you, Martellus. Good evening to both of you. I am going to start with you, Jemele. This serves as yet another example, I think, a reminder how, you know -- congratulations, something that's supposed to congratulations turn politically supercharged, right? Sports is supposed to be the thing that transcends politics. What's going on here?

JEMELE HILL, THE ATLANTIC STAFF WRITER: Well, I think what's happened is a lot of these players, and you look at Alex Cora who's Puerto Rican and everyone knows or is fully aware of what the American governments, in particular Donald Trump's response to Hurricane Maria and its devastation to Puerto Rico that impact on its citizens.

And so if you're Alex Cora, how can you sit there in the White House knowing that 3,000 Puerto Ricans have died as a result of Hurricane Maria, knowing some of the inflammatory, bigoted, and racist things that the president has said about where you're from. Making a lot of citizens there feel as if they're not a part of America.

Making you feel as if your identity is worthless. How can you sit there and shake his hand and smile and pretend that everything is OK? And he didn't want to pretend. And can any of us really blame him for feeling that way, because most of us can't sit in the company of someone who you feel like doesn't value you as a person.

LEMON: Martellus, you played for the 2017 Super Bowl winning New England Patriots. And you skipped out on the White House ceremony. Why and what kinds of conversations did you have with your teammates about the visit?

MARTELLUS BENNETT, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I didn't have any conversations with my teammates. I feel like each guy had to make the decision for themselves and where they stood. And I know there's a lot of peer pressure and a lot of politics that goes into the game, where guys are afraid to show who they are and what they stand for (Inaudible).

[22:49:56] So for me, I said it before we even won the game. I told people I wouldn't go at the time (Inaudible). I am from Texas, you know? A lot of my friends are Hispanic, you know, Mexican culture. So for me, that really makes sense, because those are my friends. Those are who I grew up with. Those are people (Inaudible) to me.

So by me going, it's almost like a slap in the face to my upbringing and the community I was raised. I was raised in a diverse community.

LEMON: Yeah. Jemele, and let me read something from your new piece in The Atlantic. And here's what you write. You said black and Hispanic players and coaches are expected to justify their reasons for not going to Trump's White House. But the real question is why have so many of the white players on the Red Sox chosen not to support their black and brown teammates. Why do you think that is?

HILL: Well, I think that this is kind of indicative of the situation we see everyday in America. It is like we're living in two Americas. And what has often been found and has been proven is that a lot of times, a lot of white Americans have trouble identifying and empathizing with people of color and how they feel marginalized and attacked.

I mean it's interesting that -- to hear Martellus say that, is that he was willing to take up the mantle for Latinos, and Hispanics, and Mexicans, and say, hey, I have too many friends. I am too familiar with this culture. I grew up in a community. And I can't sit there and be in the presence of somebody who has dehumanized them.

And a lot of times that we see those who say they want to be allies. They're not willing to make the sacrifice and go the step further. And to me, it's just unfair, because whenever this question of the White House comes up about who is going and who is not going. Everybody looks at the people of color. And say why aren't you, they question them.

And my -- and think it's fair to ask, OK? If you're going to question people of color about why we're not going, why don't you question white athletes about why are you going? You work with these guys everyday. You want to talk about brotherhood and teamwork and camaraderie. You've seen the multifaceted side of your teammates. So why would you do that to them knowing what this means to them?

LEMON: You said -- Martellus, didn't you say you didn't really have a conversation with them? You didn't have that conversation, either, right? Did you ask the white players why they chose to go?

BENNETT: Well, (Inaudible) as it moved on, taking our stand when guys were taking a knee and all these different things on every team I played on. There were conversations. And the main conversation was they just couldn't grasp why we cared so much when we were separated for as far as wealth, wellbeing, and who we are had nothing to do with them. They couldn't understand that when we said, like, no these are my cousins.

When I look at these people, these are my cousins, these are my brothers. I may not get pulled over today. But I am still a black man in a Mercedes-Benz. They couldn't understand the grasp, even though we have money, we're still black men in America. And they don't really get what that means and what we go through. They thought we separate ourselves because we made it to another level, but we never separated ourselves from where we come from.

We are still black for the end of this day. I am no longer playing sports, but I'll be a black man forever.

LEMON: So look, here's your book. Here's your book, and I think it's fascinating. The cover it's called Dear Black Boy, right? So let me just -- I just want to read a little bit from the op-ed that you wrote. And I think it gets to why your book is so important, OK? You said playing in the NFL isn't really and shouldn't have to be every black boy's dream.

Black boys don't always know that their dreams off the field matter. They need the space to see other diverse possibilities for themselves. Black boys shouldn't have to feel that being good at sports is the only way to be cool or to be valued by the world. A jersey isn't the only cape a black boy can wear. Why did you write this book, Martellus?

BENNETT: Well, with this book I think I felt for a lot of black boys around this world. If I get into an Uber, I walk into a place, the first thing you ask a black boy is what sport does he play. You never ask him what is he interested in, what does he like to do, what does he want to be when he grows up. You automatically assume that he plays sports.

So we (Inaudible) reflection of ourselves, when we see value in ourselves, we see it on the athletic field. But for me, what I want kids to understand is that everything is possible for them. All the opportunities are there. We introduce them to rapping but we never introduce them to scoring films. We give them a ball but we never hand them a camera.

It's just about making sure that they know all the possibilities that exist and that your value in this world is not just as an athlete, because athleticism is only valuable on the field or a court. If you're in the tech industry, it doesn't matter how high you jump, how fast you run. If you're a doctor, I mean if you're a doctor, people probably like you if you run fast.

But overall, it doesn't mean that you're not valuable to the world. And I want the world -- and when they see black boys to see dreamers, to see writers, to see poets, to see astronauts, to see ninjas.

LEMON: Go on, man. Go on.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Superheroes.

BENNETT: See themselves -- yeah.

LEMON: News anchors. Writers for The Atlantic.

BENNETT: Yes.

LEMON: Listen, I've got to run. But just quickly here, if you can, because you know how this works, you do a radio show. You know the whole shut up and dribble thing with the Fox -- why do people think that athletes should just stick to sports?

[22:54:56] HILL: Well, it depends on what they are saying. Because a lot of times when people say athletes shouldn't talk about politics or social issues, is because they say something they disagree with. Because we've certainly seen more conservative athletes who said things, you know, with Nick Bosa when I was on your show to discuss him.

Suddenly, people want to talk about, oh, freedom of speech. And it's OK if he has these views and they don't matter. They didn't give Colin Kaepernick the same leeway that they gave to Nick Bosa.

LEMON: And they stood up for Tim Tebow for taking a knee.

HILL: Yeah. And I thought it was really -- he didn't take a knee.

LEMON: You know what I mean.

HILL: I do.

LEMON: It's a pray.

HILL: He cut a Pro-Life commercial during the Super Bowl. And I thought that was very brave of him to do. And we didn't hear anybody tell Tim Tebow to stick to sports.

LEMON: Thank you, both. Thank you. Martellus Bennett, I appreciate it. I love this book. I am going to give it to my two nephews. I have two of them. Thank you very much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

LEMON: The book is called Dear Black Boy. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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