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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) Covered Wide Array Of Issues In His Town Hall; Growing Call From Democrats To Impeach President Trump; Subpoena Issued To Former White House Aides; White House Defies Congressional Oversight At Trump's Instruction; Rep. Jamie Raskin (D- MD) Is Interviewed About Congressional Subpoenas; "Washington Post:" Draft IRS Memo Says Trump's Tax Returns Must Be Given To Congress Unless He Invokes Executive Privilege; HUD Sec. Carson Has Multiple Heated Exchanges With Female Dems. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 21, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Dana Bash, thank you very much. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.

And you just heard, you just watched our CNN town hall where the former Texas Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is answering questions from the audience for more than an hour there in his first nationally televised town hall.

He talked about impeachment, he talked about Roe v. Wade, he talked about gun violence, immigration, Medicare for all and a whole lot more and we're going to discuss it now.

So, I'm going to bring in David Chalian, who is in Des Moines. Also, Mr. Frank Bruni who joins me here in New York City.

Gentlemen, good evening. Welcome. It's an interesting town hall. David, you first. Beto O'Rourke he jumped into the race, a lot of buzz. He has slipped. Tonight, do you think it was a reboot he needed?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I think what was really evident tonight, Don, is that the practice he's getting on the campaign trail is paying off for him. This was probably the most prepared I've ever seen Beto O'Rourke. I'm thinking back also with the Senate race in the fall when Dana did another town hall like this with him on CNN.

This is somebody who clearly has done a lot more of them since then. Clearly has been studying up on many of the issues and I think showed himself to be just a more prepared candidate than sort of the impromptu candidate that we saw at the very beginning of this campaign.

LEMON: Yes. And we did take note here in the studio that he was wearing a jacket. I don't know if I've recall him having a jacket on before and besides --

(CROSSTALK)

CHALIAN: And a tie. LEMON: And a tie, too. Right. And he wasn't standing on a bar or a

table. But listen, Democratic calls, David, for impeachment proceedings are growing on Capitol Hill. This is what O'Rourke said on the issue. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Should begin impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. And that's something --

(APPLAUSE)

BETO O'ROURKE: I understand the political implications of this but I think this moment calls for us to look beyond the politics and the polling and even the next election. It's the very sanctity of the ballot box and the very future of the world's greatest democracy. And if this is important to us, and I think it is. That we need to look past those short-term consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:14:56] LEMON: So, David, what he's saying there is that Democrats can't worry about the short-term consequences, even if it hurts them. What do you think of that?

CHALIAN: Yes. He's basically calling out Nancy Pelosi a bit there. Right? I mean, because he's saying that the Democratic leadership is basically making a political calculation right now that moving forward with impeachment at this stage in the game would sort of backfire on them.

I mean, you've heard Speaker Pelosi say this is something that will work to the president's benefit, it will rally his base and that she doesn't want to do that. And he is saying that is not the political calculation that should be made right now.

Now, of course, we should note he's also making a political calculation in addition to the one of conviction he may be making, which is that the Democratic base is very much in favor of moving forward with impeachment and that's who he is courting for this Democratic presidential nomination right now. He's not looking to the general yet to make a broader appeal to America. He's trying to rally that Democratic base.

LEMON: Mr. Frank Bruni, you remember O'Rourke, we have that cover, he face criticism for launching his campaign in the Vanity Fair -- on that Vanity fair cover. He has since gotten -- you know, he was in a crowded field but he's gotten lost in that crowded field.

There is that cover right there. Beto's choice, cover of Vanity Fair. He's gotten lost in the crowded field but tonight he seemed to really connect with the audience. Did you see any breakout moments tonight?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know there are couple of important moments. The two that stood out to me. One is, I thought he sounded especially impassioned on the subject of immigration and I thought he was very eloquent, and more importantly, he connected that to his own story.

So, all of these candidates have to answer the question why among 23 should you choose me, what's special about me. He talked about his experience in El Paso how that makes him more sensitive too and informed about the issue of immigration. And I thought he handled that very well.

The other really important moment I thought it was a small one but he made it a point to tell you that he and his parents took out loans to go to college, he made it a point to talk about how he struggled in New York right after college and that's crucial and very deliberate because the rap on him has become that he's a white man of privilege, that he's entitled.

LEMON: Entitled.

BRUNI: That he's gotten away with stuff because he never has to worry about failure. And so, he was saying to Americans, I'm not who the media is making out -- making me out to be. I'm not someone whose lived a life of just privileged and I struggled and I can relate to you.

LEMON: What do you make of the -- we joked a bit about the tie and the suit. I mean, this is the first time I've seen him do that. I'm sure he's done it before. But what do you make of that? Because that is -- that's a calculated move there.

BRUNI: Yes. Part of it is the old, I want to look presidential. But also, he has come across during this initial phase of the campaign which has been a really phase for him as someone who sort of swaggers without much care, as someone who kind of thinks he's born for it or made for it or whatever he said to Vanity Fair. He's trying to be humble by wearing the proper attire of a presidential candidate.

LEMON: David Chalian, he's very passionate. He's very passionate on President Trump is racist rhetoric, drew a direct line between that and his rise -- and the rise of hate crime. How did that go over with the audience you think? That, you know, that's the moral argument that Joe Biden launched his campaign with.

CHALIAN: Yes, exactly. It was clear that Beto O'Rourke was not shying away from drawing that as a direct connection at all. And obviously it was a crowd pleaser for the crowd here, no doubt. But one that will play for Democrats across the country as well.

Again, any, as you have seen in the polls, Don, this entire contest right now is about who is the person that I, as Democratic voter can envision being the one to take down Donald Trump the best. That's the calculus Democratic voters are making right now.

And so, drawing Trump on the moral issues, not just this sort of daily path, but the fundamental moral issue is something that's very appealing to these voters.

LEMON: Yes. Frank, O'Rourke also took a question on abortion. Here's part of his answer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'ROURKE: For so long women have been leading this fight. Shouldering the burden of making sure that their reproductive rights are protected. It's time that all of us join them in this fight. As president, I will make sure that every nominee --

(APPLAUSE)

O'ROURKE: -- to every federal bench, including the Supreme Court understands and believes in the 1973 decision Roe versus Wade is the settled law of the land.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, here's an interesting question here, and I think it's a two-part here. Because I'm wondering if that's the issue that's going to energize Democrats and if it may backfire on Republicans or Trump supporters?

BRUNI: I think --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And or Trump supporters.

BRUNI: Yes, I think it will energize Democrats and I think it may backfire. I think what's happened in Alabama and what's happening other states is overreach by the anti-abortion movement and I think Democrats are going to reacting to that in a very powerful way. I think he knows that. That's why he answered that question the way he did.

[23:19:56] He also did that. That was an interesting moment because the rap on him is he's gotten away with stuff as a male candidate that a female candidate would never get away with. And he early on took a lot of flak for a joke he made about his wife doing all the child rearing.

LEMON: Yes.

BRUNI: I think that was the moment where he's saying, women, I'm with you. I'm not that guy. I feel you. I hear you, et cetera.

LEMON: Yes. Even his wife said, you know -- he admitted in an interview. You know, I know what you were trying to say but you said it wrong.

BRUNI: But he also said what's important is electing more women into various offices.

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: And that's an interesting answer because he's running against many capable women.

LEMON: Thank you, Frank. Thank you, David. I appreciate it. See you guys soon.

So, right now, you know, I want to talk about the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. The pressure is on for her tonight. With every new subpoena, with every new episode of stonewalling from the White House, the impeachment drumbeat is getting louder and louder for House Democrats -- from House Democrats whether the speaker likes it or not.

We're learning tonight that the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's refusal to turn over the president's tax returns goes against IRS regulations. A previously unknown IRS legal memo, a draft document obtained by "The Washington Post" says the disclosure of returns is mandatory unless the president asserts executive privilege, which he hasn't done.

We don't know who wrote the memo. But the agency says it was prepared last fall. And we've heard from one legal expert after another saying that the law is clear. Congress is entitled to the president's return.

So, this looks like another example of this administration running rush out over the law in an effort to hide -- well, we don't really know what. And then there are the latest subpoenas tonight from the House Judiciary Committee for two former House -- White House officials.

There's Hope Hicks. The Trump whisperer who started working for the president or Trump in the early days of his campaign and became one of closest, most trusted White House aides.

One who admitted to Congress that she told white lies for her boss. So, yes, the committee is going to have some questions for her, no doubt.

There's also Annie Donaldson. Annie Donaldson is who was Don McGahn's chief of staff and had a front-row seat for what she once called in her notes 'the Russia fiasco.' Those notes in testimony cited nearly 70 times in Mueller's report.

In those new subpoenas, they come on the day the same day that Don McGahn himself defy the subpoena and refused to testify, making it clear, if he wasn't already, that this White House is not going to comply with anything.

But the big kahuna in all of this, of course is Robert Mueller. Sources telling CNN that members of his team are hesitating about him testifying publicly, saying that he doesn't want to appear political after staying tight lipped for two years which is completely understandable.

But with the White House defying every subpoena, essentially gagging the people who could answer to questions about what happened behind the scenes. Doesn't Mueller have an obligation to speak, to tell the American people the whole truth of everything he knows especially in the face of a White House and an attorney general that continually mischaracterize his finding?

A president who falsely insists that he was exonerated by Robert Mueller. And an attorney general who has proved again and again that he will say whatever the president wants him to say.

Doesn't Robert Mueller have an obligation to tell us what he knows? Doesn't the Congress have an obligation to work out a plan for Mueller to testify, to put the American people first?

So, with all of that, the pressure is on Nancy Pelosi even though she doesn't want to say so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Speaker, are you under increased pressure to impeach the president from your caucus?

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A caucus wide meeting set for tomorrow morning. A source telling CNN impeachment won't come up. I'll bet it will. The speaker has been slow walking impeachment every way she can. Even famously saying the president wasn't, quote, "worth it." Which must have really gotten under her skin.

But Pelosi is not the only one feeling the heat. A source telling CNN that several members of the judiciary committee have been pressuring Chairman Jerry Nadler to open a new inquiry. He said this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: We will hold this president accountable one way or the other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But the fact remains more and more House Democrats are coming around to the idea of impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now we're hearing more and more members talk more openly about the idea of an impeachment inquiry. Are you there yet?

SEN. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: I'm getting there. I think what the president has done has put us in a position where we cannot get any information to do the oversight that we need do and that basically ties our hands and makes us, with regard to oversight, powerless.

[23:24:58] The question now becomes what do we do -- do we allow this to continue?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: You know, I think the case gets stronger the more they stonewall the Congress.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I think impeaching and choosing to not impeach when there's an abundance of evidence could also be construed as politically motivated as well. And we can't be scared of elections. We need to uphold the rule of law.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: Nothing we have done is a target against anyone. It is to strain in restrain lawlessness, breach of constitutional duties and the collegiate interactions that the three branches of government have had.

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: The president is creating the circumstances where we may have to consider it. I'm personally much more open to it now than I was even a few months ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, the question now it seems, the big question is how all Democrats deal with all of this? I've said this before. They're going to have to decide whether they answer this president with impeachment or at the ballot box. And the answer will change the direction of this country.

Member of the House Judiciary Committee -- excuse me, says he is not averse to arresting Don McGahn for defying their subpoena. He is Congressman Jamie Raskin. And there he is. He is here, next.

[23:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The White House continuing to defy congressional oversight at the president's instruction. The former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, today defied a congressional subpoena, skipped out on a House Judiciary Committee hearing. He is not likely to be the last one to do it as well as two new subpoenas was issued today to two more former members of the administration.

Let's discuss now. Congressman Jamie Raskin is here, a Democrat on both the Judiciary and Oversight committees. Good evening, congressman, lots to discuss here. So you said earlier today that you aren't averse to arresting Don McGahn or Bill Barr for not complying. Is that hyperbole or could it really come to that?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, I think we we're talking about the inherent contempt power which we have been kicking around over the last few weeks. We're going to get our subpoenas on. We're going to get the evidence and the documents that we have requested, and that's our right.

Now it looks like the courts are coming through. So far, we're winning in the courts and the courts are saying of course you've got to turn over these documents that have been subpoenaed by the House of Representatives. There's no executive immunity that keep inventing these doctrines. So I don't know that we need to do, but we've got the power to do it.

LEMON: Let's talk about the House Judiciary Committee also issuing the subpoenas to former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and former Deputy White House Counsel Annie Donaldson today. Do you think the White House will tell Hicks and Donaldson not to comply as well?

RASKIN: Yeah. The president has essentially ordered all of his subordinates in the White House and executive branch to stop cooperating with Congress. He said no more subpoenas, no more witnesses, no more documents and so on.

So, it's totally unprecedented. We've never seen anything like it in American history. He's not only trying to stop current employees of the White House but people who used to work for the White House. He's going out aggressively trying to blockade their appearance.

LEMON: Yeah, especially Annie Donaldson who took really, really concise notes that were mentioned 65 times in the Mueller report, but also key to this Mueller report is going to be --

RASKIN: She's a key witness.

LEMON: Yeah. Robert Mueller is going to be a key as well. CNN is reporting that Robert Mueller is reluctant to testify, congressman, in public, in front of the House Judiciary Committee. He doesn't want to appear political. Can Congress come to see some kind of agreements so Americans can hear from him without becoming a partisan person or this becoming a partisan battle?

RASKIN: Well, there's no reason that he should be seen as a partisan person or perceive himself that way. All he is to the do is come and tell the truth. That's all anybody has to do when they are subpoenaed, to come and testify before Congress.

LEMON: Yeah. You argued at a meeting with the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last night to begin an impeachment inquiry. What's your reasoning for that?

RASKIN: We've seen overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors both in the Mueller report through at least 11 different episodes of presidential obstruction of justice that were delineated by special counsel Mueller, and we have seen continuing obstruction and defiance of Congress' role and contempt of Congress ever since then.

So the president has precipitated constitutional chaos and a crisis in the country. But these are high crimes and misdemeanors. It is very serious evidence and certainly enough to warrant an impeachment inquiry. Understand I'm not saying yes, impeachment or no impeachment.

Understand a lot of impeachment investigations have ended up with no impeachment. But what we're saying is an impeachment inquiry is warranted. There is no reason anybody should be afraid of that. It will centralize and bring intellectual focus and discipline to what we're doing.

LEMON: You know how the House speaker feels about that. I mean, do you think that she's out of step with the rest of what the party wants, because more and more Democrats now are calling for impeachment proceedings to begin?

RASKIN: Well, I think Speaker Pelosi is very much in step with the entire caucus and on most in step with my committee, with the Judiciary Committee, and also on the Oversight Committee as well as rules and administrations. But in these terms, the Judiciary Committee, I think, has a majority of members and a growing majority of numbers who feel as if we have no other option at this point.

LEMON: Do you worry it will backfire?

RASKIN: We received overwhelming evidence. Well, you know, I think that's why we need to have conversations with Speaker Pelosi and other members of the caucus. It is a team sport. We are not in it just for ourselves. We are not a bunch of solo riders. We want to talk about it.

[23:34:59] But we want to explain that what we've read about in the report, what we've seen through witnesses that we have talked to and what we've seen through administration, obstruction and defiance of Congress seems to be clear evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors.

And so we can only call it like we see it and we are trying to put that on the table to say that an impeachment inquiry is absolutely warranted at this point, and we want to have that discussion with our colleagues. We have the highest respect and admiration or our leadership and for our colleagues around the country.

That's the conversation that is happening. The media wants to blow it up into big confrontations and conflicts. That is not what it is about. We're having a conversation about how to deal with the most lawless, corrupt president of our lifetime.

LEMON: And we're glad you're here to discuss that and set the record straight. We appreciate your time. We got a lot to cover. We'll see you next time. Thank you, Congressman Raskin.

RASKIN: Thanks so much.

LEMON: Thank you. I told you about a draft memo from the IRS that "The Washington Post" obtained saying that the president's tax returns must be given to Congress unless he votes executive privilege. So, what President Trump can do now? We'll discuss, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:40:00] A confidential IRS memo says that Trump administration must turn over the president's tax returns. That is according to The Washington Post which obtained the copy of the draft memo.

It says handing over Trump's tax returns to Congress is "mandatory," requiring the secretary to disclose returns and return information requested by tax-writing chairs.

Here to discuss, Catherine Rampell, Carrie Cordero, and Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Hello to all of you. Did you talk about this before? Did you talk about this --

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Many times.

LEMON: You did. You pointed this out to --

RAMPELL: Yes.

LEMON: -- a former colleague many times, right?

RAMPELL: Many times.

LEMON: Yeah.

RAMPELL: Who denied -- and the segment that I am recalling that such a law existed --

LEMON: Yeah.

RAMPELL: In fact, the law has been on the books for almost a century.

LEMON: But it directly contradicts what Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary, has been saying, because he won't turn over the president's tax returns because there is no legislative purpose. How significant is this now?

RAMPELL: Look, I think there are two broad themes to this presidency so far. One is how much of Trump's craziest, most paranoid, most law breaking and norm violating behavior is driven by his desire to keep those tax returns secret. And two is how little curiosity the members of his own party have exhibited in finding out why he's trying to keep them secret.

So I think we can expect at the very least some more outbursts from this president and that he will pull out all of the stocks to try to keep his financial records hidden because we don't know what's in them, to be clear, but we have lots of hands and none of them are good.

LEMON: Yeah.

RAMPELL: They are everything from -- you know, obviously, he is not worth nearly as much as he says he is worth, but also lots of ref flags about potentially illegal financial maneuvers such as money laundering and other potentially illegal crimes, you know, financial crimes.

LEMON: Yeah, I think --

RAMPELL: There's a lot of stuff that we have seen in the public record that suggests there are some bodies --

LEMON: I think you bring up a very good point because most will not talk about why he won't do it, they will just say oh, well it's oversight and, you know, the Democrats are overreaching, but no one talks about -- what may be the reason why he won't do it if there is nothing to hide, which I think is a very good question.

Carrie, I want to bring you in because the treasury spokesman tells to Washington Post that Mnuchin and other senior staff members never reviewed this IRS memo. What does this all mean legally for the treasury secretary?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's interesting. So as a former career justice appointment lawyer, the fact that the memo wasn't signed does sort of make me curious about who wrote it and at what level within the agency it was written.

So if the chief counsel didn't know about it, then I would not consider it an authoritative memo that would have been advice given to the treasury secretary. So it seems to me that maybe this was something drafted at lower levels. It could be career executives or career staff. But it wasn't an authoritative decision or opinion that was made by the agency and that is relevant for considering the analysis that's in it.

But from the perspective of the executive branch, the opinion that's really going to matter legally is going to be the opinion that is coming out of the Justice Department, and we know that that is going to support the president's position.

LEMON: Will that hold up in court, you think?

CORDERO: Well, they're going to litigate on the statutory part. I do think that there is a -- their main argument is that there -- the administration's argument is that there's not a legislative purpose to this request, and I feel like that is actually pretty easy to overcome.

So, for example, one legislative purpose could be Congress deciding or analyzing or considering whether or not they want to pass a law requiring the president and the vice president or even candidates to release their taxes publicly. That's a valid legislative purpose. So I think that will be a high hurdle for them.

LEMON: Max, the president has vowed to fight all the subpoenas. All the subpoenas, that's a quote. But this memo could now be evidence, you know, in court. What do you make of the fact that it's got out to the press?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think this is a further sign that there are a lot of career civil servants who are probably pretty unhappy about the way that Trump is obstructing justice, the way that he is obstructing Congress. And so that's why I think you've seen a consistent pattern going back to the beginning of this administration.

This is what Trump calls the deep state. In fact, what I would call dedicated government employees who want to protect the constitution instead of protecting Donald Trump. and the fact -- I mean, this memo is -- seems to me -- I'm not a lawyer but it's seems to me it's a pretty clear reading of this 1924 statute which says that the Treasury Department shall furnish upon request the returns of any taxpayer. [23:44:56] It doesn't say shall only furnish those tax returns if there is a purpose to it that the Treasury Department approves of, will not embarrass the president or some other reason. It's pretty clear. It's there in black and white. And the fact that the Justice Department is justifying a different stance under the direction of Attorney General Barr and the fact that Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary is taking a different stance is an indication of how far they have strayed from the rule of law --

LEMON: Max --

BOOT: -- and how they are serving as protectors of Donald Trump.

LEMON: Let me ask you something as a political person here because we've seen all of the stonewalling from the White House pushing its -- I'm wondering if its pushing some Democrats to impeach, right, to say impeachment in the only option here. Yesterday, the court ruled the president's accounting firm has to hand over his records. Now, we are learning about this IRS memo. Does letting this process play out seem like a better strategy to you?

BOOT: That has been Speaker Pelosi's strategy. I guess we can argue the fact that we did have a court ruling so quickly yesterday in one of these cases involving one subpoena against Trump's accounting firm suggests that maybe the strategy can work over the next few months if in fact in these other cases the courts do rule this expeditiously and allow the House investigation to proceed.

Of course, there are traps involved in rushing into impeachment. In fact, you might -- some cynical minds might even suspect that by stonewalling Congress, Trump is almost daring them to impeach because he thinks that will mobilize his base and ultimately result in his exoneration by Republican-controlled Senate.

So, you know, I think there are good arguments on both sides. I think there is a case to be made for opening impeachment proceedings, but not rushing to a vote and just using that as a mechanism to try to get the facts out. And hopefully -- I think we really have to place our faith in the courts that they will rule expeditiously and swat aside these Trump attempts at stonewalling.

LEMON: Yeah. Our time is short tonight because the town hall went a little bit over. Thank you for joining us, all of you. We will see you next time. Thanks so much.

The HUD secretary, Ben Carson, unable to answer some pretty simple questions at a congressional hearing today and then making matters worse, we'll show you some of his most heated exchanges in a tense hearing. That's next.

[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Dr. Ben Carson is one of the longest serving members of the Trump cabinet. He has been secretary of Housing and Urban Development since March of 2017. You would think he would be able to talk housing. But check out what happened at the congressional hearing today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KATIE PORTER (D), CALIFORNIA: Why is FHA -- to use a term that I think we can both understand -- lousy at servicing mortgages?

BEN CARSON, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: OK. I have not had any discussions about that particular issue, but I will look it up --

PORTER: OK.

CARSON: -- and find out what's going on.

PORTER: So, as you look it up, I'd also like you to get back to me, if you don't mind, to explain the disparity in REO rates. Do you know what an REO is?

CARSON: An Oreo --

PORTER: R -- no, not an Oreo. R-E-O. R-E-O.

CARSON: Real estate.

PORTER: What's the "O" stand for?

CARSON: E-organization.

PORTER: Owned. Real estate Owned. That's what happens when a property goes to foreclosure. We call it an REO.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, one of those people knows what they're talking about. The other followed up with a tweet hanging the freshman Democrat, who questioned him saying this, oh, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way.

(LAUGHTER)

What a hoot, right? Today was Carson's first time before the Houses Financial Services Committee since Democrats took control of Congress and it was quite a performance, as you could see there in that clip. At one point, he didn't seem to know about an office that was under his own management.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOYCE BEATTY (D), OHIO: Are you familiar with OMWI and what it is?

CARSON: With who?

BEATTY: OMWI.

CARSON: Amway? BEATTY: OMWI. Come on, Mr. Secretary -- when we were here last year and you asked me to be nice to you. Office of Minority Women and Inclusion. Do you have an OMWI director? Do you work with OMWI director?

CARSON: I cannot give you the name.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I don't mean to laugh. Is this happening? Oreo? Amway? It's actually called the Office of Diversity and Inclusion -- with another freshman Democrat, Ayanna Pressley, questioned his credentials. Carson, you know, is a neurosurgeon and he has no relevant experience, though.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Today, you are not here as a doctor or even a surgeon general, which I do think might be better suited for your talents, but as the official tasked with leading the agency overseeing our nation's crumbling housing stock. And for that, I do believe you are unqualified.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Then, she pushed him on conditions in public housing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PRESSLEY: Yes or no, if left unaddressed, which I believe they are unaddressed because this budget does not reflect the need, do you believe the substandard public housing condition pose a risk to tenants' physical, mental, and emotional health?

CARSON: You already know the answer to that.

PRESSLEY: Yes or no?

CARSON: You know the answer.

PRESSLEY: Yes or no? I know the answer. Do you know the answer? Yes or no?

CARSON: Reclaiming my time.

PRESSLEY: You don't get to do that.

CARSON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The time belongs to the gentlelady.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Congresswoman Pressley is right. Carson doesn't get to do that.

[23:55:00] Carson couldn't answer Pressley's tough-pointed questions without getting snarky. Another moment here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESSLEY: Yes or no, do they deserve to live in these conditions because they are poor?

CARSON: You know very well --

PRESSLEY: Would you like your grandmother live in public housing?

CARSON: You know very well --

PRESSLEY: Would you let your grandmother live in public housing, yes or no?

CARSON: You know very well --

PRESSLEY: Under your watch and your helm, would you allow your grandmother to live in public housing under these conditions?

CARSON: It would be very nice if you would stop --

PRESSLEY: You stated --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This isn't the first time a Trump official tried to get out of answering questions. Back in April, the treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, went before this same committee. He tried to cut the hearing short. It did not go well.

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STEVEN MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: If you wish to keep me here so that I don't have my important meeting and continue to grill me, then we can do that. I will cancel my meeting and I will not be back here. I will be very clear if that's the way you would like to have this relationship.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you. The gentleman, the secretary, has agreed to stay to hear all of the rest of the members. Please cancel your meeting and respect our time. Who is next on the list?

MNUCHIN: You're instructing me to stay here and I should --

WATERS: No. You just made me an offer.

MNUCHIN: No, I didn't make you an offer.

WATERS: You made me an offer that I accepted.

MNUCHIN: I did not make you an offer. Just let's be clear. You're ordering me. You are ordering me to stay here.

WATERS: No, I'm not ordering you. I'm responding. I said you may leave anytime you want. And you said, OK, if that's what you want to do, I'll cancel my appointment and I'll stay here. So I'm responding to your request if that is what you want to do.

MNUCHIN: That's not what I want to do. I told you --

WATERS: What would you like to do?

MNUCHIN: What I've told you is I thought it was respectful that you would let me leave at 5:15 --

WATERS: You are free to leave any time you want. You may go.

MNUCHIN: OK.

WATERS: Any time you want.

MNUCHIN: Please dismiss everybody. I believe you're supposed to take the gravel and bang it.

WATERS: Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, there's a reason why these hearings are tense. The Trump administration is facing real oversight, for the first time. They have to answer questions about what they're doing, about their fitness for the job, and they don't seem to like any of it that much. But they should get used to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARSON: Maybe what will happen is you and Congress will do your job and solves the problem.

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LEMON: Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.

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