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Trump Agrees With Kim Jong-un's Insult To Joe Biden; GOP Always Ready To Fill Up Supreme Court; Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA) Is Interviewed About Donald Trump's Racism And Other Allegations And His Run For Presidency In 2020; Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Donald Trump's Obstruction Of Justice Allegations And His Run For The Presidency In 2020; Comey Calls Trump's Accusations As Dumb Lies; Woody Hartman Talks About How He Conquered Mount Everest. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired May 28, 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: It's all about you. You get what you get in a democracy. That's why Mitch McConnell is able to play the game because he has kept a player in it.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with the one and only D. Lemon starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Only what you're allowing them to be. You're so right, but you know what, the folks who are sitting at home and just allowing it to happen, you know, who say it's OK and people have Trump derangement syndrome if they actually call out things that the president does or things in the Congress, people in the Congress do or in the Senate, you're going to get your comeuppance -- comeuppance when there is a Democratic nation, when there is a Democratic Senate and a Democratic Congress.
It will happen. It will happen in probably most of our lifetime. And you will complain about the rule of law. Democrats will see what's happening now as a precedent that's already set and they, too, will think that they can run roughshod over the rule of law, and so then what do you have? What recourse do you have?
They're going to say Donald Trump did it. You let him do it, the Senate let him do it. When you had a Republican Congress, you let him do it. The folks in the White House let him do it so we're going to let our guy do it.
And you're going to sit at home and you're going to be pissed and you're going to yell and you're going to drink and eat too much and drown your sorrows, then there nothing and our country is going to be just as you-know-what as it is now.
LEMON: So, you better get it right now, you better start calling the folks out or your turn is coming.
CUOMO: Enough about you, Don.
LEMON: No, I'm just saying it. No, no, I know what you're saying. This isn't about me. This is not about me.
CUOMO: That is exactly you.
LEMON: No, I'm just saying, I sit there and watch it all the time because it happened when the -- look what happened with the nuclear option. Look at what happened with that.
CUOMO: That's exactly right. Harry Reed.
LEMON: It came back to bite Democrats in the butt. So, it goes around --
CUOMO: We'll just do it for the lesser -- from the lesser appointments.
CUOMO: Not for the big one. We'll say that, and Mitch McConnell said to them don't do this, you're going to regret it.
LEMON: I did it.
CUOMO: But again, the game exists but it is not controlled by the people who play it. I think people misconceive that. And a little bit of that is out of convenience, right?
CUOMO: It's better to think that it's beyond you. Then it's something you can actually control it if you really want it. But I'll tell you, I'll tell you what. When people talk about Trump derangement syndrome, I understand those who accuse people of it. Because what they're saying, at least in my life, is, don't you see what I hate? Don't you see what they do to people like me? And he says he's going to fight against it.
CUOMO: You have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
CUOMO: You've got to be important with that. But look, Mitch McConnell, I know people are outraged by what he said. Hey, that's what you allow the game to be.
LEMON: Well, that's what happens. As you said, elections have consequences.
CUOMO: Don't hate the player who play the game.
LEMON: But I actually think Trump derangement syndrome is on the other side. I think they got it backwards. I think Trump derangement syndrome --
CUOMO: Look, you don't rationalization. I mean, how many people in your life do you have that are real conservatives? OK. I have people that are like real conservatives, real Catholics.
LEMON: They can't stand what's happening. They can't stand --
CUOMO: He represents things that they hate.
LEMON: Hate. Right.
CUOMO: But they're owning him right now why? Because of the alternative. That's what they say all the time, yes, but it's better than. It's moral relativism from people who are supposed to be better than that.
CUOMO: I think it's hard they can judge themselves.
LEMON: OK. But watch. You just watch.
CUOMO: Look, I hope it happens and we'll swing at them like a pinata. I don't --
LEMON: I wish it didn't have to happen. But I just -- I'm going to sit here and I'm just going to say, well, you let it happen.
CUOMO: Well, look, if this president -- if someone -- if this president doesn't win, or if after his administration, you have a Democrat in there who's like, I'll tell you what I'm declaring in an emergency. Gun violence.
LEMON: Gun violence.
CUOMO: That's not what --
CUOMO: -- this statute is meant for. You got to attack it.
CUOMO: You got to attack it.
LEMON: Woman's rights. CUOMO: That's our job.
LEMON: That's going to be a national emergency.
CUOMO: Look, they're all emergency situations but they don't fit under that law.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: Can't wait to see the rest of your show.
LEMON: You got to stay tuned. You got to stay tuned for the part about the Pulitzer and Aretha Franklin. I'm telling you it is a real, real treat. We were all shocked today when this person came out.
CUOMO: I will watch. Come for the suits, stay for the show.
LEMON: See you, sir. I'll talk to you later.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We have a lot to talk about. The kind of people this president sides with, the kind of people he thinks are his enemies. Because what he is doing is absolutely outrageous, OK. There are no two ways about it, not even going to try to pretend otherwise. It's absolutely outrageous and I'll give you some evidence to back it up.
We have to talk about this president siding with a murderous dictator. Not for the first time. And this one is over a former vice president who served this country honorably.
Now, apparently, this president is terrified, terrified of running against Joe Biden. Why else would he, in the middle of a state visit to Japan, when any other president would be trying to defend America's interests?
[22:05:03] Why would he echo North Korea's attack on Joe Biden with his own tweet calling him low I.Q. Why would he do that? Making matters worse tonight claiming he was being nice to Biden by calling him a low I.Q. individual instead of a low I.Q. idiot. It was Biden himself would say, come on, man. He has too much class to say anything else.
There is literally no possibility that anybody -- that anybody could miss the insult in all of this. A gleeful and childish insult against the candidate he seems to fear the most, even though his own aides have, according to the New York Times, pleaded with the president to ignore the former vice president.
Biden's campaign calls Trump's comments beneath the dignity of the office. And they're right. But there is so much more. And I repeat. So much more.
And all of this happened while the president was on a state visit to Japan, while he was downplaying the fact that North Korea has test- fired short-range ballistic missiles, missiles that a U.S. government reports notes Pyongyang is trying to fit with nuclear warheads, violating U.N. Security Council resolutions. And all of that apparently just fine with the president as long as Kim Jong-un is on his side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tweeted about North Korea yesterday. Do you believe that they violated U.N. resolutions with the short-range missile launched and does it give you pause at all to be appearing to side with a brutal dictator instead of a fellow American, the former Vice President Joe Biden?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low I.Q. individual. He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that. But at the same time, my people think it could have been a violation, as you know. I view it differently.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He sure does view it differently. Go right ahead, Kim Jong-un. Launch all the missiles you want as long as you keep slamming my opponent. The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
Let's remember exactly how murderous -- murderous -- Kim Jong-un is, just in case you forgot or are condoning this sort of behavior. OK?
Kim Jong-un starved his own people. He executed his own family members. And let's remember that he is responsible for the brutal death of American student Otto Warmbier even though this president was perfectly willing to take the dictator's word on that one, too, his word that he had no idea what happened to the 22-year-old American who was in prison in North Korea for 17 months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He felt badly about it. I did speak to him. He felt very badly. He knew the case very well, but he knew it later. You know, you got a lot of people. It's a big country. A lot of people. And in those prisons and those camps, you have a lot of people, and some really bad things happened to Otto, some really, really things.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are you --
TRUMP: But he tells me, he tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Terrible. This president is awfully willing to take the word of a strong man over his own people. Let's not forget Helsinki, July 2018. When President Trump stood next to Vladimir Putin and said he didn't see any reason Russia would interfere in our election, taking the Russian president's word over his own intelligence chiefs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me, and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin he just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's remember the crown prince of Saudi Arabia now. The man behind the vicious murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Our own CIA has assessed that with confidence but our president refused to accept that and sided with the Saudis again and again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I spoke with the crown prince yesterday, and he strongly said that he had nothing to do with this. He's got many people now that say he had no knowledge. He told me that he had nothing to do with it.
[22:10:03] Saudi Arabia, if we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof.
We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia. We have an ally that said they did not commit, at the top level, the crown prince, the king, they did not commit this atrocity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Yes, those are the president's friends. His perceived enemies? Well, they include the former vice president of the United States, the former director of the FBI, James Comey. The man he fired because he was doing his job investigating whether Russia was attacking our democracy during the 2016 election.
In a "Washington Post" op-ed tonight, Comey defends the FBI against President Trump's baseless claim that the bureau spied on his campaign. And here is the quote from the Washington Post.
It says, "The president is a liar who doesn't care what damage he does to vital institutions. We must call out his lies, that the FBI was corrupt and committed treason, that we spied on the Trump campaign and tried to defeat Donald Trump.
We must constantly return to the stubborn facts. There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup. Those are lies and dumb lies at that. Those were just good people trying to figure out what was true under unprecedented circumstances."
Yes, those are very strong words, but let's face it. For this president nothing matters more than winning. And the conventional wisdom is, if Americans are satisfied with the economy, happy with their paychecks, the president will win reelection. Is that you? Could that be you? This president siding with brutal dictators but happy with the
economy, you're happy with your paycheck, so it doesn't matter what he does? You know what they say. It's the economy, stupid. That can be read in a number of different ways. It's the economy, stupid. You know what I mean?
But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? What if in the contest between money and morals, money doesn't talk. We are starting to see evidence that a lot of voters are driven more by their views about race and gender than their pocketbooks, thank goodness.
We're going to talk more about that in a moment. But what if that does hold true at the ballot box this time? Then what? This president seems to be obsessed with attacking Joe Biden. But is all of this actually helping Biden's campaign? That's a question for Mr. Frank Bruni, Ms. Dana Bash and Ms. Kirsten Powers. Next.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: With all the Democrats running for president, it looks like Joe Biden is the one President Trump fears the most. At least, that's what it looks like with all the insults he's hurling at the former vice president.
Let's bring in Frank Bruni, Dana Bash, and Kirsten Powers.
Good having one and all. So glad to have you on.
Dana, I'm going to start with you. President Trump is siding with a murderous dictator against the former vice president of the United States.
You know, Biden seems is responding to Trump, saying it's beneath the dignity of the office. But Trump is still tweeting tonight. What should the people who are watching, what should Americans make of this feud?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's just state -- never mind whether or not it's appropriate, obviously it's flatly inappropriate for any president to be siding with a murderer's dictator over any American.
Just on the raw politics of Trump versus Biden, Don, I -- my reporting is that -- this is not going to shock you -- this is not some grand Trump campaign strategy.
BASH: This is the president going with his gut, that he's worried about Joe Biden, that he thinks that Joe Biden is probably inevitable as his opponent, and so he might as well start taking him down a notch now.
But if you think about, again, if you look at if it really was a strategy, he would be trying to elevate, because that's what he's doing with Joe Biden, elevate people who he might find as, you know, Democratic opponents easier to beat.
That's not the case here. And this is not something that is necessarily a plus. People who I'm talking to in the Trump political world, they don't think it's a plus at all. They think it's mostly a negative, what he's doing.
LEMON: So even though the president, Frank, is continuing to poke Joe Biden on Twitter, I mean, since the former vice president entered the race, Trump has sent at least a dozen tweets on Biden. Obsessing here?
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He does seem a little obsessed with him. The odd thing is he's doing him a great favor. Right. Joe Biden has not been out on the campaign trail much. In fact, there's a whole separate narrative and concern about how sleepy, to use the president's word, Joe Biden has been.
Because Donald Trump is tweeting about him, is doing these things that make Trump himself --
LEMON: So, he needs to go at him.
BRUNI: That's right. He's making Joe -- he's giving Joe Biden headlines, he's making Joe Biden a big story, he's making Joe Biden look big by being so small and Joe Biden doesn't have to lift a finger.
He just has to occasionally release a statement, you know, kind of indicating the sort of disapproval of what Trump is doing that most Americans instinctively feel.
So, this is, I mean, Dana is absolutely right. This is no strategy.
BRUNI: This is a very small-minded president who gets obsessed with people, let's things get under his skin, who lets his fear show, and he is telling the world, I fear Biden the most. And if you're a Democratic voter, you'll look at that and say, maybe I should side with Joe Biden is that's -- so he's not doing himself any favor. He's not accomplishing anything here.
[22:19:58] LEMON: So, Kirsten, imagine, let's just imagine, if you will, that you're a team Biden, that you are -- I don't, Symone Sanders or whatever -- I'm just, I'm joking. You're Kirsten Powers and you're on team Biden. You got to be loving the attention from this president, right? I mean, do you think it only helps Biden?
KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Definitely for the reasons that Frank just outlined, but also because it gives Biden the opportunity to do the contrast that he wants to do. This is exactly how he wants to be contrasted with Donald Trump.
He wants to be the person who is the statesman, the person who is bringing a sense of morality and decency back to the presidency. So it gives him an opportunity to kind of rise above it in the way
that he also waited to criticize the president until he was back on American soil going back to this, you know, what now seems like a very old-fashioned way of doing politics where you aren't criticizing your opponents, or at least attacking your opponents on foreign soil.
And so, I think it gave him a good opportunity to contrast himself with Donald Trump.
LEMON: So I guess if you're, I guess if you're Biden, Kirsten, do you -- I mean, do you want to do anything, or do you just let this ride for a while until you really have to get out there on the campaign trail?
POWERS: Well, I think it would -- you know, I think it would be better for him to be out there a little more than he is, but it's still very, very early, and I don't think that -- I suppose if you're on his campaign, you might be thinking the less he's out there, the less likely he's going to make a gaffe or say something problematic.
But look, if he's running for president of the country you are going to have to deal with that.
LEMON: Kirsten, can I jump in here right now?
LEMON: I hear that whole gaffe thing, right, and I know what everyone means by that, but aren't we in a gaffe not even free, I mean, a gaffe-free zone considering the person we have in office right now? You -- people, you can pretty much say whatever you want right now, why are people like, Joe Biden is going to make a gaffe? Have you heard what comes of Donald Trump's --
POWERS: Well --
LEMON: -- or seen what comes from his fingers?
POWERS: Yes. But I actually think Democrats hold their candidates to a different standard.
BASH: I totally agree.
POWERS: I don't think that they're not willing to overlook the types of things that clearly Republican voters were willing to overlook.
That said, I think that we have shifted into a different kind of era and Biden will get away with a lot more than he used to because Democrats are being so mercenary, frankly, about their, you know, who they want to choose.
And so, they're willing to overlook a lot of things if they think that person can beat Donald Trump. So, the biggest thing Joe Biden has to do is convince them that he can beat Donald Trump, and there is going to be a lot of grace for gaffes and other things if they really think he's the guy that can beat him.
LEMON: Do you think -- do you think that they learn, Dana, from Al Franken when you look at, you know, what happened after Al Franken, you know? Because they hold their candidates to a different standard. You look at the president that we have in office now, you look at all the folks who may been accused of similar things, and he's still there.
BASH: Yes. I think this is a different situation. This is a much more global kind of meta question. This is about Donald Trump. This is about, as Kirsten just laid out, beating Donald Trump, and who is the best person to do that?
And poll after poll at this point of Democratic primary and caucus voters say that they -- that is the number one standard by which they are going to choose who their nominee is.
LEMON: So, listen, Frank, you know, I've got to ask you, we talked about this, too, and this is about, you know, talk about hypocrisy. This is Mitch McConnell when he infuriated Democrats, right, about the whole Supreme Court thing. He said that he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy if here was one in 2020. I want you to watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: We'd fill it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: He block Merrick Garland in 2016.
BRUNI: Yes. He's be doing the exact opposite in this case. I mean, double standard must be his favorite kind.
LEMON: Before -- let's listen to what he said in 2016, McConnell --
LEMON: -- and then we can talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNLEL: The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country. So, of course, of course, the American people should have a say in the court's direction.
It is the president's constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate's constitutional right to act as a check on a president and withhold its consent.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNI: He believed that when it was advantageous to Republicans, and
he won't believe it when that's advantageous. I mean, this is rank partisanship of the most bald kind.
LEMON: I mean, it doesn't even --
BASH: And can I --
LEMON: It doesn't even matter, I mean, the sound bite is there. He said it, but they just say different stuff. Go on, Dana, sorry.
BASH: Yes, it doesn't -- it doesn't matter anymore, but particularly on this issue, particularly with Mitch McConnell. I've covered him for many, many years.
[22:25:00] He is so singularly focused on the bench, on the federal judiciary. Obviously, the Supreme Court is the creme de la creme. But he's been working with the now, you know, you don't say his name anymore, he worked with Don McGahn for the first two years very, very aggressively to fill that federal bench.
He's so focused on that, and he doesn't have -- he is running for reelection in Kentucky where the president is incredibly popular, more popular, probably, than when he won in 2016, so he doesn't have any political problem at home.
In fact, just the opposite. They don't care about the hypocrisy, they're applauding the notion of potentially putting a conservative in if he has the opportunity no matter how contradictory or hypocritical it is to what he did before, and that is classic, classic McConnell. His eye is on the ball there.
LEMON: Boy, boy. Thank you, Dana. Thank you, Kirsten. Thank you, Frank. I appreciate it.
The lone GOP primary challenger to the president is stepping up his attacks on Trump. He says the president would prefer what he calls an Aryan Nation. I'm going to talk to the former Governor Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts about that. And more, next.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Bill Weld is the lone Republican taking on President Trump in the 2020 primary. And he's telling Kennedy Institute audience that the president would prefer an Aryan nation. It's not clear if he was referring to the neo-Nazi group. But he later told ABC News Trump would "prefer a nation with no immigrants."
So the former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential candidate, Bill Well, joins me now to answer that question and many more. Thank you, Governor, appreciate you joining us. You said...
GOV. BILL WELD (R-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A pleasure to be with you.
LEMON: Absolutely. Thank you. You said Trump would prefer an Aryan nation. What did you mean by that?
WELD: I mean a nation with no immigrants whatsoever. It's been clear since he started his campaign. He was basing it on trying to stir up vitriol and hatred of immigrants. It started with Muslims and then the whole thing about the wall and the Mexican border.
And I think he was -- you know, his campaign in 2016, in my opinion, was a series of dog whistles. And that dog whistle about the wall is -- you know Trump voters or -- you know workers who have economic insecurity. You should be with me on the wall and hating immigrants.
Because if you don't, some brown person may come across that border with Mexico and take your job. I think that was the intended echo of his immigration policy.
LEMON: Well, people often say --
WELD: You know, cynical, cynical but that's it.
LEMON: So when you say things like what you say, and people who call the president's actions and words racist. They'll say, well, where is the evidence? What's the evidence that the president only wants -- the evidence is right in front of your face, no?
WELD: The evidence is everything he says. Are you kidding me?
LEMON: Yeah. Listen, so you decided to challenge this president for the Republican nomination out of a fear -- this is a quote -- "fear for the republic if he wins reelection." Are other Republicans thinking the same thing and just not willing to say it out loud?
WELD: Oh, yeah. No, that's the case. And I know a lot of the senior Republican senators. And some of them will say to you off the record, you know, there is nothing to be done now. We can't rock the boat right now. We'll get massacred, so we just can't do it. But we're with you, kid. Stick with it all the way. We admire what you're doing. I hear quite a bit of that.
LEMON: But doesn't that kind of tick you off, because you're sticking your neck out there. You're the one who is being bold. You're the one who is challenging this president, and challenging, you know, people who are defying a rule of law and setting up alternative facts and alternative realities. That doesn't tick you off that they say, you go out there, kid, you do it, but we're not going to say anything. We're just going to be comfortable.
WELD: Well, I invited others to come in. I think if other Republicans got in, it might make it seem like more of a real primary and people might take a longer look. But until then, I am very happy to go about my business, which frankly, is trying to persuade people that the president is not doing his job, that, you know, we have to cut spending as well as cutting taxes, which I did.
That we have to plan ahead for all the 15 percent of the jobs in the United States that are going to be lost in the next 10 or 15 years because of advances in technology like robotics, and artificial intelligence, and self-driving vehicles. No one is worrying about that in Washington, D.C. And they should be. And I have developed a plan for that.
It's my job to persuade people that climate change is not a hoax, and that's not a very difficult job. Frankly, when people look at the polar ice cap melting, which is going to completely rearrange all of our shorelines, so you know, I've spent I have spent of time arguing in court. And I enjoy the process of trying to persuade people of things. And I think I have got an easy job over the intermediate haul. I honestly do. And that election is almost 18 months away.
LEMON: So, you know, a lot of Republicans consider themselves never Trumpers. But now, you're the only Republican willing to challenge this president in the primary. And Representative Justin Amash is the only Republican pushing for his impeachment. You know, I asked a similar question, but where are those other Republicans now?
WELD: Well, I think a lot of people agree with me and Congressman Amash, whose statement I totally applaud, that the president committed obstruction of justice. If you read the Mueller report and, you know, Bob Mueller was my deputy in the Justice Department. I know him well. He's the straightest guy I ever met, and he has 8 or 10 examples of the president committing obstruction of justice in volume two of his report by trying to shut down the investigation.
[22:34:54] Get Mueller fired. Get his top national security people to lie. Get his top intelligence officials to lie up to and including Dan Coats, trying to get Don McGahn to lie, who is the president's chief lawyer. And they all said to him, Mr. President, I can't do that because that's not true. And he essentially came back at him, saying what's your point?
This guy is a stranger to the truth. I won't even say a loose man with the truth, you know? A broken clock is right about twice a day, and so is the president. He doesn't know when the curtain is down and when the curtain is up, and when he's on stage, and when he's not because he's so obsessed with himself and has such a need for people to praise him. I don't know what it is, but I wouldn't want his demons.
LEMON: Listen, Governor. We appreciate your candor. We love having people come on and tell their truth and aren't afraid to fight the powers that be. So we thank you, and we invite you back any time. Thank you so much.
WELD: Great, Don. Many thanks.
LEMON: Yeah. The former FBI Director, James Comey, is slamming the president's comments, accusing FBI investigators of committing treason, calling them lies and dumb lies at that. Congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Eric Swalwell joins me next. [22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Former FBI Director, James Comey, calling out the president tonight for attacking the FBI and its investigations into Trump's 2016 campaign. Comey calls the president's accusations of treason and a coup simply "dumb lies" in a Washington Post op-ed. But Attorney General Bill Barr is now investigating the beginning of the Russia investigation.
Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California joins me now. He sits on the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. He's also a 2020 presidential candidate. Good to have you on, sir. Thank you so much. Let's start off with a quote from --
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening, Don. Thanks for having me back.
LEMON: Absolutely. Let's talk about the quote from Comey. And then we'll discuss. And here's what he writes, in part. Go ahead. Investigate the investigators, if you must. When those investigations are over, they will find the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations. There was no corruption. There was no treason. There was no attempted coup.
Those are lies and dumb lies, at that. Is this investigation into the investigators, bring -- does it bring more transparency? And if it does, is that a good thing?
SWALWELL: No, it makes us less safe, Don. Because if you're an FBI agent right now and you've been passed a tip about a potential threat to our democracy, with this president threatening investigations against the FBI, do you think that agent is going to go out and investigate, no. And when you see the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, meeting with Ukrainians to get dirt on potential opponents, you're just going to let that go, because you don't want this president to shine that light on you.
Here's what we can do, though. I think the Judiciary Committee should move on Attorney General Barr and impeach the Attorney General. He's a front door obstructer. He's not being paid by Donald Trump. He's being paid by us. He's the taxpayers' attorney. And the first thing we should do is set an example that a lawless attorney general will be held accountable.
Second, I have legislation that will address what Director Comey put out. It's called Duty to Report, crazy idea that if you're on a campaign and a Russian approaches you with dirt on your opponent, you have to tell the FBI. All of this could have been avoided if these jokers told the FBI rather than making the FBI do all this work.
LEMON: I mean wouldn't folks know that? Anyone who is running a campaign would know if someone from a hostile enemy or hostile nation says they have dirt on an opponent. That you should turn them over to law enforcement or you shouldn't meet with them? That's common sense. SWALWELL: Yes. Of course, they would know it. But there would at
least be a crime for not doing it. And part of the problem was that prior Congresses never imagined that people be -- would so betray their country the way that the Trump team did, but now we should have ways to hold them accountable.
LEMON: I want to get this in while I have you here. This is your Republican colleague, Justin Amash, as what he said earlier tonight. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: Robert Mueller, very clearly, identifies and analyzes a number of instances, several instances, of obstruction of justice. He really left it to Congress to come to a determination on these issues. It's really important that we do our job as a Congress, that we not allow misconduct to go undeterred, that we not just say someone can buy the public trust and that there are no consequences to it.
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LEMON: I tell you. He seems to be making a case for impeachment stronger than many of your Democratic colleagues. Does he have a point, though, by holding off impeachment? Are Democrats allowing the president to get away with obstructing justice?
SWALWELL: That's the fear -- is that not only does he get away with it, but future presidents see the bar being lowered. I admire Justin Amash greatly. But, Don, here's the questions. Why is he alone? Why aren't there other Republicans, who are saying this is lawless, it doesn't matter who you are, which party you're in. And people say it's because they're putting party over country. I used to think that, too.
That's not the case. They're putting their job over their country. They're afraid if they speak out, they're going to get primaried, which is crazy because you would think a member Congress could get other jobs and they'd be otherwise employable. But that's the mindset I see. They know it's wrong, but they're just worried about their own damn jobs.
LEMON: so what are you hearing on the trail tonight?
SWALWELL: What am I hearing on what?
LEMON: Out on the trail tonight.
SWALWELL: Oh, so thanks for asking. I am in Houston. I'm on a gun violence tour of the country. Not just the schools and the churches that have had gun violence, but I have been in Chicago and Baltimore and Philadelphia and Indianapolis, and now in Houston. And I am hearing that, you know, all this talk about the crime bill in 94.
SWALWELL: People want to talk about the crime that's happening now because we failed to address gun violence in our communities. We failed to invest in people. They don't want a crime bill. They want a hope bill, and to make sure that you have jobs and education and healthcare in these communities and give people hope. And so I had a gun violence roundtable today. I am going to do the same thing tomorrow in Houston. And we're going to roll out some initiatives on what we can do.
LEMON: Congressman Swalwell, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Absolutely. We'll be right back.
[22:49:56] LEMON: So far this year, 11 people have died while climbing Mount Everest. At just over 29,000 feet, it is the highest peak on Earth. Experienced climbers blame the death toll on dangerous conditions and overcrowding near the top of the mountain. So let's discuss now. Joining me now by Skype from Nepal is Woody Hartman who reached the summit just last week.
Woody, I am so glad you joined us. As I said, you summitted the mountain on May 23rd at the time these tragedies were happening. And you say it was horrific. Can you please describe to our audience, to everyone your experience? What happened?
WOODY HARTMAN, SUMMITTED MT. EVEREST ON MAY 23: Yeah. I, like many fellow climbers, left at about 7:30 p.m. from camp (Inaudible) which is at 26,000 feet on the edge of the death zone at 7:30 p.m. on May 22nd. Really trying to squeeze my summit bid into a very small weather window this year looked like the winds and other weather conditions were going to be satisfactory up there at the top of the world.
However, almost immediately after leaving camp, I encountered what has now been so famous, which is a huge cue of other climbers that were trying to jam into the same very small weather window (Inaudible) as me. So by within an hour or so, I found myself kind of stuck on -- we joked and called it a conga line, but, of course, it was a lot tougher than that. It was dead silent. It was snowing. It's freezing cold. It is pitch dark.
And all you can see -- it's sort 10 feet of head behind you with their headlamp. We were kind of stuck on one safety line trying to get up to the top of the mountain, and along the way seen some really tragic things.
HARTMAN: I asked -- I passed probably three frozen dead bodies, presumably from just the last day or two before that, two of which were still attached to the same safety line as me. And as I was climbing up, I soon came to realize that part of (Inaudible) was being caused by other climbers who collapsed or unconscious and actually were being dragged back down the mountain.
LEMON: As you're seeing this, I mean as you said, you saw probably three dead bodies frozen. They were still attached to the safety line, right, and other people who had lost consciousness. I mean what were you thinking? Were you thinking why the hell am I doing this, or what was going through your head? Maybe you could end up like them?
HARTMAN: Absolutely. I think there is a -- instills a survival mode instinct in everyone. I think everyone who felt terrified, you go into especially that last day knowing it's dangerous, knowing you could die. But to actually see death all around you, you see other people collapsing right around you, in some cases wearing very similar outfits to what you have on. It's shocking and jarring.
And I think takes a lot of fortitude for anyone to, you know, put their head down and continue towards this goal that starts to really be in question.
LEMON: Did you ever think of turning around? Is that even possible?
HARTMAN: I considered it. But I felt very fortunate to feel strong. I was warm enough. I was well-fuelled. I had enough energy. And so for -- there was no time in which I really thought that I personally had to turn around. There were many times in which I offered, especially for the people being pulled down if there was anything I could do to help, because I was happy to pause and wait at least for 30 minutes or an hour.
Give them water or food or something if that could have been helpful, but most of them just needed to get down as fast as possible.
LEMON: So I want to put the picture up of the one that went viral. I mean my goodness it looks like rush hour up there. And, you know, people think of Mt. Everest as the insurmountable obstacle. Do you think there are just too many people trying to make the climb?
HARTMAN: I think there are too many people on a handful of days trying to make the climb, absolutely. There's -- I don't know the exact number from this year. By my guess -- the numbers I've is that about 600 or maybe a little bit more people summitted Mount Everest. Now, that's probably, roughly the amount for the entire year. And that's not that many if you distribute it like a normal year.
But what was so tragic this year was that they were only it looked maybe two or three good days of weather to get all of those people to the summit. And that created those super unsafe conditions. The fact that there's no one -- no formal coordination between the guiding companies to actually see whose sending people up when to make sure that we don't end up with this convergence of everyone trying to get there at the same time.
That feels like a recipe for disaster that could happen again. And really should be fixed in the future. [22:54:54] LEMON: So listen. I am sure they'll be looking into, you
know, exactly what happened and maybe the Nepalese government will limit climbs or what have you. That's to be determined. And I think we'll leave that for them. But for you as a climber, I am sure you were concerned. I asked if you thought that you could end up like those folks. So you said that this incredible instinct to survive kicked in.
But did you ever thing, like, I might not make it? And right now, are you doing? How is your health?
HARTMAN: I -- before I left on this trip, I contemplated the possibility of my death and was prepared for it. As crazy as that sounds, I made my first will. I wrote a letter that I left on my desk at home to all my loved ones in case something should happen. So I think every Everest climber has some amount of mental preparation. But, you know, when you're actually face death in the moment, it's completely different.
And yes, I was changed by that evening. I'm already going through a lot of emotions. And I am sure I will continue to process it for months. I hope to take away from it something positive, which is a sense all of our time on this Earth is limited, and I am going to make the most of it, which might mean climbing more mountains too.
LEMON: More power to you. I just don't have it in me for it. And I am glad you're OK. Thank you, Woody Hartman. We appreciate your time.
HARTMAN: Thanks so much for having me.
LEMON: We'll be right back.