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Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) Was Interviewed About His Take On President Trump's Shocking Statement To ABC News; President Trump Says It's OK To Listen To Adversaries; Hope Hicks Agrees to Appear Before House Judiciary Committee; Justice Department Seeks To Question CIA Officers In Russia Inquiry Review. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 12, 2019 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: And he may have just given a lot of people on the fence a motivation to jump onto one fence a motivation to jump onto one side.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, you said it might not be illegal. But I just want to read to you, you're an attorney so this is a Federal Elections Commission, this is a law on foreign interference in U.S. elections.

And it says, "Commission regulations prohibit foreign nationals from directing, dictating, controlling or directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process of any person with regard to any election related activities."

CUOMO: I mean, that's a lot of legalese in there. The basic rule is this. They can't give you anything of value for your campaign and information can be of value.

I'm saying it may be illegal because, I've got to see the quid pro quo, I've got to see what the information is, I've got to know if it was of value. What I'm saying is the president has made it clear is that he's open for business. And that is an abuse of his office and that is something that is worthy of being looked at by Congress. So --

LEMON: Is it impeachable?

CUOMO: A hundred percent, is impeachable. Whether they can make the case, you know, goes from possible to probable. Can they do it? Possible. Probable, I don't know, I've got to see what they do.

LEMON: Here's the interesting thing, so he is saying -- well, most people would want to look at the information, yes, if it was opposition. He's trying to conflate opposition research with information that was obtained from a hostile foreign country. He's also saying that somehow Norway --

CUOMO: He loves Norway.

LEMON: -- is equal to Russia. Norway is not a foreign -- a hostile foreign.

CUOMO: Well, it's any foreign power but he loves Norway. He was trying to go with a place he thinks everybody likes.


CUOMO: The analogy isn't necessary. It's if it were Russia or China. That's what he was ask about. He doesn't want to go there because he knows it doesn't sound as good.

LEMON: Right. But my point is opposition research is not the same as a foreign -- a foreign government or person from a foreign government interfering in the election or offering dirt.


CUOMO: Well, the information could be the same but the source matters.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And he knows that. I'm just saying I think that this is the biggest -- as we do in Italian culture to Congress that he's given them to date. Yes, I know what you think is wrong. I'll do it anyway.

LEMON: I'll do it anyway.

CUOMO: What do you think about that?

LEMON: Right. And I was doing it to protect someone I love which still --

CUOMO: Yes. Me. You know, that's what he's saying. He was -- he's not doing it to protect his son. If he had said this when they were looking at Don Jr. Don Jr. may have been in the soup.


CUOMO: Because if they would have been able to say, well, the guy's father knows exactly that this isn't supposed to be done. He says he do it anyway. It seems to be exactly what the son was doing.


CUOMO: But look, again, I don't really know what the Democrats should do or not do except make a decision.


CUOMO: And there is this false -- there is this false argument being made, Don, well, they are doing that. They're trying to make their -- no, they're getting stymied everywhere.


CUOMO: They get hung up in the courts. They're frustrating people. This is not progress. They're not making progress on the matter. And I think they have to make a decision and then just own it and move on from all of it if they want. LEMON: Well, they knew it was wrong because initially the excuse was

it had to do with foreign adoptions and then now this.

CUOMO: They lied about the meeting. They doctored up a statement.

LEMON: About everything, yes. Thank you, sir. See you around the way as they say.

CUOMO: Every day.

LEMON: Take it easy.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Huge developments tonight. And the news is coming fast and furious. The most outrageous, the president of the United States, says he thinks there's nothing wrong with accepting dirt on your opponents from foreigners.

Listen to his answer when ABC's George Stephanopoulos asks about Don Jr. and that infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that e-mail.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: OK. Let's put yourself in a position, you're a congressman, somebody comes up and says hey, I have information on your opponent, do you call the FBI? I don't think --


STEPHANOPOULOS: If it's coming from Russia, that's what you do.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what. I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI, in my whole life. I don't -- you don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you --


STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book. He called the FBI.

TRUMP: Well, that's different. A stolen briefing book. This is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that's what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Did you hear that? An angry president saying his own handpicked FBI director is wrong. Listen to what Christopher Wray says himself.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: My view is that if any public official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation state or anybody acting on behalf of a nation state about influencing or interfering with our election then that's something that the FBI would want to know about.


[22:05:01] LEMON: Well, and it's not just his FBI director who says that. It is also his handpicked attorney general.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Going forward, what if a foreign adversary, let's now say North Korea, offers a presidential candidate dirt on a competitor in 2020. Do you agree with me the campaign should immediately contact the FBI? If a foreign intelligence --


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The foreign intelligence service?

COONS: A representative of the foreign government.

BARR: Yes.

COONS: Says we have dirt on your opponent, should they say I love it, let's meet or where she didn't contact the FBI?

BARR: If a foreign intelligence service does, yes.


LEMON: It's the president who is wrong. But this is who he is. He's shown us again and again, and I almost can't believe that I have to keep saying this, he should be defending this country, protecting us from foreign powers trying to attack our democracy.

Instead, incredibly, he says he sees nothing wrong with accepting information from a foreign power, information designed to influence our election and he says he'd do it again.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time, foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers the information on the opponent, should they accept it or should they call the FBI? TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen.

There's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI if I thought there was something wrong, but when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, let's call the FBI.

The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it but you go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it and they always have. That's the way it is. It's called oppo research.


LEMON: How about that? The president is sending a clear message to foreign powers and make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Norway. The president is saying to Russia, to China, go ahead and interfere in our election.

Remember when Donald Trump encouraged Putin's trolls to hack Hillary Clinton's e-mails? Remember when he said Russia, if you're listening, well it's a good bet that they're listening right now. The intel community has told us that. So has Robert Mueller himself.


ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL, RUSSIA PROBE: I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.


LEMON: Every American, especially the President of the United States. And we've got another huge story to tell you about tonight. President Trump's right-hand woman, Hope Hicks, who was by his side from day one of his campaign, agreeing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday.

That testimony behind closed doors but the committee plans to release a transcript of it. Hicks is the first member of Trump's inner circle to appear before the judiciary committee as part of its investigation into possible obstruction of justice by the president.

Don McGahn who was the first to be subpoenaed by the panel refused to appear, setting off a vote in the House this week authorizing the committee to go to court to enforce the subpoena.

Last week the White House ordered Hicks not to provide any documents to the committee related to her time in the administration. So, is that a sign that the stonewalling will continue? Or will it be the first big crack in the president's stonewalling?

There is more tonight. "The New York Times" reporting that the Justice Department is requesting interviews with senior CIA officers as part of Attorney General Bill Barr's invest -- as he investigates the investigators.

That's his inquiry right now, an inquiry that came about after months of prodding from the president to examine the origins of the Russia investigation. The latest battle in the president's war with his own intelligence community.

The president saying that he would listen to a foreign government, offering dirt on a political rival and wouldn't necessarily report that to the FBI.

So just how much is he undermining the efforts of our intelligence community to prevent Russia or anyone as a matter of fact from interfering in our election again? That is a question for Kirsten Powers, Matthew Rosenberg and Max Boot next.


LEMON: President Trump saying he'd take damaging information about political opponents from foreign governments like Russia or China, acting like it's no big deal, like it's not election interference, also saying that he wouldn't necessarily report a contact like that to the FBI even though director Christopher Wray says that is something the bureau would definitely want to know about.

So, let's discuss now. Kirsten Powers is here, Matthew Rosenberg, and Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

So, let's start with you, Max, since I read the introduction.

The president from -- good evening, everyone. The president from the Oval Office saying he would accept dirt on 2020 opponents from foreign powers. Should that set off some alarm bells for some folks?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. I think the alarms should be ringing loudly and often. I mean, remember, yesterday the president said that the U.S. should not be spying on Kim Jong-un. And today he seems to be saying he's perfectly fine with foreigners spying on Joe Biden or other Democratic opponents.

I mean, this is somebody who has a very warped moral compass and he is right before our eyes violating his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.

I think what you're seeing here is the classic pattern of a criminal who gets away with his crimes and is emboldened to commit even more crimes.

This is a president who got away with welcoming Russian election interference in 2016 and he is utterly unrepentant because he has not paid a price for it. He has not been held to account. He's not been impeached. And he's practically saying in full daylight I will commit more crimes unless you stop me. That's the message that he is sending right now.

LEMON: Yes. Interesting. He doesn't think that a foreign government providing information is interference. Watch this, Matt, and then we'll talk.


[22:15:03] STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it if I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI if I thought there was something wrong.

But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, let's call the FBI. The FBI doesn't have enough agents to take care of it. But you go and talk honestly to congressman, they all do it, and they always have. That's the way it is. It's called oppo research.


LEMON: So, he is talking this up to oppo research. There is oppo research. He's trying to normalize what happened with this meeting and what's happening with Russia interference, especially when you consider what the Mueller report actually says about how Russia tried to interfere in our elections.

MATTHEW ROSENBERG, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I mean, exactly. You know, look, in our campaigns, candidates go out and collect information about each other, that's opposition research.

A foreign government coming in saying we know this about your rival, maybe we hacked it out of e-mails or maybe we bribed people to get it, I don't know how they got it, that's interference.

And I think any, you know, there's very little doubt about that. I think, look, we know, you know, our officials warn us, it's pretty clear that foreign governments are going to try and interfere in our elections.

That disinformation is probably going to come from Americans as well in this election. We're going to be awash in words of -- let's not use the words on TV.

I think the president kind of contributing to this is something that, you know, we should all take note of.


ROSENBERG: And it's something worth --

LEMON: Well, here's -- Kirsten, a couple things for you. Is he betting on Americans -- like it's a distinction without a difference, maybe Americans don't understand the difference between opposition research and a foreign government interfering, again trying to normalize that and saying, hey, listen, this happened to everyone. Everyone does it. But no, everyone doesn't do it.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think he's saying this because he's defending his son, right? I mean, who is accused of this and was, you know, up on the Hill having to testify about it or at least meet with members of Congress.

So that's what I read into this. I think it's him just sort of saying, you know, what Don Jr. bid isn't a problem. Of course, yes, I would do it, who wouldn't do it? That kind of stuff.

And I think you're right. Most Americans probably don't understand all the ins and outs of what you're supposed to take when you're on a campaign and may even think that sounds logical if somebody comes and gives you information.

But here's the thing. Even if it's not -- even if the information wasn't gained through hacking into an e-mail or some other nefarious way, let's just say that Russia just put together some oppo research, they decided like we hate, you know, Hillary Clinton, it's not Hillary Clinton anymore, so now we hate, you know, whoever we hate this time around and we're going to get you as much information as possible.

And in various governments around the world start doing that and why wouldn't they frankly after what they just heard, right?


POWERS: And they go and give that information. Whether it's illegal or not, I don't know, you'd have to ask a lawyer to speak to that. They're clearly trying to interfere in our elections for their own purposes. That's the point. Right?

They're trying to interfere because they want a president that's good for them. And so, that's what's so dangerous about Donald Trump's approach to this, even if you set aside the law it's basically saying we're open for business. Come on in. And, you know, give us what you've got and put all your resources towards destroying people that you don't like.

LEMON: He's sending a message to our adversaries that it's OK to interfere. Go ahead, Max.


BOOT: If I could speak up on the point you were making, how he's trying to normalize this thing. I think that's exactly what he's doing. I think a lot of Trump supporters out there are going to say well, what's the big deal? Wouldn't anybody do this? Isn't he just being more honest than your average candidate?

Let me tell you, no way in hell would a normal candidate do this. I mean, I worked in the 2008 campaign for John McCain. Can you imagine what John McCain would have done if the Russians had come to him and said here's some dirt on your opponent, Barack Obama. Would John McCain have said I love it? No, he would have called up and picked up the phone and called the FBI which is what a good, normal, patriotic American is supposed to do.

I am convinced that most candidates would do that. So, this is not normal. This is abhorrent, aberrant behavior on the part of the president. And he's trying to pretend it's normal. It's not normal. We cannot accept this.

LEMON: I just want, I want to get your reaction to the moment when the president flat out says that the FBI director is wrong. And listen to the way he says it. Watch this.


TRUMP: This is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. Let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.


STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that's what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.


ROSENBERG: Look, the president is not a man that likes to be disagreed with. I think we know that and it's pretty clear there that his peak at the thought that somebody is disagreeing with him is apparent.

You know, our electoral system is set up --


LEMON: Wait. The FBI director is wrong. His FBI director.

[22:20:02] ROSENBERG: Yes, his FBI director. Look, President Trump has spent the last three years disagreeing with his own people. They say one thing, he says the other. This is who people vote for. They didn't vote for. We're going to find out in another 18 months if he'll remain as president.

LEMON: He's angry there, clearly, but, I mean, Max, come on, the FBI director is wrong?

BOOT: This is nuts. I mean, this is an issue that Chris Wray needs to consider resigning over because the president is basically saying I will disregard the FBI and commit illegal acts. That is extremely alarming behavior. And by the way, Don, can you imagine what Donald Trump would say?


LEMON: And the attorney general also agrees with the FBI director. BOOT: Absolutely. Because this is the law. There is no doubt that

this is the law and this is the oath that the president takes which he is now violating.

Can you imagine what Trump would say if Joe Biden came out and said hey, Iran, if you have information on Trump please share it with me. Do you think Trump would be saying that's OK or would he be saying that's treason? I'm pretty sure he would be saying that's treason.

LEMON: Yes. Kirsten, how much does this undercut what the FBI is trying to do to prevent future interference from foreign adversaries?

POWERS: Well, I mean, I think that you have sort of two tracks that run, you do have people in the government still doing the jobs they're supposed to be doing regardless of what the president is saying.

But at the same time this administration hasn't made it a particularly high priority in terms of trying to prevent future interference in future elections and I think there's a reason for it. I think it's because Donald Trump rightly believes that Russia will probably interfere again and they'll probably try to help him again. So why would he try and stop it?

LEMON: What kind of position, Kirsten, does this put the FBI in right now?

POWERS: Well, I mean, I think, you know, I would assume that if you're at the FBI you're furious. I don't know -- I guess there are people there that support him and want to make excuses for him but he's clearly contradicting what -- not just the FBI director said, but basically everybody knows, you know, this even if you aren't working at the FBI and even if you aren't the FBI director this is what you're supposed to do.

But guess who didn't do it? His son, Don Jr. And I really think that that's what this is about. I think for him to say that's what you're supposed to do is to say that Don Jr. did something wrong when he was contacted by somebody close to the Russian government with information about Hillary Clinton.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, right now the conversation, Max, is so focused on the impeachment, on impeachment because of the obstructive behavior that listed in the Mueller report which many people have not actually read, right?

But what we're hearing tonight gets to the heart of this investigation, really, which is foreign influence in our elections. That's what this is -- and that's what the Mueller report was about and that it confirmed, but he's saying, no.

BOOT: Right. And Trump has been saying, ever since the Mueller report came out, no collusion, no collusion, no collusion. Which is not actually accurate but he's also saying, basically now, but if there's going to be collusion, I'm fine with that. I'm good with it. Please collude with me because I could use your help. So, this is not exactly a consistent message. But it's very consistent

with his behavior since 2016 because the Mueller report, if people read it, and you should read it, every single American ought to read it, it is full of evidence of how the Trump campaign welcomed Russian help through WikiLeaks in 2016.

LEMON: What does this mean for the impeachment conversation? Quickly and I'll get all of you. What do you think it means?

BOOT: I think it ups the pressure because Trump is basically saying unless you impeach me, I will commit the exact same behavior I committed in 2016.

LEMON: Matt?

ROSENBERG: Yes, I'm going to agree with Max here. That, you know, he is telegraphing the idea that if somebody comes to you with information, I'm going the use it. And that certainly puts pressure on the Democrats to move more aggressively.

LEMON: Kirsten?

POWERS: Yes. I think everyone is in agreement that this is going to place more pressure on them. But I just wanted to say that I think another thing that's interesting about this is that, you know, I certainly -- I mean, we've all sort of sat through the last couple years of hearing so many different people associated with the Trump campaign, administration defending them saying how crazy it was to think that Donald Trump or anyone on his campaign would ever do exactly what Donald Trump said today. He's totally open to doing.

LEMON: And here we are, yet here we are.


LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it.

Here's our breaking news tonight, the president telling ABC News that he'd accept dirt on his political rivals from foreign countries including Russia and China.

Congressman Denny Heck who serves on the House Intelligence Committee responds. He's next.


LEMON: President Trump said he would listen if a foreign government approach him with dirt on a political rival and he wouldn't necessarily report it to the FBI.

Listen to what he says to ABC's George Stephanopoulos about his son Don Jr.'s infamous Trump tower meeting with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Let's put yourself in a position. You're a congressman. Somebody comes up and says hey, I have information on your opponent. Do you call the FBI? I don't think --


STEPHANOPOULOS: If it's coming from Russia, you do.

TRUMP: I'll tell you what. I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life. I don't -- you don't call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office. You do whatever you do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Al Gore got a stolen briefing book; he called the FBI.

TRUMP: Well, that's different. A stolen briefing book. This is -- this is somebody that said we have information on your opponent, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn't work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign, this time, if Russia or if China if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or they call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't -- there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference, they have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI.


LEMON: Well, joining me now is Congressman Denny Heck. He serves on the House intelligence committee. Congressman, thank you. I couldn't wait to talk to you about this one.

[22:29:59] The president of the United States saying he would accept information, even from a hostile foreign power, about a political opponent. What's your response to that?

REP. DENNY HECK (D), WASHINGTON: Well, Don, it's wrong on two levels. The first is, of course, it's a clear violation of federal law because no candidate can receive a campaign contribution from either a foreign government or from a foreign person. And that is whether it is cash or actually of in kind value, like opposition research would constitute. So, the president of the United States today just admitted on camera,

was taped for the entire nation to hear and see that he would commit a crime. Secondly, however you don't need to get that far, because even before you violate the law, I believe that that would constitute a violation of the constitutional emoluments cause. He can't accept anything of value from a foreign government. So, he not only violated law, admitted he would violate federal law and commit a crime. He admitted that he wouldn't pay any attention to the United States constitution.

LEMON: Let's put this up, it's up on the screen from the federal elections commission and what they say about it. It says commission regulations prohibit foreign nations from directing -- dictating, controlling or foreign nationals, I should say, or directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process of any person with regard to any election-related activities. That is what it says.

HECK: Yes, that is what I just said, Don, it would be a clear violation of federal law. And he admitted it.

LEMON: If you were approached with what the president is trying to call opposition research, that a foreign -- from a foreign country, how would you handle it, Congressman?

HECK: I would not accept it. I would leave the room and immediately call the Federal Bureau of Investigation, period, full stop.


HECK: I would consider it frankly my patriotic duty to do so.

LEMON: And I've got to ask you and everyone who comes on, because the president is saying he is equating opposition research to information from a hostile foreign power. Are those two the same things?

HECK: Well, it depends on what the information is, but look, the fact of the matter is that candidates of both political parties and all ideological stripes pay for opposition research of their opponents. It is a thing of value, it has cash value. So, for him to accept it is tantamount to accepting cash, ergo, a clear violation of federal law.

LEMON: Here is the Attorney General William Barr just a month ago when he was asked a similar question to the president. Here it is.


SEN. CHRIS COONS (D), DELAWARE: Going forward what if a foreign adversary, let's now say North Korea, offers a presidential candidate dirt on a competitor in 2020. Do you agree with me that campaigns should immediately contact the FBI? If a foreign intelligence --

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The foreign government -- a foreign intelligence service?

COONS: A representative of a foreign government. BARR: Yes.

COONS: Says we have dirt on your opponents.

BARR: Yes.

COONS: Should they say I love it, let's meet, or should they contact the FBI?

BARR: If the foreign intelligence service does, yes.


LEMON: So President Trump is contradicted by the head of the FBI as well as his own Attorney General. How can Congress reign in a president who crosses so many lines?

HECK: Well, there have been some who suggested that that laws needs clarification. I'm not one of them. I think the law is abundantly clear in and of itself. I think the remedy is to actually involve law enforcement and actually enforcing the law.

LEMON: Let's talk about what you did last week. You introduced a bill about forming a climate security intelligence center. Why do you see a need for that? And what are you hoping to accomplish, that that would accomplish?

HECK: Well, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats issued a report and, in fact, reports of this kind have been issued periodically by one part of the national security apparatus or another. Concluding that climate change represents an existential threat to our national security. The fact of the matter is there's no centralized location for gathering that information and making sure that it is being shared broadly across the intelligence community. That is the reason why the national intelligence office was set up.

And within it we already have a counterterrorism center. We already have a counter proliferation center. This is a logical extension of it. because the fact of the matter is if you straight line out what's happening now climate change, severe weather events, rising sea levels, crop shortages, water shortages, droughts, increased conflict between nations, this is what constitutes or the tinder that could result in a kinetic war, a fire as it were.

So, we need to run toward this problem, not away from this problem and one of the ways that we can do that is to better coordinate the sharing and gathering of information within the intelligence community, as we have done for counterterrorism, as we have done for counter proliferation.

LEMON: Congressman Heck, thank you for your time.

HECK: Your welcome, sir.

[22:35:00] LEMON: "The New York Times" reporting tonight that the Justice Department is looking to question senior CIA officers which ought to please the president, who spent months calling for them to investigate the Russia investigators. More details, next.


LEMON: So we're learning tonight that the Justice Department intends to interview senior CIA officers, as part of their review of the origins of the Russia investigations that is according to "The New York Times," which reports the whole thing is prompting anxiety within the CIA over why their work should be under the microscope of a federal prosecutor.

Joining me now to discuss is, the former General Counsel for the FBI, Mr. Jim Baker. Jim good to have you on, thank you so much. I've got to get your -- first up your response to this interview the president gave tonight saying that he would actually -- he is not sure he would call the FBI or even turn over information to the FBI if a foreign adversary contacted him with information on an opponent.

[22:40:02] JAMES BAKER, FORMER FBI GENERAL COUNSEL: So the president is wrong. He should contact the FBI. There's a number of levels on which he is wrong. He is wrong with respect to the law. He is wrong with respect to the counterintelligence threat that such an action would pose to the United States.

And I guess thinking about it, if I were still in government, still at the FBI, still at the Department of Justice I would recommend that the Attorney General and the FBI Director make an appointment to go see the president tomorrow and explain to him why he is wrong and convince him that if this type of thing were to happen, just as they said in their testimony, if this type of thing were to happen either by the president or with respect to anybody else on the campaign that they should and indeed must go to the FBI.

It's that simple and then if the president still disagrees with them I think they're going to have some hard choices to make about how to proceed after that. I just think it would be very difficult. But it's their -- in my opinion it is their obligation under the law, and consistent with their oaths, that they took to go explain to the president why he is wrong.

LEMON: Hard choices in -- you mean staying on the job or beyond that?

BAKER: Absolutely. Yes. Staying on the job.

LEMON: What kind of message --

BAKER: They should first -- my advice, go first have a conversation, a hard conversation with the president. I know it's difficult to raise issues with the president that he doesn't agree with or that he doesn't want to hear, but that is -- you know, too bad, that is what they get paid for, that is what their jobs are and they need to go do that in my opinion.

LEMON: What kind of message does this send to countries like Russia, to Vladimir Putin, to China and on and on?

BAKER: Well, it's of a pattern that is been going on for several years now, right? So this is in some ways this is nothing new. It is significant that the -- just how blatant his statements were, I thought, today. And so that is why I think somebody needs to go talk to him.

Because it's -- he is signaling to these foreign governments that it's open season on, you know, the American elections and that is simply not -- it's not lawful, it's not consistent with the constitution, it's not in the national security interests of the United States and he is charged, among everybody else in the constitution, he is charged with protecting us from this type of threat, not encouraging it.

LEMON: So, listen, Jim, everybody has known that the Attorney General Barr was investigating the origins of the Russia investigation. What is -- what does this times report tell you about the focus though?

BAKER: Well, the focus is broad. I mean, I think from some of the original statements that we heard and letters that the Department of Justice has sent up to the Hill and so on, we know that it's a broad investigation and I think can reasonably conclude that it includes not only the FBI, but other elements of the intelligence community so to me when I read this today I thought, well yeah, that makes sense. I mean, that is what I understood the scope of the authorization to be with respect to this review.

But I can also understand, as I think somebody said earlier in the show. You know, this is not something -- when you're a CIA analyst or a CIA officer of any sort and to have this level of second guessing going on, it does potentially have a chilling effect on them and they start to worry about, you know, throughout the ranks, not just the people who are actually interviewed, but other people as well.

They worry about not only the threat and investigating the threat, they worry about the threat from being investigated themselves and it does have a negative effect, you know, on the institution, especially if you start to serve up sort of line people to this kind of review.

It's a very hard job to do. These people are very dedicated. They sacrifice a lot to protect us and we need to stand by them and make sure that investigations of this nature are conducted in a fair, professional and a political way. So, that is what we all have to hold our governmental leaders accountable for making sure that they do an appropriate investigation.

LEMON: Let's dig in a little more, because along those lines our intelligence agencies have unanimously concluded that Russia did interfere with the express purpose of helping Trump. I mean, that conclusion was backed up by Robert Mueller's investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee. Why is this the apparent -- why is this the apparent focus of the DOJ? I don't get it.

BAKER: Well, because a number -- a significant number of Americans do not believe that the intelligence community and the FBI were acting in accordance with the law and in accordance with the constitution. I think they're wrong. I've been out trying to speak and explain that we at the FBI and in the intelligence community were doing our jobs, but a number of people don't believe that, including the president and apparently the Attorney General and others.

And so what I've said is, look, if you need to conduct some type of review, whatever that is, in order to re-instill confidence in the American people in the intelligence community and law enforcement then so be it, go and do it, do it correctly and so on, but this is where we are and I think this is why we have the review.

[22:45:06] LEMON: Yes. Jim Baker, thank you, sir.

BAKER: Thank you.

LEMON: Well, the president now saying he'd accept dirt from foreign countries on his political opponents, is this worse than Watergate? The man who would know, John Dean, joins me next.


LEMON: So President Trump says he thinks he would take dirt from Russia on political rivals that as his son Don Jr. testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier today, and his former adviser Hope Hicks is set to testify to the House Judiciary Committee next week.

Let's discuss now, all this new developments with John Dean. John, thank you so much for joining us. I've got to get your -- first of all, what you make of President Trump's comments that he might not alert the FBI if a foreign adversary were to offer information about a 2020 opponent.

[22:50:08] JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's a stunning remark. It is -- it's just pure evidence the man is not following his code to enforce the law of the United States or even be aware of them fully. I mean, it's disgusting, really.

LEMON: Yes. If a sitting president John, asks for or accepts help from a foreign nation in an election, is that against the law or could it be an impeachable offence?

DEAN: It could be both of those. The law most likely violates would be the foreign contribution prohibition in the law. This could be considered something of value to a campaign, which is a prohibition against foreign governments or foreigners doing that. And therefore a potential high crime or misdemeanor.

LEMON: John, countless Democrats, including the 2020 candidate have all come out to say that this is wrong. Where are the Republicans?

DEAN: You know, I just don't understand what's happened to the Republican Party. They're spineless. They know this man is an incredible embarrassment. I obviously saw some of them up close and personal this week earlier and I realize there are many Trumps that are kind of imitating the guy. They think this is the new mold. It's really kind of sad.

LEMON: You know, it's funny you should say that, because we had Frank Bruni on last night and he said, as he watched the hearings -- particularly the hearing that you took part in, that they were all imitating Trump. That they had become basically become Trump and it's an interesting assessment that you would point that out as well. I've got to ask you more about --

DEAN: I didn't know he would frankly reach that.

LEMON: Yes, he did. He did. Listen. I got to ask you about this -- more about this ABC interview and about Donald Trump Jr. testifying to Congress today. OK, watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your son, Don Jr., is up before the Senate Intelligence Committee today and again he is not charged with anything -- in retrospect though.

TRUMP: By the way, not only he wasn't charged if you read it, with all the horrible fake news, I was reading them, my son is going to go to jail. He is a good young man that he was going to go to jail. And then the report comes out and they dint even say they (inaudible).


LEMON: Donald Trump Jr. was mentioned upwards of 150 time in the Mueller report. I mean, he was involved with some pretty sketchy behavior.

DEAN: And he obviously -- there were inconsistencies and problems with his testimony. Whether he was able to straighten them out today with his testimony is not been reported. We don't know yet. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been tight lipped and very professional in the way they've been looking at things. But since it was bipartisan that they've called him back, he better got correct today.

LEMON: Yes. And you know, (inaudible) didn't say he would it from Russia, but from whoever sent him the email, right?

But what's interesting is, obviously they had some questions about it because they call him back today. Donald Trump Jr. testified today behind closed doors to the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was there to answer questions about discrepancy between his previous testimonies, what Mueller found in his report. Jr. says he had nothing to change in his testimony. So now what, John?

DEAN: We'll I don't know, you know, we'll find out. They don't put out press releases when they make mistakes. They don't even confess when they've made mistakes. They claim when they have made mistakes, they are not mistakes. So we'll see how a bipartisan panel looks at that testimony.

LEMON: Let's talk about Hope Hicks now who was his former adviser, really his right-hand person for quite some time before when he was just in businesses, a real estate person, also during the campaign and while he is in the White House. She's going to testify next week, behind closed doors in the House Judiciary Committee. They plan to ask questions about her time at White House during the campaign, how do you see all of this evolving?

DEAN: Well, I think she is a pretty important witness for a number of reasons. First of all, she broke down the immunity claim that nobody should appear in front of any congressional committee, based on a memo put out by the Office of Legal Counsel on May 20th, and that is gone. The other thing is she is important, because of her participation with Mueller in developing the report that he issued. She is mentioned 10 times in volume one, 174 times in volume two. She runs throughout it, Don.

She is a very good witness and key witness and so the other thing is, they are not turning the television cameras on, but they're going to release a statement very quickly. So I think you'll not see the same kind of showmanship that goes on with the cameras are on. It comes down many notches when they don't have an audience to perform for. So I think it will be a more serious hearing.

[22:55:08] LEMON: Yes. She was also the person that said that Donald Trump told white lies. So we'll see what transpires. Thank you, John. Appreciate it.

DEAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Is the president normalizing behavior that will damage this country permanently and put the 2020 election at risk? That question next.


LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.