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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Is Interviewed About Her Take On President Trump's Shocking Opposition Research Comments; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Gets Under The President's Skin; Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) Surging In The Polls; President Trump Doubling Down On Comments He Would Be Open To Dirt Dug Up On His 2020 Opponents By A Foreign Power; President Trump Slams Kamala Harris; Trump And The I-Word; Kim Kardashian West At White House On Hiring Ex-Prisoners. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired June 13, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sure knows how to get under the president's skin and she's doing it again tonight. If Trump thought calling Pelosi a nasty, vindictive, horrible person during an interview in France last week would scare her, well, he's wrong. She says she feels sorry for him.
The speaker telling our own Fareed Zakaria tonight that she is holding firm in her decision not to open an impeachment inquiry.
Fareed Zakaria joins me now.
Fareed, good evening to you. Thank you so much. You sat down with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker. Let's get into what she said about impeachment and then we'll talk.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don't think there's anything more divisive we can do than to impeach a President of the United States. And so, you have to handle it with great care. It has to be about the truth and the facts to take you to whatever decision has to be there.
It should by no means be done politically. You shouldn't impeach politically. You shouldn't not impeach politically, but we must always remember we have a responsibility for oneness because that is the strength -- that is the strength of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Despite the pressure coming from within her caucus, she's not budging on this impeachment issue.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Look, I think one of Nancy Pelosi's great strengths is that she thinks two or three steps in advance, you know. It's easy to get fought up in the fervor. I think what she's thinking through is look, the impeachment hearings unlike Watergate will not reveal new things.
Robert Mueller spent 18 months carefully looking through the data. We have the data. It's not going to have a big reveal.
Remember, what turned the Watergate hearings until this point even a Democratic House of Congress was not in favor of impeachment. What turned it was the tapes. When Alexander Butterfield testified that there were tapes of Richard Nixon essentially ordering criminal cover- ups and conspiracies.
So, she knows that she doesn't have a smoking gun like that. She knows that the Senate is in lockstep with the president and is going to vote to acquit no matter what. So, she thinks it through and says you know, this is not going to go to a good place for the Democrats.
The president is going to claim vindication. He's going to say this was a witch hunt and I won.
Instead, what she says is focus on investigation. Reveal stuff but get stuff done for the American people.
I think she's very disciplined. She's really the opposite of Donald Trump. She's very disciplined. She thinks the stuff two or three steps in advance. Which is why she's the only one who's been able to outwit him at times.
LEMON: OK. So, but I hope you understand this question. She's saying impeachment, an impeachment decision shouldn't be political. But isn't she making a calculated political decision to not impeach?
ZAKARIA: So that is, look, and in a way that's what the founders wanted. Impeachment does not rest with the Supreme Court. It rests with Congress which is a highly political body. Because there is no clear-cut legal definition of what impeachment is.
Impeachment is whatever the House of Representatives at any given moment thinks it is.
LEMON: Got it.
ZAKARIA: And let's remember the House has impeached three times. Twice I think history says it was a mistake, Andrew Johnson's impeachment he essentially fired his secretary of defense which he had the right to do, was wrong and Clinton's impeachment was wrong. It's only Nixon's impeachment where we got it right.
LEMON: Yes. Articles of impeachment were drawn up and then he --
ZAKARIA: Yes. And the he resigned.
LEMON: He resigned. So, let's play more now. This is from your interview with the speaker. She talked about the incident overseas in D-Day where the president lashed out at her. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[23:05:00] PELOSI: In the morning, I was on Andrea Mitchell. And she asked me something about the president. I said it is my practice, our custom. Everybody respects it that when we're overseas we never criticize the president of the United States.
And we were right there in Normandy with the tombstones behind us in the rest. So, I just wasn't going to engage in it. But I never do anyway. It's our practice. When he then came onto TV later in front of the same tombstones and started saying all this stuff, it was so beyond inappropriate. I felt really sorry for him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: She felt sorry for him. What do you think of that?
ZAKARIA: Well, look, I think we all have the feeling at times that the president doesn't seem to understand the kind of majesty and dignity of his office. And it is sad. I mean, it's sad for the country. It's sad for him.
I think it would serve him better to behave in a way that was more in keeping with the dignity of the country. I mean, the president of the United States is unusual. He is both the head of government, but he's also the head of state. He's our prime minister and queen put together.
LEMON: Or king.
ZAKARIA: OK. Exactly. And I think that he never seems to understand that. He never behaves in a way that feels like he's trying to represent the country, the entire country, the symbolism of the country.
He's always Donald Trump. Attacking the mayor of London. Making a snarky comment at somebody else. And it is undignified and it is I think that's a good word. It's sad. It's sad for him.
LEMON: Listen, I want to play another exchange, OK. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think there's something about you being a strong woman who has bested him in the shutdown, do you think that has something to do with it?
PELOSI: Well, there's some New Yorkers in the crowd, right? What the New Yorkers told me, women in New York told me when he became president, they said here's what he will do. It's what he always does. First, he will flatter. Then he will bully. And then he will sue. That's just how he is. That's what he does. And he's true to form.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Flatter, bully, sue. Spot on assessment? What do you think?
ZAKARIA: I think it's a spot-on assessment. I also think there's something about powerful women that unnerves Trump. If you think about Donald Trump and his relationships whether it's Angela Merkel, whether it's Theresa May, he's really never been able to make a very strong relationship with a strong woman as an equal.
And that is partly what makes Nancy Pelosi so difficult for him to handle, I think. She -- I think he seems to think of women in a different way. And she is very tough.
LEMON: yes. You now have the president saying he'd accept dirt on a political rival from a foreign power. The Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell reacting tonight on Fox News. Here it is, Fareed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you think the president made a mistake in the way he answered that question when he said maybe I would, maybe I wouldn't? I'd hear them out. Would you answer that question that way?
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, he gets picked at every day over every different aspect of it. But the fundamental point is they're trying to keep the 2016 election alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think?
ZAKARIA: I think that was the wrong answer. I think Lindsey Graham had the right answer which was it's simple. If a foreign power offered you dirt on your opponent, you say no and go to the FBI.
What's so complicated about this? I'm not sure. It gets to the fundamental issue, do you understand the importance of free and fair election that is untainted, that is both not one that foreign interfere with but is also perceived as free, fair, and legitimate.
I mean, so much of what I think is going on here is, I mean, he seems to be treating the election as a free for all, you know. Anything to win. Any circumstance, but that isn't how we do it.
I mean, elections are part of the rule of law, part of a liberal democratic system in which you have rules, you have ethics, you have norms. You don't just win any way you can. And I think that I can't tell whether Donald Trump was being calculating about this or thoughtful about it.
Because was he trying to minimize the fact that the Russians had tried to help him and that part is clear in the Mueller report. You know, there should be no doubt about it. Russia did try to help Donald Trump. Was he trying to minimize that? What was the point of his comment?
LEMON: Yes, and listen, this president always read, sort of relitigates the 2016 election.
Listen, I want to, before we ran out of time, I want to ask you because you asked the house speaker about this attack on two oil tankers in the Middle East.
[23:09:56] U.S. officials have released video they claim shows an Iranian navy boat removing an unexploded mine from the hall of a Japanese-owned tanker. Break down what's happening over there for us, Fareed.
ZAKARIA: Look, it is quite possible the Iranians are behind these explosions. Here's what is happening. We have squeezed Iran enormously by unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran deal. By putting economic sanctions on them and essentially making it impossible for anyone else to trade with them. We've backed them into a corner.
When that happens, and by the way we backed them into a corner. It's not clear what our objective is. Are we trying to change the regime? Are we trying to have a revolution there? Are we trying to get a new better Iran deal which is not going to happen?
They made it absolutely clear the best deal they were willing to give was the one they gave Obama.
But when you push them that hard, look, Iran is a major player in the region. It has leverage. It has equities in all -- in Lebanon, in the Persian Gulf, you know, in Syria, in Iraq. It often shows you that you know what? We have ways of raising the temperature too.
We can raise the price of oil. We can make things difficult for your allies. The U.S. has troops in Iraq. The U.S. has interests all over the Middle East.
Again, I worry that this administration has not played this out. It does not have a clear strategy, it does not have a clear end point with Iran. And so, it's raising the temperature in a very volatile part of the world where accidents and miscalculation can happen.
I don't think Donald Trump wants war with Iran, but I don't think he is thinking this through carefully enough and thinking about the unintended and accidental consequences of just needlessly raising the temperature.
LEMON: Fareed Zakaria, thank you. I appreciate your time.
LEMON: So, you know, there's been a lot of talk about Joe Biden but it's Elizabeth Warren who is actually showing a lot of momentum in the race. We're going to talk about what's behind her rise in the polls, next.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Senator Elizabeth Warren rising in poll after poll. In Nevada she is now leading Bernie Sanders by six points. Look at that. Is she leading by six? No, no, is that the Nevada poll? Because she is -- he is leading her by six points. Is that correct? OK. We'll figure it out. She's also up in Iowa. There are signs that she could be gaining some momentum in California.
Let's discuss. And we'll get all the polls correct for you during the segment.
Astead Herndon is here and also Laura Barron-Lopez.
Thank you so much for joining us. So, let's talk about this. Regardless, she is rising in the polls in a way that many of the candidates aren't. Gaining in multiple polls across the country. Does she have some -- why does she have so much momentum? What's going on, Astead?
ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we're seeing the saturation from what has been a well-executed strategy from the Warren campaign. Since they announced one of the first to get in the race, they have -- they have made a couple points to try to differentiate themselves from the large field.
One is to put out a slew of policy proposals, to really kind of set them apart as someone who has clearly thought this out on the progressive message.
But the other is to have a real grassroots strategy that has her spreading out across the country, partly because she's not taking those high dollar fundraisers that kind of concentrate candidates on the coast sometimes and they're hoping that it really sticks with voters. That she's running a real national campaign. That it's policy focused.
And we have seen enough evidence over the last month or so to think that it's working. The crowds are more enthusiastic as I go out on the trail. They are connecting with her I have a plan message, and now we're seeing the quantitative data catch up with that and she's rising in polls as you say nationally in Iowa and then we had a new one over in Nevada yesterday.
LEMON: Yes. She is -- you know, she is known as a wonk, Laura. You covered her in depth. How is she differentiating herself?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Right. So similar to what Astead said, early on Warren decided that she was going to place bets on releasing these very detailed policy proposals. And she also has been very open about the fact that she is aggressively courting black voters.
And so, in April I first started to hear from a number of activists and mobilizers that Warren was catching their attention because of the fact that she was telling voters exactly how she would fix the maternal mortality crisis for black women. How she would address student loan debt. How she would close the racial wealth gap. And so, her doing that is what caught their attention, and then we saw
that take off a bit more when she was at the Houston forum. She the people, that's when I think her 'I got a plan' catch phrase started to take off more.
And finally, as you mentioned, Don, she is besting Sanders in the Nevada poll, and she is ahead of him in the California poll that just came out.
LEMON: Yes. We'll fix that poll for you and put it up. Listen, I said Warren also has been teaming up with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They appeared in Twitter videos going after the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and even talking "Game of Thrones." How valuable is this association for Warren? Astead?
HERNDON: It's really valuable. I mean, Representative Ocasio-Cortez has kind of positioned to herself as the biggest endorsement probably of the 2020 race. Her kind of values and ideology most closely aligned with Senator Sanders who is part of her early race and also Senator Warren who she's developed a close relationship with.
And our reporting says that Representative Ocasio-Cortez is likely going to sit out for a while to try to push her issues specifically the Green New Deal. She's praised other candidates like Governor Inslee who is running that climate change focus candidacy. And she wants to make sure she doesn't side with a person a little too early before this gets sorted out.
[23:19:55] But for Senator Warren these things are critical. She wants to position herself like Senator Sanders does as the progressive challenger to Vice President Biden.
And so, to the degree she can get the Ocasio-Cortez', the Ayanna Pressley's, the Rashida Tlaib's, those kind of -- the folks who have made themselves more famous in the House for the new kind of leftist message.
To the extent that they can get behind her candidacy, it only bolsters it further to said that she and not Senator Sanders or someone else is the main progressive challenger to Vice President Biden.
LEMON: You know, Laura, at out CNN town hall back in April Warren was asked how she had overcome the sexism that Clinton faced in 2016. And she talked about her decision to run against Scott Brown in 2012 even though everyone thought that she would lose. Watch this.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, every day when I saw a little girl, I would come up, and I'd usually get down. I'm a teacher. I would say hi. My name is Elizabeth. And I'm running for Senate because that's what girls do.
WARREN: And then we would pinky swear to remember. And so, every night when I went home, no matter what the day had been like, I would count up how many pinkie swears we'd done during the day. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, listen, I remember that moment, and it was everyone was wondering what she was doing. It was very effective. She seems to really engage, you know, a group of voters when she's out there. How important is that for her campaign?
BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, that's key. Any time that a candidate can humanize themselves or connect really well with voters is what helps them perform better. And so, it's also what helps voters -- it humanizes them which I just said, but still, I mean, it's something that I've seen on the stump when she was in South Carolina and I was down there with her, she talks very personally about her mother.
It's a story we've heard often from her and about when they were struggling to make ends meet. And a lot of women afterwards told me that that story really touched them and that they do went through experiences where they had to pinch pennies.
LEMON: Thank you both. I just want to put this up just for the viewers so we get it right. This is the Nevada poll. And make sure -- yes. She is ahead in Nevada of Bernie Sanders. Number two -- second to Joe Biden there. Joe Biden, 36 percent. Elizabeth Warren, 19 percent. Bernie sanders, 13 percent. Buttigieg at seven. Kamala Harris at 6.
Thank you. fascinating conversation. We'll have you back. See you soon.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Thank you.
LEMON: What is Congress going to do about the president's outrageous statement that he would be open to taking dirt on his rivals from foreign powers on rivals? I'm going to ask Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She's next.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The president of the United States doubling down on his outrageous comments that he would be open to dirt dug up on his 2020 opponents by a foreign power. Now the question is what can Congress do about it?
Joining me now is Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. She is a member of the House judiciary and homeland security committees. Congresswoman, we appreciate your time. Let's get right into it.
After the president expressed a willingness to accept foreign election interference, then doubled down on it, you introduced a bill in the House that would make it a duty to refuse and report any such offer. Is it shocking to you that this bill is even necessary, that you'd have to introduce something like this?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: It's disappointing and it is shocking, and it goes against the history of this nation. The founding fathers fled the respective countries because of persecution and a desire to be free from the monarchy of what they were under. And their greatest fear was to have foreign influence on that fledgling 13 colonies.
They were fearful of the British and the French. Because they thought that were vulnerable for those individuals to take over.
Now we've come some hundreds of years later and the president of the United States is going at the very core of our values. That if we can free from any form of foreign influence and ignored the many encounters that the Mueller report reported, it looks like you'd be on your Ps and Qs, but no.
LEMON: I would like to get your thoughts on news involving two White House staffers. First, the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, her resignation and the secondly, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel's recommendation to remove Kellyanne Conway from federal service for multiple violations of the Hatch Act. What do you think of those two staffers?
LEE: I've had the privilege of serving in the United States Congress under a number of presidents. I have never seen or heard of a press office not having press conferences. That's something that I've been used to.
I think the American people even got to know the press directors, communications directors more than some of the other officers, and others in the White House. Cabinet officers because they got to expect that. They got to expect the give and take between the reporters and the person who was the spokesperson for the White House. And they saw in living color the first amendment.
I think what I'm most disappointed in Ms. Sanders is again the calling of the media the enemy of the people. The shutting down of discourse, some of the insults that occurred between the media and the White House. And so, I wish her well.
LEMON: And then Kellyanne Conway accused of violating the Hatch Act.
[23:30:00] LEE: It starts at the top. You set the tone at the top. And so if the leader of the White House, if the leader of the free world, if the commander in chief, president of the us- allows this kind of behavior, then I think it goes to the very top.
And continuing to acknowledge that I'll take information from foreign operatives to continue to set a tone that you don't have to adhere to any rule of law, any special counsel, any ethics, any request by congresspersons, any collegiality between the Article I and Article II, I think it speaks for itself.
LEMON: So here -- this is a president being asked about a letter that was being signed by a thousand former federal prosecutors, including presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris, which stated if Trump weren't president, he would be facing charges of obstruction of justice. Watch this, Congresswoman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC CHIEF ANCHOR AND CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: One of those prosecutors today, Kamala Harris, running for president --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She's running for president. She's doing horribly. She's way down in the polls.
STEPHANOPOULOS: She says --
TRUMP: Pocahontas is really cleaning her clock, and I heard she made that statement. And you know what? Who wouldn't? Probably if I were running in her position, I'd make the same statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So he is attacking Senator Harris, and then he gets in a racial slur into the conversation about Senator Warren. What is your reaction to that?
LEE: Offense, outrage, and he is walking on dangerous ground, because he already has a devastating and sick record as it relates to women in America, both denying us our access to health care, the sexual abuse in terms of his activity and behavior.
And then now he's beginning to get into the territory that we even had discussions today that have generated higher acts of racial incidences in this country, something called domestic terrorism that we really didn't speak about years back, all based a lot on race.
And so he is tampering with a very dangerous third rail, and particularly as he talks about Native American women as it relates to his castigating Senator Warren, who I won't address all those surrounding issues. What I will say is that she's made her statement and all he's doing is speaking about Native Americans in a derogatory manner or at least trying to suggest that.
And then he's getting into talking about African-American women. Senator Harris is a competent, qualified candidate who should be addressed accordingly, not with any suggestion that she's horrible and she's doing poorly, just as he commented on Speaker Pelosi. We won't forget that.
And I tell you women will remember in 2020. They will remember in November. We had that before and we were victorious. Women will remember in November. I would encourage the president to stand within his boundaries and respect the women of America as we are very deserving.
Stop fooling around with racial engagements, racial attacks, and creating a devastating atmosphere for race issues and race incidences in this nation.
LEMON: Congresswoman, thank you for your time.
LEE: Thank you for having me.
LEMON: President Trump calls the I-word a dirty, filthy, disgusting word, but what are the legal issues involved in impeachment? We're going to dig into it with two impeachment experts, next. [23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi holding the line on impeachment and claiming the press is obsessed with it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: I love the press. They're the guardians of our democracy. Freedom of the press is so important. Right, David Brantley? However, they just have an obsession with talking about impeachment. And every time one of my members says they're for impeachment, oh, pressure is on. Pressure is not on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Pelosi continues to urge patience for multiple congressional committees to legislate, investigate, and litigate. Let's discuss now. Guy Smith who served on the Clinton impeachment defense team is here, and also Ross Garber who teaches impeachment law at Tulane Law School. So, it is good to have both of you on. Thank you, Ross. Thank you, Guy.
So Ross, I'm going to go to you first. To say impeachment is a media obsession is not entirely accurate. I mean, Pelosi is facing increasing pressure from a growing number of vocal Democrats. The House Judiciary Committee, Chairman Jerry Nadler, has twice urged Speaker Pelosi to begin impeachment inquiry. You said Pelosi doesn't think impeaching Trump is worth the risk. So, tell me, what are those risks?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, I think that's true. And I'll add to that, Don, that I think volume two of the Mueller report looks a heck of a lot like an impeachment referral to me. You know, the risks are that an impeachment process is hard. It takes up a ton of time. It's also politically perilous, because remember what happened during the Clinton impeachment with Newt Gingrich.
He wound up losing seats in the House. He lost his position as speaker. And the president, President Clinton emerged from the impeachment process more popular than ever. Nancy Pelosi does not want to be the next Newt Gingrich.
LEMON: Yeah. Guy, you say that in spite of Democrat's dilemma on whether to impeach or not to impeach or whatever, you say the process is moving forward. Why do you say that?
GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I think it's moving forward because the Democrats are winning in some of the court cases. They not got Hope Hicks who is going to testify.
[23:40:00] Donald Jr. is going back to testify. But I think the Republicans are playing the Democrats here. I think the Democrats are not playing hardball enough. Frankly, I think that the impeachment process should begin now. It should begin because it strengthens the investigatory ability of the House of Representatives and they need to keep turning over the rocks. They don't have to finish it. They just keep investigating.
Think about Hillary Clinton and Benghazi. The Republicans tortured her with Benghazi for two years and it hurt her. Trump has 25 Benghazis. If you do that all the time every day, and he does nothing to expand his base, his base is contracting.
Representative Lee in the earlier segment was talking about women. Women are abandoning him. Look at the polls. His polls are down, especially in states that he must win. So that's why I think -- and if the Democrats start impeachment, it shuts down all this media -- all the Democrats can't decide what to do.
LEMON: Interesting. That's an interesting take.
LEMON: Go ahead, Ross.
GARBER: Here's the -- here's the problem with that. First, if this is some sort of impeachment effort already or a serious investigation effort, it's a really anemic one. It's not very aggressive. The problem with doing what Guy says which makes logical sense is what if it actually turns up something?
What if the public or more members of Democratic Caucus or more Democratic constituents say hey, yes, this actually is really bad, we do want to start the impeachment process. That winds up cornering the speaker into a position she doesn't want to be in. She does not want an impeachment process. And so what's happening now is sort of a slow play of the process, not very effective or aggressive investigations.
SMITH: I don't agree with that, Ross. Here is what -- if we -- if that rock gets turned over and it's like the Watergate tapes, it further erodes Trump towards 2020. You don't have to impeach him. You just keep chipping away at his base and that's what's been happening, that's what Nadler is doing, that's what Cummings is doing.
Don't forget the Ways and Means Committee with Representative Neal and the tax returns. It's just on and on. And the beginning of the impeachment process strengthens that ability of the House with the courts.
LEMON: So the impeachment process --
GARBER: Yeah --
LEMON: Hold on, hold on. I have to get this in. I just have a few moments left. So Guy, how much political trouble is the president in? And then Ross, how much legal jeopardy is he in?
SMITH: You can't win --
LEMON: Guy first.
SMITH: -- 38 percent. If you look at the polls in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, states he's got to have, he's below all of the major Democratic candidates.
GARBER: Yeah. And on the legal front, he sees the speaker working really, really, really hard to avoid impeachment. So he's not very worried about that. In fact, he's taunting the speaker on that front.
GARBER: I would keep an eye on the criminal investigations in particular the Southern District of New York. All bets are off if the southern district or some other district actually does something with respect to the president's businesses.
LEMON: Guy Smith --
SMITH: Twelve referrals.
LEMON: I've got to run. We are going to have you back. I love this conversation. You guys are great to have. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. We'll see you soon.
SMITH: Thank you for having us.
LEMON: Absolutely. Kim Kardashian was back at the White House today speaking about a cause close to her heart. We're going to tell you about it. That's next.
[23:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Kim Kardashian was back at the White House today. She spoke to an event announcing initiatives to provide former inmates a second chance at success, building off of the criminal justice reform legislation President Trump signed last year.
Let's discuss now with Mr. Van Jones, the host of CNN original series called "The Redemption Project," a fantastic series at that.
VAN JONES, CNN HOST, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you.
LEMON: Good evening, Van. So let's talk about Kim Kardashian back at the White House today. Listen a little bit and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM KARDASHIAN, AMERICAN MEDIA PERSONALITY: The one thing that I just realized that needed so much support that I'm happy to help and be supportive where I can was the re-entry of people coming home and seeing the lack of support that really existed, whether it's housing or the amount of letters that I get with people just needing transportation to job interviews, to jobs.
These people want to work. I just want to thank the president for really standing behind this issue and seeing the compassion that he's had for criminal justice has been really remarkable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Van, break it down for us. What are the elements of this plan and how does it help former inmates?
JONES: Well, Kim is working to get ridesharing companies to help folks get to work. When you come home from prison, you have a lot of problems. Even if you completely turn your life around, one of them is you don't have a driver's license or it's been expired. And so how do you get to work without violating the law?
She's bringing in these ridesharing companies to help deal with that. Other issues you don't think about, you don't have a credit score. So --
LEMON: It's called re-entry. It's starting all over again.
JONES: It's literally starting all over again, Don. You know all about it. And so she has been working with the White House with the cut 50 campaign, Jessica Jackson and others, to get some of these companies that could help to do more.
[23:50:04] And so they went to the White House today. They announced a bunch of good stuff. For me, it's exciting because this is something I worked on for 25 years. I worked on criminal justice reform, juvenile justice for years and years.
And it seems like we are finally at a point now where at least on this issue -- we got to fight on nine other issues -- but at least on this issue, you are seeing the corporate sector step up, celebrities and both political parties, and I'm happy to see that.
LEMON: Yeah. Listen, you've been working for other -- there are a lot of unsung heroes here. Kim Kardashian is doing a great work. There are a lot of people who have been working years and years in the trenches to get this done. It is good that you all are doing that.
Speaking of Kim Kardashian, this is the first time she's gotten involved on these issues. Remember, she previously, as you know, lobbied for Alice Marie Johnson's prison sentence to be commuted by the president, and he did it.
Is it her star power which makes the president take these issues seriously? It's almost -- I don't mean this in a -- to diminish what she's doing. She's the perfect spokesperson for it. Do you understand what I'm saying?
LEMON: The front person, I should say.
JONES: You know, I've been in the Oval Office with her and Jared and Ivanka and the president. I consider myself to be pretty persuasive and very passionate on this stuff. I am not able to hold his attention. I just can't make my points. I try hard but Kim has ability. It is not just because she's beautiful. She is just so smart at being able to be concise and to read him and get him to do stuff.
LEMON: The passion.
JONES: And the passion. And not just in the White House. A lot of grassroots and organizations in the empathy network and others who have been, as you say, working for years and years and years getting no credit, getting no luck, they love Kim Kardashian West because she actually lifts them up, too.
She's giving money to them. She's giving them a platform. She carries their messages into the White House. It's a good model. A lot of times, celebrities will come, they make a good speech, they give an Instagram post, and then they leave.
LEMON: They go away.
JONES: She's stuck around now for a year. So a lot of these grassroots groups have been able to really work with her and get her to do stuff that's so practical that you wouldn't know it unless you really talk to the people in the grassroots level.
LEMON: Listen, whenever she came into the program, however late or early or whatever, she's doing a good thing. Look, people can smell a fake a mile away. I think she is really passionate about this issue.
Let's move on now. When Trump and the White House first announced the push for criminal justice reform, we agreed that the proof would be in the pudding. So, what's it done so far, Van? Where is the proof?
JONES: Listen, I give them mix marks. On the legislation, they've done well. The First Step Act brought Democrats and Republicans together, even, I think, next month 2,000 people are going to come home because of those outdated horrible crack cocaine laws and stuff like that, positive on legislation. But on administration, it is not so good.
You know, the Obama Department of Justice put a lot of safeguards in place and was moving in a positive direction. When Jeff Sessions came in there, he threw that stuff in the garbage can and began moving in a negative direction, trying to put more people in jail.
So right now the Trump administration has gone at odds with itself. You've got Jared Kushner and Ivanka and others who want to push it in a positive direction. But on the administration and Department of Justice every day, they could do a lot more and they're not doing it.
So if Trump wants to run on this, I think he could run on this, he's going to have to get his whole administration behind the effort of doing something positive. You don't have to put this many people in prison. You don't have to keep them in prison this long. You shouldn't have people in prison because there addicted or because they made a mistake 30 years ago, 20 years ago, or bad decision.
I think both political parties now agree with that. Folks in the White House agree. The Department of Justice is not on board yet. He's got to get that Department of Justice -- got to get a memo to the Department of Justice. There's a new day in America.
LEMON: That's what the criminal justice system is supposed to be about, redeeming people, redemption.
LEMON: That's what America is about.
LEMON: Corrections, correct. I don't want to run out of time without talking about your show, "The Redemption Project."
JONES: Oh, thank you.
LEMON: This week, you introduce us to a man whose father was shot and killed 10 years ago while trying to stop a robbery. Here's a sneak peek at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father saved that lady's life. He was a hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My father wasn't killed by the firearm. He was killed by the person behind the gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they see me as a monster. I don't know how they're going to feel when they see me for the first time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has no way of knowing the anguish that I've felt for 10 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say something for a long time and it's something that needs to be done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will know if he's -- if he's really remorseful or not. If he's not, we've got problems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What makes these men want to talk to their father's murderer, Van?
JONES: Well, you know, the thing is that just because you got the verdict that you want doesn't mean you got the healing that you need. And so in a lot of these cases where something bad happened, years later, they have questions. Why did this happen? Does this person even care?
[23:55:00] Do they have any remorse? Were they just forced to make the confession? And so you have these two brothers that have been struggling for 10 years. They want answers. They want to know what happened. And you've seen the series, amazing twists and turns along the way, a very, very powerful close to this whole eight-episode series. This is one you'll want to watch because you're going to -- these two brothers by the way, one is a Trump supporter. It makes it very interesting.
LEMON: Van Jones, thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Make sure you tune in, an all new episode of "The Redemption Project" with Mr. Van Jones. It airs Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. And thank you so much for watching. Our coverage continues.