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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Plays Old Campaign Tricks; Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA) Is Interviewed About Committee's Questions To Hope Hicks; Orlando Sentinel Excludes Trump; Wrong Speculations On Race Resurface; Hope Hicks To Testify Behind Closed Doors About Her Time Working For Trump Campaign; Business Leaders Warn Of Economic Disaster If Trump Increases Tariffs. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired June 18, 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: President Trump kicking off his 2020 campaign at a rally tonight in Orlando. Trump's campaign branded the event as a blockbuster reelection launch, but as soon as the president took the stage, his message sounded very, very familiar.

The president talked to immigration is the same for the media and even took potshots at Hillary Clinton. So, with 2020 on the horizon, can the president keep the spotlight on himself, and can he win the presidency for a second time?

There are lots to discuss here. And I want to bring in Maeve Reston, Douglas Brinkley and Amanda Carpenter to do it. Amanda is the author of "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies To Us."

Good evening, everyone.

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Good evening.

LEMON: Why don't we start with Amanda Carpenter. Amanda, President Trump was back -- I sound like a game show host, Amanda, President Trump was back with his us versus them rhetoric at his campaign kickoff tonight. Here's what he said about Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost every one that I have ever known or worked with, but they are really going after you. That's what it's all about. Not about us, it's about you.

They tried to erase your vote. Erase your legacy of the greatest campaign and the greatest election probably in the history of our country.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, the president is very good at keeping his supporters invested in him personally, and you really see it there, don't you?

CARPENTER: Yes. I mean, Trump is an expert at creating a bond with his base. It is unbreakable. But there's something useful that Democrats can learn here. People want to be involved in this process. Donald Trump did not win by a huge margin, he won by 80,000 votes in three states.

And so, I just don't think that this is that complicated. Democrats need to create a bond with their voters. Teach them that they matter. The biggest demographic in America, the most coveted one are the people that don't vote. Animate those voters and let them know that they matter.

One of the biggest reasons that Trump won in 2016 is because people thought it couldn't happen. They thought that someone else would take care of it, this couldn't happen here. Well, it did. And so, how is the Democratic candidate going to create that kind of bond with their base? We'll see, but I do know they have to do that if they are going to win in 2020.

LEMON: You -- I know that you are a conservative, but you sound like a Democratic strategist right there that was great at --

CARPENTER: It's just good advice in politics.

LEMON: Doug, I want to bring you in now -- bring you in now and talk about Peter Baker as a new piece in "The New York Times" and it's titled "Four years ago, Trump was seen as a side show, now he is the show."

And here's what he writes, in part he said, "The coming election is shaping up as a test not just of the man but of his country. Was Mr. Trump's victory the last time around a historical fluke or a genuine reflection of America in the modern age? Will the populist surge that lifted him to the White House -- to the White House run its course or will it further transform a nation and its capital in ways that we -- that we'll outlast his presidency." Sorry, I can't see that. Do you see that playing out?

BRINKLEY: I love the Peter Baker article because it sets up 2020 perfectly. Donald Trump is either going to be seen as an asterisk president, this weird fluke who just barely won, and you know, Hillary Clinton beat him by three million votes, he won a few thousands in Michigan and Pennsylvania or he wouldn't have been president. And people did a reset. They realized that having a businessperson with no experience in

politics isn't worth it, and they are rejecting him or if he wins, conversely, it's a revolution. Trump is a revolutionist, and a redefinition of the -- what is the Republican Party.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, Maeve, a lot of people have been saying, I've watch, I shouldn't say a lot of people have been saying, I've heard people say that it was sort of an electoral fluke last time, right, that Donald Trump won. But Baker asks a really good I think, is Trump the cause of America's polarization or is he the result of it? As someone who has been out there on the trail, what do you think?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean, I think he is the result of it. We saw this every presidential campaign that I've covered, you sort of saw it come in inches with Obama, the way that they talked about President Obama's race, people were using coded language back then to talk about their grievances, you know, about immigration.

[23:05:05] And what's different now is just that Trump has made it, made people feel comfortable saying whatever they want no matter how politically incorrect it is, you know, in other people's minds.

And I think what you see out there, what was so interesting about the rally tonight to Amanda's point, is that you did really see the way in which he connects with his audience, how he does it, and how he stokes that fire.

That's really there, and I have been out with, you know, all of the Democratic candidates over the last four or five months, and nobody has that kind of rock star quality that you see with Donald Trump tonight. Nobody has been camping out before the rallies.

And right now, Democrats are really, I think, confused about who they want the nominee to be, because they have so many choices. And so, it's fascinating to see him sort of step back into this spotlight and reset the race once again.

LEMON: You know, Amanda, he has a rock star status with his base, but he has never expanded that group, he's never had a majority of support. How big of a problem will that be for 2020, if do you think it will be a problem at all?

CARPENTER: I mean it's just, it really coming down to that, I mean, I hate this phrase binary choice, but who he has matched up against. And here's where I think would Democrats could be wrong to play it safe.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You go with great advice. I know where you're going with this. I know where I you're going with this, but go on.

CARPENTER: You know where I'm going to go. OK. This is where I get on where I don't think Joe Biden is going to be the best matchup with Trump. Right? People are playing it safe. Safe choices do not win usually. Ask Mitt Romney, ask Hillary Clinton. People want to have a clear

contrast, a choice. This is where I think Democrats are wrong to shy away from impeachment. You really have to draw a difference between right and wrong, happy and angry, racist and not racist, right?

And so, when people say, well, I think Joe Biden is the best because they appeal to the same voter as Donald Trump. OK. But what's the tradeoff there? What voters are you possibly leaving on the table?

Because if Donald Trump and Joe Biden matchup, there is going to be angry election tailor-made to older white male voters, I think that depresses female and minority turnout leaves them on the table.

And so, I just -- people don't play it safe. You have to take big risks. And I'll tell you, the only person I see playing big ball right now is Elizabeth Warren and drawing the contrasts with her fellow candidates.

LEMON: Wow.

(CROSSTALK)

RESTON: And Don, can I just say one thing about --

LEMON: And good night, everybody. I'm going to go home.

RESTON: Can I just say one point about that?

LEMON: Yes, go ahead, Maeve.

RESTON: Which is that so many of the voters that you talked to out there also, I mean, literally parking lot voters, not the people that are showing up at the rallies. So many voters have just completely tuned out this election. They're not listening to every little thing that Trump says.

And you know, to that point, who can really excite and motivate the middle, right where Donald Trump was in Orlando tonight so many independent voters down there, you -- to your point, you heard nothing from him that really speaks to those voters, and so who is going to be able to reactivate the people in the middle that just say this is too polarized. I don't believe in socialism, I don't believe in Trump, and I'm out.

LEMON: Yes. Douglas, I want to get your response. But let me bring this question in and then you -- I'll give you all the time you need to respond.

Because hours before his reelection kickoff in Orlando, as we know, the Orlando Sentinel put out a 2020 endorsement for any presidential candidate other than Trump.

And in part here's what it says. "Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election and before knowing the identity of his opponent because there is no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump." An endorsement without an opponent, I mean, this is coming from, you

know, a paper known to endorse Republicans. What does say to you about the anger in this country over Donald Trump?

BRINKLEY: And we're going to stay Orlando papers is just the beginning. I mean, it's stunning that a newspaper would get out in front this early and denounce Trump in such a vigorous fashion when he is coming to their hometown to kick off his 2020 campaign.

But you know, I think the real problem as I'm looking at this is Donald Trump ran as an outsider before and now, he is the inside. He ran about draining the swamp, he is the swamp.

The last outsider that was president was Jimmy Carter and he was a one-termer because he can't run as the outsider in the second time, and you know, the problem if the Democrats go too left, it's what George McGovern said of 1972. If you go with Elizabeth Warren, you have to be careful that Donald Trump doesn't turn it into that the fact that my opponent is a socialist versus me the real American.

[23:09:55] So I don't think, you know, I think Biden has got a pretty good path right now, and the Democrats, you know, why Pelosi is being so cautious about the impeachment is you've got to be careful of how the read the tea leaves of how the beat Trump.

The one uniting factor is to get rid of Trump, because he got two Supreme Court justices that are conservatives and if you re-elect him, you could very easily have a third and it will be a Trump court for generations to come.

I think this a fight for the soul of the nation right now going on between Donald Trump and whoever his opponent is, and whatever the Democrat is, they will fill stadiums, you know, come next spring.

LEMON: Amanda, listen, I want to give you the final thought here, but I mean, it is interesting. The Democrats have one heck of a -- not one heck of a choice, they have a lot of tough choices to make.

CARPENTER: Yes, they do. But playing it safe is just a bad strategy. Do what's right. Look at the editorial in the Orlando Sentinel. It's essentially a never Trump editorial. Because there is the uniting factor that something has gone wrong here.

And so, if Democrats can make an argument that we will somehow correct the course while still maybe paying attention, yes, to the issues that the Trump voter cares about. I don't think that the Democrats can continue to, you know, cover their ears and put their heads in the sand over the immigration crisis that it continues to unfold at the border.

But what they can say is that we are not a country that puts kids in cages, we are not going to leave people to suffer and sleep under bridge. Yes, Donald Trump identified the problem but he doesn't have a plan to fix it, we can do better than this.

Let's listen to the problems, listen to the concerns, don't demonize those Republican voters and just invite them to the party. Look at those Trump voters, they are having fun. You may not like them, you might not like what they stand for in that arena, but they are having fun, and people who have fun win.

LEMON: Yes. Maeve, if one of the candidates calls you, you need to answer the phone, I think they'd pay you a lot of money after that.

RESTON: I like money, but you know, I do like to help, too.

LEMON: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. See you next time.

BRINKLEY: But you know what?

LEMON: I got to go. I'm sorry. I'll see you next time. Thank you, Douglas.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell taking a major position tonight on the question of paying reparations for slavery. We're going to talk about it next.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: On the eve of the House judiciary hearing on legislation related to paying reparations for slavery the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell voicing his opposition to the concept, and one of the strongest statements to date, and the man who urged his fellow Republicans to make Barack Obama a one-term president among other things saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Yes, I don't think that reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea.

We've, you know, tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a Civil War, by passing landmark Civil Rights legislation, we have elected an African-American president, and I think that we are always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Let's bring in Vann Newkirk, a staff writer at the Atlantic, and Reverend Robert E. Lee, a descendent of General Robert E. Lee. Also, the author of "A Sin by Any Other Name - Reckoning with Racism and the Heritage of the South."

Gentlemen, good evening. I appreciate you coming on. Vann, I'm going to start with you. What strikes you the most of those remarks by Mitch McConnell?

VANN NEWKIRK, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: The thig that really gets me is the comment about President Obama, the fact that Senate Majority Leader McConnell seems to believe that Obama, himself, was reparations. That's a tough one to me. I think it was a big thing for African-Americans, but, you know, 40 acres under Barack Obama, I am not sure how that works. Yes.

But, you know, the whole thing, it was so long ago, that's not what reparations has ever been about. It's not about who or what person necessarily is responsible. It's the fact that the United States government built a government and an economy that sustained itself off of the back of slavery and then Jim Crow.

And Jim Crow, my grandmother was a grown woman with kids when she could vote legally for the first time. So, you know, that's what we're talking about here, not just something so long ago and we got Obama because of it.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, you say, it's hard, Robert, for people to have this conversation, but it's important not just for people of color but for white people as well. Explain that.

ROBERT E. LEE, AUTHOR: Well, I mean, it's going to take both people of color and white people to fix the mess that white people have made.

Look, I look at this way, I'm a white man, I've a lot of privilege in the room for some people, especially down here in the south, and we have to think about it in terms of how can we use that privilege to show and to literally put our money where our mouth is.

If people are saying that they want to fix racism or if they are wanting to fix this issue in our country, then they need to put their money where their mouth is, and that comes in the form of reparations.

LEMON: Interesting. Well, how do you do that, because when you say the term privileged, there are a lot of people who take offense to that and say, there is no privilege, what are you talking about, that does not exist.

LEE: Well, just because you say something doesn't exist, doesn't mean that it does not exist. That is part of, you know, a lot of people do that.

I think that I look at this from a religious standpoint as well. We can ask forgiveness all we want, and in fact, the United States government has asked for forgiveness or at least apologized time and time again. But we have to also be a willing to seek atonement and sometimes seeking atonement, meaning separating for the sins of the past.

LEMON: Yes.

LEE: Look, I know it's hard to take responsibility, but it's necessary.

[23:19:57] LEMON: Yes. There have been politicians who have apologized, but I don't believe an official apology from the U.S. government has happened.

But, Vann, listen, does McConnell's answer show a misunderstanding of what it means to have white privilege as Robert says? NEWKIRK: I think so. I would look at white privilege institution, how

it's affected this government, and how the inverse of not having privilege not being a target of the government has affected black people.

We actually have material documented estimates of exactly how much was stolen from black people by slavery and by Jim Crow. We know that when black folks moved to Chicago, they lost between $2 to $3 billion just from contract buying in discriminatory housing.

We know that something in the order of 12 million acres of farmland were stolen from black farmers. These are the things that we can put on the ledger, and we can say that the United States government was actually part of the party that was responsible for doing this.

I don't think it's about individual privilege per se, it's about how that gets rolled up into a government that treats some citizens as clients and other people as targets.

LEMON: So, Robert, you have had to contend with your family's history going back generations, your ancestor General Robert E. Lee fought for the continuing of enslavement of black people. What don't many people get about the reparations and white privilege, do you think?

LEE: Well, I think one of the things that I don't think people get is that it is a lot like climate change. There are individual things that we can do to reparate for the past and to seek atonement, and then there is collective things that need to be done by the United States' government. And if we don't do both in conjunction with one another, we're doomed for failure.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, the House of Representatives did apologize but like an official U.S. apology from, you know, with government letterhead, I don't know -- I don't know if that doesn't exist. I've never heard of it. Vann, maybe you can correct me, Robert, maybe you can as well.

But listen, Vann, listen, let's talk about the racial wealth gap from slavery. It has impacted the well-being of black Americans today. You mentioned some of it. But if you look at Fortune 500 companies which many people built their wealth on and on and on and what has happened in Americans today. Explain how the impact of slavery is generational and it continues even now.

LEE: Yes. Like I said, there are people living today who knew people, knew people who were enslaved, there are some older folks who I believe actually knew enslaved folks, you know. That's a -- it wasn't all that long ago. It created the failure of reconstruction, it created Jim crow.

And so, you can see, you can trace the distance between the average the median black family and the white family from then on, and the gap between them has widened every single year, every single decade.

We have seen black families have less and less compared to white families, and that's because as we have all of these segregated policies we've had on the other hand, white families have been given lots of money. You know, we had the G.I. bill, we had the new deal gave them lots of money. We had lots of housing programs for the standard middle-class white families that black families were not allowed to be a part of.

If you just take what we've already given white Americans, and just give that to black folks, I don't know if that constitutes the whole of reparations, but it would be quite a bit of money, and I think that actually a good place to start the conversation.

LEMON: Vann and Robert, thank you. Robert, I agree with you. It's -- everyone needs to have this conversation. I thank you both, gentlemen, for coming on. I appreciate it.

Hope Hicks is getting ready to testify on Capitol Hill tomorrow, but the White House is telling her not to answer any questions about her time working there. Is that obstruction?

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Former White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks is set to testify tomorrow in front of the House Judiciary Committee where she is expected to take questions about President Trump's conduct related to Michael Flynn, demands to ask former A.G. Sessions to unrecuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, actions around the firing of then director James Comey, efforts to dismiss Robert Mueller from overseeing the Russia investigation, and potential efforts to curtail the Mueller probe.

That's a lot. Pennsylvania Congresswoman Madeleine Dean is a member of the judiciary committee, and she joins me now. Congresswoman, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: In addition to that graphic that we just showed you, that list there, your colleagues also plan to ask about alleged hush money payment to Paul Manafort and the Trump tower meeting. What are your outstanding questions?

DEAN: Well, if you think about Hope Hicks had a front row seat to an awful lot of what is the subject of the Mueller report and the subject of our oversight. She worked not only on the campaign, she was part of the transition and then came inside through the White House.

In a front row seat and a front desk frankly, so she would have seen the interaction with the campaign and Russia. The volume one of the volume two of the report, as you know special counsel Mueller says there was sweeping and systemic interference with our elections. And what the American people need to know is that's something that continues today and will continue into the future. She was a part of that campaign.

Puzzlingly, as you read the Mueller report, you might remember the section where shortly after the election when asked about Russia's connections to the campaign, Hope Hicks says there were no connections to Russia during the campaign. Well, that contradicts completely what the Mueller report says.

[23:29:55] So we're going to be asking her about what she saw and what she knows and what she knew about the request by the president, whether it was through Lewandowski to communicate to Sessions to unrecuse or communications with McGahn and others.

I think there is an awful lot that she observed and was witnessed to, took notes upon that we will be able to benefit from.

LEMON: You know, earlier today, congresswoman, your committee received a letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, according to Hope Hicks is absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as a senior adviser to the president. OK, what do you understand that to mean?

DEAN: Actually, you are reporting that to me, so I am not aware of that letter. I am not surprised by it. You've seen that we get letters on the eve of any communication with this White House. I am sure that, you know, that tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. when we have Hope Hick, it is behind closed doors. That was part of the accommodation that was made. And of course, we will provide a public transcript.

So we have prepared that there will be arguments about what she can and cannot testify to, but I will interested to see what she will actually speak about. Remember why we want her there. The American people deserve the truth. They deserve the truth about a campaign that wallowed in and welcomed the interference in this election for the benefit of the Trump campaign by a foreign foe.

We have a president that just within the last week said he would welcome more information from foreign countries and more help, illegal help on his next campaign. So, it is really going to be important that the American people see this picture for what it is, a picture of corruption, a picture of really not standing up for democracy and the American values.

The other thing that I thought you should I know, I hope you are aware, tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., we will be talking with Hope Hicks. At 10:00 a.m., this committee is committed in having an important open hearing on African-American reparations. I am very pleased that our committee is doing this.

This is a conversation that is extraordinarily long overdue, hundreds of years in the making, when you consider that this year marks 400 years since the first slave ship crossed the Atlantic to our shores.

LEMON: And you are right, long overdue conversation, and to try to figure out exactly how to rectify many of those wrongs that took place because of that.

DEAN: What kind of healing can this country do?

LEMON: I got to talk to you about Hope Hicks because it is on the agenda as well. You know, Hope Hicks has already turned over some documents to the committee. Can you give us sense of what those documents are and if they are helpful to you?

DEAN: I can't at this point. I absolutely just can't.

LEMON: OK, all right, fair enough. So you serve on the House Committee which would oversee an impeachment investigation, something that you have publicly spoken in favor of. Are Democrats moving any closer to begin those investigations?

DEAN: I think you will see accumulation of the members who are also calling for an impeachment inquiry. I came to that conclusion after Don McGahn failed to report for our legally issued subpoena and failed to come up with the documents. We could see that coming after the non- cooperation with Attorney General Barr and the constant obstruction by this administration.

So, you know, I am pretty confident that more and more people will call for the impeachment inquiry. I hope we will get there soon because I also think that will be much more direct for the American people. It will put a more robust name to the important oversight that we are charged with doing in the Article I of the constitution powers. We need to call it what it is, an impeachment inquiry.

I heard an expression reminded me this week of sometimes people get frustrated that things seem to be moving so slowly, and some wise people in the past have said in order to move fast, you must move slowly. So I believe and I trust in the process. We are moving methodically and slowly toward resolution and the truth before the American people.

LEMON: Yeah. Congresswoman Dean, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

DEAN: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Will the Judiciary Committee get their questions answered or does the White House have a case here? We'll dig into it next.

[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The House Judiciary Committee now just hours away from questioning former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks behind closed doors.

I want to discuss now. Jennifer Rodgers is here, Elie Honig as well. Good evening to both you. So Jennifer, you argue that the most important thing that Hicks could shed light on is when she worked, actually worked in the White House. What do you make of the White House counsel -- the attempt there to limit her testimony because, you know, she was here (ph) during the campaign and even before?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Yeah, and she -- I mean, the most important thing she probably did was take part in that false statement right about the Trump Tower meeting that they drafted on Air Force One. But, you know, they make two arguments, one of which is absolutely ridiculous and the other which is slightly less ridiculous. The absolutely ridiculous argument is this absolute immunity that somehow she gets this absolute barrier that she can't be questioned at all about anything because she worked in the White House. That is silly. That is not grounded in law. We have never even heard of that before. The executive privilege or committee (ph), yes, executive privilege exists.

If they go to court, I think it will not shield her from all testimony about that, but that at least is something that they haven't completely made up out of whole cloth.

LEMON: Sources are -- it is interesting though when you say you never even heard of that before, but yet they are getting away with it. Is that a for now or --

RODGERS: For now, until they go to court.

LEMON: Until --

RODGERS: I mean they are sending letters saying that they are asserting this.

[23:40:01] There is nothing to assert but until the Dems do something in response, you're right they are getting away with it.

LEMON: Sources tell CNN a White House official -- this is for you, Elie, will be in the room during her testimony. What is that person's role?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: To be a stonewall, right? To tell her, I think, don't answer that. That is executive privilege.

LEMON: You think that person will be able to talk to her and not just sit there and make like --

HONIG: No, yeah. I think the -- we were talking before. I think it's going to be like in a legal proceeding where a lawyer basically says, I object. The difference is that there is no judge there. And so we could end up with a really sort of frustrating proceeding tomorrow. It is not going to be in the public eye. It is going to be behind closed doors.

There will be a White House attorney present who is representing not Hope Hicks' interests, certainly not the House's interest, but the White House's interests. And they have taken this very broad view of these laws. They essentially made up this absolute immunity point.

If I'm in that chair as White House counsel and these are my marching orders, I am essentially objecting to every question and telling Hicks, don't answer that, don't answer that.

LEMON: So -- and then what do you do? Like you said, there is no judge there to say, go on.

HONIG: Well, this gets in the whole point. I think now there is getting played here. I think he's gotten played over and over again because he's ultimately going to get nothing until he goes to court. I don't know how many times he has to try to kick the football, have Lucy (ph) pull it away and he whiffs until he is going to get the point.

There is no negotiating here. It is stonewall all the way. He's got to go into court and enforces subpoenas, force people to testify. Don't let him hide behind closed doors. Do it publicly.

LEMON: Do you agree with that?

RODGERS: I do. I mean, they had success in court when they've been in court and that is the only place they've had any success.

LEMON: So, Hope Hicks can't -- number one, Jennifer, can she plead the fifth? And number two, can she be prosecuted for anything if she perjures herself or gets something wrong?

RODGERS: Yes and yes. I mean, if she has any criminal exposure, she can plead the fifth as any citizen could. Likely she would have gone ahead and told people she was going to do that in advance, so I don't expect that. But sure, she is in front of Congress, she will be testifying under oath, so perjury would apply.

LEMON: She has mentioned the Mueller report like almost 200 times. How important will her testimony be if, let's assume you say it is not frustrating that she gets to answer some questions?

HONIG: If she testifies, it could be hugely important. I said it in an article today for CNN. She is like the "Forrest Gump" of the obstruction investigation. The same way "Forrest Gump" happens to sort of be there in every major historical event, she is there for every major obstruction event.

She is there either as an observer or as a partial participant in the aftermath of the Trump Tower meeting like Jennifer mentioned, in the efforts to get Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself, in the firing of Comey. You name it and she is sort of there in the background or maybe not so much. So, she is going to a key person. I think other than Don McGahn, she is possibly -- she is the person who can do the most damage on obstruction to Donald Trump.

LEMON: Jennifer, as we talk here, both of you seem pretty confident that they are going to get what they want, the House will get what they want, you believe that the House will eventually get what it wants from Hope Hicks, but that is probably going to have to be what? Going to court as both of you have said?

RODGERS: Yeah. I mean, if they go to court, they will get it. The question is: Will they push it that far? You know, you have Pelosi not really willing to do that. We are heading into election season. The question is: Do they push it? If they push it, I think they will get. But, you know, at some point, they are going to have to calculate whether it is that important to them.

LEMON: In your piece, you have a piece on CNN.com, Elie, and you say that the House Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Nadler, made a mistake in letting Hope Hicks testify behind closed doors even though the committee plans to release the transcript and the testimony. Explain that. Why?

HONIG: Because transcripts are dry. They are too dimensional. It is just a reporter will be sitting there, taking sort of rote recording (ph). People don't respond to that. We both tried cases and report only goes so far. People are -- human beings are visceral. We react to what we see and what we hear.

And the difference between a sort of dry transcript coming out maybe Thursday or Friday of Hope Hick's testimony, it will be substantively important, but the difference between that and seeing Hope Hicks, a human being, behind a microphone speaking in her own voice, there is no comparison.

LEMON: So these are the questions, the topics. That's related, right, that she is going to face. They are going to ask her about Trump's conducts surrounding his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, Trump's demand to ask the then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to unrecuse himself from overseeing the Mueller probe, the president's actions surrounding the firing of then FBI Director James Comey, Trump's efforts to dismiss Mueller from overseeing the probe, allegations the president sought to curtail the Mueller probe.

OK. That's a lot, right, and probably more. Will you tell me how that makes a difference?

RODGERS: Well, those all sound very familiar and it is because they are the points of obstruction that Mueller consider then, told us about in the Mueller report. So they are really trying to get to the heart of what she knows, what additional evidence she can provide on those topics. And there is another thing, too, which is the campaign finance violation, the hush money payments from --

LEMON: Stormy Daniels.

RODGERS: -- before the election and that is something that no one should be able to tell her she can't testify about. There is no privilege. There is no immunity.

[23:45:00] And so maybe we will see her shed a little bit of light on that incident as well.

LEMON: So the Stormy Daniels and the McDougal payments, both of those payments?

RODGERS: Right. I mean, if she was around. She was an integral part of the campaign. She probably would have been involved in discussions about that, how to spin that, so I am looking forward to hearing about that.

LEMON: All right, and a lot of things are coming across the desk. She is there. She may have seen something there. Thank you. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

HONIG: Thanks, Don. LEMON: U.S. business leaders are fighting back against the president's tariffs, descending on Washington to try to stop the escalating trade war. We will talk about that next.

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LEMON: Hundreds of business leaders in Washington this week in an effort to stop the Trump administration from following through on placing tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods.

[23:50:01] Meanwhile, President Trump announcing today that U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators will be back at the bargaining table before he meets with Chinese President Xi at the G20 in Japan next week.

Joining me now is Mark Cohen. Mark Cohen is a former Sears executive who is now director of retail studies at Columbia University Business School. Mr. Cohen, it is so good to have you on. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Walk us through what happens if the administration follows through on this threat of tariffs?

MARK COHEN, DIRECTOR OF RETAIL STUDIES AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL, FORMER SEARS EXECUTIVE: Well, let's consider something as simple as a sweater, a men's, women's or kids' sweater that is made out of cotton that is manufactured in China. The sweater starts out life as a cotton fiber that's grown somewhere in the world, often in the United States. The fiber is manufactured into a yarn, the yarn is then knitted into a fabric, and the fabric of course is manufactured into a sweater.

The piece goods cost and the cost of manufacture, which is referred to as cut, make and trim, make up the first cost value of that sweater. And that's the value that becomes taxed or that becomes tariffed. The goods then have to be transported to the United States and they go from a first cost at the point of manufacture to a landed cost, Los Angeles, Long Beach, wherever.

LEMON: Another tariff?

COHEN: No, at which point the tariff is imposed and paid or the goods don't come through customs.

LEMON: Right.

COHEN: The importer pays the freight. The importer pays the tariff. The tariff is paid to the U.S. Treasury. And now the importer, a retailer or a brand, is faced with the conundrum of a substantial step up in the landed cost of that sweater. It's now 25 percent more expensive than it would otherwise have been.

So they have two choices here essentially. One is to swallow the step up in price. That puts essentially a tax on their shareholder because it's coming out of the profitability, or most likely, they simply mark the tariff value up into the retail price of the goods, and that puts the burden of the tariff on the American consumer.

It essentially creates consumption tax. So, tariffs are paid by the consumer. They are never paid by the country in which the tariff is imposed. It's a foolish view.

LEMON: OK. Let's talk more about that, but I want to play what the president said about tariffs just tonight. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are taking in billions and billions of dollars into our treasury and companies are leaving China because they want to avoid paying these large tariffs. And by the way, when the fake news tells you that you are paying, you are not paying very much if you are paying anything at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Does he understand how tariffs work?

COHEN: I actually think that for most of his life, he thought he may still think that tariffs are paid by the countries in which tariffs are imposed. This might have been the basis of Mexico paying for the wall. In fact, the consumer bears the direct outcome of the imposition of tariffs.

LEMON: So then why would he say that and why would the people around him who should know these things, why would they defend him and agree with what he is saying?

COHEN: Well, you're getting at the root cause of the circumstances we find ourselves in in this country and in the world. "The Washington Post" keeps a tally of things that our president said that are not true. I think they're well over 10,000 at this point. So why does he say these things? It is because it seems to incite his "base." It makes them feel good. Point of fact, it's just incorrect. No other way to describe it.

LEMON: Over 600 companies including retail giants like Costco, Target, Walmart, sent a letter to the president warning tariffs could cost over two million U.S. jobs, longer term. How devastating could that impacts our economy?

COHEN: Well, the law of demand or the laws of demand are almost as immutable (ph) as the laws of gravity. So as prices inflate, consumption declines. People buy fewer things when things become more expensive. When retailers are faced with demand that flags, they invest less in inventory, they hire fewer employees.

Retailers that are struggling with the shift over the internet in the first place close more stores, lay off more employees. This is a vicious cycle which basically could take us into early and deeper recession.

LEMON: Are these tariffs helping anyone?

COHEN: These tariffs are completely disruptive and only seem to pander to Trump's hard core base that seemed to think that what he says is true, which is not the case.

[23:54:59] LEMON: Mark Cohen, I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

COHEN: You bet.

LEMON: And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.

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