Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

No Sign From President Trump Of Slowing Down Attacks On Four Congresswomen Of Color; Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) Is Interviewed About The Upcoming Testimony Of Robert Mueller On Capitol Hill; Robert Mueller's Upcoming Appearance Before Congress; Puerto Rico's Island- Wide Strike; Trump Says A Lot Of Progress Has Been Made In Afghanistan. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 22, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: As you see, that did not stop tonight's protest which continue.

The news continues as well. I want to turn things to Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT."

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

The president was really on a tear today. Doubling, tripling, quadrupling down on his attacks on those four congresswomen of color.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, I think they're very bad for the country. I really think they must hate our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, he claims those congresswomen, American citizens, dually elected to serve their constituents. He claims they hate America. And he goes on to play politics. And try to smear Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think they're bad for our country. I think they are bad for the Democrat Party. You see that. And they're pulling the Democrats way left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This would be almost, it would almost funny if it weren't so outrageous. We're going to tell you why all of this so outrageous. So, stick with us here. The president unbelievably claiming there is no racial tension in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No, I don't think. No, no. No racial tension. No, no, there's no racial tension.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. He made that utterly outrageous claim right after tweeting an attack calling "The Squad" a racist group of troublemakers and not very smart. By the way he tweeted that on the way to pay his respects to the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

But that insult about not being very smart, that's classic Trump. Let's not forget the president's long history of calling people of color stupid. Not smart. And worse. Remember the former Trump fixer Michael Cohen? Remember what he told Vanity Fair at Trump. Once he said, quote, "black people are too stupid to vote for me." And there's more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I believe that Hillary Clinton is going to be worse than Obama because nobody can be so stupid. And nobody can make deals like this guy is making.

Maxine Waters a very low I.Q. individual. She's a low I.Q. individual. You can't help it. She really is. Good old Maxine. Low I.Q. individual. Low I.Q.

The same thing with April Ryan. I watch her get up. I mean, you talk about somebody that's a loser. She doesn't know what the hell she's doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The president also tweeted that his former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman was, these are his words, "vicious but not smart."

Let's not forget the time the president annoyed LeBron James told me that he would never sit across from him. Insulted LeBron's intelligence and mine all in one tweet. Here it is. Quote, "LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart which isn't easy to do."

The president has a whole lot to say about people of color, especially about those four congresswomen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They can't call our country and our people garbage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, let's do some fact checking, OK? Because the president repeatedly and falsely accuses Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of calling our country and our people garbage. That is a flat out lie. And it's false.

By the way all of his people are saying the same thing. They obviously had a phone call or meeting or something where they did the talking points and all saying the same thing. But it's absolutely false. OK? Here's the truth. She did not call any person garbage, much less Americans as a group. And the south by -- at the southwest festival the congresswoman expressed her opinion that our country has gone so far in the wrong direction that people shouldn't be satisfied with moderate policies that she called, quote, 10 percent better from garbage.

So, she was talking about policy. Not people. By the way, she was also criticizing Democrats as well, Democratic policies.

And it's not just the president. Team Trump has been out there pushing the same line talking points. I want you to listen, this is an exchange, listen very closely, OK? This is Stephen Miller and it's also Chris Wallace of Fox News this weekend. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: He did not say the country was garbage. She said some of the policies she opposes are garbage.

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's impossible to read the quote that way. The quote what she's trying to say is there's a --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: She said this idea of 10 percent better from garbage. Shouldn't be what we settle about. She's talking about her proposal.

MILLER: You know, it's literally impossible to read the quote that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:05:04] LEMON: No, no, he's wrong. It's literally the only way to read it. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez was talking about policies. Not people, Stephen Miller. But Stephen Miller just can't let go of the word garbage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: Which her point is we're starting at garbage. Someone goes, a little bit of the garbage --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: I understand that. I understand that. But she's talking about -- she's talking about policy.

MILLER: No, no, she's saying her starting point.

WALLACE: Is garbage a horrible word?

MILLER: She's saying that America in her view right now is garbage. But the more --

(CROSSTALK)

WALLACE: No, no, then I want to put something up on that regard because I want to put up a tweet from Donald Trump from 2014. He wrote, "The United States under President Obama has truly become the gang that couldn't shoot straight. Everything he touches turns to garbage." And Stephen, that is not AOC. That's Donald J. Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: Throughout this --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You heard that. Right there. It was Donald Trump who tweeted that the United States had turned to garbage under President Obama. But there's more from the president today. And this can't come as a surprise when you consider how much the president admires strong men from Kim Jong-un to Vladimir Putin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If we want to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it. I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you? I don't want to kill 10 million people. I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth. It would be gone. It would be over in literally in 10 days. And I don't want to do that. I don't want to go that route.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Wow. Just wow, casually mentioning that you don't want to kill 10 million people. I guess we should be grateful the president doesn't want to kill 10 million people with a plan he's that would wipe an entire country off the face of the earth.

What is pretty easy to see what this president is really, really worried about. If you just open your eyes and your mind a little bit it's pretty easy to see it. It's easy to see why he's distracting you with a attacks on those congresswomen of color. It's all -- it's -- this is purposeful. Why he's doing everything that he can to keep the news of "The Squad", right? To keep on that news. To keep it in the headlines, keep them in the headlines.

What he's really worried about is Robert Mueller's testimony on Wednesday. You can tell from what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No, I'm not going to be watching. Probably. Maybe I'll see a bit of it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: No, I'm not going to watch Mueller, well, maybe a little bit. Just a little bit. Let's face it. This president watches TV for hours every single day. We know that because he tweets constantly about what he watches.

So, if you think he's not going to watch Mueller, I have a bridge that you might want to purchase. And for someone who claims to have no interest in watching Mueller the president truly has a lot to say about his testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We had no collusion. No obstruction. No nothing. We had a total no collusion finding. He still ruled no collusion, no obstruction, and this thing should have ended a long time ago. This has been going on for two and a half years. And we'll never going to allow this to happen to another president again because most of them wouldn't be able to take it. No collusion. No obstruction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK, fact check. All right? So, let's be very, very clear. Robert Mueller did not say there was no collusion. He said there wasn't enough evidence -- there wasn't enough. There was no evidence. There wasn't evidence to try to charge anybody with conspiracy.

He also never said there was no obstruction. Mueller was absolutely clear that the reason he could not charge the president with obstruction, he couldn't consider charging him was because of the DOJ guidelines they tied his hands. The guidelines that state a sitting president cannot be charged with a federal crime while in office. But Mueller did say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And Robert Mueller I know he's conflicted. He had there's a lot of conflict that he's got, including the fact that his best friend is Comey.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, the president's constant refrain of no collusion, no obstruction is 100 percent false. But the president had more to say about Mueller today, more absolutely false claims.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As you know, he wanted the job of the FBI director. He didn't get it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. So, let's stop that right there. I's glad we cut that short. The fact is, remember facts first.

[22:10:01] Comey told Congress that he admires Mueller as a colleague - colleague but they're not friends. Quoting from the transcript of Comey's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee. Here's a quote. "I admire the heck out of the man. But I don't know his phone number. I have never been to his house. I don't know his children's names." So, the president's repeated claims that Mueller and Comey are

friends, that's false.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And we had a business relationship where I said no. And I would say that he wasn't happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: False. None other than Steve Bannon told prosecutors, told prosecutors, right, that Mueller who did meet with the president, was not looking for the job of FBI director.

And another false claim the president made. Well, a lot of it's false. The fact is that so-called business relationship amounted to nothing more than Mueller quitting his membership at Trump's Virginia golf club and requesting a refund. That's it. Doesn't sound like something Mueller would be so unhappy about. Does it?

All these excuses and false claims are just that. False. And that's not the only thing the president lied about today. He tweeted that the Washington Post story about his feud with those four congresswomen and talking points written for him by his advisers, he tweeted there were no talking points. No reams of paper. Full of opposition research on them. No reams of paper? How about this from his rally last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have to look at some of the recent comments which are never talked about. When you see the four congresswomen, isn't that lovely.

(CROWD BOOING)

TRUMP: I'll give you just a couple. I have had pages and pages, but we don't want to bore you, we don't want to go too long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, he said nothing but now he said there were pages and pages. You heard him, right? Pages and pages on those congresswomen. I don't want to bore you. There's pages and pages.

And there's more. Proof positive that despite his claims to the contrary the president had talking points about "The Squad", all right? Right? He had them right in his hands. There it is. While he talked to reporters last week. There's the evidence right there. A "Washington Post" photographer caught the whole thing. And just a few days later he stood by while that chant rang out at his rally.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious, anti-Semitic screeds.

(CROWD BOOING) (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, don't get it twisted. The president has made it very clear he loved that chant. That's why he stood by and let it go on. That's why he retweeted the suggestion "send her back" is the new "lock her up." See it there.

So, if you believe the president for even one second when he said last week that he didn't like that chant. Now you know. By the way, that was a retweet of a far-right British columnist who has in the past compared migrants to cockroaches and frail humans. The president thinks chanting "send her back" is the sign of a true patriot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your message to supporters who are making that chant --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: Well, these are people that love our country. I want them to keep loving our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But let's not forget. There was a time when a true patriot, a member of the president's own party didn't hesitate to shut down that kind of thing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): We want to fight and I will fight. But we will be respectful. I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments. I will respect him and I want -- no, no. I want everyone to be respectful. And let's make sure we are. Because that's the way politics should be conducted in America.

(APPLAUSE)

MCCAIN: So, let's make sure that we're all respectful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And speaking of respect, let's not forget this is from the 2016 campaign when President Obama demanded the crowd show respect to a Trump supporter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Hold up. Hold up.

(CROWD BOOING)

OBAMA: Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. You got an older gentleman supporting his candidate. He is not doing nothing. You don't have to worry about him.

First of all, we live in a country that respects free speech.

(APPLAUSE)

[22:15:01] OBAMA: So, second of all, it looks like maybe he might have served in our military and we got to respect that.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Third of all, he was elderly and we got to respect our elders. And fourth of all, don't boo. Vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Do you think this president would ever do something like that? Now that was respect. The former president telling Democrats in a crowd of supporters to respect the Trump supporter who was protesting in the crowd. That's respect. Seems like that happened a long time ago, doesn't it? A whole lifetime ago.

You heard President Trump say there's no racial tension in the country, right? Well, I'm going to ask the former Governor John Kasich what he thinks about that. He's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump doubling down -- excuse me -- on his attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color. Today branding them as racist and not very smart.

Let's talk about this now. John Kasich is here. He's a former Republican governor of Ohio. I hope I can get my mouth to work in the conversation. Hi, Governor. How are you?

[22:20:04] FMR. GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH): Good. I was in your studio on Saturday. I went in as like a tourist and guy, you got a palace there. This is unbelievable. How nice it is.

LEMON: Well, only the best for --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: You deserve it.

LEMON: So, thank you.

KASICH: You deserve it. I sat in your chair. I sat in your chair, though.

LEMON: Is that what happened?

KASICH: I felt really good.

LEMON: That's why it's broken.

So, listen, Governor. Let's get to some serious business here.

KASICH: Yes.

LEMON: You heard in the open.

KASICH: Yes.

LEMON: And I'm sure you heard this weekend the president -- or heard earlier -- the president is now saying that there's no racial tension only hours after he tweeted that the four congresswomen of color are a, quote, "racist group of troublemakers." Does that make any sense to you?

KASICH: Well, maybe they ought to ask, he should ask Mayor Pete about what experienced in his hometown. I mean, all over the country there is a problem with racial tension. We had it in Ohio but we dealt with it quickly, Don, so that we felt that in terms of community and police, it was necessary for community to understand that the real challenges that police have. And that police want to go home at night.

And it was important for police to understand when they're in the community sometimes they feel as though they will not be treated justly or fairly. And so, we brought people together. To try to sit down and get them to understand each other.

But all across the country, there is tension. I believe that the ability to get people to talk to together is good. But when you have somebody that's name calling, it doesn't work. You have to have people who are mature and they are committed to one thing. And that is to love their brothers and sisters. That's how you get through this. But there's lot of challenges in our country.

LEMON: You said mature and committed to one thing. Do you think this president is mature and committed to one thing or he is just trying to maybe divide --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Well, you know, every day -- well, it's another -- well, he's what I think he's trying to do. He believes that if he can fire up his base and cause these divisions, somehow, he'll squeak through with the Electoral College. I don't think he's even thinking about a popular vote. He has no chance of winning the popular vote.

LEMON: OK. Well, hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: What he's trying to do is to figure out the strategy.

LEMON: Hold on right there. Let me jump in. Let me jump in. Let me jump in. You said he thinks he can fire up his base.

KASICH: Yes.

LEMON: What does that say about his base that the way to fire them up is through racist rhetoric? Because that's what you're saying, he thinks he can fire his base through this.

KASICH: No. I mean, no. Terrible. Terrible. But you know, it's 30 percent of, I've talked to a pollster just the other day. Thirty percent of people that think these tactics are fine. But 70 percent do not.

And Don, I want to suggest to you that this is not just -- right now it's confined. It's really, really strong because of Donald Trump and his rhetoric which is beyond the appalling. Beyond appalling. I'm outraged. And I wonder if we have a culture of silence among Republicans. Governors and senators, congressmen. A culture of silence. Not acceptable. OK?

Some are now speaking out, and God bless them. But Don, I've seen Democrats do the same kind of thing. The kind of stuff they said about George Q. Bush. Viciousness. OK? This has got to stop because it takes us -- takes us down.

So, but I'm back to his strategy. I think he wants to motivate his base and he's focused on three states. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. But I got to tell you, doing this might mean that that tactic won't work. And it won't work because it's going to turn off suburban women. It's going to turn off college educated.

When you think about the Republican Party, who's their -- where's their customer? The young people are not for him. Minorities aren't for them. College educated people are not for him. Suburban women aren't for him. I mean, come on.

LEMON: Who do you going to have.

KASICH: So, the part -- and by the way, and look. Look at the Democrats now. I've said this to you and I've talked about it. Medicare for All, losing private insurance. Free this, free that. More debt. More regulations.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Listen, that's fine. That's fine on the policies, Governor. But that's not -- listen, that's not, you know, that's not racism. That's not being racist. That's a whole different thing.

KASICH: No.

LEMON: You can disagree with -- you can disagree with people on their policies.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: No, I'm not -- I just don't --

LEMON: And that's what politics are about. You should be able to --

KASICH: Don? Don?

LEMON: People should have different policies. KASICH: Are you trying to tell me --

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: Are you trying to tell me that he was not attacked personally? I criticize Trump more than anybody who is a Republican. But I don't go personally after him. His language is racist in my opinion.

But let me ask you, do you think people are not using this harsh rhetoric in regard to Republicans, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump? I mean, there's no excuse for the viciousness of the attack. But when you're the president of the United States, there's not a moral equivalent. You're the president. It's like you're being the leader of your family.

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: OK?

LEMON: I got to ask you real quick, because we're almost out of time.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: You have to act bigger and better than that.

LEMON: We're almost out of time. I got to ask you.

KASICH: OK.

LEMON: The -- real quick, the CEO of German industrial giant Siemens is calling out Trump's racism.

[22:24:59] And here's my question. As a governor, if you're trying to attract business to your state, as a congressman you sit on the foreign -- you sat on the foreign affairs committee, what's the impact of this racist rhetoric on the reputation abroad and could that ultimately hurt business here in the U.S.?

KASICH: Well, I mean, if you take Merkel, Theresa may, Trudeau, the leader of Scotland and New Zealand, they're like, what has happened to America. I hope this is an aberration.

LEMON: Yes.

KASICH: And I know a lot of ambassadors. I knew the ambassador from the U.K. to the United States. I knew him fairly well. They think they hope that this is an operation (Ph). This is not the America they've understood.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I've got to go, Governor.

KASICH: The America they knew created the Marshall plan and brought people together. Don, let's have more time the next time. You want to talk about your studio.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, John Kasich. I appreciate it.

KASICH: I'll see you soon. Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

KASICH: Bye.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The Justice Department sent a letter to Mueller ahead of his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee and intel committees. The DOJ is warning Mueller that his testimony, and this is a quote, "must remain within the boundaries of your public report because matters within the scope of your investigation were covered by executive privilege."

Well, let's talk about that now. Congresswoman Karen Bass is here who serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

Congresswomen, thank you. I appreciate you joining us. You're going to be questioning Robert Mueller on Wednesday.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Yes.

LEMON: What's your reaction to this letter from the DOJ?

BASS: Well, I think it has been consistent. I think it's just a method of intimidating Mueller. But you know that the A.G. did that from the very beginning. As soon as the report came out remember how he completely misrepresented it. He had his press conference. He said six times it exonerated the president. There was no collusion when the first page of the report says they weren't even looking at collusion.

[22:30:07] So I just see it as an intimidation tactic.

LEMON: OK. All right, so then -- you know, I'm concerned that he won't be able to tell you things that he should be able to tell you because of this letter. You don't think this letter is intimidating the witness in any way.

BASS: I do think -- I think it's meant to intimidate Mueller. But I hope that Mueller will do the right thing. I mean he said that he wasn't going go outside of the bounds of his report. And frankly, his report is a devastating report. So even if he just helps to provide context to the report, I think that's going to be very valuable to the American people.

LEMON: OK. Can you give us a general sense of the questions you want to ask or you're going to ask?

BASS: Sure. Well, you know, in my committee, we're looking at obstruction of justice. There's probably -- first of all, the report gives you 10 explicit examples of obstruction of justice. We probably won't get to all 10. We will be looking at some of them. I am particularly interested in what went on with McGahn, the White House Counsel, where, you know, he was essentially asked to lie to cover up.

I mean the president, just person after person. I think the only thing that saved him is the fact that the people that he tried to get to commit crimes refused to do so. But one of the things that's pointed out, you can still obstruct justice if you don't -- if it doesn't -- if you not follow through with it. You can still commit a crime. And I believe that we will show that the president did that.

LEMON: The Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Nadler, spoke to Fox News yesterday. Watch this, Congresswoman.

BASS: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think there was very substantial -- the report presents very substantial evidence that the president is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. And we have to present or let Mueller present those facts to the American people and then see where we go from there, because the administration must be held accountable, and no president can be above the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Nadler has openly advocated impeachment inquiry for the president for some time. Do you think Mueller's testimony can move the needle on impeachment?

BASS: Well, I think it will move the needle in terms of educating the American public. And that might change polling a little bit. I don't know that it moves the needle on our process here in the House. We have several committees that are all involved in different aspects of the oversight and investigation. And I think if and when we move towards impeachment, everybody needs to be on the same page. That is not the case currently.

LEMON: I also want to ask your thoughts on the president's comments on race today. Watch this, Congresswoman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, there's no racial tension. Look, I had my best numbers recently. And it's because of the economy and what I've done for the African-American. When you look at the African-Americans are doing better than they have ever done in our country, that we're creating numbers. Look at the poverty numbers.

Look at so many different -- look at the unemployment numbers. The best they have ever had. Now, we have fantastic relationships with the African-American community. I think you'll see that -- certainly, you're going to see that in 2020.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASS: Who is he talking about? And why won't he just leave us alone? Maybe two African-Americans that he talked to complimented him today. But, you know, I mean it's just absolutely ridiculous. I don't know what relationship he has with the black community. But one thing we know because we witnessed it for over 900 days now, he lies pathologically.

And I say pathologically because there's no sense in him. I don't know if he just doesn't care. He forgets his lies. But it's ridiculous to say that there's no racial tension when he is the chief proponent of the racial tension.

LEMON: Let's talk about "The Squad", OK? He continues to attack "The Squad". He calls them racist, calling them young, inexperienced, not very smart. Does this seem like he's making it clear that this is a battle that he wants to keep fighting?

BASS: Oh, absolutely. I think that they have given up on trying to demonize Pelosi. She has shown that he is smarter than him, can deal with him. So now, he's targeting these four women, you know, two of the women are members of the Congressional Black Caucus. And I am concerned, absolutely, for all four of them. Because when he attacks them, he puts their lives in danger. And we have already had violence committed toward members of the Congress.

He puts them at risk for their very lives. I do think, though, he does it for two reasons. I think the four women, frankly, intimidate him. I think also that whenever he needs to change the subject, he throws a racial bomb. And, you know, we saw him do that during the campaign. But that was when it was just rhetoric.

This man has power now. So his racial bombs are backed up with horrific policies that negatively impact communities of color.

[22:34:59] LEMON: Congresswoman Bass, thank you so much. We'll be watching on Wednesday during the testimony. Thank you so much.

BASS: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The release of a letter from the DOJ to Robert Mueller warning him about his testimony. Comes as Mueller spokesperson, or a spokesman I should say, says the former Special Counsel's opening statement has not been reviewed by the DOJ. So let's discuss now. Shimon Prokupecz is here, also Josh Campbell. Josh is the author of the upcoming book, "Crossfire Hurricane: Inside Donald Trump's War on the FBI." It's out on September 17. And today, you can preorder.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Thank you both for joining us. Good to see you. Shimon, I'm going to start with you. I want to read -- this is a key part from the DOJ's letter to Mueller again, OK. It says any testimony must remain within the boundaries of your public report, because matters within the scope of your investigation were covered by executive privilege. What have you learned about any of this? And why was this letter sent out?

[22:40:05] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: And that's really a great question. And we'll get to that in a second, Don. So here's what happened. According to the Department of Justice about 10 days ago, Mueller wrote a letter to them asking, seeking guidance about his upcoming testimony about what he could testify about, what he can't testify about.

And so today, they write this letter -- the Department of Justice writes this letter and they essentially are giving him his guidance as to what he can and can't go into. And there really isn't much that he can go into that isn't already public. But what's really interesting is why would someone like Robert Mueller, who has been around for all these years, really need guidance on what he can and can't testify.

And the only logical thing that you kind of can come up with is that they want this out there. They wanted to set expectations for his testimony, the Department of Justice. And I also think Mueller, on his part, wanted something in writing and something out there publicly that he can refer to, and also to set these expectations on Wednesday as to how much he can testify to.

Because, of course, there's that one question that everyone wants to know, is would you have indicted the President, Donald Trump, if he wasn't the president. And this letter specifically says you cannot go into deliberative process, the thinking of why you chose to do certain things in this investigation. And so quite frankly, I think Mueller has a lot of outs now and where he can refer to DOJ guidelines, which are saying hey, you know what, I can't testify to certain things.

LEMON: Well, Josh, I want you to weigh in because you worked with Mueller. And you know he's been prepping for this testimony. Does asking for a letter indicate he's reluctant about testifying?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I don't think there are a lot people inside the executive branch that are necessarily thrilled with him testifying, and that includes Mueller. That includes Barr. That includes the people inside the White House. And so this is just another layer here on top of his potential testimony, you know, somewhat hemming him in.

I think it's important to realize that Robert Mueller does not want to be there. And that's -- you know, folks have to set -- manage their expectations when it comes to that hearing, and especially House Democrats. Because in any investigation, whether you are a member of Congress, whether you're in law enforcement, when you are sitting across from someone that you want to gather information from, the first thing you have to ask yourself is this person trying to hinder the investigation or they're trying to help the investigation.

I wouldn't necessarily call Robert Mueller a hostile witness. But he doesn't want to be there. And so he's not kind of going out of his way to offer up information. They're going to have to dig it out of him. I think, you know, again he's going to stick within the four corners of the document and this letter from the DOJ, gives him that direction.

As Shimon mentioned too, that he can point to and say, look, I can't go further. My boss is saying this is what I can do.

LEMON: What witness wants to be there? Usually, witnesses don't want to be there.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL: They usually don't.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: How is that different than any other?

CAMPBELL: Yeah. I mean it's -- usually, on not a celebrated occasion when one goes before Congress.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But you have to answer the questions whether you're a reluctant witness.

(CROSSTALK)

CAMPBELL: You have to answer the questions. The thing with Robert Mueller, though, you know, what I've been saying is as far as strategy, if you're a House Democrat right now, whether you're in media, whether you're in Congress, a lot of times folks will ask open- ended questions to try to get a witness to open up and tell, you know, what they know.

I know having worked for Robert Mueller that his style is more geared towards the yes, no's, that -- the clipped answers, the (Inaudible) answers. And that's what House Democrats need to do if they're to get anything out of him, because if they start asking single-open questions, he's going to pivot right back to his report.

LEMON: Shimon, how important is it that Democrats get an answer on whether Mueller would recommend charges against the president if he were not the president -- if it weren't for those guidelines.

PROKUPECZ: It's the burning question. It's what everyone wants answered. And we'll see how Mueller handles that question. But that is really what's on everyone's mind, because he wasn't exactly clear in the report about whether or not they would have charged the president. There are different lines there. We're not exonerating the president. But we're also not really implicating him in any crimes.

So it goes all over the place. And I do think there needs to be some clarity here. But it's very clear that Mueller -- they're going to -- it's going to have to be crafty if somehow it gets out there. But Mueller is probably very much prepared. We know that he's been preparing for this. And we'll see how he answers that question. But that is probably the number one question, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you all, I appreciate it. The protests are heating up in Puerto Rico. We're live outside of the Governor's Mansion.

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I want to get to our breaking news now. You're looking at live pictures of Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's launched an island-wide strike today to demand mayor -- governor's resignation. Again, live pictures of protesters in Old San Juan. The protest sparked by leaked chat messages between Ricardo Rossello and members of his inner circle.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is live just outside the Governor's Mansion. Nick, what can you tell us? What's going on?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the enormous size protest we had earlier on today blocking down the main expressway into San Juan kind of have been replaced as the night gone by this significantly rowdier. And I have to say a straw poll count about third wearing masks because of the gas masks that were worn beforehand, crowds here that are pushing quite clearly on the barricades near the Governor's Mansion here, I'd say.

And things have been thrown again towards the police. As we have just been on air here. That's happened three or four times. Causing the police to use their siren you're hearing now. As they provide a warning to protestors to move back. Now, they put on their gas masks, the police. On Wednesday, they used tear gas. And that sparked kind of confrontations in the street.

[22:50:08] But here -- there we go, more things being thrown at police. And I have to tell you that we have seen a more serious element. You joined me actually as it begins to melt down entirely. We are seeing now more that I have been seeing thrown at the police since we have got here. They're beginning to pull back towards the kind of confines where they can't be attacked. And I am now -- we're now seeing...

LEMON: Nick, are you there? Apparently, we have lost our connection, our communication with Nick Paton Walsh. But if you look at these pictures, what Nick is saying, the protesters there have been on the streets for quite sometime. He's seeing more activity than he has seen in awhile. Nick, can you hear me? It's Don Lemon.

And so you can see the number of police officers there in tactical gear standing in front of the protesters there. Again, this is Old San Juan. And we have been watching these protests take place all across Puerto Rico, especially in Old San Juan and in squares there. But again, this massive strike was spurred in part by leaked chat messages between the governor and members of his inner circle.

And Puerto Ricans have seen they're angry about the corruption of the government, how the governor handled the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. As you seen, the governor has been doing interviews. He did one today that was very controversial. He, you know, talked in those leaked those messages about Puerto Rican singer, Ricky Martin, as you know, one of the people targeted (Inaudible) messages.

He joined protesters, urged officials to start the process of impeachment. So again, we're going to check back in with CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in just a little bit. We'll keep an eye on these pictures for you -- on these protests happening, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. We'll get back to it as is warranted. In the meantime, President Trump saying today that the U.S. has made a lot of progress in trying to end the war in Afghanistan, and making clear that he wants to end America's long military presence there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're like policemen. We're not fighting the war. If we wanted to fight a war in Afghanistan and win it, I could win that war in a week. I just don't want to kill 10 million people. Does that make sense to you? I don't want to kill 10 million people. I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the Earth.

It would be gone. It would be over in literally 10 days. And I don't want to do that. I don't want to go that route. So we're working with Pakistan and others to extricate ourselves, nor do we want to be policemen, because basically we're policemen right now. And we're not supposed to be policeman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So I want to discuss this with Max Boot. Max is the author of "Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

Max, what is he talking about there? Is he suggesting that nuking Afghanistan is a possibility? What is he saying?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: That's a good question, Don. It reminds me a little bit of what a U.S. officer supposedly said during the Vietnam War. We had to destroy the village in order to save it. And what Donald Trump is saying basically is that we might have to destroy the entire country in order to save it. I mean he's talking about killing 10 million people in Afghanistan.

Let's remember. The Taliban, their estimates are there are only about 20,000 to 30,000. There is not that many Taliban. So if you're killing 10 million people, you're killing almost entirely civilians. That would be a war crime. But, of course, nobody really thinks that Trump is going to do that or the U.S. military would actually do that even if he ordered it. He's basically just talking tough.

He's bluffing us. He always does, because he doesn't want to bomb Afghanistan into the Stone Age. He actually wants to retreat from Afghanistan. He wants to pull our troops out. And he doesn't really care what happens next. And so this tough talk is basically just a cover for him to scuttle out of Afghanistan, I think.

LEMON: I thought it was interesting because he also was offering today to mediate a 70-year-old conflict between India, Pakistan, over Kashmir. I mean what makes a president think that he can do that if he hasn't been able to solve this other intractable, you know, conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

BOOT: Right. He's already achieved the deal of the century in the Middle East, right? Look, (Inaudible) he actually has not done that. So now, he wants to achieve the deal of the century with Kashmir. But this goes beyond just hubris and ignorance, Don.

This is actually diplomatic malpractice, because this is something -- this is the last thing that our punitive ally in India wants, because Trump is claiming that the Indian Prime Minister Modi asked him to mediate.

(CROSSTALK)

BOOT: Because they've never asked for third party mediation. This is a demand of Pakistan, because today Trump was meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan. And we know the pattern with Trump. He basically tells whoever he's meeting with, whatever they want to hear. And so this is what the Pakistani prime minister wants to hear.

[22:55:07] But the damage -- this is not just another one of Trump's BS statements. This has real damage, because this is going to damage this relationship with India. And we need India to counter China. We need India to counter radical Islam. And Trump is doing serious diplomatic damage to a potentially incredibly important U.S. alliance in the 21st century.

LEMON: Max Boot, a pleasure as always. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)