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Not A Good Idea To Meet With Taliban Leaders; Trump Is Worried North Carolina Would Vote A Democratic Candidate; One-On-One With Charlamagne Tha God; President Trump Says He Knows Nothing About Air Force Crews Staying At His Turnberry Resort; President Trump Vows To Release 'A Financial Report of Me.' Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The president held a political rally tonight in North Carolina on the eve of a special election for a congressional seat. Is he worried the Republican candidate may lose the race?

A new poll is out ahead of this week's Democratic debate. What's the state of the race? I'm going to talk to Charlamagne tha God, the co- host of "The Breakfast Club."

Is the Air Force improperly allowing crews to stay at the president's Turnberry resort in Scotland? An investigation is under way. And the president claims he knows nothing about it. But, is he being up front when he says this?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't need to have somebody take a room over night at a hotel. Mike Pence as an example. His family lives in Doonbeg, Ireland. And he's actually told me that he stayed there many years ago. He was in Ireland. So, he said, you know what I'll do, I'll see my family. I didn't know about that. But I can say he has good taste.


LEMON: That and much more ahead this hour. But I want to begin with the big picture. Joining me now is Frank Bruni, Catherine Rampell, and Max Boot, the author of "Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Wow, it's a big full table here. I hope we have enough food and drink to go around. Certainly, enough conversation. Hello, everyone.

Frank, I'm going to start with you. The president said today that, this is what he said about cancelling the Taliban, I can call summit or negotiation at Camp David. Here it is.


TRUMP: No, actually in terms of advisers I took my own advice. I like the idea of meeting. I met with a lot of bad people and a lot of good people during the course of the last almost three years. It was my idea and it was my idea to terminate it. I didn't even -- I didn't discuss it with anybody else.


LEMON: His idea and his idea to terminate it. He doesn't have advisers that he takes stock in. Is he his own administration? Is there anyone there that can influence him?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think there a couple of people who can influence. The idea that he didn't discuss this with anybody is laughable. Right? But he's trying to save face. Because he is facing reports that Mike Pence got involved and disagreed with him and if that there was, you know, that he had to -- that it was overruled at one point, et cetera.

And Trump hates any suggestion that he is not a sort of a company of one. You know, answers to no one but himself.

LEMON: But think about it. This is on the end of the week of the anniversary of 9/11. That he is going to have the Taliban -- have the Taliban meet him at Camp David. I mean, shouldn't he be taking someone's advice about that?

BRUNI: He should have this and a million other things. But he doesn't really plan this stuff out very well. I mean, I'm glad this didn't happen for that reason and among many others. You know, this is not a smoothly run White House. We've talked about this before, this among the many crises in America right now.

There is a crisis of professionalism in this White House. And you don't get the sense that when this stuff is planned people are looking at the calendar and thinking of the way it's going to play in different regards. They just kind of go full steam ahead until they hit an iceberg and then they say, well, we'll just pull back.

LEMON: Yes. I got to ask you, though, you know, this failed meeting, Catherine, surfaced only because the president tweeted it. And one would wonder why would you tweet it especially when the optics are so bad? Shouldn't you say well, maybe this is something that I really shouldn't make public.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: One would think but then you're presuming any level of rationality from this president. I don't believe he is playing into dimensional chess or whatever he is often credited as doing as being highly strategy.

I mean, I think the bigger picture here is that the great man theory of complex international relations and negotiations isn't holding up so well in this administration. Right? I mean, look at North Korea, look at Iran, look at whatever these negotiations are with the Taliban.

It's like Trump seems to think that if only the guy who can negotiate a great deal of granite counter tops, if only he were in there, finally we could solve all the problems of the Middle East. And maybe that's what he's trying to advertise here. right? That if he has a seat at the table and he wants everyone to know that he was claiming a seat at that table, then we could resolve all these problems.

LEMON: Max, CNN is reporting that even when the vice president disagreed with this Taliban meeting, but today he tweeted this. Vice president disagreed but then the president tweeted this.

"The dishonest media never contacted our office before running with this story. And if they had, we would have told them that I fully support your decision." But which decision is that? That's the vice president. But which decision is that? Is that like a non-denial denial?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think what Vice President Pence is trying to say, Don, is that he would fully support any decision that Donald Trump would make on any subject. And he would also support the reverse position if Donald Trump made that position too.

I mean, this -- Mike Pence is really giving sycophancy a bad name here. But I suppose it's to his credit. If in private he and Bolton and others actually raise questions about this harebrained idea bringing a terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda to Camp David on the eve of 9/11. That is a very bad idea, and so it's a good thing that somebody does weigh to Trump from actually doing that.


BRUNI: Mike Pence wasn't the author of that tweet.

LEMON: You don't think?



LEMON: But which decision is he saying? He goes, I would fully support. They would have known I would have fully supported your decision. Who do you think wrote that?

BRUNI: I think that came directly from the White House. I mean, the rhythm of it. Even some of the punctuation it did not -- it did not read or looked like a Mike Pence tweet.


BOOT: Well, this is, I mean, this is kind of the standard sycophancy that Trump's enablers do, which is, that when he puts out a really bad idea and then abandons it they're praising him for abandoning the idea without mentioning that the scheme in the first place was really hairbrained.

LEMON: So, you know about the New York Times reporting about Wilbur Ross --


LEMON: -- threaten to fire top employees at NOAA. Here's the commerce secretary Wilbur Ross after that agency contradicted what the President Trump said about Hurricane Dorian possibly hitting Alabama. I mean, it's outrageous, right, if this is true. But it says a lot about how this administration deals with dissent.

RAMPELL: Yes. And it's not --


LEMON: And it's dangerous.

RAMPELL: It is not, to be clear, the Times reporting talked about political appointees whose head are around the chopping block. Trump or at least his administration has actually gone after the career of civil servants the scientists before.

They did this at the USDA's economic research service when the statisticians and agricultural economists happen to produced research that they found politically inconvenient about tax cuts, about climate change, about food stamps, for example.

They, basically the USDA had a purge of people there by saying people had, you know, a month or so to move across the country. We're not really going to tell you where we're making you move too, somewhere in the Kansas City region. And something like 80 percent of the people so that they weren't going to leave.

So, this is not unprecedented. And one might worry about what happens when the other agencies that answer directly or indirectly to Wilbur Ross also happen to cross him.

Remember, Commerce Department is effectively the Department of Statistics. It's not just NOAA that's there. It's the Census Bureau. And of course, we already got a whiff of what it means for this administration, and in particular, Wilbur Ross to try to politically manipulate data at the Census Bureau through the attempt at putting in a citizenship question.

You also have the bureau of economic analysis there which produces the GDP numbers, inflation data, trade data, lots of other things. To my knowledge, this administration has not been doing anything to put political pressure on the hard-working experts there. But they might be trying. Or maybe things just haven't gotten bad enough for them to try.


BRUNI: You know, Wilbur Ross, Mike Pence, it's the same story. Right? You do what the emperor asks and your number one duty is to make the emperor look good, same thing.

LEMON: Yes. This is Democratic Congressman Jim Himes about Wilbur Ross. Watch this.


REP. JIM HIIMES (D-CT): It's pretty clear. If that story is true, and I don't know that it is. But if that story is true the commerce secretary needs to resign now. That would be the most blatant use of an official position in the service of the ego and the political fortunes of the president that we have ever seen.


LEMON: Max, is that what service in this administration has come to, soothing the president ego.

BOOT: No question, Don. And I think what you've seen is that all the adults have left the room. I mean, you've now Jim Mattis doing a book promotion tour instead of serving in the cabinet. H.R. McMaster is long gone. Rex Tillerson is long gone. Anybody who would serve as a check or a balance on Trump has been pushed out of the administration.

And so, he's surrounded by sycophants and lackeys. You have people like Attorney General Bill Barr. let's not forget, he's spending $30,000 on a Christmas party at the Trump international hotel in Washington.

You have somebody like Wilbur Ross who is allegedly telling people that they will be fired if they contradict what the president is saying, even though what the president is saying is flatly wrong. And of course, you have Mike Pence who is terrified that there might be an iota of space between him and Donald Trump on any issue.

And so, nobody basically, you know, has the courage to call out Trump and tell him, hey, maybe you shouldn't spend an entire week hyperventilating about this forecast regarding Alabama which nobody cares about. Why are you making this into a story, Mr. President when it could have just gone away on its own. But nobody has the courage to actually confront him and tell him that.

LEMON: Because he wants his sharpie to be reality. But stick around, everybody. I'm going to talk to you about the special election that might be making the president nervous tonight. Could Democrats be poised to take a district the GOP has held since 1963.



LEMON: The president blasting Democrats during his rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina tonight. That on the eve of tomorrow's special election for the state -- the state's ninth congressional district, pitting Democrat Dan McCready against Republican Dan Bishop.

The race is expected to be incredibly tight. And even though it's been a Republican seat for decades the president is using his rally to cast that election and the 2020 race as a fight for the status quo.


TRUMP: To the America hating left, the radical Democrats want to dismantle, demolish and destroy everything that you've gained. And they will do it. And it won't take that long. Whether it has to do with religion. Or Evangelicals here tonight what we have done for them and for a religion is so important.

You know, the other side I don't think they are big believers. They're not big believers in religion. That I can tell you.


LEMON: Frank Bruni, Catherine Rampell, Max Boot. OK. So, I've to go to you. Why? You are -- your mouth is --


BRUNI: My mouth hanging open. Because let's he's attacking Democrats on the front of religion, right? Why are we having a special election? Because the previous Republican nominee Mark Harris, an Evangelical minister was caught in massive voter fraud. Or I mean he wasn't convicted in thing like that, but basically, that's clearly what happened.

He was involved in a scheme in which absentee ballots were rounded up and filled out and fix, et cetera. That's why we're having the special election.


So, he is saying Democrats are against religion. And yet, the Republican nominee, Mark Harris, a conservative Evangelical pastor who, you know, huge force against same sex marriage in North Carolina. He was the one who was caught his operation cheating so badly that now we have the special election.

And he dares talk about Democrats and religion as Republicans are so moral and perfect. Give me a break.


BOOT: I mean --

LEMON: What he said.

BOOT: What he said, but I mean, I would also add -- and this is something we kind of take for granted, Don, but we should not. The way that Trump routinely demonizes the opposition.

This is also completely unprecedented and it's completely improper the way he accuses Democrats of wanting to destroy the country, of wanting to turn us into Venezuela of destroy religion. I mean, these are such bonkers statements that we tend to kind of roll our eyes and dismiss them.

But we need to recognize this is a very dangerous turn for a president to be demonizing the opposition in the way that he is. Not regarding them as a loyal opposition, but basically saying that they are traitors which, in fact, Trump has also said in the past.

This is a very dangerous legacy for our country. And it's going to sow a legacy of division and hatred that will long out live the Trump presidency.

LEMON: Obviously, Frank, you spent a lot of time studying this election and covering Dan McCready. Right?

BRUNI: I got to know him well.

LEMON: You say he's the perfect Democrat candidate for this district. Why do you say that?

BRUNI: It's one of the reasons they have a chance here. Because he is, he's new to politics who doesn't have some liberal voting record say that this Republican district and the Republicans there can talk about.

He's a marine who has service and talks about country over party. And since he's trying to win in a district that is predominantly Republican, he has to get it to be a less partisan election. He has to get Republicans and independents to vote for him.

I also think it's possible Democrats will turn out in force because of what happened last time around because Dan McCready lost by 905 votes but it turns out that count had to be thrown out because of the fraud on the other side.

So, this is really no one knows what's going to happen. I think Trump is hugely worried. That's why he's there having that rally. Because if Republicans lose this district, which they have held for 55 years. It's going to be a very bad omen for 2020. He knows that. And he can't take a black sharpie to the results and just make --


LEMON: Since 1963. That was good, though. Thank you. I needed that. He did spend the day, though, trying to manage the expectations of this election. This is what he said when he was heading to Fayetteville. This is for you, Cat.


TRUMP: I think it's getting less close. If you look at the numbers from two weeks ago and I got involved about two weeks ago. And the numbers have gone way up. I think Dan has a very good chance of winning the election. Again, I'm not running but I have respect for Dan Bishop.


LEMON: He keeps saying that he is not running. But, I mean, he -- Dan Bishop is closely aligned to Trump's politics. Don't you think that in some way people will say well, Trump didn't get this guy elected? What do you think?

RAMPELL: Well, I'm sure, yes. Trump only wants to claim credit when there's good news. And obviously, once --

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: I mean, he could win. But I mean if he doesn't win.

RAMPELL: Yes, yes. if he doesn't win, he wants to run the other way and said it wasn't my fault. Because nothing is ever Trump's fault.

I think what's interesting is that to, you know, Max's point, that Trump loves to demonize the left. But also, he likes to paint the entire left with whatever the views or actions are of the most the left most people on the left.

And yet, for some reason, this guy Bishop he is not exactly the most exemplary candidate on many levels. He's donated money to a social media platform for a white supremacist and anti-Semites. Why is he not the poster child for the right? Why is Trump -- why is he --


LEMON: What is going on in this --

RAMPELL: Why is he not only not condemned by his party, but Trump is out there, you know, showing for him. I don't quite understand it.

LEMON: What on earth is going on?

BRUNI: It's blind tribalism. It's blind political tribalism. It -- forgive the verb, but Trump's specifics of any situation it forbids individual character judgment. It's all, you know, shirts and skins.


BRUNI: It's a tribalist.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about this, Frank. This is our breaking news on Friday. The impeachment. The House Judiciary Committee voting Thursday to define the parameters of its impeachment investigation into the president. Aides on the committees say that they hope to recommend articles of impeachment by the end of the year. Do you think that's a realistic time line?

BRUNI: I don't know. But this is a huge gamble and we have been talking about this for months. It's definitely we're inching ever closer. But this is a huge, huge political gamble that the Democrats are taking.

LEMON: The House Judiciary Committee are still trying to get Don McGahn to testify. Does a future of any impeachment proceedings you think, rest with on his testimony?

BOOT: Well, certainly, Don McGahn is a big part of it. But there are also a lot of other moving parts including getting Trump's taxes, holding the administration to account for the fact that they are resisting congressional subpoenas and refusing to turn over documents, refusing to have witnesses like Don McGahn testify.

[23:20:01] I mean, the fact that they are resisting that is itself impeachable conduct. But I just don't know that the political momentum is there to actually impeach Trump right now. In part, because of the public opinion polls have shown that public opinion is moving away from impeachment.

Of course, it's kind of circular because part of the reason why public opinion is moving away from impeachment is because Speaker Pelosi and the Democrat leaders are not making the case for impeachment. But then, you know, as we get deeper into the campaign cycle and as the presidential election subsumes everything else.

I'm not -- I mean, look, I think on the merit, yes, Trump deserved to be impeached. He has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. I think he's committed actual crimes that can be prosecuted under the law if he were not president. But is this actually going to happen? I'm not very optimistic that it will.

LEMON: That's got to be the last word. Thank you all. I appreciate having you here. Fascinating. That's my new word tonight, my favorite word, fascinating. I have said that word a lot tonight. Anyway, I digress.

President Trump -- attacking Chrissy Teigen on Twitter but she is not having it. Charlamagne tha God weighs in on the president's latest Twitter feud, and a lot more. That's next.



LEMON: While rallying his base in North Carolina ahead of tomorrow's special congressional election President Trump making some wild claims about Democrats. A lot of talk about with Charlamagne the God, co-host of "The Breakfast Club."

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, CO-HOST, THE BREAKFAST CLUB: Don, what's happening, my brother?

LEMON: I love having you.

THA GOD: Are you good?


THA GOD: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Let's talk 2020.


LEMON: I'm going to play the president. He made this claim tonight. Watch this.


TRUMP: Evangelicals are here tonight and they're all over the place.


TRUMP: And what we have done for them and for religion is so important. You know, the other side I don't think they are big believers. They are not big believers in religion. That I can tell you.


LEMON: So, he said the other side aren't big believers in religion. Democrats. What do you think? Does that bother you at all?

THA GOD: Does that bother me that they're not into religion?

LEMON: That he says they're not big believers?

THA GOD: No, that's just his opinion. You know what I'm saying. That's just his opinion. He's entitled to that. But I'm just -- I'm not looking forward to 2020 for a number of reasons. I'm not looking forward to 2020 simply because we're not acknowledging the elephant in the room. And that is that our democracy is compromised right now.

Like we already knew there was Russian interference in the 2016 election. We know there is voter suppression. We know Mitch McConnell blocked an election security bill. And like, nobody is acknowledging that. And you have these Democrats that are simply saying we got to win in a landslide in 2020. We know that that's not going to happen.

So, if you're saying that you need to win in a landslide in 2020 and the reason that you're not acknowledging what happened in 2016 is because you don't want to discourage voters from voting. You're kind of admitting defeat already.


THA GOD: That's kind of cowardice. And by the way, I've talked to Stacey Abrams who got a fair fight in 2020. I talked to Mayor Pete. I talked to every candidate who come on the Breakfast Club and they all say the same thing. Well, we know that it happened but we don't want to discourage people from voting. So, you just lie to the American people?

LEMON: it's interesting. Because Stacey Abrams has this whole thing about voting.

THA GOD: Yes. By a (Inaudible) point.

LEMON: Yes. Last time you were here you talked about the 2020 Democratic nominee. Kamala Harris was your choice but you weren't 100 percent on it.

THA GOD: Well, somebody ask me if I was to vote --

LEMON: At that moment -- at that moment. Absolutely. I said her. She's lost the momentum. What's going on do you think? THA GOD: I think that's the ebb and flows of a presidential election,

you know what I mean. I don't think it's anything to be, you know, too concerned about, you know. We'll see what happens this week. She might have a good showing this week and then shoot back up in the polls. Who knows?

LEMON: Yes. Because remember, Elizabeth Warren was down. Right? People were saying she's not going to -- Trump is going to hit on Pocahontas.


LEMON: Remember she's running the most disciplined campaign; I think, of all of them.

THA GOD: Yes. I like Elizabeth Warren too. but do you think that she can win in the general election?

LEMON: I don't know. What do you think?

THA GOD: I'm not sure if she could get too many of those center right people. That come on her side. If she can get some of them, maybe. Possibly.

LEMON: Let's move forward to the debate. The debate stages. They are going to be Warren and Biden. It's going to be later in the week. On the stage together for the first time. What are you looking for? It's going to be interesting seeing them together.

THA GOD: What am I looking for? I just want to see more candidates talking about the agenda for black people. I want to see candidates addressing the mental health issues in our country. I don't know how much of that is going to be on the stage, especially my man Congressman Tim Ryan won't be on there. And he talks about social emotional learning and mental health alike.

I think the conversation about reparations is still a great conversation. I don't know how much of that will be on the stage. Marianne Williamson is into it. But I'm really voting my issues in 2020. And my issues in 2020 are black agenda. You know, who's got the best policies for mental healthcare in our country. And who is going to restore us back to a proper moral standing in this world.

LEMON: Say again, you what?

THA GOD: Who will restore us to a proper moral standing back in this world.

LEMON: So do you care more about that than electability?

THA GOD: I mean, what is electability, though? Like if democracy is truly about the people, then the people determine who is electable. Like who to say somebody is --


LEMON: I need to say, you know what I mean. Who has the best chance based on the polling?

THA GOD: I mean, it looks like Joe Biden, you know. But I mean, what have polls shown in the past couple of elections. Not a God damn thing. All right? Barack Obama wasn't supposed to win. Donald Trump wasn't supposed to win. Like, what do polls really showing us in the past couple presidential election?

LEMON: Yes. Can we talk about this craziness that happened on Twitter? I think this is very important. Because you had the president who is talking about criminal justice reform bill. The bill he signed.

He called out Lester Holt and John Legend. And then he mentions our colleague Van Jones here.

[00:04:59] He is tweeting about -- he tweets about this is an African- Americans, that they only think they should be concerned about is like money.


LEMON: And crime.


LEMON: What do you think?

THA GOD: Well, as far as the First Step Act is concerned, I do think that Donald Trump should get a lot of credit for that. He kept the issue alive. He passed a bill that has led 7,000 people out of prison, I think, just this year alone. Majority of them were blacks. We should give him credit for that because it's a fair and honest statement, like he bumped the First Step Act.

But, you know, listen, this generation doesn't do good with nuance. Just because somebody does something good for you doesn't mean that they're good for you. So Donald Trump did do a good deal with the First Step Act, but he's not good for the country. So, yes, you did let some black people out of cages but you still got a lot of brown people in cages at the border.

LEMON: People also misconstrue this when I -- because I had a conversation about the black unemployment rate.

THA GOD: Mm-hmm.

LEMON: He's continuing Barack Obama's -- President Obama's decline in the black unemployment rate.

THA GOD: Absolutely.

LEMON: Right. But does that necessarily mean that he is good for black America?

THA GOD: No. Listen, black people, we don't have the luxury of just saying, hey, jobs are great, the economy is great. We're still fighting for our civil liberties in a lot of cases. You know what I'm saying?

We are still fighting for just the right to exist as a black human being in this country. We don't have the luxury to say as long as we got jobs and as long as the economy is good, we're fine. No.

LEMON: You said that right now, we're not good at nuance.

THA GOD: Mm-hmm.

LEMON: Right? You saw Dave Chappelle -- Netflix?

THA GOD: I did.

LEMON: Yeah.

THA GOD: I enjoyed it.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, STAND-UP COMEDIAN: I want to see if you can guess who it is I'm doing an impression of. All right? Let me get into character. You got to guess who it is, though. OK, here it goes. Uh, duh. Hey! Durr! If you do anything wrong in your life, duh, and I find out about it, I'm going to try and take everything away from you, and I don't care when I find out. Could be today, tomorrow, 15, 20 years from now. If I find out, you're (bleep) finished.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Trump.

CHAPPELLE: Who -- who's that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Trump.

CHAPPELLE: That's you.


CHAPPELLE: That's what the audience sounds like to me.


CHAPPELLE: That's why I don't be coming out doing comedy all the time, because you all (bleep) is the worst (bleep) I've ever tried to entertain in my (bleep) life.



LEMON: Rotten Tomatoes did hate it.

THA GOD: Yeah.

LEMON: Ninety-nine percent approval, if not a hundred -- THA GOD: From the people.

LEMON: -- from the people.

THA GOD: Yeah. That shows me that social media is not the market like we think that it is. You know, we act like social media --

LEMON: It's not necessarily.

THA GOD: It's the loudest minority.

LEMON: Right.

THA GOD: You know what I'm saying? People can get on social media and make a lot of noise but that is not a true reflection of what people in this country are feeling. I thought the Dave Chappelle special was hilarious. I think that we should get to a place in this country where we are able to have those uncomfortable conversations.

If I don't understand something, I should be able to say I don't understand it. And then you can educate me to it. And maybe I'll get some understanding. I don't understand why people aren't answering the questions that they polled. They polled a lot of question that I still don't -- I still haven't received any answers to.

One in particular, when he said -- people say when he makes jokes about R. Kelly, he's normalizing R. Kelly. He said that somebody from the trans community said it to him. How come they don't say that about us, when you make jokes about us? How come they don't say you're normalizing us? In other questions, when you said, how come, you know, TV executives are fine with him throwing around the N-word --

LEMON: N-word.

THA GOD: -- but not the gay slur, you know. All I'm thinking --

LEMON: The F-word.

THA GOD: That's it.

LEMON: I think we're at a fascinating moment. I think what Dave is doing now will cause -- I think it is going to cause a shift in the culture. At the very least, people have a conversation about what are we doing to each other, where are we going --

THA GOD: Attentions matter.

LEMON: Yeah.

THA GOD: Right? Listen, I truly believe in everybody's right to exist, you know. I truly believe in everybody's right to be whatever it is that they want to be like as free as you possibly can. I'm not trying to impede on that in any way, shape or form.

But, if I don't understand something about you, let's have a conversation. If you don't understand something about me, let's have a conversation.

LEMON: Stop trying to cancel. Let's talk.

THA GOD: That's it.

LEMON: That's what we supposed to do.

THA GOD: That's it.

LEMON: Thank you, brother.

THA GOD: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: It is always a pleasure.

New questions about government spending at yet another Trump property. We are going to tell you what investigators have learned about Air Force crews overnight stays at Trump's Scotland resort. That's next.



LEMON: President Trump tweeting today that he knows nothing about U.S. Air Force crews staying at his Turnberry resort while stop to refuel at an off the beaten path airport in Scotland. President dodging after the Air Force ordered a review of all the international layover stays over the weekend.

A month-long investigation by the House Oversight Committee was revealed on Friday. The committee is looking into whether the increased military spending at Trump's golf course is a conflict of interest for the president.

So joining me now to discuss is Gordon Heddell. He is a former inspector general for the Department of Defense in the Obama administration. Gordon, it is a pleasure to have you. Thank you so much for joining -- joining us here. Since President Trump --


LEMON: Absolutely. Since President Trump took office, military aircraft stops at Prestwick Airport have increased dramatically. That is according to Air Force statistics. There were only 40 overnight stops at Prestwick Airport. That was in 2015.


LEMON: Those numbers went up slightly in the next couple of years. When Trump started his presidential bid, the numbers go up dramatically. So if you're the inspector general, what are you looking for in an investigation?

HEDDELL: I think, Don, you have to look at first what is the Air Force saying about this? Clearly, the flights -- C-17 flights just as an example -- pardon me -- just as an example, flying from Anchorage to Kuwait. In the past, they would make the refuelling stops at bases where we had a U.S. influence.

For instance, in Ramstein in Germany and at the naval station in Spain. And we did that because they provided security, better cost for services and fuel. And so you have to ask yourself why all of a sudden we are now going to do refuelling at a commercial airport in Scotland. That doesn't provide many of the security enhancements that we are normally used to.

LEMON: Gordon, here is what the New York Times is reporting tonight on a deal that Trump made back in 2014 to boost travel at the struggling Prestwick airport.

They write this: "As part of the arrangement, the Trump Organization worked to get Trump Turnberry added to a list of hotels that the airport would routinely send aircrews to, even though the Turnberry resort is 20 miles from the airport, farther away than many other hotels, and has higher advertised prices."

Is the big question here whether that arrangement Trump made as a private individual has bled over into his presidency?

HEDDELL: Well, I think you have to look at what has happened. I mean, first of all, the Turnberry resort, which is the resort that the president owns, he purchased it in 2014. It hasn't had a profit year yet. And yet, since 2017, revenues have gone up.

And one of the reasons, it appears, is that because we have a military presence coming in to refuel t Prestwick. Now, just a correction, Don, the distance between Prestwick airport and the Turnberry resort is 54 miles.

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

HEDDELL: And that's a bit of a hike if you're in there for a day, day and a half. There's no security for the aircraft, etcetera. That would be standard. It's not the same as going in to a base that has U.S. presence. We own the facilities. And so there's a big question why would we do that.

Now, there might be a good answer. The Air Force said when they were asked about it three or four months ago, they didn't see anything that seemed out of the ordinary or was irregular. When they answered that question, they said that even though they don't see any irregularity, they are still looking at the records. That's three or four months ago.

If you're an inspector general, I would expect some definitive answers in three or four days, not three or four months. So, something is not moving here to get the answers that we're entitled to having.

LEMON: All right. Gordon Heddell, it's a pleasure having you on. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

HEDDELL: OK, Don. My pleasure. LEMON: The president says that he is going to release what he calls "a financial report of me." That's what he says, of him, meaning "him." What that might mean, that's next.



LEMON: Shortly after House Democrats announced an investigation into Trump-ran properties being used for government business, the president says he will release some financial information. But it is not at all clear exactly what that information might be.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At some point prior to the election, I'm going to be giving out a financial report of me. And it will be extremely complete. I'm going to give out -- I'm going to give out my financial conditions. And you'll be extremely shocked that the numbers are many, many times what you think. I don't need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel.


LEMON: Ah, here to discuss, Vicky Ward, the author of "Kushner, Inc." and Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Sometimes, you just have to -- I mean -- I saw it live --


LEMON: I can't believe he just said that. What is a financial report of me?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's -- you know, remember when he had those stacks of folders that --

LEMON: The boxes.

D'ANTONIO: Right. All of those were filled with blank paper.

LEMON: But everybody wants -- he's been promising that he is going to do the tax return, right, for --


LEMON: So -- I mean, what does that mean? Is this going to produce anything?

D'ANTONIO: No, it's a con. He handed me a financial report. I looked at it. He said, "You can't take it with you. You can't write down anything in it. But that's how rich I am."

And I didn't believe one of the numbers on it. So, no one should expect that he is going to be honest about this. Meaningful information is in his tax returns and he is not going to release those. LEMON: Mm-hmm. You know, he often talks about -- Vicky, I have lost millions or -- maybe billions by being president of the United States --



LEMON: The New York Times is reporting the new details of how profits have increased significantly at Trump-branded properties since Trump became president.

They say political candidates or party organizations, including Trump's own, have spent at least $5.6 million at Trump properties in the four years before Trump's bid for president. These same properties earned just $119,000 from political groups. That is quite a contrast, don't you think?


WARD: I do.


WARD: Can I just go back to something that Michael said? So I have been given the president's financial statements, and I could take it home. This would have been back in about 2013, 2014.

What was really fascinating about it was that he had assets for a certain amount. He had debt for a certain amount. But by far, the biggest number on there was for something called brand value. It wasn't the real estate at all. And I think what's interesting --

LEMON: Is that a real number, though?

WARD: Well, of course it's --

LEMON: Brand value.

WARD: Brand value. Take that to a bank. What are they going to do?


WARD: I mean -- really.

LEMON: Yeah.

WARD: But I think, you know, what's so interesting about, again, what he said today about you're getting the financial statement of me is that he's not worried about the ethics of any of this, right?

LEMON: Right.

WARD: He's -- what he's concerned about is that it might look like he's not making enough money. I mean, it's the New York real estate mentality, not a presidential one.

LEMON: But it's interesting, back to my original question, it's interesting when you look at this $5.6 million in properties. They spent that, and it was $119,000 for political --

WARD: Right.

LEMON: -- four years before that. I mean, that's a huge difference, don't you think?

WARD: I think -- I mean --

LEMON: Yeah.

WARD: -- extraordinary.

LEMON: Yeah. Let's talk about the Trump campaign manager, Brad Parscale, telling a group of California Republicans that the Trumps will be a dynasty that lasts for decades. Why are some of the president's allies upset by this?

WARD: Because Lou Dobbs tweeted this out, right? He is a huge supporter of the president. Because Trump is supposed to be a populist, not a dynast. I mean, the two are complete opposites, right?

LEMON: Mm-hmm.

WARD: That's not the only reason it's been an extremely bad month for Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager, because there have been all these stories, including one reported by me -- two, in fact, reported by me and Jim Acosta today --

LEMON: His business activities have been under increased scrutiny, but go on, sorry.

WARD: Yes, his business activities because there's appearance that he is profiting from the 2020 campaign. And what's troubling, I think, for Brad Parscale is that donors have reached out to CNN and said that they're concerned.

For the moment, Brad Parscale seems to be safe. He's very protected by the Trump family, particularly some of the Trump children who work for him. But I think that we are hearing that should more donors express concern that they feel that their money is going to Brad Parscale's pockets, that could become a bigger story and more of a problem for Brad Parscale.

LEMON: Even if Parscale's comments about the Trump dynasty get him in trouble with advisers, is there a professional downside for him, you know, being so flattering?

D'ANTONIO: Absolutely not. You know, I think one of the things that's perfect about this is that he used the word "dynasty" and "dynasty" was a famous TV show between 1981 and 1991. That's right in the president's sweet spot. He would think of himself as Blake Carrington. I don't know who Ivanka and Don Junior would be, but, you know, this is the absurd level at which the president --

LEMON: Sammy Jo and -- no, no, it would be Fallon.

D'ANTONIO: Fallon. I think that is a good one for Ivanka.

LEMON: And Steven.

D'ANTONIO: Right. Right. I mean, this is perfect. And I think Brad Parscale is also demonstrating that he's an absolute match for Trump world because his business dealings are really complex. There's a lot of apparent self-dealing in all of this. This is consistent with the president's ethics and values.

I think he would admire a guy who might double dip here or there, might hire the girlfriend of Don Junior, might hire Eric's wife. This is all very consistent with how Trump world operates. He's a swamp monster, and that's familiar to them.

LEMON: I spoke to McKay Coppins earlier, and he wrote in his piece for The Atlantic, he talked about when Jared went to 2017 sporting a flak jacket over his Oxford shirt.

WARD: Yes.

LEMON: He kind of had a good time with it. There's a real fight over who exactly is sort of heir apparent and who really represents the Trump family and brand.

WARD: Well, so I read McKay's article today, and I thought directionally his reporting was correct.


WARD: What's interesting is that Ivanka obviously arrived in Washington in the White House with her husband as the senior adviser and was perceived to be -- LEMON: Yeah.

WARD: -- the child and the ascendant. The interesting thing is that she is not a Republican.

LEMON: Right.

WARD: And she has fallen sort of on harder times reputationally.

LEMON: Yeah. She doesn't have much -- she hasn't been very effective --

WARD: No, but --

LEMON: -- in the White House, but Don Junior has been very effective on the campaign trail.

WARD: Very.

LEMON: I've got to run. Thank you both. I appreciate it. And thank you for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)