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Transcripts Released By House Democrats; Terror Suspect Caught By FBI Undercover Agent; Key State Elections A Window To 2020; President Trump Helping Republican Candidates In Their Race; President Trump Slams Impeachment Inquiry At Kentucky Rally; Trump Talking More About Obama; Trump Loses Appeal To Prevent Release Of Tax Returns; Synagogue Attack Thwarted By FBI In Colorado. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired November 4, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
There's a lot going on and we're going to catch you up on five big headlines this hour.
The House releases closed-door depositions from Marie Yovanovitch, an ousted U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. And Michael McKinley a former top aide to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The transcripts full of details on President Trump's policy on Ukraine. And how top officials try to flatter him and boost his ego.
And tomorrow's election day. We're going to look at some key races around the nation for hints of how Americans may vote in next year's presidential election.
President Trump losing a major court battle to keep his tax returns secret. Lawyers vowing to take their case all the way to the Supreme Court.
And fact checking the president who headlined a political rally tonight in Kentucky.
Plus, the FBI arrests an alleged white supremacist accused of plotting to bomb a synagogue in Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON DUNN, U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF COLORADO: After being contacted by undercover FBI agents posing as fellow white supremacist, Mr. Holzer indicated that he wanted to do something that would let Jewish people in the community know that they are not welcome, and that according to him they should leave or they will die.
Mr. Holzer went on to suggest to undercover agents that they use explosive devices to destroy the synagogue and, quote, "get that place off the map," end quote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, there's lots to discuss. Guy Smith is here. Samantha Vinograd, and Frank Bruni.
So good to have you all on. All on set. How did we manage that?
GUY SMITH, FORMER CLINTON IMPEACHMENT ADVISER: Right here.
LEMON: Yes. it's good to be -- it's good that you're here. Frank, let's talk about these transcripts, all right. Because they back up the whistleblower's account and the details are jarring.
This is what the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. She said when she was asked about President Trump's comments that she was, quote, "going to go through some things on the infamous July 25th call. Who says, what did you understand that to mean? I didn't know what it meant. I was very concerned. I still am. Did you feel threatened? Yes."
So, you have a U.S. ambassador saying that she felt threatened by the President of the United States. What's going on here?
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's alarming and surprising and she keeps using the word over and over again in her testimony she was shocked, she was shocked, she was shocked.
And what I get from her testimony and also as well from McKinley's and from other people we've seen. You have this group of professionals who know what they're doing who are experts in their field who have been doing these jobs for a while and suddenly they are besieged by the shadow State Department being run by Rudy Giuliani. By a president whose motives are political who doesn't care for professionals he wants lackies and he wants sycophants.
And none of them seem to quite be able to comprehend what was going on. None of them seem quite -- seem to quite be able to believe what they were seeing. And what both the former ambassador and Mr. McKinley said in different ways today was they were watching the State Department become hostage to a president's political impulses and machinations.
LEMON: It sounds like what they call the deep state is just really smart people who know how to do their jobs.
BRUNI: For someone I read a headline --
LEMON: Who's got experience --
BRUNI: -- somewhere the other day it's the deeply committed -- the deeply honorable state really, yes.
LEMON: Interesting. Samantha, to you now. Yovanovitch says that she approached the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland about Trump's -- the Trump team attacks on her. OK? And his advice, he said you know, "You need to go big or go home. You need to, you know, tweet out there that you support the president and that all of these are lies and everything else."
Everyone a career foreign service officer, I mean, had to appeal to Trump's ego? Like wanted someone to boost his ego?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Did we wake up in North Korea? I mean, seriously. This is the kind of thing that we see in dictatorships. And Gordon Sondland, yes. He is a political appointee. But he is telling a career foreign service officer that the way to keep her job on behalf of the American people is to flatter the president.
And it appears, Don, that is what Gordon Sondland was willing to do. And it appears that is what his boss the secretary of state was also willing to do. You look at Ambassador Yovanovitch. She raised her concerns with the officials in the State Department.
It appears that Secretary of State Pompeo was aware about these threats that she was facing. Was aware that she was being maligned and still is to this day by the president by his son and by Rudy Giuliani and did nothing.
So, the only option now is pledge allegiance to the dear leader to President Trump. Or lose your job. And we have silence from secretary of state. We have silence from the national security adviser while President Trump directly threatens Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and at this point, again either pledge allegiance or lose your job.
LEMON: You worked in government.
VINOGRAD: I did.
LEMON: For this department, some of these very --
VINOGRAD: I got hazard pay when I deployed to a war zone as a diplomat. And these ambassadors are now in the line of fire from the president rather than from foreign enemies, and that is really a jaw dropping development to me, Don.
You know, I used to think about worrying about my own security and other diplomat security with respect to terrorist attacks or mortars or missiles or foreign enemies.
And now we hear Ambassador Yovanovitch worried about her safety because of the actions of her own president.
LEMON: Wow. I want to bring you in. More on the transcripts now. Because according to them Michael McKinley who is a former senior adviser to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers that a senior State Department official told him that he felt bullied by the department not to fully comply with the impeachment inquiry. Bullying, threats. Flattery. I mean, is this how everyone around this president is doing business now?
SMITH: Yes. That's exactly what's happening with everybody around him. We see it in the way Yovanovitch was threatened by the president. The political appointees says, you know, if you don't tweet, you're going to be out of the job.
And then what we see is in the testimony being told by Ukrainian officials the sitting ambassador of the United States you better watch your back and the people that are coming at your back are your government. Not the Ukrainian government. Or the Russian government. The American government is threatening their own ambassador.
This is where we are. What kind of people do we have in the White House? With Giuliani, Pompeo, what is wrong with these people?
BRUNI: You know, as he was saying I'm just thinking --
LEMON: I just -- I just looked at Frank. There were so many sides. I rarely see you at a loss for words.
BRUNI: No. I can't believe what someone like Mike Pompeo is doing to his reputation over the course of this administration. I can't --
LEMON: Let me play this because I think this will help you out. OK. Because this is about Pompeo. McKinley also says that he went to Pompeo three times. And tried to convince him to put out statement in defense of Ambassador Yovanovitch. But here's what Pompeo says. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: From the time that Ambassador Yovanovitch departed Ukraine, until the time that he came to tell me that he was departing, I never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: So, you were never asked to put --
POMPEO: Not once, not once, George did Ambassador McKinley say something to me during that entire time period.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were never asked to put out statement in support of Ambassador Yovanovitch?
POMPEO: George, again, I'm not going to talk about private conversations that I had with my most trusted advisers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRUNI: Why would McKinley lie about this? I see no motive for why he would lie about this. I think Mike Pompeo is lying and I think there's been a history recently of Mike Pompeo saying exactly what the president wants him to say. And I just don't understand how he's comfortable to see his career take this turn.
I know a lot of people had respect for him before he entered this administration and not many of them have an iota of respect for him now.
LEMON: Go ahead, Sam.
VINOGRAD: And this is going to have long term impacts. I mean, look, it is not surprising that Secretary of State Pompeo is lying. He's following the president's lead. Right? It's not the first time.
But it's interesting because McKinley's testimony actually paints a somewhat flattering picture of Secretary of State Pompeo at the beginning. It contrasts him with Rex Tillerson and talks about how he did a lot to reinvigorate the department with career foreign service officers.
Fast forward to this incident. And McKinley is very clear as his Ambassador Yovanovitch that this kind of behavior is going to force people to quit the State Department in droves and it's going to undermine the credibility of our ambassadors abroad right now.
No one is going to take career foreign service officers seriously when they know -- foreigners won't take them seriously when they know that the secretary of state will not have their backs if President Trump asked the secretary of state to abandon them. That doesn't help our national security long term. And I think we're going to see more resignations from the State Department and a broader impact on foreign policy.
BRUNI: It is bigger than the State Department. It's all branches of government. The unfilled jobs, the number of acting people as opposed to actually installed people. We are just seeing a sort of gutting of government. And a deep professionalism of government that I think is going to haunt the country for quite some time to come.
SMITH: And this is only Monday.
VINOGRAD: Thanks for reminding us.
SMITH: There's going to be, you know, every day this week they're going to be more.
LEMON: When -- but there are more and more we're learning from this testimony and these transcripts. More and more red flags about the call.
[23:10:01] Strong arming Ukraine. Possible cover up. Character assassination of Ambassador Yovanovitch. And yet nothing was done not by Pompeo or anyone. They seem to just be afraid of the president. I don't understand why. Go on.
SMITH: Well, there are two rules in politics. First rule, get elected. Second rule, let nothing get in the way of being reelected. And all of these Republican congressmen and senators are worrying about being reelected.
And until the public changes, and it is beginning to change. We see in the polls. People in favor of impeachment and removal is creeping up. Now we're going to see with first now this testimony transcripts and then when it goes public, the public is going to start to say wait a minute, that isn't what I'm hearing on Fox News.
VINOGRAD: Well, to a certain extent, you know, this is kind of a be careful what you wish for moment I think for Republicans. You know, they call for more transparency. They said that they weren't given an opportunity to question witnesses. Well, now we have some public transcripts.
Guess what, Don, they were given an opportunity to question witnesses. And guess what else the transcript show. That the president and Rudy Giuliani launched a sustained campaign against career public servants.
This is starting to paint as somewhat unflattering picture. And I'm being mild here and diplomat.
SMITH: Somewhat, somewhat?
VINOGRAD: I'm being diplomatic, yes. In an unflattering picture of the president and the secretary of state, and as you just mentioned, God knows what Tuesday is going to bring.
SMITH: That's right.
VINOGRAD: And the more that becomes public that was said under oath the more Republicans hopefully can't hide from the fact that the president corruption was long seeded. And that they're complicit in it by abetting it.
BRUNI: They can't hide from it that's why they're just changing the messaging. Now it's no longer the call was perfect and the whistleblower might have been politically motivated. Now it's this is like --
LEMON: But it's not impeachable.
BRUNI: This isn't in gray but it's not impeachable.
LEMON: It's not impeachable.
(CROSSTALK) SMITH: That's --
LEMON: That's got to be the last word. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
Election day is tomorrow with races around the country that may tell us something about what to expect in 2020. We're going to break down what to look for. That's next.
LEMON: Election day is tomorrow. And polls open across the country in just hours. Races in Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia could shed light on what to expect in 2020.
So here with all the details, Chris Cillizza. You got, you know everything. You got, first of all.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I'm ready, Don.
LEMON: OK. All right.
CILLIZZA: It's all up here.
LEMON: All right, Chris. So, Trump rallied in Kentucky tonight for the current Republican Governor Matt Bevin. Bevin is generally viewed as unpopular in the state. Did Trump need to go down there to carry him over the finish line?
CILLIZZA: First of all, Don, check out those read the transcript shirts behind Matt Bevin and Donald Trump. That will be seeing one of those. The answer to that question is yes. Matt Bevin is unpopular not just among Democrats but also Republicans in the state.
Potentially he was facing a challenge from a sitting congressman in the primary. I don't think he wins unless he wraps himself around Donald Trump which is what he's done in the last month and a half or two. There's a reason Trump is there the day before the election.
If matt Bevin wins, he has two people to thank. Neither of which are him. Donald Trump is one. Mitch McConnell is the other. Because Mitch McConnell even though Bevin ran against him for in a Senate primary few years ago, McConnell has bent over backwards and used his organization to help Bevin.
If there's going to be a Democrat who wins a governor's race tomorrow, Don --
CILLIZZA: -- I think it's going to be Andy Beshear who is the Democrat running here. He's the state attorney general.
LEMON: I just wonder if any of the people in the read the transcript t-shirt actually --
CILLIZZA: Read the transcript.
LEMON: -- it's actually read the transcript they would be --
CILLIZZA: If -- I always say, when Donald Trump says read the transcript. I always note I've read it. And I think it's pretty close to a smoking gun.
CILLIZZA: But that's not here or there.
LEMON: Well. OK. So, in Mississippi, Chris.
LEMON: There's also the big race for governor. Is there really a chance the Democratic candidate could come out on top here?
LEMON: What do you think?
CILLIZZA: I mean, I got out of the making there's a no chance prediction when Trump got elected. So, yes, there is a chance. Jim Hood is the state attorney general. Two attorney generals running in Kentucky and Mississippi. This, he's the only statewide Democrat elected.
If a Democrat can get elected governor in Mississippi it's Jim Hood. I just am very skeptical that a governor can get -- a Democrat can get elected governor in Mississippi. I think there's probably a pretty close race, five, six, seven, eight points. I just think Tate Reeves winds up winning.
LEMON: Yes. Democrats also are fighting to flip control of both --
LEMON: -- chambers of the Virginia legislature tomorrow. If they do, what will that tell us about 2020?
CILLIZZA: Son this is, this I actually think is probably the most important thing. I know people don't get all that jazzed up about state House and state Senate elections. But Republican have a two-seat majority in both the state House and the state Senate. Both of those are very much in place. You know, a lot of national spending by both parties and there's a reason, Don.
Virginia is a swing state. Kentucky is, I mean if we're talking about Kentucky being competitive for the Democratic nominee or Mississippi being competitive for the Democrat nominee. Donald Trump is going to lose, again, in 2020. Virginia is going to be a legitimate battleground as it has been since
Barack Obama won it. It's been turning Democratic. If Democrats take over here, it gives them total control. They have the governorship. They can redraw congressional lines in their favor. And it gives them momentum and this really matters.
The election is less than a year now. The 2020 election is less than a year away, gives them real momentum in a state that they would very much like to have in the column of Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.
LEMON: Less than a year. I just thought about that.
CILLIZZA: I know, man.
LEMON: Wow. But Republicans always come home. I mean, it seems like they always --
CILLIZZA: They do. Well, that's why in Mississippi, I'm very skeptical, Don.
CILLIZZA: It's just, there's just a huge lift in order to -- you have to win a lot of Republicans if you're going to be the Democrat to get to win there.
CILLIZZA: Kentucky, Bevin very unpopular. I think he winds up pulling it out narrowly.
CILLIZZA: Virginia is the one to watch. If Democrats take over there it gives them both logistical control in terms of who draws the lines and also momentum. And that really does matter because that's going to be a swing state come a year from now.
LEMON: Chris, I got to go. We got to make room for other folks.
CILLIZZA: I understand.
LEMON: You can't hog the entire show.
CILLIZZA: Thank you, my friend. Thanks for putting me in.
LEMON: Thank you.
Let's make some room now for Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee, and also Alice Stewart. Hello, both of you. How are you doing.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.
LEMON: Chris is trying to take your time.
FORMER GOVERNOR ANDREW GILLUM (D-FL): Good.
LEMON: Alice, President Trump is campaigning in Kentucky tonight. Track record pretty good when he swoops in at the end. Right? We've covered many of those. He usually ends up pulling him out. Usually, not always, but usually. It's good when he swoops in these close races.
STEWART: No doubt. And Chris really hit the nail on the head with regard to these races. Look, Donald Trump won Kentucky by 30 points. And right now, that race is a toss-up very close leaning Republican in that state. And it's not because of Donald Trump's unpopularity.
It's because of Bevin has done a lot of things that have made him very unpopular. Going against the teacher's union, going against Republicans in his own party and going against the media. He's -- a lot of this is self-inflicted wounds.
But the fact that it is so close the president going in there at the last minute rallying the troops will be helpful. Also, he has been to Louisiana which will be there this week which will be helpful and also in Mississippi. A recent visit there will help to rally the troops and get them out there.
The good thing for the president though, this is way to rally troops for these candidates that will help energize them in these last few minutes. But it's also his way to get his message out there, as Chris said, read the transcript. Reinforcing his message about the impeachment inquiry and what the president calls a witch hunt and more over reach by the Democrats.
LEMON: Mayor, let's take a look at the new 2020 poll. It's from The New York Times and Siena College. It's showing a tight race between Trump and leading Democrats in key battleground states. The races are all close or even. But is the story behind these numbers that President Trump is going to be harder to beat than the national polls might indicate?
GILLUM: Well, I mean, I think we always have to be careful sort of just picking at the national polls because they don't tell us what we obviously need to know. It matters what is happening in these battleground states.
I still for one think it's quite early. My guess is that the overwhelming majority of people still have yet to really dial into this race. The latest polls that came out are of those that are registered and likely voters. The truth is I think that this race and these battleground states are not going to fall on the likely voters necessarily. It's going to fall on those surge voters who has the ability to move more of their base, more of their constituency. Those voters that six million who sat out in 2016. Who's got the
ability to bring them back into the fold? And so, I think there's a lot of time ahead. But I do think that the state polls are a lot more telling than this sort of generic national mash up, if you will.
LEMON: Alice, according to the polls, Democrats are behind in battleground precincts and counties that voted for Obama in 2012 and flipped for Trump in 2016. So, my question is, which Democrat would you be most concerned about winning back those Obama Trump voters?
STEWART: It would certainly have to be Joe Biden being a more moderate of the candidate. When you have someone like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders that are so progressive and so far to the left, they're great and they are a shot in the arm and they're music to the ears of the far left of the Democratic Party.
But as always, the case after winning a primary, you have to go to the middle and appeal to those people that the mayor was talking about. The more middle of the road people. The people that may not be energized and you have you to appeal to the middle section of the electorate.
Joe Biden is that person. He is someone that if he's able to maintain the numbers that he has, he's the person that needs to -- that Republicans most fear. But the key is whether or not he can continue the momentum. He's showing some dropping in the polls in these key states.
And as the mayor said, this is not a national election for president. These are state by state races. And is key to look at each individual the state polls and how the trends are going.
LEMON: Mayor, the Times points out that president's advantage in electoral college remains intact or has even grown since 2016. This race is the possibility that Republicans could for the third time in the past sixth elections win the presidency while losing the popular vote. What do Democrats need to do differently this time?
GILLUM: Well, I'm not ready to see that point, Don. I actually think that we will do a much better job at really concentrating on bringing some of that six million that fell out of the electorate in 2016 back into the fold.
I honestly think that we've got good candidates on the Democratic side. I think there's going to be strong momentum. But make no mistake about it, Donald Trump will be formidable on his side.
He is running a straight to the base election. And he's going to work to turn out some of those difficult voters on the hard right to turn out. And we're going to have to do, you know, our job to turn out voters from the center, on out including, you know, patriotic Republicans who believe in trying to maintain the republic by voting for a president who believes in the Democratic process. And so, I'm still hopeful very much so. But this is going to be a
campaign that needs to be won or lost on the ground. This air war I think, you know, gone are those days where you can just pummel a bunch of Americans with a bunch of television ads. I think we need organization; we need registration. We need turn out right on the ground in these battleground states.
LEMON: Mr. Gillum, Ms. Stewart, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
STEWART: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: President Trump keeps talking about President Obama. We've done the math. And it seems his obsession is getting worse.
LEMON: The president holding a rally in Lexington, Kentucky tonight and up to his old tricks not letting the facts stand in the way of his attacks on the impeachment inquiry and Intel Chairman Adam Schiff. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Shifty Schiff. How about this guy? How about Schiff? He makes up a conversation. He gets up before the United States Congress. He repeats my conversation with the head of Ukraine, the new president, a good guy. He repeats it.
I said I never said that. He made a horrible statement. It was a total lie. And then I actually want to release the actual conversation. And you haven't heard about the whistleblower after that. Have you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Let's fact check here with our very own Daniel Dale. Where to begin, Daniel? Good evening. So, all right, Daniel, that answer had a little bit of everything in it. So, was any of it true?
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: I focus on two things. One is that Trump keeps inverting the time line of what happened with Schiff's comments at committee. Schiff spoke after he released the rough transcript, not before, so Trump didn't outsmart him by releasing it after.
The second thing is that when Trump claims you haven't heard anything about the whistleblower, since September 26, he's asking people not to believe their own ears.
You know, the whistleblower has been a huge subject of discussion among both Trump's critics and pro-Trump media since then. So he's trying to construct an entire elaborate alternative reality on Ukraine.
LEMON: He spoke about the former president, Barack Obama, tonight. We know that Trump is obsessed with Barack Obama. In one cabinet meeting two weeks ago, President Trump talked about him at least 10 times in just that meeting. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: For eight years of President Obama.
President Obama was a mess.
But see whether or not Obama gave up his salary.
Obama made a deal for a book.
President Obama told me that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, you looked at this and you say he's been mentioning Obama a whole lot more recently. What did you find?
DALE: So, I found with courtesy of the website Factbase that Trump has mentioned Obama by name 537 times in 2019. That is up from 200 times in 2017.
I also found that the period from June through October was by far the most frequent for Obama mentions, 366 times, compared to one time that Obama mentioned George W. Bush over the same period of his own presidency. And that one time was praise for Bush for not being bigoted towards Muslims after 9/11. So, he is a very different president.
LEMON: Boy, he's got a thing, right, for Obama. Thank you, Daniel. I appreciate it.
DALE: Thank you.
LEMON: President Trump is going through the math (ph) to try to keep his taxes private as another court rules he has to turn them over to prosecutors. Now the case appears to be headed to the Supreme Court.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: President dealt another setback in court today. A three-judge panel for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that President Trump's accounting firm must turn over eight years of his personal and business tax records to Manhattan prosecutors.
A court writing today, "Presidential immunity does not bar a state grand jury from issuing a subpoena in aid of its investigation of potential crimes committed by persons within its jurisdiction, even if that investigation may in some way implicate the president."
So joining me now to discuss is Elie Honig and William Cohan. William is the author of "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short." Hello. Doing OK? So, listen, this has -- this has gone -- this president has gone to extreme length to hide his tax returns. This case appears to be headed to the Supreme Court. So, is this a setback for Trump? Why is he fighting this so hard?
WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT FOR VANITY FAIR, FORMER MERGER AND ACQUISITIONS BANKER ON WALL STREET: The question is what is he hiding.
LEMON: Yeah --
COHAN: Well --
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You're the financial guy. You --
LEMON: Why is he hiding this so hard?
COHAN: He doesn't want anybody to see what he's been up to because I think one of the central themes, the unknown central themes of the Trump presidency is following the money. We haven't yet been able to do that. Who is making loans to him? We know for years that Wall Street except for Deutsche Bank stopped making loans to him.
Where is he getting the money to do all the things, all the building that he is doing, and tax returns will begin to show that, not as easily as say as I have said this many times to you, Don, not as easily as if we had audited financials from the Trump Organization, which would be lovely --
LEMON: How long will people believe this audit lie?
COHAN: They shouldn't believe it for another second.
COHAN: It's a total lie. Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney, will get these tax returns. They will probably go to a grand jury, right, Elliot? And then eventually that might leak out or might become part of some sort of court filing and we'll begin to see them.
LEMON: Elie, here is another line from other ruling today. It says, "There's no obvious reason why a state could not begin to investigate a president during his term and with information secured during that search, ultimately determine to prosecute him after he leaves office." [23:40:01]
LEMON: So the big picture today -- blow for Trump. Do you think he is not above being held accountable?
HONIG: That's the main takeaway. So Trump went so far out on a limb here in the argument he was making. Not only did he argue I cannot be indicted while in office which is an open question, not only did he argue I cannot be subpoenaed which also is an open question, but I cannot even be investigated.
That's the point we went too far. And the Second circuit today said, no, even while you're in office, you can be investigated. And in another part of the opinion, they said, and you can be charged after you're out of office based on the information from that investigation.
So, a judge once said to me when I was sort of a younger prosecutor, he said, Mr. Honig, you have already climbed too far on a limb and now you're rapidly sewing it out from under yourself. And I thought of that line today when I read this opinion sort of rebuking Trump's lawyers.
LEMON: And what did you say? Sorry, judge.
HONIG: I said, thank you for the advice, I will pull back.
LEMON: Do you think he is going to go to Supreme Court?
HONIG: You know, I think there's actually a chance the Supreme Court does not take this. I notice how Trump's lawyers say we're bringing it to the Supreme Court. You don't bring anything to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will tell you if they want it or not.
Here's why I think the Supreme Court may not take it. The Supreme Court only takes a very small percentage of cases brought to it. It is under five percent. It varies year to year but single digits. And they look for cases that are close calls on the law, which I don't think this is.
And they look for cases where there is a split, where courts in various regions of the country are coming out in different ways. We don't have that either. So I think there's a chance the Supreme Court does not take it. If the Supreme Court does not take it, today's ruling is the last word and Cy Vance gets those tax returns.
LEMON: Wow. And then do we get to see them?
HONIG: Well, eventually. The grand jury will see them first and then we may have to wait until trial or discovery or maybe if someone leaks.
LEMON: William Cohan, you already know what's there, right? Like, I don't need so see those tax returns, but I know you want to. Listen, we don't know if the taxes show any illegality, right? But the bigger picture is the idea of being prosecuted after leaving office. That's a motivating factor, right?
COHAN: Of course. I mean, he may end up going from being impeached or if he does not get convicted in the Senate, he may survive his term in office. He may lose in a year from now and then immediately be headed off to jail or to prison. I mean, this is a guy can get indicted soon after he leaves office.
I'm not exactly sure for what yet. I mean, there are so many possibilities. But I'm sure somewhere in his tax returns, somewhere in his financial statements, there is evidence of him, I suspect, taking money from banks he shouldn't be taking money from.
LEMON: I know that everyone and people on the street go walk up to me they're like, oh, what's going to happen with that? I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball. I just do the news every night. But they want to see the orange jumpsuit. That's never going to happen. Because if Pence does indeed -- let us say the impeachment works, right, which probably will not be voted out in the Senate, he is going to pardon him. And the next president coming in who is a Democrat will probably pardon him as well. So they're not going to get to see that. That is simply the --
HONIG: He may try to pardon himself as well.
HONIG: So, open question there.
COHAN: The question is will Nancy Pelosi pardon him.
COHAN: That's the question that I would like know.
LEMON: His argument rests on the idea of presidential immunity. You heard his lawyer say some time back, Elie, that he couldn't be prosecuted even if he did shoot someone on the Fifth Avenue. But the courts aren't buying it. Are they overplaying their hands?
HONIG: Oh, yes. Trump's lawyers have gone way too far with the idea he can't even be investigated. To take the Fifth Avenue shooting example, let us take it literally, in that case, under Trump's scenario, you can't even investigate. The cops couldn't even come out and do ballistics and measure the scene. That cannot be the case.
LEMON: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
COHAN: Thank you. LEMON: The FBI arresting an alleged white supremacist stopping his plan to bomb a synagogue in Colorado. But is a threat of white supremacy being taken seriously enough?
LEMON: What could have been a deadly domestic terror attack averted when authorities arrested a white supremacist in a plot to bomb a synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado. According to unsealed court documents, 27 year-old Richard Holzer, a self-identifying skinhead and white supremacist, expressed his hatred of Jewish people and his support of what he called a racial holy war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON DUNN, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO: After being contacted by undercover FBI agents posing as fellow white supremacists, Mr. Holzer indicated that he wanted to do something that would let Jewish people and the public community know that they are not welcome, and that, according to him, they should leave or they will die.
Mr. Holzer went on to suggest to undercover agents that they use explosive devices to destroy the synagogue and quote, get that place off the map, end quote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow. I want to bring in Josh Campbell and Shawn Turner. Guys, I feel like we are living in the whole -- I don't know. Not even the past. It is just a crazy time. Josh -- good evening to both of you. Josh, take us through how this story unfolded. How did this plan threat come to light and how did the FBI shut it down?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Don, a tip from a concerned citizen came in to the FBI and helped launched an investigation that would give investigators insight into the mind of the self-professed white supremacist who has intent on killing Jews in Colorado. He was arrested on Friday evening by FBI agents as he prepared to conduct what he thought would be an attack on the synagogue.
CAMPBELL: Now, this all began because a concerned citizen notified the FBI. They launched an investigation using online covered employees. They were able to bump up against this target on Facebook, start a conversation. And they really started getting the insight into the mind of this person, very chilling. And I warn our viewers that some of this is disturbing, but I think it is important to say exactly what it is. In 2019, we have this type of disgusting hate that is still out there with people among us. He talked about the Holocaust and saying that Jews should die. He called Jews a cancer. He talked about his desire to start a holy war. Again, in conversations with these undercover FBI agents, he talked about wanting to conduct an attack on a synagogue.
He actually went about conducting reconnaissance on the target. And then as he attempted to get what he thought were actually live explosives from undercover agents, they conducted that arrest on Friday, thwarting again this very dangerous threat to the community, Don.
LEMON: Shawn, just last week, the former acting secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, warned of the specific threat of white supremacy as a growing dangerous element in our society. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MCALEENAN, FORMER ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: One of the most significant emerging threats over the past years has been domestic actors' adoption of terrorist techniques to inspire and direct individuals often via the internet to carry out acts of terrorism and targeted violence. Of specific concern has been an increase in racially and ethnically-motivated violence, particularly the threat posed by violent white supremacist extremists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Shawn, how dangerous has this resurgence in pro-white racial rhetoric become?
SHAWN TURNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Look, this has become one of the most significant and most dangerous threats to American citizens that we've seen in quite a long time. You know, Don, in the previous administration, toward the end of the administration, we began to see a slight rise in the instances of white supremacist groups and their membership.
And we know that during that time, that rise was somewhat limited. It was slow. It was steady. But there were forces at play in the administration and in leadership circles that were pushing back on that rise quite significantly.
The data tells us that in the past couple of years, we've seen an accelerated increase in these groups and in the violent acts that they've carried out. And there's some data that indicates that part of that increase is related to the fact that these individuals or these groups perceive that the current social and political environment is more permissive for the spread of their ideology.
You know, one of the concerns that the acting DHS secretary did not mention is that, you know, for a lot of national security officials, a lot of people in this space are concerned about what happens when the current social and political environment changes. At some point, this administration will no longer be in office. And when that environment changes, you know, it's unclear exactly how this group is going to react. I can tell you that based on some of the data that I've looked at recently, we're seeing additional chatter in some of the groups and forums that they talk in where they're talking more about taking up arms. We're seeing more talk about what they call a racial holy war.
These groups are -- what we're seeing these groups do today is certainly significant and certainly a threat to a lot of U.S. citizens. But there's also the possibility that we'll see a kind of collective trigger when the current social and political environment changes.
LEMON: Josh, you know, the suspect here, his name is Richard Holzer again. He used Facebook accounts to spread his racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Talk about the role, please, of social media, and the role that it plays in spreading white supremacy.
CAMPBELL: Look, at the outset, we know that social media has inherently good qualities. It connects people, our family and friends. But there's also this reality that it also connects white supremacists and racists and domestic terrorists and international terrorists for that matter.
People who would be ostracized or perhaps arrested if they conducted their same type of activities out in public can now do so privately using the anonymity of social media. Now, what we don't yet know in this instance is whether it was Facebook that helped tip off the FBI, someone at the company, or whether it was a private citizen.
This is the current debate. There is so much hate, vitriol, and garbage that are transiting these systems. I don't think that social media companies are doing enough to work with law enforcement and to catch this before, you know, left of boom as we say. But, again, it continues to be a problem out there. These mediums, as they exist, allow these very bad people to connect and communicate and to plot.
LEMON: Law enforcement deserves credit for thwarting --
TURNER: If I could just add --
LEMON: Yeah, quickly, please.
TURNER: Yeah. If I could just add one point to that, Don. The other thing that it gives these people in addition to what Josh said is it gives them a community that often extends outside of the United States.
And one of the real concerns that we have right now is some of the violent extremist ideology that we're seeing some of these domestic groups inside the United States carry out is actually not about what's happening here in the U.S. It's about what's happening outside of our border. So to some degree, we're actually exporting this kind of violent extremist ideology.
LEMON: Wow. Shawn, Josh, thank you so much.
TURNER: Or importing it.
LEMON: Importing it, yeah.
LEMON: Thank you.
LEMON: I appreciate it. Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.