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Don Lemon Tonight
Mueller Accuses Manafort of Witness Tampering; Bill Clinton's Book Tour and Defense in One; Trump Tweeted He Could Pardon Himself; Will President Trump Pardon Himself?; President Trump Un-Invites Super Bowl Champ Philadelphia Eagles. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 04, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So take it from here my handsome friend.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: But I also have something to say, I'm smiling because you remember the last time I saw your wife and she said to me, she said, why aren't you nice to Chris when he hands it over to you. And I said, Cristina, I can't hear him. So I'm being extra nice to you so that next time I see your wife she won't give me any gaffe about it.
CUOMO: Smart move. Smart move.
LEMON: It was a fantastic show, number one. So I can't wait for number two to see the second show in the week and the shows beyond that. So great job, my friend. Welcome to prime time.
CUOMO: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.
Our big breaking news tonight. Robert Mueller accusing Paul Manafort of witness tampering and wants to revoke or revive Manafort's house arrest which could send him to jail. We're going to have more on that in just a moment.
And it comes as all the president's men and women are trying themselves, tying themselves up in knots trying to deflect and distract from what's really going on here and with all the chaos, from the backtracking and flip flopping, it can be tempting to tune all of this out.
The rules broken. The norms stomped on. And you may find yourself saying, that's just Trump, throwing your hands up. But make no mistake all of this is part of the strategy here, flood the zone with crazy.
Enough crazy that you just might miss a really crucial moment, like this from the president today tweeting, "As has been stated by numerous legal scholars I have the absolute right to pardon myself but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong.
In the meantime, the never ending witch hunt led by 13 very angry and conflicted Democrats and others continues into the midterms."
Why there's sudden obsession of pardons and especially with pardoning himself. That is by definition putting himself above the law. That is absolutely what President Trump is saying in that tweet, make to mistake about it. No matter how much Sarah Sanders tries to dance around it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the president believe he is above the law?
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly, no one is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, the president wants you to believe that pardoning himself would just be politics as usual. That's why he keeps repeating the false claim that the investigation is being led by Democrats even though Mueller, himself is a registered Republican who was appointed two offices by Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and was appointed special counsel by Rod Rosenstein, President Trump's own handpicked deputy attorney general.
So, this is not politics as usual. This is a very crucial critical moment. No president has ever pardoned himself in the history of the United States. If President Trump were to try it the case would almost certainly go straight to the Supreme Court.
And then there are other multiple lies from the president's own legal about his role in dictating the response to his oldest son's Trump tower meeting with Russians. The president's personal attorney said in January, in a letter in January to Robert Mueller obtained by "The New York Times," last week that Trump, quote, "dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of the son Donald Trump, Jr." That's a quote.
Well, attorney Jay Sekulow confirmed that today in a statement to CNN. Saying, quote, "The statement in the January letter reflects our understanding of the events that occurred, but it does not reflect what Sekulow himself said over and over. It does not reflect what Sarah Sanders said."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY SEKULOW, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LEGAL TEAM: That was written by Donald Trump, Jr. And I'm sure in consultation with his lawyer. So that wasn't written by the president.
The president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G20. The statement that was released on Saturday was released by Donald Trump, Jr. I'm sure in consultation with his lawyers. The president wasn't involved.
The president was not involved in the drafting of the statement, he did not issue the statement, it came from Donald Trump, Jr., and they made a decision on how to release that out. That is the decision they made. The president was not involved in that decision.
SANDERS: He certainly didn't dictate but, you know, he, like I said he weighed in and offered suggestion like any father would do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Even today, Sarah Sanders refuse to explain the lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said, certainly didn't dictate a statement, I wonder if you can tell us the basis of your comment when you made that in August and do you think that still stand? Is that still operative statement or do you retract that?
SANDERS: Once again this is a reference back to a letter from the outside counsel. I understand but it's also pertaining to a letter from the president's outside counsel and therefore I can't answer and I would direct you to them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your basis of saying it?
SANDERS: Once again, I'm not going to get into a back and forth and I would encourage you to reach out to outside counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: For nearly year team Trump lied about that statement. Lied about that statement. And now they're trying to bury that back. Rudy Giuliani insisting to Chris Cuomo tonight that it wasn't a lie, it was a routine mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: It was a mistake, I swear to God it was a mistake. The guy made a mistake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:05:00] LEMON: Well, but what we have said again and again facts matter. The truth matters. The American people deserve the truth.
I want to get right now to our breaking news with the Mueller investigation tonight. CNN Political Correspondent, Sara Murray joins me with that part of the story. Sara, thank you for joining us. Paul Manafort appears to be in big trouble with the special counsel's office. What is team Mueller alleging here?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's absolutely right. Look, of course, Paul Manafort was the former Trump campaign chairman and he has faced a number of charges related to financial crimes and also failing to disclose his lobbying work for a foreign government.
Now he insisted that he's not guilty. But the latest news is that finally we got tonight from the special counsel's team where prosecutors alleged that Paul Manafort has been tampering with witnesses.
So let me walk you through how they say this happen. They say back in February, Paul Manafort has been facing charges. Meanwhile his business partner, Rick Gates decides he's going to plead guilty. He's going to cooperate with the special counsel team and that means cooperate against his former business partner Paul Manafort.
Well, after that, Paul Manafort decide he's going to try to reach out to a couple of witnesses in this case, the prosecutors alleged, and try to get them all on the same page about their story. Essentially trying to get them to say that the only lobbying work that they did this was pro-Ukrainian lobbying work was in Europe not in the United States.
The prosecutors say that was false, that everyone knew that was false and of course that Manafort should not have been trying to tamper with witnesses. So, that certainly could spell some big trouble for Paul Manafort. The court are -- or the prosecutors are asking that the court will be hearing on this as soon as possible and that Paul Manafort is no longer allowed to stay under house arrest but instead is sent to jail.
So we'll see how that plays out. Representatives for Manafort did not immediately have a comment for CNN.
LEMON: We will be watching to see how this plays out definitely. Thank you, I appreciate that. Sara Murray joining us from Washington.
I want to bring in now Chris Cillizza, CNN politics editor-at-large, Brian Karem, he is a CNN political analyst and an executive editor of Sentinel newspaper. Laura Coates is here as well, CNN legal analyst and a former federal prosecutor.
Men, do we have a lot to talk about this evening. Good evening to you all. So, Laura, Mueller is not messing around. I mean, want your take on this reporting and the seriousness of this allegation that Manafort is witness tampering.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that's a very, very serious offense. Because again, we've been talking for better part of a year- and-a-half about the consequences of obstructing justice, by trying to get somebody to interfere with an ongoing investigation.
If you tamper with a witness you are essentially trying to get somebody else to give false testimony and mislead investigators, mislead prosecutors and mislead the court, all of which are offenses against the American people and American court system.
And so, it's particularly egregious when you already have somebody who by the grace of the court is allowed not to remain in jail pending the trial in July and one coming in September, and is given the opportunity to be home on house detention in an opportunity that many people are not given when they are considered to be alleged felons in our court of law.
He was granted that ability to have lenience and he's trying to commit crimes while he's out. It seems to just boggle the mind that somebody facing such serious charges would conduct themselves this way. But it does line up with what Sara Murray was reporting. This is somebody given the timing, very, very scared and nervous that his right-hand man, Rick Gates is willing to cooperate. And having to get his story straight, even if it meant violating the law potentially.
LEMON: And Chris, listen, no matter what the folks around him, his representatives say, we always know where the president's mind is, all we have to do is look at his Twitter feed.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's right.
LEMON: So I want you to look at this. This is the pair of tweets the president sent out yesterday. He said, "Ss only one of two people left who could become president why would the FBI and the Department of Justice have told me that they were secretly investigating Paul Manafort on charges that were 10 years old and have been preciously dropped during my campaign. Should have told me.
Paul Manafort came into the campaign very late and was with us for a short period of time. He represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many others over the years but we should have been told that Comey and the boys were doing a number on him and he wouldn't have been hired."
So, I mean, does this say to you, that President Trump had Manafort on his mind this weekend? We don't hear the president speak about Manafort all too often? And the old thing he came in very late, short period of time, I mean, come on.
CILLIZZA: Yes. OK. Let's just deal with the fact -- you mentioned -- you mentioned -- I don't want to take to -- you know, OK. You mention facts matter. So let's just deal with the facts here because there's a lot of misrepresentation in that, Don, and particularly second tweet you read.
Paul Manafort was the campaign manager from -- campaign chairman but effectively the campaign manager from about April 2016 until August 2016. He was brought in at a very critical moment in the campaign, there was an expected delegate fight between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, who amazingly had emerged as the establish alternative to Donald Trump.
[22:10:03] He ran the entire campaign during that critical period of time and was given a lot of credit, as I recall, very personally hearing from people, giving Manafort a ton of credit because he put down that delegate instruction. So, as late as the convention in Cleveland Paul Manafort was seen as a major player.
The reason he was pushed out--
BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The savior.
CILLIZZA: -- is largely because Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner did not like him, get along with him, neither did Donald Trump, Jr. The other piece here is that, I don't understand why Donald Trump believes that he should be brought in to ongoing FBI investigations. These aren't -- these aren't charges that are just 10 years old, this deal with a serious financial allegations of financial wrong doing with Ukraine that was tied to Rick Gates and Paul Manafort. If anything, Donald Trump should have done his own vetting--
LEMON: You just took the word out of my mouth.
CILLIZZA: -- of Manafort.
LEMON: He certainly didn't do his extreme vetting.
CILLIZZA: I mean, he hired him. This was not, to be clear, Paul Manafort has been dealing with the Ukraine prior to Donald Trump, he's right become that. But then why did Donald Trump not say, wait a minute, let's do even a tiny bit of Google searching--
CILLIZZA: -- and find that out.
KAREM: There's no binding up. It blow actually, because no one -- they were in a position where no one wanted to work with him so they took who could -- here's the result of what you have because of that.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
KAREM: I mean, this is one hot mess of an administration. Tonight, you have Rudy Giuliani standing like, you know, John Belushi in "The "Blues Brothers" saying, my God, it wasn't my fault as Carrie Fisher has the rifle on it. And he lie in the court.
Look, I was there when they first tried to defend what they said tonight about, you know, the letter that was dictated to his son, break that down, Don. The information came from somewhere and they were all saying the same information.
So, either they independently lied or they went to the president, the president told them a story and then they spread that story and that was falsehood.
LEMON: Well, let's listen--
KAREM: It isn't that difficult.
LEMON: You mention Giuliani. Here, this was, he was with Chris just moments ago. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Somebody's lying about this, Rudy, and I don't understand why.
GIULIANI: I don't think anybody's lying. I think a mistake was made at the very early stages of investigation. I don't mean investigation, very early stages of a representation by a lawyer which happens all the time. So I don't think it's a significant fact.
The most important thing is there's no testimony under oath to that effect. And then when a written statement was put in it was completely accurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, I mean, a lie is a mistake usually.
LEMON: I mean, they repeated and repeated, but it didn't it go on for almost a year? I mean, so.
KAREM: And the defense of that is it was a mistake and they didn't give complete information. This wasn't that, I mean, they completely -- they sod this bill of goods since the first time Sarah walked out and sold it to us and they defended it the entire time.
LEMON: Brian, let me ask me you this. Let's think about the logic here, they're saying the president didn't do it. The president would know if he did.
LEMON: And he's actually, I did. Why are you telling why are you giving people the wrong information. I mean, certainly the people who were aboard air force one when he reportedly did it, the president's son, Don Junior would know that he did. So I don't understand this about, this was the information we had at the time, it was a mistake. It's a flat out lie.
COATES: Well, you know--
KAREM: It's a flat out lie, and they were trying to defend themselves by now. And Rudy says now, look, now you have the statement in the court of court. Now that's the truth.
KAREM: So, you know what, Rudy is kind of telling the truth here, they soldiered some blarney, and now that they're forced to tell the truth they will tell the truth. And that goes back to what he was also saying when you take a look at what he said about the president not being above the law. The president actually may believe that he's not above the law but the way he's spinning it is, I'm within the law to say that I'm above the law.
KAREM: And that's how going to defend the lies--
LEMON: OK. Hold that thought, guys, hold that thought because I got to get to the break. We're going to come back. I'm going to bring you guys back, so stick around.
When we come back, Bill Clinton speaking out tonight addressing his own tone deaf comments earlier today about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Plus the first photos of Melania Trump in 24 days. We have a sighting. More on that coming up.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Former President Bill Clinton speaking out tonight about some pretty ill considered comments earlier about the Monica Lewinsky scandal and whether he owes her an apology.
Back with me, Chris, Brian, and Laura. So what -- this is a lot to chew on as well. So the former president he addressed the controversy over his defensive answer on NBC News this morning, where he defended how he handled the Lewinsky scandal. This is, here he is tonight. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is the -- the hubbub was I got out of the collar, because of the way the questions were asked. The suggestion was that I never apologized for what caused all the trouble for me 20 years ago.
So, first one is, I did. I mean it then and I mean it now, I apologize to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family, and to the American people. The second is that I support the Me Too movement and I think it's long overdue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So Laura, is that enough to clean up, I mean, his answer would certainly seem tone-deaf earlier today.
COATES: Well, I do think that it did something, maybe not moving the needle completely because what he fails to recognize inherently is that while he said that 20 years ago got him in a great deal of trouble.
The truth of the matter is he has thrived over last 20 years and Monica Lewinsky by her own account has had the live of a hermit one who is a shamed and forced to wear a red scarlet letter.
And for that reason I think that it needs to be addressed and not just from him but perhaps the way society has also treated her, the way people have gone after her and her behavior and her accountability. And the way they've questioned her in the way they have not done so with Bill Clinton, the former president of the united states. There is a reckoning to come.
Now I would have been more satisfied had he addressed what I thought was the most obvious reason why a married man would not have addressed the woman who was his mistress 20 years ago with a personal phone call and perhaps with some conciliatory flowers.
[22:19:59] That was obvious to me. In fact, it was apparently obvious to him in that statement. And 20 years later we still find ourselves wondering why he won't address the fact that there was some about the victimization of him of her base on his position.
But she also has important accountability to reckon with, I suspect she's done so in the life she's led now.
LEMON: Yes. You know, I told Chris exactly what you said about she's basically led the life of a hermit. Now she is out and about now. I see her and you know, she pretty much goes out. People still look at her, she walks down the street, she's still very famous and she--
LEMON: -- you know, and that she has security and all of those things. But I remember back when this, not long after happen, and I would see her here and her friends would be very protective of her. She would try to hide with a hair or hat or whatever, you know, covering her face. I mean, it must have just been awful for her and still to this day. So but how could--
KAREM: I still think that President Clinton--
LEMON: -- how could Bill Clinton--
KAREM: Right. Yes, I think he still sounded a little tone-deaf this evening.
LEMON: So, but my question, how could he not have been ready for that question? Brian, go on.
KAREM: Well, I mean, you know, there's a saying in Washington, the only thing worse than a republican is a Democrat. I mean, certainly his behavior and Trumps, you kind of hear a little of each other in there, I mean, it's gotten progressively worse over the years. But you have to wonder why they're tone deaf to this.
And they're tone deaf to any criticism. Like Chris brought up earlier, it's not the crime, it's the cover up. And then that was the case with Bill Clinton too. I mean, he famously got out there and said, you know, I did not have sexual relationship with that woman, Monica Lewinsky and obviously he did. LEMON: Yes.
KAREM: And it's always the cover up and that lie that gets you in trouble. And it seems like politicians in D.C. just love to do it. And that -- and the problem, you know, the real problem is, and I'll make this final point.
But the real problem is, with all the lying goes on, I heard something tonight that rings so true, it's that when you lie so often, it's not that people begin to believe the lies, it's that they don't know what the truth is and that makes them easier to lead by the notes.
LEMON: So Chris, let me ask you this. Because Brian said, the only -- what you said the only thing worse than a Republican is a Democrat. So here's -- this is -- this is what--
KAREM: Not the same.
LEMON: -- this is what some progressives are saying, they're not saying it publicly. Why are you not -- you know, why are you beating up Bill Clinton, this was 20 years ago.
LEMON: And we have someone in the White House now accused of similar things and he is not paying the price for it, Bill Clinton has paid the price. What do you say to that?
CILLIZZA: Well, I say that Donald Trump's -- the allegations against Donald Trump as it relates to his behavior with women, do not allow every Democrat ever to get a free pass. If it is something that we don't condone for Republicans it should be something we don't condone for Democrats.
I hear this all the time, well, Donald Trump lies all the time. Therefore we can say anything about him and it's justified. I always ask people, is that what you would tell your kids? Well, whatever you're doing you can do it worse because they did it. He know that's not--
LEMON: So, there's no -- there's no truth in any of that?
CILLIZZA: I -- no -- look, Donald Trump -- excuse me Bill Clinton. God, you got me turned around. Bill Clinton is doing a book tour with James Patterson on a book that they wrote.
LEMON: He should be--
CILLIZZA: He agrees to sit--
CILLIZZA: He agrees to sit down for an interview, rightly the reporter does not agree what questions are on limits and what questions are off limits. Bill Clinton needs to have a good answer for that.
CILLIZZA: That is not Craig Melvin, the NBC reporter who ask the questions, it's not his fault. He gets to ask the questions, Bill Clinton answers the question. And one thing I do want to note we should focus more on what I believe to be the grace and dignity that Monica Lewinsky in the last decade or so has handled herself where she has reemerged as a voice against bullying. And she was very strongly about--
LEMON: And with grace. With grace. I got to go.
CILLIZZA: She had read her Vanity Fair piece about this, it's from last month.
LEMON: Yes, I got it right here.
CILLIZZA: Go and read--
LEMON: Monica Lewinsky emerging from the house of gaslight in the age of Me Too and it's fascinating. I was it before the show.
CILLIZZA: Please read. Yes.
LEMON: Thank you. Listen, I want to talk to you guys about the Eagles, so we're going to discuss that a little bit later on. Unbelievable. Thank you. I appreciate it. See you soon.
CILLIZZA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, President Trump says he has the right to pardon himself. His lawyer Rudy Giuliani telling CNN, moments ago, the president theoretically can't be prosecuted for anything. Will Congress hold the president accountable? I'm going to the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, next.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump could not have been clear with his tweet this morning. He insists he has the absolute right to pardon himself. But it bears repeating, no president in our history has ever tried to do that. So, are we at a crises point here? Maybe we're at a constitutional crises. I don't know. I want to bring in this man who could answer, CNN National Security
Analyst, James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence. So I certainly hope you can answer some of that. Before we get -- are we in a crises?
JAMES CLAPPER, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Well, Don, you know on coming in here tonight, I was trying to come up with some catchy phrase that would capture describe yet another access of this president. And you know, I'm out of catchy phrases. I just too little context here we're 500 days into this administration and, you know, wonders never cease. It just seems like there's another, yet another episode in this continuing saga.
LEMON: If not--
CLAPPER: So I don't -- I don't -- to answer your question, I don't know whether there's a crises yet. I don't -- I don't -- it doesn't feel like it yet. I think if special counsel Mueller concludes his investigation, and, you know, cites the president in some way for some criminal act, then I think we could be confronting a crises if the president carries out what was clearly on his mind.
[22:30:02] I mean, you know, I have to wonder whether this is just a set up for what he may considered an inevitable development at some point where he will -- he will pardon himself and it then it was just sort of prepping the battlefield, as they say in the military.
LEMON: You think this coming from his legal team anticipating an eventual show down with the Special Counsel?
CLAPPER: Yes, I think so. You know, this is -- the President and his team have gotten a lot more aggressive I think, and this is occasioned by I think the edition of Rudy Giuliani, who is I think much more a P.R. type than he is -- you know, is contributing his legal talents. So, yes, I detect a definite change in tone and message since he came aboard.
LEMON: Can I get your reaction on the news tonight about Paul Manafort being accused on Special Counsel of witness tampering?
CLAPPER: Well, I think he's in -- I think he's in deep trouble before, now it would appear he's in very deep trouble if what I understand is in the -- in the rooting that was put out about this from the Special Counsel's office.
So -- and I don't think -- I don't see how this can possibly be well for the President, giving Manafort's at one point a pretty close relationship, and his management of the campaign.
LEMON: So, Director Clapper, this is some of what we heard from the White House today. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Does the President believe that he is above the law?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly not. The President hasn't done anything wrong.
ALEXANDER: The question isn't if the President has done anything wrong. I guess the question is, does the President believe the framers envisioned a system where the President could pardon himself -- where the President could be above the law?
SANDERS: Certainly, the Constitution very clearly lays out the law, and once again, the President hasn't done anything wrong, and we feel comfortable on that front.
ALEXANDER: Yes. But you just a moment ago said it's not -- it's not that clear, so I guess, simply put, do the President believe he is above the law?
SANDERS: Certainly no one is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, does President Trump believe he's above the law?
CLAPPER: Well, I think he probably does. And for me, he seems to more and more be assuming the trappings of the king, of an autocrat. You know, everyone must comply with the law except for one. And I frankly don't know how the media members, who frequent the briefing room in the White House -- I don't know how they tolerate listening to, what I come to call, the administer of information from George Orwell.
LEMON: Information or the misinformation as some will say.
LEMON: So I have to get -- I have to get your reaction to this, these is -- reporters right here, they caught up with Senator Ted Cruz asking whether he think the President can pardon himself. Eighteen- second pause before answering. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, the President said can pardon himself, would you agree with that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you agree with that, Mr. Senator?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: That is not a constitutional issue I've studied, so I will withhold judgment at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So other Republicans, director like Senator Grassley are speaking out. But is Senator Cruz -- I mean 18 seconds -- the silence is deafening, what does that say to you? CLAPPER: Well, to me that 18 seconds is emblematic of the Republican
leadership who continues to remain silent about these, to me, assaults on our institutions, and our values, and good on Senator Grassley.
LEMON: Thank you, Director Clapper. I appreciate your time as always.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: When we come back, the Super Bowl champions won't be heading to the White House tomorrow after all. Why the President uninvited them? Well, we'll talk about that Philadelphia Eagles. That's next.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Breaking news, President Trump calling an audible canceling tomorrow's scheduled visit of the Super Bowl champion, Philadelphia Eagles, to the White House. The President is issuing a statement tonight saying, quote, the Philadelphia Eagles aren't able to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow.
They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the national anthem, hand on heart in honor of the great men and women of our military, and the people of our country. So I want to bring in now Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania. Congressman, thank you very much. You're originally from Philly?
REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: I'm sorry?
LEMON: Are you originally from Philadelphia?
BOYLE: I am born and raised in Philadelphia, and live in Philadelphia at the moment. I'm in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, our state capital because I was here pushing legislation with my brother. And I'm also, most importantly, a life long Eagles' fan.
LEMON: Yes, I just -- I just I wanted to establish your connection to Philadelphia and the Eagles. So, what's your reaction to the President abruptly canceling this scheduled visit tomorrow?
BOYLE: You know, besides the fact that I'm a Philadelphian and I'm an Eagles' fan. It's just one more example of the way this President has changed the norms. Every president, Republican or Democrat, would welcome the team that won the championship whether it's the Super Bowl, or the World Series, or the Stanley Cup.
It would be nice event as the President acting in its capacity as head of state, and that would be the end of it. I still remember President Reagan hosting the Red Skins, and throwing a football. That's the norm. And yet, yet again Donald Trump has found a way to divide people, and make it about himself instead of the championship team, and their fans.
LEMON: I mean, look, this isn't the first time that players don't want to go to the White House. There are players that have gone to a number of administration or gone against a number of administrations not going to the White House because they disagree with them politically.
[22:40:07] They didn't uninvited them, or to the White House, they just continued, and celebrated with the people who showed up. But here's what you tweeted, you said that you even make a championship team visiting the White House all about you. What is wrong with you seriously? What condition do you have? Why do you say that?
BOYLE: I think the President is a narcissist. And I'm not a psychologist. I understand that psychiatric professionals have a certain limitation on publicly diagnosing someone.
But as a layperson who was not a psychiatrist, the fact that Donald Trump is such -- seems to be such deeply insecure human being, the fact that he makes something about himself is really bizarre. And again, I mean, this is just -- you know, if this was the only example, that would be one thing.
But this is one of, where are we, hundreds of examples in the way in which Donald Trump has broken the norm, and again made something that should be a nice thing in a way to bring people together, instead just an opportunity to make it about himself.
LEMON: Well, this comes on the heels of the NFL ruling, requiring players to stand during the national anthem, or stay in the locker room. What do you want to say to the Eagles players tonight?
BOYLE: Well, one of them, at least Malcolm Jenkins is a constituent of mine, and I saw in Election Day -- you know, I admire the facts that a number of the Eagles, such as Chris Long, have really made a bold stand on social justice.
At least one of the Eagle players actually played for free this entire year, and donated their entire salary to charity. It's interesting about, you know, standing for the national anthem. And I could be wrong on this.
But I don't recall any of the Eagle players taking a knee this year. So, if the President is trying to make it about that, I don't think the Eagles are necessarily the best example, other than the fact that they've made strong stands as individuals for social justice causes.
LEMON: You're absolutely. I'm going to talk about that with the panel because our Jake Tapper spoke with a player, and an NFL source who noticed that not one of the players on the Super Bowl winning Eagles took a knee all regular season. So, his statement doesn't add up. Thank you, I appreciate it, Congressman Boyle.
BOYLE: OK. Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Yes. I want to bring our CNN Political Commentator and former Congressman Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania, also CNN Political Commentator, Scott Jennings, and Bakari Sellers. So, good evening. You heard the Congressman there. And so I'll start with a congressman now, you're from Pennsylvania, Eagles' fan. What do you think?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Brendan Boyle's a good friend. And I think the President of the United States knew darn well when he invited the Eagles to the White House celebration that some would not attend, and so disinviting them at this late hour seems a bit contrived, a political stunt.
I think it's very unfortunate. That said, you know, I went to an Eagles' game this year, I didn't see anybody take a knee. It's too bad that football has become so politicized. I happen to think that, you know, the players taking a knee was not the right thing to do, but they certainly had the right to do it.
There are better ways to protest. You know, you can stand in the shadow of William Penn at City Hall. That'll be a better way to hold a rally, and talk about the issues that you're concerned about. I never thought doing this at the football game was very helpful to the NFL or the brand.
LEMON: So, you think -- Bakari, you think this is a strategy on the part of the President because he writes in his response that they want to send a delegation. He didn't think that was good enough, and that the fans are better.
NFL network reports that they were planning to send around -- I think around 10 people to the White House ceremony. But you said he's doing it to divide the country?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, not only is he trying to divide the country, but he just cancelled a party that no one was coming to anyway. That's what the President did. None of these players were coming.
I mean, we talked about the fact that none of these players kneeled. Malcolm Jenkins actually raised a fist in protest. Chris Long actually donated his entire salary to charitable causes. But, you know, the President's thinking is not that different from Congressman Dent, and that's unfortunate.
I think that people have made this issue out to be something different than what it is. Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Malcolm Jenkins, all of these players who are very, very courageous, protesting police brutality and oppression in this country.
They're not protesting the flag, they're not protesting the military, they're not protesting the national anthem, they're protesting injustices that happened to African-Americans.
The irony in saying that someone needs to find a better way to protest is simply like saying that the four kids, February 1st, 1960 at the Woolworth County shouldn't have sit in, they should have found some other way to protest.
Or maybe Dr. King and John Lewis shouldn't have marched across the bridge because they were blocking traffic. Maybe they should have stood under a statue. The problem that we are having is that people have misconstrued what this is about. Malcolm Jenkins, the Philadelphia Eagles are leaders in that. [22:45:01] I'm proud of them, and any player that wants to take a
knee, they can afford to take a knee, should take a knee, because that's the only way we're going to get change in this country.
LEMON: So listen, I want to -- let me ask you this, Scott, because I'm looking at overall list of players, not just from the NFL, but from different sports teams who have refused to go to the White House, this is not the first time.
And so -- and they didn't cancel the ceremony. No other president cancelled the ceremony. I mean, is there anything presidential about disinviting the Super Bowl champions from the White House because some of the players disagree with you?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that this was not just a handful of players who were cancelling. I think what the White House was upset about is that if the news media in Philadelphia is right, fewer than 10 players were planning not to attend.
I mean, that's not just a couple of guys who were upset, that's a mass protest. That's an attempt to try to embarrass the President that they disagree with. And that's their right. I don't think anybody should be compelled to go to an event they want to go to.
And I don't think the President ought to be compelled to have an event that he doesn't want to have if he feels like he is going to be embarrassed. What I find interesting about this whole ordeal is it's the first sort of Trump-NFL interaction since the NFL caved to the President and change their rules about the national anthem.
And at the time, we all thought this was Trump getting a victory over the NFL, but clearly he's still not happy with the NFL, it wasn't enough for him. And he's taking it a step further, I think largely because he thinks every time this is in the news, it's a winner.
He thinks the short-term pain of making people angry in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania is worth the long-term gain of this being a political winner for him every time it's in the news anywhere else in the country.
LEMON: The first part of your statement you said -- or your answer, I should say, is you said that it's an attempt to deliberately embarrass the President, because you disagree with someone politically. Why is that intentional embarrassing the President? Why is it then again about the President, and not about them just disagreeing with him, or that their issues are not being paid attention to?
JENNINGS: Oh, look, I think they're perfectly well within their rights to not want to show up, and to make a statement against the President they disagree with by not showing up.
But on the same token, the President is well within his rights to not hold an event in which he feels like people are deliberately trying to embarrass him, which is clearly how he feels about this. Again, fewer than 10 players were planning to show up. This isn't a couple of guys who were man. This is a mass protest, and the president didn't want to be embarrassed in his own backyard.
LEMON: Well, they were saying...
JENNINGS: Everybody's allowed to cancel this.
LEMON: They were saying a delegation of 10.
JENNINGS: And the players cancel theirs.
LEMON: They were sending a delegation of 10. And they are saying -- they said that they had a couple of meetings to discuss the invitation. Not many players wanted to attend the White House ceremony, the numbers were low.
But the President making an issue of the players who take a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice was never even mentioned in the meetings. The Eagles said there was no infighting on the team about attendance. They just didn't want to go. We'll continue, we'll be right back.
LEMON: We'll be right back. I will get you on.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump slamming the door op the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. And he has canceled their scheduled visit tomorrow at the White House. Eagles issuing a statement just tonight.
Here is their new statement saying it's been incredibly thrilling to celebrate our first Super Bowl championship, watching the entire Eagles community come together has been an inspiration. We are truly grateful for all the support we have received, and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season.
Great statement. Back with me, former Congressman Charlie Dent, also Scott Jennings, and Bakari Sellers. So, Congressman Dent I just -- I want to play this. This is a former Eagles player Torrey Smith said on my show back in February about not attending the White House ceremony. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TORREY SMITH, FORMER EAGLES PLAYER: If I told you that I was invited to a party by an individual that I believe is sexist, or has no respect for women, I wouldn't still do that -- this individual has said offensive things towards many minority groups, and I don't feel comfortable with it.
This individual also called my peers and friends SOBs. You would understand why I don't want to go to that party. So why is it any different when this person has a title President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So the Eagles' response was certainly showed unity, uniting. He had a very good point there, don't you think, Congressman?
DENT: I do. I think Torrey Smith made a very fair point that has -- he objects to many of the President's comments or behavior. And he felt that he didn't want to attend. I respect that. I mean, he's very honest about it. He was very civil about it, and I have a lot of respect for the man. I think it was a fair statement.
LEMON: Bakari, ESPN's Jemele Hill tweeted this. She said, so it's not -- it's not new news several of the Eagles were participating in peaceful demonstration during the national anthem, and weren't interested in going to the White House. In other words, this was a political setup by Trump. So, political setup, Bakari?
SELLERS: No question about it. I mean, Trump does well when he is waging these cultural wars. Cultural wars are only successful when we're stupid enough to fall for them. You know, he sends these dog whistles out to his base. He sends these dog whistles out to various voters.
I mean, what this is, this is Trump bullying the NFL owners, the NFL owners look at these players as chattel. They tell them when to stand, tell them when they can stand, when they can't stand for, what they can stand for, where they can stand. And these players are simply saying I have a platform.
I want to utilize my voce. I want to speak out. I am no one's piece of chattel. I can raise my voice, and express my First Amendment Right like anyone else. And the fact is, this isn't the first team to do this.
In fact, The Golden State Warriors said the hell with Donald Trump, too. And they actually went to the National African-American History Museum instead. And so you're starting to see players of color, players of conscious, even Chris Long come together, and raise their voices like Muhammad Ali did. And we all praised Muhammad Ali because they forget the revolutionary that he was.
LEMON: Yes. And in the time -- in the moment he wasn't necessarily celebrated. But then history has been very kind to him, and people see him for the hero that he was, and is.
[22:55:02] So listen, this all comes, Scott, on the heels of the NFL seeming to appease the President by ruling that teams must stand during the national anthem, or stay in the locker room. I mean, Trump, he got what he wanted. So why is he adding fire to this? Why is he adding more fuel to the fire?
JENNINGS: Well, two reasons, one, I think he feels like he was being set up. I think that what was used earlier in this conversation, I think he feels like he was being setup to have an event in which he was going to be embarrassed at his own venue, and he wasn't willing to do that. And number two, I feel -- I think he feels like every time this is in
the news, this whole issue of standing for the national anthem, that it's a political winner.
What I fear for the President is, is that I actually believe he may be on the cusp of locking in some gains with the African-American community based on his work on criminal justice reform, based on some of the people who have come around to seeing his point of view on certain issue, based on unemployment drops among African-Americans.
I fear these kinds of issues are roadblocks in making those in roads that he could be on the cusp of making otherwise. So, we'll see if the President is right. He thinks it's a long-term political victory to continue to bring this up.
I actually think that he may be stunting his growth with the African- American community when he's been trying to lock in some gains by going back to the well one more time on this issue.
LEMON: Look, unfortunately I am out of time. But if you saw Bakari's face, he does not agree with anything at all that you just say.
SELLERS: No, no, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian...
JENNINGS: I wanted to get the last word.
LEMON: I've got to got. I have to go. But listen, it would have been...
DENT: Fly Eagles, fly. Fly Eagles, fly, guys. Come on.
LEMON: Absolutely. I'm a former Philadelphian. So, I would say Philadelphian -- so listen, all I have to say is, I don't necessarily agree with this.
But the players are certainly welcome to come to the White House and celebrate the American people, and the military. But if they don't want to show up, that's their business. We'll have a great celebration anyways. That would be better than saying you can't come, because we don't you to come anyways. You're uninvited. Thank you all. We'll be right back.