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Don Lemon Tonight
President Trump Become Irate With Outgoing Intel Chief After Lawmakers We're Told Russia's Trying To Get Him Re-elected; Judge In Roger Stone Case Rebukes Trump-Backed Conspiracies In Impassioned Stand For Truth And The Rule Of Law; President Trump Say Roger Stone Has A Very Good Chance Of Exoneration; CNN Big Headlines, Intel Says Russia Trying To Get Donald Trump Re-Elected. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 20, 2020 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: At 7 p.m., Senator Amy Klobuchar joins us, 8 p.m., Vice President Joe Biden, 9 p.m., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, we will welcome back Senator Elizabeth Warren.
From all of us here in Las Vegas, thank you so much for watching.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.
BURNETT: CNN Tonight with Don Lemon is coming up right after this.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. You have been watching CNN's town halls live from Las Vegas. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren trying to make their case to voters tonight. That as the clock is ticking on the all-important Nevada caucuses on Saturday.
But let's jump right into our expert analysis of what you heard there tonight. Our political director, CNN's political director is Mr. David Chalian, and he joins us now. Lots to talk about, David, as usual. Good evening to you. So, Senator Warren started a town hall --
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good evening.
LEMON: Yes. Taking it to Bloomberg again on his record with women and non-disclosure agreements at his company. Let's watch that moment and we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARREN: So, I used to teach contract law and I thought I would make this easy.
WARREN: I wrote up a release and covenant not to sue and all that Mayor Bloomberg has to do is download it, I'll text it.
WARREN: Sign it, and then the women or men will be free to speak and tell their own stories.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It was a big moment, big moment for her last night. She's carrying it over tonight. What do you think?
CHALIAN: Yes, well, exactly that, Don, right. She obviously felt that the debate worked so well for her last night where she was taking on Bloomberg, especially on this issue, that she decided to sort of do a stunt by bringing that crafted contract, a release form for Michael Bloomberg to sign.
Obviously, she doesn't believe Michael Bloomberg has any intention to sign it, but she wanted to extend that moment from 24 hours ago to now and keep it going because she thinks it was really successful for her.
I would note, Don, she went on to say that due to some of the things that Bloomberg has said about women or things that in lawsuits is alleged to have said to women, and the environment in the workplace, she said if he doesn't correct this course, it disqualifies him for the presidency.
And yet when Erin pressed her, whoa, whoa, you said, senator, you're going to support the Democratic nominee no matter who it is. What if it is Michael Bloomberg? She still said she's going to support him over Trump even though she had just made the point that she believes he's disqualified himself for the presidency.
LEMON: Does she have to be careful with that? And I ask, I only ask because, remember when Kamala Harris hit Joe Biden really hard in one of those early debates and then she came back and tried it again, and her poll numbers went down.
Maybe -- maybe the voting public will like this, but does she have to be careful to not look like there is some sort of grudge if she's leaning in too hard with this particular issue?
CHALIAN: It's a good question, but I think looking at Elizabeth Warren's position in this race right now, I don't think careful can be any part of her calculation at this point.
She had disappointing finish in Iowa and New Hampshire for her. She is trying to reignite energy in her campaign as Bernie Sanders has sort of consolidated the progressive wing of the party. She saw last night as a huge step forward in that reenergizing process.
And so, I think she's less concerned about potential backlash than she is about trying to take a leap here. And I just think the cost/benefit analysis to her, she believes to press forward with this, that this is a way towards rebuilding some support that she's lost.
LEMON: We'll certainly see in the upcoming polls, and the polls that will follow. David, let's talk about the former Vice President Joe Biden. You pointed out that he tried to take on Senator Bernie Sanders on the issue of guns. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not so much what you say you believe now. It's what did you do? And when did you do it? And the fact is Bernie has had a very different record than me for a long time.
Bernie when he was running for the Senate in Vermont. He said it was a tough state-run in. He voted against it five times in the House of Representatives. Guess what, we kept over five million people from being able to get weapons that they should not have been able to get.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, he's trying to slow down Sanders' momentum. Do you think it was effective?
CHALIAN: Well, we'll see. You know, the Biden folks feel better about their chances here in Nevada on Saturday in two days than they did necessarily about the way Iowa and New Hampshire was going to play out.
As you know, they've been promising a long time to say, hey, watch us when we get to a state with a more diverse electorate, one that's sort of is more representative of the Democratic Party overall. This is their first proving ground on that.
And you're right, he seized the Sanders' momentum and he seized this issue of guns and Sanders' past support for protecting gun manufacturers from being sued as a way in, as a way to blunt some of that growth that we've seen for Sanders.
And I would just note, you heard the comparison he made. The former vice president made this case to everyone saying, think about pharmaceutical companies and if you would block them from being sued after what many of them have done with the opioid addiction in America and he used that as a direct parallel to sort of get in a current frame of mind for folks. Even though Bernie Sanders has changed his position, he's still trying to hang his old record around his neck on that issue.
LEMON: No one does analysis better than David Chalian. Don't tell Gloria and the rest of the team I said that.
CHALIAN: Don, you're the best.
LEMON: Thank you, David. I appreciate it.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
LEMON: We'll see you soon. Doing a great job there in Las Vegas.
CHALIAN: Thank you.
LEMON: Listen, and as Democrats are vying for the chance to run against President Trump, we are learning tonight that Vladimir Putin is stepping up his election interference.
This country's top election security official warning Congress that the intelligence community believes that Russia is already taking steps to interfere -- interfere in the next election with the goal of helping the president win.
That is according to three sources. The intelligence also meant to throw the integrity of the election itself into doubt.
Putin doing it again. Attacking the foundation of our democracy. And how is the President of the United States reacting to all of this? Well, how is he responding to Russia doubling down on attacks on our free and fair elections?
The White House official tells CNN he is angry that the information about Russia's interference, he's angry that it was even included in the briefing. He's angry that House intel chairman Adam Schiff, who he thinks is one of his impeachment foes, was even in that briefing. Angry because he believes that Schiff would use the information to try to undermine him as he runs for reelection.
Blaming the outgoing acting DNI Joseph Maguire for doing his job. Doing his duty to his country. And replacing Maguire with an entirely unqualified ambassador and Trump loyalist, Richard Grenell to head up the nation's intelligence community reportedly on temporary -- on a temporary basis with the threat from Russia looming. Not at some point in the distant future, but right now.
The president is attempting to suppress the truth of what Vladimir Putin is doing because all he cares about is his fear that it calls into question the legitimacy of his own election.
A former senior intelligence senior official telling CNN this. "What the ICC says is reporting the truth, simple statement of facts without judgment, the president sees as undermining his legitimacy."
What else -- what else would you expect from the president who stood side by side with Putin in Helsinki and took his word over that of his own intelligence community?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said, they think it's Russia. I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: What else would you expect from the president who just a few months ago joked about Putin interfering in 2020?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?
TRUMP: Yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election please. Don't -- don't meddle in the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: As bad as it is the Russians are back at it, trying to help Trump get re-elected. It's far worse that the President of the United States, he's trying to cover it up.
And let's not forget that Russia has been trying to hack Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company that had Joe Biden's son on its board. Is that a coincidence or another attempt to hurt Biden's campaign and help Trump?
So, are we in more danger now if our intelligence community can't even speak the truth? If an angry president responds to a warning from intel officials doing their jobs by replacing the intel chief with an unqualified loyalist?
It's all part of his battle against the rule of law, a battle that took a turn in a D.C. courtroom today. It was a good day for justice and a bad day for the president.
I'm talking about Roger Stone, infamous political dirty trickster, long-time Trump crony. Sentenced today to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress and threatening a witness over a case that revealed the president's interests in WikiLeaks during the campaign.
Don't miss the significance of all of this. A U.S. district court judge and the DOJ's own prosecutors opposing the president today after the four original prosecutors quit the case in protest when the Attorney General William Barr undercut them.
So, while Barr is apparently willing to give the president exactly what he wants, the judge and those prosecutors are standing up for what's right. Standing up for the rule of law. Judge Amy Berman Jackson sending a very clear message, not just with Stone's sentence, but with her statement in the court today, insisting on truth and the rule of law.
In the face of the president's repeated claims that Stone was being treated unfairly, the judge saying this, and I quote.
"This case did not arise because Roger Stone was being pursued by his political enemies. It arose because Roger Stone characteristically injected himself smack into the middle of one of the most significant issues of the day." And then going on, bluntly to say, "He was not prosecuted as some have
complained, for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president."
And then there's her response Stone's threats -- to Stone's threats against a witness and his dog.
Stone wrote in 2018, and I'm quoting here, "you are a rat. A stoolie. You back stab your friends. Run your mouth. My lawyers are dying to rip you to shreds." Going on to say, "prepare to die." His lawyer arguing that it was just Stone being Stone.
While Judge Amy Berman Jackson saying this. "The defendant lied about a matter of great national and international significance. This is not campaign high jinx. This is not Roger Stone being Roger. He lied to Congress. He lied to our elected representatives."
And there's this. Quote, "sure, the defense is free to say, so what, who cares? But I'll say this. Congress cared. The United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia that prosecuted the case and is still prosecuting the case cared. The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared. The American people cared. And I care."
And how is the president responding to all of this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm not going to do anything in terms of the great powers bestowed upon a President of the United States. I want the process to play out. I think that's the best thing to do because I'd love to see Roger exonerated and I'd love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: There's a lot more to that. The fact is Roger Stone has the right to appeal, but the president sure seems to be suggesting that he'd intervene if things don't go the way that he wants them to. And in true Trump fashion, the president also attacks a member of the jury.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's my strong opinion that the forewoman of the jury, the woman who was in charge of the jury, is totally tainted. When you take a look, how can you have a person like this? She was an anti-Trump activist -- can you imagine this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, if Roger Stone's attorneys had any question at all whether the forewoman could be fair, they could have rejected her during jury selection. They didn't. And that says it all. If the President of the United States sees fit to attack a juror who
is doing her civic duty, a duty that is at the heart of the way our justice system is supposed to work. I want you to compare that to Bill Barr intervening in the case to recommend a lighter sentence, overruling four of his own prosecutors who then quit the case.
So, let's not forget. That happened after the president tweeted about how unfair he thought Stone's treatment was. Let's not forget, he congratulated Barr for stepping in. And let's not forget the president stepped all over our system of justice only two days ago, commuting the sentences of high-profile friends of friends and people he has seen on TV. The question now is, will he do it again? I think we probably know the answer to that.
So, Russia is interfering again in our election, and it seems like the president is angry with everybody except Vladimir Putin.
LEMON: There's news tonight that the intel community believes Russia is taking steps to interfere in the 2020 election with the goal of getting President Trump reelected. The sources are telling CNN that the top election security official briefed lawmakers last week about the threat and that the president became irate at the outgoing acting DNI once he learned about the briefing.
So, let's discuss now. Dana Bash is here, Evan Perez, and John Harwood as well. So good to have all of you on. Dana, let's start with you. Because by all accounts, this briefing was contentious, the president was irate. What are your sources telling you?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just that. That the --
LEMON: Exactly what I said?
BASH: Exactly what you said. No. But it was, I mean, one of the sources I spoke to, I'm going to keep it clean even though we're in the nighttime. It was a blank show. I mean, it was apparently really, really contentious.
And the contentious part of it came when the intelligence official came to brief broadly on the attempts to disrupt the election in 2020. But then when she got specific, talking about what she thought was an attempt to help the president get elected, that's when the Republicans on the committee went nuts, and they were very, very upset about that. And then, it kind of devolved from there.
LEMON: Why would they be nuts about a statement of fact?
BASH: Well, that's a good question. Because -- well, the answer is this. The answer is some of my colleagues have reporting that the feeling among an official, an intelligence official in the administration was that the intelligence that they saw wasn't that cut and dry, that it wasn't that clear how the meddling was intended to go forward, whether it was just intended to disrupt and sow chaos or was intended to help the president.
But the other answer, as you know because we've been talking about this since the president was sworn in, Don, is that any mention of Russia meddling to help the president is seen through his eyes as people saying, my election is illegitimate and he doesn't want to hear it.
LEMON: Yes. You're right about that. Here we are again, Evan. Russia trying to interfere in our election, apparently to benefit President Trump.
But -- and now he's the president, he consistently attacked the intel community, attacks them all the time. What is the danger here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Look, the danger is real because it means that if the intelligence professionals don't feel comfortable telling the president the bad news, then they may not, and then that could have some really bad consequence for the national security of this country.
And to what Dana just pointed out, we -- you know, people went through this right after he was elected in 2016. There were people close to him, including Jared Kushner who tried to explain to the president that, look, just because the Russians had a preference for you doesn't mean that your election was illegitimate.
There, you know, the two things could be true. You are a legitimate president, but the president is so thin skinned that he just would -- just would reject any suggestion that that was the case.
And so that's what's happening here again, Don. I think it's the same thing that happened in 2016. The president is refusing to hear what the intelligence professionals are telling him plain and straight.
LEMON: Yes. He's trying to create and live in his own reality instead of facts.
John, the New York Times reports that this president, President Trump berated the DNI Joseph Maguire over this briefing. Now he is -- he's out. He's got his loyalist Richard Grenell in now. He has a job. Is this another example of the president punishing his enemies and rewarding his friends?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Don, I think it's, most of all, an example of the president acting to protect himself. He has shown us by his words and actions he's not guided by abstract concepts, is it right, is it wrong, is it true, is it false, is it legal, is it not legal.
He's got it by whether an individual event or action helps him right now. And so, when you hear that the intelligence officials are saying Russia is trying to help him, he doesn't like hearing that.
By the way, it's not just a matter, in my view, of his feelings. It's also the fact that being re-elected as president is pretty important to him because he loses the immunity from prosecution that he's enjoyed as president if he doesn't win the election. So that's very important.
Secondly, the idea that Adam Schiff has this information is also bad news for the president. He says, as the reporting has shown, that Schiff would weaponize the information against him.
Again, not dealing with the question whether it's appropriate or not appropriate for a foreign government to interfere. It's that it could be used against me. So, then we have Maguire out. We have Grenell in. Grenell is somebody who is much closer as a political ally to the president.
And what we've seen from Republicans is they're sending a message to the president of whatever you want to do, that's fine. We're in it. We're with you. And so that's going to leave it to the voters to decide whether this is the kind of behavior by the president that they're going to tolerate.
LEMON: John, I have another quick question for you. Everything, considering everything you said, then, does it appear that this president tried to suppress this intelligence? Is this a cover up?
HARWOOD: I don't know if you'd call it a cover up exactly. He certainly is sending a chilling message --
LEMON: Suppression possibly, right?
HARWOOD: Yes. I mean, the information -- the intel community has the information. It's been passed to the relevant officials in Congress. So, the information is there, but this is a chilling message that is sent to the intel community. Maybe it makes it more difficult for them to --
LEMON: Got you.
HARWOOD: -- disseminate this information next time.
LEMON: Got you. Dana, so, you know, we've talked about the president's behavior and his mind-set post impeachment. What does it say about his mind-set?
BASH: Well, first of all, just to kind of bounce off of what you were just talking about with John, you know, the way this is supposed to work -- and this isn't deep state stuff. This is like checks and balances and making sure --
LEMON: Protocol. HARWOOD: And -- protocol, and even beyond that. It's making sure that
something as very, very fundamental and scary as foreign governments interfering in American elections, that people who need to know are aware of it, that the fact that the president was apparently so upset, not necessarily that the Congress was told, as they should be, but it was Adam Schiff, who is the chairman of the intelligence committee. If he's not going to be told about it, who is? And it's just a reminder --
LEMON: He's upset that Adam Schiff was told the information, you're right.
BASH: Right. No, I mean, but it's just a reminder of how toxic and how completely dysfunctional things already were. But especially post impeachment given the fact that Adam Schiff was the manager, was the leader in the prosecution of the president in the impeachment trial.
LEMON: Yes. That really brings it home when you speak about the dysfunction. Listen, an election year, it's always -- it's always madness, right? Everybody's schedules are crazy. Our schedule --
BASH: It is. But this should be a nonpartisan thing.
LEMON: But this should be -- but this shows you the chaos, as you said, and the turmoil in this administration.
BASH: One thing can I just point out really quickly?
BASH: I just remember post 2016 how upset Republicans and some Democrats were, but mostly republicans with President Obama because they felt that he didn't do enough to prevent election interference in 2016 because he was afraid it would look political. And now look where we are, similar place.
LEMON: Evan, listen, I'm going to give you the final word here. Remember, I mean, it was just a few weeks when the Russians tried to hack into Burisma. Right? Why would they do that if not to try to hurt Joe Biden and help Trump?
PEREZ: Well, look, I mean, they're all over everything in Ukraine, so it's not surprising. I'm sure that it's not the first time they went into Burisma or any significant Ukrainian company. But look, it is one of those things. That the intelligence has been there. There are all these signs including the fact that Rudy Giuliani has been running around with what everyone in the intelligence community believes is Russian disinformation.
So, all the signs have been there. All it takes is for the President of the United States and for our leaders in Congress to recognize what's happening and to tell the people of the United States what is going on so people can be smarter about it when they see what's happening in the -- later this year in the elections.
LEMON: All right. I promised you the last word, but I'm going to give it to John, so sue me. OK. So, John, listen, how much faith is there that this president will protect the political process?
HARWOOD: The president doesn't care at all about the integrity of the political process. Again, the president judges' events by whether they help him or not. So, if you have a legal process that goes against him, that was an unfair process. If you have an election that goes against him, he is likely to say that there was cheating, there was vote fraud or whatever. He signaled that before he was elected that he might not accept the results of the election.
This is -- these are the kind of judgments that the president makes. And I think one thing we have to be clear on, the president is allied with Vladimir Putin. He was in 2016. He spoke favorably of Putin throughout the campaign. He had long-standing business relationships with Russians funding his businesses.
He hired a campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was allied with the Kremlin with his work in Ukraine. Paul Manafort, of course, is now in jail. And the -- despite, you know, some Republicans point to, well, he's been tougher than Barack Obama in terms of giving legal -- lethal weapons to Ukraine.
That was -- that's true in a narrow sense, but that was in a different moment, a different time after the 2016 election. The largest goal that Vladimir Putin has is to weaken the western alliance, weaken NATO, weaken -- and divide the United States for the purpose of strengthening Russia. And actions that the president has taken are consistent with those objectives by Vladimir Putin. So, it's not surprising Vladimir Putin would want to continue that and help President Trump be re-elected.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
Former DNI James Clapper warned me last night that not being able to speak the truth -- speak truth to power undermines the safety and security of this country. I'm sure he'll have a lot to say about the president's irate response to the Russian interference briefing and we're going to hear from him. That's next.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, President Trump got irate with the outgoing acting Intel Chief Joseph McGuire when he learned House members were briefed about Russia interfering in the 2020 election to help get Trump re-elected. That from a White House official. Now the president is replacing McGuire with Richard Grenell. Richard Grenell is a fierce loyalist. So, let's discuss now with James Clapper, he is a former Director of
National Intelligence. Director, I appreciate you joining us again this evening. So, last night we talked about the repercussions of putting a loyalist like Rick Grenell into such an important job. Now we know the president was angry with McGuire over this briefing about Russia interfering in the 2020 election. President Trump didn't want to hear that.
JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, that's precisely the problem. When the president makes it known that he can't countenance facts that don't comport with his -- facts that don't comport with his world view, and that the result will be shooting the messenger, in essence in this case, losing their jobs. Intelligence community and Joe McGuire was doing what they are supposed to do. That's their -- they take an oath to do that.
And the fact that the committees probably asked for a briefing on what are the prospects in 2020 for the Russian's interference. And it shouldn't come as a shock to anybody that the Russians are going to continue to do what they did in 2016, given the success they enjoyed.
The problem is it's going to be a lot harder for us to detect what they're doing because the Russians have gone to school on all the revelations, as notably in volume one of the Mueller report. So, this is a bad situation. It's not good for the intelligence community, it's not good for the country.
LEMON: All right. I'm glad you said that because what happens -- I imagine you still have contacts here. What happens inside the intelligence community for folks who are part of the community when something like what happened yesterday, when Richard Grenell or someone who has -- they feel doesn't have the experience is appointed?
CLAPPER: Well, in the first instance, it is really tough, particularly on the ODNI staff when you have the turbulence, this constant turnover of leaders who are right now acting -- had one with Joe McGuire, and now Ambassador Grenell will be another acting. And it appears that there may be one after him. I don't know.
LEMON: There's no stability.
CLAPPER: So this -- the lack of stability, the lack of continuity, you have to start all over with a new order of business is very disruptive and is a terrible distraction from what the intelligence community should be doing, which is focusing on threats. Intelligence business is tough enough without all this drama.
LEMON: Yes. I just want to read something the former CIA Director John Brennan tweeted out in response to The New York Times report. And he says, we are now in a full-blown national security crisis by trying to prevent the flow of intelligence to Congress, Trump is abetting a Russia covert operation to keep him in office for Moscow's interests, not America's. Listen, Brennan is an outspoken critic of this president. But do you
agree that trying to keep this information from Congress amounts to helping the Russians?
CLAPPER: I do. I agree with John on this. We are playing to Putin's, Putin's objectives here. He wants to drive a wedge among the countries in Europe. He's succeeded in doing that. He wants to drive a wedge between us and Europe, he wants to drive a wedge between us and Ukraine. And so why wouldn't he want a continuation of the leadership in this country that allows him to do that? And that's his way of compensating for the many other weaknesses that Russia has, notably, their economy. So, yes, I agree with John.
LEMON: He said, we are now in a full-blown national security crisis. Listen, I don't want to be hyperbolic. Those are his words and I'm sure you don't either, but what is the truth here? Are we in the middle of a full-blown national security crisis?
CLAPPER: Well, it's -- this is kind of a, you know, Saturday night massacre on a mini scale by the intelligence community in slow motion. And, you know, this falls on the heels, for example, of the apparent attempt by ODNI to avoid a public version of the annual worldwide threat briefing.
Well, that is not good that the intelligence community is so intimidated and so reluctant to speak publicly about the true facts on what the real threats are, that is not good. It's not good for the president or his presidency, and certainly not good for the safety and security of the country.
LEMON: Director, thank you. I appreciate it.
CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Roger Stone sentenced today to 40 months in prison and the judge in the case isn't holding back. What she's saying about Stone's lies and the conspiracy that President Trump has promoted.
LEMON: So, the judge in Roger Stone's case, Amy Berman Jackson, sentencing him to 40 months in prison today and taking a stand for truth in the rule of law saying this about Stone. She said, he was not prosecuted as some have complained for standing up for the president. He was prosecuted for covering up for the president.
Let's discuss now. CNN crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz is here and the former SDNY assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig joins us as well. Shimon, let's start with you, because Judge Jackson really didn't hold back. Here's something else she said.
She said, the dismay and the disgust with any attempt to interfere with the efforts of prosecutors and members of the judiciary to fulfill their duty should transcend party. Sure, the defense is free to say, so what, who cares. But I'll say this. Congress cared.
The United States Department of Justice and the United States attorney's office for the District of Columbia that prosecuted the case and is still prosecuting the case cared. The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared. The American people cared. And I care.
So, I mean, that's pretty intense. How was that in the courtroom?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It was an extraordinary moment. It really encompassed everything that this case has been about, what we've seen. Really, the last few years from the president, attacking investigators, attacking the judiciary system, attacking FBI agents, attacking judges, and really attacking this entire case of the Roger Stone during the trial and now during the sentencing phase. And it was her moment to show some emotion, right.
She's been in some ways affected by this. She herself has been threatened. She's repeatedly attacked by the president. So it was her moment to explain to the public, to the American people why they should care about cases like this. And it was definitely a moment where you saw some emotion from her. There were other moments similar to this, but this in particular was a very extraordinary moment, especially because of the way she ended that, by saying, I care.
LEMON: I care, yes.
PROKUPECZ: That was a very significant moment, Don.
LEMON: Yes. Something else. This is for you, Elie. She said the truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't, his belligerence, his pride and his own lies and the threat -- or a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the foundations of our democracy. Who do you think this message was intended for?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Bravo to Judge Berman Jackson, first of all. I think she was intending this for Donald Trump, for the American public and for Roger Stone. There has been a tendency throughout this case, primarily coming from Roger Stone and Donald Trump to minimize it, to downplay it, to make it all like it's silly, it's Roger Stone, this nutty guy doing his usual thing, he's a B.S. artist, he slings some here, he slings some there.
Who cares? What's the big deal? And Judge Jackson said, this is a big deal. This is what our democracy and our institutions are all about. Truth still matters. I think that was really a bold and important statement.
LEMON: Yes, and if you pay attention to, you know, seeing some of the websites and the things that pop up when you get alerts, right, some of the right wing fringe, they all say, well, it's a big deal and justice for, you know, Roger Stone. It's like, what are you talking about?
HONIG: Yes, I mean, and this whole idea of sort of lying to Congress, lying to prosecutors with the impurity and --
LEMON: Not a big deal, yes.
HONIG: This is the thread that ties together a lot of these cases, whether it's Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort. I mean, all these -- Michael Cohen. Lying to Congress, lying to investigators, preventing law enforcement, Congress and the American public from learning the truth.
LEMON: Yes. And listen, you can have a conversation about whether you think Roger Stone was -- you know, the recommendation was too harsh or not. It's ultimately left to the judge and the judge decided what she wanted to do. But it was the fact that the Attorney General stepped in, right? Because the judge can take the recommendation or not. Right?
HONIG: Yes. And what I thought was interesting was the judge went out of her way today and I think Shimon has quoted this piece of the transcript to say, that second letter where the Attorney General step in and say, this should be much lower, had essentially no bearing on me. No impact on me, made no difference.
LEMON: But that's the whole point. That was about the Attorney General though, and not about the judge, right?
HONIG: And what -- yes. And what the Attorney General did here that will not be forgiven or will not be repaired is he undermined his own prosecutors publicly in the Justice Department. I've never seen it happen like that. He undercut his own leadership ability and his own credibility by doing that. You can't undo that.
LEMON: Yes. So, to that she said, and I want to read this, any suggestion that the prosecutors is this case did anything untoward unethical improper is incorrect. That was the quote that she said. But let me ask you about another quote, Shimon, she said this case had nothing to do with Stone's political enemies.
She said Stone lied and sought to impede production of information to whom, not to some secret anti-Trump or cabal, but to Congress, to the elected representatives of both parties who were confronted with a matter of grave national intelligence. Importance, excuse me. Go on, Shimon.
PROKUPECZ: No, so this was her again trying to tell the American people, certainly people who sat through this case and people who haven't sat through this case, who have just been reading things or seeing things on websites, that what this case was all about, it was a very important case. It was an important case for the Department of Justice. It was important case for her. It was important case for jurors. And the whole point of this --
LEMON: She's shooting down conspiracy theories.
PROKUPECZ: -- 100 percent shooting down conspiracy theories, Is this idea that you know, you shouldn't care about or that this means nothing, or that, you know, there was some other motive here -- it's very clear as day and she said this that this was being done to protect the president. Roger Stone lied to members of Congress. He obstructed justice all because he wanted to protect the president. And she made a strong point of that during the sentencing.
LEMON: Yes. We're going to talk more about this president and his folks like the Attorney General versus the rule of law right after this break. Don't go anywhere, guys.
LEMON: So the president had a whole lot to say about his old pal Roger Stone today in the wake of his 40 month prison sentence. Shimon Prokupecz, Elie Honig, are back with me, joined me again. So, Shimon, I want you to take a listen. This is what the president said about Roger Stone today, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion. I'd love to see Roger exonerated, and I'd love to see it happen because I personally think he was treated very unfairly. I'm going to watch the process, I'm going to watch it very closely and at some point I'll make a determination. But Roger Stone and everybody has to be treated fairly. And this has not been a fair process, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Sorry. Essentially he's setting us up, right. He's getting us ready, everyone ready for the Stone pardon. Maybe after the election.
PROKUPECZ: I think more likely before the election.
PROKUPECZ: Because what's going to happen is that at some point Roger Stone is going to be facing a prison day, he's going to have to report to prison. He's waiting for a motion for the judge to decide on a motion for a new trial.
LEMON: A new trial, yes.
PROKUPECZ: That could happen in the next week or two, and two weeks after that, he's going to have to report -- if she doesn't grant it.
LEMON: That's why (inaudible) was wondering why did -- if he was -- if he was going to -- but he walk out a free man -- go on, you just explain.
PROKUPECZ: Right. And the other thing is, this entire week when you look at the pardons and the clemencies that occurred this week, everyone feels that that is -- was in preparation for what he's going to do for Roger Stone.
The idea that somehow Roger Stone has been treated unfairly here, I think the Department of Justice today, the new prosecutors that came into the case because the other four had to step down because of what the Attorney General did and what we heard from the judge all have basically said that justice was done here, that things were done right, the judge stood up for the prosecutors, the former prosecutors, the current prosecutors.
She said that this was a righteous case. The prosecutors I should say said this was a righteous case. This case was -- they were right to bring this case. They have the right to prosecute it. So, the fact that the president is continuing to rail against this investigation, against Roger -- the way Roger Stone was treated.
It just isn't right. When you listen to what the prosecutors said today in court and what the judge has said, and you're exactly right, he is preparing people for the likelihood, I think everyone close to Roger feels that way and I think people close to the president feel that it's just a matter of time before he pardons Roger Stone.
LEMON: Elie, does Roger Stone have a -- because the judge is deciding if he's going to get a new trial, does he have a shot? That or an appeal?
HONIG: No, based on what's in the public record. No. So, here's the argument that this one juror, the four person was unfairly biased against Donald Trump and lied to the court, but if you look at the record, she was asked, and she said straight up, he ran for Congress as a Democrat, I know about Donald Trump, I know about generally --
LEMON: You mean, this in jury election.
HONIG: Yes, in jury selection. Exactly right. Voir dire, Latin for picking a jury.
HONIG: That's not an exact translation, but here's the thing. The people who are on your jury are human beings. They're not robots. They don't have to come into the process with zero preconceived notions. The questions which was asked of these jury is, given all that, can you judge this case based on the evidence and the facts and nothing else? And this juror said, yes.
And here's the thing, Roger Stone's lawyers could have thrown her out. They get a whole bunch of what we call strikes and they said she's fine. So, unless he lied in the written form which we have not seen that's under seal, this motion is going nowhere fast.
LEMON: Interesting. Thank you, gentlemen, I appreciate it.
Intelligence officials say Russia is looking to help President Trump win in 2020, is this our reaction over lawmakers being briefed on this putting the country in danger?
LEMON: This is CNN Tonight, I'm Don Lemon, we've got a busy hour coming up and here are tonight's big headlines. U.S. Intelligence officials say Russia is taking steps to interfere in the 2020 election to help President Trump get reelected. That's what multiple sources are telling CNN.