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Don Lemon Tonight
Biden To Hold News Conference Amid Stalled Agenda; Who Is Next Into Committee's Sights?; What We Know About The Willard Hotel 'War Room'; DeSantis Muscles In On Redistricting; NY A.G. Taking Legal Action Against Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr. And Ivanka Trump; Free COVID-19 Tests. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired January 18, 2022 - 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 (on camera): A stalled agenda. President Biden set to hold a news conference tomorrow marking one year in office as voting rights and his economic plan look dead in the water.
And with COVID and inflation on the rise, a slew of subpoenas. The January 6th Committee getting closer to the former president, issuing subpoenas for the phone records of Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, and separately sending subpoenas to Rudy Giuliani and three other Trump associates.
Also, an American pro-basketball player hit with a racial slur in China.
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UNKNOWN: (Bleep). Get out of China!
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LEMON (on camera): How will American athletes be treated at the Winter Olympics in Beijing which begin in less than three weeks?
Let's discuss all of the news now. I want to begin with CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, senior advisor to the Lincoln Project Stuart Stevens. Thank you both for joining. Good evening.
Ron, President Biden, he's about to mark one year in office. COVID relief, he got infrastructure, but now his signature social spending package is stalled. Two Senate Democrats, 50 Republicans have torpedoed any attempt at passing voting rights legislation. Is this the worst possible place that he could be with midterms just around the corner?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, he's in a weak position. And look, I think the key for Biden both in 2022, which is going to be tough for Democrats in all likelihood, and beyond 2022, it primarily is a question of current conditions in the country. Certainly, there are lots of Democratic activists and people who voted for him who are deeply disappointed about the legislative failures and that frustration is going to skyrocket understandably if in fact Manchin and Sinema continue to block action voting rights, but for the mass of the country, the real issue is COVID and the price of gas and groceries.
And if Biden is going to recover in time to affect the midterm and even perhaps more pointedly to improve his position for 2024, he needs conditions in the country to recover. That's the key, I think, of his current position.
LEMON: Okay, but Democrats are creating all of this drama around the vote that will fail. We know that.
LEMON: Do you think the Democrats' strategy -- do you understand it right now?
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah, yeah, I think I do.
I mean, look, I think that first of all, they have to be seen as going to every possible length to try to pass this both because it is so important to so many key constituencies within the party, but also because it's just so important.
You know, if Manchin and Sinema hold to their position and prevent Democrats from acting here, in effect requiring a bipartisan super majority that gives Republicans a veto, as I said before, there is nothing but clear road ahead for red states to steadily tighten the tourniquet on voting throughout this decade, because the Supreme Court, far from restricting what they are doing, really is the one who fired the starters gun for all of this to happen with John Roberts's decisions on voting rights over the last decade.
So, that's the first point. They have to do it. They have to signal they're doing everything they can.
But I also think, Don, they're creating a new norm in the party. I do believe that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are the last two elected Democratic senators who will ever support maintaining the filibuster for at least voting rights and maybe for quite a bit beyond that, including abortion rights and other constitutional rights.
And I think this process is very clearly demonstrating how isolated they are in the party. You saw it today, 10 former centrists and even central right Senate Democrats. People like Mary Landrieu and I think Blanche Lincoln and Doug Jones came out for reforming the filibuster to pass voting rights.
So, I think this process has established a new norm in the party that is going to leave these two as very distinct outliers and probably the last of their kind. LEMON: Let's -- Stuart, I want to hear from you. And I want to know, do you think Democrats are going to end up being happy that the filibuster was preserved if the House and the Senate end up in republican hands, which is a very strong possibility?
STUART STEVENS, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE LINCOLN PROJECT, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST OF ROMNEY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: No. I think Ron's analysis is pretty dead on about the historical moment of where we are, where the filibuster is in relationship to voting rights. You know, sometimes, you don't get into fights because you think you're going to win, you get into fights because it's important to fight.
And I know it's difficult. But if you step back from where we were a year ago, I mean, we are in a much better shape economically, unemployment is what, under four percent now, DOW is over 36,000, and these macroeconomic things, the country is moving forward.
But I don't think we can really have it both ways. I don't think those of us who believe that the country is in a crisis, which I do and I think a lot of other people agree with me, think there's some easy path out of this.
If -- I think that we're at the worst moment in the country as far as being divided since 1860. So, there's not a simple path forward. All you can do is fight every day, and I think that the Biden administration understands that.
LEMON: So, you think it's just -- you don't believe -- do you think it's a false narrative about the Biden administration that you think the country is actually in a better place than the narrative that's being put out, especially mainly from conservative media?
STEVENS: Well, look, I mean, when you work in politics, you acknowledge there's lots of different narratives out there. And, you know, that's how a guy like Bill Clinton is in third place in May of the year that he gets elected president. That's how George Bush is at, what, 90 percent popularity and loses nine months later.
People are constantly dealing with different pressures in their lives. I think the overall tone of this country is being set more by COVID than anything else. I mean, we all thought that we are going to head toward the exit door of this, we are going to look at it in our rearview mirror. And now it's back and --
LEMON: But, Stuart, let me just say that this is --
STEVENS: -- personally, I know lots of people that have COVID now than before. It's depressing.
LEMON: It is. But here's the issue. You have COVID and it keeps replicating which causes a mutation or whatever in large part because of the unvaccinated people or the people who don't believe in masking and so on. So, they are continuing -- they're -- COVID is continuing because of them. But then they're complaining about the economy that is persisting because they are refusing to do what will actually help the country. Do you understand what I'm saying? STEVENS: Yeah. Look, I understand inflation is a factor in people's lives, but I would hope we would look and see where history has told us that when you put inflation before democracy, you're following the path of the 1930s Germany.
And we have to, I think, nationalize this election around the threat to democracy. That's not an easy thing to do. Only once in the last -- this century has party and power gained seats in 2002. It's only happened three times in the last 125 years.
I was part of that. We were able to nationalize the race around domestic security. We didn't know it would work. It wasn't easy. It was a close thing. But I think that's where the Biden administration needs to go. They have to continue to raise the stakes of this moment and remind people.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you, Stuart.
Thank you, Ron. Always a pleasure, both of you. I'll see you soon.
So, I want to bring in now Fareed Zakaria the host of "Fareed Zakaria GPS." Good evening, Fareed. Good to see you as well.
So, look, every president faces big challenges. But President Biden is starting a tremendous -- staring at, I should say, a tremendous upheaval at home. A loss of voting rights, a pandemic, weary population, as we just discussed, the coordinated republican assault on our democracy as we just discussed. How has the administration faced up to all of that?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Look, they had a plan, Don, and it was not an unreasonable plan. And the plan was that they are going to do -- take heroic measures to get people vaccinated, and that was going to break the back of COVID, that would then usher in economic activity, and, you know, you'd be in a very different place than you were in the last year of the Trump administration.
They did, in fact, manage to in a really Herculean fashion, get access to vaccines, get the supply of vaccines done. They then hit a brick wall, which was there was a certain number of people, large number of Americans, who just wouldn't take the vaccine.
And that is largely because of this pernicious, dangerous propaganda campaign that has been waged by everything from Fox News, encouraged by Republican politicians who themselves are all vaccinated, but has allowed for us to be in this unique situation. We have the lowest number of vaccinated people in the advance industrial world, 62 percent. Most of Europe is 80 plus.
So, you know, that has been the core of the problem, which they haven't had an act two. They haven't really figured out what to do given that the first plan, which was a good plan, essentially (INAUDIBLE) because you just couldn't get people vaccinated. And as you said, once you have that many people, 40 percent of the country aren't vaccinated, the virus is going to replicate, it is going to spread, it's going to mutate. So, they haven't figured out quite what to do about it.
I still tend to think that COVID is the big issue. If you can break the back of COVID, you can bring about that restoration to normalcy that people were looking for.
So, I would -- I would try harder and maybe, you know, whatever ways you can, vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate because otherwise, you're not going to get rid of COVID.
LEMON (on camera): Yeah. Let's look abroad, okay, Fareed. It's no better. Big threats to the international order. The White House today expressing real concern about the possibility of war on the Russia- Ukraine border. Listen to this and then we'll talk about it.
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JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our view is this is an extremely dangerous situation. We're now at a stage where Russia could at any point launch an attack in Ukraine.
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LEMON (on camera): Do you think that will happen?
ZAKARIA: Look, that's a very difficult question to answer. I would put it this way. Putin has ratcheted up the stakes and he has escalated because he wants major concessions. You know, Churchill was once asked about Stalin, does he want war? And he said, no, he doesn't want war, he wants the fruits of war. In other words, he wants what he would get from a war.
So, Putin is playing a kind of poker game. My own sense is his preferred solution is no war because he understands that that would -- first of all, it gets him bogged down in a guerilla war in Ukraine with a population that really despises the idea of an occupying Russian army.
Secondly, it would unify NATO. It would trigger massive sanctions. It would in some ways cut Russia off from the global economy. But he's willing to take that risk because what he really wants is a subservient Ukraine.
He's made clear that to him, what his goaling is the idea that Ukraine, which he's always thought of as fundamentally part of Russia, can be an independent state, can choose its own foreign policy, its own economic policy. So, here -- and the Biden people have been, I think, appropriately tough and provided assistance to Ukraine and rallied the European countries together, but without being foolish in trying to provoke some kind of a war, because that would be a -- you know, that would be a catastrophe for everybody. The United States does not want to go to war. The Ukrainians don't want to go to war. The Europeans don't. Everyone is trying to see, is there some diplomatic path where you can address some of Russia's security concerns without conceding on this fundamental point, which is that Ukraine is not going to become a colony of Russia's?
LEMON: Yeah. Fareed, it's always a pleasure.
Thank you so much.
ZAKARIA: My pleasure.
LEMON: Rudy Giuliani, Eric Trump, Kimberley Guilfoyle. Who's next in the committee's sights?
Plus, everything we know about the Willard Hotel, the so-called war room, who was there, what they might have been up to.
LEMON: So, here's our breaking news tonight. Sources telling CNN the January 6th Committee had subpoenaed and obtained phone records of Eric Trump and Kimberley Guilfoyle, who is engaged to Donald Trump, Jr., by the way. In addition, issuing subpoenas to Rudy Giuliani and three other Trump associates.
I want to bring in now CNN's senior legal analyst Elie Honig, a former federal prosecutor, and Kim Wehle, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. Good evening to both of you.
Kim, huge subpoena news. January 6th Committee subpoenaed and obtained Eric Trump and Kimberley Guilfoyle's phone records and they issued new subpoenas of Trump's top lawyers and advisors, including Rudy Giuliani.
So, taking it all together, we're getting close to the top here, don't you think?
KIM WEHLE, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE SCHOOL OF LAW: I do think, Don. And what's critical is really what's happened last week with the sedition conspiracy charge against some of the insurrectionists. That's because a conspiracy here requires a meeting of the minds. It's that meeting of the minds that's very hard to prove. We saw this in the first impeachment, you know, there's a conspiracy, there's a collusion.
The fact that the Justice Department is now working on this idea that there was an agreement, an agreement to do what? To overturn an election, that's illegal.
You don't have to succeed to actually be bring to guilty of conspiracy, but there's two elements of the conspiracy here. One is the lawyers coming up with a cockamamie, fake, unlawful scheme to snatch the election under the guise of the law from Joe Biden. And if that didn't work, then we've got plan B, which is to bring the protesters to Washington.
And I think the question with Kimberley Guilfoyle is given that she raised money for the Trump campaign and other areas, where did the money go? Who brought the money together to pay for plan B, which, of course, when Mike Pence wouldn't agree to go with plan one, plan B came into effect? And America in this moment is lucky that it didn't succeed.
I really appreciate your coverage of the fact that we might lose democracy the next round, Don.
WEHLE: That's why this is so important.
LEMON: Yeah, yeah. Yes. Elie, listen, given everything that we know about how this committee operates, does it seem they want these phone records from Kimberley Guilfoyle and Eric Trump for some specific reason?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, I'm sure they want it for a specific reason, Don. This committee has been very strategic in what they've done. Those are two very specific individuals to request the phone records of. They want to know for reasons that we don't entirely understand right now, but they want to know who Eric Trump spoke with at key times and who Kimberley Guilfoyle spoke with at key times. The phone records will give them a map to that. The phone records will show them exactly who each of them spoke with and texted with at very specific times.
And I expect the committee to follow up by trying to get in touch with the other people who are being texted or being called and ask them perhaps -- you know, look, let us be realistic, Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle are very unlikely to go in to testify or testify truthfully, but the other folks in those communications may have something to say.
LEMON: Yeah. Kim, an attorney for Kimberley Guilfoyle is saying that the subpoena is of no consequence to her because she has absolutely nothing to hide or be concerned about. And a source familiar with Eric Trump's thinking says that he's not losing sleep over it. Should they be worried that these subpoenas for their phone records are a prerequisite to a future call to testify?
WEHLE: Sure. As Elie indicated, it doesn't mean they will. We've seen people defy subpoenas. We've also seen people like Jim Jordan say they don't care, they have nothing to hide, but then they turn around and refuse.
As we talked about here before, this is an attempt -- this whole defense is an attempt to run out the clock to the midterms. The longer there's a delay, the less likely there's an ability to -- requirement to actually testify. So, step one is I don't mind. Step two is, no, I'm not going to. Step three is here are my excuses why I don't come. Step four might be some litigation, executive privilege, attorney-client privilege, legitimacy of Congress. We've seen all of this stuff. None of it really is at the end of the day strong arguments for not testifying.
But so long as the Republicans have the House of Representatives in their sights in a few months, this could all go by the wayside with the exception, of course, what's going to happen with this information in the Justice Department when Congress hands it over to the Justice Department, which I have no doubt is engaging in ongoing -- as we know, ongoing investigations to the FBI on its own.
And to your earlier point, yes, it's getting to the president. As Elie suggests, these people were close to the president. The question is, who talked to him and when and what did he say? Was he part of what looks like a conspiracy to snatch the election from Joe Biden and therefore the electoral college votes and the voters themselves?
LEMON: Yeah. Elie, you know, Rudy Giuliani and other top advisers -- I mean, these people were loudly perpetrating the big lie. And at least two of them, Giuliani and Boris Epshteyn, were at the Willard Hotel, the command center or the war room is whatever they call it on January 5th. That was the night before the insurrection. Do you see any of them complying?
HONIG: Oh, no, I don't see any of them complying. I'm sure they will fight it every step of the way, Don. But it's worth remembering here, the role that lawyers played in all of this.
This coup attempt does not happen without lawyers who were willing to abuse their power, abuse the trust that we place in them as lawyers, that Kim and I and many, many others hold as lawyers.
This coup attempt does not get off the ground unless they have the blessing of lawyers like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Jenna Ellis, Boris Epshteyn, people who are willing to abuse that power, spread a lie, put it out in front of courts, put it out in front of the American public.
They have to have some real accountability here. They're not going to testify, but we need to know and understand what they did and just how dangerous it was.
LEMON: But aren't these supposed to be, Elie, the people who care about the rule of law, and it seems like -- you know, if you subpoena them, we won't care, but for everybody else, and then they want to sue everybody else even if they're called and subpoenaed. What the hell is going on here? What have we gotten ourselves into?
HONIG: I'm so with you. I feel that so deeply. It's such deep hypocrisy from these lawyers. It's painful to watch.
LEMON: Why are they still lawyers? Why aren't they facing sanctions?
HONIG: Rudy -- Rudy is not. Rudy is suspended in New York City --
HONIG: -- and other consequences.
LEMON: Yeah, Kim, quickly because I've got to run.
WEHLE: What amazes me, Don, is just how many people are involved in this and how powerful the human quest for power is.
WEHLE: This is about unmitigated power in the United States of America. And lawyers understand that if there are no consequences for breaching -- for breaching rules, laws, morality ethics on the march, march, march to power, then people will break those laws.
And lawyers are no different. And we saw, as Elie indicated, both in New York and in Michigan with Sidney Powell, the courts pushing back with sanctions.
But I think all of this needs to be stepped up tremendously so that people have some disincentive in the future to do what looks like destroy our American democracy itself.
LEMON: Sanctions, do they even care? Because they just keep rolling past sanctions. Okay, they still keep lying and keep going. All right.
WEHLE: They raise a lot of money. They raise a lot of money --
LEMON: There you go.
WEHLE: -- to pay off the stuff. Yes.
LEMON: It's all a grift.
WEHLE: From people who want power.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
HONIG: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: It's been called the war room or the command center. Trump insiders gathered at the Willard Hotel in Washington and/or around January 6th. We're going to tell you everything you need to know about who was there and what went on.
LEMON (on camera): The January 6th Committee issuing subpoenas today for Rudy Giuliani and three other Trump advisers. The committee looking at who was working with Giuliani at the post-election Willard Hotel command center. But what else do we know about what was happening at the Willard Hotel? Tom Foreman has the latest.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the Capitol riot raged in public, a block from the White House at the fancy and historic Willard Hotel, Trump insiders were privately, desperately trying to keep the defeated president in office.
UNKNOWN: There were actually several -- quote-unquote -- "war rooms" at the Willard. Basically, it was the central hub of all of the different organizing efforts.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Trump confidante Roger Stone was photographed outside the Willard on January 6th with members of the right-wing Oath Keepers. Stone has denied any knowledge of plans to storm the Capitol, but some Oath Keepers were charged in the attack, including at least one seen with Stone.
Other loyalists at the hotel that day or leading up to it, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, newly subpoenaed by congressional investigators, advisor Steve Bannon, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, and Attorney John Eastman, who pushed the widely discredited theory that the vice president could simply reject the election results amid the unproven claims of fraud.
JOHN EASTMAN, ATTORNEY: All we are demanding of Vice President Pence is this afternoon at 1:00, he let the legislatures of the state look into this so we get to the bottom of it.
FOREMAN (voice-over): Witnesses have told various publications the Trump team at the hotel spent days reaching out to republican majority state legislators, preparing them to cast aside the ballots of their citizens and award the election to Trump.
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: It's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen.
FOREMAN (voice-over): But Vice President Pence did not bend. Biden's election was confirmed. Still, according to a source familiar with his testimony, former Police Commissioner Kerik told the House Select Committee last week that he continued working on the 6th at the Willard looking for evidence of widespread election fraud in hopes Biden's inauguration could be stopped.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Bernie Kerik is significant. He started cooperating with our committee.
FOREMAN (voice-over): And now, the committee investigating all of this is looking very hard at everything else that went on in the Willard.
THOMPSON: The hotel has been asked to provide information for us. So, we're in a process of doing our investigation.
FOREMAN (on camera): What could the hotel possibly tell the committee? Maybe nothing about what specifically went on in those war rooms, but maybe a lot about who paid the bills.
(on camera): And that could help uncover a whole lot of folks who helped push the lies that led to an insurrection at the Willard. Don?
LEMON (on camera): All right. Tom Foreman, thank you very much.
Joining me now, Asha Rangappa, CNN legal and national security analyst. Hey, Asha, thank you for joining us. So, you say that the Trump team's legal strategy was the epicenter of everything and that the January 6th insurrection was just the muscle. Isn't that why investigators are so keen to find out what is happening -- what was happening in that war room?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, Don. The legal strategy that was led by Eastman, who was part of this war room, was a multipronged effort to derail, disrupt, and delay the electoral count certification process. And, you know, the insurrection is a part of the delay. When they realized that Pence can't go along with this, they need time to send this back to the states. And this is why the conspiracy can touch Trump in this way.
This is the conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, not necessarily the conspiracy -- the seditious conspiracy that the Oath Keepers were involved in, which we don't have any direct tie to.
But this legal strategy that was intended to block the certification, to send it back to the states with some idea that they would decertify these electors for Biden and then certify electors for Trump is really what, I think, that the committee is focused on right now. Who was a part of that? What were they doing? And to what extent did they go to make that happen?
LEMON: So, we just heard Tom Foreman and his report. He talked about some Oath Keepers who were photographed with Roger Stone outside the Willard on January 6th. And we know that the group's leader, 10 others as well, were charged with seditious conspiracy just last week. How do you think investigators are going to try to find out about potential ties between them and Trump allies, Asha?
RANGAPPA: Well, they have communication records. They clearly have some people who are cooperating with the committee. So, you know, they're just going to follow those communication trails. They'll follow the money trails and see how far it goes.
You know, again, to be a part of that seditious conspiracy, there would have to be an agreement to use force in an effort to impede this law. So, you know, I don't know that it will necessarily extend to the Trump campaign. There's nothing in the indictment as it's written now that suggests to Trump himself, I mean, but it could touch people around him. As you said, Roger Stone seems the most likely person who might get ensnared in that net.
LEMON: Asha Rangappa, thank you very much. Appreciate that.
Ron DeSantis trying to stack the deck against Democrats. The Florida governor now proposing one of the most partisan redistricting maps his state has ever seen.
LEMON: So, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis taking his state's redistricting into his own hands. The Republican governor submitting his own map to be considered by the state and it is a map that heavily favors, guess what, Republicans' prospects in congressional races.
Joining me now, CNN reporter Steve Contorno. Steve, thank you so much for joining. I appreciate it. So, break this down for us. What are we looking at here? Just how far does this proposed map from DeSantis go in increasing the state's GOP advantage?
STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Quite a bit, Don. The map that he has proposed would give Republicans between two and four additional seats most likely. And, you know, that may not seem like a lot, but remember, Florida has traditionally been a purple state. Voter registration here is pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. Elections here are often decided by one or two points.
So, the idea that Republicans could potentially walk away from this redistricting process with 20 of 28 seats in Florida would really be a game changer and especially when you consider how close the House is right now. Florida could determine who controls the U.S. House of Representatives after these midterms.
LEMON: Steve, is it typical for a governor of a state to draw their own map and submit is for consideration? And were Florida officials expecting this?
CONTORNO: That hasn't been the case traditionally in Florida, not in recent memory, at least. And the governor surprised a lot of people, including within his own party, when he dropped this map in the middle of the night on Sunday.
I talked to someone, the House -- excuse me, the Senate Republican lead on redistricting, and he told me that he didn't find out about the governor's plan until he read about it in the news in the morning.
So, this has been a new development. It has created a lot of confusion in Tallahassee in the last 48 hours and it's not yet clear just where we're headed here.
LEMON (on camera): I just want to play this for you and our audience, Steve. It's what one Democratic state representative had to say about this map. Watch. [23:45:00]
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FENTRICE DRISKELL, MEMBER, FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: What I've seen so far, it gives me concern that it violates the fair district (ph) amendments, that violates constitutional requirements. And so, it really puts the legislative Republicans in a bind, if you ask me, because this is a governor who seems to, so far, be able to get what he wants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON (on camera): So, do all Democrats feel that DeSantis will get his way?
CONTORNO: I think there are a lot of Democrats that feel that way because that has been the trend in Florida. What we've seen over the last three years, if the governor says jump, and state Republican lawmakers largely say, how high? They followed him on every pandemic measure he has taken. They followed him on cultural legislation like banning transgender athletes from women's athletics. So, the path that Republicans have followed has been largely the one following DeSantis.
CONTORNO: You know, up until a couple weeks ago, the Republicans seem to be headed toward a map that was widely considered fair and competitive. So -- but if the governor decides to use his popularity and his pulpit among Republicans to pressure his party to follow his lead, they might not have a choice.
LEMON: Yeah. Thank you. We appreciate it, Steve. Thanks so much.
We have breaking news tonight on the New York attorney general's investigation of the Trump Organization. This is just coming in. I want to get now to CNN's Kara Scannell. She joins me on the phone.
Kara, so, let's talk about this breaking news. New York Attorney General Letitia James and her investigation into the former president, it involves trying to force him to comply with the investigation. What do you know?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER (via telephone): Yeah, Don, that's right. So, Letitia James has subpoenaed the former president and his two adult children, Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, trying to get them to testify as part of her investigation. In this new filing tonight, that spans more than 200 pages.
She lays out why she wants her testimony. She is saying that this investigation has identified significant evidence that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations, that they have identified numerous misleading statements and omissions in these financial statements that were used to obtain loans and in tax submissions. And they said that they need to -- they have not yet made a final determination about what kind of action they'll take here. She's investing in this (ph) as a part of a civil investigation, although two of her lawyers are also working with the Manhattan D.A.'s office, which is conducting a parallel criminal investigation.
But she's saying to get to the bottom of this. She needs to talk to the former president and his two adult children. She points out that a number of top executives at the Trump Organization who have been brought in to testify, including his other son, Eric Trump, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer, they asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and did not answer more than 500 questions.
She also says that, you know, they have found all these misstatements that she alleges were misstatements. And she needs to know what the former president's actual knowledge of and what role he had in playing this. He signed off on a number of these statements.
So, really trying to get to the bottom of what his specific role was and what the role of those two adult children are, because Ivanka Trump, as been pointed out, was the key liaison with Deutsche Bank which has loaned the Trump Organization over $300 million, and Donald Trump, Jr. was specifically involved in several of these properties.
And then once the former president -- once Donald Trump, the real estate magnate became president, he put his sons in charge of the business. They continued to sign-off on these financial statements.
LEMON: Kara --
SCANNELL (via telephone): Yes, Don?
LEMON: Let me jump in here, because I'm getting some more information, I want you to weigh in on it.
It says specifically, the New York Attorney General's Office said it is zeroing in on several specific alleged misstatements, including, Kara, the size of the Trump Tower penthouse. Miscategorized assets outside of Mr. Trump's or the Trump Org's control as cash, thereby overstating his (INAUDIBLE).
Misstated the process by which Mr. Trump or his associate reached valuations, including deviations from generally accepted accounting principles in ways that the statements did not disclose.
Failed to use fundamental techniques evaluation like discounting future revenues and expenses to their present value or choosing as (INAUDIBLE) only similar properties in order to impute valuations from public sales data.
Misstated the purported involvement of outside professionals in reaching the valuations and failed to advise that certain valuation amounts were inflated by an undisclosed amount for brand valuation.
[23:49:57] This goes along with her, Kara, saying that they have significant evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent and misleading asset valuations on multiple properties to obtain economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions for years.
Kara, stand by. I want to bring Elie Honig, our legal analyst here on CNN. Did you hear what we said? Are you -- can you --
HONIG: Yes, Don.
LEMON: Go for it. What do you make of this from the attorney general, Letitia James?
HONIG: Well, obviously, it's a very strong statement from the attorney general. I think it's a cause for concern any time a state attorney general is saying these kinds of things.
Obviously, the core theory here goes to this valuation idea. Did the Trump Organization selectively and intentionally overvalue assets when it was convenient or undervalue maybe those same assets when it was also convenient (ph)?
The first question that I'm thinking about is, who can they specifically tie to this conduct? They mentioned the Trump Organization and they say -- the words are chosen very carefully here -- that there's some involvement by, and they named some members of the Trump family, but in order to make -- let's say there's two possibilities, a civil charge and a criminal charge, you would need to tie specific people to that conduct.
So, I think this is a real warning sign to the Trump Organization as a corporate entity. Potentially could lead to civil liability for some of the individuals who they're talking about here. And potentially if they can prove criminal intent beyond a reasonable doubt. And if the Manhattan district attorney agrees, that could lead to criminal charges. But I don't think that's quite what the attorney general -- I don't think the attorney general has gone quite that far in her statement tonight.
LEMON: All right. Elie Honig, thank you very much. The official statement has come out from the A.G.'s office and it is very detailed. We'll get to it here on CNN. Thank you to Kara Scannell and also Elie Honig. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Take this. Some information for you. The federal government's website where Americans can order free COVID-19 tests now up and running. The web address is covidtests.gov. There it is up on your screen, covidtests.gov. Every U.S. household is allowed to order a maximum of four tests, which will ship directly to your home. Okay? Now you know.
Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.