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National Security Advisor Michael Flynn Under fire; New Executive Order Coming. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 10, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: CNN exclusive, new information tonight about that Russia dossier, compiled by former British intelligence agent.
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for joining us.
That comes as National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is under fire tonight. An official confirmed Flynn and the Russian ambassador did talk about sanctions in at least one phone call despite Flynn's earlier denials.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump on Air Force One says this about his travel ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll win that battle, but we also have a lot of other options including this filing a brand new order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The battle not over yet, but will it go all the way to the Supreme Court? That's a question. And awkward, the cringe worthy handshake between the president and Japan's prime minister. Mano a mano, tough off by a moment that just might be too honest for his own good.
I want to get right to our breaking news. So, Jim Sciutto, Evan Perez, and Athena Jones will join us. CNN has learned new information about the ongoing investigation into allegations raised in a collection of memos created by former British intelligence officer for political opponents of then-candidate Donald Trump. Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez been working on that story for us. So, Jim, what do investigators learned?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Don, for the first time U.S. investigators telling CNN that they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in that 35-page dossier compiled by that former MI6 agent. CNN was first to report last month that then-president-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the memos prior to the inauguration. Until now U.S. officials have said that none of the content or
allegations have been verified. But now multiple current and former U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN that intelligence intercepts of foreign nationals confirmed that some of the conversations described in that dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier.
Should be clear that CNN does not confirm the content of the calls or whether any of the content relates to then-candidate Trump. And none of this newly learned information relates, I should make clear, to the salacious allegations content in the dossier. The corroboration, though, is based on the intercepted communications.
And that's giving the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, quote, "greater confidence in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier as they continue to activity investigate its contents" this sources says.
We reach for comment, this afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the following, and I quote, "We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting." We also reached out to the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and they all, Don, had no comment.
LEMON: Interesting, Jim. I want to go to Evan Perez. Evan, what is the U.S. investigators -- what do they corroborated?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, when the investigators first targeted to look at this dossier they were trying to see whether there was any truth to these allegations that the Russians were trying to seek compromising information on President Donald Trump.
To start, investigators looked at information that they could verify, easily to -- essentially to give them a sense of the credibility of the author, who they already had, you know, known that was someone that they were familiar with and someone who had credible sources.
Now the dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. So that was one starting point. One thing that the U.S. already has is a collection of foreign call intercepts.
So they used that information to seek to verify some of the alleged conversations described in the dossier. Now U.S. intelligence officials emphasize that the conversations that they have now verified were solely between foreign nationals including those in or tied to the Russian government and they were intercepted during routine intelligence gathering.
That some of the individuals involved in the intercepted communications were already known to the U.S. intelligence community as being heavily involved in collecting information that was damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump. Now sources who talked to us would not confirm which specific
conversations were intercepted or the content of those discussions due to the classified nature of the U.S. intelligence collection programs.
LEMON: Jim Sciutto, I have another question for you. While the sources say there is confirmation of some of the conversations happening, there's still a lot that U.S. investigators cannot verify as being true.
SCIUTTO: No question, Don. And we've been very clear from the beginning in our reporting what has been confirmed and what hasn't. So, as we said of the officials stressed to CNN that they have not corroborated and, quote, "the more salacious things allege in the dossier."
[22:05:01] And I remind our viewers that CNN does not reported any of those salacious allegations. However, when we first reported the story U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials had told us that could not verify any parts of the memos.
They're now saying differently. They're saying that they have corroborated some of these communications. None of the individuals we spoke to for this story would comment or confirm that they have proof of any of the allege conversations or meetings between Russian officials and -- this is key -- U.S. citizens, including associates of then-candidate Donald Trump.
Officials who spoke to CNN for the story caution they have not yet reached any final judgment on whether the Russian government has any compromising information about the president. President Trump and his staff, as you know, Don, have repeatedly dismissed the entire dossier as, in their words, phony.
LEMON: Yes, they have. I want to bring Evan back in. Because they understand, Evan, that the White House just reached out to you again. What did they say?
PEREZ: They did, Don. Well, Sean Spicer did call us back to emphasize his extreme displeasure with this story. He said, quote, "It is about -- it is about time that CNN focus on the success that the President Trump has had bringing jobs -- back jobs, protecting the nation and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations. The President won the election because of his vision and message for the nation." That's what he said, Don.
LEMON: Yes. I'm not sure what that has to do with this reporting but I'm glad that he called you back at least.
Athena, there is other breaking news tonight on Donald Trump's controversial travel ban. The president is now saying his administration may revise or write an entirely new executive order. What else did he say?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. That's right. The president came back to the press cabin on the flight down here Air Force One with the First Lady Melania Trump. It was her first flight aboard the plane so he was showing her around.
And we asked him a bunch of questions. I asked him about the immigration ban. He stressed that he believed the administration would ultimately be successful in any court fight over the ban but he said that could take a while, and so there are a lot of other options. Here is more of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We'll win that battle.
JONES: You also -- you also talked about the news--
TRUMP: The unfortunate part is that it takes time statutorily it's going to takes us a little time. But we'll win that battle. But we also have a lot of other options including filing a brand new order on Monday.
JONES: Is that your plan?
TRUMP: Could very well be. But I like to keep you, you know, I'd like to surprise you. We need speed for reasons of security. So it could very well be that we do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: He later said that it could be Monday or Tuesday, but you also heard him say that he likes to make it a surprise. So, he didn't really commit to either, asked what he might change about any new executive or revised executive order, he said very little. Don?
LEMON: So, Athena, so after the president tweeted "see you in court," it's possible the Trump administration may not appeal this decision?
JONES: That's right. I mean, as you know, covering any White House is a team effort. And my colleagues back at White House, Jeff Zeleny and Jim Acosta are reporting that the administration is keeping their options open. They talked to an administration official who said we are reviewing all of our options in the court system and confident we will prevail on the merits of the case.
But it doesn't appear that that's going to happen quickly. And there is more news on this front today, as well, Don. We heard from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the same circuit -- the same court of appeals that gave the ruling last night, that halted this immigration ban.
They have asked for both parties to file briefs by next Thursday to discuss whether they want to have this case reheard en banc, that means by a much larger number of members of the court. It's not at all clear that a majority of the 25 active judges on that court will agree to rehear the case. But it's just yet another wrinkle and another question mark about the next steps, at least legally speaking are in the court for this executive order, for this travel ban. Don? LEMON: Indeed. Indeed, it is. Evan Perez, you've been reporting on
another big story for the Trump administration on the National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador. What are you hearing?
PEREZ: Well, you know, Don, this is actually of one of the strangest parts of the last few weeks. It's this phone call that Michael Flynn had with the Russian ambassador somewhere around the end of December. And we now know that part of what he discussed with the Russian ambassador, what Michael Flynn discussed with the Russian ambassador was discussing sanctions, whether or not these sanctions could be removed. Which is an interest obviously for the Russian government.
We don't know exactly what Michael Flynn said. It is obviously something that drew the attention of the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community because they were listening in on that conversation as they routinely do for the Russian diplomats here in Washington.
And what the interesting part of this is obviously the fact that Michael Flynn has said that he never discussed sanctions, that he was -- this was simply Christmas greetings and condolences for a plane crash that killed Russian military members and setting up a phone call meeting with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
[22:10:12] So, he had previously said that this never occurred, this is information that Vice President Pence and Sean Spicer had gone out public with. And it turns out that he did discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador.
And so, that's obviously a very embarrassing thing now for Michael Flynn. We've heard from the White House the vice president did not know that this taken pace. It's obviously there's a few people upset at the White House that this occurred and that they did not know about it.
LEMON: Yes. And it's embarrassing for the vice president who went out and may have said otherwise.
So, Jim, this took place, Jim Sciutto, this all took place before President Trump took office, which would make those conversations illegal and highly inappropriate. Flynn repeatedly denied that this happened. Could he lose his job over this?
SCIUTTO: It's not clear at this point and even the legal questions are unclear. Because one of the -- one of the statutes that comes into play is the co-called Logan Act, which dates back to the 1700s, so the founding of the nation and it is not been prosecuted more than a couple of times in the history, partly because, listen, a lot of U.S. officials speak to other foreign officials.
It's a difficult thing to define there. But there are other questions short of that, one of which is lying about it. Right? Two, the issues of credibility, not even legal issue but credibility. Credibility to the vice president, because it appears that he did not give an accurate portrayal of the comments to the vice president, he did not give one to the public. And this would then be contradicted by what presumably U.S.
intelligence has transcripts of the conversations because these would be conversations that naturally were intercepted not because Michael Flynn was one into the call, but because the Russian ambassador was on the other end of the call.
So, also highly irresponsible, because General Flynn who used to head the Defense Intelligence Agency would know that those conversations would be intercepted. So, there are a lot of damaging and bad results for Michael Flynn well short of illegal activity here.
LEMON: Athena Jones, I want to ask you this. You've been traveling with the president who had a very busy week and today as well, a very busy day. We're also hearing tonight that President Trump went after Senator Elizabeth Warren in a meeting with senators this week. What did he say?
JONES: This is -- this is -- I mean, a conversation that some sources have described as bizarre and awkward. This was a meeting this week of bipartisan group of senators ostensibly to discuss the Supreme Court nomination process and President Trump, according to several sources, this is according to my colleagues on Capitol Hill, Todd Barrett and Phil Mattingly went into a question about the state of the Democratic Party.
He then called Senator Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas, this is a nickname he gave her during the campaign. He, apparently said this word several times in this discussion with senators, and he appeared to be referring to the fact that she was shut down on the Senate floor when she tried to read the letter from the late Coretta Scott King in opposition to Senator Jeff Sessions' nomination to be attorney general.
Of course, that she was shut down using an obscure rule not often used. And so, that is what seem to have prompted President Trump's remarks. But, yes, he apparently said Pocahontas, referring to Elizabeth Warren is the face of the Democratic Party. And he went on to say something about how she claimed some Native American heritage just because she has high cheekbones. So, rather odd comments, Don.
LEMON: Yes. And sources also say that the president also brought up, Athena, voter fraud at meeting with senators. What prompted that?
JONES: This is a whole new allegation of voter fraud. Let's make that clear. Apparently, what prompted according -- that's according to colleagues is the presence of New Hampshire, former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte who is of course helping shepherd through the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to be on the Supreme Court.
And so, he was talking about how thousands of people were bussed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to vote illegally in that state, a state that he lost. These are unsubstantiated, unfounded claims. We must make clear.
They're altogether additional new claims to the ones he made I don't even know how many days ago it was now, when he talked about three to five million illegal votes costing him the popular vote.
So, he continues to discuss these issues of so-called voter fraud that he's claiming that there's absolutely no proof for. Don?
LEMON: Thank you all. What can you say? Thank you all. I appreciate it. When we come right back, the handshake that just went on and on and on and on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:15:04] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Thank you, press.
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The president tonight hinting that he may issue a new executive order on travel to the U.S. And a source telling CNN the White House is not planning to immediately appeal the travel ban decision to the Supreme Court.
Here to discuss now New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof. Good evening to you, Nicholas. Thanks for joining us on this Friday evening.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: Good evening.
LEMON: I want to ask you about the big news story of the week, the legal fight over President Trump's travel ban. We're hearing today that the White House is looking at ways to take a mulligan on this, rewrite the order so it can pass muster in court. Do you think that's the best approach here?
KRISTOF: I mean, I would prefer that they just back away from this entire approach rather than trying to kind of water down the ban in some way, but it is at least better than trying to challenge the judiciary and overreach which is what they have been doing.
LEMON: If they start from scratch, Nicholas, and they walk away from the legal case, the White House won't have to go through discovery, they won't be legally compelled to disclose what went on behind the scenes as the executive order was written.
[22:20:03] Wouldn't you want to know how all of this really came together?
KRISTOF: Yes. But I must say that the main thing that I would wish for is that we no longer ban refugees who are trying to come to this country, who are, you know, and now stuck in places like Somalia or Kenya and there were no longer, you know, break up families and cancel tens of thousands of visas of people. I mean, you know, including thousands and thousands of doctors who
were working in remote communities around the U.S. So, I guess I'm a little more focused on the fundamental injustice of what is going on, and less about uncovering the process of what I think was a farce.
LEMON: Yes. Another big story that I want to talk to you about and pardon me because I want to explain then ask you the question, it's a little bit lengthy here.
But there's more news about the possible collusion between the Trump team and Russia. Today, our Jim Sciutto is reporting, he is just on a minute ago, that U.S. investigators have corroborated aspects of that Russian dossier on President Trump.
And then yesterday, the reports that National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country's ambassador to the United States. President Trump was already having a tough week. So, this is a bad time for him to have to deal with this news. Is someone on his team leaking all of this? And if so, if you believe so, why would they do it?
KRISTOF: Well, the Trump administration is a sieve for leaks partly because you have many competing groups around Trump that each trying to discredit the other, and also partly because you have a lot of professionals in government who deplore what they are being asked to do and what they see around them.
But I mean, I think, you know, more broadly, this Russia angle is not going away. And I found the CNN story today absolutely fascinating. There are a lot of investigations going on of that Russia connection.
And you know, the important part is not the salacious stuff that got the most attention, it's the idea that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to interfere with the American election.
And if that turns out to have some credibility, that is enormously important and will have far-reaching consequences, and boy, there are lot of people in this country and abroad who were digging at precisely that question.
LEMON: Yes. And I should say allegedly colluding. As you said it turns out to be true it would be fascinating here.
Vice President Pence, Nick, caught up in the plan controversy because this appearance was on Face of the Nation, it was in January it was before the inauguration. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against Russia.
JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: So did they ever have a conversation about sanctions ever on those days or any other day?
PENCE: They did not have discussion contemporaneous with U.S. action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And Nick, now White House insider tell CNN Vice President Pence only knew what Flynn told him. Is the vice president throwing the general under the bus?
KRISTOF: In my experience, Vice President Pence, you know, I have some confidence that he is telling the truth. I have much less confidence in Mike Flynn. And I think, you know, we don't know exactly what happened but Mike Flynn himself seems to have misled just about everybody about what was going on.
And I think that's really the critical issue here more than the possible violation of the Logan Act, the law. I mean, one question is what he was doing discussing the possible easing of sanctions before he even took office with Russia.
And the other, maybe more fundamental one, is that at the end of the day, the White House said things that were flatly false about his interactions with the Russian ambassador. And when a White House does that, it's not just Mike Flynn who loses credibility it's the entire United States of America.
LEMON: Let's talk about that his first big meeting as president with a foreign leader, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a very upbeat White House visit today with President Trump. First hugs and 20 second handshake, is this a new 'bromance' for the president?
KRISTOF: Well, poor Prime Minister Abe with that handshake, he is probably still recovering from it. It may impair his golf game tomorrow. And you know, it's a little weird because, I mean, I think Prime Minister Abe he wanted to be respected by Trump and he got some of that, but it has this very artificial feel to it and that compounded when President Trump tweeted warmly about him but getting his name wrong.
[22:25:01] LEMON: OK. So this -- I want to ask you about something. Here's the tweet that you're talking about. He tweeted, he writes, "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe," it should be Prime Minister -- he did -- it should be Prime Minister A-b-e. Presidential diplomatic relationships, yes, he called him by his first name. But I mean, we're putting to my sock, it's not that important, for me at least.
KRISTOF: Come on. If you -- if you're going to put out a warm tweet about your close relationship with the prime minister of allied country, it's pretty important to get that person's name right. It really is.
LEMON: All right. OK. For you. Yes. Maybe I don't put as much stock in his tweets as most people do. But thank you, Nicholas Kristof. I appreciate it. Have a good weekend.
KRISTOF: Good to be with you.
LEMON: Yes. Straight ahead, President Trump wraps up a rocky third week in the White House. How long will his supporters stick with him? Maybe longer than you think.
LEMON: The president wrapping up what you'd have to call a difficult week for his administration.
Let's discuss now with CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein, Kristen Soltis Anderson, a columnist for the Washington Examiner.
[22:30:02] Former Congressman Jack Kingston, a former senior adviser to the Trump campaign, and CNN's contributor J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis."
Good to have all of you on. Representative Kingston, good evening. You first. It's been a rough week for the Trump administration, for team Trump. His travel ban was smacked down by ninth circuit, his senior and press secretary are under intense scrutiny for making up massacres and telling lies and trying to defend him, and his national security advisor caught in allegations of unauthorized dealings with the Russians. How do you think its going?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: All right, Don, I think it's going great. You know what, if you're going to do things in Washington you're going got get pushback. He got Betsy DeVos confirmed, he got Tom Price confirmed.
The left is so upset about Betsy DeVos, they won't even let her go to a high school in Washington, D.C. Now what kind of radical silliness is that. And then Tom Price, beginning of the end of Obamacare, I think it was a great week. And you know, he's continuing to reach out to heads of industry, heads of state and union members.
And I think the democrats are just showing that the only thing they have as an alternative is we have Donald. That's not a policy. And not you, by the way.
KINGSTON: They do not like President Trump. But that's not policy. They need to be saying here's some alternatives besides obstructionism. But the Democrat Party continues to dig a hole for itself.
LEMON: Yes. I know you're not talking to me because I'm not democrat. So, I don't think that you were talking to me.
KINGSTON: You're an independent.
LEMON: So, listen, but I have to ask you. The crux of my question, I know that liberals are upset about this presidency, you're right about that. But to my question, I said that his travel ban was smacked down by the 9th circuit, his senior adviser and his press secretary under intense scrutiny for making up massacres and telling lies and trying to defend him, and his national security adviser caught up in allegations of an unauthorized dealings with the Russian. Democrats didn't do that. So what's your response on that.
KINGSTON: Well, let me say, what's the 9th, you remember it's the nutty ninth, it's the one circuit in America where 80 percent of its rulings have been overturned because so ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, guys, I lost the audio.
LEMON: Yes. Sorry. That was -- that was someone else speaking. Go ahead. Go on.
KINGSTON: OK. What I wanted to say that, you know, the 9th circuit, 80 percent of their decisions that go to the Supreme Court are reversed. What they actually said is that we need more time, we're going to let the stay remain in place until we have time to review this further. And so, now--
LEMON: And on the other issues?
KINGSTON: Well, I think on the latest with the Flynn story, we're going to have to see. I mean, it's a leak and I think the press should be covering who were the -- who -- what sleaze bag in the White House is leaking stuff on national security? I mean, to me, that's the biggest story out there.
The content of what General Flynn said, I think it would be good to know rather than just persecute the guy.
KINGSTON: You know, he was talking to the ambassador about Christmas holidays, he was talking to him about plane crash in Russia and in passing it's probably likely that something came up about the sanctions. And what General Flynn could have said, is you know, we'll look at that. But it did -- it did not--
KINGSTON: It wasn't a statement of policy. And remember he was private citizen at that time.
LEMON: Yes. I want to get -- you know, it's so important because now he's national security adviser. But I want to bring in the other panelists in. And I think -- I think you're right. It would be, you know, this White House is leaky. Carl, do you disagree with what the representative just said.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think with all due respect, there's an awful lot of Kool-Aid drinking going on. I think it's possible to look at this presidency and all presidencies in a factual measured way, to look at facts rather than a blind defense of things that are indefensible in some cases. And let's look at what's happened here. It has been a very bad week
for the president, in terms of his key initiatives, how the courts have dealt with them. At the same time, Jack is right, he's gotten through his nominees. There's no question about that. He's done something very interesting in terms of he's told his secretary of state he can't have his choice for deputy secretary in terms of Elliott Abrams, a neoconservative who had opposed Trump's own presidency who helped give us the Iraq war.
There's a lot of interesting stuff going on. So I think if you look at it without drink Kool-Aid, and look at it across the board factually, then we can start to parse what's really happening.
And what's really happened this week, though, that is so remarkable is the continued lying by those around the president of the United States, the kind of fantasy we just heard from the president himself about now bussing people across state lines to -- we're back to 'birther' days.
[22:35:07] LEMON: Yes.
BERNSTEIN: Where is this coming from?
BERNSTEIN: There's a lot of very strange stuff going on and that's a real part of the story.
LEMON: Well, J.D., you know, Carl is asking people to be objective and look through -- that's tough when the country is so polarized right now. Because I'm sure many, not all of his supporters, will say he's had a great couple of weeks. But if you look at it objectively, there been a lot of missteps. And it's hard for people to do that in this environment, isn't it.
J.D. VANCE, "HILLBILLY ELEGY" AUTHOR: Well, it definitely is. I think any unbiased observer would look at the past week and say at the very least it's been pretty chaotic. But at the same time a lot of his core voters sent Donald Trump to Washington to break it, to really reform the system.
And a lot of the controversies a lot of the day to day things that happened that seem especially chaotic maybe if you follow the day-to- day news cycle like we do actually just look like evidence of a president who like Jack said is getting a lot of pushback for a lot of really intense reforms.
LEMON: But J.D., I have to ask you, they didn't send him to his, you know, his surrogates, his national security adviser to possibly, you know, for wrongdoing -- I'll just put it at that when it comes to that. But they didn't send him to lie and tell falsehoods and to make things up.
VANCE: No, absolutely not. And I think that if it turns out to be the case that General Flynn did tell a lot of falsehoods, then that's definitely going to affect at least General Flynn and probably President Trump, too.
What I am saying, though, is that a lot of the day-to-day controversies, a lot of the things that we see and say those things are going bad, a lot of this core voters are not either paying attention to the day-to-day or maybe they look at it and say that's what we would expect if people in Washington are upset about some of the reforms he's enacting.
LEMON: Yes. Kristen, I'll give you the first word on the other side of the break. I got to get a break in, and we'll be right back.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Back now with my panel. And I promised Kristen Soltis Anderson she would get the first word. Kristen, the president's supporters have really stuck by him. The question is I'm wondering if they are going to continue to do that.
Because they bring the president, they voted for him to go to Washington and to stir things up and to make changes. But I don't think they voted for him and his - the people who surround him to go to make stories up or to flat-out tell untruth, to lie.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLUMNIST: Bear in mind that not all people who voted for Donald Trump voted for him for the same reasons or like him, period. There are plenty of people in the last election who voted for Donald Trump but didn't necessarily love him. Maybe they just liked him slightly better than they like Hillary Clinton.
So, it depends on which type of trump supporter they're talking about. There are some folks who are diehard, they love this president, they love the fact that they're going to turn on the TV and see there are raids happening in cities across the country where undocumented immigrants are getting rounded up. They are going to love that.
They love when he takes on the media. They love when he seems like he's fighter. But there are other folks that voted for him thinking, well, when he gets into office maybe then he'll be presidential, maybe then he'll stop with the tweeting, maybe then he'll bring all of that business experience and run things really effectively.
And Donald Trump is learning over the last couple of weeks that it's hard to run the American government the way you would run a business. And that friction is leading to things that are coming down that are in some cases sloppy like we saw with the executive order around the travel ban, where had the administration just taken an extra day or two to inform some agencies and draft it a little more carefully. We might not be in the legal battle we're in.
That there's a lot of people voted for him because they saw him on "The Apprentice" they thought he was a competent leader. And if his administration is doing the sorts of things that would get you fired off "The Apprentice" that's going to lose him that type of Trump supporter. Not the diehards but the folks who sort of voted for him holding their nose. LEMON: Voted for him because they saw him on "The Apprentice." All right. Yes. Good for Kim Kardashian because she's on TV but not to be president.
J.D., protesters had been swarming town halls, taking to the streets and plainly showing that they aren't happy with the administration. Should the president and the administration be concerned about that?
VANCE: Well, I think they should be a little bit concerned about it, because there are shades of early 2009 here and what happened with a lot of the tea party protests. And what we learned over the past eight years, is that whether you agreed with the tea party or not, they were a very effective political opposition to President Obama.
And I think somebody like President Trump who really wants to fundamentally reform Washington; he can't govern effectively if he only has a 43 percent approval rating. He needs a big art of the country. And so, I do think he should be worried about not just these protests but about a lot of what those protests portend.
LEMON: Yes. I want to bring Carl Bernstein on this. Carl, you know, you had the women's march, protests around the country against the travel ban, a lot of upset people at these town halls. It's a powerful showing. But the question is, will it last. You know, they'll all saying, is it a moment and not a movement or is it a movement not a moment? What is it?
BERNSTEIN: I think it's becoming clear that we're seeing a movement on a scale we haven't seen since antiwar movement during the Vietnam era that there is a huge number of people in this country who are really exercised that this president at this president at his presidency.
But I think one of the things we've missed in this discussion, is that since January 20th we have seen an exhibition of Donald Trump's character, of his ignorance on so many subjects, of his temperament that has got republicans in Congress talking among themselves in terms of his stability and his emotional maturity and whether he's really fit to be the president of the United States.
We're in places where we have not been before and I don't think we expected to be there even in a Trump presidency in terms of the upheaval. And when J.D. talks about he came here to stir things up and break the crockery, all of which is true.
[22:44:56] I'm not sure that most of the people in this country are going to grow -- go along with a message that is simply breaking things without creating something that all Americans can take some kind of pride in. And it will make our country stronger and better.
LEMON: Yes. But I think except for a select few of republican lawmakers, no one is going to say anything publicly because they basically can drive their agenda through and Donald Trump is, this President, is their vehicle. They're not going to come out against its president.
BERNSTEIN: That's true.
BERNSTEIN: That's true so far.
KINGSTON: The republican--
LEMON: Go ahead.
BERNSTEIN: But there can be a breaking point.
KINGSTON: The members that I've talked to are absolutely not that way at all. They're very excited, they're saying, you know what, this town has needed an Uber to come in and shake things up, to stop the inertia of the status quo. To actually challenge--
LEMON: You're making my point, Jack, and I agree with you that lawmakers are saying that. The republican lawmakers feel that way. They may say that in private but publicly they will never say that. They like having this president.
KINSGTON: They like the fact that Donald Trump has won. They feel very enthusiastic that they got a vigor about them. You know, listen, Betsy DeVos was protested philosophically. That's an OK thing, because she believes that parents should be in charge of education in local schools rather than the teachers union. That's OK.
Democrats protest Tom Price because he believes you and your daughters should be in charge of your health care and not the federal government. That's a good thing. It's the difference between the parties. What we're not seeing from the democrats is solutions, all they're doing is, you know what, they can get a crowd, they can protest anything, it's a flash dance.
LEMON: Jack, I want to go. I want to get -- I want to give Kristen the last word. Quickly, Kristen. Sorry about that.
ANDERSON: Yes, bear in mind that of these republicans who are in Congress now, 7 out of 10 of them never been in Congress while a republican is been in the White House. So, even for those who are in swing districts where Donald Trump is not terribly popular, just the fact that there is someone in the White House that might sign a bill that they send up Pennsylvania Avenue I think does, as Congressman Kingston mentioned have some of these folks willing to hold their nose at some of the stuff Trump is doing.
LEMON: Right. Right. Thank you. I wish we have more time, panel. I appreciate it.
When we come right back, President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner has kept a low profile at the White House but what's going on behind the scenes.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: A big weekend for the president and the first lady at the White House at the winter White House.
Here to discuss, CNN contributor Emily Jane Fox, a staff writer for Vanity Fair, and CNN political analyst David Gergen. Good evening to both of you. Thank you so much for joining us on a Friday.
Emily, you first. This weekend, the president and the first lady entertaining Japan's Prime Minister and his wife at Mar-a-Largo. We're seeing Melania Trump's role as First Lady on display for the first time since the inauguration. And here she is flying to Mar-a-Lago on Air Force One this afternoon and at dinner this evening. What stands out to you, Emily?
EMILY JANE FOX, VANITY FAIR STAFF WRITER: Well, I think the first thing that stands out to me is that this is the first time she saw the prime minister and the first lady of Japan. She was not there at the last couple of days in Washington as most first ladies typically are. And I think this is the first time we are really seeing in practice the fact that the first lady is not living in Washington, D.C. alongside of her husband.
She has been very clear since day one that she wanted to stay in New York with Barron so that he could finish his school year as normal and we're watching the ramifications of that.
I think the greater point here is that we're seeing really for the first time that this is very different first couple. We've gotten to witness that up close and personal with Donald Trump and now we're seeing how it's going to play out with Melania.
LEMON: Yes. And David, you know, it's considered tradition that the first lady accompanies her spouse of a visiting foreign leader in Washington. But today it depends first lady was on her own for a bit. The first lady's office released a statement tonight that says in part.
Quote, "The first lady was very much looking forward to welcoming Ms. Abe to the White House upon her arrival in Washington. However, she was informed that Ms. Abe had previous commitment during her stay in D.C. The first lady flew to AAFB, the Air Force Base to meet the president, Prime Minister Abe and Mrs. Abe to be able to fly with them on Air Force One.
As it was, Ms. Abe's first opportunity to spend time with the first lady. They will all will be together for the weekend at Mar-a-Largo and have a full itinerary."
I don't see it as big deal. I mean, is this, what do you make of this?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think it's a big deal. Listen, Mrs. Obama, Michelle Obama was exceptionally gracious in welcoming Mrs. Abe before and escorted her around Washington and Laura Bush exceptionally gracious hostess when first ladies from other countries came.
But I think in this case, you know, given the statement that come out from the White House, I think we have to give them the benefit of the doubt. And also she said was going to stay in New York basically until her son finishes school year. Let's see what happens after that. And if she comes down to Washington I'm sure she's going to be welcomed.
She's spending a very precious little time with her husband as a result of this. And you know, so he has some lonely nights it appears. He's by himself there tweeting away. But I think in terms of Mrs. Abe, I think Melania Trump deserves the benefit of the doubt.
LEMON: I agree. And maybe she should be there just to hide his phone but otherwise she's not a political animal. She has to deal with her son and her family issues.
LEMON: I don't -- I don't fault her for that, I don't see the big deal.
GERGEN: Don, I think the bigger issue and more interesting story is around Jared Kushner who accompanied Ivanka Trump with the president and Mrs. Trump and Abe's to Mar-a-Largo. He's playing a very interesting behind-the-scenes roll internationally that I think is quite remarkable.
LEMON: Yes. So, Emily, let's talk about that. Because Ivanka Trump and Jared with the president and the first lady in Mar-a-Largo for the weekend. They're usually away from President Trump on the weekend. And here's SNL's take of this. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: One more thing, you know I love my daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared. They always keep me so calm and make sure I don't do anything too crazy.
[22:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's true, sir.
BALDWIN: So, quick question, are they gone?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't work on Shabbat.
BADWIN: Perfect. When the Jews are away, the guys will play. Send in Steve Bannon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Emily, give me the latest on Jared and Ivanka there.
ANDERSON: So, they will be with the president and the first lady this weekend in Mar-a-Largo. But I think it's important to remember that they have been in Washington, D.C. the last couple of weekend as well. Just because they observe Shabbat it doesn't mean that they haven't been very close by in Washington, D.C. They just don't work on Shabbat and that won't be any different this weekend.
Ivanka had a tricky week this week. This is a week where her father dragged her into the whole Nordstrom's mess. And that was not a mess that she wanted to be dragged into. This is someone who voluntarily stepped down from her company when she didn't have to, she's playing no formal role in the administration.
And her father I think was deeply bruised by Nordstrom pulling back from her brand and he decided to tweet about that. And I think he dragged her into a mess that she's tried very hard to drag herself out of. And I think maybe she needs the downtime in Mar-a-Largo.
LEMON: Yes, which has been my point the whole week. She's not a 12- year-old, she's an accomplished woman. She can handle things on her -- yes.
ANDERSON: You know what's interesting, she moved to D.C. to be an advocate for women who work.
ANDERSON: And then her dad step in to advocate for her work without her asking it. I think that that's a little problematic.
LEMON: Yes. You articulated my point better than I did. David, where do we go from here?
GERGEN: Well, I want to go back to Jared just a minute. Because there's a really interesting story that's out in the Philadelphia Inquirer, it's on the net. That has a vivid moment when Jared brings the Mexican foreign minister, his visiting prince to the Oval Office to calm down Donald Trump about Mexico in a moderate statement he's about to make about building a wall.
Things blew up later in the day. But nonetheless, Jared has become an informal ambassador to -- he's been in contact with no less than two dozen countries, talking to ambassador, he's helping to select the American ambassadors to the Middle East. That's a remarkable role for a White House adviser to play.
It's going to be interesting, in particular. If you're secretary of state, you sort of like to control those things, you know.
GERGEN: If everything comes up through the secretary of state and through the State Department. That's where the diplomacy is conducted. It's going to be a very, I would think there are going to be some tense moments ahead.
ANDERSON: I would love tough that even though Jared did broker that meeting, and I reported on this the Mexico brokering a week and a half ago.
ANDERSON: But I think it's important to note that that blew up in his face because Donald Trump decided to tweet the next morning. So, even though he has this relationship and all this relationships with dozens of leaders, it doesn't always go his way.
LEMON: I've got to run. That's going to be the last word. Thank you both. We'll be right back.
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