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CNN TONIGHT

Second Defeat for the White House on the President's Travel Ban; New Information About Those Infamous Wiretapping Claims; Comedians Make Political Headline As Their Joke/ Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired March 15, 2017 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:00:31] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Breaking news, a second defeat for the White House on the President's travel ban.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

A federal judge in Hawaii blocks the new travel ban just hours before it was supposed to go in effect. The President threatening to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

Plus, new information about those infamous wiretapping claims. Now, President Trump says he got his information from watching TV, not from any of the 17 agencies of the U.S. intelligence community.

Let's go live to CNN's Mark Preston. Also with Jessica Schneider and Stephanie Elam.

Good evening to all of you.

Mark to you first. The original travel ban was a debacle, overturned by the court. Now round two blocked before it takes effect. This is a black eye for the White House. There is no other way to put it. It is a bad time for them.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: It is a bad time. This has been a bad 12 hours for the White House given that. It started at 11:00 a.m. when we heard the house intelligence committee chairman come out and say he has seen no evidence as of yet that Trump tower was in fact wiretapped. And then saw Jeff Sessions with the judiciary - excuse me, the attorney general come out and say that he has never briefed him. Let's fast forward to really are in this travel ban right now, something that we all thought was going to get through, Don. And the fact of the matter is, it hasn't gotten tough. So this has been a very difficult time for the White House.

LEMON: And it hasn't gone through. And according to the judge, in part because of the administration's own words, the President and people in his administration.

I want to get to Jessica really quick.

Jessica, does the judge's decision indicate that he believes that this is Muslim ban and it violates the first amendment? JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, the judges' entire ruling,

it was narrowly focused and all about the intent of the Trump administration. The judge specifically said that it was that intent to create this Muslim ban that violated constitution's establishment clause. In fact, the judge went into it quite particularly throughout his opinion. He pointed to several instances, very specifically, saying it was President Trump's own words on the campaign trail, it was the fact that then-candidate Trump even released a press release. It was titled advocating the quote "Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

The judge even looked to Rudy Giuliani's comments on television where Giuliani said that President Trump had consulted him and ask him how to make the Muslim ban air-tight and legal. That was the thrust of this opinion. So yes, the judge relying pretty much solely on the intent. And that would be interesting to see how that plays out as this case moves forward, is challenged perhaps in the ninth circuit. Does it matter what the intent is when in the four corners of the document, nothing about religious test or religious ban or a Muslim ban is actually written? Can you actually go to these outside statements that were made, you know, months ago in the course of the campaign? That could be a big issue as we move forward on this legal fight -- Don.

LEMON: Stephanie Elam, let's look at some of them specifically about -- from Donald Trump and his supporters in this ruling. March 16th, Donald Trump says I think Islam hates us - this is 2016. So he was a candidate then. I think Islam hates us. So I succeed, Trump says. People so upset when I used the word Muslim. And I'm OK with that, because talking territory instead of Muslim.

And January of 2017, Trump supporter, Rudy Giuliani, Trump says when Mr. Trump first announced it, he said Muslim ban, he called me up. He said show me the right way to do it legally.

And then on February of 2017 Trump adviser Stephen Miller says this on FOX News. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MILLER, TRUMP ADVISER: Well one of the big differences that you are going to see in the executive order is it's going to be responsive to the judicial ruling which didn't exist previously. And so this are mostly minor technical differences. Fundamentally, you are still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country but you are going to be responsive to lot of very technical issues that were brought up by the court and those will be addressed. But in terms of protecting the country those basic policies are still going to be in effect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Steph, it looks like the strongest arguments for blocking the ban came from the President and his own associates.

STEPHANIE ELAM CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I have to tell you, Don, I was inside that federal court today listening to judge as he was pressing both the plaintiffs and also the lawyers representing the department of justice. And that is something that he was asking. Should we look at this in vacuum and not looking at the context? Pressing that question to the lawyer from the department of justice.

And what was interesting is that the lawyer's take on that was is that these comments were made by a private citizen running for President, not the man who became President, who is in that office now. And so, therefore, they should not be ruled in that context. They should not considered in that context which was very interesting.

But the judge did ask about that specific moment there. And so, what they are saying, the take-away here is that it's not just about what is in the four corners of the document as they put it, but it is about the context of it. And if you look at the context of how it was done and the fact that the document itself that came from the lawyers for the department of justice, the fact that it had such neutrality after the first document and then when you heard the surrogates speaking the way they were in the media, they are saying that is the reason why is probably that this judge ruled that this was not right way for this to go and ruled for temporary restraining order.

[23:05:52] LEMON: The President responded to the bill tonight. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A judge has just blocked our executive order on travel and refugees coming into our country from certain countries. The order he blocked was a watered down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge. And should have never been blocked to start with. This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So judicial overreach, Jessica - I mean, the watered down version is the part too that gotten him into trouble because that is exactly what the attorney said, that this was just watered down version of the first one. But is this judicial overreach?

SCHNEIDER: A lot of people are wondering that tonight, Don, and you know, that could be a point of contention as we move forward in this. A lot of people saying should we be looking to the intent as Stephanie there mentioned, you know, intent of someone who wasn't even President at the time, when he was making these campaign statements. I want to point out something interesting though as all of this was unfolding in Hawaii as we are looking at all these cases tonight, a very interesting opinion came out from the ninth circuit tonight. As you remember the ninth circuit is the one who upheld the temporary restraining order way back in February and likely they will be the court where the next step in the legal fight goes.

And this was really -- they didn't have to issue this opinion tonight. And they shouldn't have because it's actually a moot point. Nothing is before them. But the judges on the circuit court they issued an opinion, kind of

arguing about this. And five of the judges, who are Republican appointed, they talked a little bit. They alluded to this idea of judicial overreach. I just want to read to something real quick.

They wrote that whatever we as individuals may feel about the President or executive order, the President's decision was well within the power of the presidency. And they continued to say, the panel's errors, meaning the ninth circuit, were many and obvious. \

So they definitely thought that there was judicial overreach both at ninth circuit level, at the panel, and also with all these other federal courts and these federal judges. So that's the big battle here, you know. How far can they go? And this is going to play out as we continue to move forward here, potentially ending at the Supreme Court.

LEMON: We are going to talk more about that with the next guests. Thank you panel. I appreciate that.

Federal judges in Washington state and Maryland also considering motions on the travel ban. I want to bring in now Maryland attorney general Brian Frosh. He joins us by phone.

Brian, good evening. Thank you so much. So the Hawaii restraining order takes effect nationwide.

BRIAN FROSH, MARYLAND ATTORNEY GENERAL (on the phone): Yes, it does.

LEMON: Before we get in to your case, what is your reaction to this decision in Hawaii?

FROSH: Well, I'm pleased with it. It is right in line with what we have asked the court for. We joined the state of Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson's lawsuit. And the two suits are very similar. The same relief has been requested. And the fact that judge in Hawaii has granted nationwide relief is good. We are pleased. It is what we were asking for. I think probably you will see the case move up to ninth circuit from there instead of other district courts rule on the same issues and motion.

LEMON: So let's get to Maryland's case now against the travel ban is before a court. What does this mean for your case?

FROSH: I think it's good for our case. Judge Watson has given relief to Hawaii and the rest of the country that we have been asking for with state of Washington, California, New York, Massachusetts. So, you know, we have achieved what we want to achieved through the good work of attorney general Doug Chen in Hawaii.

LEMON: Yes. Let's discuss now, speaking with Jessica Schneider about this and Stephanie Elam and our Mark Preston about the President is angered by the defeat of the ban and insists that this is judicial overreach to block it, you know , to block it and that this ban is essential to protect Americans. What is your response to that? [23:01:20] FROSH: The -- I think what you have got here is a great

example of executive overreach. The judges have been doing their job. And it's not just one judge. It's six or seven judges that have all said that first Muslim ban was violation of the first amendment. And now the second one is as well.

And it's very clear. I mean, you know, Donald Trump's problem is what he himself has said. He's described this as Muslim ban. He described it as candidate as Muslim ban. Asked Rudy Giuliani to dress it up so that it wouldn't look like Muslim-ban but still is a Muslim ban.

LEMON: So you think those comments are relevant? His prior comments and his at - those of his administration.

FROSH: I do and I think his comment tonight he just watered down the first executive order is additional proof if anybody needed it. But what we are talking about is Muslim ban that is barred by the first amendment.

LEMON: What do you think of the ninth circuit judges basically giving opinion tonight, offering different opinion?

FROSH: I haven't seen that or had a chance to read it. I mean, the ninth circuit has already ruled that first executive order was violation of the first amendment. I would be surprised if it changed course.

LEMON: Brian Frosh, thank you.

FROSH: Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: When we come right back, what Trump says now about his wiretapping claims and where he says he got his information.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:32] LEMON: Justice department vowing to defend President Trump's travel ban in the courts after a federal judge blocked new executive order tonight.

Mark Preston is back, also John Flannery, a former federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York, criminal defense attorney Page Pate and defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, the author of "Electile Dysfunction, a guide for unaroused voters."

John, I want to start with you. Because I want to get your reaction to this ruling. The administration's comments in recent weeks and over the course of the campaign, used against them in this case. And the state notes on February 21st, senior adviser Stephen Miller told FOX News that travel ban would have same effect as old one. How much of impact do you think these comments ahead on the decision?

JOHN FLANNERY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Well, I think they were substantial. Also, we have no reason to believe that any of these states present any danger. And here is Trump saying that we have to write rules. What have they been doing? They have been sitting on their hands doing nothing this entire time.

And our dear colleague Alan Dershowitz I think hopes that this may secure Israel and thinks that this is a bogus argument. But I think it is a powerful argument that we have established religion in this fashion through this ban that is transparently against Muslim.

What happens if the Syrian national - what happens if an Iranian national goes to Switzerland and comes to America? We are not protected against that.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We have vetting to protect this national.

FLANNERY: Why misquoting me?

LEMON: Alan, hold on. Let him response.

DERSHOWITZ: I heard you say it 20 minutes ago.

LEMON: Let him respond, John.

DERSHOWITZ: You are lying through your teeth. I never said a word about Israel. You know, when you focus on making --

FLANNERY: No. But I think that is what you feel. But I think it's your bias. I think it's what you believe.

DERSHOWITZ: So let's get to the point and just keep your mouth shut.

FLANNERY: You said the court was bias.

LEMON: John let him finish.

DERSHOWITZ: Don't confuse constitutionality with bad policy. I don't like this policy. I don't like this order. But I am constitutional analyst. And I know the establishment clause cases and I know the cases that relate to national origin. And I'm telling you that I believe that this presents a very tough case for the Supreme Court. Because it's the first case in which the Supreme Court has been asked to take into account what a political figure said while running for office and use that to interpret the words of a statute.

If you take this decision to logical conclusion, it means that very same words used by Barack Obama, who is well intentioned would be upheld as constitutional while the very same words used by Donald Trump would be struck down as unconstitutional. That presents a difficult and complex issue. Let's stick to the merits of this argument.

FLANNERY: OK, let's do that.

LEMON: Respond to the merits please John.

FLANNERY: Sure. Presently Alan despite.

LEMON: Go ahead John. FLANNERY: Despite what your honest belief is about the law, we have a

number of district courts and the ninth circuit court of appeals that was so convincing to this administration they didn't have nerve to appeal to the Supreme Court. And perhaps one of the reasons is because they were attacking the institution. And I wonder if Supreme Court justice Robert.

DERSHOWITZ: I agree. What does it have to do with Israel? Why in your bigoted background do you have to bring in Israel to attack me and criticize me?

FLANNERY: I'm not attacking you. I believe that's the reason you are taking the position you are.

DERSHOWITZ: Now bigotry is really showing. Now, you are questioning my --

FLANNERY: I support Israel as well, but don't think the ban will help Israel.

DERSHOWITZ: You can't believe anything I say because I'm Jew and Zionist.

FLANNERY: No. That's not what I'm saying.

DERSHOWITZ: Shame on you, never want to be on the show with --

LEMON: Let's move on.

FLANNERY: Didn't you say the judges were biased --?

LEMON: Let's move on. Let's move on, OK? Let's settle this later. That part of it. OK.

So Page, I want to read part of the ruling and get your reaction on it. It says illogic of the government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus towards any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. What do you think of the argument?

PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Don, I think that's exactly correct. I mean, you can have a Muslim ban even targeted just to one Muslim individual. You don't have to target all Muslims.

But have to agree somewhat to what Alan said. I was very critical of the first travel ban. In fact, I wrote a piece for CNN opinions where I clearly said that it was Muslim ban and it was unconstitutional.

This new travel ban is different. I think the administration did address some of the deficiencies in the due process area and there is nothing on the face of this travel ban that discriminates against Muslims. Now, I'm not at all confident that as it plays out we won't see discrimination but I do somewhat disagree with the order that we saw tonight from Hawaii.

[23:20:29] LEMON: OK. Mark, one of the bottom lines here is that the judge asserts that

while the administration changed executive order, it didn't change it enough between the two ruling to appease the court. President even tonight said it was watered down version. Is he not helping his case by saying them?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Well, they are certainly doubling down. And there's two ways to look at it. There is obviously the legal way, in which most obviously most important way. But that, we have heard from the President saying that he is going to take it to the Supreme Court. But there is also the use of language in many ways and how he, in my opinion, has been very reckless in how he has said some things.

Now, this was said before he was President of the United States. I mean, that's what they are basing a lot of this on. But fact of the matter is, we have seen this recklessness or this carelessness that the President has either said verbally or he has used on twitter to actually say things. It is coming back to haunt him and we are seeing that happen here.

LEMON: OK. I want to turn to Russia now, gentlemen. Here is President Trump addressing the wiretapping claims tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I read in I think January 20th, "New York Times" article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was article, I think they used exact term. I read other things. I watched your friend Bret Baier, the day previous, where he was talking about certain very complex sets of things happening and wiretapping. I said wait a minute, there's a lot of wiretapping being talked about. I have been seeing a lot of things. Now, for the most part I'm not going to discuss it because we have it before the committee and we will be submitting things before the committee very soon that hasn't been submitted as of yet. But it's potentially a very serious situation. So wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you are going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over of the next two weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Alan, what do you make of that? And what would you consider acceptable evidence here?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, first of all, I think he is backing away. I think the President has basically saying I don't have any evidence. I heard on TV. I read it here. I think ultimately he is going to have to say, look. When I said it, I honestly believed that I may have been the target of wiretapping. But there is no evidence, and so, I have to accept as true that there was no wiretapping.

Look. If there was wiretap order we would know about it by this time. That's a simple thing to uncover. If there was national security, wiretapping that was improper, we may never find out about it. But clearly the President misspoke. I think he has to eventually acknowledge he misspoke. His misspeaking has gotten him into deeper trouble because now there will be investigations that they probably wouldn't have been previously and in the end I think come up with nothing and it will be embarrassment to the administration.

LEMON: Last part. That is perfect segue to the next question. Because, Page, I'm wondering if there is any scenario where this plays out well for President Trump. Because if he's right, and it means there was enough suspicion to put his campaign under surveillance. And if he is wrong then he made a very serious and false allegation and compared to former President to Nixon and Watergate.

PATE: Right, Don. I think ultimately, he is going to be proven wrong. There is one way he could come out of this looking good. And that is, if there's no warrant and the wiretapping hat he is referring accord and was illegal. But there has been absolutely no evidence to suggest that whatsoever.

What concerns me, though, is we are having to rely on a Trump administration justice department to produce the evidence that Trump says is there. I really wonder who is in charge at this point. Comey has not said much about what's going on. Sessions has recused himself. I really am concerned that we not getting the type of transparency we need out of the justice department.

LEMON: John, do you see any scenario of this playing out well for the president?

FLANNERY: No. And I don't know if others feel the same way. But there sort of makes me feel like we have the Kardashian TV reality show without the ethics. You know how on those shows they say one thing next week and then next week they change the -- what they have to say. It is like - I don't know if you remember when I was younger, there is show "laugh-in" and they had a guy come on, and he would say something. And then they were contradict him and he would make up another lie.

And ironically, this is real. This is Reality TV in our government and it is very distressing. And I don't think you will ever admit that he misled us. I just don't think he will did that.

LEMON: So listen. I know that sometimes in the heat of the moment that, you know, we say things that we don't necessarily mean. And I love all of you, gentlemen. Is there anyone here who would like to apologize or say anything about what they said or taken out of context?

[23:25:11] FLANNERY: Well, I love Alan. Been a hero of mine since I was younger man. I have trouble understanding you Alan in connection with this argument about the appeal and I think that what I heard you say is that you would hope that something would take this ban away, you don't support it. And on the other hand you believe that it's flawed constitutionally. And we have honest disagreement about that.

DERSHOWITZ: What is inconsistent about that? There are a lot of things that I wish weren't passed by Congress. I wish Congress would overrule them. But I don't think they are unconstitutional. That's very, very common. We used to discuss that law school all the time. Only criticism of you is that you raised the issue of Israel and questioned my motives because I'm Jew who supports Israel.

FLANNERY: Well, I support Israel too. Earlier I heard you say that you thought the judges might be biased and I understand that as litigant over the years. You can't believe our advocacy isn't flawless and people should follow what you say.

LEMON: We'll leave it at that for now. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you all. I appreciate that.

Up next, President Trump visits the home of an oval office predecessor, you may be surprised to hear what they have in common.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:30:23] LEMON: President Trump getting out of Washington for the day to meet with supporters at a time when things are not exactly going his way.

Let's discuss now. Historian John Meacham is here. He is the author of "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House" and "destiny and power."

John, good evening to you. Thank you for coming on. I want to get your take on two big potential setbacks for the president, heavy spacing tonight. His revised travel ban already blocked on round two through the courts and a difficulty getting his own party behind him on the Obamacare replacement plan. Is this unprecedented difficulty for a new president?

JOHN MEACHAM, AUTHOR, AMERICAN LION: ANDREW JACKSON IN THE WHITE HOUSE: It's a lot, a lot right out of the box like this but it is kind of unsurprising when you think about it. You have a very unconventional President. You have a president who has made broad promises, particularly on the health care front without a great deal of attention to the details. And so, having it filled in that way creates a situation where he wants big reform but doesn't have anything really specific to fight for. So that puts him at mercy to some extent of speaker Ryan in this case.

And interestingly, Ryan seems to be stuck between the right and the left here. He has got a freedom caucus that doesn't believe this is repeal of Obamacare, which is a fundamental tenet for the base. And obviously he has the other side which wants to keep the health care act of '09. And I think that you have a President who wants action but is not particularly devoted to any particular course.

LEMON: Yes. And I would say that you are the expert. Out of the two of us, you are the expert on Andrew Jackson. The President toured Andrew Jackson's grave today. You wrote a book on it after all. We know he's a fan. There is a portrait of Jackson currently hanging in the oval office. He held a rally shortly after. And look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Just cane from a tour of Andrew Jackson's home to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth. Jackson's life was devoted to one a very crucial principle. He understood that real leadership means putting America first.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There is a populist connection between these two men. And because Jackson had a complicated legacy as well correct?

MEACHAM: Yes. I mean, there is - you know, Trump has embraced Jackson. It's largely a postelection phenomena, really popped up with Steve Bannon talking about the historical precedents for Trump. He hung the portrait in the oval office, also one of Jefferson.

You know, Jackson was the first of his kind as a President. The first six Presidents were either Virginia planters or Adamses from Massachusetts. And Jackson came from the lowest rungs of white society in the colonial era was unconventional figure. Believed in putting interests of the many, at least many as it was defined them, which was largely propertied white people, as opposed to the few, which was the establishment. There was largely embodied by John Quincy Adams.

You know, there are difference, I think important differences as well. Jackson was an experienced politician. Had been a lawyer, a judge, a prosecutor, a senator, a general. Had won the popular vote in 1824 but lost it in the House of Representatives. Came back and ran in 1828. And he was more schooled in public affairs than Mr. Trump is.

LEMON: Excuse me, general, right? He had been a general.

MEACHAM: Yes. And won the, you know, won battle of New Orleans, which is (INAUDIBLE) core-like victory. Massive American victory that really ratify the revolution in many ways. We didn't know the war was over. The Twitter had not yet come to the country.

LEMON: Not yet.

MEACHAM: Not yet.

LEMON: I want to get on. I want to talk about that you have open letter, right, that you wrote to President Trump ahead of his trip to visit President Jackson's home and you said compromise was thus an essential if little remarked Jacksonian virtue. There is an anxiety Mr. Trump that you are too enamored of your own political base, that your tweets and your energy are directed toward motivating only those who already agree with you. We are all Americans still, sir. Lead all of us, Jackson did. You can too.

We saw him out there tonight campaigning to his base even though he was, you know, he was only been in office for two months. Is there any sign that he wants to lead all of us, that he will heed our advice to any extent?

[23:35:20] MEACHAM: Are you suggesting, Don, that perhaps this letter did not have the desired effect? An instant behavioral change? There's not a lot of sign. There is very little evidence that the President is willing to reach out beyond his base. And I think that's one of the most troubling things for lot of people.

You know, Andrew Jackson was complicated, difficult figure. He was complicit in two original sins in American life, African-American slavery and Native American removal. But he was important chapter in the democratic, lower case D evolution of the country, the push for a more perfect union, the (INAUDIBLE) as being widen. Again, he was the first person from outside the establishment to come into the presidency.

And he did believe in the virtues of the union. He faced down South Carolina over a question of federal power and supremacy of the federal government. He gave us an extra 30 years to form what Lincoln would later call the better angels of our nature, the mystic chords of the union. And so, this is not to deify Andrew Jackson, believe me. But he was a figure who in part because his own family had been wiped out in the revolution. His mother died tending to wounded. His brothers died. He himself had been a prisoner of war during the revolution. He believed that his family's blood in many ways had sanctified the union. And so, therefore, he was for the union, for keeping us together so that we could be as he once put it, one great family.

We could disagree viciously and sometimes violently but we had to be in the same house. And I think that there's been very few pieces of evidence that would suggest that President Trump has the same kind of vision, Jacksonian vision that Lincoln would later fulfill, that a house divided can't stand. Right now for Trump, a house divided is his base.

LEMON: Is his base. This interesting moment, I don't know if you saw it, but the curator was explaining to him at the Jackson home that Jackson subscribed to 16 newspapers and he would make notes on them whether he agreed with it or disagreed with it. One editorial just like threw a big black x.

President Trump said, you know, he knew the feeling and we have seen him do that because he sends that handwritten angry notes back to reporters. What do you make of this connection?

MEACHAM: Well, you know, no President has ever loved the press.

LEMON: Say that again, please. Because he thinks he is only one.

MEACHAM: You know, there is this kind of, you know, it's like Miranda in "the Tempest" who comes out and says, a brave new world, has such people in it. And her father says (INAUDIBLE).

You know, when you are in the maelstrom of the presidency, it, obviously, it feels as if this is the first time there's been criticism. It feels as though if only the world understood you and could understand what you were trying to do, that the world would be a kinder and gentler place, to quote Bush 41.

But you know, this is a perennial force. Thomas Jefferson, the third President, had the Sally Hemming's story published while he was President. John Adams passed the alien and sedition acts to arrest journalists - I probably shouldn't mention this because it might get picked up in the White House. You know, to actually imprison people who had access to the press.

LEMON: No. Don't want to mention that.

MEACHAM: The roundup is coming.

LEMON: I got to go or I won't get and be able my other guests on. And that's why you are historian because you know more than - you forgotten more than most people know about the subject.

Jon Meacham, we appreciate having you on. The book is called "American Line; Andrew Jackson in the White House." And the other one is "Destiny and power." Thank you sir. Appreciate it.

MEACHAM: Thanks Don.

LEMON: Thank you.

When we come right back, even members of President Trump's own party say they still don't have any evidence of his infamous wiretapping claims.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:43:12] LEMON: Today, President Trump breaks his silence about his infamous wiretapping accusations saying wiretap covers a lot of different things. But Congress is complaining they still haven't seen any evidence.

CNN's Manu Raju has more -- Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Hey, Don. Earlier today James Comey, FBI director met with two leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Diane Feinstein, the Democrat from California and the Republican chairman, chuck Grassley of Iowa.

Now after that, meeting senator Feinstein was explicitly, have you seen any evidence of wiretapping? She said no. And she is not alone. I talked to intelligence committee chairman Richard Burr, who said he also has yet to see any evidence to support President Trump's claims that Barack Obama ordered wiretaps and surveillance of Trump tower. And Richard Burr is not alone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU (voice-over): Today members of President Trump's own party are openly challenging his claim that Trump tower had been wiretapped under the orders of President Obama.

REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We don't have evidence that took place. In fact, I don't believe just in the last week of time, that people we've talked to I don't believe there was actual tap of Trump tower. RAJU: And Senator Lindsay Graham said official answers to over

Trump's allegation of wiretapping may soon be common.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: There may be no there there. But there is pretty easy to simple question. Has ever one issued (INAUDIBLE.

RAJU: So senator, the answer no?

GRAHAM: I believe it to be. But the longer they take to get back to me, more concerned I am and builds suspicion. What is taking so long?

RAJU: Comes as FBI director James Comey privately briefs senators about its ongoing investigations. A move to diffuse tensions with the Republican judiciary Chairman who is holding up a key confirmation of top justice department official until he gets more answers.

[23:45:04] SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I expect people to respond according to what they told me. In this particular instance we were not given the respect that the constitutional gives us of oversight of the executive branch of government. And so that's very irritating.

Reporter: House intelligence committee is calling on the justice department to immediately provide any information to support President Trump's allegations that were made during the Saturday morning tweet storm 11 days ago.

NUNES: President Obama wouldn't physically wiretap Trump tower. So now you have to decide on how are you going to take the tweets literally? And if are, then clearly, the President is wrong. But if you're not going to take the tweets literally and there is a concern that the President has about other people, other surveillance activities looking at him or his associates appropriately or inappropriately, we want to find that out.

RAJU: But Nunez and the top Democrat in the committee Adam Schiff disagree on one key piece of their investigation, whether the Trump campaign had any improper contact with Russians who were meddling in the elections.

Do you have any evidence of that?

NUNES: Not that I'm aware of.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE RANKING MEMBER: I wouldn't answer as categorically as colleague.

JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Look. Answer is no.

RAJU: And the attorney general said today that he never gave the President any evidence or reason to believe he had been wiretapped by the Obama administration.

SESSIONS: I have recused myself. I'm not talking to the President or the people who are investigating the case and unable to comment on any of these details.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAJU: Now Don, there was some expectation today that James Comey was actually going to confirm one way or another whether or not the FBI is investigating the issue of Trump campaign contacts with Russian officials during the Presidential election. That was actually with the result of the conversation that Senator Sheldon Whitehouse had with James Comey in private meeting according to White House. He said the deadline was earlier today. Well, the deadline came and it went. Comey did not answer Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's questions but he did say that he respond to him and Senator Lindsey Graham next week, as early as next week in classified letter addressing their questions which includes if there's any evidence and whatever is exist to support President Trump's wiretapping claims. But tonight, Don, those senators are also concerned that this is going to be the classified setting which means the public may not know the answers to the questions that are being raised from the FBI - Don.

LEMON: Indeed. Manu Raju, thank you very much.

Coming up, some of our sharpest political observers these days are late night comedians, making us laugh in spite of ourselves.

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[23:51:45] LEMON: You may think there is nothing funny about our politics these days, but you are about to be proved wrong. Take a look at this. This is CNN's history of comedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McConnick has become the person who pulls back the curtain to show the world that do you see that this is happening? We didn't make this up. This is not a funny idea we had. This is what is happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The constitution is not a star in super Mario brothers. It doesn't make you invincible so you can do whatever the (bleep) you want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You teach us about things we should know about. It's embarrassing in a way to have someone come over here and explain how things like health care works.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's less than ideal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I'm so glad they beat that. I was worried.

Let's discuss that with someone who is all over CNN's history of comedy. Are you funny? W. Kamau Bell, host of the "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA."

W. KAMAU BELL, HOST, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It so in my tax form, so apparently they are federal government makes me claim that as my job. So, yes. I am funny.

LEMON: That was John Oliver. And CNN's history of comedy. Do you think late night comedians are not just using news headlines for inspiration for their comedy? Are they actually helping to influence the headlines now?

BELL: I mean, unfortunately, I mean, no. Some people, no offense Don, you are like the news doesn't do it for them the way they wanted it to. And so after like starting with Jon Stewart, comedian started to learn that that they could put out their own version of the news. And so, whether the comedians like it or not, people are going to those comments for the news.

LEMON: Yes. I realized that a couple of years ago, before Jon Stewart retired, he did a segment on me. And I never had so many people respond. I was on a beach in Florida and he is like frat guys brought over a cool of Budweiser. This is for you, man. We love you. We saw you on the daily show. No one ever done that for the years that I have been on CNN. So I take your point. I'm not offended by it.

BELL: Yes.

LEMON: Can we talk about this video I have been wanting to talk to you about it from Snoop Dog. It is creating quite a controversy, dude. It is depiction of a mock execution of a clown called Ronald Clump, excuse me. Ronald Clump dressed as President Trump. Do you have an issue with this video?

BELL: I mean, I think calling it a mock execution is pretty harsh. The whole thing is a satire of clowns and sort of turns the whole world into a clown culture. You know, I think that it is provocative. Snoop Dog certainly is trying to be provocative. But you know, I think the bigger issue here is that Snoop is not normally about being political. He just wants to like smoke weed and coach his kids' football teams. But the fact is, is that Trump has created so much news and so much controversy that it brought Snoop into politics which if hip hop comes fully into politics like that, it's a big deal.

LEMON: I had no problem with it except for the gun part where he shoots - I mean, because people thought - because that's --.

BELL: That's - I mean, clearly, he was trying to be provocative. I get that and I'm not trying to defend that. I'm just saying that like he clearly meant to be provocative. But I think that again, the biggest problem with that Trump has with that song, is it's a good song. People are going to be listening to that song in less than a year a lot. I was like, that's the biggest problem. This song is good.

LEMON: I just haven't been, you know, concerned about Presidents being assassinated, I just felt that. But the other part being provocative, someone imitating the President and that's all fine. It is all common.

But here, this is a director of the video Jesse (INAUDIBLE) released a statement. It says in part, I have learned that in your face art can stimulate debate. This video is audacious, gutsy, provoking but in in no way do we condone violence and brutality. They can demand answers and hold our leaders to the highest standards.

Do you think that's fair in his defense? Because, you know, the gun didn't shoot. It is bang at the end.

[23:55:30] BELL: I mean, I think once having a lot of people are reading the headline of the video or watching a few seconds of the video. But if you watch the whole video, it's clearly all the satire and there is guns in other parts of the video and nobody is getting killed in the video. I mean, you know, Snoop Dogg does come out of like the gangster rap era, but this is not a gangster rap video. And I think that people are like -- I agree with the director. It is like it is meant to be provocative. But the end - Trump character smoking weed is new. So it is not actually the execution.

LEMON: OK. The president tweeted. He said can you imagine the outcry would be if Snoop Dogg's failing career and all had aimed and fired a gun at President Obama. Jail time.

BELL: For all we know, Snoop Dogg is actually worth -- is watching more than Donald Trump, first of all. Let's just say that. So, second of all, Obama dealt with things like this all the time. What's more offensive, Donald Trump care during this video or Joe Wilson's standing on the floor of the senate during the state of the union saying you lied Obama? I feel like that is more offensive to me.

LEMON: I think there was also a little hypocrisy on the present part because I have watched the comedy central roast of Donald Trump recently and it was a little weird to watch it. Snoop Dogg is one of the roasters and said much nastier things about then private citizen Trump and he said about President Trump in that video. Again, the gun thing bothered me, but the others stuff didn't.

I have to run. It is always a pleasure to you have. You are one of the comedians and being interviewed in that. So thank you so much. You see a headline, comedian see a punch line, see them turning news into laughs in the history of comedy. (INAUDIBLE) as one of the comedians interviewed in the series and you can see it tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m.

That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow.

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