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Stormy Daniels Sues President Trump Over Alleged Affair And Hush Agreement; Will Mueller Go After Family Members?; Michael Cohen Was Provided Inside Information About House Intel Investigation; Potus On WH: There Is No Chaos, Only Great Energy; Watchdog: Kellyanne Conway Twice Violated Federal Law; Two-Year-Old Meets Her Hero, Michelle Obama. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired March 6, 2018 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:38] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight. I'm Don Lemon. It is 11:00 p.m. here on of the east coast live with breaking news tonight on a White House in chaos. First the President and the porn star, Stormy Daniels who says she had a, quote, intimate relationship with Trump, is suing the President to end their alleged hush agreement. Claiming he never signed it. In the affidavit or in the lawsuit I should say the attorney for Stormy Daniels whose real name is Stephanie Clifford states that intimate relationship with Trump began in 2006, continued well into 2007. Much more on that in just a moment.

Plus the latest member of the Trump White House to resign. His top economic adviser Gary Cohn. He quit after clashing with the president over his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Joining a long, long line, a long list of those who have left team Trump. And in a tweet that could come under the hashtag don't let the door hit you on the way out, the President says many people want the job of chief economic advisers and promises to choose wisely.

We will also ask a member of the house intel committee about the news on the CNN source that the President's lawyer Michael Cohen was provided secret information about intel committee testimony from another witness. A violation of committee rules. To recap, no chaos. There is nothing to see here. I want to bring in now CNN Sara Sidner and legal analyst Laura Coates with more on the Stormy Daniels lawsuit. Sarah good evening to you. And good evening to you as well, both of you, Laura as well. A porn star Stormy Daniels, Sara is suing the President to end the hush agreement she entered into before the 2016 election. What more do you know about this?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is really, Don, the first time there are public court documents that allege Donald Trump knew all about the hush money paid to adult film star and Director Stormy Daniels before the Presidential election. We looked at the dates, ten days before the Presidential election. What's interesting is on the first page there is interesting information. You see all the aliases there. Stephanie Clifford is also known by her stage name Stormy Daniels. Everybody knew that. But she is known by Peggy Pederson, a pseudonym she wanted to use in this. Look down further when it says plaintiff versus Donald J. Trump. He had an alias apparently according to this documents of David Dennison. That essential consultant's LLC, the "Wall Street Journal" reported earlier this year that is linked to Mr. Cohen. What's interesting that Mr. Cohen is not named as someone in this lawsuit? But he is mentioned quite repeatedly in the lawsuit itself.

There are lots of different things. They have mentioned the $130,000 that has been reported that was paid to Stormy Daniels. The one thing that nobody did know is whether or not Donald Trump actually signed this agreement. Now, these court documents show that he did not sign the non-disclosure agreement. And that gives him potential plausible deniability. Saying maybe just his lawyer knew about it. Now you are seeing there. DD, that was for David Dennison or Donald Trump and P.P., that is Peggy, the name you just saw. But what's signed is Stephanie Clifford, the real name of the adult film star Stormy Daniels. We also know that Michael Cohen, also, there is another page showing he signed the agreement as well, Don.

LEMON: OK, so let's bring in the lawyer and get some lawyerly advice here. Laura, this case boils down to the fact that Trump never signed a non-disclosure agreement itself. If Trump's attorney signed it, why would it matter if he did? Explain that.

LAURA COATES, CNN INTERNATIONAL LEGAL ANALYST: Well, of course you already know if there are the allegations that he was involved in some type of a contractual agreement to have hush money issued a week or two weeks before really the election in 2016, well it raises red flags and questions to think, well did the President of the United States, now President of the United States have an actual hand in this? Or was this a rogue operation by somebody who was a loyalist to the President of the United States? And we already know that Michael Cohen is already being investigated by Mueller's team and there is reporting necessarily about whether he had some ties to the Ukraine and other pro-Russia organizations in his role in that.

[23:05:07] And so as a natural outcome or evolution of that investigation it seems this will now raise additional red flags. Although we don't know if Mueller is actually looking into this particular Stormy Daniels issue. We do know he is looking at Michael Cohen. If he is, certainly his ties to the campaign, his ties to Donald Trump, and what he was willing to do to try to protect Donald Trump if these allegations are true are going to raise the attention of Mueller and his team.

LEMON: Ok. So, does that void this contract that he didn't sign?

COATES: It doesn't necessarily void the contract. Again, if it was intended to be this person Donald Dennison or whoever the name was supposed to be.

LEMON: David.

COATES: David Dennison. I knew there was a married with children- or Peggy Peterson or Peg Bundy with are person in there. I knew that was part of it. But if that is part of it -- if he was supposed to be part of it then it could have potential to void it. But the bigger issue is about the non-disclosure. What really voids these agreements is if somebody breaks their end of the bargain and starts talking about the issue. And according to Stormy Daniels and her counsel the statements made by Michael Cohen that we're talking about even the payment of itself is the larger issue for the court to figure out if that voided it in and of itself.


COATES: The signature is almost a secondary issue at this point in time.

LEMON: It's easy to remember. D.D and P.P. So listen. Sarah, the President has denied.

COATES: I can't handle it, Don.

2LEMON: The President denied the affair ever occurred. The White House seems to downplay it process. This suit goes right out and says they had a relationship. Do they offer proof?

SIDNER: They say the proof is in the non-disclosure agreement, those documents. Why sign a non-disclosure agreement if nothing happened. And they also talk about the fact that it was signed and you see the date on there, literally ten days before the election. And that is, Don, where we should definitely talk about why this matters. Because some people say, look, Donald Trump was being Donald Trump. And he was with this person. And who cares. There are supporters that will say that as well. What does this have to do with anything? It has to do with federal election campaign finance laws. According to common cause who already filed a complaint with the SEC saying if Donald Trump knew about this and if was intended to make sure it didn't come out before the election it was tampering with the election. And if there is money paid he knew about this is a serious violation of the laws. What could it mean for Donald Trump? It could mean fines if the FEC ever decided to pursued the case which they often do not. And it could mean, I mean this is a highly unusual thing that would happen -- it would go to the Department of Justice and that they would prosecute, and that could mean jail time. But that is almost an impossibility. We have not seen that happen ever.

LEMON: Sarah, Laura, thank you so much. I appreciate that. Now I want to bring in Mark Mckinnon, he is a former adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain. And Executive producer Showtime the Circus and Republican strategist Mike Murphy. Gentlemen good evening. Mark, I have to ask you because this moments ago you know we are talking about the porn star Stormy Daniels. Your show is called the circus, doesn't get more circusy than this.

MARK MCKINNON, THE CIRCUS ON SHOWTIME CO HOST: If we had proposed this as a fictional feature to ShowTime, this events as they are occurring just in the last 24 hours they would have thrown us out of the office. It's a maddening dizzying circle of news keeps getting disclosed. This is only one of many stories today. And maybe the least important of some of the larger stories that we'll be talking about.

LEMON: It's amazing isn't it?


LEMON: Michael, what do you think of Stormy Daniels? ? What does she do next if the president did not sign the agreement?



LEMON: What.

MURPHY: You know, first I think the President should have come up with a better phony porn name when he paid her off than David Dennison. It could have been Orange Jolson or something more creative. I think this is a big distraction when you run a reality show presidency. You get into these kind of things. But frankly he has bigger problems right now than whatever horrible things he was up to there and maybe he is going to be liable potentially for FEC fines. But it's like a speeding ticket on the way to the bank robbery with some of the problems he has with Bob Mueller and now potentially a trade war.

LEMON: What's the biggest problem? Mike, what do you think the biggest problem is?

MURPHY: I thinks his big are problem is the Mueller investigation, another big brick falls every day into what could be quite a wall of legal trouble. If we don't know all the facts yet, but we do know there is a very aggressive investigation by a highly competent prosecutor who is widely respected across the spectrum of law enforcement with the investigatory power of the FBI behind it.

[23:10:00] So every day we seem to learn another route of inquiry that looks promising. Now it's the mystery foreign funder and meetings in the Seychelles, turning into a novel. This is like rust, it never sleeps. We have to see where it lands. But it's a huge distraction. I think the second problem is he has done the first really crazy thing on economic policy, which is why Gary Cohn is jumping out the window at the White House. A trade war will cause a real civil war in the Republican Party.

LEMON: We'll talk more about that but I'm interested to get Mark's reaction.

MCKINNON: First of all, given the latest UAE connection. We need a Kari Mathen Homeland image board conspiracy threads to tie this all together. I'm interested in asking Mike, because you are the smart strategist in the business and it covers a lot of grounds over the years. Mike, what in your estimation are the two possible scenarios? What's the worst that could happen with the Mueller investigation? And what's the least that can happen?

MURPHY: Well, I want to thank you for the compliment we're old friends and great being with television with you. I think the worst that could happen is Mueller goes after direct family members. You know something that could involve his daughter or son-in-law. And starts connecting financial favors to the family from overseas. And maybe even money moving into the campaign. I think that could be criminal and catastrophic for the President, in addition to the political side. I think the best thing that could happen is what the White House is spinning for which is the most aggressive investigation in the history of the world and it turned out there were a couple of knuckle heads in the campaign that the President never knew and they got in trouble. And we've been certified clean.

LEMON: And the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of all of that. But you bring up a good point. Because the family members, the kids, many people feel have sort of gotten off easy when it comes to the Mueller investigation so far when it comes to being interviewed. Some are saying, Mike, that they may be saving the best for last. I don't know if that has anything to do with his family or kid.

MURPHY: It could be. Normally the investigations kind of build toward the principal. They start with the supporting characters and work their way through and get a ton of information to confront the principal targets with. But it is not rocket science just to wonder why he never released the tax return. He has been incredibly defensive about political -- excuse me his personal financial stuff. That generally doesn't happen without motive. I'm speculating here wildly. Everything I know about Donald Trump's business history in Atlantic City and New York real estate. He is a guy that doesn't want a federal x-ray. And that is what he has right now.

MCKINNON: And he threw a huge red flair about his finances when he said please don't look over there Mr. Prosecutor. That is out of bounds. You can't touch that.

LEMON: Let me ask you about since you are jumping in. So yes, collusion it is not a legal term. Everybody saying no collusion, no collusion you're into the charged with collusion. Of course not. It would be money laundering, conspiracy.

MCKINNON: I think collusion is it actually the least of his worries.

LEMON: Right.

MCKINNON: I think it's much deeper.

LEMON: That is a talking point from the White House and from his supporters. That is the only reason.

MCKINNON: But they're knocking down the least his problems if that should come to bear. Because there are much greater problems with money laundering transactions, influence and now starting -- by the way what with he see in today's news is this is beyond the campaign, into the transition, into influencing government action itself as opposed to campaign related activity, which would be more serious.

LEMON: The President was asked earlier today about what's being done to prevent Russians from meddling even further in our elections. Here is part of the response. Take note of how he switches gears in the same answer. Watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are doing a very deep study and we're coming out with I think some strong suggestions on the 18 election, I think we'll do well in the '18. Although those on the White House trade a little bit of dip, but I think we will do well for well, because the economy is so good. And because we are protected in our jobs like out jobs being protected finally like with what we are doing with the tariffs, but the big thing would be the tax cut and the regulations cuts. Also, the Judges.


LEMON: So he started Russian influence on the election then he pivoted to the talking points with the -- about voting, the GOP how the GOP would be voting in 2018 and the 2018 election. How concerned are Republicans with the President and the mid-terms.

MCKINNON: Deeply concerned. They are hanging hats right now on the hope that the tax cuts as well as just some kicking in with general economic news and jobs -- there is a lot of good news on that front. Which could be completely handicapped by the tariff news.

{23:15:00] You know, the tariff thing is the most mind boggling thing I've seen from this President on a policy front, not that we didn't have warning. He said it during the campaign. He talked about 45 percent tariffs. But as a once former Democrat who crossed the bridge 15, 20 years, a big part of the attraction for me was I was sick of Democratic protectionist trade policy and attracted to true trade policies a Republican. The orthodoxy that drew me to become a Republican is now being completely reinvented by this President. So I think for people -- Republicans like Mike and myself we look around and say this is not the Republican Party that we were initially attracted to.

LEMON: Mike, he did run on this. Excuse me. Cohen and others I think in the administration were against the tariffs. A lot of people are. Who does he listen to? Does he tell his base, I know I ran on this but the economy is doing -- what is doing here, making the wrong decision in your estimation?

MURPHY: On a policy thing it's disastrous decision. I think politically it will be disastrous in the longer term as well. He did run on it. But a lot of the Trump support tell, people like me who have been Trump critic in the Republican Party is look the tweets are all crazy. Just ignore them. The policy the White House putting out is great. Judges, tax stuff, fighting ISIS. Don't worry about the crazy tweets. With this trade decision, the guy writing the crazy tweets is the guy forcing the policy through his entire White House. None of the economic grownups were for this. None of the Republicans or very few on the hill are for this. What happened, the wall of economic sanity in the White House when Rob Porter got tangled with the spousal abuse since he committed -- he was dutifully and justly ejected from the White House? Now Cohen lost the fight and he is leaving. So Trump is running amok. He is home alone. We have now real example of bad policy. To your question about the sound bite today, he looks like he just left the meetings I've been to with Republican pollsters looking at the floor and sitting on the desk and nothing on front of them but a bottle of whisky and a revolver. We hope the tax cut turns it around. Let's see what happens in the special election in Pennsylvania in the Trump district.

LEMON: That is quite a picture that you painted there. Listen, thank you.

MURPHY: Kind of a forced joke I wanted to get to.

LEMON: Guys come back. I love this conversation. Come back any time love to have you as often as possible. Listen, I want you to be remind the chaos continues at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The circus continues I should say. But the circus on ShowTime is going to returns on April 15th. How did you like that transition?

MCKINNON: Great show.

LEMON: Thanks. When we come back, a source telling CNN, the President's lawyer Michael Cohen was provided secret information about the House Intel Committee testimony, from another witness? Violation of committee rules. Congressman Eric Swalwell who sits on that committee joins me next.


[23:21:39] LEMON: CNN is learning tonight that the President's lawyer Michael Cohen was provided secret information about House Intel Committee testimony from another witness. And there is a lot more breaking news tonight on the Russia investigation. Joining me now a member of the intelligence committee, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. Congressman good evening. Thank you for coming on.


LEMON: Another individual with ties to the President is cooperating with Robert Mueller's investigation. George Nader attended secret meetings during the Presidential transition between the United Arab Emirates and Trump associates and is now cooperating with the special counsel after being questioned by the FBI back in January. What's your reaction?

SWALWELL: Well I'm excited for our country's sake to see the FBI so doggedly pursuing the witnesses. Because it's the opposite of what we see on the House Intelligence Committee. But, Don, this shows that the only way to get to the bottom of this is you have to do a lot of work. You have to subpoena records, travel records, bank records, and communication logs. And then you can confront a witness and then you can get their cooperation. It looks like that is what is happening here. I also want to add, I'm wondering if Eric Prince was straight with us. You go back and read his transcript. I don't remember hearing anything about him talking about George Nader when he testified to the House Intelligence Committee. I want to bring him back in if we could to clear that up. But also, is this another example of Trump family seeking to enrich themselves with the dealing was foreign governments? It sure looks like it. LEMON: The reason is because he apparently attended a meeting in the

Seychelles that also was attended by Vladimir Putin, Eric Prince who is Betsy DeVos and a former adviser to President Trump.

SWALWELL: Again if the story is true Eric Prince has further explaining, because in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee he said that he met with the Prince from the UAE and the Russian banker. That was it. If there is more to this, it wouldn't surprise me, Don, how many individuals haven't been straight and lied about their contacts with Russia or surrounding Russians. But it shows that if we're not willing to subpoena these records we're not getting the truth.

LEMON: A Russian close to Putin. Not Putin.

SWALWELL: That is right.

LEMON: Appearing alongside with the Swedish Prime Minister earlier today, President Trump was asked about the Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Here is part of what he says. Watch this.


TRUMP: Well the Russians had no impact on our votes whatsoever. Certainly there was meddling. And probably there was meddling from other countries and maybe other individuals. I think you have to be really watching very closely. You don't want your system of votes to be compromised in any way. And we won't allow that to happen. We are doing a very deep study and coming out with I think some very strong suggestions on the '18 election.


LEMON: What is your reaction Congressman when you hear the President waffle on Russian interference on our election?

SWALWELL: No, there is probably no other country that worked to undermine our election. It was Russia. It sought to help Donald Trump. And if that affects his ego or affects how big he think the win was. About I'm sorry. We have a democracy to protect. If he did do anything wrong, the best thing he can do is just to cooperate with the investigation and to impose the sanctions that are already in place against Russia to tell everyone of the intelligence chiefs to do everything they can to defend against Russian interference and unite our country.

[23:25:07] Because I think a lot of Republican obstruction that we see on the House Intelligence Committee is because of behavior we see at the top. He has of an opportunity to unite us so we have a stronger shield when we go into the 2018 election.

LEMON: CNN is reporting tonight an attorney for President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen was provided with secret information about House Intelligence Committee testimony from another committee witness. What do you -- what do you know about that? SWALWELL: Well, Don, either you're working for America or you're

working against it in this investigation. We have seen prior leaks from Republicans to the "Washington Examiner" where they are reporting before we even learn about witnesses or evidence in our investigation. Last week the Republicans did not deny reports that they had leaked out Mark Warner's text messages. I can't say too much about this. But again, you should be working to protect America. We should all be doing that. And if you are working to give witnesses in this case information that hurts our investigation and our ability to protect the ballot box.

LEMON: A spokesman for the leading Republican on the investigation representative Michael Conaway told the Daily beast this is a quote, he said, any accusation that a witness testimony was shared with another witness of their lawyer is unequivocally false. How concerned are you that someone from within the House Intel Committee could be leaking a key -- leaking two key -- to a key figure in the investigation?

SWALWELL: I hope Mike a right. I hope it's false. But, Don, we have already seen a willingness by the Republicans on the intelligence committee to give subjects of this investigation evidence. That is what they did with the memo. When they turned that memo over to the White House, the President, the President's lawyer, they showed them evidence that existed in the case that they did not know about before. So, again, either you are working to protect America or you're making us less safe the next time we go to the ballot box. I still think there is time to work together on this and put aside the partisanship.

LEMON: Thank you, Congressman, I appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

LEMON: When we come a porn star sues the President. A top economic adviser calls it quits. And the President's personal lawyer now caught up in the Mueller investigation. That is just the last few hours. More on what President Trump calls great energy at the White House, next.


DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: Gary Cohn, just the latest in a parade of people leaving the Trump administration. And with the ranks of the senior staff thing, the president insists -- insists there is no chaos, only great energy.

Joining me now CNN political commentator, Jennifer Granholm and former Democratic governor -- she is a former Democratic governor of Michigan, and CNN political commentator, Steve Cortes, a former Trump campaign adviser. Good evening. Thank you both for joining us.



LEMON: Steve, you first, we hear from the president that all is fine at the White House. Is that because he is approaching this with the mentality of a reality television producer? Or with the biggest audience -- with the biggest audience ever saying everything is great, there is no chaos here, in the meantime one person after the other is leaving?

CORTES: Listen, Don, first of all I'll concede, I think it will be better to have less turnover, OK? I'll be the first to admit that. The repeatedly of turn over at times is troubling, and I think it gives ammunition to his critics.

But here is what I think is far more important, most Americans don't care about palace intrigue at the West Wing. They just don't. It absolutely dominates newsrooms in New York or the Salans of lobbyist in George Town and Washington D.C.

What most Americans care about is personal prosperity and security. And on every measure, those are both improving and that is what they care about.

And this president is delivering on his promises of secure border, of better wages, of increase productivity and growth in our country, of lower taxes, of judges on the court.

So, on every measure of what he promised he is delivering. If there are some personnel shenanigans going on, so be it. I don't think that matters to regular folks who elected this president -- the blue collar workers in the mid-western states who have been forgotten for so long and forgotten more under this president.

LEMON: You know, I keep hearing about that the blue collar of the Midwestern states, because you know, there are other Americans besides them who are listening to him. Whatever, that's fine. You know, they should be heard and identified, and all of that.

But there are people and who are Americans beyond this Midwestern blue collar worker that I hear so much about, actually people on the coasts who are Americans, there are people down south who are Americans, there are people up north who are Americans.

There is more than just this Midwestern person, and I don't know why you guys hanging your hats on that so much and talk about this mythical person as if other people are not Americans.

CORTES: Hold on. No. Of course they're all Americans. First of all it's not mythical. These are real people. I am saying, those are the ones though who changed the election. That's why I think they are very important.

LEMON: Pennsylvania was on the east coast a long time I saw.

CORTES: Well, Pennsylvania is not quite on the coast. But regardless of geography...

LEMON: It is on the east coast is what I'm saying.

CORTES: All right. Well not quite on the coast but regardless of geography lessons, middle class people were...


LEMON: Pennsylvania is not a northeastern state.

CORTES: It's not coastal, regardless.


LEMON: I meant the east coast, I'm not saying it's on the ocean. You know what I'm saying.

CORTES: Wherever middle class people live and that doesn't matter to me if they live in blue state or red state. Wherever middle class people live, they have has a -- they have struggled in recent decades.

And by the way, I'm every bit as critical of Republicans as I am of Democrats. What has happened in this country is there has been a globalist crony system that has been created for the self- aggrandizement of those who are...

LEMON: I understand what you are saying and I don't want to get off track here because we have limited time. But all I'm saying is there are other Americans besides people living in the Midwest, not that there is anything wrong with folks...


CORTES: I'm saying middle class anywhere.

LEMON: Not that there is anything wrong with that because I have lived in the Midwest. I have lived in St. Louis. I have lived in Chicago. I know about the Midwest. But I think it's insulting to a large portion of the country when you talk about those people as the only true Americans. That indeed is not so.

CORTES: I didn't say that. I never said that.

[23:35:00] LEMON: That's what you insinuating.

CORTES: No, that's not...

LEMON: Jennifer Granholm, the president reportedly...

CORTES: That's not what I said.

LEMON: ... will miss the support of Hope Hicks. She is leaving. Gary Cohn is leaving and sources are saying that of all things, this will cause more trauma -- McMaster leaving as well, Chief of Staff John Kelly, even Jared Kushner having issues. So take offer the partisan hat here. Does this leave the president?

GRANHOLM: Oh my God, without anybody. I mean, I bet Gary Cohn is so happy to get out of there, his reputation total in tatters. I don't know who the president is going to be able to recruit for the next round. But can I just say as the governor of a Midwestern State, a lot of

those Midwestern States, yes, they absolutely care about jobs. They in Michigan, a Midwestern State, they care about the price of cars and the fact that steel is going to go through the roof as a result, that's going to impacting them, too.

So it's jobs all across the board, Steve. But let me just say about this huge exponential leaving of the White House by all of these people, what a horrible leader Donald Trump is.

Why isn't anybody talking about what leadership is? Leadership is not bringing people in, making them clash, making them spin out.

The fact that he can't keep a single person in the White House is it something that real people are looking at. In addition to all of the scandals, this is a sign of terrible leadership.

LEMON: But he is saying -- what he is saying, though, is the ends justify the means. It doesn't -- the chaos is happening at the White House.

GRANHOLM: What a horrible thing.

LEMON: It doesn't matter. But it justifies the means. The Stormy Daniels, it doesn't matter.

GRANHOLM: Right. I mean -- I know that's what we have been saying about the evangelicals and everything, right? Why are they turning a blind eye to all of this -- this horrible stuff? Why is it OK?

It's because he puts somebody on the Supreme Court that will -- you know, will potentially, if they have a chance redefine a woman's right to privacy and take away the right to choose.

I mean that seems to be the issue that is justifying all of this terrible stuff that has caused America to be in the cellar of global and national opinion.

LEMON: Steve, I've got to ask you this and this is the last question -- the last point, please, and if you can do it quickly just for time here.

There is a lawsuit with this porn star Stormy Daniels, incredible details of the hush agreement. Is this not the very least, a totally undignified -- undignified for the office of the presidency? 2

CORTES: You know, look, Don, I take the president at his word. She has contradicted herself many times. I don't take her at her word. But I will also say this, I don't think any of us on team Trump believed that we were electing a saint to the office. We weren't...

LEMON: Do you take the president's lawyer at his bank statement for $130,000?

CORTES: We were electing a commander in chief. We were electing a businessman, someone with clearly an imperfect past. And what he did, 10, 15, 20 years ago as a Hollywood celebrity, isn't that important to me. What really important is that he is doing this...

LEMON: The voters didn't know this though.

CORTES: ... as commander in chief.

LEMON: Steve, the voters didn't know this. This just came out.

CORTES: But listen -- but we knew lots of accusations about salacious accusations, OK? That was well known to the American public. So we can't act like the American public was hood winked, that we believed that Donald Trump was Mother Theresa, nobody believe that.

What they did believe was this was an entrepreneur and a builder, and an outsider, and someone who is going to drain the swamp which he is doing.

LEMON: Let me ask you this. So it's OK -- you think it's OK for you and if evangelicals knew that the president -- let's just say that it is true. Maybe it's not, OK?

The president possibly or allegedly slept or had an intimate relationship with a porn star, and his personal attorney paid her off $130,000, and signed a non-disclosure agreement about it, and changed the names, it wouldn't matter to you nor any of his supporters?

CORTES: No, I'm not going to get into that. That's hypothetical. As I have said, I take the president at his word. What happens matters to me and I think to most Christians, just call upon his evangelicals that have been mentioned here.

Whether your cabbage or evangelicals to serious Christians is that this is a president who is protecting life, who is protecting religious liberty, who is putting judges to protect the constitution on the court. I think the policy...


LEMON: But cheating on his wife -- cheating on his wife and having an affair with a porn star doesn't matter at all.

CORTES: I didn't say that at all. I said I take him at his word that he said it didn't happen. And I also believe -- and this is important, I don't think anybody said that Donald Trump, as I mentioned, was Mother Theresa. He is a man with a storied past. He lived a life that's not...

LEMON: You're repeating yourself. I understand what you are saying. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you, Governor. Thank you, Steve. We will be right back.

GRANHOLM: All right.


LEMON: All right I want to bring in now CNN political analyst John Avlon and the editor in chief of the Daily Beast and the author -- author of Washington's Farewell and CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover, Republican consultant who was a member of George W. Bush and White House staff.

I am going fast because I want to talk to you guys so much about -- Kellyanne Conway was accused of violating the Hatch Act twice during of an interview talking about -- during as interview, she is talking about Alabama. What do you think?

JOHN AVLON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Look, I mean this is a 1939 law designed to keep government and nonpartisan. Newsflash, government is not nonpartisan in Trump land.

The president ultimately has the discretion whether to enforce this against Kellyanne, and of course, they dropped right her defense. So did she violate the letter of law? Yes. So there are going to be repercussions. Don't hold your breath.

LEMON: Yes, because I don't think the president is going to enforce anything, right, when it comes to this?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, and I mean it's -- there is a bit of relativism that has been instilled in the actions of the White House.

Something like this would have been -- if anybody from the Obama White House or the Bush White House that I have serve in had violated the Hatch Act in this way, had gone on television and used the position of the White House to promote the candidate of a party in an election that you were just running in, that would have been an entire news cycle. But we are not even talking about it until two months afterwards because of the nature of the news cycle with this president.

[23:45:02] LEMON: But you remember, this is the first time she danced around there. Remember she told people to go out and buy Ivanka Trump products.


LEMON: Remember when some people were boycotting them and source are getting rid of them.

AVLON: Yes, you know, look, another example of how everything is totally normal. You're all using the old presidential rules where things actually, they had a degree of decor and decency we're out of that zip code, folks.

LEMON: Yes. The president -- so this is what the White House released talking about the disciplinary action or none that they are going to take.

Kellyanne -- Kellyanne conway did not advocate or for against the election of many particular candidate. She simply expressed the president's obvious position that he had people in the House and Senate who support his agenda. Is that a good defense? HOOVER: I mean that's the only defense that they have. But that's

not -- that's just not true. That's not what she said and that's not what she did. She explicitly said that the president wants to have Doug Jones or not Doug Jones in that seat.

Republicans in that seat -- I mean, yes, to further his agenda, which she explicitly used her position in order to promote the GOP candidate, which by the way every White House staffer at a junior level gets the briefing.

I mean, when I was a White House staffer, it was explicit that if I was going to attend the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, I had to take days off.

You know, I had to go without pay. You just -- there is just no mixing and mingling that you're federal position with politics. And that's just very clear. It's always been very clear.

AVLON: Yes, at the same time there is a little bit of poor recollection because, you know, there is politics in the White House. There is hyper-partisan politics in the White House.

Above of all things, folks in the administration seem to have done wrong. This letter of the law is wrong. But it's -- you know, it then raise the top level of -- the outrage mission could be dialed down on this one a little bit.

LEMON: Where does this rank?

AVLON: Stormy Daniels, you know, just totally normal, again, a president being sued by a porn star over the legal payment, days before the election that could have affected the outcome. It's Tuesday. It's only Tuesday.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. I appreciate it. When we come back, a story I guarantee will make you smile, the 2-year-old in all of Michelle Obama got to have a dance party with the former first lady. That was today. I'm going to ask her and her mom about that. That's next.


LEMON: A 2-year-old girl capturing the heart of the nation and the former first lady. A photo of Parker Curry fascinated by Michelle Obama's portrait in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery going viral last week. This is Obama reaching out to Parker and her family, and inviting them to her Washington office for what turned into a dance party.




LEMON: Look how adorable that is. Joining me, guess who, Parker Curry and her mom Jessica. Hi, Parker. Tell her, I said hello, mom.



LEMON: How are you doing?

J. CURRY: He said, how are you doing?

P. CURRY: Good!

LEMON: Hey, I just saw you dancing with the first lady. Tell her, how did she like it?

J. CURRY: How did you like dancing with Michelle Obama? Dod you like it? Look, look, look! Did you like dancing with her?

P. CURRY: It's her!

J. CURRY: It's her.

P. CURRY: I miss her very much.

J. CURRY: You miss her very much?

P. CURRY: Yes.


J. CURRY: She's made a new friend.

LEMON: So, I mean, how did that feel? That must have warmed your heart to see her doing that.

J. CURRY: It was amazing. Did you like to meet Michelle Obama?

P. CURRY: Yes.

J. CURRY: Yes. We had a really great time.

P. CURRY: Michelle?

J. CURRY: Yes, Michelle Obama. She's really down to earth. Really sweet. We had a good time talking to her. Her and Parker chatted, and they hung out, and Parker got her out of her shoes, and got her up and dancing. It was just like a really surreal moment.

LEMON: Well, that photo of her, I mean, being awestruck by -- and we know she is a talker, so that's OK, let her talk. That photo of her being awestruck bit portrait of the former first lady, I mean it went viral. Look at that. She is like -- she's caught up in the rapture, right?

J. CURRY: Yes. Totally caught up in it, but also totally unbothered. I mean, she's been all over the place so far. She got to meet Michelle. And she's just been her sweet, usual self, honestly. The Parker that you all are seeing is the Parker that she is every day, all day.

LEMON: Well, We like that. And we like her being a kid. I'm just going to read this. This from the former first lady -- she put this on Twitter, and she said, Parker, I'm so glad I had the chance to meet you today and for the dance party. Keep on dreaming big for yourself and maybe one day I'll proudly look up at a portrait of you. What do you think of that, mom?

J. CURRY: Yes. It's just mind-blowing, you know what I mean? I just feel so honored and we're so excited that she got to meet Michelle, and she got to see that portrait.

P. CURRY: It's Michelle Obama!

J. CURRY: It is Michelle Obama, I know. And you know...

P. CURRY: It's her!

J. CURRY: ... hopefully the portrait will continue to inspire other little ones just like Parker. And hopefully our visit will inspire other parents and other moms to take their kids to museums, because we have so much fun at the museums, don't we?

LEMON: How did the meeting come about, Jessica?

J. CURRY: Michelle reached out to us. She really wanted to meet Parker. And of course we were going to make that happen for her.

LEMON: You said before that, Parker, believes Michelle Obama is a queen. Does she still think that?

J. CURRY: Parker, is Michelle Obama a queen?

P. CURRY: Yes.

J. CURRY: Yes, she is.

LEMON: I guess that suits. She's a superhero. She should be -- maybe she should be in the Black Panther movie, because she's a superhero.

J. CURRY: Right, right. Maybe Michelle Obama should be in Black Panther because Michelle Obama's a superhero?




J. CURRY: What is she?

P. CURRY: She's a queen.

J. CURRY: She's a queen. Nope, Don, you stand corrected. She's not a superhero, she's a queen. LEMON: Listen, I got to say she's right, whatever, Jessica, says -- I

mean, whatever, Parker, says is right, so I'm totally fine with that. You said that, Parker, loves Michelle Obama, but doesn't really understand the former president is her husband.


LEMON: She doesn't get it.

J. CURRY: Not at all. She knows Michelle is married. But she doesn't really know that it's to Barack.

[23:55:00] And she doesn't know that Barack is our former president.

LEMON: What do you think is going to happen when she grows up to realize the moment, what actually happened?

J. CURRY: Man, I think -- I think she'll be inspired all over again. That she inspired so many people. I think she'll be absolutely amazed. Look at that, look at that.

P. CURRY: My auntie!

J. CURRY: That's your auntie?

P. CURRY: Yes.

J. CURRY: Now that's her auntie, Michelle.

LEMON: Parker, what does -- Parker wants to be when you grow up?

J. CURRY: What do you want to be when you grow up?

P. CURRY: I want to cook.

J. CURRY: But what do you want to be when you grow up?

P. CURRY: I want to be a queen.

J. CURRY: You want to be a queen?

LEMON: She wants to be a queen just like the former first lady. Well, tell her I stand correct the, and if I'm going to be corrected by anyone, it would be her. And we're so proud of you. We are so proud of her. Thank you so much for coming on this evening.

J. CURRY: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Give her a big hug and kiss for all of us.

J. CURRY: Don said thank you for coming. Can you say thank you?

P. CURRY: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. Bye, Parker!

J. CURRY: Say bye.

P. CURRY: Bye!

J. CURRY: Bye, Don, bye!

P. CURRY: Bye, Don!

LEMON: Bye-bye.

P. CURRY: Thank you.

LEMON: Oh my gosh. What do you say? Good night.