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CNN TONIGHT

FBI Refused White House Request To Knock Down Recent Trump- Russia Stories; White House Official: FBI Deputy Said Russia Reporting Was Inaccurate; Trump Admin. Withdraws Fed Protections For Transgender Students; President Trump's Immigration Crackdown; Come; Who Will Lead The Democrats; GOP Lawmakers Face Angry Voters at Town Halls; Underground Network Uses Homes To Hide Immigrants; A Look At The Real Steve Bannon As He Makes A Rare Appearance. Aired 12:00-1a ET

Aired February 24, 2017 - 00:00   ET

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


[00:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT HOST: We're following two big breaking news stories right now. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. CNN learning exclusively that the FBI declined a request from the White House to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to intelligence during the campaign. That's according to multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter. Meanwhile, is the administration playing politics with the travel ban? A senior White House official telling CNN that Trump administration assigned Homeland Security to work with the Justice Department on a legal case to justify its temporary travel ban on people from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Let's get right to CNN, our exclusive reporting about White House efforts to respond to CNN. Others who are reporting about Russian contacts with high level advisers of then candidate Donald Trump last year. Jim Sciutto and Evan Perez broke the story with Pamela Brown, Shimon Prokupecz, and Manu Raju. Evan and Jim joining me now to discuss this. Jim, what did you find out?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: So, Don, what we've learn is that the White House reached out to the FBI and asked the FBI to tamp down in effect to challenge media reports that members of the Trump campaign were in touch with Russians known to U.S. intelligence during the campaign, and we're told that the FBI refused this request. Multiple officials telling CNN the White House seeking the help not just to the bureau but other agencies investigating the Russian matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there have been no contacts. You recall that CNN and the New York Times first reported this just over a week ago, and we do now have a comment on the record from White House spokesman Sean Spicer. He said the following to us just a short time ago. "We did not try to knock the story down. We asked them, meaning the FBI, to tell the truth."

LEMON: All right. Interesting. Evan, this is not a typical request. How did this start?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, a U.S. official tells us that this began with Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting on the day after these were published. A White House official says that McCabe told Priebus that the New York Times story vastly overstated what the FBI knows about these Russian contacts. But another official tells us that McCabe didn't discuss aspects of the case, though we don't know exactly what McCabe told Priebus. The White House official told us that Priebus later reached out both to McCabe and to the FBI Director, James Comey, asking for the FBI to at least talk to reporters on background to dispute these stories. The FBI refused, the FBI has refused to comment on this story today, Don.

LEMON: And Jim, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, you just read a statement, but he denied that story, initially. This is what he said a week ago on Fox News, Fox News Sunday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The New York Times last week put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies. Basically, you know, some treasonous-type accusations. We have now all kinds of people looking into this. I can assure you and I've been - I've been approved to say this, that the top levels of the Intelligence Community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it's grossly overstated and it was wrong. And there's nothing to it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Jim - but this investigation is still going on.

SCIUTTO: No question. To say there's nothing to it is at a minimum, premature. We know this, the FBI is still investigating these alleged communications, we know that several members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees tells CNN that Congress is still investigating these alleged contacts, that investigation has begun, there's starting to collect documents, records, they're going to call witnesses as well to testify. They are still investigating communications -- let's make this clear between advisers of the Trump campaign during the campaign and Russian officials. And Russians -- other Russians known to U.S. intelligence.

LEMON: And Evan, why is this not a typical back and forth between the White House and the FBI?

[00:04:53] PEREZ: Well, Don, it's not typical. The communication between the White House and the FBI are unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Now, the request from the White House would have - would have at least appear to violate the procedures that limit these types of communications with the FBI on pending investigations. Now, a White House official says that the White House only reached out to the FBI because McCabe initiated the conversation. But either way, the White House asking the FBI to help refute these stories, runs contrary to Justice Department procedure memos that were issued in 2007 and 2009 that are meant to limit direct communications on pending investigations between the White House and the FBI, Don.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, both. I appreciate that to Jim and Evan there. Now, I want to bring in our other big story, and I'll tell you about that. Joining me now, a CNN Justice Reporter Laura Jarrett and also Attorney Alan Dershowitz. The latest book is called "Electile Dysfunction: A Guide for Unaroused Voters". A number of other stories that I want to discuss. Laura, let's start with you. I want to talk about the Trump administration reversing a policy that protects transgendered students at public schools from using the bathroom they identified with. It was first issued by the Obama administration. How is this being received?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: It's being received either with fear or with praise, Don, depending on who you talk to. I spoke to a number of advocates for transgender youth who said their phones are ringing off the hook from parents who are scared. And they really view this as a fundamental right to equality. Now, on the other end of the spectrum, you have Press Secretary Sean Spicer really doubling down today on this idea that the federal government should stay out of this issue entirely, because it's really about states' rights. But then we also see at least some states reacting today. For instance, the governors in New York and Connecticut, put out very strong statements saying they plan to use state law to protect transgendered students from discrimination, Don.

LEMON: And what - here is a transgendered teen. I want to play this. Gavin Grimm who is taking his lawsuit against bathroom discrimination to the Supreme Court. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAVIN GRIMM, TRANSGENDER STUDENT: The Trump administration directing the departments of justice and education is poised to remove crucial Title IX guidance which protects hundreds of thousands of transgendered students across the nation. I faced my share of adversaries in rural Virginia, but I never imagined that my government would be one of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Alan, the administration is claiming that the rollback doesn't remove protections for transgendered students, but you heard Gavin Grimm there. His Title IX which bans discrimination on the basis of sex, are compromised, he said. What's your reaction?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, he's right. Of course, this affects transgender students, and it's so stupid when you think about it. What's more disturbing? Having a man in men's clothing with a beard walk into a women's room because he happened to have been born a woman? That's much more disturbing than somebody who is dressed like a man going into a men's room when somebody who is living a life of a woman, going into woman's room. Look, eventually, we're going to have to have unisex bathrooms in every school. That's going to be the ultimate solution. But the administration is hypocritical talking about states' rights. This is the same administration that said states cannot experiment with allowing marijuana use under state law. That's a question of federal law, or states can't have sanctuary cities. So, they pick and choose. When they want states' rights or when they want federal rights. And it's all ideological. It's not based on principal. LEMON: I want to talk now about these new immigration rules that

they're proposing. Immigration rules that President Trump calling his efforts to ramp up deportations, a military operation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: You see what's happening at the border. All of a sudden, for the first time, we getting gang members out, we're getting drug lords out, we're getting really bad dudes out of this country. And at a rate that nobody has ever seen before, and they're the bad ones. And it's a military operation because what has been allowed to come into our country when you see gang violence that you've read about like never before, all of the things, much of that is people that are here illegally, and they're rough and they're tough, but they're not tough like our people. So, we're getting them out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Laura, there are specific laws that actually classify military operations. What did Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly say about this today?

JARRETT: Well, he was pretty clear, Don, that the military is not going to be used. He said unequivocally that this is just not going to happen. Mass deportations are not going to happen. The use of military force is not going to happen, and that regular immigration officers and now law enforcement officers, police on the ground are what's going to be used.

LEMON: Alan, you say that Trump's next executive order on immigration and travel will be much smarter and better thought out. Why do you say that?

[00:04:45] DERSHOWITZ: Well, because he has lawyers working on it and he's not rushing it. And he did something very clever. I don't like it, but he did something very clever by focusing on administering current laws, that's clearly the role as the president. But by making new laws through executive orders, that tends to be more of a legislative role. And the courts are much more skeptical when presidents act legislatively. So, he's going to be very careful on it. I think he's going to focus much more on forcing old rules, and saying, "I'm not doing anything different from what Obama did." He was the deportation president. I'm going to just pick the bad guys. It's much harder to bring lawsuits against administrative actions. Now, using a term like military was a dumb thing to do, because we have laws against using the military to implement civilian issues. That's what Thomas Jefferson was so fearful of hundreds of years ago, and we don't want to see our military used to enforce American laws.

LEMON: And the White House says that's exactly what the president meant to say when he said military action. So, this is Sean Spicer. I want to play this, secretary discussing the immigration crack down today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So, with respect to the

executive order, there are several courts that this is being fought in, 10 or so. And we continue to deal with that in all of those venues. And then, again, I guess, the only way to say this - then obviously on the dual track side, we have the additional executive order that we've talked about earlier, to -- that will come out and further address the problems. We continue to believe that the issues that we face specifically in the Ninth District -- Ninth Circuit, rather, that we will prevail on the merits of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, Spicer has brought the dual tracking system up several times now, Laura. What is he referring to?

JARRETT: So, he continues to suggest that the administration is going to issue a brand-new executive order - we've heard that a lot now. But also, simultaneously litigating the merits of the old travel ban. But what remains to be seen here, Don, is how is this going to work in practice, right? Because what happens when the two orders conflict, right, on something like Syrian refugees, for instance, how is that going to be resolved in court, is an open question.

LEMON: Yes.

DERSHOWITZ: No, I don't think it is. Because they're going to enforce the new order and they're going to litigate the old order which has now been stayed. So, I don't see any conflict. I think what they're doing again is very clever. As a lawyer, I have to admire how -- what they're doing, smart. I don't agree with anything they're doing, but I don't see any inconsistency. Because one order will stay, the other order will be brought into effect immediately, and will be challenged and we'll see whether it's stayed or not depending on the nature of the order that comes down.

LEMON: Laura, you want to (INAUDIBLE)

JARRETT: I think that's right. We have to - I think we have to see exactly what the new order looks like and see how different it is and see and then see what the Ninth Circuit has to say about that.

LEMON: Let's talk about. We have been seeing, you know, the protests around the country. We have been watching that. We saw today at CPAC. Alan, what do you think about the President's - the direction that he wants to take the country? Because I thought it was made very clear today, if you listen to Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon at CPAC today.

DERSHOWITZ: This is a very scary time. We see the republicans trying to move the country way to the right, and we see the democrats trying to move the country way to the left. You had Michael Moore on before supporting Keith Ellison. Let me say right here to the American public and to the DNC, if Keith Ellison is elected chairman of DNC, I will quit the Democratic Party after 60 loyal years, stop contributing and urge many others to follow me and stop contributing. You cannot have as head of the Democratic Party, a man with his anti-Semitic background. He told a woman at the University of Minnesota that he can't respect her, because she's a woman at law school and a Jew.

LEMON: And Alan -

DERSHOWITZ: He worked with (INAUDIBLE)

LEMON: Alan, I have to say - Alan, I have to say he responded to that last night in the town hall.

DERSHOWITZ: Yes. I understand.

LEMON: And he's not here to defend himself. And so, I understand - I understand what you're saying, and I take your point.

DERSHOWITZ: Well - but, I'm responding to Michael Moore. And I'm saying but I want to make one more point. Because democrats --

LEMON: I take your point, but I want to move on because he's not here to defend himself. I would love to have you come back with this discussion.

DERSHOWITZ: I'm not going to talk about him. I'm not going to talk about him.

LEMON: OK. I know. Go ahead.

DERSHOWITZ: If the democrats elect him, the democrats become the party of Jeremy Corbyn in England. They will never win another national election. This is a very important time, Saturday for the DNC.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let's have this discussion at a time where we can discuss it thoroughly, OK? All right. Thank you, Alan, and thank you, Laura. I appreciate it.

When we come right back, the real life stories behind town hall anger. Again, I'll talk to the women - or the woman who said she fears that her life is - fears for her life, excuse me, if Obamacare is repealed. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:15:00] LEMON: Anger spreading at republican town halls from coast to coast, but it's not just about politics. For some people, it's life and death. And one of those people is Kati McFarland and she joins me now. Kati, thank you so much for joining us. How are you doing?

KATI MCFARLAND, ATTENDED SENATOR TOM COTTON'S TOWN HALL (via Skype): I'm OK. I'm so tired. I think my accent is getting an accent but I'm trying to pull through. Thank you for helping me on.

LEMON: Last night, Arkansas -- of course, thanks for coming on -- Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton faced an angry town hall, crowd around 2,000 people. One of the most heated exchanges came from you. And you explain to the senator that you suffer from a condition that affects your body's connective tissues and blood vessels, and then you asked him this question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCFARLAND: Without the coverage for pre-existing conditions, I will die. That is not hyperbole. I will die. Without the protections against lifetime coverage caps, I will die. So my question is, will you commit today to replacement protections for those Arkansans, like me, who will die, or lose their quality of life, or otherwise, be unable to be participating citizens trying to get their part of the American dream. Will you commit to replacements in the same way that you've committed to the repeal?

TOM COTTON, UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM ARKANSAS: Thank you, Kati. Thank you, Kati. Let's take a couple more comments or questions about health care.

[00:20:06] AUDIENCE: Do your job! Do your job! Do your job! Do your job!

COTTON: Kati, what I'm committed to is making sure -- making sure that people with conditions as serious as yours or young healthy people, all have access to affordable, quality, personalized care

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: How were you feeling in that moment, Kati?

MCFARLAND: It's kind of all a blur right now, but in the moment, I was just a bit incensed that he wouldn't answer my question directly. I was pleased with the reception I got from everyone else. I may be -- we'll say been a bit more civil, we could have gotten our points across a little better but anger is anger. It's honest.

LEMON: Why did you want to go to that town hall yesterday?

MCFARLAND: I just feel like my story is really all I have, you know? And, I mean, he dodged my question, in response I did get passionate, but I've had this incredible opportunity to speak up, the town halls are an incredible opportunity to participate in the democratic process in this unique way, and if I don't use that opportunity to hold our elected representatives responsible and accountable, then I quite frankly don't deserve to participate in the process, I don't think.

LEMON: Kati, at the very beginning of your question, you got the crowd involved. I want to play that moment and then we'll discuss it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCFARLAND: I would like everyone who is affected by the Affordable Care Act and affected by healthcare to stand up.

AUDIENCE: ACA. ACA. ACA.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Did you expect that kind of reaction from the room?

MCFARLAND: Yes and no. I was surprised after the fact, a little bit, but, I mean, Arkansas is a big Medicare and Medicaid state. It's a big exchange state from what I know, so I'm really not surprised that it hit home across the aisle.

LEMON: You're a democrat, correct?

MCFARLAND: I started as an independent, but yes, they seem to be the only people who care about me these days.

LEMON: Are you happy with Obamacare now?

MCFARLAND: Honestly, no. It's -- I mean, it saved my life with the -- with the protections it has, but it's not perfect. I mean, my parents are deceased. I'm unable to work because of the severity of my condition. I'm still looking even with the protections at $61,000 or more in out of pocket expenses this year alone. And, I mean, I did -- I did put up a fundraiser at youcaring.com/katieds, and that fundraiser did get circulated around within the community, and it's gone from 900 to over 9,000 in the past day and that's great but -- and I'm grateful, but the fact that we have to do that at all, even with this system in place, is frankly a disgrace. So, we have those protections for pre-existing conditions, coverage caps and children up to 26, that's great but we need more.

LEMON: Why do you say that you were an independent but you feel like democrats are the only ones representing you right now?

MCFARLAND: Well, I suppose I should amend that. I feel like both democrats and republicans aren't really picking up the slack. I feel like democrats sort of did not capitalize on the momentum, in the way that they needed to, and now, they are sort of paralyzed. And I feel like, groups like Indivisible and maybe Socialist Alternative are the only ones that are really actionable and have their momentum and everything in place. But at the same time, democrats, they supports comprehensive healthcare. At this point, I'm not totally confident that it's not going to get repealed. I'm pretty sure it is. But they are the only ones who seem to be pushing back against that and making sure that we do have a replacement because the republicans talk a lot about the replacements, but as you can see from my exchange with the senator, they won't go into details.

LEMON: The White House is dismissing this new way of town hall anger that we have been seeing all around the country. They say protesters are being paid to cause chaos at these town halls. What's your reaction to that?

MCFARLAND: You want to see my Arkansas driver's license? I wish I got paid.

LEMON: Interesting. Is that insulting?

[00:24:44] MCFARLAND: Yes, it's -- I mean, we're just citizens. We're trying to hold -- even if we didn't vote for our senator, I didn't vote for Tom Cotton, but I still pay his salary now. I'm his constituent, I'm his boss. And even if I'm not part of the majority that elected him, I'm part of the minority that is part of his responsibility to protect, I think, in a democratic system, and he has to answer to us. All of them have to answer to us. We're their bosses. We have the power. We just have to hold their feet to the fire. And so it's very insulting that they sort of dismiss our own engagement in our citizenship and the democratic process.

LEMON: Are you going to continue to participate in town halls?

MCFARLAND: This one was a bit taxing. I'm not going lie, it was my first one. But if I can help people by getting my story out there and inspire other people to get their stories out there and eventually change hearts and minds, then yes, I'll do whatever is needed.

LEMON: Kati McFarland, thank you and we wish you well.

MCFARLAND: Thank you so much. Have a good one.

LEMON: You too.

Up next, an underground network forms creating safe houses for undocumented immigrants who fear being deported from the U.S.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The Trump administration outlining plans to aggressively enforce immigration laws, Spokesman Sean Spicer saying that anyone who is in the US illegally is subject to removal at any time. Officials deny that mass deportations are planned, but many undocumented immigrants are fearful.

In Los Angeles, religious leaders are responding, creating an underground network of safe houses to hide immigrants. CNN's Kyung Lah has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pounding, standing, laying the groundwork at this secret home in Los Angeles.

How many families would be -

PASTOR ADA VALIENTE, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF MAYWOOD, CALIFORNIA: It would be about three families that we can host here. This is the living room.

LAH: Pastor Ada Valiente walks us through one safe house for the undocumented running from immigration officers, an underground network.

Essentially, what you're doing is you're trying to hide people. Is that right?

VALIENTE: But that's what we need to do as a community. LAH: On the other side of LA, another safe house in this man's home. We're not naming him or telling you where he lives because of what's at stake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard, as a Jew, not to think about all the people who did open their doors and their homes and take risks to safeguard Jews in moments where they were really vulnerable, as well as those that didn't. We'd like to be the people who did.

LAH: This is beyond sanctuary churches, what we've already seen at this Colorado church offering refuge for an undocumented woman. Federal agents don't enter religious houses without approval under a policy put in place during Obama's presidency.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear -

LAH: But faith leaders believe that will change under President Trump. Private homes fall under Fourth Amendment protection and need a warrant before authorities can enter.

REV. ZACH HOOVER, LA VOICE: It's something sort of like this.

LAH: Rev. Zach Hoover says faith groups across Los Angeles County could hide 100 undocumented immigrants today and that number could soon be in the thousands.

HOOVER: People will be moving into a place, so that ICE can't find them, so that they can stay with their families, so that they can, you know, be with their husbands, so they can avoid being detained and deported.

LAH: The idea comes from leaders across all states in Los Angeles just days after the election, pledging opposition to Trump's immigration orders.

HOOVER: We are not going to stop until we get to the place that God is calling us to.

LAH: People who may not agree with you would look at what you're doing and saying you're simply aiding and abetting the violation of federal laws.

HOOVER: Look, I'll speak for myself. I feel really convicted that - I answer to God at the end of the day. Like, that's who I'm going to see when I die. And I hope that, you know, we can live up to our - I hope we can live up to who we are.

LAH: Pastor Valiente is clear-eyed about the risk.

VALIENTE: We're trusting in God that he would kind of help us, guide us to make the right decision.

LAH: It doesn't mean it's an easy choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's some element of we're entering into territory that I don't totally know exactly what the consequences are, but I think I know what the moral consequences are for me if we don't act. Like this isn't a moment to be standing idly by.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Kyung. Thank you for that. I want to bring in now Julian Castro, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration who is also the former mayor of San Antonio, and Mark Krikorian who is Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies. It's good to have both of you on. Thank you both for coming on.

Mark, I want to start with you. You saw Kyung's report. What did you think?

MARK KRIKORIAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Honestly, it's kind of silly because these folks are imagining that being returned to Mexico is the same as going to a gas chamber. I mean, it's morally obtuse.

On the other hand, the fact is they're not to be able to house more than a few thousand people total. And if they're in these safe houses, they're not stealing jobs from Americans and they're not using American welfare, so in some sense my suggestion is knock yourself out.

They're, obviously, committing felonies, but if they want to take that chance I'm not sure really it's anything but showing off on their part.

Julian, you want to respond to that?

JULIAN CASTRO, FORMER SECRETARY OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: A couple of things. Well, first of all, the fact is that in many cases this is a question of life or death for folks who are undocumented. As Mark knows, a lot of these folks actually aren't from Mexico anymore than from Central America, from northern triangle countries.

And the reason that they came over here was because of the intense violence and the threat of being killed in many instances that they're under. And so, they were fleeing that and if they had to go back there, there actually is a chance that either they'll get injured or they'll die. So, I wouldn't be so flippant to say that it's silly. It's not.

[00:35:04] And when I listened to the folks that you had in your piece, I think of them as conscientious objectors. And I also think that it's sad that we've come to this. It seems that we're revisiting some of the darkest moments in our nation's history, including times like Operation Wetback and the Mexican repatriation in the 1920s and 30s that summarily sent a million people back to Mexico; by some estimates, more than half of whom were actually US citizens. So, the stakes here are very, very high. While nobody encourages folks to break the law, I'm saying that I understand where the folks are coming from. And it's just sad that it's gotten to this because the president has a sloppy administration that is striking fear into people's hearts.

KRIKORIAN: The idea that the president is actually engaged in some kind of radical departure from enforcement to some kind of dragnets and sort of approaching people in the street and saying, 'hey, you know, where's your green card.' That's nonsense.

What the memos that the Homeland Security Department released this week basically represent is a restoration of normal law enforcement as it was done under President Clinton and President Bush, maybe a little lackadaisically on their part, but the approach is radically different from Obama's approach. That was the departure.

Under President Obama, the basic idea was all illegal immigrants get to stay unless there's some special reason they should be removed. And what the law actually provides for and what we're seeing a return to is that all illegal immigrants are at least potentially subject to deportation unless there's some special reason to let them stay.

CASTRO: Let me just say that I disagree with that. And I'll give you an example. Just yesterday - and this was in the news today - just yesterday, on a flight from San Francisco to New York, a domestic flight, not an international flight, a domestic flight, Customs and Border Patrol folks and ICE agents boarded the flight before anybody could get off the flight, they made folks show their papers. Every single passenger on that plane had to show his or her papers to prove for who they were because they just decided to do it that way.

And when customs was asked later, 'well, show us under what authority you can actually board a domestic, not an international flight,' they couldn't provide that because they're not supposed to do that.

In other words, they're going above and beyond and creating an unprecedented dragnet in modern times. So, it's not just, 'well, this is what Clinton did, this is what Obama did,' this is different from that.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: They were asked to show their identification, but go on, Mark. How do you respond to that?

KRIKORIAN: What happened here was San Francisco releases convicted criminals that ICE wants to get a hold of and because San Francisco and other sanctuary cities don't allow ICE to work in the controlled environment of a jail where nobody has any guns, there's no danger to process illegal immigrants or criminal aliens for deportation, they end up - they are forced by sanctuary cities to do these kind of arrests on the street or at an airport where everybody's potentially at risk.

It's sanctuary policies that created that problem on the flight in San Francisco and problems in streets elsewhere in the country. CASTRO: Well, it's still not allowed under the law. It's still not allowed under the law, so that's neither here nor there. They don't have the authority to do that and they haven't been able to show how they do. That was a domestic flight.

LEMON: And there were some questions about a manhunt going on -

CASTRO: They're breaking the law themselves. They weren't able to point to what that was. They were asked to specifically show their authority and then they said, 'well, we were looking for an individual.' They couldn't even point out who that was and who they were working for.

In fact, I don't even believe the explanation -

LEMON: Let him finish, Mark.

KRIKORIAN: The point is this is representative of what? Two weeks ago -

CASTRO: I was just saying that I don't believe the explanation that was given by customs because they gave a wrong explanation, they couldn't show their authority which is a breach of the law and protocol on their end and then they couldn't point to who they were actually looking for. And so, when you read all of that, it makes it seem like they were making it all up.

And, usually, Mark, I would agree with you that under an administration like Clinton or Obama or even George W. Bush, you give them the benefit of the doubt, but these folks in the Trump administration have been so sloppy with the executive order on the travel ban and a whole bunch of other stuff that, you know what, I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt and I don't believe that Americans should do that either.

[00:40:06] LEMON: Mark, we have to get to the break and I promise you'll get to respond on the other side. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: We're back now with my panel. We were talking about the administration moving swiftly to deport undocumented immigrants and also changing the rules when it comes to immigration here or at least deporting immigrants or undocumented immigrants.

Mark, you were making the point.

KRIKORIAN: Yes. My point was that we don't need to take anybody's word for the way immigration enforcement is happening. We need to look at what they're doing.

Two weeks ago, there was a big operation, it made a lot of splash in the news, ICE arrested something like close to 700 illegal immigrants. 75 percent of them were the kind of people that even Obama's ICE would've arrested, criminals, people who returned after deportation and, therefore, were felons. [00:45:02] But they also picked up a certain number of illegal immigrants in the process of arresting those that were high priority. In other words, when they enter a house, there's a previously deported felon and they find there's two other illegal immigrants.

Under Obama, ICE agents were prohibited from taking those other illegal immigrants into custody even though they knew they were illegal. All that's happened is that's changed and so now other illegal immigrants, in the process of going after the priority folks, are actually also being detained, and that's because all illegal immigrants, every single one, is always subject to deportation and can, in fact, be deported if he comes to the attention of the authorities.

LEMON: I want to play this now. This is President Trump discussing his immigration crackdown and his Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly responding today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're getting really bad dudes out of this country and at a rate that nobody's ever seen before, and they're the bad ones. And it's a military operation.

JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: No. Repeat, no use of military force in immigration operations. I repeat, there will be no use of military forces in immigration. At least half of you try to get that right because it continually comes up in the reporting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, the president says a military operation, he said no use of military. So, what's your reaction to the president's choice of words, Julian?

CASTRO: Well, number one, again, it's a mess. You don't know what to believe. He says it's a military operation and then Secretary Kelly says no, no, it's not. He makes it seem like he is going to go after a mass deportation effort, but Sean Spicer says, no, it's not mass deportation.

But Mark mentioned the folks that have been rounded up and in your clip the president talked about bad dudes that have committed crimes. Number one, I think all of us can agree - and I agreed with the Obama administration - that if folks have committed felonies, serious crimes that they don't belong here, that they should go through deportation proceeding and be deported.

However, just today, we learned about a woman who was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was in the hospital only a couple of days away from getting an operation that she needs for that brain tumor, who was forcibly removed from the hospital against her will and taken to a detention center to be deported.

And last week, in El Paso, Texas, there was a woman who went to court, an undocumented immigrant, she went to court because she was getting beaten up by a guy. That guy, when he went to court, he reported her to ICE and ICE showed up and arrested her in the courthouse. After that, they lied and said that it was outside the courthouse that they didn't actually do it inside until the video cameras, the video footage showed that they did.

So, time and time again, it's not just a case of that they're going after the usual folks and in the course of doing that they round up two other people, not at all. This is way beyond that. We have several instances to show that.

LEMON: I want Mark to - I mean, those are extreme cases and they're terrible, Mark. How do you respond to that?

KRIKORIAN: Well, number one, they're individual cases. I don't know the details on that. And honestly, coming from an advocate, I don't believe it until I get actual real details. Now, there may have been violation -

CASTRO: Well, CNN reported both of them. So, you could check with CNN and Don and they'd be happy to tell you.

KRIKORIAN: If there were violations of policy, then that's a management issue. But the fact is there is no dragnet, there are no people being rounded up. I've talked recently to ICE public affairs people and they have said when these advocates bring them these kind of stories, they say give us names, dates, actual real data and they almost never get them.

Often, these are ploys by immigration attorneys to get coverage. Sometimes, they may well be true. I'm not saying they're always false. I'm saying basing immigration policy on a couple of incidents, which may or may not be true, is not the way you run a railroad.

The fact is our immigration laws have been basically ignored in large part by this administration - by the previous administration and that needs to end.

LEMON: I've only got about 10, 15 seconds here if you want to respond.

CASTRO: I would just say that these have been widely reported in all sorts of news outlets and it's not like there's any controversy about whether this stuff happened or not.

The other thing I would say is it's a management issue for sure. But, you know what, it's much more than that. It's a human issue and we need to think about the individuals involved.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you, gentlemen. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:54:05] LEMON: He's been called everything from President Trump's brain to President Bannon. This man of mystery stepping into the limelight today to answer questions at the Conservative Political Action Conference. CNN's Jeanne Moos compares the real Steve Bannon to the man who launched a thousand late-night comedies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The man SNL portrayed as the grim reaper wasn't so grim as he made a rare public appearance.

STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: You know, I can run a little hot on occasions.

MOOS: You may never have heard his voice before, but you probably have seen cartoons of him holding President Trump on his lap, whispering in the president's ear, being the master puppeteer. Steve Bannon has an announcement. Just a second, the strings are tangled.

BILL MAHER, HOST, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER: And that's how we wound up with President Bannon and his dummy Donny.

MOOS: President Bannon has his own parody Twitter account, tweeting comments like, "Day 33, Donald Trump still believes he is the president."

[00:55:02] There are impeach President Bannon t-shirts and even a "New York Times" editorial called him president. The Late Show showed Bannon tucking in President Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Night-night. Don't let the bed bugs bite.

MOOS: But in person, the only thing Bannon flicked was the press.

BANON: Well, the mainstream media don't get this, is that the opposition part of it.

MOOS: Does the actual president mind all the talk of President Bannon?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MORNING JOE: Maybe Bannon's calling all the shots.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH: If that wasn't true, then a certain cable news fan wouldn't have felt the need less than an hour later to tweet "I called my own shots."

MOOS: Former Obama advisor David Axelrod compared Bannon and Reince Priebus to a song and dance team as they got touchy feely.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: A very dear friend.

MOOS: Perhaps to dispel rumors of turf battles. This was like Bannon's coming out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, Steve, you're really a likeable guy. You should do this more often.

MOOS: Get out a little more from under that mask SNL put you under.

GRIM REAPER: Can I have my desk back? ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Yes, of course, Mr. President, I'll go sit at my desk.

(APPLAUSE)

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That's it for us tonight. Thank you so much for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)