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CNN TONIGHT

War of Words by Comey and Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 9, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Thanks for watching 360. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The president aggressively hitting back at the testimony of former FBI director James Comey. Defiantly saying that 100 percent, he'll give his own sworn testimony under oath.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

President claiming Comey's appearance before a Senate committee vindicates him in the Russia probe and attacking Comey, himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He's saying he never asked for Comey's loyalty at that now infamous dinner meeting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say, I want you to pledge allegiance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, dangling the possibility out there of tapes. Refusing to say if he has recordings of conversations in the Oval Office. A lot to discuss now.

But I want to get straight to White House correspondent Athena Jones, political analyst Carl Bernstein, political commentator David Swerdlick, and national political reporter, Maeve Reston.

Good evening to all of you. Athena, I'm going to start with you because this is a day after the former FBI Director Comey, his bombshell testimony, President Trump is fighting back.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is punching back, Don. After Comey repeatedly called the president a liar during his testimony yesterday, the president is now saying the former FBI director is the one who's being untruthful.

The president arguing that parts of Comey's testimony completely vindicate him, while other parts are lies. And he's also accusing Comey of leaking his own notes. Watch some of what the president had to say in that press conference today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning on Twitter, you were referring to the testimony of James Comey vindicating you. But I wondered if you could tell us in person, sir, why you feel that his testimony vindicated you when it really boils down to his word against your word and if you could also tell us, sir, do tapes exist of your conversations with him?

TRUMP: Yes. Well, I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future, but in the meantime, no collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker.

But we want to get back to running our great country, jobs, trade deficits. We want them to disappear fast. North Korea, big problem. Middle East, a big problem. So that's what I am focused on. That's what I have been focused on.

But yesterday showed no collusion, no obstruction. We are doing really well. That was an excuse by the democrats who lost an election that some people think they shouldn't have lost because it's almost impossible for the democrats to lose the Electoral College, as you know.

You have to run up the whole East Coast and have to win everything as a republican. That's just what we did. So it was just an excuse, but we were very, very happy, and frankly, James Comey confirmed a lot of what I said, and some of the things that he said just weren't true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So, there you heard in that long and winding answer not a lot of answers, certainly, to the initial questions being posed to the president. The president saying that he feels completely vindicated, but not explaining why.

Speaking in this vague sort of Twitter speak and then bragging once again about the electoral victory half a year ago. And then not being clear about the major question which is are there tapes or some other sort of audio recording of his conversations with the former FBI director? So still a lot of questions unanswered, Don.

LEMON: Yes. Maeve Reston now, President Trump is saying yesterday, didn't show any collusion, right, but that's not what Comey's testimony was all about.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: No, I'm not sure what hearing he was watching. I mean, with that answer, you know, James Comey went out there and talked about his interactions with the president. What he thought of the president's character. His need to document their conversations immediately after they had them.

In fact, Comey was very careful not to talk at all about the Russia investigation and the matters that they're looking into in terms of, you know, collusion and when he talked about obstruction of justice, that was in answer to, you know, a question about how he perceived his conversations with President Trump.

[22:04:58] So, he certainly wasn't vindicated. What we all understand, that's what the White House talking points were, but it was a really disastrous day for the White House yesterday and clearly Donald Trump as he always does was putting the best spin on it today.

LEMON: Yes. By the way, let's talk about Comey's friend -- I have sort of a bombshell when he said, you know, he gave the memo, at least allowed his friend, his friend's name is David -- Daniel Richman, I should say. He revealed the content of Comey's memos to the press. He's hoping to address the matter with the Senate judiciary committee on Monday. What does that tell you, Maeve?

RESTON: Well, I think this was -- you know, that was obviously one of the most interesting developments in the hearing. It gave Donald Trump, you know, an opportunity to kind of try to frame Comey as a leaker and someone who was untrustworthy.

But, I mean, it's very interesting that the lawmakers are requesting those documents as I'm sure, you know, they certainly would, but it also seems easy enough for them to be requesting them from, you know, from the FBI and the fact that Comey involved his friend in sort of delivering this news to the New York Times shows that he is, you know, a manipulator of the press and that he's very savvy in the ways of Washington and certainly, you know, senators are going to try to get their hands on those memos as quickly as possible.

LEMON: Yes. I was watching, I was like, interesting, your move now, Mr. President.

RESTON: Yes.

LEMON: So, David, let's bring in David Swerdlick now. You heard the president bring up the election again. Athena, you know, mentioned it when she was talk there. So here's a fun fact, it's been 213 days since President Trump won. Why is this a factor now?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR Don, look, because it goes to a central feature of the president's M.O., long before he entered elected politics, Don, which is that, you know, if a situation does not make him look good then he seeks to address it to to make himself look better in his own view.

But here's another fun fact, Don, he has it exactly backwards. It's not almost impossible for democrats to lose the Electoral College. It's almost impossible for democrats to lose the popular vote. Democrats have won six out of the last seven popular votes. Two of the last three presidential elections that republicans have won, they've only won the Electoral College and not won the popular vote. So, it doesn't even make sense on its face.

LEMON: Interesting. How much does gerrymandering have to do with that, David?

SWERDLICK: Well, OK. Look, you've got Congressional districts all around the country, Don, that are drawn where you're either drawing democratic voters completely out of districts or you're drawing just enough democratic voters into each district that they can't, you know, sort of go over the top of 51 percent in any district in a number of states.

You also have republican-led efforts over the last several years to make stricter voter I.D. laws that have also crowded out democratic voters, but some of this is just simply that, you know, because we are polarized in our politics, so many seats especially in the House are -- and, you know, are just impossible for one party or the other to win. They are safe seats. That's why we're in this or the gridlocked situation.

LEMON: And something we should be discussing and issues that need to be brought up.

SWERDLICK: Yes.

LEMON: Before the election. So, Carl, let's talk about what happened today. The president first brought up the issue of tapes when he tweeted, right? A warning to Comey, last month, he said, you know, the issue is raised again today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get back to James Comey's testimony. You suggested he didn't tell the truth in everything he said. He did say under oath that you told him to let the Flynn -- you said you hoped the Flynn investigation, you could like--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I didn't say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he lied about that?

TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did he ask you to pledge his loyalty--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: And there'd be nothing wrong if I did say it according to everybody that I've read today, but I did not say that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did he ask for a pledge of loyalty from you? That's another thing he said.

TRUMP: No, he did not. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said those things under oath. Would you be

willing to speak under oath to give your version of these events?

TRUMP: One hundred percent. I didn't say under oath. I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath?

I mean, think of it, I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that and I didn't say the other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Robert Mueller wanted to speak about that you would be--

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you, Jim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you seem to be hinting that there are recordings of those conversations.

TRUMP: I'm not hinting at anything. I'll tell you about it over a very short period of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is that?

TRUMP: OK. OK. Do you have a question here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will you tell us about the recordings?

TRUMP: Over fairly short period of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like tomorrow or now? Are there tapes, sir?

[22:10:00] TRUMP: You're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer, don't worry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And that, my friends, is known as a tease, coming from reality television, Carl. I mean, first on the tapes, he said you will be disappointed when you hear. What do you think that means, Carl?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have no idea what it means. The last place I want to be is in Donald Trump's head. Let's find out.

Look, I think we need to cut to the chase of what happened in the hearing yesterday and the most spectacular revelation of all is that the head of the FBI that James Comey engineered the appointment of a special prosecutor.

LEMON: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: The thing that this White House has feared the most and fought the hardest to not happen from the beginning of the presidency till it happened, they fought, and what happened? Comey got the special prosecutor appointed. He talked to the president. The president led him along his path. It's clear from what Comey testified.

And then Comey went to the attorney general and the attorney general skipped -- stiffed him and at that point, he was able through leaking to get a special prosecutor appointed. Imagine the rage of Donald Trump and those around him. And I know something about it from talking to some of those people.

LEMON: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: The rage that there has been a special prosecutor appointed for which Donald Trump blames Jeff Sessions as we know from many stories and from what people in the White House have told us.

So now Trump faces the spectacle of the worst possible kind of investigation, a sprawling investigation of all things Russian, including his financial dealings with Russians, with ethno-Russians, whatever happened with WikiLeaks and didn't happen with WikiLeaks. This is his worst nightmare and that's where he is.

LEMON: And now he--

(CROSSTALK)

RESTON: It all comes back to a tweet.

BERNSTEIN: I don't mean to minimize or to laugh at it in any way. This is deadly serious.

LEMON: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: And finally we are going to have a real investigation that goes to the most serious thing which is the Russians undermining our elections and the question of whether or not anyone around Donald Trump or Donald Trump had anything to do with colluding this one.

LEMON: With that. And as Maeve said, you know, all of this is before a tweet.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: That's the real question.

LEMON: He really brought this on himself with the tweet about the taping. And now he is being compelled -- there he goes, saying James Comey better hope, there's that word, hope, that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press. So, this--

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: Look.

LEMON: OK. Hang on. I want to ask this question because the leaders of the House, Russia investigation, they want to see those tapes. If they exist. And they want them by June 23rd, if they exist. Now he's being compelled, Carl, quickly, because I want to get to some of the other people here.

BERNSTEIN: Yes. If he has some tapes, he's being compelled.

LEMON: Yes.

BERNSTEIN: And as you say, he's playing coy, maybe he has a tape that he taped something on his cell phone. I don't know.

LEMON: I want to -- I want to ask David before we go.

BERNSTEIN: Yes.

LEMON: David Swerdlick, I want to ask you because we had this conversation last night after the show that James Comey's awe, shucks, factor was off the charts.

SWERDLICK: It was.

LEMON: Are they -- I think this administration may be underestimating, you know, this man, considering how he got a special prosecutor involved and didn't even realize it. He's -- I mean, that's a total long game right there.

SWERDLICK: It is a long game. Look, nothing that Comey said yesterday proves that President Trump did anything criminal and that is why I think the president has gone and taken this sort of faux victory lap today. But--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But he's laying the groundwork.

SWERDLICK: Yes, he's laying the groundwork. But at the same time, nothing that was said yesterday vindicates the president either as he claimed, and this idea of teasing it out, Don, as you said, right, everything with the president is a big reveal. The most dramatic rose ceremony ever.

LEMON: Yes.

SWERDLICK: And as Maeve said, he was the one who brought up tapes. Now Congress, I think, and this goes to your point about Comey understanding where the road leads ahead, Congress, I think, has gotten a little bit tired of this act. Even if they're not going to break with President Trump, the idea that he's stringing them along on something as basic as whether or not there's a conversation on tape somewhere is what pushes them to come out and say, we want those tapes in two weeks.

LEMON: And also pushing that, Comey pushed the records into the public sphere, right, because he leaked them to a reporter.

SWERDLICK: Yes.

LEMON: Now they're going to say well, the public should be able to see a lot of this stuff. So, thank you, all. I appreciate it.

Up next, President Trump claiming he's 100 percent willing to testify under oath to counter Comey's bombshell Senate testimony. Should we take it at his word or is it just bluster? Michael Reagan joins me to offer some insight.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A defiant president hitting back today at a bombshell testimony of former FBI director James Comey.

I want to talk about this with Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, and the author of "Lessons My Father Taught Me." welcome back. Good evening, sir. You ready to set off the blogs again tonight?

MICHAEL REAGAN, AUTHOR, LESSONS MY FATHER TAUGHT ME: I thought you had me on to apologize to me for last week.

LEMON: Please, we love it.

REAGAN: When you had Donald Trump basically in jail for life.

LEMON: Who, me? I never had him in jail. Come on, now.

REAGAN: You had collusion going, all this stuff going on. You had him being investigated.

LEMON: Well, Michael, I have to do my job. I got to report on it. I'm not, listen, I'm not the investigator. I don't have prosecutorial powers.

REAGAN: I was looking forward to you apologize.

LEMON: Well, I was looking forward to you apologizing. Come on, you first. I guess that's not going to happen.

REAGAN: I got nothing to apologize for. Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: On a serious note, though, I want to get your reaction to the president's promise, he said 100 percent that he will testify under oath. What do you think of that?

REAGAN: Yes, well I think, you know, if he wants to, fine, but any lawyer would tell their client you never want to say you're going to testify under oath.

But I believe he could say that if, indeed, to go to another question, that you're probably going to ask, there probably are no tapes. So he could testify under oath and say what he's going to say and Comey can testify under oath like he did, say when he's going to say. It's a he said/he said and we're right back to where we are right now.

LEMON: Well, I want to ask you about--

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: So--

LEMON: I wasn't going to ask you about the tapes but I will. Don't you think, though -- I'm going to ask you about it because you brought it up. Really I wasn't going to, but I will. Why do you say that he probably shouldn't say he's going to testify under oath?

REAGAN: No. You know anybody--

(CROSSTALK)

[22:19:58] LEMON: Do you think he sets himself up to other things?

REAGAN: It does. Look what he's done for the shows. I mean, everybody is talking about the fact he just said he would testify under oath, 100 percent he would, in fact, do that. I think the only reason you say that is if you know for a fact there's nothing really to back you up or there's all kinds of information out there to back you up.

LEMON: Yes. And also, I mean, once he's under oath, they can ask whatever questions they want. He's got to be truthful about it.

REAGAN: Yes.

LEMON: So, yes, I don't know if that would be a smart thing. But anyone--

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: And he doesn't have to testify.

LEMON: Yes.

REAGAN: He doesn't have to testify under oath. I think yesterday -- yes, were there winners all the way around? The biggest winner I think in many ways was Trump.

LEMON: Yes.

REAGAN: Because we found out he hasn't been investigated. He was told three times--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Wait, before we get to that, let me ask you, why do you think there are no tapes?

REAGAN: Well, I just don't think -- I just don't believe there are tapes. I think if there were tapes, you'd probably already have seen the tapes or heard the tapes.

LEMON: Yes. So, you mentioned collusion, we were joking in the beginning but that wasn't what the hearing was about yesterday. No one said there was no collusion. They said that they didn't really talk about it much. He said when he left, he didn't see any evidence of collusion but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. It may not have happened.

REAGAN: People keep talking -- keep on talking about collusion with the Russians, and, you know, as they've said in hearings and hearings and hearings, there's no proof anywhere of collusion, but it seems that there are people in the media still searching under every rock to try and find collusion with Donald Trump.

LEMON: But Michael--

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: There had to be a reason, to go back for a minute, Don--

LEMON: The purpose of the hearing yesterday--

REAGAN: To go back for a minute, Don, to go back to a reason--

LEMON: -- was whether -- why he got fired. That was the purpose of the hearing. So they didn't go into a deep discussion about collusion and he did say when he left, he didn't see any evidence of collusion but he's been gone for a while.

REAGAN: Yes, well I think that -- I think the media needs to take Comey at his word. There still is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and/or the Russians.

Remember, there was a phone call after that meeting at the White House or the dinner, whatever it was, from Trump to Comey saying, hey, if you find anybody, anybody in the satellite around me--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Any of my satellites, yes.

REAGAN: -- who has, in fact, done anything of that nature, I want you to go out there and do something about it. So he was saying to Comey, hey, go after the guys, if there was collusion amongst people in my purview, my satellites, go get them.

LEMON: But you know he said that there was no -- he had nothing to do with Russia, the people around him had nothing to do with Russia, that's what he was saying publicly but then he's telling, you know, Comey behind the scenes, well, maybe some of my people did. So what he's saying to Comey--

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: No, he didn't say some of his people might have.

LEMON: He said satellites.

REAGAN: He said if you find them, go after them. LEMON: He said satellites. Maybe some of my satellites. But publicly

he's saying no one associated with the Trump campaign or the administration had anything to do with Russia or any ties.

REAGAN: Don, Don, let me tell you, having been in the Oval Office a few times, there are things that a president will say publicly they will certainly not say privately or vice versa.

So, I mean, to go on that side of the equation, you're not really going anywhere with this. I mean, the fact of the matter is, if there's somebody in his organization that did it, he said go after them. But there's no proof that anybody in his organization worked with the Russians for WikiLeaks or anything of that nature.

But people keep on trying to find it. Even Hillary Clinton's out there trying to find a reason she lost, blaming the Russians and blaming Trump and blaming the DNC, also on everybody else, for the reason she lost. And she keeps it going also. Just like Donald Trump. They both -- it's like they never left the campaign. They're still out there campaigning.

LEMON: So you admit that they both should just move past this whole campaign thing. He would stop mentioning this, he should.

REAGAN: Absolutely.

LEMON: So let's talk about the house speaker now. I want to play the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, talking about the president's action with former Director Comey. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president's new at this. He's new to government. And so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that established the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He's just new to this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, he's making excuses for the president. He's basically saying that ignorance of a job is a legitimate explanation for the president. What Comey says was the president's behavior. Do you buy that, if, indeed--

(CROSSTALK)

REAGAN: I think there's some truth -- I think there's some to that but I have an op-ed piece out today, you know, Don, really I don't blame the president as much as I blame his chief of staff, I blame the attorney general.

James Baker never would have let my father go into a room with the attorney general, or I'm sorry, the head of the FBI, to discuss anything that was on the docket about Russia or whatever it might be.

I think the fault here lies with the chief of staff and the attorney general for allowing those meetings to take place without them being in the room and if I were president of the Unites States, tomorrow they wouldn't be going to work.

[22:25:02] LEMON: I was just going to say, should he get rid of him? You answered a question. You would fire them?

REAGAN: I would absolutely fire them. I think they are as intimidated by Donald Trump, I'm not talking about president, I'm talking about just the aura of Donald Trump. I think they're as absolutely as terrified with Donald Trump and his -- as, if you will, James Comey said he was when he sat down with him.

LEMON: OK. So let me ask you this, Michael.

REAGAN: Yes.

LEMON: A lot of people have said that here on the show, and probably just in the news in general, that the president is not necessarily being served well by the people around them. Around him.

REAGAN: Not at all.

LEMON: And when certain people say that, they'll say, you're a Trump hater, you're just a liberal, you're just a democrat, you just don't like those people. Why is that just not good advice to people who think that a president may not be being served well by the folks around him?

REAGAN: Did my father's administration change when James Baker came onboard? Howard Baker came onboard. He made those changes. This president needs to understand, you need to make changes sometimes if you want to move the ball forward and he's not being served well because I don't think he respects those people in the Oval Office or in the White House that, in fact, he has hired to be put -- to put there.

I think he looks at them as underlings, somebody who might have worked with one of his corporations. He needs somebody that's on an equal level that he, in fact, will respect and listen to and when he can say to the president of the Unites States, Mr. President, don't go outside today and say, you'll testify 100 percent under oath in a court of law.

LEMON: Yes.

REAGAN: He needs that guy and he needs the guy that he will listen to if he wants to move forward.

LEMON: Yes. And just say don't really talk about it. Let what happened yesterday stand on its own. Thank you.

REAGAN: Hey, I was in an administration where those things happened.

LEMON: Yes.

REAGAN: And thank God they did happen. Had they not happened, the Berlin Wall might still be up.

LEMON: Yes.

REAGAN: The Cold War may still be going on.

LEMON: Thank you, Michael. Always a pleasure. Have a good weekend.

REAGAN: Good talking to you.

LEMON: Up next, fallout from James Comey's stunning Senate testimony. Is it a watershed moment in American history? I'm going to talk about it with Dan Rather.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:30:00] LEMON: The president accusing James Comey of making false statements in his Senate testimony, saying he's 100 percent willing to give his own sworn testimony.

I want to bring in Dan Rather, host of AXS TV's The Big Interview. Dan Rather is here. Good evening.

DAN RATHER, HOST, AXS TV: Good evening.

LEMON: I want to get your reaction to the president saying he's willing to testify under oath.

RATHER: But did you note he didn't say when he was willing to do this.

LEMON: You think he's pulling a fast one?

RATHER: Frankly, I do. But I've been wrong before and he may testify under oath. He said he was going to do it but he didn't say when.

Look, what we had today was Donald Trump absolutely determined, desperate, if you want to use that word, to regain the narrative. Comey had the narrative yesterday. Trump throughout his presidency, part of his way of operating his strategy is, he has to weave the narrative every day so he grabbed it again today. They're on mission to destroy Comey.

And it's going to be an equivalent of Sherman's March to the Sea, burn everything in sight, destroy Comey. That's the game of this because this overall strategy for President Trump, in my opinion, he absolutely must keep his hardcore base.

I think we mentioned before, right now he's somewhere between 35 and 38 approval ratings.

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: He knows if it gets below 30 percent and stays there for very long, republicans will turn on him.

LEMON: Well, that's what I want to ask you because you don't -- I -- republicans aren't -- I don't see many republicans, if any, really coming out after yesterday's testimony and supporting the president. The RNC put something out. Reince Priebus -- not Reince Priebus -- said, you know, the president just doesn't know and it's like what kind of excuse is that.

RATHER: Yes, he's still learning.

LEMON: He's still learning.

RATHER: Well, as they say at home, that old dog won't hunt.

LEMON: Buut why won't republicans come out, and do you think they are concerned, why aren't they coming out and giving a full-throated defense of the president?

RATHER: Because I think they're afraid of where this may go. They're afraid that he may have, indeed, committed some impeachable offense and also they're hearing from home that a lot of their constituents are increasingly concerned about the Trump presidency.

But, you know, we don't -- up until now we have no profiles in courage among the republicans. Somebody really speaking out saying Trump is bad for the country and bad for the party. But as long as he's able to hold that 35, 38 poll rating, you may not see that. Once it gets down below 30 percent, you see some republicans going the other way.

There is this thought, someone said on CNN air today, and I agree with it, if Donald Trump were a democrat, republicans would be screaming for his impeachment already.

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: Now it says something about the democrats and I think not all that good about the democrats. They're sort of holding back. They're still a little wary of actually coming out and saying, listen, he's committed impeachment quality offenses. One can respect that to a degree because even though he's president, Trump is entitled to presumption of innocence on so many things.

But the evidence keeps growing and growing and growing. And remember, we're only at the first stages of multi investigations into what happened, when it happened, how much he knew.

LEMON: As I was watching yesterday, I was like this is just the beginning for anyone at home, especially when people were coming out on both sides saying, you know, this shows this, this shows that. This is really early on. Look what we found out about how Comey manipulated the system in order -- he's the reason or the big reason there's a special prosecute e prosecutor, right?

RATHER: Yes.

LEMON: So he said he knew because he wanted to force a special prosecutor. But as I said last night, I want to take credit, I think you agree, yesterday was a political Rosrshock test. Remember the old rorschock block. RATHER: Yes.

[22:35:00] LEMON: What do you see here?

RATHER: Exactly.

LEMON: And if you have a political leaning a certain way, you may think that you won, if you're a Trump supporter, you may think he won. But really in the end it's kind of a draw, wasn't it? Or was it?

RATHER: For the moment I would say advantage, Comey. But you're quite right, it depends on your political point of view, how you read the Comey testimony to a very large degree.

But Don, I think this is so important here. We're talking about Comey and President Trump and who's lying, who's telling the truth, who isn't. The big picture, and I think -- I'm confident the American people get this, the big picture is the Russians scored heavily in undercutting credibility of our electoral process. A foreign power.

Whether they colluded with anybody in the Trump administration or not. So the two big points to concentrate are, one, we know the Russians were very effective in undercutting the credibility of our election process. How did they do that and how do we prevent it from happening another time?

The second part of it is, did President Trump or anybody around him collude with the Russians? Because if they did, that would be a serious offense, possibly reaching treason. So we get into day-by-day things, about Comey said this and Trump said that, it's very easy to lose that big picture.

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: But you know, we're dealing here with the very vitals of the nation. We saw the electoral process. And we, the people, capital W. We, the people. We need to know what happened with the Russians.

LEMON: Right.

RATHER: We have a right to know it and is our patriotic duty, I would say, to keep demanding the answers.

LEMON: Here's what struck me yesterday. Dan, I want people at home to imagine this. We're sitting here, right, the world can see, the cameras are rolling. Now what if I said, turn the cameras off, turn the lights down, everybody leave, close the door, I need to talk to Dan Rather by himself. Then every, the doors close. Dan, I really hope that you would let this thing go. What do you think that means?

RATHER: I think it means what Comey thought it meant. That he was directing me to let it go.

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: And if that is the case, and that can be proven to be the case, and motive is very hard to prove, that is obstruction of justice.

LEMON: Thank you.

RATHER: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

RATHER: Always a pleasure. Good to be with you.

LEMON: Have a great weekend.

RATHER: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: Coming up, the president versus the former FBI director. Who do we believe?

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump taking questions for the first time since James Comey's testimony and he was defiant, stating he is 100 percent willing to deliver sworn testimony as well. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning on Twitter, you were referring to the testimony of James Comey vindicating you, but I wondered if you could tell us in person, sir, why you feel that his testimony vindicated you when it's really, it boils down to his word against your word and if you can also tell us, sir, do tapes exist of your conversations with him?

TRUMP: Yes. I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future. But in the meantime, no collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Let's discuss now. Christine Quinn is here, the former New York City counsel speaker. CNN political commentators Alice Stewart, and Mike Shields. As well as CNN contributor Jason Kander.

At first I didn't understand what he was saying. Someone had to explain. Like, what does he's a leaker mean? He's a leaker. Because it's like one thing now. Mike, your thoughts on the president's reaction to James Comey testimony.

MIKE SHIELDS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, James Comey did establish he is a leaker. And that is a really serious thing going on right now. I know the press, you're not going to find anyone in the media has a problem with leakers because, of course, that's how they make their living. But there's a real issue in American politics right now--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You realize it's not necessarily illegal to leak, right? SHIELDS: It's not always illegal, but there's something ethical that

you have to wonder when you have a law enforcement official who doesn't want to publish something under his own name, doesn't want to resign in protest, but gets himself involved in things where he leaks.

And now the question is, what else does he leaked? And why didn't he leak things when Loretta Lynch was coming and telling him to say things? So he really hurt his own credibility with the American people.

The American people want law enforcement officers that are button down, that follow the procedures, that take evidence they think they may have of something and go to a prosecutor -- or go through to the Senate committees that are investigating this. And that's not what Jim Comey does.

Jim Comey inserts himself politically into things again and again and again all through the e-mail investigation of Hillary Clinton. At one pound int he said I had to speak on behalf of the entire Justice Department because I didn't agree with the attorney general was doing.

LEMON: Yes.

SHIELDS: And so, I think actually what we saw on television was the exact reason why the president fired this guy. We want an FBI director who doesn't behave in--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, that's what -- that's what I want to ask. I was going to ask because Jason, maybe the answer is maybe he didn't behave that way with Loretta Lynch because she didn't fire him.

JASON KANDER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Also, that's not why the president fired him. The president told everybody why he fired him. He fired him to end the FBI investigation into Russia.

And by the way, this whole idea of trying to assassinate the character of James Comey, first of all, if you're going to do it by saying that because he said that as a private citizen, he gave some information to a reporter, that, therefore, his credibility is in question, you should keep in mind the fact that there are a whole lot of people who were picked by President Trump, who work for President Trump, who have still not publicly said that it was them who actually gave information to reporters.

What James Comey did is he was, like, I did that. Which means it makes everything else he said a lot more credible. He actually did what he's supposed to do. He raised his right hand and said he would swear the whole truth. He presented facts that were helpful to him, facts that were unhelpful to him. He was extremely credible.

CHRISTINE QUINN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER: I think, one, I want to add, you know, Comey did what he should have done. He wrote up memos. He sent them to the Justice Department. He sent them to the attorney general's office. Clearly indicating he was concerned. [22:44:59] When I look at the issue of him leaking information, none

of it confidential, none of it in any way, shape or form illegal to give to the press as a private citizen, it shows me he was profoundly concerned about the state of affairs in the White House. I think that is really the story here.

Not how the info got out or not, but the level of disarray and inappropriate behavior going on in the Trump White House and a man like James Comey really feeling he had no choice but to get that out there. A man who served under three administrations.

LEMON: Go ahead, Alice.

ALICE STEWART, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Don, I think Comey was very credible, I think he was clear. I think he was very convincing. But at the end of the day, I don't think he was able to prove any type of collusion. I don't think he was able to prove obstruction. Right now we have a case--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Again, alice, I have to say that's not what the hearing was about. The testimony was not about collusion yesterday. But go on, finish your point.

STEWART: The point is right now we have a case of Comey's word against the president's word. He said/he said. It's a high stakes Russian roulette game. There's been no smoking gun, there's no blue dress. We just have one man's word against another man's word.

And I think right now, at this stage of the game, I think it would be a mistake for the president to go testify under oath because that is what certainly got Bill Clinton in trouble. I think he should certainly let the facts play out as they may, but testifying under oath, I don't think is the right way to go.

LEMON: It's interesting because Comey had no problem calling the president a liar, but when the president was asked if Comey was a liar, he, today, he really didn't want to answer that question. We'll discuss when we come right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump claiming he's vindicated by Comey's Senate testimony, saying it shows no collusion or obstruction, but the Russian investigation preventing republicans from moving their agenda along.

Back with my panel. Just a quick question for you, Alice, becasue I wanted to ak you this last thought. Comey had no problem calling the president a liar, but then when the president was asked about it, he didn't want to flat out call Comey a liar. Is that surprising to you?

STEWART: No. I think, clearly, he's going to not be very direct on that issue right there, and I think today out of the Rose Garden, he didn't answer specifically a lot of questions. He left a lot of things up in the air, specifically about whether or not there is an audio tape of the conversations.

LEMON: Yes.

STEWART: So I think right now we're going to see him being pretty vague and not being held to account to a lot of issues right now because he's certainly lawyered up.

LEMON: OK. All right. Let's move on now. Here is Senator Kirsten Gillibrand slamming the president with some colorful language today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: What about President Trump? Has he kept any of these promises? No. (muted) no. Fundamentally, if we are not helping people, we should go the (muted) home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Mike, what do you think of that?

SHIELDS: Well, she's following the DNC chairman's lead, I suppose, in trying to -- when you don't have a great message, I guess you're going to put f bombs into your speeches, but it really speaks to the anger of the left, the resistance movement, the complete denial of millions and millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump who feel completely disconnected from the Democratic Party.

And what I find amazing is I work for Reince Priebus at the RNC. After we lost in 2012, we went through a process to analyze our party, what needed to be done to win again, and then we made it public.

The democrats don't seem to want to do that. Their only answer for everything is, and it plays right into what we're talking about with the hearing yesterday, is this entire thing is partisan, it's partisan politics. They don't want to do anything to admit that they're not connected to those working voters in places like Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and instead--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Mike, I think we have--

(CROSSTALK)

SHILEDS: -- instead we have -- you have a senator here who wants respect from the president of the Unites States --

LEMON: I got to push back. Let me say -- let me say this, you might be right about the democrats not connecting to people in the middle of the country and they could connect better, but the whole thing about the republicans changing and what -- this wasn't a republican win, this was a Trump win.

QUINN: Right.

LEMON: The Republican Party really had very little to do, if anything to do with who's in the White House right now.

SHIELDS: Well, the republicans control the house, the senate, 32 governors, and the White House, so what are you -- I don't understand why you're saying it wasn't a republican win. Republicans won up and down the ballot.

LEMON: Strictly talking about the White House. I think that this was -- if you're talking with the White House and whatever, and there were concerns about the Republican Party for years.

SHIELDS: Yes.

LEMON: So listen, I understand what you're saying about democrats needed to connect, but this is more of a Trump win in the White House than it was a republican win.

QUINN: You know, and let me say something--

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Well, look, I think Kirsten Gillibrand, she's clearly running for president, and what she's learned is if you want to go get the democratic base to start supporting you early on and to raise money, you'd better start dropping f bombs and look as hateful as youpossibly can towards the president, and whoever hates the president the most is probably going to be the person that winds up being the democratic nominee. I don't think that's a great platform--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Is that a successful strategy for the -- does he have a point there?

QUINN: No, that's ridiculous. I think if you ask Senator Gillibrand today, she'll probably say she regrets dropping the f bomb twice. She's a highly substantive senator, has been successful.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Why would she do that though?

QUINN: You know, we'd have to ask her. Look, I think she -- who knows, right. But the bigger point here are when we do an analysis of the election, we, the democrats won the popular vote. That's an important analysis to remember.

But I want to talk to what Mike was saying about working-class Americans, and there's no debate, we didn't do a great job reaching out to them. But you know what we also didn't do? We didn't promise coal miners that they would be taken care of. We didn't promise that they would keep black long coverage--

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: No, you didn't make promises to coal miners. That's one of the reasons why you lost Ohio. QUINN: But hang on, Mike. No one interrupted you. But you know what's

happening to them now? Donald Trump and republicans are trying to take that coverage away through repealing the Affordable Care Act. So we may not have connected enough, but we never lied, as your candidate did.

LEMON: All right. So Jason, I have to ask you, is that a successful strategy when someone like Kirsten Gillibrand, who has been, you know, a respected politician and lawmaker to -- is that a good strategy?

KANDER: Well, let's just take a step back and look at what's happening here, right? There are a bunch of men in Washington who have gotten into a room, only men, to talk about what the health care bill is going to look like, how they're going to repeal Obamacare.

[22:55:02] So -- by the way, also, the head of their party has used -- I don't think if he saw that clip, I don't think President Trump learned some words he didn't know, right?

In fact, I think there are a lot of little kids around the country who were all worried, including my own son, that if he's watching TV while the president's on TV, we're a little worried he might go to school and repeat after the president.

So I really don't appreciate being lectured about that, and I don't appreciate that while a whole bunch of men are in Washington making rules about health care and excluding women, that we're going to have a double standard here coming from Mike and decide that all of a sudden she has no right to be angry about it. You know, maybe I wouldn't have used the same words, but I think she has every right to be angry about it.

LEMON: Mike, you want to respond?

STEWART: Don?

SHIELDS: Yes. I mean, look, she's angry and the democrats are so angry and will never learn the lesson of why they lost. They'll just make a party that's as angry as possible can be at Donald Trump and what they don't recognize is there are millions and millions of voters that translate in being angry at them--

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: No, Mike, it helps--

SHIELDS: -- that dismisses them and those voters elected Donald Trump and they pay attention to what you're saying about him and they are -- the democrats should be reaching out and trying to help to connect to those voters and instead they're going to March in circles--

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: Reaching out?

LEMON: We're out of time. I have to go. Alice, I wanted-- KANDER: It's only partisan. It's only partisan because your party

won't put the country ahead of their own--

(CROSSTALK)

STWEART: Right.

QUINN: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Alice, I wanted you to jump in, but we're out of time. I'm sorry. Thank you, all. I appreciate it. Have a good weekend.

Just ahead, comedian Bill Maher in hot water for using the n word on his show last week. On tonight's show he talked about the controversy. You're going to hear what he said.

[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)