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CNN TONIGHT

The Invisible Tapes Surface; Trump Throws a Piece of Clue. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 22, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


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[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: That's it for us. Thanks for watching. Time to hand things over to Don Lemon. CNN Tonight starts right now. I'll see you tomorrow.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: We finally learn the truth about Trump's tapes. Well, maybe. And the GOP takes another shot at health care.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

President Trump admits he's been stringing us along for weeks. Surprise. Not so much. He doesn't have tapes of his chats with James Comey after all, but this is a much bigger deal than the president may think.

And here we go again. The GOP's health care bill hanging by a thread. Republicans threatening to vote against it. President Trump undercutting his own party suggesting the bill needs work.

So let's get to all of it now, CNN's Athena Jones and Manu Raju join -- will join us and CNN's senior legal analyst Mr. Jeffrey Toobin is here as well. Good evening to all of you.

Athena, let's take a look at the president's tweet. The president said, "With all the recently reported electronic surveillance intercepts, unmasking, and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, but I did not make and do not have any such recordings."

So it took the president, what, 41 days to answer a very simple question. He, himself, first raised. Are there tapes of his conversations with James Comey or not? Why and why now, Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hi, Don. Well, exactly. This should have been a yes or no answer, and yet there's been weeks and weeks of dodging.

A senior administration official told CNN that it became clear that the president would have to answer this question today before tomorrow's deadline set by the House intelligence committee to turn over any tapes if they exist.

So, that's why we're finally seeing an answer from the White House today. But, Don, even that tweet there, that answer we finally got, that also raises questions.

LEMON: Yes, absolutely. I want to bring in David Rohde, CNN global affairs analyst, an online news director -- online news director at the New Yorker. Thank you, sir, for joining us. Question to you, the president still doesn't say that there are definitively aren't any tapes. He said he didn't make any and doesn't have any. Is this a parsing of words here?

DAVID ROHDE, GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, CNN: I think it is and it's partly sort of distraction to keep this threat hovering. He did this often in New York in the real estate world.

Tim O'Brien, he's been on the show, a journalist who he had a lawsuit against, he threatened over and over, Trump threaten Tim O'Brien saying this I have these tapes, I have these tapes as sort of an effort I think to intimidate him. There were no tapes it turned out in that lawsuit.

So this was a sort of New York real estate, you know, style effort to intimidate James Comey but I think it undermines the president's credibility. It could create some legal issues for him. But I think there are absolutely no takes and this is all distraction.

LEMON: I think Jeffrey Toobin and I are in agreement in all of this, we have been saying there are no, all along we were saying there are no tapes.

(CROSSTALK)

JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: There are no tapes.

LEMON: Is this a distraction? Is this -- is it?

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, you know, I don't know if what the strategy is here, or if there is a strategy, and remember how much this backfired because the threat of tapes prompted Comey to leak the -- his memos to his friend at Columbia University which led to the appointment of the special prosecutor which is something the president didn't want.

So, you know, in that respect, it was, you know, a disastrous move. In another respect, since we are talking tonight about tapes rather than this health care bill which is very unpopular, and frankly, the less the republicans get that talked about, the better it is for them.

So maybe releasing it tonight wasn't just because of the deadline tomorrow, but it was a way of distracting attention. I don't know what, if any, strategy was behind this whole tapes thing.

LEMON: Quickly, could this be -- because he sound he's insinuating that maybe an intelligence official is maybe secretly taping him, can that be legally done? It can be done, but...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: Well, I mean, if you think of -- I mean, it physically can be done. But think about it, the President of the United States is worried about being tapped in the Oval Office?

LEMON: He did say Obama was a bad guy and he tapped Trump Tower.

TOOBIN: You know, it starts to sound like bad science fiction. I mean, you know, he thinks he might -- you know, I don't -- I don't understand what the first clause of that tweet means other than just sort of blowing smoke.

LEMON: Not meant to be understood, Jeffrey. We keep analyzing and overanalyzing things. It's just lunacy.

TOOBIN: Yes.

LEMON: I don't think it's meant to be understood if we keep trying to make.

TOOBIN: Well, if it's not meant to be understood, then it worked on me.

LEMON: How do you make sense of the nonsensical? So, I want you to take a listen of the president's remarks about these tapes and some of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That, I can't talk about, I won't talk about that. All I want is for Comey to be honest and I hope he will be and I'm sure he will be, I hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you about that sometime in the near future. Or you're going to be very dis appointed when you hear the answer, don't worry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: David, he's toying with people, not just the press, the American people, but also congressional investigators and the special counsel.

[22:05:03] ROHDE: He is, again, I think he's communicating with his base. You know, the talk, this idea of there is somehow someone taping him, someone else in this tweet, it's this deep state theme. And I, you know, I think there's a method to what he's doing. I think there's distraction today to absolutely...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Wait, wait, wait, he's communicating with his base so...

(CROSSTALK)

ROHDE: That's accurate.

LEMON: ... are you saying that the base believes in conspiracy theories, that there is this whole deep state thing and that...

ROHDE: It's a clear narrative he has, I think, hit on over and over again since he came in. It's part of the Washington swamp. It's, you know, the intelligence agencies he was listened to possibly in Trump Tower, and there's a deep suspicion of Washington and I think he's playing on all that intentionally.

LEMON: Manu Raju, let's talk about your reporting. CNN is also reporting the president's efforts to get top intelligence officials to publicly say there's no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. What can you tell us about that?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, you remember, Don, when Dan Coats, the Director of National Intelligence, and Mike Rogers, the National Security Agency Director, were both testifying before the Senate intelligence committee, they said that President Trump did not pressure them in any way to something that they believe was improper or illegal but they would not say whether or not President Trump asked them in any way to either pour water on the Russia -- the Trump stories, any collusion, those stories about collusion, as well as in order to -- whether or not Trump asked them in any way to interfere with the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn.

But what we have learned from sources that told me, our colleagues, Dana Bash and Evan Perez, that these -- the Coates and Rogers in classified settings told the Senate intelligence committee, told, excuse me, members of Bob Mueller's team, that President Trump, in fact, did ask them to do that. To actually publicly say that there was no collusion between his campaign, Trump's campaign, and the Russians.

And also, Don, the president wanted him to -- them to actually clear his name in a lot of ways and say that he -- that the president, himself, was not under investigation. The president was frustrated, we are told, according to Coats and Rogers telling that the word that he was being told privately was not getting out publicly.

Now, both Coats and Rogers found the request, we are told, uncomfortable, that's how they relayed it to the investigators, but they did not feel that he ordered them to do anything. But ultimately, Don, this is going to be up to Bob Mueller's team and investigators on Capitol Hill to decide whether or not the president was trying to act in any way...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And not how they felt, right.

RAJU: ... to interfere with this investigation.

LEMON: And not how they felt, and whether he was actually trying to do it. Hey, Manu, I have to ask you, because tomorrow is the deadline for Comey's memos to be turned over to the House intelligence committee. Is that going to happen?

RAJU: Unclear. Adam Schiff earlier tonight actually told Wolf Blitzer that they're in discussions right now to get the Comey memos with, it sounded like with the special counsel's office. He wasn't very clear about whether or not he would get the memos by tomorrow.

Several committees I can tell you, Don, have asked for those memos including Senate judiciary committee. I talked to Dianne Feinstein. The top democrat on the committee asked for those memos. They want those as well. They've been in contact with Bob Mueller. They met with him earlier this week.

It's unclear whether they're going to get them, but I can tell you these investigations, Don, are moving forward. We actually learned today that John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's former campaign chairman, the person who was, of course, hacked by the Russians that led to the leaking of all e-mails, he is going to be interviewed in a classified session before the House intelligence committee next week.

So these investigations are moving forward even if they may not be getting all the documents that they want. They may not get that Comey by tomorrow, Don.

LEMON: Athena, Jeffrey Toobin mentioned this, that by tweeting about tapes, the president set in motion a series of events that now dog him. Comey leaked memos, he wrote about their meeting. And now his administration is under investigation by the special counsel.

Has the president expressed any regret at all about this?

JONES: Not so far publicly.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Quick answer is no, right?

JONES: Sarah Huckabee-Sanders was asked -- was asked about that, was asked does the president regret that tweet? And she said today, I don't think so.

But a republican ally of the president, someone close to him said if that he doesn't regret it, he should, and that person said this whole episode is one of the worst things he's done because of the fallout having led to this appointment of a special counsel which is exactly what he had not wanted to happen. Don?

LEMON: David Rohde, do you see any self-awareness on the president's part that he created this whole mess?

ROHDE: Probably not, no, I'll be honest. I think he hasn't changed. These tactics, you know, worked for him in New York real estate. He won the election and you'll see this over and over again.

[22:09:59] And I think part of the day was playing again on conspiracy theories and this distrust of Washington and conspiracies against the president by intelligence agencies.

And I agree with Jeff, it's distraction to not talk about the negative aspects of the health care proposal today from republicans in the Senate.

LEMON: And we're going to...

(CROSSTALK)

RAJU: And Don, Don, I can tell you on the Hill I was talking to a number of republicans about the tapes and the tweets and everything and they're exasperated, and not quite sure why they went through this entire episode.

And Lindsey Graham told me today, perhaps the president will finally learn that his words actually matter. But of course, we've been hearing that from lot of republicans for a long time.

LEMON: Yes.

RAJU: And we have not seen any indication the president is stepping back particularly from tweeting.

LEMON: I can read Jeffrey Toobin's mind right now, don't hold your breath. Seven heroes...

(CROSSTALK)

TOOBIN: You're a psychic, Don Lemon.

LEMON: Thank you, all, I appreciate it.

When we come back, is the tale of the tapes one of the worst things that the president has done? That's what a senior administration official is saying. And can he get past it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president finally admitting today what most of us suspected all along, he doesn't have tapes of his conversations with James Comey. That's after stringing us along for 41 days or so.

[22:14:57] It all started with this tweet on May 12th, the day after the New York Times reported on details of the president's dinner with James Comey. It says quote, "James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press."

And that led to nearly six weeks of the White House spinning its wheels.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did President Trump record his conversations with former FBI Director Comey?

MANU RAJU, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The president has nothing further to add on that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that you had no idea whether or not there was a taping system in the Oval Office. Could you try to find out?

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Sure, I'll try to look under the couches.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do tapes exist of your conversations with him?

TRUMP: Well, I'll tell you about that maybe sometime in the very near future.

CONWAY: He'll let us know. Everybody has to wait and see.

SPICER: The president made clear in the Rose Garden last week that he'd have an announcement shortly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the president is going to address that in the week ahead.

SPICER: The president has said that he will make an announcement on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Boy. Finally, the president put his staff out of their misery today with this tweet. Quote, "With all the recently reported electronic surveillance intercepts, unmasking and legal leaking of information, I have no idea whether there are tapes or recordings of my conversations with James Comey but I did not make and do not have any such recordings."

So why play this game? A game that backfired pretty spectacularly? Here to discuss, CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." So let's get to the truth about Trump. The fact is, the truth is that the president and his White House took 41 days to finally say he did not record his conversations with James Comey. Why this dog and pony show? Why do such a thing, Michael?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: Well, you know, the first thing that comes to mind for me, it's a lot easier than being the president, you know? If you go out there and issue these tweets and you get everybody talking about it, and then you let Mitch McConnell carry the ball for you in the Senate and watch while everybody scrambles to try and figure out what's going on, it's more amusing and this is one of the things that one of the president's folks said about it today, was that he was amused by this.

Now, it does a terrible disservice to Jim Comey. I mean, nobody thought of him as dishonest until the president suggested, well, maybe he is because there could be tapes, let's see if he lies or not.

And it does a great disservice to the country because it erodes our confidence in the president and then imagine what the security community is thinking right now. Are they supposed to be pleased that the president suggested that even now maybe they're recording something?

Because that is the word that came out later on today is, well, the spin is the president doesn't know that there's not any recordings because, perhaps, the so-called deep state is doing that to him now. LEMON: The deep state would have access to the Oval Office, still, and

I guess the secret service and the security at the White House would not have swept the Oval Office for bugs and recording devices so he wouldn't -- OK. That makes complete sense. That was sarcasm, by the way.

D'ANTONIO: Well, and Don, this is -- this is a terrible thing for us to now have to worry about whether we can trust our own intelligence agencies.

You were talking about the problem of conspiracy theories in the previous segment. And I don't think Americans need to be encouraged to have belief in conspiracies when the Russians have already disrupted our election and tried to sew concern about whether we can trust anything. But again, this is the guy who went around during the campaign saying the system is rigged.

LEMON: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: So there's just so much chaos and chaff being thrown in the air that it's really hard for any of us to know what's true.

LEMON: Well, it's interesting to me because, you know, talking about so much about love of country and all of that, and if you love your country, don't want to deceive. I'm not saying he is intentionally doing it, but why would someone do that, you know, love of country, then deceive people and then think it's amusing and put out conspiracy theories?

It's just a question from me. A couple questions. Michael, so the White House denies that they, you know, they're playing, the president was playing a game. But you say President Trump made the false claim because he understands the power of merely suggesting recordings exist. Explain that.

D'ANTONIO: Well, you know, he did this to Tim O'Brien who's often on CNN talking about his experience with Trump, the businessman. Donald Trump said, well, there may be tapes of my encounters with you, Tim. And then they went to court to litigate a case about his book.

In the end, Tim O'Brien and his publisher prevailed, but the whole purpose was to scare the writer and scare the publisher and somehow suggest that there was something -- some evidence of wrongdoing on his part.

[22:20:02] You know, when I met with then-candidate Trump five or six different times, I brought my own recorder, I brought a witness, and he brought a recorder because this game of is this exchange recorded or not is something every journalist in New York City knows that Donald Trump the businessman used to play.

LEMON: Well, that's as a businessman. But when you're the President of the United States, it's a whole different -- it's not a game anymore. You know, this is -- the national security, the country, you know, whether or not there are recordings in the White House, that goes -- I mean, the American people have a right to know about that and it would also -- it can either back up what he says or it can deny what he said. And that's what brought Nixon down. Tapes. So I think it's important to the country. It's not amusing.

D'ANTONIO: Right. The strange thing is, we still don't know.

LEMON: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: Now he said, I don't possess any tapes, I didn't record anything, but he's not saying that recordings don't exist.

LEMON: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: And that's like me saying that I didn't see Godzilla on my way to the studio tonight, but that doesn't mean he's not going to be out there when I go home.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Right. Or that he doesn't exist. So I have to ask you, a republican who spoke with the president this week tells CNN that President Trump has been amused at all the obsessing over this. Is this something to be amused about again?

D'ANTONIO: It absolutely is not amusing to me, and I don't think it's amusing to most Americans. I'm still waiting for Donald Trump to become my president as well as the president of his base. And it's all well and good to say, I'm playing to this 38 percent who will never abandon me, and I understand that.

Politics is to some degree a team sport, but he's also the President of the United States, and I want him to succeed. I want the country to succeed. And I don't see that he's making that effort to reassure the 62 percent who have doubts about him.

LEMON: Well said. Thank you, Michael D'Antonio, always a pleasure.

D'ANTONIO: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: When we come back, do all the president's actions add up to obstruction of justice? And what is special counsel Robert Mueller think of all of this?

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump raising questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's impartiality tonight. Listen to what he says to Fox News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should he recuse himself?

TRUMP: Well, he's very, very good friends with Comey, which is very bothersome, but he's also, we're going to have to see. I mean, we're going to have to see in terms -- look, there have been no obstruction, there has been no collusion, there has been leaking by Comey, but there's been no collusion, no obstruction, and virtually everybody agrees to that.

So we'll have to see. I can say that the people that have been hired are all Hillary Clinton supporters.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Here to discuss, Matthew Whitaker, the executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, and former Nixon White House Counsel, John Dean, a CNN contributor and author of "Conservatives Without Conscience."

He said the last part, by the way, gentlemen, welcome to the program, didn't he say he fired Comey because of his mishandling of Hillary Clinton? So that's interesting. John Dean, is he laying the groundwork for something here? What's going on?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL & CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Excuse me.

He may be trying to start discrediting the special counsel. That would be a sort of a standard procedure for him. He certainly throwing out suggestions here that he's not going to get a fair shake. I don't think that there's a conflict of interest.

This man is above reproaching his dealing with the law and his whole background shows he's very careful about these things. I'm sure he cleared it with his firm before he departed and took the assignment.

LEMON: Matt, do you think he's hinting that Mueller may find himself out of a job?

MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I don't, but I think it's very interesting, you know, I've been on your show several nights and I have usually been the only one that says there is no evidence of obstruction of justice or collusion, and I am -- so I'm surprised when he says it's almost unanimous that folks believe that's the case.

But nonetheless, I mean, I do still believe that, you know, there is not enough evidence here to substantiate obstruction of justice claim. certainly criminal, anyway. And then, you know, there is no evidence, we -- would know by now as much leaking as there has been that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

LEMON: Are you saying that the investigation should not happen, or should not continue? Or shouldn't go to its natural conclusion?

WHITAKER: No, I think the investigation is going to continue. And I think Bob Mueller, as I said many times, is a well-respected lawyer with a lot of important...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: All right. I get what you're saying, but saying that you don't believe there's any evidence and saying that the investigation should or should not continue, that's two separate things. Correct? WHITAKER: Well, because I'm a former prosecutor, I know how

investigations go, and I know that what we know publicly, there's not enough for a case, but certainly Bob Mueller has all the power of the federal government now to conduct an investigation and he may turn over things that we just haven't heard about yet.

LEMON: And the investigation is not just about collusion. There are a number of things and some of it has been of the president's own making because he tweeted out things that led -- that made that happen.

So, Matt, I want to ask you, tweeting after six weeks that there are no tapes, what is the president playing at here? What's he doing?

WHITAKER: Well, as I put those two tapes together, I see a president, first of all, that knew Comey was already talking to the paper before he tweeted, and also it almost looks like an invitation for whoever was taping those meetings to share those tapes with the public.

But he did admit that he didn't have the tapes and I -- you know, I find it very interesting that he has found this to be amusing because, obviously, there's many of us that think this has not been -- less than amusing and the lawyers in the room are hopefully telling him to quit tweeting.

[22:30:08] LEMON: Interesting. The question swirling around the White House is, did the president obstruct justice? And this is for you, John, and here's what -- how the statute reads obstruction in any activities.

"It's corruptly or by threats or force or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of justice."

So, aside from the vaguely threatening tweet about tapes, Comey testified that president -- the president told him to back off the Flynn investigation. Now the DNI Director, Dan Coats, national security -- director of the national security -- National Security Agency, Mike Rogers, they say that President Trump asked them to deny any collusion with the Russians. Why isn't that obstruction?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, I don't think we have obstruction yet, either. I have to agree with Matt. There's a pattern that's developing and one of the most troublesome pattern I see is that he is dissembling.

And if you remember what happened to Nixon, actually it happened to Clinton, too, when they got into impeachment territory, is it was the lying that got them there. Not the obstruction. Nixon didn't leave office because he obstructed justice. He got caught in a final lie that lost his support and so he packed it in and left.

But there are hints of a pattern here where he keeps doing things that I think in the non-federal criminal law sense, rather in the impeachment territory, could result in obstruction which is a very different standard than the criminal law standard.

LEMON: Matt, what do you think of that? Why isn't this obstruction?

WHITAKER: Well, first of all, several of the acts are constitutionally permitted, you know, his conversation with James Comey about the Mike Flynn investigation and together with firing of Director Comey, those are both well within his power of the executive.

These asking the DNI and the -- and others to sort of support him and to publicly state that, you know, that he hasn't -- there was no collusion, I think is just, you know, his pattern of he doesn't believe he did anything wrong.

I mean, you heard that in the clip from earlier in the show that he just is -- I'm sure he's flabbergasted at this point in time that the people that he has put in place and nominated and have been confirmed to serve him are not doing what he feels they should be doing to support him.

LEMON: Well, with him saying -- I want to read it again, because it says, "Obstruction is any activity that corruptly or by threats or force or by any threatening letter or communication influences, obstructs or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct or impede the due administration of justice." So saying I hope there, you know, there better not be any tapes, that's not a threat?

DEAN: The statute is very broad, Don, but the standard in the criminal justice system, the federal criminal law sense, is very high. You've got to show that he's got a clear criminal intent and that isn't necessarily obvious here, but if you translate that again to the political context, because he can't be indicted as a sitting president, anyway, it's only going to come up in the sense of impeachment.

Nixon was impeached for interfering with the FBI and his general public dissembling or part of his bill of impeachment. This is what can come around and be a problem for Trump if this ever, as I say, goes to impeachment.

LEMON: Every time we say that, the articles of impeachment were being drawn up but he resigned, correct?

DEAN: That's right.

LEMON: OK. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate it. Thank you, Matt. Thank you, John Dean.

WHITAKER: Thank you.

LEMON: When we come back, details of Senate republicans' secretive health care bill are finally released only to have key GOP leaders say, no way. So is this the end of Obamacare? After the break.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Senate republicans finally unveiled their long-awaited health care bill today, but not everybody is -- even in their own party -- is onboard. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAND PAUL, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I just didn't run on Obamacare lite. I didn't run on replacing it with more government programs. I didn't run on allowing the death spiral of Obamacare to continue just to subsidize with taxpayer money.

RON JOHNSON, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Holding a vote this next week would definitely be rushed. I can't imagine, quite honestly, that I'd have the information to evaluate and justify a yes vote within just a week.

TED CRUZ, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: This current draft doesn't get the job done, but I believe we can get to yes. I believe we can get this done. There is an agreement to be reached.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So here to discuss, CNN contributor Jason Kander, and CNN political commentator, Jason Miller, and here we go. It's like the House all over again. Jason Miller, you first. President Trump already signed his support to the bill.

Here's what he tweeted. "I am very supportive of the Senate health care bill. Look forward to making it really special. Remember, Obamacare is dead."

But right now, as you saw, there are four republican senators who say that they oppose this bill. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, and Rand Paul, along with three more republican senators who are concerned and are seeking changes. What do you think, Jason Miller?

JASON MILLER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Well, Don, there's a big difference between saying that they're absolutely opposed to this bill and this reform in any way, shape, or form and there's no chance they can ever get there or it's not there yet an they're using it as a leverage point and want to see a couple of additional tweaks or changes or even concessions as they work along.

So I think the Senate bill did a couple really smart things where it made it a lot more palatable, I believe to moderates. Did a couple things that I believe also will get conservatives on board.

But fundamentally as we saw yesterday with the news of Anthem, BlueCross, BlueShield pulling out of Indiana, in Ohio, and Wisconsin, Obamacare is absolutely imploding. I think they're taking the right steps.

[22:40:01] And Ted Cruz, in particular I think has a couple really good ideas for some hopefully adopt a few of them and get them on board.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So let me ask you this, Jason. Because remember, the president said that it was mean and then a son of a, you know what. I think he wanted this to be a less harsh bill than came from the house.

And so it sounds like Ted Cruz and those guys are wanting it a much more stringent bill, and so how can they do this and get the moderates -- so they're going to lose moderates if they do that.

MILLER: Excellent question. And the two aren't mutually exclusive of each other. So, for example, the Senate legislation, what it does is have a slower phase-out period for Obamacare, which obviously appeals to the moderates. It also shift up the tax credit structure so that it goes based on income and not on age, which, again, that appeals to more the moderates.

With conservatives, it slows down the rate of inflation with Medicaid, so it's -- it increases Medicaid inflation, not medical inflation plus one. But also, here's where I say they're not mutually exclusive of each other, is what Ted Cruz is suggesting is we actually go and do some things that will bring down the costs of premiums.

So, for example, if a carrier is in a market and they have a plan that meets all the specifics that you have to have to be eligible as one of the Obamacare plans, they can also have additional plans that will appeal to other folks who maybe don't need everything in the first one. They can buy a much cheaper plan, therefore, bringing down the premiums.

So that's not a conservative or a moderate type debate. That's more of just a free market principle and that's how we get more folks lower rates.

LEMON: We can hear -- all right. All right. All right. But I hear Rand Paul, I hear Ted Cruz, saying, I mean, Rand Paul said it, I did not sign on for Obamacare lite. I mean, Jason, they've got some explaining. They got their work cut out for them.

I mean, he's saying, the two are not mutually exclusive. But the way I read it, you know, I'm not, you know, I'm not that familiar in the ways of Washington. But if they go the way Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, what they want, they're going to lose -- they can only afford to lose, what, two republicans?

JASON KANDER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes, well, they should be a lot more concerned about the fact that they lost the American people on this. I mean, you know, on the House bill, it was 16 or 17 percent of the American people supported it and they're arguing what, that this is slightly less horrible?

I mean, this is a health care bill that results in a lot fewer Americans having health care. It is a health care bill that takes healthcare away from Americans. I mean, I don't think you got to be a rocket scientist to look at that and say that doesn't make for a very good healthcare bill.

LEMON: So you think the bigger challenge is going to be back home with their constituents rather than just other members of the Senate?

KANDER: I think their job is to listen to the American people, recognize, that, hey, the American people are not interested in this. So what they're trying to do they're trying to pass this before they have to go home and face people, right? Which is sort of like, when you were a kid and you had, like, a really bad idea for something you wanted to do and you knew if you asked for parents' permission, they would say that's a really bad idea so you hurried up and did it and acted like you had no idea.

But these people are actually shaping the health care system in the country and doing this in order to just push through a giant tax...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: All right. This is what I'm hearing from both republicans and democrats. They say just let him do it and see what happens. And that's when they're going to realize that most people aren't onboard for this, that they're doing the wrong thing, or at least doing it in the wrong way.

KANDER: Yes. My attitude is, a whole lot of people are going to get hurt if this happens and so it just can't happen.

LEMON: Jason, what do you think about that?

MILLER: I think a whole lot of folks are being hurt right now with the way that Obamacare is imploding. I mean, what we see on the republican side is we see both moderates and conservatives coming together, and offering up solutions and I think they're going to have ultimately they'll have a good plan they go and pass out.

There's going to be plenty of time for debate next week, they'll have the CBO scoring done. There's nothing that's being done in the dark. This will be out...

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: Everything is done in the dark.

MILLER: No, this -- of course, you're not going to go and share with the other side here's what we're working on with the bill until we go and present it.

(CROSSTALK)

KANDER: These aren't work plan, this is a healthcare bill.

MILLER: So, that now we have -- now we have the bill, and now everyone will go and debate it, but no one can argue and say that Obamacare is doing great right now, no one can say that it's OK that all these providers are pulling out of states and upwards of a third of all folks who are living around -- a third of all counties in the country only have one provider.

LEMON: Why can't you just work on what is wrong with Obamacare, fix that and keep the parts that are good?

MILLER: Well, because, I mean, fundamentally, the structure is broken. I mean, everything from the way that subsidies -- I mean, swapping out to tax credits I think will be better. I think the entire construct, I mean, you talk about the penalties that are basic -- keeping employers from...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You can fix that, can't you? If you work on the parts that are good, and then this is bad and let's jettison that?

MILLER: It's -- right now it's a jobs killer. Look at the fact, 103 percent increase in premiums since 2013. I mean...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: My point here, can't you fix that? Can't you fix that part of it?

MILLER: I don't think it's -- I don't think it's as simple...

LEMON: So that you don't have to go all process of kicking people off. OK. All right.

[22:44:59] MILLER: I don't think it's as simple as a sentence here and there.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let Jason Kander here.

MILLER: I think it's a fundamental overhaul, and that's what they're doing right now.

LEMON: Go ahead, Jason Kander.

KANDER: Well, I guess you can't do with the right thing and keep your campaign promise at the same time. And that's what they're facing here. Look, at the end of the day what they're really saying is, they're saying there are some problems with Obamacare.

Well, a lot of those problems right now are because the President of the United States is actively working to undermine and kill it. He keeps saying it's dead. He's trying to kill it.

But let's say for a moment that you accept everything that Jason Miller just said. I don't. But let's say you agree with everything that he just said about Obamacare. There is no way in the world that the solution to that is to rip healthcare away from 23 million people. That just doesn't make any sense at all even if you bought everything that he said.

LEMON: Jason, I'll give you the last word.

MILLER: Look, the fact...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I meant the other Jason.

MILLER: ... of the other side of Obamacare is absolutely failing and quite frankly, I mean, I think the Democratic Party is really the existential moment right now. We see how they weren't able to get it done in Georgia 6th. They don't have any ideas, no solutions. Michael Moore was right, at least the republicans are coming up with some ideas and bringing it to the table.

LEMON: Jason, I mean, Jason Kander on this press said this has nothing to do with -- what does it have to do with the healthcare bill, republican versus democrat? Most people want politics taken out of this. And they don't care if it's called the Obamacare or Trumpcare or the Affordable Care Act or the, what was the new one called? The health...

MILLER: Better care?

LEMON: Whatever that is called. No one really cares what it's called. They just want it fixed.

MILLER: Absolutely. And that's what the republicans are trying to do.

LEMON: Yes, OK.

KANDER: Can I just say that it's not about democrats and republicans when 17 percent of the country thinks it's a good idea.

LEMON: OK. Thank you, all. Thank you. We'll continue this conversation.

When we come back, President Trump taking credit for thousands of new coal jobs but the real jobs numbers show his figures are drastically exaggerated. Look who's here.

Look who's here. Remember that? Kamau Bell, he visited coal country to check out how people there are feeling and he joins me next. What should he -- should he sashay away? Does he get the job as the fashion model? It's good to see you, brother.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The president loves to talk about beautiful coal and coal jobs and it got him a lot of votes in yes, coal country.

Kamau Bell took a road trip to Appalachia. And he is the host of CNN's United Shades of America, and he joins me now. Coal -- how are you doing by the way?

W. KAMAU BELL, HOST, CNN: I'm going good. Staying busy.

LEMON: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

BELL: Sorry I didn't shave. I'm working hard.

LEMON: Is the coffin (Ph) your...

(CROSSTALK)

BELL: The coffin, yes. I'm working hard. I'm working hard for you.

LEMON: So coal country has been in the news the whole presidential campaign and it still is. You went to Kentucky, right?

BELL: Yes.

LEMON: For your show? This Sunday it airs by the way. And look at a clip and then Kamau and I we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: This is coal country and coal is one of the three things most people think about when they think about Appalachia along with abject poverty and the movie "Deliverance." The movie I was tricked into seeing in high school. Thanks a lot, Rob.

So, tell me, what stereotypes people have about this area of the country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That we're not educated, that we don't have teeth. We do have teeth.

BELL: People think you're not educated and you don't have teeth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The deliverance stereotype.

BELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That ding, ding, ding, you know what I mean, come on. Now you will find that.

BELL: Let's be clear it does exist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not even going to lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: My favorite line from that movie. You sure got a pretty mouth. I mean, they were talking about it, "Deliverance."

(CROSSTALK)

BELL: They were, yes.

LEMON: That's the line that everybody uses. So listen it's amazing though how many people are driven in their thinking about stereotypes. But folks really in coal country, they're up against it economically. BELL: Yes. I think this is the part of the country that the coal

industry really gave the people there great middle class jobs and above it. It was a good way to make a living, it was a really hard way to make a living but because of where they are in that part of that country when the coal industry starts to slows down, there's no other jobs available.

Beattyville where I went it's not near a major highway. It's not -- there's not industries talking about moving there. There are people working hard to create other opportunities but the president instead of saying I'm going to get your coal jobs back which a lot of them don't even really -- they want jobs and they know coal is not good for the environment. He used to say we're going to create new industries.

LEMON: Right.

BELL: Or support the industries that are bubbling up here.

LEMON: Which is actually, I mean, this is not, again, Hillary Clinton lost but she actually said that we need to retrain but she didn't say it right, right?

BELL: Yes.

LEMON: She's honest with them but...

(CROSSTALK)

BELL: Which was, you know that's a whole other thing we can talk about.

LEMON: That's a whole another -- it's a whole another show.

(CROSSTALK)

BELL: (Inaudible) wrong message.

LEMON: But you mention the jobs and the president, right. Just last night he's taking credit for a lot of jobs here. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've ended the war on clean, beautiful coal and we're putting our minors back to work.

(APPLAUSE)

In fact you read about it. Last week, a brand new coal mine just opened in the State of Pennsylvania. First time in decades. Decades. We've reversed it.

(APPLAUSE)

And 33,000 mining jobs have been added since my inauguration.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: All right. So in reality, CNN Money looked at the numbers. The

mine is opening in Pennsylvania but with only 70 jobs and out of 32,600 in the mining category only 1,000 were coal mining jobs. The rest were in support jobs, largely in the oil and gas industries. So do you think people there think the president is helping them?

BELL: I mean, I think there's a sense -- the thing I've learned about the season of United Shades is there's parts of the country that are desperate for help. This part of the country there's lot of people who don't have jobs and are desperate for help and they know that there's these mountains surrounding them that still have coal in them.

And because there's no other industries around they go give us those jobs back. So I think they're desperate for help but I think the president, as we know, is lying about -- he just lied. He's lying about this.

LEMON: I just had an interesting analogy from a family member. Because my family members were sugar cane -- they were in the sugar cane fields, sugar cane trucks when I grew up. And they also had an ice house.

[22:55:02] My grandfather was the iceman and we drop it at the block of the door. But then they invented ice machines and then refrigeration became the norm and they didn't have those jobs anymore but they didn't yell at the president for not getting -- it was this innovation took over and they had to do something else.

BELL: Yes. Was that family member black?

LEMON: Do you think that makes a difference?

BELL: I don't think black people expect that the government is going to give them jobs. I'm not -- I met a lot of people there I'm not saying every white person does. But there's this sense of like, there's some people in this country who feel like they deserve their jobs and other people who feel like they have to earn their jobs.

And I think that there are people in Appalachia I met who feel like these jobs are gone and we need to figure out ways to create new industries, but they still need the support same way black people in the southwest of Chicago. They need the support of the government and organizations to help them figure out these things.

LEMON: And just real quickly and this is a big turn here. Bill Cosby, did you hear his representatives now talking about he's going to go out now. He's going to go out now and it's kind of salt in the wound and have town halls on sexual assault. You knew that.

BELL: It's not good -- go home, Bill. Just go home. Just go home.

LEMON: You think that's true? Or do you think it's real.

BELL: I think -- I think -- I mean...

LEMON: They say it's real. BELL: I don't -- who knows anymore. But I would like to believe that you put this message out they need to find out, that's why it's not good idea. Like, I don't think that that's the best use of anybody's time. Especially when you talk about what I read was specifically how to avoid being accused of sexual assault, which is to me like, only O.J. Simpson can come up with some plan like that.

So I think that's not -- that's not a good look and it also creates tremendous -- these people who -- these women who have been wronged and feel like they've been wronged but accused him who can't pursue legal means because the statute of limitations is up, it feels like it's mocking them.

LEMON: Next time you come on, you should say how you really feel.

BELL: OK. All right.

LEMON: Don't hold back.

BELL: And I'll shave.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you. Always a pleasure. Good to see you. Don't miss United Shades of America with Kamau Bell Sunday night at 10.

More on Bill Cosby in our next hour in an interview with one juror who says, they were deadlock from the very start.

Plus, the president admitting he doesn't have tapes of his meetings with James Comey. So why did he start this whole thing in the first place?

[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)