Return to Transcripts main page


Michael Cohen's Loyalty; Dems Calling to Abolish ICE; The White House denying a request to lower American flags in honor of the victims of the Maryland newspaper massacre. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 2, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, JB.

I am Chris Cuomo. And welcome to PRIME TIME.

He once said he would take a bullet for President Trump. Now, Michael Cohen signals his loyalty lies elsewhere.

First up on the docket in "Cuomo's Court", what is driving these Cohen messages? Meant for an audience of one?

Plus, immigration as of now is the big issue for November in a new Quinnipiac poll. That's what you voters are saying. The question is, who wins on that? Are the Democrats bailing Trump out from his kid- crushing on the border by calling to abolish ICE? The makings of a great debate.

And did you hear about this? The White House denying a request to lower American flags in honor of the victims of the Maryland newspaper massacre. Why?

Maybe Anthony Scaramucci can help try to make sense of it.

What do you say? It's the Fourth of July week. Let's get after it.


CUOMO: So in the world of President Trump, for years one man was seen as most loyal. Now with the feds digging through his files and like two years of investigations into everything about him, it looks like that loyalty is wavering.

In an off-camera interview, Michael Cohen tells ABC News: My wife, my daughter, and my son have my first loyalty and always will. I put family and country first. He also says he's not going to be a punching bag, and he is not the villain in this story.

This is a noticeable change from talking about taking a bullet for Trump. So, let's get after it with "Cuomo's Court".

We've got Ross Garber and Jeffrey Toobin here to give us some compelling cases here.

I start with you, Counselor Toobin. What do you think is propelling the change in Cohen's talk?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, whenever a white collar defendant meets with his lawyer for the first time, the lawyer sits him down with a chart, which is the federal sentencing guidelines. And he says, look, if you are convicted in this case, you are going to do the following time, 24 to 30 months, 40 to 60 months, 60 to 80 months. That focuses the mind enormously.

And I think Guy Petrillo, the new lawyer for Michael Cohen, sat Cohen down and said, hey, let's face reality here. But if you cooperate, you don't have to worry about the sentencing guidelines.

CUOMO: All right. So, I hear you on that. But let me bounce this to you, Garber, because where's the there there? There is no case. I get the sentencing guidelines, but we don't even have charges. So, what is there to flip on, and what would he have to flip with?

ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, here's the problem -- I've represented a lot of folks under investigation, and the problem is before you even get to the sentencing guidelines, there's the investigation. I mean think of Michael Cohen, think of being him and having your office raided, reading about yourself every day in the newspaper, having your career taken away from you, everything, and potentially losing your livelihood, everything, everything, everything.

And that, that notion alone, focuses the mind.

CUOMO: All right. And many of us in the media, we talk to Michael Cohen. I certainly do. This has been difficult for him, but we still don't know what the case is about, so we really don't know where the sympathies should lie.

Another point for you, Jeffrey, though, on how real the flipping could be. If -- if prosecutors believe that he knows something that's so valuable that it would overwhelm whatever they have on him, whatever that is, why hasn't Mueller asked to talk to him?

TOOBIN: Well, we don't know that he hasn't. I mean, you know, there's a lot we don't know about this investigation. What degree -- now, he is under investigation now from the federal prosecutors in Manhattan, the southern district of New York.

CUOMO: Right.

TOOBIN: They're the people who got the search warrant. But if there is a cooperation agreement, whether it's immunity --

CUOMO: Then it's with everybody.

TOOBIN: Exactly. You can't pick and choose once you've agreed to cooperate.

So, you know, you make a very fair point here, which is we don't know what, if any, crime he will be charged with. But, look, they got a search warrant to search his offices. They didn't pick his name out of the phone book.

I mean they got a search warrant for a lawyer's office. That's very unusual. That usually requires a very substantial showing of probable cause or even more. So, you could even tell in Cohen's interview with Stephanopoulos, he knows he's at tremendous risk here. That's why the change in tone, I think.

CUOMO: You know, Counselor Garber, you're representing Donald Trump. Michael Cohen is hanging out there in the wind. Do you allow him to be isolated the way they have apparently done to him? Do you not pay his fees, leave him out there, nobody talks to him, lets him get beat up in the media?

You start reading these kinds of stories. You know, there's nothing subtle about what's going on here with Cohen. Are you surprised by how they're playing this on team Trump?

GARBER: So but here's the difficulty. The time to make that decision was probably earlier. The concern I have now, if I were on team Trump, is making a move now to pardon him, making a move now to pay his fees.

CUOMO: What about pay his bills and say, look, this is an extension of what he was doing for me, I'm going to pay his bills?

TOOBIN: I'm not even sure that's ethical --


TOOBIN: -- at this point. You know, remember, he is a position to coop -- I mean, Cohen is in a position to cooperate against Trump. If Trump starts paying his legal fees, I mean I think Guy Petrillo, the lawyer, might not even --


CUOMO: All of this supposedly -- but all of this supposedly extends from what's going on. And how do you know Petrillo is not going to accept it? He wants to get paid, doesn't he?

GARBER: Yes --

TOOBIN: He does, but there are certainly ethical obligations on lawyers that you can't be paid essentially to fail to cooperate against someone.

CUOMO: Garber, do you agree?

GARBER: Yes, and that's -- well, that's sort of my point. If what he's being paid for -- his fees are being paid for is -- you know, for his legal defense, as you say, Chris, arising out of his activities with the Trump organization, that's one thing. But if he's being paid to not cooperate, to not talk, that becomes problematic.

And if I were representing Trump, I'd probably tell him, look, you should assume that right now, right now, Michael Cohen is cooperating. And so, you shouldn't be talking to anybody about --


CUOMO: We know he's been cooperating, right? Everybody who asks him for stuff, he produces it. We're talking about something else. We're talking about him working with prosecutors on a case against somebody else, right, Jeffrey?

TOOBIN: But that's what cooperation is. I don't think we know that Michael Cohen is cooperating. He had his office searched. He didn't have any choice in that.

But is he meeting with prosecutors? Is he telling him the full story of his relationship with Donald Trump, all of his business dealings --

GARBER: And let me say this --

TOOBIN: -- including in the taxi industry? I don't think we know whether Cohen is doing that.

GARBER: We don't, but let me say, the fact that he had his office searched doesn't mean that he's not cooperating. I've represented cooperators who still have their offices searched. So, again, if I were on Team Trump, I would just be want to very, very careful, so think about it, if you were a prosecutor or an agent right now, this would be a pretty interesting dangle. You'd want to dangle this out and see how team Trump reacts to it.

CUOMO: It's also weird that they don't have anybody talking to him. Assuming that that's true, to just leave him out there, all right, you guys have convinced me. You don't want to pay his legal bills anymore. OK, I believe you guys, two against one.

But to have nobody talking to him, nobody telling him it's going to be OK. Very odd in the world of politics. Very odd in Trump world as well, Jeffrey.

And it's going to be an interesting play here because Michael Cohen feels forgotten clearly.

TOOBIN: He does feel forgotten, but this is why lawyers tell everyone involved to shut up, because if Trump were to start talking to Cohen, that could be used against Trump later on.

CUOMO: It doesn't have to be him.

TOOBIN: Well, or someone --


CUOMO: It could be you. You know what I mean? It could be someone who knows both, who is a liaison.

TOOBIN: I understand that, but that could be spun perhaps persuasively as an attempt to influence his testimony, and that, I think, is something that the Trump team would certainly want to avoid. I don't even understand why Cohen did this interview with George

Stephanopoulos. I think he would have been better off just keeping his mouth shut.

CUOMO: Well --

TOOBIN: This is why lawyers tell people, keep your mouth shut.

CUOMO: But what does it tell us that he did decide to speak.

TOOBIN: I think he's freaking out.


CUOMO: And when you leave somebody out there, it should not be unusual to any of you watching us three good-looking gentlemen tonight, that he's going to choose his family over somebody who used to be his best friend.

TOOBIN: Indeed.

CUOMO: Jeffrey Toobin, Counselor Garber, good to have you both. Welcome to the show.

GARBER: Good to be here.

CUOMO: All right. So, you know who else might have something to say about this? The one and only Anthony Scaramucci. A lot to talk to him about -- look at him there. Good to have him on the show.

Let's get some insight into what the president is thinking on some very key things going on in our government.

Right back with Anthony, next.


CUOMO: All right. It is a big week for President Trump. He's deciding on a Supreme Court nominee. He's gearing up for a summit with Vladimir Putin, and he's taking a lot of criticism from Democrats for separating families at the border.

We have former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, close to the president, understands his thinking and the policy plays.

Good to have you, especially on a week where no one is around, it seems, Anthony.


CUOMO: Good to have you.

SCARAMUCCI: It's good to be here.

CUOMO: So help me understand a couple of things here. First the Michael Cohen situation. What do you think is going on with Cohen talking to the media and putting out these none too subtle hints that he will take care of himself?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I see it a little bit differently, and I did talk to Michael this morning because I wanted to get some clarification from him, and I knew I was coming on your show. And so, let's go over the different layers of what he says.

On the first layer, him saying that he's loyal to his family and his country is not incongruous with him also being loyal to the president, who happens to still be a close friend of Michael Cohen's. So I think there's a little bit of an exaggeration going on in the media right now where that's a warning shot, indication, and all that other stuff. I think that's very consistent.

Second layer has to do with the FBI. Michael said right after the raid, I think he tweeted it out that he was, you know, treated well by the FBI, and they were very, very professional to him.

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: And so, again, people are saying that that's against the president. I actually don't think so. The president's been very clear that there's a very thin layer of people inside the FBI that he feels weaponized that agency.

But he really loves the rank and file, and he loves law enforcement in the United States --


CUOMO: It's a mixed message, but I agree with you that I don't think that that's what's playing here. It seems that Cohen is taking opportunities --


CUOMO: -- to speak to the media that seem very purposeful.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think, again, I think -- I think -- I think -- again, I think Jeff made mention earlier of, do you talk to the media or not talk to the media when you're under the potential of investigation? Most lawyers would say no, but I think in this case, I think Michael's trying to signal to people that he really doesn't feel that he did anything wrong, and he's trying to signal to people frankly that he's not a villain in the case.

And so, it's 12-1/2 weeks, Chris, since that raid --


SCARAMUCCI: -- on his family's residence and his hotel room, et cetera. So, let's see what happens. When Paul Manafort had his problem, I think it was eight or nine weeks later they rendered an indictment.

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: So I think once we know what that indictment is, then you and I can sit down and discuss what the potential --


CUOMO: Much better because right now we're talking about him flipping, and I agree. I get the speculation, especially with all these reports coming out with friends of his who say he might. There aren't any charges. We understand the case.

So, we'll hold on this one until we get some more meat on the bone.

SCARAMUCCI: A person that's had a 12-year very close -- yes, a person had a 12-year very close relationship with then Mr. Trump.

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: I think the threshold standard here of, quote, unquote, flipping is very high.

And the last point I want to make --


SCARAMUCCI: -- is if the president did anything wrong, and I take the president at his word, there's nothing to flip over, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, that we don't know, and certainly he's allowed Michael Cohen to feel very isolated and underfunded for his own defense. Those were calculations. We'll see how they come back.

Let me ask you --

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I don't like that -- I don't like that strategy. I agree with you on that.


CUOMO: I can understand why you don't like it. Let me ask you about a couple other things while I have you because I know time is short tonight.

Second --


CUOMO: -- why would the White House deny the request to lower the flags for the victims of the "Capital Gazette" newspaper mass murder? Why do that?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. You know, it's a tough one, Chris. I'm not there.

CUOMO: Really? You don't think it's a no-brainer.

SCARAMUCCI: So, I don't know what the protocol standard -- well, I certainly would do it.

CUOMO: Right?

SCARAMUCCI: But there might be some pushback as it relates to the military and when the flags get lowered and --

CUOMO: No, there's no protocol. They did it after Vegas. They did it after Parkland. They did it for Barbara Bush.

I'm not criticizing any of these moves, but he could have done it.


SCARAMUCCI: It just -- again, I'm not here to apologize for the White House. I certainly would have done it. It just seems like when the stuff goes straight up to the president, it gets done properly.

And so, my question would be to the people inside the White House, does the president know that because he's a very compassionate guy. You know, he switched the policy on the separation of the children once he got his arms around it.

CUOMO: He started the policy of the separation of the children. And then he put out an executive order that was fugazi as a $5 Rolex. He didn't fix anything.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. We're going to push back on each other now. He actually did not start that policy. It started under the George W. Bush administration.

CUOMO: No, not like this, Anthony. Come on.

SCARAMUCCI: It was partially prosecuted during the Obama --

CUOMO: He did zero tolerance.

SCARAMUCCI: Hold on a second.


CUOMO: H e told Sessions to do it. He liked it.

SCARAMUCCI: Chris, read my op-ed. Read my op-ed. Read my op-ed today.

CUOMO: I did.

SCARAMUCCI: Read my op-ed today in the "USA Today." It's very declarative. It explains exactly how it got started, and you got to give him credit for reversing it.

Let's stipulate that he did promulgate it to use your words. Give him credit for recognizing that he was wrong and making the reversal.

CUOMO: He never said he was wrong.

SCARAMUCCI: I think it's very good of the president -- well, he said it by his actions, didn't he? He reversed the policy.

CUOMO: No, he didn't say it. You would say it. You would say -- that's what a man does in a situation like that. That's what a leader does. That's what an adult does, man or woman.


CUOMO: He didn't do it. He said he fixed it with an executive order that didn't fix it. They're still separated. It's still a mess.

SCARAMUCCI: He -- he changed it, and we've got to put the families back together. The first lady's been down to the border twice.

I agree with you that it's a problem. I agree with you that it's the wrong policy.

CUOMO: Is it going to beat him in November? Quinnipiac poll comes out and says immigration has now taken over the economy in terms of what will drive people's votes. He had high ground on this with enforcement. Then he crushed those kids.

SCARAMUCCI: I agree. I agree with that, and I said that ten days ago on your network --

CUOMO: He handed it to the Democrats with this one move.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I think he's going to fix it. There's a long time as you know -- you're from a political family. There's a long time to go here between now and November. So, again, he did try to fix it --

CUOMO: I got warm blood pumping through my heart. That's how I understand this. You don't have to understand politics for this, Anthony. This was an insensitive, inhumane move, and even Trump had to back off. He didn't apologize like a normal leader would, but he had to back off.

SCARAMUCCI: As surprising as it might be to your viewers, you and I are actually agreeing on this. You're just agreeing with me. You don't want to give the guy any credit for switching the policy.

CUOMO: Yes, I don't. Not when you start it. It doesn't work like that in terms of accountability.

But, Anthony, you know what does count? You coming on Fourth of July week even though you're about five steps from my house right now out in Southampton. Enjoy it. Go stop over there. My wife will give you some --

SCARAMUCCI: I'm happy to be here and I feel bad that you're not, Chris.

CUOMO: Yes. Well, I've got to do my job. Thank you for helping me do it.

SCARAMUCCI: All right. Good to be here. CUOMO: All right. So, immigration -- this Quinnipiac poll. Take a look, this is very unusual for immigration to be this high. Now, I know there's a flash point right now. Who knows if it sustains?

But what is the Democrat play here? Abolish ICE? This growing, rallying cry for Democrats. Are they bailing Trump out on the immigration issue?

We're going to have a great debate about that. What do you say? Next.


CUOMO: No child should have to live in fear of a government tearing away their parents.

But listen to this: 12-year-old Leah (ph) telling her emotional story at one of the nationwide protests to keep undocumented families together this weekend.


LEAH, 12-YEAR-OLD: ICE wants to take my mom away from me. I don't like to live with this fear. It's scary.

I can't sleep. I can't study. I am stressed.

I am afraid that they will take my mom away while she is at work, out driving, or at home. I don't understand why this administration won't support mothers who just want a better life for their children.


CUOMO: Now, kids like that could be the face of Trump's trouble come November, all right? Yet what are we seeing from the Democrats when it comes to this issue? Abolish ICE.

That is the making of a great debate, and we have two great debaters, Nina Turner and Rick Santorum.

Thank you to both of you. I know this weekend -- this week is tough for people. Thank you for making the time. Appreciate it.

All right. So, let's deal with what we just saw in the Quinnipiac poll. I've never seen anything like this before. The economy losing to immigration heading into the midterms.

What does that tell us, Rick? That tells us Trump really went wrong with what he did with the kids. And now, he's created an issue for himself. How serious do you think it is?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, look, I think he handled the situation poorly. But, look, I think there's a deeper issue here, and that is that Donald Trump is standing up for working men and women when it comes to making sure that we're not bringing people into this country in large enough numbers to undermine the low-skilled workers that we have in this country, who are, as Nina will talk about, are struggling right now, are not seeing their wages going up and their quality of life increasing.

And so, if Trump continues to hit on those themes, which he does -- he doesn't stay on them as well as he should. But if he continues to stay on those themes --

CUOMO: Right.

SANTORUM: -- with respect to immigration and that that's the focal point of his immigration policy, I think he's going to be fine.

CUOMO: But here's the rub. One we see in the polls he's not, because you got over 60 percent of Americans -- remember, you can't just hide in the base in the midterms. He's got to widen that tent if he can.

Sixty percent, Nina, are saying we don't like what happened down there. And you have a two-pronged argument coming back at him. One is this isn't true about the low skilled workers. These people coming across, they're not taking your jobs. That's not your problem. But we are taking their kids and that is a problem for you.

Is that a tough sell? Is it a good play for Democrats to play on this issue?

NINA TURNER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, just to hear the little girl -- I call them babies. I mean that's exactly what they are.

CUOMO: She's only 12.

TURNER: They're young children. Even today, mothers are writing letters to their children. We're traumatizing children in America in the 21st century, and that should not be the case.

The president, as you were talking to Scaramucci, the president started this. He should be ashamed of himself, but he's not. This is about a moral imperative in this country that this president is failing. And so, whether it's to abolish ICE -- my concern is that we need to abolish president Trump at the ballot box starting this year, next year, headed into 2020.


CUOMO: You said the "A" word. Are you about abolishing ICE, Nina? I just want to get you on record. Do you like that play by the Democrats, abolish ICE?

TURNER: I know why people are saying abolish ICE, but my concern is with this president, he will just replace that function with something else. We need to be about abolishing the Trump administration at the ballot box starting this year with the midterm elections, into next year, and into 2020 so that we would be in position --

CUOMO: But are you worried that you're bailing him out? You've got him in a bad place on immigration. He screwed up. He did something that is inhumane and indecent, and people are calling him out for it of all kinds of political stripes except for one concentrated aspect of his base.

Then, not since Roseanne Barr said what she said, only to be followed by Samantha Bee, who somehow wound up doubling down on dumb, have we seen the Democrats help Trump in a moment of need because abolish ICE plays right into you're about open borders. You're not about law enforcement. You're about letting anybody come in here even if they're killers and drug dealers.

Why make this play?

TURNER: Yes, and that's not the case. I mean, we should stay focused. The first, second, third, fourth, and fifth position here should be about those children and reuniting those children with their parents, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents.

That is the most compelling argument that the Democrats have, and that is what is tapping, I believe, into that poll that you showed. It's about what is happening to children and what do we stand for in the 21st century as Americans.

CUOMO: But that's why -- hold on, Nina, I here your case. Let's bounce it back to Rick. That's why Trump is loving this abolish ICE stuff, that is creating a division within the Democratic Party.

I am exaggerating for effect how resonant and deep it is within the party right now, but there are big names, Rick, who are coming out and saying maybe the most helpful thing to Donald Trump's ears.

SANTORUM: I think what Nina is saying is de facto abolish. What Nina is saying is anybody that comes over to this country illegally and crashes the border and comes in with a child is going to be a catch and release program, which means that we have no borders.

TURNER: No, I didn't say that.

SANTORUM: No, that's what you said.

TURNER: I did not say that.

SANTORUM: You have. You're basically --

TURNER: Don't put words in my mouth, Senator, because I don't put words in your mouth. I never said that. What I'm saying is this country has a moral --


SANTORUM: Hold on. I can't hear anything. Wait. If you didn't say it, Nina, then what is your position? If it's not catch and release, what are you saying so Rick can respond with accuracy? What is it?

TURNER: First of all, Chris, he has some nerve trying to put words in my mouth. He needs to listen to what I'm saying and make his point instead of trying to control what I'm saying. CUOMO: All right. He's listening now. What do you got for him?

SANTORUM: I'm listening. I'm all ears, Nina.

TURNER: This is the point is that this country -- we should not be separating children from their parents. Keep them together. Let the process work, but keep them together.


TURNER: Stop traumatizing these children. That has nothing to do with -- we definitely need to make sure that we keep criminals out, but your party keeps overlaying that every single person that's trying to get into this country is a criminal.

It is about black and brown folks in this country that you guys continue to label as criminals, and we're sick of it. It's wrong. It's absolutely wrong.

CUOMO: Now you know, Rick.

SANTORUM: Again, you're --

TURNER: Don't put words in my mouth.

SANTORUM: Well, you just put words in the Republican mouth, which is somehow that has to do with race, and it has nothing to do with race.

TURNER: Oh, it has everything to do with race.

SANTORUM: It's about protecting our borders. I disagree with you, Nina. I'm someone who --


TURNER: That's fine.

SANTORUM: And a country has a right to have borders, and what you said is that children and their parents should be kept together. Well, as you know, there's a law that says you can only keep a child in detention with a family for 20 days.

Now, the Democrats have not been willing to change that law. There are ample opportunities for the Democrats in the House and Senate to support an effort to do exactly what you want, but they're not.

CUOMO: Neither are your guys.

TURNER: I'm not letting the Congress off the hook.


CUOMO: But you guys aren't changing it either. Republicans aren't changing it. You control everything.

SANTORUM: But we should. CUOMO: But you're not. Why aren't you?

SANTORUM: No, we don't control everything.

TURNER: And haven't.

SANTORUM: We don't control everything.

CUOMO: Hold on. You control everything.

SANTORUM: We don't control everything.

CUOMO: You control the House, you control the Senate, and you control the presidency.

TURNER: And the presidency.

CUOMO: And now the Supreme Court. You control everything.

SANTORUM: To do what the president asked was just to change that law, requires 60 votes, which means 10 Democrats have to join Republicans. And right now, from what I understand, that isn't there to pass that kind of bill.

The reality is that Republicans would love to fix this problem, and Democrats don't want to fix the problem because they believe their great political advantage to keeping the problem as bad as it is.

CUOMO: All right. Last word to you, Nina Turner.

TURNER: Chris, this is shame -- it's really a shame that the Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency and, all of a sudden, they want to make this the Democrats' problem. The president started this zero tolerance policy, and he can fix it. If he wants the Congress to fix it --


SANTORUM: Other presidents separated --

CUOMO: Not like this, not by design.

SANTORUM: They did it.


TURNER: Two wrongs don't make a right.

CUOMO: Hold on. Scale matters when you're dealing with humanity. This isn't an abacus. We're not talking about bean counting.


CUOMO: When you don't have procedures --

SANTORUM: Check out your Catholic faith on that. CUOMO: -- you don't have judges and you don't have accommodations, you knew what you were doing. You did it anyway. That's his problem. We see it in the polls. We'll see where it leads.

Rick Santorum, appreciate it. Nina Turner, as always, thank you.

North Korea no longer a threat, so relax. That's what President Trump told you, right? U.S. intelligence says otherwise.

We have the experts. We have the information. We need to talk about the implications, next.


CUOMO: President Trump is still taking victory laps after his summit with Kim Jong-un. But according to an administration official, at least one of the president's own intelligence agencies believe that Kim Jong-un has zero intention of fully denuclearizing.

OK. So why do we see this and say this? Satellite images suggesting that North Korea is making progress on a ballistic missile site. So, how does all this jibe with the president's claim that there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea?

Let's discuss. Ambassador Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO, and CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd.

The threat's over, Phil. You heard it. I heard it. What was the president doing there?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I mean, he's talking to the American people, but if you look at what his spokesman on this, Mike Pompeo, has said, we've got a long way to go on this. Look, Chris, we've been involved in nonproliferation before. Let's look back at Saddam Hussein.

The president gets off the plane after five hours of conversation with Kim Jong-un and what's left on the table? First, are you certain of intent? What is Kim Jong-un thinking? I'm not.

Second, the more complicated, intricate problem. I want a declaration of every facility where they've tested, developed, stored a nuclear weapon or nuclear material.

CUOMO: Right, right.

MUDD: I want to know every engineer, every scientist. I want to see every document. So the president gets off the plane. There's no way he can get off the plane having an indication that the North Koreans are going to give us a signal within five hours of whether they're going to comply with the agreement.

CUOMO: Yes, but he did. He said the threat's over.

MUDD: Well, he doesn't know what he's talking about. If you're going to do this kind of nonproliferation agreement, you've got to have the detail on all this stuff that's going to take years.

CUOMO: Nick, the other side of it is, look, this is what North Korea is about. Everybody knows this who knows anything. We expected this. Don't make a big deal out of it. It doesn't mean Trump is wrong, that the threat is gone. This is just the process.

Do you accept that argument?

AMB. NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: I really don't. I think I agree with Phil. It didn't make any sense for the president to say that there's no longer a nuclear threat. There's been no change to the North Korea nuclear program. It's still a threat.

So, Chris, this puts the onus on Secretary Pompeo. He's going to make a difficult trip this week to Pyongyang. He needs a couple of things. He needs a complete accounting of the entire nuclear program of North Korea because we've got to know what they're not reporting. This is a test to see if they're cheating and lying.

And secondly, and John Bolton talked about this two days ago, there has to be a specific schedule to dismantle all of North Korea's nuclear program. Bolton says it should be done in a year. That's lightning quick in these matters.

Mike Pompeo told Congress 2 1/2 years. Wide gap in the administration on expectations and the signals they're sending.

And if the North Koreans balk on this, Chris, we're going to have to put a sanctions regime back together again. That gets back to President Trump's statement. It didn't make sense to say there was no threat because then China and Russia started trading against with North Korea.

CUOMO: Well, look, it made perfect sense because he wanted #winning. That's why he said it.

And then Bolton comes out and says, well, we have our eyes wide open. Now, obviously, those are inconsistent statements but Trump usually gets the benefit of hyperbole, which is why I believe more and more he is the luckiest man in the history of presidents.

But let's look at it this way to both of you, gentlemen -- the chance of success, knowing what we know from the summit, knowing what we know from this intelligence report, Phil Mudd, what is the chance of success here with getting nukes off the Korean plate?

MUDD: OK. Let's make sure we have our question clear. You say nukes off the plate. My question is do you mean all nukes or some nukes?

CUOMO: No. It's got to be all.


CUOMO: The administration says it. Everybody says it. Nukes are all or none. You have to have it all off.

MUDD: Ten percent to 20 percent at best.

CUOMO: Short-term or long-term?

MUDD: I'm talking about long-term that we sit back in three or four years and say this was a tremendous success, 10 percent to 20 percent. I'm not saying that's a bad choice. I'm saying 10 percent to 20 percent.

CUOMO: Nick?

BURNS: I think it's 5 percent to 10 percent. I think the probability of this is quite low. That Singapore summit was basically a short meeting with a photo op, remarkably thin on substance.

And it just doesn't stand to reason that North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons for us. That's its insurance policy. The Chinese don't appear to be pushing the North Koreans and they have the most influence.

CUOMO: Wow. So, the president after the Singapore summit says the threat is over, and Phil Mudd, you don't even get him over the Mendoza line, and Nick Burns, you say that he's only got a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of success. So then what are we looking at here in terms of the optimism, Phil? What could come out of this in some type of time frame during this presidency that will be worth it?

MUDD: The Singapore summit was not the story. The boring part of this, the diplomatic part of this, the part that Ambassador Burns would have been involved with, is the real story. The questions Pompeo has to answer, the big question, can we really confirm that what we think of denuclearization is the same thing that the North Koreans think of?

And then you get into the tough pieces. What if they declare 10 sites and we say actually we think there are 12 sites that are significant. What if they start stepping back from nuclear weapons and destroy some, and in two years, we say you've only destroyed 80 percent of what we think is there?

The devil is in the details, and that's not what the president is strong at. This is where Mike Pompeo really has to earn a paycheck. And also, finally, where he has to talk to the American people if the president tries to snow us.

CUOMO: And he needs friends, right? So you need China, maybe even Russia, and that tees up heading to Helsinki for the Putin/Trump meeting. We, of course, will be there, and we'll be talking about all of this a lot more.

Nick Burns, Phil Mudd, thank you very much.

MUDD: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So we follow stories here on CUOMO PRIME TIME even when they're out of the headlines because that's part of the mandate of the show. One of the mothers involved in what's happening down there on the

border has had a desperate journey to reunite with her kids, three of them, after they were taken from her at the border. Her lawyer is back. There is a big development, next.


CUOMO: Imagine being separated from your kid in a foreign country for weeks at a time. No word if you're going to get them back. That's the situation for Yeni Marcella Gonzalez Garcia (ph), living that kind of nightmare.

And, of course, there are hundreds of other families in the same boat, thousands of kids who have been separated. We don't know if they're going to be reunited.

And, yes, the families came across the border in violation of the law. But that's not the end of the analysis. It's the beginning. We see that reflected in polls now about how you feel about this issue, but you don't need polls. You just need a pulse.

So, one of the good things that this mom has going for her is a good lawyer, and that's our next guest. This woman, Yeni, got out on bond. She was driven from Arizona to somewhere else. She was making her way to New York to find her kids.

The attorney working on the case, Jose Xavier Orochena.

It is good to have you, sir.


CUOMO: We told you we would have you back and we told you we would follow it, and we are. To remind people, how were her kids taken? What do you know?

OROCHENA: From what I understand, her kids were taken two days inside what's called the icebox. That's the processing center where all people crossing the border are taken. She was taken there.

Two days later, they were -- she was told, your kids are going to be removed from you, and she promised her son -- she asked her son to promise that he would remember the uncle's phone number.

CUOMO: So you couldn't find the kids. You start going through the system. They start kicking you all different types of ways with procedures and protocols, which you give them best reckoning of saying they just don't know what they're doing. I won't say it's malice, but they just don't know.

Have you changed your opinion?

OROCHENA: I believe that the -- at least the Cayuga center, I think they have done right by these kids, my client's. I don't know about any other clients. They -- these kids, I was able finally, largely in part to your show

and the pressure the media was able to put on them -- I finally got to see them, and I got to talk to them one-on-one. They left me in a room alone with them, and I was very grateful for the opportunity to speak with them.

The kids looked healthy, and I showed mom what they looked like, and mom was even able to say, they look a little fatter, which is good for her. She was very happy. The eldest boy got to go see the Statue of Liberty. I'm very grateful for that.

But what's it going to take to reunite these families together? I don't know. And it's still a mystery.

CUOMO: So, she's getting to go to see her kids. She's not getting her kids back?

OROCHENA: Unfortunately, reunification tomorrow morning at 9:00 at Cayuga only means that she's going to be allowed to visit with her children. It doesn't mean she gets to walk out --

CUOMO: Why not? Why doesn't she get the kids back?

OROCHENA: Because now, the kids have entered the foster care system, and now, there's a long list of requirements that Cayuga and HHS and the Office of Refugee and Resettlement have put on it. Such as verifying where the children are going, the address where they're going, whether or not the sponsor has a job to support these children, whether or not the sponsor is of legal status, legal status in the meaning of green holder or a citizen.

CUOMO: So she's damned from jump (ph), because she's not going to get a job, she can't get hired right now. She's not legal. She's not legal in the country.

OROCHENA: Correct.

CUOMO: And she probably doesn't know where she's going to stay. I know that there's been a volunteer effort for people to help her and set her up with an apartment. But she's got a lot of strikes against her.

OROCHENA: Absolutely. Like you said, no status, no job. No apartment that is under her name.

So, right now, we are -- I don't know if the administration is prepared for this. I don't know if the administration is willing to waive certain requirement for the biological parents. We don't know. This is a gray area where no one knows what's going to happen.

CUOMO: And time is the enemy.

OROCHENA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: This could easily take weeks. You go and you get the mother out on bond. You then find out they're hiking the bond for families now, and you have over a dozen clients from that one center of moms who are all in the same situation as Yeni?

OROCHENA: Right. Yeni had me promise that I would sit down with -- while I was waiting for her, she asked me to sit down with other mothers in a similar if not worse situation. Some of these mothers haven't had one day in court, some of these mothers have been -- have not been offered a bond. Some of the mothers have been even offered twice the bond that Yeni paid.

She paid $7,500. And by Yeni, I don't mean her directly.

CUOMO: Right.

OROCHENA: Because she doesn't have that money.

CUOMO: Right.

OROCHENA: Moms throughout New York City and throughout the country have donated $10, $20. And I'm in awe of these women and several other people what they come and saying, I don't have the money to spare, just $20, but I felt obligated to donate, to release this mother, because it's wrong.

And I saw your earlier interviews and how everybody agrees it's wrong -- fine. Now, let's fix it.

CUOMO: Well, there, we're not seeing anything get done yet. Except that executive order which isn't worth the paper on my desk.

Listen, we're going to stay on this situation, Jose. I told you we would. As you get your updates, you bring them back.

OROCHENA: Please? Thank you.

CUOMO: All right? Send our best with her.

OROCHENA: Thank you very much, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Be well.

CUOMO: All right. So, in the hours after that deadly shooting on the newspaper down in Annapolis, I know everything happened so fast. But it was just days ago. President Trump defended the journalists, remember that? Well, then, why did the White House refuse a request to honor them by lowering flags.

That's next.


CUOMO: Trump declines request to lower flags in memory of "Capital Gazette" shooting victims. I know everything moves so fast now. It's been four days since the most recent mass shooting that robbed this world of five lives. Shattered families and added another layer of shame on all lawmakers for not doing something to stop the damn shootings.

So, why did this happen? Is there a protocol that would make it weird to respect the dead journalists?

No, the Las Vegas shooting, the Parkland shooting, they warranted flags being lowered. Why not this?

Maybe not enough people? No, it's not it either. How do we know?

Well, here's the announcement of flags being lowered for First Lady Laura Bush upon her death in April. And in February, marking the death of the Reverend Billy Graham. Important people, but it wasn't about big numbers of people.

So, why would the mayor of Annapolis say he was turned down with such a no-brainer request? Now, I'm afraid I know the answer. And it's because President Trump doesn't like the media.

I know that sounds extraordinarily petty and callous, but more facts. Trump is the man who mocked John McCain for being captured during Vietnam and who hardly condemned his staffer who mocked McCain's illness. In fact, he allowed her to stay at a job, and he still attacks McCain with his thumbs down swipes about the senator's nay vote on an insurance bill, a bill which, by the way, would have taken insurance from even more people than the bill the senator eventually voted for.

So, Trump, unfortunately, is entirely capable of disrespecting people no matter their predicament, if it suits him or his interests. Look, look at what's happening on the border. Kids ripped from their families, still not returned, despite that sham of an executive order and promises to fix it all, rapido! Mentiras, lies, those words. That's the truth.

And yes, Trump did say he respects journalists after the mass murder, but why would you believe that? Why would you believe he's not lying again?

I don't have time to play all the attacks on the media, you know the truth. And now you know even if they get murdered, the president won't respect the media appropriately. It's the truth. It's as true as it is shameful, and sensitivity to the dead, preserving, what, his ability to bash the media to his base? Is that what matters?

Well, this matters too. They were good people. They were murdered in cold blood doing a job that's fundamental to your democracy, certainly as fundamental as the presidents. The Founding Fathers weren't in agreement about a free press before they even what shape the argument would take.

Thomas Jefferson said it was a no-brainer, that he would prefer to have newspapers over any government. This isn't about history, it's about now.

Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan, he didn't think twice about lowering state flags last Friday and right through today, because he did something decent. The president chose not to, because the families of the dead and the dead themselves don't matter to Trump as much as his playing political favorites. And it raises, you know, a really ugly suggestion. I wonder if it

were an outlet he prefers. Or is he aware of? Would he make a different choice? That might be even worse?

Don Lemon is off again tonight. I hope he's enjoying himself. You know what that means, a double dose of PRIME TIME.