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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Discussion of Trump Situation; Status of North Korea Talks Examined. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 24, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right, that is our closing argument. Thank you for being with us, for the first hour. But let's keep going, because we've got a bonus second hour of CUOMO PRIME TIME tonight.
And our big story is another legal body blow for the president. His money man talking to federal prosecutors with immunity. And reportedly, he knows where all the financial bodies are buried.
What does that mean? What could he say? Should the president be worried? "Cuomo's Court" is back in session.
Then, President Trump calls off the secretary of state's trip to North Korea one day after it was announced. Why? Evidence is mounting the Kim regime is not keeping its anti-nuclear promises.
So, are negotiations off? We're going to go one on one with the former CIA director, General Michael Hayden.
There's a lot to get going on this busy night. So what do you say? Let's get after it.
CUOMO: The president's inner circle, smaller than it was at the beginning of the week. His former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, headed to prison, apparently. His ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleading guilty, implicating the president as directing his criminal activities.
His friend David Pecker, an immunity deal from prosecutors about the same payments. And tonight, the big news. Another immunity deal, this one for longtime Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg.
Let's get after all of this with "Cuomo's Court". Carrie Cordero and Ross Garber.
Ross Garber, are you concerned, if you're representing the president?
ROSS GARBER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I've been concerned all along, and in particular I'm concerned tonight, if I'm representing the president. I mean, Chris, you know, I've been representing public officials for 20 years. And to me, it does seem like things are -- things are tightening. And in particular, you know, in this case, where you have the
government now to some degree or another, inside the Trump Organization, talking to the CFO, that is very concerning.
CUOMO: All right. And here's why it isn't, Carrie. Attack this notion.
Nah, it's just about Cohen. That's why they gave Pecker and Weisselberg immunity. They're not going with Weisselberg with everything that Trump ever did. And even if they did, it doesn't matter, he's a sitting president, you can't indict him.
There will be no legal ramifications from any of us this. It's all drama. Nontroversy.
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the argument for that would be that this particular angle fell outside the scope of what the special counsel was given to do, in terms of the mandate of the Russia investigation, because they came upon information that looked like it was a crime, they referred it to the Southern District of New York, and that then the argument would be the Southern District of New York pursued the discreet crimes that they had discovered evidence in, when they conducted the searches of Michael Cohen's office. And that perhaps this is all there is.
I mean, one could argue, if the scope of the Weisselberg immunity agreement is narrow, that perhaps the whole point was to get Michael Cohen to plead to the other financial crimes with which he was charged. And that this is an extra.
I'm not sure I would make that argument, but you could make that argument.
CUOMO: Well, if they wanted to get after Trump for real, Ross, they would have given Cohen immunity. And it seems the opposite is true. They're squeezing him really hard for things that he most did for Trump. We don't know the details as much about the financial crimes.
GARBER: Yes, it seems like they didn't need to give Cohen immunity. It seems like he's told everybody who will listen that he'll cooperate completely willingly.
And, you know, it could be true, you know, Carrie could be right, others could be right. There could be nothing at all to worry about here for the president and his folks. It could be this super, super narrow, you know, targeted, you know, focus on Cohen.
But I suspect it's something more. You know, when you give immunity, that's something very rare. I mean, in my experience, I can't even count on one hand the number of clients that have been given immunity. It's very rare. And what that means --
CUOMO: But they can't charge the president, so where could they be headed. Carrie?
GARBER: Well, see -- CUOMO: Hold on. Let's share the ball here.
Carrie, where can they be headed? They can't charge him.
CORDERO: They can't charge him.
So the presumption is that the government can't charge the president with something as he is a sitting president. That is the prevailing view, based on prior Department of Justice legal opinions. I've had a big question as to whether or not the special counsel commissioned a new legal opinion.
We don't know the answer to that, so everybody in the legal circles is operating on the presumption that he hasn't and that he's accepting the 2000 and the 1973 opinions. But those were written for their particular time, the particular investigations of presidents that were going on at the time.
CUOMO: All right. Even if you didn't have it, Ross, is there a whole in the president's defense? That he didn't know -- yes, he's clearly lying about this.
But let's take it at its best for him, which is, this was all personal matters paid with personal money. The timing is irrelevant. I paid the guy back, Michael Cohen, and Pecker you're wrong about, he did it for his own reasons, he's my friend, had nothing to do with the campaign. There's no crime.
GARBER: I actually think those are great arguments. That these payments were not made for campaign purposes. You make these kinds of payments -- and, remember, you know, we're talking about payments to women who have said that they've had, you know, affairs with the president. You know, to me, the notion that those are campaign expenditures is sort of outrageous. Can you imagine spending, you know, campaign funds to make those kinds of payments.
So, I think --
CUOMO: Carrie, is the analysis that simple? Are you with Ross?
CORDERO: Well, what's interesting, first of all, Michael Cohen pled guilty to it. So, Michael Cohen could have challenged the government's assertion that these particular payments were campaign contributions by paying off the women in an attenuated way. AMI could have challenged the government's assertion, instead Pecker took immunity. But AMI could have made First Amendment claims, they could have made other claims in terms of challenging the government's argument.
Nobody did that. Instead, they went ahead and either took immunity in Pecker's case or they took the plea in Michael Cohen's case. The Edwards case, which everybody sort of points to as the last example had an actual trial. In this case, these types of contributions and the argument the government's making has not actually been borne out in a trial situation.
But in this case, there's not an opportunity to actually challenge it in that way.
CUOMO: When you look at Weisselberg, Pecker and Cohen, which one concerns you the most, Ross?
GARBER: Honestly, to me, they all concern me. Weisselberg in particular, because honestly, if I were the president, I wouldn't be that concerned about the campaign finance issues. I wouldn't be that concerned about the disclosure issues, in terms of completing the forms.
I would be concerned about what I don't know. I would be concerned that my CFO would be sitting in a room with federal prosecutors and agents without a lawyer, which is how a grand jury works, and answering whatever questions they ask. That would concern me -- and then in particular in the context where others are now cooperating around me.
CUOMO: And, Carrie, you?
CORDERO: I think the big question is whether there are other related investigations going on, of the Trump Organization. If that were the case, if the Southern District of New York, for example, has greater investigations going on that look at other financial irregularities of the Trump organization, then Weisselberg would be absolutely devastated.
CUOMO: Also, I think you told me, Carrie, many months ago --
CUOMO: -- it's amazing how much stuff I'm forgetting these days, but that -- hey, stop assuming that just because they can indict a sitting president means that they can't hand down an indictment or prepare charges and use them after he's gone.
CORDERO: Well, that's right, you can't charge a sitting president, according to the presumptive legal opinions from the Justice Department. I think there's wide agreement, even of those who might disagree on the margins of that, that a sitting president could never sit for a trial.
But the mechanism would be that a -- either he could be an unindicted co-conspirator. Then that is for the public to see. Congress could then act on that politically. Or there potential -- the question that I have is whether or not a fresh legal opinion has been written that says that there could be an indictment, even if that document is not acted upon, even if it serves functionally as some type of --
CUOMO: Who would have to okay that opinion, Ross?
GARBER: And, Chris, that would be, in this case, the attorney general or the deputy attorney general.
Just a follow-up on the point you were making. Even though a sitting president -- let's assume a sitting president can't be indicted, that doesn't mean that a former president can't be indicted. It doesn't mean that a president's company can't be indicted. It doesn't mean that a president's --
CUOMO: Statute of limitations issues here?
GARBER: -- can't be indicted.
There may be statute of limitation issues. But again, I -- in this business, I don't like to rely on statute of limitations, because there are lots of ways they can be extended. So --
CUOMO: And then, of course, you have the political question, it sounds like a legal standards, high crimes and misdemeanor.
I really encourage people just to Google really quickly where it came from. You'll read about Madison and Elbridge Gerry and how they were searching for something so that the bar wasn't too low.
And at the end of the day, it's all about votes, as former President Gerald Ford said. An impeachable offense is what the House of Representatives says it is and then ultimately Congress, because you've got to go through --
GARBER: We'll debate that next time.
CUOMO: Well, we'll see what happens.
Carrie Cordero, thank you very much. Ross Garber, appreciate it.
So, President Trump abruptly cancels the secretary of state's trip to North Korea. But he still sends warmest regards to Kim Jong-un. What does that mean? Where are we in this process in negotiations?
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden is next.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It seems like diplomacy with North Korea is on hold tonight.
It's been a long week. Let's work on this together. Let's put up the latest tweet from the president, trying to figure it out, all right?
So, first, he said he'd asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, right? That was going to happen. He was going to go there, and then they said, he's going to meet with Kim Jong-un.
And now, he's saying, don't go, because I feel we're not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, because of our much tougher trading stance with China, I do not believe they are helping with the process of denuclearization, as they were once, despite the U.N. sanctions, which are in place.
Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our trading relationship with China is resolved. In the meantime, I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon.
What does that mean to you?
Well, a source tells CNN that the State Department officials were still briefing allies minutes before Trump called things off. So, is this just about bad communications, but ultimately a typical kind of stall in the process?
Let's break it down with somebody who knows the answer. Former CIA director, General Michael Hayden.
Sir, good to see you. Thank you for being with me on a Friday night.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Hey, Chris.
CUOMO: Help us understand this. Is this, style points aside, kind of par for the course in a process like this, or do you see a concern?
HAYDEN: Yes, I have concerns. Now, par for the course in the sense that we always knew this was going to be a long, difficult process with the North Koreans. So, let's break it down like you suggest.
Number one, the happiest man in town tonight has to be Secretary of State Pompeo. He avoids a long time to Pyongyang, where I'm told it's not very pleasant, and he also avoids getting personally pinned with a policy that appears to be going nowhere.
Chris, we left Singapore with a lot of smiles and handshakes, but with not even an agreed definition of denuclearization. So, we had all of this pomp and ceremony and image, but there really wasn't any substance underneath it. And any means we had to keep pressure on the North Koreans to create that substance, we've kind of whittled away.
CUOMO: Are we still farther along than we have been at any point in the last two administrations?
HAYDEN: No. No, not at all. I mean, we've had the North Koreans farther along in terms of actually dismantling some nuclear equipment, coming a bit cleaner with regard to what they have, being more specific with their commitments. No. I mean, we've been in this place or better before. We've just not gotten beyond those places.
CUOMO: So what happens next? What do you need to do in this?
Let's play in this other factor. China, all right? The president's going very hard on them on trade. There's plus and minuses, we could do it all night.
But doing it at the same time that you're trying to get something done with North Korea was part of the diplomatic criticism early on. You've got to pick your battles and be strategic with your given objective.
So how does it lay out for you?
HAYDEN: So I think that's absolutely right and the president criticized his predecessors, in essence saying, they just weren't good enough or smart enough to handle this problem, when in reality, I think folks like me understand that this is a wicked problem. And it may not be solvable in any satisfying way.
And so, now, you've got the question with China that's always been there. The president should have known that. He had two issues that he had to balance and manipulate. He went all in on the North Koreans. Kind of put that problem on pause. Now, he's ginned up this trade conflict with the Chinese.
CUOMO: Right. And he did a little CYA with the Chinese, right? He said, they were going to help us except for those U.N. sanctions. He's trying to put it off on somebody else. When, really, why would you expect China to be your friend, when you're jamming them up economically?
HAYDEN: Absolutely. They're not incentivized to do it at all. And look at this now from the picture of Kim Jong-un. He's mostly out of the penalty box with the Chinese. The sanctions regime is eroding. He's got a budding romance with Moon Jae-in, the president --
CUOMO: Of South Korea.
HAYDEN: -- of South Korea. And he's just finished the most intense 12 months of missile testing in the history of North Korea. He's playing his hand pretty well.
CUOMO: Wishing warmest regards.
HAYDEN: Yes, I -- that just jumps off the page. And it's actually inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the president's trifecta there of tweets.
And -- look, the president's met Kim, I've not. Maybe he thinks this is effective. I don't think this came from the psychological profilers at CIA, suggesting that he do it. It jumps off the page, and for me, it just seems weird.
CUOMO: You know, you've had a lifetime of watching investigations of all kinds. Of course, we know your history at the CIA and NSA, but your reach, your portfolio is impressive.
What do you make of this week and what we've seen come down against the president?
HAYDEN: Yes, reality matters, Chris, and I've been watching your show all week and you've been trying to make that point to all of your guests. You can only get so far by lying, repeating the lie, criticizing institutions, criticizing people, trying to create an image. Sooner or later, if you've got people who are persistent pursuing the truth, reality begins to close in on your make-believe story. And I think that's what's going on here.
CUOMO: You know, I have ten sources who tell me from the southern district, stop saying or letting people say -- that's what I get people blamed for all the time now -- not you, people can't hear from you enough, but people get immunity deals and immunity deals are no big deal and they can be a fishing expedition.
They say, no. You have to know something for a prosecutor to want to offer you something like that, because they're giving up a lot on you. So they have to have something on you and you have to give them something that is worth more than you are.
If that's true, what is your spidey sense tell you about what they're cooking in the Southern District?
HAYDEN: Yes, it's moving up -- we would call it, the chain of command, within the Trump Organization. Now, Chris, I don't have anymore insight into the details than you do. But based upon this evidence, I mean, you only do this when you're going higher. And they appear that they are intent on going higher.
And they really have kind of passed out the hall passes here, haven't they, to a variety of people. So they must think they have something going in this direction within the organization.
CUOMO: You ever hear a president say before that people Cooperating with the government should be illegal?
HAYDEN: No, that comes back to things you and I have shared before, Chris. This is the most norm-busting president we've ever had. And there appear to be no limits to his attacking Americans or American institutions, to protect his transient personal or political needs.
That's what -- sounds like my wife when she was trying to explain why my youngest eats paint all the time. I was like, there's something wrong with this kid. And she was just like, well, no, she's just doing it her own way.
I think that's a nice way of saying what we're living through, but you're a nice guy.
General Hayden --
CUOMO: -- thank you for joining me on a Friday night.
CUOMO: She doesn't eat paint anymore. She's 8 year old, stopped two, three weeks ago. That was good.
All right. President Trump's top money man has been granted immunity and I'm telling you, that's not a small deal. However, we don't know why he was given immunity, how extensive the questioning is, what they find him relevant on. So, it is the making of a great debate, coming up.
I've got to go apologize to my family.
CUOMO: Any way you look at it, tough week for the president.
His former personal attorney and his campaign chairman both became convicted felons. The Trump Organization's longtime financial officer was given immunity. That ain't common. One of his longtime friends who was involved in those payoff payments with Michael Cohen also given immunity.
So, the question is, what does it mean?
Great debate time. Catherine Rampell and Niger Innis.
Catherine, I am going to give you a bonus for productivity. You wrote a piece, let's put up a little taste.
Niger, if you wrote something, I'd put it up as well. You've written many of things in your life. Not today.
NIGER INNIS, LEADER, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Fair enough. I'll test you on that, Cuomo.
CUOMO: All right. So I want to start with your piece, Catherine. Give us what you wrote about today and why and we'll use it for the basis of the debate.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, basically, a lot of Trump supporters have argued that there's nothing about collusion in any of the stuff that's come out this week. And moreover, we don't care about the campaign finance stuff, because for some reason, we don't think campaign finance crimes are crimes.
My point is this: we do prosecute tax crimes. In fact, we prosecute them a lot. And there were a lot of red flags that came out in the Cohen filings this week that suggest that basically Trump and/or the Trump Organization may have massive criminal tax fraud exposure. And the reason why I say that, it's a little bit complicated, but basically it boils down to the fact that they had these sham invoices, as well as this very unusual structuring of the Cohen payments that suggest that they were probably trying to make hundreds of thousands of nondeductible expenses look deductible.
The bottom line being, they were trying to avoid paying Uncle Sam hundreds of thousands of dollars.
CUOMO: Sounds like that Mattingly letter from the Capone case that we all had to read up on today.
RAMPELL: Exactly! Exactly, yes. Funny thing about the Capone parallel, and there are a few, that suggest that Trump may not to stop making that comparison, is that Capone was brought down in part because he had an incompetent attorney who accidentally handed over incriminating information to the feds. So --
CUOMO: Niger, the point that Rampell is making is this, there is a chance that Cohen fronting the money would be seen as an illegal campaign contribution, which is what he pleaded to, or that it was a loan and Trump should have booked it on his disclosure form and didn't, because it would be a liability if it were a loan. He says, I paid it all back. So, Rampell then says, all right, well, let's look at how they paid it back.
Cohen put out about 180 grand, they doubled it to 360, which they said was to cover for taxes, and added a bonus of $60,000. So, Cohen got about $420,000 altogether.
Does that look funny to you?
INNIS: A lot of it looks strange and unusual. But, you know, Catherine made the comparison, and I guess the president did, too, comparing himself to a former criminal gangster, OK, Al Capone.
I'm actually going to make a different comparison. I think the last time an individual was under this type of targeted assault by the -- two entities of the federal government, state government, state of New York, perhaps now even the Manhattan district attorney, you can go back to the civil rights era and people like Martin Luther King --
RAMPELL: Oh, my goodness.
INNIS: -- people like my father, Roy Innis.
RAMPELL: -- potential money laundering for Martin Luther King?
CUOMO: Catherine, let him complete the point and then you can put a hole in it.
But, go ahead, Niger, finish the case.
INNIS: Yes, my point is this. As a civil libertarian -- look, the power of government is tremendous. And it can be used against somebody that you dislike today, but that you may like tomorrow, when the corridors of power are controlled by the different party. And I don't like the fact that government agencies are being used against an individual for political purposes.
RAMPELL: So --
CUOMO: Now, Catherine Rampell, I must let you know that somewhere up in the hinterlands of Martha's Vineyard right now, there's a man that's about 5'9 1/2", about 5'10", and his name is P professor Dershowitz, and he's going for the first time in his life, amen to what Niger is saying, because he's been arguing exactly that.
Just because you don't like the present person, don't apply standards that you wouldn't want applied to you, that this is prosecutorial aggregation in a way that leads to nowhere good.
RAMPELL: You know what? Trump could easily clear up all of these concerns by disclosing his tax returns and opening his books. And he will not do that. So the question is, what does he have to hide? What is he so afraid
that Allen Weisselberg might disclose? Because Allen Weisselberg has been working for him for decades. For him, for his father, you know, served on the Trump foundation board. He now oversees the trust, the non-blind blind trust that Trump's money is in right now.
So, he knows where all the bodies are buried. He knows if, for example, all of the red flags have been raised about potential money laundering, which, again, I'm not aware of Martin Luther King ever being accused of doing for the Russians.
CUOMO: Or Roy Innis.
RAMPELL: Correct me if I'm wrong. But look --
INNIS: No, they were accused of other things by J. Edgar Hoover and other --
RAMPELL: Please, let me continue. Look, there are so many red flags about Trump's financial transactions, including just to throw out one, the fact that he used all-cash transactions to pay for money-losing golf courses at a time with record low interest rates and, you know, the whole real estate business is sort of predicated on the fact that debt is tax advantage. That in and of itself --
CUOMO: Can you prosecute any of it?
RAMPELL: Well, if we have information, if we have his books, if we have --
CUOMO: A sitting president?
RAMPELL: Oh, no, not a sitting president. But you could potentially prosecute people who work in the Trump administration who know about it, unless they've been given immunity, of course. I mea, there's lots of information, there are a lot of questions that we have right now about the way Trump has done business over the years, about how solvent that business is. It may be over-leveraged to the hilt.
CUOMO: OK. All right.
RAMPELL: And if Weisselberg has that information, that's very useful information. But Trump himself could preempt all of that.
CUOMO: Go ahead, Niger.
INNIS: You know, Chris, there's a point of agreement that I have with Catherine. I think Catherine revealed exactly what this is all about. At the end of the day, what the left and those who call themselves journalists are pursuing here --
CUOMO: Present company excepted, of course.
INNIS: -- is, is -- for those who are legitimate journalists and those who call themselves journalists are pursuing here is the opening of the president's books, of the foundation, of --
RAMPELL: Like every other president and major presidential candidate we have had over the last 40 years.
INNIS: Catherine, let me --
RAMPELL: This is not a leftist agenda. This is not a norm.
INNIS: Now I'm going to ask you not to interrupt me.
The fact of the matter is, is that the president did not, in the campaign 2016, he did not want to make the same mistake that Mitt Romney did, which was reveal a whole bunch of tax returns that were used --
RAMPELL: Mitt Romney revealed basically nothing about his taxes, by the way.
INNIS: -- Harry Reid to lie and to slander his financial records. Trump did not want to be used in a situation where he could --
RAMPELL: I'm sorry, how would it be slandered if it were the truth.
INNIS: -- death by a thousand cuts.
RAMPELL: How would it be slandered if it was the truth? So he's slandering himself?
INNIS: Let's keep in mind, this allegedly all started, Catherine, because of the missing elephant in the room, which doesn't exist, which is Russian collusion. What does all of this nonsense you're talking about have to do with Trump conspiring with the Russians to get elected?
RAMPELL: I'm so glad you asked that question.
CUOMO: Hold on. Good, good. Keep your enthusiasm in check, both of you, for one moment. Let me take a break and we will come back on exactly that.
What is the worth of what Catherine is saying we should pursue? And then we're going to get to the ultimate question, if he can't be charged, can you make a case for impeachment out of what we know right now?
Stay with us.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Let's get back to our great debaters, Catherine Rampell and Niger Innis.
Let me catch you up on where we were. Niger had reared back with this sort of split-finger fastball. Open up the lens to show my arm, please. And he had pitched it like that, saying, where's the collusion in all of this? And Rampell had pulled out this bat about 4 1/2 feet long, taken a huge step and was about to swing like this, when I went to commercial.
So, Rampell, you see the charge. You're talking tax evasion. You're talking all different kinds of potential fraud and financial money mismanagement. Where's the collusion?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first, I would like to point out that, of course, the authorizing responsibility -- the authorizing document that basically appointed Robert Mueller said that he's allowed to investigate any crimes that may come out of looking into Russia collusion. So I just want to put out that for the time being.
But more importantly, the question was, what does this tax evasion stuff or any of the other kinds of campaign finance violations or anything else that's been alleged, what does that actually itself have to do with Russia collusion?
And here's the answer. Kompromat, the idea that the Russians may have something on Trump, and that's the reason they were so eager to be in the White House, need not be a pee tape, right?
CUOMO: Too much of a stretch?
RAMPELL: No, I don't think so at all. I think Trump has been doing business with the Russians for many, many years. His children have said as much.
He has a lot of suspicious cash coming in, like in the example of the golf courses I was talking about earlier. We don't know where it's from. He's flipped houses for very suspicious markups to Russians.
So, he has a lot of connections to various kinds of Kremlin-linked folks. He has for many areas. There are a lot of people who know a lot more about this than I do, who study Russia, who worked in Russia, who study financial crimes, who have said, you know, there is a high likelihood that they know something on him --
CUOMO: All right.
RAMPELL: -- and they're holding it against him. And so --
CUOMO: All right. Niger, if you look less interested in the point Catherine was making, you would have fallen off the chair and gone right to sleep. But you are now back up. Why do you find it so unimpressive?
NIGER INNIS, LEADER, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: I actually find it incredibly entertaining. It reminds me, Catherine's statement reminds me of a KGB agent year ago when there was -- (CROSSTALK)
CUOMO: Calling you a spy, Rampell. That's what just happened right there. Lucky your hair's not red.
RAMPELL: Well, first he said I wasn't a real journalist, so now I'm a spy.
CUOMO: He was talking about me.
INNIS: No, with I'm not attacking you! With this agent, what this general said is, you get me the individual, I will find you the crime.
And it seems that Catherine and many of her colleagues that are after Trump are desperately looking for something that they have not been able to identify specifically.
RAMPELL: Again, Trump could clear this up with the snap of his fingers. He could say, you know what, I was wrong, here are my books, here are my financial statements, here are my tax returns, and has been the days for the last 40 years, 40 years.
INNIS: So you guys can do what a senator did to Mitt Romney in 2016 and lie about his records and when he was called on it --
RAMPELL: You can't lie if you're giving up the actual documents.
INNIS: -- in 2016 and said you lied about Mitt Romney's tax records --
RAMPELL: No, because Mitt Romney had not released a tax record.
INNIS: And Donald Trump did not --
RAMPELL: Mitt Romney had not released his tax record.
INNIS: No, actually you're wrong, Catherine. Mitt Romney did release his tax returns.
RAMPELL: Some of it. After those comments were made by Harry Reid.
INNIS: -- and used it against him --
RAMPELL: No, you're getting the chronology wrong.
INNIS: And Reid admitted it!
RAMPELL: You're getting your chronology wrong.
(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: Hold on, hold on, hold on. Being a civil libertarian does not mean that you're not for transparency, Niger.
CUOMO: You're for transparency.
INNIS: I'm for full transparency --
CUOMO: Trump has not given us that.
INNIS: -- requested and demanded -- and demanded by law. But wait a minute!
CUOMO: Only by law?
INNIS: He -- he -- why not?
RAMPELL: By the way, you don't even need a law here.
INNIS: The president of the United States is required --
RAMPELL: You don't need a law here.
INNIS: -- to give a certain number of financial statements to be a legitimate candidate for president of the United States. He did so.
You know, Elizabeth Warren was asked to give some tax returns going back some ten years when she was running for the United States Senate. She did not. Why? Because she didn't have to.
RAMPELL: OK, look, I want to point out something else here, which has come up, which is what would Trump be required to do?
I just want to point out, it would not actually take an act of Congress to get Trump to release his tax returns. There are three different congressional committees that by a simple majority vote in any single one of them, they could require Trump to release his tax returns. They would demand the tax returns and they could publish them.
And it would essentially require just one Republican senator to say, you know what, transparency is important here. There are so many red flags about Trump's own financial entanglements, about all of these strange and suspicious transactions that he has had, comments that he's made that are adoring of Putin himself.
You know what? It would be a good thing for the American people if we had some transparency and we saw for the greater good, for the public interest, these tax returns.
INNIS: You know what's transparent, Catherine? What's transparent is that at the end of the day there are a number of people that are still frustrated that President Trump committed a crime. You know what that crime is? He defeated Hillary Clinton legitimately in 2016 and you guys want to overcome the legitimate results of election --
RAMPELL: Are you sure that's the only one?
INNIS: -- and delegitimized his presidency.
RAMPELL: Well, he --
INNIS: Which, by the way, I think is going to come back to haunt all Americans and undermine the presidency.
RAMPELL: Oh, you think that's going to be the scar on American history here?
INNIS: I believe actually, that this is going to undermine the executive branch of our country.
RAMPELL: It's not that Congress has not been exercising its constitutional duties here? You think that the scar on American history here is not going to be any of the egregious policy moves that Trump has made, including separating, you know, infants from their families.
INNIS: Oh, now we're getting into some truth! You have ideological disagreements with the president of the United States, therefore you want to go after him using anything you can --
RAMPELL: Oh, I certainly. No, no, that is false.
INNIS: -- death by a thousand cuts, because you ideologically disagree with him.
RAMPELL: That is false. That is false. I have multiple complaints about this president. Some of them are policy --
INNIS: Now is the truth. Talk about transparency, Catherine has been transparent about what her real agenda is.
RAMPELL: My agenda is in favor of transparency. I am a journalist. I am constitutionally obligated to want more sunlight rather than less. I also happen to have disagreements with his policy. I'm an opinion columnist. All of that stuff is out there for the public to read. I hide none of it.
INNIS: I would love some transparency, by the way.
RAMPELL: I hide none of it.
INNIS: I would love some transparency that go both not to just President Trump but --
RAMPELL: This is not about me. This is about the president hiding his financial -- (CROSTALK)
INNIS: -- also to the 33,000 e-mails that were deleted via Bleach Bit, OK, that was a clear obstruction of justice.
RAMPELL: OK, didn't you just make the point that Hillary Clinton is not our president? Why are you going off on this red herring about Hillary Clinton? We have a man --
INNIS: Red herring?
RAMPELL: It is a red herring!
INNIS: I got real evidence. I got 33,000 e-mails.
INNIS: You have beliefs about him having, some love affair with Putin, which is just pure fiction.
RAMPELL: Oh, you mean, there's no evidence -- there's no -- Trump has given us no evidence? He has not praised Putin repeatedly? He has not said nicer things about Putin than any one of our --
CUOMO: Niger, what's your point about the 33,000 emails? What do you think is in there?
INNIS: -- that wants to bring Russia into the United States --
RAMPELL: Chris, don't let this become a Hillary debate.
CUOMO: I just don't think there's any basis for the curiosity. I think it's the unknown. I think one of the problems with a lot of the speculation that you get as part of Trump defense is pursuing the unknown.
And it's just ironic, because on the one hand, you're saying, let's not pursue the unknown with Trump. Let's cut it off right now. We haven't seen any collusion. Let's end it right now.
And then when it comes to Hillary Clinton, it can't be open-ended enough. I just think that's an interesting argument.
RAMPELL: I'm not even sure that we've seen no collusion. I mean, given the fact that it's easier to keep track of how many people in the Trump campaign didn't meet with Russians than those who did meet with Russians. And we have Don Jr. saying --
CUOMO: That's true. That's a fair point. That's a fair point.
RAMPELL: -- he was happy to get dirt from the Russian government.
CUOMO: The crime is not collusion, the crime would be conspiracies, and you would need overt actions that were illegal in advance of whatever kind of collusion there was. But that's a fair point. You can make that point.
Let me ask you both one thing before I let you go. Do you believe, Rampell, at this point that we've seen anything that would make the standard of a high crime or misdemeanor for Congress?
RAMPELL: Look, that's a political act. That's a political decision. I think there are certainly red flags and I've talked about a bunch of them related to possible criminal tax fraud exposure, possible money laundering, all of those kinds of things that would be felonies. And certainly they would count as high crimes in the popular sense of the term.
What that means in terms of whether it's an impeachable offense, that's a question for Congress.
CUOMO: Niger, do you think that Bill Clinton met the standard?
INNIS: I think that Bill Clinton met the standard, and here's the fundamental difference.
INNIS: What Bill Clinton did was something that he did while he was operating as president of the United States. Thus far, Mueller nor any of these wonderful journalists that are going on a scavenger hunt against President Trump have revealed anything to the American people where he's done something or even been accused of doing something as president of the United States.
RAMPELL: What about the Cohen payments? The Cohen payments were made in 2017.
INNIS: There is no there there.
RAMPELL: The Cohen payments were made in 2017. We got these charging documents this week that disclosed how those payments were structured --
INNIS: It is legal for an individual to give to his own campaign!
RAMPELL: I'm talking about criminal tax fraud.
INNIS: Catherine, I'll agree with you that it is terrible judgment --
RAMPELL: First of all, it is not legal for him to give to his campaign without disclosing.
CUOMO: Right. Niger, here's the problem -- here's the problem with the analysis, and we're going to have to learn more, because I've got to leave it here. But you're running with a point and I respect that. You guys have done a brilliant job. The only mistake that's been made in this debate is I should have had you on at 9:00 in the original hour.
But the only thing is this. Can you put your own money into your own campaign? Yes, Buckley versus Vallejo, everybody can read the case. It's seen as political speech, but you've got to disclose what you do.
And if this was a loan and you pay it back, you're supposed to book it as a liability, and he didn't it. That's why the lying can be a problem. Is it enough for a high crime? Is it enough for a high crime or misdemeanor? We don't know yet. And in one part, it's about votes.
But let me tell you something, you two did a hell of a job. I could have sat back and watched this for a while. You disagreed, but you did it with decency.
Rampell, you know, you're a heck of a journalist. I hope some day I grow up to be as good as a journalist as you are.
RAMPELL: I know I am.
CUOMO: I know, I'm covered in self-doubt and insecurity. I want to be more like you when I grow up.
RAMPELL: No, you are too. I don't care if people make ad hominem attacks against the quality of my work, because I know it's good.
CUOMO: I like that. I'm going to use that, except I don't really believe it about myself.
You two take care and have a good weekend.
A congressman is allegedly caught with his hand in the campaign coffers. He's defense? Blame my wife.
Chris Cillizza has the most outrageous parts of Representative Duncan Hunter's indictments, next. And what a fetching ensemble he's brought us tonight. It's a lot of blue.
CUOMO: Following the money in Trump world, well, all roads lead to Allen Weisselberg in Trump world. He's the CFO of the Trump Organization.
Chris Cillizza says his immunity deal may be the biggest news of the week.
Well, that means there is other news. That means we're going to get a ranking from Cillizza. But, first, that is a fetching ensemble you have on, my friend. Did it come with a corsage or boutonniere?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: You should see the pants that match this. CUOMO: I'm surprised you have any on.
CILLIZZA: I like --
CUOMO: The ambition you showed up top.
CILLIZZA: I like to step out on Friday nights, Chris. I'm not going to lie.
CUOMO: I respect that. Go ahead.
CILLIZZA: Thank you.
OK. So, look, may I use the important word as it relates to Weisselberg, because we don't know. Right now, what we know he is was granted immunity to talk about the Cohen case. What, if you connect -- if you add one-and-one, you'll get two on this is Weisselberg is the guy who can say, yes, I don't -- we paid $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, it was supposed to be a retainer to Michael Cohen but it wasn't really. There's a lot of diceyness in there which is, I think, why the Trump organization faces some liability, not just Michael Cohen.
So, Weisselberg is a guy when he's granted immunity in that regard obviously can shed some light.
CUOMO: Not just anybody gets immunity. And even if it's not about Trump, because we have hyper focus on that. What about other members of the organization? What about other family members who are members of the organization? Could there be exposure?
CILLIZZA: Correct. That's point one. So, that's Cohen, Weisselberg in that campaign donation, OK? So that's it.
The question is, is there a broader immunity here potentially for Weisselberg. What we know from CNN reporting is he's not been called back.
CILLIZZA: Just to talk about Cohen.
CILLIZZA: If he is called back and I'm Donald Trump, I start going to the Albert Brooks broadcast news slot sweat (ph), because Allen Weisselberg is the guy who's been the books guy, the money guy.
CUOMO: Since his father.
CILLIZZA: For decades.
CUOMO: Fair point. So, we've got to wait on that fact. I got to ask you one more thing. CILLIZZA: We don't know.
CUOMO: I got to because I'm am short on the clock.
CUOMO: Duncan Hunter, the California representative, did he really say my defense is simple. Ask my wife?
CILLIZZA: I mean, he basically said -- he does an interview with Fox News last night in which he says my wife is campaign manager. I'm sure you're going to have to ask her about it. He is trying to throw her 100 percent under the bus.
I read the 47 page charging indictment. It is remarkable. They had $37,000 in overdraft fees over a seven-year period. Eleven hundred times they were penalized, 1,100 times in seven years.
She once had him buy Hawaiian shorts at a golf pro shop and say that it was golf balls for Wounded Warriors.
This is the stuff why people hate Washington, Chris. And sometimes when I read this stuff, I understand why.
CUOMO: All right.
CILLIZZA: I would say there is a lot more good people than what Duncan Hunter is alleged to have done.
CILLIZZA: But this stuff gets attention.
CUOMO: Chris Cillizza, thank you, brother. Have a good weekend. Thank you for wearing that.
CILLIZZA: Thanks, man. Good to see you. Take care.
CUOMO: All right. Before we go tonight, a word about something serious. Senator John McCain -- as you heard by now -- he has ended the treatment for terminal brain cancer. He is once again showing what he is made of.
I know how hard it is for somebody in their family to make the decision that he's making right now, and he gets all of our respect. War hero, political icon this is a man who is a renegade in a culture that is all about CYA. He never sought cover for any position.
To his family, we're thinking of you. We wish you the best. The nation is going to remember this man.
Thank you for watching us tonight.
A CNN special report, "The Most Powerful Man in the World," is next.