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CUOMO PRIME TIME

President Trump Unwittingly Became Laughingstock of the World at the U.N.?; Republicans Say Senators Got Only 24 Hours to Think after Thursday's Testimony, and then Judge Judge Kavanaugh on Friday; Senator Ted Cruz and Wife Chased Out of a Restaurant by an Angry Mob of Protesters. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 25, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The president thought he was working the crowd but the crowd worked him. How our president unwittingly became the laughingstock of the world today at the United Nations.

Republicans say senators got just 24 hours to think after Thursday's testimony, and then they have to judge Judge Kavanaugh. Does that sound like the right time set a date? Before a word is heard? Time to test that notion.

And democracy done wrong. Senator Ted Cruz and his wife chased out of a restaurant by an angry mob of protesters. Even his bitter rival came to his defense.

You know the drill. Let's get after it.

(MUSIC)

CUOMO: So the president stood in front of the world and delivered a campaign speech. The reaction he got, though, at the U.N. was very different than what he's used the hearing at his rallies. Instead of cheering supporters, global leaders laughed at him.

Now keep in mind, these are the same folks who for years have sat stone-faced for all sorts of bluster from murderers and despots. But Trump made them laugh.

Beyond the chuckles, there was Trump pushing his version of world affairs that had none of them laughing.

Now here to help us sort it out are a couple of guys who know a thing or two about national security, Phil Mudd and Mike Rogers.

Gentlemen, thank you.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Let's play the moment that has everybody wanting to figure out what it means. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America's -- so true.

(LAUGHTER)

Didn't expect that reaction but that's okay.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Phil, the president is trying to play it off as a laugh line. But, you know, we've all been in there. You've been around it. You guys more than I have.

It's usually a quiet crowd. They heard him exaggerate something that is obviously exaggerated and it seemed like they were mocking him. What's your take?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: I would agree with that. Let's step back for a moment and look at a map of the world. If you look at North Korea, the president got off a plane and said we're safer. Talk to me about the progress on denuclearization in the Korean peninsula, slow at best.

The Chinese showed up at Mar-a-Lago and the president thought they were partners. And now, not only are not partners, we're engaged in a tariff war with them.

We keep moving to the West. The president said he had a plan. His plan would be executed by son-in-law Jared Kushner on the Arab/Israeli dispute. I think the biggest secret there is Jared Kushner doesn't know what the plan is. Where is that going?

We've humiliated NATO. We've humiliated the G-7. There's no fence with the Mexicans who are sitting there after 20 months, saying we will never build a fence.

My point, Chris, is people who view the world like we don't, people who don't live in Washington or looking across the would and saying, you've talked about that, Mr. President it, you've alienated your allies and you promised success with the Russians who, by the way, are about ready to close the deal with Bashar al Assad and his hold on Syria, a deal with the Russians, a deal with the North Koreans, a better relationship with the Chinese. Where is it, Chris? Where is it?

CUOMO: Is that what it is, Mike Rogers? Is this where's the beef? Coming home to roost?

ROGERS: Yes, and, you know, this is just completely Trump not knowing his audience which is a little unusual for him. Normally, he knows his audience. He can play to an audience. But you think about it, he just said, I'm the best president that

we've ever had and we've done more in history. Like how about the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln? I mean, how about the Marshall Plan by Truman?

I mean, these are big major events that either held the country together and or held Europe together. I mean, these are big events. I mean, you're sitting in a room for all these countries who are trying to deal with real difficulties at home, either economic or terrorism or military.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: And you say, we've done more than anyone else. And by the way, I've picked a fight with just about everyone in here except maybe the Russians. That's why I think he got reaction that he did.

I think they were a little taken back that that would be his assessment of how he's doing in the rest of the world.

CUOMO: You know, people who are in the base, and other political actors here in the country, you know, they mistake criticism for just being empty negativity. You know, you pick on everything he says. You pick on everything he says.

That's because he's the president of the United States. And when he finally gets into a room like that where everybody takes their role seriously, Phil, they regard at this time way critics do, which is don't say it. It's B.S. Everything you're saying is B.S. We're going to laugh at you.

And then we saw what happened.

MUDD: I suppose. But I mean, I think there's a different way to look at that -- this and that is the same thing we saw, maybe with the Kavanaugh interview last night. Just be frontal with us. Just tell us what the truth is. Denuclearizing the Korean peninsula is not easy --

CUOMO: You thought the Kavanaugh interview was the judge telling us the truth?

MUDD: No. That's what I'm saying. I mean, just talk to us about you think the truth -- Kavanaugh could have said, look, I had too many beers in high school. I apologize. I don't remember an incident with the woman, but I want to acknowledge that I wasn't perfect in high school.

He sold us his perfect or almost perfect. The president is sitting there saying, in every circumstances, whether it's Iran or North Korea or the Mexican wall, I've done a perfect job. I think people like me would be more willing to acknowledge the progress he made.

I thought the meeting with Kim Jong-un was a good idea. If he just said, look, this is a long path. It is difficult. Previous presidents haven't made progress. That's all he got to say. CUOMO: All right. So we have him being judged by those abroad. And

then we have a situation that we'll be judged here at home that I want both of your heads on. Perfect guests for both.

Mike, Rosenstein -- do you fire him? Do you push him resign or do you have a talk with him on Thursday and come out as the bigger man and he stays?

ROGERS: Well, I'm an eternal optimist. I hope the president comes out the bigger man and he stays. My wife says it's a genetic defect that I have.

Really, I think by firing -- listen, if you step back for one moment and think this through, that investigation is going nowhere. You can fire Rosenstein. You can fire Mueller.

You know, all of the weight of that investigation is still there and then Congress will be forced to do something. They're either going to the appeal court, like in the Starr investigation of the Clintons, and they would appoint a special counsel or the attorney general would have to appoint another -- I mean, there's --

CUOMO: OK.

ROGERS: -- just no way this thing is just going to go away.

CUOMO: Well --

ROGERS: If he were smart, he would take a step back. Does he have the right to ask him? Did you really say that? I mean, is that really appropriate that you said that?

CUOMO: He has the right to fire him because he thinks he said it.

ROGERS: Yes. I don't know, I wouldn't fire him but I would bring him for what we could call a counseling session.

CUOMO: No, I hear.

ROGERS: Hey, you're going to knock that off. Now go back and put bad guys in jail.

CUOMO: I hear you. I'm saying he has the right to do it. Is it right to do it is the question that we're dealing with.

ROGERS: Yes --

CUOMO: If he resigns, the president has an easy path to putting Noel Francisco in there, a man who is assumed to be much more amenable to the president's point of view about certain things. Do you go that route?

MUDD: Heck no. No way. I'm with Mike Rogers.

That is untrue. First, the law of unintended consequences will kill you. You fire James Comey and obviously you're going to have an easier path than a Russian investigation and you get Robert Mueller. You fire Rosenstein.

I don't know whether someone who comes in temporarily is going to say something different. I can see them saying, my job is to keep the seat warm until we have a serious person in this position. I'll tell you, the easy solution is the president should call Rosenstein in and say, explain to me what happened. If Rosenstein, by the way, says, I said those things, he's got to go. If he says, I didn't say those things, if I were the president, I look back at Comey and say, I don't want to get kicked by that mule again. Stick around.

CUOMO: Does Rosenstein say he didn't do it and then do the Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee, or the Intelligence Committee, as we heard suggested by Congressman Gaetz about him and Congressman Meadows, do they bring Rosenstein before them and say raise your hand and say you didn't say anything about the 25th Amendment. Tell us you didn't say anything about wiring.

We heard Goodlatte today, he wants to subpoena the memos from McCabe that were used in "The New York Times", that the government has. They want access to them. What do you think about that route, Mike Rogers? Do you think Rosenstein should have to do that?

ROGERS: Well, I mean, I do believe that if Congress does that, you know, I probably -- I would disagree with their decision to do it. But they must comply.

I believe this notion that because we don't like who is sitting there or what they're doing, we shouldn't comply. I don't believe that. I think matter of fact that works to undermine all of our institutions. I don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat. I don't think we ought to cotton that.

But what I do believe is they ought to take a more measured tone about it. And I understand, they sure have a bur under their saddle. They think they have something. There are better and more appropriate ways to handle this other than these big public beatings.

And, by the way, all of the negative press is because the president, like today, goes off script and he can't help himself. And then Congress -- at least a few in Congress seem to run to his aid and they go off script. They can't help themselves.

CUOMO: Contagious.

ROGERS: It is not helpful to whatever they're trying to accomplish. I just don't think it's helpful.

CUOMO: All right. So, you guys are in Washington. I'll be down there for the hearing on Thursday. Let's beat dinner.

Mudd, what happens on Thursday with Rosenstein and the president?

MUDD: The president says, assuming Rosenstein doesn't just front end up and say I did that --

CUOMO: Fire, resign or stay? Just pick one. MUDD: Stay. OK, be quite. Stay.

CUOMO: Mike?

ROGERS: Stay.

CUOMO: All right. You guys are both stay? I argued stay last night but I don't like either of you. So, I'm going with the other two. The wager is dinner.

The bur line was right. Mike, you win on that. Unfortunately, Mudd, right side saddle.

MUDD: What?

CUOMO: Gentlemen, thank you very much.

Move him away.

The president picked the wrong venue to brag about his accomplishments. You just heard our two national security experts talking about why. Why weren't the world leaders having it? It's so ironic that the president had always said, the world is laughing at us. For years he said that.

But guess what? Now, he's the joke. We'll take you through it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Welcome back.

So, President Trump proved he was right about something today that many others denied. But I doubt he's talking much satisfaction in it.

For years, Donald Trump has insisted that other countries have been laughing at the United States. He has been out there as a recurring theme for literally years, tweets, speeches. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Laughingstock. We're a laughingstock all over the world.

We're a laughingstock all over the world. Remember that.

The world is laughing at us.

Believe me, folks, the world is laughing at us. They can't believe what's happening.

We're the laughingstock of the world.

And the world is laughing at us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: And his argument goes that now the world respects the U.S. again because of him. He says it all the time. I wonder if he would say it after what happened to him and to all of us today at the U.N. when this happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. America's -- so true.

(LAUGHTER)

Didn't expect that reaction but that's OK.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The Trumpian, aka, totally bogus claim his administration has accomplished more than any administration in the history of our country, like his other boasts that he made today, gave the biggest tax cut ever. Not true. Everyone knows it.

And this is why we call out his truth abuse, because it's not just about him. It diminishes the presidency. And today, that was laid bare. Literally, the world laughed in Donald Trump's face. They laughed at America.

And this scene that the president said he didn't expect reveals a truth he now has to accept. Pew data shows the reality. This is before and after Trump. It's a little confusing, but you see the numbers there. You see the trending.

The average percentage of favorability for the U.S. went from 65 to 50. 2015. 2017. Before Trump, after Trump. And notice the uptick for Russia. Why are they so happy about the Trump administration?

And consider this. That was not the only laugh line today. Look at the German delegation's response when Trump drops this exaggeration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course of expansionist foreign powers. It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Did I just read that guy's lips saying scheisse?

So, what does it mean? I don't know who wrote it. But when the president said it, it literally made the German delegation laugh, some of our closest allies.

So what happened here today? It looks like he mistook this packed arena for one of his rallies. But these people are not the base looking for a common enemy. They are reflective of the global desire for common decency. It'd be nice if all of his wildly false claims were meant as a joke,

as he says. Certainly, he's closer to the bar of funny that factual. But his reaction and how taken aback he seems at the moment makes it clear that that's not true.

He may think what happened today was funny but know this. It was no joke. Those leaders were laughing at him. Not with him.

So, another thing today that you have to think about. Did you hear that Republicans have set a date for Kavanaugh to be voted on? When is it? Friday morning, 24 hours after testimony, before you've heard a word. You set a date to vote?

Chairman Grassley says, we're just following normal orders. Three days. Is any of this normal?

Don't they want to do anything to show a semblance of concern about the gravity of the allegations? Show some respect to it? That is the starting point for what should certainly a great debate. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: The Senate Judiciary Committee sent its vote for approving Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination today. When is it? As soon as Friday morning.

Now, they say if we're not ready to vote, we won't vote. But what does the move by the Republicans on this committee show? That before they've heard one word of official testimony from Kavanaugh's accuser of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, they're ready to set a date to vote.

What does that mean? The Republicans really care about what Ford will say? Or is this just about what seems obvious? Getting Brett Kavanaugh through the process and getting a generation of jurisprudence secured?

Let's debate. Angela Rye and Mike Shields.

Angela Rye, can I get an amen?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What am I amening, Chris?

CUOMO: Anything. I'll take an amen on anything.

The notion of the setting of the date, 24 hours after the testimony, before the testimony has been had, is not just what Chairman Grassley says, which us following the normal course. It's following the course of the consideration which is what they want.

RYE: Yes. The real challenge that they have here is Republicans have demonstrated a pattern and practice of not caring about women. And not demonstrating any policy agenda that is supportive of women, pay practices that are supportive of women, and overwhelmingly, I think this is a bipartisan, in fact a nonpartisan issue, women being treated as objects, as toys. So, the very fact that whether or not they call Mark Judge as a character witness, I call him forth now, and just say, if you just look at Mark Judge's Facebook posts about women, they are clearly chattel to him.

So, I think that's the real issue Republicans have. They have decided and made a calculated consideration here that we are willing to potentially forsake the midterm election results, potentially lose the Senate majority because we'll have a lifetime appointment with this particular Supreme Court nominee.

I think what makes matters worse is there are some Democrats who have demonstrated fecklessness, and that is Jon Tester, that is Bill Nelson of Florida, that is Doug Jones of Alabama, and that is Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

West Virginia and Montana, I can understand a little bit. I have no idea why Doug Jones who was elected by 98 percent of black women, Doug Jones, the same question I asked you on that panel just a week ago and I also don't understand Bill Nelson who has to ride Andrew Gillum's coattails into victory in Florida during this general election. Why would he make this decision?

Republican lite is not acceptable. You have to be all blue everything in order to really win. And I think they're going to struggle with it.

CUOMO: All right. There's a lot to unpack for you to unpack, Mike Shields. How do you deal with it?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, because -- I don't understand why this is such a big deal that they scheduled a vote. Anyone who understands the Senate knows you can also move a vote.

CUOMO: You can.

SHIELDS: You can also lose a vote.

CUOMO: Fair point.

SHEILDS: So, they scheduled a vote because the Democrats have been pretty open and clear that that their entire tactic is to delay. And so, they're saying, look, we're respecting this process. We're actually having a hearing. We even moved the hearing. We even invited the person at a hearing and then delayed it so we can have a hearing.

But let -- Chris, let's have an intellectually honest conversation here. What this is about on the left is that they are pro-choice. The largest base of the Democratic Party, the most active and now becoming borderline militant base of the Democratic Party, are pro- choice activists. They are demanding that Democrats create a circus, they are demanding that they delay.

During the hearing for Judge Kavanaugh, they were not interested. They've already made up all their minds up. I mean, there are at least 45 Democrats that are 100 percent no before Kavanaugh was even announced by the president. And they said so.

CUOMO: One qualification --

SHIELDS: And so, the idea that -- well, let's not have the vote because we want to their testimony. This entire thing is about partisan politics.

CUOMO: Well, I give you that. I give you that.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: The whole thing is about partisan politics, that is true. Full stop.

These processes that we call the confirmation process are a sham. They are not about disclosure. They are about nondisclosure. Both sides play the game with nominees as they get their turn. All accepted and stipulated to.

However, if we want to be intellectually honest, there is one addendum to what you said, Shields. This for the left is all about not voting for him. Yes. They disagree with his jurisprudence. They disagree with where he's coming from.

SHIELDS: Right. So this isn't about victims. This isn't about #MeToo. This is about stopping someone --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No, hold on.

SHIELDS: That's what this is about.

CUOMO: No, hold on. Now I take it to you, Angela, because here's the addendum. That's not all it's about. That was before the allegations came up. They were against him conceptually.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Right. So, why isn't the deputy chair of the DNC being thrown out by the Democrats who is accused of sexually someone who is running for attorney general of Minnesota? Democrats don't want to talk about that. But now --

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: I want to talk about the hearing on Thursday.

CUOMO: But hold on a second. Mike, you cannot deflect -- I hear you on Ellison. We're trying to get his accuser on the show. I don't hide. I can't force people on the show.

SHIELDS: Good.

CUOMO: So here's the thing. I shy away from nothing. But you can't shy away from what's happening at the hearing by deflecting to some other allegation. That's not fair.

Angela Rye, but this change --

RYE: They sexually assaulted too. That's ridiculous.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: I'm asking the Democrats what really matters to them.

RYE: Well, well --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But Ellison should be investigated and they say it's ongoing. But that has nothing to do with this hearing.

Angela Rye, don't the allegations stand apart from just the discussion about jurisprudence?

RYE: Not only do they stand apart. There is now a second and potentially a third accuser. So, here's the other issue we have. If the Yale law professor who taught Judge Kavanaugh is saying this deserves an investigation, if there are three of his classmates who are saying, this deserves an investigation, what is the harm in really playing this out to see if this is accurate?

I don't have any issue with someone saying, you know what? We looked all through this. We can't find anything. This woman made it up.

You're not even allowing that to take place. And so, I'm saying the benefit of the doubt should be given to her, particularly with the record that Republicans have on women's issues. You just called women having the right to choose and reproductive rights militant. I mean, if that's militant, you know -- I mean, come on. But, I think, Mike, to be fair.

SHIELDS: What I'm saying is there are militants activists in your party that are demanding that these Democratic senators act this way or they will get primaried, and you just watch happens in the presidential nomination contest --

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: And you know what? They're going to get primaried. There are going to be women in your party who primary the cowards who will not allow this woman to have her day in court.

SHIELDS: Well, now you're almost agreeing with me. You're pointing out that what this -- this is not about a victim. There's going to be a hearing.

RYE: No, it is absolutely about a victim.

SHIELDS: No, it is not.

RYE: Yes, and it's also about an investigation that you all would not allow to take place. And I know, Mike, you're one of the reasonable ones. I know you want to see, finally, Donald Trump is doing something for conservatives that you like. But that does not mean that a process where you have the opportunity to highlight an issue of sexual harassment and assault by this man should not be addressed.

The fact that 27 years after Anita Hill, the Senate still does not have protocol and procedures in place for handling sexual harassment is something that should give them cause.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Angela, let him get in. Angela, let him get in.

Mike, go ahead.

SHIELDS: Look, Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton's comms director who is now running a super PAC that is dedicated to stopping Judge Kavanaugh told the truth. He was actually intellectually honest. He said here's what our mission is: stop Judge Kavanaugh by any means necessary, win the Senate and stop Donald Trump from putting people on the Supreme Court.

CUOMO: But you're assuming that the allegations from Professor Ford are part of a plot to stop.

SHIELDS: What I'm saying is she's going to have a hearing. The committee bent over backwards to give here hearing.

CUOMO: Bending over backwards --

RYE: Really? They didn't bend over backwards. Come on.

SHIELDS: They did. They she asked for --

RYE: They tried to force her to testify on Monday. Can you imagine?

CUOMO: Just to keep the record clear. I don't understand this from two perspectives. I respect your take on it.

One is, I think it's bad for Kavanaugh, what you guys are doing. If he wasn't there, if he did nothing wrong, as he said in that friendly interview last night, then she want all the boxes checked so that nobody can speculate on him.

SHIELDS: Chris, I can answer that.

CUOMO: The second thing is, you know that some of the digging on the corroboration that Ford offered up hasn't borne any fruit yet.

SHIELDS: Right.

CUOMO: So why wouldn't you go down the path of vetting it so people can say, your lack of effort leads them to a conclusion?

SHIELDS: For two reasons. One is both these accusers have now had every single reporter in the entire -- well, first of all, the first accuser came out. Dianne Feinstein did not decide to go to the FBI. She decided to make this public, which is different from Anita Hill.

CUOMO: We don't know that she had anything to do with making it public, but continue.

SHIELDS: She received the letter and somehow it became public and somehow her name became public.

CUOMO: You want to be intellectually honest. We don't know what happened. But go ahead.

SHIELDS: And every Democratic lawyer and investigator on the Judiciary Committee on this and every reporter in the country, and the only thing they were able to come back with was a very weak second person who has had every single witness that she named say, this is not true and I know nothing about it.

So, the point is, the Judiciary Committee has already seen all this stuff. They don't need more information, because it's obviously a smear and someone coming forward for political reasons. If they're going to give her a hearing --

CUOMO: That's an opinion but not a fact.

Angela, last word.

RYE: This is fascinating to me that Mike is saying the accuser is lying when there's no DNA evidence to exonerate him. There's no -- I mean, you have nothing to base that on except --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: In this country, the burden of proof is on the accuser. When you're accused of something -- you are innocent until proven guilty.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: So, Mike, I'm sorry that you somehow got the last word, but this is exactly is the problem with your party. The fact that you think you deserve to speak over a woman when he just said, I have the last word is exactly the reason why you're all going to lose the midterm elections.

SHIELDS: Angela, you interrupted me the entire time. So --

CUOMO: All right, all right.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: But he said I have the last word. That's the difference.

CUOMO: You just had it. You got the last word.

But, look, I'll tell you what. This is a hard conversation. We don't really know what the standards are. We're figuring it out. I respect you guys. You disagreed but you disagree the right way. And I appreciate you for it. That's not a cliche. We need to reinforce it in the way it is going right now.

Mike, Angela, thank you, thank you.

SHIELDS: Thank you.

RYE: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, Thursday, anyway you look at it. It is a big day. And it's not just a big day for Kavanaugh. That's the day that they decided at the White House to make the big Rosenstein showdown. Both of those things are less than 48 hours away.

There is zero chance that what happens on that day doesn't matter to all of us, all right?

And now, the secondary question after Kavanaugh is with Rosenstein. Does the man in charge of the Russia investigation get thrown out, or does he want out, and will he have to testify? Our next guest will have better insight than the rest of us. A friend and former boss of the deputy attorney general is here, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: So, just before we started tonight, we learned that House Republicans are starting the process of subpoenaing the Justice Department for memos written by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Why? They want the memos that were reportedly included about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in that "New York Times" story, with the alleged comments about secretly taping the president and trying to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Rosenstein emphatically denies those comments and he's going to make his case before the president at the White House Thursday. Yes, the same day as the Kavanaugh hearing.

Now, in a lead-up to this rendezvous, we're joined now by Mark Tuohey, former federal prosecutor, friend and former supervisor of Rod Rosenstein.

Thank you for taking this opportunity. We need the help.

I'll take his silence as acceptance. Can you hear me, Mark?

MARK TUOHEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I can hear you. Thank you.

CUOMO: Good.

So, what do you think is true? Do you think Rosenstein offered his resignation? Do you think he was just talking about it because he heard they were going to fire him? You know, help us. We've heard everything. Now, we hear that, you know, that there is an anticipation that he might resign or maybe there isn't. What do you know?

TUOHEY: My sense, Chris, is that Rod went over to see the chief of staff to the president after newspaper reports of comments by the president about the Department of Justice. And he wanted to tell the chief of staff as I understand it that he did not at any time offer to wear a wire, wire somebody up, try to use the 25th Amendment.

And I believe Rod Rosenstein. I've known him and worked with him over the last 24 years. So I don't know exactly what he and General Kelly talked about. But the impression I have is that he said, if the president wants my resignation, I will give it but I want him to know very firmly that I did not do these things.

CUOMO: All right. So, he says he didn't do it. He doesn't say he wants to resign. He says he would resign if asked. And you don't know that he did resign at any point already.

TUOHEY: I do not know. And I suspect he did not. I think he offered as the papers have suggested.

But I think more importantly, he wanted to convey to General Kelly and to the president, that the reports are inaccurate, that he did not do these things. And I believe him.

CUOMO: What do you think the relationship is between the president and Rosenstein? The reporting is, the sourcing is, it had gotten pretty good. That they were in somewhat of a good place. What was your take before this?

TUOHEY: My take is that Rod Rosenstein, one of the most respected and admired former federal prosecutors from his days until independent counsel's office at the Department of Justice and the United States attorney for two presidents --

CUOMO: Right.

TUOHEY: -- is an honest broker who is doing the job that he was statutorily required to do and that he honored those statutory regulations and supervising another outstanding former federal prosecutor, Bob Mueller.

So, the relationship between the president and Rod Rosenstein, it appears that there was a working relationship. But Rod Rosenstein is committed to do his job to the best of his ability and I believe he was doing it.

How can the president -- how can they ever get past the fact that he made a decision to bring in a special counsel that the president hates? You know, he hates that decision and that he picked Bob Mueller who the president now hates? How do you get past that? How can Rod Rosenstein convince the president that it was a legitimate move when so many around the president are telling him it was illegitimate?

TUOHEY: Well, first of all, it is not the president's call and it is not the attorney general's call. Because of the recusal, Rod Rosenstein is a deputy attorney general, was vested with the responsibility by statute to select a special counsel.

CUOMO: You think he had to do it. TUOHEY: Yes, I do.

CUOMO: Even though people will criticize him and say there was no apparent crime to be investigated. I did the legal research. I don't see that as a premise, but a lot of better minds than mine are making that case. What do you say?

TUOHEY: I stay that the purpose of the special counsel statute, not unlike the former independent counsel statute that I was involved with, is to investigate whether allegations of wrongdoing. The allegation of wrongdoing involved potentially a number of people. It may have included the president at the beginning, it may not have.

But the point is, he has to do the job that the statute and the law requires. And that's what he was doing. The fact that somebody doesn't like it is not relevant.

CUOMO: Do you think -- so, what we're seeing now is indications that Rosenstein doesn't want to resign, because if he wanted to, he would. So, the fact that he hasn't seems to indicate that he hasn't to, right? It's just simple logic.

There's going to be pressure on Thursday. We don't know what's going to happen in that room. I want your sense of what happens on Thursday and whether or not Rosenstein is willing to weather going in before Congress, raising his hand and testifying about what he did and did not say with respect to that "New York Times" story.

What do you think happens Thursday and do you think he'd do that?

TUOHEY: Well, Thursday, of course, is the day he's meeting with the president. And I expect that Rod as the fine lawyer and experienced prosecutor that he is, is going to explain to the president the job he's doing, and that he, the Department of Justice and the American people expect the job to be completed in a highly professional manner. And he doesn't believe that these allegations that have been made, offhanded, have any credibility or any basis in fact and I would expect the president of the United States to accept the statement of his deputy attorney general, given his reputation and integrity, and allow him to finish the job that the American people expect him to do. That's what I expect to happen.

CUOMO: And, quickly, do you think Rosenstein would raise his hand under oath and answer questions for Congress?

TUOHEY: I have no doubt, Chris, if he is subpoenaed to appear, he will do, he will raise his hand, he'll tell truth and that should be the end of it.

CUOMO: Mark Tuohey, I don't know if they subpoena him. They probably ask him first. But what great insights. You couched it very well in terms of how you know and I appreciate you telling us and giving us your sense of the situation. Very helpful.

TUOHEY: Thank you, Chris. It is nice to have one Fordham lawyer talk to another. CUOMO: Well, one real one and one fugazi one who's on TV. But I'll

take it. Thank you.

TUOHEY: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: One thing for sure, tensions are high over politics in this country. The anger is palpable. Voters have a right to be heard. But, hey, come on. Decency, people. They should not be harassing politicians having a quiet dinner with their loved ones. There's a time, there's a place and there's a manner. We're going to show you what happened to Ted Cruz that even outraged his sharpest critic.

Take a look. Be open-minded, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. So, it's Monday night, right? Senator Cruz is out having dinner with his wife Heidi and this happens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would love to talk to you about Brett Kavanaugh tonight. I'm a constituent. Love to know what your vote is going to be tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, I have a right to know what your position is on Brett Kavanaugh.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: God bless you, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a survivor of sexual assault, ma'am.

CRUZ: Excuse me, let my wife through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Liberal activists swarmed the senator. You heard what they were doing. Chants, demanding to know his position on embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Cruz's opponent Beto O'Rourke tweeted this. It's not right that Senator Cruz and his wife Heidi were surrounded and forced the leave a restaurant last night because of protesters. The Cruz family should be treated with respect.

Let's bring in Don Lemon.

What's your take?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": It's a tough one, Chris, because one, it's survivors, right, of sexual abuse. I'm one. As a person of color I know that especially during civil rights movement and now, sometimes the only agency you have is to protest and to get in someone's face. You don't have any power when it comes to government or -- and in society. I don't like it but it is one reason I'm not a public official. That

I'm not running for office in a way I think it goes with the territory. I don't like that they were blocking his wife, but that's what he signed up for. And as a strict constitutionalist, which Ted Cruz is, he knows it is protected under the First Amendment.

Again, I don't like it. I don't like it happening to his wife. But he -- that's what he signed up for. That's part of the deal.

CUOMO: I don't know that's what he signed up for, but that may be what the price is of being in public service, that there's a different standard for him.

LEMON: Well, semantics. We're saying the same thing, yes, but --

CUOMO: No, no, I hear you. I don't think it's purely semantical.

I think that this is wrong. Do they have the right to do it? A hundred percent. But you don't have to be Ted Cruz to know that.

But is it right that they do it this way? What did they achieve by doing it this way? Do you think they changed Ted Cruz's mind? Did they raise awareness to something that was positive, or did they raise awareness to something that makes their effort look bad?

LEMON: I don't know. As I said, I think it's semantics. You don't. As I said, I don't like it. I wouldn't want it to happen to me.

I don't like the idea that it happens to his wife, or it could happen to any family member, someone who did not run for office and became a public official. No, I would not like that.

But if you run for office and you propose policies that are detrimental to people, as Americans you have the right to tell your public officials that you don't like it.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: And if you're in a space where you're allowed to do that, then you can do it. Just think --

CUOMO: That was a private restaurant, by the way.

LEMON: It's a private restaurant, but just remember, it happened in the chamber when President Obama was giving the first State of the Union. You lie. Someone got in his face. Was it right to do it? No. But did he have the right to do it? Absolutely.

So it does happen. It doesn't mean that I like it, but I kind of think if you're a public official, then you need to stand by what you say, and that's part of the deal.

CUOMO: Don Lemon, appreciate your take. Tweet Don if you don't like it.

All right. I know it's been a crazy week in the news, but what happens when we get so focused on that one big story in front of us? We'll have the conversation about how leads and who follows a different day, whether I set the agenda and you have to watch it or I give you what I think you want to watch. We'll talk about that another day, maybe online.

But there's a story going on now that's going to blow your mind, and it's getting almost no attention. Our argument, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Have you heard? There is a desperate search going on. Hundreds of kids have been taken and moved all over the country. Parents are in a panic.

We're told for 100 families, they may never get their kids back. I'm talking about the border crisis. It's still a crisis. Three hundred kids are still in situations you wouldn't want your kids in for 300 seconds. And of that remaining 300, from close to 3,000 that were originally stripped from families, 182 are on track for reunification.

For 100 more, it may never happen. At least six of the kids still waiting are under 5 years of age. My 8-year-old still sleeps with us every night. Imagine at that tender age not knowing where mom and dad are sleeping.

Remember, the original deadline was in July. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This administration did not create a policy of separating families at the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: This. We do not have a policy of separating families at the border, period.

Then why is her signature on documents that say otherwise? A DHS memo to Secretary Nielsen presenting her with options on how to implement a zero tolerance policy at the border has two key parts. One, DSH could also permissibly direct the separation of parents or legal guardians and minors held in immigration detention so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted.

Now, much of the document is redacted, but at the end it reads, we recommend option three as the most effective method. This initiative would pursue prosecution of all amenable adults who cross our border illegally, including those presenting with a family unit. If you do not have a plan on how to deal with those families that are arrested, you will necessarily, automatically separate kids from parents whenever you arrest those parents. That's what DHS plans to do every time.

So why did Secretary Nielsen choose this option if she doesn't want a policy of separation, period? Like I say, we've only seen a redacted version of the memo, but Open

the Government, one of the groups that filed the FOIA request to get the document, they've seen an unredacted version. They say the memo does not contain a plan for reuniting separated families, a study of the potential harm to kids, or input -- listen to this -- from the agencies who would be caring for the kids.

So, your plan doesn't include a plan for the kids, doesn't even talk to the people who will take care of the kids, but then you tell the American people to their face you're not about separation.

Listen, being hard-line on immigration is fine. You want to be about the law, that's fine. But to see kids as collateral damage is wrong. To write off what you do to kids as the price of their parents' entry is wrong.

Today you heard the world laugh at our president because of his obnoxious lies. They're not laughing now. Imagine how this looks to the world.

What is America? It is the beacon. E.B. White wrote the line, America -- he was talking about the church spire in the community, but the metaphor extends. America is the white plume showing this is the way up. Policies like this bring us down.

Secretary Nielsen, take my invitation. Come on the show. Make the case for why this is OK. And for the rest of us, remember that the kids are still there and be aware that if you don't pay attention -- and this policy is what happens -- it will happen again.

That's all for us tonight. Thank you for watching. Thank you for listening to the SiriusXM radio show, channel 124. I take your calls. We get at it. I love it.

"CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" starts right now.

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