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CUOMO PRIME TIME

NYT: Investigation Dismantles Trumps "Self-Made" Image; FBI Expands Inquiries into Ford Allegations. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 2, 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: I never miss it. Thank you, Anderson.

I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Donald Trump has been exposed as a tax cheat and his story about how he made his fortune has been exposed as a fraud, according to "The New York Times". A deep dive into Trumpdom that cuts through skin and muscle and gristle down to the bones of a scheme to shelter money for the sake of Donald Trump and his siblings and foresaking tax liability allegedly to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

So, what does this mean for the president? Is this why the president doesn't want to show us his taxes?

We have a perfect guest to ask, one of the big names Democrats have to take on Trump in 2020. Former A.G. Eric Holder is here. The Russia investigation, the Rosenstein ruckus, and what he says is the hidden bogeyman in many the midterms.

All this news cannot distract from the FBI watch on the Kavanaugh confirmation. We have breaking news tonight on the investigation.

So, what do you say? Let's get after it.

(MUSIC)

CUOMO: All right. We have a new investigation by "The New York Times". They're telling me to rush over, I can't with my neck. The investigation takes a look at how much Fred Trump loved his son Donald and his other children and hated paying taxes.

It is a granular probe, 100,000 pages of filings and documents, depositions, and experts, and insiders, all coming together to paint a picture of outright fraud, according to the paper, in part allowing President Trump to increase the massive fortune he received from his father Fred.

What's the headline for the president? Self-made my eye. Trump says he hit a home run in business, but turns out, he wasn't just born on second base as we all know. His father carried him around third and threw him toward home.

Exhibit A, Trump has long insisted that his father provided almost no financial help, and a small loan of $1 million. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My father gave me a small loan of $1 million. I came into Manhattan, I had to pay him back and I have to pay him back with interest.

I started with a $1 million loan, I built it into a $10 billion dollar company.

My father gave a very small loan in 1975, and I built it into a company that's worth many, may billions of dollars.

I built that into a massive empire, and I paid my father back that loan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, the problem with saying something a lot that's not true, is you start to believe it. And "The New York Times" proved what many have suspected for a long time, that million dollar loan, that's not true. They found at least $60 million in loans back then, that would be worth $140 million in current dollars, OK?

Trump called his father's business just good, not great. Fred Trump was worth way more than his son apparently. He larded cash on him from jump. By age 3, Mr. Trump was earning $200,000 a year in today's dollars from his father. He was a millionaire by age eight.

The biggest payday he ever got from his father came when Trump and his siblings sold off the empire, Donald's cut was $177 million, worth $236 million in today's dollars. But that was just a piece of the pie that Fred Trump was feeding his self-made son over the years.

All in all, "The Times" says that self-made Trump received at least $413 million in current currency, from his father's real estate empire. "The Times" documented 295 streams of revenue that Fred Trump created over five decades to enrich his son, and to minimize taxes by all legal means and according to "The Times", questionably legal and maybe worse than questionably legal.

So, how did they do it?

Well, they did it by creating, according to "The New York Times", sham corporations, by filing improper tax deductions and undervaluing real estate. If you're not a multimillionaire or you haven't spent time investigating them, you won't know that that's not unusual. Rich people find ways to hide money, there are a lot of loopholes in the tax code that they use.

But then there's how he helped Trump's fate as a quiet investor and helped bail out many failures. What do we know? In December of 1987, records show Fred Trump bought a 7.5 percent stake in Trump Palace. So what? It's not wrong. He wants to invest in his son. Fair enough.

But most if not all of the investment, which totaled about $15.5 million was made by exchanging Donald Trump's unpaid debts for Trump Palace shares. This is according to records, you get it? He owed his father money, his father bought a part of his property, his son gave him shares and that retired the debt. You see what I'm seeing? He didn't pay it back. So, the shares were worth $15.5 million. He sold it back for $10,000.

Well, what does that mean? $15.5 million, you sold it back for 10,000, that's a gift of $15.49 million taxable as a gift. Fred Trump reported no such gift. Did Donald Trump? I don't know.

All in all, "The Times" says Fred and Mary transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children. By the way, that's not really wrong, right? You have money, you want to give it to your kids, we understand.

But what about the taxes? Fifty-five percent estate tax, right? That would be $550 million. The Trump's paid a total of $52.2 million. That's about five percent of what they were supposed to, according to tax records obtained by "The Times".

So, how is the president responding? As usual, deny everything through his lawyer and attack the source. This is the response.

"The New York Times" allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false and highly defamatory. President Trump had no virtually involvement whatsoever with these matters. "The Times" says he was certainly part of the architecting of this scheme.

The affairs were handled by other Trump members who were not experts themselves and, therefore, relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law.

The White House is also responding. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says this: It's sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing "New York Times". Many decades ago, the IRS signed and -- reviewed and signed off on these transactions.

Sarah, the million dollar thing, you got to be careful, she tells the story that the president tells, he only gave me a million, I paid it back with interest. We now know that's not true. So, if you keep saying you know it isn't true, you wind up owning that untruth yourself.

And it raises a question on all this. Is this why Trump won't show us his taxes? Is he moving the money the same way?

Let's bring in the experts, Michael Zeldin used to investigate exactly these types of transactions for the government, Jennifer Rodgers and Stephen Moore, all have expertise in what we're talking about here and I thank you all very much.

Michael Zeldin, let me start with you. Legally, I don't see it, statute of limitations maybe on the civil side, fines. But when you look at what's in this report by "The Times", what gives you pause?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So you always have to, in these matters, make sure that you understand the difference between lawful tax avoidance and illegal tax evasion. So, you have to really parse these transactions almost transaction by transaction to see whether or not they were, as you said in the setup, taking advantage of loopholes within the tax code, which would be lawful avoidance --

CUOMO: Right.

ZELDIN: -- or end running them in terms of legal evasion.

CUOMO: Right.

ZELDIN: What stands out to me the most is the valuations of these properties. That is, for tax purposes, there was a low value set for the property so that taxes paid were reduced. And when collateralizing for other loans --

CUOMO: Right.

ZELDIN: -- and matters by which they sought equity, the value was inflated. So, that movement of value of property within a short period of time to me reflects more on the evasion side of the ledger than the avoidance side of the ledger.

CUOMO: Well, there's something, Jennifer. Let's bring you in on this.

I thought what was interesting in terms of architecture was when the family or whomever winds up having the guilt in this, or the responsibility, let's say, of putting together that company that was a double layer on tope of the vendors, so that people would sell things to the Trump properties, this company would them invoice them, pay them back and then elevate the price and charge the Trump Organization directly. Fred Trump therefore filtering more money from him to where he wanted it for the kids. That's fishy.

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. That's the one that looks to me to be the most criminal, although as we know, they're all too old to charge now. But that's the one where you actually have really kind of a run of the mill fraud, not just a tax evasion, but a regular, old, wire fraud or mail fraud. I mean, and here they are literally defrauding people, defrauding the government, but also defrauding others, including ultimately some of their tenants as they try to raise prices based on what we know is false information now according to reporting.

CUOMO: Stephen, I am a lousy investor, but if you give me $400 million, I'm going to do OK. I have the timeline up behind me, because I do believe this is about honesty on one level. The president saying that he got a million from his father, when he got 60. When he says he was self-made and Fred Trump was only good, but he was great, when Fred obviously had way more in assets than he's ever had.

And we see in this clear timeline that's he's been feeding from the Fred trough his entire life, isn't this the truth? Isn't this something he should own instead of saying he's a self-made man? STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, let's get to the

heart of the matter, which is the issue of whether or r not he was involved in criminal fraud, as one of you just said. And whether he was guilty of tax evasion, which is a crime. Tax avoidance as we've all agree on is not a crime. In fact, every good businessman and woman in America, does tax avoidance.

CUOMO: It's a skill set.

MOORE: Everyone wants to reduce their tax liability.

CUOMO: Nobody wants to pay more in taxes. I got you.

MOORE: Right. So, let me make my point.

So, I want to get this story straight, it doesn't add up. Donald Trump has probably been audited hundreds of times, there's probably not too many people in America who have been audited more than Donald Trump.

CUOMO: How do you know that?

MOORE: He said it, he --

CUOMO: Oh.

MOORE: Well, first of all, why wouldn't they audit you?

CUOMO: Well, well --

MOORE: Now then, here's my point -- you're asserting that these three reporters from "The New York Times" have discovered all of this tax fraud, when hundreds of IRS auditors didn't find it? I mean, that just isn't plausible. Incidentally, "The New York Times", this is about the fourth or fifth time, the New York Times has run this story. I remember they ran the story six months before the election.

They keep repeating the story --

CUOMO: No, this is new.

MOORE: Oh, it's all new? It's not new.

CUOMO: A lot of this is new. I did this investigating, I did it where a team at ABC News. We got into this -- it would be comical if it weren't so scary at the time. I would have phone dialogues with Donald Trump, every time we would give him an estimate of his net worth, Stephen, you ask him if this is true or not, because I know it isn't.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: Let's say that its $100 million. For somebody to take $100 million and turn that into a $10 billion business, that's one hell of a businessman.

CUOMO: Do you know that he has a $10 billion business?

MOORE: Now, look at the enterprise --

CUOMO: No.

MOORE: -- every city in America has a Trump Hotel.

CUOMO: Yes, but it doesn't mean he owns. They're licensing deals.

MOORE: The real estate development. I mean, he's an incredible businessman.

CUOMO: He doesn't own the property.

Look, we're going to take a break because there's a lot to chew on here.

MOORE: OK.

CUOMO: Because we got facts and then we've got feelings about the president. And they are not meshing, OK?

Is he a self-made billionaire? Is he a billionaire? Maybe. Probably, most will say yes. Self-made? How do you make the case?

Is he responsible for a scheme to transfer money in a way that it should not have been done? Maybe.

We have a lot more to go through with our panel. I've never seen more granular reporting than "The New York Times" has.

We also have a former attorney general who could be a future presidential candidate. What is his take on all of this?

Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. Now, what is the signature story for Donald Trump? No matter what I say, no matter what I do, I am one hell of a businessman. I built myself a multibillion dollar enterprise, pulling myself up by my bootstraps.

A "New York Times" investigation says no, no, no. He built it with tax schemes and outright fraud. That's what they say.

Still with us, Michael Zeldin, Stephen Moore and Jennifer Rodgers, two former prosecutors and an economic expert.

That's what I'm giving you, Stephen Moore.

But let me ask you this -- this is the question for Michael Zeldin. You heard the redoubtable Steven Moore say, it's a $10 billion business he built, he's been audited dozens of times, what do you make of those statements? ZELDIN: I have no basis to know whether that's true. Nor do I think

does Steven. So the easiest way too resolve this uncertainty is for the president to release his past 10 years of personal and corporate business tax records so that we can understand what is the truth and what is the fiction in this.

The other thing is, is that much of the tax evasion avoidance discussion with respect to "The New York Times" story, would relate to Fred Trump, the father's tax returns and how these were addressed, and we don't know the answer to how, if they were audited at all. So, I think Stephen is assuming facts not in evidence, and until we see those tax returns, we can assume only that "The Times" -- I think mostly has it right, until proven otherwise.

CUOMO: No one likes to have a taxman in their life. But one thing that has to be pointed out. When you and I were going at it at the commercial, Jennifer came in to speak truth to power. All audits are not equal.

Jennifer, come in on this discussion on this. The idea of, well, he was audited, everything must be fine.

RODGERS: I mean, you know, listen, these IRS agents are busy people. They pay more attention to some things than others. They pay more attention to personal taxes than they do with business taxes in a lot of ways. And, you know, as we were talking about, sometimes they don't pay any attention at all if you say you've earned nothing, right? They pay more attention if you actually give sort of an evaluation of what it is and they'll bicker back and forth with you.

So, we don't know what went on at the time. I'm sure they were looked at to some degree, but I mean, the numbers here that they've presented are staggering in the undervaluing. I mean, it has to be intentional, whether it's Donald Trump or the professionals that they surrounded themselves with, you know, I'm not sure.

The All County thing, the shell county thing looks to me to be clearly a fraud. The rest of it, you know, who knows, we need to know more.

CUOMO: Stephen, I'm willing to look past everything -- hold on, one second, Michael -- Stephen, I'm willing to look past everything about the father. God bless him for making that money. God bless him for giving that to his kids. Good for him for finding a way to work the system and do it.

Let's assume all that as evidence for a second and stipulate to all of it. My point is this, Donald Trump has been telling a story about himself for a long time that is demonstrably false. And now you see it in the reporting of the timeline you saw. His father transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to him, bailed him out, bought casino chips worth millions of dollars that were never used, took an interest in a building that was paid back at a fraction of the cost, which is just another way to get a gift, that's the truth.

MOORE: Look, I can't comment on how much money.

CUOMO: You must.

MOORE: I just don't know the facts. I don't know how much of the wealth --

CUOMO: It didn't stop you with the $10 billion business. You don't know that he has a $10 billion business.

MOORE: Most people, usually, in one or two generations, a fortune can be squandered and there is nothing is left. Donald Trump has taken that money and built an empire. I just --

CUOMO: He was given an empire, that's the point.

MOORE: Every city in America, has a massive Trump Hotel.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: He doesn't own the buildings, he's not his father. He licenses the name.

MOORE: Let me make one other point. I thought it was rather hypocritical say, his father didn't pay any estate tax. Guess what, the Kennedys didn't pay any estate tax.

CUOMO: Oh, then it's OK.

MOORE: No, no, no.

CUOMO: I forgot about the Kennedys. It's all OK, next subject.

MOORE: Bezos isn't going to pay any estate tax, Bill Gates isn't, George Soros isn't --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Are they president now?

MOORE: Billionaires don't pay an estate tax. That's the reason we shouldn't have an estate tax.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Are they president now and saying they won't turn over their taxes?

MOORE: Pardon me?

CUOMO: Are they president right now and saying, I won't show you my taxes?

MOORE: Why are we revisiting this?

CUOMO: Because it matters.

MOORE: This was all adjudicated during the election.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- whether or not the guy is doing the same thing that his father did.

MOORE: I'm going to make a deal with you, Chris. This is the heart of the matter.

CUOMO: Please?

MOORE: Let's find out from the IRS how many times Donald Trump is audited.

CUOMO: Look, I'll give you that, it's not the heart of the matter.

MOORE: It is, because if he's been audited hundreds of times, how could "The New York Times" come up, you're saying that "The New York Times" is better at auditing these tax returns than the people who --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: They don't what the returns. They don't even have the access.

MOORE: It doesn't make any sense.

CUOMO: Michael, here's the point. People get around the tax code all the time, legally, kind of legally, and otherwise.

MOORE: It's not that easy. It's not that easy.

CUOMO: My point is this, that Stephen is deflecting from, and rather effectively, I'll give to him. He's not just good looking. He's got a good mind.

Michael, the president says I did it all myself, my father gave me a million dollars, he was good at business, he wasn't great. I had to pay him back with interest. The rest on me. Demonstrably false, yes or no?

ZELDIN: Well, according to "The New York Times", false.

And going back to the point that we are addressing with Stephen Moore, it is the valuations that prove the truth of the proposition, which is, when property is values for tax purposes as worth something much less than what it's sold for a few years later, unless there's a major spike in the real estate market, that is indicia of false valuation.

CUOMO: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE: No, it is not, that happens all the time. All the time on tax return --

ZELDIN: Stephen, excuse me, excuse me.

MOORE: -- people depreciate the value of these assets. CUOMO: They depreciate it, but when you do it so much that grossly defies estimates of other buildings in the same area assessed at the same time, it looks suspicious. Obviously you need more. The problem is, we have a president that doesn't want to disclose anything. That's why I wanted to have the discussion.

Stephen, Michael, Jennifer, you were the best in the whole panel. Everything you said makes sense. Thank you for all three for making sense of this. This is heady stuff and important stuff.

Now, we're going to look at it a different way. When we come back, who would you say is the Democrats' best chance to beat President Trump if anyone? Eric Holder is going to be on everybody's short list and he is here. What about "The Times" report, what does he think? Rosenstein, Mueller, 2020, the FBI with Kavanaugh?

All of this, we've got the right guest for you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: New information tonight on the Kavanaugh investigation. The scope of the FBI probe appears to be expanding. Not by the Senate, but by the FBI itself.

They did four interviews. That's what we've heard, right? Now we're told they may go beyond that. Two sources tell CNN, they may look at Kavanaugh's high school friends, listed as attending a party on the nominee's calendar from 1982, what does this mean?

Let's bring in former attorney general, Eric Holder.

Welcome to PRIME TIME.

ERIC HOLDER, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to be here.

CUOMO: It's good to have you, sir.

So, the concern with this probe is that it's not a real probe, they only have a few days, there's a report that they may be done tomorrow. Now, we're told they're seeing something, and they may want to expand. What -- how do you make sense of what is logical here?

HOLDER: Well, I think there's a lot of speculation as to what the state of the FBI probe actually is. My hope is that the bureau is doing what they normally do, which is to be tasked with the responsibility of trying to determine the facts, the truth, and then they follow leads, they send people out, they follow the information and let the information direct them to where they should go, as opposed to being directed by the White House, or being circumscribed in their actions by the White House.

CUOMO: But limited in scope was the phrase we kept hearing. If they say they want to chase this down, how does that come to me tomorrow?

HOLDER: Yes. When I was attorney general and we had to reopen a background investigation, we might say, we just need you to look at a certain subject matter. And then the FBI was free to look at that subject. I'm a little concerned that the White House here might have told people -- told the FBI to look at certain people, do not speak to other people. Far more prescriptive that is normally done.

CUOMO: The problem is, we're not going to know, right? I mean, they're going to report back to the White House, White House will tell the Senate. You know, we're going to have to depend on leaks.

If it comes back that there was good reason to believe that the judge was not honest, not about corroborating the sexual assault allegations, let's say they have nothing on that, but he didn't tell the truth about what his yearbook means, his habits then, his habits in college. Is that worth not confirming him?

HOLDER: Yes. I think they're actually a couple -- a few buckets you have to look at. One, did he commit those acts when he was a teenager with regard to those women? Did he lie while he was testifying in a whole variety of ways before the committee?

And then, what about his temperament and the way in which he conducted himself in that questioning? Did he conduct himself in a way you would expect a person who would be on the Supreme Court to? And in addition to that, you also have his judicial philosophy.

But looking at that second one, if he in fact lied to the committee --

CUOMO: What if he just didn't disclose fully? What if he just misrepresented? What if it was a sin of omission?

HOLDER: It would depend on, you know, what the omission was about. If it is about that which brought the senators back into that second hearing, that to me seems serious, and could from my perspective, cause a no vote.

CUOMO: Another subject, the president of the United States points out your relationship with Barack Obama is what he wants in it an A.G. I want somebody to protect my back, somebody who has me the way Holder had Obama's back.

Did you see your job that way as to protect the president?

HOLDER: No, I didn't see my job as protecting the president. My job was to serve the people of the United States. But the other realities, I didn't have to do anything to protect Barack Obama.

This president clearly thinks there are things he needs to be protected from, and he wants his attorney general to do it, which is inappropriate.

CUOMO: If when the president, Obama was asking you to do the job, if there was an investigation going on, that you knew you would have to recuse yourself from, is that something you would have disclosed to him? And do you think that's something that the president would have needed to hear from you? Because that's Trump's beef with Sessions, is I put you in there, and then you stepped away from the thing I put you in there to control. HOLDER: That's kind of an anticipatory thing. You know, when I'm in

the process of talking to Barack Obama about whether I'm going to take the job as attorney general, it's kind of hard to see what it is I'm going to have to be responsible for when I become the A.G.

CUOMO: This was more obvious with the Russia thing outstanding.

HOLDER: Yes. And I would think had that been the case, and I would have said to him, you know, Mr. President, it's likely I'm going to recuse myself in the Russia investigation. I don't think that Barack Obama would have seen that as a disqualifier.

CUOMO: Do you think you would have had to step away? Do you think Sessions did the right thing?

HOLDER: Yes, I think he clearly did the right thing. I mean, Jeff Sessions and I on ideological opposite polls. I disagree vehemently with a lot of the things he's done. But with regard to the recusal, I think that was the appropriate thing to do.

CUOMO: If you were he, would you step down? If Barack Obama as a man, let alone as the president, talked to you the way Donald Trump talks about Sessions, would you stay?

HOLDER: I could not have taken as much as he has taken. I think by taking what he has taken, he not only, you know, weakens himself as attorney general. It has an effect on the institution.

And at some point, you have to say to the president, no, you've got to respond to the president. And these are extraordinary things, I've never seen a president talk to the attorney general in the way this president has spoken to his attorney general. But I think you have to respond in extraordinary ways, always thinking about how you are going to protect the institution.

CUOMO: Rosenstein is buying time. Supposed to be last week, the same day as the hearing. That was nuts to put it on the same day. They bought a week.

Supposed to be this week. They're quiet on it.

HOLDER: Right.

CUOMO: Maybe it will be next week. What do you think happens with Rosenstein?

HOLDER: You know, Rod's a good guy, I've known him for 20 years. He's a man of integrity. I think he's done an awful lot to help protect the Mueller investigation.

CUOMO: Do you think he would talk about the 25th Amendment and say he wants to wear a wire and record the president?

HOLDER: That doesn't strike me as Rod, at least not in a serious way.

CUOMO: Right. HOLDER: I can see him coming back and say, man, you won't believe what this guy said. I'm going to wear a wire the next time I go in there.

CUOMO: It's a joke.

HOLDER: Or, you know, he's so crazy, we need to think about the 25th Amendment. But the notion that the deputy attorney general is going to be serious about leading the cabinet, you know, the 25th Amendment examination --

CUOMO: That doesn't make sense.

HOLDER: That doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.

CUOMO: Would you now, the same question I asked about Sessions I ask about Rosenstein. As someone who is the wall, no pun intended, between the Mueller investigation and the president, would you step down if you were Rod Rosenstein?

HOLDER: That's a difficult -- that's a little more difficult in the sense that he's the person who is actually involved in the investigation, I suspect is the protector of the investigation, I think you have to realize that the institution is bigger than any individual. And that the removal of an individual is not going to mean that the institution is going to crumble, that institution is going to somehow fail.

You know, attorneys general come and go. Deputy attorneys general come and go. But the Justice Department keeps chugging along.

CUOMO: Did you know when you're the attorney general that FBI and the DOJ were populated with a bunch of lefties that were waiting for a moment to strike against the right?

HOLDER: I think that -- one of the things that you don't do, I served for 12 years as just a line guy in the public integrity section of the criminal division of the Justice Department, my first job when I came out of law school. And one of the things that you did not do was to ever discuss politics with the people who you worked with.

So, I didn't know the people I worked with were Republicans, Democrats, conservatives or liberals. In fact, the first guy I ever tried a case with, and that we lost was a Republican, I didn't find that out until about 20 years after we tried that case.

CUOMO: So, you don't buy the McCabe, Strzok, Ohr, the cabal, the 13 angry men, that it's a lefty conspiracy?

HOLDER: No, there's no lefty conspiracy. Let's think about the campaign and all the leaks that were coming out -- apparently of the New York FBI office that were directed at Hillary Clinton, that was not the --

CUOMO: And Comey coming forward. So, now, this all teases up for 2020. Do you want to make this easy

for me? Or I have to jump in the Tim Russert, may he rest in peace, you're going to run in 2020?

HOLDER: I am, as I said, thinking about it. I'm going to decide next year. But, right now, I'm focused on November 6th, and making sure we have a good midterm election.

CUOMO: So, that's not a no?

HOLDER: No, that's not a no. And I've said, you know --

CUOMO: When are you going to decide?

HOLDER: I think the first quarter of next year.

CUOMO: You think you can beat him?

HOLDER: It will be interesting to see, two guys from queens. I know how to talk to that guy. I know Donny Trump, I know that guy.

CUOMO: Do you take him on toe to toe? Or do you rise above? It's not easy.

HOLDER: It's a combination of both. But it's time for Democrats to be tough. You can't get in it just to make a statement. We have to go into the next contest with the idea that we want to win, And we're going to do everything we have to do to win.

Nothing that's inappropriate. Nothing that's illegal. But the hit -- when you get hit, you hit back harder.

CUOMO: It's tough to do that and salvage decency. That's what we're dealing with here every night, is that if you want to have a fight, we can have a fight. But how do you do it with decency? How do you disagree and get people to find common ground instead of common enemies?

HOLDER: Sure.

CUOMO: Now, it's a segue to something you're worried about during midterms. Everybody is thinking about message. You're saying the fight's over long before you get to who's running because of redirecting.

HOLDER: Yes.

CUOMO: That that's the sin of the Democrats, you lost the state seats and the states do the districts. And then that leads to the Congress members and on and on.

You say that's a big ill. How do you know it, and what do you do about it?

HOLDER: Well, if you look at what happened in 2011 when the Republicans control the redistricting the last time, Princeton has done a study and said that's the worst partisan redirecting in the last 50 years. Now, we saw what happened over the course of this decade where Democrats have consistently in some states gotten more votes than Republicans and have far less in terms of percentage of representation. That leads to gridlock in Washington, where people do not want to be seen as cooperating with the other side, at least the cynicism, when people see this gridlock.

And so what we're trying to do in 2021 is to make sure we have a fair process, not a gerrymandered for Democrats. Just a fair process.

CUOMO: How do you fix it?

HOLDER: Well, we're going to have to file lawsuits, where we can do that, we are supporting reform efforts where we can do that. I think we should take this out of the lands of politicians all together and have independent commissions to actually draw the lines. I guess the best way, California does that, Arizona does that.

We're supporting efforts like that in Michigan, Utah, Missouri, and Colorado right now.

CUOMO: It's an interesting ground up platform for a presidential campaign. You're literally starting at the grassroots level, not suggesting that's why you're doing it.

HOLDER: Yes.

CUOMO: But it's a good place to start.

HOLDER: I think that's where we have to start. Democrats have been thrilled about the top of the ticket and we have been ignored people who are down-ballot, and that's where everything percolates from, including as you said, Congress.

CUOMO: Former A.G. Eric Holder, I hope this is the first of many discussions.

HOLDER: Thanks for have me.

CUOMO: You were born in the Bronx, right?

HOLDER: Born in the Bronx, lived in Queens.

CUOMO: Born in Bronx, moved up, moved to Queens.

HOLDER: Here you go, suburb.

CUOMO: Good move.

Thank you, sir.

All right. President Trump reflects on the stories of sexual assault that have been bubbling up. He says it's a scary time in America. But not for the reason you might think. His point has a lot of folks pissed off, why, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Let's all take it easy, let's let the process play out. That's what the president said. Whoo, that's out the window.

Now when he's talking about Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser especially, he's openly mocking her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had one beer. Well, you think it was -- no, it was one beer. Oh, good.

How did you get home? I don't remember. How did you get there? I don't remember.

Where was the place? I don't remember. How many years ago was it? I don't know. I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Would they applaud like that when he was talking about Stormy Daniels and he knew nothing about it and directed and even had his son involved to cover up?

He also told that amped up Mississippi crowd that women should be married about their men.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Think of your son, think of your husband, I have had many false accusations, I've had it all the -- I've had so many. And when I say it didn't happen, nobody believes me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That's because there's a question of whether or not it's true.

You see Don Lemon in the screen right now.

He's got a lawsuit against him from one of the accusers. But the larger issue here, Don, is, here we are in a cultural moment, where we're trying to tell people, it's OK to come forward. It doesn't mean everybody's right, it doesn't mean that as soon as you make an accusation, somebody else has to be punished, but you should come out. It's a safe thing to do.

What does this message do?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": Well, a couple things here, number one. In the first sound bite you played, I'll get to what the message does in a second. He could be talking about Brett Kavanaugh, except for the one beer part, right? I had one beer.

At first I was like, is he mocking Brett Kavanaugh? Because Brett Kavanaugh said, I like beer, I like beer, I like beer, if you drink that much beer, then who knows what could happen. Is his memory serving him properly?

So, he should probably think about that before he does that, because the person he is backing up is the person who espouses to loving beer and drinking so much.

As far as the message, it's a terrible message, if you teach your boys to do the right thing and to treat women with respect, then you don't have to worry about it.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Because they won't put themselves in that situation. And if there is no evidence there, there is no evidence there to back it up, we should be more concerned about young women than we are about men in this culture and society. And so, tone deaf.

CUOMO: I think that -- well, I think that it's tone deaf, but we have to remember what his filter is.

LEMON: It's also desperate.

CUOMO: He's thinking about himself.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He said yesterday, you know, you've lived a perfect life, and then all of a sudden, somebody comes out with an accusation. Who has lived a perfect life?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Only he has. The man who says, I've never had to ask god for forgiveness, I haven't done anything wrong. I've never heard anything like that before. But he's thinking about himself, Don, not men --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Yes, he is. If you want to know how he feels about women, here's what I would suggest that you do, Google Donald Trump and Howard Stern. And you will figure it out, right? All you got to do is Google that.

And by the way, the man that he's backing up, who says he was a choir boy, that we talked about last night, if you're going to say you're a choir boy, then you better know how to sing.

CUOMO: Yes, that was a good part of that line.

LEMON: Oh, yes, but then in the letter to that whole beach week thing that he keeps in the calendar, we've got the editor of "The New York Times" on. We're going to talk about this particular letter that he wrote, saying, it would probably be a good idea on Saturday 18th to warn the neighbors that we're loud and obnoxious drunks with prolific pukers among us.

CUOMO: And how does he sign it? (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: -- weak stomach.

CUOMO: How does he sign it?

LEMON: He signs it, fffff.

CUOMO: Boy, he sure loves making fun of that stuttering guy.

LEMON: That's not stuttering.

CUOMO: That's what he says it was.

LEMON: That is not stuttering. Again do a Google search, that fffff is not stuttering, OK? And devil's triangle is not a drinking game, all right? And buffing is not flatulence.

Just being honest. He knows that, everybody else does, except for maybe some senators who want to believe him.

CUOMO: What will it mean to senators? What matters to them? We're about to see.

LEMON: I don't think it's going to matter that much, actually, sadly.

CUOMO: I hope it does. I believe in people taking their duty and their responsibility seriously.

LEMON: I hope you're right.

CUOMO: And we will hold them to it.

D. Lemon --

LEMON: We'll see you.

CUOMO: Have a good show.

LEMON: Thank you, sir. See you soon.

CUOMO: All right. Something different next. It is arguably more important than anything else we have discussed to this point. I'm going to introduce you to a man with a story that will twist up everything you may think you know about opioid addiction and who falls prey.

And Dennis Rodman. This is worth sticking around for. That is not Dennis Rodman.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DENNIS RODMAN, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I'm just saying -- I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) rat's ass what the hell you think. I'm saying to you, look at these guys here, look at them.

CUOMO: Yes, but, Dennis, don't put it often them. Don't use them as an excuse for the behavior you're putting on yourself.

RODMAN: They came here.

CUOMO: You just basically said Kenneth Bae did something wrong, we don't know what the charges are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That sounded pretty tough when he couldn't get at me. That was Dennis Rodman in North Korea, not happy with my testing the situation. He was unraveling personally, he was still relevant and he wound up being right about North Korea.

Now, all during that, my next guest bore witness to it and helped Rodman to face his problems by sharing what he had faced himself. His name is Darren Prince, he's the opioid addict you never hear about. Not someone who can't handle pain or a kid in the sticks popping pills the past time.

He was a success as a teen, and by the side of stars with everything going for him. His fall and likely return is a story you have to read. It's called "Aiming High."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: You check every box of success, and yet you had this struggle that so many are having in this society. What does that mean to you?

DARREN PRINCE, AUTHOR, "AIMING RIGHT": Well, I'd like to say that it doesn't matter if you're from Yale or jail or Park Avenue or park bench, we're all potentially exposed to addiction. I was a very high bottom opiate addict for 20-plus years and living a complete lie. Very few people knew of it. Eventually in the end, being stuck in my own head, I was just miserable.

CUOMO: You go on. You start a celebrity-representing business. How did you manage to do so much and be so high functioning while fighting such a pernicious addiction?

PRINCE: Once those pills were in my system, Chris, honestly, I just took over a room. From there, they just found out what they thought was the real me. A lot of people didn't realize how sick I really was towards the end.

Thank God I was one of the lucky ones. I was blessed on July 2nd, 2008, to turn my bottom into my beginning. I didn't think I could do it, but I fell on my knees with the last of my opiates in my hands and stood up, something came over. Every fiber in my body wanted this more than anything in my entire life. CUOMO: The Dennis Rodman interview that was my introduction to the

CNN audience was on "NEW DAY" was through Darren. Now, you remember, that was like a nightmare interview for Dennis Rodman at the time. I've told you this many times.

I wasn't looking for a fight with Dennis Rodman. I was just trying to get to him. But he exploded.

What was your take on that, what it meant for Dennis and what it meant to you?

PRINCE: You know, he just overdid it with the booze. Dennis has been open about alcohol. This was an exciting time. It really was, truly.

We thought we pulled off something historic, and Dennis thought this great achievement, great accomplishment, was unraveling, and he was going to lose this amazing, historic situation that he put the USA in and he just overdid it. He's done it before. But as you know, you've got to see the real Dennis too.

CUOMO: True.

PRINCE: He's got a big, beautiful heart to him.

CUOMO: But then something happened that nobody ever imagined. North Korea and the United States having this massive summit, and all of the sudden, Dennis Rodman winds up becoming a clairvoyant, and we hear word from South and North Korea that really Dennis Rodman was an influence in, you know, kind of bridging and understanding. Who would have ever thought that I would interview him again under those circumstances?

PRINCE: It was incredible, man. It went full circle. And Dennis has his own little dream team, Chris Volo, the professor, Joe Terwilliger. They go out there together. They do these private meetings, and they just make sure that everything's cool and hopefully something real positive comes out of it.

CUOMO: When I met him after that, he looked at me, and he said, you know what you did. I said, I don't know what I did. I don't know that I did anything.

And I had a box of donuts. I said, you want a donut? And he said, no, I don't want a donut. You know what you did.

He said, you lit the match. You lit the match. I was like, Dennis, I don't want to get into it with you again. I want to show that you're moving forward.

And he owned it immediately. He goes, no, it was all me. It was all me.

PRINCE: You know, he's so happy and so proud. It's a beautiful time in both of our lives.

CUOMO: Darren Prince, thank you so much for writing the book, and please know that as I can help tell the story going forward, I'll be there.

PRINCE: Thanks, my brother.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CUOMO: "Aiming High" is a book that shows you what it took for Darren Prince to beat addiction, what it takes to keep him off it, and what he showed Dennis Rodman to help him on his way. It is worth reading.

Now, when we come back, I have a closing argument about what today means to Donald Trump.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Donald Trump is like nothing we've seen in the presidency.

One aspect is that we've never seen a president exposed for lying the way Trump has been. The latest, he said he didn't know about the Stormy Daniels payment, but he did know. He helped plan it. He even got his son involved to quiet his mistress, reportedly.

But it's "The Times" report today that hits Trump where it hurts. He is not the self-made man that he says, that redeeming quality that so many set against all his offensive words and deeds.

How many times have you heard it? Well, he is really good at business. He really made a lot of money. No. He's good at selling what helps him.

You'd be wildly wealthy too if I gave you $400 million. "The Times" got it right. Here is what can be said with certainty. Had Mr. Trump done nothing but invest the money his father game him in an index fund that tracks the S&P 500, he would be worth $1.96 billion today.

Now, he says he's worth $10 billion. You heard Stephen Moore echo that. Moore doesn't know that, any more than Trump does. No credible sources can get to half that. I investigated his net worth many years ago with an excellent team at NBC News, and his numbers were grossly exaggerated, and he would show no real proof.

And then we started to push and we started to get close, he threatened to sue us. He threatened to sue me personally. He threatened to sue my parents. He literally wanted to damn me back to the womb for questioning him in diminishing his fortune.

It was all smoke. I knew we were right. He is all about the sell and always has been. Him being self-made, millions of illegal voters, the wall is the perfect cure, immigrants are scary, Muslims are scary, it's all about the same thing.

And more and more, the thing that defines Trump most consistently is not telling the truth.

That's it for me tonight. Thanks for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" starts right now.