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Trump and Others Claim Election Fraud in Florida Without Proof; Trump Degrades Three Black Female Reporters in Three Days; Michelle Obama Will Never Forgive Trump for 'Birtherism.' Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 9, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, thank you.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Florida ballot counting is taking a turn for the worst again. And this time it's two major races hanging in the balance. The current governor separated from the current senior senator by a raiser margin. He is alleging that there's cheating and fraud and the President agrees. Are there any facts to support their feelings? We'll going to go deep and test both sides.

While not trumping up charges about the Florida election the President picked a fight with the former fist lady. Why Michelle Obama says she can never forgive Trump. That's ahead.

And we have a new segment called don't be a sucker. The President is telling you to believe something and he should not be believed. What they are and what the truth is. So it's Friday night. Have one for me and let's get after it.

All right, so here's the latest on the election front. New numbers are coming that threaten what Trump called a complete victory in the Senate. How so? Well, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the Arizona Senate race is now more than 20,000 votes. However, look at the ballot, still about 15 percent of the vote to come in there.

The balance in the Senate right now stands at 51, 46, so between this race and what's happening in Florida. Trumps celebration of doing really well in the Senate could be short lived. But we got a long way to go. And Florida is the real problem, vote counting, haunting that state. Again, two high profile races appear headed to a recount.

Governor race is now close enough to need a machine recount. Senate race is even closer. It's in hand recount territory. It is all confusing. And with this much at stake and so little respect among adversaries you know it was going to get ugly and it has.

The governor, Senator Rubio and the master of the polls charge, President Trump are all alleging cheating and fraud and blaming the democratic machine in Florida. However, the governor and secretary of state overseeing the election are both Republicans.

Bottom line, the election is now a mess. Emergency court fights, protests, even Russian Twitter bots jumped in pushing hashtags like, #stopthesteal, #BrowardCounty, #Florida and #voterfraud.

One of the folks in the midst of all this is Florida Republican Matt Gaetz. Congressman, thank you for joining us, especially on a Friday night.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Your call for transparency. Yes, more transparency, more better. The governor bringing a lawsuit demanding to have information about how the ballots are counted, where they came from. Good. There was resistance. I understand why. I understand both sides of the case. But the governor won. And he's going to get that transparency. However, he's doing more than that. He's saying there's fraud. There's cheating. There's an attempt to steal the President echoes it. Senator Rubio echoes it. No proof of that so far. Why say?

GAETZ: It is hard to get the proof of fraud when the very proof itself is being hidden by the Broward County Supervision of Election. It was an election where 8 million Floridians voted. 65 of the 67 counties did everything right and had the returns posted according to law. Only in deep blue Broward and Palm Beach Counties familiar to all of us who follow elections was there yet another persistent challenge. So here's what we're looking for. We want to know how many votes were cast. How many of them have been counted --

CUOMO: 100 percent.

GAETZ: -- and how many outstanding.

CUOMO: All reasonable.

GAETZ: I don't think that it's unreasonable to ask those things. So --

CUOMO: Reasonable -- but hold on --

GAETZ: Yes, but there's breaking news --

CUOMO: Let's talk about what isn't. You are right. You should have transparency on all levels. More than we have had before. Agreed. But you said something else that I can't agree with because it doesn't meet the test of logic. We can't get the proof of fraud because they won't let us see the votes. That's not how allegation works and you know that. If you have proof of fraud, you'd say it.

GAETZ: And absolutely --


CUOMO: No, no, no, you have to know something.

GAETZ: Chris, Chris, I just want to see the data.

CUOMO: To say something.

GAETZ: I want to see the data. And look -- yes, but when litigants as you know as lawyers when litigants hide evidence or potentially destroy evidence there are adverse inference drawn against the litigants. Here is what happened just two hours ago. There was a 7:00 p.m. deadline --


GAETZ: -- in the Broward County supervisor of elections to allow an inspection of the information.


GAETZ: 7:00 came and went. I was standing there. And Governor Scott team, myself being an on server were not allowed to engage in the inspection.

CUOMO: Why, what they say?

GAETZ: They said come back 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, even though the judge order said 7:00 tonight.

CUOMO: Right.

GAETZ: They said, well, we have given you copies. The judge's order said we should get copies and an inspection.

CUOMO: Now, what they say is --

GAETZ: Right now, as we speak in violation of the court order and that's why I think Rick Scott needs to immediately suspend Brenda Snipes as supervisor --

CUOMO: Well, that's his call.

[21:05:00] GAETZ: -- and have the chief election officer the Secretary of State --

CUOMO: Right.

GAETZ: -- come in and put that in receivership for the sole purpose of transparency, for Republicans and Democrats, Independents, the media, everybody.

CUOMO: Look, I hear you on the transparency but he is doing something more, Congressman.

GAETZ: You have to admit, Chris that is ridiculous.

CUOMO: Hold on. He's doing something more.

GAETZ: Right. Will you agree that it's ridiculous that it's Friday? And we still don't even know how many people voted in Broward County and how many ballots.

CUOMO: No because I think your system is broken. And I think it's been broken for a long time.

GAETZ: 65 of the 67 counties got it right.

CUOMO: But hose two are your biggest counties.

GAETZ: It wasn't broken for them.

CUOMO: But they're two of the biggest counties.

GAETZ: They got it right. Orange County is huge. They got it right.

CUOMO: Right but this --


CUOMO: Hold on a second.

GAETZ: No, they're two of the bluest counties, Chris.

CUOMO: That's true and that's why you don't like the --

GAETZ: Nothing to do with their size.

CUOMO: Congressman, hold on second.


CUOMO: You don't like the vote count there. You're suspicious of the vote count because they're Democrat strongholds. That's one of the sensitivity.

GAETZ: No, you're putting words in my mouth.

CUOMO: That's why he's jumping to the allegation fraud without proof. I'm saying this system has been broken. I know you want the proof. But you can't say you know what the proof is before you have the proof. Don't make the allegation when you can't prove it. That's all I'm saying, that just some sense.

GAETZ: Similarly, you can't say you're not allowed to allege anything has gone wrong unless you have the proof. The proof you are entitled to by law we're not going to give you.

CUOMO: No, no, no.


CUOMO: Listen, we're going in circles.

GAETZ: Chris, you're telling me --

CUOMO: I'm saying, you shall be able to see the ballots a 100 percent. You're entitled to it under law. It's a good law you should do it. Here's the problem. One, you can't say fraud when you don't know there is. Look at it and then we'll all be here reporting on.

GAETZ: I haven't said fraud.

CUOMO: But the governor has.

GAETZ: Listen --

CUOMO: The senator has, the President has. That's why I'm raising it. But here is the other thing. You guys don't have clean hands. You're a Florida congressman, you're on the federal level I give you get a pass. Scott, no pass, this woman who you just sued today, Scott sued who is a Democrat in Broward County. She was asked to do the job by Governor Bush.

She has been there 15 years. Eight of them were underneath Scott. He did nothing. The Secretary of State is a Republican. He did nothing. So it's your state. You keep having problems. Make the fixes. You have done nothing. You have the same problems.


GAETZ: Well, that is fair criticism of those counties but it's totally unfair of you to paint all of Florida with the same brush because in 65 of the 67 counties including our most populated County Miami-Dade. Everybody did everything right. So this isn't a Florida problem. This is Broward County problem.

CUOMO: Everybody didn't do everything right.

GAETZ: I don't care if she is appointed by Jeb Bush or the pope of Rome. She didn't do it right.

CUOMO: Everybody did not do everything right. They were reports of trouble up and down both coasts. Look at the governor's race --

GAETZ: Oh, really?

CUOMO: You've got troubled down there with how you do --

GAETZ: What was the allegation of Trump? OK, what's -- then evidence that claim, Chris. You tell me what the problem was on the other coast, we're on the gulf coast, was there a single problem with reporting ballots and complying with court order, take all the time you needed.

CUOMO: No, there are reports about people how they match the signature, county by county. The standards are different. Where some people went to some lines, they weren't able to get in for a -- I mean, there's always complains --

GAETZ: What county did that happened? Give me a county.

CUOMO: There's a whole lawsuit.

GAETZ: Give me one county.

CUOMO: There's a whole lawsuit from Nelson about exactly this.

GAETZ: Chris, then name the county. You can't -- it's so irresponsible of you to say that there are problems throughout Florida.

CUOMO: No, no, hold on. There's a lawsuit --

GAETZ: When these problems are isolated to two counties.

CUOMO: Not on this --

GAETZ: Chris, where? Where are you alleging that problem?


CUOMO: Go gook at the pleadings. I'm not bringing the lawsuit.

GAETZ: No, Nelson --

CUOMO: But Senator Nelson is bringing it.

GAETZ: Yes. Senator Nelson is bringing litigation. So that he can effectuate a hand recount everywhere. And let me be clear.

CUOMO: Oh, so he has tier your motive. Your guys are pleading fraud --

GAETZ: No objection --

CUOMO: -- when they have no proof of it. But that's OK.

GAETZ: They're hiding the proof. They're playing hide the ball with the freaking ballots. So how we supposed to prove the fraud when they're not allowing to go behind and have access to --

CUOMO: But how can you say there is fraud when you haven't seen ballots?

GAETZ: When judge tells him after she'll (inaudible) 7:00 --

CUOMO: They should have showed them to you. Shame on them. Shame on them.

GAETZ: It's ridiculous.

CUOMO: Shame on them.

GAETZ: And it's not -- good but don't cast that same shame on every other county in Florida where there is no evidence of wrong doing, even if Nelson filed the lawsuit.


CUOMO: Look, so you are asking both ways, Matt. You're saying we think there was fraud and we'll be able to prove it if we get to see these things we've never seen. Nelson says I have proof that people weren't able to verify their ballots through signatures in a fair process that it was different in different counties and it work to my disadvantage.

GAETZ: That's an allegation.

CUOMO: So is yours, it's an allegation.

GAETZ: We have a court order -- they have an allegation --

CUOMO: That's all you have too.

GAETZ: False. We have a judge who said you violated the constitution right of Floridians.

CUOMO: Hold on a second. Hold on. The judge said that not giving the information over violated the law --

GAETZ: Correct.

CUOMO: And one of the clauses in the constitution, that's about transparency.

GAETZ: And the constitution.

CUOMO: Not fraud in the counting. Not fake. Not cheating. The judge said none of that. That's an allegation.

GAETZ: But a lack of transparency creates an ecosystem for fraud. You're right --

CUOMO: Ecosystem for fraud?

GAETZ: -- but like --

[21:10:00] CUOMO: Again if you're worried about the ecosystem go deal with your brown tides that you have down there.

This isn't about ecosystem. This is about process that doesn't work well enough, Congressman. And I agree with you about it.

GAETZ: It works well in 65 of 67 counties.

CUOMO: That's not what Senator Nelson says.

GAETZ: That is so ridiculous.

CUOMO: He says the provisional ballots were a problem.

GAETZ: Yes, but he hasn't proven anything.

CUOMO: I know --


CUOMO: Neither have you.

GAETZ: No, but you yourself agree, Chris that this stage of the game we ought to know how many people voted. So that's a --

CUOMO: I do actually. We're doing some research on this. I think the way your state works. Tell me if I'm wrong. We'll check with the secretary of state. It's not really material to our conversation. Some of the states you have to the absentee ballot.

GAETZ: Well, no, no, no. What is material to our conversation --

CUOMO: No, I'm saying this --

GAETZ: You have to have all that information posted.

CUOMO: Yes, 100 percent. The transparency is a no-brainer. I'll never going to have a journalist argue against transparency. I'm all for it. I'm saying in some states --

GAETZ: Right, but you're saying that even when people frustrate my transparency that then we should just assume that they're doing everything else right and we should not assume that there's any shenanigans going on behind the scene. That's crazy.

CUOMO: You can't charge fraud if you can't prove it, Matt. That's what I'm saying. Wait for the proof. Analyze the ballot.

GAETZ: But I can prove but they won't let me behind the curtain.

CUOMO: I know but just not the same thing, OK.

GAETZ: I sincerely hope we get a chance to do that 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

CUOMO: 100 percent. And if you don't, you let me know and I'll report on it again. I'll report on it again.

GAETZ: All right.

CUOMO: But all I'm saying is this. There are games going on both sides, it's regrettable because it's going to under mine confidence in the election that's the last thing we need right now.

All I was saying is you said we should know by now how many ballots. In your state the absentee ballot had to be received already. Some they have to be stamped by Election Day. In your state, we believe that's true about military and ballots from outside the country. So you can make the argument that you should have all the ballots in place. But not having them counted, I mean, you have until the 18th to have the full record of the vote for a reason.

GAETZ: Right but --

CUOMO: And the secretary of state is a Republican. That should give you some comfort. It's your guy.

GAETZ: Well, they ought to come in and take over the election. But the judge said hat we're entitled to know how many ballots are left to be counted.


GAETZ: And that's something we still don't know.

CUOMO: Yes. And that's wrong.

GAETZ: That's not an allegation.


GAETZ: That's an actual violation.

CUOMO: You're saying that there was fraud is an allegation.

GAETZ: And that's only happening here.

CUOMO: But saying that there is fraud is an allegation.

GAETZ: Correct. I have -- let me be very clear. I'm not alleging that there are certain to fraud --

CUOMO: Scott is.

GAETZ: I'm just saying, like when you have fraud, you also have the lack of transparency. So let's lift the Vail. Let's Republicans and Democrats --


GAETZ: -- see the information. Let's include the media.


GAETZ: And turn the cards face up.


GAETZ: What I'm uncomfortable with is the violation of court order. And look, you know, if it turns out that Governor Scott didn't win the election. I'll be the first one to say that he didn't. But look, I mean, you are not allowed to just like will 80,000 ballots into existence with no chain of --

CUOMO: But we don't know that happen.

GAETZ: -- no reconciliation to the ballot --

CUOMO: They have to count every vote.

GAETZ: We've asked the chain of cause to be documents and they haven't given them to us. I agree, we have to count, no one is arguing against --


CUOMO: But that's going to be a problem for you on the other side because Nelson is going to make a case about the provisional ballots. We have to see how that plays out as well, because that falls under the category of counting all ballots as well. GAETZ: We should count those. Absolutely, I agree with that.

CUOMO: All right, Congressman, keep me in the loop. I mean it, transparency matters.

GAETZ: I will, thanks Chris.

CUOMO: Forget red or blue. It's about being reasonable, all right?

GAETZ: And I'm going to tell you, at the protest someone came up to me and said I'm far too nice to you on television. And, you know, isn't that kind of what's wrong? Like you would think that being nice to somebody is bad thing? I actually think even when we disagree with each other, we should probably be nice to each other.

CUOMO: I always like having you on the show, Congressman. Know that. And I look forward to seeing you again.

GAETZ: Thank you.

CUOMO: Be well.

I actually mean it. I love having Congressman Gaetz on. We're not always going to agree. He's going to be tested but he comes here and allows himself to be tested on things that matter to you. I can't tell you how many people in power duck that opportunity.

All right, the other side ahead. Broward County Democrat Ted Deutch is here to justify the Democrats charges of improper vote counting, and their own scramble to the courts that we were just discussing about the provision of ballots. Do they have a case? You'll be the judge. Next.


[21:17:20] CUOMO: Florida is a mess again. And the Republicans are saying Democrats are trying to cheat. And the Democrats say that there is cheating going on but it isn't by them. Time to test the other side, Congressman Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat welcome to "Prime Time" especially on a Friday night.

REP. TED DEUTCH (D) FLORIDA: Thanks Chris, great to be with you.

CUOMO: All right. So I understand the Governor Scott litigation. Feel free to disagree. But I get the want for transparency. It's in the law, it's extracted from your state constitution. They should make it available to whoever requests it. But you should be able to see where the ballots are what the counting is. He should be able to get transparency. We all should. Do you agree with that?

DEUTCH: Yeah, I agree that there should be transparency.

CUOMO: OK. I'll take a short answer and move on.


CUOMO: And I say that the allegation --

DEUTCH: No, no, no, I agree that there should be transparency --

CUOMO: No matter how Gaetz wants to finesse it. You got to have proof of evidence.

DEUTCH: Exactly.

CUOMO: But on your side --

DEUTCH: Right.

CUOMO: You say provisional ballot.

DEUTCH: Wait Chris, hold on a second.

CUOMO: Yes, yes.

DEUTCH: I just -- if you don't mind, I just -- I want to -- because I listened to that segment. And it's really important what just happened. What Matt Gaetz did is suggest that there is voter fraud. He said, well it's there. We just haven't found it yet. There is no evidence of voter fraud.

CUOMO: Right.


CUOMO: Right.

DEUTCH: And the whole goal is make sure that every vote is counted. It's one person one vote.

CUOMO: Right.

DEUTCH: Every legal ballot needs to be counted.

CUOMO: Right.

DEUTCH: But what happens when Matt Gaetz does that, what happens when Rick Scott and the governor --

CUOMO: Governor Scott, Senator Rubio, the President of the United States, they all suggesting it was cheating and fraud.

DEUTCH: When they talk about stealing elections --

CUOMO: Right.

DEUTCH: And changing the out come of the elections. They're undermining the democracy in our state. There's no voter fraud that's been shown anywhere. The only fraud we have seen thus far is the fraud by the President and Rick Scott and Marco Rubio --

CUOMO: I don't know we have seen fraud there either.

DEUTCH: -- again Floridians.

CUOMO: I don't know that we've seen anyway. But what I'm saying is this --

CUOMO: No, no, no. Let me just be clear it's what they're doing to undermine democracy. When they talk about fraud in our election, they are taking a direct shot at our constitution.


DEUTCH: And ultimately at the democracy.


DEUTCH: There's no evidence. All we want is one person, one vote. We want every vote --

CUOMO: Understood.

DEUTCH: However we come out --

CUOMO: Every vote that should be counted.

DEUTCH: Exactly. However --

CUOMO: So I want to talk to you about that, Congressman.

DEUTCH: And whatever the result we'll live with them.

CUOMO: I got you.

DEUTCH: And that's why I can't understand what they're doing on the other side.

CUOMO: Well, I understand what they're doing. They're saying give us the information. The person in charge in Broward wouldn't give it to them. They had to go to court. They were supposed to get it by 7:00 p.m. tonight --


CUOMO: The Congressman says, it didn't, well, that was the order was, 7:00 p.m. Friday.

[21:20:02] DEUTCH: No, no, no, Chris, you're right, that's what they're saying in court. What they're saying on social media, what they're saying on television --

CUOMO: Right, I agree with you about that.

DEUTCH: What they're saying at rallies is that the Democrats are trying to change the outcome of the election.


DEUTCH: Trying to steal an election. CUOMO: Yes, they have no basis for that.

DEUTCH: When there is. Zero basis.

CUOMO: Right, I agree. I said that.

DEUTCH: Absolutely not --


CUOMO: And we'll add a fact to the analysis that I didn't give to Gaetz because I get into this back and forth with you guys, sometimes, you know, it's about point, counter point as suppose to just putting stuff straight out.

The Florida law enforcement went to the Department of State where the secretary of state is. That's the person who over sees the election in Florida. It's a Republican. And they said we hear their allegations of fraud. Do you want help with from us in counting any of the ballots and looking for fraud? And the secretary of state who is a Republican said no. I need no such help. There's no credible allegation of fraud.

DEUTCH: Right.

CUOMO: So that part is clear and they should be seeing --

DEUTCH: Right, and Chris -- but that's after. And it's important. That's a really, really important point. That's after Rick Scott said he was sending out the Florida department of the law enforcement to take action against the voter fraud. There is none. And that's after President Trump tweeted about massive fraud and law enforcement going in. There is none.

CUOMO: Right. That was all wrong to say.

DEUTCH: -- conspiracy theory.

CUOMO: That's right.

DEUTCH: It's the fear of possibly having all the votes counted.

CUOMO: All right.

DEUTCH: We want every vote counted.

CUOMO: I understand that but I got to ask you about your lawsuit.


CUOMO: The provisional ballot you say, there's no consistency of the signature mechanism. But you know, looking at your state history, this is how you guys do it, is that you have the county commissioners come up with the own process. They have to validate the provisional ballots. They have to worry about people not being the right match. So you have to do the signature test. And that's the way it's done. Your lawsuit alleges that is somehow discriminatory unfair and unfair, where do you believe that was happening and why do you believe that's so?

DEUTCH: Right. We want to make sure that every vote is counted. That means that every absentee -- every vote by mail ballot that came in at the last minute is counted. That's why they're still counting votes because so many came in at end. We want to make sure that all the military and oversee ballots that are still coming in are also counted.

CUOMO: You have until the 18th.

DEUTCH: And by the way, my friend Matt Gaetz -- Right. And we want to make sure that al of this is done in time. It's important to point out when Matt Gaetz as he just did started hyper ventilating about getting all the voting done, let's take a deep breath. We have rules in Florida that say tomorrow the Saturday after the election. The first numbers are presented by the counties.

Then there will be a recount if we're under 5 percent, which we will be. Those then have to come in by later in the week. And then if we're under 0.25 percent. There's a hand recount. This is going the way that it's supposed to. The provisional ballots that come have to be checked. We want to make sure that every provisional ballot that came in that is legal, is a vote that's cast.

So if someone cast provisional ballot because they thought they were registered and they're not. That gets tossed. If someone cast a ballot because they didn't have ID so they cast a provisional. They'll go into the DNB database. They'll check the signature. We just want to make sure that that process works.

CUOMO: If that is the way the process worked. Why do you need the lawsuit?

DEUTCH: Well, we want to make sure that all of the provisional ballots are counted and that there's an opportunity to do it. And there only going to be counted. And this is the difference, Chris between the approaches. We only want to count the ones that should be counted. We only want to count -- we only want to make sure that every legal ballot is counted. There's no fraud here. But people have marched and fought and died for the right to vote in Florida and around the country. We're just trying to be true to that.

CUOMO: Understood. And we're going to watch it every step of the way. And it's not the first time we have been here, certainly not in your state. Let me know what you hear. Let me hear what you know. We'll stay on this until the end.

DEUTCH: Sounds great. Thanks Chris.

CUOMO: Congressman, be well. Have a good weekend.

All right, so look, the President is in the mix, all right? And what do we know about him when it comes to how he fights with words. He can be rude sometimes, he can be crude, he can even be lewd. But it does seem that he has some favorite targets, the media, of course. But not just any media, three black female reporters have been chastised by the President. Is it a pattern or is it far par the course? Let's do it in the great debate next.


[21:28:14] CUOMO: The President doesn't handle criticism well. We know. But does he have a specific problem with black journalists, specifically female black journalists. No? But why did he single out three just this week and in extraordinary fashion. Take a listen.


YAMICHE ALCINDOR: On the campaign trail, you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people are also saying --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know why you'd say that. That's such a racist question.

Same thing with April Ryan. I watch her get up. I mean, you talk about somebody that's a loser. She doesn't know what the hell she's doing. What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a stupid question.


CUOMO: The last one is was Abby Phillip. She works here. All right, let's take it up with great debaters, Angela Rye and Niger Innis.

Angela, proof of patter or is this just par for the course he just nasty?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we know he is nasty but he also disproportionately attacks black people particularly black women. Almost 250 times, that is a number that Donald Trump has used the word dumb or dummy to refer to anybody on Twitter. The problem is, he disproportionately uses language insulting the intelligence of black people overwhelmingly not just on Twitter but also on person as you saw today.

Low IQ he has called Congressman Maxine Waters. He has questioned the intelligence of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. Question the intelligence of a widow who is mourning the loss of her husband.

He has a problem with women of color. And I think particularly women of color. Here as we hear, women of color who have the opportunity to question him, that challenge him on his antics, that challenge him on his lies, that challenge him on the policies he pushes out that are racist bigoted and xenophobic. So he'll then question has an issue with black women.

[21:30:07] CUOMO: Let's flip it this way, Niger, do you think you can say with 100 percent certainty that the President is not influenced at all by any opinions about race when he makes comments like this to people of color? NIGER INNIS, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: I can't say that about you. Or Angela or myself of that matter. I mean, I can't --


INNIS: I can't dig into the soul of a particular individual. What I can say is that Donald Trump unlike a lot of Republican -- virtually all Republican Presidents --


INNIS: -- does not take any gruff from anyone in the media regardless of color, regardless of their gender. You know, for years for decades Republicans have been treated unfairly by the main -- by many in the main stream press. And they basically take it.

CUOMO: But you don't think Niger --

INNIS: This President passes up mater --


INNIS: -- he's not going to do that.

CUOMO: But I'm saying --

INNIS: Pardon.

CUOMO: -- Yamiche asks him the question, OK. And it wasn't a racist question --

RYE: Yes --

CUOMO: -- the problem with him calling himself a nationalist.

INNIS: No, no, no, let me be clear --

CUOMO: -- is that the only people who use that term are bad people, including white supremacist and white nationalist.

INNIS: Right.

CUOMO: We all know that it's not a matter for debate. I'm not wasting my time with it. But why does he didn't segue to April Ryan. Why didn't he segue to me? I've been beating him over the head with it all week.

INNIS: I think -- Yamiche who I know is a straight reporter.

CUOMO: 100 percent. She handled it like a pro.

RYE: She's brilliant.

INNIS: Straight reporter, OK. And I think the President --

CUOMO: And why did he segue to April Ryan?


INNIS: I think he misstepped in both cases.

CUOMO: No, no wait a minute.


INNIS: Who I also know is a little different.

CUOMO: What's the misstep?

INNIS: She's been spicy with the President --


RYE: What does that mean?

CUOMO: People are spicy.

INNIS: Spicy with Obama too.

CUOMO: A lot of people are spicy, why segue from Yamiche --

RYE: Who is -- what is spicy?

CUOMO: -- to April Ryan. Look April Ryan is tough. A lot of people are tough, but why segue from Yamiche to April Ryan? Why?

INNIS: No he -- no, no, him saying that what Yamiche said was a racist was a reaction. Not to Yamiche as such but to those who compare American nationalism to automatically equating it to white nationalism.

CUOMO: There's no American nationalism. You just invented that term.


RYE: Patriotism is the word you're looking for.

CUOMO: Right.

RYE: And let me just --


RYE: -- let me just go back for a moment.

INNIS: No, no --


RYE: Let me go back for a moment, and just help you on spicy. Spicy is a flavor of hot Cheetos. Spicy is what you call a buffalo wing, spicy is not what you call a human who was asking a question demanding accountability from the highest person in the land.


RYE: Who's demanding answers from the commander-in-chief. I know you don't want to hear what I got to say. But it's right baby. I'm telling you the truth --

INNIS: Come on Angela.

RYE: -- you don't like it. Yes. But I'm telling you spicy is not what you want to call a human being, bro, that's not it. That's not it.

CUOMO: Look --

INNIS: I'm not calling a human being spicy. I'm saying her behavior is sometimes spicy.

RYE: You said she's spicy --


INNIS: And she does it on purpose. And by the way that's not an insult, it can be a compliment. She has a lot of lies in the way that she goes after this President. And by the way she went after Obama a couple times. That is a both way of conducting her questions.

RYE: But I don't -- I think issue with you saying that she's going after someone by saying asking a straightforward question. And by the way that was Yamiche. So I don't even know how we got onto April. April wasn't even there when he was talking to Abby about April Ryan. Like how are we connecting all this dots? The common thread is clear. Black and woman. Threatening.


CUOMO: Do you remember that? When he said to April, do you want to set up a meeting with the black caucus?

RYE: Yes. He told he said, tell your friends who set up -- yes.

CUOMO: Because you all know each other. You know what I'm saying? You know, you all know each other, why don't you set up the meeting with the Black Caucus for me, Niger?

RYE: Outrageous.

CUOMO: You know, you think that's the way the President should talk to an African-American journalist?

RYE: And it's no laughing matter.

CUOMO: Go talk to your people Niger, go talk to your people for me.


RYE: Chris, don't do that.

INNIS: I -- you know that my -- you know, that myself and my father before me are very hesitant to use a word that is overly use which is racist or bigoted.

CUOMO: True.

INNIS: Because we read the book, we read the story, boy who cried wolf. And the problem comes you keep using it over and over again.

CUOMO: I know Niger, I hear you.

INNIS: What happens when the real wolf comes?

CUOMO: I'm just talking about the behavior. We don't need labels necessarily, that's what I'm saying, he said to April Ryan.


RYE: I'll label him.

CUOMO: Why don't you set up the meeting with the Black Caucus? OK?

RYE: Your friend, with your friends.

CUOMO: We all know, that if we were advising anybody in a position of power and they said, well here's what I'm going to say when an African-American reporter asks me about, I'm going to say, go set up a meeting with your people, like he was talking to some like tribe. You would never say that. Don't say that. But he says it all the time --


CUOMO: -- I don't get it.

INNIS: If he said that to Abby or to Yamiche. Then I would say there's there there. But April Ryan is not only African-American. She represents Urban American Media which is black media. So --

RYE: Let me help you.

INNIS: -- it's not much of a stretch for our President to say, hey set up a meeting with Black Caucus.

RYE: It's a stretch.


[21:35:09] RYE: It's not just a stretch. It's a giant leap. And let me say this to you as someone who served as the executive director in general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus. I wish he would, if he said it to me that would be something completely different. April doesn't work for CBC. She never has. It outrageous, it's disrespectful. She -- maybe she does represent Urban Radio Network -- American Urban Radio Network, but all that means is that there are urban communities all over this country that expect April to ask as you would call buffalo wing spicy questions.

She demands answers on questions that all of America wants to hear from voting right. On economics, on affordable housing, on what's going on with the different countries in which we are taking issue with for no reason. She asks those questions. That does not make her a representative of the Congressional Black Caucus.

And I don't know how we got down this road. Because the road is does he has an issue with black women. And I'm telling you the answer is yes. And he called himself a nationalist. And you don't like labels, but let me help you. There's a synonym between nationalism and racism. And your boy is it.

INNIS: That's absurd.

RYE: It's not.

INNIS: That is absolutely absurd.

RYE: It's not.

INNIS: Malcolm X called himself a black nationalist.

RYE: Completely different. And I know you know the difference.

INNIS: OK, give me a break. No, no, nationalist can lead to chauvinism.

CUOMO: You want to compare the President of United States to Malcolm X?


CUOMO: That's the standard?

INNIS: And by the way, the President we have a moment of agreement here. I do believe the President needs to be careful, particularly because he did so well with black women in Florida. He got nearly one out of the Republican rather DeSantis got nearly one out of the five black women supported the Republican.

RYE: What?

INNIS: And so I think that the President has an extraordinary opportunity. Well, that's a fact.

RYE: Did you get these facts from Breitbart? No --

INNIS: Fact check --


INNIS: -- 18 percent of black women supported the DeSantis in Florida. That's a fact.

CUOMO: Well, we don't know anything that's the fact about the election. Not yet.

INNIS: Numbers don't lie.

CUOMO: But yet, we'll in --


RYE: If somebody polled them.

CUOMO: -- when they certify all the votes there, then we'll know.

RYE: That's just a crazy.

CUOMO: Let's leave that there. Breitbart is OK, they put now InfoWars video at the White House now, why would they use Breitbart's desk. Well both of you thank you for being with me on a Friday night. I appreciate it.

INNIS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. Trumps choice to run the DOJ is a man named Matthew Whitaker. Is he going to make it through the weekend? And will Trump regret what he just said about Michelle Obama. We'll discuss both with the White House guru David Axelrod, the Axe, next.


[21:40:20] CUOMO: Jeff Sessions is out. So now we have an acting attorney general, his name is Matthew Whitaker. Now, the way that he was installed raises legal questions. What he said and done if the past raises political questions. And then comes the clearest sign of trouble. We call it here the Trump two-step. Here it is.


TRUMP: I don't know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions. And he was always extremely highly thought of and he still is. But I didn't know Matt Whitaker.

I can tell you Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I mean I know Matt Whitaker.


CUOMO: Whoops. President Trump goes bad on you like that. Bad things generally follow. Or am I wrong? Let's discuss with David Axelrod.

It's good to see you Axe.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good to see you and you're not wrong, man. That is -- if I'm Matt Whitaker, I don't feel good about that. As the President took off for Paris, that wasn't a good sign.

CUOMO: Nope. Because look, a curse actual analysis shows he knows who he is. He's been to the White House many times. He's briefed him many times. He's been on the phone with him. He's been in person. He's friends with friends of his. He was put in the position because of his familiarity with people close to the President. So the President knows who he is. But he's obviously stepping away. Do you think he makes it through the weekend?

AXELROD: I don't know. How long he's going to make it. But I think there's certainly watching the President going to be watching this unfolding story because every day there are revelations that are really troubling, revelations about his business dealings, revelations about his really strange views of jurisprudence including dismissing one of foundational decision Marbury versus Madison upon which all of American jurisprudence and the balance between the branches of government is based, suggesting that the courts are a lesser branch of government.

And all of his comments relevant to this Mueller investigation that he is now charged with overseeing, I mean, it's a heavy, heavy load. And you don't see a whole lot of people, a lot of Republicans racing to defend him at this moment.

So I think he's acting. The President could appoint someone else. But you know, he by passed the people who should have been in the order of succession.

CUOMO: Right.

AXELROD: Apparently because he didn't trust them. One of the things about Matt Whitaker was that he apparently was the President's eyes and ears in the Justice Department.

CUOMO: Right.

AXELROD: Keeping an eye on Sessions, he trusted him to oversee the sensitive matters.

CUOMO: That goes a long way with the President and then he got the nod from Rod Rosenstein for what it's worth. You know, Rosenstein was someone in the White House after Whitaker was given the nod. They had a discussion. Then when he's asked about Whitaker, Rosenstein and supposedly the guys have a little bit of beef with one another. No sign of that. He says -- I think he's going to do a great job. So we'll see how it plays out.

Let me ask you about another fight the President picked. Michelle Obama writes in a new book, a different thing. Talks about the birtherism and how she saw thinly veiled racism, she talks about you in the book, you know, and how you guys dealt with different situations and what should be and what shouldn't be done.

The President hears about what she said about him. And that she can't forgive him for what he did with birtherism and he says why can't forgive the President for what he did to our military. Right fight to pick?

AXELROD: Well, I mean, it's a Trumpian fight to pick. First of all, he never ever finesses anything. He never steps back. He never -- I mean, a normal person would say look, I understand that that she loves her husband, he believes in him. You know, there were legitimate issues I raised but I understand the way she reacted to that. That would have been the normal way to react to that. But that's not the Trumpian way to react to it.

You know, his thing is if he's attacked he's going to hit back. And you know he thinks -- I guess he thought this was clever to hit back in that way was absurd. But I will say this, you know, I lived through all of that the whole birtherism thing. And I know how much it troubled Michelle and others. Around the President was, you know, as generally was the case much cooler about these things. But she took it very hard and for the reason that she said in the book that it stirred up, you know hatred, it's stirred up the kind of antipathy that we've seen bubbling to the surface lately. So, you know, I fully understand why she wrote what she wrote.

[21:45:02] CUOMO: Yeah. She wrote it because it was true. That's why.


CUOMO: Ax, I appreciate you being with me especially on a Friday night. I wish you the best.

AXELROD: Have a great weekend, my friend.

CUOMO: You too. You too.

All right. So Michelle Obama, throwing bombs in this new book. President Trump saying let's get it on. Let's get some more of what's in that book and bring in D. Lemon to diagnosis the drama. Next.


CUOMO: All right. So the former first lay day Michelle Obama rips into Trump in her new memoir. The former first lady writes, "The whole birther thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks."

She adds, "What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump with his loud and reckless innuendos was putting my family's safety at risk. And for this, I'd never forgive him."

Trump was told of the quote and said the former first lady was a credit to the country. I respect her service and her opinion. I wish her and President Obama all the best. Ha. He didn't say anything like that. Here's what he said.


TRUMP: Yes, she wrote a book. She got paid a lot of money to write a book. And they always insist that you come up with controversial. Well, I'll give you a little controversy back. I'll never forgive him for what he did to our United States military by not funding it properly. It was depleted. Everything was old and tired. And I came in and I had to fix it.


CUOMO: He hasn't fixed it. The numbers aren't right. It's not true. Even if you do apples to apples assessment it's not true. But that's not the point.

Let's bring in Don Lemon. We knew that there was no way. Imagine if he had actually said what I said he said. Imagine how different our lives would be.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: You got me for a second. I was like, wait a minute, did I miss that? I was doing my homework for the show tonight. I certainly didn't see that all day. And if he had said that that would be perfectly understandable. Taking the high road is not something that this president is acquainted with. He needed GPS to get to the high road.

But I do have to say that the -- I mean if he said that, I think people would be like oh wow.


LEMON: That's really big of him.


LEMON: Because he -- she -- how can you deny what the first lady said?

CUOMO: No, the point is --

LEMON: It's actually what he did.

CUOMO: The point is as president of the United States, you do not take all commerce. You know, we're living this lie right now that, hey, he's a counter puncher. You come in him, he comes at you. No leader, no biggest man in any room -- forgive me women out there for using just the male metaphor, but he's man.

[21:50:04] No biggest man in the room based on all commerce.

LEMON: A big person.

CUOMO: No biggest person --

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: -- takes on anybody else. They don't have to. They're the biggest person. So when people challenge them, they look at them and they say, OK, OK, I'm the biggest person. He does not do that. That's the point.

LEMON: I thought it was interesting today when he criticized reporters and I'm not, you know, singling out any single reporter, but he said something to the effect of you come into the Oval Office or come into the White House --


LEMON: -- you have to respect the White House and respect the -- you have to respect the office and the presidency. Well, I'd like to play those words back to him for himself because as you and I have talked about and I've said it many times, it's really tough to -- I'm just being honest -- to call the president of the United States a liar. Like, that's hard to say or to actually say, you know, the president is being dishonest with you or the president as I have said, the president of the United States is racist. Those are tough things to say. And you -- I don't do it without evidence.

So it's hard to have more respect for the office than the person who is actually sitting in the office. So I would say to him that he should -- he take his own words into account about having respect for that office.

CUOMO: Well said, D. Lemon.

LEMON: That's all I have to say. And the first lady, that's not all I have to say. I have a lot to say. The first lady of the United States is actually right. He didn't think about the consequences of the people that he might affect by lying, again, about birther, using it for political expediency. It was all about him. There's a family, there's children there, and he is revving people up.

This president is other -- is something other than American saying that he is a secret Muslim. Nothing wrong with being Muslim but it's just not true. He's neither of those. He is an American, and he is not a Muslim. As a matter of fact, he's a Christian. I knew him in Chicago. Very Christian family.

I'm going to speak -- speaking of this book, one of the reporters who got the first copy of this book for "The Washington Post" and wrote that article last night that everyone is using, right, everyone is riffing off of, she's coming up on this program.

CUOMO: Beautiful, look forward to it. Thank you very much, my friend.

LEMON: Thank you. See you.

CUOMO: All right. When we come back, we've got the closing argument. Stay with us.


[21:55:34] CUOMO: Trying out something new tonight, a segment I want to call don't be a sucker where we look at obvious distractions and abuses of truth by those in power. I call it that because the phrase nails it, and it echoes the title of that propaganda film I showed you from World War II. So let's get a few things straight here, all right. Let's start with an easy one, the president of course, and his statements about his knowledge of Matt Whitaker, the newly installed acting AG. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I can tell you, Matt Whitaker's a great guy. I mean I know Matt Whitaker.


TRUMP: I don't know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions, and he was always extremely highly thought of, and he still is, but I didn't know Matt Whitaker.


CUOMO: All right. So let's start with the obvious. One of those two statements is a lie. Which? The second. The man has been to the White House dozens of times, met Trump, been on the phone with Trump, briefed Trump. He's tied with people Trump relies on. Trump knows him. He's stepping away because Whitaker is a problem.

Now, that BS video tweeted out by the White House of a CNN reporter at a press briefing. Here's what the president said.


TRUMP: Nobody manipulated it. Give me a break. See, that's just dishonest reporting. All that is a close-up.


CUOMO: InfoWars manipulated it. In fact, you get too many breaks for lying, like this reporting because it's dead accurate. That's the truth. And it's not just a close-up. It was sped up. Experts looked at it. It was doctored to make it look like the reporter did something that he didn't. And the worst part is that Sarah Sanders would stoop to copying that jack ass on InfoWars. That's what our White House has become?

A very wise African-American woman, Maya Angelou once told us when someone shows you who they are, believe them. When it comes to black women, it's not just Omarosa who says Trump has a problem. Here's the reality.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want him to rein in Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: He's talking to CNN's Abby Phillip, African-American women. It's not a stupid question. It's the main question in the Whitaker swap. And we all know it. The answer is the problem, and this wasn't a one-off. Two days earlier, he did this.


YAMICHE ALCINDOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: On the campaign trail you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people also think --

TRUMP: I don't know why you would say that. That's such a racist question.

ALCINDOR: There are some --


CUOMO: Not a racist question. Let's get this straight. Nationalists are not patriots, OK? They're not synonyms. Stallen, Hitler, the Japanese during World War II, these are nationalists. The question isn't racist. And thinking that using race to go back at a person of color does not signal good intentions, and neither does this.


TRUMP: The same thing with April Ryan. I watch her get up, I mean, you talk about somebody that's a loser, she doesn't know what the hell she's doing.


CUOMO: I wonder why he put those two people together. I wonder if it's because they're both black women. And then there was this line today that really got me.


TRUMP: When you're in the White House, this is a very sacred place to be. This is a very special place. You have to treat the White House with respect. You have to treat the presidency with respect.


CUOMO: The presidency that he allows to tweet out poppycock propaganda. The hypocrisy between what the president just said and what he does would be laughable, but none of this is a joking matter.

Please don't mistake harshness and disrespect for toughness. It isn't. Mr. President, you just got clobbered in another popular vote. Millions more people voted against you than for you, and this time by an even bigger margin than two years ago. What you're showing here is why. The choice is simple. You can lead by example or you can be an example of how never to lead. The choice is yours.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.

LEMON: You have to treat the office with respect. Let's see, Kanye dropped an F-bomb in there with the president. The Russian ambassador was in the Oval Office with him, and I can go on. He says the question is stupid, but he's a stable genius. If you're a stable genius, you should be able to answer any question. No?

CUOMO: That's true. If you're a stable genius you don't need to say it.

LEMON: Yes. You don't need to say it. I stand by the fact -- well, two things.