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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Stacey Abrams Starting a Fight to Correct Georgia's System; President Trump Mocks Former Navy SEAL; Ivanka in Hillary's Shoe; More Speculation Since Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker's Appointment as It Pertains to the Mueller Probe; Midterm Elections and Lessons Learned. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 19, 2018 - 22:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hello, everybody. I'm Chris Cuomo. It's your lucky night. A double dose of PRIME TIME where Don is off doing who knows what?

Wouldn't you know it by now? Not to use your private e-mail for government business. It's a lesson that Hillary Clinton sure learned the hard way. What will happen to Ivanka Trump? She's now wrapped up in her own e-mail mess. What's it going to mean for the first daughter? Investigations and lock her up chants? Doubt it.

President Trump lashing out at the admiral who orchestrated the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Does he think he could have found Osama bin Laden sooner? We're going to take it up with the former chairman of the house intelligence committee.

And the blue wave did not stretch all across America. One-on-one tonight with Stacey Abrams, who lost the race to be Georgia's governor. But she says she's not done fighting. There's something that has to be changed. She says the politics in her state are rotten and rigged. Ready to make the case? Let's get after it.

Georgia governor's race is finally over. Stacey Abrams did not win, but she did launch herself into the national political spotlight. And while she admits that she's not going to be the next governor, she refuses to concede, but she concedes the election but not the bigger point, which is she believes that this election exposed issues that will lead to another fight, taking on the system itself. Here she is.

Ms. Abrams, thank you very much for taking the opportunity.

STACEY ABRAMS, FORMER GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE, (D) GEORGIA: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: So, first tell us what do you believe the lesson of your election to be?

ABRAMS: That if we want to have integrity in our systems, we have to work harder for it. I think for too often and for too long, we've taken for granted that the machinery of democracy will work. And I think my election and this year's elections in our state demonstrated that in Georgia, that machinery is broken, and we have to do something to repair it.

CUOMO: Broken. OK. A qualified term. We should discuss it. But let me ask you in terms of context, do you believe that you lost your election fair and square?

ABRAMS: No, I do not.

CUOMO: You think you should have won?

ABRAMS: No. I'm saying that we won't know because we had a secretary of state who served both as the player, the umpire, the player, the referee, and at the end of the game, the judge as well. And the challenge with that is you can never be certain.

We do know for eight years he systematically dismantle the machinery of democracy. He disenfranchises voters, he disinvested from counties and he was grossly incompetent in the administration of his office.

And because of those factors, we know that elections have been reset. In fact, there's one on December 4th because of a state representative, a Republican, who had to go to court to force the secretary of state's office and his county to redo his election because they messed it up.

CUOMO: What do you think this secretary of state did and the state by extension and also on its own -- what do you think that Georgia did that made your election unfair?

ABRAMS: I would say that they made the elections overall unfair, and I want to be very clear. This isn't simply about my election. My election is part of a larger pattern of behavior, and that's why this is so important because Republicans were harmed. Democrats were harmed. Independents were harmed. But most importantly, Georgians were harmed.

We had four and a half hour lines because of the disinvestment in machinery. We had machines that were flipping names because of the antiquated nature of our machines. We had people who were purged from the rolls unlawfully, including a 92-year-old woman who had voted in the same community since 1968 because she was a civil rights leader. We had new citizens who were denied the right to register. We had thousands who were placed on hold.

And that's just a short list of the ills and the sins that were committed in this election. And the problem is that unless we look at the entire pattern, it seems to be one complaint here and one complaint there.

[22:05:02] But we know that the corrosive nature of this behavior is that it has undermined the effectiveness of our democracy in the state of Georgia, and that cannot stand.

CUOMO: I understand that the goal is now an initiative called fair fight Georgia.

ABRAMS: Yes. CUOMO: I want to talk to you about that. But one more step into the problem before we get what you perceive to be the solution.

If you were to look at the votes, even if we take the A.P., the A.P. reckoning that 53,000 mostly black -- I'm reading it right from their own reckoning -- voter registration applications were on hold in Georgia, if you take the numbers -- that number, and there's like two or three, do you believe there were enough numbers if everything had broken your way, that you would have won?

ABRAMS: You have to go back to the fact that he has purged more than 1.5 million voters over the last eight years, voters who may not have been lawfully purged, including people who were active voters, who simply woke up to found their names taken from the rolls.

CUOMO: Some.

ABRAMS: You have people who stood -- some. But out of a universe of 1.5 million, we know that a number of them were unlawfully purged. We know that people who were lawfully allowed to register to vote showed up and were told they couldn't be given a provisional ballot because they had to save paper.

We know that people had to leave the lines because of four-hour waits because in the State of Georgia, you are not allowed to be paid for time while you're voting. You don't get -- some states allow you to take time off and go vote.

CUOMO: Right.

ABRAMS: Georgia does not do that. You can take time off, but it's unpaid. And if you've got to get that paycheck, you can't wait in line for half of a workday. And so, we do not know how many voters were turned away, were disenfranchised, or who simply didn't bother because they applied for absentee ballots that didn't arrive until election day, and they live out of state and did not have time to return those ballots.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And then you have the argument -- you have the argument of whether or not these problems are endemic or whether they are de minimis. And that's part of what you're trying to do with fair fight Georgia is--

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS: Exactly.

CUOMO: -- to bring it out and I want to talk to you about that. You know, somebody gave me a good idea the other day. That what we should do is we should couple Veterans Day with elections day and make it a national holiday and put it in the middle of the week on a Wednesday.

So you get off. It's in a place where you can't just stretch it into a long weekend, right, because then people won't vote anyway. And you encourage involvement in the process, respect for the veterans. You have a national holiday so everybody is off. So, we're all thinking about remedies. That one struck me as interesting.

You have a different remedy, which is a pursuit of changes to the law. Fair fight Georgia. How would that fix it?

ABRAMS: So, we are filing a lawsuit, a major federal lawsuit that looks at the series of gross mismanagement, incompetence, and bad behavior that has allowed the erosion of democracy in the State of Georgia. And our complaint is actually going to try to find several legal remedies.

In fact, we already had four different federal judges who in the span of 10 days, agreed with us that the administration of the elections in the State of Georgia were so flawed that they forced better behavior.

What I want us to do is to understand all those flaws and fix the systemic issue. Because the challenge is if you only attack one piece or another piece, then you're missing the whole problem. And the whole problem is that when people are disenfranchised, if it's one person or another person, then they feel they're alone in the problem.

But if that aloneness is aggregated, if we can see the full picture, then we can tackle the entirety of the issue. before for me, this isn't just about my election. It's about the next election. We have municipal elections coming up in 2019, mayors, city council members. They need to know that they have a fair fight.

Twenty-twenty is coming. And now that Georgia is a swing state, we need to make certain that the elections in that year are the right ones and that people can trust the results, and that's what I'm going to fight for.

CUOMO: I want to give you a chance to explain something that a lot of people have a hard time with. The idea of showing I.D. to vote makes a lot of sense to people. Why wouldn't you? You know, so many people -- this is the argument.

So many people have I.D., you know, all kinds of legal I.D. You use it in so many other phases of life. Why shouldn't we? If voting matters so much, why shouldn't we show I.D.? What's your counter?

ABRAMS: So identification has always been part of the process. The issue is the type of identification that is now being required because the type of identification that's being required is often difficult for certain folks to get access to.

If you don't drive, if you don't live near the communities where DMVs are available because in the State of Georgia, you can't just walk into any place and get a license. If you can't afford it because it's too expensive, if you grew up in a community where you didn't have a birth certificate and that is true for a lot of elderly people in the deep south, there are lots of impediments.

And what has happened is that people who are eligible to vote before -- because identification has always been a part of the process. But what's happened is they've constrained the level of I.D. that's allowed, and we watched that happen in North Dakota, where they took away the right to vote for Native Americans by putting in place what sounds normal to anyone else. It's just a street address.

[22:0:54] But if you live on a reservation, that is not normal, and it was intentionally designed to disenfranchise communities. It's not that identification is wrong. It's the type of identification and the hurdles required to achieve that identification that constitutes voter suppression.

CUOMO: And this is not a new issue.

ABRAMS: It is not.

CUOMO: There are plenty of studies done on it. There is a lot of research done on it. people can read if they're actually curious.

ABRAMS: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Stacey Abrams, good luck with the fight. Anything that makes the process more fair, is good. We'll be watching your efforts and see what they lead to. Thank you and the best to you and yours for Thanksgiving.

ABRAMS: Thank you so much. And you have a wonderful holiday as well.

CUOMO: And I mean it, the system has to be made better. When efforts are in effect, we have to follow it. The media can help in that way, we will.

The commander in chief is again trying to divide where most Americans unite. The raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Mike Rogers knows a lot about the mission. Surely a heck of a lot more than I do. What's his take on this type of criticism? The Republican and former House intel chair graces us with his presence. He's as good as mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: In a week that should be filled with gratitude, the president kicked things off by attacking an esteemed retired military leader. The navy SEAL commander who led the Osama bin Laden raid.

Four-star admirable admiral and admirable Bill McRaven. He served Republican and Democratic presidents. Trump tweeting, "Of course we should have captured Osama bin Laden long before we did. I pointed him out in my book just before the attack on the World Trade Center."

[22:15:01] "President Clinton famously missed his shot. We paid Pakistan billions of dollars, and they never told us he was there. Fools."

The president should know it wasn't McRaven's responsibility to find Osama bin Laden. It was the CIA's.

Let's bring in Mike Rogers. Let's be honest. The president doesn't know what he's talking about with any of this, but the idea of McRaven says that you shouldn't mock -- McRaven, he's a Hillary Clinton supporter, and they should have caught Osama bin Laden faster. Your response?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. All of that's wrong. I think this should be an embarrassing moment for the president. I'm not sure it will be. You know, I was brought up. I served in the United States military that, you know, the officers always eat last, and you never blame your subordinates to your superiors. You take responsibility.

He has mastered none of that. This is a gentleman who has served 37 years admirably. He happened to be the commander at the time when the raid was both planned and conducted, and he did it admirably.

And you remember I was the chairman at the time, Chris. So I saw all of the development of the intel package back in about January. The raid happened in May. You know, I started getting very close to this back in January. So, we watched all of the development of the intel up to the point where the decision was made to go.

And I'll tell you, in January, it didn't look very good. There was not a high degree of certainty. So, some notion that, you know, should they have found him seriously through other intelligence means? Maybe. Very difficult target. Really hard to do. Everybody that lent their talent and intellectual and their service capability to this effort should be thanked, not insulted, I think.

CUOMO: Right. Two points of perspective here. First, you know, the head of ISIS, still out there. The current head of Al Qaeda, still out there. So, if the president, you know, wants to show how quickly things can get done, he's got ample opportunity. But also, what do you want people to know, Mike, about how hard it was to identify and locate Osama bin Laden?

ROGERS: Yes. This thing was really an incredibly difficult task. Talk about operational security. This was it. And so, he practiced everything that if you didn't want to ever get caught you would do and didn't really make any mistakes.

And so, and I'm talking about Osama bin Laden at this point. He was on a compound. The compound was alive and well with activity of families surrounding his activity there but not related to his activity there. So, I mean, everything that they could do to cover his position -- and by the way, never used any electronics to communicate.

It was all written communications, and this was what was brilliant about this whole episode, which I wish the president would just take a few minutes and try to understand the immense effort to get a small, little piece of intelligence that ended up to Osama bin Laden's undoing.

They actually found a brief snippet of an intercept, a communication intercept, where somebody was talking about the great one and their service to the great one, and they would have to leave for some period of months. Now, in a vast collection of intelligence, you'd think, yes, that

doesn't mean all that much. But a very smart analyst looked at that and said, you know, the long and short of that I think this guy could be working for Osama bin Laden.

And then they set up surveillance and a long process to catch that person actually showing up at the compound on one day. And if it weren't that particular day, they would have missed the whole thing for, who knows, another two years. It was -- and those couriers, by the way, changed frequently.

It was really solid, hard intelligence work that got us to the fact where people decided on whole, by the way, with some congressional oversight, that said, yes, that sure is Osama bin Laden.

By the way, if you're going to risk invading another country to go after somebody that went after us at 9/11, this would be the time to do it. All of that, there's so much behind it. I guess what irritates me is the president had no notion of that history.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: Where not only he attacked all that effort but also attacked the man who helped design and, you know, showed great leadership and inspiration to the people who had to go do this work.

CUOMO: And of course, as we learn time and time again, the president does it out of convenience. It worked for him in the moment. You criticize me, Mike Rogers, what does he know about intelligence? You know, that guy, he should be two inches taller. That's how it works. That's how it works all too often.

Let me ask you something while I have you. I haven't gotten a chance to talk to you about this, Mike.

ROGERS: Yes.

CUOMO: The acting A.G. is Matthew Whitaker, and the Democrats are trying to figure out whether or not he should recuse himself, whether they should hold hearings about him. Do you believe that is the right use of oversight energy?

ROGERS: You know, here's the interesting thing about that, Chris, if I can here for a minute.

[22:19:57] I don't think his public comments, especially as a CNN commentator, should ever, you know, preclude him from serving in government because he had some opinion at some time. I don't -- I just don't believe that's right because the weight of the office, the oath of the office will, I think, Trump any of those other activities or your pontificating about what you think should or shouldn't happen.

I don't think that's the issue. And I know that the Democrats put a lot of weight on that. This is an interesting legal matter because it's not really settled. It's not as clear, black and white. It's not binary as I think people are saying either way because of his appointment, because he was confirmed before as a U.S. attorney, because he was a senior official, and because he's not full-time means he doesn't have the weight and authority.

It's an interesting legal question. You know, I don't know. Listen, I think they're going to spend a lot of time on something they think he is going to do. He hasn't done it yet.

And so I think with all the investigation that's done, if I were providing advice and counsel, I'd say, listen, let the thing wrap up. If this guy comes in and says it's over, guess what? You have all the oversight capability you will need to get access to all of that investigative material.

That will do far more damage, I would guess, than you trying to spend all this time and energy trying to get rid of the guy on something you think he might do based on a comment when he was not in government nor briefed on the case. I don't -- I think they're going to spend a lot of time wasting -- spinning around on this particular case.

CUOMO: Mike Rogers, always a plus. Thank you so much. The best to you and your family for Thanksgiving.

ROGERS: Thanks. Same to you. Mashed potatoes? I was hoping for stuffing.

CUOMO: All right. Well, that's a high bar.

ROGERS: I'm the stuffing of the -- I got to work on that.

CUOMO: You don't know how much I love mashed potatoes. I'll talk to you soon. Take care.

ROGERS: take care.

CUOMO: It was one of the biggest lessons from 2016. You never use your personal e-mail for government work. OK? Why would Ivanka Trump do that? Well, I only -- I didn't have a government e-mail yet. Not true. You did it after you got a government e-mail.

Well, it wasn't really anything important. But why do this now? And what will it mean? We have a great debate coming on this next.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Ivanka Trump fired off e-mails over and over again from her personal account to White House aides, cabinet officials, and her assistants. Should you care?

Well, ask Hillary Clinton or President Trump, who's suddenly silent on this particular breaking of federal rules.

A spokesperson says it was almost always for logistics and scheduling.

Great debate time. Catherine Rampell and Niger Innis. Let me remind you two good and decent people what was said on this topic by our exalted leader. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thirty-three thousand missing e-mails. Think of it. Thirty-three thousand! She should never have been allowed to run for the presidency based on what she did with e-mails.

She deleted the e-mails. She has to go to jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, look, there are some distinguishing characteristics here. I, for one, I'm not trying to set the table here, Catherine, by saying what we understand about what Ivanka Trump was doing and what Hillary Clinton was doing was the same.

However, the irony is rich. What do you make of this situation, and does it warrant any type of attention?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I will say there will be some ambiguity now at Trump rallies when the crowd starts chanting lock her up.

CUOMO: I doubt that. But do you think there should be oversight involve?

RAMPELL: Of course, there should be oversight here. Look, Ivanka is not the first person even in this administration to have broken this supposedly sacrosanct law about never using private e-mails for work- related purposes.

If you remember last year, we learned that Kushner, Bannon, Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, amongst others did the exact same thing. I think really what this reveal is just how much of a bad faith argument it was during the 2016 campaign, that this was really like the high crime and misdemeanor, if you will, that made Hillary Clinton morally equivalent to Donald Trump.

CUOMO: Malemfidelis (Ph), bad faith, Niger Innis. That's what the Hillary Clinton arguments were. That's what Rampell says. What say you?

NIGER INNIS, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: I say that what Hillary Clinton did was approaching high crime and misdemeanor because we're not talking about using a private e-mail. In the case of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had been involved in government unlike Ivanka for decades and should have known better, not only used a private e-mail, she used her own private e-mail server.

CUOMO: What's the difference?

INNIS: To conduct virtually all State Department business.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I.T. people will tell you a server is safer than using Gmail.

INNIS: So, she bypassed.

RAMPELL: So did Ivanka Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

INNIS: She -- well, but we're not talking about Gmail.

RAMPELL: So did Ivanka Trump.

INNIS: We're talking about--

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: She had her own domain. She used her own domain. It was not Ivanka Trump at Gmail.com. It was like--

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Yes, that's true.

RAMPELL: It was a special -- there's a special domain.

INNIS: Yes, but the difference -- but the difference is the communications that took place, most -- by the way, of those conducting government business, it was like maybe 100 or less than 100, and they were usually initiated by government officials or cabinet officials reaching out to Ivanka.

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Not always.

INNIS: And there's full transparency. As opposed to--

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Not with those transparency.

INNIS: -- to the thousands of e-mails that Hillary Clinton purposely deleted when she was under investigation.

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Not with full transparency.

INNIS: Quite a difference.

RAMPELL: The only way we found out about this is because there were White House officials who were trying to respond to a records request, and they came across these private e-mails.

[22:29:55] Look, I'm not saying what Hillary Clinton did was a smart or a good thing. But we had an entire election that was supposedly a referendum on the use of private e-mails, during which Ivanka Trump's father said that this was supposed to be a referendum on the use of private e-mails. That and I guess building a wall. That was supposed to be the main issue that made Hillary Clinton a crook somehow.

And yet, we have multiple senior-level people in his own White House who clearly do not believe that this is a terribly important rule to abide by, that protecting public records is an important priority for them. Again, we had an entire campaign about this. And you're to tell me that Ivanka Trump had no idea that this was against the rules? That's just -- that just beggars belief.

INNIS: You want to make a proper comparison, compare Ivanka Trump to Chelsea Clinton, not the Secretary of State that purposefully...

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Chelsea Clinton was not a Senior White House Adviser.

(CROSSTALK)

INNIS: -- was investigated by the FBI and Congress deleted thousands -- purposefully thousands...

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Chelsea Clinton was First Daughter. She was not a Senior White House Adviser. She was not flying around the world as an official.

CUOMO: That's the point. That's the point.

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: A representative of the President.

CUOMO: One of the things I have always wanted to do, I am going to let you in on a secret. You ever watch Around the Horn on ESPN? I have always wanted to do segments -- when we're talking about this kind of stuff, not life or death, you know, I mean not like, you know, whether you go to war or not. I always wanted to score debates because, you know, there's a competitiveness to it.

You know, sometimes they give a point, take a point away. Niger is laughing at me. I am taking a point away. But Niger has the upper hand when it comes to the deletions. And, you know, why was it deleted and what happened with tha, and the level of transparency. That is a vulnerability in the argument here.

RAMPELL: I agree.

CUOMO: Oh, no. You certainly do. I don't mess with Rampell. What I am saying is this, the idea of likening Ivanka to Chelsea, no, no, no, no. She is a Senior White House official. INNIS: Only in terms of experience.

CUOMO: And she's much older.

INNIS: No, that's fair.

CUOMO: Chelsea was a kid when she was in the White House.

RAMPELL: If you really think that Ivanka Trump is the equivalent of Chelsea Clinton.

CUOMO: No. He's backpedaling like he was Lebron James on the fast break.

(CROSSTALK)

INNIS: Not completely, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

RAMPELL: Look, if she's not experienced enough, if she's not adult enough to have learned...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: What's she doing there?

RAMPELL: Yeah. What's she doing there, if she couldn't learn after two years of watching her father campaign night after night...

CUOMO: Hold on. I want to show something else before I run out of time. I am going to save you, Niger, because thanksgiving is coming up. I want to talk about decorum for one second. The President says we're going to have decorum. Then he sends this e-mail to Schiff. So funny to see little -- by the way, Adam Schiff is not a little guy by the way.

But Adam S-C-H-I-T-T, OK? Now, why wasn't that corrected, Niger? What happened to decorum? What happened to decency? What happened to civility? Why did he write his name like that and not correct it? How is that Presidential?

INNIS: Look, it's not Presidential, and the President's greatest strength is also his greatest weakness.

CUOMO: What's that?

INNIS: Which is that there's not a thought that comes into his mind that is not uttered.

CUOMO: That is never a strength.

INNIS: Talk about fully transparent...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That is never strength unless you're a free-verse poet.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That is never strength unless you're a free-verse poet.

INNIS: Or a rapper.

CUOMO: It is never an unqualified strength. Rappers think a ton (Inaudible) what they say. I'm saying unless you're just stream of consciousness, Rampell, how is that in any way an indication of how we're going to get along here?

RAMPELL: Well, obviously it's not. But I think what we should bear in mind is that Trump can hurl as many puerile insults as he wants to at Adam Schiff. Schiff is still going to have subpoena power.

CUOMO: Yup.

RAMPELL: You know, like sticks and stones may break my bones, but calling me names won't, like, reduce my ability to investigate you.

CUOMO: That is not nearly as catchy as the original phrase.

RAMPELL: I know, I know, but it's true in this case.

INNIS: I know. It's not as good -- I agree with you. It's not as good as Crooked Hillary. I agree with you guys.

CUOMO: Little Adam Schiff. I think the guy is like six foot, you know? You know I don't know what the President's doing. But we got to be better than this. We got to be like you guys are. You don't agree, but you're intelligent. You're decent. You're accommodative of each other. You don't have to agree. You do it the right way, though.

That's what we need more, not that stupid. What was that word you used, puerile? Puerile from the Latin (Inaudible) means boy. Catherine Rampell, thank you so much, Niger Innis...

(CROSSTALK)

INNIS: Enjoy your mashed potatoes on thanksgiving.

CUOMO: I like mashed potatoes. You don't get this by not eating them, Niger. I'll talk to you later.

[22:35:00] INNIS: I feel like a turkey that was not pardoned.

CUOMO: You're much better than that. Rampell was easy on you. You won't count yourself lucky twice. All right, so Bob Mueller, Robert Mueller is answering a test of his power after getting a new boss hand-picked by President Trump. This was really interesting. The Special Counsel was asked for an opinion on the new appointment. Cuomo's Court is in session. This is something that you're going to want to chew on a little bit, and I got perfect minds to help you do that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: So ever since Trump loyalist, Matt Whitaker, was appointed Acting Attorney General, speculation has been swirling over whether he will hinder the Mueller probe. Well today, Mueller's team spoke out, arguing in a new court filing, that it still has the, quote, full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States attorney.

[22:40:06] That's part of an ongoing battle between Mueller and a Roger Stone associate. But it still leaves the question over whether we would even know it if Whitaker did, in fact, rein in Mueller. Cuomo's Court is in session. Let's bring in Berit Berger and Jim Schultz. Berit, hearing Mueller's guise, yes, it was part of something that was dealing with one of Roger Stone's guys.

It was not about this specifically. But for them to say, yeah, Whitaker is not an issue. We're doing everything we need to do. Does that put it to rest?

BERIT BERGER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think it does with respect to the Special Counsel's investigation as of right now. So we just have to remember the context of what the Special Counsel actually responded to today. This isn't a battle over a subpoena like you said of one of Stone's associates. And this all concerns sort of the legality of the Special Counsel's appointment at the time he was actually appointed by Rod Rosenstein.

So what the Special Counsel was saying in the filing today was the appointment of Whitaker does not affect the legality of the Special Counsel's appointment. It has nothing to do with that. So from their perspective, they're going to continue going about their business like normal, continue to investigate as if nothing's changed.

Now this doesn't actually answer sort of the larger looming question of whether ultimately the appointment of Whitaker is constitutional. But that's not going to be worked out in this motion right now.

CUOMO: Yeah. I don't know that we even ever get to that. Jim, I mean, look, the problem is they could have picked other people to be the Acting AG. But they picked Whitaker, and the odds-on theory is because they like the way he sees the probe, which is negatively.

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY: Look, he's a former United States attorney from Iowa. He was Chief of Staff to the Attorney General. He knows the department. There's nothing unlawful about his appointment. He hasn't made any efforts whatsoever that we know of to even get involved in this probe whatever.

CUOMO: What do we know?

SCHULTZ: Mueller's team says specifically in their filing that it doesn't impact the powers they have. And in that motion, I think you're right, in that this motion was about whether Mueller's appointment -- or I should Stone's challenge is about whether Mueller's appointment was lawful or not. They're basically saying that he's a super U.S. Attorney and has the powers of a U.S. Attorney.

And therefore, is a principal officer that needed to be confirmed by the Senate. In fact, he was appointed by the Department of Justice, not by the President. It's different.

CUOMO: Hmm. So the question I asked, though, while you were -- how would we know if Whitaker wants to do something to Mueller? We don't know.

SCHULTZ: Look, he's the Attorney General. He has an ability to make legal judgments about cases before his office if he chooses to do so. He has not recused himself. He's under no obligation to recuse himself under the law, under any of the ethics laws, under any ethics regulations.

CUOMO: Having an opinion about the matter you oversee isn't a requirement?

BERGER: What, that he had a prior opinion on this network? He wrote an opinion relative to the case and gave his feelings relative to a case and his thoughts relative to a case. No, that doesn't mean he has predisposed anything as it relates to this investigation. He didn't have the facts relative to the investigation when he made that opinion.

Now, he probably has the facts and is going to make judgments on his own, independent legal judgments, you know, absent from him being a talking head or an opinion maker on CNN.

CUOMO: Berit, I want you to respond. I am asking these questions in context, what we heard from the President. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's going to be up to him. I think he's very well aware politically. I think he's astute politically. He's a very smart person, a very respected person. He's going to do what's right. I really believe he's going to do what's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you won't over rule if he decides to curtail...

TRUMP: I would not get involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: He wouldn't get involved. All he's done is get involved. But also, look, what I think is interesting is two things. One, is he can't decide whether or not he knows this guy or not. One minute he doesn't know him. I don't know anything about him. I just heard good things. The next time he talked about him, he knows everything about him. Berit, I mean just -- very low indicia of credibility there in terms of what the President knows about this man or doesn't know.

But at the end of the day, why would he want Whitaker to do anything to the Special Counsel?

BERGER: Yeah. I mean, look, to your first point, it seems incredulous to me, too, that he wouldn't know this person. If this is a completely unknown person to you, then why do you skip over multiple people to reach Whitaker? Why pass over Rod Rosenstein? Why pass over other people that were Senate confirmed that would certainly have taken you out of some of this hot water to get to Whitaker?

It seems that there is at least something that he knew about Whitaker. I am not saying there's anything untoward about it. But it seems that there is at least something that he knew about him that indeed was appealing to him. Now, what effect ultimately this has, I don't actually know. I don't know that, you know, at least at this point Whitaker has not seemed to have taken any action that's affected this.

[22:45:04] But there are ways that we would know if Whitaker was to take some sort of extreme action.

CUOMO: How?

BERGER: To tank that. You know if he in his role as sort of the Supervisor of the Special Counsel's investigation decides to take any kind of an action like shutting it down, denying indictments, denying certain kind of warrants, there would be updates that would go to Congress on this.

CUOMO: I got you.

BERGER: So they would -- you know, Congress will serve as an important check to this whole investigation. And that's one way that we might know if Whitaker starts taking any kind of extreme action.

CUOMO: They will now, that's for sure. Jim, let me ask you something about the office you used to work in. What kind of people have they got working in that counsel's office who are coming up with these rules about decorum for the press? I mean is the President freelancing and saying that rules are coming up? I mean how can you come up with rules that get no input from the people who have to abide by the rules?

And how can you have rules about it being an actionable offense, let's call it, by the White House if you ask a follow-up question when most journalists do that in the White House briefings? And how is it due process to say, and if you violate this rule that we're not going to let you have any role in establishing, you're automatically out? That's not due process. Who's making up these judgments?

SCHULTZ: Look, they'll have an ability to -- the press can have an ability to challenge those rules if they want to challenge them. The fact of the matter is the rules that were set forth today by Sarah Sanders were those that were used for years, and it was just unstated rules for years.

CUOMO: They're not rules.

SCHULTZ: And really decorum in the press -- yes, they are. I mean the fact that you can't have someone just take over the press conference and just not relinquish the microphone.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: As long as he likes it, you're in good shape.

SCHULTZ: That's not what it says. That's not what it says. And look, there are a whole lot of people asking the same questions over and over in that room...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: -- the folks should get their turn to do it.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Who says that this is OK to do with a free press society?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: You're regulating conduct. You're not regulating content here. And you don't have a right to ask 100 questions. One person doesn't have a right to ask 100 questions in a press conference in the White House Press Briefing Room. No President would have ever tolerated this before Donald Trump, and...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: He goes on Fox News. He goes to the mother ship. He picks friendly outlets, and you ask him a question, and he doesn't answer it. So then the next person gets up...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: Every day or every other day, Sarah stands up there every day, takes questions, takes a lot of questions from all the networks.

CUOMO: She's not the President of the United States.

SCHULTZ: And it's the same decorum.

CUOMO: By the way, she isn't the best agent of truth we've ever seen in the position.

SCHULTZ: Right. But she can stand there, take questions. She's answered questions, and she's stood there for time and time again.

CUOMO: She's not the President.

SCHULTZ: Taking on tough questions day in and day out, and so he is. And if he wants to allow someone else to ask a question, that's his prerogative to do so. That's not any...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No. I am OK with that. I am OK him having a prerogative not to have to answer a question. He doesn't have to have a press conference. He doesn't have to show up. They could close down the whole briefing room if they want. But what I am saying is if you're going to make rules, they should not be rules that just accommodate somebody who doesn't want to have to answer questions that they don't like.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: That's not what happened.

CUOMO: And if you don't follow them, you don't just get to yank a press pass.

SCHULTZ: It applies equally to everyone. And we will see it, because it's regulating conduct, and it's not regulating content. It's not about the questions that are asked.

CUOMO: We'll see. We'll see how it plays out, because that's not necessarily true. But Jim, I love your take on it. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Berit, you're always great. I didn't beat you over the head about that because you didn't work in the White House counsel's office, lucky for you on this particular evening.

BERGER: Next time.

CUOMO: Next time. All right, Election Day was nearly two weeks ago, there are still all kinds of surprises unfolding. We're going to run through some of them with, gobble, gobble, Chris Cillizza. He looks good, a little bit different hairdo tonight. Wow wee, that's sharp, that's sharp, Chris Cillizza next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:50:00] CUOMO: Almost two weeks later, and the elections still aren't over. But there are lessons to be learned, especially as we head into the 2020 election cycle. The map is changing big-time in some places. Chris Cillizza is here with five amazing facts about the election. And let's start with the fact that one race still ain't over.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: No. Absolutely -- well, there's a few that aren't over. But let's go with Utah first, Chris, because that race has gone back and forth and back and forth. That's Mia Love...

CUOMO: No love.

CILLIZZA: African-American Congresswoman. Let's play it because I'll get into the results in a minute here. But let's play very quickly what Donald Trump said about Mia Love. We were watching this together in his press conference the day after the election. Let's play that real quick.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Mia Love gave me no love. And she lost, too bad. Sorry about that, Mia. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CILLIZZA: You can really feel the emotion in his voice there. He's so upset. OK, Mia Love back and forth. She's running against a guy named Ben McAdams, a Democrat, back and forth back and forth. Now McAdams is now back ahead by 739 votes, still counting, still counting. Love was ahead by about 1,000. Salt Lake County came in. So that one is still going, so Mia Love still I think has a chance.

Now let me to go -- you started on number two very like you. Let's go to number one, which is the Orange County map. So our friend and colleague, Maeve Reston, wrote about this, Chris. Orange County, this is where Nixon holed up to write his memoir. This is where Ronald Reagan's political base was. And that map that we are showing, that is stunning stuff, now what explains it, simple. We'll touch on the suburbs in a minute.

But it is college-educated voters, 59-39 Democratic in this election. This is a place where Republicans under Reagan, Bush, and Bush did pretty well. Under Trump, they have absolutely fled the party. That's my first two.

CUOMO: All right. What's number three?

CILLIZZA: OK. Number three, suburbs, so I touched on it a little bit. That Orange County area gets at it. But Republicans in 2014, it was about 51 percent of the vote were suburban voters. Republicans won by 12, this time 49 percent Republican, 49 percent Democratic.

CUOMO: Why?

CILLIZZA: Because I think what you're seeing Trump's message doesn't -- what you have a lot in the suburbs, fiscally conservative, socially moderate. They vote for Republicans. But Trump, and you saw this in the exit poll, Trump is someone who those voters, particularly female voters, with female suburban voters can't stomach. It doesn't matter what his policies are. They just can't be for him.

And you saw all across the country, suburbs of Philadelphia, Jersey, which is essentially a suburb, sorry, Jersey. St. Paul in Minneapolis, Orange County, just the suburbs, just absolutely dumping out on Republicans, this is a huge problem not just in 2018 but in 2020 too.

CUOMO: Next?

CILLIZZA: Florida, OK, lots of bad news for Democrats -- for Republicans, excuse me, for Republicans this election. But Florida not bad news, they win the governor's race with a Trump guy through and through, Ron DeSantis, absolutely a Trump guy. He wins the primary because of Trump. He wins the general election narrowly, but he beats Andrew Gillum, who everyone sees as a rising star.

[22:55:08] Probably runs again, frankly. In the Senate race, Rick Scott wins. Another Trump guy, so Florida a very good story, and I don't have much time so I am going to go fast. Number five, we talked about this a number of times, Chris, 49.3 percent of the voting eligible population voted in 2018 and November 6th. It was 36.7 and 2014.

CUOMO: Huge.

CILLIZZA: That's a huge improvement.

CUOMO: Yes. That is huge. And I also won the bet. Are you going to offer that up to our audience?

CILLIZZA: I don't gamble, Chris...

CUOMO: We bet about what the turnout would be.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's going to be 43 percent because...

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: We're running out of time in this segment. I am hearing something in my ear.

CUOMO: We've got to go, favorite side dish for thanksgiving.

CILLIZZA: I like the cranberry that comes in the can.

CUOMO: Of course you do.

CILLIZZA: I mean you've got to be who you are, Chris.

CUOMO: That's strong. That's strong especially if just eat it with your hands.

CILLIZZA: I just go right.

CUOMO: Chris Cillizza, you are the man, and I am thankful for you in my life.

CILLIZZA: Thank you my friend. You, too.

CUOMO: And thank you for watching. What do you say? Let's get after it again tomorrow night, 9:00 Eastern right here on CNN. Have a great night, all right?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)