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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Trump Floats Possibility of Pardon for Manafort; Tijuana Declares Humanitarian Crisis, Seeks Help from U.N.; Trump Predicts He Will Never Get the Nobel Peace Prize. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 28, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The news continues right now, I want to hand it over to Chris, "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts right now. Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.
We now know the President's answers to some of Mueller's most pressing questions. But the real story is how they were answered. And did the President really signal to Paul Manafort that he may get a pardon. If so, what does that signal to Bob Mueller? There is plenty to test, my friends. Let's get after it.
Provocative thought. Has the President just handed the special counsel a gift in his prepared answers? CNN has exclusively learned he told the special counsel, in writing, that he didn't know about the Trump Tower meeting in advance, and that he wasn't tipped off by Roger Stone about the pending WikiLeaks e-mail dump. Those are two biggies.
However, just as interesting is how the President, who once bragged about wanting to be face to face, under oath, how that same man hedged his answers using legalese like, to the best of his recollection. I thought Trump had a great memory. Remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the great memories of all time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Except when it can get him in trouble. Combine that with his riff today that a pardon for Manafort is possible. Now you have some eyebrow raising developments. Let's bring in "Cuomo's Court," in session with Carrie Cordero and Jim Schultz.
Let's start with the pardon. And a very basic proposition, Carrie, the idea is the President can pardon whomever he wants, whenever he wants, unchecked. True or false?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: True, according to traditional legal thought, which is that the pardon power is an absolute executive authority. But the difference here is that that is assuming that the President is lawfully constitutionally, and for official purposes, government purposes, using that strong unequivocal executive power. What's happening here, if he's considering pardoning Paul Manafort is that he would be using his official executive power in order to affect his own personal legal jeopardy. And that's a whole different thing than using what we traditionally think of as pardon power.
CUOMO: So there are two questions. Two checks, let's say, Jim, on the absolute power theory of this. One is, are you self-pardoning which can be done directly or indirectly. Carrie is pointing to an indirect one. Directly is, oh you guys think I did something wrong? I pardon myself. Can't do it. The indirect way that Carrie is talking about is, I'm going to pardon Manafort who could get me in trouble with the prosecutors and that's saving myself. The second way is if it's about a bribe or quid pro quo. Do you think there's a chance that a pardon of Paul Manafort falls into one of those categories?
JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: I just don't see it. And here's the reason why. The prosecutors have found Paul Manafort not to be credible. They wanted to use Paul Manafort to have him cooperate with their investigation, and now they found him to not be credible and now they don't want any parts of that any more. That's what that filing was about the other day, and we're going to see more details unfold associated to that.
CUOMO: At the sentencing.
SCHULTZ: So -- and let's not forget, Chris, that Paul Manafort has been charged with nothing relative to his conduct during the campaign, nor has he been charged with conspiracy associated with the same.
SCHULTZ: So to say that the President, even if he starts, you know, rattling the saber as it relates to pardons in Paul Manafort, is somehow doing it inappropriately, there's no nexus at this point as it relates to the campaign. So I don't see it.
CUOMO: Well, is that the end of the analysis, Carrie, whether or not it's connected to the campaign? Or is it about anything where they find out there was a coordinated story between Manafort and the President and it was a lie, and the President exercised that mendacity the same way Manafort has?
CORDERO: First, Paul Manafort was the chairman of the campaign.
CUOMO: Yes, he was.
CORDERO: So you can't make the argument that he wasn't, it's not connected in anyway to the campaign. Second of all, he was involved in the Trump Tower meeting in the summer of 2016. He has been involved in communications related to many campaign matters, including probably finance matters and organizational matters and all the things related to the campaign, and he is a central player in the Russia influence investigation being conducted by the special counsel.
So, he is certainly a player. He certainly was in touch with the President. And if the President were to use his pardon authority, it could be, in part, if he thinks that Manafort is going to provide some kind of information. He's already provided probably some information. He was cooperating for some period of time. It also, though, could be the way that we've seen the President use the pardon power in other circumstances, which is simply to reward somebody that he thinks has been treated unfairly.
[21:05:22] CUOMO: Right.
CORDERO: And is sort of just going against the stream of prosecution and against law enforcement. And that's how he's used the pardon power already --
CUOMO: Well, when he pardoned Arpaio, let's say. Joe Arpaio, sheriff --
SCHULTZ: And there's nothing wrong with that.
CUOMO: Well, hold on a second. There's nothing illegal about it. Wrong is a subjective assessment for the voters to make, was a good to pardon Arpaio or not?
CUOMO: No, wait a second. No, I'm doing it very basically. I'm not big brain like you guys. I'm keeping it very simple here. That you want to pardon somebody that's fine, it's a political judgment. We'll take it up at the polls when we vote for or against you. However, however, if you put out there that you want to maybe pardon Paul Manafort, what I don't get, Jim, is why some smart guy like you around the President doesn't say to him, don't say that. Don't say it's a possibility.
Don't leave it hanging out there. It looks bad, and I'll tell you why. When President Nixon was in there, his guys said to him, don't say you may pardon any of these guys who are being prosecuted because you could be impeached for that because it looks like you're obstructing justice. Don't say it. Why don't any of you guy tell him that?
SCHULTZ: Well, first off, I'm not the President lawyer. He has got a lot of smart lawyers. I'm not one of them. I work for him when in was in the White House counsel's office. I am not his lawyer at this point. But I'll tell you what, no, I don't think it is strategically a good move to start rattling the saber as it relates to pardons.
CUOMO: At a minimum, sure.
SCHULTZ: It's not a strategically not a good move. But the fact that Paul Manafort was a player in all this, as you said earlier, I say, who cares? I mean, it matters only --
CUOMO: You say who cares, then why is he saying he might pardon him?
SCHULTZ: We need to talk about it.
CUOMO: That's why. SCHULTZ: Right. Again, maybe he feels that -- maybe he feels that
Paul Manafort has been wronged. I don't know why the President said what he said.
CUOMO: Well, you know, yes, you do.
SCHULTZ: And I don't necessarily agree with what he said.
CUOMO: Yes, you do. That's your opinion. But you know why he said it. Because he said the same thing about Stone and the same thing about Corsi, and that is, Carrie, that he believes these guys are being forced to lie, which is the typical thing we usually hear from a mob boss when their guys are being put up there that you've dealt with on your time on the job, which is oh, they're forcing my guys to lie. They've got nothing on. It's all a perjury trap.
SCHULTZ: We know there's a disagreement, though.
CORDERO: But his use of the pardon authority --
SCHULTZ: Between the prosecution and the defense as it relates to Paul Manafort and what he said and what is the truth. He obviously believes that they're trying to get him to say something that he doesn't believe to be true. That's what his lawyers --
CUOMO: Well, that's what the Corsi angle is. Hold on, let me get Cordero -- let me get Carrie on here on this.
CORDERO: But Chris, the President -- It's important to note that the President's use of the pardon authority throughout his presidency is not traditionally and historically how the pardon authority has been used.
CORDERO: So he has broken through the way that it has been used for 200 years. He has gone back by bypassing the pardon office and the attorney general's office. He has gone back to 19th century practice by making the decisions directly without the recommendation of the pardon authority.
CORDERO: And so he hasn't expressed a way to use it in a way that breaks all modern precedent.
CUOMO: But, look, I get it. But that's about tradition and that's about fear.
SCHULTZ: The authority lies with the President, not with the Department of Justice.
CUOMO: Right. How you exercise that --
SCHULTZ: That's his right, the process is his right. He can determine what that process is.
CUOMO: Yes, that's true. The timing --
SCHULTZ: The attorney general doesn't make it and the pardon office doesn't. The President does.
CUOMO: I hear you. But it's not completely absolute. You can't do it in violation of the constitution. You can't self-pardon and you can't do it as a quid pro quo. So we'll have to see if the pardons check those boxes.
But one other thing before I let you go, as we know here and anyone watching this should know, Mueller asked the questions he did to the President because he had information on each of the queries beforehand. And when he asked him, did you get told by Roger Stone about the WikiLeaks coming? We now know, CNN reports, the President said no. Did you know about the 2016 meeting in Trump Tower? We now know, CNN reporting, the President said no.
Don't you think that those are dangerous answers? Sure, he qualified it, Mr. Great memory, with the best of my recollection. But don't you think they have people telling them, Jim, that he was told about the WikiLeaks dump, that he was told about the 2016 meeting?
SCHULTZ: I don't know that people are telling Mueller that.
CUOMO: But why would he ask it?
SCHULTZ: You don't know that either.
CUOMO: Why would he ask it?
SCHULTZ: So --
CUOMO: I actually do by the way. But I'm not going to -- What I know and what I don't isn't what's relevant. But why would they ask it that way if they don't have any source on it?
SCHULTZ: Because they want to know the President's answer to that question. And they want to know what he knew and when he knew it and they want to nail it down. They've asked the question. He's answered it. We have to wait for the report.
[21:10:13] CUOMO: Carrie, Jim, thank you very much. Provocative discussion. It's good for us right at the top of the show. Appreciate it.
All right, so that's a big deal what's happening there. And as we get more facts, and as you heard Jim Schultz say, we're going to know soon because when the sentencing comes up for Manafort you're going to hear what the government says he hasn't been honest about.
It's also time to deal with this reality. UNICEF and other international organizations say what's happening right now a mile from the U.S. border is a humanitarian crisis. When the President was asked about it, he said that the images that you're seeing right now, these images, they're a win for his party. We're going to shine the light next.
CUOMO: It turns out it is an invasion. Sickness, hunger, desperation -- those maladies and more are invading the lives of men, women and children at the border. There are more than 6000 people in Tijuana right now. A crime-infested poverty stricken place to begin with. More people, and deteriorating conditions, are a powder keg. This is the scene at a Sports Complex in Tijuana, now a makeshift shelter for thousands of migrants waiting to seek asylum in the United States.
The shelter is already filled three times above its capacity. And I can report that sources on the ground say another 1,000 migrants are moving in from neighboring Mexicali. Tents are spilling outside the facility's gates, exposed to the elements. Rain is coming in. It's going to pool. It's going to fester, all of this a Stone's throw from where U.S. border agents fired tear gas at the border.
San Diego within view, but all but unreachable for these people now. Many of them have traveled thousands of miles across Central America. One migrant reported, "There are sick children here and we're cold and hungry. The whole world is watching what's happening here."
[21:15:09] This is what's happening. Families forced to wait and in line for hours for food examine hygiene supplies. Here's a glimpse of those in the crowd. This is a mother from Honduras. She's holding her one month old daughter. That baby was born traveling in the caravan.
Infants, children, they play at the ports. Look at this. What an arresting image this is. These kids, leaning up against the shields, that this is what is going to be burned into their brains about this experience.
Elmo in one hand, reaching out to these officers with the other. A mother and child living in a tent and mats. For how long, maybe months? Can they do it, can they make it, can they survive? Mexico is providing aid. But even Tijuana's mayor said, it's not enough. He's called on the U.N. for help.
Right now, border officials are processing around 100 cases a day from Tijuana, meaning for the thousands just arriving and those already there, it's going to be weeks, many weeks before they have a chance to even be heard. The backlog, by the way, the pace is worsened by a decision by this administration. It has a new practice limiting the number of asylum seekers allowed to enter the U.S. each day.
It's a policy that it calls metering. But what it's really doing, it's pressuring. It's seeing how long will they stay? How much do they want it? Let's make it as hard as we can. The same philosophy that led to the separation of those kids the last time we were at a flash point like this.
The President is exacerbating these conditions because time is an enemy here, and he knows it. The White House and many in the GOP blame parents for putting their kids in harms way. Hey, you don't want to get tear gassed, don't bring them. These mothers say they are here to escape harm. That as bad as this is, that there is still hope here, no matter how slim.
The most disturbing image for now, however, may not be anything that you're seeing here. This is bad. But hearing the American President say, that all this, all that's happening -- this is a win for him and his party.
There is no invasion, OK. Here's a little fact for some context. A new pew study concludes the overall number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is actually decreasing, has been for years. But these masses what we see in Tijuana, amassing of different caravans that is new. It has to be dealt with. So, no invasion, but there is evasion by our President and our other elected leaders who are not dealing with what gets worse by the day. It is hard to believe how anyone, let alone a President, can look at what's happening and see political advantage.
Let's debate the notion and the bigger question of what should we do. Next.
[21:20:36] CUOMO: When President Trump stirred up the caravan chaos and called it an invasion to stir up his base for the midterms which didn't work, there was a ton of media coverage. Now that we have an actual problem, there's less coverage and that is a mistake.
The situation as described by International Relief Organizations as a humanitarian crisis and the worst, they say, is yet to come. More migrants, more suffering, more desperation, more problems. What do we do? What should we do? And how can any of this be seen as a win by the president?
Let's ask our great debaters, Ana Navarro and Steve Cortes. Ana, when you look at that situation, what do you see?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it reminds me of things I've seen in the past, being from Florida. It reminds me of the Mariel exodus, the Mariel boatlift where, you know, Castro opened up the floodgates and in a matter of months what began with a few people turned into a massive exodus. It reminds me of seeing desperate Haitians and desperate Cubans. People like Elian Gonzalez, his mother board rickety vast and inner tubes and risk their lives in order to bring their children to safety and to freedom.
And it reminds me of my own story. I'm a lucky one. My parents were the type of people that got U.S. visas and could travel on planes. But they did and would have done anything to save me from growing up in communism and violence like so many other parents have done. Unless, unless you're the child of somebody that came here on in ambassador visa, unless you're the child of somebody who is, you know, a native American, the likelihood is your ancestors came here for precisely the same reason these people are coming here, to look for a better life. So, I see a very complex problem, Chris, because I realize that I can turn into something that will be out of control. You let them in, there will be more. But I also know that we are an empathetic country and I think we need to figure out some sort of comprehensive strategic solution that attacks the roots of the problem in these --
NAVARRO: -- countries and also deals with the immediate issue at hand.
CUOMO: The missed opportunity here, Steve, is how you don't let them in, the way in which you conduct policy, even if it's a policy of exclusion. And that's what -- I wasn't surprised by this, by the way. But it is unfortunate that the President can look at scenes of distress and somehow say, see, I told you. I told you what they were like. Look at them. It's a win for me and my party. This is bad for Democrats. How can you process something like this that way?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Now, look Chris, I think you're being completely unfair to the President. He's not saying that --
CUOMO: By quoting his words.
CORTES: -- on the other side of the border. As of now you didn't quote him. That's your analysis. You are trying to say he's saying it --
CUOMO: While you talk, keep going.
COSTES: -- that they're misery is --
CUOMO: Mel, give me the direct quote in my ear. I'm going to repeat it to him because you're dead wrong, but keep going.
CORTES: Well, then give me the quote.
CUOMO: I will. Keep going.
CORTES: OK. He is not saying that the misery on the other side of the border is a win for him. What is a win is having a secure border because, by the way, having a porous and lawless border region has invited, unfortunately, a lot of human misery and for decades. Sex trafficking, drug running, gun running, coyotes.
There is all kinds of human misery in that region and there has been for many years because of the fact that we've tolerated a lawless and porous border and he's saying it's not just a win for the United States. Look, good fences make good neighbors. It's not just a win for the United States that we finally start to secure our border. It's also ultimately going to be a win for Mexico and a win for migrants, many of whom are sold a false bill of goods that they are going to be allowed to the United States when they can't be, these economic migrants.
CUOMO: Well, look --
CORTES: And not take any economic migrants in the world who want to come to the United States.
CUOMO: Well, it's not a -- first of all, it's not cannot. It's don't want to, and that's OK. You're allowed to make policies that create limits. However --
CORTES: No, we can't. Chris, we cannot take all economic migrants --
CUOMO: I didn't say --
CORTES: If everyone who lives in a poor place in the world --
CUOMO: I didn't say all. I said, you don't have to take all. You can make policies where you set limits. That's what I just said. Please listen. However, don't say, we can't take them. We have more jobs than we have workers in this country. We know that that worker base is fundamental to different aspects of our economy. So, don't say we can't take them. It's about what you want to take.
NAVARRO: Chris --
[CUOMO: And that's OK, that's policy.
[21:25:00] But Ana, what I don't get is you can secure your border. You can do it more so. You can even build a wall which I still believe was a gimmick, it was thought of as a stump on the campaign and it was lied about and still being lied about by the President of the United States. But you don't have to allow people to be like this a mile from your border. You could do more than this and still secure yourself, can you not?
NAVARRO: Yes, absolutely. But it takes the will to do it. And it probably also takes leading an effort that should involve international organizations, that should involve the U.N. high commissioner on refugees that is should involve charitable organizations like churches and refugees organizations.
NAVARRO: That should involve the countries and governments of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and Mexico. It's not something that the U.S. can do alone. It's not something that the U.S. should do alone. It is something that the U.S. can lead in forming some sort of coalition to address the issues.
Listen, people -- we need to put this in context. El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have some of the highest murder rates in the world. Part of that is cost because when we, the United States, invested in planned Colombia to eradicate drug trade in Colombia, what they ended up doing was finding new drug routes through Central America. That has led to rampant, violence, cartels, gangs, drugs that corrupt governments and that region have been unable and unwilling to control. That is what people are fleeing from. And as long as the conditions there are that bad, people will continue to flee.
Now, you are right, you are right. We can't let them all in because you know what happens if we let in 5,000? Next week there will be 30,000 walking from Central America. So we have to fix the problem because the problem is not going to go away by itself. It's going to take funds. It's going to take effort. It's going to take education. It's going to take joint operations, probably military operations to help curb the violence in some of these countries, because, yes, good neighbors make good fences. But I can assure you, that if the home of your neighbor gets overgrown by weeds and gets all sorts of problems, you're going to have suffer some consequence too.
CUOMO: You know, Steve, look. This is not a, this or that. It's a both proposition. And that's the part I don't get. I get the politics. I got it when the President was doing it before the midterms. I was surprised the media bit on it the way it did, but I wasn't surprised. He likes to demonize this group. It worked for him early on in the campaign, he's stuck with it. He made up the wall. He says he'll shutdown the government to get the wall funded. I thought Mexico was going to pay for the wall, but why all of the sudden now that existential battle with our own fiscal policy?
Steve, why do we have to shutdown the government to pay for a wall when Mexico was supposed to pay?
CORTES: Well, because this is absolute proof of why we need a wall, right? The fact that they tried to attack a part of a legacy -- part of the fence really not --
CUOMO: Well, I'm saying why shutdown the government to pay for a wall that Mexico --
CORTES: -- shows us the vulnerabilities.
CUOMO: -- is supposed to pay for. That's what I'm asking.
CORTES: Because Donald Trump -- then listen, he was crystal clear on this issue in 2016. It was perhaps the foundational issue of his campaign that we would build a wall and that we would finally secure our southern border.
CUOMO: And Mexico would pay for it.
CORTES: That has not happened yet.
CUOMO: Mexico would pay for the wall.
CORTES: To me that part of it is immaterial who pays for -- if more than pay for itself --
CUOMO: Isn't that's nice.
CORTES: It will more than pay for itself --
CUOMO: You're like my son --
CORTES: -- if we have to properly secure our Southern border.
CUOMO: -- who only cares about the questions he gets right on the test. Every time he brings home a lousy grade, --
CORTES: No, I --
CUOMO: -- he says the answers I get wrong, you know, I don't really try to focus on those.
CORTES: No, I'm not ignoring the question. I'm just telling that part to be isn't that relevant.
CUOMO: I know because it works against you.
CORTES: It's where worth investment for the United States.
CUOMO: It is not well worth the investment.
CORTES: It's well -- if the amount of money --
CUOMO: If you talk to people, who work there on the border, --
NAVARRO: Listen, guys let me tell you something --
CUOMO: -- none of them say we're a wall away, Ana. Nobody tells --
NAVARRO: -- almost half of the --
CORTES: That's totally -- that is totally untrue.
NAVARRO: -- people who are here --
CORTES: The head of the border that --
CORTES: The head of the Union that represents CBP, and you know this very well --
NAVARRO: Almost half the people who are here is undocumented immigrants --
CORTES: He's advocated a wall.
CUOMO: Yes. No, no. Listen, advocating the wall saying it's a --
NAVARRO: There's an almost half -- almost half -- you guys --
CUOMO: Go ahead.
NAVARRO: Before we, you know, get all compulsive obsessive over the wall, half the people that are undocumented aliens here came through other means, --
NAVARRO: -- that was not the Mexico border.
NAVARRO: A lot of them came by plane --
CUOMO: More than half.
NAVARRO: -- like I did and overstayed their visas --
CUOMO: Yes, more than half.
NAVARRO: -- and are living here as undocumented aliens. A lot of them came like my Cuban friends or like my Asian friends --
NAVARRO: -- who boarded rickety boats in order to escape that horror.
NAVARRO: Al lot of them have come through other ways as, you know, people who no babies have never lived desperation, people who have never lived this kind of misery, this kind of poverty, who have never seen this kind of violence, who have never seen this kind of suffering may not understand that loving parents will do desperate things in order to get their children into safety. Even if the probability is they will not be able to.
But if they've got a glimmer of hope, they will take that glimmer of hope to get them from the hell where they are living now. That is the truth. Unless we address what's happening there, I don't care how big a wall you build. I don't care how tall a wall you build. You are still going to have the problems because you have got to address the root of the issue that is happening there.
[21:30:14] There are sometimes 30, 40, 50 deaths in a week in those countries. That's the kind of murder rate that exists there, the highest among the highest in the world. We don't do something about that, you can spend all the Mexican money or U.S. taxpayer money you want building a big beautiful wall. And it's never going to solve the issue.
CUOMO: Look, here's the reality --
CORTES: There are people all over the world, unfortunately. This is just the human condition or are people all over the world who live in dangerous places --
CORTES: -- who live in poverty. You know where else that happens? On the west side of Chicago, OK, so this is America. We need to first take care of Americans and prioritize caring for our own citizens before we start helping young men and this caravan is primarily young men. Before we start helping young man from Honduras, how about we help young men on the west side of Chicago who live in conditions that in many cases are every bits as third world as those faced by somebody's caravan members when it comes to danger --
CUOMO: Again --
CORTES: -- and when it comes --
CUOMO: I don't understand why it has to be an --
CORTES: -- starvation. So, I'm saying put American citizens first. Because, for example -- let me tell you exactly why, Chris. Because if we allow a million illegal workers a year which is roughly what we've done the last couple decades --
CORTES: -- in this country, what do you think that does to working class wages --
CUOMO: Why do you have more jobs --
CORTES: -- for young Hispanic and black men in the workforce?
CUOMO: How do you have more jobs than you do workers? And what do you see the President saying --
CORTES: Because --
CUOMO: -- that wants to do but people on the west side of Chicago other than exploit the problems there to say gun control doesn't work?
CORTES: Chris, you keep mentioning the jobs issue. That's a red herring because that is a skills mismatch. And let's be honest --
CUOMO: It's a fact.
CORTES: -- most people are not coming --
CUOMO: Steve --
CORTES: -- with this higher skills --
CUOMO: I know.
CORTES: -- or they'd be coming via H-1B visas. So -- but we don't need more manual labors. As a matter of fact for the first time in a very long time --
CUOMO: Yes, you do.
CORTES: -- to the blue collar wages in this country are raising faster than --
CUOMO: That's what the majority --
(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: And also just to end the segment, you know, because we're facts first, that's the mandate of this show in its inception. Put up the quote of what the President said.
Politically speaking, that issue is a total winner. People look at the border. They look at the rush to the police. They look at the rock throwers and really hurting three people, lie. Three brave border patrol folks, not true.
I think that's a tremendous issue. But much more importantly is really needed. So we have to have border security. He said exactly what I told you he said. He looked at the images down there, he looked at the clashes. He looks at the moms running with the tear gas and he sees a win and that is really sad, Steve.
CORTES: No, he sees defending the border as a win. He sees defending the border --
NAVARRO: What he sees is a political issue that he is exploiting. So what he sees is a political issue that he can use to scare people to vote for him --
CORTES: Chris, what --
NAVARRO: -- and vote for his people in the polls.
CORTES: The brave --
NAVARRO: And it should not be surprising we have seen a Donald Trump for years and years who has zero empathy, who is unable to show human --
NAVORRO: -- empathy whether it is Puerto Rico or whether it is the fires in California or whether it is to the people on the border. The man is weird. He has no human empathy and cannot communicate.
CORTES: Those brave people defend our border and the majority of them by the way are Hispanic.
CUOMO: That's right. And many of them have families --
CORTES: OK. Then a majority of them are Hispanic.
CUOMO: -- the majority as well they are very empathetic, they're good people. I spent days and days with them on the border --
CORTES: What were they supposed to do?
CUOMO: -- I see them do their job.
CORTES: Are they suppose to swing the wall --
CUOMO: I never said they did anything wrong. I'm saying that it needs to be investigated. You got to find the officers who decided to use the methods that they used and make sure it was justified. Do the investigation. That's what they're doing. That's all I've ever asked for.
9I got to go now. I'm out of time. Steve, thank you very much. Ana, as always.
All right. So, from one potential miscarriage of justice to another. Did the President just accuse his own Deputy Attorney General of treason? Does he really want Rod Rosenstein jailed? Wait until you hear the answer from the President. We're going to bring in a former A.G. for this one, Mike Mukasey next.
[21:37:12] CUOMO: All right. So what do we know then? We know that the President says he's not taking a pardon off the table for his convicted former campaign chair. Now he's doubling down on this meme that he retweeted. What does it do? It suggests his own deputy attorney general should be in jail. I don't know why I'm laughing. I think it's a laugh/cry kind of deal.
The President told the "New York Post" Rod Rosenstein never should have picked a special counsel. That was his explanation for why a meme like that would be OK. How does this all sit with a man who used to run the Justice Department? Let's get after it with Former Bush Attorney General Mike Mukasey. Always a pleasure, sir.
MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to be with you.
CUOMO: I like to burden you with situations that you would never create yourself. But we have two issues here. The first one is Rod Rosenstein, Acting Deputy A.G., overseeing the Mueller probe. Whether you like the decision to appoint a special counselor not, the idea that that would expose him to legal jeopardy, what do you make of that notion?
MUKASEY: It's ridiculous. But there is a germ of truth in saying that he should not have appointed a special counsel at the time that he did. But that doesn't send anybody to jail, either Rod Rosenstein or anybody else.
CUOMO: What is your sense politically? And I know you like to say, "Well that's not really my bucket, I'm a law man."
MUKASEY: Yes. Yes. You're right.
CUOMO: But you have experienced so much politics. You've seen it at the highest levels. That's why I rely on you --
MUKASEY: And the lowest levels.
CUOMO: That's right, only when you're here. The idea of -- I don't like what this guy did. I think I'm going to suggest he should be in jail.
MUKASEY: Chris, if that were unique to Rod Rosenstein that would be a problem. But he has suggested that many people should be in jail. He has suggested that many people should be fired. He has suggested that many people are losers. That's the way he expresses himself.
CUOMO: Would it be wrong?
MUKASEY: You don't, I don't, but it's SOP for him. So it's not that he is stepping outside of his normal mode of expression.
CUOMO: If Mike Mukasey is working on a team like Mueller's, is that the kind of thing where you say, boy, there's another piece in the pattern, that every time it comes to somebody who is involved in this probe, or doing something of a judicial nature that he doesn't like, he suggests getting rid of them in one way or another? Is it interesting from that perspective?
MUKASEY: From the standpoint of somebody working for Mueller?
CUOMO: Like if you were investigating the President being part of an obstruction of justice investigation.
MUKASEY: Because it's got nothing to do with the investigation. It's got to do with this, I just said, the way the President expresses himself.
CUOMO: Why couldn't it be construed as him suggesting that he might get rid of people who were involved in running the investigation?
MUKASEY: First of all, the obstruction statute says that you can be convicted for obstructing a proceeding.
[21:40:03] CUOMO: Right.
MUKASEY: An investigation, believe it or not, is not a proceeding.
MUKASEY: There is law on that --
MUKASEY: -- and it's in the U.S. attorney's manual. That's binding on Robert Mueller. So you can't charge somebody with obstruction based on obstructing an investigation.
CUOMO: Right. But -- well, you can do it. It is arguable whether you can or you cannot. I hear you on that and thank you for your note last time you were on about that. But, you know, we processed this in the beginning when we heard that the Mueller investigation maybe looking at obstruction of justice. And it wasn't seen as a closed issue, Mike.
MUKASEY: Well, it may not have been seen by somebody as a closed issue. But they're looking at obstruction of justice in the sense of violation of the obstruction statute they're looking on the wrong place. If you're talking about something that Congress might regard as an impeachable offense that is something very different.
CUOMO: All right. Two Manafort questions. The first one, the suggestion of a JDA, joint Defense Agreement between Manafort and the President, Rudy Giuliani all but said that's what it is.
CUOMO: Manafort's lawyer said, well, not really, we really just kind of have a fair exchange. Is that OK?
MUKASEY: Yes, it's OK, and it's not -- would I do it in this situation? Maybe probably not, if I were Manafort's lawyer, but it's not as unusual as some people on your air have suggested. I have known lawyers who have representing -- representing, subject of investigations, go to the lawyer who is representing the cooperator and ask him, what are they asking your guy, what's your guy saying?
And sometimes you get a blank wall. Sorry, I can't talk to you. We have a cooperation agreement. Sometimes you have a lawyer say, look, I can't really tell you in detail, but if I were you, I'd prepare on this subject and this subject and this subject.
MUKASEY: That happens.
CUOMO: Sure. Look, it happens a lot in mob cases, by the way.
MUKASEY: It happens in other cases too.
CUOMO: Right. But --
MUKASEY: It happens in white collar cases, Chris.
MUKASEY: Note, let's not make out -- make this out as a mob case simply because we have a president who at times is --
MUKSAEY: -- has antics.
CUOMO: Yes. Yes, well, so --
MUKASEY: No, sounds --
CUOMO: You know, like, you know, by the same rules you're putting out there for me if you would.
MUKASEY: He plays into it, I get that.
CUOMO: Yes, I mean --
MUKSAEY: That doesn't make it a mob case.
CUOMO: I mean him saying, Corsi, Stone, Manafort, they're them pressure them to lie. They're trying to make them perjury it's like right out of the Gotti handbook.
MUKASEY: It's right out of a lot of people's handbooks. Every prospect -- every subject of an investigation believes or says that the prosecutor is pushing people to tell stories that are consistent with the prosecutor's view.
When I was in practice, I had a white collar case where a witness was sat down in the U.S. Attorney's office which is opposite the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The prosecutor pointed out his window. He said, you see that? That's the metropolitan correctional center. Would you like to sleep in there tonight or would you like to go home?
CUOMO: Well, I get you, it's a rough business. There's no question about it.
MUKASEY: That -- and that -- that was a white collar witness.
CUOMO: I get it. And the idea of the President saying, I'm not going to say a pardon is not possible with Manafort. It triggers the curiosity as to whether or not that's a signal to Paul Manafort. And if so, and if Manafort were to behave in a certain way to insulate the President, could that be construed if there were an eventual pardon as a self-pardon, as the President helping himself by pardoning somebody else?
MUKSAEY: It could be construed as the President helping himself and misusing the pardon power, which would perhaps be grounds if Congress considered it so for bringing articles of an impeachment.
CUOMO: You don't see it as a legal issue?
MUKASEY: No. Is the pardon ineffective?
MUKASEY: Absolutely not.
CUOMO: Would you advise this President, if you were doing so, don't suggest that you're going to pardon Manafort a la the advice given to Nixon at the time. Do not pardon him, do not suggest you will, it comes off bad?
MUKASEY: Yes. Sure, and I would suggest to a surgeon, wash your hands before you operate. This is basic. You shouldn't do it.
CUOMO: Mike. Why do you always shame the suggestions that come your way? If -- look -- if it were that simple we wouldn't be dealing with the facts before us right now. Obviously he does not see it as clean hands the same way that you do. But there are interesting questions. I love getting your take on them.
CUOMO: Thank you so much for doing great.
MUKASEY: Thank you very much. Good to be here.
CUOMO: Thank you for the note last time.
Mike let me know the last time about being careful about what you're saying with obstruction of justice, what the statute says versus what arguments are being made. That's why I have him on the show. Very helpful. Appreciate it.
All right, this might make you LOL and that could be a very good medicine. The President just made a prediction about whether he's going to win a Nobel peace prize like his predecessor did. The answer he gives, you would never have expected.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[21:47:50] TRUMP: That's very nice, thank you. That's very nice. Nobel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Just a few months ago, President Trump's supporters demanded he get a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts with North Korea. But today, the President told the "New York Post" why he thinks that will never happen. And here's what he said.
"Well, they'll never give it to me. We should have gotten the Emmy for "The Apprentice." I stood up and they said, Amazing Race. And I said, you've got to be kidding. That show was terrible. Amazing Race got it because Amazing Race was the establishment."
D. Lemon --
CUOMO: Hold on.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my gosh.
CUOMO: D. Lemon, admit that that answer surprised you. Come on.
LEMON: It just makes me laugh. Really, he really cares that much about an Emmy? Wait, Emmy, let's see, Emmy, Nobel, I mean, come on. Chris.
CUOMO: Which has the best show, though? Somewhere Meryl Streep is like, wait a minute, why haven't I won that?
LEMON: Meryl Streep would probably get a Nobel Prize before -- anyway, I digress.
CUOMO: I just think it's interesting because -- it's not to pick on the President. It's just a window --
LEMON: Yes, you are.
CUOMO: No, no. It's a window into --
CUOMO: -- how he processes, you know. Will you win the Nobel Peace Prize? His mind goes to an Emmy Award that he should have won and didn't.
LEMON: He's still smarting about an Emmy Award. I got to tell you, honestly, I never watched one single episode of "The Apprentice." I don't know -- you know, I didn't -- was it "Big Brother" or was it -- what's the other one --
CUOMO: "Amazing Race."
LEMON: "Amazing Race." I never watched that either. So, you know, it's just weird to me. We're talking about someone -- think about this. Think about someone who is on the internet, on Twitter, searching for memes in the middle of the night, and then re-tweeting them, and that person is this President of the --
[21:50:05] CUOMO: Sounds like me.
LEMON: I mean you respond to eggs on Twitter, and you fight back. But I mean this is the leader of the free world.
LEMON: And he's re-tweeting memes of people who are behind bars like an internet troll -- not like an internet troll because I guess he's a Twitter troll.
CUOMO: I just -- this one just really tickled me.
CUOMO: Yes, it did.
LEMON: That's putting it lightly. My voice went up like 12 octaves.
CUOMO: You know, because some of the things like him saying, oh, look at these scenes at the border, that's a win for me. That bothers me. Something like this is just, wow, that's really the way he thinks. That's really where his mind goes on an issue like this. Anyway, that's our broadcast.
LEMON: You're not -- are you surprised?
LEMON: Let's be honest.
CUOMO: It caught me flat-footed.
LEMON: How long have you known Donald Trump?
CUOMO: Most of my life.
LEMON: OK. Well, duh.
CUOMO: Yes, but I'm just saying it got me. I'm just being honest. It got me. It didn't get you. That's why you're the smart and handsome one in the pair.
LEMON: No, I just -- I look at it -- at first when I saw it on TV, I was like, gosh, why are we covering this but I like the way that we're covering it because we're not taking it too seriously. It's not like --
CUOMO: How could you take it seriously?
LEMON: Tonight, the President said he didn't get an Emmy and he will never -- first of all, what happened with North Korea? What happened?
CUOMO: Well, that's why he's not winning a Nobel Peace Prize. There's no peace.
CUOMO: D. Lemon, I'll see you in a second.
LEMON: Listen, Chris Murphy -- Senator Chris Murphy is coming up. He's going to talk about everything that happened with the Senate today. You don't want to miss the interview. It will be eye-opening.
LEMON: See you.
CUOMO: The President definitely is not going to get a Peace Prize for his handling of what's happening at the border. It is a crisis. It didn't need to be this way. It needs to stop, and nothing is being done. How he sees the scenes from the border as a political victory. It's not just appalling. It's not just about calling it out. It's about focusing on what really matters here, and that's the closing argument next.
[21:55: 20] CUOMO: Sad but true. When I looked at the desperation and the violent clashed Sunday, I said, I bet the President is going to see this as a win. I did. It was a cynicism fed by a fact. This POTUS wants to miscast migrants as monsters. So when this was happening, naturally he would twist it as proof of the same. And unfortunately I was right.
The President said to Politico, "Politically speaking, that issue is a total winner. People look at the border. They look at the rush to the police. They look at the rock throwers and really hurting three people, three very brave border patrol folks. I think that it's a tremendous issue, but much more importantly really need it so we have to have border security."
We know for a fact, thank God, no U.S. agent was seriously injured. But the problem here isn't the President's lying. It's his view of all this as a political proposition, win or lose. The proof, he sees this scene, and he says it didn't happen. He lies because he sees that as a win. He sees this woman, and he sees a loser, a bad mom.
How does someone live in this country for over 70 years, in New York, a place that is a paragon of diversity, where those fighting hard- bitten poverty are seen as worthy of respect and help, and yet still have no sent of pathos, no heart or humanity, so much so that he can look at something like this and say, it's good for me?
Let me argue the obvious. What's happening on the border is not good for anyone, and we will be judged by how we help or hinder. A nation that surrenders its heart to harshness loses something that is not easily regained. And for America, the loss would be even more palpable, more profound because what we are in these types of moments is what defines our greatness on this planet.
We have spent blood and treasure to stop this kind of desperation thousands of miles from home. But now here we are staring at kids starving, and they're just a stone's throw away. It's not enough to say that we bear no responsibility because we didn't create the problem. And, yes, you could argue America did have a hand in creating this by contributing to the desperation in some of these places these migrants are fleeing.
But Trump is now saying he wants to cut aid to these places. Doesn't he see that that would only make this worse? Vengeance is never a good policy instinct. But more directly, our responsibility comes from the absolute fact that we have the power to provide a solution here. There's a moral imperative here. America does what she can.
We can secure our border. That happens to be the easy part. And POTUS is all in on that, willing to shut down the government, which would cause the needy and veterans more hardship, and do it to pay for a wall that he swore Mexico would pay for, a wall that was a made-up idea, a campaign stunt, and another big, fat lie. And yet address the suffering? No, no, no. It's a win as it is. That is wrong. That way of thinking is un-American and as morally bankrupt as he once was bankrupt financially.
No small irony that Christians are getting ready to celebrate the story of Christmas, which is the exact story we're blocking out here. The poor and unwanted who wound up bringing the savior into this world in a stable, rejected just as we're doing now. This is who we are now, and it must be exposed. The media rushed to cover a caravan that was nowhere near here. That attention is needed much more now. So got to put it where my mouth is, right?
We're going to bring the show from the border tomorrow, and we're going there because I'm going to get an exclusive look at what you have not seen. What our government is doing to prepare on this side of the border, and we're going to show you the realities on the other side. Close to 10,000 migrants amassing in a derelict, desperate place, Tijuana.
Please watch. Please witness what is happening and consider what is to come because I'll tell you something for sure. There will be no winners here.
That's it for us tonight. Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now, and I will see you tomorrow from the border.
LEMON: I can't wait for that. And you know how I -- I just can't wait because I know that you're going to get to the truth. I know that you're going to show us things that we haven't seen, and people are going to learn from this. But I do have to say, it's a complicated problem, but it is solvable. It is fixable if we can all get on the same page with it and stop politicizing it so much.