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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Mueller To Make Crucial Court Filing This Week; NFL Player Apologizes After Violent Video Surfaces. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired December 3, 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 over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.
We will soon know more about the Mueller probe and I mean, soon as in starting tomorrow. We'll going to learn who's been helpful to the Special Counsel whose been lying. There's a pattern to the filling crime Mueller and we're going to show it you and show you why it suggest if the President has good reason to be worried.
Also happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish sisters and brothers. Let's get after it.
Now, before we start tonight, let me say God bless the soul of President George Herbert Walker Bush. My condolences to his family, my gratitude for their and the President's service. His passing would always be too soon for his loved ones. But for the country, it comes at a perfect time to remember a very different type of leader and leadership. We have more on that later in the show.
But first, it is another big week for the Russia investigation. The Special Counsel is due to make three crucial court filings, sentencing memos from Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort. Now, with Manafort, we'll likely learn what he's been lying about to Mueller. With Flynn and Cohen, we're going to get a better sense of how they have been helpful.
Now, we already know the President is worried, right? He's been sending out tweets that have his lawyers in lather. I would imagine, a President calling people who cooperate with a government probe rats and calling those who refuse strong, attacking the Special Counsel personally and weighing in on the sentence of a man who gave damaging testimony about him.
Now, one of my first guests calls this obstruction of justice and witness tampering in plain sight. Let's discuss the possibilities.
"Cuomo Court" now in session, Norm Eisen and Jim Schultz. Counselor Eisen, make your case. What's wrong with the President giving his opinion about Michael Cohen's sentence?
NORM EISEN, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: Chris, thanks for having me back in "Cuomo's Court." What's wrong with it is we've seen a long pattern now, almost two-year pattern of the President engaging in obstruction of justice, and this is the latest act. Obstruction means interfering with a federal investigation with bad intent. Witness tampering is intimidating a witness. And that's what he did today.
Alone, maybe not so bad, but even these two tweets together, one hammering Cohen, who dares to testify against him, the other praising Roger Stone, encouraging him not to testify. It's part of a very disturbing pattern. And as part of that pattern, I think substantial evidence of obstruction.
CUOMO: Counter argument, Jim Schultz.
JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: How are you tonight? So, here's what we have. I mean, it's always the instinct of someone who believes they're wrongfully accused to laud a person who's going to say that they're innocent. And I think that's what's going on here, except that, you know, it's not the right way to do it.
So, is it obstruction of justice? No, it's not obstruction of justice.
CUOMO: Why not?
SCHULTZ: There has to be some intent to obstruct justice. Here, he talked about Roger Stone telling the truth, and he lauded Roger Stone for "telling the truth." And he also lauded him for not being intimidated by the prosecutors. That doesn't -- that isn't tantamount to obstruction of justice. It's not tantamount to witness tampering.
That being said, any lawyer worth their salt is going to advise their client not to engage in directly or indirectly reaching out and discussing the matter with witnesses, and that would include tweets, because I don't believe that in that case prosecutors are going to look at that very closely and make a determination as to whether it's obstruction or not. In this case, I don't believe it is, but it's also not the right thing to do.
CUOMO: All right, so bad form, but functionally not obstruction. Norm, counter.
EISEN: Well, Chris, Jim, if it were just this incident, you've might say put it to the side, but this has been going on since he demanded Comey's loyalty. Asked Comey to drop the case, fired Comey when he wouldn't do it. Admitted, you want to talk about intent, Jim, he's admitted when he was asked why he fired Comey, the Russia thing. Like this, he said it in public and in open. He doesn't have the intelligence to control himself.
[21:04:58] Jim, why would those lawyers tell their client not to do it? Because of the danger they'd cross the line. Obstruction and witness intimidation are not complicated. Does the President intend to interfere with this investigation to benefit himself? You bet he does, and these tweets, just like when he said, "Paul Manafort's pardon, I'm not taking it off the table", he is interfering with this investigation. It's a substantial evidence of obstruction. Chris, we'll leave the final judgment to Bob Mueller --
SCHULTZ: So let's go through this. Let's go through this.
EISEN: -- but I think it's very troubling, substantial, significant evidence.
SCHULTZ: So, let's look at this. Let's talk about Paul Manafort. He has every right to use his pardon power to pardon Paul Manafort, if he wants to. I said the other night, I maintain, it's not a good decision to be saber rattling right now on that.
CUOMO: But why though all of these bad decisions, Jim.
SCHULTZ: -- to exercise his right.
CUOMO: Hold on. So when were all these bad decisions --
SCHULTZ: Hold on. You're -- I don't know is your going to --
CUOMO: -- amount up to something that's significant legally? How much bad judgment?
SCHULTZ: I'm telling you, we'll going to talk about Comey. He had every right to fire Comey. That was well within his promise --
CUOMO: Depends why?
SCHULTZ: As much as you don't like it, Chris, FBI --
CUOMO: Not for any reason.
SCHULTZ: -- appointee, the director of the FBI, it serves at the pleasure of the President and he could fire the FBI director and he has the right to hire another one subject to Senate confirmation, and there's no problem with that and he had every right to do it and he'll never be charged with obstruction of justice.
CUOMO: You seemed to have skipped that with the A.G. though, but continue.
SCHULTZ: And let's get back -- Let's get back to this, right? Same thing with the attorney general, another political appointee. By definition their political appointees, he has every right to fire the attorney general if he wants to, but let's get back to the Senate --
CUOMO: The A.G. doesn't need to go before the Senate?
SCHULTZ: -- no obstruction on Comey, no obstruction on Manafort, no obstruction as it relates to Sessions --
CUOMO: Wait a minute --
SCHULTZ: And yes, the A.G. does need to go through the Senate -- yes the A.G doesn't need go through Senate confirmation, but he's got 210 days to appoint someone. This is a temporary attorney general. The case law supports that he's allowed to be there.
CUOMO: All right, let me ask you something else. Why are all these people around the President lying about something that doesn't matter? If Russia is just a hoax, if there's nothing there, if there's no reason to even do this investigation, why do they keep lying about this? Five now you've had in some way compromised by this.
SCHULTZ: We don't know what -- we don't know specifically what the issues are relative to the lying we can learn more about that.
CUOMO: Michael Flynn lied about Russia conversation. George Papadopoulos lied about Russia contact. Michael Cohen lied about keeping the President's business clear of the Russia affair. We don't know the depth of Gates and Manafort and what they've done. We'll know this week. But don't say it's like some kind of blind instrument. You know a lot, Jim.
EISEN: I'll offer -- I'll offer an answer --
CUOMO: Go ahead, Norm.
SCHULTZ: But they're -- but I'll come to this, Chris.
EISEN: I'll offer an answer.
SCHULTZ: Let me get back here.
EISEN: I'll offer an answer.
CUOMO: Hold on, hold on, Jim. Let Norm get in.
EISEN: -- relative to conduct --
CUOMO: Well, no, it hasn't been just one charge.
CUOMO: -- but let Norm get in and then you'll come back.
EISEN: But let me -- I want to offer an answer.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
EISEN: Because the President knew that these things were going to be coming out, Chris! He knew that he had negotiated a massive benefit to himself. He was negotiating with Putin at the same time he was on his way to being nominated as president. He's got these -- he's making statements on Russia policy. The President knew there'd be a mess.
And here's how it factors in legally. It goes to the issue that Jim raised, corrupt intent. Yes, the President has a bad motive. He does not want himself, the people around him, his administration, old friends like Roger Stone, maybe even his son, Don Jr. he doesn't want him exposed, Chris. That's why the lies. That's why the interference with the investigation -- SCHULTZ: None of this comes --
EISEN: -- and a new level of desperation today.
SCHULTZ: None of this information to date has come close to the President of the United States.
CUOMO: Michael Cohen did.
SCHULTZ: None of this has come close -- and none of --
CUOMO: Michael Cohen's all over the President.
SCHULTZ: No one has been charged with any crimes relative to their activities on the campaign.
CUOMO: Michael Cohen has.
SCHULTZ: The work that they did on the campaign.
EISEN: Jim? Jim?
SCHULTZ: Michael Cohen was charged with the campaign --
EISEN: Michael Cohen stood up in court and step the President's order --
CUOMO: Hold on. Hold on, Norm, Norm, I can't hear Jim. Michael Cohen was charged with something to do with borrowing money, something to do with talking to the bank about the money that he borrowed, something to do with lying about the payoff on the women and something to do with lying about a campaign contribution to do with paying off the women. Two of those four are directly related to the President. He now just pleaded guilty --
SCHULTZ: OK, now --
CUOMO: -- to lying to Congress about the President's business to cover for the President. How can you say it's not related, Jim? Even a dummy like --
SCHULTZ: I didn't say it wasn't related. There's been nothing in connection with conduct associated with anyone on that campaign as it related to work that they did on that campaign. It hasn't happened.
CUOMO: Norm, final word. Go ahead.
EISEN: Michael Cohen set up in court and he said the President, the senior person in charge of the campaign, ordered him to violate federal campaign finance laws!
[21:10:05] SHULTZ: I just listened to --
EISEN: That's a crime by the President in the campaign, Jim. SCHULTZ: I just listened to --
CUOMO: All right, last word, Jim. Go ahead, just to be fair.
SCHULTZ: -- Anderson Cooper for all people, of all people to say, Michael, what he said today is all over the place.
CUOMO: Bad-mouth Anderson Cooper, Jim.
SCHULTZ: I'm not bad-mouthing Anderson Cooper, but that's what he said and I think he's right! The things he said to date have been all over the place. So, to say that what Michael Cohen says is gospel is just irresponsive --
CUOMO: But remember this; I got to go we're out of time. We have plenty more time to discuss this. Distinguish what Michael Cohen has only said versus what this special counsel has been able to corroborate. And the reason that he said, in this -- in the pleading that he put his name on, Robert Mueller that they believe Cohen to be credible about what he said about the timing of the Russia deal because they had documentary evidence of the same. It's not just his word. We have to leave it there, though. Norm Eisen, thank you very much.
EISEN: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: The best thing you and your family. Jim Schultz, always a pleasure. I'll see you again soon.
All right, last week was so flooded from one event to the other. There was so much news coming out of the Mueller probe that, to be honest, that was easy to miss a larger pattern that was at play. But now we've had some time, we can digest it, and I will show you that there has been a method to Mueller all along. I'll show it to you next.
CUOMO: So, Michael Cohen makes number five, the fifth person with ties to Trump and or his campaign to plead guilty in the Russia probe. Think about that. Four of them for making false statements involving contacts with Russia, and now the latest, Paul Manafort, he stands accused of lying to the FBI even during this plea arrangement, and we will very soon likely know what that was about.
The question is why do so many people around this President feel the need to lie about Russia? And why does he feel the need to be so sympathetic to Vladimir Putin's cause? Are they connected? We may learn more on one or both this week.
Now, to be sure, Mueller seems to have a method at play, all right? Just look back to this past indictment in February against a Russian troll farm, all right? And you'll see the pattern. So, what Mueller does is he announces that three Internet research agency employees travel to the U.S. in 2014, all right? So, two of them get indicted, but the third doesn't. Why? Mueller makes clear he knows exactly who the third person is, that they filed the trip with expenses that was part of this group. So he knows all the things, he knew about the other two. Why no charge? Because it indicates that Mueller had a method, that he would go after people equally and then see who was most susceptible to cooperation, a cooperator inside the troll factory.
[21:15:12] Sure enough, what happens in July? Mueller brings charges against 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking the DNC and the Clinton campaign, all right?
The indictment states, "The conspirators attempted after hours to spear-fish for the first time e-mail accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton's personal office" that's just the proof of what they were doing. So Mueller is not without a sense of irony, or apparently, a sense of timing, at least. If you'll remember, this incident happened right around the same time that then candidate Donald Trump said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let's see if that happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Yes. We saw what happened. Mueller smacked them down literally the next day. So, this is called in prosecution theory a pyramid thing. You start broad and you start to move your way up to those who matter more with more central activity to what you're investigating in the first place. The President, you heard him there, he was full of promise about what this would yield now, and not so much. He's clearly worried. Just look at his attacks today, against the special counsel and beyond.
His lawyers must be wincing, and here is why. He first criticized someone for cooperating with a criminal probe. Think about that, a president, criticizing someone for working with the government. That could be seen as another brick in the wall of obstruction.
Now, then the President praises someone who refuses to cooperate with the criminal probe. You heard Jim Schultz, Former White House Counsel, arguing that that's just him lauding, praising somebody who helped him. OK. Remember the President who once said it takes a strong man to duck telling the truth to a prosecutor?
Me either, because no president has ever said anything like that until now. And then, the President claims without evidence, that Mueller, a lifelong Republican, respected by the party, is corrupt, and he only wants lies.
First, messing with the man you're trying to negotiate with is never good. But second, if its lies that Mueller is looking for, well, it's certainly lies that he has exposed. If you take a look at this, all the fire and fury from the President is coming after the man at the center of his business and the man at the center of his campaign were both revealed as lying to the government.
One definitely did so to cover for the President's double speak about doing business in Russia, OK? Now, crying foul and witch hunt has gone beyond the protest too much threshold for this President, and it just makes the central question even more pressing. Why do so many people around this President feel the need to lie about Russia? And this week we will get much closer to an answer to that question. The case is building. The question is where will it lead? Who knows? But with all these liars around the President, you can never be sure which way it's going to go.
And it does raise this question. How does the president see himself winning at the end of the Mueller probe? Great starting point for a great debate. Let's have it next.
[21:21:00] CUOMO: Trump's former longtime political adviser, Roger Stone, said yesterday he would never flip on the President. He put it like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, TRUMP'S FORMER LONGTIME POLITICAL ADVISER: There's no circumstance under which I would testify against the President because I'd have to bare false witness against him. I'd have to make things up, and I'm not going to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Trump had high marks for Stone, tweeting today, "Nice to know that some people still have guts." Raises a question, is it OK for a president of the United States to praise someone for not testifying in a legal matter with the government?
Let's ask our great debaters, Christine Quinn and Rick Santorum. So, Michael Cohen, Christine, cooperating, makes him a rat.
CHRISTINE QUINN, VICE CHAIR, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE: Yes.
CUOMO: Refusing to cooperate makes you strong. Make the argument that that is not OK as an analogy by a president.
QUINN: Well, look, first of all, it's simply not OK for any government official, nevertheless the President, to be urging people not to cooperate with a government investigation. And if you're not afraid of the results of those investigations as it is, you would have even less reason to do that. But clearly here the President is saying if you cross me you're a rat, and implying we all know what happens to rats, but if you stand with me, truth or not, you're going to get taken care of.
And I think as others have said on this show already, that is clearly a case for obstruction of justice and witness tampering as we saw earlier at different points with Michael Cohen, when the President was calling him out as, you know, supporting him and being so strong and not wanting to say anything. This President is clearly feeling backed against a wall.
We've heard all kind of sources from the White House saying he's frantic as the noose is really getting tighter around this Russian investigation, and I think that's evidence clearly in this tweet that no lawyer anywhere would ever feel comfortable with their client, even if they weren't the president of the United States, sending at.
CUOMO: Even if, Rick, let's say it has nothing to do with any suggestion that the President knows he did anything wrong. Put that aside. Wave it away. How do you feel about the President making these kinds of comparisons to who is good and who is bad?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I don't see any anything wrong with what he said about Roger Stone. Roger Stone came out and said look, I'm not going to lie. There's nothing I would tell the special counsel that could be incriminating to the President. If it was, I'd have to lie to do that, and I'm not going to lie. The President says good don't lie.
CUOMO: Right, but that's not what they're asking him to do, Rick. And you're not arguing otherwise, but just to be clear, they're asking Roger Stone to come in and talk to them about what it was, and he's come in a little bit. They want more. And he says, well, I'm not going to flip on the President. Well played, Roger Stone. Well played.
But if you think about it, Rick, part of his best defense here is that he is someone who's a little loose with the truth, right? Remember those days where the explanation of how Roger Stone knew all that stuff about WikiLeaks, it wasn't because he asked his friend, Corsi to go ask somebody to ask into Assange. It's because he made it up. And that's what he did. He was playing. He was puffing. Remember that? And now he says I would never say anything untrue. A little bit of mixed thoughts there.
SANTORUM: Well, I think what he said is he'd never say anything untrue under oath. Look, I'm not going to stand here and say Roger Stone has ever said anything that's untrue because that would be untrue. Well, I'm not in front of a grand jury I'm in front of you. And I know you --
QUINN: Good point, Rick. Good point.
SANTORUM: So look, what Stone is saying is I'm not going to say anything untrue to the grand jury. And what Trump is saying, good for you. I don't see that as a problem.
CUOMO: Rick, I don't have a problem with him lauding someone, but Christine when it comes to Michael Cohen, he says that guy should get the book thrown at him.
CUOMO: So, you have a President of the United States weighing in on what the sentence should be from someone who gave damaging testimony about him. We have never heard that before from a President.
QUINN: And then the difference becomes -- if you look at it, it's not so much whether they were telling the truth. It's the content of their truth, right? And in the case of Michael Cohen, he doesn't like the content of the truth because it is not helpful to him. In the case of Roger Stone, who says, which is curious phrasing, I'm not going to flip on the President, which implies you have something to flip on.
[21:25:10] CUOMO: Right. Yes, Roger -- look, Roger is a tactician.
QUINN: Oh, 100 percent.
CUOMO: He has done things and said things that are beyond disgusting. And he has been held out for those, and he should have been. But on this one, I get the game that he's playing, but he's not my concern.
CUOMO: I only have one president in this country, and that's the standard of behavior that we call out, not Roger Stone's standard of behavior.
QUINN: No, no, clearly. And if you look at the President in this, he's made it clear over and over, even before when he was saying different things about Michael Cohen -- if you stay with me --
QUINN: -- whatever that means, I will be with you.
CUOMO: And sources around Cohen suggest the same, Rick. They say that in the beginning, there was a suggestion of a pardon out there, but it went away where Michael Cohen is involved. And now we have everybody running him down when they used to laud him, to use the word of the moment.
CUOMO: And Rick, you heard the President say, you know, he got convicted of these things that had nothing to do with me. Where's he getting that from? What charge sheet is he reading?
CUOMO: All of it has something to do with the President.
SANTORUM: Yeah, it has something to do with the President, but it doesn't have anything to do with the President necessarily doing something illegal. I mean, look, the whole campaign finance thing --
CUOMO: Whose campaign finance? Who are they for? Do you think he was paying off those women for himself?
SANTORUM: Well, he could have been paying off women for a variety of reasons --
SANTORUM: -- including not wanting his family to know about that information.
CUOMO: Wait a second --
QUINN: There's no --
CUOMO: I'm saying Michael Cohen paying off these women was done for the President, we agree, right?
SANTORUM: I agree it was done for the President. That doesn't mean it's illegal. And I think there would be --
CUOMO: Well, he pled guilty.
SANTORUM: There's lots of question as to whether that, even if it's true, you know, that you can prove that the only intent of the President --
CUOMO: He pleaded guilty.
SANTORUM: He pleaded guilty to a charge that I don't think you could have gotten a conviction, had he not pleaded guilty.
QUINN: But he pled guilty.
SANTORUM: You plead guilty for a lot of reasons to a lot of crimes in order to not have to suffer the consequences of other things you might have done --
QUINN: But it makes you guilty.
SANTORUM: It may have had nothing to do with Donald Trump.
QUINN: It makes you guilty and this is clearly something that related to the President and the payment that he was making on behalf of the President, which clearly ends up being a loan to the campaign --
CUOMO: And he lied to Congress for the President. I'll tell you something, if you want to reward people for not being a rat, this guy had a great chance to submarine the President, Rick. Michael Cohen could have said, yeah, I lied to Congress, and you know why, Trump told me to. That's why. He said, back me up, brother, and I said, OK, Mr. President, I will. He never did any of that.
CUOMO: He only did what was best for him. What's that tell you?
SANTORUM: Well, first off, I'm sure the President didn't tell him to lie to --
CUOMO: You're sure? You're 100 percent sure?
SANTORUM: I can't imagine a President of the United States --
CUOMO: You only can't imagine it --
SANTORUM: -- even this President --
CUOMO: Oh, even this President.
SANTORUM: No, I cannot imagine this President telling --
CUOMO: You don't know what he did and don't.
SANTORUM: Well, you don't either, Chris. I mean, none of us know, but I can't imagine that this President would tell someone to lie. I mean, that would be -- I mean particularly given fact --
SANTORUM: Yes, I can't. No --
CUOMO: The man lies with alacrity. He lies when the truth is a better story for him. Rick, what are you talking about?
SANTORUM: Look, there's a difference between someone who on occasion does stretch the truth when it comes --
CUOMO: Known as day and night.
SANTORUM: -- public statements. There's a difference between doing that and lying when you can be prosecuted for that lie.
QUINN: This President --
SANTORUM: And lying under oath is a very different thing than political hyperbole and other exaggeration --
QUINN: Rick has a point, Christine. That's why the President didn't want to testify in front of Mueller.
CUOMO: Other than his boasts to Jonathan Karl, I can't wait to do it under oath --
QUINN: Look and Rick --
CUOMO: -- but he didn't do it, did he?
QUINN: Rick, you wouldn't tell your children it's OK to lie on these things, but not lie when you're under oath. That's the only time you have to tell the truth. And this President has shown that he is able and willing and consistently will lie in any way you define a lie. Be it immortal sin however you define it, he is willing to do. CUOMO: Uh-oh, she's coming Catholic on you, Rick.
QUINN: I am.
CUOMO: She's coming Catholic on you.
QUINN: It's going to get ugly, Rick.
CUOMO: She's coming into your wheelhouse.
SANTORUM: I get it all the time on this show.
CUOMO: Not from me. I think I'm one of the few Catholics you got coming your way here.
SANTORUM: What I'm suggesting is no lie is a good thing, and I agree with you, Christine, on all that, but the point we were discussing is whether the President would tell someone to lie under oath.
QUINN: Of course he would.
SANTORUM: And that is very different than all the things that we've accused of President of, sometimes justifiably, in the last couple of years.
CUOMO: All right, fair enough. But here's what happens. So, this is the main concern, Christine. I want to get a sense from both of you about this. This has been dismissed by the President and his supporters as not worthy of probity. There's no reason to be looking at this.
QUINN: I agree.
CUOMO: But why do they keep lying about it, Christine? That's the thing that I don't get, we don't know to Rick's point, we don't know that the President lied about any of this to people who it matters. Those questions were written for a reason. They were lawyered up and doctored for a reason, and by the way, I don't begrudge that. It would be silly to do it any other way, certainly given the disposition towards the mendacity of this particular President. He'd be foolish to have done that any other way.
[21:30:08] QUINN: Right.
CUOMO: His initial bomb bombast was just that -- I'm going to sit down man to man with Mueller. He was never going to do it. He wouldn't do it in civil suits let alone something like --
SANTORUM: Nor should he's done it.
CUOMO: Well, that's up to who you are and what your disposition is and your confidence in your verity.
CUOMO: And clearly, he didn't have it that's OK. He did it the way most would. I wouldn't have been surprised if he would have pleaded the fifth if this came down to a subpoena contest, and then he would have felt very differently about that that, then again his bombast has suggested.
But you're still left with this fundamental frustration. If there's nothing there, why would Michael Cohen lie the way he did, thinking that he was helping the President? Why would Papadopoulos lie about a meeting that should have meant nothing? Why would they come up with a stupid story about the Trump Tower meeting? Why would Michael Flynn lie about when he talked to an ambassador and when he didn't? Why, Christine?
QUINN: You know, look, it's that saying we've all heard, the cover-up is often worse than the crime. And I think it's just basic logic, basic common sense that if you haven't done anything wrong, you're completely transparent and put everything out there. But if you're worried you did something wrong or you know you did something wrong, you hide it and you try to obfuscate. That's what they're doing here over and over. And if they didn't do anything wrong, which I believe they did, they're making it million times worse for themselves.
So, if there's nothing there, show your cards and tell the truth. Otherwise, you're just making more clouds and more doubt against yourself.
CUOMO: Right. I mean, look, my junior counselor's mind, Rick, my concern is this, I don't think there are going to be any crimes. If I'm representing the President, I'm not worried about them bringing illegality his way. I don't think they can. I believe the DOJ guidance on it. I haven't heard any reason to believe they've asked for different DOJ guidance. I don't think they're going to do a set- aside indictment. It doesn't make any sense. Mueller's never done anything like that in his career, even just reading over his reports today from the NFL about how they handle domestic violence.
He doesn't do fancy complicated. He does straight in front of him. So it's not about illegality. It's about a report that he's going to put together that could have pages and pages of a pattern of bad conduct that is beneath the level of a president. Are you worried about that, Rick, as a supporter of the President?
SANTORUM: Well, I am worried about it. First off, just the whole idea of a report where it's, you know, look, it's a document from -- that's a one-sided document. It's from a prosecutor trying to make a point of his prosecution. Whether it's an actual prosecution or indictment, I should say.
CUOMO: Lifelong Republican who's always served with honor and never been accused of any perfidy?
SANTORUM: My point is, I have concerns about the fact that there's going to be this one-sided report that comes out that's going to be damning. I have no doubt that it's going to be a damning report. I mean I think it would be nice if they shared that report with the President and he had an opportunity to actually have a rebuttal to that when it comes out. I mean, that way, at least the story -- CUOMO: I think they are planning to do exactly that.
SANTORUM: I hope they do that. I really do. I know that's one of the things I've heard. But it would be absolutely essential for fairness that both sides have a chance to tell their story at the same time.
CUOMO: As long as the report comes out in full. I have to go. I'm out of time, but that's an important point Rick makes, they're going to control the process. The mandate to the special counsel only assumes that when they're done, they give a report to the attorney general or the acting attorney general, the deputy attorney general at that time --
CUOMO: -- who's overseeing the probe, but not to the American people. And if the President wants to put out a rebuttal, that's fine, but they'd better not taking out any of the things in the Mueller report.
SANTORUM: I just think it's important -- and I know there -- a lot of folks are questioning the attorney general. The attorney general owes it to the President, any President to give him the opportunity to tell his side of the story at the same time when the reports come out, not one and then the other.
QUINN: And more important than the President is what he owes the American people.
CUOMO: Yes. I agreed.
QUINN: And that's a full disclosure of what's in the report and the attorney general of the acting or whatever --
CUOMO: It should all come out.
QUINN: -- should not and cannot hold anything back --
SANTORUM: Yes, unless it's something of national security --
CUOMO: No, no, that's what they always say. Let us determine whether or not there's something that is sensitive --
SANTORUM: Yes, I'm sorry, the media doesn't get to make that call.
CUOMO: Yes, I know --
QUINN: I don't think --
QUINN: -- we're not looking at those kind of matters.
CUOMO: Thank God for the leaks. SANTORUM: I hope not.
CUOMO: And they'll be coming. They won't come from the Mueller side.
SANTORUM: They haven't.
CUOMO: But we know as soon as this hits the White House --
QUINN: Oh, please.
CUOMO: -- we'll hear plenty. Christine, Rick, well argued and thank you.
QUINN: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, you know who was taken by Trump's tweet in support of Stone? His long time pal Michael Caputo. He's now using it to help Stone pay his mounting legal fees. He was once he had to ask -- answer questions from the Mueller team himself. He knows it's very expensive and he is here to make the case to you of why he is doing what he's doing. Next.
[21:37:18] CUOMO: The President is creating more legal scrutiny and certainly political scrutiny for himself after crossing a new line in his anti-Mueller tweets. He condemned his former attorney for turning on him, and then he heaped praise on a longtime adviser for having guts because he potentially says he will defy the special counsel. Critics are crying witness tampering, even obstruction of justice.
Let's hear what a Trump defender and former campaign adviser, Michael Caputo, has to say about all of it. Welcome back to PRIME TIME. Good to see you.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Good to see you, Chris.
CUOMO: Why is it OK for the President to say, if you shut your mouth, you're strong?
CAPUTO: Well, that's not what Roger said he was going to do. He said he was not going to lie. He said he wasn't going to bear false witness against the President --
CUOMO: Well, who's asking him to?
CAPUTO: -- but I think the President is can -- what's that?
CUOMO: Who's asking him to?
CAPUTO: Well, I believe that we're looking at Jerry Corsi saying that they were asking him to do that. I think people who see what's going on with Manafort now, Paul Manafort. We're going to find out soon --
CUOMO: But you know that Jerry Corsi, when you look through the pleadings, Jerry Corsi lied to them. I mean it's in there. You know, he'll say, well, I thought --
CAPUTO: Right, but Jerry Corsi --
CUOMO: -- doing the best at the time. That's on him. I don't know how you cannot remember what he didn't remember.
CAPUTO: I'm not here to defend Jerry Corsi. I know that Jerry Corsi says that -- he didn't recall an e-mail exchange --
CAPUTO: You know, what you're asking something --
CUOMO: -- a guy asked you to go to Julian Assange, and pass it along and you forget? Something that's at the center of this?
CAPUTO: Listen, he forwarded an e-mail and didn't remember two years later. I understand the inability to remember every single small thing that you did in a matter of a moment.
CUOMO: I know, but that wasn't a small thing.
CUOMO: Let's go to Roger Stone.
CAPUTO: What Roger Stone said is he wasn't going to bear false witness against the President. The President thought that he was being a stand-up guy. I don't see anything wrong with supporting someone who said they're going to tell the truth.
CUOMO: Right. I just don't think that that's what's going on here, is that it seems that what the President is saying is, I reward you as strong for refusing to participate in the probe any more than you absolutely must, and that's just a weird thing --
CAPUTO: But the point, in fact -- that's not what he said in his tweet, Chris, and that's --
CUOMO: Well put the tweet up.
CAPUTO: That's not what Roger said in his interview.
CAPUTO: What Roger said is he's not going to bear false witness against the President --
CUOMO: I know, but nobody's asking him to do that.
(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: They're asking him to come in and tell the truth and explain something that he has given a very twisted explanation for, for a long time. "I will never testify against Trump." This statement was recently made by Roger Stone, essentially stating that he will not be forced by a rouge and out of control prosecutor to make up lies and stories about President Trump.
Nice to know some people still have guts. First of all, if you go by the lettering of his own tweet, I'll never testify against Trump. Well, by the way --
[21:40:01] CUOMO: -- that sometimes that's your duty is to come out and testify against, about, whatever preposition you want to use, and do your duty, because you have nothing to hide. Roger Stone seems to be wanting to evade that situation, and the President is saying, good. Whereas when Michael Cohen worked with prosecutors, the man all of you used to celebrate, now he's a rat because he worked with the government. Like we're in the mob time. The people that you and I hate as an insult to our ethnicity, that's now the way -- the main mode the President looks at a prosecution.
CAPUTO: Roger's not been interviewed by the Mueller investigation.
CAPUTO: Yet he suspects that he will be at some point. But, you know, the way the tea leaves are being read by just about everybody, including you and this show and this network, is that they're going to be asking Roger Stone to give witness that he somehow or another notified the President of something that went on with WikiLeaks. And Roger knows that he never did that. So, he will not state that if he's asked. He's not going to be the source of that kind of information, because being that source would mean that he's lying --
CUOMO: But nobody's asking him to lie.
CAPUTO: Like Jerry Corsi was asked to lie.
CUOMO: But there is an assumption here that people are asking him to say some things that were untrue. Who's asking him to do is that? Who asked Cohen to do that?
CAPUTO: But those of us in the jackpot -- those of us who were on the jackpot of this thing believe that people like Michael Cohen, for example, were tortured. You don't have to look any further than Michael Cohen's face to know he's been through hell. He's decided to go and say things that we don't believe are true, and Roger has said that --
CUOMO: He proved it's true. (CROSSTALK)
CUOMO: He proved --
CAPUTO: I'm sorry?
CUOMO: -- it's true. The reason that Mueller put his name on that pleading in part was because they have corroborative evidence of what Michael Cohen says about his lie before Congress. It's not just that they decided to take his word all of a sudden. I know that be convenient for guys who want to besmirch him and defend the President, but that's not what happened. There are --
CAPUTO: I'm not saying --
CUOMO: -- there are communications that prove he was lying about saying the deal was over at the same time the President was saying he had no business with Russia, which is demonstrably false.
CAPUTO: Right, but at the same time, I think it's interesting that the Mueller investigation after all this time and all this money has figured out that a developer was trying to build a hotel. You know, this is really ridiculous as far as I'm concerned --
CUOMO: No, they found out that a President was lying about what he was trying to do, and he wasn't trying to develop a hotel.
CAPUTO: I did not say --
CUOMO: He wasn't trying to develop a hotel. He was selling his name, Michael. That's all he was doing. He might have gotten a piece of the management of a hotel. He was just doing a deal, the same deal he always does, selling his name.
CAPUTO: Right, right, which is what he was doing all of his life, Chris.
CUOMO: He was lying about what he was doing. Go ahead.
CAPUTO: You've got to let me answer, Chris.
CUOMO: Go ahead, I was just trying to make it clear. Go ahead.
CAPUTO: He's been a builder all his life. He was running his business as a candidate for President. And Michael Cohen, like many other people in the Trump organization, was charged with going out and trying to find deals and getting a piece of them if he succeeded.
CAPUTO: He wasn't succeeding. He actually rarely succeeded these big deals, sold a lot of apartments, got a lot of slices of apartment sales.
CAPUTO: But didn't succeed in these big deals. It was another big deal that Michael Cohen was pursuing and the President was encouraging, he and all other people who were off pursuing deals to find those deals in case he had to continue his business and did not become President.
CAPUTO: I don't believe that the President was intimately involved in this.
CUOMO: Sign the letter of intent.
CAPUTO: I don't believe the President -- I'm sorry. I don't believe the President was involved in some of ridiculous idea that they were going to offer a $50 million apartment to Vladimir Putin, which is an idiotic idea. The President would never have given that kind of --
CUOMO: I don't know, I don't know what he did and what he said, but I know he signed the letter of intent. I know the President himself says he's the one who decided to kill the deal.
CAPUTO: I will tell you this, Chris. I will tell you this, Chris, that the President of the United States, as the people around him were being pursued relentlessly by the Mueller investigation, and in many ways, they're being, you know, being pushed through financial problems, financial issues. That's why I'm trying to raise money for Roger Stone today on GoFundMe, you know. Being -- this financial punishment puts him against a wall, tries to get him to say things that aren't true. And that's what Roger said he will not do.
He will not bear false witness against the President and I think that's a strong and positive thing to say, something that takes guts, and that's what the President said, he liked Roger's guts for saying that.
CUOMO: As long as people tell the truth, they'll never have a problem. And we'll see when the report comes out --
CAPUTO: And you'll understand that Roger said he was going to tell the truth.
CUOMO: I know.
CAPUTO: And that's what the President was congratulating him for.
CUOMO: I think Roger Stone responded in a way that's good for him to do. He's a clever man, he's very good at this. We'll see what happens here.
CAPUTO: Spin in politics, Chris?
CUOMO: I know.
CAPUTO: Spin in politics? CUOMO: He's a master.
CUOMO: He's a master. But when you dove tail it with the law it gets tricky. Michael Caputo, thank you very much, a perspective is valued.
All right --
CAPUTO: Thank you.
CUOMO: -- the NFL. We don't talk a lot about sports on this, but this isn't about sports, it's about domestic violence. You see what happened there? You see Kareem Hunt, the huge running back for the Chiefs? You see this video? Do you know what the league did when they found out about this video? Do you know what they didn't do? Next. That's the least of it, by the way.
[21:48:08] CUOMO: All right, the NFL is facing new fire after TMZ posted video of one of the league's top running backs pushing and then kicking a woman back in February. Kareem Hunt was cut from the Kansas City Chiefs roster soon after the video surfaced. He's apologizing. Now, he's got 10 months since the incident. He says he's sorry.
Let's bring in D. Lemon. And Don, it took the NFL a long time to respond. This tape -- look, it's not Ray Rice. Remember that video, right? But it doesn't have to be. He's pushing people around. He winds up kicking his partner on the ground, while she's on the ground. My issue is what do you see in the league's response?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Well, for me -- look, two things. This is actually about him more than the league, those actions. It's not the first time he's been accused of this.
LEMON: It's on video. The video's horrific. There's no excuse.
LEMON: I know he's apologized. He's a young man, he's 23 years old. I mean, his whole career I think is ahead of him is ruined. That's what I think.
CUOMO: Well, you shouldn't need video, right? I mean lots of cases --
LEMON: Look at this video. Come on, Chris.
CUOMO: Look, he's out of control. He's an out-of-control guy.
LEMON: You can put anybody in that video. I don't care what they look like, even if it was another woman, whatever. It's just awful --
CUOMO: Yes. It's a crime.
LEMON: It's terrible.
CUOMO: Hey, just kicked her.
LEMON: There's no excuse. The NFL's response, I got to say, I think the Kansas City Chiefs acted pretty quickly from what I know about, but the NFL did an investigation and had not spoken to the woman --
LEMON: -- or to him.
CUOMO: Well, see, they say she wouldn't talk to them. But it's clear that once again they did what came easy, not what would be hard, which would be blowing this situation up and going after one of their own.
LEMON: How did TMZ get the video and they not, and the cops couldn't get it or the NFL didn't get it? That's the thing --
LEMON: -- that I don't understand.
CUOMO: Desire. Who wants it got it. And I'll tell you what? And it's worth people going online and reading Robert Mueller's report on the NFL's botched investigation of Ray Rice. You're going to get two things.
[21:50:07] One, you're going to get the truth about the NFL and how they slow walk these things and, two, you're going to see how Mueller does his work, straight, clean.
LEMON: Well, we're going to talk about Mueller and the President coming up in our show. I got to tell you, Chris, I was out in our, you know, in our hometown where we live. We're at the -- you know where Townline BBQ is?
CUOMO: Sure I do.
LEMON: We're at the Townline BBQ, everybody at the bar was talking about this Hunt story. That's what was on everyone's mind. Obviously it's Sunday, and football is on. But that's what they were talking about, how it was terrible what he did. But at this young age, they said he was like number three in touchdowns, and his amazing career over, gone. Awful, awful, awful for the woman, and to the other two people he's accused of doing it too.
LEMON: But also 23 years old. His life, I think, with the NFL, I think is over.
CUOMO: Touchdowns good. Touching people when they don't want you to, bad.
LEMON: Bad, no excuse.
CUOMO: D. Lemon, we'll be watching. Thank you very much.
All right, a short while ago, President Trump and First Lady Melania arrived to pay their respects to President George Herbert Walker Bush, now lying in state at the U.S. capitol. It's a beautiful moment. It's a moment of respect that this country is based on. Forty-one was a good man. He was a uniter, and he's going to be that even after his passing. Some things I want you to remember about who he was but, more importantly, how he was, next.
[21:55:10] CUOMO: President George Herbert Walker Bush has passed away, but the lesson of his life and leadership should pass to us all. Bush was old school. He believed that how you disagree matters, that America has the world's attention and that he as president should respect that importance by exemplifying her at her best. As he put it --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: A thousand points of light, he said. Even if one of those lights isn't documented.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: We're creating a whole society of really honorable, decent, family-loving people that are in violation of the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Bush wasn't perfect. He made his mistakes. His campaign brought us the Willie Horton ad, the Iran-Contra partners, and a conspicuous reluctance to embrace the aids crisis. And of course there was, read my lips, no new taxes. But he didn't demonize opponents for calling out his mistakes. He even made fun of himself on "Saturday Night Live" about the no new taxes fiasco despite the show having a cutting caricature of him portrayed by Dana Carvey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, Mr. President. I think it's a fair impression.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't see it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's totally exaggerated. It's not me, those
crazy hand gestures, the pointing thing. I don't do them. Also na ga da. Never said it. In all my years of government service, I never once said na ga da.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Such was his reputation for good nature and morality that going rogue for Bush while in office amounted to refusing to eat broccoli.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I do not like broccoli, and I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States, and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: That was his version of locker room talk. Now, some see his kindness, his affability as weakness. Please, Bush was the last president we've had to serve the country in a time of war. He was an 18-year-old aviator in the deadliest time imaginable. The man jumped out of planes for fun until he was 90. But he gets my respect as a tough guy to be sure, most of all, because he constantly exhibited the hardest form of strength -- restraint.
He would lose his bid for re-election, but he would never surrender his decency and become something ugly, something he saw as beneath his office. And we see now acutely how much that matters, how tough it can be to not give in to bombast.
President Bush chose the harder way. He surrendered the me to the we as a leader and addressed opponents as opposites but equals. He didn't disparage those that he disagreed with because he saw that as making them look bad, but making him look worse. The President said it best.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I don't equate toughness with just attacking some individual. I don't attack -- I equate toughness with moral fiber, with character, with principle, with demonstrated leadership in tough jobs where you emerge not bullying somebody but with the respect of the people you led. That's toughness. That's fiber. That's character. I've got it, and if I happen to be decent in the process, that should not be a liability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: To be sure, it was not a liability. It was an asset. The President's way of being president was a complement to the nation, and that is why you see both parties coming out to celebrate the man as well as the leader. President Bush's passing comes at a time that we profoundly need a reminder of the qualities that he made a constant. My condolences to the family. My thanks to them for their service and the President's. My prayer is that God welcomes his son and that his spirit may yet guide us to follow our better points of light. May we find ways as he did to illuminate the darkness with our diversity and our decency. Amen to that.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.
LEMON: You laid it out perfectly. Not a perfect man. Not a perfect man. He had his foibles. He -- you can disagree with him on policy. You were right. He's talked about Iran-Contra, taxes, HIV-AIDS. He and Reagan were excoriated about it at the time.
And, you know, it was terrible. But you can disagree with someone ideologically and not demonize them and realize that no one is perfect.