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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Interview with Kellyanne Conway; Trump Claims Payments Were Not Illegal Despite Cohen Plea. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired December 13, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson. Well-argued. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME. The president today making the case that he has done nothing wrong. This case seems to be plagued by contradictions. We're going to test them with the president's best defender, Kellyanne Conway.

And now, the president's good friend say the president was actually in the room where the plan was hatched to pay off women who threatened his campaign. Legal exposure for that? We'll take it up in Cuomo's Court.

Criminal prosecution is a maybe. Political scrutiny, a hundred percent, especially if the president is shown to be lying about key issues. How bad could it be? That's the topic for the great debate. Lots to test. Let's get after it.

New information for you, Donald Trump not only knew about the plan for payments to help his campaign, he was at the meeting that hatched the plan. Who says? Reportedly his friend who ran the "Enquirer", David Pecker, who was also at the meeting. Brings up once again that haunting question, why lie if you had nothing to hide?

I want to put this latest in a string of apparent contradictions to the White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME. First things first, Merry Christmas to you and the kids. Boun natale, best to the family.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Boun natale. My mother's maiden, DiNatale. Merry Christmas, Christopher.

I have to take issue with the way you stated things as if they're fact.

CUOMO: Please? Please?

CONWAY: Well, you just stated things as if they were fact. Look at what we have now, snark and bark against the president. I mean, let's be fair here. You have federal election commissioners, former ones, you have people who are election law experts saying that just because people who said they -- that they were asked to commit a crime here, there's not a crime.

One guy said today that Michael Cohen pled guilty to something that's not a crime. His whole point in that article that people should read is that if you, for example, if you were going to do something anyway, irrespective of you being a federal candidate for office, it's not a campaign expense, it's a personal expense. Otherwise, successful entrepreneurs who want lawsuits to go away, or make nuisance payments --

CUOMO: OK.

CONWAY: -- maybe to save embarrassment toward their family or to just get rid of specious or false claims, then that would always -- if they've ever been in the last 45 years or so been a candidate for federal office, it would count as a campaign expense. Campaign funds --

CUOMO: But that's not the current case.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And --

CUOMO: It's not the current case. We have Robert Ray on the show tonight.

CONWAY: Well --

CUOMO: That's the lawyer you're speaking about. I'll have him on the show later today. We'll go through his theory with him.

CONWAY: No, I'm not.

CUOMO: No --

CONWAY: I'm not talking about him.

CUOMO: Oh, because that's what he wrote about.

CONWAY: I'm talking about Hans Civosky (ph) and I'm also talking about Bradley.

CUOMO: OK.

CONWAY: So, I'm talking about people who are experts in this field.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right, but I'm not -- I don't -- I'm not in the speculation business. I'm talking about facts. David Pecker was at the meeting.

CONWAY: You are -- no, you're not.

CUOMO: He says the president was at the meeting. That's a fact.

CONWAY: So you like to -- no, no, no. Stop saying words facts and lies.

CUOMO: That is a fact by definition.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Do you get an extra $100 every time? Hold on.

CUOMO: I wish.

CONWAY: You are saying that a year, one year before I became chain manager for the winning part of the campaign and never was involved in anything of this sort, nothing, zero. When he fully --

CUOMO: Good thing to call out right now, by the way. It's the good time to distinguish yourself.

CONWAY: No, this is important.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CONWAY: This is important. This is important, Christopher.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CONWAY: This is very important, because you're talking about a full year before that, relatively early in the primary season, you're talking about people saying we did this in furtherance of the election. There's just no proof of that. That is somebody's opinion.

And why was I never -- why did we do nothing like this, why was I not told anything like this. Hey, if we're really beating Hillary, if she can't get above 50 percent in these 10 or 11 states where President Obama carried the states twice with more than 50 percent, we can just pull the rip cord and we've got this going for us. It makes no sense.

I mean, under the argument --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It may not make sense, but they're just facts, Kellyanne. They're facts.

CONWAY: No, no, they're not facts. You want them to be facts. You don't know --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Michael Cohen hatched the plan with David Pecker --

CONWAY: President Trump has said that I never directed anybody to do that.

CUOMO: I know he said that. But the evidence shows otherwise.

CONWAY: Why does that ever matter to you?

CUOMO: The evidence shows otherwise.

CONWAY: Where do you see the evidence Christopher.

CUOMO: The tape we have --

CONWAY: No, your agenda wants you to show otherwise.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You want me to offer the proof? I will. Let me know when you're ready. Let me know when you're ready. Are you ready?

CONWAY: Before you do that, before you do that, let's stipulate something as happily former attorneys both of us.

CUOMO: Please? Still licensed. Go ahead.

CONWAY: You are stipulating things as fact because you want them to be fact.

CUOMO: Untrue. Untrue.

CONWAY: You want them to be true.

CUOMO: Untrue.

CONWAY: You imbue credibility to people depending on who they are, and what --

CUOMO: Untrue, these are diversionary tactics.

CONWAY: Yes, it is.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We have a tape with president Trump and Michael Cohen discussing the transaction. We have David Pecker who was part of the transaction saying the president knew, he was present and that we did it in order to help his campaign. Fact, fact, fact.

CONWAY: No, no, no, that is not what he -- that is what he thought he was doing. He wasn't part of the campaign. In fact, every single time that you -- that CNN has referred to David Pecker or may I say Michael Cohen, you've never said they were part of the campaign.

CUOMO: They don't have to be part of the campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You had Michael Cohen, who I've known for 12 years and served on a Trump World Tower board with, so I've known him for a long time. Every time CNN had Michael Cohen on as a guest, you identified him as the executive vice president of the Trump Organization.

CUOMO: Yes, yes.

CONWAY: Not single time did you say that he was on the campaign. Why is that relevant? You want these things to be in furtherance --

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: They don't have to be a member of the campaign in order to be doing in furtherance of the campaign.

CONWAY: Why is it not a fact? Sorry, why is it not a fact, why you're just dismissing the fact that the president of the United States, duly elected president of the United States, said he has never directed Michael Cohen to break the law? He hired counsel and he believes counsel, advice of counsel, lawyers, accountants, whomever, professionals are paid to do what they're being asked to do.

CUOMO: Fair point, Kellyanne.

CONWAY: Where's your knowingly and willfully?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Let's lay it out because this is one of the contradictions I want to address.

CONWAY: No, not a fair point, a fact. A fact.

CUOMO: Fine, call it a fact. You should be able to follow your lawyer's advice if that person is, in fact, your lawyer, which takes us to one of the contradictions. Here was the president looking at this on two different ways on the suitability of convenience.

Go ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INTERVIEWER: Why did you hire Michael Cohen --

(CROSSTALK)

INTERVIEWER: That was his title, a fixer.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, he did very low level work. He did more public relations than law.

I never directed him to do anything wrong. Whatever he did, he did on his own. He's a lawyer. A lawyer who represents a client is supposed to do the right thing, that's why you pay them a lot of money, et cetera, et cetera.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Those two things cannot go together. Either he was a low level PR guy.

CONWAY: Yes, they do.

CUOMO: Who wasn't really your lawyer. Or he was your lawyer who was telling you what to do and you followed his advice as counsel. The president just said both.

CONWAY: Christopher, no. Christopher, you literally just played the clip of the president, in his own words that he stated today. And then you paraphrased them. You're not being honest. Let the president --

CUOMO: The people just heard it. Please tweet me and let me know if I got it wrong.

CONWAY: Then you felt the need to paraphrase him, then you felt the need to paraphrase him and --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Not at all. I'm characterizing something that's obvious.

CONWAY: What this all means.

CUOMO: Nope.

CONWAY: So the president. The most important thing the president just said that goes to the essential case here, is that he never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. Way is that not important or credible to you?

It's important and credible to the rest of the country, except for the people so blinded by their hatred towards him or their wishful thinking that he won't be president if they just close their eyes and click their heels three times, he really won't be president and someone else will be, or she will be. Let's just go back two years.

CUOMO: No. I don't think that's what it's about.

CONWAY: No, the day before election day, you were on bended knee, in front of a chart -- the map of the whole country and it literally said on your twitter feed, uno mas. Meaning, one more. She only needs one more state. Your --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I've never been on bended knee in my life except when I proposed.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: I'll pull it up, I'll find it.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: What I do is beg for modicum of truth. I don't care about the election.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: I'm looking at a blank camera and you're reading a teleprompter.

CUOMO: I'm not reading a teleprompter, I'm looking at your face. CONWAY: This is about the election -- oh, no, no, sorry, you can't

talk about this, and then say I don't care about the election, why are we talking about the election?

CUOMO: I don't. I'm talking what may have affected the election, and the president telling the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: But you don't want to talk about the election. The president is telling the truth.

CUOMO: He isn't. Here's how we know --

CONWAY: Excuse me.

CUOMO: The president said he knew nothing about the story --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: If you're going to talk about facts -- if you're going to filibuster, be fair.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's not filibuster, I'm giving you an opportunity. But you got to let me lay out the facts.

CONWAY: You're supposed to ask the questions.

CUOMO: He said on the plane, I know nothing about the Stormy Daniels --

CONWAY: Not a fact (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: When the payment was made. That's what he meant.

CUOMO: He said, I don't know anything about it, ask my lawyer.

CONWAY: No, no, no, I asked him specifically --

CUOMO: The truth is, he knew everything about it.

CONWAY: Christopher, that was in April.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We have him on tape saying it. David Pecker says he was there. It is incontrovertible, that is why prosecutors believe it.

CONWAY: Whoa! It is not. You're way offline, you're showing partisan stripes, respectfully.

CUOMO: I'm not. CONWAY: You cannot say it's incontrovertible, yes, you cannot say it's incontrovertible when it's based on --

CUOMO: That he knew? Incontrovertible.

CONWAY: Hold on. That's not true. Hold on.

When the president said -- let me speak, please. Don't invite me on. I'm the only person in the White House that will come on. So, don't do that. It's not fair --

CUOMO: That is their mistake. And good for you for taking the opportunity. They should not be cowards.

CONWAY: The president said in April -- they are not cowards. They're wonderful people. But the president doesn't like to be interrupted at 9:00 at night.

The president said in April on Air Force One -- did you know about the payments? He said no. I asked the president, what did you mean by that? Because by April of 2018 the whole world, based on the Stormy Daniels revelation.

CUOMO: Good point, why did he lie?

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Hold on. So, he wasn't talking about what he knew in April. He did not lie. He's talking about when the payment was made. I asked him that, and I said it on a couple Sunday shows that very next weekend in April or May, because I asked him, what did you mean? He told me.

CUOMO: Why didn't he ever clarify it?

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: -- the privilege of asking the president. Hold on, he sends me, we do. We did qualify, it's important. Christopher, in April of 2018, Donald J. Trump, the president, and everybody else were told about the payments.

CUOMO: He knew about it from its inception. He came up with the plan.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: No, no, no, hold on. You're saying incontrovertible based on the testimony of people who are trying to get a better deal and a lighter sentence for themselves. Be fair here. Don't call incontrovertible because you imbue credibility on individuals --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I have a tape of him discussing what to do with Michael Cohen.

CONWAY: No, you have a tape --

CUOMO: Yes?

CONWAY: Christopher, I've been involved in conversations like that on the 26th floor, not like that, but --

CUOMO: I was going to say, God forbid.

CONWAY: No, no, no, hold on, but tell me this. CNN, you included, nobody out there said, you know, I think that Donald Trump is going to win this election unless he was paying off some of these women.

CUOMO: It's not a relevant question.

CONWAY: Nobody said that. You said he couldn't win.

CUOMO: It's not a relevant question.

CONWAY: It's very relevant.

CUOMO: What's relevant is whether he told the truth about it and if not, why did he lie about it?.

CONWAY: The payments were made in furtherance of the election.

No, what's relevant to the statute, there's a statute at play here. You can't just play lawyer on TV. There's a statute. And the statute says in furtherance of an election.

CUOMO: Right.

CONWAY: Now, it's got to be a campaign expense. These are personal expenses in furtherance of the election, no, he could have made the payment anyway --

CUOMO: They could have a personal motivation and campaign motivation. That's holding from the John Edwards case.

CONWAY: You want it both ways.

CUOMO: No. That's what the judge said in the John Edwards case.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: That's a totally different matter.

CUOMO: That's what the judge said, Kellyanne.

CONWAY: Let's review, John Edwards was a presidential campaign sleeping with his videographer paid $1 million.

CUOMO: She was also the mother of his child, and there were support payments being made.

CONWAY: But hold on. CUOMO: And he was indicted, charged and indicted and went to trial. And he was acquitted on one charge and they were hung on two others. So, I don't know if it's the best analogy for you.

CONWAY: But, wait a second, at least he had the opportunity to do what you're not giving President Trump --

CUOMO: I give if to him every night, if he wants to come on here and make the case, I'll give him a whole hour --

CONWAY: No, no, no, no, no. Which is under oath. This is TV, you can't convict somebody, indictment somebody --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I don't want to convict anybody. I want the truth and I want the president to keep himself out of harm's way.

CONWAY: You're telling American what the truth is now and you're out of bounds. No, he's not. No, no, no, no. You just like to say the president lies and then it goes viral.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I actually don't like it. No, Kellyanne, honest to God, I don't like it. I really wish I didn't ever have to say it.

CONWAY: He said today that he never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. That's what the president said.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Michael Cohen and David Pecker both deny that.

CONWAY: They expect you to be anti-Trump, your viewers.

CUOMO: No, they're actually get frustrated with me because they think we're too balanced on this show. They don't want me to have you on. They don't want me to have anyone from the administration. Trust me.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: No, they're mad at you for having me on, right, and you know why that is, right? They don't want you to have me on, and my Aunt Rita said today, I don't know why you go on with him, he's not nice to you. But she's watching.

CUOMO: Come on.

CONWAY: Christopher, listen, your viewers don't want me to --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Tough but fair, you know I'm coming from a good place on this.

CONWAY: Hold on. Can you please let me speak, please? CUOMO: Go ahead.

CONWAY: They don't want you to have me on for a simple reason, they accept if not expect you and the rest of CNN to be anti-Trump all day long. And you know it. You don't have the same viewership that CNN once had. The people want it right down the middle, where the centrists and moderate and you know it.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: The reason they get frustrated is they believe that you guys don't answer questions and that you spin a lot, and you ignore what is obvious fact.

CONWAY: Are you going to call me a liar? Go ahead, you're going to call me a liar?

CUOMO: If I have to, I will. If I have to, I will.

CONWAY: You're calling -- oh, really, I dare you to do it. What is it I lied about?

CUOMO: I'm not saying that you're lying. Right now, you;r

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: I don't have a teleprompter with people telling me what to say but --

CUOMO: I don't have a teleprompter, nobody's telling me what to say.

Kellyanne, listen, you're very clever. What I'm saying is this --

CONWAY: Here you are. Here's your Twitter feed that says: on bended knee. On bended knee, uno mas. I love this one. November 7th, the day before the election. I know you just said, you just lied, I've never been on bended knee. This is a picture --

CUOMO: That is not any picture of me doing -- it's a joke, the picture is a joke.

CONWAY: You're on bended knee. Fortunately, there's no American flag there but you're on bended knee saying --

CUOMO: The picture is a joke. You're suggesting -- you're suggesting that I was so desperate for an outcome, now I want to punish the president for winning. That's just untrue. It's silly.

CONWAY: No, what I'm suggesting is --

CUOMO: I'm calling out obvious --

CONWAY: No, here's what's silly.

CUOMO: -- controversies of truth.

CONWAY: No, it's not obvious.

CUOMO: David Pecker says he was at the meeting.

CONWAY: It's not obvious.

CUOMO: Michael Cohen says he knew all about it. The tape says he knew all about it, why deny it?

CONWAY: Michael, you're imbuing credibility to people who are playing to your wishful thinking. You shouldn't do that. The president of the United States said he never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.

I want to tell you something, if a person -- in an individual particularly a wildly popular, very well known wealthy entrepreneur would do something -- whether he was running for federal office or not, and he does it anyway, as one of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, have stated, sometimes you're trying to get rid of a nuisance. Sometimes you're trying to save your family from embarrassment. And this -- this is what happened --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You can have multiple reasons for doing one of these transactions, you don't have to direct the action to be part of the action. That's just the law. And it --

CONWAY: You're not giving credence to those. Wait a second, I want to know, why, why these folks should be paid --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's just about the truth, that's all.

CONWAY: You are, though. You don't want to hear from the defense many.

CUOMO: That's not true, I'm having you on for exactly this reason.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: It's an incontrovertible fact --

CUOMO: It is an incontrovertible fact that the president knew about what was being done with these payments. You know it, I know it. He knows it.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You don't know it.

CUOMO: I do know it.

CONWAY: No, we don't know that. I don't know that, I'll tell you why.

CUOMO: That's why you're saying now it's not a crime.

CONWAY: Just like your phony -- just like your phony baloney illusion, delusion Russia collusion which you don't talk about any more.

CUOMO: I don't know what you just said. You have me saying those three words?

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: -- the cellar now?

CUOMO: Listen, I say what the facts suggest.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You wanted that to -- oh, what the facts suggest.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's what we do in journalism. You look at the facts and figure out what the story is.

CONWAY: Here's a good opportunity, a very natural inflexion point for me to remind the donors to the GoFundMe page for Stormy Daniels that they basically have given their money to possibly Donald Trump, since she raised a little bit more than half a million, the last I noticed, and nearly $300,000 of that they've been ordered to pay to Don. So, congratulations to the people who donated money to Stormy Daniels, you actually paid it to Donald Trump.

I thought that would make for great announcement tonight. See, I can't see your face, I'm looking into a blank camera where you got people talking on your ear --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I don't have anybody talking to my ear. Why do you keep saying that? Why must you feel the need to insult me personally in order to make a case?

CONWAY: I'm not insulting you personally.

CUOMO: You want to take a shot at people who supports Stormy Daniels and who didn't want to see --

CONWAY: But you're insulting me, and you're insulting the president of the United States.

CUOMO: I am not. Look, the lying is the insult.

CONWAY: No, I'm not taking a shot at them, I'm thanking them.

CUOMO: No, you're not, you're being specious.

(CROSSTALK) CONWAY: I'm thanking them because they're now paying for the president's attorneys fees. I'm thanking them. I want to thank them, that their money is going to a great cause. It's going to pay --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Let's get back on point why the lying matters because one of the other arguments that you're hearing now --

CONWAY: Don't call them facts.

CUOMO: Look, you don't have to like it.

CONWAY: Don't call them incontrovertible facts.

CUOMO: But that's what they are. The president knew about this, OK?

CONWAY: You're reading, you're reading a document, and by the way, federal election --

CUOMO: You made your point. People have heard it.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Campaign finance experts today -- no, campaign finance experts today said there was -- this was an aggressive prosecution, a very aggressive liberal reading of the campaign finance laws in the Southern District. You've got to know that the president and his --

CUOMO: Michael Cohen also pleaded guilty to it, David Pecker also admitted that they did it.

CONWAY: He pleaded guilty to a lot of things.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But why plead guilty if he didn't do it. Why would David Pecker say he did it if he didn't do it? Trump is trying to help him out for years to his own risk.

CONWAY: Christopher, in August of 2015, what are you saying happened that didn't happen in August of 2016 that I wasn't made -- just like Russia collusion, I never talked --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: All I'm saying is, he knew what was happening with the women. He was aware of it. He helped hatch the plan --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: So where's your nexus? Where's your nexus?

CUOMO: No. Thank you for saying that.

CONWAY: CNN is on no solid ground to show a nexus. No, no, this is important. CNN is in no solid ground. Under your argument --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: What I'm saying is this, you want to look at the nexus with Michael Cohen and Russia, I'll give it to you.

CONWAY: Any entrepreneur --

CUOMO: Forget about it, I don't want to have a legal debate about whether or not it's a crime. I'm telling you, I'm not worried about the prosecution. It's not my focus.

CONWAY: I didn't say that.

CUOMO: My focus is the truth.

CONWAY: I didn't say that, you said that. No, the president said you did -- your focus is not the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Then starts to talk about Russia and says that he was negotiating --

CONWAY: Your focus is not the truth.

CUOMO: -- a deal, when the president said he had no financial relationships with Russia. We now know that wasn't true.

CONWAY: Your focus -- hey, Christopher, do you think that the Russians influenced the outcome of the election out there?

CUOMO: I don't know. But here's what I do know --

CONWAY: But CNN promised that.

CUOMO: -- Michael Cohen was trying to get a deal done for the president of the United States when the president said that he had no --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: The problem is that those were facts, facts, incontrovertible facts.

CUOMO: -- relationships or businesses, OK? I don't give an opinion about what I don't know. That's just relationship. What I'm saying is --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Here's what I think, you need a better relationship with the truth, and not the truth as you want it to be.

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: He was trying to get a deal done with Russia, the president said he had nothing working. And then Michael Cohen says, I lied to Congress about it because I --

CONWAY: Where's the Russia collusion?

CUOMO: -- and I talked to --

CONWAY: That's what he said. That's not what the president asked him to do. That's what he wanted to do.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- people close to the president about what my testimony would be. Do you know who Michael Cohen talked to that was close to the president about what the testimony would be? Have you ever heard of that before?

CONWAY: Not me.

CUOMO: Do you think it was somebody else? Do you know if anyone heard what Michael Cohen was going to testify to before Congress?

CONWAY: Me? No, why would I know that?

CUOMO: Because you're very close to the president. You were there during the campaign and you're part of the administration. Have you ever heard about that?

CONWAY: Right, and isn't that important here. Wouldn't all your viewers love to watch me be frog marched because I colluded with Russians and I paid off women?

CUOMO: Not me, I would never want to see anything bad happen to you.

CONWAY: No, no, no, no such things.

CUOMO: Just trying to know what you know.

CONWAY: But CNN's not on solid ground here for a simple reason. You promised people --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: The president didn't tell the truth about what he was trying to do with Russia.

CONWAY: -- Russia collusion. You failed to do that.

CUOMO: That's not the bar. That's not the bar.

CONWAY: You promised people -- up until 2016 that --

CUOMO: That's not the bar.

CONWAY: -- there was no way Donald Trump could win. (CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You were quoting from "The New York Times" upshot and other sources, 92 percent chance of winning Michigan to Hillary Clinton. You did not think this mattered.

CUOMO: Find me telling people there will be collusion. I tell people all the time, prepare yourself for disappointment if you think the Mueller probe is going to end the presidency, I don't see it. It doesn't mean that the truth doesn't matter --

CONWAY: Under your reading -- so here's what I want to ask you, the president's been in office 600, 700 days.

CUOMO: Don't ask me things. I brought you here to answer questions. What's your question?

CONWAY: Seven hundred days? Look, there's my question, in all those days, really, since he's -- before he was even elected, let's just since he got elected, and definitely since he's been president of the United States, do you know how just consistently and unapologetically and ruthlessly and unnecessarily, gratuitously negative you and your network have been toward the Democratically elected president of the United States? You cover nothing positive --

CUOMO: Do you know how -- that's not true.

CONWAY: You have very little coverage to the economy, to peacefulness --

CUOMO: That's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Why are we talking about it?

CUOMO: I went down to the border and did an exclusive tour with CBP about their struggles to keep us safe down there. It's not true. But it's also immaterial.

CONWAY: Yes, they are struggling and they could use some help.

CUOMO: What I want to ask you is, why did the president --

CONWAY: No, it's not immaterial. They could use some help on border security. No, no, they could use help on border security.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I let you get me off track for one second, stop talking about just a wall, because you know that CBP --

CONWAY: It's not at all facts. It's important to this country.

CUOMO: -- doesn't just need a wall. And you're not helping them with their real challenges. The president has made it into a stunt. He lied about the caravan for political opportunity.

CONWAY: No, they need border security, though. We are responding to what they have told us they need.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And now, he's doing nothing to help with the real systemic problems.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You and one of your other anchors called it caravanished. You called it caravanished.

CUOMO: Yes, it's true..

CONWAY: Did it vanish or did it make it up?

CUOMO: It's true.

CONWAY: Really?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And now they're sitting there.

CONWAY: Those people (INAUDIBLE) in Tijuana, Mexico. Really caravanished?

CUOMO: You've got a system that can't handle them, you won't give them more judges.

CONWAY: No, no, you do, because Congress failed to act. And this president has been there.

CUOMO: You won't cut a deal, you say you'll shut down the government over a wall, but you won't negotiate any of the points that matter more than that.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: So, Christopher, this is about border security, you're going to let me speak now because I'm the guest. OK? You're going to be a little bit respectful toward your guest.

This is about border security. The president has made clear he -- his first and solemn duty in this country is to keep us all safe. That includes border security. He's asking for a little bit more money, and if you look at all the nonsense.

CUOMO: He's not asking for a little bit more money, he's asking for a lot of money. That's OK. But don't mitigate what he's asking for.

CONWAY: No, he's asking for 1/50th of what the Council on Economic Advisers estimates it would cost our country in heroin misuse disorder. He's asking for a fraction of that for border security. CUOMO: And they'll tell you that the heroin's not being walked across the border either.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Out of here.

CUOMO: It comes through ports of entry almost exclusively and under tunnels, way more than for foot traffic and you know it.

CONWAY: Not almost exclusively. That's ridiculous.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You're in charge of this. By percentage, it dwarfs foot traffic, and you know that, this is your bailiwick. I know it, but you know it too.

CONWAY: Hold on, you want to talk about border security. You want to talk about border security --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No, I really want to know why the president lied about negotiating a deal with Russia. That's what I want to know, but you don't want to answer it.

CONWAY: No, he didn't lie.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: He sure did. He said there's no deal going on and there was. He signed a letter of intent. He even said to cameras, I'll play you the sound.

Play the sound, this is what he said --

CONWAY: You're just being ridiculous. You really are, you're being ridiculous. I'm not going to listen to your sound, because I want to tell people about border security.

CUOMO: You don't have to listen --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And I want everybody to know -- I want everybody to know about the 26 Democrats who voted for border security, who voted for the security --

CUOMO: It should be a lot more. They should all vote for border security.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Those included -- no, no, no, those included, you know who they were -- CUOMO: Price tag for a wall that's not going to be built.

CONWAY: Senator Chuck Schumer voted for secure fences.

CUOMO: They should, everybody should be for border security.

CONWAY: Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Joe Biden and Senator Barack Obama. So they're not voting for secure fences here.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's just not a panacea to keeping us safe -- and you know it.

CONWAY: That's not true. It would help. You know --

CUOMO: It would help, but it's not a panacea. Why does the president make it a single issue? I'm going to shut down the government for a wall.

CONWAY: No, he doesn't make it a single issue.

CUOMO: Sure he does. He says I'll shut down --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Mel, play the sound of what he said about the shutdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will take the mantle of shutting it down, I will shut it down for border security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That's what he says. Then he tweets -

CONWAY: Border security. Well, Christopher, you're lying.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Don't shut down the government, he tweets.

CONWAY: Border security.

CUOMO: Which is it, are you a tough guy that wants to shut down the government over a wall.

CONWAY: Border security is national security. Border security is national security.

CUOMO: I know, but if you're really --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You're lying. You are lying incontrovertibly when you say a wall, instead of border security. CUOMO: Single issue topic, that's all. But, look, I want to get back

to this --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: So the president today -- no, no, the president today had the governors in, Democratic and Republican governors who were just elected, new Democratic governors..

CUOMO: Great.

CONWAY: He had them in to the cabinet room. You're like great, yes, oh, no. The governor, so glad she's going to talk about policy --

CUOMO: Keep going, use the time.

CONWAY: I want to talk about the government working.

CUOMO: I know, it's a little bit of a distraction from what I'm asking.

CONWAY: He talked to them about how we can all work together. OK, you know why?

CUOMO: Good, he should work with governors.

CONWAY: For an unusually odd reason. You're not looking at the CNN polling, the CNN polling doesn't say that Michael Cohen and David Pecker are yesterday's news, and even Russia and all that, that's not top of the list in the CNN polling. Why do you ignore your own polls? Why do you ignore the --

CUOMO: The midterms were a clarion call for guardrails on this White House.

CONWAY: For what? Is that what it was?

CUOMO: People want this president checked. He lies with a reckless abandon.

CONWAY: Is that what it was, really? Because I heard they're running on Medicare for all.

CUOMO: That's why I'm asking you these questions.

CONWAY: I heard socialists.

CUOMO: Not because of criminal exposure. He lied about the deal, the payments.

CONWAY: Many different things, no, you just want to say that.

CUOMO: We haven't to find out if he's telling the truth about what he knew of different aspects of Russian interference.

(CROSSTALK) CONWAY: How do you know -- I'm not going to allow you to say the president -- I don't want to allow you to cast the truth on what you want it to be, and based on a couple people in an indictment, I'm going to -- or in a statement.

I'm going to allow you to wait until you read the reports, until you read the answers that the president has given under the written answers he's provided. But you are playing wishful thinking here, you did it, you all did it on the Kavanaugh thing, you heard from one side and literally, you had journalists acting like activists on your network as did other people.

They weren't being journalists, they were being activists. They said, oh, my god, there's nothing Brett Kavanaugh can say. This is so incredible.

CUOMO: Why are you talking about now?

CONWAY: And then he got to speak.

CUOMO: Look, you like to spray it around, this conspiracy theory of everything -- Brett Kavanaugh, the justice has nothing to do with this discussion. Don't add him to this.

CONWAY: He's a justice on the Supreme Court. He has everything to do with it, what you want to do is be an activist and not a journalist.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Is he the reason that the president lied about trying to negotiate a deal in Russia? Is he the reason that the president lied about paying people off to help his campaign?

CONWAY: It's a great example of how you lie nightly, you and your colleagues. You have people on lying.

CUOMO: You said I shouldn't call you a liar, you call me a liar many times. You see the difference in our tactics? I treat you with respect.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: No, I think what you are engaging is wishful thinking.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: My wishful thinking is that I didn't have to cover Friday of this, that I didn't have to worry about a president being fact checked every time he opens his mouth on a material issue, OK?

CONWAY: Let's take a random day in the White House and talk about it. Let me talk about everything that went on today.

CUOMO: No, I don't want to hear about what went on.

CONWAY: You're not interested in that. The president's viewing -- (CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I'm not worried about your daily calendar. I'm worried about the things that matter. I'm worried about the president saying today, GM is getting rid of these jobs, but those jobs will be absorbed in two minutes.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: It's so condescending if not sexist. It's not about my daily calendar, it's about all the things that happened today.

CUOMO: How is that sexist? I have a daily calendar.

CONWAY: My daily calendar, what does that mean exactly?

CUOMO: It means I don't care about everything that happened at the White House today.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Why? You should care because things that happen that affect people.

CUOMO: No, this is a focus show. I'm focusing on the contradictions in the president's case. I care about the contradictions in the president's case.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: No, you don't want him to succeed. You don't want the country to succeed.

CUOMO: Kellyanne, say that again. I want to make sure the audience hears that.

CONWAY: Thank you very much that your --

CUOMO: You believe, you want my audience to believe that I don't want the country to succeed?

CONWAY: No, not your audience. Your audience is your audience.

CUOMO: Imagine if I said something like that to you.

CONWAY: You don't want the president to succeed, or else you would be telling your audience.

CUOMO: Imagine if I said something like that to you.

CONWAY: You're sitting here --

CUOMO: Imagine.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You're sitting here telling -- oh, stop.

CUOMO: Yes, right? Because when you say, it's OK, you can be as cheap --

CONWAY: You ask a White House guest to come on and you don't.

CUOMO: You can be as insulting as you want, and it's okay.

CONWAY: I'm not being cheap or base.

CUOMO: Really? Yu call me a liar. I don't want the country to succeed.

CONWAY: No --

CUOMO: You say I'm out to get the president.

CONWAY: No, I don't think that you're a liar.

CUOMO: Some would argue that is treason by the way.

CONWAY: No, I don't --

CUOMO: I know you guys throw words around down there because you think it helps you in a moment.

CONWAY: I know you're going to fight with people who have 40 followers on Twitter later about that.

CUOMO: I give people respect regardless of the number of followers. I give people respect regardless of the number of followers, because I'm here to engage. I'm not here to duck. I'm not here to smear people. And I'm not here to insult my way out of a question. That's not me.

CONWAY: That's true. You insulted the president of the United States tonight. And I have to tell you, I'm one of many, many millions and millions of Americans who are fed up with it.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: When? Six in 10 Americans say that this is a serious matter, that has to be investigated. You just got trounced in the midterm elections in the popular vote, because people want this White House checked.

CONWAY: And guess what, you're not investigated. You're not the investigator.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Of course, we are. We work off the facts that we get, and we can add to the story we do. That's why I broke that tape. I knew it was going to matter that the president was lying about this.

CONWAY: Hey, Christopher, why don't you tell everybody -- hey, Christopher, the president said just today, I, quote, I never directed Michael Cohen --

CUOMO: He doesn't have to have directed the action to expose liability.

CONWAY: No, no, I'm asking you. I'm asking you why that's not a fact to you. Why do you choose what are the facts?

CUOMO: The president saying it?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: If it can be corroborated, it is a fact. A fact needs to be corroborated.

CONWAY: Oh, but hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Because frankly and unfortunately, he lies a lot. That's why, just like Michael Cohen. --

CONWAY: He's doing a great job.

CUOMO: His credibility is suspect.

CONWAY: He's doing a great job for this country. It may not matter to you that people, I'm not in your position, God bless you, have more money in their pockets, that they feel that manufacturing is back --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Take a look at my taxes in New York --

CONWAY: Oh, poor you.

CUOMO: No, not poor me, but you're just not being accurate. That's all.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: People really feel badly for you.

CUOMO: No, I don't feel badly for me. I'm doing well. Thank God. The president is set up to help people almost exclusively in my position.

He's all about people who are making a lot of money.

CONWAY: I talk to people every day, who aren't you, who are in manufacturing, are in construction, in mining --

CUOMO: The people he told today are going to get jobs back in Ohio in two minutes like that. Is that the truth? Those GM jobs are going to get picked up in two minutes like that.

CONWAY: Grants that languished for ten years, he's done so much good for this country. And I hope you'll hold --

CUOMO: I'm not saying that he doesn't done good things for the country.

CONWAY: We want to work with him on infrastructure. We want to work with him on prison reform.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Good. It should happen.

Let me ask you one more thing.

CONWAY: You don't focus on that. You don't focus on that.

CUOMO: Let me ask you one more thing.

CONWAY: You're not honest to the American people by excluding information from them.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- on what's happening with his probe, that's the specific issue. When you wanted to talk about opioids, I brought you on, we talked about only that.

CONWAY: You can't possibly -- for a half a segment. And thank you for that.

CUOMO: This is longer than we've had you on any other show. By the way, to this day, longer than you've had on any other show.

CONWAY: That's not true. That is not true.

CUOMO: Oh, really?

CONWAY: It's not true. And by the way --

CUOMO: Really? What show?

CONWAY: We didn't talk about opioids for 20 minutes.

CUOMO: Yes, we did. What show?

CONWAY: Christopher, it doesn't matter who gives me time on opioids. What matters is that because of this president, we have the single most comprehensive law on the drug crisis on the nation (INAUDIBLE). Let me tell you --

CUOMO: That's a good thing.

CONWAY: It passed with every Democratic vote in the House and Senate.

CUOMO: It's a good thing.

CONWAY: Let me repeat that. Every Democrat voted for the bill that Donald Trump signed into law, but it's not relevant to you.

CUOMO: I just said it's a good thing. I had you on my show to discuss it. Kellyanne, stop being so abusive of reality.

CONWAY: Oh my God, you're just not telling people. You're just not telling people what's going on.

CUOMO: I had you on the show to discuss it. The facts betray your own reality.

CONWAY: That's one thing we work on. You're being dismissive of people who are carefully grateful that they have jobs now.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You are, you're being dismissive. I'm here for them.

CUOMO: I want to ask you something. This Butina, the alleged spy, there's this real weird thing that happens at one of the candidate -- not yet president's rallies, press conferences, where he called on her I think second, not first. It was reported she was first, I don't think he called on her first. But he called on her, and she asked a question about sanctions.

Do you know anything about why he would have called on this person to ask a question about sanctions?

CONWAY: I know zero, and I know zero about her. I don't believe I've ever met her, if I have, I certainly don't remember. I'm not sure he's so familiar with her either, because we were watching the news today, and --

CUOMO: Why did he call on her?

CONWAY: I have no idea why. When was that, allegedly?

CUOMO: The beginning of the campaign. If you --

CONWAY: OK, but again -- there you are.

CUOMO: Hold on, they're telling me, July 11th, 2015. It was a long time ago. But why would he call on her?

CONWAY: Oh, for god sake, and then you're back to August 2015. Christopher, focus on the winning part of the campaign, where none of you thought he could win, let alone --

CUOMO: She pleaded guilty to being a Russian spy and she asked a question of the president about sanctions. Meanwhile, she was working the NRA, I don't know why she asked about sanctions.

CONWAY: You want to talk -- that I know nothing about. But let me ask you something.

CUOMO: Well, I'm just asking you. I accept your answer. CONWAY: We should talk about Russian sanctions. This president has

sanctioned many different Russians and expelled some from this country.

CUOMO: Wasn't happy about it.

CONWAY: When he was felt --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: He wasn't. Congress told him to do it, he didn't want to do it. He fought it.

CONWAY: I love when the reporter said, here's his mood, here's what he's thinking today.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I never say that. I don't have any reporting on his mood, it's irrelevant to me.

CONWAY: -- a couple of times a year, you don't work in the West Wing, you don't work in the White House. It's always sources familiar, former official.

CUOMO: My job is to test the White House.

CONWAY: No, your job is to -- but you, come on, you can test me, but you have to be honest about the way you do it.

CUOMO: I really think I am, I think I'm pretty transparent.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And you're assigning -- yes, I can't deny that, you are very transparent. But you look at that --

CUOMO: You mean that as a pejorative. But I mean it in terms -- I know you mean it as an insult.

CONWAY: No.

CUOMO: I'm very straight forward. I don't take shots at you or the president. I don't need to.

CONWAY: Transparent.

CUOMO: I'm just talking about what is.

CONWAY: You took shot at the president Tonight. You called the president tonight a slur that I am not going to repeat --

CUOMO: Slur? What slur did I call him? Never. Literally never.

CONWAY: You say he's not telling the truth.

CUOMO: He lies a lot. That's a reality.

CONWAY: That's a slur, that's a slur.

CUOMO: It's not a slur.

CONWAY: Today he said, true or false that today he said he never directed Michael Cohen to commit a crime. He said that --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I am not going to take the president at his word when he has a record of lying about these things. He didn't know about the Stormy Daniels payment. He said the guy was a PR agent, then he says he's his lawyer. Then he says nothing happened, then we have the tape with his voice on it. I mean, the facts are overwhelming. They really are.

CONWAY: The facts are not overwhelming.

CUOMO: I'm not saying it exposes him on anything because he's a sitting president. But that's why I ask.

CONWAY: Oh, thank you, in a took you 25 minutes. It doesn't expose him to anything, does it now?

CUOMO: It is not the law of the land, but it is the guidance of the DOJ, and until it changes, I don't know how they could indict him.

CONWAY: Well, no, no, but I'm asking you, I'm asking you, what relevance all of this has to the --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Telling the truth to the American people. Lying about doing deals with Russia? That may involve banks that are sanctioned at the same time they're getting rid of sanctions?

CONWAY: No, you're not telling the truth. You're not telling the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- at the same time you're at a convention taking it easy on Russia?

CONWAY: Oh, come on. You're making excuses -

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: This is coincidental for things that need answers.

CONWAY: -- for a loss you never saw coming, for a president you never wanted elected and a president you won't cover fairly. You should just own it.

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: That's a distraction. I'll tell you what I own. I appreciate you coming on.

CONWAY: It has a lot to do with politics and feelings, and you interrupted your guest. You don't do that with all of your guests.

CUOMO: I interrupt everybody all the time, everybody else (INAUDIBLE) about it, because I can't let it be a spin --

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: You had the wonderful head of the CPB and you did not interrupt --

CUOMO: He was not spinning me.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: -- America was informed.

CUOMO: He was not spinning me. He was speaking truth.

CONWAY: When you talk about the CPB, you should ask - you should ask all those under informed people who come on -- ill informed people who come on and say, we need to abolish ICE, we need to not have border security. You were there at the border --

CUOMO: Nobody says we don't need border security. Nobody says they want open borders, not elected officials who are relevant.

CONWAY: Come on. They're voting against it. They voted for secure fences. President Obama said --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Listen, if anybody comes on my show and says that they're for open borders or they're not for border security, they will get tested and they'll get tested heavily, because that's absurd. But I haven't come across it once.

CONWAY: But the Democrats have to make a decision. Are they for open border or they're keeping the borders open or for keeping the government open?

CUOMO: We'll see. I don't think that's a fair assessment, but that's an argument for them to make.

CONWAY: Congress has failed to ask -- yes, it is. Congress has failed to act for years on immigration.

CUOMO: They passed a bill that the Republicans wouldn't want to come on a vote on exactly these issues.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: And everybody's business. CUOMO: And they offered the president a deal that he walked away from

when the Republicans told him that he needed to ask for more. So it's a little more complex than that. But I got to go.

CONWAY: I'm just going to tell you respectfully, you are irresponsible -- you are irresponsible night after night saying what you say about the president, with absolutely no facts and no proof.

CUOMO: And I disagree.

CONWAY: It's wishful thinking, you're playing to the audience or others and -- well, you have to be fair. You can't just say --

CUOMO: Kellyanne, I think I am.

CONWAY: No, based on your own predisposition, your wishful thinking. You're not being fair and you're not gaining an audience of people who don't want to hear that.

CUOMO: That's your opinion, you're welcome to make it, but let me tell you something, the team that works on this show. And gives me information every night --

CONWAY: Knowing that your audience is anti-us.

CUOMO: -- works their ass off to make sure they get things right on a regular basis.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: No question. But you are selecting and curating.

CUOMO: We're not selecting and curating.

CONWAY: You're selecting and curating.

CUOMO: We have people on every night, we test both sites, we're fair, you may not like the testing, that's different than it being unfair.

But I appreciate you coming on the show.

CONWAY: No, that's not true, it's not unfair. Go look at your own CNN polling.

CUOMO: I'll look at it, six out of 10 say this is a serious matter that must be investigated.

CONWAY: Yes, that's one poll number. They also say the economy is most important to them and health care.

CUOMO: Of course they are. That's why they voted Democrat so heavily, because of what happened to health care.

CONWAY: Some of them didn't, what happened in the Senate. No, no, no, I get the last word because I'm your guest.

CUOMO: Go ahead, take it.

CONWAY: The four senators who voted against Brett Kavanaugh all lost in Indiana, Missouri, in North Dakota, and Florida. Bill Nelson had won his previous election by 1.1 million votes and he lost this time.

CUOMO: Pretty close race.

CONWAY: And the Democratic senator -- pretty close race? He won by a million votes the time before. People didn't want him anymore.

CUOMO: No, I'm saying Nelson versus Scott was a pretty close race. I gave you the last word.

CONWAY: They don't want people who are stale and sclerotic in their thinking.

Thanks. God bless. Merry Christmas.

CUOMO: Merry Christmas to you as well.

All right, Kellyanne Conway brings the heat, no question about it. Let's bring in some legal minds to assess what was helpful and not to the President's case, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: We got two great legal minds for you. One who helped write the special counsel role, one who investigated the last president to face impeachment. We got Neal Katyal and Robert Ray. Welcome to both of you.

Mr. Ray, it's great to have you on.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Neal, you too but I haven't seen Ray in a while.

All right, let's just clear something up here. Put the noise to the side. Two quick points and you guys tell me if I have it wrong. One, what we learned from the John Edwards' decision is, according to the judge if one of the reasons that you're making a payment is to help your campaign, that's enough. It doesn't have to be the only reason there could be various reasons.

And secondly, the President didn't need to direct the action to be exposed to that same action. I'm not saying that he's going to be exposed to criminal liability. Again, as I said to Kellyanne, I don't know how that happens as a practicality. But Neal, do I have those two basic assessments right?

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: You do. And, you know, sitting here and watching that remarkable time, I have the most respect for Kellyanne Conway. I really do. I think she is --

CUOMO: How about me? You see the beating I took in there?

KATYAL: Well, you know, she is the President's best defender.

CUOMO: 100%.

KATYAL: What you heard there about Edwards and all of the stuff was gobbledygook. I mean, you know, bait-and-switch is not working it was -- oh, look at this mirror, look at this iPhone, look at my pen. But the central question as you're isolating is, you know, did the President lie about this payments? There's no question that he did many in April of 2018. He was asked, "Mr. President, did you know about the $130 payment to Stormy Daniels?" Answer, no, no. So now they've switched to this like Edwards kind of reasoning.

CUOMO: Right.

KATYAL: But, you know, Kellyanne Conway was talking about how campaign experts agree with her. That's preposterous. You know, I actually have --

CUOMO: But even if so, Neal. But even if so -- and let me just bounce this over to Mr. Ray, --

KATYAL: Yes.

CUOMO: In full disclosure I've leaned on you plenty, during this process, for your acumen, Counselor Ray, and it's good to have you here once again. I'm not making this about whether or not the President is guilty of a crime. Neal makes very compelling arguments on that regard. I'm just talking about the lying.

[21:45:15] The idea that we don't know that the President wasn't telling the truth about what he knew and what his role was with his payments is absurd. I'm not saying that makes him guilty of a crime, I'm not saying anything of it is a crime. I'm just saying the idea that he was telling the truth about what he knew and when, is obviously untrue much is that a fair statement?

RAY: Yes. But what does that have to do with whether or not there's an impeachable offense first, and second, whether or not he was as many, many people have tried to suggest, including on CNN and elsewhere, that he's essentially a co-conspirator in connection with the campaign finance violation.

And I think there's a long distance between what Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to, and whether or not the President of the United States was involved and knew that what was being done was an illegal corporate campaign contribution in kind of payments to Stormy Daniels and others, in order to keep them silent, in order to influence an election.

And, you know, look, I think we just -- you know, kind of need to keep track of the forest from the trees. That is an important issue, and I do think that -- you know, it's important to note that the President has already suggested in all of that, look, I hired a lawyer. I am not a lawyer myself, my lawyer obviously, I assumed was acting appropriately, provided me with legal advice. And until it's suggested otherwise, that there was somehow, something improper here. I think the President has a substantial defense to any suggestion --

CUOMO: A criminal defense.

RAY: Well, sure. I mean, look, well -- you know, look Chris, it's not just a criminal defense, but it's also in connection with any notion that there might be an impeachable offense here, which I think is ridiculous.

CUOMO: Well, let's bring Neal in on this.

KATYAL: Time will tell.

CUOMO: The standard, look, impeachable is very different. Impeachable is whatever the politician feel it is.

KATYAL: Sure.

CUOMO: High crime or misdemeanor is more for standard. President Ford said it best. It's whatever Congress thinks it is. And lying can get you in trouble, right? Nixon told us that famously for telling his own demise. Bill Clinton same deal. This President --

RAY: But it's got to be lying under oath or it's going to be lying to a federal agent. There's no suggestion that the President --

CUOMO: I don't know what the President -- that's why I always test his veracity because I don't know what he put in those answers. And even know if he had good lawyers.

RAY: I don't know either but I mean, you know, look you can --

CUOMO: No, maybe he said things that he felt would be matched by these other men --

RAY: You can't speculate until --

CUOMO: No, no, no, it's not speculation. We know he lies a lot. We know he lied about this transaction.

RAY: Yes. That's not the same thing as saying that somebody lies under oath, OK. And that's the difference.

CUOMO: All right, let me get in.

(CROSSTALK)

RAY: A lot of people got in trouble here because -- you know, Chris, as you well know, in politics, loyalty is a virtue beyond all others, where people get into trouble, particularly underlings, and I've seen this in the Nixon administration, in the Clinton administration, and now the Trump administration, is when loyalty is one thing, but when you then make statements under oath or to federal agents, YOU KNOW, spouting the party line, and it turns out not to be true. And it can be proved that what you said was false, that's a problem.

CUOMO: Yeah. RAY: OK.

CUOMO: And there's a lot of that around this President.

KATYAL: Can I say something here?

RAY: Right. But he's not the first President or the first administration who's been through this.

CUOMO: That's true, we've just never seen this much of it or a President who abuses the truth the way he does. But Neal, go ahead.

RAY: I don't know about that.

KATYAL: Yes. So look, I think Ray is on the same thing of mirrors and missing the issues. The issue was not lying under oath or something like that. It's lying to the American people in a very serious felony. And you just heard Kellyanne Conway say, people, election experts agree this wasn't a felony. And stuff like that, absolutely preposterous tomorrow --

RAY: No, I don't -- I don't agree with that.

KATYAL: Let me finish. Tomorrow I have an editorial coming out in the Washington Post with the Republican former Chair of the FEC, the Federal Election Commission, saying this is a very serious violation, the Edwards precedent doesn't apply, and the like. Now, Mr. Ray is right, the President has denied this today. He said he's acting at the advice of council. This is the same guy who lied to us in April. I have no idea why we should bring him now. You know, look, the criminal process I suspect will unfold. I think the impeachment process is going to unfold. And time will tell what happened. But if I were a lawyer there is no way I --

CUOMO: And remember Michael Cohen is believed by prosecutors because what they --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You know, I'm saying Robert, that's an important point. You know, Kellyanne dismiss Cohen, but I say, well you know, he's lied before. All right, fair enough. But he had his statements in this regard corroborated by the prosecutors as with the Mueller probe and what he told them about Russia.

[21:50:16] They said, with respect to this, from the second meeting on, he's told the truth. And the President needs to show the same kind of corroboration to be believed. He can't be just believed as a one-off. He lies too much. And unfortunately, that's a reality.

RAY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

RAY: But what happened to the presumption of innocence? Can we go through this -- CUOMO: I'm not saying he's guilty of something. I'm saying he's

lying.

RAY: Didn't he-- well, OK. So that's fine. That's nice that you say and god knows that --

CUOMO: Oh, it's not a god knows thing.

RAY: That doesn't -- That doesn't make it so.

CUOMO: I have a tape with his voice on it going through the transaction.

RAY: No, no, no.

CUOMO: David Pecker says he was at the meeting.

RAY: No.

CUOMO: Cohen says he knew all about it.

RAY: Stop, hold on a second. First of all, with regard to a campaign finance violation, you're talking about something that even if what you say is true, if the President had done this directly, there was nothing illegal about it. There's nothing illegal --

KATYAL: So then why lie about it? Why lie about it? Why hide it from the American people? You know, during an election, five, ten days before election, this may have been the most significant campaign contribution --

RAY: OK, but it doesn't change the fact that you're trying to criminalize something that --

CUOMO: I'm not trying to criminalize it.

KATYAL: That's the federal statute.

RAY: If the President had done it directly, it wouldn't have been illegal, right?

KATYAL: I'm just saying, that's what --

(CROSSTALK)

RAY: The only thing the President -- by the way, the President's right about this. If he had done it, the only thing that would be illegal about it is arguably a civil violation and that is --

CUOMO: It doesn't excuse the lying.

RAY: A failure to report -- failure to report an expenditure, again --

KATYAL: This is just mirrors.

RAY: It's not mirrors.

CUOMO: No, look but mirrors are not, Robert. Robert and Neal --

RAY: It's not mirrors. It's the federal election campaign act --

CUOMO: I accept the legal debate and we'll see how that plays out.

RAY: Sure.

CUOMO: It's never been my concern. The lying is my concern. And even if it's not a crime, I don't get why he lied about it. And I don't think that that's a slur.

RAY: Chris --

CUOMO: I don't think that that's an opinion.

RAY: This is the first time you've ever seen a politician lie?

CUOMO: Irrelevant.

RAY: Oh sure, it's irrelevant. The point you're trying to make is trying to equate the fact that lying is the equivalent of making a false statement under oath or perjury which it's not. Is there any evidence that the President has perjured himself or made a false statement under oath? No.

CUOMO: Not that I know of.

RAY: Right. So there we are.

CUOMO: I'm with you. I'm just saying I'm tracking the lying because I think it matters. And that's why I think it's going to --

RAY: I'm not saying -- look, Chris --

CUOMO: But I hear you, Robert. I got to go.

RAY: I'm now saying that it doesn't matter.

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: I'm saying we're talking about stuff because the issue has been raised about whether or not these are high crimes and misdemeanors.

CUOMO: I understand.

RAY: -- impeachment.

CUOMO: And I think that if you see a pattern of lying on things that matter to the American people, it could be political exposure. We'll see. Neal, Robert, you guys are better than I am and I appreciate having you on the show.

KATYAL: Thanks Chris.

CUOMO: Thanks to you both.

KATYAL: Yes, be well.

CUOMO: President's loyalists are throwing out a whole new set of legal arguments to try to defend him and they may be good and they may not, but it doesn't escape the accountability for telling the truth to you. OK? We're going to get more into this on the political side right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:55:31] CUOMO: Plenty to debate. Let's bring in Van Jones and Amy Kremer. Thank you for your patience, both of you.

Amy, let me ask you something. Maybe I'm not making this clear. I'm not making a case against the president of the United States. Robert Ray, you know, Neal Katyal, they're so much smarter than I'll ever be. For me it's not about the criminality. It's about telling the truth to the American people. And I don't know why that just because this may not be a crime, let's say, these payments to these women, let's assume it's not a crime, why is lying about it OK?

AMY KREMER, CO-FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: Look, Chris, I mean, the President said he did not have anything to do with it. How do you know that he's lying?

CUOMO: I have his voice on tape.

KREMER: You don't know that.

CUOMO: I have his voice on tape saying that he knows about it and directing the action.

KREMER: Is it his voice on tape?

CUOMO: Yup.

KREMER: OK. Well, look, you know, I don't know what goes on with the president and his legal team. There are many meetings that go on in a campaign in this administration that we don't have all the information for, but the problem here is that the one-sidedness of what CNN is trying to do, go after this President, and all the mainstream media, it's not just CNN, you are not talking about Hillary Clinton and the campaign finance --

CUOMO: Because it has nothing to do with this.

KREMER: Wait, no, no, I want to make this clear. Have you ever asked Hillary Clinton if she directed money to pay for the fake Russia dossier? Have you ever asked her that question?

CUOMO: We don't need to, we know for a fact that she did.

KREMER: Right.

CUOMO: You see what I'm saying? KREMER: Exactly.

CUOMO: It's a fact, just like the fact that this president knew that these women were being paid. He was at the meeting setting up the transaction and he lied about it.

KREMER: Listen.

CUOMO: Let me bring in Van.

KREMER: This -- It was a personal transaction that it happened before he ever run for --

CUOMO: Whether personal or not, he lied about it. That shouldn't be OK for people who are cultural conservatives because that used to be one of your paramount virtues when you went at Bill Clinton. The guy's a liar, he's got that character.

KREMER: You're acting like --

CUOMO: And now you're saying that lying doesn't matter. Let me bring in Van.

KREMER: No, I'm not -- wait a second, no, I'm not, do not say that I'm saying that, Chris, because I am not. I think it's important to tell the truth.

CUOMO: Oh, he's not.

KREMER: And the truth will set you free. But this is the thing. I didn't elect Donald Trump to be my pastor or my preacher or my moral guide in the world.

CUOMO: Your President doesn't have to tell the truth. Van.

KREMER: I elected him because he's a great businessman and I wanted him to get the country back on track.

CUOMO: Great businessman? Van --

KREMER: He has a record to prove it.

CUOMO: He does not have a record to prove he's a great businessman.

KREMER: Chris, do you ever talk about promises made, promises kept and all the things he's done?

CUOMO: Yeah, I do.

KREMER: Your viewers don't ever hear about it.

CUOMO: I do, that's not true. Go Van.

KREMER: It is true.

CUOMO: Van, come on in on this. VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What I -- I think what we're seeing is a great political party. Look, I'm a Democrat, left side of Pluto, proud of it. But there's a Republican Party that I remember that used to get on my doggone nerves preaching and moralizing everybody and, you know, telling us that, you know, we had a President Bill Clinton who was hurting children and who was hurting the country. And those very same people are the same ones who are out here now spinning and spinning and spinning.

And this is why ordinary regular people just look at all this political stuff and they throw their hands up. It is bad for the country. It's not just bad for the country, for the President to do this, but the Republican Party should be consistent and should say much more forthrightly that it does matter what the President does. It matters what the principal of your high school does. It matters what the mayor of your town does. The presidency matters. His moral character matters. And he is failing us right now. And that it takes nothing away from your party to say that. It makes your party struggle when you say that. I wish you'd say it more.

CUOMO: And it doesn't make him a criminal, by the way. It doesn't make him exposed to this FEC crime, not necessarily, but the truth matters. That's all I'm saying, Amy.

KREMER: I want to make something clear, that look, it is an insult to our intelligence, to the American people's intelligence, to think that we didn't know that this kind of stuff went on. I mean, remember, the Democrats, oh the road to get Donald Trump, first it was treason with Michael Flynn. Then it's collusion. Now we're down to campaign finance? I mean, it's desperation, wreaks of desperation. What the American people wanted from --

VAN: This is prosecutors.

KREMER: -- Washington to work for us. And what --

VAN: It's not Democrats. I'm sorry, Amy, it's not Democrats doing this. This is prosecutors -- lying staff, working to prosecutors who are bringing this stuff board and Democrats are talking about it and Republicans are scared of it. But don't make this part political.

KREMER: I'm not afraid of it, Van.

VAN: Don't make this part political.

CUOMO: You won't own it, either.

KREMER: Van, but the thing of it is, why don't we get a special prosecutor to look into the fake Russian dossier and the campaign finance violations that went on there.

CUOMO: They did look at it, they didn't see it as anything worth investigating. They did this.

KREMER: Right, right.

CUOMO: This is all a distraction. But look, Amy, your voice is always welcome.

KREMER: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Van, you are amazing.

KREMER: You're going to have me back to talk about Ivanka's work, she's doing on human trafficking to stop It. I mean, let's talk about that.

CUOMO: Listen, I'm open to all policy discussions. We'll talk about it.

KREMER: You should have it.

CUOMO: E-mail me. Amy, thank you. Van, appreciate it. That's all for us tonight. I do want to give the show to Don Late. "CNN TONIGHT" begins right now.