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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Mueller Slams Flynn's Criticism Of His FBI Interview; Mueller: Flynn's Lies Were "Voluntary And Intentional;" Sources: Trump Inaugural Committee Under Criminal Investigation. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired December 14, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The news continues, so I now hand it over to Chris Cuomo. "CUOMO PRIME TIME" starts now.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, J.B. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
We have new information tonight. The special counsel wants more answers from the President of the United States, and he wants them in person. The President's legal team said it was open to more questioning, but they have been clearly afraid to put the President in a chair across from Mueller. You know what that means? There is a showdown coming.
And does this new request by Mueller have anything to do with this mystery proceeding that happened today? An entire courtroom put on lockdown. The press was cleared out. Coat closets were inspected, even an elevator sealed off. A great debate on what could be coming. Mueller dropped an eye-popping memo today, this one about General Flynn and it gives us our best look yet about how the special counsel deals with liars. A load to break down in Cuomo's Court, it is Friday, so let's get after it.
This was always the concern with the written responses from the President, state of mind. The special counsel has said, I need to understand his state of mind during certain actions and episodes for the obstruction probe. If that's what the special counsel wants, it is the kind of questioning that really needs to be in person. You have to look at the person who is giving the answers. You have to assess them. You have to see if it works together. You want to test patterns. Very tough to do in writing.
This news comes as the special counsel fired back at General Flynn today, showing our best example yet of how Mueller will deal with lying. Even though the special counsel has requested minimal punishment for the general, the special counsel went out of his way to say the man lied and that no one set him up.
One of the quotes was his decision to make false statements was voluntarily and intentional. And he went out of his way to say as a former head of intelligence agency, he should have known better. Again, even though the man is working for Mueller, even though they're asking for leniency lying will not be tolerated. Very foretelling.
Let's bring in former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger. Great to have you. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Good.
CUOMO: All right, so Walter --
DELLINGER: Thank you.
CUOMO: The idea of state of mind and what I'm laying out there, this was always my concern when I heard about the written interrogatories originally, that if they want to know why the President did what he did, it's tough to glean, as we say in the law, from just written answers. Fair point?
DELLINGER: Fair point. And what's more dramatic, I think, about this latest development, Chris, is that if you need to probe individual one, that is the President's state of mind, that means your focus is on the -- the criminal focus is on that individual, that is the President. You don't need to know his state of mind if you are merely seeking information about the actions of others.
CUOMO: Good point. That I want to know what you did? I want to know why you did it, not just what you knew about other people. That's an important distinction. Now the question becomes so now what? We know that the President's lawyers don't want to put him in the chair. Where does this go?
DELLINGER: Well, I think, you know, that the special counsel could very well try to get very quickly to the Supreme Court on the question about whether the President is allowed to refuse to submit to questioning. And I think the presidents on that do not bode well for the President. I argued and lost in Clinton versus Jones, argue in that -- for the 90 states that a lawsuit against the President -- a civil lawsuit ought to be postponed while he's in office.
The Supreme Court rejected that 9-0 and said that even having to go through a civil trial did not meet the standard of sufficient interference with the President, that and the Nixon tape case would indicate that the Supreme Court would say the President has no choice but to answer questions.
And my guess is that whether he would have to do it through a redacted version or not, Special Counsel Mueller could lay before the Supreme Court how serious are the issues that he needs to review with the President to understand the President's state of mind.
Now, if there is pushback, the ultimate kind of conflict goes right to what you have been writing about and comes out this weekend and what you have been practicing in this regard for so many years. If the President's argument winds up being, look, you can't indict me. You can't get me for any of this stuff criminally anyway, so let's stop this game. Write your report. Say whatever you want to say about me. Say, I wouldn't comply, but you can't indict me so don't treat me like everybody else. I'm not. I'm the President. Where does that go?
[21:05:16] DELLINGER: Yes, I think, Chris, and I've said before that it is not as well settled as people think that a President cannot be indicted, at least as long as other proceedings are postponed during his term in office. But more to the point is the fact that this President's term ends in 25 months and the statute of limitations would not have run on these crimes. And if he's not re-elected, no one doubts that he can be indicted and prosecuted when his term his over.
Now, that step that ought to be taken reluctantly because we don't jail political opponents in this country but if the facts warranted it, that's what a president is facing when his term is over without any doubt. And that means that a president would have every incentive if a president really did engage in provable felonies of a serious order, a president would negotiate in a sense to resign from office in exchange for extreme leniency in the sentencing process.
CUOMO: This man gives no suggestion that he would ever do anything like that. You know, President Trump has shown at every turn in his life he will take the fight. I don't mean that in some false sense of bravado. I'm saying that he will push this situation and it takes us to what he might be facing.
Michael Cohen, you know, I'm not going to get into the legalities and, is it a big deal this FEC violation or is it not? I want to measure the veracity. Who is telling the truth? Who isn't? Right now, he set up against this former attorney. I want to play sound from both of them, and I want to ask you whom you believe, but more importantly why?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never directed him to do anything wrong. Whatever he did, he did on his own. He's a lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was trying to hide what you were doing, correct?
MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP FORMER LAWYER: Correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he knew it was wrong?
COHEN: Of course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Whom do you believe?
DELLINGER: Well, I have my own opinions. I think it's really hard to say. I mean, the President has certainly had incentives to -- and he's changed his story several times. But I think more to the point is I think the special counsel -- we have every indication that the campaign financial violations is every bit as serious as Neal Katyal was saying in the last hour. That may really be a side performance.
The big issue here is what may rank as one of the greatest crimes in American history, which is the Russian Federation's attempt to interfere in the Presidential election. And on that, I think the filings today that you referenced in the
Flynn sentencing raises a question of why did General Flynn lie when he could have told the truth about his conversation with Kislyak? It's as if he was hiding something much deeper, much more expansive than that. So I think at the end of the day we'll know what we know when we know it. But even these campaign finance matters may be relatively small. We have to ask about the lying, Chris. Why are people lying?
DELLINGER: What is the larger issue --
CUOMO: If they have nothing to hide, why lie?
DELLINGER: Why are they lying, right?
CUOMO: That's two different decisions, right? And again, I am not getting -- I'm not getting sideways with Walter Dellinger. The guy is a better lawyer than I have ever been on my best day even for a moment. But just so people understand at home, you really have two avenues of thought. One, well, Walter, I know you are coming after me. And I don't want you to come after me so lied just to protect myself, not because I have anything to hide, but I know you are coming after me. I know you are trying to frame me and make me part of something that I'm not, so I lied to protect myself. The other one goes to your suggestion, which is there is something else there. What is more likely at this point?
DELLINGER: I think what's likely is that there is something else there. Take the lie that General Flynn was talking about. He actually, we now know for a fact, spoke to the Russian Kislyak about the sanctions issue that Obama had imposed. Now, technically that might be a violation, but he was facing no jeopardy.
DELLINGER: But as a former head of a Defense Intelligence Agency and a general, he knew he was under severe risk of a five-year felony to lie before the FBI when they might well have -- as they did recordings of his conversations with the Russian ambassador. So why would he take that enormous risk? And he may know and may have told the special counsel's office about the degree of complicity with Russian involvement or some similar issue that made him think at that time at the very beginning of the administration that he did not dare tell the truth about a relatively inconsequential matter.
[21:10:00] CUOMO: You do have a metaphor effect here. You know, with the federal violations with Cohen and the President, the President says I didn't direct anybody. Some lawyer told him that that's a meaningful distinction. It's not the best advice. He didn't have to direct the action to be exposed to the responsibility for the action. But it is instructive of when the President says, well, I didn't direct it, so therefore I'm OK.
Does the same apply to a Flynn? Does the same apply to Manafort in his meetings with Russians? Does the same apply to the Trump Tower meeting to what was known about WikiLeaks where he says I didn't make any of this happen but I happened to have lied about what I knew. And we'll see. And as we get more meat on the bones, Mr. Dellinger you are one of the men I will have to call back for more of your take on this situation.
DELLINGER: Well, you're quite welcome, Chris. Thank you.
CUOMO: And I encourage everybody to read your piece out this weekend. We'll give directions on the site and we'll link it up for people as well. Thank you very much.
All right so General Flynn is sentenced to be -- is due to be sentenced on Tuesday, all right? We know that -- this is weird today what happened. That's why I'm trying to spell it out for you. Mueller says he's been great. He helped before others did. He helped in every way we wanted. That's why I'm asking for the low range of sentencing. But then he hammered him today. And it was such an interesting window into what Mr. Dellinger was just suggesting, which is, when you lie here, it is a problem. And they hammered Flynn for lying and they went out of their way to architect exactly how tied to the lie Flynn was. What does that mean for the future of other people that Mueller thinks is lying? Cuomo's Court is in session next.
[21:15:27] CUOMO: The late development tonight is that Mueller still wants to speak with the President, even after those written responses. At the same time, the special counsel is going back at General Flynn. Even if both sides agree, the former national security adviser shouldn't do much, if any, time. It's interesting.
Mueller said, "Flynn was committed to his false story. He's saying to the court, don't buy this. That he was set up. Don't buy that he meant to lie. He meant to lie. He lied a lot. We caught him. That's the real deal." Why is this important? Because it shows how Mueller and his team view lying. All right?
Nothing about the way the interview was arranged or conducted caused the defendant to make false statements. That's another quote from the filing. Mueller's own filing shows the FBI tactics didn't really sit that well at the time. "We know Sally Yates wasn't happy and some people's whose names are redacted are argued about the FBI's decision to interview Flynn."
And remember the FBI said, they didn't feel he was being deceptive. The special counsel says they may have thought that, but it didn't change the fact that Flynn was lying and admitted to it. It's all fodder for Cuomo's Court with Asha Rangappa and Jim Schultz.
Thanks to both of you for being here on a Friday.
Here's where I find it so interesting. This is the first window that we've had where we see how Mueller thinks about lying. Now, I took the time to go back and read his report on the NFL and how they dealt with Ray Rice because I wanted to see the same thing and I saw parallels, Asha, that it is all straight line reasoning.
Nope, you lied. I can show you lied. I don't care why you think you did it. I don't care how you think you're going to get around it. I may even need you. I may even think you deserve leniency, but if you lie, I'm going to call it out. He did it in the NFL report. He's doing it here with Flynn. Combine that with Mueller's new request to get more out of the President about his state of mind which almost has to be done in person, and what does that tell you?
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Chris, with the Flynn filing, I mean, I see more than Mueller just saying that I'm not going to tolerate lying. I mean, we know that from the fact he charged him with it. I think it's the absurdity of the claims that Flynn was making that he was lured into this interview and he didn't know he didn't a lawyer and, you know, all of this nonsense. You know, this is somebody who was appointed to be the national security adviser --
CUOMO: Right, savvy guy.
RANGAPPA: -- to the United States of America.
CUOMO: Intelligence guy.
RANGAPPA: Somebody who is supposed to see every threat far and wide, you know, to the United States, and he can't know -- he doesn't know to tell the truth to the FBI. I mean, my nine-year-old had a visit from officer friendly to her class and knows she doesn't lie to the police. I mean, this is not rocket science. And I think it is more that he just thinks this is an absurd claim to be made.
CUOMO: But it's interesting about the disposition and Jim, I want to layer on top of it what the President's response was in a tweet. Put this up. He kind of poked the bear with a tweet to the President. They gave General Flynn a great deal because they were embarrassed by the way he was treated. The FBI said he didn't lie and they over road the FBI. They want to scare everybody in making up stories that are not true by catching them in the smaller of statement. Sad.
Jim, if you're his lawyer. Don't you take his device and snap it in front of him and say, didn't you just hear that Mueller wants to talk to you, man? Don't you understand what's happening? Stop antagonizing the man with all the power!
JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: First up, I want to say I agree 100% with Asha on the fact that why would Flynn even make that argument?
CUOMO: Because he wanted more --
SCHULTZ: Why would leaders making that -- in fact, he already had leniency. You already had a deal. Like he is poking the bear and that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me. But also, the interesting thing is, in that memo, they typically don't comment on credibility in those types of memos, and they did here likely because the issue was raised. But I think that's important, and I find it more important on the issue of what are we going to see down the road and what is Mueller looking at, at this?
CUOMO: Yes, and so, no request --
SCHULTZ: OK, so down the road, he's going to see the President --
CUOMO: State of mind, hold on a second, let's do in context to the President.
CUOMO: State of mind, as you guys both know, Jim, I want to talk to you about why you did things and what was going through your head. We know two things, one, you are not a sidebar. I am not just asking you for information. I'm looking for you. Two, I can't get it in writing. You have to sit down with me. Do you agree or no?
SCHULTZ: So I think that the forecast is, he's going to see the President and his legal team is going to attack this one. We saw the tweet today. They're going to attack the credibility of Strzok and the problems that he had associated with this investigation. He's no longer on the legal team. And they're going to try to use that to use that to their advantage once the report hits. This memo today was forecasting that Mueller is going to say I supported the FBI.
This guy was a liar. We charged him. I mean, all the things you said, Chris, that are in line with the Rice investigation are there, and I think that's the purpose of this memo, to say we're here, meaning the Mueller team is here to support the FBI and the work that was done here and that any attack from the other side on the integrity of the investigation is just nonsense.
[21:20:38] And that's the argument that the Mueller team is preparing to make and forecasting with this memo today.
CUOMO: But, Asha, I'm just saying we need more, and we need state of mind. They're saying they want an interview. They're saying it's got to be sat down. We took your answers. It is not enough. What are the options? You can't put the President in a chair across from Mueller and his guys. You can't do it, not if you are his lawyer you can't do it.
RANGAPPA: Not if you are his lawyer. Not if you are his lawyer, if you are the FBI. You know, look, I think the former solicitor general that, you know, was just speaking to you said that this could ultimately get litigated in court because I think for obstruction of justice what this gets to, the heart of that crime, is whether the President acted with corrupt intent.
And I have said from the beginning that written answers are not going to cut it. You need to hear from the horse's mouth what was happening in your heart, what was going on in your head. And you want to hear those off the cuff answers. You want to read somebody's body language. You want to see what their, you know, it is much harder for people to get away with things when they are talking with you in person than when they have a team of lawyers who are crafting, you know, a very legalese statement. CUOMO: Yes.
RANGAPPA: So I'm not surprised at all, and I think that, you know, he'll challenge it and the courts will decide.
CUOMO: I'll tell you what, if we play this Michael Cohen sound, this is what my concern would be for the President, that I see a pattern that he's going to have to confront. Let's listen to Michael Cohen real quickly about the reality of how the Trump Organization worked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: Nothing at the Trump organization was ever done unless it was run through Mr. Trump. He directed me, as I said in my allocution and I said as well in the plea. He directed me to make the payments. He directed me to become involved in these matters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, what I would be concerned about, if I were Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani and the rest of that legal team, what would have me waking up in the middle of the night, don't answer that question is the idea that you have Michael Cohen saying everything that happened at the Trump organization went through Mr. Trump, including the payments for the women. He knew about them. He's lying about that.
Allen Weisselberg says that's true, it's also true with this foundation stuff that they're looking at with this other investigation. And so says David Pecker, his long-time friend. Yes, it's true. He said all this stuff. He knew about it. So you sit down and ask the President about it and he says I never directed it. I didn't really know anything about it. Now, they have them. And they said, by the way, is that the way you felt also about what Michael Flynn was doing with the ambassador, you never heard anything about it? You didn't know? No.
Never heard anything about it. Meanwhile, Michael Flynn has told them, yes, he knew. They knew I was going to talk to him. This was what we're going to try to do. Doesn't expose in the criminality in terms of acts but what he knew and what he lies about, there could be a chain of six or seven of those, Jim, that all stem from this, the President not acknowledging what Mueller can prove as true.
SCHULTZ: Regardless of what Cohen said today in that interview, if I were representing the President, there is no way I would agree for the President to sit down and interview. There is no lawyer is going to allow him to do that. Maybe they can limit the scope but now that they've have this agreement of written questions and maybe there are going to be more written questions, there is still no way I would allow the President to sit down. There is no incentive to, because it is a political process at the end of the day --
SCHULTZ: -- which is what I was getting at earlier, right? Mueller is forecasting that fight that he's going to support the FBI. The President is clearly forecasting that he's going to attack it and based upon the members of that team, and this is going to be a fight before Congress if Congress decides to take it up, and that's what's all being teed up here. So there is no incentive for the President to sit down in that interview and there is no way he should do it.
Now, as far as the Cohen interview goes, you know, you heard the President's interview where he says I did nothing wrong and you heard Michael Cohen said the President knew what he was doing was wrong. So, Chris, you talked about it the other night. Wrong is not a technical legal term.
SCHULTZ: And neither of these folks -- you know, no one -- I would have loved to have you ask the questions in that interview, Chris --
CUOMO: Me too.
SCHULTZ: -- because you would have asked the question, but did you advise him?
SCHULTZ: Did you advise the President about the legalities associated with the campaign finance laws? And you saw Lanny Davis' interview. He was unable to answer that question as well. You know, we got to get more facts and we're going to see more facts I'm sure from the southern district as well.
CUOMO: Asha, give me quick button?
RANGAPPA: Yeah. You know, there is video footage of President Trump from the John Edwards case commenting Greta Van Susteren at the time about the case. And very knowledgeably about what Edwards was being charged with and what his opinions were about it.
[21:25:15] So I don't think that he has any legitimate claim that he did not know what the law was when he is actually opining on somebody who was in, you know, the same cross hairs that he is in now.
CUOMO: This is one of those days where it's a window into the future. And I do believe this isn't going to come down to criminal prosecution. It's going to come into a political question and a political debate, and I foresee many people who criticize the President by saying he didn't even have the guts to sit down and tell the truth. He wouldn't sit down because he knows he's a liar. It's going to haunt him, but maybe less than sitting down and exposing himself to a violation of law, which would then dog him on top of it. Jim, Asha, you're great for being here on a Friday night. Thank you for making us better, have a great weekend.
All right. Let's take a step back. I believe in this big picture analysis because that's what it's about. I can't see that this is going to wind up in a single trial or prosecution, but look at all the different probes. The Trump campaign they're looking at where they're using shell organizations and proxies to get influence by paying for things. The transition team is being looked at in terms of what they were doing and why.
The Trump administration is being looked at on several different levels. You have cabinet members who get in the sideways with the regulations of how to expose to conduct themselves and also how people are doing business in the White House.
The family business is being looked at certainly on the state level. And then you have the emoluments issue about whether or not the Trump foundation is benefiting from his presidency then you have the personal charity about whether or not they were co-mingling funds or using a charity as a piggy bank. And now the inauguration committee, these explosive new allegations with Ivanka Trump right in the middle. What are those? What do they mean? I have a reporter who has been breaking the news next.
CUOMO: All right. As I just showed you before the break, there are a lot of investigations surrounding the President, six Trump related entities are now under current investigation. But the latest one focuses on the President's inaugural committee. Federal prosecutors are looking at how more than $100 million was raised for the inauguration and more importantly how it was spent.
[21:30:04] Tonight, we're learning how a lot of that money went right into the pockets of Trump family business. Here's what we know all right, starting from the top, investigative reporters at ProPublica have uncovered evidence that Ivanka Trump played the role and how hotels were booked for the inauguration and possibly inflated the price charged to the inaugural committee. All right?
E-mails, what do they show? Ivanka, a senior executive in the Trump organization was involved in setting the price for a Presidential ballroom and other spaces at $175,000 per day. I wanted to follow up on our conversation and express my concern. Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge.
Now, hold on, what does that mean? Does that mean they wanted to make sure they did it the right way or they were trying to get around doing it the right way? That's why he got investigate. She suggested a price of $85,000. And that's less than half of the Trump hotel's initial offer. Why?
Now, we don't know what price the committee ultimately paid, but if the Trump hotel was overcharging for profit, that's not just problematic in itself, but it could be violation of a tax law. All right.
Now, ProPublica also reports that Rick Gates, you remember him the former Trump campaign aid now cooperating with Mueller in connection to the Manafort situation, he asked some vendors to take payments directly from donors rather than through the committee. Why? He told vendors, he wanted to reduce the publicly reported sum ultimately raised, and that raised red flags. Why would he do that? To erase where committee spending was doing? That's also problematic. What we know for sure, the Trump inaugural committee received roughly
$107 million from donors, but we still don't know who must of those donors are. $103 million of that money was also spent. Only 61,000 have been publicly accounted for. That leaves us wondering where the other $42 million go?
All right, President Trump netted far more money than his predecessors, more than double the amount raised in 2009, which was a record at the time. And yet Trump had far fewer events. He had just three inaugural balls versus the 10 held by Obama and a third of the staff and a quarter of the events held by Bush in his second inauguration.
So how do all these pieces connect? What do they wind up indicating about how they did the business of politics? Does it lead to the President directly? Remember Michael Cohen. Nothing happens at the Trump org unless Mr. Trump knows about it. I'm going to talk to one of the investigators who uncovered all of this next.
[21:35:04] CUOMO: $107 million, we know that's how much Trump's inaugural committee raised, and we know where a lot of money was spent, but not all of it. And to whom it was given? We know all of that either. ProPublica today crack part of the mystery and indications are a good chunk of it went to the Trump org. Is that bad? Not necessarily, but it raises question. Ilya Marritz, co-broke the story. He joins me now.
ILYA MARRITZ, CO-HOST, TRUMP, INC.: Good to see you. Good to be here.
CUOMO: Thanks for coming in on a Friday. Let's do this Socratically.
CUOMO: You will be helpful to the audience, OK.
CUOMO: Why do I care? Everybody spends a lot of money. They get from all these difference places. They throw their parties. What makes this any different?
MARRITZ: Sure, absolutely. Well, every Presidential inauguration is potentially an occasion where rich people can try to buy influence with the new incoming administration. And what previous inaugural planners have told me is they placed limits on who can give or how much they can give, maybe restricting corporate gifts or the size of gifts. This inauguration did it differently. They said we're not going to have those restrictions. We're just going to throw, we're going to raise as much money as we can and throw the best party that we can. What we saw instead was they raised certainly the most money of any inauguration.
The party was actually somewhat smaller than some of the other parties. We can discuss the reasons why. But ultimately what we learned and this was actually kind of hanging out in plain sight, but until we had these e-mails we didn't know it definitively is that this nonprofit tax except committee founded to support and celebrate the power of the new President was in fact lining the pockets of the new President. That's just a stunning fact pattern.
CUOMO: So two ways to look at it. One is, well, they should have not done that. They should picked all hotels and venues that weren't his to dismiss any semblance of impropriety, right?
CUOMO: -- which is an ethical standard. The other is guys in the hotel business. What you think was going to happen? Of course they would use their venues. That's not illegal. Is that true? Is it the right thing to do?
MARRITZ: Well, certainly illustrates what's problematic about this whole pattern. Not only do we have a President having a hotel in the city where he has just become president, his landlord on that hotel is actually the U.S. federal government.
MARRITZ: Trump doesn't own the building. It is the U.S. government that owns the building. This is just an object lesson in the unresolved conflicts of interest.
CUOMO: Which is why you have emoluments suit that a couple of states that are bringing --
CUOMO: -- saying that people who come to do business with the government wind up putting money into Trump's pocket by staying at his places et cetera. And they want to know more. They're taking it into litigation.
CUOMO: Do you see this as an extension of that?
MARRITZ: Well, so tax experts tell us, non-profit tax experts tell us there is a potential violation of tax law here. If the hotel was paid above market rate and it might be debatable what's market rate during a presidential inauguration --
CUOMO: We may call -- by the way, I didn't use the reporting because several hotels didn't get back to my team, and it was a pretty broad range.
MARRITZ: Oh yes.
CUOMO: So it is hard to know, $800,000, $400,000 $120,000. So how do you gauge what's right and what's market? MARRITZ: So if a related party charged above market rate per IRS
determination -- I don't know how they determine that -- that would be a violation of tax law. And that's just another dimension to this that we had not thought of when we started reporting this story.
CUOMO: Concern with Ivanka Trump or no?
MARRITZ: Well, we didn't know that Ivanka Trump was in the middle of this until this e-mail surfaced. I think what's quite interesting about these e-mails is Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the planner who is also on these e-mails earlier this year, she became -- she got a lot of scrutiny for the role that she played in the inauguration. She was the largest contractor. What we see here is actually the opposite story. We see Stephanie Winston Wolkoff saying you are charging too much. This rate should be half of that or maybe less and please keep in mind we are throwing a party to celebrate your father's ascendancy to the presidentcy of the United States. It's going to come out at some point.
CUOMO: What do you think the next phases? What do you want to know? What's the next step?
MARRITZ: Well, I want to know about the investigation of that Times and the Wall Street Journal revealed by federal prosecutors looking into this. Look, we already have one example of foreign money coming into the inauguration through a straw donor, was a Ukrainian member of parliament, Sam Patten, who facilitated that pleaded guilty earlier this year to facilitating that gift. That was just $50,000. Maybe it was a one off. Maybe there is more for the Times reporting. It seems like prosecutors believe that there could be more. I want to know about it.
CUOMO: And you say Ukraine, and it's like, because that takes you to Manafort and what he was doing to Ukraine and what Russian guys and why was he still meeting with Kilimnik and why was he still meeting with the administration. There is a lot of questions. So let's do this. I'm not one and done on this.
MARRITZ: All right, great.
CUOMO: So let me know. We'll stay in contact in terms of what calls we can make, what calls you are making. Let's see what truth we can get.
CUOMO: All right, Ilya, thank you very much.
MARRITZ: Thank you very much.
CUOMO: Ilya Marritz, ProPublica they are on this. We will be as well. So the President is battling a ton of investigations. Frankly, we have never seen anything like it. And all why this is going, he has got to figure out how to do the business of government.
[21:40:01] Still searching for a chief of staff kind of, kind of somebody got the job today, but is called acting. But the reporting is it is his to lose. Well, then why didn't you give it to him? What's going on? What's going on? We will take you a step deeper into this next.
CUOMO: All right. Mick Mulvaney has accepted Washington's most unwanted job, chief of staff. But only on a temporary bases odd. President Trump tweeted after this, making the announcement, for the record there were many people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M. will do a great job.
Well, then why he didn't give to him full? Why is he only acting? And isn't it sad that every time the President of the United States says something, you have to think, is this true? Isn't that sad? But that's why where we are. And it's because we call it out. It's because we have to because he's proven to be telling things that aren't true so often.
Let's debate. Bakari Sellers and Niger Innis.
Niger, Mick Mulvaney, I know him. I've interviewed him. I have worked around him in terms of getting a sense of who he is. What he is about. Smart, confident. Why acting and not just go in and give it to him. The word is he wanted this job, he's wanted for some time.
NIGER INNIS, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: You let that one adjective, which I'm sure you will agree with me on. He's very tough.
INNIS: He knows the budget. He knows the budget like the back of his hand.
CUOMO: Tough, smart, fair.
INNIS: And absolutely. And I think that Mick is an outstanding choice. He's young, he is energetic. And I think the President is sending a signal that he's bringing in a wartime consigliere.
CUOMO: Why only acting?
INNIS: And what is the war going to be? Pardon?
CUOMO: Why only acting?
INNIS: I think that's how the President rolls. I think the President wants to make sure that there's a good --
CUOMO: Just said he wouldn't do acting. He was loathe to acting just a week ago.
INNIS: The President has the prerogative of changing his mind when he wants to. And I think he wants to make sure that the chemistry is good and that things work out. But I think it's Mick's job if he wants it permanently or not and I think he will get it permanently.
And I think the signal as I said, he's picking a wartime consigliere, I think because the President knows that most of these investigations as you talked about in the previous segment, not necessarily all of them, but most of these numerous investigations, be it private, be it the New York state government, be it the federal government under Mueller, most of them, not necessarily all of them are partisan in nature. They are focused on doing one thing and one thing only, which is undermining the political strength of this President.
CUOMO: That is speculation and your opinion, but you are welcome to it on the show.
Bakari, it is yours to counter.
[21:45:02] BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, I know Mick Mulvaney very well. I know Mick Mulvaney better than most. In fact, we both got elected to the South Carolina State House of Representatives together in 2006. And his rise, as you said, he's very educated, very talented. I mean, he went to Georgetown University of North Carolina. His rise was New York and South Carolina. He was in the House for two years, then the State Senate for two years.
Then did something no one thought he could do, which was bit John Sprat for the United States Congress in 2010. And so he's very capable. One of the other adjectives I would use probably to describe Mick is draconian, many of the things he wanted to do in the budget office, he found himself in the battle, especially when it comes to Medicaid and things of that nature with --
CUOMO: Yes, fair point. His politics are under scrutiny. But I was describing him more from a personal side of how he --
SELLERS: No, I agree with it. I wholeheartedly agree with it. In fact, Mick -- my democratic friends will get mad at me. But he's a great husband, a great father. He's a decent human being, and I think we need more of that in the White House and around the President.
However, I think decency, common sense, good nature, draconian policies, we could talk about his politics all we want, we can set that aside. I don't really think it matters. And you can say that he is bringing in this war-time whatever you want to call him. It don't matter. I mean, to be completely honest, all three of us up here know that Donald Trump is Donald Trump's chief of staff. So no one is going to manage the unmanageable. This is the job that nobody want it but if the choices are probably like Dennis Rodman and Roy Moore, let's have Mick Mulvaney.
Nobody wanted this job. It's the most important staff job in the entire world and you couldn't find anybody to want it. And so Mick Mulvaney will do it just for Donald Trump. He is capable. He is smart, but he ain't going to change nothing.
CUOMO: I got tell you, Niger, if I were really going into -- if I were really going into the Shazam, I think I might want Dennis Rodman with me of those choices. That guy is all in and he will go for broke.
Now, that's what the President is going to need. And there is no secret as to why guys didn't want this. You can get exposed and embarrassed in this job because we just saw with General John Kelly, disciplinarian, they thought he'd give structure it's not going to happen. This man is going to say what he wants. He is going to tweet what he wants when he wants. Not just because he is the President, because he's petulant. And that's going to expose whosever in the job to have to own his mistakes. That's a tough task.
INNIS: Look, I think General Kelly did a fantastic job. I do believe that he brought a sense of order in making the trains run on time, if you will. And there is no doubt that President Trump is a hand-on President. I actually agree with my colleague here that I'm debating, that he is a hand-on guy that is de facto his own chief of staff. I think that is why the position is giving to make temporarily because he wants to make sure the chemistry works well.
I think the fundamental difference him and Kelly, though is that where Kelly was somewhat ambiguous politically, I think he might have even been a registered Democrat at one time, Mick Mulvaney is not only a Republican, he is a Conservative Republican. You could say he comes from the freedom Caucus wing. My friend, Bakari says that he's draconian. Some of us say he is a fiscal hawk. And it is the type of battle -- because look, what we saw recently --
CUOMO: It is going to get sideways with the President, Niger.
CUOMO: It is going to get sideways with the President because the President knows he's put his head out there saying he was going to say away from entitlements. And Mulvaney is never liked that idea. He did all he could in the budge office to make it a reality to take and he worked in Congress to take that and now he's got problems. He's going to have problems. He had not going to do that --
INNIS: At the end of the day, the President is going to be the one that makes the choice, but it will be good to have Mick on his shoulder to make sure that he does not let entitlements --
CUOMO: I got you. Bakari?
SELLERS: Nobody -- I mean, let's back up a little bit. Let's back this train up. I mean, Mick Mulvaney was not the President's first choice that was Nick Ayers. He wasn't the President's second or third choice. We know Chris Christie was one of those. It was probably Jared Kushner and people had to fight him from that.
But what Mick Mulvaney does have over those other individuals is that he is going to be relatively unassuming in this White House. Can you imagine a Donald Trump presidency with a Chris Christie chief of staff? You know, when you had these two alpha males, these bulls in China shops, for lack of a better term, that would have been amazing television.
I'm not afraid of Mick Mulvaney being able to implement or push through his policies from the chief of staff position in this White House. In fact, I think Mick Mulvaney is the one who wanted the acting title because right now to be completely honest it seems as if every job in Washington, D.C., belongs to either Mick Mulvaney or Jared Kushner. They have these vast-wide ranging portfolios. But Mick Mulvaney will keep his head down. You will not read about him in the newspapers. He's very, very smart and he's very, very dangerous.
And so I think that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have an admirable foe on the other side in Mick Mulvaney because he understands the politics, he understands fiscal concerns and constraints. He is also a very shrewd and ambitious but everybody knows that this is Donald Trump's game. And I feel bad for Mick Mulvaney because I actually feel by taking this job on unless he's goes back to OMB. He's going to be back in South Carolina extremely quickly because I don't think anybody can succeed as being Donald Trump's chief of staff. You either go to jail, or you get burned out.
[21:50:13] CUOMO: I mean look it hasn't gone well for people in this White House. The idea of saying, well, he's got his own management style, that's a very, very pleasant spin of chaos. We've never seen attrition like this. We've never seen the poor choices that we've seen in staffing, that we've seen for this. And we've never seen the lack of discipline that's happening here.
INNIS: And we've never seen the partisan unprecedented investigations that lead nowhere thus far -- I mean, look, we'll wait to see what's --
SELLERS: But that's not true. That's not true.
INNIS: Mr. Adam Schiff --
SELLERS: That's not true. That's not true, though.
INNIS: -- which is Russian collusion on the part of President Trump, OK?
SELLERS: OK, but you have to --
INNIS: Not on the part of some staffer 10 years ago, but on the part of President Trump in collusion, nothing is there. Where's the Boca Burger.
CUOMO: All right, Niger, I hear your point. Bakari, make your follow and then we'll go.
SELLERS: If you scream, it doesn't make it correct. But the point is you had national security adviser --
INNIS: I just didn't want to be interrupted, Bakari.
SELLERS: You were wrong.
CUOMO: All right. All right. Button it up.
SELLERS: But you had the national security adviser, who has been indicted and pled guilty. You have his personal lawyer. You have the chairman of the campaign, the deputy chairman of the campaign. So to say these investigations are not worth anything is flat-out false. But what I will tell you this, is that Mick Mulvaney is ethically sound. I disagree with all his politics, but he's ethically sound. That's something you can not necessarily say in this White House. And what Chris was saying on his show is important. This is the same White House that hired Omarosa. And so, yes, Mick Mulvaney is definitely a step up.
CUOMO: All right. Bakari, Niger, well argued and appreciated. Have a good weekend. I'll have you back. You know that.
SELLERS: You too.
CUOMO: All right. I want to turn to a tragedy at the border. You know, tragedy is not even the right word. Finding out about the death of this little girl is just as sickening as sickening gets because it's a reflection of a situation that those in power, they're all ignoring it. They're fighting battles to make you pretend they care, and this little girl's death is proof they don't. I have new information about what happened and didn't happen, and more importantly, the truth about what it means, next.
[21:56:04] CUOMO: A seven-year-old girl named Jakelin came with her father from Guatemala, crossed illegally over the southern border, and she's now dead. I can tell you the following from sources close to the situation. Jakelin and her father were not abused, at least not by the men and women working for the U.S. The people who organized these new massive caravans, often on false pretenses, they need to be called out and investigated. They're making false promises of an ease of entry that leads people with misconceptions into bad situations.
Here's what I learned. This little girl and her father were part of 163 who crossed at night, about 9:15 p.m. local time, in one of the most remote parts of the border hours from anywhere. When they were contacted, the father did not say his daughter was in distress, and by the accounts of my sources, she was not at that time. They were given food and water. I know there are reports out there that they were not. I'm told that's not true.
Now, CBP, Customs and Border Protection, has one 50-passenger bus for that entire area. They filled it with unaccompanied minors. Jakelin and her father were on the second trip of that bus. One bus. Why? Because the system is over capacity. And these new larger caravans are exposing and exploiting that.
On the long ride to processing, the father noticed Jakelin was having trouble breathing. The officers called the head for EMT support. They were still far away. It was there when they arrived. The girl was rushed to the hospital. It took time because they were still far.
CBP let the father go with the daughter to the hospital. That's not what the law would suggest, right? He was under arrest. But it was the right thing to do. It is illegal to cross. We know that. But humanity is part of the job on the border. We know that, and he needed to be there, and he was. She didn't make it. She was revived more than once, and her father was with her. This is terrible. It's just terrible. It hurts. It hurts because we're allowing it to happen.
Don't demonize people working on the border with false allegations. Don't demonize those desperate enough to do something like this father did for his daughter from Guatemala.
Walls matter. But this stair-down between the Presidents and the Democrats is deadly distraction. It's not a single-issue problem. We're not a wall away from safety. This system is killing people. The rules allow a flow that the agencies cannot handle. There is desperation on both sides of this. Change is a must.
We will see more of this. I hate to say that. I am not an alarmist. God forbid I'm right, but there's no other reasonable conclusion. If you can't accommodate the flow and people are desperate enough to come any way they can, you're going to have more extreme situations.
We can do better. You don't have to let in more people to treat those who apply with humanity and to have a system that has rules that correspond to the resources need. Judges, case workers, accommodations, if you build the wall but you don't build out the other areas, you're not going to be fixing, not really.
This little girl is gone, and there is no fixing that. And you can blame it away if you want, but that's not addressing the true need. We can do things to make sure it doesn't happen this way again, and the answer isn't demonizing desperation, demonizing the CBP. They're not storm troopers.
We know the facts of the situation. And it is outrageous, but there's no reason to manufacture wrongdoing. The reality is troubling enough, and nothing's being done. Shut down for a wall? That's posing. The problems are known. The crisis of large groups is only growing. Our leaders won't address it. That Oval Office show was just that. It all rings hollow. If they don't address the need, their concern for this girl is hollow.
Thank you for watching us tonight. CNN Special Report "Presidents Under Fire: The History of Impeachment" starts now.