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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Mueller Files Evidence of Manafort Lying to Investigators; "New York Times:" Shutdown's Economic Damage Could End Growth. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 15, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And that's it for us. The news continues I want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Very strong. Very strong, my high calorie comrade, I appreciate it. Thank you Anderson. Nice outfit.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME. Robert Mueller just dropped a new filing. Evidence of Paul Manafort's lies after agreeing to cooperate. Cuomo's Court on what it confirms, what it conceals, and what we can read between the redactions. And all eyes were fixed on one man in Washington today, the man who could soon take change of the Mueller probe.

Will Bill Barr protect the President who tapped him for the job or would he protect the integrity of the special counsel's probe? Did his answer satisfy anxious Democrats? We'll going to go one-on-one with a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, next.

And the House stood as one today against Steve King. In fact, even the congressman himself threw in a vote to condemn his own racist remarks. But where is the President? Our closing today is about a deepening silence. What do you say? Let's get after it.

Look at the size of this baby. All right, another fact filing filled with reasons that the Mueller team believes Manafort was up to no good while heading up to the Trump campaign. Not just before. Not in his past life but then.

Another bunch of reductions, no question about it sends the unsettled message that this information is sensitive and that the investigation is not over. It comes on the same day that Manafort's partner Rick Gates had his sentencing delayed for at least the last couple of months and on the same day of course President Trump's attorney general picked, field in questions about the special counsel, he may soon oversee. If the President was watching, he might not have liked some of his answers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Do you trust him to be fair to the President and the country as a whole?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Yes. GRAHAM: When his report comes to you, will you share it with us as

much as possible?

BARR: Consistent with regulations and the law, yes.

GRAHAM: Do you believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt against anybody?

BARR: I don't. I don't believe Mr. Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: All right. So fair to Mueller but sandwiched in the miller there that consistent with the laws about transparency, it's a red flag. No matter your partisan stripe, Mr. Barr did not fully commit to publicly releasing the full Mueller report. Senate Judiciary Committee member, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island was there today. He is a former state A.G. and a former U.S. attorney. Perfect get for tonight.

Senator, thank you for joining us.

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: It's good to be with you.

CUOMO: Well, another day. Another filing by Mueller. This one thickening out their basis of proof for the allegations they've made against Paul Manafort. This comes from Jeffrey Weiland, member of the team. It's 31 pages, very heavily redacted, but clearly they have a lot of some in substance that they believe backs up their allegations.

WHITEHOUSE: Correct. And I think one of the conclusions that one might draw from just the extent of the redacted information is that despite a certain amount of chatter in the press about how this is an investigation that's coming to its end and that it's wrapping up and all of that, there seems to be an awful lot going on and one reason you redact thing is so that people who are under investigation don't know what you're saying about them and if you mix that in with the Rick Gates investigation, statement, that he is still cooperating in multiple on going criminal investigations, I think it suggests what at least I believe which is that Mueller investigation is dragging along and that there's no immediate insight.

CUOMO: Right. And for people just catching up for the news of the day, Gates' sentencing has been delayed at least two months.

WHITEHOUSE: Yes.

CUOMO: And it's an interesting consequence that this declaration comes out with the proof against Manafort the same day they push off his partner's sentencing. Another consequence, what do you make of the fact that the places that the Trump campaign targeted online wound up becoming -- being very similar to where the Russian troll farms targeted online?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, it could be consequence, could be coordination, could be collusion. We don't have enough information to be seen. I think the other thing worth looking at and that I'm waiting for, show the draft in the Mueller investigation is the plank in the Republican Party platform for lethal aid to the Ukrainian army against the Russians.

[21:05:04] And the change that Manafort made as Trump's political director through the Republican Party platform against the wishes of a lot of hawkish Republicans and it seems improbable to me that that changed pro-Russia in the party platform by Manafort would not be, should we say, a matter for Mueller's scrutiny. So until some shoe has dropped on that, I think there's another open threat and again too early to say that this investigation is coming to a conclusion.

CUOMO: And look, just for people haven't taking the time to Google you yet, you were a U.S. attorney. You were a state attorney general. You understand prosecutions and how cases were made. The idea that Manafort had nothing to do with changing the platform and that it was only done because the language was too strong and it was untraditional for any party platform. You don't buy that as a rational?

WHITEHOUSE: I don't think it's credible. I think Paul Manafort is one of the more transactional people on the planet. And the idea that this was done with no quid pro quo seems highly, highly, highly improbable and because it pushed against strong, strong Republican pressure from folks like John McCain, the previous presidential candidate that we need to up our game for the Ukrainian army against the Russian little green men. It seems improbable that there wasn't some very significant kind of pressure to make that happen.

CUOMO: The problem with these allegations against Manafort is that it was hard for him to do it alone. We know a party platform wasn't changed by one person, their committees and votes and delegates and all of that and he had to get the polling data from somewhere. Somebody had to know he had it and it leads to who knew what and when. Is that your sensitivity here?

WHITEHOUSE: I think that's very much the case. We're seeing kind of individual data points in a lot of these charges, in a lot of these pleadings and how they intersect together and what the conversations behind them were. That's the stuff out of which collusion gets drawn.

CUOMO: And look, I mean, you know this very well but for people learning about this for the first time, 31 pages a declaration on such a narrow scope of allegations is a lot. And there's a lot of time spent in here, a lot of it is blackout, redacted but it's about his meetings, his transactions during the campaign not just his funny money business before.

WHITEHOUSE: Correct.

CUOMO: All right. So now let's shift to the other big topic of the day. What did you think of William Barr?

WHITEHOUSE: Well, I though he did a very good job. In some respects he was gruff and candid and he said some wonderful things about Bob Mueller. I think he expressed a very clear determination to protect the Mueller investigation, denied that it could be a witch hunt if it had Bob Mueller in charge, expressed its high personal confidence in Bob Mueller, so that whole area of inquiry seemed to go very much in his direction.

The difficult areas were, would he release the Mueller report? He was very cagey about what he would release and when. There are concerns about executive privilege and how much the President would assert executive privilege over the Mueller report and what he might then do to push back on it. And then he said he would not likely tried to question the existing precedent within the Department of Justice that a sitting President can't be indicted by the Department of Justice.

So it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you're the Department of Justice and you say you can indict a president because of this policy, then a president never gets indicted and the proposition that you can't indict a sitting president never gets tested. So we've got to look at ways to try to get that question before a court so that it can be determined where questions of law get determined in the United States of America and that's in the court and not in the upper offices of the Department of Justice.

CUOMO: A quick on that. Does your urgency insensitivity to this issue betray a sense that you think this President should be indicted?

WHITEHOUSE: I think that if there are crimes that he has committed, he should be indicted. I do not at all subscribe to the OLC theory that a president can't be indicted. I think that the Office of Legal Council and Department of Justice bends over backwards to take the most executive branch friendly position that it possibly can. But I think a court taking a look at this would say, no, no, no, no, no.

And if you look at the Nixon precedents and others, they don't align with a president not being answerable to the public in this way. And it would create a terrible situation. You've got a president who the public knows is the subject of criminal investigation may very well be involved in criminal activity and you don't get a resolution of that question, you don't get pressure on him to answer questions and get out. That doesn't seem like an appropriate way to deal with it.

[21:10:04] CUOMO: Based on what you know right now, do you think you could bring a case against this President?

WHITEHOUSE: I would want to know a lot more. I'm at the stage based on what I do know that I would be sitting down with the agents and say, OK, we need to run down this, we need to run down that. We need to pin down some things before we go. We are certainly in a mode I believe of moving toward indictment and charges of the President. But I do not believe based on what I know, Mueller may know more, that we're at the stage of actually being able to make the charge.

CUOMO: Do you think it's fair to say at this point, there has been no real proof of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interferers?

WHITEHOUSE: I would not say that. I would say there has been no direct proof. I think that there's a lot circumstantial evidence that has piled up that one perhaps could take to a jury, but as a prosecutor carrying the burden of persuasion with reasonable doubt on the defendant's side. I'd want to keep investigating and try to get some really direct evidence of that.

CUOMO: Do you believe he needs to recuse himself from overseeing the investigation if he were to get the job?

WHITEHOUSE: At this point, I think yes. I think he has the chance to dispel that with a clear, factual, very thorough explanation of how that memo is prepared and with whose participation and when. Layout the time line exactly. Make sure it's completely cleared, full open kimono and then maybe he could stand back from recusing himself. But while there are still questions, I think the safer bet is recusal.

CUOMO: And the real safe bet is that he would never do it if he gets in there and gets the office. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, thank you so much for your perspective.

WHITEHOUSE: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: There's two big stories today. We'll have you back soon.

WHITEHOUSE: Great, thanks.

CUOMO: All right. So here's the question, who should be worried about this nominee? We're going to lay it out. His position, his disposition. Good or bad for the President? The Democrats? Mueller? We'll going to set the bar for whom this new A.G. would help and hurt in the partisan battleground he's about to enter, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:15:38] CUOMO: All right, let's see how Bill Barr's answers match up to the President's wish list. Barr did not say Mueller's report should be fully public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: Mueller is supposed to do a summary report of his prosecutive and his declination decisions and that they will be handled as a confidential document.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: But he also said Trump's lawyers won't get to make corrections and that the whole idea is to get as much information to you as possible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: My goal and intent is to get as much information out as I can consistent with the regulations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Clearly, the President would not have nominated Barr if he said he might recuse himself from the Mueller probe once bitten you get shy of a second sessions. And Barr said as much. He also defended his memo about the obstruction part of the probe saying going after a President for bad intent could, "essentially paralyze the government." He was critical of James Comey but didn't go as far as Trump does in attacking the man.

He also warned about focusing too much on Russia. And while he sees no change or a reason to change the policy preventing a president from being indicted, he opened the door to POTUS being subpoenaed. He said dangling pardons and exchange for keeping quiet flat out illegal. And maybe the biggest thing he said today is that he is loyal to the job and to the laws he discharges. Not to any person.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: I am not going to do anything that I think is wrong. And I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: And what he clearly thinks is wrong is bad mouthing Bob Mueller. Barr was all about Bob. Going assessments of the man and the role and the need for him to be left alone to finish the probe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: Mueller. You say you've known Mueller a long time but you say you have a close relationship with Mr. Mueller.

BARR: I would say we were good friends.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Barr likes Mueller and thinks you should get to learn from his findings. But not in a rush to change the laws protecting the President and not the biggest fan of investigating him. The swing factor on this plus/minus his ridged sense of independence. He said it many times and was thoughtful about the why in terms of what he said. He has no political aspirations, he says, and is ready to leave if he is compromised. That is what matters most.

Lots of news between Barr's testimony and this Mueller filing. Let's sort out what matters and why. Cuomo's Court is in session, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:22:08] CUOMO: New filing this evening, from Mueller's team are giving more insight into the focus of the special counsel's investigation and what's he's got against President Trump's one time campaign chairman Paul Manafort. It's a 31-page memo, OK? It's a declaration from one of Mueller's agents. It has as an appendix, 157 pages of exhibits, OK? And these are all the contracts and different interviews that back up what's in these 31-pages. Manafort has allegedly lied to federal prosecutors after agreeing to cooperate. What about his contacts with Konstantin Kilimnik, Kilimnik it's a big deal for the prosecutor. He is the subject of different parts of this investigation.

Manafort's former business associate has suspected ties to Russian intelligence. His contacts with Trump officials after he was indicted. This $125,000 wired transfer and statements about other DOJ investigations. Why all the lies? And what more is Mueller planning to layout? Obviously something that's why we got all these redactions.

Let's get some better minds on it. Cuomo's Court is in session. Renato Mariotti and Jim Schultz. Good to have you both here.

All right. Does everybody agree that redactions mean there is more to come and maybe a touch of sensitive information for national security? So let's talk about what this means and doesn't mean to each of you.

Renato, they spent time in here about the money that owe, the money that he needed to pay and when he was willing to do to pay it off, plenty of that. But, also plenty of time spent about what he was doing while he was campaign chairman and how he lied about it. What do you read between the redactions?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well look, first of all there's got to be some reason why Manafort felt the need the need to lie repeatedly to Mueller and his team. That's not good for Manafort and potentially to people he was working with. As you point out he's also got a lot of contact, it appears with Konstantin Kilimnik, the former Russian intelligence officer. Also not a good thing for Manafort.

And I agree with you Chris, this looks to me like there's a lot more to come, there's a lot more that we don't know than what we do know about Mr. Manafort and what he's under investigation for.

CUOMO: Jim, what gives you comfort in all of this?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Not much, I mean this is -- this is a real issue and I agree with most of what Renato said here. I mean we don't know what's coming, but we do know that they're looking in the other issues. And the fact that Manafort was having those discussions with Kilimnik are certainly disturbing and troubling.

So I think there's a lot to come as it relates to Manafort. His lawyers are between a rock and a hard place here. They certainly don't want to admit that he lied but at the same time, they probably don't want a full fledge hearing, to flush that out either. And government is looking to the court to avoid this playground. This is a big problem for Paul Manafort.

CUOMO: To -- well more than Manafort, it's for the campaign and also. Here's why. Two coincidences. The first one, Manafort is talking to his buddies about what they want in terms of Soviet-U.S. relation, same time there about that the party platform is being changed. The Republican convention we don't know that Manafort directed it but we do know that the Trump team made sure that the platform was changed in a way that was better for the Russian perspective. How troubling is that to you, Renato? [21:25:28] MARIOTTI: It's really troubling, because potentially it means that there is a policy shift by a major party nominee and the question was and I think is, whether or not that's done in exchange for something a value, legally that's what the issue is. Whether or not there are some sort of quid pro quo, we don't have evidence as to that.

CUOMO: For it to be a crime.

MARIOTTI: For it to be a crime.

CUOMO: My bar (ph) is never a crime. It's just about what was wrong, what should you not have done and who knew. But I hear you about it being a felony. Second piece of coincidence here, the places that much of the trolling that was engineered by Russians, the places and the people that they targeted, Jimmy, were some of the same places and people that internal polling for the Trump campaign said he should focus on. Coincidence or troubling?

SCHULTZ: Look, they saw the -- clearly they saw the polling. And that is troubling that it went there.

CUOMO: Who they?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Did it actually go back to the Russian trolls? Did this information that Manafort --

SCHULTZ: Who knows? Who knows?

CUOMO: -- handed out get that far?

SCHULTZ: If it did, absolutely disturbing if it did and problematic if it did.

CUOMO: Coordination by the campaign?

SCHULTZ: It's important to try to determine, was Manafort acting on his own. Was he acting outside the scope of his role as campaign chairman? What was he paying off all debts? We don't know the answers to any of these questions. One thing we do know is he hasn't been charged with conspiracy --

CUOMO: True.

SCHULTZ: -- relating to any of this. Which would also lead to the conclusion that they're -- if he were charged with that, there could be then some speculation that there were other campaign or the campaign itself was involved. I don't think we're ready to take that leap at this point.

CUOMO: True, but it's about what questions are right to be asking right now. I think we all agree that none of this is wild speculation. The last one, you guys are not politicians. Thank God for you guys Renato's testing the water a little bit. I warn you against it. Here is a question, though that crosses over on both. The idea of them trying to relax sanctions in the White House on one of the Russians who is part of this investigation, who has connections to Manafort. Jim, why do you do that now? If you're this White House?

SCHULTZ: Look, I'm sure there's -- there is a process in place for all of that. So, to say that's just one group of individuals in the White House, you know, there's a national security team that looks into these issues. So, I think --

CUOMO: But why do it?

SCHULTZ: -- it's way to pretty sure.

CUOMO: Why reduce the sanctions on any Russian right now during the probe?

SCHULTZ: I'm not a for -- look, they're doing things in the interest -- we have to presume that they're doing things in the interest of the country in terms of the administration actions. They're not doing things based upon the probe and the optics associated with the probe. You would hope -- you would hope these decisions are being made appropriately and there's been no indication that they haven't been made appropriately.

CUOMO: And Renato, what I would argue is there has only been indications that this President has done things because of this probe. How he felt about Comey, how he feels about people who go before it, how he feels about the people who are investigating it. It's all about his best interests with the probe. So why would anyone who wants to help the President try to push to reduce sanctions on a Russian right now? You just had the Senate, knock it down.

MARIOTTI: In a question, we have 57 senators bipartisan rebuke of that move Chris. And it doesn't, as an American it doesn't make much sense to me given that the Russia attacked us recently. Frankly some of the words and the actions that have come out of the administration at times have been appeared too friendly to a nation that just attacked us. So, it's a concern to me. Maybe as Jim said, there are some explanations for, but I think the American people deserves to know what that explanation is.

CUOMO: So many crazy questions. Jim, I'm going to pull hair out, you and I are going to look like twins inside of two weeks.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for being on the show. Appreciate your genius as always.

So, this question, it's a real question, is the White House playing nice with Putin and his puppets for bad reason? Should the President take one for the workers and reopen the government and the shutdown? Should he say something about Steve King? Reaction to all of this from a man who was in the middle of the last presidential election and knows the issues, Ohio Governor John Kasich, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [21:32:57] CUOMO: Once again, new information on our watch. In the last hour "The New York Times" reports the White House's own economists are now acknowledging the shutdown's economic impact may be double previous estimates. The damage that's piling up is putting the U.S. economy at a risk of contraction.

Former Ohio Governor John Kasich, CNN's newest senior political commentator joins me now. Welcome to the team.

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

CUOMO: We are benefited by your presence.

KASICH: Just so we can deal with the elephant in the room. People want to know, what he's doing. Look, as you know Chris, I had many years of experience. It's my job to try to explain things to people and I'm not going to explain them from any particular perspective. Just what I think. I'm going to be like an umpire calling balls and strikes. And that's what I've always been about my whole career.

Nobody is going to pressure me, no one is going to talk beyond into anything. And by the way this is not me promoting anything including myself, this is for me to do a job for CNN and to help people understand as best as I can the way things work on the inside and sometimes we'll talk about stories that have nothing to do with politics that can give people some hope about what they can do to change the world as we've done on your show before.

CUOMO: I like all of it. You're always welcome. You're an addition to the team.

KASICH: So let's get at it.

CUOMO: Let's get after it right now. You got to get that expression.

KASICH: Let's get after it.

CUOMO: There's no get at it, there's no go for it. Let's get after it.

KASICH: Let's get after it. So here's the first pitch for you, William Barr, do you believe the American people can trust what he said today? That he is independent? That he is about himself and the laws that he discharges? He pays fealty to no man, not to the President.

KASICH: You know, he did a good job today from everything I've heard. I didn't see the testimony but I read a lot about it. The report is going to have to come out. There's no way to hide that. People want to know at the end of the day what's in it. And if they start monkeying around with the report, that will be a problem. And Barr said today he doesn't need another job. He's not going to be bullied. I like all of that.

CUOMO: Do you trust him? KASICH: I don't know him but I wouldn't have a reason to say I don't trust him. I mean, you know, he was raised under George Bush. Senior George Bush and quality people in that administration.

[21:35:06] CUOMO: He was A.G. before.

KASICH: So I can imagine he's going to say one thing and do another but, hey, we'll have to see.

CUOMO: But he wouldn't have gotten this nomination if he had said, look, I think you got trouble. Or, I may have to recuse myself. You know, once --

KASICH: They're not doing any of that.

CUOMO: -- you don't want any second sessions.

KASICH: No, the other side of it is maybe he didn't need the job. Maybe this is something he felt a calling towards. You know, he did everything, he says, like I'm at the end of his career. I -- he's a young man, I don't know why he's saying that. But, you know, he said all the right things today. I think the Democrats are going to, you know, hold his feet to the fires, probably has more testimony to go. I heard you --

CUOMO: He didn't say he would defend Roe V. Wade. I know we're all Mueller centric all the time.

KASICH: Yes.

CUOMO: But that was very interesting for Democrats, that he said, look, it's very clear from SCOTUS that Roe V. Wade is the law. And he said, would you defend it? And he kind of side stepped and said he had to figure something out. But that's not -- that's our immediate concern now. So you believe -- you take him at his word from today until we have a reason to feel differently.

KASICH: I mean, don't you?

CUOMO: Fair enough.

KASICH: I don't know any other way to do it. I mean, I understand he's got some caveats in there.

CUOMO: Here's my problem with it. Ordinarily, I would say yes.

KASICH: Yes.

CUOMO: But this is no ordinary time --

KASICH: I know it isn't.

CUOMO: -- my friend.

KASICH: No, it isn't. CUOMO: And this president inspires such misgivings about what you can

trust. I have never covered anybody -- in fact, you know, I grew up in politics, I've never seen someone in the game who can be trusted as little as the president can on things that matter.

KASICH: Chris, I have people that walk up to me all the time and they have looked at me as a straight shooter, and they're of both political parties and they're sort of beside themselves about all the craziness that's happening. I mean, just like this report on the shutdown. The shutdown drags on and on and now --

CUOMO: Longest ever.

KASICH: -- even the president's economic adviser is saying this could slow the economy down. And today, before I came to New York, I was exercising today, and there was a guy yelling at another guy and they're about, do you know what it's like not to get paid? The bank is not -- you know, so this is real stuff. Frankly, they're going to get this done.

CUOMO: He said they'd reached out to landlords. We've heard nothing. Now when they say -- when you say they have to get this done, do you believe the president should take one for the workers and say, look, you want to stiff me on the money for more bollard (ph) fencing and physical security on the border, fine, we're going to take this up in the next election, but I got to reopen the government.

KASICH: Yes. I believe that they can make a deal and here's what I think it should be. OK. So you're not going to have a wall. That's unimportant. But you're going to have border security. The people want it. The Democrats can give a little bit more money and then the president can say all these DREAMers, the DACA people in the country, let them stay. They didn't do anything wrong in sitting here.

CUOMO: They said that words and he walked away from it.

KASICH: Keep talking to them about it because at the end, this economic report is going to pressure him. And, look, he's hanging on to his base but at some point, the base is going to say, I think they're going to say, do something.

Now, I heard a little birdie told me yesterday that they suspect that he still may go back and call this a national emergency. Then it goes into the courts and then he says, he tried and then life moves on. I don't know if that's true. It'd be better to get a little deal and that's why I think this has to end. How long is this going to go on? Forever, you know.

CUOMO: Well, it's looking like it's going to go weeks because it doesn't seem that the pain of the people matters and that's a mistake politically for both sides, but this is clearly being owned by Trump right now because he told the American people that. McConnell, shame on him for political malpractice or is he just being a good boy?

KASICH: He should be fully engaged. Frankly, if I were there, I'd be urging the leaders to send him something. Let him veto it. CUOMO: Right.

KASICH: And set him something real --

CUOMO: He's saying he won't put it on the floor if the president doesn't pat him on the head and say, you're going to do your job.

KASICH: Yes. Well, that's why, you know, when Mitt Romney wrote that op-ed piece and everybody got worked up down there, I'd probably have written three by now. I mean, it's not your job when you get elected to have to kowtow to anybody. Oh, you got to respect your leadership. But I was always independent. Remain an independent person. Let's look at the problem and let's go fix it.

And here's another thing, Chris, really, at the end, the president needs to leave. You just can't disrupt, disrupt and play politics and I don't care who the president is. The president has to lead and he has to be big enough to say, let's get this behind us. You know what, if he did, oh, there'd be some voices on the right that yell and scream at him, but at the end, he might able to actually settle this and maybe he could think about expanding his base. Because his base is not growing bigger, it's probably getting smaller. I don't understand this. I don't understand this mode of operating because it's not what people want, you're not solving problems. That's why you're in office to try to fix problems.

CUOMO: And to lead.

KASICH: And to lead.

CUOMO: Certainly as president. That's a great pivot to this last one. The Steve King issue was a vote today on floor of the House. It was unanimous. But you know, one guy didn't vote for it but it was only because he feels it doesn't go far enough. He's an African- American congressman. He's in favor of this (inaudible) obviously. Even Steve King voted to declare -- you know, to declare all racism something that is an outrage and should be dismissed by American. The president had said nothing.

[21:40:00] Here's my problem, here's why I won't let it go. Steve King ain't new. These thoughts ain't original, right? The problem is that leaders like you and other people on both sides of the party always shouted these people down, just keep your mouth shut. You have the right to believe it. But it doesn't mean what you say is right, be quiet. This president is saying nothing, and that is empowering more of the same.

KASICH: Look, my biggest problem is I believe our presidents need to be healers and they need to set a positive mood for the country and when you see something that divides us, you need to call it out. I mean, there's no other way to operate as far as I'm concerned. You want me to try to figure out how he's thinking?

CUOMO: Yes. That's what you're getting paid for.

KASICH: Well, listen, they're not paying me enough to go down there and get inside that head to try to figure that out.

CUOMO: We'd have to switch seats.

KASICH: OK, look, I was on the stage with him for a long, long time, and I could never figure it all out. But what I'll say is, look, he represents a group of people who feel that have been neglected. But let's -- instead of telling them they're victims, let's raise them up. Let's raise them up. Let's become a healer.

CUOMO: And do you think that his base really -- I mean, I have so many people in my life that voted for the president, support the president. They're not bigots, they don't believe in what Steve King says.

KASICH: No. And I --

CUOMO: They don't want any of this nonsense to be revived.

KASICH: No, no, no, no, and look, what they want is a fair shot, a fair shake and a decent job and something for their kid. But if you go and you sit down with many of those fervent Trump supporters and you say to them, should we have border -- should we take kids away from parents at the border, they'll say, of course not.

If you say to them --

CUOMO: Some may not, but most will say that.

KASICH: Most will say -- I mean, if there's a few in every side but we have some --

CUOMO: Some will say shame on you for being --

KASICH: -- we have some Democrats that said they tried to compare ICE to the Ku Klux Klan.

CUOMO: Yes.

KASICH: And it's a candidate for president. That's -- I mean, are you kidding me? What do they want? Open borders? Chris, that's not where Democrats really are. It's a majority of them. So there are things that happen in either side and either party, but these politicians have got to get their act together and raise their game so they'd become -- they answer people's problems. Final thing.

CUOMO: Please.

KASICH: Do you know what people want to know, do you care about me? Do you care about me? Before you talk about all the political issues in the world, do you get me? Do you care about me? Will you mourn with me and will you celebrate with me? That's the politics of the future and the people to do that will be rewarded. We need more of it.

CUOMO: This country is a matrix of minorities and when it comes to something like Steve King, it resonates. They need to hear the president say, look, I don't care what people say about me, what he says is wrong and people who believe that kind of stuff are ugly. And they're not part of our federal (ph).

KASICH: Listen, this is a message to the Republican Party. The demographics in this country are changing. We are a more diverse country all the time and if Republicans want to be successful, they've to get with the issues that those folks care about and the Democrats have to build a stronger message for 2020 than they just don't like Donald Trump. That's not going to be good enough.

CUOMO: Hundred percent true. John Kasich, you make this better view.

KASICH: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: Welcome to the team.

KASICH: Thank you, good to be here.

CUOMO: You can have tomorrow (ph).

KASICH: OK.

CUOMO: That's how we do here at CNN.

KASICH: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, John Kasich, newest member of our team. We're lucky to have him. So, did you see this ad? Everybody is talking about it on the Internet today. It's inspired by the Me Too Movement. It's a major household brand taking aim at how we define masculinity. Let's take on the controversy, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:46:01] CUOMO: All right. So there's a new Gillette ad that has nothing to do with shaving. And it's sparking a conversation about how we define masculinity.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this the best a man can get? Is it? We can't hide from it. It's been going on far too long. We can't laugh it off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I actually think she's trying to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making the same old excuses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boys will be boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boys will be boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But something finally changed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allegations regarding sexually assault and sexual harassment. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Let's bring in D. Lemon on this one. Look, does the ad worked? Yes, I'm talking about it. What do you think about the message?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Who's mad at this ad? Like I -- is anybody -- bunch of guys in here. Is anybody mad at this ad? Speak up? Anybody mad? Anybody upset? Anybody think it's attack on masculinity? That is the dumbest thing that I have ever heard. And I just -- I don't understand it. Just because someone tells you not to be violent, don't teach your son to, you know, harass women, don't get into fights with people and be a bully, what does that have to do with masculinity?

That is -- it's not even an attack -- because we want to use that, it's not an attack on masculinity. We're talking about toxic masculinity. Things that we have been told are OK. This is at the Ponderosa. This isn't right for men. This is not -- the world is evolving. The same people who are upset by this ad are the same people that you and I talk about and you just talked to John Kasich about, about the demographics of the country changing, about the country changing. People are becoming more aware and more evolved.

And even now, commercial ads -- advertisements or advertisements, however you want to call them, are not centered around troglodytes who have never been challenged. Their way of thinking has never been challenged. They're used to being pandered to so they are upset because something is now challenging them in society. That's it.

CUOMO: Well, they want to reinforce a false assumption.

LEMON: Being a man is not punching somebody in the face.

CUOMO: That's exactly right. That being a man means you can be vulgar, means you can be sexist, means you can be chauvinistic, and inappropriate. That's never what it's meant to be a real man. So in one way, the definition hasn't changed.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: It's our respect for the definition that's changed. And look, I have a son. I think all of this is good for him. I have two daughters. I think all of this is good for them. People should know that how you behave matters and you don't get away with something just because that's the way it's always been. That doesn't work on any level.

LEMON: I would suggest that everyone out there read -- there's a GQ article about this and it lists some of the people who are really upset by this and then you'll get an understanding of who is exactly -- who bought the controversy. This controversy is very small and it's fringe. But listen, my friend, coming up, you've been talking a lot about Russia, right? We're going to talk a lot about Russia. We're going to talk about Barr. And I have the former head of the NSA, James Clapper. He's going to discuss it and give us some insight.

CUOMO: Another heavy-duty show for D. Lemon. I'll see you in a second.

All right. Another controversy with very deep roots. Steve King. It's not about the man, it's about the message. There is a truth that this country needs to face. Let's get after it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:53:35] CUOMO: Good news. The House voted 424-1 to approve a resolution rejecting white supremacy and white nationalism. It was unanimous. The lone holdout was African-American Democrat Bobby Rush of Illinois. He only voted against the resolution because he said it doesn't go far enough. Unanimous. That means even Steve King voted for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE KING, (R) IOWA: I've carefully studied every word in this resolution and even though I'd add some more that are stronger language, I agree with the language in it. So I want to ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, let's vote for this resolution. I'm putting up a yes on the board here, because what you state here is right and it's true and it's just.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: King even defended himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That ideology never shows up in my head. I don't know how it could possibly come out of my mouth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Whatever. Maybe Steve King doesn't really get what he says or why he says it. I don't care. On one level, it would make sense, because bigotry is often born of ignorance. My argument is, this is way bigger than Steve King. A Congress member who supports neo-Nazis, tweets about not being able to restore our civilization with someone else's babies, characterizes migrants, as drug runners with cantaloupe calves well-developed from hauling illicit drugs across the desert, which is of course, BS.

[21:55:00] It is the message that must be attacked and his defense that this is an assault of his First Amendment right is as ignorant as he's not getting the meaning of his own message. Of course he has the right to say it. That doesn't mean what he says is right. And it does not mean he gets to say it without criticism or consequence. The outrage is not the reaction. It is the reticence. The outrage is that it took this long for his party to step up and strip him of committee assignments, which does render him basically powerless.

King's ideas are not original nor new. We had a similar situation to this almost 20 years ago. It was handled very differently and frankly, better. Quickly, Trent Lott back then made a bigoted crack at a 100th birthday for Strom Thurmond who had run early on as a segregationist. There's no social media back then, but the implication of those comments quickly turned into a firestorm. And President George W. Bush, Republican, soon followed Congress and publicly condemned the comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country. Every day our nation was segregated was a day that America was unfaithful to our founding ideals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Contrast that with our President now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what about Steve King's remarks on white supremacy?

TRUMP: Who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve King. Congressman Steve King.

TRUMP: I don't -- I haven't been following it. I really haven't been following it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Come on. We know that's not true. He has been following this. And the terrible part is, he's been following in King's footsteps. Trump shares beliefs with King, doesn't he? I hate to say it, but it's true. King even defended himself by saying, wait a minute, you know what I am? I'm a nationalist, the same stained term our President uses for himself, laced with bigotry and false preference.

What is new is this not-so-subtle encouragement of people who believe this bigoted BS allowing them to get mouthy again. Our leaders have traditionally, in the modern era, at least, like Bush, shouted down bigotry. Let haters know there are not some good people among them. That there is not a both sides kind of blame on these issues. That the different are not to be demonized. This country is people by those who rarely look alike, but believe as one that we will all be treated the same. That's our national religion, the laws that guarantee our equality. E pluribus unum. One out of many.

The President will get no pass on this, at least not from me. I get that he's compromised, going after Obama's birth, the Central Park Five. That was then. And I get that he has been a disciple of King's xenophobia and that he has used the highest perch in the world to encourage the worst to be first when it comes to spreading this toxic message. And all of that is precisely why we must come forward. Either the President should own that he agrees with King or he must condemn the message. You say you're a fighter. Show us what you're made of, Mr. President, because the silence is deafening.

On this crap, what we ignore, we empower. This took too long. And in delaying it, you and your party took us back. People, certainly in the media, are often too quick to jump on what this President says, right? You guys complain about it all time. Well, then don't be satisfied with his silence here. Don't move on. Don't get distracted. This issue matters as much or more than Mueller, Barr, even the shutdown. Why? This is about who we are and what we would die for. America must always stand as an active opponent to bigotry.

What King says that he speaks about without understanding, we all get the reality of it. And we get why the President is quiet. And it cannot be tolerated, especially not from a president. Not now, not ever. The President must do his job and, as John Kasich said earlier tonight, that is to lead. That is to give this country hope and to remind us, as our greatest ideals -- and I know some of you are saying, that's not what Trump's about. He believes what King believes. That's not who he is. Too bad. That's his job.

And he disagrees with you. He says he's not about bigotry. Then why the heck is he so quiet now? This shouts out for his voice. It shouts out for leadership. Don't think it's one and done. It's one congressman. It isn't.

This country is a matrix of minorities. His words echo. They redound to African-Americans and Latinos, anybody with an ethnic background, LBGT, anybody who feels less than. This country is about uniting and it has to happen now at the top.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

LEMON: On what we ignore, we empower. We just said that, right?