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Senate to Vote on Dueling Bills to End Shutdown; Interview with Senator Tim Kaine, (D-VA); Mueller Investigating Trump Campaign Ties to NRA; "MAGA teens" invited to WH Meeting Planned After Shutdown. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 22, 2019 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "CUOMO PRIME TIME": Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to Prime Time. We have new information, a key senator says there is a chance that the shutdown could end if and when they vote on this two proposal that will tell you about on Thursday. We're going to bring in that Democrat in the thick of it all one-on-one with Senator Tim Kaine.

Then, why is Robert Mueller seeking information on the Trump campaign's ties to the NRA? And how does the President's lawyers radical retakes effect the Mueller probe? Cuomo's Court is in session on that.

And partisan America, polarized over that Lincoln Memorial standoff. Is this really about our viewing who is to blame or is there a bigger truth that all must agree on? What do you say? Let's get after it.

All right, so here's where we are. Week five of the shutdown and now it's all but certain that hundreds of thousands of government workers with families and debts and needs will again miss their paychecks on Friday. The hope for this week comes Thursday. These two measures I was telling you about. One which is the President's offer on the wall largely and in an exchange some relief for DACA and some temporary relief for other workers. And want to reopen and that will the Democrat deal.

Now both measures they do appear to be dead on arrival. And here is why, Democrats have the votes to block the President's proposal and vice versa on the Democrat one. But Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia says one it is a win that this is happening at all and he says never would happen a week ago and he says there's a chance.

Senator, thank you for joining us.


COOPER: So the big question, what's the chance that the government reopens this week?

KAINE: Chris, today the door opened a little bit. I think we have a path. We're going to have two votes Thursday afternoon. The first vote will be on the President's proposal that he put on the table Saturday. That will not pass in the form that it's in unless it first goes to committee and we have a chance to discuss it and approve it by amendment. The second is going to be a vote to just reopen government until the 8th of February while we work on the proposal to see if we can find a compromise. And the first votes is going to fail but there is a fighting chance to get that second vote to pass and then spin that in 15 days examining the President's proposal but making amendments so that we improve it to a point and hopefully find a bipartisan compromise.

CUOMO: Now, it would be nice if the only leverage at play were whether or not you guys want to get people paid and stop the pain of the shutdown.

KAINE: We need to.

CUOMO: But that's not the reality, because he won't OK your bill because he loses his leverage of getting you guys to make a deal right now. So where does your optimism come from?

KAINE: Well, Chris my optimism comes from talking to my Republican Senate colleagues. And I reject the notion -- you're right, if you talk the real politics (ph), the President thinks his leverage is hurting millions of people. I went to a pop up restaurant today at 7th in Pennsylvania halfway between Congress and the White House where federal employees were standing out side in the cold like a bread line from the depression, but we're not in a depression. The stock market is great and the economy is good according to the White House so why are you punishing uniformed law enforcement and making them stand in the cold to get a soup or a sandwich. So he thinks it's leverage but the Republican senators are increasingly uncomfortable with that notion.

So my thought is this, if the President knew that we would take up his bill promptly, not four corners off incident take months but take it up promptly, put it in the committee that Republicans control, they're the majority and they control the floor, if he knew that we would take it up promptly, and try to work to make it better so that it would be something that could pass the House maybe he could accept that.

CUOMO: So, on his side, he's going to have to have to some kind of guarantee that there'll be action, I mean that's what it's been from jump, right Senator?


CUOMO: I mean, that's not a new consideration.


CUOMO: A new consideration for you is whether or not you can get 13 of your so-called brothers and sisters on the Republican side to vote with you.

KAINE: That's it. And I think you can look at this is a little bit of rubik's cube. The Democrats cannot take his proposal seriously until government reopens and he would say I can't reopen government unless I know you're going to take my proposal seriously. The way to do that is just be the Senate, commit with Republican committee chairs and Republican majority on the floor to a prompt analysis of the proposal and the committee. The administration needs to come up and tell us and the American republic why each of these elements are important, and prompt amendment process in committee on the floor.

And Chris, we could do that in 15 days between Thursday and February 8th and I hope we'll send a signal to the White House that that's what we will, in fact, do.

CUOMO: Now, look, the pain is real. They're measuring the economic impact of the shutdown and not just on the families that aren't getting paid but the residual economic toll period.

[21:05:03] And you're getting close to $6 billion if you make it through this week in terms of loss effect from this. And, you know, look these are ratings S&P global ratings numbers on it. So it's not about fighting over the numbers.

KAINE: The pain is real. Are you worried that with time, while you have the benefit of the President of the United States having said on national television that he is shutting down the government, he will carry the mantle, he will not blame the Democrats. Now of course he has since then, but are you worried that nobody wins in a shutdown and that soon there will be an erosion of trust even if you're not being blamed for this?

KAINE: I do agree with you, Chris. Nobody wins in a shutdown. Shutdown is bad for workers, bad for citizens, bad for our reputation. It's all bad. It's all bad. But here's what my folks want. They want us to not only get out of the shutdown but get out of it in a way where we discredit the use of a shutdown as a threat ever again rather than give it power. So for example, if we let the president, by taking paychecks away from FBI agents and air traffic controllers forces, so I guess we got to do a deal we don't want to do, he will use that tactic every time he doesn't get what he wants and my federal employees completely get that. So what they're saying to me, I was with coast guard folks earlier today, they're saying get us out of this shutdown, get government reopen but do it in a way where we don't have to worry about shutdown in the future. If we can come out of this, not only finding a pack world (ph) but discrediting the use of shutdown we will have done a good thing.

CUOMO: Do you have a guarantee or sense of confidence that the House would behave the way they would have to in order for this deal to work? That Nancy Pelosi would have Democrats actually hammer out a deal that she hasn't wanted to before, but now with this kind of time pressure, do you think she would go for that?

KAINE: No guarantee, but here's two elements. Number one, House action is always easier if something comes out in the Senate with a strong bipartisan push. If it's going to come out with every Republican and a few Democrats, that's nothing over in the house but it comes out bipartisan and to get there we've got to have this normal process in committee, it increases the chances. Second, on the border security piece for me, I'm just talking about for me, the dollar figure isn't the challenge. It's just making sure that the money is used right and not wasted. So the four elements are the right elements to be discussing. You've got House leadership making the point and actually Senate Republicans James Lankford yesterday made the same point.

The President's proposal is an opening gambit I think he called it a straw-man proposal to engage everybody in constructive dialogue. Let's really make it constructive by having the normal processes of consideration, amendment, debate, and vote happen in a prompt time and fashion. The White House should be satisfied with that.

CUOMO: Do you believe the Democrat position that they will fund physical security, fences, and whatever kind of technology they want? Or are you of the not one dollar for that wall school?

KAINE: I am in the camp that has always been willing to fund significant amount of border security if my border security professionals look me in the face and say this is what is needed to keep us safe. So I haven't oppose security barriers in the past, if you get the border professionals to say this is what's needed but what I do oppose, Chris, is this the notion that we just take all the money and build the wall, as you know every member of Congress represents the border, Democrat and Republican said using it just for wall is a bad idea.

CUOMO: Can you make sense of what's going on with the President's legal team and what they're putting out on television? Do you believe this is crazy talk or crazy talk like a fox?

KAINE: I would say the former. I think Rudy Giuliani and his statements are all over the map, you know, that there's tapes that the conversation about the Russia hotel deal was going on right up until the time of the November 2016 election and retracting that. I don't think frankly that anyone takes seriously what the possible exception of Robert Mueller and the investigative team, the day-to-day switches in direction of Rudy Giuliani. We have no idea whether what he says is true, whether it's been bliss by his client, whether he might correct it tomorrow, but I will say this, it is notable that so many of the steps and missteps and corrections are all about the same thing, Russia.

CUOMO: Senator, thank you for giving us the latest updates on where the shutdown talks are. I appreciate it.

KAINE: Always good to be with you, Chris, thanks.

CUOMO: All right, so that's one open question we have to keep an eye on here. Here's another one. Is the President's legal team just confused or are they purposefully trying to confuse you? The President's lawyer suggested he was lying for POTUS and now tells CNN that's not true, I'm not lying for him.

[21:10:07] And by the way, any information that I offered about the President and what he said and when about the Trump Tower deal, it was just hypothetical. Are you wondering why they're doing this? All that matters are the facts, and we have them, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: So POTUS says one thing, the lawyers say another and the rest of us wonder, why lie. This cascade of confusion started in earnest right here last week when the President's position on collusion went from this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians.


CUOMO: To this.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL LAWYER: I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.

CUOMO: Yes you have.

GIULIANI: I have no idea. I have not. I said the President of the United States.


CUOMO: Now that collapse on collusion wasn't the only bait and switch. Remember, we were told any talk of a Trump Tower Moscow was shutdown in June of 2016. June. That was until this happened.


CHUCK TODD, HOST, NBC NEWS: As far as the President was concerned, an active project to at least October or November of 2016, an active potential deal.

GIULIANI: Yes, I would say an active proposal.


CUOMO: An active proposal right up until the election. In other words, if that's true, one, the President again wasn't straight with you and regarding the probe, at the same time he was calling for an end to sanctions on Russia he was saying things like this.


[21:15:08] TRUMP: I know nothing about Russia. I know about Russia, but I know nothing about the inner workings of Russia. I don't deal there. I have no businesses. I have no loans from Russia.


CUOMO: Wrong. This new timing would seem to fit with this quote in "The New York Times" where the President's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Trump told him the, "discussions were going on from the day I announced to the day I won." The next day, Giuliani told the New Yorker he didn't say that. He also put out a statement saying it was all hypothetical. At the same time, Trump supporters are pushing this line that the Trump Tower deal was all Michael Cohen.


DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENTIAL SON: We don't know that -- anything about it ultimately was Michael Cohen essentially trying to get a deal done.

GIULIANI: It was being run by Michael Cohen. It was his project.


CUOMO: So it was an active proposal. Deals were on going but if they were, they were only hypothetical and really it was all about Michael Cohen. What?

The key quote here is probably from Giuliani. The former Mayor of New York is actively wondering if his gravestone will read Rudy Giuliani, he lied for Trump. And then an irony of the ironies, even had to clarify that statement and cleared it up saying no, no, I'm not lying. So much twisting for something that the President says that he had no concern about. Listen to this.


TRUMP: There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn't have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business.


CUOMO: It was all Cohen but Cohen says he was updating the kids and we know for a fact the President signed the letter of intent on the deal I showed it to you. So he had to know the truth would come out. That makes the big question the same as always. If there was nothing to hide, why lie.

We don't know yet, but we do know this. POTUS can lie to you and to me and the only penalty is political, but not with Mueller and I would argue that's why his lawyer described a very different answer about the tower deal to investigators than the answer that the President gave to you. Remember one thing, ultimately crimes are notice, this will all come down to what lies we're told and why.

Now another new piece of information, we know that Mueller has been looking into ties between team Trump and Russia, but that's not all. He is inquiring about the campaigns ties to NRA, why? Does it have anything to do with an alleged spy? Cuomo's Court in session, next.


[21:21:17] CUOMO: Tonight a $30 million question. Why is Bob Mueller interested in the Trump campaign ties to the NRA? Thirty million I say because that's how much the NRA spent to back Trump's candidacy in 2016 and it comes as the organization is facing scrutiny, for its connections to Russian nationals like Maria Butina.

You remember her. She pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy and trying to infiltrate the NRA to influence U.S. politics.

She also caught some attention for her exchange with then just Donald Trump in 2015.


MARIA BUTINA, RUSSIAN CONVICTED U.S. FELON: If you would be elected as the president what would be your foreign politics especially in relationships with my country?

TRUMP: I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin. OK? I don't think you'd need the sanctions. I think that we would get along very, very well.


CUOMO: I have talked to you about that sound before. I still have never given an answer about why he called on her? What was she doing there?

Let's discuss the legal implication to this. However, Cuomo's Court is in session with Asha Ranggapa and Ken Cuccinelli.

Good to have you both, and yes, this is fin. In fact, I only read a report, Asha, from Sam Nunberg, saying I was asked by Bob Mueller about this stuff. They gave Trump, you know, just to quit the laughing quick. They have Trump a hell of a lot more money than they usually do. So they could probably answer for that. The Butina connection, not a good look for the NRA. Why Trump called on her? I still don't know. But what do you see in this suggestion, Asha?

ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: What I see is how I have been making sense of Mueller's investigation since it began which is that Russia's active measures had four main threads. One was a social media disinformation campaign. That's one thread. You have another which is the hacking of the DNC server. You have another which is political influence and using agents to try to charm and bring in people in positions of power. And then you have a campaign finance thread.

And so far we have seen indictments and charges brought on the first three threads. The social media, the hacking, the political influence with Butina and what this is, is a little tidbit that Mueller is, in fact, looking into this potential fourth thread of whether Russia may have channeled illegally foreign funds into a federal campaign in violation of campaign finance laws and, you know, that increase in spending by the NRA, Butina who kind of overlaps in this area would raise suspicion on that front.

CUOMO: Ken? KENNETH CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Yes -- first of all, people -- it may seem odd in this day and age but until very recently the NRA was fairly bipartisan in its support and they did that quite intentionally and sometimes to the frustration of some of us who are on the right. But in recent years as the Democrats have thrown in the towel, virtually across the board, on being protective of second amendment rights at any level, the NRA has responded by skewing its support for the first time in its history to Republican.

So don't take the spike in 2016 as something anomalous for the NRA because they have got money coming in, it's a change for the NRA because the politics of the United States on the issue they care about, guns and the second amendment has become polarized between the two parties.

Meaning, used to be they supported Harry Reid. They supported Harry Reid and 2010 in his very --


[21:25:03] CUOMO: -- that started to skew the perspective for some in terms of, you know, what you need to do in terms or harnessing, you know, lobbying efforts.

CUCCINELLI: Chris, you're in -- Chris, you know --

CUOMO: Dead kids (ph), Ken, tend to do that.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, that just baloney.

CUOMO: Really?

CUCCINELLI: Right, and had -- people been armed, who are good guys, to defend those kids.

CUOMO: Now, that's baloney.

CUCCINELLI: You have dead bad guys before their dead kid.

CUOMO: That's all I know. We've been --


RANGGAPA: Chris, can I get in here.

CUCCINELLI: Glad we got the facts.

CUOMO: Well, you got more guns than you have people. And I got to tell you, I don't see him stop in this mass shootings on in any regular basis, do they? They're all good two weeks, could happen.

RANGGAPA: Chris, just to be clear.


CUCCINELLI: When the deputy -- when an armed deputy sits outside of the school --

CUOMO: That's a cop. That's a cop.

CUCCINELLI: -- a trained guy who is supposed -- right, and he doesn't do anything. He doesn't do anything.

CUOMO: Well, what does that tell you? The bar is a little bit higher than you think.

Asha, make a point.

RANGGAPA: Yes. So just bringing this back to Mueller, I don't think that Mueller's investigation has to do with the politics about gun control in this country.

CUOMO: No, of course. Nobody is thinking.

RANGGAPA: What he is doing is -- right, and so what -- and I don't think that Ken can so authoritatively and conclusively come to the conclusion that the spike doesn't mean anything.

Mueller is following the money and we do know that Maria Butina, a Russian spy, was involved in going into NRA circles trying to bring those people in.


RANGGAPA: Having a Russian banker who have a lot of funds involved in this, and if somehow, Russia was trying to use a legitimate U.S. organization or --

CUOMO: Right.

RANGGAPA: -- legitimacy U.S. persons as straw donors for illegal campaign contributions. That would be a problem.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGGAPA: Regardless of where you stand on gun control.

CUOMO: Right. Still just a suggestion.

CUCCINELLI: Agreed. Agreed. I agree completely on that.

CUOMO: So we'll see what they find out when the report comes out, then we'll learn more. But it is an interesting thing to discuss. I haven't heard it before.

Ken, let me get to something else that's pressing. You heard the question I laid out, whether or not the legal team --


CUOMO: -- around the President is confused or they're just trying to confuse other people.


CUOMO: Now, what's your take on that?

CUCCINELLI: Well, and of course your question centers around motives, but if I could just be a professional for a moment.

You know there is no way you can look at Rudy Giuliani's last three days of, I'll call it, performance, for his client and say that helps his client. So there's just no cast you can put on that that is positive, good legal representation in the public arena for his client.

I am astonished at the poor performance we're seeing here as a representative by Rudy Giuliani. I mean it is really, really poor. Really poor quality.

CUOMO: I take Ken's criticism and you got to respect his legal acumen. But Asha, I don't see it as a legal performance. I think Rudy Giuliani's main role is P.R. and to try to spread as much confusion and cast doubt on as much as he can.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, but that's done badly.

CUOMO: But, look, he's got a lot people talking about it.

RANGGAPA: Now, I have to --

CUOMO: And Asha, you know, how else do you explain these rank inconsistencies?

RANGGAPA: Look, unless he's actually employing Russian, you know, manipulation tactics and propaganda, which this point I can't discount. You know, I have to agree with Ken. I can't really see any long-term beneficial strategy that helps his client in this exactly performance. I mean, it's like in probe every Sunday. You know, let's see, you know what scene Rudy comes up with.


RANGGAPA: And, you know, and then we sit here and dissect it. And what he divulges is actually often more damning than what the public already knew. So then I don't see it being a good P.R. strategy.

At this point, what he suggested is that leading up until the point where he won the election that Donald Trump may have had a vested financial interest in a deal in Moscow while he was trying to promote, even in the platform of the Republican national convention, a pro- Russia stance.

This has a lot of issues quite a part from criminality and has national security implications, it has transparency and accountability implications that do not help his clients no matter how you spin it.

CUOMO: Another provocative question. I'll end it on this. I thought it was very telling that Rudy Giuliani quoted an answer that he said the President gave in response to Mueller. And it was a different time line because it had to be.

They can't lie to those investigators the way they can to everybody else. It's not politics there. It's real. There's exposure.

Ken, Asha, well argued, both of you. Even if you don't agree with me, makes it even better. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

All right, another big story plaguing our dialogue right now. The confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial. People are upset and it makes sense that you're upset about it.

Everybody is judging it through the lens of their own politics, and that is the problem. This is not about simply right and wrong. It's about what should be better.

Great debate, next.


[21:33:36] CUOMO: So the kid at the center of the MAGA hat controversy has spoken.


NICK SANDMANN, STUDENT, COVINGTON CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL: As far as standing there, I had every right to do so. In hindsight I wish we could have walked away.


CUOMO: A tough spot for all involved. The President used the situation however to his advantage tweeting, Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of fake news and how evil it can be. The President chose to take sides to divide. The question for him is why? And the bigger question is what needs to happen here.

Let's debate. Angela Rye and Andre Bauer, it's good to have you on the show, Andre, first time. Angela, always a pleasure.


CUOMO: Angela --


CUOMO: -- how do you see what matters here?

RYE: Well, there are a number of sides to every story. People say there are two sides and then there is the truth. And I think that this is so much deeper than that. We're of course just on the other side of celebrating Dr. King's holiday and it's so unfortunate that in 2019 this country couldn't be more divided.

I have to tell you that there are number of us that when we see what happened, some deem it as an altercation and some deem it as a standoff. I see this hat right, Chris and this hat represents so much more to me than just a symbol of free speech to the wearer. This is a hat that represents the man who announced his campaign as, you know, with Mexicans being drug dealers and rapists and let's build this wall. This is a man whose hat represents the same person who said he would pay the legal fees of someone who punched a black protester in the face at one of his rallies.

[21:35:07] Someone who has trafficked in racism. I would say is racist and definitely spews racist rhetoric. It is hard to divorce his policies, the rhetoric, the propaganda, his supporters from these actions and unfortunately, these young men who perhaps one day will regret their actions, it sounds like the main one who was standing right in the face of the Native American leader, is already regretting some of those actions and unfortunately it represents so much of what we've seen not just in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, but what we have seen in this country from its founding.

CUOMO: Andre?

BAUER: Well, Chris, like any story depending on who is narrating it depends on whose side you would take. I will say as a different perspective, Nathan Phillips I think probably diffuse this situation in which should have gotten to a much more difficult situation where it could have been a physical altercation. I don't understand why the parents and the teachers did remove these students immediately, hadn't been there and those have been my children, I would have immediately removed them from what I think was a hostile situation that could have escalated quite quickly and after looking at the tape to me, seems like, well, Nathan Phillips may got a little too close to the children and the children should have backed off as well.

The end of the day he got between the two of them, I actually think that could have very well save what would have been a much bigger and unfortunate situation.

CUOMO: Yes, by all accounts people were going after Phillips saying he changed the story. Whatever -- what he perceived in terms of what this could mean for him you have to separate from what actions he took. And yes he walked up to the kids. I agree with what your saying there by most accounts, Andre, they were trying to diffuse. And look, there was no violence, thank God. There was not anything more ugly than what we get to see in this video. So take that as a win in an area of lots of losses.

But Angela, then we have this, the President comes out and speaks on this. Not Steve King. Not Steve King. Won't say anything about Steve King's message. Nothing, even on MLK weekend, nothing, but he does come out and say this, clearly takes a side, takes a shot at the media and something more. Do you think it's just him defending his hat? What does this mean to you?

RYE: No. It's so interesting, Chris, right? Like we think about the time when Barack Obama was criticized so heavily for the beer summit between the police officer and Henry Lewis Gates who we know --

CUOMO: Right. RYE: -- was a legend and was in his own home, right? A beer summit, just to bring two sides together. And once again this President is demonizing one side -- and really not one side. He's demonizing the media which is of course as we know is his favorite enemy to pick on. And then also taking the side against this Native American. We have to remember what was actually happening at that time. And that was an Indigenous People's March.

CUOMO: Right.

RYE: That is somehow been forgotten in all of this. He had every right to be there too. He had every right to stand his ground, I should probably pick another term we know what that means --

CUOMO: Right.

RYE: -- nowadays. But at the end of the day, right? At the end of the day, it's so interesting that instead of using this platform as commander-in-chief to bring people together, to figure out how to end some of this rhetoric, some of these challenges, some of the greatest conflict of our time, he's again choosing sides and doubling down on some of again, the most hateful rhetoric, bigotry, xenophobia that we've seen in years.

CUOMO: Why jump on this, Andre? Why try to bring these kids to the White House? The facts were unclear about whether they were invited. Maybe after the shutdown, whatever it is. Why jump on this and ignore Steve King?

BAUER: Well, first off, Angela and I are good friends and I find myself usually on the other side but I agree with her. I think the President missed what would have been a better opportunity to take the high ground for both sides and say, look, you know, we need to come together on such a special occasion like Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday and so end day we should have in fact found the high grounds for both sides. Not unfortunately, nothing happened but we need to be kinder to one another. And so I think --

CUOMO: Why didn't he do that?

BAUER: -- it was a missed opportunity.

CUOMO: Why does he never do that?

BAUER: But I think that he --

RYE: They didn't know how.

BAUER: I think the President continues to feel like, as so many Republicans do, the media overwhelmingly tends to favor the other side and he continues to feel like it's a beat down every day in the media just as he was falsely accused just a few short days before that. And so I think he felt much like -- he felt these young people have been treated --

CUOMO: Falsely accused of what? BAUER: -- unfortunately the same way. And I think he took their side.

CUOMO: What was he falsely accused of?

BAUER: He was falsely accused of talking to the other side, the media, immediately jumped on a untrue story and then every pundit out there said immediately said oh well, immediately he needs to be impeached, when in fact we know that wasn't --

CUOMO: Are you're talking about the BuzzFeed story and that's --

BAUER: Yes, I think --

CUOMO: -- was on the President's mind. So when this happened he decided to take a, you know, a situation as volatile as this and play to advantage because he was upset about the BuzzFeed story?

[21:40:12] BAUER: Well -- Chris, I think it's a continual that he sees so much media coverage this not true and unfair towards him. And so what he sees this happen to other people, he understands --

CUOMO: Right.

BAUER: -- what they're dealing with, were immediately --

CUOMO: I hear the argument --

RYE: Reality --


CUOMO: I hear the argument, its just so hard to accept Angela, because, I have never seen a man in elected office, let alone the presidency, dissemble, divide, misstate and lie as often as this President has. So, the idea that he's offended by things that aren't accurate is a little hard to believe.

RYE: Well and not only is it hard to believe, it's hard to accept. I wish that for one moment right, we could talk about what we see. Because people are talking about what, you know, what is happening right now as a result of what happened in this particular incident is our varying perspectives and I think that such a powerful point. Like forget Donald Trump for a moment, and just think about that symbol of that red hat.

When I see the Make America Great Again hat now, Chris, I am triggered. I'm so triggered. Andre, I think in a lot of ways our friendship has been compromised by the fact that you continue to support this man. The one thing I will say to you to be absolutely fair is more than anybody else that I know on this network, you will regularly take Donald Trump to task. I don't agree with you on this last point, but this Make America Great Again hat is just as maddening and frustrating and triggering for me to look at as a KKK hood.

Like that is the type of hatred -- BAUER: Well I will tell you this.

RYE: -- that his policies represent. And until we can have common ground and understanding about that that is that triggering, we're going to continue to have problems.

CUOMO: Final word, Andre.

BAUER: Then, then -- that I would just say you don't let people run around in your head rent free. There are things that offend me but I don't let them offend me. A lot of people take that red hat, that they believe we elected an individual that was willing to take on everybody from Wall Street to the media to go in and drain the swamp --

RYE: The kids on the border.

BAUER: -- and clean Washington now and put this country back on the path to where we believe America was first and to make it great again to where we looked after the people in this country first and foremost and there's a lot --

RYE: When was that?

BAUER: -- unheard people --

RYE: When was it that Andre?

BAUER: -- in America. To fell like Donald Trump was --

RYE: When was it great, Andre?

CUOMO: Well, look that's --

RYE: When was it great Andre?

BAUER: Well, I don't believe that it's not great now, but there had been days --

RYE: No, but when was it great again? Tell me the year?


CUOMO: You know the problem with this.

BAUER: That continues to get better --

CUOMO: Yes, I know.

BAUER: -- everyday.

CUOMO: Andre is being smart because any time you go into --


CUOMO: -- our past, you would have to be identifying a period where we were not as free and equal as we are today and that's the problem with something that inherently asks us to look back to an earlier time.

RYE: That's exactly --

CUOMO: To Angela's point about being sensitive. And look, I was with you, when I first saw the hat, I was like it's a slogan hat. That's what they are. I understand differently now. I'm blessed with enough people --

RYE: Yes.

CUOMO: -- in my life who have different experience when it comes to what that hat means to them and how they feel they're represented in that dynamic. I get it. It's not just a hat. It shouldn't be. And that's why we got to know why the kids were wearing it there.

But Andre, thank you for making the points, Angela, as always. Be well.

RYE: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right --

BAUER: Thank you Chris, see you.

RYE: Can you remember the last time that the White House had the daily briefing with the press? Remember, they used to have them all the time. Now, no. Why, went the way of the dinosaur. The President says he gave the directive to stop the briefing. One thing that he will own. Why will he own this? Next.


[21:46:49] CUOMO: In a government shutdown most politicians would take every opportunity to get their version of events in front of you. Traditionally for the White House, it comes in the form of the daily press briefing. This President says don't bother. He tweeted the reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the podium much anymore is that the press covers are so rudely and inaccurately, in particular, certain members of the press. I told her not to bother. Word gets out anyway. Most will never cover us fairly and hence the term fake news. The daily briefings were already getting closer to a mere monthly happening instead of daily.

Let's bring in D. Lemon. There is one thing that the President's living out in his analysis and it happens to matter the most. The point of the briefing isn't for the President's position to get spewed out there and spread. It's for it to be tested by the people.


CUOMO: See, he overlooks that because he has very little appetite for it.

LEMON: It's a convenient response to, you know -- but let's just remember, right, the impetus, the start. More people at this inauguration period, ever whatever, it started the first one, which is not really questions. It just came out and there was a statement, was a lie.

CUOMO: Right. That was Spicer.

LEMON: And that was Spicer. But it went on from there and you can track the misstatements, the falsehoods, the lies from Sarah Sanders as well and also the method by which she goes by doing it. OK. Listen, it's a tough job. But she cuts people off. She doesn't want to hear what they have to say. She's sometimes she doesn't allow follow ups and then, you know, she -- and then they complain about it, oh my gosh, it's so contentious. The press briefings have always been contentious --


LEMON: -- but especially if you lie more than any other administration, it's going to be even more contentious. Listen, the last press briefing was December 18th. December 18th. Today is January 22nd. There was that fake briefing though that they gave on January 3rd. Remember, the President came out and said he was going to do that and then he just talked about the wall and it was a political thing and then he just moved on.

CUOMO: Right. Look, I think everything that you say there is 100%. That's never been cozy. The press shouldn't be cozy --


CUOMO: -- with power. You know, you can have relationships and stuff and that's fine but it gets tricky because you got to know the line and you have to be able to test those who you may be comfy with and that's why the best advice is to keep a little bit of distance. So that's not new. Sarah Sanders tactics aren't new. And it is a challenging position. The big difference is the lies and the fact that instead of owning any of them, he's turned it on the media and created the farce of fake news.

LEMON: I have to disagree with you with the tactics aren't new. Yes, that's new, this degree of deflection and misperceptions.

Ask me a question, any question. Just ask me a question.

CUOMO: What time is it?

LEMON: Listen, I've answered that question before and if you want to know about it, you need to talk to the President's outside counsel. That's not really an answer.

CUOMO: Well, that was different. And obviously, I got sideways with Sarah Sanders about that but --


LEMON: I don't care how many times you ask me that question. I've answered it before and I'm not going to ask it again. That's different.

[21:50:03] CUOMO: Look, nobody pushed her on that the way I do in interview that has led to -- none of them ever coming on again with that office.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: But I had to do it because that was a bad position.

LEMON: Which says a lot.


LEMON: Which says a lot they won't come on.


LEMON: But listen, a member of the intelligence committee who is going to get to ask a lot of questions of a lot of people including Michael Cohen and other members of this administration, Eric Swalwell is going to join us.


LEMON: Yes. He's here in our broadcast.

CUOMO: Good on you, D. Lemon. See you in a second.

LEMON: All right. See you in a minute.

CUOMO: All right. So that's D. Lemon. What are we going to talk about? I have an argument to make. This Lincoln Memorial, you can't leave it alone. There's too much there. The divisions in Trump's America are deep. All right. How do you disagree? What do you take from this and the message in the President's message is real. We must hear it, next.


[21:55:06] CUOMO: The confrontation in D.C. with the Native American and the Catholic school kids raises questions, motivation, why people react in the moment the way they do and what should happen to those people now. I'm not talking about the people involved in the actual confrontation. I'm talking about everybody else.

Please accept that in the actual confrontation no one was hurt. Thank God. I've not seen any credible evidence that the kid involved did or said anything extreme to the man playing the drum. The group taunting the kids was being on dully provocative. Where were the chaperons? Why did a school event involve MAGA hats?

Then we get to the heart of it. The face-to-face encounter. The man Nathan Phillips apparently wanted to diffuse the tension and he walked up to do exactly that. And surely the kid Nick Sandmann, he doesn't seem to be afraid, but he did make a choice and that was to make it into a standoff. That was not a good choice. Was it legal? Sure. That's not my test. And it shouldn't be the test.

Here's mine. If that were my son who happens to go to a great Catholic school, what I like what he did? If I were there, would I have allowed the kids to be in that situation? No and no. There was a disrespect at play that doesn't work for me in these circumstances. I don't blame the kids. My concern were the reactions more so.

The left and the right almost instantly had equal and opposite reactions. There were reports of extreme misconduct, attacks by the kids, reverb about being a setup to hurt the kids, the man with the drum was accused of lying and provoking and then came the President. Nick Sandmann, the students of Covington have become symbols after fake news and how evil it can be. They have captivated the attention of the world and I know they will use it for the good, maybe even bringing people together. It started off unpleasant, but can end in a dream.

Isn't that your job, not the teenager, right? Weren't they out of their debt? Aren't they supposed to be protected from this? Aren't you the one who is supposed to find a way to bring us together instead of exploiting every opportunity you find to divide, railing on the media and the left, propping the kids as victims? You neglect that they were mainly victims of their own choices and actions. Shouldn't we discuss that? I wonder if the hats had anything to do with your muted response. It's play by POTUS's bad for two reasons. The kids shouldn't be pawns. They are kids. I'm not excusing their conduct. I don't know who consented to them. I don't know who consented to those hats a as school event.

There are issues of behavior for the parents and the school, period. But they're not players in the left/right wars just because of the hat and the confrontation. I do give them a little leeway as kids. All kids, any kids, that's why the law treats them differently and certainly should even more than it does.

The second reason this is really bothersome, our President hasn't said a word about Steve King and his bigoted White power friendly yet. His party, his fellow Republicans, elected officials in congress, all came out against King. He stayed quiet. But now when the white kids wearing the MAGA hats get into it with a minority, he's up for.

And what message does that say? You go after white kids, POTUS doesn't like it. Go after everyone else, maybe he'll stay silent. There's a pattern of choices by this President and we have to call it out because it's not what we're about. Especially when and where this happened.

I think of this. All of this taking place at the Lincoln Memorial on MLK weekend. The reverend once told the nation there he had a dream of equality. What happened here ain't that dream. There was no violence, but it wasn't nonviolent protests. It was a default to opposing something for no good reason. Literally looking for differences and partisans rushing to weaponize it. This confrontation is the truth in one major regard. It's a true reflection of where we are. We seem to be able to agree on nothing. But I will argue that it isn't proof that all is lost. And that the division while overwhelming there is a chance for better situations like this we're supposed to be part of make it better.

Teaching the kids that you got to inject kindness in the situations, the power of dialogue, what confrontation should be about. The kid even gets that. In his statements that he's made publicly, he says I wish we could have talked. I wish this had never happened. He's right. Hopefully he will never make a choice like this again, but how about the rest of us? When will we decide to handle things better?

And you what we could use? A leader in that regard. That's what a president is supposed to be. And if he doesn't want to fill that job, who is going to step up? Who is going to step up and take occasions to make us better because this is not sustainable for the country. It's not a way for us to be our best by any definition.

Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT and D. Lemon right now.

LEMON: Chris, we don't share notes. I have notes here because I knew you were going to talk about this and they're almost similar.