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President Trump Seethed While Watching Coverage Of Intel Chiefs Contradicting Him, Voicing Anger At DNI Dan Coats, CNN Sources Say; Russians Altering Evidence In Mueller Probe To Discredit Investigation, Special Counsel Claims; Polar Vortex Grips Midwest In Dangerous Freeze; President Trump's MAGA Promises Undercut By Manufacturing Realities. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired January 30, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: He'll get eventually. And that will be a heart waming day in this country. Until then, if you need me, I'll be curled up with a hot cup of covfefe warming myself next to a fire on The Ridiculist.

It is cold. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you very much, Anderson. I appreciate it.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have new information about Russian interference, now an attempt to mess directly with Robert Mueller, adding to the crazy notion that our President seems to take Putin's word over that of his own Intelligence Officials.

What is going on here? Now, many speculate about why the President and those around him do what they do regarding Russia. Tonight, we can get answers from a man who should know some of those answers. He was there for a lot of what was said and done.

Former Governor, Chris Christie, the former Trump Transition Chief is here. He's got a new book with a lot of inside scoop.

We're also learning new information tonight on the President's seething state of mind when he put out that hit tweet this morning on our nation's top Intel Chiefs. Was that itself a threat to our national security? That is the beginning of a great debate. And, another presidential promise, broken. Have you, my friends, been Foxconned? The argument for that, ahead. What do you say? Let's get after it.




CUOMO: I'd like to say, well it can't be, but you never know these days. Did the President undermine the Intelligence Chiefs simply because they disagreed with him? CNN sources say the President seethed this morning as he watched TV coverage of his Intel Chiefs contradicting him on Capitol Hill.

At one point, we're told, he singled out his Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, a man he put there, singling out by name appearing to be more frustrated with the graphics at the bottom of the screen than the actual assessments delivered by the group yesterday to the Senate Intel Committee. More to come on that, that raging tweet that he put out about it.

But first, we now know the Russians are trying to interfere with Mueller's interference investigation. Talk about irony. In a new DOJ filing, the Special Counsel claims non-sensitive evidence from the probe that was handed over as part of a criminal case was then altered by Russians to discredit the probe.

He also says he's identified individuals and entities yet to be charged who are interfering with our government. This news comes as the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee takes aim at the Special Counsel for that raid on Roger Stone.

Lindsey Graham, guy who goes back and forth backing the President, going against the President, now he's helping the President and demanding an FBI briefing on the tactics and the timing of the arrest.

The President said, in a new interview, he would think about asking the FBI to review its methods. With us now to talk everything Mueller and more is a man who says he laughed in the President's face when he told him Mueller's probe would end with the firing of Michael Flynn.

He is former Governor, Chris Christie, led the Trump Transition Team, writes all about it in his new tell-all, Let Me Finish. Governor, the book in my hand, the whole time, great to have you on PRIME TIME.


CUOMO: Obviously, you're a big shot at ABC News now. But because of the book, we're able to have you, and I appreciate that.

CHRISTIE: I'm happy to be here.

CUOMO: Appreciate that. So, first thing off the bat, we're going to get into this book--


CUOMO: --in two segments tonight, because you're a special guest. With confidence, the American people, one of the questions is, are we getting the best we can and should out of the White House?

Reading your book, the answer to that question has to be "No" that the American people could be getting better than they're getting. Fair assessment and why? CHRISTIE: It's a fair assessment in my view, and was much worse in the beginning of the Administration, in my view, than it is in the post- John Kelly era. I think that General Kelly brought a lot of discipline to the place, more structure to it, and attracted some better folks when he got there.

But the beginning was a disaster, and I write about it in the book. The transition that we worked on for six months, 140 people working in office in Washington, volunteers from all across private sector and - and government folks, who are working on things got thrown out two days after the election when I got thrown out.

It's OK, you throw me out, but they threw all the work out, and then they worked off the back of an envelope for 71 days, and it looked like they worked off the back of an envelope.

CUOMO: Proof's in the performance.

CHRISTIE: Yes. It - it - it--

CUOMO: Putting people in that weren't vetted--

CHRISTIE: Listen--

CUOMO: --getting thrown out in unprecedented fashion--


CUOMO: --doing things we've never seen officials at that level do in this kind of number.

CHRISTIE: No. Listen, Chris, I - I - the day after the election, I practically threw my body in front of the President-elect, begging him not to - to appoint Michael Flynn, National Security Adviser. We've been arguing about this, he and I, from June to November.

CUOMO: Why? What did you know?

CHRISTIE: I - I didn't know anything. I just watched him.

And what I said was the National Security Adviser is supposed to be the person who is the conciliator between the State Department, the Defense Department, and the Intelligence Agencies, bring them together to bring consensus to the President on national security issues.

I said this guy's temperament is so ill-fit for that job. He's such a showboat. He's such a car wreck that he's not right for this job, and I begged the President not to do it.

[21:05:00] At the end, the President said to me on the day after the election, "You just don't like him." And I said, "You're right, Mr. President. I don't like him. And you know why I don't like him? Because he's going to get you in trouble."

CUOMO: Very forward. That was quite the Cassandra--


CUOMO: --you played there. All right, so news of day, is it surprising to you that Russian operatives would try to manipulate evidence and information given by Mueller in part of a case to try to screw with the probe?


CUOMO: Do you believe that they tried to interfere in the election?


CUOMO: Do you believe the Intel Chiefs?


CUOMO: Why can't the President answer that question that clearly (ph)?

CHRISTIE: Well, you know, listen, I don't know. And - and - and he and I've had conversations about this over the course of time. I - I don't know the new Head of the CIA, Ms. Haspel.

But I do personally know Senator Coats and I know Chris Wray very well. And these are serious people who have--

CUOMO: Put there by the President.

CHRISTIE: All put there by the President. And - and I recommended Chris Wray to the President for FBI Director, after Jim Comey was fired. These are serious people who deserve to be listened to.

And listen, are they right a 100 percent of the time? Of course, not. No one is right a 100 percent of the time.

But I will tell you that I believe when there's such a consensus among the Intelligence community about certain facts that you need to give some deference to those facts, unless there is startling evidence to contradict it. I haven't seen any evidence contradicting it at this point.

CUOMO: Do you think with the President, it's about him knowing better that he has some sources we don't know about that that leads him to say, "Oh, I know why they think that. But this guy I have on the inside, I know better because I know where they get their information."

He doesn't have that level of sophistication.

CHRISTIE: I - well I've never heard him say that. And so, I think if it was that, he would say it, knowing him. The President says what's on his mind.

And so, I don't think that's the case. I think - I think that unfortunately, because of all the things that happened in the run-up to the election, and in the aftermath, the President had a gut distrust of the Intelligence community. And one of the things I told him was that, "You know you've got to let go of that. And if you can't, then you've got to replace all the people that are there and bring new people in."

CUOMO: Yes, he did.

CHRISTIE: He's now done that.


CHRISTIE: And yet, it doesn't seem to be changing it, which is a concern for him because if you're the President of the United States, there's going to be a moment, and probably a number of moments we're going to have to rely on those Intelligence Chiefs to be able to direct you.

And if you don't trust them, that becomes impossible to do.

CUOMO: Do you understand why the people, who worked in those positions in the past, call on a day like today, and say, "I have to tell you. This tweet is not just some BS thing to dismiss of more Trump talk. This kind of thing is a threat to us."

Not that he's going to do something even more absurd but that it sends messages. It sends messages to Allies. It hurts our confidence with other people. This hurts us.

CHRISTIE: All right, listen, on that part, Chris, I think they overreact because I think the world has adjusted to the Twitter feed of the President. I don't think - I think in the beginning, the world reacted like they would normally react to a Presidential statement.

I think they now understand the President uses this for a variety of reasons, some politically rhetorical, some defensive, some offensive.

But to say that like everything that he says there turns out to be a threat, I think people have decided that they're going to wait to see his actions, and see if his actions are married to the words.

So, on that point, I think they overact a little. I understand. Listen, they don't like him. And I know why they don't like him because he's attacked them. And he doesn't like them because he believes they weren't honest brokers in the pre-election period.

CUOMO: But they're all his people now, Chris.

CHRISTIE: Well now - I'm talking about the folks that you said who were calling in.

CUOMO: Right.

CHRISTIE: His people, now, that's a different story. But I think his people are conditioned now to these type of things. I could tell you this much. I haven't spoken to my friend, Chris Wray. But I know him, and I've known him now for 15 years. None of that stuff's going to bother him. He's going to say to the people of the FBI, "I'm your leader. I'm going to stand up for what's right for the FBI. I'm going to defend the institution. Do your work. Let me handle the rest of this."

CUOMO: He just doesn't expect to have to defend it from the President. Usually, it's from like outside opponents or someone--


CUOMO: --like me.

CHRISTIE: --well that's true. But it's - but - but if you watched, Chris, during that - those hearings, he's unflappable.

CUOMO: Yes, he see--

CHRISTIE: He's a pro.

CUOMO: --he seemed fine. It's just a weird adversary to have.

CHRISTIE: It is different.

CUOMO: So, let me ask you this. Here's the big question. If there is no crime, if there is nothing to hide, why do so many around, and including the President, lie about Russia-related things?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, on the President, I can't answer that directly.

CUOMO: You must.

CHRISTIE: I can't. Let me - let me first answer the people around him.

CUOMO: How do you not know?

CHRISTIE: Hold on, well, because I don't know everything. I would like to believe I know everything, but I don't. This is what I can say about the people around him, who have been charged and - and - and some convicted or pled.

I learned when I was a prosecutor that bad people and stupid people lie all the time for no explicable reason, right?

CUOMO: You think that there are bad and stupid people around the President?

[21:10:00] CHRISTIE: Oh, there have been. I mean Paul Manafort, bad guy. Michael Flynn, I've already said, bad guy. George Papadopoulos, bad guy. So, you circle them through the list of folks, Rick Gates, bad guy.

I mean so there's no debating that any longer. They're - they're--

CUOMO: Other than Papadopoulos--

CHRISTIE: --they're criminals.

CUOMO: --all picked, including Roger Stone, by the President. And you say, bad or stupid, look, I am all about respecting the Presidency, no matter how much heat I get for that because of what the man--


CUOMO: --in the Office does on a daily basis. But what category does he fall under because he has lied gratuitously about these things?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I understand that - I understand the argument that goes on perpetually between the White House and certain aspects of the media and whatever. I - I don't think - well I understand why it happens. I don't think that's useful.

I think, in the end, I want to look at the President and the President's actions. And - and when you look at his actions, they're not nearly as drastic as his words. And - and that goes in concert with the person that I know.

And he's a Salesman. He's been a Salesman his whole life, and he uses overblown rhetoric at times to make a sale or to defend something that he's doing. I always, in the years I've known Donald Trump, I listen to his words but I pay attention to his actions.

CUOMO: I'll take that on policy. But when it comes to, "You have anything to do with Russia and any kind of business? No, no, no." You're lying. That's a problem.

"Trump Tower, do you know anything about this meeting?" "No, no, no. I didn't know anything." "Do you have anything to do with this thing (ph)?" "No, I had nothing to do with it." Yes, you did. You're lying.

Why? That's the kind of thing that matters. When you were Governor, if we couldn't take your word about what you were saying about things--


CUOMO: --that mattered that's part of your job.

CHRISTIE: There's no--

CUOMO: It's part of your trust.

CHRISTIE: Listen, there's no--

CUOMO: This is a big part of his job.

CHRISTIE: Listen--

CUOMO: Presidents don't do that much.

CHRISTIE: There's no--

CUOMO: They say a lot. CHRISTIE: There's no - there's no question. I don't know if I agree with that last part, but let's skip over it. There - there's no question that your veracity, that your integrity is an important part of leadership. There's no doubt about that.

Now, there's a large sector of this country, not a majority, but a plurality that believes the President and it supports him and trusts him. His challenge--

CUOMO: Maybe a third.

CHRISTIE: Well like a plurality I'd say, you know, his - his judgment--

CUOMO: It's a generous way of (ph) saying a third.

CHRISTIE: --his judgment now is going to have to go into play in this next two years to decide whether he's satisfied with just that measure of the electorate, or whether he wants to try to win those other people over.

I told him when he won the election, I said, "Listen, you didn't win the election. Hillary Clinton lost it." And - because she's just bad candidate, in my opinion.

And I said, "So that doesn't matter." When I won for Governor in '09, I didn't win. Jon Corzine lost. The people rejected Jon Corzine. And I was the seemingly reasonable alternative standing there. And I got 48 percent of the vote. "So, the next four years are going to be about you, and that next election is going to be about you."

So, build in these next four years to do what I did, which get for 48 percent to 61 percent in a Blue state, he has to do that now. And he's got two years left to do it, and he's got to decide, what do I need to do to get there?

CUOMO: So, let's go to break because the book is all about who's going to help him or hurt him in getting where he needs to be. So, stay with me. We'll go to break.

When we come back, Chris Christie, and a book that's going to be another one of these must-reads. Let Me Finish is going to be a starting point for a lot of people about making their decision about 2020. So, stay with us. We'll be right back.








CUOMO: All right, we're very fortunate to have Chris Christie with us here tonight. The book that he has is called Let Me Finish. We'll put it up there. My copy's all dog-eared, but you see it right here.

There is a lot in this book that we need here. And I'm obviously no book sale - seller. But why do they do what they do in this house? Who is around the President? Who's giving him good counsel? Who isn't? And what does that mean for the rest of us in the future?

There's a lot of that right in this book by Chris Christie. We have the man himself, great.

So, you said, before we went to the break, you've got to separate what the President says from what he does more than with most politicians.


CUOMO: OK. May not like it, but let's accept it. Who is giving him good advice? We ask this all the time. How did they let him tweet this? Why would they let him say this?


CUOMO: Why would they let him, recently with the Putin stuff--


CUOMO: --who lets him take the interpreter's notes? Who lets him go with this guy alone? Who lets him say that in Helsinki? What's the answer?

CHRISTIE: I'd - I'd - look, divide into two ways, Chris, two different approaches.

I know Donald Trump for 17 years. The idea of letting him do something is just something that is maybe works with other politicians, even worked with someone with a strong personality like me. It doesn't work with him.

In fact, when you try to force him to do something or not do something, he almost reflexively does the opposite. So, the idea of who lets him do these things, I've said to people plenty of times, he's 72 years old. He - he's simply not changing who he is.

CUOMO: But everybody, even you, you know, strong guy, my brother, strong guy, you have people around you who when they say, "Gov--


CUOMO: --not only are you wrong, but this is going to be a step in a hole that you're not going to climb out fast."

CHRISTIE: That's right.

CUOMO: You stop.


CUOMO: You think. You get angry. You walk away. You come back. You're like, "So, then what do we do?" That never seems to happen here.

CHRISTIE: Now, sometimes it does. For instance, you saw what he said on Syria. And then, obviously, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo and others got to him, and now he's walked that back a bit.

Same thing on Afghanistan, he's walked it back a bit. There is evidence of him doing that at times, Chris. And I - and I think that he does do it at times on issues that, I think, are - are - are vitally important in our national security.

But let me get to who gives him good advice and who doesn't, right, because that is important, because I believe in the old adage "Garbage In, Garbage Out."

And in the beginning, he had a group of people around him like Steve Bannon, like Rick Dearborn, you know, like Omarosa. I mean what the hell was somebody like Omarosa--

CUOMO: Only the best.

CHRISTIE: --ever doing in the White House, right?

CUOMO: Only the best. We're going to have the best.

CHRISTIE: That's right. And - and - and we didn't. And we didn't because Jared Kushner, Rick Dearborn and Steve Bannon decided that it was more important for them to have control than it was for the President to get a well-prepared transition.

CUOMO: But what did they know?


CUOMO: Like well what - who among them has ever done anything impressive in governmental life?

CHRISTIE: None of them. And that's what I said to the President-elect at the time.

And I think that's one of the reasons they got rid of me was because they didn't want to have somebody who had been an Executive in government, who was an Executive in government at that time, who had run two transitions of his own, who could B - who - who could call BS on a lot of the stuff, and the people that they were suggesting.

I mean let's put - we've talked about the transition. You know, our top pick for recommendation for him for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar. Now, he ultimately picks Azar, right, but we go through the mess of Tom Price. We should have never gone through that mess.

He picks Rex Tillerson, who is a very competent, qualified executive, but he didn't know him. You can't pick a Secretary of State who doesn't know you and you don't know them. They're - they're your Spokesman to the world.

Yet, they put that name in front of him because it was impressive.

CUOMO: Part - part of the farce was I know all the best people, all the biggest shots. They're all my friends. They'll all come and help.

CHRISTIE: Well, and that's--

CUOMO: And it all wound up being BS (ph).

CHRISTIE: Well and that's the Salesmen rhetoric, right? I mean, you know, OK, so he knows Wilbur Ross, and he got Wilbur. He knows Steven Mnuchin. I'm going to think Steven is a quality guy, and - and one of the good people that gives him advice on a regular basis, and one of the moderating forces on him.

Kellyanne Conway, for all the abuse that she takes because she comes out in public, comes on your show--

CUOMO: She gives (ph) and that she gives.

CHRISTIE: Well and she does too.

CUOMO: You're telling me!

[21:20:00] CHRISTIE: She does too. But she's one of the people in the private moments in the White House who gives the President very good advice.

CUOMO: No question. People undersell her at their own peril.

CHRISTIE: They do. And - and they've done it over and over again. But I'm telling you, it's a short list. John Kelly was very good for what he did in that period of time, and gave him some very good advice.

But, you know, there's a lot of folks around there who only cared about themselves and they put their self-interests ahead of the interests of the country. And it is, of course, the President's got to be accountable for that because he picked those people.

But it also is true that he never served in government before, and he, more than anybody else, needed some people who had experience in government. And people, like his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Steve Bannon, were intent on keeping those kind of people away from him--

CUOMO: Well you always hear--

CHRISTIE: --so they'd have greater control.

CUOMO: --Bannon is gone. You always hear the same story about people who work with Kushner. "Nice enough, smart enough, knows nothing about what he's doing. We

don't know why he was here. We had to tutor him on this. We had to get him up to speed on that. The President keeps putting him in situations."

People will have to make their decision on that. Let me ask you about one thing in the book--


CUOMO: --without giving too much away.


CUOMO: If you have the book, pages 335 - actually, 535, so context of when the President went to Comey and said be easy on Flynn, OK? People say, "Well, you know, where - where was his mind? Is that really obstruction?"

I'm not going to get into that with a seasoned prosecutor like you. But, in context, you had had a conversation with him. It's in the book.

"At one point during the lunch, Donald said to me, "The Russia thing is all over now, because I fired Flynn." I started to laugh. "What are you laughing about?" he said. "Sir," I said, "this Russia thing is far from over." "What do you mean?" he said. "Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It's over." "That's right," Jared piped in, "firing Flynn ends the whole Russia thing."

First of all, all right, so that's all you need to know about Jared Kushner. The President says that. Later, maybe that same day, he goes to Comey and says, "Go easy on Flynn."

Now, why isn't that proof of his mindset that he thought if he could cover up the Flynn thing, and make it go away, the Russia thing went away? And why isn't that proof of an intent to obstruct?

CHRISTIE: Well part of what I didn't include in the book that he also said that day to me prior to that was--

CUOMO: I would never obstruct?

CHRISTIE: No, no, no, that the - the reason they fired Flynn was because he lied to Pence. He said, "You know, if you lie to the Vice President, I can't have you around here anymore."

CUOMO: So, they knew that he was talking to Russia only after he lied about it to Pence.

CHRISTIE: That's--

CUOMO: They didn't know what he was doing before?

CHRISTIE: That's what I was told. Now, and that's what I was told at that time that that's - was the precipitating action that caused the firing.

CUOMO: But does it make sense? You, look, you've known--

CHRISTIE: But, see--

CUOMO: --you've known Trump a long time.


CUOMO: OK? I've known him a - a long time. Everybody who knows him will say, "The reason he can't build a big - good team's because he's never had a team. Nobody does anything for him. He has his hands on everything."

All these contacts, he said, I knew nothing. His oldest advisers, Manafort and Stone, certainly Stone, do these things, obviously, on his behalf, he knows nothing. Flynn is doing this. He knows nothing. How does that square with the man we both know?

CHRISTIE: I can't speak to - to Manafort and Stone, because I really didn't spend much time at all. I've never spent any time - any time at all with Roger Stone, and a limited amount of time with Paul Manafort when he had that short window in the campaign.

But I could say with Flynn that I believe from watching Mike Flynn that Mike Flynn felt incredibly empowered, and I don't think he was asking anybody's permission or telling anybody what he was doing.

He was going to be the National Security Adviser, and he's going to go off and do what he did. It was one of the reasons I told the President, "This guy was dangerous."

He had an arrogance about him. He's a bright guy. He's not dumb. But he had an arrogance about him that, I think, led him to do really stupid things like what he did with Kislyak, and then lie about it.

And I don't think the President didn't know about that. And the President didn't - so that everybody understands the context of that - of - of that statement that you read, which you read it completely accurately, it wasn't that he said, "I fired Flynn to end the Russia thing."

He was saying, "I fired Flynn because he lied to Pence." And since, he was the guy who was talking to the Russians and that's what this whole thing is about is he was talking to the Russians then the Russia thing is over.

What I was saying to him was "That's ridiculous." I've run these investigations.

CUOMO: Yes. You was - sound - sound analysis.

CHRISTIE: I said, "I've run these investigations. This is far from over." And, in fact, if you go a little further, what I said to him was, "We'll still be talking about this in February of 2018." This was February of 2017. I undersold it. We're still talking about it in February of 2019.

And what I was trying to impress upon him, and it's the other thing I said to him, which is not in the book, I said to him, "Mr. President, there's no way you can make this investigation shorter. But there are lots of ways you can make it longer. Keep quiet. Don't talk about it. Don't poke the bear because you poke these prosecutors, you give them more places to look, and it lengthens the thing."

And, of course, he did not accept that advice as we've seen by tweet after tweet after tweet. But there's no doubt in my mind that that's what he's done. And it's hurt him. It's hurt his Administration. And it's hurt the country.

[21:25:00] CUOMO: The only thing that's worse for a leader than not having good people around you is that when you get good advice, you don't take it.


CUOMO: Chris Christie, this book also has, Let Me Finish, a nice take on it about your life, and how you got to where you are, and also what needs to change for this President. That's a big part of the lesson of going forward. Whether it's learned or not--

CHRISTIE: We'll see.

CUOMO: --we'll see. Governor Christie, thanks for being on the show.

CHRISTIE: Chris, thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Good luck with the book.

CHRISTIE: Thank you.

CUOMO: Let Me Finish is the book. Governor Christie is the man.

All right, so if you weren't on Twitter today, you are in luck. The President of the United States used his favorite social media platform to attack his own chosen top Intelligence Chiefs.

Why? Because they told you the truth about what they see as threats to America, and it contradicted his truth. Ugly stuff! Where does it leave us? Next.








CUOMO: So, POTUS called Intelligence Officials "Extremely passive and naive" in his latest effort to undermine the people he put in place to keep us safe.

Why? Because the people who gather all the knowledge that our government uses gave assessments that are different than what the President says our threats to this country, including Iran and its nuclear capability.

The President also noted, "There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!"

Hmm! Does POTUS know Iran politics and economics better than he knows, say, grammar? It's not new, that this President would undermine his own staff for his own gain. What is new is that the Intel officials picked by Trump did something that we've never seen.

All of them, in a united front, contradicted him in public. Not in private, not one by one, in public, for the world to hear at Tuesday's Senate Intelligence hearing. The heads of the CIA and the FBI shot down some of the President's most recent statements on truly pressing issues, in particular, the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats.

Take for instance what the President recently said about ISIS.



DANIEL RAY COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIS is intent - is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.


CUOMO: We just learned this evening the President singled out Dan Coats by name during a morning rant. The problem with this disagreement is that only one side knows what the hell it's talking about.

With all due respect, the President has evidenced zero expertise in this area, or in any area, other than to say he's an expert in something, or he knows more about it than anyone.

Decades of experience, legions of agents, analysts, versus the President's gut.

[21:30:00] To say the President chooses ignorance over the experts is bad. Worse is the fact that this President has taken the word of the Russian leader about election interference, and the North Korean leader about his intentions over the reckoning of his own Intelligence agencies. The reality is the world is a dangerous place. And we have a ton of

money and personnel tied up in Intel for a very good reason. If the President is distorting the facts about national security, his distorted reality is in itself arguably a national security threat.

So, whom should we believe? The nation's top Intel officers, who closely monitor our threats, or the President who doesn't read or heed daily warnings? You may think the answer is easy. But let's see what happens in a great debate.








CUOMO: You can't make any of this stuff up.

First, the Intel Chiefs contradict the President on several foreign policy issues. What does he do? He slams them, telling his own Chiefs to go back to school. He didn't have better facts, just bad feelings.

[21:35:00] Now, the Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer is urging those same Intel heads to educate the President about the facts. The question remains, "Why doesn't the President believe his own people?"

Now, a secondary question. "Is all of this OK because God wants Trump to be President?" as Sarah Sanders said today.

Let's get after all of it with our great debaters, Angela Rye, and former Michigan GOP Senate Candidate, John James. Mr. James, welcome to the show, Angela, as always.

So, what is your conjecture, Ms. Rye? Why do you believe the President goes against his Intel Chiefs? Is it just personality or something more troubling?

ANGELA RYE, ATTORNEY, IMPACT STRATEGIES PRINCIPAL & CEO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, NPR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: I think it's something far more troubling, and it starts with the fact that he doesn't actually read his Intel briefs. What a great security risk that is for the country?

And it is especially, and abundantly, challenging when, you know, you have folks going to the Hill, when Coats testifies before the Committee, and says that one of the biggest threats before us is weaponized disinformation. It would harm Donald Trump to accept that as fact when he is someone who - his entire Presidency would be undermined by that same fact, right? There are reports today that said that there were polls that were paid for by his attorney to help to make sure that he would be the front-runner during the 2016 election.

I think it is also abundantly challenging when you have something like cybersecurity and cyberwarfare being things we need to pay for. And instead of putting those as priorities, you're putting or trying to put $5.7 billion towards a wall we don't need--

CUOMO: All right.

RYE: --and saying it's a national emergency. That is why all of this is challenging. And that is why he has to undermine what they're saying because it flies in the face of Donald Trump's priorities.

CUOMO: Now, Mr. James, I know you're not smiling because this is how you'd handle it, if the Intel Chiefs came to you and told you what you needed to worry. I know, just from doing research on you, and interviewing you during the campaign, you study like crazy.


CUOMO: And you want this kind of information. So, what is your explanation for why the--

JAMES: Well, I stand with--

CUOMO: --President does this.

JAMES: Well I absolutely stand with our Intelligence community so closely that as a combat veteran, I've literally put my life, and the life of my men, into their hands. Our Intelligence community is extremely professional. But they're not perfect.

They are eminently qualified, but they're not infallible. They have done a tremendous job in a lot of things that we don't even know that they're doing to keep us safe, but there have been failings in the past.

I believe that is absolutely the priority and the prerogative of our elected leaders, whether in Congress or the Executive Branch, to hold our Intelligence community accountable because we can't get things wrong--

CUOMO: Fair point.

JAMES: --when it comes to Iran. We can't get it wrong when it comes to North Korea.

CUOMO: Fair point. Fair point.

JAMES: And these are big deals.

CUOMO: There's an element though that is missing from your analysis. I - I bet you, Angela agrees with everything you just said. However, that assumes that you know something better.

That assumes that you're exposing a flaw, and say, "Wait a minute. You made us put the lives of good men like Mr. James on the line for the Iraq War, and yellowcake was BS. Why'd you tell us that? OK, now we have it good (ph)."

That's not the situation here though, Mr. James. The President doesn't have--

JAMES: Well so how--

CUOMO: --better information. He's just questioning information--

RYE: He doesn't have any.

CUOMO: --for some reason that he doesn't like.

JAMES: Well whether or not he likes it, this is information that we're getting. But again, the Intelligence community told us that there was yellowcake in Iraq. The Intelligence community was snuck up on when North Korea started launching rockets over our Allies, Japan and South Korea.

Again, our Intelligence community is eminently qualified but they're not infallible.

CUOMO: Right.

JAMES: I believe that most people--

RYE: He--

JAMES: --have the biggest problem with the fact in the manner which this was handled over Twitter, and not necessarily behind closed doors.

CUOMO: But, look, as Chris Christie said--

JAMES: I think that everybody needs to - to - to re-cage and reassess and then come back to do what's best for the American people.

CUOMO: I hear you on that. But you know what? As Chris Christie says, you know, people have gotten used to the fact that the President's irresponsible in terms of how he puts messaging out. And I think that's a little bit apologetic, but whatever.

Angela, still, the point stands. We don't disagree. You're not going to disagree with Mr. James is saying. If you've got reason to push on the Intel, you should. We should hold power to account. That's not what's going on here.

RYE: Where - where is the - I guess where's the smoking gun here?

What - what Intelligence do we have, no pun intended, what Intelligence do we have that demonstrates that that is in fact the case that Donald Trump is somehow infallible and knows something the Intelligence community--

CUOMO: He takes Putin's word about Russian interference--

RYE: --does not. Donald Trump is--

CUOMO: --over his own Intel Chiefs, twice.

RYE: Well not only that. But Donald Trump is so fallible that he regularly has typos on Twitter. I'm going to side with the Intelligence community here. I'm going to side with John Brennan who said--

JAMES: Absolutely.

RYE: --that there is some intellectual bankruptcy going on with your Commander-in-Chief. I think that is the reality of this. Donald Trump, again, will not even read the Intelligence briefing. So why are we taking his word over theirs? Does he have a gut feeling?

CUOMO: Because he's the President of the United States.

RYE: We used to make fun of--

CUOMO: That's why.

RYE: OK. Well, you know what? That hadn't gotten us very far, this Administration. But there was a Homeland Security - don't laugh, Chris. I saw that.

CUOMO: I'm not. I'm not. It's just my face.

[21:40:00] RYE: There's a Homeland Secure - there was a Homeland Security Head, Michael Chertoff who had a gut feeling once, and then we got these threat levels put in the airports. People made fun of him for that.

So, now we're going with gut feelings? Is that we're doing?

CUOMO: Sure tough.

JAMES: Well if I may - if I--

CUOMO: Go ahead, Mr. James.

JAMES: --if I may, for - from a first-hand experience, Iran has mal- intent for the United States, and for Israel. And to take our eye off the ball, which I'm not implying that our qualified Intelligence community is, but the reports that were put out there, Iran intends to hurt us.

When I was over there, Iran trained fighters that were actively engaging Americans, and we cannot take our eye off the ball. And so, again, I would encourage our President, anyone else to go back behind closed doors, understand the information that's put out there, so we can keep American soldiers--

CUOMO: Right.

JAMES: --and American people safe.

CUOMO: And again, the intelligent thing there was so you don't blow up the Iran Deal because that's the best mechanism you have. You want to strengthen it? You want to make it better? Fine.

It's been impasse since then, so again, it takes you back to this basic premise. You want to go after the Intel guys? Fine. But have reason to do it, and do things that are--

RYE: Right.

CUOMO: --actually bolstering the cause that you say is American safety, not hurting it.

All right, so then comes to the other issue. Here's why it's all OK, Angela, here's why. Because it's in God's hands.

RYE: Yes.

CUOMO: And God wanted Trump to be President. Sarah Sanders said it. Listen.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think God calls all of us to fill different roles at different times. And I think that he wanted Donald Trump to become President, and that's why he's there.


CUOMO: And how dare you, Angela Rye, question God's will by questioning this President or his motives when this was all but ordained. Does that quiet your criticism?

RYE: Amen and Hallelujah! No, it does not.

Here's the thing. Here's the small thing. We have this thing, and I'm a Christian, we have this thing called free will.

And we are allowed to exercise our votes or Russia's allowed to exercise them on our behalf, whatever it may be, I think the reality of it is, perhaps, Donald Trump was called for such a time as this.

But he called a lot of the rest of us to resist, to avoid the nonsense, to stay woke and pay attention to ensure that he doesn't pull the wool over our eyes whether it's about a wall, intelligence, in two ways, you know, I don't believe that Donald Trump was anointed and appointed to take us to greatness, right?

I believe that, perhaps, we needed to figure out how we would fight together, and we would unite on - on common ground and - and restore the humanity and humankind and our, you know, our better angels.

That is about it. But I do believe that we have free will. I believe that God called me to - to make sure that people know that Donald Trump is not the dude. So--

CUOMO: Right.

RYE: --hey, we're both called. We're both called.

CUOMO: I often say that you are God-send. Mr. James, I am no one--

RYE: Hey, my name is Angela, Chris. You know--

CUOMO: I know. You - you don't get better than that.

RYE: --that is a messenger of God.

JAMES: All right.

CUOMO: I got like 10 cousins named Angelo--

RYE: That is what that means.

CUOMO: --very close.


CUOMO: So, look, I'm no one to play with faith. I say all the time. I am - I have faith because I am flawed. Mass is a place for sinners, not saints. But it does seem to--

RYE: Come on and (ph) preach to us.

CUOMO: --smack of a little bit of irony, Mr. James that you're going to say that Donald Trump is an example of what God wanted in the Presidency. I've had the same struggle with evangelical voters on this.

It seems to be such a contradiction of so many things that they've made paramount over the years about what the Christian test was for leadership. Do you see Mr. Trump as evidence of what God would want in a President?

JAMES: Well so, I will not presume to speak for the President, and I certainly won't presume to speak for God. I do know--

CUOMO: You can't duck on this show, Mr. James. You're a combat vet. Get after it.

JAMES: Well, I'll tell you what. I - I believe that God has no party.

I believe that the Lord, and I'll agree with Angela here, the Lord did give us free will. He established government over men. And I truly believe that in this system, he gave men in this country and women, of course, free will to elect our leaders.

And he also gave us the ability to live with our consequences whether good or bad. We're in this situation because we are allowed to elect our leaders, and that's why these elections are so important. I truly believe that everybody is - we had a binary choice, Hillary Clinton or President Trump, and everybody made their selection for their varying reasons.

But right now, at this point, we have the obligation to make sure that we're informed, to make sure that we love everyone as ourselves, to make sure that we love God first, and to do everything that we can to do what we have - to use what we have to be a blessing to others.

So, that's what I'm intent to do. He also tells us to pray for our leaders--

RYE: Amen.

JAMES: --so that we can have peace in this country and all over the world, so that's what I intend to do whether it's a Democrat or a Republican.

CUOMO: Well, you know what? I'm going to take any opportunity for a big Amen that I can get on this show in this current time that we're living through. And what you just said gets an Amen. We all want to be--

RYE: Amen.

CUOMO: --on that page. Angela, Mr. James, welcome to the show. It's great to have you both.

JAMES: Thanks for having me again.

CUOMO: I hope to see you both again soon. Be well.

RYE: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, cities in the Midwest, what a tough time, OK? They are in shutdown mode. I'm not talking about the government. Extreme temperatures, really extreme measures. I want to show you what's happening there.

Remember, we're all brothers and sisters. Look at how some of us are suffering, next.







(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: The cold is unbelievable. 80 percent of the country, 80 percent woke up to below-freezing temperatures. Look at the screen at the numbers. It's like Antarctica, in fact, worse in places.

Worst part? Not going to get much better tomorrow. A glimpse across the Midwest, dangerous whiteout conditions on Minnesota roads.

Take a look at this. Chicago train tracks, look at this one, this was my video of the day, they lit them on fire on purpose to keep the switching mechanisms working. Think about that.

Science experiments, hot water instantly turning into snow. Watch this.




CUOMO: It's called boiling snow clouds. D. Lemon, speaking of boiling snow clouds. Wasn't that your code name at one time? So--

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Right. And I live in Chicago, absolutely - yes.

CUOMO: --experiments are cool.


CUOMO: But the, no pun intended, but the reality is life-threatening conditions.

LEMON: Life-threatening! And did you see - we talked about this a little bit yesterday, 60 degrees below wind chill temperatures in Minnesota. Can you imagine that? I think the low this morning in Minneapolis was like 20 below.

And I just left Minneapolis last week, so I missed it. Thank goodness! But the people there are suffering. They say, if you go outside, within minutes, maybe within seconds, you can have frostbite. So, it's - it's nothing to joke about.

And hundreds of millions of people, as you said, are in the path of this. Did you see the - the snow that came earlier today?

CUOMO: Oh, yes. Right out of nowhere (ph).

LEMON: Whiteout conditions like boom!

CUOMO: Whiteout.

LEMON: And then it went away.

CUOMO: Yes. I was - I was at a Cha-Cha's Harry Potter birthday party, and they thought it was a spell going on out there. But, you know, the reason I want to raise attention about the story is the need is going to be great.


CUOMO: And, you know, we got a lot of people watching us in that part of the country. Look out for your brothers and sisters--


CUOMO: --right now, the elderly, people who are in need, who might not have enough to heat themselves in this kind of situation because people can get bad - it can get bad fast.

[21:50:00] LEMON: Speaking of - of, you know, the Midwest and Chicago, we are doing a story that has been discussed a lot, and it is the alleged attack involving Jussie Smollett--

CUOMO: From Empire?

LEMON: --the - the actor from Empire in Chicago, and we're going to have a report on that, and discuss where police are now in this situation. But it is and - and it is interesting.

Also, the President is obsessed, as you know, with Mar-a-Lago, right? He loves Mar-a-Lago.


LEMON: The author of this book will be on.


LEMON: Yes, Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump's Presidential Palace, Laurence Leamer coming on.

CUOMO: Good get. Another good get for D. Lemon.

LEMON: We'll see you in a bit.

CUOMO: I'll see you soon.

LEMON: See you, brother. All right.

CUOMO: All right, you remember all the promises that the President made to bring back manufacturing jobs to America?

One of his shining examples of delivering on his promise is now going the wrong way. What is the truth about manufacturing in this country and what the President has done and can do? Facts First, next.







[21:55:00] CUOMO: Today, we learned that Foxconn, this big company that made big promises, that the President used as proof of his promise kept about manufacturing greatness, that it's all turned out to be largely a false promise.

All right, now let me take a step back, for context. MAGA, Make America Great Again, we're told that it is in part meant as a return to the Golden Age of manufacturing.


TRUMP: The rebirth of American industry is beginning.

We will once again re-discover our heritage as a manufacturing nation.

We're seeing companies open up factories in America.


CUOMO: Sounds good! Facts First.

The glory days of manufacturing here were in the late 70s, 20 million workers. That's 25 percent of the working population then, earned their paycheck from factory work. It's been a fairly steady decline ever since.

Today, only 12.8 million workers are in the industry, that's about 8.5 percent of that population. Our manufacturing output is still huge compared to the rest of the world, but we're not number one anymore.

The key question is, why. And the answer is not because the U.S. quit on manufacturing or on workers or that companies simply ran away, as the President suggests.

The reason is, innovation and tech changed manufacturing and drove us toward a service economy. And this country did not re-train, did not re-educate and nurture workers, and new industries, as it could have, adding to the negative impact. That's the truth.

Trump doesn't talk about these factors because he has no ideas there, and because it would frustrate the simple solution suggested by MAGA. If we go back to how it was, we'll be better. Can't happen!

"Oh, yes?" says the Administration, "Then how did we add 473,000 manufacturing jobs since Trump took Office returning us to the levels of 2007?"

First, more jobs, more better. It's great to see growth. But is the reason for that growth continued recovery from the Great Recession or Trump being great? Well, for proof of the latter, let's look at two of his signature achievements.

Remember the Carrier plant in Indiana? Trump took credit, saving 1,100 jobs from being sent to Mexico. He said it was his ability to convince business to return, make good deals, make it better for them here. The result? Hundreds of jobs cut anyhow, and they moved, guess where, Mexico.

Does this mean Trump is bad? No, not necessarily. It means he misled you about the realities of the modern economy. "Well that's just a one-off," say Trump folk.

All right, then that brings us to the news today. Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics company that was supposed to build a factory in Wisconsin, Trump was there, you'll remember in June, shovel in hand for the groundbreaking, and it was supposed to employ 13,000 people, mostly blue-collar workers.

Now, at the time, the President said this.


TRUMP: This is a great day for American workers, and manufacturing, and for everyone who believes in the concept and the label, Made in the USA.


CUOMO: Now, the reality, Foxconn says labor costs are too high here. The need for labor has changed. It won't build the factory. It's going to build a tech hub, instead.

Not going to hire an army of blue-collar workers. It's looking for engineers and researchers. Said it would hire 5,200 people by 2020. Now that number will be closer to a 1,000 workers.

The argument is this reality reveals two problems. One is that the President is selling something he can't deliver on. Time and time again, we have seen MAGA turned out to be something that spreads division or, as it does here, disillusionment.

The President can say he can bring back factories, but the facts and economics and his own experience as President suggest otherwise.

Secondly, the President should not be trying to take us back to a bygone economic era. The Right portrays this suggestion as a slap to the working man and woman. No. The slap is hiding the reality, feeding false hope to good people, who need a break.

Re-training, education, incentivizing new industries here, cutting deals like TPP to access foreign markets with our own manufactured goods, Trump has done none of that.

Tell the truth, confront the truth, realize that there are new challenges and take the steps that take our workers and our economy forward. That is progress. That will make us greater still. The future will never lie in the past. Thank you for watching tonight. CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON starts right now.

LEMON: Well done. I've been saying that for years, not that I'm taking credit for what you did, but you did a much better job.

CUOMO: Yes, it's exactly what you just did in a better way (ph).

LEMON: No, no, no, no, no, you did a much better job of explaining that because you went beyond and talked about manufacturing.

My whole thing has been about the - the folks in the Rust Belt, the folks who are in coal country that during the course of the campaign, he made these false promises.

I've been saying, listen, we want everyone to have jobs.