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House Intel Committee Votes To Send Transcripts To Mueller; Democrats To Grill Trump's Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker On Friday; Beyond Mueller: Trump Facing Hearings And Subpoenas; Trump's "Hottest Economy" Leaves Working Class Behind. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 6, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: This controversy goes back to her first Senate race in 2012. In October, she attempted to settle it releasing DNA test results, showing she likely has a Native American ancestor. She's now apologized for creating any confusion, she says, by taking that test.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME. We have a developing story for tonight. The Mueller probe may wind up being the least of this President's concerns.

Democrats are asking new questions and they're not about Russian interference. They are following the money, Trump's money. And we have one of the main bloodhounds with us tonight. What is the goal of the Head of the House Judiciary Committee? We'll talk to him about it tonight.

And Federal Prosecutors are digging in deep, not the Mueller team, old and new federal foes. What are they looking at? This President cannot claim ignorance of what they might find.

And a story that we told about here, you know, a few months ago, it's now bigger than ever, the people that this President wants you to hate, he hires. Why does the President have so many undocumented workers? And what is he doing to them now?

Facts versus farce, what do you say? Let's get after it.




CUOMO: So last night, the President first called for unity, and then issued a warning to the new Democratic majority. "Don't you come after me!"

Their response? You see this look? This is their response in action. They are bringing the heat to the President. Today, the Chair of the

House Intel Committee unveiled the most detailed look yet at how Democrats plan to investigate President Trump, and the probes will go far beyond Russia.

It's all about the money. Where did Trump get his money? Whom did he borrow from? Why did he borrow from them? What did he do from it? Where are those lenders now?

These are serious questions. And the Committee has just voted to give Robert Mueller a load of new evidence to sort through, all of the testimonies from witnesses in their Russia probe.

Who does that include? Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr. Why does this matter? Because Mueller can now determine whether others, besides Roger Stone, and Michael Cohen, have lied to Congress.

Now, here's a bigger question you're probably asking. Why now? Well that's a question for the GOP. Why didn't they deliver the same information to Mueller when they were in control?

Now, the first big event to watch for the Democrats is going to be Friday. That's when acting A.G. Matthew Whitaker is coming to answer questions forewarned that he better not duck any of them.

Let's bring in the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler. It's good to have you on PRIME TIME.


CUOMO: I want to put up the letter that you sent to Whitaker. This was a couple of weeks ago. And you - and you made it very clear. When I get it, I'll put it up.

You said to him, "I'm letting you know in advance, if you want to play with privilege or say that there are questions you can't answer, or the White House doesn't want you to answer, tell me now."

You did not hear back. You reminded him again. What do you expect when he comes in on Friday? And why are you so determined to ask the questions?

NADLER: Well there's a history of Administration witnesses over the - refusing to answer questions, ducking the questions, saying that "I can't answer that question because maybe the President will assert Executive Privilege," and that's not acceptable because it frustrates Congress' constitutional duty of - of checks and balance and - and - and - and of oversight.

So, that's why I sent him this letter a few weeks ago, telling him some of the key questions we're going to ask about, oversight of the Mueller investigation, about oversight of the investigation of Southern District of New York, have - about his recusal or refuse - or refusal to recuse himself about whether the White House attempted to influence him in terms of decisions of the Mueller investigation, or about the Southern District investigation, about whether he told the White House things he shouldn't have.

All of these questions we need answers to. And we - what we said in that letter was, "If you are going to claim Executive - if the President is going to assert Executive Privilege--

CUOMO: Tell us now.

NADLER: --tell us now so that we can contest that and know it."

CUOMO: Right.

NADLER: "Don't waste our time." And then--

CUOMO: And he hasn't - he hasn't responded, yes?

NADLER: He hasn't responded. We told him to respond. We sent him another letter. It said, "Respond within 48 hours." He did not do so. And that's why we're preparing a--

CUOMO: All right.

NADLER: --sub - subpoena just in case.

CUOMO: So Congressman, how concerned are you with these - this new information that's out there?

And we know very little about what the Southern District and the Eastern District are trying to do in New York. Obviously, still federal offices, those aren't state investigations or state charges. They are federal.

Is your concern that something may be done to frustrate or compromise those probes? How serious do you think--

NADLER: Well that's--

CUOMO: --they're looking at?

NADLER: Well I don't know how serious that threat is. But that's been the threat from the beginning.

[21:05:00] We know that the President threatened to fire Mueller twice. We know that he - he allegedly yelled at Whitaker after the - the indictment of Michael Cohen, allegedly, so, we're very concerned.

We're very concerned in two respects. Number one, that the probes continue as they should without interference.

Number two that the public learn of the information and Congress learn the information, because we may have to take action or not.

And number three, we are not going to rely on those criminal investigations because our responsibility is to do general oversight, and get our own information and our own testimony. Obviously, we'd like to know what Mueller found, what the Southern

District found. Obviously, we want to give them what information we found - find. But we have the responsibility of making our own judgments and getting our own information.

CUOMO: Now, the - the Republicans are saying, "Wrap it up! Wrap it up!" Well it would have gone faster if they had handed over the testimony that you're now handing over to Mueller. They made that decision not to. That will probably prolong the process.

Let me ask you this, in deference to what the President said last night. How much oversight is too much to the point of harassment, in your opinion?

NADLER: I don't know the answer to that question, except the President sounded often like - awfully like Richard Nixon saying Water - one year of Watergate investigation is enough. The fact is you have to do the oversight, and follow the facts where they lead.

We - you - there are a whole list of questions we don't know the answers to about foreign interference in the election, foreign influence over this Administration, and garden-variety corruption, interference with just - interference with justice, obstruction of justice, abuse of power in many ways, and we're going to - we have to track all of that down.

CUOMO: All right, so--

NADLER: And we can't allow the Administration to stonewall us. We came in and we mean business.

And we mean business on the promises we made to the American people. And we're going to carry them out. And one of the promises was proper oversight over the Administration. We also promised so - so we - we started last week--

CUOMO: Right.

NADLER: We held a hearing on Voting Rights and Ethics Reform last week.

CUOMO: Right.

NADLER: Today, we held a hearing on Gun Legislation, which the Republicans refused to do in eight weeks--

CUOMO: Right. Eight years.

NADLER: --in eight years rather--

CUOMO: Eight years.

NADLER: --in eight years.


NADLER: We will be reporting legislation on that to the floor soon.

On Friday, we're having Whitaker in for all these other questions. Next week, we're going to have a hearing on family separation at the border.

CUOMO: Right. So, these are all the things that you guys--

NADLER: It's our responsibility to do these things (ph).

CUOMO: --campaigned on. And look, turnabout is fair play. These are the promises you made to the people who voted for you across the country. Now, you have to keep them, or you'll be in the hole. So--

NADLER: And it's our constitutional responsibility.

CUOMO: Right. But there's discretion in it. That's why I asked you about what you're looking at and how much is too much. Now, guns, you're not going to get that argument on me in terms of what kind of legislation, are we a law away, what do we need to do?

Eight years, all the killings, no hearings. And then, today--

NADLER: Well--

CUOMO: --you held one. Now, a Republican spoke up and tried to make a connection between guns to something else, Matt Gaetz from Florida. I want to play it for context.


MATT GAETZ, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR FLORIDA'S 1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, REPUBLICAN PARTY MEMBER: In your debate with me, please don't demean or diminish the pain and suffering, the humanitarian consequences, the violence, the bloodshed that has occurred because we allow illegal aliens to come into our country, receive the veils of - of protection, benefit from policies of catch-and-release that my friends on the other side of the aisle have supported, and then come here and act like that is the great, you know, challenge of our day to deal with gun violence.


CUOMO: I don't know what the hell he was talking about there. What - what - what was the point that if you care about something serious, talk about what's happening at the border, don't talk about--

NADLER: He was - he was--

CUOMO: --gun violence.

[21:10:00] NADLER: --he was beyond terrible in what he was saying. We were sitting in a room full of - of parents of children murdered at - at Parkland High School--

CUOMO: Right.

NADLER: --and of other victims.

And he tries to say that the - that the President Trump's Border wall has something to do with this. It has obviously nothing to do with this. We have to pass a reasonable back - a universal background check legislation, other legislation that we know.

We know from other countries we'll cut down the gun violence--

CUOMO: Like what?

NADLER: --and all he wants--

CUOMO: Because people keep saying on the other side, "You're not a law away. You already have all these checks on sales. The other sales that aren't checked, they don't really matter. There aren't enough of them. You're not a law away--

NADLER: Well there are - there are plenty.

CUOMO: --this is about mental health."

NADLER: There are plenty of - well it's not about mental health. There are other countries do not exceed several hundred gun violence deaths a year.

We have 35,000 to 40,000. It - it's a slander on the American people to say that our people are so much more mentally ill than people in Europe or Canada or Switzerland. Yes, we should deal with mental health.

But the real issue is when you control the number of guns available to people, who shouldn't have them, you reduce gun violence, as was proven in Australia, as - as we know from various states in the United States.

And they don't want to - they don't want to recognize this. And to bring up in a room full of - of - of survive - of parents of kids killed, Trump's Border wall, which has nothing to do with this is frankly insulting.

CUOMO: Well it's like people are - are picking their victims. You know, they keep talking about the crisis on the border. They never mention all the people who are desperately waiting to try to get in, living in abject poverty, and getting sick, they define the crisis differently.

NADLER: Not, not, not--

CUOMO: I call it on the show here--

NADLER: --one of these major so - mass shootings--

CUOMO: Was done by an illegal--

NADLER: Exactly. Exactly right.

CUOMO: --whatever, undocumented person.

NADLER: An undocumented person.

CUOMO: So, that's understood. And I ask - I'll ask Congressman Gaetz to come on and defend his premise. I - I do that on the show.

But what do you think the hope is here, Congressman, because we have lived this ugly tale so many times over in this country? And there is never an apparent legislative fix. Do you believe there is one? And do you believe there will be one?

NADLER: I believe there are legislative fixes.

And you need the political will to pass it. And I think the American - after eight years of the Republicans doing nothing and mass murder after - mass shooting after mass shooting, I think that the - the politics of this country has changed.

I think the election results last year showed that. We will pass, I would venture to predict that we will pass possibly into law this year, universal background checks, maybe the Charleston loophole, and we will develop the political pressure to pass assault weapons bans, and other things in the next few years.

CUOMO: Well I'll make you this pledge. This is always a debate, and it's often shied away from. It will never be on this show.

Whenever you have a proposal, and there's controversy, and it needs to be debated, Congressman, you'll be on anyway, but let me know, we will make time for that debate.

NADLER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, be well Congressman Jerry Nadler. We'll be watching you Friday.

All right, now, as you know, I often ask you, like I just was there, to temper expectations for the outcome of the Mueller probe. Of course, I don't know anything than what we've been reporting publicly.

But Russia is only one concern for this President. Criminality is only one concern. There are federal prosecutions that have popped up from multiple offices. Their pursuits could bring the greatest peril. Why? I'll make the case - I'll lay it out for you as fact, next.







CUOMO: "You can't have legislation if you have investigation." That was the President's rhyming warning shot at the State of the Union. The President then had this to say about the new Chairman of the House Intel Committee, Democrat Adam Schiff.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's just a political hack who's trying to build a name for himself.

It's called Presidential harassment, and it's unfortunate, and it really does hurt our country.


CUOMO: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States in his call for unity. Now, it is only harassment if a probe is without basis, and we have yet to see that be the case.

And what is bad for the country certainly is allowing ethical or legal issues to be ignored, and promising unity, and then attacking anyone who doesn't want what you want, is also detrimental to the cause of this country.

But the President is right to be jumpy. He has a world of worry coming his way. Democrats are in power of oversight, and they are casting a wide net, and their standard will be things that are worth political scrutiny, not necessarily crimes.

Then, there's also still Mueller. His orders are quite specific, as we know by now, looking for links and coordination between Russians and the campaign. In other words, possible wrongdoing, crimes if he sees them, but not necessarily.

Then, there is now this third front, OK? And it hits closer to home for Trump than any other. And it would concern me the most. Federal Prosecutors, specifically in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, now, what are they doing?

The list of stuff that they're looking at from Mueller's domain is nothing compared to the breadth of what they're looking at here. And the Attorneys General of different states also, those are state charges, not even federal, you can see good reason for those close to Trump to be worried.


CHRISTOPHER JAMES CHRISTIE, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY, REPUBLICAN PARTY MEMBER, LET ME FINISH AUTHOR: The Southern District is the one that would, if I were him, would be the one having me staring at the ceiling at night.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Now, that prediction from Chris Christie rings more true after this subpoena was filed this week by the SDNY, Southern District of New York.

The litany of possible crimes surrounding the Inaugural Committee is staggering, conspiracy against the U.S., false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, disclosure violations, contributions by foreign nations and so-called straw donors.

What is that? An American-given money that was given to him by a foreign entity. That's why you'll notice a distinct change in Sarah Sanders' typical nothing to see here. Listen to this.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I'm reading the same reports you are. This doesn't have anything to do with the White House.


CUOMO: Oh, has nothing to do with the White House, not nothing to do with the President. Notice the change.

Keep in mind, whether it's the Inaugural money, the payments to women, the Trump Organization's business practices, or his now shuttered chatter - charity, who are the guys with the information?

Michael Cohen, David Pecker, remember him from AEI, The Enquirer deal, Rick Gates, Allen Weisselberg, they are all cooperating to different degrees with prosecutors.

And the big concern for the President in terms of how to spin this, very hard to claim ignorance the way he is in the Mueller probe of things that happened at his own businesses and charities for decades. So, how bad can it get?

Well, as I've said for a while, the Mueller probe and this idea that it will end the Presidency, I know it's being sold on TV all the time, probably right now, there could be a raft of major indictments coming, I don't know. But we haven't seen those yet.

[21:20:00] And if the report is in fact a tale of bad acts, poor ethnics - ethics, and maybe the President knowing about some of the same with those activities, probably not a crime, and therefore, not going to be existential as a crisis for the Presidency, and probably not even impeachable.

Why? Because that's about votes. And did you see the devotion from his party last night? Would they really go against their President from their party for something short of a felony?

However, politicians play no role with the Southern District and state actions, the Trump Organization, the Inaugural, those investigations can dig a whole lot deeper into Trump world as with all of this. We're going to have to wait, see what they find. Right now, they are

just allegations and reasons for investigation. But it's worth remembering, very early on the President said, "Don't mess with my money." That's a red line.

Well that line has now been erased, and the Democrats are coming for the President's taxes. We don't know where it's going to lead. But we do know that Cuomo's Court is here to mull over if what I just said is true, next.








CUOMO: Follow the money, follow the money. It's one of the basic principles of investigation.

Well, looking into whether the President is financially compromised by foreign governments or others, or whether his business practices have evidenced problems, will that mean that the past can come back to haunt the current Presidency, and should it?

Cuomo's Court is in session.




CUOMO: Asha Rangappa and Jim Schultz. Let's deal with the last question first.

Asha, this is too far back. It's before he was President. Unless you have clear proof of some type of contagion, some type of foreign compromised by an inimical power, this is huff and puff. What do you say?

ASHA RANGAPPA, LAWYER, SENIOR LECTURER AT YALE UNIVERSITY'S JACKSON INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL AFFAIRS, FORMER ASSOCIATE DEAN AT YALE LAW SCHOOL, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well it is relevant to the broader picture, which is that we have someone sitting in the Oval Office, who has immense power, particularly to shape foreign policy.

So, if that person might be beholden or have things in their past that could be used by foreign actors to coerce or persuade them to behave in certain ways then that - then that individual, the President of the United States is actually unable to uphold their oath of Office.

[21:25:00] So, even if it's not criminal, it is from a national security perspective a legitimate concern. And I think that is what the House Intelligence Committee is looking to uncover.

CUOMO: Jim, you think it's worth looking because of the plaguing two questions we have? One, why do people around the President, including the President, keep lying about Russia? And two, why is he so nice to Putin?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL FOR U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP, POLITICAL PUNDIT: Well there have been a lot of promises, and a lot of Democrats that got elected had a preconceived determination that this President needed to be impeached.

And to a certain extent, the leadership needs to placate those folks. And this may be a way to do it.

Look, there's nothing new that I saw today from the public reports coming out of Congress that - that's different from what the Mueller investigation is looking at. So, this is really duplicative in many ways, and is going to be a political show at the end of the day. We--

CUOMO: Asha is shaking her head, "No."

SCHULTZ: --we have to wait and see what the Mueller report - we have to wait and see what the Mueller report--

CUOMO: We do.

SCHULTZ: --shows.

CUOMO: We do.

SCHULTZ: We have to see what that counterintelligence--


SCHULTZ: --investigation shows.

CUOMO: All right.

SCHULTZ: And we need to - and we need to let Mueller--


SCHULTZ: --do his job--

CUOMO: True.

SCHULTZ: --and not step on the toes of Mueller--


SCHULTZ: --while he's trying to do it.

CUOMO: Look, it's good to hear that last part because certainly the President hasn't been following your advice.

Asha, what do you say?

RANGAPPA: Yes. These are two different branches. So, Mueller is investigating out of the Department of Justice. Congress is exercising its Constitutional prerogative of oversight as a check on another branch.

This is a part of our history. This happened in Watergate, in Iran- Contra, The Tower Commission investigated while Lawrence Walsh, the Special Prosecutor investigated. You know, with - the 9/11 Commission investigated 9/11, while the FBI was conducting its criminal and counterterrorism investigations.

The - this idea of - of duplicativeness doesn't really make sense when you consider that these entities have different functions and have different capacities. And, in particular, Congress is accountable to the public, unlike Mueller.

Mueller may not actually be able to release a public report whereas Congress is actually investigating this on behalf of the American people so that they can understand--

CUOMO: Boy that better not be true.

RANGAPPA: --what Russia did.

SCHULTZ: Did - did you just say that Mueller is not - the Department of Justice and Mueller is not accountable to the public? Certainly, he's accountable to the public.

CUOMO: How so?

SCHULTZ: Certainly he has a - he - he's accountable to the public because he's a public servant.

RANGAPPA: So, you agree that they need to produce a public report?

SCHULTZ: And he's doing the work of this people.

CUOMO: Wait, wait, hold on, hold on. Let me make the point, Asha, wait but hold on, you know why Asha's saying it--

SCHULTZ: No, no I (ph)--

CUOMO: --we just had Senator Dick Durbin on.

SCHULTZ: He's a public servant. They work for the people of the United States.

CUOMO: If people weren't watching AC 360, hold on a second, Jimmy, just for context, just in case people weren't watching AC 360--

SCHULTZ: You got it.

CUOMO: --you just had Democrat Senator Durbin say he talked to Bill Barr, who is, you know, the presumptive nominee, going to be the next A.G., if everything goes right for the President, and for Barr say he thinks the law may be tying his hands, and may not allow him to release as much as he would like to.

The Mueller probe is not directly accountable to the American people. It is directly accountable--


CUOMO: --to Rosenstein or anyone who's overseeing him.

SCHULTZ: The - the department--

CUOMO: That's what the mandate says.

SCHULTZ: No, no, no, the de - the Department of Justice is doing the work for the people of the United States, and defending the people of the United States.

CUOMO: But we don't--

SCHULTZ: Whether or not--

CUOMO: --definitely get the report.

SCHULTZ: But there are going to be portions of that report without a doubt--

CUOMO: Portions?

SCHULTZ: --that are going to be confidential, without--

CUOMO: You want portions?

SCHULTZ: --without a doubt. And there are going to be things that the House Intelligence Committee gathers that need to be confidential because of national security interests.

So, to say that everything that the Congress finds is going to be transparent and distributed to the American people, it's just absolutely false.

And remember, you have to think about the pretent - the - the - the reasoning behind all of this to begin with was the fact that they're trying to placate the folks that - that got elected that want to impeach this President--

CUOMO: No, no, no.

SCHULTZ: --without even seeing the Mueller report.

CUOMO: Russia interfered and there was an ungodly amount of contact between the campaign--

SCHULTZ: No question they did.

CUOMO: --and people who were up to no good--

SCHULTZ: No question they did. And - and Rep--

CUOMO: --and we want to know why and what.

SCHULTZ: --and Republicans agreed, Chris, Republicans agreed that Russians interfered with this election. Republican Members of Congress, and Members of the Senate agreed with that premise.

RANGAPPA: No, they didn't. The House Intelligence Committee--

SCHULTZ: So, to say that this is something new--

RANGAPPA: --concluded--

SCHULTZ: --and - and they're looking at something new--

CUOMO: No, Asha, rebut the point.

SCHULTZ: --is just ridiculous.

CUOMO: Asha, rebut the point.

RANGAPPA: Yes, I mean this, you know, half-hearted attempt by the House Intelligence Committee under Republican control too, they weren't actually even investigating Russian interference. They were trying to investigate the FBI and reveal its sources.

I mean you cannot possibly say that that was, you know, any kind of serious investigation. I do think the Senate Intelligence Committee has engaged in this investigation in a bipartisan manner.

But I think the question we need to ask, as you've pointed out Chris, is that this has - this is an attack on our country by a foreign adversary. This really should not be a partisan issue.

And it's actually, I - I think an abomination that we haven't had a bipartisan Commission that was appointed from the very get-go like there was in Iran-Contra, for example.

CUOMO: May - maybe that would, look, maybe that would have been a better way to go.

SCHULTZ: And - and also they - they're going to--

RANGAPPA: You know, this idea that this is a political--

[21:30:00] CUOMO: Maybe that would have been a better way to go, frankly, and just take it out of this sphere (ph) of influence at all.

I mean I think Rosenstein's calculus was, "Well everybody's going to love Bob Mueller. Bob Mueller's one of us. You know, he's a Republican. He's a rock-ribbed guy. They're going to love him."

They underestimated the toxicity of our politics. But I got to tell you, ,Jimmy it's not compelling policy to hear that we got to be careful about classified information when Jim Jordan and all the brothers on the Right were happy to blow up every FISA application, and let go all kinds of sources to reveal what they wanted to show about the FBI.

Let me ask you something else though. Chris Christie says, "If I'm with Trump, I'm more worried about what they're doing at the Southern District and Eastern District than Mueller." Why?

SCHULTZ: Well, I - I think Chris Christie's absolutely right about that because, look, that again, Chris, you said it earlier.

That's not a political process at the end of the day. Those are prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and the Eastern District of New York or - that are looking at the conduct of the Trump Organization.

And certainly, the - the President and the folks at the Trump Organization who are being interviewed have to be concerned about that. Anytime there's subpoenas served upon an entity, there has to be concern. That doesn't mean that there's guilt.

CUOMO: True.

SCHULTZ: That doesn't mean - that - that doesn't mean that we should jump to conclusions. But certainly, there has to be concern there.

CUOMO: Asha, the idea--

RANGAPPA: Can I add on to that, Chris?

CUOMO: Please. Please do.

RANGAPPA: Yes. No, because it's so rare that Jim and I agree.

And I - I agree with everything that he just said. And I just want to add the other reason that Trump needs to be afraid is that, you know, Mueller is essentially confined by the regulations that he's appointed under.

He has a specific scope. He could, you know, there - he can be fired. These things are not true for the Southern District. They can actually investigate any violation of Federal Law that they uncover. There are no red lines. They can't be fired.

And this can go as far back or in any direction that they want to go, so that is a huge problem for the President because it's not something that he can fire and make go away, which I don't think he can do for Mueller either, but he can't even entertain that--

CUOMO: All right, let's - let's leave it there--

RANGAPPA: --possibility.

CUOMO: --because I'm out of time.

But, once again, you two have proven why I depend on you so often. Even if you don't agree, you make the audience more aware, and you do better than I ever could by myself. So, thank you, Asha and Jimmy, appreciate it.

All right, so the President was ranting big time about illegal immigration last night, and we expected that.

But while he was ranting about the Brown menace, and how you have to be careful about the migrants coming up, I call it the Brown menace, that's what I think he's building with this farcical crisis, two people were watching him in the gallery.

He may have recognized them because they used to work for him, and they're not in this country legally. The man who represents them, we brought him here once before, the story needs updating. It has expanded in shocking ways, next.








CUOMO: Did you watch (ph) last night, well if not, the President was pushing his immigration agenda, big time. And he made a point of drawing on social divides. Listen to this because it's relevant.


TRUMP: Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.

Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration.


CUOMO: Now, obviously, the President is the best protected person in the country, and he's certainly very wealthy. That's all fine. That's not the hypocrisy. The hypocrisy comes in here.

He's part of the problem when it comes to immigration as he sees it because he hires illegal workers, not once, for years, not one place, many, at least the Golf Clubs, at least five of them have hired undocumented workers.

Now, many of them are being purged from his properties because of the reports that have surfaced, and Trump officials have had a hand in their hiring. That's a key component. How do I know? Anibal Romero. And I've been watching the reporting and

reading it. He represents over two dozen of the undocumented workers who were recently pushed out. You saw him here a few months ago on PRIME TIME. He's back now.


CUOMO: Thank you.

ROMERO: Nice to meet you.

CUOMO: To remind--


CUOMO: --they come to you and say, "Look, I'm undocumented, all right? But they knew that. They hired me. They hired a lot of us. They helped me get papers. They pointed me in the right direction. When I got uncomfortable, I wanted to do something else, they said, you leave--

ROMERO: Right.

CUOMO: --you lose." Is that all true?

ROMERO: That is what they are saying. When Victorina Morales spoke to The New York Times back in December, I started receiving anonymous calls from people who claim to work for the Trump Organization in different cities in the United States.

I am now up to 25 people. I have spoken to 30. And what they are telling me is that the group is much larger. The golf season ends in November, and many of them left for the year.

Probably, they won't be hired because many of them, and my clients are saying that at least half of the staff at each Golf Club was undocumented, and that's the situation right now.

CUOMO: So, let's say they are completely off-base, all right? Have you been able to vet at least those 25 to see if they are, in fact, undocumented, although it'd be a weird thing to lie about, and that they do have some form of proof that they worked at a Trump owned or controlled business?

ROMERO: Yes. I have seen pay stubs for all 25 clients. And what's interesting is all of my clients were not paid health benefits. And according to them, other workers were paid health benefits, retirement plan.

And my question is, why weren't the undocumented immigrants paid health benefits? Because you're not entitled, you're not--

CUOMO: Right.

ROMERO: --right. So, the only explanation is that they knew.

CUOMO: Oh, you're using it as not, "Hey, give them healthcare." That's a different argument for a different date.

ROMERO: That's it, exactly.

CUOMO: You're saying, it's proof that they were aware.


CUOMO: And so then they start to find out, the reports start to come out, what has happened to the workers that you represent?

ROMERO: Well, during the government shutdown, the Trump Organization, according to what my clients are saying, conducted an audit of businesses and the permanent employees, remember, the temporary ones all left, the permanent employees were fired.

They were brought into an office and they were asked, "Are you legal?" In some cases, they were just informally asked on the Golf Club, "Are you legal?" and said, "Well, you have to leave."

And what's interesting is when the Bedminster Golf Club story came out, my - one of my clients who works in Hudson Valley, apparently, his manager said to him, "Don't worry about it. This is limited to the Bedminster. No one's going to talk about this."

Well, now, this happens in five different Golf Clubs, we don't know of others. But we are talking about a large number of people who lost their job. And, again, that's why we've been asking for a complete and thorough investigation.

A review of business records will show that they have hired numerous undocumented immigrants throughout the years.

CUOMO: And right now, we're just talking Golf Clubs, right? Obviously, there are a lot of buildings with Trump's name on them, their hotels etcetera, some he has control of, many he does not, but you haven't even looked there yet.

It's just the Golf Clubs because that's the community--

ROMERO: Right.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: --that knows you.

And also, let's be careful about the concern, this ain't new. You know what I mean? This - this is what happens all over the country in all kinds of industries, certainly the service industry, which is where the Golf Clubs fall under.

3So, that's not your beef that--

ROMERO: Right.

CUOMO: --people are hiring undocumented workers. That's part of the economic reality in this country. It's that the President is demonizing these people. He's telling people, "Beware the Brown Menace," as I call them. He

doesn't call them that. That's my characterization of what he's saying. And he's hiring them at the same time. Is there any way he could not know, in your opinion?

ROMERO: Look, I don't know if he personally knew. But what I do know from what my clients are telling me is that supervisors knew, managers knew, general managers knew.

And here's the difference. It isn't illegal to work in the United States. And we know they're working. There are a 11 million people here. Many of them have jobs. I would say most of them have jobs.

CUOMO: They believe eight of 11 million undocumented workers are in the workforce.

ROMERO: Right. But what was happening at these Golf Clubs is that the managers, some of them supervisors, were physically assaulting certain clients. I have one client who says he was struck with a metal object. He filed a police report. We have that.

I have Victorina Morales who complained of years of threats of deportation, I mean, and what she is saying is this changed dramatically when he became President, and these supervisors would listen to him on TV talk about immigrants.

CUOMO: Well now they have a new problem because this - the smart thing to do, you know, forgive the cynicism, would be to deport these people, and get them out of here, but it's complicated now. They could have done that before all this.


CUOMO: But now that there are some early investigations of some of these matters, yes, so what happens if you deport them?

ROMERO: Well, first of all, at this point, they are all material witnesses of a major federal crime, a multi-state conspiracy, and any attempt to remove them from the United States is obstruction of justice.

And that's why we travel to Washington, we spoke to Members of the Senate, Members of--

CUOMO: You were at the State of the Union with a couple of these people.

ROMERO: Yes. We were there last night. But we also traveled last week to Washington. I believe that Members of the House are circulating a letter. I believe Senator Menendez from New Jersey also is asking for protection for these workers.

CUOMO: Is there any official investigation yet?

ROMERO: I'm not going to discuss that that you would have to ask. But what I will say is I've had - I've sat down with the FBI to

discuss this. I've had contact with New Jersey Attorney General's Office. And New York state authorities are contacting me to discuss these matters.

CUOMO: And you've done your due diligence because you know it's like professionally the death sentence for you, if it turns out that these people aren't who they say they are. You've done your due diligence.

ROMERO: Absolutely. I mean 25 of them with pay stubs, and I've seen documents, and we've handed these documents over to Authority.

CUOMO: And none have been deported yet?


CUOMO: All right.

ROMERO: And there's no reason to deport them.

CUOMO: Well that'll be a case to be made. We'll see what happens. Counselor--

ROMERO: Thank you.

CUOMO: --thank you.

ROMERO: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: We will stay in the loop on this. The Washington Post, New York Times are reporting. We had you early on. We'll stay on it, it matters.

ROMERO: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you, Sir.

All right, now we all know how much the President loves measurements of his success, polls. Well, he's got a new one for you, and he wants you to be honest. He asks, "Please, be honest."

Wait until you see what the President did the next day after calling for unity, next.








CUOMO: So, just a day after the President's State of the Union address, where he said we must all choose to be better and to unify for the country, he sent me a note asking what I thought about his speech. Here's the official poll.

Now perhaps, you thought it was good, maybe even great, or better yet, historic. Well, I hope it's one of those because those are your only choices. If you thought it was anything else, you're out of luck, because that's all the President wants to know, as you can see here in question one.

Let's bring in D. Lemon. Good, great, or historic.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Hang on, I'm marking my ballot here, so I can send it in.

CUOMO: I love that this got sent to me. Chris, we need your help. And then, he says, "Do you believe Democrats only say they don't want a wall to harass our great President?" Yes, no, no opinion.

LEMON: Oh, presidential harassment.

CUOMO: "Do you believe Democrats should celebrate our great success instead of obstructing it?" Yes, no, no opinion.

LEMON: No opinion. It's multiple choice. It's - it's how I got through college.

CUOMO: The day after he says, no more petty politics, no more poisonous, you know, personal politics, let's unify--


CUOMO: --that's what they send out.

LEMON: Well it's - I mean it's interesting. "How do you think I did? An honest assessment." I - I mean it should be an honest assessment. It's not. No those - none of those things is ever honest - those, you know--

CUOMO: No, it's propaganda.

LEMON: --that's come out of this. Yes, and then the next day, there will be a fundraising thing that will come out. I have one like that that I got from the First Lady, and I keep it.

I said, "Look, I got a letter from the First Lady," and I show it to everybody, but I don't - I don't even know what's inside of that. Never looked it (ph).

CUOMO: You know, Kellyanne said a clever thing, Don. She said before the speech, "I really hope that people listen to the message and not just the messenger." And when she said that, I was like, "I wonder why she said that." 33 So then the speech came out, I read the speech, and said, "Oh, I get it now," because if you just focus on the message, you'll be fine.

That's why he has well over 70 percent of people all blended in, only 30 percent of Democrats, but 80 something percent of Independents, even more of Republicans, they liked what was in the speech.

Yes, but that message is only good as the man or woman giving it.

LEMON: I think (ph)--

CUOMO: And he's completely inauthentic, asking for unity, when right in the same speech he attacks the Democrats, and then this comes out the next day.

LEMON: You know, that - you know what she's basically saying right? It's what I always say, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

CUOMO: Yes. He he he he he (ph)--

LEMON: It's exactly the - this is Wizard of Oz stuff - stuff here. So, yes that's a little weird. But I don't know about the message either because I - I watched it. I actually fell asleep on and then I woke back up.

I don't know the whole thing about a socialist country and all that. That was a little odd. And then, you know, him with the--

CUOMO: It's a great label.

LEMON: Yes, him with the - he was forecasting, right? That's--

CUOMO: Great label.

LEMON: --that's what he's going to do for the - for 2020.


LEMON: Do you want your country to be a socialist--

CUOMO: And they showed Bernie.

LEMON: Yes, yes.

CUOMO: They showed AOC.

LEMON: Right, right, right.

CUOMO: You know, she's got three - three letters now. That means she's cool, but she's also going to be a target.

[21:50:00] LEMON: Yes. Well I think she's ready for it. Believe it or not, I do think--

CUOMO: Well she certainly wants it. Whether she's ready for it--

LEMON: I-- CUOMO: --we'll see.

LEMON: Well she's young. She hasn't done anything yet. But, you know, we'll see. She's young. Give her a chance.

But usually you can tell when someone has the umph, the gumption, the stamina. And I think she - she's going to really make a difference. But we'll see. We'll see how all of that plays out.

Speaking of a divided nation, right, or bringing people to - the State of the Union is supposed to bring us all together.


LEMON: Someone who has covered this, and has forgotten more than we will ever know is going to join me on this program.


LEMON: Do you know who it is?


LEMON: You know him. It's the great - you worked with him. The great Sam Donaldson.

CUOMO: Oh, is he?



LEMON: Got a lot of questions for that guy.

CUOMO: I had a show with him.

LEMON: You did?


LEMON: Maybe - I got a question for him, including how the hell did you survive for so long?


LEMON: This is killing me. No, me.


LEMON: How did he survive for so long? This is killing me. Not you, me. Yes.

CUOMO: He's - he's the best.

LEMON: What do you--

CUOMO: Awesome booking.

LEMON: Yes. What was your show?

CUOMO: It was called ABC News Now, and we had a segment called Stump Sam, where people would ask him questions from political history, and he never got them wrong.

LEMON: There he goes (ph).

CUOMO: And he used to say to me, "Chris, that's the worst thing you've ever said." And he'd say that every day.

LEMON: That's a good Sam Donaldson.

CUOMO: I heard a lot of it. He's the best.

LEMON: Hey, speaking of, he used to have - I mean he would go round and round with Presidents, right?

CUOMO: Oh, yes.

LEMON: He'll tell you about that. Yes. I can't wait to talk to him. I'm glad you told me that.

CUOMO: Awesome.

LEMON: I'll see you soon.

CUOMO: I'll see you.

LEMON: See you at the top of the hour.

CUOMO: All right, D. Lemon, Sam Donaldson. Wasn't bad. I can get the eyebrow going a little bit too like him.

So, the President told you last night our economy, what's going on here is miraculous. No, it isn't. It's a function of choices and fundamentals. And he made some choices that made a divine difference, but for whom?

Facts first, a truth you must know, next.







(END VIDEO CLIP) [21:55:00] CUOMO: The President's signature economic achievement belies a dangerous reality, and betrays a fundamental disservice to the people who voted for him. Here is the President's boast.


TRUMP: The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took Office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.


CUOMO: The second line first, clever but a connivance. We're considered the hottest. By whom? Him? We're certainly not the fastest- growing, that's a fact. The first line, however, has a kernel of truth, but demands context and concern.

The economy was growing at 1.8 percent when he took Office. Latest estimates, 3.4, almost twice. True. True. But why is it up? Two main reasons for consideration.

We're still recovering from the Great Recession that fell during the last GOP Administration, hence, many of the labor participation and wage stats that the Presidents like, growth, highs, they're often still below where we were pre-recession.

The second reason is the big concern. The President juiced the economy with a tax cut that fed the fat.

Not only was it not paid for such that we have deficits that make Conservatives do what they do best these days, hide, but eventually, $0.83 of every dollar will go to the top, not to the middle-class that the President promised relief. The numbers bear that out.

Some companies gave bonuses with tax savings. Most did not. What they did was take care of their investors, buying back their shares, $1 trillion in stock buybacks by big businesses.

Latest evidence of this makes my argument obvious. Banks, one of the main ingredients of the recession we're still recovering from, what did they do with their tax savings?

Bloomberg is reporting that the biggest U.S. banks saved $21 billion, thanks to the Trump tax cuts. That's four times more than he's asking for his farcical wall. It's also more than NASA asked for, for the year, for context.

Headline, where did the bulk of the savings go? Shareholders. The banks reportedly increased dividends and stock buybacks, 23 percent. That's an extra $28 billion, all a reward to shareholders and investors.

Wait a minute. That's - what about the average Joe? What about the stocks in their 401-(k)s? 84 percent of all stocks are owned by Americans belonging to the richest 10 percent of households, OK? Now, did they take care of workers at all? "Yes," says Bank of America, $1,000 bonuses, also cut nearly 5,000 workers. Wells Fargo boosted its minimum wage to $15 an hour, pointing to the tax savings, then cut 4,000 jobs.

Now, to be fair, other banks did hire, but there's still a net loss of thousands of jobs across the industry for 2018. Wages did go up for workers still on the job. But, again, context, they did not go up in proportion to the extra savings from the tax cut. They're actually getting a smaller slice of the pie than before.

Let's pick another measure. Lending. Did you get more money from the banks? We know you're playing with leverage again in the financial institution, so what did you do with it? Did you help those in need?

"Yes," Bloomberg reports they increased their loans by 2.3 percent. But that's slower than the year before.

Be clear of my criticism. It's not about what businesses and banks did or the - what the wealthy did. They can do what they want. Self- serving interest is one of the pure forms of capitalism. I'm not criticizing the decisions. I'm calling out the catalyst.

The President took tax revenue that he clearly needed, and gave it back in the name of helping those who helped put him in office, giving them a leg-up on the 1 percent. That was the promise. He betrayed that promise.

He gave a short-term jolt to the economy by feeding the well-fed, not lifting those who are truly hungry. So, if he's going to brag about his economy, fine. But he better own the winners and losers because they go on his account as well, facts first.

Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON starts right now.