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Michael Cohen Gave Fed Investigators New Info On Insurance Policies, Claims At Trump Properties; Mueller About To Release Major Filing In Paul Manafort Case; R. Kelly Surrenders After Sex Abuse Indictment. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 22, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME. It's Friday and I have new information for you.

Federal investigators have talked to the President's former lawyer, Michael Cohen about the President's business. And I don't mean personal peccadilloes. The President said, "Don't mess with my money," and now they are doing exactly that.

CNN has learned investigators have spoken with Cohen to learn in part about insurance policies and claims at Trump properties, as well as other business practices.

Why Cohen? Because the President's right. He really wasn't just a lawyer for him. He did lots of work on the business side. Cuomo's Court has the answer to why this could be worse than Mueller for the President.

Speaking of the Special Counsel, tonight is the deadline to file his last major pleading in the longest-running case of his Russian interference probe. How did Paul Manafort's crimes fit into the wider Russia investigation?

We may learn tonight on our watch, so don't go anywhere because that could come any minute. We also have new information on when Mueller plans to drop his final report.

It's a big night, so let's get after it.




CUOMO: A lot unfolding, let's immediately gavel Cuomo's Court into session. We have Neal Katyal and John Yoo.



(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: John Yoo, welcome to the show. Good to have you for the first time.


CUOMO: Neal, you good? You hearing me OK? No? All right, good. John, I'll start with you.


CUOMO: You're the new guest anyway, so you get to go first.

So, the new reporting we have is, yes, they want to know about the President's business practices in the Southern District of New York, insurance claims. The New York Times had that and left it there.

We have advanced it to how did they use insurance at the companies? How did they file? How much did they cover? How much did they claim? How much did they recover versus how much they spent on those claims? Was it done legitimately?

Pretty specific questioning, what does it mean to you? Where could it lead?

YOO: Well this seems to me to be part of the Southern District's broader investigation into the Trump Organization, and how it was doing business.

And as you said in the lead-in to the show, this is separate from the Mueller probe, and whether there was any kind of conspiracy with the Russians. We're going to see that report hopefully next week or in the week following, and that's going to focus on a different thing.

I think you're probably right. If there's going to be something that's going to continue to dog the President, that's going to give people in Congress grounds to conduct oversight, potentially even impeachment, it's going to be things that are coming out of the Southern District of New York.

And unfortunately, I think it centers around this guy, Cohen, who is a convicted liar and who has been doing, you know, sounds like he was a kind of a bagman potentially for the President. Unfortunately, we can't - I can't tell whether he's telling the truth.

I mean he's trying to reduce his sentence by claiming that Trump ordered him to pay off women, that the Trump Organization, it sounds like--

CUOMO: Right.

YOO: --is committing insurance fraud. Who knows?

CUOMO: Right. But, look, you have this Special Counsel who has worked with Cohen who said he was credible and useful, and you guys deal with liars or people who've lied all the time. You just need the corroboration.

So, Neal, you know, it was interesting. When I was first developing this today, I was like, "You know, all right, so what?" They're going to find out that they cheated on their insurance policies that they, you know, took money that was more than what they had to spend on.

Lot of people do that. But then I was thinking to myself, a lot of people cheat on their taxes also, and they don't go to jail for it. Michael Cohen is. Yes, he pleaded guilty. But, you know, if choose to prosecute you then you have to explain those actions.

How deep could this go, in your opinion?

KATYAL: I think it go deep. I 100 percent agree with that. And I'm not sure I'll be saying this much tonight. But I agree almost certainly with everything that John Yoo just said that is the Southern District investigation poses a real threat to the President.

I also think that the Mueller one and the Russia one does as well. But the kind of thread that ties both of these together, Chris, is the lying, constant lying, about whether it's on insurance, whether it's dealing with Russia, whatever, Trump is like a Grand Master Pinocchio, and the master of all this.

And, you know, John's right that he attracts liars around him. He's like a magnet for liars, whether it's Cohen or Flynn or Manafort or all of these people. And once the Southern District starts looking into it, I think they're going to find some pretty damaging stuff.

Obviously, the President is entitled to, you know, the presumption of innocence, and so on.

CUOMO: Sure.

KATYAL: But we've already - the Southern District's already uncovered lie after lie, and found, most importantly, remarkable, only time really in - in 40 years that the prosecutors have said a President, a sitting President ordered the commission of federal felonies, and they've said that back in November.

CUOMO: So, John, they say - the President has said don't mess with my money.

Is there a line at which you think it would be OK for the Attorney General to say, "Look, this is a sitting President. You want to take up these kinds of prosecutions about his past life, about all these other actions? Do it after his sentence - after he's served his term."

YOO: Yes. I think this is one where you and Neal and I might disagree. I think the Constitution really gives Congress this job.

[21:05:00] If the President is unfit for Office, if he has made bad policies, committed maladministration, committed political-style crimes, I think that's what Congress' job is to investigate that and conduct impeachment proceedings. I don't think it's a job for a Special Counsel. I think that's kind of become a distraction for the real Constitution route. However, I think for these crimes at the SDNY here is investigating that occurred before Trump was President.

I think that the sensible thing for the courts to do and prosecutors to do is to delay that until after the Presidency is over. Now, we didn't do that with President Clinton.

There's a case called Clinton versus Jones, which says let the process work through. But it also - the court also - Supreme Court also said but we don't want those investigations to interfere with the President's ability to do his job.

CUOMO: Neal, counterpoint.

KATYAL: Yes. So, two things.

One, if John is right that this is a job for Congress, the logical consequence that follows is Mueller, the Southern District, all of their information has to be given to Congress, so they can evaluate impeachment.

It would be the height of - of kind of putting someone above the law to say, "Oh, you can't prosecute through the Executive Branch. And then, Congress, you can't impeach because we're going to hide all this information from you," which is why every scholar who takes John's position, which is a sitting President can't be indicted also says the remedy is impeachment, and that's a role for Congress.

And then the second thing is for crimes like the Southern District ones, which go to lying and cheating to win the election in the first place, I'm not sure that the prohibition on indicting a sitting President applies because what that would incentivize is, if you cheat a lot, and lie a lot, and commit a lot of crimes enough to win an election, then you effectively get a delay or get-out-of-jail-free card, and that can't possibly be the law.

CUOMO: Now, on Mueller, let me use your own case against you, Neal.

The idea of, you know, given what he was asked to do, he's not just a general fact-finder, although that's the way I interpret the first line of Rosenstein's delivery to the Special Counsel.

The first line says, "Find any information of contacts or coordination between the government and the campaign."


CUOMO: That doesn't speak to criminality to me. But even if you want to fold that into ultimately he is a prosecutor, and looking for prosecutable items, then this report could be kind of thin, Neal.

And in that case, they'll be left with a lot of unanswered questions for Congress. I guess they'd have to subpoena Mueller, have him come in, tell him the parts of the story that he didn't put in the report, and proceed.

KATYAL: I think that's exactly right, Chris. In the - in an op-ed that I wrote in The New York Times today, I essentially outlined exactly that point, which is, you know, Trump has been hoping for a short concise report.

CUOMO: Right.

KATYAL: But that actually might be the worst thing for him because that'll just then move the entire ballgame to Congress.

And there is precedent from Watergate to have all of the Special Counsel's materials and investigation turned over to Congress, including Grand Jury information, and other confidential information.

CUOMO: John, for Grand Jury information, John, he would have to go the AG. He'd have to get a court order for that. I mean it's attainable. But you guys should kind of be on the same page about that, right?

If it's a thin report, and there are questions that are left unanswered, and suggestions of hallways that weren't walked down, then Mueller could get subpoenaed, and you wind up with a whole new round of exploration.

YOO: I've always thought Trump made a serious tactical mistake by attacking Mueller, by questioning his ethics, by trying to delay the report.

What Trump - the best thing that could happen for Trump is that the Mueller report makes a lot of things public that's a thick telephone book size. I don't know if people know what telephone books are, but they used to be these really thick books, a telephone book thick report that lays out everything he found.

That's if - if - if it sounds like Mueller has decided not to indict the President, didn't find conspiracy to commit federal crimes, then everything Mueller says, Mueller is the Gold Standard for federal prosecutors. Everything he said that clears the President will be helpful. I - so, I agree with Neal.

The shorter - ironically, Trump's been doing things to make the report shorter, fighting the investigation, that's going to give Congress a lot more space in any kind of impeachment investigation.

CUOMO: Last quick thing.

Do you guys think that this Manafort pleading, assuming it comes tonight, I know they have to get - negotiate redactions and stuff like that, he's got a midnight deadline, do you think that this is going to be the definitive tale of why this guy matters in the probe, as opposed to his previous life, and what he was doing to cover any potential debts that he had?

Neal, give me a quick answer.

KATYAL: Yes. I don't think it'll be necessarily definitive. But it will tell us a lot.

I mean this Manafort worked for 143 days for the campaign. That's like 14 Scaramouches. And he lied to Mueller, and he's been caught red- handed, lying to Mueller--

YOO: No one wants 14 Scaramouches.

KATYAL: --about--

YOO: One if enough

KATYAL: Exactly. I mean--

CUOMO: Anthony hasn't won (ph) 14 Scaramouches.

KATYAL: Right. He's been caught lying about - yes.

He gave sensitive polling data to the Russians. And that, you know, that's the crown jewels of a campaign. And the question, you know, Chris and I, you - you and I have been talking about this a lot, why lie so much about Russia?

[21:10:00] We have a little suggestion in the last sentencing transcript that it's about a pardon that the prosecutors, Mueller's team think he's been angling for a pardon. I think if we hear anything more, we'd like, you know, that's the part that would be real news tonight. What is this about a pardon? What's this about pardon?

CUOMO: All right, let's leave it there. John Yoo, great to have you on the show, please come again.

YOO: Thanks.

CUOMO: Neal, always a pleasure. Thank you for making Anthony Scaramucci a unit of measure.

All right, we are awaiting the Manafort memo. And, you know, look, you heard these guys. They're experts. They look at these kinds of things all the time.

But if you want to talk about Mueller, the man winds up being an instruction in his methods, right? That's what we're learning here is that this is happening the way he does things.

So, our next guest literally wrote the book on Mueller. What's his guidance on what this report would look like, what Mueller would want to achieve, and how likely is he far to go - how likely is he to go as far as this process does? Next.







CUOMO: All right, we're on Mueller watch. We're waiting for a crucial memo from the Special Counsel, the Manafort sentencing memo. Yes, we've seen them before.

But this is the one that is supposed to show that connecting of the dots between what Manafort did and why it matters, specifically to the Russia investigation, whether it's criminal or counter-investigation.

Now, who better to ask than the man who wrote the book on Robert Mueller? Garrett Graff. There's his book. There's the man. Garrett, good to have you.

So the suggestion that "Well, this is the one, this is where they have to lay it out," what is the suggestion about what the Special Counsel would need to show about Manafort in this pleading we're waiting for?

GARRETT GRAFF, JOURNALIST, AUTHOR, FORMER POLITICO MAGAZINE EDITOR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well this is an opportunity, the sentencing memo, to present a theory of the case.

What we have seen so far in so many of these Manafort documents is simply the, what that we've seen the - the actions that he's taken, the financial transactions, the records, the evidence.

[21:15:00] But we haven't actually seen why. You know, why was he giving that polling data to Konstantin Kilimnik? Why was he traveling to Madrid to meet with Konstantin Kilimnik? You know, sort of, what were the conversations?

What was the role that Paul Manafort was playing in that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting? Does that connect to all of the rest of this? Why was Paul Manafort working for free in the midst of the Trump campaign as he was tens of millions of dollars in hock to Russian oligarchs?

So, sort of, what was going through Paul Manafort's mind? And that's what we might end up seeing in this sentencing memo, at least, as best as the Mueller team understands.

CUOMO: And, of course, we know that there are redactions. In fact, if we don't see it on our watch tonight, it's probably because the court has to negotiate those reductions. It can take time.

So then we get to the report, whether it's next week or the week after or after that, my question to you is, you've been following this very closely, do you believe we are done until the report?

This memo comes out on Manafort. This is big - big enchilada for him. He spent the most time on this case, next comes the report, nothing in between.

GRAFF: It's hard to say. You know, John and Neal were talking about this, I think, very thoughtfully a few minutes ago that this - what--

CUOMO: Yes. But they're not journalists.

GRAFF: --when we see the Mueller report--

CUOMO: I always - I always turn to a journalist when I really need something.

GRAFF: You know, everyone in America sort of hears the Mueller report and thinks of that telephone book size, absolutely definitive--


GRAFF: --be-all and end-all report. And that's not necessarily what we're going to see, I think, from Mueller, in part, because Mueller doesn't necessarily control what ends up getting turned over from the Attorney General's Office to Congress.

And so, what we have seen Mueller do throughout is that every indictment that he is brought, every court filing, is more detailed, more insightful, better informed, and more narrative than we actually need for the underlying criminal charges.

You know, it's what - it's why we refer to these as speaking indictments that they sort of have a role beyond simply proving the criminal case.

And one of the things that I sort of - would imagine Mueller is thinking, at this moment, and his team, is thinking is further indictments, if they can bring them, further court filings, if they can make them, that's the only way that Mueller controls what is made public, and when.

And so, I think that there - there's a lot of breadcrumbs that Bob Mueller has left us in these court documents over the last year - year and a half really, and I think that he wouldn't have left them for us, he wouldn't have left this level of detail, unless he had another move or two up his sleeve.

CUOMO: That's the - final point is a good point. Garrett Graff, thank you very much, appreciate the insight. I'll bring you back as soon as we know more.

All right, so another big story.

Congressman Steve King's racist remarks have made him a political pariah but not with the President. I told you when it happened, "We can't let it go." Either you stand against prejudice or you don't.

Did you hear what the President said about King today, and the sad words he had about the guy who wanted to kill a bunch of us? You're going to hear them. They say a lot, next.







[21:20:00] CUOMO: The President's condemnation was loud and clear when he heard about Jussie Smollett allegedly staging a hate crime. But when it comes to self-avowed White supremacy, here's his response to the Coast Guard Lieutenant accused of plotting a domestic terror attack.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Went after members (ph).

TRUMP: Yes. I think it's a very sad thing when a thing like that happens, and I've expressed that. But I'm actually getting a very complete briefing in about two hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you bear any responsibility for monitoring your language when it comes to that?

TRUMP: No, I don't. I think my language is very nice.


CUOMO: Your language is very nice? You just think it's sad? Imagine how he would feel if, God forbid, his name was on that list?

He also had the opportunity earlier to condemn Steve King, the Congressman under fire for defending White nationalism. But listen to what President Trump said when asked if King should seek reelection?


TRUMP: You know, I don't know anything about the situation. When did he announce that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's today, he's announced (ph)--

TRUMP: I have not seen it. He hasn't told me anything, so, we'll - we'll have to take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You still haven't talked to (ph) him?

TRUMP: I haven't spoken to him in a long time, no. I haven't spoken. I have not been involved in that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Has the President ever known about anything that isn't good for him ever, anybody, anything? It's the makings of a great debate. Let's bring in Paul Begala and Niger Innis.

Niger, I understood it when he was on the jihad against Islam. "Islam hates us. Islam is bad. I don't want to hear about White terror. I don't want to hear about that even though it's the biggest problem that we deal with in this country in a terrorism perspective because it's against my narrative."

But he's not running that game anymore. So, why is he so shy about going at this problem?

NIGER ROY INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, TEAPARTYFWD.COM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I think we have to segment different, you know, manifestations of him allegedly being shy.

I mean, for example, you know, you'll recall during the campaign in 2016, I think it was NBC News that was trying to get him to talk about David Duke, and he - he pretended like he didn't know David Duke.


INNIS: And people criticized him for that. I thought it was a brilliant move. He didn't want to give more oxygen to David Duke--

CUOMO: He just can't go to it every time, Niger. So, it's (ph) like if you said something dumb tonight, which you won't, you're a good man, he'd say, "Niger Innis? No, I don't - I don't know. No, I don't know. How do you say his name? What - what is it?"

You know, that's - you can't go to it every time. Every time somebody says something that's bad for you, you can't pretend you don't know what it is, and who they are.

INNIS: I think what it is, is in certain circumstances, he does not want to give more oxygen in the room to a group of folk that are irrelevant. I mean, look, you know history, Chris. You and - and Begala both know history.

You know that there was a time that the Ku Klux Klan had tremendous political power when half of the United States Congress was loyal, a part of, or intimidated by the Ku Klux Klan.

Our country has changed dramatically since then. And these so-called White extremists are irrelevant. And I think that's why Trump very much does not want to give them more oxygen than they deserve.

CUOMO: Paul, what's your take?

PAUL EDWARD BEGALA, POLITICAL CONSULTANT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well I - Niger's inarguably correct when he said there was a time that the Klan was far more powerful than today, and that they have been marginalized, but they're coming back. And, in fact, when David Duke was running for Governor in 1991, George

H.W. Bush, the Republican President disavowed him, called him a charlatan with a record of bigotry.

INNIS: It's true.

BEGALA: That's - that's what we're looking for today.

The Anti-Defamation League says 50 of our fellow Americans were killed last year in politically-motivated violence, which is really terrorism, right? Terrorism is the use of violence or threats to achieve a political end. And all 50 of those murder victims were murdered by far Right-wing terrorism.

Now, it happens on the Left. Steve Scalise was targeted because he was a Republican. He's a Congressman from Louisiana. And the man who shot him shot him because he's a Republican, 2017, and that was awful.

But this President needs to speak out, especially against the kook- Right because some of them seem to be inspired by him, or at least affected by him, and he - he needs to be our national leader, and put a stop to that, just - tell those people to stop.

CUOMO: Right. And, look, Niger, you know I'm not coming at it from personal perspective.

Yes, I was on the guy's list. Lot of people were on his list. If I spent my time, you know, with that axe to grind, I'd have nothing else to do on this show, you know, it's all - that's all we'd talk about. We're living in ugly times.

INNIS: Right.

CUOMO: I just see it as low fruit for the President. I see these as lay-ups. "Steve King, what did he say? He's out. I don't want anything to do with him. The - the people can decide in Iowa, but I have no time for that talk," not "I don't know who he is," not, "I'm not paying attention."

I just - it boggles my mind. And then, we wonder why people with these ugly ideas seem to believe they have a friend in this President. Don't you get it?

INNIS: Well, let's--

CUOMO: Don't you get why they think that?

INNIS: Well - well let's be careful here.

[21:25:00] I mean, when President Obama was in power, he invited Black Lives Matter and some other far Left-wing groups to actually come to the White House to organize for future endeavors, you know, almost essentially to replace established civil rights organizations like the NAACP and other organizations out there.

So, let's be careful, and let's be fair and balanced. I mean there is an element of anti-Semitism, an element of anti-White bigotry within the Democratic Party.

And here's a case where you've got people that are actually elected that say some horrific things about Jews, saying horrific things about the country, and about Whites, so we got to be fair and we got to be balanced.

I mean, look--

CUOMO: How does it help us to be fair--

INNIS: --Steve King got condemned--

CUOMO: Wait a minute. I hear you. I agree with you. And we've discussed it--


CUOMO: --on the show. The Democrats have to take care of their own laundry with this stuff. You're embracing Farrakhan, you know, or whomever it is, you got to own it. He's about a lot of ugly thoughts, and you should be rejecting those, fair point.

But how does that help the President--

BEGALA: Right.

CUOMO: --not talking about White supremacy?

INNIS: He - look, I - I applauded him--

CUOMO: You know what I'm saying?

INNIS: --I - no, I do. And I applauded him when he did not give oxygen to David Duke. But you're right. He does need to, from time to time, come out and say very clear voice that he condemns that stuff.

Quite frankly, American nationalism, which I believe is a legitimate philosophy, and not racist, OK--

CUOMO: Come on.

INNIS: --should not be confused with White nationalism. You know, I--

CUOMO: But it's the only way that nationalism has been used historically. Why would you go back to that term? If you and I were trying to figure out how to invoke this new sense of patriotism, and I said, "Let's go with nationalism--

INNIS: Right.

CUOMO: --American nationalism," hopefully, unless we were both piss- drunk, we would agree that that's a bad idea, Niger, you know.

INNIS: Look, there's - there's no doubt--

CUOMO: I want to bring back the Nazi Party but in a good way. INNIS: There--

CUOMO: You know, I mean it's just not a good thing.

INNIS: There's no doubt that traditionally - historically, there were elements of the America First movement that were anti-Semitic--


INNIS: --anti-Black and the like. But that is a clear distinction from those within the Republican Party and Independents.

By the way, a lot of Blacks that are American nationalists, regardless of color, but American Firsters, you know, and again, agree or disagree, but you should not automatically label that bigotry.

CUOMO: No. But - but it's like--

INNIS: And I think to - to your point though, Chris--

CUOMO: That's all I'm saying, Niger.

INNIS: --that if - if - if Trump comes out and condemns those White nationalists--

CUOMO: It's just a lay-up.

INNIS: --condemns neo-Nazis, then it's a lot easier to distinguish that--


BEGALA: Right.

INNIS: --from what I believe is legitimate American patriotism.

CUOMO: Yes, that's the point. Amen. I get an Amen on a Friday night. Paul, that's my only point.

BEGALA: Big Amen.

CUOMO: Just take away the oxygen from the argument. You want to call yourself America First, great?

You know, I guess he's doing that to even the odds in his next race, you know. "I think I'm going to kill you guys so bad on the Left, let me give you something. I'm a nationalist, and I believe in America First. Let's see what you can do with that. Let's say with that history lesson."

But he doesn't take the low-hanging fruit.

BEGALA: Right.

CUOMO: Is it just because he despises the question so much? It bothers him that it's a Gotcha, in his mind? BEGALA: I can't get into his head. I don't know.

CUOMO: You must.

BEGALA: I hope he's - I hope he's listening to Niger though because it's very good advice.

In 1984, a racist burned a cross in the yard of a Maryland family, African-American family, moved into a White neighborhood. Ronald Reagan saw that in a newspaper. That day, he turned to Nancy, he said, "Honey, we're going to Maryland."

He and the First Lady went to that family's house. They had the whole global press there. And he showed.

CUOMO: It's a no-brainer.

BEGALA: He - look at Charlottesville, August 12th, 2017.

CUOMO: That was a no-brainer.

BEGALA: This - our President on that day uttered the six worst words a President's uttered in my lifetime, very fine people on both sides. I was there a day or two after that attack.

And - and Heather Heyer hadn't even been buried yet, and our President could not condemn actual Nazis, the way Ronald Reagan condemned the Klansman who burned that - that cross.

We had scores of actual Nazis marching through Charlottesville, and - and a woman was murdered, allegedly by one of those Nazis, and our President wouldn't speak out against. He called them very fine people.

CUOMO: Yes, it's just one of the things I really have--

BEGALA: That's a - that's a terrible thing.

CUOMO: --never gotten. Some of the other stuff, I get it. You know, I've grown up around Mr. Trump most of my life, Niger, so I get some of this--

INNIS: Sure.

CUOMO: --as his personality.

And he believes that if you fight the media, you win nine times out of 10, that if you just keep fighting back, it will go away, they'll move on to something else. And he's had a great track record with it.

But on the bigotry stuff, I just don't get it. Who gets in his ear and says, "Hey, these Confederate flag people, take it easy on them. We need them." You know it - who's saying this stuff to him? Who's giving him this idea that he motivates with some of his choices?

That guy he wanted to beat Tim Kaine in Virginia? Guy's a bigot. You know, why would he ever get behind from somebody like he's from Queens, New York? You know what I mean? You know, that's the melting pot--


CUOMO: --where he's from. Where does it come from?

INNIS: Well, look, I - I think that, you know, again, he should pick out certain circumstances to come out clean and clear on the record, and distinguish the neo-Nazi crowd and that far-Left - that far Right- wing element from what his movement is all about, particularly when you consider, you know, depending on the polls that you look at, he's getting increased popularity among Blacks and Browns, I think, due to the economic Renaissance that's taking place within Black and--

CUOMO: And due to historically low numbers.

INNIS: --Hispanic communities.

CUOMO: You know, I mean he's got a--


[21:30:00] CUOMO: --lot of upside. You know, you start at eight. You know what I mean? You got - you know, you're going to do pretty well, you know.

INNIS: But if he approaches anywhere near 20 percent of the Black vote, Democrats can kiss it goodbye in 2020.

CUOMO: Niger, Paul - hey Paul, by the way, it's good to see you.

BEGALA: Thanks.

CUOMO: You know, it's tough - it's tough to get Paul. Niger's good. He comes on Friday night. He makes time.

BEGALA: I'm easy. Are you kidding?

CUOMO: You know, you're--

INNIS: I'm taking the next jet to New York City.

BEGALA: And we got it (ph).

CUOMO: Thank you very much. And Niger, you're always welcome on set as well. Fellas, have a great--


CUOMO: --weekend, and thank you.

BEGALA: Thanks.

INNIS: You too.

CUOMO: All right, when we return, Corey Lewandowski's in the house. He's joining us as we await Mueller's last shoe to drop on the Campaign Chair who replaced him. How does he feel about that? Next.








CUOMO: All right, we are still on Mueller watch here, his last major filing against Trump's former Campaign Manager, Paul Manafort, due tonight by midnight. We know Manafort's duly - dirty dealings continued while he was firmly in Trump World.

The President's people insist all the stuff about Manafort has nothing to do with him. Is that still true?

Let's bring in Corey Lewandowski, who led the campaign before Manafort came in. He's the co-Author of Trump's Enemies. Welcome back to PRIME TIME, good to see you.


CUOMO: All right, so first, let's agree. Paul Manafort was doing shady stuff during the campaign he shouldn't have been doing.

LEWANDOWSKI: 100 percent agree.

CUOMO: Do you - why do you think he took those meetings, the two that we know about?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I - I think that's very clear. Paul Manafort was in debt, hundreds - tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, to Russian oligarchs. He knew he would never pass a FBI background check to get into the White House.

So, he needed to use his position at the campaign to try and show to his friends overseas that if Donald Trump was elected, he would be able to have influence with the incoming President of the United States.

CUOMO: And the President knew that was his situation, so is he culpable?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, I - the President nor I had any understanding of Paul Manafort's fiscal woes. We didn't know he was in debt tens of millions of dollars.

[21:35:00] CUOMO: You, I'll give you.

LEWANDOWSKI: We didn't know.

CUOMO: You, I'll give you because--

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I - the - look, look--

CUOMO: --that's when you met Paul Manafort.

But as we both know, the President has known Paul Manafort for decades and decades. And as a kid who grew up in New York politics, I know who Paul Manafort is and was, and everybody knew what he did for his money, including the President.

Fair point?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Chris, let me - let me just say this. Don't forget. Paul Manafort worked for the Reagan Administration, and when Paul was referred to us - when Paul was referred to the campaign, it came by someone who was a trusted friend of the President.

We now know that Paul was not honest. But - but one of the very first meetings I ever did with Paul Manafort was with a former Senior Government Official who vouched for the work that Paul had done during the Reagan years.

And so, look, I didn't know about his financial background. The President didn't know about it. But what we now know is--

CUOMO: I'm not saying you knew.

LEWANDOWSKI: --Paul's going to spend the rest of his natural (ph) life in jail.

CUOMO: I'm saying the President has known him since the 80s. He met Roger Stone first. Roger Stone helped him meet Paul Manafort. They worked together, as you now know. He knows who Paul Manafort is and was. For him to deny knowledge--


CUOMO: --of what the guy was about seems odd.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, you know, Chris, I was there the first time, then- Candidate Trump saw Paul Manafort.

It would - would have been March of 2016, and they introduced themselves as they had never met each other. The President said, "It's nice to meet you." Paul said, "It's nice to meet you."

If they had had a relationship back in the 80s, neither one of them acknowledged, and I was - there were three people there. I was one of the three people when they met for that first time in March of 2016.

CUOMO: There are photos of them. Look, I'm just saying--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, I - OK.

CUOMO: --that part doesn't make sense. But let's leave that there because it's just one aspect of this, OK? Now, you get into, "Well, what did he do," OK? What did he do?

They believe, and then, we got to see, we got to see the proof, but they say, he gave polling data to the Russian guy with the connections. OK.

Then it turns out that the Russian trolls who were trying to manipulate message start targeting the same places and faces that the Trump campaign did, to a certain extent, and that leads you to connect A to B and say, "I wonder if that's what they did with the polling data."

If so, how bad do you think that is?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I - I think it's terrible. And I've been very clear, if anybody tried to influence the election through outside influences, they should be in jail, which is where Paul is.

And let's be clear. Paul's motivations for joining the campaign, even as a volunteer, was so that he could curry favor with the Russian oligarchs that he owed tens of millions of dollars to, so they probably didn't kill him.

And so, he joined the Campaign for Donald Trump to come on board as what he called the "Delegate hunter" to secure delegates to the convention. But what we know is Paul was selling his relationship to people overseas to make sure that he had a life when the campaign was over.

Whether Donald Trump won or not--

CUOMO: That is Mueller's suspicion.

LEWANDOWSKI: --Paul knew he would never get into the White House.

CUOMO: That is Mueller's suspicion from what we've been able to piece together. We'll see what comes out in the pleading. And I think enough time has passed.

Corey, to be honest, we never talked about this during the campaign, but I am never putting you out as a booster of Paul Manafort. You had been very clear. You - you always knew. You stayed in your lane because you were part of the campaign, and I respected you for that.

But you don't hear me lumping any of this Manafort stuff on you because I know where you've been on Manafort all along, and that's part of our relationship. I don't take cheap shots at you when you don't deserve it.

So, here's what I don't get. This President had a bunch of people around him, not talking about you, but who lied about Russia-related matters, who did things they shouldn't have done, who seem like they were open for business, and either, he knew and was OK with it, and I'm not saying it's a crime, but it's not good leadership, or he had no clue who he had around him, or how to judge character.

Which is it?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, you know, I asked the President about it, specifically, and he - and he told me, he said, "Look, I was never a Washington guy. I was a New York guy."

And when he came to Washington D.C., he freely admits there were people who were around him that should have never been there, and there were people in that campaign that should have never been there.

Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Roger Stone, people, you know, some of those people, Donald Trump--

CUOMO: Hey, his son and his son-in-law went to that Trump Tower meeting.

LEWANDOWSKI: --absolutely knew. He knew Roger Stone.

CUOMO: His son-in-law was on the phone with Flynn, and his Russian friend setting up subsequent meetings. I mean these are his people, whether he likes it or not. Is he just not aware of who he has in his life? Does he not pay attention--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, I can--

CUOMO: --to these things?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I - I can tell you when I look at the people who surround him now, whether it's Mick Mulvaney or John Bolton or - or Larry Kudlow, these are the people who should have been there from the very beginning.

These are the - this is the team that he should have had, not H. R. McMaster and not these people, Rob Porter and Gary Cohn, who didn't support the President. He needs people around him that he can trust, and that team is now in place, and I feel better about it.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: Hey, at least Cohn didn't leave in disgrace with the Feds on his behind. You know, I mean, maybe they had a policy disagreement he didn't like, that's OK. You know, it's OK in politics.

You guys aren't like-minded. One of you has got to go, and it's not going to be the guy who got elected. That's - that's politics. I've seen it my whole life.

All right, let me ask you about a second topic, just tell me if I'm wrong on where I'm coming from this tonight because I'm going to use it as my closing. Human trafficking, President say, "It's a big deal. That's why we need the wall. They're coming across. They duct tape to this."

I've never liked the argument, Corey, because I've spent too much time on the issue, and I know that bringing kids across the border is not the problem. It's not the problem. The problem is right here at home. Two-thirds of the population of kids being trafficked are American

citizens, I mean lot of them are minorities, and they're being shopped around. He says he cares about trafficking.

Then, stuff comes up. He's got Acosta as the Labor Secretary. A Judge says he did the wrong thing in what should have been a sex trafficking case against Epstein, a guy who Trump knew, not saying he's his buddy.

Robert Kraft, that's his buddy. He gets hooked up in this trafficking ring, "Maybe he didn't do it," he says, "He's innocent. Let's let the process decide."

The President has a chance to speak out about trafficking there, he doesn't touch it. He's got the real issue at home, he's never mentioned. His buddy gets caught up, and then, he doesn't talk about the victims. But he says it's all about trafficking at the Border.

What am I supposed to believe?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, you know, Chris, what I think is it's a terrible tragedy, any time these children are taken, and used as - as - as, you know, pawns in human trafficking, it's disgusting thing.

CUOMO: Agreed.

LEWANDOWSKI: And we need to do a better job, as a community, to identify children early, so that if they're taken into these rings, we can find them, whether that's an identification program.

But - but moreover, Chris, securing the Border is part of the answer. It's not the total answer. It's part of the answer. We need to have a better law enforcement area that's working with the communities.

And when we find what we did today, and what Bob Kraft has been accused of, but not convicted of, and is innocent--

CUOMO: Not convicted.

LEWANDOWSKI: --until proven guilty--

CUOMO: Absolutely.

LEWANDOWSKI: --is that - is that, that ring that was going on, clearly, was using women who had no access to transportation or meals or ways out--

CUOMO: That's right.

LEWANDOWSKI: --as basic slaves. That - we need to do better, as a community, to make sure those places--

CUOMO: Agreed.

LEWANDOWSKI: --can't stay in business.

CUOMO: Agreed. It would have been great to hear that from the President of the United States today, but I'll take it from you, Corey Lewandowski. After all, it's Friday night.

Thank you very much for being with us. I appreciate it, and be well, I'll see you soon.


CUOMO: All right, breaking news on another front.

R. Kelly just surrendered to police on sex abuse charges. You saw pictures of him earlier leaving a recording studio. Another day of reckoning for another Entertainment Titan. It's time up for the singer-producer, after decades of scandal.

I think that last part should mean the most. Let's discuss next.








CUOMO: All right, we have new video of R. Kelly from just minutes ago surrendering to Chicago Police. He was handcuffed. He didn't say anything after being driven to the police station from his recording studio.

The musician is charged with a 10-count indictment of aggravated sexual abuse. The alleged victims are between 13 and 17 years of age. Listen to this.


KIMBERLY FOXX, COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY, ILLINOIS: Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a Class 2 felony with a sentencing range of three to seven years for a count.


CUOMO: All right, now, the sound I want to try to get for you, we're trying to work on a couple of different elements now, because this is breaking right now, what the police just said there, the Cook County Illinois Rep, that's what we expected.

What we didn't expect was Kelly's lawyer, we believe, to take to a microphone to say that all of the women are lying.

Now, that is an unusual thing to hear from an attorney. "Can't make the case. It's not guilty. Let all the evidence come out. You'll see at the end of this," you know, that it's a more convoluted story, and that there's a narrative through it for their client to make it through. But I want you to hear what this attorney just said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, do you think these women are lying?



GREENBERG: I think all the women are lying, yes.


CUOMO: Now, that is unusual to hear, and it also sets a very high bar for this defense. If convicted, 70 years is the max, OK? Now, he denies. He's always denied.

Let's bring in Don Lemon.

I'm trying to get Michael Avenatti. Now, Michael Avenatti was called out by I think that lawyer is saying, you know, there's been all these posers getting involved. It's not what Avenatti says.

He says he's got people who were at the center of this case, and that his (ph) women were considered in this indictment that's coming down. Two things for you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Doesn't he have the videotape?

CUOMO: He does have some type of evidence.


CUOMO: I won't - I don't want to speak for him but trying to figure that part out. This has been a long time coming with R. Kelly. He ain't Bill Cosby but--


CUOMO: --this is years and years of similar stories that his stardom helped him get through.

LEMON: Well, yes, and listen, that video the - that you're talking about the evidence, it mirrors the alleged attacks from - that he was arrested for in a child pornography case in 2002.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: He was 35. He was acquitted six years later on that. So, this has been a long time coming. It's been an open secret in some circles. There's been frustration about these young women not being taken seriously. The culture has now changed. Many of them, probably after that case in

2002, said, "You know what? I don't want to come forward. Nobody's going to believe me. And then, you know, R. Kelly's still going to go on to be a star, and I'm going to be the person who lied about R. Kelly."


LEMON: I think that has changed now. You said it's not - it's not Bill Cosby, but who knows? Who knows how many--

CUOMO: Well, that, you know is that's fair point.

LEMON: --will come out.

CUOMO: I'm saying I don't want to - I don't like to get beyond what we know.

LEMON: Yes, let's not get ahead of ourselves. I agree with you.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: You're right.

CUOMO: But I will say this. He is in better shape having it play out here than in public.

You know, in public, you get all these questions, the court of public opinion, what's the right standard? Do you believe people when they come forward? And if so, do they have a duty of corroboration? How much?

You know, we're all mixed up about--


CUOMO: --about what to believe and what not. The pendulum swings back and forth radically. But in court, we know the standard.

LEMON: Can I - can I say something?


LEMON: You said the unusual defense to have someone say, "I believe all these women are lying."

CUOMO: All of the women are lying?

LEMON: And then--

CUOMO: Every single one of them?

LEMON: And then you have in the Smollett case coming out saying that the, you know, this is some sort of cover-up by the Chicago Police Department. I mean to --this unusual defenses that are coming out of Chicago, it's going to be very interesting to watch. [21:50:00] And I got to tell you, Chris, I kept watching the news. I

was traveling today. I had to do some speaking things and - and some other business before work, and I kept looking at my - the emails, and I said, "If this day ends with R. Kelly on the run and a pursuit, I don't know what I'm going to do with myself," because there has been an avalanche of news.

I said to myself, "Self--

CUOMO: I said to myself.

LEMON: --if R. Kelly is on an interstate running somewhere, by the time I get into work, I - it's I'm done."

CUOMO: Well he certainly--

LEMON: I'm glad he - I'm glad he turned - I'm--

CUOMO: --certainly your show would have be a lot good (ph).

LEMON: --not to make light of it. I know. But I'm glad he turned himself in.

CUOMO: Listen--

LEMON: I'm glad. And he's going to face charges (ph).

CUOMO: --yes, he's doing the right thing because that's where he's got the best chance.


CUOMO: You know, the - the system is an adversarial system, and they're going to have to make a show of proof.


CUOMO: And we know what it is. We know what it means. And we know how that system works. But the idea of a lawyer coming out and saying, "They are all lying," that's a lot of arrogance.


CUOMO: Don, I got to take a jump.

LEMON: OK, I'll see you.

I had - listen, I know you're an attorney. I'm going to out-lawyer you tonight because I have so many legal cases, and so many people who are going to break it down. It's going to make your head spin in just a few minutes.

CUOMO: It may, but I'm a little dizzy from the meds I'm on already, but you will never out-lawyer me. Know that Handsome!

LEMON: I'll see you. CUOMO: Know that.

LEMON: I'll see you at the top.

CUOMO: I'll be back.

All right, so something happened today that further exposes the farce that the President's been peddling to you on the wall. It involves one of his best friends, and a human trafficking operation that a wall could never have stopped.

It's facts first. It's worth it. Next.








CUOMO: The political Right tells you that the Border fight is about safety. It's a humanitarian crisis. Just look at the human trafficking. The President tells you the truth about it all the time.

[21:55:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Then they nab women, they grab them, they put tape over their mouth.

They have tape over their mouths.

Traffickers tying up women, putting tape in their mouth.

They tie up women.

Taping them up.

Women are tied up. They're bound.

They have women in the backseat of the cars with duct tape all over the place.


CUOMO: So, only one problem, it's not true. It's a Hollywood illusion like the scene from the sequel to Sicario. You remember this? The President and his partisan pals sell you the image to convince you the wall will save these victims. But it won't, because while he's right that trafficking is a problem, they're not coming across the Border on foot. Most were born here. This isn't playing with stats. It's an obvious truth. And I'm not checking - cherry-picking some article for proof.

I did a documentary about it with a team who spent months tracking the problem for HLN, our sister company, across the country, and with professionals, who spent years trying to stop this, and with victims, who've endured a lifetime of abuse.

None comes from south of the Border in a car kidnapped. Their traffickers were BS gigolos and dealers who played on vulnerable women with big promises, and big feelings, and then a big horrible reality they couldn't escape.

Two-thirds of the women who are trafficked in this country are American citizens, girls and boys. The rest are foreign-born but they come to the U.S. legally on visas. Traffickers trap them once they land. The Human Trafficking Legal Center has a database of over 1,400 trafficking indictments that go back a decade. Google it.

The President says kidnapping and duct tape is the norm. I just showed you that. Out of 1,400 cases, 25 involve kidnapping. How many involved duct tape? One. Another instance of why lie, why create a phony problem when you have a real one staring you in the face in your own country?

Why? Because it doesn't motivate your border sell? Probably, and maybe, because you don't like where the real trafficking is going to take you, like the Jupiter, Florida just a couple miles north of Mar- a-Lago.

That's where his buddy Billionaire, Patriots Owner, Bob Kraft was arrested for allegedly soliciting sex at a strip mall today for 79 bucks an hour. Take a listen.


DANIEL KERR, POLICE CHIEF, JUPITER, FLORIDA: Our concern in this investigation centers around of - the possibility of victims of - of human trafficking.


CUOMO: That's what they call prostitution in many places now, trafficking, because of the age and how the people got there. Now, Bob Kraft says he's innocent. I'm not here to condemn him. Let the system decide that.

But when the President spoke about it today, no word about the young women, who were definitely involved in the trafficking ring. Not by him. Listen to what he said.


TRUMP: Well it's very sad. I was very surprised to see it. He's proclaimed his innocence, totally. And - but I'm very surprised to see it.


CUOMO: Surprised by what? A rich, old guy, allegedly paying for sex? Please. What gets me is the hypocrisy. All the talk about a wall to stop trafficking, but no word for the actual victims of the scourge.

So, let me get it straight. The President is all in about how anyone south of El Paso is a threat, but nothing about what's happening here in our cities to a disproportionately - disproportionately minority population.

A nod that he's willing to shut down the government to help stop trafficking, but no problem with his Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. He handled the Jeffrey Epstein case. Yes, that guy, Google him too.

All the young women who were allegedly abused, it was a complex trafficking case. But now a Judge says that Acosta broke the law by concealing a plea deal from the underage victims. Here's what the President said about that.


TRUMP: I really don't know too much about it. I know he's done a great job as Labor Secretary. And that seems like a long time ago.


CUOMO: Check me on this. Has the President ever admitted to knowing anything that's not good for him? "What women payments? What - what contacts? What - what meeting? Who's Steve King? Epstein, who? Oh, that was a long time ago."

It was 2008. But it seems like a moment ago to all those alleged victims who believe they were denied justice. Not a word for them from this President.

And still, he's selling you that he cares about trafficking. He cares so much that he has Acosta as Labor Secretary whose job includes overseeing the country's labor laws, including, you guessed it, human trafficking.

The wall is not about human trafficking. It's about trafficking in the politics of persuasion. Big talk. Big lie.

The proof of his real concern for trafficking, you saw in his reaction to these cases I cited, never a word from him about the kids being trafficked all over this country, Americans, who might as well be walled off from this President.

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

LEMON: As you were reading that, this came to mind. If you care about one celebrity liar, you know what I'm talking about, you got to equally care about another celebrity liar.