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NY Times: Trump Ordered Kushner Get Top Secret Clearance; Cohen Alleges Trump Committed Crimes While In Office; Trump Defends Kim Jong-Un Over Death Of American Citizen; Admin Sources: Special Counsel Rules Stop Negative Info From Being Released If Trump Isn't Charged With A Crime; North Korean Summit Talks Collapse; Trump Leaves Empty- Handed. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 28, 2019 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The news continues right now when I hand it over to Chris for Cuomo Prime Time. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right. Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to Prime Time.

The President reportedly lied to you and about something very serious. The New York Times says the President ordered his former chief of staff to grant his son-in-law top secret security clearance against the recommendations of U.S. Intel and his top aides. Kelly wrote a memo about it. The White House Counsel wrote a memo about it both saying this was a wrong move. Then the President told us he played no role, so did his daughter. And now the White House says they don't discuss clearances.

We have a very valuable guest here. You know Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey. He has a long running feud with Jared Kushner, but this is all about full disclosure tonight. He has got a book. You can read about it in there. Is he willing to speak truth to power about this and other matters like what's going on with Michael Cohen, what's going on in Congress, maybe he spills more beans next week. The Governor thinks this alone should send a chill up the President's spine. Listen.


MICHAEL COHEN, TRUMP'S FORMER LAWYER: I am in constant contact with the Southern District of New York regarding ongoing investigations.


CUOMO: About what? We have never had more weighty matters to deal with. So what do you say? Let's just get at it.

Big 48 hours, raised all kinds of new questions about the President's judgments and those actively trying to shield him from scrutiny. You heard his disturbing comments regarding the death of Otto Warmbier. You saw what happened on the Hill yesterday with Michael Cohen laying out a roadmap of crimes he says President Trump committed before he took office and while he has been there.

Now, there's this. Remember all the controversies surrounding top security clearances for first son-in-law Jared Kushner? Remember how the President said he'd leave the decision or grant them to his former chief of staff. Listen to what he told you.


REPORTER: Did you tell General Kelly or anyone else in the White House to overrule security officials? The career veterans?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: No. I don't think I have the authority to do that. I'm not sure do. But I wouldn't do it. Jared is a good - was never involved with the security.


CUOMO: I was never involved with the security. According to The New York Times tonight, he lied. He ordered Kelly to get Jared top security clearance, overruling recommendations from Kelly, the CIA and other top White House aides. This is heavy stuff. This isn't about lying about his weight or height anymore.

Governor Chris Christie supports the President. What does he think of this? His new book is called, Let Me Finish. You must read it to understand the depth of the relationship and his feelings about Kushner. I'm not going to waste time going into that tonight, but it's worth a read. Governor, thank you for being here.


CUOMO: These matters, let's start with just a macro thing. Am I wrong to have serious reservations about whether this President can be believed?

CHRISTIE: Well, this is - I write this pretty extensively in the book, Chris, this is the biggest problem with having family in official positions in the White House because it's much harder to be objective. It's much harder to handle it that way. What does he do in this instance, at least as reported by The New York times tonight? Jared wants that top security - secret security clearance, they're upset about the fact that John Kelly took it away from them based upon objections from both the FBI and the CIA. And then all of a sudden Jared gets it.

And we now find out from this report that John Kelly and Don McGahn, the White House Counsel, wrote contemporaneous memos saying that they were overruled by the President. They were concerned about this decision. I can to tell you something. As having been a Governor, I never had a staff member write a contemporaneous memo about one of my decisions.

CUOMO: They don't do that on a whim.

CHRISTIE: They just don't.

CUOMO: They do it to cover themselves in a situation that they're worried about exposure. Fair point?

CHRISTIE: Exactly right.

CUOMO: Both of them did this.

CHRISTIE: Well, no. And the bad part too is that Ivanka went on to ABC and said directly that her father had nothing to do with her clearance or her husband's clearance.

CUOMO: No hedging, straight-faced, right to camera.

CHRISTIE: No. And by the way, there were two comments that are in response today, one that came from the White House, where the White House said, we don't comment on security clearances.

CUOMO: Since when?

CHRISTIE: And second one was from Abby Lowell, who Is Jared Kushner's lawyer, and probably still is. And he said, essentially, we are committing to what we were told at the time we communicated that to all of you. Boiled down, he is saying to them, this is what I was told at the time and I communicated it to you but he wouldn't warranty it any further.


Those are things that both should be very disturbing to people.

And, again, Chris, it goes back to the familiar relationship. It goes back to the idea that for any other staff member, you know, I think the President would have a much easier time and say, Listen, no, I'm not getting involved.

CUUMO: But not Porter.

CHRISTIE: Well - but Porter was different. There's no evidence at this point that Porter - that he overruled for Porter's security clearance.

CUOMO: No. But he was playing with it. But I hear you about going back to family and that creates --

CHRISTIE: And I think it's a real problem.

CUOMO: I think it's a real problem but I think it is also a step sideways from the actual problem. The actual problem is this President has no problem lying to the American people about things he thinks he needs to. Fair point?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think what he has done at times, which has been unfortunate, is, in my view, lie about things that he hasn't needed to lie about. That's worse in many respects. Whether it's the Stormy Daniels payment, or whether it's this instance. It doesn't serve him well and it doesn't serve the country well.

And, you know, I understand that both of those things were very personal matters, one involved his son-in-law and what his son-in-law wanted. Another one involved an alleged relationship with a woman outside of his marriage. So understand what we saw in the Clinton administration. There was problems with voracity on issues that were very --

CUOMO: Not like this.

CHRISTIE: Well, on issues that were very personal, Chris.

CUOMO: Right.

CHRISTIE: And - okay. So I understand that. But I think that it doesn't serve - there's no way to defend, and I'm not going to, The New York Times story tonight, assuming it's true, and I have to assume it's true because the White House didn't deny it and nor did Jared's lawyer.

CUOMO: The memos, they know that there's paperwork there and they know if they lie, it's going to be exposed on top of this lie.

CHRISTIE: You have to believe that's true.

CUOMO: But, look, you know, right now we're talking about this. If you stop talking, we will hear silence that is the echo of the nothing coming from everybody in leadership in your party. They have said nothing about this. They sat in that hearing yesterday beating Cohen over the head with his own lack of credibility, fine. But Cohen lied about all the same things that the president did. And they never said anything to defend him and they have never stood up to his lying. How can they keep their integrity?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I didn't think that it was a very good display yesterday. And I watched all of the hearings.

CUOMO: You're being politic about this.

CHRISTIE: No, I'm not. No. Listen, I wouldn't have done it that way. And what I said was, you know, I think one or two people should have gone after Michael Cohen on his credibility. But let's face it, we know he's a liar. We know he's a cheat. We know he's a thief. He has pled guilty to those things.

CUOMO: How do any of those not apply to the President of the United States?

CHRISTIE: Here is the difference. The difference, Chris, is he's - Cohen has admitted them in a court of law, under oath and pled guilty.

CUOMO: but that's just the proof part, Governor.

CHRISTIE: But that's the important part, Chris. I mean, we --

CUOMO: No, it isn't.

CHRISTIE: It is. We can't do that.

CUOMO: We know the President - I can prove it right now that the President has done those same things.

CHRISTIE: But, Chris, we have a presumption of innocence in this country regarding people. You respect that. I respect it. And so my point is Michael Cohen has blown through that.


CHRISTIE: He has admitted it. My point on the congressional hearings was there were a couple of ways to defend the President yesterday on the substance of what Cohen said. No one did it.

CUOMO: No one. Why?

CHRISTIE: I don't know. I would tell you, it was easy to me. I was on another network commenting on this.

CUOMO: ABC. It's okay. It's my old home too. I'm very proud of that place.

CHRISTIE: Right. So, you know, I was on their company. I said, there were two things yesterday that came out from Cohen that I think are helpful to the President. The first one is that he said there was not one reason for the Stormy Daniels payment but two. And that the second reason beside the campaign was that the President didn't want Melania to know and that, in fact, he added to that tapestry by saying that he, in fact, lied to the First Lady about what the purpose of that payment was.

CUOMO: Right. Although the precedent from the case that they only one they tried but where the guy acquitted, the last time that we saw it was with John Edwards, is that it doesn't have to be only reason. It could be some of the reasons.

CHRISTIE: Right. And it's --

CUOMO: So he could still have exposure.

CHRISTIE: But I think if you're a republican advocating for the President, what you say is, the Southern District of New York or anybody else is not going to bring that kind of prosecution against the President after he leaves office because your best witness says there're two alternatives.

CUOMO: It's a mixed bag.

CHRISTIE: The defendant will say there's none.

CUOMO: And Cohen said I don't know if he knew what the emails were that Roger Stone told him about.


CUOMO: I don't know that he knew that the meeting that his son took was with Russians. I don't have any proof of collusion and I know that he would never hurt his wife.


CUOMO: If Cohen were there just to blow up the President, he wouldn't have said any of those things.

CHRISTIE: No. I thought those were --

CUOMO: They've got no quarter [ph] from the right.

CHRISTIE: I thought those were moments of credibility for Michael and that doesn't change in essence who he has been. But --

CUOMO: But here's what I don't get.

CHRISTIE: But here - but let me finish this one point, Chris, is that nobody in the Republican Party was making those statements. So my point to you is if there as much a slave of the President as you made out in your comments --


CUOMO: Would you feel differently?

CHRISTIE: Will they - either.

CUOMO: Help me.

CHRISTIE: I think if you were really doing that, you'd be more aggressive on offensive defense. But instead, all you're doing is going after the guy who is already been established to be a liar. I got bored after three of those sets of questions.

CUOMO: I'm okay with that. But how do you ignore another liar who happens to be president. You know, look, I'll give you the legal difference. I'll never go law for law in terms of you. Your mind is way too subtle and you understand it way too well.

What I'm saying is this. You're right, he admitted it. But the other man is the President of the United States and he lied about the same things. He told you he didn't know Felix Sater. He told you he didn't know what the hush money payments were. He's lying to your face. Your party is supposed to stand up against this stuff. You railed against Clinton for it. You went after Obama when he said things that weren't true. This president lies at a rate that is exhausting and nobody says a damn word.

CHRISTIE: I don't want to get too far off the track here.

CUOMO: That is the track.

CHRISTIE: Hold on. I'm going to take a little bit of a different track but parallel one, okay? Democrats weren't saying anything about Bill Clinton in '98 or '99 nor did they stand up to do anything, anything at all to undercut the president. The problem is that since the Clinton years, and it's gone on since the Clinton years, we have become so partisan, so blindly partisan in the national congressional scene and at the White House that nobody is willing to say anything against their party even when they know it's wrong. Everybody knew what President Clinton did for lying under oath was wrong, right? Everybody knew it. Democrats didn't say anything about it. You're criticizing the republicans for the very same thing. It's a valid criticism. But my point to you is it's not just a republican problem. It is a political problem in our country that we're not willing to speak the truth.

CUOMO: The reason why someone like - this is my theory. The reason why Governor Christie didn't punch through in the primary was because you were still, even though a renegade in your own right, even though outspoken in your own right, different, the disaffection, the hatred for the toxic political culture gave birth to somebody who would be seen as a virus to the same. Trump wasn't seen as an antidote. He was seen as a virus. You were a governor. You're part of the machine [ph]. Sure you were an outlier and you've had your fights with the media and everybody else. But that's how he got in because people expect politicians to lie. They expect no integrity.

But what I'm getting at, Governor, is where does it stop?


CUOMO: Where does it stop with this? We've never seen lying like this.

CHRISTIE: I hope that what happens here now is that, over the course of the next number of years, whether it's two or whether it's six, that the country gets exhausted from all of this.

CUOMO: And then what happens?

CHRISTIE: And then I think the pendulum swings back.

CUOMO: To what?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I think that you rightly put, and I'll tell a quick anecdote from the book. My wife went door-to-door in New Hampshire. And when she introduces herself, someone said, I'm Governor Christie's wife. Oh gosh, we love the governor. He's so smart and authentic and blunt and direct. We were voting for Trump but we love your husband. And my wife said, "Well, if you love Chris, why are you voting for Trump? They said, "Oh, honey, we don't need another politician."

Okay. So your point anecdotally and in the recollection [ph] results is absolutely right. I think the country needs to understand. I think Hillary had the same problem. I think the country needs to understand that we need to have a system again where people are willing to talk to each other.

I will tell you though, the biggest complaint I heard in New Hampshire when I was running for President was that I was nice to Barack Obama during hurricane Sandy. The single biggest complaint I heard from republican primary voters that they despised the President so much that their view was that I should have somehow given him the Heisman when he came to look at the 365,000 homes that were destroyed in my state.

So what I'm telling you is that this feeling, this toxic feeling has, in my view, been going on ever since the Clinton impeachment and Ross Perot was a bit of the beginning of that and move forward.

CUOMO: Fine, I'll give you the evolution. But now, you have to deal with the solution, not just because it rhymes. What I'm saying is you can't have your party keep dummying up, this Otto Warmbier stuff. I was with President Obama when he went to Cairo. He says, I want to make peace with the past. I want us to be better than we have been. You went crazy on him, you weak apologist talking to these guys who were predators. It wasn't a fair. You know, in my opinion, not a fair characterization of a billion people, the Muslims.

But now you have the president being an apologist for despot after despot. I had one of my best producers brought up [ph] today because I don't want to be wrong. Charlie says, nobody in your leadership said a damn thing about what he said about Otto Warmbier being the wrong thing to say other than Rick Santorum.

CHRISTIE: You know, and I said it today --

CUOMO: Why don't they speak up?

CHRISTIE: I don't know. But what I will tell you is that --

CUOMO: You do know?

CHRISTIE: -- they do deserve some credit.

CUOMO: For what?

CHRISTIE: Now, it appears like you're going to have a vote in the Senate that is going to stop his use of national emergency powers for the building of the wall.


Lamar Alexander announced, I think it was today, that he is going to vote against it.

CUOMO: Do you think the republicans will go against it?

CHRISTIE: They now have 51 votes. There's four of the republicans who have now said that they will not vote, that they will vote for the resolution. Well, if they veto it --

CUOMO: If he vetoes it --

CHRISTIE: If vetoes it, they're not going to have enough to override the veto in either house. But the point is that's a standing up to the President. There is nothing that the President cares more about than the wall. Nothing. Maybe trade. That's about it.

CUOMO: I shouldn't be - look, I just think this is --

CHRISTIE: So they deserve some credit.

CUOMO: -- [INAUDIBLE] it's such a low bar. It's a flagrant violation of the power and the statute.

CHRISTIE: How many times did democrats vote against - listen, democrats voted with a margin of one vote to put Obamacare into place. They changed a large part of the entire national healthcare system based upon one vote and not one republican vote. Listen, both parties have been suffering from this disease.

CUOMO: True. It's not one sided.

CHRISTIE: I didn't have the choice in New Jersey. I had a democratic legislature for every day of my 2,920 days. So that required me for wanting to get anything done to work with the other side, to work with democrats, to find the good in democrats and to find ways that we could both get something so we could both win. Nobody cares about doing that anymore, Chris.

CUOMO: Right. But also you didn't antagonize the other side and --

CHRISTIE: Well, they differ.

CUOMO: No, no, no, but it's how you do it.


CUOMO: Like you won't do your job, call them out, fine. The American people should like that. They should reward that as leadership. Point out, be transparent. He lies all the time about things that matter, Chris, and nobody comes out against him on your side. I know you do. I'm saying you need the people in power at the time to do it. And I just don't get it. And we're seeing it - look, this clearance is - this is a no brainer, all right. They got him. He lied about something and that matters. His daughter lied about it. It's a problem of having a family 100%. That's why usually you have anti- nepotism laws to keep this out. But they don't cover this, right?

So --

CHRISTIE: They should have.

CUOMO: Right, but they don't. So, fine. And now, he doesn't know why they're concerned about his son-in-law. He doesn't even know why they are concerned.

CHRISTIE: Here is my response to that is, if he wanted to override it anyway because he said, I trust him, I know him, I want him to be my guy, I - regardless of the merits, that's fine. The problem is because he's family, you're worried about how people are going to react and engage your objectivity rightfully so. And so instead of announcing it, you obscure it, you cover it up.

And it's not right, Chris. Like, listen, I read that when it came out about an hour or an hour-and-a-half ago, I read. And I have to tell you, for having written the book and experienced everything that I have experienced in dealing with the family dynamic there, I wasn't, unfortunately, shocked because I know. It's any family, right, if your kids really want something, and they're really hanging [ph] about it. You know, if affects you.

Now, you're hoping people will stand up and say, if you don't think it's right, no, I'm not going to do it. But you have a different feeling about your own children than you do about anything else.

CUOMO: It would be one thing, I'd give it to you if he lied only about this. But he lies excessively when he doesn't even need to do. We've never seen anything like this.

CHRISTIE: I understand that we could spend the evening like going on whatever it is in The Washington Post.

CUOMO: W don't, I don't have enough time. Don Lemon would kill me. We would be on until midnight.

CHRISTIE: But I think tonight what people need to be examining in the light of what's happened over the last couple of days is - everyone is going to be examining it. Okay. What really does matter? What are the issues? There's a lot of yelling and screaming, a lot of fire. Which are the issues that really do matter?

CUOMO: Good. Let's do this. I want to take a break but I want to take a break on a question, and we'll come back and let's layout what you believe are actual avenues for concern and what you are not concerned by going forward Cohen et al, Mueller, what should be done with the report? Because now, the White House has new reporting tonight saying they believe the Special Counsel guidelines give protection to the President. I want to go through that with your mind.

But let me ask you this as we go to break.

CHRISTIE: I'm sorry. Excuse me. Go ahead.

CUOMO: Don't fake cough me, Governor. I'll watch you pass out.

CHRISTIE: I won't. I'm watching that clock. Here we go.

CUOMO: Yes, I know. Keep coughing. Jared Kushner, are you surprised that the people in the business of knowing and judging have questions about his background?


CUOMO: Do you think they are real questions?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I have faith in the FBI and the CIA, so I believe they're real questions.

Now, they may not be unresolvable questions but I believe they're real questions, sure. I mean, I don't have any doubt about that.

CUOMO: Well, in many your party do. It is good to hear a different answer. Let's take a break.

When we come back, Governor Chris Christie, what are the avenues of concern with this probe and the investigations that are ongoing which are not conversations worth having worth having?


Stay with us.


[21:23:20] CUOMO: All right. We're dealing with very heavy stuff tonight. The President's family is back in the spotlight and not for good reason, in particular, son-in-law Jared Kushner. How did he get his security clearance?

We were told by the White House, by the President, by Ivanka Trump, normal channels. The New York Times is reporting and The Washington Post has matched it that that is BS. John Kelly was the Chief of Staff at that time was against it, the President forced the move.

I ask the democrat now. So where does this leave us in terms of the state of play? Last night we had Congressman Stephen Lynch on. He's a democrat. And I asked, what road are you going to down? And are you going to really involve the President's kids? Because that will be a major move and we'll have major repercussions. Here's what he said.


REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D), M.A.: We're looking people who also can corroborate Mr. Cohen's testimony or dispute it.

CUOMO: But that is like real dynamite. You'll bring in the President's kids. You're asking for a war, are you not?

LYNCH: I think we have one.


CUOMO: I think we have one. Back now with former Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, author of Let Me Finish. In it, there is a whole recitation of why the Governor was sideways with Jared Kushner, his insight into the family dynamic and it's toxicity to the cause. Governor, thank you.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: And, look, I have to say, thank you for speaking to these issues. I know that there's a little bit more ease doing it when you're not actively on the inside, but you are on the inside. You're a supporter of the President, you're in contact and your side does not want to address what is real. So thank you for doing that.

Lynch says, we already have a war going on, do you agree?


CHRISTIE: I don't. But here's what I'd say. The President placed his daughter and his son-in-law into official positions in the White House, not as informal advisers like most families are, but as official job holders in the White House. You can't say they're off limits now.

Now, you can say that Eric and Donny are a different story. They have a private business here in New York City. I think that's different. They're not involving themselves in government.

CUOMO: Well, except to the extent that they are involved, Don Jr. specifically, in transactions and contacts that are relevant to the interference.

CHRISITE: But that wasn't about government though, Chris. That happened during the campaign and Bob Mueller is looking at that.

CUOMO: Yes, yes.

CHRISTIE: I was talking about what Lynch just talked about.

CUOMO: Oversight.

CHRISTIE: At oversight. They're government employees, Jared and Ivanka. And so if the Congress - and I told the President this when the House was taken over by democrats. I said, they're not going to stop at anything. They're going to bring everybody in they think they have to bring in?

CUOMO: Do you think they should stop right now given what we heard yesterday, given with what they already know and what we're going to learn?

CHRISTIE: I think Michael Cohen yesterday laid out a list of witnesses that the House now has to give serious thought to calling in, whether it's Allen Weisselberg or Jared, Ivanka and the rest. But I'll also say to you is that there's going to be a big fight. The fight that's going to happen now, I think, is between Congress and the Southern District of New York. Because Congress had a big show yesterday, politicians like that, they're going to want more. They're going to want Allen Weisselberg, they're going to want the President's children, et cetera.

The Southern District of New York, I can guarantee, is not going to want that. They're trying to build the case. And so --

CUOMO: Do you think so?

CHRISTIE: Yeah, I do. I do.

CUOMO: Let me - let's flip chairs for a second.

CHRISTIE: Because of what Michael Cohen said. Michael Cohen is saying he's in regular contact - when Michael Cohen says he's in regular contact, constant contact with the Southern Districts and when Michael Cohen says that he is aware of other crimes that the President has committed and he can't talk about them because he was instructed not to do so by the Southern District. That doesn't mean that the Southern District has a case against the President. It means they're conducting an investigation.

I can tell you when I was a U.S. attorney, we were investigating those state legislatures in New Jersey. And they wanted the whole hearings on something that got on. And I called the Senate President at that time, Dick, Cody, and I said to him, "Dick, do not do hearings because people are going to want immunity because they have fifth amendment concerns. If you give immunity, I'm not going to be able to potentially prosecute it.

CUOMO: Well, how concerned are you about what we know so far and what you may know that's not in the public space that the Southern District appealed back on this President?

CHRISTIE: I have always said, Chris, that Bob Mueller is not what should concern the President or the White House. That's the Southern District of New York. And the reason for that is threefold. First, they have no limit on their scope. Bob Mueller has limit on his scope and it's Russia and Russia-related activities. Second, Michael Cohen. Third, Rick Gates. They have two tour guides that can take them through the Trump business and personal life.

CUOMO: And Weisselberg.

CHRISTIE: Well, Weisselberg, from what I understand, has a limited immunity, not a complete immunity.

CUOMO: And so Cohen?

CHRISTIE: Limited immunity.

CUOMO: Right. So you're saying he may not want to talk about these other things.

CHRISTIE: My guess is if [INAUDIBLE] Weisselberg's were, I'd say, give me total immunity, I'll tell you whatever you want. Otherwise, I'll plead the fifth.

CUOMO: Would we know what his immunity status is?

CHRISTIE: We wouldn't. I don't think they haven't announced it publicly.

CUOMO: Right.

CHRISTIE: But I have heard --

CUOMO: They definitely haven't announced it publicly?

CHRISTIE: Now. And I have heard that it's a limited immunity. So if that's the case, there's going to be a fight between the Congress and the Southern District of New York. But it has always been the Southern District that is the problem, that is the threat. Nobody wants their lawyer for ten years to be now cooperating with the government to talk to the government about your business life and personal life. No one would want it.

CUOMO: How serious are the implications of, look, the lies are the lies. I don't know who Felix Sater is. He just lied. You know, we excuse it because the President lies so much. But that is an ancillary lie unless Felix winds up being relevant to a transaction that he's hiding. He lied about the Moscow deal. All right, that's not going to get that much deeper than that unless there's money involved.

The stuff with the foundation, there are stuff there. How worried are you about that, not just playing with a painting that he wanted and having a straw a bit and all that and paying for it through a foundation. That's all wrong. You could come after people like that. The AG's Office does it all the time with the charities division. But what concerns you most?

CHRISTIE: What concerns me is what I don't know. Listen, I did these investigations for seven years. I did 130 corruption investigations, got convictions without a defeat. The greatest thing about that job, I used to say, Chris, is only I know what I know. What I can tell you right now, the folks at the Southern District, only they know is what they know. The head of the FBI in New York is a guy who, ten years ago, was running my corruption squad in New Jersey, when we made all those cases. He is now in charge.

CUOMO: He's good?

CHRISTIE: He's very good. Special Agent Sweeney is excellent.


CUOMO: But if you ever were in the Southern District and the DOJ has guidance, a couple of memos that say you can't indict a sitting President, what are you burning my tax dollars for?


CHRISTIE: They're not burning your tax dollars. Because what they're doing, and I'm confident, is building a case for two things, one, to go after those around the President who may have committed crimes, and two, to build a case if they have one. I don't think they have one at the moment. But if they were trying - they're trying to build one against the President for when leaves office. Statute of limitations on most of these stuffs, my guess, is it would not run.

CUOMO: So let me get your take on this and then one political question.


CUOMO: So the White House puts out word tonight, we think the Special Counsel regs protect the President. All right. In the regs, I don't agree. Neal Katyal, who wrote the regs, doesn't agree. Okay. More importantly, who cares if I agree? He doesn't agree. He wrote the regs. It says that putting out the report to the AG could be told upon a finding of legitimate investigative or privacy concerns requiring confidentiality and it could be released when those concerns don't exist anymore. And then there's a next provision is, by the way, all of that is subject to the AG thinking it shouldn't come out in the public interest. Do you think it should come out and do you think they have effectively recovered?

CHRISTIE: I think Bill Barr will release everything he thinks should be released.

CUOMO: But what does that mean?

CHRISTIE: Well, I think what it means is - remember why these things were written. And Neal was very cute tonight. I saw him on the show earlier. I have it in front of me, I'm not really sure. That was written and that statute was written in response to the Ken Starr report.

CUOMO: And are on contract.

CHRISTIE: Right. That all of this kind of ancillary information got out there and it's like what Jim Comey did to Hillary Clinton.


CHRISTIE: Right? Now, I think we've got to prevent that. In this country, we either have to charge or we have to shut up.

Now, the thing that complicates it here is if it's about the President, you have impeachment as the only remedy. So I think what will happen, what will play out here is if Bill Barr holds back any of the report, and I think he will hold back some based upon those principles, but Congress will then subpoena the report, because they'll say --

CUOMO: Or Comey or both.

CHRISTIE: I think that they will subpoena the report from Bill Barr, Congress has the right to do that subpoenaing, and there will then be a fight over whether or not Congress is entitled to that report because it's the only thing that would give them information to inform the decision on whether to impeach or not.

I don't know where the courts come down on that one. I don't know the statute well enough. But what I'll tell you is that that's going to be a legitimate fight. But the other thing I'll tell you is Bill Barr is going to air on the side of releasing as opposed to holding back.

CUOMO: You think so?

CHRISTIE: I do. Because I think, listen, Bill Barr is an outstanding lawyer, a guy of great integrity, I have known him for a long time. And I think, you know, he knows the public import of this information.

But I think we all have to be cautious about what happened in 2016. That had a material effect on the election. And Jim Comey shouldn't have done it. It was wrong to do it and it would be wrong despite the hysteria going on right now for Bill Barr to do something similar.

Now, the difference here is that Congress would be looking to subpoena that. Hillary Clinton couldn't be impeached. She was just a candidate for president. The President is the president. So I think that's where this fight is going to come down to. I think what you and I are going to see maybe six months from now, maybe nine months from now is a fight in the United States Supreme Court based on a House subpoena over whether or not Bill Barr must turn over the entirety of Bob Mueller's report.

CUOMO: D you think that the leadership of your party should do more to check this President's abuse of the truth to the American people?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think the American people are in charge of holding him to account for that. In the end, whatever - because everyone is going to have a different view of it, Chris. I know the way you feel. You feel strongly about it. I feel a little bit differently than you do about it. And I think there're probably people out there who feel like the President is abused and beaten every day by a media that's unfair to him and has written more negative stories about him than any President in recent memory.

CUOMO: With cause.

CHRISTIE: But, Chris, regardless, we have to understand that we live in a real world where people have different points of view.

CUOMO: A 100 percent, that's what this show is all about.

CHRISTIE: Ultimately, I think the American people who are going to get to decide whether or not the President deserves reelection or not. I don't believe that anything I have seen so far merits the President being impeached at all. I think that's outlandish. I don't see anything at this point that equals that because you're overturning an election, and that's a grave thing to do.

CUOMO: Understood.

CHRISTIE: Only been done twice in our history.

CUOMO: Understood.

CHRISTIE: And only that's one resignation, right?

So I think, ultimately, it's the American people to decide this, what do they want from a President? But I'd say to the people that no one should be surprised by a lot of this stuff. The President has - we were talking earlier about how he doesn't, you know, go along with any of the norms of what we have gotten to understand and learn about public life in this country. Guess what? That's what people voted for.


That's what they voted for, Chris. They were so upset about Washington D.C., that if you had a title in front of your name when you were running in 2016, it was a detriment.

CUOMO: A 100 percent. And sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for in terms of restoring integrity to a process when you put somebody in there who has abused it more than anyone we have ever seen.

CHRISTIE: But here's what I believe in. I believe in the American people making those judgments.

CUOMO: True. me too.

CHRISTIE: Right? So we're going to have an election in 2020. I assume the President is going to be the nominee of our party. Democrats will nominate someone and we'll make a choice. The American people will make a choice.

CUOMO: But with one caveat. Everybody on the right side of the aisle who's up for election also, they're going to be held to what they did and did not do with this at all.

CHRISTIE: And, by the way, they were held to account in 2018. That's why they lost the House.

CUOMO: You're telling me. Governor Chris Christie, there's not many people on your side of the aisle, even though we should all be in the same family who want to have this conversation. Thank you for doing it.

CHRISTIE: My pleasure.

CUOMO: I appreciate it.

Okay. The book is Let Me Finish. I don't know why it's called that because I've only had him overrun me every time we talk. Anyway, he always gets to finish. That's the book. Governor Chris Christie, thank you.

CHRISTIE: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So, look, I harp on the President's abuse of the truth. Why? Because if we don't have that, it is a very difficult job to go anywhere else that's positive in the name of progress.

Now, his son-in-law accused of getting top security clearance despite warnings, where does it take us? That's the great debate. Let's have it next.


[21:39:44] CUOMO: This new reporting tonight from The New York times and now matched by the Washington Post directly contradicts the President's statements that he had nothing to do with his son-in-law's security clearance, that he lied to you.

Now, listen to this.


IVANKA TRUMP: The President had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance.



CUOMO: That's not true. So what do we do? Proof, internal memo reportedly written by former Chief of Staff John Kelly refuting it saying that the President ordered him to give Kushner top secret clearance over expressed concerns from intelligence officials and people who do that job for a living, also a memo by the White House Council about the same reservation. Why lie? What do we do about it?

A Great debate. Jennifer Granholm and Rick Santorum are here. Let me push my luck. Chris Christie speaking truth to power. Will, Rick Santorum double down or did you get it out of your system by telling the truth about Otto Warmbier? If Ivanka Trump looked in the face of that camera and said something that is a lie and if the President of the United States lied to us about the security clearance, what does that mean to you?

RICK SANTORUM (R), P.A.: It's disappointing if --

CUOMO: Disappointing. The fact that I can't lose weight is disappointing. Lying to the American people about a security clearance?

SANTORUM: Look, I mean, I go back to what Chris was saying. I mean, this is a family member that the President has known for a long time and feels like he probably knows Jared Kushner inside and out and believes that he is someone that he can trust, and that's something he's going to be dealing with.

CUOMO: Why lie?

SANTORUM: I don't know. Look, every time I come on your program, Chris, you ask me the same question.

CUOMO: What does that tell you?

SANTORUM: Well, I think that does tell you something that we're always talking about something the President said that that was not factual and [INAUDIBLE] in the public


SANTORUM: Okay, lie, whatever.

CUOMO: It matters. It matters, Rick. Look, it matters. And you know what, before I go any further --

SANTORUM: Look, I don't like it and it's disappointing and I --

CUOMO: You are going to want me to say this. I congratulate you for what you said about Otto Warmbier. Your party doesn't to stand up to him. They're afraid of him. Yes, you don't have a primary to worry about but you spoke truth to power and it matters, especially on that. So congratulate you for that and I appreciate you taking this on. But let me not dominate with just you.

Jen, look, Governor, we see what's going on here, okay? How do you check this? That's the question. And I know that this is not the only administration where there have been lies. We have just never seen this much and it seems to permeate the entire fabric of what the President touches. What is to be done?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM (D), M.I.: It is a cancer. It is a cancer upon this entire White House and it is such a shame that the republicans in Congress are being accomplices to these lies, 8,700 lies by The Washington Post fact checkers as of the 15th of February of this year. 8,700, that's 15 lies a day. And most of the lies, Chris, are about the President trying to cover something up or protect him in some way or embellish. It's always about something that he has done or hasn't done. And in this case, I mean, this is about a security clearance.

What you have seen now is clearance by nepotism, as Adam Schiff pointed out earlier today. That is a danger for the U.S. These are not just innocuous lies. I mean, the Otto Warmbier thing, that maybe wasn't a lie in that sense. But here, you have President who was saying something entirely different at the State of the Union Address. I mean, thank you, Rick, for pointing this out that it was reprehensible. But he condemned Kim Jong-un's regime as brutal and despotism. And now, all of a sudden, he flips because he doesn't want the American people to believe that he walked away from a deal and it's off for good. He wants to keep the door open so that he can perpetuate this notion that he's going to get some kind of nuclear deal.

So I don't know. It rots - the fish rots at the head, that old line, it's so true. And what Michael Cohen said yesterday about having lied for this President for ten years, that that lying culture permeates an entire administration, and that is what you are seeing. And that's why this cancer has to be removed. We need a trumpectomy.

CUOMO: Rick - trumpectomy. Rick, are you worried about your party paying the price for this in 2020?

SANTORUM: Look, I have admitted here tonight and I have admitted many times, yesterday on AC [ph], I did the same thing. Look, this President tells a lot of untruths that are unnecessary that are just - I don't understand. But the reality is that we had a previous President who told very material lies. Now, did he put out things that were factually incorrect on a regular basis? No, he didn't. But on some important things, like your healthcare and like Iranian nuclear deal and a whole host of other things, the president and previous presidents told lies.


All this president has done --

GRANHOLM: What aboutism? It is not equal.

SANTORUM: It's not what aboutism.

GRANHOLM: It's not equal.

SANTORUM: My point, which you haven't allowed made me to make yet is that --

GRANHOLM: The volume of these lies --

CUOMO: Make your point and then I have to go. So go ahead. I want you to make your point.

SANTORUM: Yes. The point I'm trying to make is that we have a public who sees elected officials and presidents as people, they don't tell the truth all the time. And so, you know, they don't see - I understand you're upset with Trump but I don't think the American public sees Trump as being materially different than previous presidents.

CUOMO: Well, look, that will be the subject matter of an election. And you know what, it should be.

Governor, thank you. Rick, double thank you to you for what you said because not many speak truth to power these days on your side of the aisle and I appreciate it, and thank you for coming on the show.

All right, so speaking of speak your truth to power, things got very heated between two lawmakers at the Cohen hearing yesterday on the subject of race. Now, troubling video is emerging of one. We're going to tell you about it next.


[21:48:43] CUOMO: All right. We thought that there was going to be peace. But controversy continues for Congressman Mark Meadows a day after that very heated exchange with Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib where she suggested Meadows' use of Lynn Patton, an African-American woman, was a prop and therefore racist.

Today, videos resurfaced of Meadows making birther comments about Barack Obama back in 2012. Listen for yourself to a piece.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), N.C.: So what we're going to do is take back our country. 2012 is the time that we're going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is.


CUOMO: D. Lemon, thank you for being here.

DON LEMON, CNN THE DON LEMON SHOW: There's another one too of him saying very similar things.

CUOMO: Yes. Is that a racist statement?

LEMON: Well, if you consider that the birther - the whole birther thing was a lie, yes, it's a racist statement. I mean, I keep saying - I keep - you know, as I said last night in my opening, because you say something that's racist or you do something that's racist, that may not mean - it may not mean the entire part of you is racist. But, yes, this whole conspiracy theory and lie that Barack Obama was not born in the United States is, indeed, racist because you're other- izing him and you're questioning whether he is an American citizen. And also using it rile people up, saying, we're going to send him back to Kenya, what else is it?


CUOMO: So his only defense would be --

LEMON: Go back to Africa.

CUOMO: -- I believed it. If he says, I believe he wasn't born here, that's fine. Because then he's not owning it as a deception. But if he meant it to play along to the deception and go back to Africa literally, racist?

LEMON: Yes. Well, I mean there's evidence. He showed you the birth certificate. And why would you, why would you question that?

CUOMO: Then why did Tlaib apologize?

LEMON: Why? Why did Tlaib apologize for what?

CUOMO: Calling him a racist?

LEMON: Well, she said the act of what he did was racist.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Not that he was racist. There is a distinction there.

CUOMO: Tell me.

LEMON: Well, Chris, you're a smart person, don't you think?

CUOMO: Yes, but I just want you to go through it.

LEMON: Okay. But d you do stupid things sometimes?

CUOMO: All the time.

LEMON: Do you make stupid decisions?

CUOMO: With stunning frequency.

LEMON: So then does that then undercut your intelligence? You are a human being. You do things.

CUOMO: It does though. Sometimes I do stupid things that make me hate myself.

LEMON: Well, so just so you can do something that is racist and you're ignorant of it and you don't know about it.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: But it doesn't mean that necessarily, the entire part of you, it doesn't mean you are part of the KKK, it doesn't mean that you run around saying the N-word. That's the thing. People think that in order to be racist, and the former president said this, Barack Obama, he actually used the word, is that they think it is like running around calling people the N-word or that you have to be part of some organization, you know, like the guys who were marching in Charlottesville, that's not part of it. Sometimes it is implicit bias and so on.

Look, I had this whole thing. I didn't want you to prepare anything because I had a surprise for you. Do you want it or not?


LEMON: Do you want the surprise?

CUOMO: Yes, go ahead. I always want a surprise.

LEMON: Okay. So here is what happened. So I was looking for something on the subject that you and did, and I was doing a Google search and I hit the shopping button by accident. This started coming up. You know who that is? Who has that haircut on our air?

CUOMO: Kate Baldwin?

LEMON: That's Kate Baldwin. So this - Kate will get this shirt, all right. Who is that?

CUOMO: Rick Santorum?

LEMON: That's Jake Tapper. Jae will get that shirt. Who is this guy?

CUOMO: That's A.C., baby.

LEMON: That's Anderson.

CUOMO: the one and only, OAE.

LEMON: Who is that guy?

CUOMO: Oh, man, melon head.

LEMON: That's me. That's the first one that --

CUOMO: Man, that's a lot of Lemon.

LEMON: And who is this guy?

CUOMO: Uh-oh, there's your boy.

LEMON: And, Chris --

CUOMO: That's a good hairline.

LEMON: -- look what I did because you know I call you both sides Cuomo.

CUOMO: What did you do on the other side? Oh. If that's you, I hope it is going to cover my butt when I wear it. I'm just pulling it down in the back.

LEMON: This is the one that I didn't like so I didn't ship it. That's the one I was like, wow, that's me in summer.

CUOMO: So the one you had of yourself had three times the size of your face on the front of the shirt. What does it mean?

LEMON: Well, I needed this to - I needed to fit both sides on it for you, so I guess they knew, and so they made it smaller.

CUOMO: that's some big nostrils in that picture.

LEMON: Well, there you go.

CUOMO: Well, thank you for the gift. And happy birthday to you, you're going to be 62.

LEMON: 25. I'm still younger than you no matter what.

CUOMO: 25, you look great. You look great. People say all of the botox and surgery isn't worth it.

LEMON: Wait, wait, I'm mad now.

CUOMO: Look at that. You can't do that, can you? It is a lot of money I've put into that --

LEMON: I need a toupee to do that.

CUOMO: All right, I've got to go.

LEMON: We've to go. See you, bye.

CUOMO: See you in a little bit. Happy birthday, my brother. Love you. Where is he going?

All right, he has got a show in like four minutes. All right, so you heard. I heard it. We all heard the President do it again. He let a despot off the hook, this time for the death of an American. It is not just him. Do you hear this? That's all the silence from the republican leadership in Congress. I won't let it go. You shouldn't, and I will argue why, next.



[21:56:28] CUOMO: It was a moment that made the world gasp.


TRUMP: I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.


CUOMO: Then came the mild response from the GOP.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe the European Union countries are our friends and the Russians are not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vladimir Putin walked away from Helsinki with a win.


CUOMO: You were warned that you needed to call the President out, that what you ignore, you empower. But the word was, oh, he won't do that again. Then came Mohammad Bin Salman, the Saudi ruler. Trump put out a statement after the killing of Jamal Khashoggi that said, our intel agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had no knowledge of this tragic event. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. BS, and he should have known it.

This time a loss of life ignored, a non-American, as if that made it less urgent. Once again, the GOP brass, nothing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you give this guy a pass after he disrespected you, you will look weak.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R), U.T.: I disagree with the President's assessment. It's inconsistent with the intelligence I have seen.


CUOMO: It was about disagreement. There's only one set of intelligence. And you were supposed to call it out but you were afraid, so now comes the trifecta. And the worst of them all, of course, because bad things get worse when ignored, this in Vietnam.


TRUMP: I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen. It just wasn't to his advantage to allow that to happen. I don't believe he knew about it. If he tells me that he didn't know about it, and I will take him at his word.


CUOMO: Not just disrespecting intel, not just disrespecting a dead man, but a dead American, the Warmbier family as well, that this President pretended to console.


TRUMP: Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto's memory with total American resolve.


CUOMO: Pretended, that's right, because he did the opposite. There is no type of compassion that can support such callousness, not for any reason, let alone the sweep of vanity and shameless self-interest that takes this president and this moment so far from compassion and into the morass of compulsion, his compulsion to do what he thinks works for him.

Otto Warmbier was an American college kid imprisoned in North Korea, 15 years of hard labor, accused of trying to steal a propaganda poster. We don't know what happened to him.


OTTO WARMBIER: [INAUDIBLE] for an innocent scapegoat.


CUOMO: Look at that. We don't know what happened to him between this North Korean press conference in the spring of 2016 and June 2017 when he was released. But his family says when he landed back home in Ohio, he was unable to speak, unable to see, unable to react to verbal commands. They say he looked almost anguished. He died within a week.

See this for what it is. This President is not just breaking our country's code of never elevating a base despot, not only forgiving past crimes but future misdeeds by malefactors, bad guys who used to think twice before creating chaos. To the leadership and elected of the GOP, there is a clear question. If not now, when? If not you, who? Not one of you has ever said after any of these what you would have said in a moment to a democrat for doing something as fraction as toxic.


This Warmbier insult should matter to you.