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House Looks Into Possible Corruption, Obstruction By Trump; Report: Trump Directed Gary Cohn To Block AT&T-Time Warner Merger; Four GOP Senators Rebuke Trump's Non-Emergency. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 4, 2019 - 21:00   ET


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

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And this was just one of those times.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Yes, well, Ken Rogers' The Gambler.

That was right after the Summit, no mention that the Michael Cohen hearing had anything to do with what happened during the talks because it probably didn't, because we live in the real world or at least we try to keep some semblance of a grip here on The Ridiculist.

And that's it for us. News continues. Let's go over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Abuse of power! That is a scary phrase when it comes to Congressional action against the Executive, and that's where Democrats are heading. What's the basis? What's the goal?

We have one of the investigators here, one of the most powerful Democrats on the Hill, time to test. He and the Democrats have a list of 81 names they want information from.

One is the President's first Campaign Manager, Corey Lewandowski. Why? I'm going to get that answer and then put it to the man himself. Can he argue that this President is about use of power, not abuse?

Speaking of abuse of power, did the President try to block our parent company's new merger to pursue a vendetta? Seems so. Could that be an impeachable offense?

What do you say? Let's get after it.



(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: So, if it feels like we've entered a new phase in the oversight world that would be because we have. The Head of the Committee that would be in charge of the impeachment process says it is clear the President committed obstruction.

Really? They want to call 81 Trump associates, including family members and organizations to hand over documents pertaining to the obstruction, corruption, and abuse of power probe. And this is only phase one. What is the basis? Where does it go?

Let's bring in the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. Good to see you.


CUOMO: Thank you for taking the opportunity, especially in person.

JEFFRIES: Certainly.

CUOMO: So, Chairman Nadler says the President committed obstruction. On what basis?

JEFFRIES: Well I think there's reason to believe that he has consistently obstructed the administration of justice.

You can start, Exhibit A being the termination of James Comey, who at the time was presiding over a national security investigation into whether Russian spies cooperated with the Trump campaign to sellout our democracy, interfere with the election, and artificially place Donald Trump in the Presidency.

It's extraordinary that any President at any moment in American history would terminate the lead investigator. Donald Trump did it, and then indicated publicly that he did it because he was concerned about, as he called it, "This Russia thing."

CUOMO: There is a sticky wicket to deal with legally there. However, that's not what you're doing.

My understanding of context, tell me if I'm wrong, is that, politically, looking at abuse of power makes obstruction something different, and makes it a pattern of behavior that you believe collectively is beneath the norm of the Office, not necessarily a felony.

Is that a distinction that you guys want to draw here?

JEFFRIES: Well I think that is a part of the distinction. We're looking at, one, a broader culture of corruption, two, whether that was a pattern of abuse of power that this President has consistently engaged in.

He is charged constitutionally with taking care that the laws are faithfully executed. It appears that it may have been the case that he is consistently undermining the rule of law. But we want to find out the answer to that question.

And then, of course, there's the obstruction of justice component. Not only did he fire James Comey. He fired Preet Bharara who was the Prosecutor presiding over investigations that subsequently came to light in the Southern District of New York.

He fired Sally Yates, doesn't seem to have been a reason why he did so, other than she was concerned about Michael Flynn possibly being a Russian asset, communicated that to someone at the White House, next thing you know, Sally Yates is gone, and even fired Jeff Sessions because he was just frustrated--


JEFFRIES: --that Jeff Sessions had recused himself. These are all top investigators at the DOJ or the FBI.

CUOMO: All subordinate to him, and the Executive has tremendous power over them that becomes the legal difficulty. What you're looking for is political buy-in. How do you get it from the Republicans?

Your work, 75 percent of your own, and they are basically lined up here anyway because they have growing fundamental opposition to the President. I give you that, Congressman.

But on the other side, there needs to be overwhelming evidence of anything to get them to go against one of their own. How do you get there?

JEFFRIES: Well I think we're commencing this investigation without having a predetermined outcome. We just want to gather the facts, apply the law, and allow the American people to sort of make a decision about what actually has transpired.

One thing is clear is that there is a cult of criminality that has surrounded the President of the United States that should trouble everyone, Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

[21:05:00] CUOMO: But isn't that what's Mueller's for? So, you're going to deal with fatigue. We just spent a year and a half. People have been juicing the outcome of what it is. I -- scrupulously, on this show, we tell people not to set themselves up for disappointment with the Mueller probe.


CUOMO: I'll get swept up with everybody else, forget it. But when Mueller's report comes out, and it's thin, or it's largely redacted, or it's kept from them, people are going to be like, "That was a waste."

You're going to have to deal with fatigue that people will think that what you're doing is what they've already seen done. How do you deal with that?

JEFFRIES: Well Mueller's report really is anchored in a national security investigation in terms of whether there was actual collusion between Russian spies and the Trump campaign.

And, by the way, Chris, it does seem to me that there appears to have been a triangular relationship between Russian spies who attacked our democracy, WikiLeaks, and members of the Trump campaign, the glue may have been Roger Stone. We'll see what the investigations unfold.

But these are things that the American people should know. We also have a separate and co-equal responsibility, as a independent branch of government, to make sure that we serve as a check and balance on a potentially out-of-control Executive Branch.

So, this is--

CUOMO: 81 people are on the list. The question will become how much is too much, how much of our time and money has been taking up by going after somebody that you just don't like that he got elected, how do you deal with that?

JEFFRIES: Well, first of all, we're going to continue to focus primarily on our "For the people" agenda. That's an affirmative agenda focused on kitchen table, pocketbook issues, anchored around lowering healthcare costs with a focus on driving down the high cost of prescription drugs.

We've already had several hearings in that area. You'll see legislation forthcoming shortly.

We're working on a real infrastructure plan, $1 trillion to fix our crumbling bridges, roads, tunnels, mass transportation system. We think it'll create 16 million good-paying jobs. We want to do it in a bipartisan way.

This week, we're going to move H.R. 1, which is our reform legislation to clean up corruption and bring our democracy to life in the era of voter suppression.

CUOMO: So, you do both?

JEFFRIES: Absolutely. We have a Constitutional responsibility to do oversight. But we will not over-politicize, we will not over- investigate, we will not overreach. But we will do our Article 1 Constitutional responsibility.

CUOMO: Was Michael Cohen the right first foot to put forward?

JEFFRIES: Well Michael Cohen was an important witness to the extent that he's closely connected to the Trump Organization. You have several layers of possible criminality. It's extraordinary that this is the situation we find ourselves in.

CUOMO: Well you have probable criminality with Cohen's connection to the President. I mean there's a very, very strong case that he admitted to a felony. Now, the new defense is it's not real felony because he never tried it in court. He only admitted to it.

JEFFRIES: Yes. CUOMO: Which, of course, means nothing in the criminal justice system. It's absurd in the criminal justice system. But politically, they'll say it didn't really ever happen.

But you know that while President Trump was in Office, he was still part of what was going on there. It just doesn't seem the Republicans care. In that hearing, they were like, "Nah, we don't believe him, and this isn't that big a deal."

JEFFRIES: They can--

CUOMO: And that's a felony.

JEFFRIES: Well they could care less because they're functioning like wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Trump Presidency, and not like independent representatives consistent with James Madison's vision of the Constitution, so that's unfortunate.

But if you think about just Michael Cohen's testimony, he presented evidence or a reason to believe that there was tax fraud, insurance fraud, bank fraud, and electoral fraud, and a whole host of other things that he's probably discussing with the prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, seems to me that that was a reasonable place for Chairman Elijah Cummings to start.

CUOMO: Why Corey Lewandowski?

JEFFRIES: Well, I think Corey Lewandowski falls on a list of individuals and entities that have either been interviewed by the Special Prosecutor, interviewed by the Southern District of New York, or have fallen within the sort of span of individuals of interests that outside investigators want to see.

So, what Chairman Nadler indicated was that we were going to reach out to, either talk to or get documents from, individuals who have already produced documents, so that it's not a fishing expedition but it is part of our own independent oversight responsibilities.

Corey Lewandowski, obviously, as the initial Campaign Manager to Donald Trump has something to say about what may have taken place between the Trump campaign and Russia.

CUOMO: So, there's nothing specific to him. It's about getting a feel for what you guys are looking into as part of oversight.

JEFFRIES: Well, that is correct.

CUOMO: All right, Congressman, listen, I make the pledge to you and on the other side, as you want to discuss the issues that develop in this probe, and any agenda for the American people, you always have a place here to do it. I'll give you more time than anybody else.

JEFFRIES: Thank you.

CUOMO: Be well and thank you.

JEFFRIES: All right, there are lots of names on that Trumpworld list that you're going to recognize.

Corey Lewandowski is not just a long name, it's a well-known name. That's why I asked why they want to talk to him. He's going to be here. How does he feel about being on the list? How does he feel about the oversight? What case can he make for the President?

[21:10:00] But first, do we have a fresh example of the President overstepping his Office? Facts and the fallout, next.








CUOMO: This President promised to fight for you. The reality, the facts would suggest, is that he is looking out too much for number one.

Latest example, The New Yorker reporting that POTUS ordered his then top Economic Adviser, Gary Cohn to pressure the DOJ to intervene with the AT&T-Time Warner deal. Time Warner is the old name for CNN's parent company.

Trump is quoted saying, "I've been telling Cohn to get this lawsuit filed and nothing has happened. I've mentioned it 50 times and nothing has happened. I want to make sure it's filed. I want that deal blocked," meaning, once again the President would have lied to your face when he said this.


TRUMP: I'm not going to get involved. It's litigation.


CUOMO: Just like the security clearances. "I'll have nothing to do with it," except that he had everything to do with it, and he hopes you keep expecting nothing better from him, but I do.

You see that CNN logo, at the bottom of the screen? It matters to me. It's a source of pride. It matters to everyone who works here for you. But I wouldn't talk about the deal if I thought that there was something wrong with the deal. I would avoid it.

Google and you will see this type of deal was a no-brainer merger. Look for precedent of deals like it being denied. It wasn't about the deal, you see. It was about putting the Me before the We. And, for this President, that means coming after people who question

him like CNN, and coming to the aid of those who play for his team like Fox, a company that also happened to have a big dollar merger in the works at the same time that AT&T did with CNN's parent company.

The DOJ gave a big thumbs-up to the Fox-Disney deal. POTUS even congratulated Fox's CEO claiming the deal would create jobs.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President spoke with Rupert Murdoch earlier today, congratulated him on the deal and thinks that, to use one of the President's favorite words, that this could be a great thing for -- for jobs.


CUOMO: Now, experts in the field would say mergers like that usually create the opposite effect when it comes to jobs, no matter. What is definitely true is that in these actions, we see this President doing exactly what he told you he would not do, playing to big corporations for personal gain.

[21:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I am not beholden to any special interest.

Nobody owns Trump.

So, I'm not controlled by all these people that control Cruz that control Hillary.


TRUMP: With me, it doesn't work that way, OK?


TRUMP: Nobody controls me.


CUOMO: Nobody? Tell Sean Hannity. Here's the defense that even if the President did want to do what I reported above, it never happened. The report is The New Yorker article even says Gary Cohn told John Kelly they weren't going to call the DOJ.

But it all certainly fits a pattern of those around the President, doesn't it, having to say no to a direct order, his Chief of Staff sitting on orders to fire people in the White House, the Secretary of Defense ignoring an order to assassinate the Syrian President, or the White House Counsel refusing to fire Mueller.

The fact that unelected government officials ignoring the President has become somewhat standard procedure should be worrisome. Now, how big a deal is the President trying to mess with a merger?

There are several highly-respected voices saying this is a path to impeachment. I will not fan those flames. I don't see it. But it does fit into a pattern.

I told you about a month ago, "Get used to the phrase abuse of power." Now, Congressman Nadler is citing exactly that as motivation for some deep digging on the Donald.

The President may have the right to do certain things, but what he does may not be right. And, if so, it could be an abuse of power, not a crime, but a contamination of his Office all the same.

So, we have that for you. There's also more big news tonight.

The Senate now has the votes to reject the President's national emergency. It'd be a big blow for Republicans to publicly break with him. Will they stick it out? What would it mean for them and for 2020? Great debate, next.








[21:20:00] CUOMO: Right, this is going to be a big deal, no matter which way it goes. Senator Rand Paul just joined a small group of Republicans in support of a Joint Resolution against President Trump's national emergency, now places the President in position for having his first veto of his Presidency.

He could write it off as a win. But is the defection from the Republican-led Senate, if it happens, the first blow of many?

Christine Quinn, Mike Shields, here for a Great Debate.




CUOMO: Thank you both. So, Mike, are they doing the right thing by voting against this national emergency on the Republican side?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF, CONVERGENCE MEDIA PARTNER: I -- I don't think so. And I don't think it's a huge break. I think it's a limited number of Senators. The -- you know how the Senate rules work that all the Democrats are going to vote for this, and then some Republicans are.

The vast majority of Republicans in the House and the Senate, and the vast majority of Republicans across the country, at the grassroots -- grassroots level want the President to do this.

And so, he's going to veto it. And then, he's going to start building the wall. And then, it'll be yesterday's news in him -- by next week.

CUOMO: Christine, I don't know. You take up the point. But I don't know that Republicans want him to do it this way. Certainly, Mitch McConnell has said, "I did not want him to do it this way."

But, even if they vote a little bit against it, he then vetoes it, now they don't have two-thirds, does he get a win anyway?

CHRISTINE QUINN, (D) FORMER NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER, NEW YORK STATE DEMOCRATIC PARTY VICE CHAIR: Well, I think that this is going to be a big defeat even if he overrides the veto. And look, the numbers are the numbers in these situations. There are not the votes to override the veto either in the House or in the Senate.

What happens here though to the President is it shows that he has lost control -- beginning to lose control in a significant way of the Republican Party that because once they feel comfortable questioning the President once, and they survived, they'll do it again, as things move forward.

It also is going to send a message that's going to undo the President that he isn't -- he is not infallible that people will question him that he just doesn't get to dictate anymore, even to his own party.

So, I think this will have a real ripple effect. And I don't think -- and I don't think polls indicate that broad-based everyday Republicans in the United States want this done.

Does the core 30 percent, or whatever the number is, who are with the President all the time no matter what? Yes.

CUOMO: Well, you have people--

QUINN: There were (ph) people.

CUOMO: --you have people over the majority plus, so everybody in the country--

QUINN: Right.

CUOMO: --believes that you should have physical barriers where you need them, according to a need-based analysis. This is about how they're doing this, Mike, that's my question.

QUINN: And how much?

CUOMO: Right, right. QUINN: And how broadly?

CUOMO: Absolutely. Rand Paul's voice seems like the Ghost of Principles Past.


CUOMO: I cannot let an Executive have this kind of power. I didn't want Obama to have it. I don't want Trump to have it.

SHIELDS: Right. And I think that's an important thing. I mean to say that this is somehow the President's being rejected, and he -- his party's not with him, they're with him on the policy. There are a--

CUOMO: Right.

SHIELDS: --few Senators who care about the principle, and guess what? President Trump doesn't care about that, and most of the American people don't care about it, and this is what -- this is why he was elected.

I mean, remember -- remember when Elizabeth Warren had her moment in the Senate, and Mitch McConnell said, "Nevertheless, she persisted." And that -- she's turned that into a bumper sticker and an entire campaign. What was going on there?

She was breaking the Senate rules. She was going down on the floor and breaking the rules. And she said, "You know what? I don't really care about the rules. This place is old. I'm going to try and be a populist. I don't really care about the rules."

That is the -- the approach the President has. Why would he, in his mind, why would he not get something done that's in his agenda when he has the power to do it, when there are 60 national emergencies that have been carried out just like this?

There's some still in effect today because of some Senate rules. And so, yes, there's a limited group of Senators--

CUOMO: None is like this.

QUINN: No, no. That's -- it's nothing like this.

SHIELDS: I'm -- but -- I'm -- I'm telling you. This is what -- this is his perspective. And this is why you can't--

QUINN: But--

SHIELDS: --you can't extrapolate this into, "Oh, the Republican Party now has a problem--

CUOMO: Right.

SHIELDS: --with the President." That's just absurd. They want the wall.

QUINN: But if--

SHIELDS: And they want him to do whatever it takes.

QUINN: No. They--

SHIELDS: And he got elected to cut through Washington's old rules with the old guard and get things done.

CUOMO: So -- so, Christine, give me a quick take on that--

QUINN: He -- but he didn't -- he didn't--

SHIELDS: And you'll get a victory out of this.

CUOMO: --that how you get it done doesn't matter as long as you're doing the right thing.

QUINN: Well the Constitution matters, the Constitution matters, and the separation of powers matter clearly.

[21:25:00] SHIELDS: Did it matter with DACA?

QUINN: And in the case of this, you're hearing own Republicans saying, why don't you go into the Department of Defense budget, and take money from there, which would be, you know, in their eyes more clearly within his power?

So, no declaration of emergency has been used for something like this ever. There are legal--

SHIELDS: For some -- for something that -- that you don't like--

QUINN: --no, no.

SHIELDS: --is really what that means is there has been 60 of them, including--

QUINN: No, the -- that is not what it means.

SHIELDS: --national security things.

CUOMO: Nothing like this.

QUINN: No, that's not what it means. And you know that you're wrong.

CUOMO: It's always about seizing assets from people, freezing assets, and you give it back. Let me ask you something though, Mike. You're making an interesting article -- interesting angle on this that dovetails with another consideration of mine.

I don't -- I -- I try to keep it to a minimum talking about my brothers and sisters anywhere else doing the job. I just think it comes off caddie, and I'm not looking for those kinds of fights.

But it does the -- what the -- what the President's doing here does fold into his Fox strategy. He knows that he can do something the wrong way, and he will get an echo from Fox, and that he will magnify his message that way, and go around the other lawmakers.

Even if they vote him down, he knows that he's got the Trump trio over there in prime-time television to attack whoever goes against him. Are you worried about that that if Mike Shields comes out against the President, you got to worry about getting your butt whooped on cable television all night?

SHIELDS: No. Well, first of all, I work -- I work at CNN. And secondly, I'm not worried about that at all because there's -- look, there's -- there is clearly room for dissent in the Republican Party. That's how you just started the segment.

And so, they're -- not every Republican's going to agree all the time. But the base of the party, the grassroots wants something to be done, and the brand of the President that when he ran for Office, he said, I'm different. If you want another politician, you've got one. Hillary Clinton--

CUOMO: Yes, fair point.

SHIELDS: --she's exactly like how everything's been done. She would follow the rules, and we would just not get done.

CUOMO: Fair point. But he said he'd be better.

SHIELDS: I'm going to enact my agenda, and I'm not going to care (ph)--

CUOMO: He said he'd be better. He said he wouldn't play to corporate interests. He took care of Fox. He attacked AT&T because he's playing favorites because Fox is state TV, Christine.

QUINN: And let's also--

CUOMO: They say whatever he wants.


CUOMO: And he follows their lead.

QUINN: And I just want to go back to the point, the majority of rank- and-file Republicans do not support the way the President is doing this with the emergency declaration. Poll after poll shows that.

I will yield that that core base that never leaves the President will support him in this. But it is just inaccurate to say that broadly Republic -- American Republicans want this to happen.

And look, you're seeing members of the Republican Party in the Senate calling for meetings with the Vice President to gain assurances that they are not losing money from their state for defense projects.

We saw the new Senator from Arizona do this, and she couldn't get clear information on what projects would be cut, as it relates to military spending. The Congress and the Senate spent great detail and time lionizing out

in many (ph) cases, what money is going to be spent on, and to just disregard that, what national security impacts could that have, we don't know.

CUOMO: Right, look, it's dry. Look, at the end of the day, the President has the power. How he chooses to use it is going to be a point of political scrutiny within his party, and within the country.

Gross oversteps of it, when it's not in a vote like this, that's what the Democrats are going after. But ultimately, this is going to be a referendum by the American people. They'll either vote it up or down based on the results.

Mike Shields, appreciate you making the case. Christine Quinn, always a pleasure. Thank you.

QUINN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, so he raged. He swore. He broke out in a sweat. I don't know what this was. Modern-day Presidential?




TRUMP: These people are sick.


TRUMP: They're trying to take you out with bullshit

With bullshit.


TRUMP: The Attorney General says, "I'm going to recuse myself. I'm going to recuse."


TRUMP: "What's your name?" "Sir, my name is Raisin." "What the hell kind of a name?" I said, "Raisin, like the fruit?"


CUOMO: "I'm angry. I'm going to feel angry the way you are. I'm angry at the same people and I'm going to go mess with them." That was a huge sell for the President of the United States. And the reverberation hasn't ended yet.

At CPAC, they used to celebrate Conservatives. They were eating their own in that coming together this year. Giants of their party, you got to beat down. Corey Lewandowski was part of the architecture of this new take on the party. He's also on the list for the Democrats. How does he feel about both? Can he make the case for the President tonight? Let's see next.








CUOMO: So, we now know that the Democrats' abuse-of-power investigation is going to reach deep into Trumpworld. The question isn't whether they'll find something. It's whether or not they'll find enough to impact public perception and members on the other side of the aisle.

My next guest is going to factor into this. Corey Lewandowski, welcome back.


CUOMO: You're on the list. How do you feel about it?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, you know, I'm joined by others on the list that include the Government Service Administration, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and a number of other government agencies, so I'm not really sure what they're looking for.

But what I can tell you is any emails that I had have all been turned over. I'm sure they've all been gone through multiple times. I have been very candid. I've testified in front of the House Committee on two separate occasions for north of 12 hours.

I've testified in front of the Senate Committee. The Members of Congress have access to all of that information. So, I'm sure if there's anything there that they want to talk about, they'll have the opportunity to review those.

CUOMO: You'll be open? You'll comply?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, they'll have the opportunity to review that testimony. I've been very clear that I've had nothing to hide because--

CUOMO: Right.

LEWANDOWSKI: --you know, I -- I have -- I've been very, very clear. There was no collusion. There was no cooperation, no coordination--

CUOMO: That you knew about.

LEWANDOWSKI: --between the Trump campaign and the Russians. Well when I was there.

CUOMO: But if I -- if I had told you about what Manafort was doing, and Stone was doing, you wouldn't have said, "There was no collusion and no problem," right?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, look, I -- I -- I think, you know, I can't -- I can't justify what Paul or, you know, what Roger has been accused of doing.

CUOMO: Yes, I know. That's why I'm saying it.

[21:35:00] LEWANDOWSKI: And -- and, look, I -- I -- I have nothing to do with that. But when I was there, I can tell you, I was never contacted by a government official who the Obama Administration was in charge of the ballot, and security, integrity during the 2016 election.

I never get a phone call that said the Russians are trying to hack into the campaign, and we're doing something about it.

CUOMO: No. But the FBI came to you guys and told you exactly--

LEWANDOWSKI: That call never came.

CUOMO: --that in July. The FBI told you--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, I was, look, Chris, I -- I--

CUOMO: --guys exactly that.

LEWANDOWSKI: --I was gone in July to be fair.

CUOMO: I know. But I'm saying, it's--


CUOMO: --still part of the record.

LEWANDOWSKI: --but -- but -- but, Chris, the FBI never came to me, and said, "Paul Manafort is someone who we have an interest in--

CUOMO: I understand that.

LEWANDOWSKI: --or there are potential bad actors." And -- and if they were so concerned about that, they should have come to us, and said, "We have some concerns--

CUOMO: They did.

LEWANDOWSKI: --you should be aware of this." That never -- not to me, they never did. CUOMO: No, but it them -- but don't say, "They didn't come to us."

They did go to the campaign. You just weren't there anymore. The reason I'm asking whether or not you're going to comply is because you haven't answered everything that people wanted to talk to you about.

In the beginning, you -- you were pushing back--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Chris, I -- I sat -- I sat for 12 hours--

CUOMO: --and saying that you didn't want to talk about things and Presidential immunity and all this stuff.


CUOMO: He's got to assert the immunity, not you.

LEWANDOWSKI: No, no -- I -- I -- I never asked for Presidential immunity whatsoever.

CUOMO: Not immunity. Privilege. The privilege that these are--

LEWANDOWSKI: But what I will tell you is behind the closed doors--

CUOMO: --privileged conversations. He's got to deal with that, not you. If you're asked questions, will you answer them?

LEWANDOWSKI: Chris, I sat there for 12 hours. And before I left, after the last four hours, I said, "I will sit here for another four hours to answer every single one of your questions," to the House Intelligence Committee.

I said, "Before we leave today, I want to be very clear. I will sit and answer every one of your questions." And I went around the room, and nobody had any more questions. After 12 hours of questioning--

CUOMO: Well because you had said there were areas you wouldn't talk about.

LEWANDOWSKI: --nobody had any more questions. So, I got up and left.

CUOMO: That's all I'm saying.

LEWANDOWSKI: I -- I -- I -- I said I will talk about anything that happened when I was at the campaign. Of course, I will. And I've been very open about that, and I'll do it all the time. That's what my expertise is.

That's what my first-hand information is about is any information that transpired while I was at the campaign.

CUOMO: All right, look, I think as long as you play it straight, you're going to be fine, and we'll see where it goes, and we will police it because there's no reason for overreach on any level.

Let me ask you about a couple of quick other things. If they vote against the President's national declaration of an emergency, what does that mean?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well it means the President's going to veto it.

There's clearly, as -- as your previous guest said, Christine Quinn said, "They don't have the votes in the House or the Senate to override the President's veto," and it's very common for Congress to send bills to the President, which he vetoes.

It's happened to every Administration since basically--

CUOMO: This would be first.

LEWANDOWSKI: --George Washington, I think.

CUOMO: This would be his first because McConnell--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, it would be the -- it -- it--

CUOMO: --has insulated him from that.

LEWANDOWSKI: Yes, yes. But -- but, Chris, to be fair, Barack Obama didn't have any vetoes in his first two years either because he had a Democrat-controlled Congress. Once the Republicans took over, that's when the vetoes happened because that's what happens in a -- in a Congress that is not all governed or controlled by one party.

CUOMO: So, you don't think that it's an expression that he's doing this the wrong way? You want to build the wall? You want to build more fencing? Fine.

Whether the situation justifies it enough, that's a -- that's a political debate, but don't do it this way. This isn't what the law was for. You said it yourself, "It's not an emergency."

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, look, I -- I think what we're looking at is, is a very small amount of money, which the national emergency is actually going to be able to access.

Most of the money is drug forfeiture money at the -- the Treasury Department, money which has been allocated by Congress, so it's the last $3 billion that the President is going to declare the national emergency for.

And I believe, and I could be wrong Chris, doesn't happen often, but maybe tonight, that the Democrats have already filed suit to stop him from doing this. So, if that's the case, ultimately, this will reside in the courts somewhere, and they'll make the decision if he has the authority to do it.

But I believe, under the Constitution, it's been used 58, 59, 60 times, including--

CUOMO: But never for this. That's why Mitch McConnell said--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Chris, hey--

CUOMO: --"Don't do it this way."

LEWANDOWSKI: Chris, Chris, don't forget. Barack Obama used declaration of an emergency when 12 people died from the swine flu. That's a fact. Many more people have died from --people coming across the Border illegally than 12 people.

CUOMO: But that's not the standard.

It's usually about freezing assets and doing quick things where the President has to mobilize the power of the purse to get something done in a moment, and then report to Congress, and return it to them. This is not an urgency.

LEWANDOWSKI: But -- but--

CUOMO: There is no epidemical flu--

LEWANDOWSKI: Chris, Chris, Barack Obama--

CUOMO: --or a concern.

LEWANDOWSKI: --it -- Barack Obama determined that 12 people dying from swine flu was enough to declare a national emergency. This President has determined that the--

CUOMO: It was about the immanency of the moment.

LEWANDOWSKI: --thousands of people being killed--

CUOMO: This President said, "I don't have to do this right now."

LEWANDOWSKI: Chris, thousands of people are dying. Chris, thousands of people are dying--

CUOMO: Thousands of people are not dying because--

LEWANDOWSKI: --being main (ph).

CUOMO: --there is no wall.

LEWANDOWSKI: Absolutely. They absolutely are.

CUOMO: Correlation is not causation. Just because these people have come across illegally, and they've done wrong things doesn't mean that you're a wall away from fixing it. And I got a news flash for you.

There is going to come a time where there will be a reckoning about what the reality is on the Border, and why it is that way, and why it is not. And we are going to see that those people are not asking for a wall to fix what their biggest problems are.

[21:40:00] Let me ask you about one other thing while I have you. The big story in The New Yorker to me is not news. Great reporting, great, great reporting, but not news.

This TV outlet, state TV, as I call them, Fox in prime time, they say the President does. I've never seen anything like it. That's why I say, "Sean Hannity, never seen power like that in the media." The President does what he says. Are you worried about that?

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Chris, we -- let -- let's go back and point out the facts. Look, Bill Bradley, during the Kennedy Administration, the Washington Post was the go-to source.

Ben Rhodes' brother, who's the Deputy National Security Adviser under the Obama Administration, his brother is the President of CBS News.


LEWANDOWSKI: So, let's not point out the fact that this is the first Administration--

CUOMO: And my brother is the Governor of New York. Those are all individual cases.

LEWANDOWSKI: Yes, but, Chris--

CUOMO: It's not a systemic effort of an entire network--


CUOMO: --to do nothing but parrot the President's--


CUOMO: --positions and ignore anything--

LEWANDOWSKI: So, are -- are we saying--

CUOMO: --that's bad for him, and attack other journalists--

LEWANDOWSKI: --are we saying that CBS--

CUOMO: --who report differently.

LEWANDOWSKI: Chris, are we saying that CBS News didn't get special access to Barack Obama because the Deputy National Security Adviser's brother--


LEWANDOWSKI: --was the President. Of course, they did.

CUOMO: No, not like with Fox.

LEWANDOWSKI: Of course, they did. Did the Washington Post--

CUOMO: Not like with Fox. He gives them all the interviews.

LEWANDOWSKI: --of course they did. Chris--

CUOMO: He gives just a handful to anybody else.

LEWANDOWSKI: That's not true. Look, this--

CUOMO: It's -- it's true.

LEWANDOWSKI: This President has been more accessible to the media than any--

CUOMO: That's poppycock.

LEWANDOWSKI: --President in modern history.

CUOMO: He won't even come on CNN.

LEWANDOWSKI: That's absolutely true.

CUOMO: He only goes where he gets a pat on the back. And that's fine for a politician to seek safe warm waters. That's what they do. Fine! But for an entire organization to reward that is something different. We've never seen anything--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Chris, I -- I don't--

CUOMO: --of this scale.

LEWANDOWSKI: --think it's an entire organization.

Look, Shepard Smith is very critical of this President. Neil Cavuto is very critical of this President. Judge Napolitano has been very critical of the President on numerous occasions. So, it's not an entire network.

CUOMO: You are picking individuals to make a case against the General from a management perspective. I know Shep. I respect his work. Bret Baier, there's a whole host of people, that people don't even know that well that I know at Fox.

LEWANDOWSKI: Martha MacCallum is a tough--

CUOMO: I used to work at Fox.

LEWANDOWSKI: --she's a tough anchor (ph).

CUOMO: I know they're good people there.


CUOMO: But in prime time TV, and from a management perspective, they are pawns for this President, and you know it, and you guys went crazy--


CUOMO: --when one of our--


CUOMO: --when one of our contributors gave questions and topic areas, whatever you want to call it, before a Town Hall, where there is no opponent to Hillary Clinton, you went nuts, and I agree.

LEWANDOWSKI: But -- but -- but, Chris, look, it's--

CUOMO: Now you find out Fox gave debate questions to Donald Trump, silence. Come on.

LEWANDOWSKI: I -- look, I don't know that. I don't know when they gave him a debate question. I was never made aware of that. That never happened when I was there. I can unequivocally say that.

CUOMO: No, you can unequivocally say that you didn't know--

LEWANDOWSKI: But, look, I think it's very fair to say--

CUOMO: --that they did that. You cannot say it didn't happen.

LEWANDOWSKI: Chris, Chris, I did--

CUOMO: Read the reporting.

LEWANDOWSKI: --I did the debate prep for 12 Presidential primary debates. Fox News did not give us one question. That's an -- that's an unequivocal fact. The report is wrong.

Look, the report goes on to say that Sean Hannity and Bill Shine's, you know, their -- their kids are each other's godparents or whatever. That's also not true. So, let's just not take every word that's in The New Yorker to be factually accurate.

And, by the way, as you know, Chris, you have relationships with people you work with at the building.

CUOMO: All the time.

LEWANDOWSKI: And so, it would make sense that--

CUOMO: All the time.

LEWANDOWSKI: --you would have a relationship--

CUOMO: I have no problem with Shine.

LEWANDOWSKI: --outside of the work space.

CUOMO: I have no problem with Bill Shine and Sean Hannity being close, feeling like brothers. They work together. I've no problem with it. I'm talking about from a management perspective, what they do there is something we have never seen before with their prime time lineup--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, we've -- we've seen -- we've seen it on the--

CUOMO: --and how they do with a candidate (ph).

LEWANDOWSKI: --other side though, Chris.

CUOMO: Never. LEWANDOWSKI: Look at the hatred and the vitriol at MSNBC every night. They have made their living and their network the "I Hate Donald Trump Network." That's a fact. Their prime time anchors all hate Donald Trump.

They don't have Conservatives on. There's not one Conservative on MSNBC who has a television show to give the other side. They've made that strategic decision.

CUOMO: And who's the Democrat in prime time over there? They're like right out of it (ph).

LEWANDOWSKI: Every -- Rachel Maddow--

CUOMO: Those people.

LEWANDOWSKI: --Rachel Maddow is -- you don't think she's a registered Democrat?

CUOMO: No, I'm talking about on Fox.

LEWANDOWSKI: Chris Hayes over there (ph) he's a registered Democrat. Of course.

CUOMO: Where's -- where's the -- where's the center perspective? Where's the regular Republican perspective in their prime time lineup? Come on. Anyway, look--

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, Chris, it--

CUOMO: --let's leave it there. I'm not going to hate on other talent. That's not my job.

LEWANDOWSKI: That's how they do it.

CUOMO: I'm just saying, we've never seen anything like this--

LEWANDOWSKI: I agree. But you have to--

CUOMO: --from an organizational perspective.

LEWANDOWSKI: Don't point out the inaccuracies. Look, it's networks choose to do it for ratings is what they do. MSNBC, CNN, they all do it. It's just Fox does it on the Conservative side to be a balance.

CUOMO: Yes, I disagree with the premise because that's not the job.

You got to have both sides. That's why I have you here. I have the Left here. I go at it. Maybe that's why I don't rate higher. I should pick a side like everybody else over at Fox and MSNBC, maybe I'd be better (ph).

LEWANDOWSKI: You're going to do just fine.

CUOMO: All right, Corey, be well. Thank you for making the case. I appreciate it-- LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you.

CUOMO: --so should the audience.

All right, three big questions on everyone's mind tonight, at least on mine, OK?

[21:45:00] The President and the investigations that are hounding him, I got a new segment for you. I want to try it. Tell me what you think, come at me on Twitter. I'm going to get your answers to three big questions that I think are central to a common concern, next.








CUOMO: New segment and a special guest. This man wrote today in The New York Times that the mob prosecution tactics may be the key to taking down this President, if it happens at all.

Lots of questions on everybody's mind. There are three that I want to get answers for you.




CUOMO: Garrett Graff is here. Thank you very much. Congrats on the piece.

All right, the idea of going after the mob, those kinds of tactics, how does that play into what the best and worst scenario is as the outcome from the Mueller?


And -- and, you know, I think the -- the big picture we have to keep in mind is that the best-case scenario for the Mueller investigation, for the Southern District of New York, and the investigations into Donald Trump, is that they don't find anything.

You know, we don't want to be in a situation where we find out that the President is an active agent of Russian intelligence or that the President has been compromised by Russia or other foreign entities or financial interests for some period of time.

You know, I think the flip side of that is if there is evidence of guilt, what it needs to be is, and you and I were talking a little bit about this last week, it needs to be not a single instance, but it needs to be a pattern of corruption, and conspiracy, stretching over a--


GRAFF: --a long period of time.

CUOMO: Look, I don't personally see it on the prosecutorial side. I'm happy to be wrong. We'll see what happens when we learn more. But I do see it on the oversight side because they don't have the same standards for performance.

[21:50:00] So, when you look at the Democrats' oversight in light of where they say they're heading, what's the plus/minus on that?

GRAFF: The plus/minus again is, you know, they do have this different burden of proof. And so, their challenge is, can they identify political problems?

You know, are there things short of a federal felony that are things that we just don't want to be part of our democratic system, that we don't want to be behavior that candidates engaged in -- in campaigns or public office are engaged in?

And I think that it's clear that Donald Trump has already crossed that line, and that some of what Jerry Nadler is talking about as he launches this investigation--

CUOMO: I told people--

GRAFF: --is we already have evidence.

CUOMO: --I told people, abuse of power, that's what you're going to hear on the Congressional side. It's not a crime. It's about a standard of behavior.

All right, the last one. I hate to put you on the spot. We both know that's a lie. I love it. The idea of what do you think -- what do you think the category will be that it holds the biggest thing that comes out of the Mueller report?

GRAFF: I think we are going to see one more in -- indictment, at least one more round of indictments coming out of this, in part, because Bob Mueller -- the only thing that he absolutely controls is what comes out in the court filings.

You know, whatever report he turns over to the Attorney General that then the Attorney General decides what to turn over to Congress, that's -- Mueller doesn't necessarily control that.

What he controls is the court filing and the underlying indictment. And I think he -- it's clear he's been saving material, dealing with conspiracy, dealing with communication between Russia, between WikiLeaks, and the Trump campaign.

And I think we're going to see that come out in a final investigation, probably with a charge of conspiracy against the United States or conspiracy to defraud.

CUOMO: That would be a gutsy call by him, and it's certainly a gutsy call by you. Garrett Graff, thank you very much. Conspiracy is the crime. Collusion is a behavior.

Collusion is a behavior. They get you for conspiracy. Now, you got a problem.

All right, the good news today. We see a handful of Republicans willing to stand up for what they've always said they believe in. That's what this national emergency vote is about. It's about principle versus politics. What choice are they going to make?

I have an argument about what should happen and what will, next.








[21:55:00] CUOMO: Magic number is 12, 12 days or less, and we will know. Here's the question.

Will the GOP muscle up and vote against an emergency declaration that they can argue is not in keeping with the statute at play, and that is a huge insult to their long-stated notion of separation of powers?

Remember how DACA outraged them? Now, this is different. There's a statute created here to allow for the President to declare an emergency. But that statute never contemplated, has never been used to do anything like what this President is trying.

Everybody knows it. But what will they do?

We're now at four GOPers who say it's too much to swallow, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Thom Tillis. Why isn't that four, four times that? They would have gone bananas if you change the R to a D after the President's name.

Remember what Righties like Rand Paul said about Obama and DACA? Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The President acts like he's a king. He ignores the Constitution. He arrogantly says, "If Congress will not act then I must."


CUOMO: OK. So, he knows it applies right now, every bit as much. And you know what? He owned it. "I would literally lose my political soul," he said, "if I decided to treat President Trump different than President Obama."

But there are a lot of soul-less folks running around, aren't there? That's why so many hate this game, so many of you, because it is a game. It's about positioning, not principle, being brazen, not truly brave.

Do these men and women really fear the President more than they fear surrendering what they used to say mattered most? This President answered that question with a smile and a stare.


TRUMP: I -- I really think that Republicans that vote against Border security and the wall, I think, you know, I've been OK at predicting things, I think they put themselves at great jeopardy.


CUOMO: He could be right. I'm not telling anybody what to do. That's the job for the folks over on state TV, you know, the ones who do tell the President and his pawns what to do, and they listen and follow it.

I'm just forcing the issue of going at people for not doing what they say their principles are. The problem, however, is going to be bigger than just a simple "No vote."

Even if the four Senators stand strong, so will POTUS. He sees a win in this. He's going to go for it. He's not burdened by principle. He knows he's fighting against weak opponents. They fear him, he knows it. He's going to veto, then it would take a two-thirds override.

And think about this for a second. We can't get 67 percent of the House and Senate to agree about separation of powers. They know what this is. They know it's a power grab. They know it's an abuse of the statute as drafted and tended (ph) and exercised in the past.

An emergency that the President said is not an emergency. 67 percent! You barely pass a test with that grade, and it will likely show all those except the most ardent Trumpers that the GOP has once again failed to stand up for its stated principles.

And in doing that, it will also reinforce a bigger decay, the disaffection, corroding our political culture. People hate the process. And increasingly, they think so little of the people in it that they elected a President whom they knew checked very few, if any, boxes of good character. Why? Because they don't think those traits matter anymore. They

actually preferred to send someone to Washington in large part because he seemed to despise the same people and things they do, and he promised to disrupt.

And much of that tweaks the media about this President's bombast and abuse of truth and decency. But all of that actually comes across to his supporters as him fighting the bad guys on their own terms. So, that's where we are. That's the real deal.

And right now, we are living a moment that matters. 12 days, the vote has to happen by statute. Old Mitch McConnell doesn't like it. He doesn't like the President doing this. He knows he's asking for a Democrat to force an emergency on him sooner or later, but he can't work his magic and find out a way to bring this vote.

So, what will they do? This moment is going to tell us a lot. I hope we're surprised. I hope the outcome doesn't just meet our lowest expectations. We all know it's way past time to show that we can be better than how we are right now.

Is this the moment that righteousness recovers? We'll see.

All right, let's see something else. How about a bonus hour of CUOMO PRIME TIME?