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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Democrats Cast A Wide Net Over Trump World Today; President Used His Power To Intervene Mergers; Lee County, Alabama Coping With A Terrible Loss; Ilhan Omar Under Fire Once Again; Roger Stone Has Been Issued A Gag Order By Federal Judge. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired March 4, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: But he can't work his magic and find out a way to bring these votes, 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. Doesn't just meet our lowest expectations? We all know its 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? Democrats coming after the president in a way we've not seen before, casting a wide net over Trump world today. What are they looking for? How far do they plan to go? We've got a key lawmaker here. What can he tell us?
And what about that deadline? Wasn't today the day the White House was supposed to get back to the oversight committee on security clearances? Did they miss it? What could they be trying to hide? That's Cuomo's Court.
And devastating developments out of Alabama, the death toll is rising. Massive tornadoes tore through homes. I hope you've seen the pictures, and I hope you're thinking about the need there. We have a survivor. What a story. It's a tough night, so let's get after it.
The chairman of the committee that launched today's massive Trump world investigation says impeachment is a long way off. But are they laying the groundwork right now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), New York: Our goal is to hold the administration accountable for the obstruction of justice, the abuse of power, and the corruption. We have to find out what's been going on, and we have to lay out a case to the American people and reveal it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Look, we had the head of the Democratic caucus on earlier, Hakeem Jeffries. I don't see how they launch a probe like this but say it's got nothing to do with impeachment. Yes, they have constitutional oversight, but it seems to be a conflation of the interests here. But we'll see. We'll see which way it goes and what it yields.
One of the things they want are records involving the president's communications with Vladimir Putin. Are they going to get to talk to the interpreter? There aren't any notes.
I want to bring in Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen. He's a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. Welcome back to PRIME TIME, sir.
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: Good to be back with you, Chris.
CUOMO: So, deal with my skepticism, Congressman. Where does this go except you guys making a case for impeachment? Mueller looked at a lot of these things already. You'll get information, but if it's not going to lead to a prosecution, impeachment's the only path of any kind of accountability for what you find, is it not?
COHEN: Well, it is if the Justice Department continues to say that you can't indict a sitting president. But, you know, the New York state attorney general can indict a sitting president, so he might have problems that he hasn't looked at as far as his immunization from the Justice Department, from prosecution, and/or his ability to pardon himself or whatever. He won't get that in New York State.
The Congress will look seriously at all of his activities and all the facts and see if they come to a level like in Watergate to where the Republicans ended up going to Nixon and saying, it's over. You need to resign.
The Republicans control the votes in the Senate, and to get this president to be removed by impeachment, Republicans -- at least 18 of them -- would have to vote for impeachment.
COHEN: And right now, they are acolytes to President Trump. You've got your few people like Rand Paul who is showing courage and integrity, and Lamar Alexander, and Susan Collins, and Ms. Murkowski, and there might be one other. But you need to have 16 or 17, and to get that, we're going to have to produce facts that force their constituents to put the pressure on them to do what is the right thing to do for America and the rule of law.
CUOMO: Because remember, congressman, with Nixon, you had a felony. You had his connection to the burglary. You had the cover-up with the tapes. You had him. So, when they went to him and said, this is the case. Which way do you want to go down? You know, e saw the writing on the wall. You're nowhere near that here. So how do you balance the interest of oversight with not overplaying your hand?
COHEN: Well, I think what you do is what we're doing, is requesting documents, going through those documents, and we've got some outstanding consultants in Barry Burke and Norm Eisen who have background and knowledge of some of this information already to go through it with the committee staff and with committee members and then have hearings to have the public know what it is there. We don't know what we'll get in the Mueller report. Mueller may have
much more. And as Mr. Graff says, he expects more indictments. I expect more indictments. I think Mr. Graff may be right about what he's thinking is going to come. But we have to wait and see what comes from Mueller, and then we have to see whether or not Mr. Barr will let us see much if not all of the report to know what Mueller had.
[22:04:50] If you can't indict the president and he's maybe done things that are maladministration, which is what the founding fathers said would amount to impeachable offenses in essence, the Congress has to see that and not allow it when he can't be indicted because he can't be indicted is kind of a catch-22, and that's not going to stand, and we're going to have to fight him in court to get those papers if he doesn't release them. He might release them.
CUOMO: Well look, we'll see what level of disclosure there is from Mueller and from the A.G. and where that takes you. But this is going to take a long time, congressman. How do you sustain the momentum as, you know, weeks turn into months, turn into many months? The people are going to have expectations. One of the problems with oversight, you know, the farther you go, the more you got to be able to deliver.
COHEN: Well, the people do want to see information, and we're going to have information. There is so much that the Trump administration has done. There's so much corruption, and that's one of the things that we want to do besides working on prescription drug prices and affordable health care and education and jobs and infrastructure is to clean up the corruption that's out there.
And the Trump administration has been just complete with -- you know, you started with that price and the airplanes, you know, and the interior Secretary Zinke comes in on a horse, and he's hiring people --
CUOMO: But isn't an election the way to resolve all this, Congressman? If you don't like it, vote him out.
COHEN: Eventually it may be, and the people will want to know what he's done and what he's hidden from the public, his taxes, his advantages he got on mortgages, understating his assets, and the different ways he's used the system to make his businesses successful.
Just like this past week tweeting about his golf course and advertising his golf course and saying that's good for our relationships with the United Kingdom. A golf course doesn't improve your relations unless the president only cares about his own personal golf course, and the profits he makes from it.
CUOMO: Now, let me ask you about why you want to get the interpreter and what you're looking for between the president and Putin. That's going to be tough to get, but let's say there's some kind of compliance. Why do you want it?
COHEN: Well, there's a reason why he didn't want the public to know what he said. There's a reason why he destroyed the notes. And, you know, everybody suspects that there's a relationship that's unholy between Trump and Putin.
And if they talked about sanctions being lifted, if they talked about -- they could have talked about old times and said, you know, we talked about this earlier, and you said you were going to get the sanctions lifted. They might have gone into some history, but they also might have gone into some prospective activity. Sanctions, article five, maybe saying we wouldn't support if you invaded Estonia or went further in Ukraine, we wouldn't go there.
We don't know what they said, but whatever it was, he didn't want people to know it. And then afterwards, he came out and said he believed Putin as far as not being involved with our elections. And everybody knows he was involved with interfering with our elections.
CUOMO: Well, that's --
COHEN: Trump is the only person that doesn't know that.
CUOMO: Well, I don't think it's about what the president knows.
COHEN: He knows it but he's the only person that know it. He knows it, but he's the only person that doesn't admit it.
CUOMO: Right because I think that that, with the president is about personal advantage, and he think it's bad for him if he acknowledges that because it somehow delegitimized his win. But let's put his psychology to the side.
The rule will remain. Just like with Mueller the rule for oversight will be we only know what you can show. The questions are serious, but so will the proof have to be. Congressman Cohen, thank you very much. This conversation is open-ended. Whenever you believe there's something the people need to know about, just we're a call away.
COHEN: Thank you, Chris. And I'm not going to bring you a six-pack like Higgins did.
CUOMO: Pennsylvania beer from a guy from Louisiana. That was very odd, but I was happy for the gesture. All right. Be well, sir. We'll drink something else.
The White House may be ignoring another big request for information. Tonight is the deadline for those answers to why the president did what he did with security clearances for his son-in-law and maybe his daughter. Did the president overrule U.S. intel? If so, why? Our investigator is here, next.
[22:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: All right. We see what the Democrats are doing. They are flexing their oversight muscle. Eighty-one people and entities tied to President Trump got letters requesting documents from the judiciary committee. Two of his sons are on that list as well.
So is his former campaign manager, his businesses, and the list goes on. Where does it lead?
Let's bring in former House Intel Chair Mike Rogers.
Mike, always appreciate it. You were a mentor, certainly will play that role tonight. Am I off in continuing to ask Democrats, you know, we're only going to know what you show? The more ambitious you are, the higher the bar for what you deliver. They're beating me back on that, but is it a fair point?
FORMER REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: I think it's a very fair point, Chris. I mean you said they're flexing their muscle. It looks like they're throwing up on the table. Here's the problem with the way they're approaching this thing.
With 80 different folks subpoenaed and piles of records, it feeds into what the Trump narrative has been. This is they're just after anything that they can find. And a lot of the comments have been, well, we haven't really found anything, but we can't wait for a speedy trial and a really good hanging.
And all of that feeds into this weird narrative that people are starting to think, well, are they really after him? Is it really true? And that confusion only benefits the president. I don't understand why they're doing this.
They have some areas of which oversight is exactly appropriate. Focus on it versus this scattershot hoping that something sticks. I think it's a mistake of strategy, and I think it's going to allow the president to say, my God, I got 80 things, and I got all this stuff and lawyers. It's so hard and confusing. I'll get back to you in a couple of years.
CUOMO: So, do you see abuse of power as a legit avenue, or do you see something else as where legit oversight is needed?
ROGERS: Listen, they're going to have to do a better job for me to understand it. Listen, I think if the government, the United States government, everybody ought to look at this, Republicans or Democrats whatever party you are, is going to go after something of any individual for any reason. Either you're in elected office, running for office, or you're doing something -- you're under an FBI investigation, they have the responsibility to do it right. It can't be a political motive involved, which is hard to do in a congressional investigation.
[22:14:56] But, listen, you're going to ruin people's reputation. All of those 80 people that got those subpoenas, most of them did absolutely nothing wrong. Maybe all of them did nothing wrong.
And so, I just think they have to be more judicious about how they do this. Saying that, you know, you profited on x or y, well, you better be able to show that. Saying that and making that condemnation, making that charge from an official from the U.S. government carries weight and standing.
My argument is shut up. Do your investigation. And then show us what you found. And if you found something, OK. And if you didn't, then don't drag these people through the mud. That part I don't like a lot, and I think there's plenty of targets out there for them. But the way they're doing it, I don't know.
I mean, think about it if it were you or your family or somebody you knows family.
ROGERS: I mean this is really tough stuff. It can't be politics as usual, and we've kind of grown to accept all of this, from both sides by the way.
ROGERS: I'm not condemning any party. That to me is what's pouring me about where politics has gone in America. It can't be like, we can't use the force of government to try to embarrass or degrade or kind of give folks a black eye. I don't think it's right.
CUOMO: Well, look, that's what we're seeing on so many levels. I mean, you know, the Democrats are largely going to be looking into the past, what happened, what it may mean for today. But we've got stuff going on right now.
I want to remind people of what the president's daughter said on an important issue. Mike will explain why it's important. But if the reporting is right, what she's about to tell you here is really problematic. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT: There were anonymous leaks about there being issues, but the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance, zero.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What were the problems early on?
TRUMP: There weren't any other than a backlog that exists of close to a million clearances across government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: OK. Now, Ivanka may not have known what the process was and what the president was doing if he did what the reporting suggests, which is he took the decision away from the intel guys and said, I'm just going to do this. All right?
Now, the narrative is that she was pestering him to do that. But, again, we don't know that to be true. We know the last thing she said is false, that the only problem was a backlog. No. The problem was that Kushner had to keep amending his statement for different types of potential conflicts, and that triggered a lot of different types of red flags that you'd be more familiar with than I as someone who did as much intelligence work as you did.
If the president took the decision and his daughter knew about it and is putting out this kind of statement, what are your issues?
ROGERS: Well, you know, I think it's very plausible that she walked in not understanding this process. Remember, they went from dead stop, not really involved in politics, had no experience, to sitting --
CUOMO: Fair point.
ROGERS: -- sitting in the White House with all of this national security stuff that's complicated on a good day for people who study it. And so, I'm willing to give that person a pass.
ROGERS: What I am concerned about is if you circumvented the process, if you short circuited the process for these clearances, that's a problem because we used to beat on folks all across the government, saying, hey, you have to follow the rules.
And by the way, we're going to hold you to this high standard because you are getting a clearance from the United States government to protect U.S. government secrets. And that's what I don't like about that if, in fact, that's true. And this should be easy for them to find.
Listen, if they're going to do the oversight of it and she believes that, and I believe that if she says it, she believes it, that this is an easily provable event. You'll just cooperate and get this one done. I wouldn't try to drag my feet on this if I were them. I'd get it done. By the way, at the end of the day, this is an odd thing, but the president can grant a security clearance if he wants.
CUOMO: A hundred percent.
CUOMO: It's just why lie about it?
ROGERS: Yes, well, that's --
CUOMO: Why lie about it? All right. So that's what --
ROGERS: That's the other issue.
CUOMO: Well, it's always the issue, right? It's just about how much it matters in a given situation. Mike Rogers, thank you so much as always.
ROGERS: Hey, thanks, Chris. CUOMO: All right. The president said he wouldn't get involved in
something else also. He said he wouldn't get involved in one of the biggest media mergers in history. Now there's new reporting suggesting that's exactly what he did, and he did it why you think he did it. Because it was personal. Did he cross a line? Let's take it up in Cuomo's Court next.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: President Trump has a favorite cable news network, and spoiler alert, it is not us. A report in "The New Yorker" reveals that the president personally asked one of his top aides, Gary Cohn, to have the DOJ stop AT&T from buying Time Warner, which is what we used to call our parent company.
Let's gavel Cuomo's Court into session. Joining me, two heavyweights, Laura Coates and Ken Cuccinelli.
It's good to have you both. Laura Coates, make the case that what you learned today in the New Yorker is proof that the president did this for bad reason.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you had the idea starting with why would a vertical integration like this, a vertical merger where you have a content distributor buying a content producer get so many people to look? Normally you think if you have two competitors in a horizontal merger where you're saying that one person is going to be able to set prices and fix them and have leverage and hurt the consumers.
So, from the get-go conceptually it was always an odd thing to pursue. Combine that with the fact that contemporaneously to the objection of the Time Warner merger, you had 21st Century Fox and Disney merging to inure to the benefit of somebody by the name of Rupert Murdoch who as you know was a man used to be confidant and close ally of the president.
And so, one would think that similar mergers, similar acquisitions would have the same criticism or the same support, but not so when it comes to the president's personal preference. This has been reiterated by the appellate court, by the lower courts, and it feeds into once again it was motivated politically, which is not how it should ever be done.
KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the president did very openly talk about this merger in the campaign. So, I can't say that his opposition to it was new post-election, though I do agree with Laura that the antitrust case the Department of Justice filed with the vertical integrated merger was novel.
[22:25:08] And the reason it had some significance beyond just the one case was the potential for it to affect particularly tech companies like Google and Facebook depending on how they would proceed going forward into the future because they present some peculiarities. But the courts, both the lower court and the appellate court rejected the Department of Justice's position --
CUOMO: And point out -- and pointed out that they were suspicious --
CUCCINELLI: -- and that merger was completed.
CUOMO: And pointed out that there were suspicious to the motivation. The reporting with Gary Cohn --
CUOMO: -- saying that the president was saying, I want this stopped. I want this stopped. Now, the reporting also suggests that Cohn told then chief of staff John Kelly we're not going to do it. But do you think the president should be saying that kind of thing, Ken?
CUCCINELLI: Well, are you talking about Cohn or the president?
CUOMO: Should the president be saying that kind of thing --
CUCCINELLI: You mean, should he be saying to stop this merger?
CUCCINELLI: Yes, I don't think the issue is whether or not a president takes a position on a merger. I think it's the why.
CUCCINELLI: That is of more relevance.
CUCCINELLI: And that may be harder to pick apart for a person. But, again, I think he made clear in the campaign that he was going to take this position. Do I think that was a good idea? Well, no. I'm a conservative, and I look at antitrust as a very hands-off approach, --
CUCCINELLI: -- and I think he was being very aggressive here and inappropriately.
CUOMO: But, Laura, it's all about the why. Why would he have said it during the campaign? Every time he said it when you look at it contextually, is because he was pissed off at CNN. I mean, there was an obvious personal animus at play.
COATES: He didn't just mention it in the campaign. He also issued a press release from the campaign saying that President Trump would never allow this particular merger to go forward. And the answer is quite simple.
CUCCINELLI: That's true.
COATES: Should the president ever weigh in on an antitrust when he's motivated not by competitors and the people who are the consumers but instead by a personal animus and vengeance and ax to grind? Absolutely not.
You see, especially if he is supposed to be a conservative or a Republican, which by the way, as Ken talked about, are normally those who would look at this as a laissez faire and say, you know what, let the markets and the economy do as it sees fit. Allow it to take place.
COATES: Now, when you insert yourself into this, put your thumb on the scale, not in the interest of the American consumer or the international consumer, but instead because you don't like the content that is being provided through the distributors and the content producers, that is actually continuing the dilemma of the president of the United States looking at the enemy of the people, the press, and those who distribute the actual news itself.
CUOMO: Should your party stand up more, Ken, and say, Mr. President, don't abuse your power this way? Just because you can't do things doesn't always mean you should. It's too obvious. It's too flagrant. Stop.
CUCCINELLI: Well, I think it's always been true that anytime a president gets outside the boundaries of their power, it shouldn't really matter, but of course it does what party you're in.
And you're seeing some of the pushback on the immigration emergency vote, my own words for it, though that's going to prevail because the president will be able to veto it. So, there are examples where there isn't universal agreement with the president on every issue.
But I will say this, and I think this is appropriate. On different issues, you see different Republicans providing the pushback, and that's appropriate. They believe different things, and at different times they either agree with the president or they don't. But I think it's a clear sign that there's still plenty of Republicans willing to express their own independent position regardless of what the president has to say.
CUOMO: I see it more as from time to time we see different groups of Republicans be with the president and the other ones are quiet. And the quiet is my concern. Ken, well argued. Laura Coates, as always, compelling. Thank you very much to you both.
It's going to be a long road for tornado survivors in the south. Have you seen the pictures? I mean, I'm telling you I've been in these. I've covered these. There is nothing like them when it comes to how they can change someone's life.
A survivor joins us with her incredible story on how her family escaped with their lives, and now what? Next.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: Tonight, people all across Lee County, Alabama, are coping with just terrible loss, 23 people have lost their lives because of Sunday's deadly twisters, 3 kids. We still don't know. There are a lot of unknowns, all right? The county is holding out hope for survivors in the debris. But I am telling you, I have worked these stories on the ground.
There's so much ground to cover. It's so difficult. It's going to take time. Among those who narrowly escaped is 72-year-old Earnestine Reese. She was found sitting in the middle of a debris field that was once her home. Here she is face-timing with her grandson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank the Lord. You tell God thank you. You hear me, boy?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, watch the lines. Watch the lines.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You hear me? Tell God thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Thanking God that she at least is alive. Imagine what you would do if you were in their shoes. Lashawn Wilson knows very well. She's Earnestine Reese's daughter. Thank you for joining us to get the message out of what your family went through and what's going on where you are. How is Earnestine?
[22:34:56] LASHAWN WILSON, TORNADO SURVIVOR: She's in good spirits. As you can see in the video, she's been strong throughout it all, even in the middle of the devastation. She has maintained her faith. And she's currently in the hospital, but she's stable. So at this point, that's all we can ask for considering the losses.
CUOMO: Yeah. No, thank God for that. Please send our regards. So you live next door to mom.
CUOMO: The twister is coming. This is where you live. You understand this reality. You're in a mobile home.
CUOMO: What were you told? What were you expecting? And then what did you experience?
WILSON: I wasn't in the mobile home at the time. Due to my mother's illness, I was at her home. My husband was at our mobile home, and we got the alert. I called him. He was already en route walking to my mom's brick house. And he got inside. And I told my son and my husband to get in the bathroom. I went to go help my mom, who has limited mobility, to transition her to her rolling walker chair, the roll-about. CUOMO: Right.
WILSON: And I used that to get her to the bathroom at that moment. And I mean within -- I went back to her room to get her oxygen tank. I looked at the TV, and it says 70 miles per hour winds. I am thinking, OK, we can make this. We've been through hurricanes. We've been through strong winds before. And right at that moment, not even a minute later the power went out.
I shut off her oxygen machine and ran and grabbed an oxygen portable. And I went into the bathroom. As soon as I shut the bathroom door and connected her oxygen, I already knew I could hear the roaring coming, nearing. But at that moment, that's when you heard the house just being torn apart. But even seconds after that, everything started pressing in on us because we were in the bathroom.
We were together. We all got pushed down flat. We were like dominoes on top of each other. And my son was on top of me. He said, mom, I don't want to die. I don't want to die. And I said, son, just pray your way through. I said pray your way through. And at this point, my mom hadn't said anything. I was looking at my husband. I said, mom, are you OK? She said I am just praying.
She said, Kumar, call on Jesus. Just pray your way through. And I kept saying the same thing. I said, son, just hold on. And I held his hand. And at this point, the wind is still whipping. You can look up and see debris going all around us. And it's just unreal. It's not anything I would have imagined for me, my family in a million years, not for our area, not for our community. It's just devastating.
CUOMO: It's amazing that you survived. Thank God you did.
WILSON: And that was the first tornado.
CUOMO: And that's one of the things is that, you know, are the structures ready? Is the community ready? Is the infrastructure ready? You know, there's nothing that moves with the swiftness.
CUOMO: And the lethality of a tornado. I have seen what it can do. And we're seeing it once again. So you have your lives. You have each other. Thank God you're lucky for that.
WILSON: We do.
CUOMO: What do you need? Because I know this community is scrambling. Is there water right now?
WILSON: It is.
CUOMO: I know you're staying with family, but tell me.
WILSON: We haven't been able to assess our damage. I have suffered some injuries. So we haven't really been able to get to our area to know personally what all the needs are. There are several community members that are pulling together and locations that have been set up. I don't know them all right now to really say, but I know that there are outlets that are being created.
Right now, prayers, the community will need a lot of help to grow and re-grow. We've lost family members. I have lost family members. We've lost close friends, all of my neighbors around me. It's just -- it's a lot to process. I am just hopeful that we can get past this, because we were all a tight-knit community. Our area is just a rural, loving community.
I am just counting on that faith that it will keep us strong. We'll hope together, and we'll make it through. We'll make it through.
CUOMO: Lashawn, I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry to have to meet you this way.
CUOMO: But part of the power of prayer is that people will feel the need, and they'll feel the connection of there but for the grace. So many people in this country could be in your situation. And hopefully, there will be help to get you guys back on your feet as soon as possible. You have our number to stay in touch.
CUOMO: Please do so. Please let me be able to update and show people that you and your loved ones are in a better place. And send our regards to Earnestine. And again, I'm sorry for the loss of your friends and family.
WILSON: Yes. Thank you so much.
CUOMO: All right. Be well, Lashawn Wilson. I mean I am telling you that community, the need is going to be great. We say it all the time. Remember our connections to one another. I will keep you in the loop. I promise you that. All right, another story. Comments by a freshman Democrat have her own party once again contemplating a public rebuke.
[22:40:11] The right says talk is cheap. Do to yours what you wanted us to do to Steve King, and what they did do. We're going to take it up in the great debate next.
CUOMO: Freshman Democratic Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, is under fire again for controversial remarks. Her party leadership is taking action, so they say. But what is the action? Is it enough? Democrats are set to vote on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism as soon as Wednesday after Omar insinuated last week that pro-Israel groups are pushing allegiance to a foreign country.
Republicans, however, say talk is not enough. She's got to be removed from committee assignments just like Steve King. Let's debate it. Peter Beinart and Amy Kremer are here.
Thanks to both of you. Peter, you asked for the right to take care of the bigoted comments from Steve King. They did it. They removed him from committees. Should the Democrats do the same?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I don't think there's really any equivalence here at all. I do think that Ilhan Omar made a mistake by talking about groups like APAC as pushing allegiance to a foreign country. The truth is she can't get in the mind of members of APAC, many of whom I know friends of mine who are on APAC, who have their own motivations for pursuing the set of policies they pursue.
But the fundamental difference between her and Steve King is that Ilhan Omar is fundamentally a believer in human rights and human equality. If you look at the larger statement in which that comment made, her fundamental point was just as we care about the rights and suffering of Jews, we should also care about the rights of suffering of Palestinians.
[22:45:08] And that's the debate that she's trying to create here. Why is it considered OK in Washington to support Israeli policies that deny the most basic of human rights to Palestinians? That is what makes her so fundamentally different than Steve King, who is basically a guy for his entire career has suggested that non-white and non- Christian people are not as good as white Christian.
CUOMO: And one check on your argument. First of all, I invited the congresswoman on to make her case. The invite stands. I did the same with Steve King. I have interviewed him many times. But since this, he has not accepted an invite. That aside, you say she made a mistake. This isn't a mistake. She said these kinds of things many times, Peter. Where's the mistake?
BEINART: The -- I think what her mistake was not -- I think she has every right to criticize APAC. APAC is an organization -- let's be clear, that essentially supports the Israeli government policies no matter what they are. And I think those policies are fundamentally anathema to human rights for Palestinians.
BEINART: The mistake she made was rather than simply criticizing the policies to try to speculate about the motivations for the policies.
CUOMO: Amy, what's your take?
AMY KREMER, CO-FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR TRUMP: Well, Chris, I agree with you. I don't think it was a mistake. She has said these things time and time again. And, you know, I think Nancy Pelosi has a problem on her hands, the Democratic leadership. And, you know, I do want her stripped of her committee assignments. It's concerning that she has a seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. But that's going to be left up to the Democratic leadership.
The problem I see, Chris, is that -- I mean I believe this is who she is. She hates Israel. And no matter how many times she's forced to apologize or retract what she says, you remove her from the committee. You censor her on the floor of the House. You're not going to change what's in her heart. And therein lies the problem. And I think that that is something that's going to have to be dealt with when the election comes up in 2020.
Is this something the people want representing them in Congress? Do they want somebody that hates Israel in Congress? And I think that that is the real issue.
CUOMO: All right. Same fix that you guys were in with Steve King. I think the same analysis that you're offering, Amy, applies to him equally so. But it took your party a long time to get around to it. So now I want to segue into acts of political bravery, and I will start with you this time, Amy.
CUOMO: This national emergency vote matters.
KREMER: It does.
CUOMO: You guys would crush President Trump if he were a Democrat and did this. You'd say it's a flagrant violation of separation of powers. This law was not meant to be used this way. And he does not have the power of the purse, and he cannot create that right. You're not doing that here. You have some. But you don't have anywhere near what you'd need to stop it. Why?
KREMER: Well, this is what I will say to that, Chris, is that President Obama did use these emergency powers a number of times. And not one of them stood up and tried to stop it. And not only that, the emergency powers have to be reviewed every six months. And not once have any of these four Republicans ever stood up and said anything about the review of them, nor have they at any time talked about getting -- if the law is a bad law that grants the president the authority to do this, then deal with the law itself.
CUOMO: It's not that it's a bad law. It's that the law wasn't intended for this, and the president knows it. That's why he even said this is not an emergency.
KREMER: Well, Chris, I believe that, you know, you can call it an act of bravery or whatever you want to call it. But at the end of the day, the president was elected to secure the border. There is a national crisis going on. Just the amount of heroin and fentanyl alone that are coming across the border, not to mention the human trafficking and the other things that are going on across the border.
So just the drugs alone are a problem, and I think it's a national crisis. That's why this president was elected. If you look at Congress' approval numbers, they are in the tank. We have relied on Congress for too long to do something about it. They haven't done anything about it. So this president was elected to do this.
KREMER: And he's following through on that promise.
BEINART: You know, it's remarkable -- I could take those literally word for word what you've just said, right? We've relied on Congress to solve this problem and it hasn't done that. To apply to any of the issues the Democrats really care about, some much which I would argue actually much more genuinely deserve the term emergency, climate change for instance or gun control, right?
Basically when you start saying because Congress hasn't dealt with this in the way the president wants to, we're going to allow the president to basically just start spending money even when Congress hasn't appropriated it. I remember a time when Republicans liked to call themselves the constitutionalists in Washington. Thank goodness there are still a few of them who actually believe that, but I think unfortunately you don't.
[22:49:58] KREMER: Well, no. I want to say make one thing clear. I did not like President Obama doing things through executive order. And I prefer that President Trump not do them through executive order. I think it is unfortunate that we are in a situation where the Democrats and Republicans cannot come together and deal with this issue because everything is political.
And this is about our national security. So I want to make it clear. I don't agree with them doing things through executive order, but I think this is something that does need to be done.
CUOMO: If you don't keep a line in place, it will always be crossed. And that's what we're seeing. Peter Beinart, Amy Kremer, appreciate the debate.
KREMER: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So remember when everybody was asking whether Trump ally Roger Stone could remain quiet after the judge slapped a gag order on him? Well, we got the answer, ready for it next.
[22:54:58] CUOMO: Ten days. That's how long it took for Roger Stone to throw himself back into the fire after a federal judge banned him from making public comments of any kind about the case. This weekend, the longtime Trump associate suggested he'd been framed by the special counsel in a social media post. What does this mean? Renato Mariotti is here.
Renato, you take the he crossed the line position. I will defend.
RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: OK. Well, let me tell you something. The judge indicated that he shouldn't comment at all. In addition to that Instagram post, he's also published a book that talks at length about the case. He's continued distributing the book afterwards. His lawyers have asked -- they made a motion to clarify to the judge.
And I will tell you, Chris, when you make a motion for the judge to clarify a ruling, that's a very bad sign. And it's also a bad sign that they told the judge that it hadn't occurred to them to report this to her earlier.
CUOMO: That's the defense. That's the defense. We didn't know that this counted. We thought you wanted us to stop talking about you and stop talking about the specifics of the case. But the book is really only tangentially involved in the case, and it's actually about other dynamics, and even what we put, that this framing we believe is much bigger than just this one case. The media's doing it. The left is doing it.
MARIOTTI: Yeah. I have got to give you a lot of credit, Chris, because you're able to say that with a straight face. And that is more than I could do in that circumstance. I would ask for the court's mercy in a circumstance like this.
CUOMO: I can't do that because I already did that once. I already went to her once and said I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry.
MARIOTTI: You know, it's -- I think you're -- that's the situation that they're in. This is really twice, Chris. You know, the first time she gave -- she curbed in some circumstances Roger Stone's ability to speak.
MARIOTTI: Then he puts crosshairs on a picture of the judge, bad idea.
MARIOTTI: They have a long hearing. She gives him a full gag order. Now, we're back with a book and an Instagram post? It's easy to argue you overlook one thing, not two. I think he is in a very bad spot here. And the funny thing is he would have been OK if he left one of these things off.
CUOMO: Understood. But here's the last line of my defense. You hurt yourself more than you hurt me if you act on this ruling. If throw me in jail, you make me a martyr. What I am saying is over the line. But the line is arbitrary. Let's just get the case done. This is what I do. I am a dirty trickster. That's how I describe myself. That's what I do. That's what Stone calls himself.
You throw me in jail, you make me a martyr. This isn't that big a deal. Don't make it a bigger deal. You want to call my lawyer and say something about it, I think on something like this that wouldn't really count as ex parte with the prosecutor. But if you want the prosecutor to call and all say you do this again you're done. We're going to go to the judge, fine. But you lose by winning by enforcing this rule. MARIOTTI: Yeah. I think Judge Jackson would say she doesn't care
about winning or losing. She's here to maintain a judicial system that is fair and impartial, and she's not going to let...
CUOMO: Oh, come on. If it was Renato Mariotti's face with those crosshairs on it, she wouldn't have acted the same way that she did when it was her face in the crosshairs. It's personal. And I understand that it's personal. But if you put me in jail, it's personal too. And it's going to be on you, judge, not just on me.
MARIOTTI: Yeah. The Federal Judiciary tends to take very -- a lot of umbrage over threats to the Federal Judiciary. I suspect the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals would also find her ruling to be justified in those circumstances.
CUOMO: Throw me in jail?
CUOMO: Does he go to jail? Does my client go to jail?
MARIOTTI: You know what? If Stone doesn't go to jail this time, he is going to screw this up, and he's going to be right back in the same situation a week from now at this rate. So I think it's just a matter of time before Roger Stone ends up in custody. The question is whether she does it today, or excuse me, tomorrow, or whether she does it, you know, a few weeks from now.
CUOMO: You got to respect the court. But you've got to respect the outcome of these kinds of decisions, too. This is all -- there's a lot of politics. I am not saying on the part of the judge. But I am saying everything that happens has political implications. She's got to see about that as well. I mean the point is to make things better, not worse.
Renato Mariotti, well argued, you had the better side of the case. But that's all right. So thank you for watching us. I appreciate it. "CNN TONIGHT" with Erin Burnett, she's sitting in for D. Lemon, and begins right now. What an upgrade.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: You know, occasionally, right?
CUOMO: Holy cow.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks, Chris. We'll be here all week. And this is CNN TONIGHT. I am Erin Burnett, in for the one and only Don Lemon, who is off today.