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Paul Manafort Sentenced To 47 Months In Prison; NY Times: Biden "95 Percent Committed" To Running For President In 2020; Anti-Hate Resolution Vote Exposes Ugly, Divisive Politics. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 7, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: -- Munchkinland in fourth grade. I digress.

Maybe he thinks Attorney General Bill Barr was on Cheers. Who cares? The important thing is that the President loves fruit, and by fruit, I mean McDonald's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and tacos from his own restaurant.

But, I got to say, I agree with him about McDonald's. They - they actually sell apples too, pre-sliced, packaged, they're quite good, and always available. You just got to pull the motorcade right up to the drive-through on The Ridiculist.

And that's it for us. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you very much for some levity on an otherwise very heavy night, my friend. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Paul Manafort is going to do far less time in prison than Robert Mueller recommended. Why?

Now, Manafort still has another case to be sentenced on. Will next week's Judge throw the book at him? And does this sentence mean that Mueller went too far that the probe went too far?

Also on the docket, did Michael Cohen lie to Congress again? Republicans say yes. But now Cohen is suing the President for stiffing him on fees. Will he win?

We're going to take on all three with one of the best legal minds in the business. He doesn't like me saying that. That's too bad. Former Whitewater Independent Counsel, Robert Ray.

Also tonight, Biden, in or out, and what happens if he runs?

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



(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: 47 months is a long time. Now, people are going to tell you about set-offs and programs that may even reduce that further. But it's hard time in prison. However, Mueller wanted Manafort to get 24 years.

But, again, the Judge today said 47 months in Virginia, and he's going to get credit for time served, so that means nine months get chopped off, and then there could be something else.

Still he's getting prison time. I'm just saying it's nothing like what was anticipated by the Special Counsel. And, look, it's a surprise. The almost 70-year-old face the prospect of spending the rest of his life there if Mueller got what he wanted.

It's not over. Again, there'll be a separate sentence next week in Washington, but it was an eye popper. All right, so let's start with this and bring in Whitewater Independent Counsel Robert Ray, good here. Good to see you.

So, we have spoken before, and you said, "I got to tell you. Not only did they investigate these matters years ago and come up empty, but I don't know that this is going to stick." It's stuck.


CUOMO: What does this sentence mean to you?

RAY: Well a little context is necessary. I don't want to complicate things too much. But, remember, it wasn't that long ago, which is to say within a generation that a four-year sentence in connection with a bank fraud case was thought to be pretty--

CUOMO: Harsh.

RAY: --harsh and significant.


RAY: What Federal Judges have questioned in the wake of Enron WorldCom, the financial crisis is the big run-up in the sentencing guidelines with regard to the lost calculation, meaning how much money was involved, and the numbers get to be astronomical in a real hurry, which is what happened here.

And that's why, principally, he was facing a 19.5 to 24 year sentence.

CUOMO: Also because Mueller was pissed off that he broke his deal and lied to them.

RAY: Well I think that's right. But I mean there's another component to it. And I think that's the part that remains in the District Court in the District of Columbia.

CUOMO: Right. RAY: So, I think you can expect, and I think you've already teased this appropriately that there will be incremental punishment that will be added on top of this sentence in all likelihood by the District Judge in D.C., which I guess--

CUOMO: You think it will be concurrent or you think it will be additional?

RAY: No, there'll be - there'll be a portion of it, which the Judge will have to speak to as to which portion will run concurrent, and which portion consecutive. But you--

CUOMO: Concurrent means that that time counts while you're serving. The other time--

RAY: Right.

CUOMO: --it's not additional.

RAY: But because there are other charges--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --I think it's a fair assumption, Chris. I would expect, you know, even give him what otherwise here what, I think, some people have characterized as a lenient sentence.

And, by the way, look, you know, my view of these things is, don't criticize the Judge for this. This is what the Special Counsel asked for under the Sentencing Guidelines. They have the right to take that position.

But, at the end of the day, the government prevails when justice is served. And this Judge has a lot of experience. You know, he made a determination. He understands there's another case out there.

I would expect incremental punishment to be added over and on top of this sentence when--


RAY: --he's sentenced next week, but in the - in the other case.

CUOMO: So, the political spin is, from the Right, at least, "See, we told you this wasn't that big a deal. We told you that Mueller was overreaching." Do you think that's a fair appraisal of what this sentence means?

RAY: I - I think you got to be careful about drawing that conclusion.

I can tell you that when I was Independent Counsel, there were judges, particularly in the local, you know, jurisdictions, meaning in the District of Columbia, and in this case, in the Eastern District of Virginia, who were sensitive to the fact that Independent Counsels have a fair amount of power, and can press very hard in the spotlight because of public sentiment shines, you know, very harshly. As I've said on many occasions, and you've heard me say this, I would not wish a Special Counsel or Independent Counsel investigation on my worst enemy. It is a terrible place to be.

[21:05:00] And one of the things that the judges struggle with, I think, appropriately so, is, you know, how would I treat this case if it were just without that public spotlight--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --shining. And would I give the same sentence in that sort of situation that I'm being asked to do so here?

CUOMO: Now--

RAY: I think Judge Ellis had some real problems in it. It - it was signaled early on in the investigation about, you know, "Wait a minute, are we talking about a prosecution here--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --that is being used as a means toward an end?"

CUOMO: Oh, the Judge said it so in not so many words today--

RAY: Right.

CUOMO: --without saying specifically that, "Hey, this isn't that bad a guy."

RAY: But I well - but I would say also, which is why I think it, you know, Republicans have to be careful about going too far with that.

You know, those charges, bank fraud, and the failure to register as a foreign, you know, agent, and - and, you know, tax charges, they independently would have merits.


RAY: And, you know, I think they were worthy of prosecution on their own, separate and apart from the - the political context--

CUOMO: Look, I hear you. I actually think the political context--

RAY: --though that we find ourselves--

CUOMO: --has nothing, obviously, nothing to do with any of that other than maybe a general description of character.

RAY: Right.

CUOMO: His real problem he was never charged with.

RAY: Right.

CUOMO: You know, you understand this very well. But collusion is a behavior, not a crime, unless we're talking about Securities Law.

RAY: Correct.

CUOMO: You'd have to find an act in furtherance of it, actual coordination that equates to a conspiracy.

RAY: And I think the Judge was trying to signal that early on, apparently in the proceedings--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --when he said, look, I think more for public consumption or anything else--

CUOMO: That's right.

RAY: --to say, "Hey, everybody kind of put the brakes on things, and don't, you know, try to read anything--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --into this with regard to collusion."

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: "You know, this - this prosecution, I am going to evaluate independently on whether it has merit, and what I think is a fair and appropriate sentence."

CUOMO: That's right. And that's - and that's obviously what they (ph)--

RAY: And that's what a Judge is supposed to do.

CUOMO: That I have no problem with that.

RAY: Right. Right.

CUOMO: But I'm saying I think Manafort, as an example, speaks to the need for oversight. What I'm hearing from the Right is--

RAY: Yes.

CUOMO: --"When Mueller's done, no more. Whatever he does, he does. What he doesn't do, he doesn't do, stop with this oversight, it's harassment." I say, "No," because Manafort--

RAY: Well--

CUOMO: --is an example of what you need. He met with Kilimnik. He gave him polling data from that campaign. I would argue that behavior is collusion. I'm not saying it's a crime. I don't think it is.

But if you're looking for members of the campaign that reached out to the wrong people and did things that Robert Ray would have never done-- RAY: Sure.

CUOMO: --there you go.

RAY: But that, you know, that's troublesome. It warrants legitimate Congressional investigation and oversight.

But I think getting too far carried away with, "Wait a second. What we're really talking about here is impeachment," or alternatively to think that once the Mueller investigation ends, you're just going to go off, you know, endlessly with investigations including--

CUOMO: I'm just talking about that one thing.

RAY: --including in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere to think that that's going to be a stalking horse for the continuation of the Mueller investigation, look, at some point, this needs to, in my view, and I make - you know, it may not be shared with your audience, but I'm just saying.

In my humble opinion, you know, there needs to come a - a point where there is closure to this.

And if - if in the main, what Mueller ultimately determines is that there's not a provable case with regard to conclusion, and that which would have otherwise been within the core of his mandate--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --I think that portion should be brought to an appropriate end. And I don't think what it means is, "Oh, wait a second, we're going to just have free license to continue on with regard to the Trump Administration--

CUOMO: No, but don't you need to know--

RAY: --through the end of his term."

CUOMO: --did the President know what was going on with Manafort, what was going on with Stone, what was going on with that meeting with his son and Manafort, and his son-in-law, the meetings that Kushner was taking, where his money is, does anybody owe him anything?

These are issues this President has created. Nobody had to manufacture them.

RAY: No, but I--

CUOMO: We need the answers to them, do we not?

RAY: --but we all under - we all understand where politics can be played.

And I think what I've tried to suggest all along since when I was Independent Counsel that if what you're talking about is using prosecution as an alternative tool toward politics-- CUOMO: No, but this is Congressional oversight.

RAY: Well that - that's fine, if - but I think they need to be more candid about what their intentions are.

Oversight is one thing if really what they're talking about here is they don't want to, you know, the leadership doesn't want to signal what their intentions are, but really what this is about is--

CUOMO: But, Robert, you wouldn't look at (ph)--

RAY: --impeachment, that's a problem.

CUOMO: --these questions if you change the R and the D.

RAY: No, I--

CUOMO: If the guy you knew he was lying to you about things--

RAY: Sure.

CUOMO: --why you don't know? But you know he lied about what he was negotiating a deal. He lied about what he knew about the meeting with his son and the other people.

And you don't know what he knew about Manafort and Stone except that he says nothing. And now, his lawyer comes forward who has been exposed as a liar himself, and says--

RAY: Right.

CUOMO: --I was there when Stone called him. He knew about Stone.

RAY: I think, look, I - I think there's a component to this, which people don't want to fully appreciate and acknowledge.

And that is when there is a - a - a partisan line about a position that the Administration takes, for example, we didn't have any contacts or any dealings with Russia--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --and that's the line--

CUOMO: Which is exactly what the President said.

[21:10:00] RAY: --and - and that's the line that you want to put out there.

What happens to people, and I've seen this now through, you know, history in Watergate and my own experience with - with Whitewater is that there are a lot of people who will pick up that line, and go with it, because they understand that in - within the Administration that that's the position they're supposed to take.

That's fine as a political matter. Where you run into trouble, if somebody puts you under oath, you're bound to tell the truth.

CUOMO: That's why the President wouldn't be put under oath, right?

RAY: Right. Well and that - but that's also why his people got themselves into trouble. It's the loyalty that is expected. But, you know, at - at some point--

CUOMO: Right.

RAY: --loyalty has to sort of fall off too--

CUOMO: True. But he said it, Robert. He said, "None of my people did anything."

He had to know that that wasn't true when he said it. Now, his lawyer, one of them, Rudy Giuliani, who's operating more as a Press Attache, I think, with this public discourse, public court of opinion--

RAY: Yes. But I'd be careful about castigating Rudy Giuliani.

CUOMO: I'm not at all. But I'm saying his fallback position now is, "No, no, no. I never said that there was no collusion or no contact with anybody. I just said just the President."

Now that's not true. And I understand the need for the adjustment. But I also understand the need to ask these questions. I think they matter. I don't think--

RAY: No, they're - they're--

CUOMO: --any is gratuitous.

RAY: I think they're legitimate questions.

But when - you know, what my trouble with it is if you spend all the time that they're spending and a lot of time was spent with regard to things involving the Stormy Daniels payment, and whether it's a campaign contribution--

CUOMO: Shouldn't have lied about it.

RAY: Well, OK. He, you know, I - I think that there's - it was obvious that there was a need to - to, apparently, from the campaign's perspective, to do something with this.

But as the John Edwards case showed, which, you know, I think hasn't been given sufficient - sufficient acknowledgement, there's real questions about whether or not you'd be able to prove that the - a crime was committed by--

CUOMO: Right, went to trial.

RAY: --the principle.

CUOMO: John Edwards went to trial.

RAY: Yes, I understand that. But I--

CUOMO: He's got acquitted but it went to trial.

RAY: --but I have a basic question for you about that.

CUOMO: Please.

RAY: And that is suppose - suppose the - the campaign had gone to the Federal Election Commission, and it said to them at the time, "We want to make this payment," and they were - they - they fully disclose, "and we want this to be considered and we want to use campaign funds in order to do this, in order to make these payments."

And the FEC would have looked at them, and said, "Are you out of your mind? This is a personal expenditure. This isn't a campaign expenditure."

You can't have it both ways. If it's a personal expenditure, it's a personal expenditure. If it's a campaign expenditure, it's a campaign expenditure, and they can't be sort of used interchangeably.

And I think that was one of the things that came up in the John Edwards thing, which is why I don't think from the President's perspective that it was a crime. I don't think that that would be a sufficient underpinning for an impeachable offense.

And there's an awful lot of time that's been spent on that. The core--

CUOMO: The problem you have though is that his lawyer admitted to it as a felony--

RAY: Sure.

CUOMO: --and the President was directing it while in Office. Let me ask you, one other quick things--

RAY: But those, but, you know, again, that's his criminal intent, and that doesn't necessarily mean that that criminal intent was shared by the President.

CUOMO: True. But it doesn't mean it wasn't also.

RAY: Well--

CUOMO: So, you know, that's why I think they have to ask the (ph) question. But let me ask you something else.

Do you think Michael Cohen wins a civil suit saying to the President, "Hey, I'm your lawyer. You have to indemnify me on these expenses."

RAY: I think that's not a chance in the world (ph).

CUOMO: Not a chance?

RAY: No. I mean--

CUOMO: Even though he was doing these things for the President?

RAY: Well what is - is this - is this the - is this the retainer now? What are we talking about? I mean I have - I have really no idea what - what's going on with regards to that.

CUOMO: Well we will see when we get the papers. Robert Ray--

RAY: Anytime.

CUOMO: --I'll tell you what. You are not easy to go point from point with, but I think it's really helpful for the audience, and I appreciate it.

RAY: Nice to be with you as always.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure.

All right, so, look, this isn't over. There are a lot of questions to be answered just tonight about, you know, Manafort and, you know, why indict them in the first place, and why as part of the Russia investigation? Why is he been so central in the probe?

I think it's the time to dig, because I don't think you're going to get all the answers from Mueller.

Now, another question, Biden's time, Biden time, right? We're playing with that entendre, why? Because is he going to get in or not? It's early but it's not that early. We have some news, next.








CUOMO: Mueller is not going to satisfy every question. Exhibit A, Paul Manafort, today, we learned he's going to prison for less than four years. We have to see what happens in the case next week.

But his punishment for crimes doesn't answer important questions about key issues of Russian interference. So, let's go deeper, the big mystery.

Why change the RNC platform on Ukraine? Who did it? Why?

Remember, this is the one substantive impact that we know happened under Manafort's watch, and it's worth remembering that Candidate Trump was quick to distance himself from this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wasn't involved in that. Honestly, I was not involved.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your people were.

TRUMP: Yes. I was not involved in that.


CUOMO: Now, look, this is a convenient and recurring theme that could become a problem. The President never knows anything and never did anything. But is he lying again? Who else knew about that platform, and why it was made?

We're not going to find out from Mueller. That brings us to a pair of guys with key Russian connections, Konstantin Kilimnik and Oleg Deripaska.

Manafort spent a decade working with Kilimnik. Prosecutors call him an Intelligence Asset for Russia, and whose meeting with Manafort is at the heart of the Special Counsel's investigation.

The other is so connected in Russia he's called Putin's Oligarch. Manafort was in deep with Deripaska, personally and financially. Why did Manafort offer him private briefings while running Trump's campaign?

The polling data, that's where that comes in. Again, we haven't heard any of this from Mueller. Was Manafort going rogue by passing it to Kilimnik?

Sure looks like the type of information, what we call the places and faces, where and whom to target that could explain why the Russians managed to target the same groups on social media that the Trump campaign was after.

Manafort's sentence today is about tax issues, something the President made sure that, you know, also, nothing to do with him.


TRUMP: They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?


TRUMP: You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: You've known him for decades, and you knew what he was about. And here's the thing. Manafort's money problems are a problem for the President.

One of the things Mana - Manafort lied about was using a Trump Super PAC to pay down his debt. Mueller's interested in whether foreign money was being laundered through the Super PAC.

But the big question that we still don't know the answer to is why Manafort went south on Mueller?

He had a deal. "Tell us the truth, and you're going to do well here." He would have avoided years that he'll now spend in prison. Prosecutors say he may have been playing for a pardon.

But like you've heard me say about so much in this story, why lie? The pattern of behavior is certainly collusive, if not a crime in itself.

We'll need to see the Mueller report, and see what answers are in there about the President, and any knowledge. And then, we also have to watch, it's an open issue, will Manafort get a pardon?

Now, we've got some 2020 news for you, and it's going to be part of our Great Debate, next.








CUOMO: "95 percent committed" to running in 2020, that's what the former Vice President Joe Biden says. So, let's debate what he means for the Democrats, and the GOP.

Republicans today are likely going to point to this, renewed scrutiny over a speech that Biden made in 1993, pushing a tough on Crime bill. He warned at the time quote "Predators on our streets" who are "beyond the pale." How's he going to explain that in today's era of what we say?

Also, comments he made way back in the 70s, decrying desegregation. Is that fair? Hey, when you're in the game for this long, it brings pluses and minuses. Which does Biden have more of?



CUOMO: Jennifer Granholm and Rick Santorum here for tonight's Great Debate. Let's see which one of you wants Biden to run more. Jennifer Granholm, what does Biden mean to your party?


CUOMO: What do you think his prospects are?

GRANHOLM: I - I certainly hope he gets in because I think having him in will make the whole field better. I think his prospects, if you look today, are really good. Obviously, today's polls mean absolutely nothing. But he brings an element--

CUOMO: All right, let's put out the Monmouth poll. Keep talking, Jennifer.

GRANHOLM: Right. Right. I mean he brings--

CUOMO: But I'd just put out the Monmouth poll numbers just so people can see.

GRANHOLM: --he brings a trust among Democrats as a whole, having obviously been the Vice President for Obama, but also being able to speak the language of working people all across the board.

I think he brings a level of confidence that he could actually win, and that's the number-one issue for Democrats. We've got - we love them all. We'll work for whoever gets elected.

But we want the person who's most likely to be able to defeat Trump, and that's why I think Biden's in great position.

[21:25:00] CUOMO: I got to tell you one favor, Rick that Biden's been done by the - the current President is that he ain't going to get beat by a couple of gaffes. I'll tell you that right now.

If you're going to go back to the 70s to find something he said about desegregation, he's going to be in good shape against this President. But how do you feel? If Biden gets in, and he were to get the nomination what does he mean to you?


Number one, I don't think he's going to get the nomination. Let me just state that first. And I have to give--

CUOMO: Because?

SANTORUM: Because it's very hard for United States Senators to win the nomination for President. The ones that have were very recent Senators.

Warren Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama are the three senators who were elected as Senators, you know, who - who had long records in the Senate, and - and - and elected President.

CUOMO: True. But in this field, Rick, factor this in.

SANTORUM: The other were Vice Presidents. They got promoted. They--

CUOMO: He's up against just about only Senators--

SANTORUM: Well, but - but--

CUOMO: --if you looked at that poll.

SANTORUM: --most of them, as you - as you said, most of them are - are recent Senators. And this is the point I'm making. They don't have a long track record. But Joe Biden has, you know, 50 - almost 50 years of - of track record.

And there's just so much to pick on, if - if in a primary, there's just so many times that he's going to be--


SANTORUM: --he's just going to be seen out of step even if it's 20 years ago. It's just a very, very hard thing to do, and it's just too many, just too many targets on him to hit that I think it'll make it tough.

And the other thing is he is prone to gaffes. And I understand that that's - that's not as important in - in this era today.

But he's running in a - in a Democratic primary, and I think they're going to want someone a little different than - than the gaffe, you know, another gaffe guy running against the gaffe guy.

CUOMO: Is Biden your current--


CUOMO: --and is your - is Biden the Democrat of the present and future, Granholm?

GRANHOLM: Is Biden the Democrat of the President's Future, I mean, meaning--

CUOMO: Of the present and future--

GRANHOLM: --is he the - are you--

SANTORUM: Or future--

CUOMO: --of the present and future.

GRANHOLM: I - I see what you're saying. Is he the face of the future? CUOMO: Yes.

GRANHOLM: Is he the face of the future?

CUOMO: Yes. Much better.

GRANHOLM: Is what you're asking.

CUOMO: Yes, that's what I meant.


CUOMO: Answer that.

GRANHOLM: Yes. I mean you're going to his age, right?

CUOMO: No, no, his positions, frankly.

GRANHOLM: And so, the age questions are going to be - well--

CUOMO: I think Biden could probably take me--

GRANHOLM: Well, no, his positions are pretty much--

CUOMO: --in a push-up contest.

GRANHOLM: He is pretty - he is pretty active. But his, you know, that - that's - that's what--

CUOMO: I'm telling you. I've - I've pushed him around a little bit. He's strong. Go ahead.

GRANHOLM: --that's what we're - that's what we're litigating right now, right, is his - are his positions, which are - which are progressive, but more centrist than perhaps Bernie Sanders--


GRANHOLM: --which of the - which of the positions - but that's the whole primary. The primary is litigating that question. He speaks to a broad swath of people.

My guess is the folks who are running on the progressive Left, if he wins, will work as hard for him, as they'd work for anybody else, because we want to see Donald Trump gone. And Joe Biden speaks to Independents, and he speaks to disaffected

Republicans, and he speaks to the progressive Left, so he's got a very broad band.

The question about whether, you know, I mean the age issue is going to be an issue for him. It's going to be an issue for Trump. It's going to be an issue for Bernie Sanders. It's going to be an issue per - perhaps for Elizabeth Warren.

That's all going to be debated. But I think that in our Party, we are less - less concerned about age than we are about, can this person win? Does this person--


GRANHOLM: --have the gravitas, have the ability to punch back hard, have the experience to be able to win?

SANTORUM: Yes. He's - he's the favorite right now.

He - he and Bernie are the favorites right now, which means they're going to be on playing defense the entire time. He has a just such a long list of things to play defense on right now. It's not--

CUOMO: Give me some.

SANTORUM: --it's - well, I mean just if you look at--

GRANHOLM: Everybody does though, Rick.

SANTORUM: Well but if you just look at his--

GRANHOLM: Everybody's got something.

CUOMO: No, wait, hold on, let - let's get some. Let's--

SANTORUM: No, you--

CUOMO: --let him set him up, and then we'll shoot him down. Go ahead.


SANTORUM: Well, I mean, obvious--

CUOMO: What are they?

SANTORUM: --obviously, for the Democrats, you got to need a hill. I mean that's - that's a huge defense that he's going to have to play. He's got the - the Crime bill.


SANTORUM: He's got the, you know, the - the - the speech from, you know, the - his - his opinion, which, by the way, he still holds on busing. I mean these are not things that are, frankly, popular among - among the - the base Democratic voters.


SANTORUM: And if you go back and you look at his speeches, he's given, if one thing Joe Biden is done, he talks a lot, and he's given lots and lots of speeches.

And let me assure you, the opposition research is going to be out there like it's never done before, because he's never been a serious candidate for President before. They will be out there.

And I guarantee you there is a treasure trove of things that Joe Biden has said in the last 40 years. There are going to be real problems for him going forward.

CUOMO: You know how people said that this President needed Hillary Clinton to be his opponent that if it had been anybody else, he wouldn't have had the advantages that he had in the general, even though, I still think him winning was a huge surprise, and you have to give credit to the campaign for that.

I think it can also be said, Jennifer, tell me if you disagree, that Biden needs it to be Trump because, look, Rick is right. He's got a long record. And he's got things he said that he shouldn't have said.


CUOMO: But how do you use that as a winning strategy if you're the Trump campaign?

GRANHOLM: Oh, my God. Give me - I mean, really, the Trump - Team Trump has more than binders and binders worth of gaffes and - and lies, etcetera, etcetera. We've gone over all of that.

I mean there - it is true that anybody who's been in Office for a long period of time has made a lot of speeches and had said things that they regret.

CUOMO: Right. And only one of the two of them will apologize for anything they ever said.

[21:30:00] GRANHOLM: Exactly. And - and let me just put - to that point, to Biden's credit, he has apologized for the way Anita Hill was treated when he was Chairman of the Judiciary - Judiciary Committee.

He has apologized for the portion of the Crime bill that differentiated between powder cocaine and crack cocaine. He didn't think that was good.

I mean he did push to get assault weapons banned in that Crime bill. He did push to get the Violence Against Women Act in that Crime bill, and diversion programs in that Crime bill.

But the point being is that Crime bill was terrible for especially, obviously, African-American men, and he said on Martin Luther King Day, "We have lost a generation, and I am sorry for that."

So, to his credit, he apologizes when he knows--

CUOMO: But is an apology enough? Let's leave it there.

GRANHOLM: --it is wrong. And on the busing thing--

SANTORUM: Can I just make one - one more--

GRANHOLM: Well, that's the question, right.

CUOMO: Go ahead. Make it - make - button it up, Rick.

SANTORUM: --one - one quick point, and that is, the Democrats are going to realize that when they nominate someone energetic, bright, young, and new like a Bill Clinton, like a Barack Obama, they win.

When they nominate tired and old like Al Gore, John Kerry, they lose. That's a lesson I think they have to - and Hillary Clinton, that's the lesson I think the Democrats are going to be focused on.


CUOMO: I think that that is a--

GRANHOLM: And the Democrats are going to listen to you for sure, Rick.

CUOMO: No, listen, but, look, he said--

SANTORUM: Not listening to me. I'm just observing. I'm not - I'm not--

CUOMO: --you can look at what's happened in the past.

SANTORUM: --trust me. I'm not trying to give them advice to help them win.

CUOMO: You can look what's happened in the past, that's fair.

GRANHOLM: That's fair (ph).

CUOMO: But here's our problem as we're living every day. The rules have changed. So, let's see how it goes this time around. Let's see if he gets that other 5 percent--

GRANHOLM: We'll see.

CUOMO: --and gets in. Jennifer, Rick, always a pleasure. Thanks to have you both.

GRANHOLM: Great to be on, thanks.

CUOMO: All right, you know who might have a scoop on Biden's intention? The Axe. David Axelrod worked closely with the Veep in the Obama White House.

What does he know? He could be a sphinx, but I'm going to get after him tonight. I'll tell you that right now. He's up with his little surprise about what also happened with Paul Manafort.

I want to get reaction to that as well from the Vice Chair of the House Oversight Committee. We'll give you both, coming up.








CUOMO: So, Manafort is heading to prison. What does this mean for Democrats in the midst of their own investigation into the President, especially given the questions about whether Michael Cohen lied about his pursuit of a pardon?

California Representative Katie Hill is one of the Democrats leading the push on Oversight.





CUOMO: Representative, thank you for joining us on PRIME TIME.


CUOMO: Big news, arguably, big surprise. Paul Manafort, 47 months. Some people thought he was going to spend life in jail. This isn't even four years. Your thoughts?

HILL: I mean I do think it's short. I think that it's a - this is the judicial process, right? We - we can only do what we can do.

But I think that there's a lot that comes clear after this is he was - he - all of these charges were in relation to what he was doing with a Russian-backed Ukrainian President, and the Ukrainian government.

And I think that the ties that we're seeing, the connections with this Administration, with this President and Russia, continue to grow deeper and deeper.

CUOMO: Now, part of the spin on this is going to be, "Mueller's job was to give us the answers that you are asking about right now. So, let's leave it to him. In 47 months, we'll say to some that this is not as serious as the Democrats are making it."

HILL: Listen, this is - this is, again, this is the court system. This is a - a judicial process that we have to follow up. We - we are obligated to, you know, do as the jury and the sentence tells us.

But that's why the Congress has to act in its own accord. We are the ones that have to hold the Executive Branch accountable.

You know, this is - this is something that played out in the civilian courts. And - and, you know, Paul Manafort is a civilian. So, it's not our job to make sure that he serves the amount of time that he should. What we're supposed to do here in Congress is make sure that the - the

President and the Administration are held to the highest level of accountability that - that we need to hold them to.

CUOMO: Now, you seem to be talking about impeachment. And many members in your Party have been very shy to use the "I" word.

I always thought it was because, one, you want to limit expectations, and two, the polls are not with you on impeachment right now. You got less than half the American people, way less when polls say that they see that as a reasonable justification at this point.

Why, to you, is it such an easy leap?

HILL: Well I don't think it's an easy leap. I think that that - it's a - it - it's completely the reason that we have to keep following this. We have to keep finding the evidence and making sure that we are - we are doing our due diligence. It's our Constitutional responsibility.

Does that mean that we're going to end up ultimately at impeachment? Impeachment is a political thing as much as it is anything else, unfortunately. So, we have to - we have to recognize that reality.

And it's our job, as Members of Congress, to do the investigations, to present the evidence to the American people, and to ultimately, if it is political, it's going to have to be both parties who get on board.

CUOMO: True.

HILL: The only way that that happens is if the - the pressure comes from the American people. And so, that's why, you know, the job that we're doing on Oversight is - is making that available.

We've had two years of the Republican-controlled Congress trying to hide that information from the American people, trying to do everything they can to cover up for this President, and to make sure that we don't have all the information we need.

So, now we're letting it out. If it ends up making - if people end up deciding, "Hey, this is fine. I'm totally cool with a President doing all of these things," I'll be shocked.

CUOMO: Do you think you've already seen enough that if it were up to you, you would impeach?

HILL: The only reason I hesitate is because I - I don't believe that I could do that without concrete, here's the evidence that I can distinctly point to, right? Right now, we're - we're - we're - we have all of these - it's circumstantial.

And I think that to have a - a strong case that's - it's incumbent on us to be able to do that. So, we're building that case. We, you know, you have a suspect, and you are - you are working to find the evidence that - that ensures that, you know, we have a concrete case.

And - and when we do, then - and - and - and, again, I don't want this to be the case, right? The last thing I wanted to do is to come to Congress to impeach a President.

I came here because I wanted to focus on the issues like we are - we're passing tomorrow, we're passing historic legislation, H.R.1, which is going to provide transparency, accountability, the ability for real people, regular people, to have a say in our elections, and to perform our - our political process.

I came here to work on healthcare. I came here to work on, you know, making sure that the middle-class has every opportunity, and is rebuilt from, you know, decades of - of attempts to destroy it. So, these are the things that that matter to people's day-to-day lives.

[21:40:00] And, instead, here we are, trying to deal with the fact that our democracy has been breaking down, and that we've got this Administration that is, you know, I have words for it that I shouldn't say on camera, but, so I think--

CUOMO: Well, one of your colleagues did say it on camera. That's why I ask you, some believe that your wave of new blood into the Party did come in with an axe to grind with this President.

Hence, one of the Democratic newly-elected Congress Members said, "Impeach the Blankety-Blank."

HILL: Yes. I mean, listen, I think that we saw turn-out in record numbers for a midterm. And I know for a fact that that was in large part because of people's reaction to this President. So, I - I would not dismiss that.

CUOMO: Do you believe Michael Cohen to be credible?

And would you agree that there is a chance for his testimony to be what Representative Speier called it on my show last night, "Explosive." That was a closed session, so she couldn't tell me exactly why she found it "Explosive."

But do you think Michael Cohen has that level of goods on the President?

HILL: I - I think the fact that there were two close - two full days of closed hearings with the Intelligence Committee is pretty telling.

I mean they wouldn't waste their time if there wasn't pretty - something pretty significant that warranted closed sessions like that for two straight days. That's pretty, pretty incredible, and not in a good way, and I think it's something that we have to take very seriously.

Personally, I felt like he was credible when he was in front of us. I think that he--

CUOMO: You think he was credible?

HILL: Yes, I mean I don't think - I think there's no perfect witness than I think there is--

CUOMO: Wait, wait, wait, hold on, hold on, hold on.

When you - when you say no witness is perfect, a 100 percent true. Do you believe he lied to you about anything or he was misleading about anything this time?

HILL: I did not feel that way, no.

CUOMO: Not about the pardon? Not about whether or not he wanted a job? Those are the two that people are picking on.

HILL: No, I don't think so.

I - I really don't believe that there was anything around the - the wanting a job thing. I mean I can't imagine wanting to work for that President in any kind of official capacity level or any other capacity.

But - but I think in terms of the, you know, especially because he had a job, right, like he got a job with the President, so I think that argument is completely moot. But when you're - when you're talking about whether he asked for a pardon in the past, you know, I - I - I don't know. If it turns out things--

CUOMO: You really hope that--

HILL: Yes.

CUOMO: --all of this comes to nothing and you wind up having nothing to go after the President with?

HILL: Do I have any hope that that's the case? Frankly, no, I don't. I think that there's - I think the question is how serious is it for me and a lot of it's about intent. I think at this point we've seen that the mistakes that--

CUOMO: Right.

HILL: --have - have been very much made. And the question is how - how intentional, how deliberate was he in this.

CUOMO: So, you are not sure what it was, but you are sure it wasn't nothing.

HILL: That's how I feel, yes. I don't know - I don't know that I can speak for - well, I certainly can't speak for all of my colleagues.

CUOMO: Sure.

HILL: I'm - I'm not representing the views of the Chairman or of the Committee, but--

CUOMO: Sure.

HILL: --that's how I feel.

CUOMO: You're the one I wanted to talk to. Representative Hill, thank you very much. I appreciate this and I hope it's part of a continuing conversation.

HILL: Absolutely, thanks so much for having me.


CUOMO: Look, that's a good window into the challenge for the Democrats. How do they keep the temptation to go after the President in balance against the Constitutional duty of oversight? It's not going to be easy, and we'll watch.

Biden 2020 is something that the Right and Left are both bracing for. Some are relishing on both sides, so we have lots of questions tonight over how he's going to fit in what apparently is a changing Democratic Party.

Who better to ask than the Axe? David Axelrod is here. Three Big Questions, next.








CUOMO: So, today as Democrats lost a potential Presidential contender, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, word surfaced once again that Joe Biden is close to entering the field.

"95 percent in," he put it at. Now, it's crowded, 12 major candidates so far, an unusual number of Senators, already the most diverse population in modern political history.

So, what does this mean for Biden in a party now torn between old- school and progressive ideals? There are three questions I want you to think about today.




CUOMO: David Axelrod is the man with the answers. Good to see you, Axe.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, how are you Chris? CUOMO: I'm doing better than I deserve. So, let me ask you. Whom do you believe, if Biden enters, is the strongest Democratic contender at this point?

AXELROD: Well he would be the strongest Democratic contender at this moment if he got in. He's got, you know, he's well-liked across the Party. He's well-known. His association with Barack Obama to whom he was an exceptional Vice President is well known to everyone.

And so, he enters with about a third of the vote, 30 percent, 31 percent, consistently in polls. Obviously, Bernie Sanders has moved up since he announced. He's right behind him. But, you know, you have to take Biden very seriously as a candidate.

CUOMO: What is his biggest plus and biggest minus?

AXELROD: Well, look, you know, it's funny because I think in politics, as in life, everybody's strength is their weakness. Joe Biden represents ballast. He has experience. He's a known quantity. He's known around the world.

They - in all the turmoil of the Trump years, he's a guy who represents a return to normalcy, and brings 45 years of experience to it.

The - the flip side of that is he brings 45 years of experience to it, and that is also a burden in politics, as - as Jennifer and Rick were saying just a little bit ago. You know, you bring with you all your accumulated votes, your comments.

We've seen several stories surface just in the last few days about things he said in the 70s and the 80s and the 90s, and you're going to continue to see that if he enters the race, except at a more rapid pace so, you know, that is a downside.

[21:50:00] I think a lot of Democrats believe that he could be a very strong candidate against Trump, and would have been in 2016 because he has strength in the Upper Midwest in those states that Trump - where Trump won the Presidency, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Biden would be very strong there, but he has to get there, and the primary is going to be a test for him.

CUOMO: Well one thing is for sure. You know, the idea that well Biden's going to have trouble because he's safe - says things he has to apologize for, this President has set a new standard for that, so it somewhat mitigates that negative for Biden.

Last question, the biggest challenge for your Party. Where does it fall - where does it wind up, in your opinion, in terms of what its soul is?

AXELROD: Well, look, I think one of the interesting questions is, is this going to be fought out on a Left-Right spectrum? Or is it going to be fought out on some other grounds?

I - I think people choose someone who will be the antidote to the President you have, and Trump is a very strong figure, and - and, obviously, evokes very strong feelings.

And the thing that people most object to him - about him is - is not any one particular position, even if they disagree vehemently with him. It's the way he conducts himself. It's the fact that he divides the country for practice that he - that that's his political scheme.

And I think that it's possible that people will be looking for someone who can bring the country back together, and who treats people with respect, and as someone who people want their kids to grow up to be, and so on.

This is - this may be even more important than - than where you're positioned along the ideological spectrum. Let me just say one other thing, Chris, because I know you only have three questions, but I got four answers.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

AXELROD: The - you asked me about what Biden's liabilities are. And I - and, look, the - the elephant in the room is he would be 78 years old at the time that he became President.

He does represent a return to normalcy, but that also speaks to a kind of status quo Presidency, not a status quo from Trump but a stat - a return to something. And people, you know, Democrat Party, Rick was not wrong.

The Democratic Party often has reached for younger generational choices, who represent marked change from the past. And so, he may be - he may be challenged from someone far younger than him.

CUOMO: That was well worth a bonus answer. You know what your weakness is?

AXELROD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Too many strengths, that's your weakness, Axe.

AXELROD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Too many strengths.

AXELROD: All right, my friend. Thank--

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

AXELROD: --thank you.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure.

All right, I want to turn to something that hasn't gotten a lot of attention today, the anti-hate vote in Washington today. H - House Resolution 183, what a mess it was to get to this point?

It passed. But, boy oh boy, does it say a lot about what shouldn't happen in politics? The people that you represent deserve better, Mr. and Mrs. Congress, and I have an argument, next.








[21:55:00] CUOMO: We are against hateful expressions of intolerance directed at minorities, period. Who's against that? Should be unanimous, right? Wrong. Welcome to the latest example of why people are turned off on politics, House Resolution 183.

No need to argue a case to you tonight. All you need to know is the path this thing took.

So, it starts with Representative Omar, Democrat from Minnesota. She said things about Jews buying friends and influence on Israeli issues. People in both parties went after her for it. Omar admitted she crossed a line.

Then, she said more about the political influence in this country that says it's OK to push for allegiance to foreign countries. Again, many in both parties took this to imply American lawmakers had dual loyalty to the U.S. and Israel.

Now, there was a big fight about calling her out. Then came the comparative politics.

When it was Steve King saying bigoted things, the Democrats wanted him tossed out, named him in a Resolution, condemning White supremacy. And the GOP, to their credit, they came late to the game on King, but they did strip him of assignments.

However, when it was a Democrat, the Dems got quiet. Some Dems didn't like it, so they drafted this Resolution 183 to condemn anti-Semitism as a middle-ground consequence, but no naming of Omar, and no loss of assignments.

They argued that King has been saying this stuff for years, so he deserved worse, though Omar - Omar had made statements like this before.

This should have been simple. Either people who say ugly things get called out or they don't. Then, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus didn't like the Res being suggestive of only what Omar said. This President's vitriol had to be included.

So, they included Islamophobia and White supremacy, whereasing, you know those paragraphs, whereasing - whereasing (ph) instances that were clear references to the President.

And then, on top of that, Speaker Pelosi said this.


NANCY PELOSI, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I thought the resolution should be in large the issue to anti-Semitism, anti-Islamophobia, etcetera, anti-White supremacist. And that it should not mention her name.

And that's what we are working on something that is one Resolution addressing these - these forms of hatred, not mentioning her name, because it's not about her. It's about the - these forms of hatred.


CUOMO: So, what started out as a reaction to Omar was now not about Omar. Pelosi went even farther saying that the comments that prompted the Resolution against anti-Semitic speech were not intended by Omar to be anti-Semitic.

So, now the only people named in the dozens of graphs of whereases are Dr. King, for teaching us that persecuting any American is attacking the freedom of all, and a selective list of other victims of bigotry, in a resolution that was supposed to be about calling out the offenders, not a recitation of the victims.

The process and what some members of the GOP Freedom Caucus saw as apparent hypocrisy led to two dozen Republicans refusing to vote for a Resolution condemning intolerance.

Small irony, Steve King voted present. That means he wouldn't take a position. King not wanting to vote on the Resolution or take a position is the only part of this that makes sense.

This is why so many of you are turned off. This should have been easy. But nothing is easy these days.

Can't - can't call out your own because the other side is worse, can't call out one problem without others getting the same attention, even though they were not involved in the instance that was supposed to be addressed.

And we can't get the Right and Left to come together even to say we should not hate on minorities.

Look, the Resolution passed, OK? That's the good news. But if you can't get unanimous consent on not bashing Jews and Muslims and other minorities, what will they ever agree on unanimously?

We wonder why you won't get a veto-proof margin of Republicans to oppose a national emergency order that they know is an overreach. Why both sides can't address what they now know is a crisis, involving kids on the Border, why people who support the President have endless appetite for his perfidy and lies? Here's the answer. Ugly politics of competing agendas and the avarice for political advantage that puts Party before the people, that makes Americans believe Congress doesn't work and that they should not expect anything better from Congress or even a President.

This should have been obvious, unanimous, Congress please do your damn jobs.

With that, how about another super-sized edition of PRIME TIME?