Return to Transcripts main page


Paul Manafort's Sentencing; Sen. Doug Jones (D) Alabama Was Interviewed About the Efforts Being Done To Help Tornado Victims; Democrats Running For 2020 Piling Up; More Legal Troubles For R. Kelly; CNN Poll Says Americans Not Likely To Vote For Donald Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 7, 2019 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: This is why so many of you are turned off. This should have been easy. But nothing is easy these days. Can't -- you 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 agenda that puts party before the people. It 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 supersized edition of PRIME TIME? Yes. I'm Chris Cuomo, let's go.

You know who's having a better than expected night, Paul Manafort, go figure, the president's former campaign chair, central figure in the Russia probe, got an easy sentence relatively by one judge and no one was expecting that.

Now, our judges are seated in Cuomo's Court with reaction and projection of what comes next. Democrats, how are they looking heading into 2020? Can the warring factions unite? Are they really warring? Where does a Democrat in a deep red state stand on all of the apparent tumult in their party? Does he see a path together? We're going to be bringing in Senator Doug Jones on exactly that. And a Joe Biden alert, in or not? Looks like we're very close. How

close? He gave us a number. Let's get after it.

Paul Manafort may not spend the rest of his life in prison, even though that's what Mueller asked for. He got a sentence far less than the 20 something years they wanted, he got 47 months and credit for time served, knocking it down to just about three years, maybe even less with special programs once he gets in.

He still faces a lot of time from a judge next week in D.C. but this is, no doubt, a victory for him relatively.

So, let's bring in Cuomo's Court, with Neal Katyal, and Harry Litman.

Gentlemen, thank you.


CUOMO: Neal, am I wrong, I'm saying Manafort got it easy. I know there was a day where this type of time for these types of charges were seen as harsh, but when they were asking for a quarter century, four years seems like pretty good.

NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes. I wouldn't describe it as a victory. It does seem -- you know, he obviously got a much lower sentence than what Mueller asked. But as you point out they've got next week before Judge Jackson because Manafort committed so many crimes, he's being tried in two places, not one, and has already agreed that he was guilty of those crimes in D.C. So that's one thing.

And then the second, and I think the most important thing, is I wouldn't think this is a victory for Donald Trump by any stretch. I mean, it's remarkable what happened today, a federal judge said Trump's number one person, his numero uno his head of his campaign, is going to jail for 47 months.

CUOMO: All right.

KATYAL: But if Obama's, you know, top person went to jail even for one day, David Plouffe or David Axelrod or something like that, we'd still be hearing about it like eight years later.

CUOMO: We're hearing about it even though it didn't happen. Now Harry, the point is that --


KATYAL: It's so true.

CUOMO: -- all this stuff, while legal, has a political coloring of it as well and the Republicans are saying this is proof that Mueller was overreaching. And he just doesn't have what they think he has. Do you think that's a fair argument?

LITMAN: No, but I think it's one that maybe the judge bought. I mean, the crimes, it wasn't what Mueller asked for, the 19 to 24 years, Mueller took no position. It's what the guidelines provided for.

I've been in front of Judge Ellis and I've had my head handed to me. But nothing like -- this was an 80 percent reduction and the magnitude combined with the caprice of it, he really gave very little reason for such a slashing. And it did lead to the supposition, based in part on how he treated the prosecution during the trial, that he just didn't like the case. And, you know, that's not a valid basis for departing so remarkably and exorbitantly.

[22:05:02] CUOMO: These are the argues coming -- arguments coming back your way, Neal, that the Republicans are saying, look, smaller sentence because this was an exaggerated wrong.

And by the way, no charges against Manafort for anything having to do with the behavior of collusion which means it is not there because this is the one guy you had.

KATYAL: I mean, in what world does that -- you know, the president's numero uno goes to jail for only four years and that's considered somehow proof of a witch hunt or something like that? I think today's decision underscores exactly the wisdom of appointing special counsel Mueller whose job has been to follow the facts, try this, this case was tried to a jury, Manafort tried all these defenses and they failed. So, the idea that --


CUOMO: But he didn't charge him with anything related to what he did during the campaign. Is that relevant?

KATYAL: Well, but remember, there are charges in D.C. There's two different cases in the D.C. charges, and particularly as they've been kind of amended because Manafort lied to Mueller even after he pled guilty, do start to actually center on those questions.

So, you know, this is just one chapter in a longer book. And I think it would be very premature for the Republicans to somehow claim victory when their number one campaign official is going to jail.

CUOMO: Is this a little bit of a window into, Harry, the idea that you're going to have a lot of unanswered things when Mueller is all done? That you're not going to know the answer to what the president knew and what he didn't know, what may be going on with different types of coordination with Stone, or even Manafort, with Kilimnik and Deripaska and that it's going to wind up opening a window into oversight.

LITMAN: Yes. So that's a real worry. I mean, Manafort, in addition to his crimes and to answer your question to Neal, it doesn't matter, these were serious financial crimes and they were connected to his whole sort of misadventures in the Ukraine.

But even so, he notably failed to cooperate and kind of stuck his nose out at the justice system and lied to Mueller and got away with it. So, I would think that could potentially encourage other behavior. It feels like we've got to find out from one source or another. But one of the ones we were counting on, where Mueller's charges in court.

And you're right, this chapter ends with Manafort having kept quiet and being able to not have given up anything of any significance.

CUOMO: Let me get one more thing to you and then I want Neal to --


KATYAL: And Chris, building on that --

CUOMO: -- button you up. Let me just -- let me do this. And then Neal, you button it up. Harry, Michael Cohen, do you believe they have him on making a false statement before Congress again?

LITMAN: No, not -- it's not good enough. The -- they don't have materiality on the perjury charge. It's really kind of penny-ante, and anybody can refer, I don't see it going anywhere.

CUOMO: Neal, final point.

KATYAL: I agree with that. And the one other thing I'd say about Manafort is that today he did something remarkable, he didn't say he was sorry, express any remorse or anything. And the only way to understand that kind of insouciant behavior, it seems to me, is he is angling for a pardon and the pardon, Trump's pardon hook is literally dangling out of Manafort's mouth right now. And that's what the strategy has been.

And this is a guy whose pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and Scooter Libby and people -- and Dinesh D'Souza, and I think that's what Manafort is really hoping for.

CUOMO: And remember, he doesn't have to pardon him today, right? He can pardon him at any point he wants in his term.

KATYAL: You're right a hundred percent.

CUOMO: Gentlemen, thank you for making us smarter and better. I appreciate you both.

LITMAN: Thanks, Neal.

CUOMO: All right. We're seeing the Democrats face their first big internal crisis since taking the House. I'm going to bring in a unique voice from the other end of Congress to offer his insight. Alabama Senator Doug Jones. He's going to also update his state's recovery from those deadly tornados. We'll be right back.


CUOMO: Tonight, Alabama is still reeling from damage from those tornados that happened Sunday, 23 people lost their lives. Four children. President Trump is expected to tour the devastation tomorrow after he called for FEMA to give Alabama the a-plus treatment in disaster response. On the ground now someone who's been touring the destruction, and

speaking with survivors. Democratic Senator Doug Jones from Alabama. Thank you for taking the time. How are you doing? What are the needs? How can people watching right now help?

SEN. DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA: Well, Chris, thanks and thanks for asking about that. It's been a long day. It's been a very emotional day. I mean, unless you have toured this damage, and I know you've seen devastation like this before, it just takes your breath away.

And to talk to survivors, talk to the -- and to hear the stories of survivorship and also the stories of all of the first responders who went in there to see the damage, to go to the hospital, visit with people who survived, people who were out there serving meals to first responders who had just lost loved ones, it's just a remarkable story.

And this is a resilient area, a resilient town, they're going to be fine, they're going to rebuild. We appreciate everybody's thoughts and prayers for us and the Red Cross and all of the EMA, Lee County EMA has just done a remarkable job.

The cleanup has started. They're going to start, and we are going to rebuild and going to, you know, make this town even stronger than it has been.

CUOMO: Well, just know, Senator, it's not uncommon but it's certainly called for here. As you find specific things that are short, you want to get word out, you don't have to come on the show. I know you're busy. Of course, I'm going to chase you about other things. So, I know you want to take the opportunities judiciously.

But you can get us any time, pass along the information and we'll put it out to the audience. And we'll stay in touch with the families --

JONES: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: -- hat we met down there and make sure that we're tracking their progress as well. So, know that, that's a matter of fact.

JONES: Well, thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So now let's turn to politics. Let me start with something else, general, general. Your party, my suggestion is that the party does not know for sure who it is going into 2020. I know everybody is a big tent when you don't have consensus. But this is one heck of a big tent that you guys have. Are you concerned about coming together?

[22:14:59] JONES: No, I'm not really concerned. You know, look, there are a lot of voices in both parties right now. And those parties, we've got some very talented people and I think sooner or later we're going to coalesce around a candidate that's going to lead this country forward.

I think the main thing right now people are just now starting this process. People are starting to focus on it. You know, the good thing about this is all these candidates are going

out and they are talking to people, they are listening to people. They are not just going out there and telling people what they want to hear, they're going out there and listening to people.

Every candidate I know that's out there is on a listening tour. They're trying to gauge the public and they want to make sure that if they're the nominee that they're going to be in the best position to actually govern this country and to make sure that they're in the right path to do the right thing.

So, I think this is an early process. You're going to have a lot of voices out there right now. But that's not -- that's not untypical. We've seen this before in the past and we'll come together.

CUOMO: Does your party need Joe Biden to enter the race?

JONES: Well, you know, you're asking maybe someone who's pretty biased. Joe has been a friend of mine for many, many years. I think he is an incredibly strong public servant, an incredibly strong leader. I think he's got a voice that appeals to a lot of people that can bring a lot of people together across races, religions, gender, you name it.

I think Joe would be an outstanding candidate. But more importantly for years I've thought he would be an outstanding president.

CUOMO: So, you look at 2018. It's not a knock-on Joe Biden's credentials. But it is a referendum on what he represents, you know, you look at 2018, a ton of women, younger, diversity, diversity of opinion, they're very far out on the left, he checks none of those boxes. Does that concern you?

JONES: No, I don't think -- it doesn't concern me at all. I think if you look at history, I'm not sure the people of Alabama as a whole are necessarily looking that way. They want somebody who can lead. They want somebody who can make sure that they've got the experience necessary to bring us together, to govern this country and to do it in a way that we have respect for institutions of government.

And so, we've seen transitions before. This may be that time after Eisenhower, we became Kennedy. Right now, I think people are looking for a leader, regardless of their age, regardless of where they are. I think they are looking for a leader and somebody that can govern.

So, in that standpoint I think people in the Democratic Party, really people in America are going to look for that person who can best govern. They want to get things done, Chris, that's the main thing.

And out of everybody out there, Joe Biden seriously has the experience of talking to people on both sides of the aisle and governing and getting things done. And I think that's a very, very important trait that often gets overlooked in the specifics of this, or the specifics of that and the issue about issue.

CUOMO: I want to get your take on something you weren't a part of in terms of politics, this House resolution 183. I had a closing argument in the last hour. It should have been a no-brainer. It should have been unanimous. What happened there?

I see it as a malignancy on the political process. But you tell me, how did something that started off as simple as, don't go bashing Jews here, we're going to call that out, we're not about that in this party or in this congress, get so complicated?

JONES: You know, that's a tough question. I think it got complicated a lot because we've got social media and we've got media that help complicate the process, to be honest with you.

CUOMO: Media, how?


JONES: I think this could have been handled --

CUOMO: What do we have to do?

JONES: Well, because we're talking about it now. Instead of moving on and talking about the races and talking about the issues. We talked about our tornados, but we're not talking about healthcare. We're not talking about jobs, we're not talking about the economy, we're not talking about trying to expand Medicaid in the state of Alabama and we're talking about an issue that got a lot of attention, and now it's done, it needs to move over.

People call out hate, they call it out all the time. I don't know if it took a resolution of Congress to try to get past that. I don't think it should have, necessarily. And I'm not sure that it matters whether it's unanimous or not. We don't -- our Constitution was not set up, our government's not set up to have a unanimous government all the time.

We have differences of opinion. We need to voice those differences. Do it in a way where we can disagree without being disagreeable and move on and let's get out of our corners and talk to each other and let's get something done.

CUOMO: Look, you know what this show's about, we talk about everything that matters and we'll give it more time than anybody else. But when you can't have a unanimous vote on decrying intolerance, that speaks to a real problem with the system right now.

But you're right, it all matters, Senator. And you're always welcome to talk about what matters here. Thank you, and please remember what I said, let us know how people can help.

JONES: Thanks, Chris, I appreciate that very much and we'll take you up on it.

CUOMO: Senator, be well and God bless the people of Alabama.

All right. So, you've got the Senator there, he was with us from one of the hard-hit regions in Alabama, the same region where LaShawn Wilson, remember her. She joined us Monday night. Remember her?


[22:19:58] LASHAWN WILSON, TORNADO VICTIM: I've lost family members, we've lost close friends. All of my neighbors around me. It's just -- it's a lot to process. I'm just hopeful that we can get past this and I'm just counting on that faith that it will keep us strong, we'll hold together and we'll make it through.


CUOMO: Amazing to live through and now just as difficult to move forward. We've got to stay connected. The tornado destroyed her home and her mom's home next door. They hid in a bathroom, winds whipping through Lee County where they were. Very closed call.

So, we checked in with LaShawn today. She has a fractured ankle. I don't know if you remember that night she was saying "I feel pain." She's got a hairline fracture. And she ripped her meniscus. That's in her knee. Often requires surgery. So, you know, that literally her house flattened out on her.

She tells us she and the family are doing OK, she says spiritually and emotionally. Her mom is out of the hospital. Now the big worry is finding a place to live. They did get to talk with FEMA today, amazingly LaShawn says she is still thankful.

We're going to keep in touch and let you know what she needs and what so many other people like her family need. We'll keep you updated. We have to stay connected.

All right. A dozen Democrats are now running for president. So big names could still join the mix. But you've got the person in there, and then you've got the message. Messenger and message. What is that substance? Can it just be about Trump is no good? What makes them better? Great debate next.


CUOMO: The time is narrowing before Democratic presidential candidates to make their decision on who and what issues will give them the best chance of winning. We got 12 names in the race right now. Most lean, you know, farther left than center.

I mean, everybody is going to say don't describe me that way, my politics are personal. But I'm just saying in general I think that's a fair speculation. And also speaking of speculation, Joe Biden says he's 95 percent committed to running. Is that other 5 percent going to come? If so, when? So, what do you say? It sounds like a great reason for a great debate.

Nayyera Haq, Niger Innis. Good to have you both. So, let's start with message and then get to messenger. Nayyera, is it fair for me to say your party hasn't figured out who they are and what they want?

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: No, not at all. Just because you have diversity, doesn't mean that you necessarily have to have division. There's a challenge of having tough conversations. And in a primary you have those conversations in public. We see that happen even Congress.

But at the end of the day that's the point of a primary process. Is to have that conversation, hone your message and come forward with a consensus candidate, and a consensus candidate that will speak to the issues. We saw that work as Democrats in the midterms, resoundingly record voter turnout, women who went for Trump --


HAQ: -- now going for the Democrats. When Democrats, when people vote in general, when people vote, Democrats tend to win and that's because Democrats in the midterms were focusing on healthcare. They were not directly running against Trump. But it's hard with the kind of president you have right now to not have that always be in the background as noise.

CUOMO: Are you worried at all, Nayyera staying with you for one second, that if you look at 2018, you're right, ton of women, a lot of diversity. What if that new population within the party and elected office says we don't want the older white guy to represent us. Don't you just see what happened with this is the party of the new and the young and multiculturalism, he doesn't check those boxes, now what?

HAQ: It's fascinating to see that dynamic play out especially with millennials being the largest bloc of voters heading into 2020. So, any candidate is going to have to thread the needle between how do you appeal to boomers who themselves are evolving on these issues and of generation that has effectively woke up woke.

But Bernie Sanders shockingly managed to do that and has expanded the conversation well beyond what it was in 2016, and the parameters of the policies we're willing to talk about. And he as an elder man has a coalition of people of color --

CUOMO: True.

HAQ: -- and young people.

CUOMO: True.

HAQ: So, it is --

CUOMO: We see the money that he's raising from people millions all across the country. But now he's got a lot of people who sound like him who are running, but they don't look like him. Now Niger, the president says Joe Biden, big smile, listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I dream about Biden. That's a dream. Look, Joe Biden ran three times, he never got more than 1 percent. And President Obama took him out of the garbage heap. I'd love to have it be Biden.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Do you believe that -- I can't get past the part of him

dreaming about Biden. But the -- what do you think about the Biden matchup, why is Trump so -- why is the president so giddy about that?

NIGER INNIS, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Look, if we're talking about Joe Biden when you and I were in college back in 1988 when he ran briefly for the Democratic nomination, I think the president would have a formidable challenge.

The problem is, Joe Biden is going to have a debate with himself. Because the Joe Biden of back then, of 1988 and, of course, you have tapes going all the way back to the 1970s where he talks about desegregation in a way that is intolerable in today's Democratic Party.

Today's Joe Biden is going to have to twist himself into an ideological pretzel to appeal to the most radical elements within the Democratic Party, not just the radical elements but it's actually the base, and I would argue maybe even the majority of the Democratic Party.

So, I think, you know, by the time Biden finishes debating himself from what he said decades ago, and a couple of decades ago and maybe even a few years ago, and tries to appeal to that radical element within the Democratic Party, by the way, diversity is fine. I'm for diversity. But I'm not for diversity when it's based on being hostile to white males.

And unfortunately, that identity politics that dominates the Democratic Party today is not a Democratic Party that welcomes heterosexual white males.

[22:30:02] CUOMO: Nayyera I'm seeing you do the slow blink of disagreement there while Niger was talking several different times.

INNIS: I'm shocked.

CUOMO: Unpack each point of disagreement, please.

INNIS: It is very easy to fall into the trap of saying it's just about how people look, and that's what diversity is. You will find a vast array of candidates, multiple women, not just one woman this time, multiple white men. Again, four (Inaudible) candidates and each of them bringing something very different things to the table.

And some have even like Sherrod Brown (Inaudible) was effectively a one issue candidate, talking about dignity of work, right? You have James (Inaudible) talking about climate change. They're all going to throw this out there and try to come up with something that builds a stronger platform that frankly represents what the American public looks like, talks like, and thinks like right now.

At the end of the day, this is not a traditional contest between the Republican Party we used to know and the Democratic Party we're looking to create. This is against Trumpism and the rest of us. That's the reality of the binary choice in 2020. And that's going to resonate with voters across the board.

CUOMO: The one...


INNIS: I wish.

CUOMO: Go ahead please, Niger. Go ahead.

INNIS: Yeah, I was going to say I wish Nayyera was right. But unfortunately, she brought up Sherrod Brown. I am glad she did, because Sherrod Brown made my point, you know? I was reading an article in the New York Times about why he dropped out of the race, and he actually had a moment of clarity and honesty. And he pointed to his face, and he says I can't change this, the fact he's a white, heterosexual male.

And unfortunately, you have a Democratic Party today that is dominating that and fully embraces socialism, some elements embrace extreme abortion, on the borderline of (Inaudible) racial quotas, racial reparations, afraid to condemn anti-Semitism on the one hand. But on the other hand, believe in a Palestinian state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, which would effectively end the Jewish state.

I mean that is the energy. I am not saying every Democrat. And certainly, Nayyera does not fall into this category. And a lot of Democrats don't fall in that category, but in terms of the energy...


CUOMO: You cast as a general thing. So let her respond. Do you believe that that's where your party's coming from, what Niger just outlined?

HAQ: Yeah. I think that's rhetoric from the right. And that's what we heard at CPAC. Listen. There is a vast gap between having conversations about living wage and that everybody trying to take away your hamburgers, right? The extremes of rhetoric are largely coming from the White House. Listen. You have Biden attempting to jump into the race, who has impeccable national security credentials, is actually coming from the national security community, was welcomed when he traveled overseas to help us resolve some of our hardest challenges.

For him to come into the race against a candidate who is running after dictators is offering an alternative. You have a black woman who is able to run as a law and order candidate. Again, there is so many different elements of policy...


HAQ: Domestic and international policy that are coming to the table now where people have legitimate experience versus the guy who ran The Apprentice, and still hasn't managed to put together infrastructure. CUOMO: All right. Let's leave it Nayyera Haq, thank you very much.

Well argued. Niger, we were talking about hamburgers there. Who said I'll gladly give you two hamburgers Tuesday for a hamburger today.

INNIS: Wimpy from Popeye.

CUOMO: There it is. Thank you very much, Niger. All right, both of you. Appreciate it, well argued. Two of R. Kelly's girlfriends rush to his defense in a bizarre new interview where the singer stood in the back coughing or really trying to control. I am going to get D.L. Hughley's take on that in the State of Play in our political culture, next. Nice hat.


CUOMO: More trouble for R. Kelly off camera. Detroit police are now investigating a new allegation against the R and B star, the possible sexual assault of a 13-year-old in 2001, comes on the heels of that wild on air implosion with CBS' Gayle King. New video came out today, this time their interviews with two women who say they're in love with R. Kelly and are standing by him. However, King flagged something that we weren't able to hear. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His team had told us that R. Kelly would not be in the room. After the interview started, he was around the corner behind them. They couldn't see him. But it points -- at points during the conversation he would cough very loudly like that so they were aware that he was there. He wanted them to know -- he tried to stop the interview backstage a couple of times.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah, a couple times.


CUOMO: All right, joining me now for some perspective, actor, comedian, D.L. Hughley, always a pleasure.

D.L. HUGHLEY, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: Good to see you, man. If I was R. Kelly, I would stay so far away from Gayle King.


HUGHLEY: Because that was a horrible interview. It didn't work for him at all.

CUOMO: It wasn't her fault.

HUGHLEY: No. It looked like every woman that never believed a man. Like every man is trying to convince a woman of something like that. You can see him going Robert, Robert. All she didn't say was do I look like a fool? At a certain point (Inaudible). She stayed professional.

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: I think he got a break in that regard. You and I disagree about that. My feeling is if she had reacted like she may have, I mean that's unusual for someone to stand up, start waving around, being that angry, obviously hostile to the process. She could have seemed, you know, frightened, and that would have been even worse for him. However, here's my thing. If you didn't do anything wrong, I don't think that's how you behave.

HUGHLEY: No. Look, I don't know what he hoped to gain from that. It was funny to me because I don't know who had the best performance, Jussie Smollett (Inaudible) R. Kelly (Inaudible).

[22:39:59] CUOMO: Let's compare. Who do you think was more believable?

HUGHLEY: I believe more people believed Jussie until the two Nigerian dudes showed up. And those Nigerian dudes told fast. Didn't they? Let me tell you what happened. They told right away. They told faster than Michael Cohen. They wasn't playing at all. (Inaudible) they wasn't playing. I am not getting to the point for this dude.

CUOMO: What is the chance that Smollett's story hangs with any truth?

HUGHLEY: Listen, I can't -- I wasn't there, just much like I can say.

CUOMO: Did you need to be there to know?

HUGHLEY: No. I believe it's false. And I think that obviously, you know a great deal of people do. I wasn't there. Like there are so many people who refuse, like a lot of people remind me of Trump supporters. They refuse to see what's in front of them. And they blame it on the media. Listen, Jussie Smollett, I believe, told a lie.

I think that R. Kelly and Michael Jackson are both -- even if you don't believe they did it, let's air on this side. Even if you don't believe either of them are pedophiles, they're both horrible babysitters (Inaudible). I won't stop listening to your music, but I am not dropping my kids off at your daycare center.

CUOMO: Should you stop listening to the music?


CUOMO: If convicted.


CUOMO: Not even if convicted.


HUGHLEY: People asking black people how can you sing R. Kelly and Michael Jackson songs after all the horrible things they did, the same way I can sing the national anthem. Because they did horrible -- when I grew up, if there was mold on the bread, and probably you too, you couldn't throw all that bread away. You scrape that part off and ate the rest. I think people are like that. There are memories connected to those artists. I got married to those artists.

CUOMO: The music is more than the man.

HUGHLEY: The music is more than the art. It is like -- so there are connections that I've made. A lot of that music is the soundtrack of many people's lives. I can understand that.

CUOMO: Yeah. I get it.


CUOMO: And you're talking about two people that have absolutely no limitations on reach.


CUOMO: Jackson and R. Kelly in the R and B world, the go white, black, green, yellow, no matter your creed or color, you probably appreciate their music.

HUGHLEY: It says a lot about where we are as a nation, when in order for people to get outraged, because even if you look at the dates of the allegations that he's faced, they were almost -- some of them were 20 years ago.

CUOMO: Yeah.

HUGHLEY: Why is it that it took a documentary for us to get enraged? Why is it that it took a documentary for Michael Jackson, why is R. Kelly...

CUOMO: Culture shift.

HUGHLEY: All of those allegations that were made were made a long time ago and people knew them.

CUOMO: That's right. But it's culture shift, people silenced victims.

HUGHLEY: Even -- I'm not talking about the victims. I'm talking about the reaction of the American population. Our empathy (Inaudible) is directly connected to our remote control. Like if you saw those documentaries, and then all of a sudden you went back and got -- those same things were available 20 years ago, and if we care about children we would have done something about it.

CUOMO: Look, thank God for this shift. Now, this is a little bit -- do I have time to play the sound? All right, this is the new shift in this. So Gayle king doesn't just have R. Kelly. She's got women who are standing by his side. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying the parents handed their daughters (Inaudible) over to you, is that what you're saying to us?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first met Robert, my parents told me to lie about my age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything that she's saying is true. Our parents are basically out here just to get money.


CUOMO: So now what's going on with that?


HUGHLEY: They are horrible people.

CUOMO: Is that the truth? Do you think the parents did that, or you think these are people who want to defend R. Kelly who are throwing their parents under the bus because of the control mechanism?

HUGHLEY: I don't think that it's possible for me to say without a doubt what happened. I can say this. It's not unbelievable that some parents would put their kids in that situation. It's not unbelievable at all. I think look at the parents who let Michael Jackson sleep in a bed with their children. There are parents that did it.

I think that if you are that kind of parent, because the only job as a parent is to make sure that they're all right. And I think if they did do it, it speaks -- again, to this culture and this love of fame and this blindness to things that we see clearly in front of us. That's a horrible thing for those -- can you imagine the choice they had to make?

You're asking me to believe that they dropped dime on their parents to save him, and if they did...


CUOMO: A theory.

HUGHLEY: No. I am not saying -- but if they did, that would be horrible. What would be more horrible if they're actually telling the truth, if those parents actually sacrificed them to a monster. And I think you see it even in the Catholic religion. Look at the people priests were doing things and they're still bring their kids to them.


HUGHLEY: It says a lot about society (Inaudible).

CUOMO: We have to see where it goes. The day will come, my friend, where we will be discussing something that we're both overjoyed about.

CUOMO: I tell you what. When I saw the Manafort sentencing, black people get 47 months for stealing a pack of gum. And we get killed for stealing cigarettes. And I think it speaks -- when you talk about bias in the legal system, a 77-year-old white guy and has empathy for him, obviously. He had some level of sympathy for him.

[22:45:10] That doesn't happen, you know, across the -- they see a kinship with one another. There is no way all the crimes he's accused of that he should just get 47 months.

CUOMO: Well, it's not over yet.


HUGHLEY: Even the fact that you would say after the things he's accused of, you know, 54 weeks a year he could get 54 days a year -- he could be out in three years.

CUOMO: Yeah. And then there are special programs once he gets in, so we'll see. So let's do this. Let me finish up the show and let's you and I have a drink and we're going to talk about something good. Find something good.

HUGHLEY: There is something good. I just turned 55.

CUOMO: D.L. Hughley, with a double nickel. And how long have you been married?

HUGHLEY: (Inaudible) 33 years.

CUOMO: Thirty three, 55 years old. God bless, looks older. Joe Biden reportedly on the brink of jumping into the 2020 race, is he too old? Is he too liberal? Is he too centrist? Is he too what? Three questions on the dynamics of the 2020 Democrats. I'll get you three good answers to think about, next.


CUOMO: Fifty eight percent of Americans say they are not likely to vote for President Trump in 2020, according to a new CNN Poll. For Democrats with presidential as aspirations, that means there is blood in the water. But who's got the best chance of capturing the nomination. Three questions for Chris Cillizza.


CUOMO: Senators Booker and Harris, who generates more buzz?

CILLIZZA: Harris right now. I think Booker has more potential to generate more buzz, Chris, because I think he's the most natural gifted, charismatic speaker on the (Inaudible). That matters in retail politic states, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. But Harris right now -- look (Inaudible) we had her number one in our rating for five straight months.

Because I think she's the candidate who has the full package right now that looks the most like the Democratic Party of 2018 and 2020.

CUOMO: All right. Do we have the poll numbers just to show what the State of Play is right now? If Biden enters the race, he pops to the top on top of Sanders. I think he gets about 29, 30 percent. Bernie Sanders is at like 19, 20 percent. And then everybody drops almost in the single digits kind of fast. Does that mean Biden has a better 60/40 shot of getting the nomination?

CILLIZZA: I would put it around 50/50-ish based on sort of what frontrunners (Inaudible). I will remind you in 08, the person on the top to feel poll was Rudy Giuliani, right? So some of that is a function of name ID, I think the danger for Biden is twofold. One, he's the first (Inaudible) just bleeds support. That's number one.

Number two, Kamala Harris is an African-American, Indian American woman from California who has a prosecutorial background. Joe Biden is a 76-year-old white guy who spent 40 plus years in the Senate and was Vice President for eight years. Is that what the Democratic Party of 2018 to 2020 wants to nominate?

CUOMO: All right. You tell me. That's going to be my last question. Who do you think they nominate, good looking?

CILLIZZA: Thank you. I think the answer to that is still Kamala Harris. The people that -- the three people I think are the most likely -- I don't know that Bernie Sanders wears all that well overtime. And I know that will blow my Twitter mentions up. It is just a fact. I just don't know that he does. So my three people, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, either of which are terribly adventurous.

If you put anybody on, you put a robot on they'll probably tell you that based on polling and trends, my other one...


CUOMO: What about Beto?

CILLIZZA: OK. So I think he could -- I actually think if he announced shortly after he lost the Senate race, it would have been better. To me, this whole (Inaudible) on the road he's kind of like an emo (ph) 2020 candidate, hasn't played all that well. My dark horse is Amy Klobuchar. I know she got a lot of bad press over staff.

But she's Midwestern great, and you need to win Iowa if you are not Beto, Biden, and Kamala. You need to win Iowa. And if you do, then you have a real chance going forward. And she has a real chance to win there. I'm (Inaudible) candidate (Inaudible) going to win for me to believe that you can be nominated.

CUOMO: Favorite (Inaudible) book (Inaudible) favorite character, (Inaudible).

CILLIZZA: Yeah, what you said.

CUOMO: Nice haircut by the way.

CILLIZZA: Yeah, thanks.

CUOMO: Good. I didn't the coloring was going to work. It looks good.


CUOMO: Let me turn to those big questions to a fun question. Who's your favorite drummer? Wait until you see this. I have got a new one. I have never seen anything like this. Guess how old that kid is. He is on the beat the whole time. The kid is four. Wait until you hear this. This is nothing.


CUOMO: You've got kids. You know kids. You know any four-year-old who's already a viral star with his own album like this guy. I hope you can appreciate how freaking amazing this is. I am a drummer. He's better than I am right now. Justin L. Jay Wilson II, you can see here he's practicing for a Warriors game. He's known as Baby Boy Drummer on social media. He's got 360,000 Instagram followers.

And that's not enough. Not only is he good finding the beat with the drums, take a look at him breaking it down waiting for the start of the game. He's four. OK. Finally, it was time for the little drummer boy to do his thing. And just listen to this. Come on. Both of his parents are musicians.

And I say, so what? God bless what a gift that kid has. I hope he keeps working with it.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Erin Burnett in for D. Lemon starts right now.