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All Charges Dropped Against Empire Actor Jussie Smollett; Trump Administration Now Wants To Strike Down All Of Obamacare; Boeing 737 MAX 8 Jet Makes Emergency Landing In Orlando. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 26, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: News continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Anderson Cooper, anti-baby, pro-Kahlua. I see the posters now. Well done, my friend.

COOPER: I love babies.

CUOMO: Smack wolf away from my stash of Kahlua.


CUOMO: Things I never thought I'd hear.


CUOMO: At least not tonight. But it was good. Thank you, my friend.

COOPER: Thanks.

CUOMO: I am Chris Cuomo. No Kahlua for me. But welcome to PRIME TIME.

Tonight, the Jussie Smollett prosecutor is trying to explain a move that has the Police and the Mayor there fuming. The charges are dropped there. But the case is headed straight to Cuomo's Court.

And a new scare for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet, this time in the sky over Florida. What was it doing in the air in the first place?

And the President stops his victory dance just long enough to try to trample all over Obamacare, a new attacking court that threatens to upend healthcare in this country. Does the law support it? And how can you do this with nothing to replace it?

One of the President's big backers in Congress, Sean Duffy is here. Can he make a compelling case for the move?

The closing argument, why is the President saying the Mueller report is great, when he hasn't seen it? We don't know enough. Maybe the President thinks he does. But the case for clarity will be made.

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



CUOMO: All right, it's a good night to be Jussie Smollett. The same prosecutors who say they had the Empire star basically dead to rights for making up a hate crime, dropped a 16-count indictment with barely an explanation.

The outrage and disbelief got cranked up to a 11 after Chicago brass got word the investigation of a supposed hate crime turned hoax. Was all for nothing?



MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, (D) CHICAGO: This is, without a doubt, a whitewash of justice, and sends a clear message that if you're in a position of influence and power, you'll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way. There is no accountability then in the system. It is wrong. Full stop!


CUOMO: So, let's look at the court papers. Can't. Case has been sealed. That's what happens when you drop charges. Smollett - Smollett's record expunged. So, why were they so good to someone that they said did something so bad?

In a cryptic statement, prosecutors noted "Circumstances, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond." They called the outcome an "Appropriate resolution to this case."

10 grand and some helping out at Reverend Jackson's Charity, and you beat 16 counts, including felonies? How can that be justice?

Let's take it to the court, Cuomo's Court.




CUOMO: Laura Coates and Ken Cuccinelli. I'm seeing a lot of agreement on this one, I think, tonight.


CUOMO: Laura Coates, I mean how - first of all, we all agree, they have to say more about why they did this, yes? We all in agreement about this? LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes.


COATES: Yes. I mean the--

CUOMO: Yes or--


CUOMO: He's nodding in assent. And Laura, tell us why.



COATES: Well because - the thing about this case is that when we had a press conference not only held by the Police Department, but also by the prosecutors in this case, and the Office of the Prosecution that laid out a series of facts that then led to a Grand Jury being impaneled, a presentation of evidence where Grand Jury members found that 16 counts were warranted.

So, to tell the Grand Jurors essentially that "Listen, all of your service, thank you. We don't need it any longer. We're going to dismiss the case." And--


COATES: --a $10,000 bond forfeited is highly unusual. Prosecutors do have discretion to be able to terminate cases and say, "We no longer want to prosecute or we decline to do so initially."

But to do so after a Grand Jury has actually indicted is highly unusual. And to seal the record, and then say, "Oh, does anyone want more information?" is totally not good (ph). There's got to be more information here.

CUOMO: It reeks of politics. But let me put it to the side just for one beat, and say, Ken, you think there's a chance that they may have botched the case, you know, when they let the brothers go, the Nigerian brothers involved here.

So, you got three people involved in the crime, but it winds up just being Smollett, and the all - other two aren't there. You think there's a chance that when they were getting ready to go to trial, they were like, "You know what? That was a mistake, and now we have to cut this guy a deal."

CUCCINELLI: Well this - this isn't a deal. This is a giveaway.

CUOMO: Fair.


CUCCINELLI: A deal is you plea down to one of the 16 indicted charges. CUOMO: Fair.

CUCCINELLI: It isn't - it isn't literally dropping the case.

CUOMO: Right. Fair - fair point. I'm just trying to give them some legitimacy of a need to make this type--

CUCCINELLI: You're a generous man.

CUOMO: --of suggestions happen (ph). Well, look, I mean, you know--

CUCCINELLI: They don't deserve it here. This is a miscarriage of justice. Rahm Emanuel and I don't agree that often. But if I'm the Mayor of the city this happens in, you bet I'm ticked off.

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: Oh, my Gosh! This is embarrassing for Chicago, and the police are furious, and rightly so.

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: It - it just - it - it - it's turns justice on its head, and it really does make it look like if you're rich or famous, you just get treated a--

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: --different way than everybody else.

CUOMO: Now, that's - that's one potential reason. And it's a strong choice.


[21:05:00] CUOMO: But I'm going to say one that Rahm didn't want to say. It may be because of the politics of it.

Could this be a perverse play on race here, Laura Coates, that, you know, these prosecutors said, "Look, we're going to go after people for hate crimes. We're going to go after the people who attack people of color. We're not going to attack someone who's usually in the class of victims on this. It sends the wrong message."


CUOMO: Do you think that could be their explanation? Of course, they'd never say that. But do you think that could be it?

COATES: Well I think that that could be a possibility in a sense of setting the prosecutorial priorities, and saying, "If you're going to bring down the hammer of justice, you want to likely impose the burdens of that crime and the punishment on those who the - it was intended for."

This happens all the time, by the way, in civil rights cases, where although the intended recipient of the benefit is not a person of color, people try to judge, so we want to actually investigate these cases anyway. That's true.

However, I'm going to play devil's advocate for a second, gentlemen, and just say this.

The prosecutor may have botched the case in the sense of what if they, by releasing those two men, they did not have an immunity deal, they did not have a - a plea deal with those two individuals, they did not have any cooperation by a counsel - attorney late in the game, perhaps, it was they found information that those two individuals either recanted or changed their stories.

They no longer have the best evidence to be able to prosecute this fully, and also notion of - of celebrity justice, it cuts both ways.

I do find it hard to believe, and Ken, if you agree with me, let me know, that you would bring down 16 counts on a false claim to a - a police officer, but for all the attention that this case got.

So perhaps, playing devil's advocate, it was a sense of, in a case where a - a false report, we normally would not go to this excess and extreme, and we would actually have a fine, and perhaps community service. To do anything different would be out of line.

Now, if that was the case all along, they should have said that, before the press conferences, before everything came down and the exertion of all of those resources. But that may be what they're thinking.

CUOMO: All right, so look--


CUOMO: --we're on the same page on that one.


CUOMO: Let me get your take on something else that's a more delicate issue.

Ken Cuccinelli, the idea of what the Administration now wants to do with this ACA judgment in Texas, to me, and I don't want to get too deep in the weeds, so please, and the control room, tell me if it's too look - too much Cuomo's Courty talk.

CUCCINELLI: All right.

CUOMO: But, you know, when you remove a part of a law, almost always the judgment is about what we call severability in the law. There - all right, this part of the law is no good, but the rest of the law stands--


CUOMO: --if it can. That seems to be the case here with the ACA. In fact, that's what Judge Roberts said at the Supreme Court level.

What do you think the legality of this move is that's going on with the Trump Administration right now, to try to get rid of the entire ACA because of one provision being found lacking by one District Court Judge?

CUCCINELLI: Well, remember, this is a provision that in earlier rounds was, and in the legislation itself, was identified as critical to the whole scheme. If I remember correctly, President Obama said the same thing.

So, there's a legitimate legal case to be made that when that - that Jenga piece comes out, the whole thing comes down. And the fact that Congress went after it in the tax bill will be the only source of argument, I think, or the main source of argument on the other side against that contention.

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: But the - the case and the history of the legislation that this is a critical element, and therefore not severable is quite strong.

CUOMO: Right. Well, but look, it's - usually it's not.

CUCCINELLI: So, I - I think on a pure black and white case--

CUOMO: Usually the presumption is you're going to preserve it.

CUCCINELLI: --this thing is going to come down.

CUOMO: Now, they're gone - they went to just do around for segment (ph)--

CUCCINELLI: Yes, that's right.

CUOMO: --because I want to look something up here.

I want to make sure I get it right because I actually - I agree with you conceptually. But on the facts and in the context of this case, I think it should come out the other way, and here's why.

There is no need to guess about where Congress' head was on this. And sometimes, a Judge actually has to guess about whether or not the entire law would still be held by the lawmakers that made them.

A Republican-led Congress in 2017 eliminated the individual mandate, OK? But they did not - I want to get the year right.


CUOMO: 2017. But, Laura, they didn't get rid of the entire ACA, right?

COATES: Right.

CUOMO: Now, part of that was political. They have the same problem now.

COATES: Correct.

CUOMO: They had nothing to replace it. And I don't understand why you'd want to get rid of something with Democrats in the House when you know they won't give you a quick fix. You're almost guaranteed--

CUCCINELLI: Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, they didn't get rid of the mandate.

CUOMO: --they'd make it vulnerable.

CUCCINELLI: They set it to $0.

COATES: Right.

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: Chris, they set it to $0.

CUOMO: They set it to $0.


CUCCINELLI: They didn't get rid of the mandate.

CUOMO: Right. But I mean OK, fine, fine. Is that--

COATES: Well, it's a - it's - it's partisan words (ph) at that point.

CUOMO: --is functionally, is that the same thing, Laura? Is that the same thing?

COATES: It is, well, I think the - I think it is.

And the reason here that there is a - a play to actually have a complete, almost a bout-face by the Administration to now say they went on to support the invalidation is because of the composition of the Supreme Court.

[21:10:00] Remember, when you go back to the time when this was actually put into law, and actually grappled with in the Supreme Court, it was Chief Justice Roberts that had to negotiate a pretty good deal to actually preserve Obamacare, in spite of all those things, and he had to try to convince and placate not only the liberal justices, but the four who were there.

Now, that composition of those four Conservative justices used to include Scalia, it used to include Kennedy as a swing vote. Now, it has been changed over to include Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, both of whom are probably not likely to side in the same way--

CUOMO: True.

COATES: --that Roberts did once. And so, I think you have issue here why-- CUOMO: Puts Roberts in a box if it went to him.

COATES: It puts him in a box. And so, if you're Donald Trump, and the President of the United States, and the Republican party who has spent such (ph) effort trying to ensure that the--

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: --composition of the court will actually inure your benefit, this is the prime time to do it.

CUOMO: Well, and then, one other legal concept's introduced to people quickly. One of the expressions you learn in law school is equity abhors a forfeiture, which means is we don't like to see people lose things.

And here, if they were to win the legal case, Ken, and I'm not making you put on a politician's hat, they have nothing to replace it. It almost guarantees that many millions of people are going to lose coverage and care.

Is that a smart move?

CUCCINELLI: Well, remember, it isn't like the healthcare system goes away. It - the federal government comes - comes back out of it. And yes, there'll be some displacement, no question about it.

But, essentially, healthcare will be handed back to the states, where the federal government to a greater degree than before took it over in Obamacare. And so--

CUOMO: But there was a reason.

CUCCINELLI: And it hasn't - and it hasn't worked. People's premiums have shot up.

CUOMO: Well, you got - you got the rates of card--

CUCCINELLI: And the deductibles have shot up, you know so.

CUOMO: --I mean, look, this is a - this is a political argument that we could have all night. I don't want to put that burden on you. You - because you'll take me on the law, you're not going to take me on the policy of this. We've studied it too much.

But, Ken, I appreciate the legal points. The analysis is necessary and helpful. Laura Coates, a pleasure, as always, and thank you.

All right, look, we--

COATES: Thank you.

CUOMO: --we're going to get to the policy part of it.

We got Congressman from Wisconsin, Sean Duffy, young - young charging tiger in the GOP. Can he make the case that this is a smart policy move on ACA?

Because if the whole thing goes, you're going to have a lot of issues about how do you cover those people, what is lost, how do you replace it, some 52 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

There was Sean Duffy. He's good-looking. So, I put him on TV, helps the ratings.

I'm going to give you the facts first before the interview, next.








CUOMO: Our President said today that the GOP will be known as the party of healthcare. But it seems to me, he left out a word, based on his Administration's latest move with the ACA.

The President will make his party about removing healthcare.

Whether he thinks he's delivering on another campaign slogan or just out to undo anything Obama, the DOJ in a radical reversal is now trying to get rid of the entire ACA.

There is a significant legal issue for you to look at here, but also a huge practical issue. Let's deal with the huge one, first.

This President and his party have no plan to provide care to tens of millions if the ACA is gone. The best you'll hear is what Cuccinelli offered. "Well, it'll go back to the states, or the free market will be the answer."

Those two conditions, the free market and the states looking this over is how we got companies who didn't want to cover the sick, who punished for pre-existing conditions, companies that didn't want to give the right coverage for the right amount of time, not letting your kids stay on after college, you remember all this.

The President remembers it. He has said that many times.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions always.

I want to keep pre-existing condition. I think we need it. And we will always protect Americans with pre-existing conditions.


CUOMO: Yes, except for now, because if he gets rid of the ACA, he won't be doing it. He knows the policy matters, and he knows its popularity. This Administration has seen a huge surge in enrolment numbers at the end of last year's window.

We're talking about nearly 12 million people covered by the Medicaid expansion who could lose coverage. 60 million more people on Medicare have lower costs because of the ACA as well.

Young people, up to the age of 26, all over the country, get care because of the ACA on their parents' plans. Annual checkups, mammograms, flu shots, birth control are available at no cost because of the ACA.

It's also helped fight the opioid epidemic, you know, that's something that this Administration has wanted to prioritize. How did it do that? Because part of expanding Medicaid was to cover that.

You think companies want to cover addiction if they're not made to? Take a look at policies before and after.

Now, even Trump's own Administration is using this law to fight for lower prescription drug prices, more proof that if they don't have to do things, they won't do things in the free market. Now, he wants to remove the protection and replace it with nothing.

And remember, the House is run by the Democrats now. They disagree adamantly with the Right's ideas on this issue. So, there's very little chance of a quick fix if the ACA is removed.

So, why get rid of this law before having something to replace it with, for 21 million Americans, including many of our most vulnerable? And there's a good chance that you will balloon costs until you do replace it.

Why? Why? Why? Welcome to the new normal. Now, luckily, there may be time here, because the other issue is the legal issue. And the strategy there to scuttle the ACA has problems.

This entire effort stems from a ruling by a District Judge in Texas that when the Republicans eliminated the individual mandate by zeroing it out, that made all of Obamacare unconstitutional.

Though you could argue, as Ken Cuccinelli did, zeroing it out, did that remove it, or did zero it out? That's an illegal (ph) argument.

Judge Reed O'Connor's decision rejects, however, another big legal principle called severability. Basically, if you take away a part of the law, the court has to guess if Congress would have passed the law without the bad part.

But, in this case, I don't see a need to guess. In 2017, that's the year I was looking for in the debate, a Republican-led Congress eliminated the individual mandate by zeroing it out. They left the rest of the law as is.

That's likely because Republicans know the same thing that candidate Trump knew. Beyond the name Obamacare, the benefits that people have been seeing since the past nine years ago are more popular than ever.

[21:20:00] The Democrats' historic midterm victory, turning 41 Red districts Blue, came, in large part, by arguing that Trump had not delivered anything better on healthcare. This move would almost certainly prove them right and make our health insurance mess worse. So, this new ACA Obamacare fight could be a political gift to

Democrats ahead of 2020. He's doing a victory dance, our President, about Russian interference. But that's not what drove people to the polls, for Democrats, healthcare did.

So, how does he make the case here? We have one of his supporters in Congress, GOP Congressman Sean Duffy from Wisconsin, next.









TRUMP: The Mueller report was great. It could not have been better. It said, "No obstruction. No collusion." It could not have been better.


CUOMO: You see what it says on the bottom. He hasn't seen the report yet. We keep asking the White House if they have because the statement makes no sense. And they say, "No, we haven't seen it yet."

Look, we know from the summary from the A.G. that there was no criminal case that could be made that this President or his people helped Russia interfere in the election.

We didn't hear anything about a ruling on obstruction because Mr. Mueller didn't make one, the A.G. did. And we haven't heard yet what was found by Mr. Mueller about the President's people doing bad things with bad people, maybe not crimes, but wrong, just the same.

[21:25:00] Nonetheless, riding high on word that he isn't being prosecuted, the President is now opening up another fight ahead of 2020, renewing his push to kill Obamacare. Is this a smart play? Healthcare, after all, gave many Democrats the edge in the midterms.

So, what does this mean for Republicans?

Let's bring in Republican Congressman Sean Duffy. Welcome to PRIME TIME. Good to see you.


CUOMO: All right, so you saw what I outlined as the political issue for me here.


CUOMO: I get why people in your party want to change the ACA. But it was always repeal and replace.

DUFFY: Sure.

CUOMO: You do this, this way, and you are guaranteed no quick fix with Democrats running the House. Is that the smart play?

DUFFY: But so first off, I - I think you missed in your - in your analysis of the bill, where I come from, we were promised that our prices will go down for a family of four in a year by $2,500, we could keep our doctors, we could keep our healthcare plans, in my communities, now, if you get a subsidy in Obamacare, you love it.

But if you don't get a subsidy, Chris, your premiums have gone through the roof. Your deductibles have gone up.

Obamacare has been a failure for the American people, which is why Democrats when they run for President are saying, "I'm going to - I'm not going to defend Obamacare. I want to go for Medicare-for-All," which is a - an acknowledgement that Obamacare hasn't worked for the American people.

CUOMO: Well you gave me a check. Let me give you a little check back.

DUFFY: Sure.

CUOMO: One, this is complicated, right?


CUOMO: So, there is a tricky statistic, which is that the rate of increase in healthcare costs with the ACA, Obamacare, is lower than it was before. Our costs still going up, is it still too much? Yes and yes.

But it's hard to make the case statistically that the ACA made things worse. They're just not good enough. I hear you on that. Let's accept it as true. I stipulate to that.

DUFFY: Sure. CUOMO: The question is what are you going to do when you get rid of the ACA? You're not going to be able to replace anything. There's going to be a short-term hit - hit.

Why do it that way? Why not do it politically where you've got something ready that you've negotiated--

DUFFY: Right.

CUOMO: --so when you remove, you don't hurt anybody.

DUFFY: Well, first off, I'm sitting outside the House floor right now. And what you know is that oftentimes, unless the Congress is forced to act, it doesn't act.

And so, if the courts overturn Obamacare, I think you're going to see the Congress, Republicans and Democrats, the House controlled by Democrats, the Senate controlled by Republicans come together and figure out a pathway forward to take care of the American people.

And I do, as Cuccinelli said, I think competition is - is part of this, Chris. We should have doctors and hospitals and clinics competing for our dollars. We also want to help out the poor.

There's a way to do this that I think can actually drive down the cost of care. And if I - include again on (ph) President Trump, I do - I take your point that the President said we're going to be the - the - the party of healthcare, and doesn't have a plan, but I wouldn't bet against President Trump.

He's a guy that's been looking out for middle-income Americans, the Forgotten men and women who have - have not been taken care of under Obamacare. He'll deliver for them. We'll - we'll put out a plan that we think will actually drive down the cost of care for the people that we represent.

CUOMO: Yes, but you don't have one. It's not about--

DUFFY: It doesn't matter, Chris.

CUOMO: --it's not about me being a cynic.


CUOMO: It's about me being a skeptic.

DUFFY: So, but - but--

CUOMO: I know that there is no plan. And I know you can't get anything done that quickly. And that is a political reality.

DUFFY: But - but--

CUOMO: You guys shut down the government--

DUFFY: But-- CUOMO: --over a wall.

DUFFY: But - but that's like me saying, OK--

CUOMO: How long will this stand?

DUFFY: --you mentioned the wall, Chris. It's like me saying that you voted against the wall as a Democrat, but you have no plan for Border security. What's your plan for Border security?

CUOMO: They do have a plan.

DUFFY: No, they don't.

CUOMO: They do have a plan.

DUFFY: No, they don't.

CUOMO: And you guys made it about a wall that doesn't--


CUOMO: --even address the crisis that they're facing down there right now.

DUFFY: Tweet me the - tweet me the Democrat plan because it doesn't exist. In Wisconsin, Tony Evers says, "We want boots and technology on the ground. I don't want a wall."

He pulled our actual - our - our - our National Guard off the Southern border. There was boots in - and - and technology on the Border. I mean this stuff doesn't make sense.

Democrats are not about securing the Border. They don't have a plan to secure the Border, it's never come out.

CUOMO: They flood me.

DUFFY: Doesn't exist.

CUOMO: They - all you guys flood me in plans. It's just you never can put them into effect. The Border though, as you did--

DUFFY: Because it's they don't have one.

CUOMO: --the Border, as you know, is something that we examine very closely on this show. And I'm telling you, we know for a matter of fact that a wall is not the fix for what they're most worried about down there right now.


CUOMO: These kids coming with their families and abusing, in many cases, the asylum laws.

DUFFY: So, Chris-- CUOMO: Hasn't been addressed by you guys. They don't have the resources.

DUFFY: So, but hold on a second.

CUOMO: And they're worried.

DUFFY: I'm going to - so, I'm going to - you're going to come to Wisconsin for the Democrat Convention.

I'm going to come and see you in Milwaukee, and I guarantee you, when we go to the Convention at the - in - in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you're going to see it on the perimeter what?

A big 12-foot wall on the Democrat Convention with gates where they're going to funnel people through it because--

CUOMO: Right.

DUFFY: --walls work. And if you put a Border security, Chris--

CUOMO: Walls work if people are trying to sneak in.

DUFFY: Hold on, Chris. Chris, Chris - right. And people are trying - and people have been--

CUOMO: I think it's a deceptive argument. But got ahead and make it. Then I'll respond.

DUFFY: --people are trying to sneak across the Border. And if you - if you have Border security--

CUOMO: Right.

DUFFY: --they're not going to make the journey. You're not going to have the caravans. You're not going to have--

CUOMO: I know.

DUFFY: --the floods of people, which is a good thing for our country.

CUOMO: I don't disagree with any of that.

DUFFY: OK. Good.

CUOMO: I don't disagree with any of it.

DUFFY: Sure but not (ph) in here, it's great.

CUOMO: I would just argue that we've seen a rate of - no, but listen, I mean if you watch this show, you'd know that these are not new--

DUFFY: I know.

CUOMO: --arguments for me to be making. What I'm saying is the rate of people sneaking across the Border is not their big concern. It's the people who are coming and presenting themselves for asylum.

They don't have anywhere to put them. The Flores settlement makes them treat kids one way and adults another. That's fine. But it doesn't work. They don't have the resources.

DUFFY: But--

CUOMO: They don't have the caseworkers.

DUFFY: But, Chris--

CUOMO: And you guys have done nothing about it.

DUFFY: But, Chris--

CUOMO: That's their big problem.

DUFFY: But the problem is, if you have an open Border, that incentivizes people to come up and make the asylum claim. They're advised to make the asylum claim when they get here.

[21:30:00] CUOMO: I don't agree with that. I don't agree with that.

DUFFY: And--

CUOMO: Because they're not sneaking in. They're presenting themselves. But I want to ask you about something else.

DUFFY: Right. They - well they can't get in, if it's - OK.

CUOMO: We'll deal with that.

DUFFY: Right, holding on.

CUOMO: Sean, I promise you.

DUFFY: All right, you know.

CUOMO: When we hit a crisis down there, and I fear it's coming--

DUFFY: We have one right now.

CUOMO: --you can - but I'm saying when - what they're worried about is that kids that they can't take care of, kids they can't keep from being abused, you know, we'll talk about it.

DUFFY: Right.

CUOMO: You're always welcome on this show. Let me ask you about something else though.

DUFFY: Sure.

CUOMO: Am I wrong on this? The President saying the Mueller report was great. We haven't seen it. He likes that he's not going to be charged as a felon in connection with Russian interference. I get that, sad commentary on our state of political play. But we

don't know what's in that report.

DUFFY: So but what we do know is that Bob Mueller is not going to charge anybody else with collusion or obstruction.

CUOMO: True.

DUFFY: And he's spent a lot of time over two years doing an investigation, and there's no charges coming. So, I think that's great news for the President, especially after, you know, America has been drugged through the wringer. You and I have talked about this a lot for two years.


DUFFY: And so, I - I think that this is a time to celebrate to - and let's not speculate about what else is going to come out in the report.

CUOMO: Why not?

DUFFY: We know the President's not going to be charged because--

CUOMO: Well, no, and I don't think you should speculate about it. But, look--

DUFFY: Because you've - we've - we spent two years speculating.

CUOMO: I know. But for me, it was never about criminality.

DUFFY: And I think the American people are sick of that.

CUOMO: Of course, you want to know if there were crimes, God forbid.

DUFFY: But--

CUOMO: But it's about wrongdoing.

DUFFY: But, let me - just, Chris--

CUOMO: It's about who did what and what did the President know so at least you can--

DUFFY: So, here's - here's what--

CUOMO: --have some accountability.

DUFFY: What I think you want to know is who duped us, because I mean, listen, all the networks and then the people who--

CUOMO: I want to know that too. But you guys have to figure that out.

DUFFY: No. But you should know that. You should - you've been talking about this for over two years. You should say, "Who actually set this up?" Look - the - the people-- CUOMO: I know you guys are supposed to figure that out.

DUFFY: Well, the - Mueller did. And said, I - I know it wasn't Donald Trump.

CUOMO: No. But that was an oversight issue is--

DUFFY: But - but listen. But, Chris, hold on a second.

CUOMO: --what do we do to make ourselves safer. Nunes and your boys didn't--

DUFFY: Hold on a second.

CUOMO: --want to do anything about it.

DUFFY: You--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

DUFFY: What you guys did is you reported on it.

And you took them - you - you took all these salacious, you know, reports of all of the scandal, and for two years. And I think, you know, you got to say, who - listen, we got to analyze how we get our information, because for two years, every single hour of every day, we talked about it.

And I think and it's - I mean I - I - I don't want to sit and cast blame on you. I think you've been fair. But I look at the American people, and I go, "Do I trust the media? Do I trust the Democrats who have been peddling this story that's absolutely false?"

CUOMO: Well, part of the reason you're asking yourself that Sean is because for the first time--

DUFFY: And--

CUOMO: --in our history, we have a President who tells everybody that the media is their enemy, and that the institutions--

DUFFY: Well, look, Chris--

CUOMO: --of our democracy--

DUFFY: But, Chris, if--

CUOMO: --can't be trusted.

DUFFY: But, Chris, if you - if the media was--

CUOMO: Not the best suggestion.

DUFFY: --but if the media was doing its job, they'd be far more skeptical of some of the details that they're - they got.

CUOMO: But we're not the investigators.

DUFFY: But you're the reporters. And reporters, you have a job to make sure you're putting out the right facts. For two years--

CUOMO: Of course, you do.

DUFFY: --you're putting out the wrong facts.

CUOMO: What - what wrong facts?

DUFFY: That's significant. Well, do--

CUOMO: What wrong facts did we put out?

DUFFY: That there was Russia collusion. You and I - you were telling me that I had to present the fact that the - the - the bottom line that--


DUFFY: --there was no collusion that it was our responsibility to--

CUOMO: There's a 100 percent behavior by people around--

DUFFY: --to - to defend him. It was all--

CUOMO: --the President--

DUFFY: But here's--

CUOMO: --that qualifies as collusion. Collusion's not a crime.

DUFFY: Oh, listen.

CUOMO: It's a behavior.

DUFFY: Listen, but collusion with--

CUOMO: You should know.

DUFFY: --but - but - but collusion with Russia didn't exist. And it was reported on for two years.

CUOMO: It's not true. Mueller says he couldn't make a--

DUFFY: And your sources were wrong.

CUOMO: --criminal case that any of those--

DUFFY: Here's the good news, Chris. Here's the good news.

CUOMO: --people helped the Russians interfere.

DUFFY: Here is the good news, though.

CUOMO: It's one - it's one issue. DUFFY: You don't have to report any more on Russia collusion.

What we can do now is say, let's report on all the good news that unemployment is down, that salaries are up, that we've crushed ISIS, that we have American energy independence.

There's going to be far more time for the networks around America to report on the great news that are making Americans' lives better, which is a good thing for our country.

And I think if we start focusing on - on those issues, and less on the salacious scandals that don't end up being true, we're going to be better off as Americans, and I think--

CUOMO: There's nothing sal - there's nothing--

DUFFY: --there's more credibility.

CUOMO: --salacious, using that word in the context of meaning, not important, about these guys lied about meetings and contacts--

DUFFY: Chris--

CUOMO: --in a way that would worry you a lot if you change the Rs and the Ds.

DUFFY: Oh, Chris, listen--

CUOMO: You should know the answers.

DUFFY: If Chris--

CUOMO: And you can look at all those other issues too.

DUFFY: Listen, if you can - but I--

CUOMO: I think you can do both.

DUFFY: Listen, I - I - I think there was liars, who were lying about their taxes, and lying about a lot of things, but they weren't lying about Russia collusion that you have pretense (ph) Barack Obama--

CUOMO: They did. Manafort lied about giving the polling data.

DUFFY: --knowing that they were going to tap into--

CUOMO: The authorities believe Stone lied about trying to get the emails.

DUFFY: But - but do - do - do you think - do you think that - do you think that it's relevant? Do we--

CUOMO: Michael Cohen lied about things that went on.

DUFFY: Should we not know if Barack Obama knew about the wiretaps in the Trump campaign? CUOMO: Now--

DUFFY: How high did this go?

CUOMO: --how interesting is that?

DUFFY: That we have Bren - but we - but we have Brennan--

CUOMO: Sean, so you don't like these questions.

DUFFY: --we have Brennan--

CUOMO: They're salacious speculation. But not when it's the other party.

DUFFY: But when it's not true, Chris--

CUOMO: Then you want to know what about all these things--

DUFFY: No, no, Chris.

CUOMO: --that didn't happen.

DUFFY: For two years, for two years, you reported on it, and it wasn't true. I think the American people have waited long--

CUOMO: And it's not true that Obama wiretapped Trump. That's not true.

DUFFY: But do you know that?

CUOMO: Yes. They wound--

DUFFY: How do you know?

CUOMO: Because you wound up having the Intel agencies look at this, and they investigated it.

DUFFY: You don't get - but - so you're - so--

CUOMO: And they found out that there was someone in the Tower that was the subject of a wiretap that has nothing--

DUFFY: Chris--

CUOMO: --to do with Trump.

DUFFY: Listen, Chris, I - I get that--

CUOMO: You guys are doing exactly what you say you don't like. That's why people are turned off--

DUFFY: Wait, but - but--

CUOMO: --on politics.

DUFFY: No, no, no, no, Chris - no, but - but I'm saying, what - what - here's what I want. I want to - we have a right to know who started this crazy story about Donald Trump and Russia collusion.

Was it someone inside the White House of Obama? Was it, you know, was it haters on the Clinton campaign?

CUOMO: The President said Russia didn't interfere in the election, Sean.

DUFFY: I don't know who it was. But we should find out--

CUOMO: Will he accept that now?

[21:35:00] DUFFY: You - you - you--

CUOMO: Mueller says there was Russian interference.

DUFFY: I think he should. He should.

CUOMO: But - but why doesn't he say it?

DUFFY: But aren't - but Chris, aren't you - listen--

CUOMO: Why does he say he believes Putin and not the Intel agencies?

DUFFY: Do not - do not care - do not care how the story started? I do.

CUOMO: Yes, I do.

DUFFY: I think we should know that.

CUOMO: I do passionately. I just think I know.

DUFFY: Even Carl Bernstein on your network - Carl Bernstein on your network - network said, we need to know who started it. We need to know what Obama knew.

CUOMO: I agree.

DUFFY: And when he knew it.

CUOMO: But we do.

DUFFY: All of us should have that information.

CUOMO: We do.

DUFFY: No. No, but--

CUOMO: They gave us a whole report on it.

DUFFY: Do you - listen, and what about this and I - I hate this. I don't want to go here. But I'm going to for one moment. I look at the Hilary Clinton's side of things. I know how. But I'm going to do it anyway for you, Chris.

CUOMO: You hate it, but you'll do it. That's what I love about you, Duffy. Go ahead. DUFFY: I don't like the sound (ph). But the only Russia collusion that happened was Hillary Clinton getting the dirty dossier from Russians themselves.

CUOMO: Not true. Not true.

DUFFY: It is true. She paid for it. Yes, they did. You can't - don't - listen--

CUOMO: That's not true.

DUFFY: --Chris, it is true. How can you - how can you say that it's--

CUOMO: I'll say two things. One, you can't be upset about the Clinton stuff, and not be upset about the Trump stuff. But you do because you're partisan. OK. The second part is collusion is--


CUOMO: --when you're doing sneaky things with people that you know you're not supposed to do it with.

Might it be a crime? Maybe. Maybe not. That is what was going on with the Trump people. And we don't know whether or not the President knew about it. They may not be crimes.


CUOMO: But shouldn't they be things the American people know about.

DUFFY: But look - but look - listen - let me tell you what - a little dirty secret. With both campaigns, representatives from every government around the country--

CUOMO: Sure.

DUFFY: --try to make contact with them, so they can know who the next Administration--

CUOMO: Right.

DUFFY: --is going to be. It happens with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Barack Obama--

CUOMO: Right. Except the Russian efforts were geared towards helping Trump.

DUFFY: --everybody, this happens.

CUOMO: And we saw in the Mueller report.

DUFFY: Well, but you - but - but you also--

CUOMO: They reached out to them repeatedly to get--

DUFFY: Do you know-- CUOMO: --some help with them.

DUFFY: So - so - so - so - so Chris, you know what the Russians want? The Russians want to divide America.

CUOMO: True.

DUFFY: That's what they want.


DUFFY: And that's why they were promoting different sides of different issues--


DUFFY: --trying to create dissension, and the media played into that dissension for two years, divided America, playing into what Russia--

CUOMO: I feel like I was calling it out--

DUFFY: --wanted to have happen.

CUOMO: --to stop it from happening. And that's why, Sean Duffy--

DUFFY: You were. But - but not everybody, Chris. Not everybody.

CUOMO: No. but, I - but listen, hold on. You--

DUFFY: But you were, yes. Fair enough.

CUOMO: Look, I only control and only half the time what comes out of my own mouth.

DUFFY: I know.

CUOMO: What I'm saying is, Sean--

DUFFY: And me too.

CUOMO: --is you know what a good antidote is? This, my brother, disagreement on some points--

DUFFY: Great conversation.

CUOMO: --but with decency. You get your case out to open minds here, and you're always welcome to do it.

DUFFY: You have a great show, Chris. Thanks for having me on.

CUOMO: Congressman Sean Duffy, you're not just handsome, you're smart.


CUOMO: I don't usually have better-looking guys on this show.

DUFFY: Sure.

CUOMO: But you get a pass.

DUFFY: Yes, you're a funny guy.

CUOMO: Take care.

DUFFY: You too.

CUOMO: Happens to be true. He's better-looking. That's OK. People come on here. They get tested, and you get the benefit out of it.

Another scare in the sky, got to report on this. The 737 MAX 8 in the air over Florida, forced to make an emergency landing this afternoon. What was it this time? And why was it in the air?

There's an answer to that. Miles O'Brien is here. He has it, next.

And this twist in the Jussie Smollett case, the Mayor of Chicago is livid, so is his Police Superintendent. Does D. Lemon see this as justice? I will argue the easy side of "Nope."

Let's get after it, next.








CUOMO: Here's what we know. A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8, yes, that same play was - the plane was forced again to make an emergency landing, this afternoon, it happened, shortly after takeoff from Orlando.

The pilots reported an engine problem this time. No customers aboard. Let's bring in our Resident Expert on all things aviation, Miles O'Brien.

So, different problem, this was about the engine. Do you see this as a deeper concern?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST, PBS NEWSHOUR NATIONAL SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's too early to say if there's some grand problem with the engines. I will tell you this, Chris.

These are new engines, newer model engines of the GE LEAP engine that were put on board the 737, which interestingly had a lot to do with why that anti-stall system was put in, in the first place.

They're bigger, have a wider diameter. They were put more forward on the wing. And that caused the stability problems, which caused the need for that software. I would say, on first blush, this is completely unrelated to that software problem with the anti-stall system. But I will tell you this also.

This aircraft is under a tremendous amount of scrutiny right now, and this shutdown of an engine, which would normally be a fairly routine semi-emergency in the world of airline flying will get much more scrutiny than others.

CUOMO: Answer this one. People will say, "Wait a minute. Why was it flying? I thought they were supposed to be grounded." This is part of that, right?

O'BRIEN: Well it's always the money. It's very expensive to park an aircraft on a ramp at any Airport, and the calculation by Southwest and the other airlines is that this is going to go on for a while.

It's cheaper to fly them to a place where the weather is conducive. The Desert Southwest is always good, the Mojave Desert.

And it's a lot cheaper to park them there though, they'll fly them all there to this Airport in the Mojave Desert. And then when the fix comes in, they can do the fix all in one place.

CUOMO: Now, what we know about the software. There was some experimenting that was done to see how much time a pilot has if this software glitch, let's call it, happens.

They came up with a number of 40 seconds. Do you buy that as a rational assessment? And what does that time period mean?

O'BRIEN: I've been saying all along that everything had to go perfectly right for the crew to do the right thing and save the day.

This was a system that had perhaps too much authority, meaning it pitched the nose over in too severe a manner, and these accidents occurred shortly after takeoff. There wasn't a lot of altitude to play with.

Interestingly, on the most recent flight in Ethiopia, the inexperienced pilot was flying, only 200 hours of experience. And by the time, he understood what was going on, and the control was passed to the more experienced Captain, precious seconds elapsed.

And so, this was a situation where they weren't - weren't fully briefed on the system, didn't really train for it in the simulator, and had to identify that problem with precious little time.

Everything had to go perfectly right. And, of course, it didn't.

CUOMO: As we know from television, 40 seconds can be forever or it can be a flash. It depends on your experience. No one has more than you. Miles O'Brien, thank you so much. O'BRIEN: You're welcome, Chris..

CUOMO: All right, next question of the night. How is dropping a charge against - all charges against Jussie Smollett justice? Is this about celebrity? Is it about race? It is about incompetence? Why did this happen?

Let's see if D. Lemon can see what I'm missing.








CUOMO: First, it was Mueller and POTUS. Now, the prosecutor and Smollett. Once again, they're saying no case will be made, but they can't exonerate. The actor, however, maintains his innocence. Listen.


JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR: I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one. I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I've been accused of.


CUOMO: All due deference to his mother, the facts don't match his feelings.

But let's bring in D. Lemon. What is this about? Why did they let him go?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: It's well I can tell you, I think it's what they worked out.

I can't tell you why they let him go, specifically. But I can speak to what you were saying there. It seems there's a very interesting thing going on in our justice system right now.

You have the President, where he says, "Well there's no collusion," but this does not exonerate him. You had Hillary Clinton back during the 2016 election, where they said, "We're not going to prosecute her. We're not going to seek to prosecute her." But she acted--

CUOMO: It was grossly negligent.

LEMON: Negligent, or acted recklessly. And then you have the prosecutor in this case saying, "This is not an

exoneration. We still believe that - that he made this up or that he filed a false police report. We still believe in the evidence from the Police Department and the investigators. But we're dropping the charges."

So, you know, I can't really explain to you what's going on here. But that is one of the things that I want to ask his attorney. Patricia Brown Holmes is going to join us here.


LEMON: Jussie Smollett's attorney will be here.

CUOMO: It's got to be one of two things, just to - if this is helpful for the interview.

One, may be the prosecutors botched this that when they let the Nigerian brothers go, you had three people involved in the crime. But now you only had a case against one of them.

Maybe they weren't as reliable, maybe they didn't have a right deal set up with those witnesses to secure them in a way that they could guarantee what they were going to say at trial, and make the case. That's the best answer that I can think of for prosecutors.

The other one gets into politics. Is this about going easy on a celebrity? Is this about where his race is relevant to who you want to prosecute in a situation like this?

LEMON: Well, I will tell you. I have been speaking to my sources. And they will - they will tell you. I was going to say this in my show, but I'll give it to you now.

CUOMO: My man.

[21:50:00] LEMON: They tell me that the brothers were consistent all the way through that they were not notified. They were cooperating witnesses. And so, it doesn't - it wouldn't seem that the prosecution screwed up, if you believe the source--


LEMON: --who told me that.

What most people believe, and listen, I don't know, I'm not there, I'm just reporting, that this was political in nature because the people who had been trying to prosecute him, which was the people who decided to drop the charges did a 180.

And when they spoke to them today, as opposed to yesterday or the day before, they were like, "Who are you? I've never met you before even though you look like the same person I've just spoken to."

So, they believe - most - most people believe that it came from on high. I don't know from who. CUOMO: Wasn't the Mayor.

LEMON: But it - but it's certainly unprecedented. And the Mayor, and you know - I spoke to him when this happened. I spoke to the Police Superintendent as well. We asked for both of them tonight.

The Mayor ended up going on Wolf, and spoke to him, and they had a great conversation.

But I, you know, I want to talk to her. I don't want to interrogate her. But I - there are a lot of questions that I want to ask his attorney, and also that I would like to ask Jussie himself.


LEMON: Right?

CUOMO: I'd love to see that.

LEMON: So, tell me - yes.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what. You got great guest tonight.


CUOMO: Person to have. I'm going to be watching for sure.

LEMON: I'll see you in a little bit.

CUOMO: I'll see you in a second, D. Lemon.


CUOMO: All right, so the Jussie Smollett case is one of two big legal conversations going on across the country tonight.

Stay with me on this because I don't think it's a big stretch to compare this Smollett investigation or - or problems with it with the Mueller probe. Both beg for more information.

And there is a lesson in both. And it starts with this. Don't Be A Sucker, next.







(END VIDEO CLIP) [21:55:00] CUOMO: All right, new Cuomo cups. We give them to the guests when we came. It ran out. These are the news ones. Little tough to read on TV, but they're nice, big, like my hand.

Don't Be A Sucker, Part One and Part Two.

Here's Part One. Actor Jussie Smollett's story is no more believable now after charges were dropped. The video, the accounts of the brothers, and his own account have never made sense, hence, the charges and the apologies from the brothers.

Even in dismissing the charges, the First Assistant State's Attorney said this. "We did not exonerate Mr. Smollett." There's that word again. "The charges were dropped in return for Mr. Smollett's agreement to do community service and forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago."

Here's what I don't get. Why are you processing this as a mystery? We - we should hear more. But they cut him a deal. Period! Why? Why? Celebrity? A perverse play on race?

Did prosecutors screw up here? Did they mess up with how they treated the other two? Remember, three people involved in the crime, did they screw it up? Is there some unknown other reason?

Whatever it is, the prosecutor owes their city and, frankly, all of us, an explanation because this reeks right now. The main argument here is this. These calls that charges being dropped, means that Smollett was telling the truth, that's what he says.

But don't be a sucker. Even the prosecutor says that is not the case. They said they don't believe Smollett is exonerated, meaning innocent. The legal standard is guilty or not guilty, not guilty or innocent.

So, maybe there is a hole in the case that made this an easier path to make this deal. But it was an odd word to use. In fact, it becomes the word of the day, in my opinion, exonerated, and it takes us to Part Two of Don't Be A Sucker.

How is the Mueller report case closed when no one has seen the report? These four pages that we saw, these are the A.G. Bill Barr's letter summarizing the report, didn't stop our President from proclaiming this today.


TRUMP: It was a complete and total exoneration.


CUOMO: Not today, Sunday. But he'll say it again. And once again, the President can't go with the truth even when it is on his side. Let's just be straight about this.

Mueller said, Barr echoed, no charge of criminality, can't make a case, a criminal case, when it comes to the President or his people being involved in Russian interference into our election. That's the good news.

But on obstruction, Mueller went out of his way to apply an unusual standard. And Barr went out of his way to repeat our word of the day. The Special Counsel states that while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.

That means Mueller can't show that Trump did nothing wrong, which would be a tough thing to do, the non-existence of a fact, and that's not his burden. His burden was to prosecute or not. Not to prove the President innocent.

So, why did he say it? It's another question we got to get the answer to.

The big point is the President's wrong again. There's a lot more to know. Again, the A.G. didn't use the word collusion in his summary. Why? Because collusion is not a crime. And Mueller was looking for crimes. That was his essential job.

Collusion is a behavior. And there could be ample proof of that kind of behavior in Mueller's full findings.

Manafort giving the poll data, Stone's efforts to get stolen emails for advantage, the Trump Tower meeting, and more, all could be folded into the counterintelligence investigation that the A.G. didn't even mention in his summary.

What did the President know? What was done by those around him with respect to meetings and contacts with people that we know they knew to stay away from? That could be in the counter-intel. It could be somewhere else. It could be nowhere. We may know in a few weeks, we're told.

We'll be asking on this show all the time. That's our job. You should demand we do our job and that Congress deliver. Are there more crimes related to Russia to come? No. That part is done.

But maybe in the bucket of other probes, we'll have to see, maybe, maybe not. Is there something impeachable? I say, unlikely. Maybe I'm wrong. It happens all the time.

The point is this. Here's what's completely right. You have the right to know of any wrongdoing. I'm not calling for an unending obsession. I'm not calling for that. That's a different 9:00 P.M. show that does it that way.

We paid for this probe as taxpayers. The interference matters. We should know what we paid for. What were the fruits of the labor? So, don't be played for a sucker. Demand the report. Read it for yourself. Then you decide what matters. That is the right conclusion.

Thank you for watching. CNN Tonight With D. Lemon is always the right conclusion to this show because then his begins.

LEMON: I like that subtle 9:00 P.M. shade. But, listen, here's I was saying, listen. CUOMO: Not that subtle.

LEMON: I know, but slightly so. Exonerate, especially of an official body, absolve someone from blame for a fault or wrongdoing, especially after due consideration of the case.