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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Republicans Call On Adam Schiff To Resign As Intel Chairman; Trump Moves To Kill Obamacare Without Plan In Place; House Oversight Chairman: "Yes" I Have Reason To Be Suspicious Of Barr's Summary. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 27, 2019 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Busy night, to say the least. Our interview with Mr. Bannon went longer than expected.

We're going to leave it to Chris now for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

We have not one but two of the most powerful people in Washington with us tonight. Sorry, I'm looking the wrong way. The Head of the House Intelligence Committee is here.

The White House is now calling on him to resign, accusing Adam Schiff of peddling lies about collusion. What's he going to say to the criticism? We're going to put it to him. Is it time to move on?

Plus, the House Chairman of the House Oversight Committee has just launched a massive new push for decades' worth of the President's finances. Why did he do that? We're going to ask him.

And you're also going to hear why Elijah Cummings thinks that we could be headed for a Constitutional crisis if we don't get the full Mueller report.

And the President has picked a new fight. He wants the courts to get rid of the ACA. And his party, his Healthcare Head, and his Attorney General, all reportedly think this is the wrong way to do it, legally and politically, for one reason, he has no plan to replace the ACA. This is far bigger than politics.

So, what do you say? Let's get after it.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: All right, now I'm in the right place. Is the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee ready to admit that he was wrong? Is he going to resign? Now, Republicans want both of those things from our first guest. So, let's get right to it.

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff from California joins us now on PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: Congressman, thank you for joining us.

ADAM SCHIFF, (D) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR CALIFORNIA'S 28TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: My pleasure.

CUOMO: All right, let's deal with your critics.

They say the Republicans in the White House, actually all of them together, are saying, you got it wrong, and they put you number two on the list, second only to Senator Blumenthal as someone who shouldn't be on TV anymore, who shouldn't be the Chair of a Committee because you were selling something that was not delivered by Mueller.

Your response?

SCHIFF: My response is they were clearly not listening because what I've been saying now for over a year is two things.

One, there's ample evidence of collusion in plain sight, and that is true. And second, that - that is not the same thing as whether Bob Mueller will be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crime of conspiracy.

There's a difference between there being evidence of collusion and proof beyond a reasonable doubt of a crime. And I distinguish between the two, probably dozens of times.

Now, either they weren't listening or, more likely, they would rather attack me than talk about how they're trying to take healthcare away from millions of people. But nonetheless, I consider it a good day when Kellyanne Conway is going after me.

CUOMO: That makes one of us. Let me - let me ask you this.

So, help people understand the distinction. I know it. I'm a lawyer. I talk about the difference between collusion as a behavior and conspiracy or a crime that can be made on a regular basis.

But people will hear that, and they'll say it's a hedge. We both know that. They'll say, "Oh, you're trying to have it both ways." Make your case.

SCHIFF: Well let's look at the evidence. We know that the Russians, through an intermediary, offered dirt on Hillary Clinton, as part of what was described as the Russian government effort to help Donald Trump.

They offer that to Don Jr., and his response was not to call the FBI, and say, "This is what I was approached with." It was not to say, "No way, under no circumstances." It was to say, "I

would love it. If it's what you say it is that is dirt on Hillary Clinton that is highly sensitive, as part of the Russian government's effort to help our campaign, I would love it."

And then he sets up this secret meeting in Trump Tower. And he invites the Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, someone very experience - experienced in running political campaigns who decides that it's a good idea to take that meeting. And Jared Kushner takes that meeting.

And then, of course, they conceal it, and they lie about it. And, in fact, the President himself may have been involved in the drafting of a false statement covering up that meeting.

All of that is evidence of collusion.

CUOMO: There is going to be no crime. And there will be no more indictments, we're told.

The Mueller probe is done. No crimes or cases of criminal activity to be made in connection with the President or anyone around him, helping with Russian interference. And there is no obstruction.

Do you believe that there is any basis for any type of pursuit of impeachment?

SCHIFF: Look, I - I share the view of the Speaker that the evidence would have to be so compelling of wrongdoing that even the Republican Members of the Senate, which there seems to be a bottomless capacity for duplicity when it comes to the White House, they would have to believe that this renders him unfit for Office.

Now, that would be a - a substantial undertaking. And the Mueller report would have to show something quite explosive. I don't think it's going to meet that bar.

But, of course, we haven't seen the report. All we have is a summary written by someone who is hired because of his hostility to the obstruction of justice investigation. So, we'll wait to see the report. But I think there's a very high bar here.

[21:05:00] CUOMO: Do you think that you're really going to be surprised by the report itself? You think the A.G. would hide any material findings of Bob Mueller? I mean it would be pretty, you know, foolish to do so.

SCHIFF: Well I think he certainly intends to hide the Grand Jury material, and that could be very substantial. There's one of two courses that Barr could take right now, and he's clearly decided to take the one that is less transparent and - and more hiding of the evidence.

And that is he could do as we did - as we saw in Watergate. He could ask the court for permission to share that evidence with the Congress. That's what he should do. If he is true to what he said during his Senate confirmation that he would be as transparent as possible, as the rules in law would allow, then that is the course he would take. But that does not appear to be his course at all.

CUOMO: You know, I hear your answers. I've been reading them about Bob Mueller. We'll wait and see whether or not we need him. Why? Well what would be wrong with bringing him in?

I mean if you want transparency for the American people, why isn't it a given that you want Bob Mueller to come in and testify in public so that people can know where the head was that was behind the probe?

SCHIFF: You know, I think that is inevitably going to take place, Chris. He is going to have to come in and testify.

At what point that takes place, whether that's before or after we get the report or the underlying evidence may depend on how much Bill Barr stalls in providing that report to the public.

But, at the end of the day, yes, I think both the Congress and the American people are going to want to hear from Bob Mueller.

I think a great - many people have skepticism about the bias, the - the evident bias of Bill Barr, which was plain even before he got the job. Indeed, that's why he did get the job.

So, I think you're right. I think we're headed there. But I will leave it to the leadership to decide when that time is right.

CUOMO: Were you disappointed by this summary? Were you expecting more?

SCHIFF: You know, I was disappointed that - that we would get this basic memo to characterize the work of Bob Mueller rather than just making the report public.

He had promised to be as transparent as possible, giving us four pages of what may be a voluminous report, and not even from the report. There were very little quotations from the actual Mueller work product.

And I also think, but we'll have to wait to see whether this is the case with the report, that Mueller wanted to leave this to Congress, not have someone air-dropped in to decide in two days that which he could not decide in two years, and to color the public and the Congress' view of the work product he'd print - been producing.

One other point I want to make, Chris. Chris, I think this is--

CUOMO: All right, but first - but I want you to make it, Congressman.

SCHIFF: Yes.

CUOMO: But just as a point of fairness, I get the 48-hour criticism on the turnaround. But we now know that Mueller came to them weeks ago, Rosenstein and

Barr, the A.G., and said, "Listen, we're deadlocked on obstruction." So, they had weeks to process that. Isn't that fair?

SCHIFF: You know, I don't know what the facts are. I know there's been some reporting about that. But that doesn't mean that Bill Barr has had the advantage of reading this report.

It may be that Bob Mueller informed Barr some time ago that "Look, I am not going to make a recommendation to Congress. I am going to follow the precedent in Watergate. I don't want to put my hand on the scale and say that this is an indictable offense because that will too heavily prejudice the Congress' view of this."

So, that may have been communicated. I don't know. But Bill Barr certainly decided to arrogate to himself that decision. And we won't know why until we have a - a chance to examine Bill Barr in testimony.

And - and I think you're right. Ultimately, we're going to want to hear from the man who did the investigation himself.

CUOMO: What do you say to the American people who feel that this is now over? "This is it. He came out. He put out his report. There are no crimes. If there's no crimes let's move on."

SCHIFF: Well, first, I would say this. We don't have the report yet. And I think people should wait to make any conclusions until we do have the report.

But, second, and this is a very important point that I don't think it's discussed much in the context of this report.

This investigation began not as a criminal investigation but as a counterintelligence investigation, designed to determine whether U.S. persons were acting as witting or unwitting agents of a foreign power, whether a foreign power, Russia, was involved in a covert influence operation that was impacting U.S. policy, politicians, candidates or business people.

And that, you know, may not be at all discussed within the Mueller report, which is essentially a report about prosecutorial decisions, we charged these people for these reasons, we didn't charge these people for these reasons.

That information may be among the most important because if it shows a bias towards Russia that is not in the national interest, but it's owing to some other interests, the American people need to know about it.

[21:10:00] CUOMO: Last question. If it isn't a crime, and there's very little chance that you get any buy-in from Republicans in terms of consensus on impeachment, how far do you go down these roads? I mean how far until it winds up being a waste of time?

SCHIFF: Well, on our Committee, which is, you know, our interest in this from beginning to end has been the counterintelligence aspects of the investigation.

I think it's our obligation to the country to make sure that no one, not the President, not his aides, not his National Security Advisor, or former National Security Advisor, or anyone working in the Administration is influenced by considerations other than the national interest.

So that means if they're pursuing business deals, if they still want to make money in Moscow, if they feel that if the President were to ever criticize Vladimir Putin, Moscow Trump Tower, a lifelong ambition of Donald Trump is dead as a doornail, then that has to be revealed.

And so, until we're satisfied, I think that we have pursued credible allegations of conflict of interest or compromise. We are not done. But we will be heavily guided by what Bob Mueller did.

We are not going to try to reinvent the wheel. And if Bob Mueller ex - you know, exhaustively looked into the IRA, this troll farm, and he exhaustively looked into the hacking and dumping operation--

CUOMO: Right.

SCHIFF: --you know, I'm circumspect about how much we - value we can add to that.

But there may be many other aspects of the investigation that Bob Mueller or Rod Rosenstein decided were beyond the scope of what his charge was that still leave the country vulnerable.

CUOMO: And so, it continues. Congressman Schiff, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

SCHIFF: Thank you.

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CUOMO: Now, you have to ask about how much and how long because there's a political cost to this type of probing. Poll after poll says voters didn't turnout in the midterms because of the Mueller probe, but because of healthcare in large part.

Now, the President has turned his face toward that issue, and he says, "His move? Get rid of the ACA in the courts." Problem is no plan to replace it, and not great law in his favor here.

There's a lot of spin about the ACA. What are the facts? I'm going to give them to you next.

And this is going to be a big night. Why? Well we have one of the candidates who's generating a lot of attention, Cory Booker. Will the Senator address healthcare? You better believe it.

We have that coming up, and we have a preview in just minutes ahead.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: Obamacare, bad. This President is sure of that. Does he have something better if he's going to replace it? Nope.

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DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, we're coming up with plans.

And if the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is out, we will have a plan that's far better than Obamacare.

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CUOMO: Again, for what it's worth, for the sake of truth, you might remember that more than two years ago, the President said his plan to replace the ACA was all but finished.

Now, his party knows the risk of this move that he's making. You mess with healthcare you mess with people's health. That was why the ACA was fought for in the first place, big abuses by the system in care and cost.

If you take it away, some 21 million people may lose their access. Now, most of you don't get insurance through the marketplaces or the expansion of Medicaid. That's why despite the party's resistance to this move, the GOP is going to fall in line, and you're going to hear a lot of this.

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SEAN PATRICK DUFFY, (R) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR WISCONSIN'S 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: 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.

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CUOMO: All right, now, facts first, OK?

Duffy - Sean Duffy, the Congressman from Wisconsin is right. If you get insurance from your company, you have seen premiums go up. And yes, there was a spike right after the ACA took effect.

But, across the board, rates were going up faster before the law than they are now. Repeat. Before the ACA, the rate of increase was higher than after the ACA. That is the fact.

The Congressman didn't want to deal with it. The GOP pretends it isn't true. But it doesn't change that it is a fact. The ACA lowered the rate of the increase of care, and they don't have a better plan.

Now, here's the data that I want you to just look at. You see at the top where the two lines come together? That's 2017.

That marked the first time that healthcare costs grew at the same rate as the value of the dollar, OK? So, you see there was a trending here. It was going in the right direction.

Another fact, even if you don't use the exchange, the ACA affects you, folks with pre-existing conditions, in other words, you know, you got high blood pressure, asthma.

Trump's own Administration says that that's about half of everyone under the age of 65 gets caught up in that.

52 million of those conditions are so bad, private insurers would deny them coverage without the law, 52 million people, without the law, no coverage. We know that would happen because that's what happened before the ACA.

Same for the 2 million young adults currently covered under a parent's plan, and any mother who has a private space at work to pump breast milk, or when you get a flu shot with no copay, even if you check the calorie count at a chain restaurant, it's all due to the ACA.

Now, of course it's not an elixir. Of course it's not perfect. This was a huge massive new system that was done by just one side of Congress. It's weak. It has obvious fixes.

It has strengths as well. This was known when they passed it. But here's the key.

Fact, the GOP has never agreed to work with Democrats on any of them, OK? They promised to kill it when it was born, and they've never moved off that. They believe the prescription is opposition.

And many have rewarded the Right for just fighting, instead of fixing. And now, this President is going all-in.

Those are the facts, OK? Now the fight for what should be done. We have no plan from the President to replace the ACA. He insists his party will make healthcare great again. And that is a great starting point for a great debate, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: The President vows that the GOP will be the party of healthcare. Just you see, he said. But how can that be when Trump's plan is to kill the ACA without anything to replace it?

That's the start of our Great Debate. We have Ana Navarro and Scott Jennings, great to have you both.

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TEXT: THE GREAT DEBATE.

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CUOMO: Scott, do you believe that Azar, the Head of HHS, and Barr, the A.G., and other Republicans went to the President, and said, "Don't do this this way. Don't just try to scrap the ACA," either legally in Barr's case, or politically, in the case of McCarthy and others.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well I think I'm not qualified to opine on the legal arguments. The political arguments though are did the President step on the good news he was getting on the Mueller front with the ACA announcement? And he might have.

I guess the silver lining to the decision though, Chris, is he's actually forcing the Republican Party to deal with this issue.

I think it's no secret that Democrats did well on healthcare in the midterms, and it's really not an option for the Republican Party to run in 2020 with nothing to say about the issue that most people care about.

[21:25:00] So if Trump has achieved here the objective of getting the Republican Party in gear on a healthcare plan, that's a good outcome. But they're out on a limb because if they fail on this front, voters will certainly hold them accountable.

My hope is they can get something out there that is bipartisan in nature and deals with a couple of issues. One is prescription drug prices. And two is the skyrocketing deductibles.

You talked about premium increases in your segment. But I think the deductible increases, you know, the most common Obamacare deductible plan is like 4 grand. That's like not having insurance at all for a lot of people.

CUOMO: Right. But, look, we know that, you know, one--

JENNINGS: So, those two issues, to me, in front and center.

CUOMO: --one of the problem - one of the great things for you guys with this issue is that it's so complicated that you can tear it in different directions, and work to advantage, and it's one of the reasons I believe nothing's gotten done on it.

I still don't get the play by the President though, Ana, and here's why. I get the ham-fisted politics. I get that he does things simple. "Problem on the Border? Build a wall. That'll take care of it."

Yes, look at the crisis down there right now. We're not a wall from fixing anything with these kids. Worst thing we've ever seen in his time as President.

I don't see it on healthcare because we know that the ACA has become increasingly popular with people. So, where is the percentage in getting rid of it, especially with nothing to replace it?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, I think what you're seeing from President Trump is, you know, how simple-minded he can be, and he reduces everything to a campaign slogan.

He campaigned in 2016, as did many Republicans, on repealing and replace Obamacare. The problem is that he's trying to do it through DOJ. He's trying to do it through the courts. That's not going to give him clean hands.

And I don't know if Barr told him anything, I don't know if Azar, the Secretary of Health told him anything, but we have seen public displays of disapproval or disappointment, which, is frankly a word I think should be erased from the English language, so some politicians may have to be forced to use words that actually show some damn emotion.

But we've seen people like Susan Collins, who is the only Republican Senator left in the entire Northeast, express disappointment with the President's decision to go after ACA.

I can tell you. I'm from South Florida. There's two seats down in South Florida, where I live that used to be Republican. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo that today belong to Democrats like Donna Shalala, the former Secretary of Health under Clinton, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Those two ladies were laser-focused on healthcare. They weren't talking about Trump. They weren't talking about Stormy Daniels. They were talking about healthcare. It was a winning issue in 2018 where I live.

CUOMO: Well also, you know, look, the President is probably has high ground on the party right now.

He can say, "All you guys talk about is getting rid of the ACA. You swore opposition to it. You refused to work on it. You voted like 50 different times to try to take it down. Now I'm saying I'm going to do it. You say don't?"

You know, I get the disconnect there. Is the real blame on the party? NAVARRO: Yes. I mean, look, I - I think there is some blame to be held to the - to a party that - that held. I think you're being generous when you say 50 votes.

I think it was closer to 70 votes that were held on repealing Obamacare. And it was irresponsible not to have something--

CUOMO: So--

NAVARRO: --to replace it with.

CUOMO: So, yes. So, then you get to the replacement part. Now, Scott, how do you see this playing out? Now, Barr and many other people say, "I don't see the legal path."

This legislation has been tested twice at the Supreme Court level. The mandate was found to be a tax. Congress has the ability to tax, so they zeroed out the tax. They got rid of the penalty. That was the political fix.

And you saw from Congress the severability interest that even when they couldn't do that, even if they didn't like the mandate, they wanted the rest of the law to stay at least then.

So, that's the law. Let's put it to the side. How fast do you think you can come up with a fix for something as massive as the ACA?

JENNINGS: Well not very fast.

But I think that politically you have to show responsiveness to the issue that all these people care about. I mean I don't think anybody thinks you can come up with a plan overnight.

But if it doesn't even look like you're working on it, they'll hold you accountable, so if the President here has kick-started the Republican Party into appearing responsive to this, I think that's a good thing.

Look, the ACA has been largely a exercise in Medicaid expansion. It not only has, I think, done damage to the private insurance market, but it's also stretched state budgets around the country.

I think one of the political issues for Republicans here is not just at the federal level but at the state level. You have Republican governors and Republican state legislators who are grappling with this Medicaid expansion.

So, there are a raft of issues that need to be dealt with. Ultimately, the party has to show some responsiveness at every single level. And again, prescription drug prices, deductibles, and this burgeoning Medicaid population, I think, is a good place to start.

CUOMO: Well that, look, that's the problem is that you had to be doing things about it you never have. Are the chickens coming home to roost? We'll see.

Now, on the issue of responsiveness, I want to play a big chunk of sound, in how the Left and the Right are dealing with climate change.

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ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR NEW YORK'S 14TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: This is a quality-of-life issue.

[21:30:00] You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx, which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country. Tell that to the families in Flint, whose kids have - their blood is ascending in - in lead levels, their brains are damaged for the rest of their lives.

People are dying.

SEN. MIKE LEE, (R) UTAH: In a future without air travel, how are we supposed to get around the vast expanses of, say, Alaska, during the winter? Well, I'll tell you how. Tauntauns, Mr. President. This is a beloved species of repto-mammals, native to the ice planet of Hoth.

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CUOMO: Ana, how long you think your party can - or the Republican Party can get away with making a joke of climate change?

NAVARRO: Frankly, first of all, what a lame attempt at humor? If that's the best they can come up with as far as jokes, maybe they should stick to their day jobs, and try to legislate.

CUOMO: As Anderson said last night, maybe it played well in the office.

NAVARRO: Right. Look--

CUOMO: Which is a good line. Yes.

NAVARRO: --it's stupid.

It is stupid to miss the boat when it comes to the environment. You know, I speak at a lot of colleges and universities. You speak to young people. It is the first that comes up today.

And in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, a Conservative, who I did not support, has made the environment, cleaning up the waterways, one of his top priorities. He's dedicated great resources.

It is absolutely stupid for Republicans to let Democrats own the environment as their issues just to spite them. They are cutting off their nose in order to spite their face on something that is a huge issue, particularly for young people, and for people like me, who live in a state that's surrounded by water.

Maybe in Wisconsin, it's not as big a deal for Sean Duffy. But I can tell you, in Miami, learn how to swim.

CUOMO: Scott, what's the play? JENNINGS: Well, I actually see the climate change issue for Republicans the way I see the Obamacare issue.

And that is the failure of the Republicans to put up a competing plan allowed for an environment where Obamacare was the only thing out there, so that's what happened.

On climate change, I think we probably reached the public opinion tipping point where people want an answer. So, right now, we have the Ocasio-Cortez Democrat plan. And then, on the other extreme, you have the do-nothing idea.

I think the American people are probably looking for something in the middle that seems reasonable that acknowledges climate change but doesn't, you know, wreck or upend huge swaths of the American economy.

The Republicans didn't get that right when we were debating healthcare. It would probably behoove the party to get it right as we are debating climate change and these environmental and energy issues into the future.

NAVARRO: And Republicans are, you know, they're getting too cute by half when it comes to science, when it be - comes to the environment, when it comes to climate change.

Mitch McConnell's attempt yesterday to try to embarrass Democrats is, you know, is backfiring. People can see what - through what he's doing. He's trying to play games to put them in a difficult position.

This thing with these pop-up posters that Mike Lee is posting, he's not taking, you know, it's - it's - it's like lack of seriousness when treating an issue that for many, many Americans right now is a very serious issue in top-of-mind.

I'm not telling you that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has all the answers. I don't think she does. What she has done though is brought like a sense of urgency to the issue.

And the other thing she did was man that she owned Sean Duffy. I think he better think twice before going after a Bronx girl too often because, you know, whether it's Cardi B, Jennifer Lopez, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, you are treading in bad waters baby.

CUOMO: Well it's - it's - it's one thing to get into about--

NAVARRO: What a verbal spanking? Whoof!

CUOMO: It's one thing to get into a battle of words. It's another one to deny science. You know, it's a tough combination when you put them together.

Ana, thank you very much, Scott Jennings, as always, appreciate it.

Democrats have set a Tuesday deadline for the full release of the Mueller report. Now, is that fair? The Head of the House Oversight Committee warns of a possible

Constitutional crisis that may be coming. That's Elijah Cummings, and he will explain why.

And lot of enthusiasm building for the next Presidential candidate to sit on the Hot Seat at CNN's Town Hall. Senator Cory Booker is going to make his case for the White House just moments away. We're going to check in.

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CUOMO: House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah - Elijah Cummings has not been slowed a step by the A.G.'s summary of the Mueller report. He wants more from the Attorney General, and he wants more from the President.

Can he make a case for why? Let's see.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: Congressman Cummings, thank you very much for joining us.

ELIJAH EUGENE CUMMINGS, (D) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR MARYLAND'S 7TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, HOUSE OVERSIGHT CHAIRMAN: It's good to be with you.

CUOMO: All right, so where is the Democratic leadership right now in terms of confidence in what we saw in terms of a summary from the A.G., and any conversations between the Democratic leadership and the A.G.?

CUMMINGS: Well we're - right now, we are waiting for the A.G. to give us the report. We have to have the report. I don't think there have been too many conversations at all.

As you know, last night, Senator Graham claims that he had a discussion with the Attorney General, and he said that it would be we would get the report in weeks, and not months. Well we - weeks is not good enough for us. We want it in days. As a matter of fact, we want it on the 2nd.

CUOMO: Do you have reason to be suspicious of the summary?

CUMMINGS: Yes, of course.

You know, when you keep in mind that the Attorney General, back in June of last year, basically interviewed through writing, and gave his opinion about obstruction said he didn't - didn't believe in it, and with regard to the President, and he interviewed for the job, basically through that memo, and now, to see what he has done, and had done, and did it so quickly.

Keep in mind, the Mueller and his staff of numerous attorneys worked for 22 months. And then Barr comes along, in a matter of 48 hours, declares exoneration on both accounts. So, I - I am very much concerned.

But - but more important than that, I - first of all, let me be clear.

I trust Mueller. I said it before. And I'll say it again. I wanted him to be - release the report, whether it exonerated the President or not, because I think the - the people and - and the Congress deserve to know what's in that report.

And it's going to be very interesting, Chris, to see what's there.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: The pushback on the timing, Congressman Cummings is Grand Jury testimony takes time to parse. You have to get a court order for it. It takes time. There's a felony violation if you release Grand Jury testimony--

CUMMINGS: Sure.

CUOMO: --you're not supposed to. So, he needs time. Is that a fair point?

CUMMINGS: I think that - I think it's fair with regard to needing time. But I think they can expedite this and get this done. After all, this is the - a - a - a major issue for the American people, and for our Congress.

As a matter of fact, we could be headed towards a - a crisis, a Constitutional crisis. So, it makes sense for us to - to do everything in our power that is for Barr to do everything in his power to expedite this matter.

Of course, I do not want to jeopardize the release of Grand Jury testimony, or things that might be classified, or might be harmful to our - the security of - of Americans. But at the same time, we need to see this report.

CUOMO: The reporting is that three weeks ago, Mueller went to the A.G. and the Deputy A.G. and said, "We're nowhere on obstruction. We - we're deadlocked. We don't know what to do on it." CUMMINGS: Right.

CUOMO: So that they actually had weeks to consider it, not just a weekend.

CUMMINGS: Well, again, I don't know what information he based that on. Still, you know, I - I don't mind talking about this, Chris. But it would certainly be nice to have the report and have the underlying documents.

CUOMO: Now, you said we could be heading for a Constitutional crisis. How so?

If it holds up that Mr. Mueller didn't see criminal activity in terms of the President or anyone around him participating in Russian interference, and he couldn't make a decision on obstruction, what kind of crisis are we facing?

CUMMINGS: Well we've got a situation, Chris, where clearly there are, obviously, and I - and I - and I don't know it to be a fact, and we haven't seen the report.

But, honestly, there must be a - a number of facts on both sides. And, at some point, we may very well come to a point where Mr. Barr, that is our Attorney General, does not want to release - release hardly anything.

That in and of itself could get us in - in a position, where this would have to be challenging in some kind of way.

CUOMO: Now, in terms of what else here needs to be done, the Republicans are saying that this report ends it.

And they came out today and said, "Any development like what you're doing in your hearing, going back years, looking for documents of the President that it's not fair, it's not justified, based on what we just saw in the Mueller's summary."

Do you agree?

CUMMINGS: Of course not. Keep in mind that when - by the way, the - the Republicans complain about everything I do.

Keep in mind, Chris, when - when we brought Mr. Cohen in, he - he brought some checks in, and he talks about the President and - and - involved with the paramours, and the President, and what checks and - signed by the President.

We also know that Mr. Cohen is going to prison for crimes whereby the U.S. Attorney says that were directed by the President.

So, we - we've got a duty to follow up on those things. You've got at least 12 investigations going on right now on other things such as with his Inaugural Committee, his campaign, and a number of other issues. And - and - and we are looking very carefully at the whole issue of security clearances. So, there's a - there's a number of things that we have to look at. But again, we can do more than one thing at one time, and we're doing them.

CUOMO: All right, Congressman Cummings, I appreciate it. I know some of these matters are sensitive. But it seems that the big push is to get the information to the American people and then make decisions about what else is needed from there.

CUMMINGS: That's exactly right, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, well I think that's a good place to be right now. The more we know, the more disclosure, the more clarity for the people. Congressman, thank you for joining us.

CUMMINGS: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: All right, so what does Senator Cory Booker have that no other Democrat in the field so far has? Tonight, the 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful gets to make his case to answer that question at our CNN Town Hall in South Carolina.

We have a preview when PRIME TIME returns.

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CUOMO: CNN's Town Hall with Democratic Presidential candidate, Cory Booker's going to begin - begin in just a few minutes. You'll be able to watch it down there, the countdown on the screen.

You may know the Senator from New Jersey as one of the most vocal critics of the Trump Administration in the Chamber. But what's his play tonight?

CNN's David Chalian - Chalian is with me right now.

So, Mueller's going to come up tonight. Do you believe the report was a big blow for the Democrats? And if so, how does Booker have to play it?

DAVID MARC CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: So, Chris, my take is it was a big win for the President, but not necessarily a big blow for the Democrats. And I - I think we're seeing why in - in our new CNN poll that just came out.

It's not moving the needle so much in terms of people's opinions of Donald Trump. And, quite frankly, what we see in our poll was that a majority of the country doesn't think he was exonerated on - on collusion, a majority of the country thinks Congress should continue to look into the Mueller findings.

So, I - I'm not sure this is a blow to the Democrats. But here's the thing, Chris, and you know this better than any other (ph) talking to a lot of 2020 Democrats. This is not the most important issue that is on the minds of voters. This is not what they're hearing a ton about on the campaign trail.

So, many of these candidates are just as happy to turn the page and - and talk about healthcare and the other issues that they hear much more about on the trail.

CUOMO: Give me the plus, minus tonight.

CHALIAN: Plus, minus tonight is that Cory Booker has a big opportunity here.

As you know, he's done pretty small with his campaign so far. He didn't launch with a big rally. He - he held a press conference in Newark. He - he didn't go out there and hold big rallies in Iowa, and New Hampshire.

He's doing sort of small living rooms and small - this is his first big attempt as a candidate in front of a national audience in prime time. And so, it's a big opportunity.

And, of course, you'll note the calendar. It's a big opportunity right before the fundraising course (ph) that first critical marking point where these candidates are going to have to show their financial strength in this race.

CUOMO: What's the biggest negative he has to contend with?

CHALIAN: Among Democrats, one of the things he definitely is going to have to kind of contend with, if not tonight, certainly throughout his campaign, is his past on school choice, on education.

[21:50:00] I think this is something you've seen creep up again and again for him, whether it's with the Teachers' Unions, or how he handles his previous point. You remember, he and Chris Christie, of all people, got together with Mark Zuckerberg back in New Jersey. I am - I don't know if he'll get that question tonight. But I know

that it is a question he's going to have to contend with on the campaign trail. That is not a position that is sort of in Democratic orthodoxy.

CUOMO: Big opportunity. Let's see what the Senator does with it. David Chalian, thank you, my brother. All right, so the President has been quiet about the Border crisis. No, he has. I'm not talking about the one with the wall and the farce. The real crisis.

There's something happening there that is worse than we have seen in many years, and the wall was never going to be an answer, and the President knows it, so does his Administration.

There are people crying for help. No one is hearing them. I'm going to show you it firsthand. Please, give a damn!

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[21:55:00] CUOMO: This is El Paso, Texas. There is a crisis on the Border. It's not hoards of rapists and murderers and drug mules, marauding the empty spaces where a wall should be.

(CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION VIDEO, EL PASO, TEXAS)

It is kids, as many as 40,000 just this month, many alone, others with families, part of a mass of humanity, a 100 - 100,000 strong, expected by just the end of this month.

Not a wall away from a solution. The President didn't tell you about the real problem because he was selling you on fear of bad hombres and an easy fix.

Walls help. I've never argued otherwise. But they're only part of the solution. The heart of the solution has been ignored. And now, we have a real crisis, as a result.

Now, as predicted, as I told you here weeks ago, they are overwhelmed. The agencies involved are breaking records for apprehensions on a daily basis. No one has given them what they need.

An emergency was declared. And yet, it only addressed the President's need for a win, not the needs of the men and women who keep us safe. That is the truth and the reality.

Listen to the Head of Customs and Border Protection.

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KEVIN MCALEENAN, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION COMMISSIONER: This stark and increasing shift to more vulnerable populations, combined with overwhelming numbers, and inadequate capacity to detain families and children at ICE and Health and Human Services, respectively, is creating a humanitarian crisis.

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CUOMO: It's Trump's guy. Did you hear murderers, rapists, cantaloupe, cab, drug mules? No. This is the reality the President did not sell you, not scary enough to make you feel like walling yourself off from it.

He wanted anger, not compassion. "The kids are coming, and we need to wall them off." Not the same sell, right?

These days, harshness has replaced our humanity. And now, we have to face the reality.

Look at this scene in El Paso, Texas again. They are overwhelmed. That tent was built to hold people for a few hours in mild temperatures. It's now forced to confine folks in bad conditions, temperatures rising for days. And this is only getting worse.

(CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION VIDEO, EL PASO, TEXAS)

CUOMO: Dozens are hospitalized daily, babies with a 105 degree fevers, seizures.

I was on the Border not too long ago. I'm going to go again soon. Many told us, "More of us are coming. More Caravans." None told us that a wall would have made them stay home.

(NOVEMBER 30, 2018, TIJUANA, MEXICO VIDEO)

CUOMO: It's not like we've never seen this before. We're still figuring out how many kids were taken from families last year. We've seen this whole Horror Show before under President Obama in 2014. You remember that?

60,000 unaccompanied minors, remember them being put in tents (ph), the outrage, the calls for "Never again. Make change." And yet, here we are, now with a lot more money going for barriers that don't fix what hasn't been fixed.

The people working there say tragedies are expected, almost unavoidable.

The President? Silent.

The Republicans who say the Border is a priority? Silent.

The Democrats who say they want to address with more than a wall? Where are you? You went the last time demanding access.

There are no secrets here, just need. Where is your urgency? The shame of declaring an emergency that doesn't provide what they need to deal with the actual emergency, staff, accommodations, caseworkers, medical staff, Judges.

Why don't our politicians, why don't our people get as worked up about this reality as they do about a fantasy, about a wall? I don't even know that anyone else mentioned this on the shows tonight.

What if people die? Will that make it better? Will that make you care? Will that make our lawmakers do something? I don't know.

For all the talk about who the people are heading to our Southern border, what they're about, how they should be judged, I just hope we all understand that this situation, a lack of attention, the harshness says a lot more about us, and it will only get worse.

I hope it comes up in the Town Hall with Senator Booker. Don Lemon is in control down in South Carolina. We're about to see how a man who wants to be President deals with the concerns directly from his fellow citizens. And we're going to do that right now

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TEXT: SENATOR CORY BOOKER.

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DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Good evening from Orangeburg, South Carolina, home to the university (ph). And welcome to a CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall with Senator Cory Booker.

Boy, the crowd is ready here.

I'm Don Lemon. And I want to tell you that Senator Booker made his name as Mayor of Newark before making history as the first Black Senator from New Jersey.