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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Trump Vows To Close Border If Mexico Doesn't Stop Migrants; Attorney General Sets Time Frame For Mueller Report Release; Source: WH Budget Office, Not DeVos, Pushed For Proposed Special Olympics Cuts. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 29, 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] JOHN BERMAN, CNN: All right, a reminder, don't miss "Full Circle," our interactive newscast on Facebook where you get a vote -- to vote on what stories we cover. Get all the details and watch at weeknights at 6:25 Eastern at Facebook.com/AndersonCooperFullCircle.

The news continues. So, we'll hand it over to Chris. CUOMO PRIME TIME starts now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, J.B. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The President finally spoke about the Border. He seems to want you to believe the barbarians are at the gate, and the answer is to crackdown. He says he might shut down the Border next week to hurt Mexico, even suggests our country would profit from a Border shut down.

Your BS detector going off? Good! I'll show you the facts versus his fiction. POTUS is expected to cling to his Brown Menace and wall fixes and fantasies.

But where's Congress? They know what's really going on. Why is no one raising a voice or a hand to do something? I've got people in power on both sides to get that answer.

And there's breaking news on what the Mueller report, how much you'll get to see and when. There's good and bad news in that. And we're going to test both.

There's too much at stake to take a Friday night off, so let's get after it.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: Our President declared a national emergency. But he isn't doing anything to help what is overwhelming our Border agencies right now. Instead, his solution is this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mexico is going to have to do something. Otherwise, I'm closing the Border.

I can't imagine it being any worse than it is right now.

So, there's a very good likelihood that I'll be closing the Border next week, and that'll be just fine with me.

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CUOMO: If he can't imagine it, then he should talk to the people from Commerce and from Border Security, so they can give him the facts, and then he will be able to imagine it.

He's made this threat before. Now though, he's setting a timeline. His fix won't fix the problem, and Congress has to know this. But they seem awfully quiet. Why?

Let's bring in a Republican from a Border state, Chip Roy of Texas, House Oversight Member, friend of show. Good to see you, Congressman.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX), HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Chris, good to be on, on a Friday evening. And you're right. It's too important for us to take the night off, and I really appreciate the opportunity to join you.

CUOMO: Appreciate you taking it. Now, let's stipulate. I am not somebody who has pushed back against the President wanting a wall or physical barriers. You know this. I say if the men and women in charge down there--

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: --say they need them it's a political question of where, how much, what priority, that's always been my position.

Now, my reporting strongly suggests that while they say, "Yes, a wall will help," they were asking for other things that they said they needed desperately because of exactly what's happening now, and they didn't get what they needed.

Am I right?

ROY: Well you're 100 percent right that the Border Patrol agents who are down there dealing with this, what is definitely an emergency at our Border, they wanted a whole lot of things.

But, in fairness, what the President put forward in January, and what I think a lot of Republicans were talking about, I know I was, is the need for Judges, the need for more beds, the need for more technology, the near --need for more fencing, the need for more roads, lateral to the river, and a lot of resources beyond just the fence.

Now, the fence, the wall, whatever you want to call it obviously was the headline point. But we -- but what the President put forward was a comprehensive plan. And what I know I was asking for was comprehensive.

And if you talk to Border Patrol right now, they'll tell you they still need all of the above. And what we're seeing right now, as you know, is an unbelievable wave of people.

Border Patrol says that March, we're going to have upwards of 100,000 illegal crossings.

CUOMO: Yes. Haven't seen anything like it since 2008.

ROY: A number they've not seen before.

CUOMO: Although we have lived this through--

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: --through this before.

So, one point of pushback, and then let's see how we move forward. The pushback is, I would argue, the President never prioritized in any balanced way the wall versus all these other needs.

He was all in on the wall. He sold it as a panacea in favor of a crisis that I don't believe ever existed. I don't believe that drugs and terror and murderers are what they're worried about as the Border.

They come through. But their main concern is what they're seeing right now, Congressman. They were worried about these kids and fragile populations where they have nowhere to put them and no way to process them.

They're doing catch and release in ways they've never done it before, not because they want to. The President said, "They want to do catch and release. I won't let them."

They're his people. He's they.

ROY: Well--

CUOMO: They're doing it because they have no other choice. I believe that priorities matter.

ROY: Well, Chris, let me agree and disagree, OK?

CUOMO: Please.

ROY: Like -- I think what you're saying in terms of the children and the crisis that we have at the Border, the migrants who seek to come here who are endangered, you and I've talked about this before, the stash houses in Houston where they're paying ransoms back to the cartel, the women and the girls that are abused on the journey.

Amnesty International's say a third of them are abused.

Now we're dealing with unbelievable numbers. Border Patrol, now, they're actually catching and releasing them before they ever get to ICE. They're so overwhelmed.

CUOMO: That's right.

ROY: And this is all happening because the cartels, as you know, are profiting by moving people. In fact, the Reynosa faction of the Gulf Cartel will make now well over the $130 million we were originally assuming, moving people through the Rio Grande Valley.

[21:05:00] So, you and I are agreeing that we have a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of children.

But we cannot discount the dangerous individuals, the rise of MS-13, the extent to which, as I said, the Reynosa faction in the Gulf Cartel, and the Cartel del Noreste and Los Zetas are now endangering the people at the Border.

Tamaulipas is a Level 4 state, as you know, right across from Brownsville, McAllen.

CUOMO: But they're coming volitionally also.

ROY: And that means it's more dangerous than Honduras.

CUOMO: But they're coming volitionally--

ROY: Say that again.

CUOMO: They're coming volitionally also, Congressman. They're coming legally. They're coming illegally. They're coming with cartels. They're coming in caravans, from NGOs. They're coming alone. They're coming a myriad different ways.

The President doesn't talk about--

ROY: Well they are but -- but--

CUOMO: Go ahead. Please make your point.

ROY: Well they -- they are. But then they're kept heavily-driven. This is a profit model that the cartels have. They have a whole business model. You know the record (ph)--

CUOMO: I know. But if you talk to the guys down there--

ROY: --people coming across.

CUOMO: --and you show the people in the pens in El Paso, and other place, it's spread now to McAllen, you're going to see it everywhere because the rules don't work, right? You can -- you can -- you can coming in illegally--

ROY: Well but the people are in the pens--

CUOMO: Right. But you could come in illegally, and when you catch me, I can say, "I want asylum," and I jump the line effectively.

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: You guys have to change that rule.

ROY: Right. Which gets me -- which gets me to my second point, I'm glad you're saying that. Really, this is great. And you're doing a good job on this issue. And I appreciate it.

That -- that second point is the most important, and it's something we've got to focus on, and I've been raising it over and over again about asylum and about--

CUOMO: Why isn't it getting done?

ROY: --catch and release.

CUOMO: Why is nobody talking about it?

ROY: Well this is a, with all due respect, this is a Nancy Pelosi-led Democrat Congress in the House that refuses to address -- address it. Now, look, in fairness, I think Republicans should have done it when they were in charge last year, fix the asylum process.

They should have fixed this the -- the--

CUOMO: But why not do it now?

ROY: --Flores problem where we have casualties.

CUOMO: I mean, Chip, literally, why don't we go down there on Monday together?

ROY: I agree.

CUOMO: I mean you're in Texas. I'll meet you down there.

ROY: Well let's--

CUOMO: We'll go right to the Border, show everybody--

ROY: Let's do it.

CUOMO: --and say, the rules don't work. The rules don't work.

ROY: I'm in. Let's--

CUOMO: And where are the Judges?

ROY: Look--

CUOMO: Where are the resources? Have an emergency order. You got the emergency declared. Instead of moody -- moving the military to build fencing, get them over there, and help process these cases.

ROY: Well, Chris, I'm happy -- I'd be happy to go to the Border. Let's do it. Well I'll talk to your producer, and let's get down there.

CUOMO: I'm the producer. I'll call you right after this show.

ROY: I think we need to try to have as much attention--

CUOMO: I'm not going to drag them down there.

ROY: Well let's do it. You get my cell number.

CUOMO: I'm going to go.

ROY: Yes. But let's -- let's -- seriously, let's go do it, and let's try -- let's bring the spotlight on it.

That's why I went down there with my friend Dan Crenshaw. That's why I've been talking to a lot of Border Patrol folks, trying to stay in touch with what's actually happening.

Look, I think that the Administration is trying to deal with a very complex problem where they're a little bit over the barrel, based on a ruling by a Judge, creating a catch and release situation, where it's difficult to manage.

And I think they ought to take a more aggressive approach, hold things together--

CUOMO: They also prioritize the fencing over these other systematic resource issues. And I get why, politically.

But practically, now you have a problem that a wall isn't going to fix, and you couldn't build it fast enough anyway. And his fix now, the President is, "Close the Border." You know that doesn't make sense from a Commerce standpoint.

And you know it doesn't fix this problem. I know it sounds tough. And I know there's an aspect of the base that'll buy it. But you know it's not the fix, Congressman.

ROY: Well, look, I think the fix is zeroing in and holding having a -- a -- a policy where like, for example, Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat from El Paso, prior to Congressman O'Rourke, who helped advance what we call the operation to hold the line, where Border Patrol worked with--

CUOMO: Sure.

ROY: --local law enforcement and feds to hold the line on the river. And then, that ultimately led to the fence being built in 2008, which, by the way, now Congressman O'Rourke says he doesn't want.

That brings me to my final point that I have to say--

CUOMO: Wait, but first, let me get you on the record.

ROY: --the Democrats in the House --hold on--

CUOMO: Do you think--

ROY: Sure.

CUOMO: --closing the Border is the right thing to do, and saying that "This is all Mexico's fault, we're going to stop trade," you think that this is going to make -- that's going to make this better?

ROY: I don't think that anybody wants us to do something as drastic as shutting down the Border.

CUOMO: You just said it.

ROY: I don't think that that is -- I don't -- well but I don't think that is the first choice. But I also think--

CUOMO: Yes.

ROY: --we need to do something very significant, very quickly to deal with the fact that these -- we've got a situation where so many people are coming across the Border, and so many more are coming that we've got to send a signal very quickly.

So, we've got to work with Congress. Congress needs to take it very seriously. And what I was about to say is that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress have no interest in actually working to solve the problem.

CUOMO: That's not what they say though.

ROY: And they need to because this is real.

CUOMO: They say they believe in these fixes.

ROY: Well but--

CUOMO: It was the wall being a panacea, and him wanting a disproportionate--

ROY: What -- what--

CUOMO: --amount of money for it that they found objectionable.

ROY: Well -- what barrier -- name one barrier, one barrier, to Nancy Pelosi putting a bill on the floor of the House of Representatives on Monday that would solve the problem? There isn't one.

CUOMO: Listen, I don't -- I don't have a problem--

ROY: There is not one single barrier to the Speaker doing that.

CUOMO: --I don't have a problem with the criticism. But I'll tell you what. You can get it done faster with the emergency--

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: --declaration. You can get it done faster if Republicans say--

ROY: Well-- CUOMO: --"Mr. President, stop proposing solutions that make it worse. You're going to foment -- foment tensions with Mexico. We need them." Your DHS Secretary went out of her way--

ROY: Well--

CUOMO: --to say, "Mexico's been a good partner with these Caravans." Don't trash-talk them. Work with them.

ROY: Well--

CUOMO: I just don't get why you guys let him go.

ROY: Well keep in mind, I mean look, I would like to be as aggressive as we can be.

[21:10:00] If it were up to me, I'd be pushing really hard to say, "Look, let's ignore the Flores settlement, and let's hold children and parents together in a place. Let's build beds. Let's pull them together in a safe environment, make sure that we don't have people who are abusing kids as--

CUOMO: Yes.

ROY: --posing as dads," and you know and I know that--

CUOMO: Yes.

ROY: --that's a real problem.

CUOMO: That's bad. But they need -- they need places to keep the kids.

ROY: Make sure we do DNA testing, check them--

CUOMO: They need people to process.

ROY: I agree.

CUOMO: They need medical.

ROY: I agree.

CUOMO: And if it doesn't happen, we're going to have tragedies. And how can we not feel shame--

ROY: I agree.

CUOMO: --if that happens? So Chip, Congressman, let's do this. I'm going to let you go. I got a Democrat coming on later on the show. He's going to get the same stick I'm swinging at you because that's how we do it on this show.

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: But I'm going to contact you. I'm going to find out from my sources-- ROY: Yes.

CUOMO: --the best place for me to be. I'm going to go. If you want to come, you're welcome.

ROY: Let's go. I'm in.

CUOMO: The more voices, the better. Congressman, thank you.

ROY: I'm in. Let's go to the Border. Thanks for having me on, and -- and for taking this issue so seriously. We need to secure the Border and we need to do it quickly and--

CUOMO: Good.

ROY: --and stop this flow, so thanks.

CUOMO: And if you don't let people in, you've got to treat them with respect. That's what this country is all about. We can be humane and be strong. So, we--

ROY: I agree. But the Border Patrol is working hard to do that with the limited resources they have.

CUOMO: They are great.

ROY: They are just overwhelmed. I agree.

CUOMO: They treat it as a humanitarian issue.

ROY: Yes.

CUOMO: When there are problems, they are the minority.

ROY: Yes.

CUOMO: Nobody's perfect. This is the biggest police force in the world that CBP has to oversee down there under DHS, not to throw alphabet soup at everybody, but you know what I'm talking about.

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: I'm not blaming them. They are overwhelmed.

ROY: Well--

CUOMO: They need help. Not more hindrances to their work. So, I'll contact you right after the show. Thank you.

ROY: Well let's work together to do that. And Chris, I appreciate it.

CUOMO: Done. Be well and thank you for being on the show.

All right, now, like I said, we got a Democrat coming on, going to talk about Mueller, how they feel about the disclosures and the different categories that the A.G. is now saying he may bar, pun intended on his nose -- on his name, from you ever seeing, but this matters too.

Is Roy right? Are they not putting up a bill because of politics? Is there more that they can do about this Border before we start seeing about body counts? Is that what it takes? We're going to do that.

And when we come back, we're also going to debate what's going on. And I'm going to give you the facts that are behind what's going on with what the A.G. wants you to see and not.

Got to have the facts, so then, we can fight about the feelings, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: All right, one new piece of information. Mid-April, if not sooner, that's when the Attorney General expects that you will get to see the Mueller report, all right, but it's still a lot to figure out.

Timing's not really the issue. It's the new list of what the A.G. may not let you or Congress see.

Barr confirmed that the Special Counsel's report is about 400 pages long. It includes the Special Counsel's findings, analysis, and the reasons for his conclusions. Now, I don't know the difference between those two, but we'll see when we see it.

The A.G. is also laying out what may not come out. Two of the categories, we already knew about, materials subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), that's Grand Jury testimony.

It's a little so complicated. Somebody's got to go to a Judge and get clearance. He could do it. Congress could do it. Really should be the A.G., in my opinion, but we'll see what happens with that.

Mueller's Grand Jury has been in place for more than two years. So, there's a lot of people that they've talked to, right, and there are a lot of topics. Look at -- look at all the people in that -- WikiLeaks, Paul Manafort,

the Middle East, Cambridge Analytica, there's a lot in there, so this is going to be a key issue for Democrats, who are already saying keeping this stuff quiet equals a cover-up.

It may come out, if there's a court fight. But keep in mind, just for a little context, the Grand Jury information from Watergate came out after a big legal fight. You know when? Last year, OK? Now, one area that wasn't in the A.G.'s first letter, but makes sense is material that the Intel community identifies as potentially compromising, sensitive sources, and methods. OK. So, that will likely cover most of the counter-Intel portion of the investigation.

But I wouldn't be too freaked out about that, at this point. Congress will probably get briefed on that. May just be the Gang of Eight, certainly not you. But if they get it, it'll trickle out in terms of what matters. But we have to see.

Then there is material that could affect ongoing matters, ongoing matters, all the investigations that have been handed over to other prosecutors, so active cases like those against Roger Stone and Rick Gates.

We also know federal prosecutors are looking into the Inaugural Committee, campaign finance, foreign lobbying. Not disclosing any of those would allow Trump folk to say, "See? There's nothing to those allegations." So, get ready for that. It won't be accurate, but it may be said.

Finally, here's the wild card. Here's the one I am a little concerned about. The A.G. says he would bar, living up to his name, things that would unduly infringe on the personal privacy and reputational interests of peripheral third parties.

Very subjective. What does that mean peripheral third party, are the Trump family members, peripheral third parties. Which advisers? Which campaign players may be off the hook because of that?

Now, Barr does give himself some cover by pointing out the Special Counsel is helping to decide what should and should not come out. I think he's banking that people trust Bob Mueller. And he adds that the White House won't get an early look.

Now, I find it hard to believe that the end results will be different than the conclusions that Barr drew up in his four-page letter. I don't expect that that Mueller wanted crimes that he didn't tell us about. That would make no sense. It's too easily discoverable.

But the discovery of wrongdoing that was not found to amount to criminality, now, there could be a lot of that. And if it doesn't come out, the President and his pals may likely get a free pass.

So, let's see if the President will man up to his words. He said, "I have nothing to hide." Tell the A.G. Tell him to err on the side of disclosure. Let it come out.

Hey, here's a good argument. You want the FISA applications to come out, right? They're filled with secret information. If that's OK, certainly this would be OK too, right, Mr. President? We'll see.

Now, what will the Democrats do if Barr does bar them from seeing what they want to see? We have a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Democrat fighting to get the report without redactions, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: All right. On Sunday, the Attorney General laid out two areas for possible redactions. Now, it's four. The Left is saying that's four too many. One is a potential showstopper. Let's see what a Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee sees.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: We have Congressman David Cicilline. Welcome back to PRIME TIME, good to see you.

DAVID CICILLINE, (D) U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR RHODE ISLAND'S 1ST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Great to be with you.

CUOMO: So, we went from two to four. Do you believe that this is a process of the A.G. just kind of nailing down what needs to be done, or do you believe that this expansion is part of a cover-up?

CICILLINE: No. I don't think it's nailing down.

I think this is an Attorney General who has tried to shape the narrative from the first day that he wrote that four-page document that quoted four pieces of four different sentences of a 400-page document, in an effort to try to shape the narrative.

And I think he felt the pushback of the American people, the demand for their release of the full report. And so, he's now trying to articulate, "Oh, that wasn't really a summary. I'm going to release the report. But I need to go through it for all these things."

Look, this report needs to be released to Congress immediately in its entirety with respect to classified information or information that needs to be protected. We read classified documents all the time. We take an oath.

We -- we're -- we are permitted to see classified information and cannot disclose it. The report should be--

CUOMO: But you leak.

CICILLINE: --released immediately.

No, the -- we don't. It's a crime if you leak it. So, it ought to be released to Congress. It's part of our responsibility to see this result.

And then, of course, if it has to be redacted for -- distributed to the public, fine, take the time to do that. But this is an effort to prevent the American people from finding out the complete truth.

This investigation was begun because our democracy was attacked. It was begun on behalf of the American people. They deserve to see the findings of this report and to know the truth. And we are going to make sure that that happens.

CUOMO: I'm with you. But two of the four, look, I mean I'm a journalist. I want everything to come out, right?

CICILLINE: Right.

CUOMO: If they want the FISA applications come out, I want it all. I'm -- I'm a journalist. So--

CICILLINE: Right.

CUOMO: --the idea of counterintelligence though not unusual for them to say, "Sources and methods--

CICILLINE: Not unusual.

CUOMO: --have to be protected. Let's give it to the Gang of Eight,--

CICILLINE: Correct.

[21:25:00] CUOMO: --they can tell you guys what you want." So, that's not something they would normally give to all of Congress, and stuff that's going to affect other investigations--

CICILLINE: Sure.

CUOMO: --we see that also, can be a little touchy with government reports. You don't want to chill other prosecutions and wind up disrupting the wheels of justice. Those aren't unreasonable, are they?

CICILLINE: Well, I mean, it's unreasonable to think you can't share those with Members of Congress in a classified setting. We ought to see the full report, all of its contents, and the supporting documents. We are not permitted to disclose classified or confidential information.

CUOMO: Right.

CICILLINE: It can be done in a classified setting. So, my view is the full report should be released. And if a redacted version, obviously, has to be released to the public, of course. But we ought to see its contents in the entirety

CUOMO: All right.

CICILLINE: --in a classified setting. The Attorney General ought to go to court with us for release of the Grand Jury testimony. That is essential to understanding what happened in this investigation.

CUOMO: Now, what if he says "No?"

CICILLINE: Well if the Attorney General says no -- first of all, he hasn't said no. What I fear is he's going to produce something, but it's going to be so redacted as to be meaningless.

CUOMO: That's right.

CICILLINE: If he says no, and doesn't produce the report, we -- the Chairman of our Committee has already said we are prepared to issue a subpoena to compel his appearance before the Committee and production of the report.

CUOMO: Well he could come and say, "No. I'm not going to give it to you. I don't believe it's right--

CICILLINE: And--

CUOMO: --the Judge wouldn't give it to me. You go to the Judge. You talk to the Judge."

CICILLINE: And it would then be litigated. But I believe there is a compelling public interest. There's precedence for this report. This Special Counsel was appointed under a regulation.

The only other time that a Special Counsel has been appointed on this regulation was the Branch Davidian case, in which the interim report and the final report were released in their entirety to the public. There's certainly as much public interest in this case as there was in the Branch Davidian case.

CUOMO: All right, so look, let's see what happens next. I love having you back on. Let's go through it, and test it as it happens.

Other issue. So, I just had Chip Roy on from Texas, Republican, you know him. He says--

CICILLINE: Yes.

CUOMO: Pelosi doesn't want to do anything to do an emergency fix for what's happening on the Border. She could put a bill on. She could have done it yesterday. She's not doing it.

Nobody's talking about this. I don't understand. Why don't you guys seize the initiative here?

CICILLINE: Yes.

CUOMO: The President has defined this crisis wrongly from the beginning. He wants to demonize the people who come across the Border. His latest fix makes no sense to close down the Border. It wouldn't

change the problem. And it would hurt our commerce. I don't know where he's getting his commerce information from.

Why don't you guys seize the initiative and do something? This is bad down there.

CICILLINE: First of all, Chris, you are absolutely right. The President raises this issue every time he's feeling cornered. He uses this to ignite his base and to create kind of excitement within his base.

The Democrats have been in charge for about eight weeks. In eight weeks, we passed H.R. 1, the most comprehensive ethics reform since Watergate. We passed Universal Background Checks. We passed equal pay for women for equal work.

We've begun hearings on prescription drug prices. We're working. We've introduced legislation on the DREAM Act, and fixing TPS. We will move forward on a comprehensive immigration bill.

But the fact is the President has no interest in solving this problem. He likes to use it--

CUOMO: But then push the issue.

CICILLINE: --when he feels cornered.

CUOMO: Push the issue.

CICILLINE: We're going to push the issue. We're, look--

CUOMO: And don't do -- don't do comprehensive.

CICILLINE: --we appropriate additional money--

CUOMO: Don't do comprehensive.

CICILLINE: No. Look, we've--

CUOMO: You'll never get it done. Just give them the resources they need to--

CICILLINE: No, but we put--

CUOMO: --process the cases.

CICILLINE: But we -- we did the--

CUOMO: And talk about the asylum rules.

CICILLINE: --we did the re -- Chris, we did the resources. We provide additional resources for--

CUOMO: They need more.

CICILLINE: --infrastructure at the Border, additional resources for personnel, for Immigration Judges, and we'll--

CUOMO: They need more.

CICILLINE: --continue to do that.

But -- but in addition to that, Chris, we need to have a willingness on the part of the President to actually solve the problem, to look at the causes of the violence in the Northern Triangle.

This is a complicated issue. Democrats have put forth a number of good ideas to respond to it. The President uses it as a political issue. And you know why he's using it today?

Because he just made a proposal to repeal healthcare in its entirety for 20 million Americans to lose their health insurance--

CUOMO: Right.

CICILLINE: --lose coverage for pre-existing conditions. So now, he wants to change the subject, so he sends out a tweet about closing the Border.

CUOMO: Listen, I--

CICILLINE: That's not how you solve problems.

CUOMO: Listen, I am with you about not going down the Trump tunnel when he leads you in distractions. I get it. We make a market out on it in this show.

However, you got time on the healthcare thing. They don't have a plan. They can say they have a plan. They don't.

If they're going to work it through the courts, and he'll see if he gets an easy win there, which I don't understand when he's got double precedent for the Supreme Court, that's going to take time.

This is happening now. This is bad now. He is misleading the country about it. He's pitching them a solution that won't work. There's an opportunity here for you guys. I'm telling you I'm going to go down there.

CICILLINE: Right. Chris, no, I agree. Chris, I agree.

CUOMO: I can't believe you're not acting on it.

CICILLINE: Chris, I -- I agree with you. I've been down there twice. We have acted on it. We've provided additional resources--

CUOMO: They need more.

CICILLINE: --for personnel, for infrastructure, for more Judges.

CUOMO: They need more.

CICILLINE: We will do more of that. We'll do more of that. CUOMO: But you have to do it now.

CICILLINE: But part of this is driven -- but part of this is driven by a change in policy, the zero-tolerance policy that is causing the prosecution of cases when people come in seeking asylum. It's a change in that policy by this Administration that is contributing to this problem.

So, we also need to fight against those broken policies. But we're devoting resources to this. What we need is a partnership in our Republican colleagues and in the President to actually solve this problem.

[21:30:00] CUOMO: Congress, here's -- Congressman, here's what I'm saying. I hear -- everything I can't -- I'm not coming at you on what your arguments are. They're all salient. I get them. They're legit arguments.

This is an emergency. They're holding them in pens like animals, not because they want to, because they have to.

CICILLINE: No, no, no. No, that's not true.

CUOMO: What they did with the separating the kids, there was a harshness.

CICILLINE: Chris, that's not true. They are holding them--

CUOMO: And they don't have the resources to put them anywhere else.

CICILLINE: --in cages because they want to.

CUOMO: No.

CICILLINE: Because they've changed the policy. When you came to this country previously, and you were seeking asylum, you were processed. It was an initial determination made. Then you were released pending your final hearing.

CUOMO: They can't handle the flow.

CICILLINE: The President changed that with his zero -- the President -- no, the President changed that policy with zero tolerance, and he said, "We're going to prosecute you for seeking asylum." That's what changed. So--

CUOMO: Listen--

CICILLINE: --he's created this humanitarian challenge at the Border in large part because of--

CUOMO: It's--

CICILLINE: --a change in policy. So, look, we've got to--

CUOMO: It's an aspect. But we're-- CICILLINE: --devote resources to that. But we need to be smart about it. We need policies that are going to work.

CUOMO: But that isn't being smart about it, acting on the fact--

CICILLINE: We need to be investing--

CUOMO: --you're going to have people die down there. They can't be held in these conditions--

CICILLINE: No, we -- Chris--

CUOMO: --this way.

CICILLINE: Exactly. And they shouldn't be. And that's why we're fighting against that. What we've also devoted additional resources, and we will continue to do that, but this requires a comprehensive fix, solutions that work--

CUOMO: Can't do comprehensive. You guys can't do it.

CICILLINE: --smart--

CUOMO: You can't get it done right now. At least, deal with the exigency.

CICILLINE: We can do both. We can do a comprehensive fix. You've got to fix the problem. You've got to stop this, you know, zero-tolerance policy that's contributing to it. The real problem with this is--

CUOMO: They're letting them go now with notices to appear that aren't even filled out.

CICILLINE: The--

CUOMO: They're not even giving them ankle bracelets.

CICILLINE: But--

CUOMO: They're overwhelmed.

CICILLINE: But here's the problem. The Department has never adjusted to the change in migration. It used to be mostly single men that were coming across the Border.

CUOMO: Now they're families.

CICILLINE: Now, it's families.

CUOMO: Yes.

CICILLINE: And they never made adjustments in facilities, in personnel--

CUOMO: Or in the rules.

CICILLINE: --in processes, that needs--

CUOMO: You can come across illegally.

CICILLINE: But that--

CUOMO: They catch you, they say -- you say, you want to asylum, you jump the line.

CICILLINE: But, Chris, look, we have asylum laws in this country. And if you are in fact fleeing violence or persecution--

CUOMO: Then it's legit.

CICILLINE: --or gang violence, you have a--

CUOMO: Then that's legit.

CICILLINE: --right to petition, and ask--

CUOMO: But they don't have enough people to process them.

CICILLINE: That's right.

CUOMO: They need more people to process them.

CICILLINE: No, that's right. We just -- but, Chris, we just provide additional resources to do just that.

CUOMO: Wasn't enough.

CICILLINE: And if we need to do more, we will. But part of this problem here is dealing with the origins of the violence in the Northern Triangle.

CUOMO: That's true.

CICILLINE: A change in policy by this Department, and a set of, you know, zero-tolerance policies that's putting a lot of people into prosecutions that previously were not.

CUOMO: I understand that. But the situation is what it is. That's why I'm bringing it up. I'm very concerned. I believe we need to have eyes on it.

CICILLINE: Don't fall down, you know, don't -- don't accept this feigned concern of this President who every time he's feeling cornered, every time he's in trouble, he throws out the immigration villain, because it's rallies his base, and it gets you and others talking about this on TV, instead of talking about--

CUOMO: Hold on, hold on, hold on.

CICILLINE: --the -- his effort to repeal healthcare and--

CUOMO: I'm talking about it because there're -- there are groups of kids in pens. I'm not saying -- he hasn't talked about-- CICILLINE: No, I--

CUOMO: --them once. His fix--

CICILLINE: No, I agree.

CUOMO: --is a legitimate -- is an illegitimate fix. His crisis is a fugazi crisis.

CICILLINE: Exactly.

CUOMO: I'm not falling for anything.

CICILLINE: Exactly.

CUOMO: That's not who I am.

CICILLINE: And his policies put those--

CUOMO: But the reality is what it is.

CICILLINE: --children -- and his policies put those children in detention.

CUOMO: And there is opportunity for you to fix.

CICILLINE: Zero tolerance.

CUOMO: If you're right about that, you guys could be heroized for what you do here. But it takes into action, it takes it now. I'm going to stay on the issue. And I appreciate you talking to me about it. I'll be back to you on it.

David Cicilline, thank you.

All right, listen, this is what I'm saying. There's a fire, OK? What started the fire?

Well, this was silly that we kept on playing with matches in front of the house. And it was wrong we decided to stack all the wood right next to the burner. We shouldn't have done it. OK. Now you have a fire. Put the fire out.

That's why we have to go down near the Border to show you what it is, talk to the people there, tell you what they need, and then we'll go back to Congress. I think it's the only way to do it. We can't wait for a death toll to care. You just can't.

Now, here's another can-can't question. Can a real Conservative defend the President's assertion that closing the Border is the way to deal with the situation? Is that really the right solution?

That's a starting point for a Great Debate, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: THE GREAT DEBATE.

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CUOMO: All right, let's get after it. Time for a Great Debate. We got Howard Dean, and Niger Innis. Bless you Gentlemen for being here on a Friday night. Thank you very much.

You're going to make it easy for me tonight, Niger?

You don't believe that shutting down the Border, blaming Mexico this way, starving the U.S. Commerce, that's not the way to fix the tragedy we're dealing with down there, is it?

NIGER ROY INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, TEAPARTYFWD.COM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Actually, believe it or not, I don't believe that that's the way to fix the tragedy--

CUOMO: Whoo!

INNIS: --and the crisis down there. But I do believe -- and, by the way, I don't believe the President believes that either. But I do believe the President is using this as leverage.

Look, Mexico sends 76 percent of its exports to the United States. There's $600 billion in trade between the United States and Mexico. We run a $100 billion trade deficit--

CUOMO: $60 billion.

INNIS: They run $100 billion trade surplus.

CUOMO: $60 billion.

INNIS: OK. Well--

CUOMO: 2017, $60 billion.

INNIS: So, OK. Six -- $60 billion, all right? I am -- I'm seeing various figures. But let's take that figure of $60 billion. Mexico definitely benefits with trade and open borders in terms of Commerce. And Trump is using that--

CUOMO: So do we.

INNIS: --leverage to put pressure on the AMLO government.

CUOMO: But they are helping. Here's my point. Howard Dean, let me bring you in.

The DHS Secretary said, "The Mexicans are helping us with the Caravans. They're offering help for people. They're offering asylum to people, jobs and places to stay," literally, it was a "Thank God for Mexico."

And I know from my reporting they've been working very hard to repair relationship with the Mexicans to work on this -- to work on that government.

And then the President says something like this. Niger says, "Well he doesn't really believe it. It's a point of leverage." It blows up that relationship. Where's the positive work?

HOWARD DEAN, (D) FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well it's -- it's worse than that.

I was just at a meeting of some business executives this past Monday, and they're really getting hurt by the President's trade policies. This is bad for America.

It's not just, you know, trying to get back at Mexicans or whatever it is. This is actually hurting our economy. You know, there's a -- sure, there's a lot of imports across the Mexican border.

But the truth is our entire supply chains are being disrupted. If he does this, there'll be more Lordstown closures on -- on his watch, because a lot of our -- our auto parts get made in Mexico, and come up, and get put in American cars by American workers.

This is just stupidity, and it's typical of the Trump Administration, has no idea what they're doing economically to this country.

CUOMO: All right, well let's just hope -- let's hope Niger is right. Let's hope it's just a feint, and that this somehow makes Mexico do something that they're not doing now. I'm not exactly sure what that is.

The bigger problem for me, Niger, is the President's in a box. He plays this issue just one way. "Brown Menace! Wall them off. We'll be OK."

The resources that the men and women have been asking for down there -- look, you saw me. You -- you heard me going out it with Cicilline.

INNIS: Yes.

CUOMO: The Democrat.

INNIS: Absolutely.

CUOMO: They need more, OK? Maybe you gave them money, maybe you gave them one point something billion dollars, it wasn't enough.

[21:40:00] They're in a really bad way. They're contacting me from all different sectors down there and saying, "We don't have the people to process. Please don't let the President--

INNIS: Yes.

CUOMO: --say we want to do catch and release. We know what our orders are. We can't handle it." Why isn't anybody doing anything? The President doesn't even talk about it.

INNIS: I actually couldn't agree with you more. Look, Jeh Johnson was on another network earlier today, Jeh Johnson--

CUOMO: Yes. Saw him on MSNBC on Morning Joe.

INNIS: --Obama's former--

CUOMO: He was good.

INNIS: That -- that's right.

CUOMO: Yes.

INNIS: He was fantastic. And -- and what he said is a bad day when he was Homeland Security Chief was a 1,000 illegal crossings per day. He says it's now approaching 4,000 per day.

CUOMO: Yes.

INNIS: He says, "I don't know what the heck that would look like," you know.

And that would be an -- he -- he said, in contrary to some on the hard Left, actually many on the hard Left, who said that whenever Trump talked about the Border, it was some fantasy made-up crisis, Jeh Johnson said, "No. We actually do have a crisis."

And let -- let me--

CUOMO: Well it's who the numbers are. It's who the number -- both are right. The flow is more than they've ever seen because they figured out how to game the system.

People are desperate to want to come in. They know even if you come in illegally, and you get caught, you can claim asylum, and you jump the line. People have to talk about those rules and figure it out.

But the quality of the people, who they are, the President calls them the Brown Menace, Niger. That's my characterization. But he says they're terrorists. They're gangbangers. They're rapists. They're murderers. Those numbers are not what these men and women protecting us are worried about.

INNIS: I agree. I think they're mostly -- I think they're mostly economic--

CUOMO: Howard Dean, what they're worried about are families and kids, and the President--

INNIS: Yes. I think -- yes.

CUOMO: --can't mention it because he's not selling compassion on this issue. He can't say, "Feel for these people." He's demonized them. He's in a box. Opportunity for your side, I don't see you seizing it.

INNIS: I -- I -- no, I think he can't seize--

CUOMO: No, hold on. Not you, Niger. Hold on, not you.

INNIS: Oh, sorry. Sorry. Yes.

CUOMO: Howard Dean, opportunity for the Democrats on this, I don't see you seizing it.

DEAN: OK. The real opportunity for the Democrats is not political. It's actually to develop a serious long-term policy, which nobody's done on either side for a very long time.

Why are these folks coming? They're coming because their own governments are corrupt and they're -- they have very dangerous places to live. If you thought your children are going to be murdered, you'd be doing exactly the same thing.

So, the real solution is to change the way we do business in Latin America. We ought not to be giving people foreign aid. We ought to do that directly through NGOs, so the governments never get their hands on it.

We ought to be much, much tougher about what we expect from these governments, and we ought to cut off the funds that we give to those folks, and make their societies change by eliminating the corruption, which cannot--

CUOMO: If you cut off the funds, won't you have more of those?

DEAN: --we cannot do this -- no, you got to -- you have to cut the funds off to the governments--

CUOMO: Right, but then, won't you have more despair--

DEAN: --and then make sure they go directly to the--

CUOMO: --and have more desperation and more people exiting?

DEAN: And the rest -- the rest of my sentence before you cut me off was--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

DEAN: --and then we've got to make sure that that money goes directly to the poor people who are flooding this -- flooding the zone and make their--

CUOMO: Hard to do that without occupying.

DEAN: --children safe. CUOMO: How do you do that?

DEAN: We can't -- you can't do that without occupying. You have to use NGOs, and you probably have to figure out a way to have a -- a -- a peacekeeping force, not of American troops, but of other Latin American countries.

If you look at what's going on in Latin America, a lot of it, this is thanks to Barack Obama, there is a whole group of countries down there that are one, democracies, two, willing to condemn Maduro, which is long overdue.

That wouldn't have happened 15 or 20 years ago, those kinds of forces are the forces that need to take control in places like Honduras and Guatemala and Nicaragua, for that matter.

CUOMO: Here's the one thing I don't get. I understand what you're saying. I didn't mean to cut you off. I'm just saying that I don't understand how taking money from them--

DEAN: It's OK. I'm used to that.

CUOMO: --taking money from them is the answer because, you know, you want to get assets to the right people, of course. But I don't know how you do that without control. You can do it through NGO -- NGOs, but it -- it's a little tricky.

But this is what my point is. The house is on fire on the Border right now. This is not the time to change our clear-cutting strategies about how we weed out deadwood. This is not the time to figure out how we do better with fire preparation in the future.

There's a real problem there. They need manpower. We have an emergency declaration, Niger that the President signed. The second aspect of it is the reality down there right now, the humanitarian crisis of these kids and the vulnerable.

But the headline is "Drugs and terror, and that's why the military's got to be mobilized to these sectors to build the wall." Forget about the wall. You are not building any anyway. They got to figure out the sites.

You need to give them the resources and the manpower to process these people before you start having tragedies because of containment. Do you think there's any chance that happens?

INNIS: I do. I think the President is trying to push every button he possibly can to deal with an unprecedented crisis that we haven't had on the Border since 2008, I believe.

So, I -- I think that there is an opportunity. I think, look, I'm going to shock you here. I actually agree with what Howard said in -- in his last go-around.

I think that this -- needs to be dramatic reform in Latin America in terms of these failed governments, like Venezuela, for example. And I think, unfortunately though, Howard is in a minority within his own party.

You have apologists within the Left wing and within the Democratic Party that even apologized for the Maduro regime. And -- and, of course, part of the crisis, and -- and -- and, by the way, there's an immigration crisis not only on our Border but on the border of Colombia, on the border of Brazil--

[21:45:00] CUOMO: They have their problems.

INNIS: --where you have these folk fleeing this socialist paradise called Venezuela--

CUOMO: All right.

INNIS: --and going to these other countries.

CUOMO: Let's end it there. Let's see who seizes the initiative because there's opportunity here. And whoever steps up first and makes this situation on the Border less of a potential catastrophe, they win. So, let's see who wants the win more.

Howard Dean, Niger Innis, appreciate it on a Friday.

DEAN: Thanks.

CUOMO: Look forward to having you both back. All right--

INNIS: Thank you.

CUOMO: --new twist tonight in the saga over the Trump Administration proposal to cut funds for the Special Olympics. The President came in and said, "I'll save the day."

All right, we just learned the details. We're going to bring D. Lemon in here for a second, and we're going to do a segment called One, Two, Three.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: Are you seeing what's going on? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been taking a lot of heat for a proposal to cut funding for the Special Olympics. Then the President came in to save the day with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I heard about it this morning. I have overridden my people. We're funding the Special Olympics.

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CUOMO: He heard about it this morning, huh? Here's the truth.

One, the White House Budget Office, not Betsy DeVos, pushed for the cuts. By the way, that's the office run by Mick Mulvaney, who's also the Acting White House Chief of Staff, invite him on all the show, he ducks me.

Two, our sources say that the Education Department kept handing in a budget that included funding for the Special Olympics.

Three, the White House kept sending it back with the line struck through even though there was room in the budget for it.

D. Lemon, one, two, three, the President saying he's the hero, he's a zero on this. That's what his White House did to the budget item.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Let's see if you--

CUOMO: Zeroed it out.

LEMON: Let's see if you know this. "Here I come to save the day," who is that?

CUOMO: Not the President.

LEMON: That's Mighty Mouse.

CUOMO: I know who it is.

LEMON: That's Mighty Mouse.

Yes, listen, I don't know what to believe because all week, she was sticking by the White House, and she was really taking the heat for it, right? She's--

CUOMO: Good soldier.

LEMON: Right? She was being the good soldier after they -- they threw her under the bus. Now, the reporting is that she wanted it in there all along. As a matter of fact, she has donated. She's a wealthy woman. She has donated to the Special Olympics.

And that all along she tries to, in all of the budgets, she tries to get the funding for the Special Olympics, which, by the way, is not that much.

It's a couple of trips to Mar-a-Lago, which is really the point. I mean I think it's like four trips the President takes to Mar-a-Lago, that's the same amount of money that they put in for this. So, I don't know what to believe. I -- I would take her at her word that she would want it in there. But she was being a good soldier. And you never know--

CUOMO: I'm not taking her at her word. I take our reporting at its word.

LEMON: Well, yes.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: The White House designs the budget priorities.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I think that the cabinet and I'll tell you what, I was being facetious when I said she's being a good show -- soldier.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: She works for us. She should have called it out for what it was, and say--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --if you got a problem with this, talk to the White House. I do not think anybody's doing anything for this Administration a favor by covering for the President all the time. They should call it out. They'll get better out of the White House.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Because they'll have to step up their game.

LEMON: What is -- so, this is a letter now from the A.G.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: The new letter. And how much of this report are we going to see? How much should we see?

CUOMO: Less than we want.

LEMON: Which is -- which is amazing. James Clapper, you know, he knows all of this stuff, right?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: The former Director of National Intelligence. How much should we see? And how is this different than what happened back in the 90s with Ken Starr?

CUOMO: A lot. Very different statute though.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Different mandate for Ken Starr. Clapper will take you through-- LEMON: But there was transparency.

CUOMO: --all of that brilliantly.

LEMON: There was transparency, I guess.

CUOMO: There was.

But they got rid of that law, Right and Left, because they didn't like that much transparency. They didn't like that Starr, under the statutory mandate, had to give them potential impeachable information.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: They took that out. They streamlined it. Now, the Democrats don't like the result.

LEMON: Well there you go.

CUOMO: All right, brother. I'll see you in a second.

LEMON: See you in a minute.

CUOMO: All right, the Border crisis, it's real. The closing is what you're being told versus the truth, simple, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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TEXT: CLOSING ARGUMENT.

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CUOMO: Our President refuses to acknowledge the true nature of the crisis at the Border, kids and families flooding in, legally and illegally. Our men and women defenders are overwhelmed and without the resources they need.

The President and Congress knew they needed more, months ago. But here is the solution that the President is offering.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'll just close the Border. And with a deficit like we have with Mexico and have had for many years, closing the Border would be a profit-making operation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Not to give our agencies what they need, not to approach Congress to debate the rules that are being abused, but to blame someone else, and to mislead you in the process once again.

The lies start with closing the Border as an easy fix, and that that hurts Mexico, and helps us.

Mexico is America's third largest trading partner, $615 billion in goods and services in year 2017. Yes, there is a trade deficit, about 60 -- $63 billion that year.

But more than a million American jobs are based in U.S.-Mexico trade, so where's the profit. These stats come from the Government U.S. Trade Agency, OK? We're not making them up.

Case in point, remember this ugly scene with the tear gas last November, port of entry in San Diego closed for six hours because of it? That cost American businesses $5 million, according to that State's Governor, California.

I'm going to tweet out the link to the fact sheet. Look at it for yourself.

The President is not telling you the truth. And he's pointing out Mexico as the problem. And they're not. They are overwhelmed too, and they have a fraction of our resources.

And yet, the DHS Secretary that this President put in place praised them for their help. Look. "DHS goes and stands with our Mexican partners as both countries work to ensure safe, orderly, and legal migrant flows. To all the members of the Caravan seeking asylum, Mexico has offered protection and benefits to all who qualify."

He is misleading you on that and this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're building the wall. But until the wall is completed, and it's -- it's really moving along well.

It's moving along rapidly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: No new barriers have been built under this President, zero new miles, OK? 40 miles of replacement barriers have been built or now under construction. Don't take my word for it. These are pictures from DHS showing the before and after.

The government shutdown, after it, Congress approved 55 miles of new barriers. Right now, the DoD is scouting sites in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The best-case scenario is that construction begins in May.

When pressed by the media, to acknowledge the situation that this isn't about some damn Brown -- Brown Menace, it's about kids and families, and being overwhelmed without resources they asked for, here's what the President said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: One of the children, the father gave the child no water for a long period of time. He actually admitted blame.

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CUOMO: No. Not true. He is wrongly accusing the father of something terrible, something criminal. This is the little girl he's talking about, Jakelin, you'll remember, I told you about her here when it happened, seven years old.

We learned today from the El Paso coroner that she died of a bacterial infection that had turned septic, not from dehydration. Read the coroner's report for yourself.

I'm tweeting it out now during the show. Rose, get it done.

Bottom line, a wall helps in places. There's nothing wrong with building barriers where you need them. It's certainly not immoral to build. But it's not a panacea.

And by putting a hyper-focus on that, by signing an emergency declaration that was all about moving the military to build, instead of mobilizing them to help with what's happening right now, this President contributed to this predicament. The President and Congress guaranteed what you see right here.

Closing the Border isn't the fix, neither is blaming others. Use that emergency to deal with the real emergency. Show the deal-making power that you brag about all the time.

Get these people to act. You want to get more than the base behind you? Stop making excuses. Make something happen here. Your people are crying out for help.

Otherwise, the question will clearly become, "Why did you allow this to happen?"

It's time for the man. CNN Tonight with D. Lemon on a Friday night, what's better than that? Nothing, my friends.