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CUOMO PRIME TIME

California Leads 20 States Seeking Injunction Against Border Wall; Trump Declares "Our Country Is Full" During Border Visit; Congresswoman Blasts Trump For "Bartender" Dig; Xavier Becerra (D), California Attorney General, Interviewed Regarding Trump Lawsuit. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 5, 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] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, thank you, Anderson. Yes, I am Chris Cuomo. And welcome to PRIME TIME. So, we have several big stories for you tonight.

What is going on with the President's taxes? Can he really say that he doesn't want to turn them over? His lawyer says that. We have a great legal mind tonight to take you through it.

The President went down to the Border today. And instead of seeking to help people, he accused asylum seekers of perpetrating a hoax on America. Now, his fence fund finding emergency declaration is being challenged in court by California. Its Attorney General is here to explain.

So, we're going to take on those two situations, and we're also going to double down on what will really happen when the Democrats look to get the President's taxes.

Preet Bharara, who I referred to, has a new book out. It takes us through whether or not this is a part what we're experiencing of the breakdown in justice.

And forget the questions about Biden's past. His real challenge is whether he fits into the present of his party. He's distancing himself from the far-Left Democrats. Is that the right move? Great Debate.

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

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: The President knows the emergency is kids on the Border, not killers. So, why didn't he go to the shelters? Why didn't he see the kids and families? Instead, he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: System's full, can't take anymore, sorry folks, can't take anymore. Asylum, you know, I look at some of these asylum people. They're gang members. They're not afraid of anything.

And they say, "I fear for my life. I do." They're the ones that are causing fear for life. It's a scam, OK? It's a scam. It's a hoax. I know about hoaxes. I just went through a hoax.

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CUOMO: Yes. He went through a hoax. It's called selling you a fence as a farce. Look at the numbers. The bad guys he's talking about are not what collapses the system. It's the kids and families.

So now, instead of using his emergency declaration to harness military and money to help CBP with the flow, he'll be defending it in court. California's leading a coalition of 20 states in a new lawsuit today, challenging his national emergency to fund the wall.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed it.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: He joins us now. Good to see you, A.G.

XAVIER BECERRA (D), CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: So, what did you see today in the President's comments and his capitulation to what he says is a crisis when the numbers show it isn't that sheds light on why you're suing him?

BECERRA: I only saw vintage Donald Trump who is a showman and doesn't really care to speak to the real facts. And it's unfortunate because being there at the Border he could have actually seen the real facts and come up with real solutions.

But that's why we're having to file this motion for a preliminary injunction, and the lawsuit that we filed all together to try to stop this charade of a national emergency that requires a Border wall.

CUOMO: The - let's - let's do a little dialectic here.

The argument on his side is, "Hey, the law says the President can do this. He has deemed it's necessary. There are no conditions on when he can and when he can't. So just because you don't like it doesn't mean that you can undo it."

Your case?

BECERRA: Well - well there really are conditions. Anytime you have a law, you have to meet the conditions of the law. There is no emergency. There is no reason to try to divert funds.

And if - even if he tried to divert funds, a federal statute doesn't override a U.S. Constitutional provision. There is a Constitutional provision that says it is Congress that determines where taxpayer monies will go, not the President of the United States.

CUOMO: So, the statute doesn't define what an emergency is. So, how are you going to articulate to the court what it is that he did wrong here?

BECERRA: Well we've seen the use of this statute on national emergency be - emergency before.

CUOMO: Many times.

BECERRA: Many times. 9/11, George Bush declared a national emergency. The Iran hostage crisis, President Jimmy Carter declared a national emergency. We've seen the cases where it makes sense to declare a national emergency.

Most of these emergencies have - have been declared relating to a foreign government's activities where we try to stop what they're doing through, for example, of some type of boycott of their products or something where we impact their economies to try to send a message.

But we don't do national emergencies when you don't succeed in getting what you wanted out of Congress through the Congressional appropriations process.

CUOMO: Has anybody ever successfully sued a President for declaring an emergency?

BECERRA: I don't believe a President has ever been sued on declaring--

CUOMO: That is correct.

BECERRA: --a national emergency.

CUOMO: So, what does that give you as a blessing and a burden?

BECERRA: Blessing in that, fortunately, the first time a President's being sued, it's Donald Trump. And so far, we've sued him 49 times. And we have - we've had mostly success.

CUOMO: And what's the burden that you have no precedent, so this is going to be somewhat of a case of first impression?

BECERRA: I'll take - I'll take the benefit.

[21:05:00] CUOMO: Even though the President does generally get latitude in terms of, you know, exerting Executive authority, especially when there is a statute designed to do exactly that?

BECERRA: Chris, no one's above the law in this country, at least that's what we're told, and that's what the Constitution provides. CUOMO: True. And the provision in the statute that says - a lot of the statute, you know, people could read it, but they won't. It's really dense stuff.

It talks a lot about, "Yes, you can have the authority, but you got to report to Congress. You got to give it right back to Congress. You got to let Congress have control of it."

What if the argument is made there are a lot of checks and controls on this. Even though he declares it, Congress gets their power back very quickly. They can shut down a lot of the funding that he's going to try to get here anyway. The law takes care of itself.

BECERRA: Here is the problem with that argument. There are military families right now who are sending their kids to school who have been promised decent schools for their kids.

Some of the money that Donald Trump plans to take to build this Border wall could come from the funding that's there to upgrade or to fix these schools.

Some of the funding - funding that Donald Trump is planning to take is used for drug interdiction in places like California and all the 50 states that are doing everything they can to keep drugs from infiltrating their states. That's going to hurt a lot of people in our various states.

There's money that's being taken from by Donald Trump to build his unauthorized Border wall that would otherwise be spent by local law enforcement agencies throughout the country, including here in California, that will no longer get through the Treasury funds asset forfeiture fund that would give us the dollars to go after criminals and racketeering organizations.

And so, we going to - we're going to have a whole bunch of people who are going to be hurt.

How many times? How many ways? 6.7 billion ways, we'll be hurt, because that's the amount of money that Donald Trump wants to divert from legitimately authorized programs to his unauthorized Border wall.

CUOMO: So, you're going to make a constructive argument that the end run around the Constitutional provision of Congress making the appropriations also has an injury. And the injury is that where he's undoing Congress' appropriations will create an arguable harm.

BECERRA: Correct. He doesn't have the power to change the Constitution or violate the Constitution.

CUOMO: Right.

BECERRA: He also doesn't have the right to violate the very federal statute that he's relying upon by fabricating this emergency.

As, I think you've mentioned many times in your program, as I've seen, it is not helpful to build a - a wall along the stretch of the Southern border, when most of the folks that today are trying to come into this country are doing so at our ports of entry, and not trying to do it by evading Border Patrol, but by going up to them and saying, "I'd like to turn myself in because I wish to apply for - for asylum."

CUOMO: A.G., this may be a little bit of an answer against interest for you. But I - I have a curiosity.

If the President were using the emergency declaration to address the humanitarian crisis on the Border by giving an immediate and emergency infusion of resources to CBP to fund the different things that they say they need, and using the military, for example, to take up some of the security operations where necessary, Posse Comitatus to the side, you know, the law that says you can't use them to enforce your laws, and to build a tent city to treat these people with dignity, and keep them in accommodations, where they can be processed with humanity, would you be as upset?

BECERRA: Sensible targeted approach. But still unconstitutional because the Trump Administration doesn't have authority to swipe money from one program at - in a different agency and send it over to a different agency to do something.

So it'd still be unconstitutional even if I might like it. I will tell you this. The most logical way to use resources, if you get authorization, is to help reduce the backlog of these asylum cases.

The more that people don't have a case adjudicated, the more people are hearing back in those home countries, "Hey, guess what? The person get - got into the country, claimed asylum. As far as we know, six months later, they're still there."

If we adjudicated a lot of these cases and many of those folks aren't going to qualify for asylum--

CUOMO: Overwhelmingly.

BECERRA: --they would then be returned. They would be returned, right?

CUOMO: But that - that describes--

BECERRA: And the message would go out.

CUOMO: --something that you don't have say over. Not yet anyway, unless you decide to get into a different type of elected office. The rules aren't working to meet the flow right now.

If you come in illegally, and you say you want asylum thereafter, it triggers you basically jumping the line, and it completely disincentivizes people from going the right way.

How they process the cases? They have an 800,000 case backlog right now. There are things that could be done. But that's not on your desk. That's about Congress and how they make the rules. Fair point?

BECERRA: Not completely. Chris, look, it's become a back - massive backlog because Donald Trump has cut the resources needed to process those cases.

And so, we're sending a terrible signal to those countries in the El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras that the message they're getting, because they're not - they're not looking at this political fight. They're just looking at whether those folks that left are still in the U.S.

If they saw that a lot of these folks were cut - returning back to the home country--

CUOMO: Yes.

[21:10:00] BECERRA: --because they didn't qualify, the message would be very clear. "Hey, why would I spend whatever money I can to find a coyote to get me up to the U.S. if I'm going to have to come right back?"

CUOMO: CBP agrees with you a 100 percent.

BECERRA: And the message is in Donald Trump's aggregation (ph). I'm sorry.

CUOMO: My sources at CBP, they agree with you a 100 percent that they want to find the ways--

BECERRA: Yes.

CUOMO: --to adjudicate quickly and get people back home to send a policy message that it's not as easy or whoever is telling you and selling you on a lie about an ease of entry.

Well this is going to be a fascinating case. We knew it was coming. It's interesting that California is heading the way with 20 other states. Xavier Becerra, thank you very much.

BECERRA: Chris, thank you.

CUOMO: All right, be well.

All right, we got some fact-checking to do. Spoiler alert! Our country is full. Hard to verify, but it is only the first serving on a tasty menu of truth abuse served up by Daniel Dale, Fact-Check Chef himself.

And a proud bartender is firing back at the President. Congresswoman AOC accuses him of mocking her former profession. Is she right or too righteous? Next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: All right, we got a fact-check for you. We're going to do the Border Edition because there is so much BS going on about what the truth is at the Border. We have the perfect person to do it.

Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star makes his business checking the President.

All right, first one, I want to - I have a lot I want to get through. Don't rush, but rush. Here's the first piece of sound. The President saying, "No more. America's full."

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TRUMP: The system is full, can't take you anymore. Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, it's illegal immigration, can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full.

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CUOMO: Now, he can't just undo asylum, can't do it by himself. But what about the basic premise, too many people?

[21:15:00] DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STAR: Well this is one of those cases where Trump takes a point that could arguably be considered reasonable and turns it into something absurd.

So, there has been a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied minors--

CUOMO: Yes.

DALE: --and families seeking asylum, as you point out, you know, nightly--

CUOMO: Crisis.

DALE: --on your - on your show. And so, the system is strained. Facilities are strained. The--

CUOMO: Overwhelmed.

DALE: --transportation ability is strained. So, that's a reasonable point. But - but, come on. Our country is full? You know, America is not full. There is room for people once they make it through the asylum process.

CUOMO: In fact, people would say we need people. You got to keep having babies so you keep expanding. Otherwise, you wind up like those European countries. They are dealing with a diminishment of their potential and human gain. All right, let's do the next one, all right? This is about drugs that are coming into the country. Here's what his supposition is about the Border.

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TRUMP: The number of people and the number or the amount of drugs, human trafficking.

All over the world, human trafficking, a terrible thing. And they come into the areas of the Border where you don't have the wall. They don't come through your points of entry. They come into areas where you don't have the wall.

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CUOMO: The reality?

DALE: It is simply false that human trafficking victims do not come through legal ports. I talked to six experts in human trafficking who said that the majority of the - the clients that they see did come through legal ports.

And that's because they're not tied up, you know, bound and - and taped, like Trump has repeatedly said. More often, they are deceived or coerced into coming into this country.

They believe they have a good job waiting for them, so they don't need to be, you know, ferried through the desert in the back of a - of a van, like Trump says. Rather they walk through often on fraudulently obtained visas.

The International Organization for Migration, the U.N. agency says that 80 percent of trafficking victims have a journey that involves a trip through a legal port, so this is simply false.

CUOMO: And those numbers are relatively small. And the number of drugs seized, at least 80 percent of all the different drug categories are taken at the ports of entry, not across on foot.

And if you look at the - the number of criminal apprehensions, I'll put it online again on my Twitter feed during the show, you'll see that number has been going down. The only spiking situation is kids and families.

All right, next one, let's do Mexico apprehensions. Listen.

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TRUMP: I want to also thank Mexico, because Mexico - and I'm totally willing to close the Border. But Mexico, over the last four days, has done more than they've ever done. We were talking about that before, Kevin. They are apprehending people now by the thousands.

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CUOMO: Yes. What does Mexico say?

DALE: So, the Mexican Foreign Minister did a press conference and said basically that he had no idea what Trump was talking about.

CUOMO: It's because he's making it up.

DALE: He is - well, he - he's mostly making it up, I'll say, Chris. CNN's Holmes Lybrand did a fact-check that just went up like an hour or two ago that - that showed that Mexico's apprehensions of migrants has incrementally increased in the - the beginning of April.

And so, they - they apprehended 1,300 people the beginning of April, that would put them on pace for about 19,000 over the course of the month. And that's an incremental increase from about 13,000 last month.

But it's - it's not true that as the President says, Mexico was not doing this before that this is a dramatic sudden change. We've seen an incremental, you know, relative increase, not a dramatic one.

CUOMO: Yes. It's just a ruse to justify not closing the Border because everybody told them--

DALE: Sure.

CUOMO: --it was a bad idea, which it is.

All right, one more. The putative reason for going down there today was to commemorate the first new section of wall that has been built by this President. Listen.

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GLORIA CHAVEZ, CHIEF BORDER PATROL AGENT, EL CENTRO SECTOR: We would like to present you with this piece of the first 30-foot Border wall installed along the United States border with Mexico.

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CUOMO: What is the reality of what fence that plaque was put on?

DALE: This is comical to me, Chris, because last year - at the beginning of last year, the Assistant Chief Patrol Agent for the Border Patrol in that area took pains, went out of his way, and approached the local newspaper, and told them this is not part of the President's Border wall.

This is replacement fencing, a long-planned project that was planned as early as 2009, so the beginning of the Obama era, in which we will replace the old fence with a better fence.

Then, later in 2018, the Trump Administration decided, "Hey, we haven't actually built any new wall. We'll just claim that this re - replacement fencing is the new wall."

And so, they erected a plaque. And today, they gave him some sort of plaque. But this, again, is - is not any new miles of wall. This is a replacement project.

CUOMO: He lies when the truth is good enough. You're putting a better wall. That should be part of the progress. And how dare they put people from CBP who work their hearts out right now and are stretched to have to be there and be a part of it?

Daniel Dale, you do your job very, very well, and thank you.

DALE: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, Joe Biden all but admits he's getting in the race. Hasn't gotten in, but he admits he's going to get in.

Questions about his past, they're not the real challenge. That comes in the challenge to his present, what he says about the party being too far-Left. Is saying it's too far-Left the right move?

See what I did there? 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: All right, so Biden 2020 hasn't really launched. But people are talking about his past as if that's - that's nothing like what he needs to deal with in his present. Does he fit in his Left-leaning party? Here's what he said today.

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JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vast majority of the members of the Democratic Party are still basically liberal to moderate Democrats in the traditional sense.

The progressive Left, it should be welcome. We should have a debate about these things.

But the idea, all of a sudden, Democratic Party woke up and - and, you know, everybody ask, you know, what kind of Democrat? I'm an Obama- Biden Democrat, man.

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CUOMO: Obama-Biden Democrat. Is that the right sell for 2020? Our starting point for tonight's Great Debate, Friday Night Edition.

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TEXT: THE GREAT DEBATE.

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CUOMO: Howard Dean and Niger Innis are here. Good to have you both.

Mr. Dean, do you like that answer?

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I do. It's true. Look, I'm not - I'm a neutral. And I, you know, I like all the younger candidates.

But this is a big thing about the media that's they've got totally wrong, because they have three very liberal women, who are very successful, AOC being the one who's got a tremendous amount of ink.

Look, we picked up 40 seats. Most of those were in Orange County, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Central Pennsylvania, of which vast majority of the Democrats who were elected in the last election are liberal/centrist. So, that's just a fact. Biden's right about that.

[21:25:00] CUOMO: All right, so we'll use that as the first metric, but we're going to move on from there because there are other indicia of why the party's moving left. But Niger, what do you make about Dean's argument?

The problem is people like me and people like you who are trying to fuel a false narrative that this party is further left, so you can play the socialist card.

NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, TEAPARTYFWD.COM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, you know, forget me and - and others that might try to do that. Look at 2016, when a guy who was a registered socialist for most of his political life, Bernie Sanders, got nearly 50 percent of the Democratic delegates to vote for him.

The heart and soul of today's Democrat Party, and how it makes a very good point about the number of Congressional seats that were won in purplish districts, in Conservative states, there's no question about that, but those seats are going to be very vulnerable because this rock stars of the Democratic Party are people like Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, Omar, and Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders, for that matter.

And more than that, you've got these folk defining the narrative from reparations to promoting socialism openly. They're defining the narrative that's going to dominate the Presidential contest.

I've got my popcorn out. I can't wait.

CUOMO: Mr. Dean, Niger Innis is putting the Bernie brows (ph) up your nose. DEAN: Well actually, you know, I think the terms Left and Right are being somewhat - are somewhat obsolete. I love AOC. I think she's a fantastic spokesperson for the Democratic Party.

And the reason for that is not because she says she's a Democratic Socialist. It's because she's going in there and kicking the most conservative with a small C institution in Washington that resists all change right in the butt. And I think the American people love that.

So, look, I - I am not the least bit worried about people saying our party was - is too Left or whatever it is. It's not the fact.

Bernie Sanders didn't get all those votes because he was Left-wing person. He got those votes because he was telling it like it is and people like that. So, look, I - I'm in. I'll take you all on.

I - I think - I'd like our party right where it is. The voters are going to decide what they want. And I think we're going to come out in the ticket with a good ticket. And I think the ticket's going to beat the living daylights out of Donald Trump and Mark Penn.

CUOMO: Quick - quick follow - quick follow. Where does Biden though fit in that?

When he says an Obama-Biden Democrat, he does not argue the same way that these new women warriors in the party do. I agree with you. Because you got Pelosi in there and you got--

DEAN: Well that's going to be a problem.

CUOMO: --Steny Hoyer and those. But he doesn't argue the same argument. How does the party coalesce around someone who's making a different case?

DEAN: Then - they may not.

I mean they may that - what the - what the - I think what people - look, I - I have believed, and I've said this on this show before, that the Democratic Party is being taken over by the younger generation.

I think that's a very good thing. I think the younger generation of Americans is the future of this country. And the Republicans are, you know, 55 years old and about 98 percent White. That is not the future of this country. And so, I'm really--

CUOMO: So, you're saying Biden may not win?

DEAN: Yes, I - that's right. I don't think there's any guarantee that any of the folks that are more experienced than to have all that name recognition are going to win.

Now, he may, Bernie may. But I think this thing is very much up for grabs.

And I think we're going to go through the first five - four primaries into California, and there are going to be five or six people around. And one or two of them are going to be some of these young upstarts that nobody's ever heard of.

CUOMO: Now, I was sleeping on the initial premise about 2018 because I wanted to get more into the debate. Now, Niger, here's your problem with it.

It's not just where they want. It's who voted. And, you know, Mr. Dean is making - Howard's making a strong point because he's done his research, and that's, you know, that's the world he's in right now.

The people who are voting are younger, they are Browner, they are more female, and they are more about social justice. And the Democrats got them.

DEAN: Right.

CUOMO: If they harness that in the general, how do you compete?

INNIS: Well I don't know that they've got all of them. I mean I have the opportunity, I'm sure Howard does - he do as well.

CUOMO: If the metric is like it was in 2018 because the President--

INNIS: Look I--

CUOMO: --to the extent that he was putatively on the ballot got a whooping.

INNIS: Right. And - and - and that's not unprecedented.

I mean Obama got a whooping in his midterm elections, as did Clinton in his first midterm, you know, lost the House of Representatives for the first time in decades, you know, so that - that's not unprecedented.

But with this economy booming, you have basically darn near full employment that is taking place, and - and taking place - a booming economy, by the way, with the Federal Reserve that unlike during the Obama years kept interest rates at near zero, they've--

CUOMO: Well because he was coming out of a crisis.

INNIS: --lessened (ph) interest rates, so you've got--

CUOMO: You've got a bunch of Republicans on that board and they're doing with--

INNIS: No, no, I'm - I'm not saying - I'm not saying - I'm not saying it was--

CUOMO: --fiscally responsible.

INNIS: --I'm - I'm not - I'm - I'm not saying that it's right or wrong. I'm saying the reality is you've got a booming economy that is truly

booming, basically full employment, African-American employment - unemployment has gone down by 25 percent since Trump has gotten elected.

[21:30:00] So, a lot of those Brown and Black faces and younger folk and women, I think are going to want to keep the course of the country, the country - the way the country is going right now, economically, and are not going to want to go and support what I call the Maduro-Chavez wing of the Democratic Party, which I think is the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.

CUOMO: Howard Dean, last question for you. Do you believe - what wins? The pocketbook politics or people who listen to what Donald Trump has said as minority members of the electorate, and they vote for him--

DEAN: I think--

CUOMO: --because of the pocketbook?

DEAN: I think - I see. I think the pocketbook people are voting for us this time. You know, the - he - he gave a $2.7 trillion tax cut to the richest people in America in the average.

You ask farmers in the Midwest how they're doing under Donald Trump. They're sucking wind. Trump's got a problem with his own base. And yes, he's going to get the people who are all riled up about immigration and all that stuff.

But the smart Trump voters may not be well-educated, but they're sure not dumb. And they're people working hard for a living and seeing all these great economy, their wages aren't going up.

CUOMO: Being - being educated and being smart are often two very different things.

DEAN: That is true. That is correct.

CUOMO: Howard Dean, Niger Innis, God bless you both for being with me on a Friday night. Enjoy your weekends.

INNIS: Thank you. Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, so does the President's lawyer have any say in whether the government can see his taxes? And what does this Fiasco say about where we are in the pursuit of justice?

Legal Guru, Preet Bharara deigning to come on PRIME TIME, the perfect guest who has good answers on both of these vexing questions, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: Our President claims the fight to keep his taxes secret is a slam-dunk. Take a listen.

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TRUMP: I'm under audit. But that's up to whoever it is. I - from what I understand, the law is 100 percent on my side.

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CUOMO: Slam-dunk by him or is he about to get dunked on?

Preet Bharara, the former top prosecutor at the SDNY, now a best- selling author, the book dovetails perfectly for us tonight. It's called "Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law."

Counselor, congratulations on the book.

PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Thanks very much.

CUOMO: It's good to have you on the show.

BHARARA: Thank you.

CUOMO: So, simple answer. The President's lawyer says to the Treasury Secretary, who is empowered to make the decision over the IRS, "Don't do it." Does that mean anything?

[21:35:00] BHARARA: Yes, I mean it may.

The letter is not terrible. The letter makes some points about how in the view of the - the - the new lawyers retained by the President, there are Constitutional prohibitions that the Congress can ask for information.

It has to be related to some proper legislative goal, not just an over-cycle. I have doubts whether or not, you know, they properly stated that. But they make arguments.

And, you know, the question whether - whether they have standing to go before the IRS and stop them from doing something doesn't really seem to matter so much as the IRS can take account of, you know, what people say, including individual taxpayers who think that their tax documents shouldn't be, you know, provided to Congress or to the public, so we'll see. This is another example of one of those things where there's going to be a fight whether you're talking about the subpoenaing of the - of the Mueller report or anything else.

Once lawyers get involved, and I'm a lawyer, once lawyers get involved, it can muck up the works. And so, it may take some time. But we'll see.

CUOMO: True. On Mueller, I get why that is mucking up the works because you don't have a lot of clear law. I mean you know this much better than I ever will.

But, you know, Bob Barr can say, "I'm sticking by the rules." But he wasn't really sticking by the rules when he took that decision for Mueller. That's not in the Special Counsel guideline. So, there's some discretion.

But on this, that 1924 statute or whatever it is, 1924, right I think, that says here are the three people who can ask for this. It's pretty straight language.

And it says if one of these people asks the IRS shall give it over. And the only real question is whether or not the whole Committee gets it or it's done in a private setting. Where's the leeway?

BHARARA: Yes. You can make arguments. And they make some arguments. Look, I will say that the letter that the - that the Democratic Chairman sent, you know, arguably, it's political.

Arguably, it looks like it doesn't relate to a specific legislative function if that's actually the standard. I don't know that that's the proper standard.

They're saying that they have an interest in figuring out, you know, how the IRS audits and - and deals with and addresses, among other people, Presidents, that - you know, sort of narrow read.

What I find interesting in the request, and I think a lot of people are wondering, something much - much more narrow, and gets less of the privacy interest, and that is, I think, it's request number five, where they ask the question, the Committee asked the question, which of Donald Trump's tax returns have been under audit and for what period of time?

CUOMO: Right.

BHARARA: And you might say well that's a matter of privacy. You know, individual citizens are not supposed to be subjected to prying with respect to that.

The President of the United States has said every day, as far as I'm concerned, "I can't - I can't release my tax returns," even though that's the norm, "because they're under audit, they're under audit, they're under audit." So

CUOMO: He told me at a debate, the reason he thinks he gets audited so much is because he's such a devout Christian.

BHARARA: I think he said in the last couple of days because the numbers are so big. There are other people with larger numbers--

CUOMO: That's a - that's a better argument.

BHARARA: Yes. Maybe that's why I have not been audited because my numbers are - are small.

CUOMO: Yes.

BHARARA: Not - not like your numbers. I'm sure - I'm sure you're under audit right now, Sir.

CUOMO: My number should be much bigger. And I appreciate you making that argument. I hope the bosses listen.

Do you think they get the taxes or no?

BHARARA: I think there might be a little bit of a fight about it. It depends on how politicized the people who are making the decision at the IRS are. You know, there's this debate about who the Chief Counsel of the IRS is.

And we've seen in certain circumstances, like with Bill Barr, who I've never thought of as a particularly political guy, looks like he's giving some shield to the President with respect to his summary of the Mueller report.

So, it - look, as I point out in the book, the rules are important. The laws are important. But there are people who serve the function of interpreting them whether to the IRS or the Justice Department or Congress or anywhere else, and it largely depends on them.

CUOMO: So, I think the issue for the Democrats is going to be that they're going to get them. And then, there may be more heat than light, and it may look like overreach, instead of oversight, then they'll have to deal with that politically. So, you segue beautifully.

So, one of the main ideas in this, and - and it's a really - it's a much more clever narrative, you know. You're such a serious guy. You've done such serious work.

But there's a lot of interesting witty stuff in this about examples of your life and how they played out in the system that you wound up helping to control. And the idea of what the rules are versus who the rules work for, and who use the rules to their own advantage, where are we today?

BHARARA: Well we're not in the great place. I don't talk a ton about Donald Trump--

CUOMO: Right.

BHARARA: --or about his policies or about the people around him because I think, you know, we do that all the time. We do that on here on television. We - we--

CUOMO: And it's not an attack book.

BHARARA: No, it's not at all. We do it on Twitter. We do it in other places.

But when you have people around the President who say things like "There are all - alternative facts or truth isn't truth," I think that is a time for sort of taking stock of first principles and figuring out what really does truth mean.

What is expertise mean? What is evidence mean?

And through telling a lot of stories about the Southern District, much in the news because of their oversight of the Michael Cohen case, I think you get a little bit of a sense of ways in which you can get it wrong, and sometimes, people get it wrong, and ways in which you get it right.

But focusing on the discretion that - that's exerted by and asserted by real people every day in courtrooms, in investigations, and, you know, to my mind, the book is not just for lawyers.

In fact, it's probably more relevant to people who are in journalism or work at a bank or are teachers or in any other institution you could imagine, because everyone has to make decisions that involve judgment, that involve questioning what happened, the truth of - of an event. And so, it's for all of them.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: And you talk a lot in here different ways about the integrity of the system. That's what the President attacks.

He says "Let's not deal with the facts. The facts are all a hoax. They're all a joke. This Bahar - this Bharara guy or whoever the prosecutor is or the Judge named Flores who did the Flores settlement--"

BHARARA: Right.

CUOMO: --and, of course, that's not the Judge's name, it's the plaintiffs, "they're liars. They're sneaky." That's an effective way because that is the trust we need to have in our system.

BHARARA: Well I make the point in the book. It's par for the course. You're a prosecutor. People don't like to be investigated.

CUOMO: Right.

BHARARA: I'm - I - I'm still getting attacked by people who were prosecuted some years ago and are now out of prison and, you know, want to attack the prosecutor's motives, incentives, everything else.

You deal with that as a prosecutor. The difference is when the party involved has the largest megaphone on the planet. When it's the President of the United States doing it, it has a different impact. When the President of the United States says every day that Bob Mueller, directly or indirectly, is a bad person, even though he's a Vietnam vet, and a hero, and a - and a Marine who served valiantly, and served in every capacity in the Justice Department in - in a - in a very honorable way, when the Democrats and Republicans got together, and instead of finding some new person out of 320 million in the country, and his FBI term was over, they changed the law unanimously to let this Gentleman spend another two years.

Even a guy like Bob Mueller can be in a sense swiftboated if you have someone with the biggest megaphone on earth attacking the prosecutor, attacking the people, who have the temerity to go after him. He does the same, obviously, as you know, with particular reporters he doesn't like.

CUOMO: Yes.

BHARARA: Even - even on Fox - even on Fox News. No one is immune. If he likes what you're saying, you're OK. If he doesn't like what you're saying, then you're enemy to people or you're a terrible person.

And that - that has an effect on the public that is not sort of paying attention to every move that's being made by a prosecutor's office or by a media entity. And I think it's debilitating and it undermines people's faith in the system.

CUOMO: I think it's an interesting read. It gives people a take from somebody who knows the system. And it gives insight into these types of systems of decision-making that people probably haven't thought of before, but you've had a young lifetime to do it.

Preet, I appreciate everything you do for us.

BHARARA: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Good luck with the book.

BHARARA: Thank you.

CUOMO: And congratulations on its early success.

BHARARA: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, so from the obvious truth to the hidden meaning, two headlines of one event, an apparent attacked by the POTUS on a fledgling Member of Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But I see thing more. Do you? I'll show you, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[21:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez versus Trump. But also little taste of us versus them. I see this as a story within a story. So, what happened?

Well today, after the President dismissed her as a young bartender and mocked the Green New Deal that she is fronting, she hit back in a speech.

His put-down of someone that, you know, of being a bartender, it shows his hypocrisy, his supposed love of the working man. It obviously has limitations. But so was her vulnerability heading up a major policy situation like this right off the bat.

But there's something else here. The headlines that came out of it was starkly different in the Left and the Right media.

Take the liberal HuffPost, hailing her words, OK, see that? Look at the Conservative Washington Examiner. "AOC adopts Southern drawl to talk to Black audience."

Let's bring in D. Lemon. Not to typecast you.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Soon as I take a sip, you put me on.

CUOMO: Not to typecast you. But let's just, first of all--

LEMON: What am I? The African-American guardian (ph)?

CUOMO: I know. I know. I - I hate it that the way--

LEMON: Let's go to the Black expert.

CUOMO: I know. I hate that. I hate that.

LEMON: Our Black - our Senior Black Correspondent, Don Lemon.

CUOMO: I - I just want you to be an affect expert tonight. And let's listen to what she says. And, first of all, see if we do perceive an affect--

LEMON: OK.

CUOMO: --and if so, we'll get to whether we like that or not. But here's the tape.

LEMON: All right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I'm proud to be a bartender.

(CROWD CHEERS)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Ain't nothing wrong with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

(CROWD CHEERS)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: There's nothing wrong with working retail, folding clothes for other people to buy.

(CROWD SHOUTS NO)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: There is nothing wrong with preparing the food that your neighbors will eat.

There is nothing wrong with being a working person in the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Affectologist?

LEMON: So, here's what we're talking about. We're talking about code- switching, right? Everybody--

CUOMO: Little bit.

LEMON: You do it. We all do it.

CUOMO: No.

LEMON: Yes, you do. When you say, when you're on and you go, "Oh this is fugazi." That is sort--

CUOMO: That's Italian.

LEMON: --that is code-switching.

CUOMO: You don't know that.

LEMON: So when you're talking Italian, when you do that, it's code- switching.

CUOMO: But I am Italian.

LEMON: Yes. But--

CUOMO: How is it code-switching?

LEMON: --she's from the Bronx. You don't think that she's been with people--

CUOMO: But the - the allegation is--

LEMON: --Black people?

CUOMO: --she's affecting a Black-cent is what they're saying.

LEMON: What - what - are you saying all Black people speak Southern? No.

CUOMO: Me? No.

LEMON: I don't think there's anything - listen, there's difference - there's a difference between mocking someone or a group of people and knowing your audience.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: You have to - and reading the crowd.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: She's speaking to a group of Black people from New York where she is from. She's at Al Sharpton's event. She's from the Bronx.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: If you are from the Bronx--

CUOMO: The Boogie Down Bronx.

LEMON: The Boogie - you have hung out with Black people and that instead it's not the first time she has used that accent, trust me.

CUOMO: And that's exactly what she says.

LEMON: Yes. It's not--

CUOMO: Here's her - here's her response in Twitter. She says--

LEMON: --it's not the first time. But he's--

CUOMO: --just so people know--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --"As much as the Right wants to distort and deflect, I am from the Bronx."

LEMON: Ah.

CUOMO: "I act and talk like it, especially, when I'm fired up, and especially when I'm home."

LEMON: See, I didn't--

CUOMO: They're weaponizing her quality.

LEMON: I did not even know that she responded. And so - I said the same thing. But I felt - I felt the same thing. And I swear I did not know she responded. I - I'm not sure. I don't think I follow her on Twitter. I don't follow the President.

But what - can we talk about - so she - he called her what? A bartender?

CUOMO: Now, his attack was--

LEMON: Yes, but, what - can we talk about what--

CUOMO: --this bartender wrote the Green New Deal here like -

LEMON: So what?

CUOMO: --like she's beneath it. She's--

LEMON: He called her a young bartender. What if she called him an old real estate agent like I mean that's besides the point, the name- calling.

Let's talk about the policies and what she was talking about. What she talked about, I thought, it was really important that he is saying, "Oh, she's bar--" wait, there's nothing wrong with being a bartender--

CUOMO: No.

LEMON: --in America, especially--

CUOMO: And it's ironic given the man who's supposedly for the regular working man--

LEMON: Given the--

CUOMO: --that he makes it sounds like--

LEMON: You took the words out of my mouth.

CUOMO: --yes, I love you, but you're stupid.

[21:50:00] LEMON: But you're stupid. So, there's - "Oh, the young bartender." What's wrong with being a young bartender? A young bartender is part of America, who can--

CUOMO: I'm a 100 percent.

LEMON: And so--

CUOMO: I agree with everything you've said so far.

LEMON: So far. So, I don't see anything wrong with it. So, it's - it's a code-switching or - or diglossia. Everybody does it. I do it. You do it. You may not realize you're doing it but--

CUOMO: What's that big word you just threw around that somebody gave you?

LEMON: Diglossia. It's not - not - someone didn't give me that. I learned that word. CUOMO: Because somebody gave you that word.

LEMON: What are you trying to say--

CUOMO: Somebody gave you that word.

LEMON: Are you trying to say - are you trying to say I don't know that word--

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: --because I'm Black?

CUOMO: No, because you're dumb.

LEMON: No. That is not - so I don't see anything wrong with it. She knows her audience. And, listen, I had - what I have to say about her--

CUOMO: Please.

LEMON: --I've been watching her. And, you know, I've - I've met her here right after she won. Obviously, she's from New York, and she's here in New York, and she was here at CNN.

I, you know, talked to her. So, I didn't feel one way or the other about it, just observed. Man, the Right is obsessed with her.

CUOMO: Obsessed.

LEMON: Obsessed. It's unbelievable. So, anybody who touches a nerve like that, I think it's - I - I think they're worth watching to see why she touches such a nerve.

CUOMO: And what else - I'll tell you what where - where she surprised me thus far--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --is because the media loves her. So, everybody's giving her a big boost and she's got to be careful because the media is not your friend to build you up. It'll tear you down--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --just as fast. But she seems to win most of the spats that she gets into.

LEMON: I know.

CUOMO: So, it's not like she's just running her mouth. It's when you come at her, like when Sean Duffy came at her the other day--

LEMON: She's--

CUOMO: --in Congress, you know, he threw a right. LEMON: --she's a smart cookie.

CUOMO: She hit him with two lefts and an uppercut he didn't know what was going on.

LEMON: The smartest questions during the Cohen hearing, I thought--

CUOMO: Yes, yes, she's - she's on her game.

LEMON: She's, yes. Thought - I thought--

CUOMO: I mean she's pushing an agenda. She's far-Left.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And will her party adopt it? How does that mean for them overall and the country? We'll see. But--

LEMON: Because she's far-Left that doesn't mean that she's not smart. Just because someone's far-Right doesn't mean that they're not smart--

CUOMO: A 100 percent, a 100 percent.

LEMON: --right? So--

CUOMO: Practicality is not the same thing as--

LEMON: Hey, we - we got the Governor--

CUOMO: --the reality (ph).

LEMON: --former Governor of Colorado on John Hickenlooper. We're going to talk about all these issues.

We'll talk about what's going on with Joe Biden. We may even talk a little AOC and on and on and on. Also is there a circular firing squad going on with the Democratic Party? Talk about that.

CUOMO: Ooh, good metaphor, good metaphor. See you in a second.

LEMON: Diglossia. Google that.

CUOMO: Yes. Somebody gave him that. The biggest word he knows is like mayonnaise.

All right, Trump to the Border. He did the opposite of what I recommended, and the results were exactly as expected. What he surrendered and where the battle of the Border is headed, next.

Diglossia!

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [21:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CLOSING ARGUMENT.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: So, my argument was simple and strategic. "Mr. President, if you're going to the Border, don't just go look at a fence and extend a farce."

The justification for this part was the fence he went to isn't new construction. He can say it is it, doesn't make it so. It's replacement fence that was planned for before this POTUS was even elected.

The deception of the reality was fitting, if you think about it, because the fence farce was a redo to begin with, pretending to build something he hasn't, just an extension of other demagogues past.

My argument was it would have been a great opportunity to shift and embrace the humanity that is the actuality. He's demonstrably wrong that the crisis is fixed by a wall.

You see the numbers. You heard CBP. Take a look at your screen. You heard the DHS Secretary.

It is kids and families and the flow at the points of entry. Fence doesn't fix it alone. So, if he went there, looked at the faces, showed he cared, that would put him in the right space.

And there was a second stage. Use the emergency declaration to send resources to the Border that they need. In one stroke, you go where almost no one in Congress has, you show that you care, and you do something about it that puts Congress in a position to have to act.

But as many as you guessed, that was not a move that could make it into his head, nor certainly into his heart. Now look, I'm no fool. And if I am, I'm a fool for hope. I believe in change. I'm about redemption and doing better.

Instead, this POTUS did his least. He faked the fence. He didn't visit the kids. And when he did decide to address the devastating dynamic of kids and families flooding our Border, he said the worst thing he could.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The system is full, can't take you anymore. Whether it's asylum, whether it's anything you want, it's illegal immigration, can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore, I'm sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: It's like the opposite of the Statue of Liberty. No compassion, no conviction for finding a solution, and no real connection to reality.

Look, he is right. The system is overwhelmed. But now what? You can't end asylum. Certainly, not himself, no more than he can change the 14th Amendment and end birthright citizenship by himself. Even Alex Jones knows that.

Here's the regret. When given a chance to show his best, to make Congress see there is someone, there is something to work with, that it's not all lies and fake solutions and shows of pretend strength he reinforced every dark notion about himself.

But before you say, I told you so, to me, don't be so quick to embrace the cynicism that powers our President. Democratic Members of Congress went down there - there today. I hear a hearing is scheduled.

Calling out power to do their job and exposing need is not a pointless act. I argue it is the point of my job. If nothing else, you allow, you guys, you can listen, you can see what's wrong, and to our leaders, who are looking for an opportunity, you can create one to do better.

Lord knows, when it comes to handling the crisis on the Border, anything that anyone gets done in government will be an improvement.

So, while some, like Don, say "Step back. He's never going to do it," I say, "Step up." I say, "We know that we can do better." He has to know he can do better. And that's why I say "Let's get after it."

As we see with our fear-loving leader, left to their own devices, our elected leaders cannot be counted on to act as we would like. But here's my pitch to him again. I'm trying again.

You already have all the people who bought into the fence out of fear of this Brown Menace. You need more. People care about these kids. They care about their families. Show that you do too. And there's a win in it for you. How about that?

Thanks for watching. CNN Tonight With D. Lemon starts right now.

LEMON: Did he go visit the kids?

CUOMO: No.

LEMON: Oh, just checking.