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Official: Trump Overseeing "Near-Systematic Purge" Of Homeland Security; Sources: Trump Told Border Agents Not To Admit Migrants; Feds: Possible Spy Had Lots Of Devices, Thousands In Cash. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 8, 2019 - 21:00   ET



News continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

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

We have never seen a President do a systematic purge of Homeland Security, especially just to find people who won't tell him what is wrong or even illegal with his zaniest plans.

And, remember our President said he hated separating kids on the Border? We have new reporting about what he really wants, and it exposes an ugly lie.

And those who work for this President have long warned of a poison purge. Is this it? Anthony Scaramucci is here. What does he hear about White House woes?

And that Chinese lady allegedly caught with malware at Mar-a-Lago is looking more and more like the real deal. We have new information on what the Feds say they found in her hotel room, and the warning that they gave a Judge today.

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




CUOMO: So, as you might remember, the last major interview done by the Homeland Security Secretary, the former one, Kirstjen Nielsen, was here, Thursday. She admitted that the President's sell of what I call a Brown Menace was misplaced, that the real crisis is what he refuses to help, kids and families.


KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: As you saw when you were down here, Chris, it's the type of flow that we're seeing. So, it's mostly families and children, and that's what's so concerning from a humanitarian perspective.


CUOMO: And she admitted that the President could use his emergency declaration to help but wasn't for some unknown reason. Listen to that.


CUOMO: Am I missing something about the emergency declaration and your understanding or does the President and his people just want to keep that for fencing?

NIELSEN: No. I just think that we were hopeful that we would get a - additional supplemental from Congress to address what is currently an emerging situation.


CUOMO: I felt she was unusually candid.

72 hours later, she was forced out by a President apparently maddened that she didn't go far enough to execute his extreme signature immigration agenda, including ripping more kids away from families than ever, despite a court injunction banning the practice, this part of our President's desire to send a message that migrants are not welcome.

And Lady Liberty sighed!

With me now, another axed Administration official, former White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci, man of keen insight on this issue. Thank you for joining me. I know you're busy.


CUOMO: All right.

SCARAMUCCI: But, you know, I - I think it's a little like - but I mean I just want to say two things quickly.

CUOMO: Please.

SCARAMUCCI: I think I was impressed with her. I was impressed with the Secretary's interview. But that's not, to me, I don't - I'm not necessarily saying that's the reason why she left the Administration.

I think at the end of the day, directionally, she probably doesn't want to push the envelope as far as the President seems to be wanting to push the envelope. And so, that could be the central reason.

But listen, Chris, we have to hear from the President because I think it's - I - I'm still - still processing thing - this, and finding it hard to believe that he wants to push the issue of separating children from their parents.

I - I understand that he wants to slow down the migration. He wants to slow down the asylum-seekers and things like that. But if he's pushing an agenda to separate women from their children at the Border, that's going to be a disastrous agenda.

So, I hope he's rethinking that or I hope there's people around him that are just, you know, waving at him a little bit and saying, "Hey, wait a minute. That's not going to be politically palatable in the United States."

It's just--

CUOMO: Problem is when you say that--

SCARAMUCCI: --frankly un-American. So, I hope he's not - I hope he's not--

CUOMO: --when you say that to him, Anthony, you get fired.


CUOMO: When you say slowdown--

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, well--

CUOMO: --this is illegal--

SCARAMUCCI: --I mean--

CUOMO: --or this is wrong or it's too harsh, that's not America, you're gone.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. Well, OK, so that - that again is another thing I want to challenge for people. You know, I - you - you mentioned the word axed, and I got axed abruptly. But I got axed for something fireable.

You know, I - I said something to a reporter. I thought I was off the record. He wanted to blow me up. And he's a very transactional guy, so he blew me up. And so, I deserve to be fired for that. And I've taken responsibility.

But I've always been very honest with the President. I was honest with him in the campaign. When I talk to him on the phone now, I'm always very honest with him.

And I've always said this. It's very, very important for people that are close to him, not to conform their personalities, and to contort themselves, or to become sycophantic or to start agreeing with him if they disagree with him. That's not a - that's not good.

Being a sycophant is not loyalty. That's self-preservation and selfishness. If someone comes in my office, Chris, tells me I'm - I'm tall, you know what? I know I'm short and I know a lot of times I'm wrong. And so, I need the right answer from people. So, I hope people around him right now are saying "OK, let's slow down a second." If we're pushing an agenda where we're going to be separating people from the Border - I get the fact that you don't want them here. I get the fact that you think that they're inappropriately seeking asylum, I understand all of that.

But, you know, what we learned in law school, we both went there, there is style and substance and then there's also the legality of the law, and the spirit of the law.

[21:05:00] And you're off on style and you're off on the spirit--

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: --even if you maybe right on the legality.

So, I really hope he stops, takes a timeout, and there's somebody super-honest that are looking him straight in those blue eyes of his, and say, "Hey, you may want to knock this off because you're going to get annihilated by moderates and independents that you need to win re- election in 2020."

CUOMO: But, Anthony, I mean that sounds Pollyannaish to me, because our reporting is that Stephen Miller is going to be the tip of the spear for him, and he's all in. You can't get harsh enough for that young man.

I keep inviting him here on this show to test his ideas, test the policy, he ducks me. That's fine. That's his choice.

But if he's pulling the strings behind the scenes well who's going to disagree with him? You know, that guy wants to, you know, put the migrants in a box.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I have - I have--

CUOMO: And, you know, roll them back across the Border. He'd have no problem separating families.

SCARAMUCCI: My - my - my last trip on Air Force One, we - the President went to Long Island to make a speech on MS-13, which is almost two years ago.

Now, I haven't seen Stephen since then. But I've always found that there's a - there was a disconnect between Stephen's real personality and the way sometimes being reported.

So, hopefully, he'll come on your show, and you'll give him the opportunity, like you do to me and other people that are Trump supporters, to explain himself. And I would - I would encourage Stephen to come on your show because I think you're a fair arbiter at this sort of stuff, you know.

And I - and I always point out to people, Chris, you were a fair arbiter during the Mueller investigation. You let people like me point out that we thought that the President was going to be exonerated, and you gave us the opportunity to say that.

So, I'm encouraging Stephen, "Please come on Chris' show, and explain yourself," because even in my relationship with him, and the times that I've spoken to him, I don't think he's as harsh as people are explaining him, but let's see what he says on your show.

CUOMO: Well, look, now's the time because if they're--

SCARAMUCCI: If that is the case then I would pick up the phone--

CUOMO: --architecting a new policy - if they're architecting a new policy, Mr. Scaramucci (ph)--

SCARAMUCCI: --I would pick up the phone and call him though. I would call him and--

CUOMO: Oh, I've called him.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, and I would call him.

If that was the case, I would say, "Hey Stephen, you may want to knock this off," because the President's doing amazing on the economy. He's doing amazing deregulating things.

CUOMO: This is his signature issue.

SCARAMUCCI: He's probably going to get a peace deal with the North Koreans wanting--

CUOMO: This is his signature issue.

SCARAMUCCI: I know it is - but this is a critical--

CUOMO: He owns it so much that the Democrats aren't even jumping on this opportunity.

SCARAMUCCI: This is a critical issue.

CUOMO: The Democrats have nothing but opportunity. Anderson had Kathleen Rice on.

SCARAMUCCI: It's a critical--

CUOMO: She's one of the only Members of Congress on the Left--


CUOMO: --that have gone down near their Border and say--


CUOMO: --we need to do more about this. They haven't even held a hearing on it. So--


CUOMO: --he owns this issue.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, like I said, it would be very - it would very be--

CUOMO: He believes his pathway is harshness.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm somebody that supports the President and wants the President to win, but I'm not a sycophant. I think it is--

CUOMO: Right.

SCARAMUCCI: --very tone-deaf if they're going in a direction of separating women from their children. And if they're not doing that, let's get the President in one of those gaggles that he does outside the White House before he gets on the helicopter.

CUOMO: Yes. But what he says - yes, but what he says--

SCARAMUCCI: Let's let him explain himself. But don't--

CUOMO: --he said he didn't like it. He said he want it to stop. And, you know, we have every reason to believe that that was never the truth. I've never heard that he was against it. He liked it when Jeff Sessions came up with it.

SCARAMUCCI: But I thought he signed something about--

CUOMO: He wanted more of it.

SCARAMUCCI: --seven or eight months ago that stopped them.

CUOMO: They did. They - he signed something. But the court stopped him.

SCARAMUCCI: That he signed something that stopped the practice, Chris.

CUOMO: There's an injunction.


CUOMO: But let me ask you something else while I have you about personnel. We've never seen a bloodletting like this before. We both know this President has never built a great management team before. That's not how his business worked.

He was the personal brand. He did most of this stuff himself. The only thing he really ever managed en masse were the casinos. We know how that went. So, he's not known for having a team around him.

But getting rid of talent, we have a graphic somewhere of all the people who've left, you could form a government just with the people who have left this government. The concern is this President--

SCARAMUCCI: Right. Well, OK, but--

CUOMO: --needs people around him more than most presidents, and he has less good people around him than any President that I've covered. Your concern?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, listen, I mean, I think he - took him a while figuring out the Trump Organization. You're leaving out the fact that three of his Executives died in a helicopter crash, which precipitated some of that failure there.

But on the Presidency and the departures, you know, he's going to have to answer for that. And the Chief of Staff and, obviously, the Personnel Director will have to answer for that.

But I think the thing started day one. I think they flooded the zone there with just too many people that weren't tied to the President or tied to his agenda. Then they start writing these anonymous letters to The New York Times telling them that they're in there working against the President.

And so, I think there's been layers of distrust there. And I think there's been layers, frankly, of unfairness, and he needs people that are loyal. But he also needs people - I would tell him what - you need people not going to conform their personalities to you, you know.

I mean I built my own business, you know, running $10 billion. You want to fire me? No problem. I'm like Mayhem from the Allstate commercial. I'll dust myself off, go back to my job, and grow my company.

But you need more people like that, frankly, because those are the people that the President wants best, you know.

CUOMO: But he doesn't want them, Anthony. He's not you. He got rid of the Generals.


CUOMO: He got rid of the people with expertise.

SCARAMUCCI: But no. No, I--

CUOMO: They're all gone. He only has his kids, and Miller, and Kellyanne, and a couple of others.

SCARAMUCCI: --I think he - see this is - this is where I'm going to pushback. I've had--

CUOMO: Who's he got?

[21:10:00] SCARAMUCCI: No. I push back. Kelly - trust me, I don't know what Kellyanne would say on the air, and I don't want to go guess her, because, you know, I have a very close relationship. But I'm pretty sure quietly she pushes back on the President.

CUOMO: No, no, I didn't say she didn't. I said that she - he only has her and Miller and a couple of others. That's what I said.

SCARAMUCCI: There - she's got a very strong backbone. And by - and by the way, the President respects her enough to listen to her. CUOMO: I'm not saying he doesn't.

SCARAMUCCI: Well, no, come on, Mulvaney is a--

CUOMO: I - I think you're a 100 percent right.

SCARAMUCCI: --very sharp guy. I think Mnuchin--

CUOMO: Mulvaney doesn't push back on the President.

SCARAMUCCI: --pushes back on him on Fed - I don't know if he does or he doesn't. I'm not close enough to Mick. But I can tell you Mnuchin does. Mnuchin talks to him straight. He did a couple of wholesale (ph)--

CUOMO: Does he? Is that why he's playing games with the taxes when the statutes is--


CUOMO: --plain as the nose on my face?

SCARAMUCCI: Well I think it's different. I think he thinks that the thing has been overly politicized. And so, he's taking a political position in support of the President. I, you know, look, you know, look, you know how Washington works.

I got my 11-day PhD in how Washington works. And so, that's a political thing. And that's going to be a political football that they kick back and forth to each other.

Frankly, and they're - boy, I hate that stuff. And, by and large, most Americans--

CUOMO: No, I got you. But you're not worried that the President has gone a little too far--

SCARAMUCCI: --don't care about the President's tax returns.

CUOMO: I hear you. I hear that. Let's put the--

SCARAMUCCI: On the immigration issue?

CUOMO: But my main concern is--

SCARAMUCCI: On what issue, Chris?

CUOMO: Not on the issue.

SCARAMUCCI: On the immigration issue?

CUOMO: That the way he's dealing with who to have around him, and how to run the government, and the need for people, are you worried that--


CUOMO: --he's gotten a little too isolated? He's a little too alone?

SCARAMUCCI: No. I think - I think that that's part of it though. But I think that happened because of the way the staffing took place in the beginning.

I mean they - they killed him with all these like establishment and never Trumper people. And now, he's trying to figure out who's who, and who's on his side. And so, I think that's where the frustration is.

My recommendation to the President is, why don't you hire somebody that really likes you, can tolerate some of the exes - you know, eccentricities to your personality and some of the egocentrism, but also be your friend and tell you the truth?

Hire a few people like that and then start recruiting people like you did in the Trump Organization that you really trust, and then you can have that hub-and-spoke system that you had in the Trump Organization, and things will start working a lot better.

The economy's doing great. You made a lot of good judgments. You've got great political instincts. But you probably need more personnel around you that are going to talk to you very honestly.

That would probably be my recommendation. But I'm down here in Birmingham, Alabama, Chris, you know, building my business.

CUOMO: Good for you. Good luck with it all, and thank you for your insight.

SCARAMUCCI: And, by the way, Chris, there's a great Italian restaurant called Gianmarco's down here in Birmingham. These - these guys are from the Bronx, Chris, your people.

CUOMO: Italians in Alabama, there's always a story behind that. I'll talk to you later.

SCARAMUCCI: All right.

CUOMO: It's usually not a good story. No, I'm kidding. I'm sure it's a great restaurant.

All right, causing chaos in the White House is one thing, all right? But intentionally causing chaos for families by taking their kids away? That's illegal and it's immoral. And it seems this President may want exactly that.

Do you remember what he said about not wanting kids separated? I'm going to play you what he said. And then, I'm going to reveal our new reporting.

Also, we knew what the Chinese intruder at Mar-a-Lago had on her. But now, Law Enforcement has revealed what they found in her hotel room.

New alarms, ahead.








CUOMO: Now, the key to this fact check is the difference between what they were saying and what they want.

Do you remember how this Administration kept saying any separations of families were forced on them by the law, not their choice? It was a lie. It was a lie then, and they're making it obvious now.

Despite having a court currently stopping any more separations, and horrid reports that it could take years to pair up the families that were affected already, this President reportedly not only wants to keep separating, he wants more of it, legal entrants, asylum seekers, all families and the most telling part is why he wants this.

He hopes it discourages people from wanting to come. Remember, when we exposed that kids were being ripped from families, this President told you to your face this.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to solve this problem. We want to solve family separation. I don't want children taken away from parents.


CUOMO: CNN's new reporting. Looks like even his wife and kids telling him separating families is wrong, doesn't matter. He is hell-bent on harshness. The DHS Secretary and Head of the Secret Service are said to be just the start of a massive shake-up to get people who give him what he wants.

Two more members of the department are reportedly on the chopping block. And just last week, he pulled his own pick to run ICE because he wanted someone "Tougher."

We now know the answer to why he won't use his emergency declaration to give our defenders on the Border what they need he prefers the distress, apparently as a sign of the need to be tougher on migrants.

Even though the gridlock from being overwhelmed hampers trade at the ports of entry, and endangers the lives both of those coming in and those processing them, this President wants it, even reconsidering his own decision to back off on closing the Border. The same President who promised to restore the rule of law keeps

running into the same roadblock, namely, the law. A Federal Judge today blocked his plan to make asylum seekers stay in Mexico while they wait for a hearing.

And then there's the guidance delivered to Border agents last week where two sources tell CNN, our President told the workers to just not let migrants enter.

That order would put the men and women who did that - who are in charge of upholding our law on the wrong side of it, would expose them to personal liability, reportedly their bosses told them that. Good thing they did.

You don't sell the message? Apparently, you go. This President only wants to hear that there is a Brown Menace. And to get it, he will shake up and render unstable the nation's second largest National Security Agency.

Cyber-attacks, Terrorism, the Coast Guard, Disaster Relief, it's all up in the air as this President tries to find people willing to do whatever he says, right or wrong. So, no Homeland Security Chief, at least not for now, no ICE Chief, others at the all-important DHS, supposedly dead men and women walking.

Desired disruption or a President in peril? It's a great start for The Great Debate. Let's do it next.








CUOMO: Show me a strong leader, I will show you a strong team empowering that leadership. Not in this White House! His kids, a couple of survivors, and a bloody trail of bodies. Look at all the people who've been wasted.

Can this President do what he has never done before if he doesn't have a great team around him? Will this Presidency get better from here or worse? That's the starting point for tonight's Great Debate, Ana Navarro and Niger Innis.




CUOMO: Ana, the argument is from the White House, "Cleaning house, fresh blood. We've got a plan. We need the right people." Do you buy it?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, the bottom line is you're not going to be able to get great people unless you have a great leader. And every single case that I've ever been ex - exposed to, the staff is a very accurate reflection of the leader, of the principal.

In this case, the fish rots from the head.

And when the leader is Donald Trump who wants to be surrounded by Yes Men and Yes Women who wants to be told that he's right about everything, who wants to be legitimized and validated, even though he's ignorant, and has no idea what he's doing, then no, you're never going to be able to find a talented group of people because his only loyalty test, his only qualification is, "Will they do and say as he wants them to do and say?"

That is - that is a, you know, that's a - that's a narcissistic strongman lacking the humility to hear other voices and other opinions, and to know that when he's wrong, and to know that sometimes he doesn't know what he doesn't know.

CUOMO: Niger, we've seen the purge. No President has sweated talent as fast and as much as this President has. Do you believe a surge is coming?


CUOMO: Fresh blood, new people, wowing us with the best.

INNIS: Oh, absolutely. I think this President is cleaning house.

What is unprecedented is the degree to which people within his own Administration, through leaks, through actively trying to undermine his policy, and this President, specifically himself, that is unprecedented.

So, it's not surprising that loyalty would become extremely powerful and extremely potent verification for who is going to be in this White House. Actually disagree with - I saw your interview earlier and--

CUOMO: With Anthony?

INNIS: --with Anthony Scaramucci, and I disagree with you.

Actually, Mick Mulvaney actually did stand up to the President, specifically on closing the Border with Mexico. And he not only stood up to the President, he got the President to back down. So, be it Mick-- CUOMO: How do you know?

INNIS: Well that - that's according to my sources that that is what I - I heard exactly was the case.

And be it Mick Mulvaney or be it Kellyanne or be it other strong figures within the - Steven Mnuchin, as others said, there are some very strong figures, Larry Kudlow, within this Administration that are going to push very hard if they disagree with the President.

But the President does value loyalty. And he should, considering the degree, you know, my - my side of the ledger calls it Deep State, the degree to which he's been undermined by people within - within his own Administration.

CUOMO: Mnuchin is - is an unknown. He's new to this. We don't know where he really is on things. Mulvaney, and as we both know, is known for extreme ideas. Stephen Miller is known for extreme ideas.

Kellyanne came in and saved that campaign in the end. And by all accounts, she has the President's ear and for good reason. But once you get past that line, you know, you have his kids.

You have Jared Kushner. Again, we're hearing about him being made into a big part of the inner circle on immigration, he needed a tutorial just to figure out how the system works. Is that a recipe for victory?

NAVARRO: Well let me say two things. First, I think part of the reason that Donald Trump backed down from closing the Border, as he had initially indicated, was because the Republicans, for once, and strangely, and rarely--

CUOMO: Fair point. Fair point.

NAVARRO: --stood up to him and told him it was a very bad idea.

CUOMO: That's true, Niger. There was Congressional pushback on the inside, true.

NAVARRO: They did that because--

INNIS: Including Mick.

NAVARRO: --they - they did that because they knew the economic effect that it would cause, and they stood up to Trump, something which they need to do far more often because they need to remember that despite what Trump may think and want, this is not a dictatorship.

This is not a one strongman type of government. This is a place where we have co-equal branches of government. And the Republicans in the Senate need to remind Trump about that time and time again.

And then when you talk about, you know, extreme ideas, and when you talk about cabinet, it's almost ironic, right, that we are here discussing the firing, resignation, whatever it was, of Kirstjen Nielsen, a woman who was extremely bad at her job, extremely cruel at her job, extremely incompetent at executing cruel policy, and then she lied about it time and time and time again.

So, you almost have to ask yourself just how bad and how ridiculous was what Trump was asking her this time to do that she finally found the conscience, she finally found a soul, and she finally found the spine to tell him that she needed to go?

Because God knows that for far too long she has been willing and complicit in the cruelest of policy, and that, she's going to have to carry to her grave.

CUOMO: And that was certainly one of her concerns. Jeff Sessions came up with the separation policy.

What the law could do, what the intersection was with their intended policy, and the Flores settlement from 1997, Flores is not the Judge, isn't - isn't some Latino Judge that the President suggested doing something weird. Google it for yourselves.

So, let's talk about the policy, Niger, because if CNN's reporting is fair to - is clear to people at this point, let me just iterate it quickly that the President when he said, "I don't want to separate kids on the Border anymore" that wasn't true.

He wants to do it. And he wants to do it more than ever because he believes in the message it sends that it will deter people, and this new binary choice that they're coming up with, either you stay together in detention, or you go alone as parents separated from your kids to go through the immigration system. Those go hand-in-hand.

You wouldn't want one if you didn't want the other, Niger. Why doesn't the President just come clean and say, "Yes, I want to separate the kids. I don't want people to come. And this will scare them into not doing it."

INNIS: Look, this situation is extremely complicated. And I'm glad you brought up the Flores decision that goes back to 19--

CUOMO: Settlement.

INNIS: Settle - settlement. That's right. That's right. Settlement which goes back--

CUOMO: 1997.

INNIS: --1997, during the Clinton Administration.


INNIS: That's how old this issue is. And that's how complicated this issue is. And how many different administrations, Republican and Democrat, have tried to deal with this extraordinary situation, an extraordinary problem. The--

[21:30:00] CUOMO: Only one reportedly has intended to flout it outwardly and inwardly to get around the law, and that's this one. INNIS: This President through an Executive Order actually asked his Attorney General to change the - the interpretation of the Flores settlement, so that families and children could stay together in certain circumstances.

But it is indeed complicated. And on top of that, it is going increasingly complicated when you've got a situation one that Jeh Johnson said, 1,000 people, you know, coming across the Border--

CUOMO: More than that.

INNIS: --was coming - was a bad day for him.

CUOMO: Yes, now it's much--

INNIS: Was a bad day for him.

CUOMO: It's much more than that.

INNIS: Now it's 4,000.

CUOMO: You have a real problem.

INNIS: So, this President - he has a real problem.

And, yes, it's not only a problem internally within our own country, but it is a message that we have to send to the countries in, say, in Central America that I actually believe are our allies and neighbors.

And - and - and I agree with one of your earlier guests that says that we should be more interventionists in helping solve some of those problems on there that lead to mass migration, not just to the United States but--

CUOMO: Well the President said he wanted to do the opposite.

INNIS: --in other countries we interfere (ph).

CUOMO: So, let's see what he comes up with because at this point, he's been heavy on the harshness and light on the results.

Ana Navarro, Niger Innis, thank you for making the case on a Monday, appreciate it, good week to you both.

INNIS: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, more evidence emerging today on that Chinese woman nabbed at Mar-a-Lago. This is a wild story that is now growing more suspicious by the day. Was it really espionage?

I'm going to give you our new information right after the break.








CUOMO: A device for spotting hidden cameras, a bunch of thumb drives, and a whole lot of cash. Prosecutors are laying out what they found in the hotel room of that Chinese woman caught trying to get into Mar-a- Lago.

We have a couple of former Counter-Intel guys here to help us make sense of this, Eric O'Neill and Phil Mudd, good to see you fellas.

Phil, what's the chance that this lady is some type of like renegade, and this is something she came up with? Where are you in terms of percent chance she's an operative?


CUOMO: I'll ask the questions. No, go ahead.

MUDD: Can you be quiet for a second?

Number one - number one that she was sent by the most prominent Chinese intelligence service without a cover story at Mar-a-Lago, without an explanation for why she had so much stuff on her.

It looked like she ripped off like the Tech Section at Target or something. She has no cover story. So, I - I - there's a - if you look at all the information we're seeing, something ugly is going on here.

She's trying to pick up information, obviously inappropriately. Was she a representative of a key Chinese Espionage Service? Chris, I mean this one looks like a duck, it talks like a duck, but it doesn't quack like a duck.

I can't - there's something wrong here, Chris - Chris. It doesn't make sense.

CUOMO: What did you call me? Eric, let me ask you this.

MUDD: Chris.

CUOMO: He says it walks like a duck, it talks like a duck, but it doesn't quack like a duck. I think that's actually a good analogy. Do you believe that there's something a little off on this?

ERIC O'NEILL, FORMER FBI COUNTER-TERRORISM AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE, "GRAY DAY" AUTHOR, CARBON BLACK NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGIST: Yes, Chris, there is definitely something off. And - and I'm going to agree with Phil here. This doesn't feel like traditional Chinese espionage, at least what we've been seeing lately.

They're very focused on cyber-attacks. Maybe that would be a way to go after Mar-a-Lago, well how good is their cyber-security, and they're also very subtle. This sort of in-your-face, changing stories, and all the gadgets don't really mean anything.

You don't need that to do what she did. So, it--

CUOMO: Wait. Help me understand that, Eric.

O'NEILL: --this certainly doesn't feel right.

CUOMO: Because, remember, you guys, this is all second nature for you. For people who are fresh on this story, she had a device supposedly, according to prosecutors, to help identify hidden cameras. She had malware. She had thumb drives.

And the suggestion is that those could be used to intercept Wi-Fi signals and start interfering with people's communications or getting communications, you saying that that kind of stuff isn't needed in the spy game?

O'NEILL: Yes. You can do all that with an iPhone. You can spot cameras in a hotel room, if you're suspicious, with a flashlight.

I'm not downplaying this. I think that there's certainly something very problematic here. I just don't see this as the - the very astute and sophisticated Chinese intelligence. It's just isn't how they operate.

Now, there's certainly something going on, as Phil said. And - and I'm sure that we're going to find out more.

And the nice thing about her having all those devices is if we give it time, the FBI is going to be doing a lot of work in digital forensics to see what kind of malware, does that malware have artifacts that lead back to known Chinese cyber-attacks?

CUOMO: Proprietary - proprietary markers in it that we might then know.

O'NEILL: Exactly.

CUOMO: All right, so Phil, help me with this then. Then what is it? If she is not a spy, what could it be?

MUDD: Let me give you a few guesses, and they're only guesses.

Number one, a secondary Chinese security service wants to say "We're going to make our mark," so they send in an amateur.

Number two, you've got industrial espionage. Some organization affiliated with China says we're interested in things like business secrets we're going to send our own person in.

And number three, somebody who's just got a thing for the President, I would - I don't want to rule this out, and says, "I want to get in there."

Look, let me make this real simple. If you wanted to conduct a sophisticated operation over time, find a sympathetic Chinese billionaire. He drops 200,000, which is chump change, you turn over the couch in China, and you can get 200,000 bucks, and he says, "I want to bring my friend in for a photo op."

Why wouldn't you do that that's so much easier, it gives you cover and there's no risk?

CUOMO: What about the crazy one, you know, not to be offensive to the mentally ill. But Eric, what about like the crazy scenario, which she loves the President?

O'NEILL: Well--

CUOMO: She wants to get close to the President. She's got money. She's got some means. She's a little cuckoo. And this is what she came up with.

O'NEILL: Right. It could be that. I'm - I'm kind of - I'm kind of here with you, Chris. I think this - this is weird enough that that it might be someone who is a little bit off.

Now, it could be someone who doesn't like the President, who wants to do harm to the President. We've got a lot of problems with China right now, and the relations aren't great.

It could be also someone who's been set up and sent by someone who doesn't like the President. It could be even a probe attack to say let's see how good the Secret Service are protecting Mar-a-Lago, see if someone could even get in or - or to test the defenses there.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: Well I'll tell you that is the most instructive part of the story because, Phil, I got to tell you, you know, sure, I test the President on a regular basis on this show. I believe it's my job. Certainly, it's not intended to injure the President.

And this Mar-a-Lago thing is a little scary. I don't know that they are able to keep it safe.

There's a reason that our President's vacationing spend off time at places that are pretty insulated. And if it weren't for the Receptionist at Mar-a-Lago, Phil, I think this lady would have gotten where she wanted to go.

MUDD: Well I mean all she has to do is get in - in there into some kind of communications apparatus in Mar-a-Lago and step a - stick a thumb drive in, and screw up the entire system.

The most interesting piece here to me, Chris, as somebody who work in government is it's really boring, but look at the - the - the public notice that was put out by the Secret Service after this event. There are at least two sentences. And that notice isn't that long.

It's only three or four paragraphs where the Secret Service basically says, "Look, at Mar-a-Lago, there's a bunch of people running around. We have some ability to stop them. But, basically, it's the President and the staff at Mar-a-Lago who run the - the operation there."

And that's the Secret Service saying, "Don't blame us. We can't control access. Get over it."

CUOMO: Yes. I don't like - it was the one thing. I mean when this story started, just to be fair, you know, open with the audience, I thought it was a gag. I thought she was going to wind up having--

MUDD: Yes.

CUOMO: --be revealed as some type of prankster or not well in the head.

But my concern has always been, and is still, you know, we only have one President. And it just seems way too easy for people to get way too close to him where he is a lot of the time.

Eric, Phil, appreciate the expertise.

MUDD: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll see what happens here. Hopefully, we get a conclusion.

O'NEILL: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Ahead, a gay Presidential candidate's powerful message for the "Mike Pences of the world." The speech is going viral and faster than usual. It's about faith and acceptance. Forget about your politics. It's worth a listen, next.








CUOMO: Democratic Presidential-hopeful, Pete Buttigieg has a message for the Vice President. Listen to this.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) INDIANA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Speaking only for myself, I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade.

And that's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand that if you've got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me. Your quarrel, Sir, is with my creator.


CUOMO: The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He's 37. But Boy, does he sound wise beyond his years, being candid about his sexuality, and how it's not a personal choice? But you know what is? Love.

D. Lemon knows about the power of love and the journey of acceptance. Look, you know, we've talked about this. Mayor Pete has got the shine on him right now.


CUOMO: The media is liking him. But this--


CUOMO: --was a real tour of his deeper self.


CUOMO: And what matters to him and why. It was an impressive message, politics aside.

LEMON: It's impressive for someone at that level who is gay to be able to say those things and with confidence.

It's - quite frankly, it's something that a lot of people, especially LGBT support groups say, a lot of people who are pro-gay rights, and same-sex marriage who happen to be Christians will say the same thing.

It talks about, you know - and what the Bible actually really does say about homosexuality and about other things, and I - I think it's important.

I always say when I speak to people that the same scriptures and doctrines that were used to discriminate against Black people to keep them subjugated and enchained in the slave, they use those same things for gay people, same thing with women, they use those same things for gay people.

So, you can interpret things in many ways, in many ways. But the truth of it all is that we are all human beings. We all created - God created us, if you believe in God. And as far as I know, God does not make mistakes.

So, if you have a problem with something that God did then see him and not me, definitely (ph).

CUOMO: Now, to the extent - I mean I think his - I - I think his use of--

LEMON: Or see her and not me.

CUOMO: That's right.


CUOMO: I think that his use of the - the idea of a doxology and religion and what it is that you want to teach and why, I thought that was smart.

And I thought politically, coming at his opponents, as opposed to just defending himself for being gay, and trying, you know, and say, well that's not all of me, you know, what sometimes politicians do, I thought that was ambitious also, and it was reflective of us living during a different time.

LEMON: Yes, it is. And I said last week, remember, I told you.

I said listen, the gay Presidential candidate leading with religion, leading with his Christianity, which is something that you don't see a lot of.

He happens to think that the Right does not have a monopoly on religion or evangelicals don't have a monopoly on religion, which is really true. They don't, because I know a lot of Democrats, a lot of progressives who are extremely religious.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: But they also know about how to interpret things. And that many things that were said in the Bible were written for that time. Lot of people talk about what Leviticus says. I want to get - get too granular here, about what Leviticus said.

But that's - that's really the Holiness code that also talks about eating shellfish and about, you know, adultery, and all - and all kinds of things, certain kind of fabrics.

CUOMO: You can find what you want in the text.

LEMON: You can find whatever you want. And to - to say that those things no longer exists when it comes to the things that you don't want them to exist for--

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: --but they still exist for people who happen to be gay, it's just complete hypocrisy.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: And not - and not of Christian value.

CUOMO: And, look, you know, the truth has always been in the search. People have to look for reasons to exclude others when they examine Jesus' message. If you take it on its face, you know that it's about inclusion.

And speaking of that, we're about to include someone in a little bit of a different way in the family.

LEMON: Oh my God.

CUOMO: D. Lemon officially going to be Mr. Tim.

LEMON: I'm OK with that.

CUOMO: I mean you should be.

LEMON: You know what's - you know what's weird, Chris? OK.

CUOMO: They're getting engaged by the way. Obviously, if you haven't heard this, Tim and Don announced their engagement. Look at him there. I know them both well. You know, I know Don. I've known Tim longer, friends with the family.

LEMON: Oh, that's right. You know his family.

CUOMO: And they are beautiful people.

LEMON: Great family, right?

CUOMO: They're about all the right things.

LEMON: Yes. It's a - it's a really great family. And he's a great guy. And you know, the weird thing, Chris, I spent, you know, a lot of time with you and Cristina this weekend.

[21:50:00] And you guys have such a great marriage, and you're so in love, you can, you know, you can tell. And you guys were so happy for us. So, thank you for that, and thank you for being so welcoming, and understanding, and just a really great friend.

But I have to tell you, I think I told Cristina this. I don't know if I told you, that I grew up never thinking that my relationships would even be public, let alone getting married.

So, for me, this is thrilling and terrifying. And it means, you know, it means - it means a lot to everyone. But this, to me, I can't really explain to you what this means.

I never thought I'd get married, never thought my relationships would be public, never even thought about that I'd really be able to have kids. Now, I have to think about all that. I'm a - I'm a true late bloomer.

CUOMO: You have no idea, my friend. I got to tell you, for somebody who was worried about the subtlety of it, you blew the cover off that with that ring. Liberace was embarrassed by that ring.

LEMON: I didn't buy it. I didn't buy it.

CUOMO: Holy Cow!

LEMON: Scott (ph), come on.

CUOMO: Never seen anything like it. LEMON: OK. Let me tell you what I said. I said, "If I'm going to get married, then I want some bling." And who - it's my finger. And it's my marriage.

CUOMO: He heard you. He heard you. And you know what I love?

LEMON: You're right.

CUOMO: You know how you know when it's the right move?

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: So, and this is the truth. Tim goes, and they use the same - obviously, they have a jeweler they both know.

Tim goes to the jeweler and says, "Look, I need a ring. I'm making this happen." The guy says, "Wait, you know?" And he says, "I know what?" Don had gone to the jeweler and said, "I'm looking for rings." Now, that's when you know it's right.

LEMON: So the jewel - we met a jeweler and I loved - I loved the guy's designs. Name is Mark Lash, by the way. It's just a free shootout (ph). He's in Canada. And we met him at a party a couple of years ago, and I loved his stuff, and I've recommended some friends to him.

And I said to him, "I want you to design my ring if I ever decide." And the last couple of weeks I've been emailing him and texting him saying, "Did you come up with a design, I'd - like what's going on?" And he would not get back to me. And I'm like, "What is going on?"

And so, when Tim came into the - to the room and did the thing, and I saw the Mark Lash box, it all made sense.

CUOMO: He was - he was busy sourcing diamonds from everywhere in Africa because that's how many are on it.

LEMON: Stop it, stop.

CUOMO: Now, we're happy for you. Come on in, the water's warm.


CUOMO: Soon you'll look like me.

LEMON: What have I gotten myself into? It's great though, thank you.

CUOMO: The best move you've ever made.

LEMON: Thank you. And you'll be there whenever we decide together.

CUOMO: 100 percent.

LEMON: Thank you.

CUOMO: For the rest of your life pal, you're stuck with me.

LEMON: I got - I got a lot ahead.

CUOMO: I'll see you in a second.

LEMON: We'll talk about it in a moment--

CUOMO: I'll see you in a second.

LEMON: All right, see you.

CUOMO: All right, the closing, it's a call to the obvious.

For all the analyses of what this President says and does, nothing speaks more to the truth of the person and the politician than the mess he has created right now, and he's done it for all the wrong reasons, next.








CUOMO: Remember this?


TRUMP: We're going to use our best people. We're going to use people that are so much more talented than there are anywhere in the world.

The Cabinet, we're going to have all the best people.

We're going to get the best people in the world.

I see stories of chaos, chaos.

This Administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.

I promised the American people that I'd ask for our country's best and brightest, and we have that.


CUOMO: Instead, he assembled, by most accounts, a weak team, and then shed the strongest members.

General James Mattis, one of the most revered Marines in a generation, Rex Tillerson four decade run at one of the biggest global corporations, Jeff Sessions, 20-year career in the Senate, names like John Kelly, Don McGahn, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, H. R. McMaster, Ty Cobb, Kirstjen Nielsen, all generated respect in Washington for the most part.

But now, the list of former Trumpers is long enough to make a whole new Administration.

Roughly two out of three senior level advisers to the President have been fired or resigned. Almost one-half of Cabinet-level jobs have turned over. We've never seen anything like it.

But the latest penchant for purging is most consequential.

DHS, Department of Homeland Security is the umbrella for 22 agencies that cover cyber-security, Coast Guard, terror, immigration, the world's largest police force, so this is a double-edged sword. Actually, let's make it like a four-pointed mace, OK?

He scares off or scorns any one of actual talent. He can't fill a lot of underling positions that matter for good government because no one is in charge long enough to staff them up.

It started off as difficult, and is now really a problem trying to find any one of real substance to want to work for this President.

And, as a result, he is left with the exception of, you know, a few talented folks near the top with hangers-on, and his kids, having incredible influence over decisions and dynamics they know nothing about.

Jared Kushner can't get a security clearance legitimately, but he's a legit choice to figure out Middle East peace, and now immigration? He needed a primer just to understand the basics of the system.

His counterbalance is Stephen Miller, ties to bigoted groups, known for extreme and untested ideas, unwilling or worried about coming on here to be tested.

This isn't the brightest. It's nor the best. He added his own alligators to a swamp that is now more fetid than ever. And the part that must concern us is why. With any President, this would be alarming.

These men, no matter how gifted, no matter how much hype, they need greatness around them, a mix of old hands, new stars, all of them working like crazy, and knowing what pitches to expect, which ones to swing at, and where the ball tends to go once you get some lumber on it, if you're lucky.

I know this as a journalist and as a lifetime student of that game. I lived it when there were no reporters or cameras for most of my life. Good teams make great leaders. Period!

But with this President, the need is greater than I've seen for support. And it is the dynamite mix of ignorance and arrogance on his part that has us in this predicament. This President thinks he will run the Administration like his TV show,

start with lot of misfits, and fire your way to a conclusion, made for a decent reality show, but that ain't reality.

We're living the real episode. And it doesn't end well if this President continues to sweat off people he needs, and is left with only those that need proximity to him for power.

The media, many of you, obsess over this President's Twitter and his snap quips. They're just for effect. But here's the real concern. Those types of judgments are actually motivating what is happening within our government as the people around him to level him out are leaving.

Separating kids for spite after a court said no, telling staff to flout immigration law, we're getting too close to uncensored Trump for comfort. That's the argument.

Thank you for watching. CNN Tonight With D. Lemon starts right now.

LEMON: It's very unsettling. It's very - because this is not really - this - it's what - how some people are being treated there, and the separation of children and families is really un-American. It's inhumane. But it's un-American.