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Officials: Trump Pushed Border Patrol Chief To Break The Law; Trump: "Unlimited Supply" Of Migrants To Dump On "Sanctuary" Cities; Trump Tweets Video Showing 9/11 Attack & Omar Comments. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired April 12, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: --for 23 hours a day and then get up and go to the gym for an hour. And they sort of demonstrate that.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: It's fascinating stuff, Sanjay, thanks so much.

GUPTA: Thanks for having me. Thank you.

COOPER: The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris. CUOMO PRIME TIME starts now.

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

Break the law, and according to sources, this President told the now Acting Head of DHS, "If there's trouble, I'll pardon you." Is that making America great again?

Also illegal, threatening to punish his political rivals by dumping busloads of migrants into their sanctuary cities. Today, after the White House assured that it wasn't happening, President Trump insisted he's strongly considering it. What are the implications? We'll bring in Cuomo's Court into session for that.

And the President lashes out at Congresswoman Omar's comments on 9/11, an incendiary video that some lawmakers say is putting her life in danger. Did he cross the line? Is there any such thing for him?

Let's get after it.




CUOMO: So, according to senior administration officials, this President spoke to his CBP Commissioner last week in Calexico, California about blocking asylum seekers from entering our country.

Now, if you do that, it's illegal. If you get in trouble and go to jail, the President supposedly pardoned. He said, "If you do that and you get in trouble, I will pardon you." That's the reporting.

Kevin McAleenan is now Acting Homeland Security Chief. A DHS spokesman said McAleenan wasn't asked to do anything illegal. But if that's what he was asked, how is it not wrong if not illegal?




CUOMO: Let's go to the better minds. Cuomo's Court is in session, Asha Rangappa, Jimmy Schultz.

Jimmy, I start with you on this. If that's what happened, "I don't want these people in here anymore. McAleenan, make it happen." "Well, it's illegal." "Don't worry. I'll pardon you if they give you any trouble."

Your take?

JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: First off, DHS denies that ever happened but - and denied that they are asked, ever pressured or asked to do something illegal. But let's - let's assume for a second.

CUOMO: That's what they say. Not that it never happened.


CUOMO: But that he wasn't pressured to do anything illegal.

SCHULTZ: They were never pressured or asked to do anything illegal. So, so let's - to the extent that the Executive branch wants to order or - or - or order one of its agents to do something, there's a process to do. That's called Executive Orders.

The President just doesn't willy-nilly ask the Customs and Border Protection or the Secretary of DHS to do something. There's a process by which that takes place.

But secondly, let's - let's think about this for a second. There's hundreds - in the Rio Grande Valley alone, a 162,000 apprehensions last year, Border crossings.

CUOMO: Out of control.

SCHULTZ: This year alone, all - already there are--

CUOMO: Overwhelmed.

SCHULTZ: --147,000 this year of the 250,000. And you - and you think about the issues there. We talked about the sanctuary cities. The strain on these local municipalities along the Border is tremendous.

CUOMO: Tremendous. SCHULTZ: The - the problems that are occurring on this Border are - are tremendous. And you know what?

CUOMO: It's a crisis.

SCHULTZ: The Democrats and Republicans like for years have done nothing.

CUOMO: Nothing.

SCHULTZ: Have done nothing at all.

CUOMO: True.

SCHULTZ: It's time for Congress to sit down with the President and come up with reasonable reform. Maybe the President said something when he was frustrated, out of frustration, and maybe he said it off the cuff.

But we know that's not how things happen in government, and that's not how thing - you know, there's - there would be an Executive Order, and then it would be challenged, just like we've seen in - in time and time again when the President issues Executive Orders to agencies to - to do something.

CUOMO: Asha, I have two different segments of this show tonight dedicated to how this alleged reported conversation falls right into a pattern, six to 10 examples deep of the President doing exactly this, either outwardly attacking the rule of law or asking people to go around it, and say "Don't worry. I'll take care of you."

What makes it wrong? What does the President have to do to make it wrong? You know, we know that Larry Tribe said that he believes this is impeachable. All right, let's dismiss the great Larry Tribe as just a one-off.

What's the line for you?

ASHA RANGAPPA, YALE UNIVERSITY: Well the great Larry Tribe is - is a Harvard Law professor. So, I wouldn't necessarily dismiss him.

CUOMO: Yes, I know. But I'm saying even if you want to do that--

RANGAPPA: But this is what--

CUOMO: --even if you want to dismiss Laurence Tribe, what's the line?

RANGAPPA: This is what we call an abuse of power.

And everyone who is watching this show right now should pull up on their smartphone or on their computer the Declaration of Independence of the United States, and read through the grievances that the Founding Fathers had against King George the Third.

And many of them will sound familiar, including some of the things that we're seeing today. These are tyrannical acts. When you try to obstruct a law that has been passed by Congress just

because you don't like it or you don't think it's good policy, it is the Executive's role under the Constitution to take care that the laws be faithfully executed not to order people to break the law.

The pardon power as Alexander Hamilton noted in The Federalist Papers was to relieve people of unfortunate guilt. It's not to get them out of trouble after you've ordered them to break the law.

[21:05:00] I mean these are just - they're such blatant, you know, abuses of power. And - and, Chris, I don't even know what to say. It makes me sick to my stomach because at this point we're just sitting by and watching it happen.

And it's going to be a segment on your show. And then, tomorrow, we're going to move on to the next thing, and I think people need to wake up.

CUOMO: Jimmy, you're not so impressed.

SCHULTZ: Well it's - that just sounds like a whole lot of drama to me. I think in this instance that the President said something off the cuff to someone that that would, you know, tongue-in-cheek, who knows what he was getting at, if he said it at all.

Remember, they denied that they were ever asked to do anything illegal. So, this whole argument that's tyrannical is - is ludicrous because they've said they weren't asked to do anything illegal or pressured to do anything illegal.

So, let's take that at face value, and you have no tyranny, you have no drama, you'd have no constitutional crisis. And, quite frankly, that hasn't been implemented. So, why is the sky falling now? I don't get it.

CUOMO: Well because the idea of him doing this again, once again saying, "All right, I know there's a rule. I'm going to close the Border."

SCHULTZ: But what did he do?

CUOMO: Hold on. Jimmy, just let me - hear me out about it, you know? What did we hear about him with Nielsen?

"I'm going to close the Border." "Don't do that. It's not only problematic in terms of process. It's legally problematic." "Mm, I'm going to do it anyway."

"I want to do separation of kids more than ever." "Wait, you signed an Executive Order saying that the - that - that is over. We don't do that anymore. And then a judge enjoined us." "Mm, I want to do it any way."

"I wanted to - I want to dump these detainees in people sanctuary cities." "No, you can't do that. It - it's - it's right for legal challenge." "Mm, yes, I'm going to do it anyway." That's what he keeps doing Jimmy. And it's not--

SCHULTZ: That's political sabre-rattling--

CUOMO: --what a President is supposed to do.

SCHULTZ: --is what it is.

It's political sabre-rattling. You - we can argue all day whether it's the right tone or whether it's the right thing to say. But the bottom line is he hasn't --that's not tyrannical. It's not violating the Constitution.

And what he's doing is political sabre-rattling to get folks to the table to try to deal with this issue.

CUOMO: That make you feel better, Asha?

SCHULTZ: That's a political--

CUOMO: This is just words. It's just him saying it. He's living rent- free in your head once again. You took it way too serious.

RANGAPPA: No. I think, as you just mentioned, Chris, this is not just a one-off.

And we know that he was displeased with his DHS Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen precisely because she said that there were things that she could not do because of the law. He does not respect the law.

And, Jim, I'm - I - I don't see how as a lawyer, as a profession - as someone, a member of this profession that you can dismiss this as sort of being an off-the-cuff or a joke.

If you're a heart surgeon, you know what? You don't joke about--

SCHULTZ: I never said joke.

RANGAPPA: --cutting the wrong artery while you're doing a surgery.

SCHULTZ: I - I never said it was a joke, Asha. This is a--

RANGAPPA: I mean but - but you're dismissing it.

SCHULTZ: You know what - you know what's a joke? The fact that Congress hasn't--

RANGAPPA: You - you're dismissing it.

SCHULTZ: --come to the table with anything of - of any use as it relates to immigration.

CUOMO: All right, now, look, listen, I'm - I'm--

RANGAPPA: OK. What does that have to do with the price of mill (ph)?

SCHULTZ: And that they're happier to (ph) bring them here. That's the joke of it all.

CUOMO: Well--

RANGAPPA: That's a policy argument.

SCHULTZ: This is a serious issue.

CUOMO: Hold on a second. Well let's talk about--

SCHULTZ: And what you're trying to do--

RANGAPPA: That's the policy argument.

SCHULTZ: --is demagogue the issue and talk about the President saying things that he shouldn't say.

CUOMO: Well, but look, it is about what he says. Words have power.

RANGAPPA: Yes because though he's saying things he shouldn't say.

CUOMO: Right.

SCHULTZ: Words matter.

CUOMO: All right. No--

SCHULTZ: Words have matter. But - but--

CUOMO: Well words do matter. And they have operative effect. But hold on.

SCHULTZ: --it's not so that (ph) he's not giving orders.

CUOMO: I want to - I want to--

SCHULTZ: And there hasn't been an Executive Order--

CUOMO: --I want to take--

SCHULTZ: --to - to violate the law. That just doesn't happen.

CUOMO: I want - I want to take your suggestion.

SCHULTZ: That doesn't happen.

CUOMO: Well it does happen. He does it on a regular basis. That's why it makes people upset, like Asha, because they see it as part of a pattern, and people like you who want to support him--

SCHULTZ: And that's why we have different branches of governments--

CUOMO: --don't call it out.

SCHULTZ: --and courts--

CUOMO: You know. SCHULTZ: --and courts that can call - they can call it out, and - and when things are challenged that he does and the Administration does--

CUOMO: Yes. Courts that he calls rigged, judges that he accuses--

SCHULTZ: --it goes before the court.

CUOMO: --of animus if they're ethnic, and judges who he makes up--

SCHULTZ: But they're still there. And they still have the same power, Chris.

CUOMO: --out of whole class (ph) to suit his purpose.

SCHULTZ: They're still there. They have the same power.

CUOMO: Yes. But that doesn't make it OK.


CUOMO: Over time--

SCHULTZ: The power has not changed.

CUOMO: Well--

SCHULTZ: And they can hold they - and - and their job is to--

RANGAPPA: And, Chris--

SCHULTZ: --uphold the rule of law.

CUOMO: But it's about erosion. But I want to bring up something else--

SCHULTZ: That's what they - they ought to do.

CUOMO: --that you brought up, Jimmy, because it's important, Asha, and I want you on this also.

Now, the idea that Congress should do something I'm in on that a 100 percent. I can't believe the Democrats haven't jumped at this opportunity for them here. The President thought the fence would be the fix. It isn't. The system is overwhelmed in ways that a fence will never solve. Everybody knows it.

He's doing nothing, even with an emergency declaration, where he could use the military to build tent cities, and have places to keep detainees, instead of dumping them in sanctuary cities. He's not doing it because he's all about the fence and nothing else.

The Democrats are doing nothing either.

But, Jimmy, to your point, instead of saying Congress sucks all the time, which is what he does, why doesn't he reach out to Congress? Why doesn't he make some of the deals that he promised us he would as the best dealmaker we've ever had as President? Why isn't he doing that? SCHULTZ: We now have--

CUOMO: Why don't you put it on him?

SCHULTZ: We have - and you know what? He sat in the office with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, and nothing happened because Congress wasn't willing to come to the table with anything reasonable.

CUOMO: He backed away from the deal, Jimmy. They made a deal with him and he walked away from it when the--

SCHULTZ: There wasn't really a deal on the table that was going to deal with--

CUOMO: --Republicans scared him.

SCHULTZ: --DACA that - no, that's not. There - there was a deal on the table long before that one--

CUOMO: He made them a deal.

SCHULTZ: --where the Democrats just walked away.

CUOMO: No, he walked away, and you know it. You're a little out of your depth on this one. I'll forgive it. You're a lawyer. You're not a political pundit. But, Asha--

SCHULTZ: No, no, no, no. That's the first--

[21:10:00] CUOMO: You're out - you're out of your depth on it, you're wrong.

SCHULTZ: --that's the first time.

CUOMO: You're wrong. They made him a deal. He walked away from it when he got--

RANGAPPA: Chris, can I--

CUOMO: --pressure from his party.

SCHULTZ: Correct. That - that one - that one had to--


SCHULTZ: --do with the budget deal, Chris. But there was another time where - where Chuck Schumer--

CUOMO: No, it was on immigration.

SCHULTZ: --and Nancy Pelosi were in his - in his office to talk about immigration, and they put a real immigration plan on the table, and the Democrats walked away from it.

CUOMO: No, not true.

SCHULTZ: They did.

CUOMO: Not true.

SCHULTZ: It happened.

CUOMO: I'll talk to you about it off the line if you want because--


CUOMO: --this isn't the segment. Asha, final word to you.

RANGAPPA: Yes. So, I think this is an important policy argument. But I do think that it shouldn't distract from the gravity of what the President said, which is a legal and constitutional issue.

CUOMO: A 100 percent. A 100 percent.

RANGAPPA: But on the policy side, I will say - I will say this.

You know, first of all, when we see what he wants to do with taking these - these immigrants, and putting them in the side - in sanctuary cities, where they're going to be actually treated well, they're going to be treated fairly, they - they are going to be, you know, welcomed and protected, which is only going to encourage more people to come, we can see that this is not about finding a solution.

This is about punishing political enemies. This isn't about maintaining a crisis. And if he sold that there's no crisis--

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: --and then you don't get to fear-monger and do all of these things--

CUOMO: Well that's why he doesn't show you pictures of the kids.

RANGAPPA: --and I think that that goes to why, Chris--

CUOMO: You don't show pictures of the kids because he can't show a picture of a kid's face and say--

RANGAPPA: Exactly. Exactly.

CUOMO: --"Build a wall."

RANGAPPA: And why he doesn't--

CUOMO: I get it. I get it. You're a 100 percent right. But you know what, Jimmy? It wasn't fair for me.

RANGAPPA: And why he doesn't come to the table.

CUOMO: It wasn't fair - you're right, Asha.

And it wasn't fair for me to say, you're out of your depth. You know I have tremendous respect for you and personal affection. So, let me go one more step down this road with you.

He's got the emergency declaration. Asha will beat me nine and a half times out of 10 that it's not legal. He shouldn't have done it. It's not really an emergency. I'm not making that case.

He has it now. Why doesn't he use it to address the needs of resources and further requirements of what the CBP are begging them for? Why hasn't he done it? Why isn't he building the accommodations that he could with the order?

SCHULTZ: Could--


SCHULTZ: They - they're also - the - the CBP has also asked for some measure, and I'm not saying, we'll call it a - a Border - so a Border wall, we'll call it whatever we want to call it, but some type of physical barrier has to be part of that.

And I think the Administration also has to do more.

CUOMO: Why you're making it either/or?

SCHULTZ: You talked about tent cities.

CUOMO: I'm asking for both.

SCHULTZ: And - and I - I don't think it - I don't think it has to be either/or, Chris.

CUOMO: Well then why isn't he doing it?

SCHULTZ: I agree with you. Tent cities isn't - you'll have to ask the President that. But - but the - the tent cities--

CUOMO: I wish I could.

SCHULTZ: --and some of the things you mentioned are certainly a - a bridge that - that - that can help this problem. But it's not going to solve the problem. The only thing that's going to solve the problem are for Democrats to come to the table with something real.

CUOMO: Jimmy, the President can address what they need right now himself because he has the emergency declaration. And you know it.

SCHULTZ: It's going to solve all the problems. With - with out--

CUOMO: No. But it would deal with their current urgency. He wouldn't have to dump people in sanctuary cities.

SCHULTZ: --the asylum laws that are failing this country, the strain on the U.S. Attorney's offices around this country--

CUOMO: He wouldn't have to dump people in sanctuary cities if he built accommodations.

SCHULTZ: --the strain on the lawyers that have to handle these cases when we could be focusing on - on real criminal issues--

CUOMO: He can tap resources to get them more manpower.

SCHULTZ: --in this country not having to handles all these asylum cases.

CUOMO: He - hey, Asha, I'm bringing you in as the Judge. We've shifted. It's now me versus Jimmy.

Asha, doesn't the emergency declaration allow this President to pick pockets to give more resources for judges, staffing and to mobilize the military, like the Army Corps of Engineers, to build temporary shelters, which they do magically in just days to accommodate any overflow?

RANGAPPA: That's right. Now that he's declared a national emergency, any statute that can be triggered by that national emergency can be activated. And that includes not just finding money for the wall, but also finding resources to do these other things.

And I think, Chris, once again, we get to the fact that he does not like the law. You can add more judges. But he knows that when it comes to--

CUOMO: He said "Get rid of the judges."

RANGAPPA: --say asylum seekers that they are--

SCHULTZ: More judges aren't going to solve the problem.

RANGAPPA: He said get rid of the judges.

CUOMO: That's how you adjudicate the cases.

RANGAPPA: He does not - he does not want--

SCHULTZ: I mean more judges--

CUOMO: What do you mean they don't help the problem?

SCHULTZ: --are not going to solve the problems. That's not--

CUOMO: You got to process the cases. You got 800,000 people back--

RANGAPPA: That's called the rule of law, Jim. That's exactly what our democracy is built on.

SCHULTZ: --going to solve the problem because you can't--

CUOMO: --in the putlog (ph).

SCHULTZ: Chris, it's just going to get worse and worse--

CUOMO: All right, listen--

SCHULTZ: --and worse. More people, more people, more people trying to cross the Border--

CUOMO: And so - and you're - so your answer is to not deal with the flow?

SCHULTZ: --every day. So - so now we're--

CUOMO: You know, it's weird.

SCHULTZ: --just going to continue to throw money at it, throw money at it, and throw money at it--

CUOMO: No. You - you don't throw money at it.

SCHULTZ: --instead of trying to solve the problem?

CUOMO: You increase your process. You increase your capabilities--

SCHULTZ: Come on!

CUOMO: --like you do with anything else.

SCHULTZ: Chris, that doesn't make any sense.

CUOMO: What do you do--


CUOMO: --when you're running a company if people start buying--

SCHULTZ: Doesn't make any sense. We have to have--

RANGAPPA: Jim, he declared a national emergency.

CUOMO: --more product than they can sell? Shutdown?

SCHULTZ: --better immigration laws in this country.

CUOMO: All right, look, I'm not saying that--

SCHULTZ: Right. Because Con--

CUOMO: --Congress shouldn't address the rules.

SCHULTZ: --Congress won't act.

CUOMO: Jimmy, I'm not saying Congress shouldn't address the rules.

SCHULTZ: They got to work at it.

CUOMO: I'm saying they should have a partner to do it. And this President doesn't lead on that. And I'm saying he could be doing things now that he isn't. And I believe it's because the worse it gets, he thinks, the better it is for him.

Asha Rangappa, well argued. Jimmy--

RANGAPPA: Absolutely.

CUOMO: --always appreciate you on this show. Have a great weekend.

We can disagree. But I love having them on. I love better minds. I love going at these ideas. You can challenge the facts. You can challenge the rationales. But it's the right conversation to have because that situation is only getting worse.

[21:15:00] Now, why do I think it's OK to tee up a discussion about this latest example of the President saying, "Yes, I don't care what the law is. And if you get in trouble, I'll pardon you?" Because it's not the first time he's done it.

I will show you how it fits into a pattern of very disturbing behavior in this regard.

And we have the Head of the DNC here. How is his party going to respond to the President if he makes good on his threat to flood sanctuary cities? What does he think about the video that the President put out, painting Representative Omar, a Democrat, as someone who doesn't care about 9/11, next.








CUOMO: This President made you a very simple promise. Listen.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must restore integrity and the rule of law.

Restore the rule of law.

We can restore the rule of law.

We have to restore the rule of law.


CUOMO: No. Now we have to restore the rule of law because we hear he told the Head of CBP that he should do something that would violate the law. And if he got in trouble, there'd be a pardon waiting for him. One Constitutional Expert calls this an impeachable abuse of power. What we know for sure that it is, is the latest in a series of acts that proves this President does not respect the law as he should.

The day before this news, word came that POTUS was pushing for a plan to dump detainees in sanctuary cities, despite being told it was potentially illegal. POTUS went out of his way to say the plan is still an option, the same day the White House said the plan was never real.

This flouting of the law by the President who swore to restore it is a constant, whether it was reportedly ordering James Mattis to assassinate a foreign leader, telling Jim Comey to back off Michael Flynn, reportedly ordering Gary Cohn to shut down the AT&T merger with CNN's owner, or just dissing judges as biased and decisions he doesn't agree with as rigged.

He tried to peddle the BS that the Flores settlement regarding treatment of kids at the Border was suscept - suspect because a law - suspect that way because the Judge was Mexican. He thought Flores referred to the Judge. It's an asinine assumption. The plaintiff was named Flores.

[21:20:00] His insistence on disrespecting the law is such that those who work for him had to regularly disregard him. Listen.


REX WAYNE TILLERSON, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: I'd have to say to him, "Well Mr. President, I understand what you want to do, but you can't do it that way. You know, it violates the law."


CUOMO: It's the former Secretary of State. As for those who don't say "No," remember Michael Cohen. He's going to jail in part for crimes he says were committed at the President's direction.

Now, here's the real problem with all this. POTUS has a power that no one else does. He has the power to pardon. His now Acting DHS Head would be far from the first person POTUS has reportedly dangled what he sees as a get-out-of-jail-free card for doing his bidding.

And when he does use the pardon power, you know, is he tends to go around the normal procedure. The very first pardon he issued went to former Arizona Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, someone who flouted immigration law in the name of harshness.

This week makes another thing clear. Those who push back are no longer in place. Instead, from his A.G. to his Treasury Secretary, and in every acting post in between, POTUS has surrounded himself with those who make his protection their primary purpose. So, that's why we call it out.

Now, the main question is whether or not the President is abuse --- abusing his powers again, this time, on social media, in an attack of an opponent. It's a Great Debate on a very controversial new post, next.








CUOMO: All right, late today, the President tweeted out this video, calling out Congressman Omar.


REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you have no idea right now--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, there's another one, another plane just hit.

OMAR: Some people did something.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my goodness! There is smoke pouring out the Pentagon.

OMAR: Some people did something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just flew straight into it.



[21:25:00] CUOMO: First, I want to put "Some people did something" in context. Here's the Representatives fuller statement.


OMAR: Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen.

CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.


CUOMO: So, it's not as dismissive as it's being portrayed. But is the ad fair?

Now, I want to bring in for our Great Debate, Paul Begala and Ken Cuccinelli.




CUOMO: But just to be clear and on the record, I apologize to the families of the victims of 9/11 and people who were there that day. That video should not be used in political hit ads.

I'm using it to make a point. I didn't make the ad. If I thought about it more, I don't think I'd even play the ad. So, I apologize to you. I do not mean to revisit your nightmares. I'm sorry if that's the effect that it has.

Now, putting that to the side, Ken, fair or unfair?

KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND PRESIDENT: Completely fair, particularly in the context of all of Ilhan Omar's other statements that are - her own fellow Democrats, you know, ran a - anti-Semitism resolution through Congress in reaction to her statement.

So, when you look at it in the context of other things she has said, just like you looked at the President's comments in light of other things he has said earlier in the show, Chris, it - it looks like an entirely fair ad.

And it is a painful thing to see. But it really did happen. And it really was terrible. It was the worst attack on American soil in history. And she - she just called it "Something." It wasn't even something terrible. It wasn't anything along those lines. She didn't even characterize it badly.

CUOMO: So, is that the point?

CUCCINELLI: To the extent she had a good point, and I'm a civil libertarian--

CUOMO: So let me bounce that to Paul, Ken.

CUCCINELLI: Can I just finish?

CUOMO: Please go ahead, Ken.

CUCCINELLI: Can I just finish?

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CUCCINELLI: To the extent she had a good point, she, you know, there's a civil libertarian concern about all the reactions after 9/11. But her characterization of what happened on 9/11 is - is entirely fair game. It was ridiculously understated--


CUCCINELLI: --given the horror that both drove it and the damage done.

CUOMO: Right point, wrong way. Key phrase, ridiculously understated the gravity of 9/11. Fair criticism, Paul.

PAUL BEGALA, POLITICAL CONSULTANT, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well it's just obscene for the President to try to - to, as you point out, take that pain and make a political gain from it.

I had problems with some of the things Congresswoman Omar has said, and for which she has apologized, for using (ph) anti-Semitic tropes saying it's all about the Benjamins reason that Members of Congress support Israel. That was - that was outrageous. And she has apologized.

President Trump needs to apologize for this. You know, Chris, we all remember. I was driving past the Pentagon when the plane hit, OK? I had friends who were on that plane, and for him to politicize that, after his record.

Ken talked about talking about other things Congresswoman Omar has said, and that is fair. Look at what our President has said.

Before the bodies had been cleared or identified, before the wounded had been treated, he went on television in New York, and he said, "Well my building at 40 Wall Street is now the tallest building in America," bragged about it. Wasn't true, and it was appallingly bad taste.

He spread a lie that citizens - Muslims in - citizens of Jersey City, New Jersey were dancing and partying and celebrating. That was a lie.

He told people that he paid hundreds of people to clear the rubble and to - to - to really risk their health as so many heroes did after 9/11, clearing that rubble, there's no evidence he ever did it.

So, this guy has no moral standing ever to try to use our greatest day, in my lifetime, of national pain for his political gain.

CUOMO: I just think maybe, Ken, it should just be a no-go zone, you know.

BEGALA: Right.

CUOMO: And if somebody says something about 9/11, we call them out. You know, if they - if they disrespect the day, I mean I don't know who would do that in elected politics in America, and - and think that they're going to survive politically.

But when you tie a political criticism to those images, and they ran those images full, and long, that's really powerful stuff, too much to make a point that I'm not disagreeing with you on. CUCCINELLI: Yes. I - I agree with you with respect to sensitivity. But it doesn't mean it's off limits. She made these comments. She made these comments. And for the - for the President to jump on her for the - for the ridiculous characterization, "Something has happened"--

CUOMO: But how you jump on her, Ken?

CUCCINELLI: --is completely a fair game in politics today.

CUOMO: I mean, how? You could jump on her a 100 ways.

CUCCINELLI: And in a broader--

CUOMO: If you wanted to jump on her, you wouldn't make that ad.

CUCCINELLI: --and in a broader sense - well I would make the comment about--


CUCCINELLI: --what she said.

CUOMO: Sure.

CUCCINELLI: I - I probably wouldn't make an ad.

CUOMO: That's what I'm saying.

CUCCINELLI: But - but, look, he - he is in re-elect mode. And there is a large swath of America that includes me, that is very concerned at the anti-Semitic direction of the Democrat Party, particularly the progress - so-called progressive base that she is a new face of.

CUOMO: You don't think she's a one-off? You think she's part of a newer wing?

CUCCINELLI: And this - this speaks to a bigger problem.

CUOMO: Paul, Ken's assertion is--

BEGALA: Hey, I just called out - I just called out Congresswoman Omar for that comment that she made, which I did think fed anti-Semitic tropes, and for which she has apologized.

[21:30:00] You're going to call out Donald Trump for putting out a - a picture of Hillary Clinton with a Star of David by her and a pile of cash attacking her, or for going to the Republican Jewish Coalition and using all of those same anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money and politics?

Are you going to call out Donald Trump the way I just called out Congresswoman Omar?

CUOMO: That's for you, Ken.

CUCCINELLI: Back when - back in the primary when I was supporting Ted Cruz, we dealt with all of this incoming fire from Donald Trump. And the American people filtered through it all. He got $2 billion of airtime. And the American people made their decision.

We don't have a traditional President here. But when and - and he's going to keep hammering and hammering in ways that we've never seen a President do, and we probably never will again. And that's the way he operates.

And the American people knew what they were getting when they elected Donald Trump. And when they - and the people of Ilhan Omar's district knew what they were getting when they elected her as well. And those two are going to go at it over issues like this until one of them is no longer in office.

BEGALA: But can you call out her and not him, why?

CUCCINELLI: I have. Chris will tell you. I have repeatedly disagreed with the President on - on a variety of points, and on how he - how he characterizes his own perspective.

I am not going to call him out on this. I do not think he is out-of- bounds on this. I think it is, Chris is right, it's a sensitive issue. But it is not off-limits.

This is not talking about other Americans as if they're Nazis, using that kind of language that, frankly, I've seen get more common in the - in the last couple of years from the Left, and the media accepts it now, where it used to be an off-limits subject for everybody in the world, except Iran. And now, it's not.

And we've been creeping in this direction. I do think President is part of the harsher tone of discussion. But he didn't start this. He - he got in and took advantage of it to run for President.

CUOMO: Well that's the point.

CUCCINELLI: Get elected.

CUOMO: That's the point though.

CUCCINELLI: And he hasn't changed who he is.

CUOMO: OK. Look, you want to take advantage of divisions and people's vulnerabilities, that's fine.

But I just think that he could have made this point that "Hey, you don't talk about 9/11 as "Something that happened," all right? That's maybe how you see it. It's not how Americans see it, in general and you need to."

He could have done that a lot of ways--


CUOMO: --without reminding us of - a one of, if not the darkest day in America's history with long images of these things that people deal with it - still with very great difficulty. But we said enough on this.

And fellas, I appreciate you keeping the tone straight on this. Paul Begala, thank you very much. Ken Cuccinelli, as always, welcome addition on PRIME TIME.

BEGALA: Thanks.

CUOMO: And I--


CUOMO: Let me just say it again, all right? I will never use video like that as part of a - a political ad again.

I don't care if it's positive about how far we've come since 9/11, whatever it is, I'm not going to show those images of that day. I know what they mean to the families. This happened quickly with this video. I won't do it again.

The Head of the Democratic Party is going to be here tonight. And he believes that his party has come up with a way to deal with what we were just talking about, the President's ability to throw out quick shots, and change the dialog, and play on division.

Tom Perez calls what he does "Destructive." And he believes that he has a new system within his party to combat it all across the country. What is it? Next.








CUOMO: You know, listen, the Border and the situation is not an easy place to play to political advantage. There is a crisis down there. I don't believe it's the one that the President's been selling you.

And the facts show it out it's not about terrorists and drug dealers running across. It's a humanitarian crisis of kids and families. And now, as it continues, and he doesn't address it, and Congress doesn't, they're all going to have to own it, OK?

Now, what are the Democrats going to do about it? What is their individual response going to be? And how's the party going to deal with it?

On the second, we have the perfect guest to get answers from, the Head of the DNC, Tom Perez, Chairman.




CUOMO: Good to see you, Sir.


CUOMO: The pleasure is mine. All right, let's deal with this video first. I'm not showing it. Do not put it up again.

Omar did not show requisite sensitivity to 9/11. "Some people did something," not the way to talk about 9/11. I gave her the benefit of context. I showed her the whole thing. I showed the whole part of her speech about it.

The way the President dealt with it, we just debated. What is your take on what she said?

PEREZ: Well, you know, Chris, we have 571 days until the most important election of our lifetime. We have healthcare on the ballot. We've got good wages on the ballot. We've got - our democracy is on the ballot.

And what Donald Trump wants to do in the 571 days between now and the election is distract people. He doesn't want to talk about healthcare because he doesn't have a plan other than to take away people's healthcare.

He doesn't want to talk about the issues that matter most in communities across this country. The distraction of 2018 was caravans because they didn't want to talk about healthcare.

And what voters want to know, Chris, and - and this is what we're getting at, at the Democratic Party, what voters want to know going into this cycle is who has my back, who can I trust to keep their promises?

And that is why Donald Trump wants to talk about these issues right now, because he is hoping that for the next 570 days, we talk about one or two Members of Congress.

He doesn't want us to talk about the fact that Democrats believe that healthcare is a right for all, and we're going to keep our promise, and have your back, whereas he has a knife in your back.

CUOMO: Listen--

PEREZ: We are keeping our promises to make sure that this economy works for everyone, and not just for a few at the top. And he has passed the most reckless tax cut in American history.

CUOMO: I hear you on the issues.

PEREZ: That's why he wants to distract.

CUOMO: I hear you on the issues. Nobody will ever give you more time or your candidates more time to discuss them than my show will. I promise you that because it matters.

However, so does 9/11. And having a member of your ranks who deals with it that way, "Some people did something," and I gave her the benefit of full context. Isn't that something that you should have a comment on as opposed to just seeing it as a distraction?

PEREZ: Well, Chris, everybody remembers where they were on 9/11. I remember exactly where I was. And I saw - we - we all lived this.

[21:40:00] It was the worst day of, certainly, our lifetimes, and one of the two or three worst days in American history. And - and we should never forget that. And we never will forget that.

And, as Paul correctly pointed out, we saw what Donald Trump was saying on that same day, bragging again, you know, inaccurately that his building was now the tallest building in New York, and talking about what people were doing in Jersey City.

And so, you know, these comments, you know, we - we - we must all, again, understand the legacy of 9/11, and the - and - and the backlash that occurred post 9/11 against so many people, not only of Muslim faith.

But the first - one of the first murders after 9/11 was the murder of a Sikh-American who the gas station owner--

CUOMO: Yes. Who they thought was Muslim.

PEREZ: --in Phoenix--


PEREZ: --mistaken for a Muslim. So, we - we saw so many unspeakable tragedies.

And I will tell you, someone who stood up after that murder, George W. Bush, who said we are not at war with Islam, and he was unequivocal in that statement.

CUOMO: And this President's very different.

PEREZ: And I applaud President Bush for that.

CUOMO: This President's very different about it. I'm just saying I - I hear you on it.

PEREZ: And this President every - every single day--

CUOMO: I hear you on it, Tom. But he didn't start this particular round of it. This is about her

comments, and not the first one she's made. I've invited her on the show. It's an open invite. I'd love for her to explain herself about it. I think the audience should hear from that.

That's why I asked you a couple of different times to opine on it. I don't want to spend all our time on it. Let me ask you about this.

So, his ability to distract, as you put it, and find ways to have the media pick up on what he's doing, instead of what you want to talk about, you have put together something organizational that you say will go across the country to help with this during the campaign, and keep people focused on facts, and on the real issues. What?

PEREZ: It's our DNC War Room. You go to @DNCWarRoom on Twitter, and you'll see it. And what we're doing is localizing the impact of Donald Trump.

We are telling the story in Southern Ohio. Before the election, he got out there, right in front of the Brent Spence Bridge, which connects Northern Kentucky and Southern Ohio, it's one of the most decrepit bridges in America, and he says, "I'm going to build a new bridge. I'm going to fix that."

Of course, it doesn't happen.

He says many times, "I will not see a plant closing. You will not see a plant closing under my watch." And then we have real people talking about the impact. "I will not touch Medicaid. I will not touch Medicare." And you see the trail of broken promises. And, by the way, these - this trail of broken promises runs across

every state. And we have been documenting it, from New Hampshire, down to Florida, down to - over to promises made in Nevada and elsewhere.

And I believe it's really important, Chris, to localize the impact here, to tell that story, because every time he's at a rally, there's another 20 lies.

And what we're doing is holding him accountable and telling these stories not through the lens of the DNC but through the lens of real people, the - the Harley worker in Kansas City who lost his job, the - the Kimberly-Clark workers.

The Kimberly-Clark got a $1 billion in tax breaks from the reckless tax cut. What did they do? They gave the vast majority of it to their shareholders in the form of stock buybacks. And then, they laid out 5,500 workers.

We're telling the story through the lens of these workers because people want to know in 571 days who has my back, and who has a knife in my back.

Democrats are fighting for your healthcare. We're fighting to make sure the economy works for you. We're fighting on tax day to make sure that you have more money in your pockets, not just people who are wealthy. And we're telling these stories everywhere. CUOMO: Well--

PEREZ: @DNCWarRoom, and you will see localized stories across this country. That's what's going to get people to the polls, understanding who's going to make my day-to-day life better.

CUOMO: Well--

PEREZ: And that's what we're talking about.

CUOMO: Look, the more the campaign is about policies and who says they're going to deliver on what, that matters to people the better. I think some of my hair will grow back if that happens.

Tom Perez, thank you very much for joining us.

PEREZ: Boy! That's two of us, Chris.

CUOMO: Well let's not get crazy.

PEREZ: Have a good night.

CUOMO: No, Tom, thank you very much for being with me on. I appreciate you taking on the questions.

PEREZ: Always good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Now, as we all know, it's just impossible to physically be in two or three places at the same time, right, but not virtually impossible. Why? Why am I making this weird segue?

Because one 2020 candidate wants to use technology to wow voters on the campaign trail. It would be really interesting. I don't know how it's going to work from an authenticity standpoint. But it's worth discussing.

We'll bring in D. Lemon for that, next.








CUOMO: Yes, this is a good one. I want to see where you are on this. I'm not quite sure. There are 18 Democrats running, right, for 2020? But only one is trying to campaign like this. Check this out. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang debuted his dance duet with the late rapper. that's Tupac Shakur in there. This just happened this week. Don't be fooled. What you're seeing is not one hologram, it's two.


CUOMO: Yang says this is a demo of what's going to come as he hits the campaign trail. Let's bring in D. Lemon - Lemon on this. You know, retail politicking, going across the hustings is all about reaching out, making connections with people.


CUOMO: What do you think about holograms?

LEMON: Well I think it's - I'm open to anything. I think it's the future. Maybe some people - you know how they have like the spillover room, right, the overflow room?


LEMON: And people are speaking, and you can watch them on the monitors. Maybe that'll help in those situations. But I don't think you can - there's anything that beats being there in person, pressing the flesh, and letting people see you, right?

CUOMO: Yes. The whole reason these men and women kill themselves going across the country is so people can get some exposure to them.


CUOMO: And see what they are like. I don't know how you access that. I mean it's cool. It'll make him different. I just don't know if it helps the connection.

LEMON: Yes. Well but it - but it helps him be in a lot of places at one time.

CUOMO: That's for sure.

LEMON: And some people may be fascinated by it. You know, I've - last night, I had Julian Castro. You saw that.


LEMON: And I said, "Well, are you exhausted? How do you feel?" And he said, "Yes, it's tough." You know, he's got kids. And, you know, he's got to deal with a marriage and a family and all that. But he said this is just the beginning so.

CUOMO: Yes. And he's got a twin.


CUOMO: So he could send his brother out there, the Congressman. LEMON: And no one will know. That's - that is the perfect hologram. You - look, every once in a while, you're like a broken clock. You're right, you know, at least twice a day.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Sometimes.

CUOMO: You know, my man is here tonight, Mario.


CUOMO: He said he was playing ball with you before.

LEMON: Oh, man! I had a surprise for you. How do you know?

CUOMO: What do you mean? My son is here. What do you mean--

LEMON: Yes. Why did he tell - look, check this out.

CUOMO: Uh-oh. Uh-oh.


LEMON: You see that?

CUOMO: Uh-oh.

LEMON: This is young - now, watch this. Watch this.

CUOMO: Boy, moved like him (ph).

LEMON: Watch, watch, watch, don't count him out. Don't count him out. Watch this move. You got to watch this move.

CUOMO: That was brave. Mario--

LEMON: He's way better than you.

CUOMO: Mario, come over here and watch this. This is you.

LEMON: Check this out. Check it out.

CUOMO: Oh, ho, ho.

LEMON: So, it's - watch this.

CUOMO: That's a felony.

LEMON: Boom, in my face.

CUOMO: That's a felony. That's a felony.

LEMON: It would be good (ph).

CUOMO: Mario, why'd you do Uncle Don like that? MARIO CUOMO, CHRIS CUOMO'S SON: Sure, it does (ph).

CUOMO: He'd be able to (ph) - he's very happy with himself.

LEMON: So, I got to tell you. You always brag - you - you think my mother likes you more than me, which you're probably right, right?

CUOMO: She said it.

[21:50:00] LEMON: She's had so many years of me, she's done. But you have two kids in your family, your own kids--


LEMON: --who like me more than--


LEMON: --more than you. The first thing he said is when he saw me--

CUOMO: It's sure.

LEMON: --was, "Oh, hey," and then he comes and he goes, "Dad, all right. I'm done. Get out of here."


LEMON: You - he wants--

CUOMO: I'm easy to dislike. It's hard. Someone's got to work to find a reason not to like you, you know. I've just had more exposure. The kids like you.


CUOMO: Especially when they pick your pocket and then go and dunk on you in a one-on-one game.

LEMON: And so, I got to check for my wallet. I don't know. But if he did, you know, he got it from you.

CUOMO: He did not, Amen (ph).

LEMON: Hey listen - hey - Mario, see you later. I'm going to see you - I'll see you guys this weekend.

But listen, let me tell you this. We're going to be doing - you know this whole Pence-Buttigieg thing.


LEMON: It's been, you know, this guy's catching fire, meaning Buttigieg, meaning he's, you know, gaining in the polls. A lot of people are talking about this, him versus the Vice President. And the Vice President is saying, "Oh, this is a First Amendment issue." It's not a First Amendment issue, right? This is about treating people decent - decently. This is about policies. This is about reparative therapy. So, you know, the - the Vice President is trying to couch it in that.


LEMON: But that's not what it is. It's a - it's a convenient excuse to go against the Constitution that all of us were created equal under the Constitution.

CUOMO: Equal protection.

LEMON: Equal protection but it is not First Amendment. First Amendment does not give you the right to discriminate against your fellow Americans. That's unconstitutional.

CUOMO: A 100 percent. He's saying he has the right to have his beliefs. But he's forgetting about that church and state cause in the First Amendment also.


CUOMO: You're not supposed to be putting policies together that are just for your faith and not for a secular society.

LEMON: So, we'll talk about that. And then, I'll see you at the top of the hour.

CUOMO: Good.

LEMON: And I'm going to go play a little bit more basketball. Send him out here.

CUOMO: You need the - you - you need the practice. All right, so--

LEMON: I also need the exercise. I'll see--

CUOMO: You said that, not me. Never been more right.

All right, what's not an illusion? Listen, why I brought this up? I - I don't try to create issues on this show. You know that. We try to explore what is obvious and what's going on.

What the President is doing vis-a-vis the law matters. It's not a one- off. It's not just a distraction. It's not something he said, but he didn't mean. It keeps happening again and again.

I'll take you through the argument. You make the judgment. Next.








CUOMO: It has become clear that this President acts as if he is neither subject to nor needs the respect of the law.

The proof is extensive, as recent as today, when we saw that in CNN's reporting, he instructed a man who's now the Acting Chief of Homeland Security to block asylum seekers. That would be against the law.

Now, you can write that off as this POTUS may be being ignorant of the law or not meaning it until you hear what he said next that if the Official got in trouble with the law, Trump would pardon him.

This conversation happened on the same trip where the President said this.


TRUMP: Our country is full. Our area is full. The sector is full. Can't take you anymore, I'm sorry, can't happen. So turn around. That's the way it is.


CUOMO: It's not the way it is. That's illegal. Change the laws. But that's illegal. Immigrants arriving at our borders have a right to apply for asylum. Change the law. But that's the law.

This was on the same trip where he supposedly told other workers there to ignore the law and tell judges the country is full, just before it was reported that the President wanted to separate families more than ever after signing an Executive Order outlawing the practice of separation. And he said this after a court enjoined the practice.

Then came him pushing a plan to close the Border and getting sideways with the former DHS Secretary when she told him that what he wanted was illegal, which came before him backing a plan to dump detainees in sanctuary cities.

Legal experts and counsel warned him off the idea as being right for legal challenges. The White House then said the plan would not happen. Today, just hours after that, the President said he is considering the plan anyway.

The only more obvious sign of contempt for the law is how the President disrespects individual judges, ascribing animus on the basis of their ethnicity, and doing that even when the name he is attacking doesn't belong to the Judge like with the Flores settlement.

This President wrote off that deal protecting kids at the Border by saying that Judge Flores was a Mexican. Flores was the plaintiff, the person suing, not the Judge. Cases don't get named after judges.

There are many more examples, but the argument is made. This has to be something that we can all agree on. Left and Right must come together on something reasonable.

The President has to respect the laws and faithfully execute them. It's in the Constitution. He raises his right hand. He makes the oath. That's his job.

He doesn't have to like what laws are passed or what decisions are made or the people who make them. But there must be respect for the institutions. And our disagreement about them must be based in logic and decency.

He can and, in fact, should on immigration, work to change the laws he doesn't like. Don't just blame Congress. Reach out to them. You're supposed to be the best dealmaker ever. Make a deal!

But our President cannot ask people to break the law and promise them a pardon if it goes wrong. He can't attack the legitimacy of our courts out of convenience. He cannot insist on plans that he knows to be illegal.

None of us is above the law, including him, and especially now, not him. This is not Twitter talk. This is not a rabid rally. This is not hot takes on a hot mic. This is not a distraction. This is real and pernicious and a pattern of this President believing no matter what the rule, he can abuse it. And that, my friends, is dangerous.

Our institutions are strong. But they're not immune to attack. They're not invulnerable. There must be a line not to cross. And a President thinking that he can have people break the law to do his bidding and then pardon his way out of it is a line no President should cross.

I hope you all agree on that. "Oh, he was only joking." Then why does he disrespect the institutions we rely on so often?

"He would never pardon someone like that." Really? He already did. Arpaio, the Sheriff who disobeyed a court in an immigration matter. It was a misdemeanor. But still, he pardoned him.

This is real. This isn't talk. This isn't a rabbit hole. It matters. And it leads into a potential contagion for us.

What if this President decides that rules just don't apply to him and he can do it anyway and he gets a group apology - of apologists around him? That's what we have to watch for. That's why it must be called out. And that's why I do it tonight.

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

LEMON: Hey, Chris.

CUOMO: Hey, Don.

LEMON: Don't you think he's already decided or thinks that he's above the law if he's trying to do all of these things and, you know, send undocumented immigrants into so-called sanctuary cities. Don't you think he's already decided?

CUOMO: I think that this President--

LEMON: And telling people to reportedly to break the law and he has their back?

CUOMO: So, I agree with you on the facts, obviously.