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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA) Is Interviewed About What's in the Mueller Report; Only A Few Democrats on Board for Impeaching President Trump; One On One With Mary McCord On The Mueller Report; Republicans Making Excuses For Trump's Behavior; Democrats Split On Pursuing Trump Impeachment; Reason For Hope At Notre Dame As Easter Nears. Aired 10- 11p ET
Aired April 19, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Chris Cuomo. If you're celebrating Good Friday or if you're celebrating Passover, may your family be blessed. And welcome to a bonus hour of Prime Time. All right.
So, our president is taking a pass on showing any accountability because of the Mueller report. Instead, he's vowing to turn the tables. But how do you even do that when Mueller may have set the table for impeachment?
I've got one of the Democrats who now must decide where their instincts lead them. And impeachment might be really the last of the president's worries.
But would reelection be a firewall against criminal prosecution? Here's a little Friday hint. No. We're going to take it to Cuomo's court and we'll hear the arguments on both sides.
We're going to talk to the woman who started looking into the Trump team and Russia long before Bob Mueller got called in. So, what do you say? Let's get after it.
So, what do the big shot Democrats running for president going to do with this Mueller report? We heard from Senator Elizabeth Warren today, the first of them, to weigh in on this and she says the president should be impeached.
She tweeted this. "Mueller put the next step in the hands of Congress, the correct process for exercising that authority is impeachment."
But so far, there's been a conspicuous lack of buy-in from other members of the Democratic Party. Just five members of the House have signed on to an impeachment resolution introduced by Michigan's Rashida Tlaib.
Will we start to see a change to that? Are they going to wait for polls? Is this going to be up to what happens after 2020? Let's get after it with Congressman Harley Rouda, Democrat from California, a member of House oversight. Good to see you, sir. Best to your family this weekend. REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D-CA): Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So how do you see it?
ROUDA: Well, I think it's a little more complicated than just jumping on board or off board on the idea of impeachment. We still have to get through this report. It's 400 plus pages and I will say this, for your viewers and everybody in our country.
I'm reading it. I'm not all the way through it. But if you just read the table of contents and the first 10 pages your jaw will drop. It is amazing what our president and the people around him have been up to.
CUOMO: You know what's interesting, so the argument from the president's lawyers is now this, says who? Mueller? That's not fact. This is his investigative speculation. These are allegations. This was never tried in a court.
It's a very clever little piece of soft history, if you think about it. Because they knew, and Mueller knew, and I'm sure they knew going into it he couldn't indict the president, and he didn't think he could, so he wasn't going to, it's right on page one.
Now they're using as the fact the fact that they're not going to end up in a courtroom, which was supposedly their biggest fear, it's now going from shield to sword. What do you think of that?
ROUDA: We hold our president of the United States of America to a much higher standard than indictment and conviction in a court of law. And the information that has been put on the table certainly has the basis for impeachment proceedings.
And we know, without a doubt, if this was a Democratic president, we know exactly what the Republicans would be yelling. And the fact that they're turning a blind eye at best to this behavior, or at worst condoning it, is a shame because this should not be a partisan issue. This should be a right and wrong issue. And it deserves all of the members of Congress to look at it in that way.
CUOMO: Fair enough. I hear you on what would happen if you change the names and the r's and the d's, what we'd be hearing from both sides, fair. But let's talk about whether or not you're right about the assumption of what we demand of a president.
Do you think that there's a chance that culturally there's been a steady decline, a disaffection where one of the reasons that people are not outraged by this president is because they can't be outraged anymore, not just about him, like Trump fatigue, but they don't expect better from people in positions of public office?
ROUDA: Chris, I think you're absolutely right. And it should be concerning to all of us that we've taken the presidency repeatedly in this administration to lows that we did not expect and perhaps new cultural norms.
And if this is setting the precedent for how little we expect from our president down the road, it's a sad day for America and it's a sad day for all of us here who expect greater leadership from the president of the United States. And more importantly more character.
[22:05:06] CUOMO: Yes, I wonder if the best pragmatism here, not to write off the right move, it's just a pragmatic one, is that going down the road of proving how bad he is may not bear the fruit that you want, you may not have the votes, you may not have the consensus, you may not have the public sentiment.
But I think one of the reasons that Mayor Buttigieg, Pete, is getting his apple shined the way he is right
now, part of it is media affection that's going on. We'll see if that lasts.
But everything about him is about integrity of his purpose and his positions, his honesty, his authenticity and I wonder if the better way for your party is to just show that you have someone better than he is, as opposed to spending the energy to point out how bad he is because people already know and they either care or they don't.
ROUDA: I think all the candidates who have announced and those who haven't announced that we believe will are better candidates and would be a better president than our current one and certainly have more character. So, let's encourage all of them to continue to run and get over the finish line.
CUOMO: When you look at the people who are signing up on the impeachment resolution, a lot of them are the -- not all of them, but most of them, other than Al Green, I think are the young women warriors that just came in in this wave of elections, filled with passion and a sense of purpose and they want to act on it. Is that the place for the party to be?
ROUDA: I think we have to look at it more in the context of what we should be doing. And I think that's the challenge that many of us are having. We know that there are grounds for impeachment here. I will tell you right now, if this was a Democratic president, I would be asking for impeachment.
But we can't get this done without Republicans also recognizing that this behavior, these actions that have been taken by this president were wrong and detrimental to the foundations of our democracy. And without their support, without their patriotic commitment to doing what's right under article 1 of the Constitution, it's going to be very difficult for us to take the mantle and run with this.
CUOMO: People aren't there either, right? We do polling on it. I've never seen a number anywhere near 50 percent. Now that said --
ROUDA: But this shouldn't be about polling. This should not be about polling. This should be about right and wrong.
CUOMO: I hear you on that. But look, I love the ideal. But what about the axiom that politicians act more out of fear of consequence than they do out of good conscience?
ROUDA: Well, I think that's one of the things that I've seen since I've gotten to Congress that unfortunately a lot of elected officials are there for the primary reason of getting reelected.
And this is a perfect case in point when you have a 400-page plus report with thousands of other pages of supporting evidence that suggest a high level of wrongdoing beneath the presidency, what we and the from the presidency should demand all of us to take the appropriate action that the Constitution demands.
CUOMO: It will be an interesting next few weeks.
ROUDA: Sure will.
CUOMO: We've got to see if you guys can get the redacted information on the counter intel side, what that means and then what you do with it. Congressman, thank you so much, the best to your family. Thank you for sharing a special night like this with us.
ROUDA: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So, the president is angry. And he is vowing revenge because of the Mueller investigation. But he might not be out of legal danger himself. Even without an impeachment. Cuomo's court in session next.
[22:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: It's Friday night, but we just got some new information. One of the most damning episodes in the Mueller report involved the president ordering then White House counsel Don McGahn to have Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired. McGahn refused to carry out the order and was ready to quit rather than carry it out because he saw it as akin to Richard Nixon's Saturday night massacre.
Moments ago, we received a statement from McGahn. It reads, "It's a mystery why Rudy Giuliani feels the need to relitigate incidents the attorney general and deputy attorney general have concluded were not obstruction. But they are accurately described in the report. Don, nonetheless, appreciates that the president gave him the opportunity to serve as White House counsel and assist him with his signature accomplishments."
That statement from an attorney for McGahn obviously accurately described. Good.
Let's put Cuomo's court in session. Sara Azari, Ken Cuccinelli are here. The best to both of your families this weekend if they're religious significance. Sarah, welcome to the show. Ken, always a pleasure and thank you.
Ken, start with you, maybe not obstruction but it doesn't make it right. And now we know Don McGahn says, yes, the way Mueller has it is the way it happened, not fake. So, what do we do with it?
KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Well, I mean, I think Don McGahn served his client very well in this whole episode. I assume you would agree with that. And the president didn't go around him and it's not like the White House counsel is in any chain of command. He's a counselor.
So, the president could have gone ahead and done this himself but he did not do that. To the statement from McGahn's lawyer that what's reflected in the Mueller report is accurate, I can't say that I'm all that surprised by that statement.
It's nice and simple, which is classic Don McGahn. And I think, as I said, what he did in his role with a very upset, very angry, often impetuous client, served his client very, very well in his role as White House counsel.
CUOMO: Sara, do you think that's the end of the depth of the analysis in terms of what it means about what the president wanted to do in this process?
SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, look, attempted obstruction is still obstruction. And people get prosecuted for that and convicted of that.
This report is a compilation of very damning and stunning obstructionist behavior by the president, the McGahn episode just being one of 10. And frankly, if this was Mr. Donald Trump versus President Donald Trump, we would have an indictment.
And I think Mueller has been very clear that he's adhering strictly to the DOJ policy of not indicting a sitting president and that is why, contrary to what A.G. Barr said that somehow there were some issues of fact and law that this is because of that that Mueller did not suggest prosecuting the president.
[22:15:10] And so --
CUCCINELLI: That is not correct.
AZARI: That is correct. That is correct. And I thought -- I do agree with Ken though, even though I disagree with this statement, that yes, McGahn's lawyer's absolutely correct, this report is the product of a two-year investigation, ethical one, thorough one, and it lays out not just all the lies that President Trump has told the country but also the crimes.
And I don't think this is the end of his legal troubles. Just because Mueller on his own motion decided not to suggest prosecution of the president doesn't mean that he can't be prosecuted in the future, and of course there's a question of impeachment which is largely political but also, you know, I think this is a high crime under article 2, section 4.
You know, the question is, obviously it's not treason or bribery, but is it a high crime? I submit it is because it is a crime -- (CROSSTALK)
CUOMO: That would be an argument.
AZARI: Well, yes.
CUOMO: It will be hard.
AZARI: But it was committed by the president, but -- OK, fine. But look he is the president of the United States which during his office he directed his staff and his aides to derail an investigation. That is conduct that is unbecoming under the impeachment statute as well as an abuse of power. So, it is a high crime.
CUOMO: All right. So, Ken, what did you disagree with early on in there, you said something's not true, Sara said you're wrong, what is it so the audience can flesh it out?
CUCCINELLI: Yes, the allegation that Mueller just said, well, because he's president, obstruction is off the table. Mueller -- that was not Mueller's conclusion at all.
AZARI: That's not what I said.
CUCCINELLI: I would zero in. OK, now you've had your interruption, we're even one each. The legal difference between Mueller and Barr --
CUOMO: I don't keep score of that on this show, as you know, Ken. Go ahead, make your point.
CUCCINELLI: Mueller and Barr -- is that taking exactly the firing of the special counsel, if the president had done that that would be done on his article 2 authority. That is not a basis for an obstruction claim when he exercises his constitutional authority. That's the legal position of the attorney general.
AZARI: Wait, Ken --
CUCCINELLI: It's the legal position of Alan Dershowitz. It's also -- hold on. It's also --
AZARI: Well, I don't agree with Alan Dershowitz either.
CUCCINELLI: -- consistent with Lawrence Walsh's precedent. That's fine, I'm not saying you do. But I would also point out that in 448 pages, Robert Mueller never mentioned the precedent that is on point and that's the Lawrence Walsh special counsel precedent with Bush pardoning Weinberger and others on the doorstep of Weinberger's trial. Walsh didn't like it and he said he didn't like it. But he didn't advance any charges or claims on it because it was an exercise -- (CROSSTALK)
CUOMO: All right. But that's not controlling precedent. It just happens to be an analog that we can look to. And you're right to point at that. But I think the point of fact is -- and then we'll get back into the debate --
CUCCINELLI: You mean the only analog, Chris.
CUOMO: Well, but that doesn't mean --
CUCCINELLI: Let's not minimize the only precedent --
CUOMO: But it's not a Supreme Court decision?
CUCCINELLI: Well, let me make another point about it and Mueller didn't mention it.
CUOMO: That's true. But what he did mention, Ken, you're ignoring.
CUCCINELLI: Why didn't Mueller put in the most on point example?
CUOMO: But you're ignoring what he did mention. On page one of the report he said -- he basically summarize -- and we can put it up, find the graphic, we'll put it back up for people. But on page one, look for it yourself, he says, look, we go into this knowing --
CUCCINELLI: I've read page one.
CUOMO: No, no. I know you have. I'm saying for the audience. I depend on your intelligence, that's why I have better minds like you and Sara on. I'm talking for people like me.
What I'm saying is, he starts the report off by saying, look, we start this, taking the guidance of the DOJ that we can't indict a sitting president. So, we went into it knowing that he wasn't going to charge. And that's OK.
But that's what Sara is getting at. But now you get to this tougher stick, which is, well, the president can fire anybody he wants but not for any reason that he wants. Now this is this squishy area in the law.
Sara, you're a lawyer, not a politician, Ken has worn both hats. The idea of just because you can argue it doesn't mean you can win it and if you go for it and you lose there can be a big cost. Would you take the case?
AZARI: Look. No, listen, you're talking about corrupt intent with the issue of -- CUOMO: Yes.
AZARI: Right. So again, reading the Mueller report, specifically volume two, the 182 pages, it's all about obstruction of justice.
AZARI: And it's clear that there's ample evidence and the fact is that because he didn't get to sit down with the president, kudos to his lawyers, and he didn't -- he chose not to subpoena the president, because of the, you know, the length of time that it would take him potentially put it into the 2020 election or past that. You know, we're at a point where he's saying we're not going to suggest an indictment of a sitting president.
But that doesn't mean that he's -- in fact he says he's not exonerated. This investigation does not exonerate the president.
[22:19:59] AZARI: And to me that speaks volumes because a prosecutor is not in the business of exoneration.
AZARI: That's my job.
AZARI: They're not business of enforcement and prosecution.
AZARI: And conviction. So, you know, again, there is ample evidence. What is going to happen from here is going to be largely political, whether he's going to, you know, be impeached.
AZARI: And also, whether, you know -- whether other prosecutors will pick up where Mueller left off --
CUOMO: All right. So, let me give the last word to you, Ken.
AZARI: -- once he's out of office.
CUOMO: One of the reasons I asked Sara to come on tonight, Ken, just so you know --
CUCCINELLI: Which this brings us back --
CUOMO: -- is that she's actively practicing -- CUCCINELLI: Can I make one comment?
CUOMO: Come on, Ken, I just want to make context for the audience. I've been hearing from people who are in active practice. That's why we love to have Ken on this show also, that they started bringing up. You know, this isn't over, if this was my client, I'm worried about what happens when he gets out of office. Are you -- and then last point to you, Ken.
AZARI: Yes, I'm sorry.
CUCCINELLI: No, I'm not --
CUOMO: No, not you, Sara, it's Ken. Go ahead.
CUCCINELLI: -- and that's because Mueller -- yes, no, I'm not and that's because Mueller, assuming objectivity on all parts, which doesn't always happen. But because Mueller said that he -- while he said I'm not exonerating him; he clearly did not have a sufficient position to say this is an indictable offense. He said I'm not doing either.
CUCCINELLI: But the prosecutor's job, as Sara said, is making decisions about whether or not to prosecute. And Mueller said he wasn't in a position to go forward or suggest going forward on obstruction. And it isn't because you don't indict a sitting president. It's because he couldn't conclude that they were over the threshold necessary to make that charge.
CUOMO: It could be both. I've got to leave it there. It could be both. Here's the good news. This is going to be settled because Mr. Mueller, by all accounts, is going to testify. And he will be able to reconcile what he was thinking and what he wasn't and that will be a benefit to the American people as well.
Ken Cuccinelli, as always, thank you. May you have a blessed Easter. And Sara, thank you for joining the show, strong arguments.
AZARI: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right.
AZARI: Happy Easter.
CUOMO: So, she was there in the earliest days of the Russia probe before it became the Mueller probe. So, what does Mary McCord think of what is in the 448 pages? What does she think it means? Next.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: Always read the footnotes. There is a crucial one in the Mueller report that outlines how the president could face criminal exposure for his actions.
Here it is. "A possible remedy through impeachment for abuses of power would not substitute for potential criminal liability after a president leaves office. Impeachment would remove a president from office but would not address the underlying culpability of the conduct or serve the usual purposes of the criminal law."
Now, Mr. Mueller didn't come up with that. That is just black letter law as we call it. That's just the truth.
Mary McCord is a former acting assistant attorney general, and part of the team that personally went to the White House to give early warnings about Michael Flynn. Good to see you again.
MARY MCCORD, FORMER ACTING ASSISTANT A.G. FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: Thank you, good to be here, Chris.
CUOMO: Best to your family for a blessed Easter.
MCCORD: Thank you, and to yours as well.
CUOMO: Why did they include that footnote? Is it just to make us all a little smarter or is it insightful and instructive?
MCCORD: Well, I think probably Mueller and his team were expecting that a lot of people will be looking at this report and thinking, you know, is this somehow putting this in Congress's ballpark to take the next action?
And I think this was just one way to show that there's different interests served by impeachment that are different from the purposes of a criminal prosecution. I don't think he's really putting a thumb on the scale of that and suggesting one or the other. I think he's just making sort of a statement like you indicated as we came into this.
CUOMO: What do you think he was doing by saying that he cannot exonerate, can't make the case, can't exonerate, seemed to have some pretext on why he can't make the case on page one of the report, saying he accepts the OLC guidelines which say can't indict a sitting president, why do you think he put it the way he did?
MCCORD: Well, you know, he -- it's interesting because this, in many ways, is a prosecution memo like I've seen hundreds of times before in my career at the Department of Justice.
So these typically start out with sort of explaining, you know, what is the law, what is the offense in the criminal code, what are the facts that have been amassed through the investigation and then applies the law to those facts because most - all crimes have certain elements that you have to prove.
MCCORD: Right. So, you apply the law to the facts and then you consider defenses, constitutional, statutory, other defenses and then reach a conclusion. And this does every single thing except reach that conclusion. So that's what's different about it.
But I think his point in making clear that he's not exonerating the president is because he felt constrained, hamstrung by -- and bound by the OLC memo that he could not recommend a prosecution. But I think he wanted to make it clear that he also couldn't exonerate the president.
CUOMO: What do you make of the A.G. saying that Mr. Mueller was not predicating his decision of why he couldn't prosecute on the OLC guidance?
MCCORD: Well, I found it really surprising when I actually got a chance to read the report after listening to the press conference because, again, and I'm looking down because I carry this thing everywhere with me now, the last day and a half. It's pretty clear that Mr. Mueller starts out part two of the report.
CUOMO: Page one.
MCCORD: Yes, page one. And he says, you know, as a Department of Justice employee the special counsel, I'm bound by this, and specifically says we recognize a federal -- we followed this in -- for purposes of exercising prosecutorial jurisdiction --
MCCORD: -- not discretion, but jurisdiction.
MCCORD: And I think that's important here.
CUOMO: So, what do you think Mr. Mueller meant with the language he put in there about Congress?
[22:29:58] MCCORD: Well, he also, in that very same paragraph suggests that, you know, that he doesn't want to interrupt any constitutional processes that may take place.
And it's clear that by setting out all of this evidence and even by applying sort of the elements of obstruction to the evidence without reaching a conclusion, he is providing a road map, either to Congress or to a future prosecution, because he makes clear that part of the reason he is put all this in the report is because memories are fresh now.
MCCORD: And it's important to have it memorialized.
CUOMO: Right. He also says, by the way I read it, please tell me if you saw it differently, that if the people under the president had done what the president asked them to do they may have been charged with obstruction, which is a very heavy suggestion that for being president, he would be in the same boat with them. Or do you understand it that way as well? MCCORD: Yes, I think that is -- well, he doesn't get to the, but for,
but he commends the people under the president for actually thwarting the president's intent to obstruct justice and I think he is relatively clear about that. And so, you know, I'm not going to say that every one of the 10 scenarios that he analyzes is one that I think that would be a prosecutable offense. And in fact he makes it clear. I mean, you can kind of read the language. There's some evidence, no evidence, substantial evidence.
CUOMO: That is exactly right. There was a range.
MCCORD: There's a range.
CUOMO: Here's the thing that I don't get. You say something, you know this is second nature for you, but for people less familiar with the criminal justice system, prosecutors aren't in the business of exoneration. They don't use the word. They say I can either make a case or not. If it's 50/50 you're supposed to then not do it. The tie is supposed to go to the defendant. He took steps here, prosecutors wouldn't take. Why didn't he just say it's close, but I can't make the case?
MCCORD: Well, I think only Mr. Mueller can really answer that question. Like I said, this is an unusual prosecution memo, because normally you reach a conclusion --
CUOMO: That's right.
MCCORD: -- either we are prosecuting or we're declining. Because he didn't feel like he could do that he must have felt like he needed to say something about this.
CUOMO: That is right.
MCCORD: And, you know, it's also -- there's somewhat of a disconnect in this particular case, because his original appointment was really to complete a counterintelligence investigation.
MCCORD: Right? With authority to bring prosecutions as necessary and appropriate. Yet the special counsel regulations require him to submit essentially a standard prosecution memo that either recommends prosecution or declines it, which is impossible when you're talking about the president.
CUOMO: The president. And also I want to thank you, you are one of the better minds early on when we were talking about collusion, you were like, you know, that's not a crime. It's not something we would talk about, just look at it as potentially bad behavior. It's something different. Collusion can be a crime. It's not a crime. It could just be bad behavior or nay kind of behavior. Thank you for that. It gave me a clear head in looking at things until that is, of course, the Attorney General decided to twist the meaning of the word himself for political purposes yesterday. The best to you and your family, Mary McCord, thank you. MCCORD: Thank you.
CUOMO: Mitt Romney says, he is sickened by the widespread dishonesty of the president and those around him after seeing the Mueller report. And in fairness to him, when I say you hear that? That is a sound of Republicans saying nothing. Not fair to Mitt Romney, but he is a lonesome GOP voice. Why aren't there more? Some great politically savvy minds are here next.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: You've heard me say it before, criminality should not be the bar for acceptable conduct by our president or any of our elected officials, this idea of it's a felony, if it's not a felony, then it's fine, but I've talked to a number of his aides, supporters in Congress, and it seems to me they want to keep the bar as low as possible. Listen for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I go to church for my moral leadership. I look at politicians based on are you in line with my issues? You can be the nicest, most moral person in the world, I don't want you to be the president.
RUDY GUILIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: You want me to make a moral judgment about it?
GUILIANI: If we're going to start making moral judgments about everybody in public office we'll have nobody in public office.
CUOMO: When the president goes to Don McGahn and says you need to do this, to stop this, and the guy has to threaten to resign or leave for not to happen and you ignore it, I think that matters too.
REP. MARK MEADOWS, (R-NC): But he didn't do it. He didn't fire Mueller.
CUOMO: By asking matters, Jim.
MEADOWS: That is the bottom line.
CUOMO: If I ask you to punch Mr. Meadows and you don't do it, the request was still wrong.
MEADOWS: Yes, the request may have been wrong, but it's not a crime unless he assaults me.
CUOMO: Is that our standard? Is that why you got into public service was to prove you're not a felon?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Look, just as point of law, obstruction, complete act. Endeavoring to obstruct is what they call in the law an inchoate crime, an incomplete one, an attempted crime. So you can have endeavoring to obstruct as well. That is about law. This is about something else. It's about political culture and character and what our expectations are and what seems to be a very sad shift.
Let's discuss, Errol Louis, Ana Navarro, Betsy McCaughey. Great to have you all and best to your families for the Holy days.
ERROL LOUIS, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS: Same to you.
CUOMO: You know, Anna, I'm old enough to remember, when the stick, the cudgel that your party used to beat Bill Clinton about the head and the neck was about character, character counts. Mike Pence wrote a letter, you know, we got to judge them as our neighbor, we got to judge him through the lens of morality, otherwise we can't have any other kind of character in our politicians. What happened to that?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Trump happened. Trump happened and took the Republican Party, the party of family values, the party of Christian values, the party of social values, took them hostage. It's been a hostile takeover, enabled by elected Republicans who have, I think, gotten terribly accustomed to looking the other way and playing dumb.
[22:40:20] They have gotten accustomed to lowering the bar, to continuing to support a president who is unethical, unstable, immoral, a liar, somebody who they wouldn't even want to invite to their Easter lunch, but yet they enable him and they play stupid time and time again, because they are cowards, Republicans in Congress with very few exceptions are absolute cowards. Because Donald Trump has come after them and almost any and every Republican, whoever spoke up against Trump or ever stood up against him lost in a primary.
NAVARRO: Or lost in a general or retired or died.
CUOMO: OK. Betsy, I think --
NAVARRO: And what we have left is this bunch of cowards.
CUOMO: Betsy, I can see you're anxious to get in.
BETSY MCCAUGHEY (R), FORMER NEW YORK LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Well, I feel tremendous moral outrage, but it's directed at Mueller, not at President Trump, because Mueller, in this report, which I have right here, is threatening our civil liberties. He has flipped the burden of proof and said again and again in this report that he cannot find criminal evidence against the president.
He is not concluding that the president committed a crime, but -- and this is the part of the sentence that should be erased. He is not exonerating the president. Let me make it clear that in the United States of America, if a federal prosecutor does not find sufficient evidence to charge you with a crime you are presumed innocent. That is our right whether you are the president of the United States
or Chris Cuomo or Betsy McCaughey or Errol Louis or Ana Navarro. That is each of our rights --
MCCAUGHEY: -- the presumption of innocence. And how dare Mueller take that away from us?
CUOMO: Mueller, a (inaudible) conservative and lifelong Republican.
MCCAUGHEY: That is not true. He assembled a totally Democratic investigatory team.
CUOMO: Hold on. It's true. But I was using it as a pivot to Errol. You may not like his team, you guys exaggerated the significance of party belief (inaudible) --
MCCAUGHEY: He is robbing us of our constitutional rights.
CUOMO: He is not even allowed to ask about party affiliation.
MCCAUGHEY: You have an address like question. He is robbing us of our constitutional rights.
CUOMO: It wasn't a question. It was a comment, you can freely have it. But now I want one from Errol. Errol, do you see that as the wrongful conduct of concern here?
LOUIS: No, no, I don't think so, and in fact, look, it's a tricky legal position that frankly the president and Robert Mueller find themselves in, and he, I think, explains it very well in the obstruction section of the report where he says, look, it would be unfair to the president to charge him criminally, knowing that our internal guidance means that we cannot charge him criminally and yet there's this information out here so rather than try to indict him, hit him with criminal charges we're just going to lay out what we know and then turn it back over to the Justice Department, the Congress and the public to make of it what we will.
And I don't think that means the president has lost his presumption of innocence. In fact, I think his presumption of innocence has been preserved. And frankly is preserving his presidency right now. And right now, I think what we're going to have to do is as a country, through our various institutions, including the media, the voters, the courts, to try and figure out what we're going to do about this. And, you know, you have Mitt Romney kind of expressing himself as a lone voice within the party, the party, the Republican Party seems to have spoken through silence, that what they're going to do and this is absolutely nothing.
CUOMO: Well, so, then the big question is, what do we do from here? And I have the perfect panel to address that as well. So, do this for me. Give me one more favor here on this big Friday night. Let's take a quick break. When we come back, let's try to see if we can reason our way forward. Stay with us. [22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: All right, we're back with Errol Louis, Ana Navarro and Betsy McCaughey. Now, Betsy, let's pick up your point for a second. And look at it a little bit differently. You say I don't like Mueller who's a prosecutor and supposed to be on the business of saying prosecute or not prosecute to pick this third way of saying can't prosecute, can't exonerate.
However, to Errol's point, he is in a different spot than a typical prosecutor, because he is not allowed to prosecute the person he is investigating and this seems to be a nod to that. Now, of course the A.G. stepped in and said no obstruction. So what exactly is your complaint given the full context?
MCCAUGHEY: My complaint is that in our system of government there is no third way by creating that third way, what he is really doing is writing a report that is just a smear. If there isn't enough evidence to bring charges, and he stated several times in his report it was not simply that it's the president with whom he is dealing, there was insufficient evidence to bring charges that is where the report should have just stopped.
CUOMO: But he also said he couldn't clear him.
MCCAUGHEY: To continue and say, but I can't exonerate him is a departure from one of the most precious rights we have in our system of government.
CUOMO: I agree with you. I agree with you, but first of all, he was saved of that from the A.G. So, it's not like his rights were hurt, in fact, Mr. Mueller even pointed out that he thought, as Errol mentioned earlier, it would be wrong to charge him, because the president wouldn't have his days in court, because of the guidance from OLC.
MCCAUGHEY: No, but he said there was insufficient evidence. And if you look at the 10 instances that he presented as possible issues for obstruction of justice, the one that most people would look at that would be considered most serious is the firing of James Comey.
[22:50:09] And there, it is quite clear that he has gotten the law wrong, because the president under article two of the constitution has an untethered unlimited ability to fire anyone --
CUOMO: I don't think it's untethered and unlimited.
MCCAUGHEY: -- in the executive branch.
CUOMO: I think he has the ability to do it, but you have to look at intent.
CUOMO: But let's not look into deep in the weaves.
MCCAUGHEY: He quoted in the report --
CUOMO: I know he does.
MCCAUGHEY: -- it's not the right man for the job. That was sufficient. Under our system of government.
CUOMO: Well, maybe, that is your argument and I accept it as such. But now, Ana, in terms of what we do with it from here, as you have heard me say on the show many times, this was never going to end in the courtroom. So, what do we do with this?
NAVARRO: Look, I think, Congress has an oversight duty. And I think there were a lot of issues highlighted in this report. Which need follow through. We need to understand what needs to happen today. And what this government needs to do so that Russian interference and attempts at Russian interference or any other foreign government interference in U.S. election does not happen. So that we have the safeguards against that.
I think, Democrats are in a very difficult position. Because there's part of the base that wants impeachment. And there's part of the base that is very pragmatic and realizes that it's an exercise in futility. And I understand their frustration. There is enough in that report to warrant impeachment proceedings. Certainly there's more in that report than there is about lying about a blow job. Which did lead people like Lindsey Graham to push for impeachment proceedings under Clinton.
CUOMO: They had the cover of the felony though. There is a cover for felony.
NAVARRO: So, look, I think Democrats need to use it politically as a catalyst. They need to channel their frustration, their anger, their outrage, their indignation and take it to the polls.
NAVARRO: They need to remind their voters that staying home is not a luxury they have. Because they're not going to drag Donald Trump out of there in an orange jump suit. They are going to have to drag him out democratically.
CUOMO: So, Errol, when you look at this we look at polls, we don't see a consensus -- the probe just came out. We will see if the numbers change. But you have pretty baked in numbers about how people feel about this president's integrity or (inaudible). You have never -- I have never seen a consensus on people wanting impeachment. Again, we will see what happens with that. But what do you see as the most pragmatic course forward?
LOUIS: Well, you know, I have talked to a couple of Democratic members of Congress and they are walking that very fine line that Ana, just laid out. Where they don't politically want to damage their chances and risk having the president reelected. They are thinking we don't -- we certainly don't want to do that. So, rather than kind of let their emotions or the passion of the base run away with the process, they're trying to be very judicious, they are trying to be very measured and they are trying to be very cautious.
I think they frankly have an absolute duty to probe a little bit further. There's just no getting around that. What's laid out in that report, it closely parallels instances of possible obstruction of justice that led to impeachment hearings and procedures under Bill Clinton and under Richard Nixon.
You cannot simply look the other way and say let's pretend he didn't, you know, push his White House counsel and he didn't ask for, you know, statements from intelligence agencies.
LOUIS: And didn't make knowingly false statements to put out or led his lawyer lie to Congress and on and on and on. Those things have to be dealt with. It would be the most unsatisfying thing of all --
LOUIS: -- I think to just say, well, it is what it is. And we'll settle it at the polls next November. I think that is the one course of action that they cannot really resort to.
CUOMO: Understood. It is going to be a balance of oversight without being over reach.
CUOMO: But I have to go, Ana. We have to leave it there.
NAVARRO: But let me just say this --
NAVARRO: William Barr has been the presidios and complicit in trying to undermine and whitewash the Mueller report. And Democrats have got to push to see what the redacted materials are, because what we know for sure is that we cannot trust William Barr. He is a political hack. Pretending to be an Attorney General.
CUOMO: All right, now, Betsy, I got to give you the last words. Go ahead. I got to be fair. Go ahead.
MCCAUGHEY: I would just say that the American people are fed up for two years, they were misled by the Democratic Party and the mainstream media into believing they were told again and again that there was collusion and conspiracy between Russia and the Trump administration. And even the Mueller report shows that that was total garbage. So, I think they want to move onto other issues there. Tired of being lied to.
CUOMO: I give you the last word and you smear me with something I never even argued. But I will tell you this, Mr. Mueller has 100 plus pages of collusion. Bad acts by these people. They knew they were doing. And they lied about it. Not crimes and there's a big difference. And he lays that out for you as well. That is why you go read the report. Errol Louis, Ana Navarro, Betsy McCaughey, thanks to each and all of you. Have a great weekend. Be blessed.
[22:55:07] All right, it's easy to forget that Notre Dame Cathedral was gutted by fire just this past Monday. And now here we are Easter weekend. Some thoughts on that. Next.
CUOMO: Easter is about Jesus' apparent death and resurrection. The spirit of the season is about rebirth and renewal. That takes us to the sad and apparent demise of the cathedral of Our Lady of Paris, Notre Dame. An electrical short circuit linked with elevators in place for renovation, the apparent cause of all of that devastation.
In Paris today, thousands gathered for Stations of the Cross, devotion, that's a Good Friday ritual. With the Cathedral's wreckage looming in the background. If you care enough, she too may rise again. And the promise is that she may be better than ever. Out of darkness can come light. And out of the worst we may still see the best. I want to thank you for watching and a blessed weekend for all of you.