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Chris Cuomo Talks About The New York Times Report on President Donald Trump's Income Tax Returns; Chris Cuomo Talks About Sen. Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) Naked Play of Advantage; Interview With Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX); Chris Cuomo Talks About Climate Change in the Arctic. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 7, 2019 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: That's it for us. News continues. I want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME". Chris?

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

Breaking News. The best answer yet to why the President is hiding his taxes. When you see the years and the tears from investors and his gambits and maybe even a potential scam, it is hard to see how our President can brag about his business acumen.

We have one of the reporters who broke the story. We also have one of the oversight Hawks in the house who's been fighting for the most recent taxes. Where will Democrats take the battle next?

And Senator Mitch McConnell has struck again. The master of disaster, when it comes to trying to shut the door on Democrats, now says the probe is case closed, before we even hear from Mueller. Democratic leader Schumer accuses him of aiding and abetting the Russians. We'll debate, it's another big night. What do you say? Let's get after it.

All right. so the President has given a new meaning to being a 1 percenter. His losses accounted for 1 percent of all losses in the country for one year according to newly obtained data from the New York Times. That year 1991.

Now as you see behind me, year-after-year the President appears to have lost more money than maybe any other individual taxpayer in American. As a rub on that, a lot of corporations or C Corps, they file and pay directly. He was a pass-through organization. It's privately held. So he's in a different bucket, but it's still a ton of losses.

These should all be read a decade in the red, why are they blue. Deals he bragged about were disasters. And a new allegation that the President may have been front running stocks in curious fashion to make up some of that loss, a very different narrative to us, when he was running for election.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I built a tremendous business. I filed my papers with a federal election. They couldn't even believe it. There were so many of those guys back there. I built an unbelievable - some of the greatest assets in the world, very little debt, tremendous cash flow - tremendous.


CUOMO: Cannot believe what he says. The new figures show over $1 billion in business losses. So bad our President paid no federal income tax for eight of the 10 years we now know about from 1985 to 1994.

Let's bring in one of the reporters who broke the blockbuster story tonight, Russ Buettner; and we have David Cay Johnston, who himself obtained part of the President's 2005 tax return, an expert in tax law, teaches the same. Both of you welcome to PRIME TIME. Gentlemen thank you.

Mr. Buettner, man of the hour. Appreciation. Boy, I have to tell you, as a journalist, the scrubbing and cross-referencing you did on arcane data - David Cay knows this very well, boy did you do a hell of a job on this. Any kudos that you get is well deserved. I'm reporting alone - forget about the impact on the outcome. The reporting is top knot scrubbing. Good for you. So what do you want people to take from this?

RUSS BUETTNER, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think it kind of forces us to again redefine or reimagine what we think of Donald Trump or President Trump and sort of assertions he's made as to why his ideas matter, the value of what he built and maybe perhaps his integrity in some of these issues as well.

You just see that over this period of time, he's trying different things, they're not working. He gets bailed out by this brief flirtation with moving the stock market around a bit. And then he has a big bubble of interest income somewhere that we can't explain either. And then he tries casinos and he tries an airline and, none of it really works out. And he builds this colossal record of failure over a decade.

CUOMO: Boy, and you know there's so much in there. I don't even know where to start, to be honest. David, this is so overwhelming in reading. I read through the piece twice to try to get it. When you look at it, having seen the 2005 tax return - an excerpt of it, how did the two go together for you?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP": Well this is entirely consistent with what I've been reporting on Donald for 30 years, it's all a fraud. And Ross Buettner and Susanne Craig, the other reporter on the story, are journalistic Toto's who had pulled back the curtain and revealed that the wizard is actually a con artist.

CUOMO: I would have gone with Dorothy (ph) or one of the big animals. I wouldn't have gone with the dog. JOHNSTON: All right.

CUOMO: I just want you to know. I think you're better than that little dog. But that's OK, people love pets. But David what do you see?

JOHNSTON: Well, you know, Donald has always claimed that he has these tremendous business deals. What this shows is it's nonsense. It's just made up by Donald. He creates his own reality and this shows that his claim of being the modern Midas who everything he touches turns to gold. No, it turns to dross.

[21:05:00] What he does say, that's true, is that he has had a lot of cash flow. When he created his only publicly traded company and ran it at least nominally for nine years, the investors were wiped out, the bondholders only collected pennies on the dollar, but Donald got $82 million out of it. That's what he does.

He reaches in like a vulture. He sucks something dry and he leaves the vendors unpaid, sometimes the workers unpaid, ruins other people's businesses, and yet is held out in the press as this great business genius.

CUOMO: That's one of the headlines from this, Russ, again it's so dense, people will going to have to read it, will be processing this for days, probably beyond, as more taxes come out.

But he claimed $1 billion in losses, but most of the assets he didn't really own just because it says Trump, and has a big price tag on it, the equity and the investors of different types of notes and paper and borrowing was pretty substantial. So he got to declare the losses even though he didn't own the entire underlying asset.

BUETTNER: That's one of the great magical things in the tax code, and David's an expert on this stuff. As a business owner with these pass- through entities, if you design a business that fails, you built - you've built too much costs into it and it can't support those costs, you can use those losses to write off any other types of income you might get - like from selling stocks --

CUOMO: You get all the losses. You don't have to share the losses the way you share the ownership?

BUETTNER: That's right. And in this case it's even a little more magical, because a lot of these losses are actually other people's money. This is bondholders' money and banks' money that he just didn't pay back.

And then did another sort of magical thing when - usually the taxman would come and say, if you have cancellation of debt, that's an essence income for you and you're going to have to now pay income taxes on that money, he came up with another - or his advisors came up with another scheme then to convert some of that into equity in ways that were really pushing the boundaries and avoided the taxman at that point as well.

CUOMO: Now I am a puppy compared to you guys. When I was at ABC News, me Tim O'Brien, who was at the New York Times, now he's a Bloomberg. Of course, Chris Vlasto, who is the big senior there, in charge of all investigations and now they have a podcast he does.

We did an investigation, David and Russ, of what we could figure out about Trump's Empire. And we got into a situation with him, because it was all private. This was in 2005 or 2006, right in there, it took us like a year. And we got to the point where, because it's all private and he wouldn't give us taxes, and we could only show different aspects of debt. That he had to agree on his net worth.

David, he insisted that the Hudson Yards alone - the West Side Yards, put his net worth at $5 billion at the time. We wound up just getting away from having to report it, because we had no way to corroborate it. But is there any chance that he was worth anything near a $1 billion during this period that we know about into the 2000s?

JOHNSTON: No. And, in fact, one day I asked Donald, what's your net worth? And that day he said $3 billion and I looked at him and said, "I don't believe you". And he was, "What?"

And I said, "Donald, you can't pay your bills. I'm just a reporter. I can pay all my bills as they come due. If you're really worth $3 billion, you'd find a way to pay your bills". Later that same day he told another reporter he was worth $5 billion. He just makes it up, Chris, he just makes it up.

CUOMO: Now here's a little bit of food for thought here. And I want to keep getting into the weeds with you guys into what we've learned. Russ, what do you say to the initial push back of - because everything's Rorschach these days, right?

Everything gets looked at through the partisan lens. Oh, I don't care, he still got a lot of money. He's got a lot more money than I'll ever have. He's still a huge business success. I don't care how you guys pick it apart. All those rich guys find a ways to use the tax code like he did. What's your take on that?

BUETTNER: Well, certainly for this era that just doesn't match. There's another database that we compared the data we had on him too, that showed the extreme outliers of business people set up like him who declared losses, and he was at the outer spectrum of those year- after-year. Either the top number or the second from the bottom, really a poor performance and that's remarkable.

But he's had several sort of phases and this this is one of them and it all sort of came collapsing down around him. He barely escaped through. And he was still, as David can attest to, and you too Chris, he was still really not doing very well when "The Apprentice" went on the air in 2004.

And then that created a whole new era where suddenly he didn't have to try to build things. He didn't have to try to build businesses that he could support with the cost structure that he put into him. He could just rent the use of his name, and that's an incredibly easy thing to do, and that's what we don't know about is how much money that's yielded. CUOMO: The irony that the hype wound up paying off for him in a way that his business acumen never did.

[21:10:00] What was name of that guy, David, who gave him that huge break at NBC? Gave him that TV show? What was his name again?

JOHNSTON: Yes, my boss Jeff Zucker, that's who it was.

CUOMO: Look let's take a break. This warrants a second block, if you guys will stay please. Because Russ raises - and his - and Craig - Susan Craig - Susanne Craig his writing partner on this, his reporting partner. They raise questions about what the President was doing to make up for the losses in the stock game.

Now the President never talks about dealing in stocks. He always shuns that as dirty business, not real business, like he was in. And a certain number of income that just doesn't make sense. Both of these, they have much deeper implications just an attack on his ego. Next.


CUOMO: All right, back with the Breaking News, and one of the people who brought to us from the New York Times, they've gotten President Trump's tax record for a decade in the '80s up into the '90s.

They show a lot of reasons this President doesn't want to show you his taxes from now or then or ever. Times reporter, Russ Buettner worked with - is it Susanne Craig, right?


CUOMO: You're Pulitzer winner. And Investigative Journalist, David Cay Johnston also had some of Trump's 2005 taxes sent to him.

[21:15:00] He's been reporting on this for many years, vindicated in part, by the reporting from the New York Times today.

So, Russ, two things; one, I am not familiar with the President as a stock investor or a front-runner of stocks. You put it in the piece, how sure are you of it and what does it say to you?

BUETTNER: Well, I don't think it's news to David or to Neil Barsky or to some of the people who covered the President Trump in the 1980s. There was a brief period where he seems to have learned that he could just talk about buying a company.

He would buy significant investment in a company with a loan from a broker at Bear Stearns, and then make a public comment or a leak of public comment that he might take it over. The stock would rise and then you would sell. And that lasted a couple of years before investors realized that he never seemed to really be following through.

Those trades were documented at the time by casino regulators in New Jersey, who were very concerned about his finances, because they were worried all his casinos were going under. CUOMO: David, what are you allowed to do and not allowed to do when you front run a stock?

JOHNSTON: Well, there are rather severe rules here about misleading investors. The fundamental rule is that any material fact that would make someone decide to buy, sell or avoid or hold a stock has to be disclosed. But Trump was part of a whole generation of people doing, what was called, not blackmailing companies, but greenmailing them.

And he got two of his casino competitors to buy the stock he had bought with borrowed money back at a premium, to make him go away, hence greenmail.

CUOMO: And how about just the idea of saying, "Yes, I bought this position, because, I'm going to buy all of it. I'm going to take it over. Then he sells it on the sneak, makes a profit, doesn't tell anybody, that part of the story. Is that OK? Is that just about bad ethics and not illegality?

JOHNSTON: Well, it is a criminal violation of the law, but you have to have enforcement. And we make very little effort in this country to enforce those laws on a criminal level.

CUOMO: Even there he wound up getting bit in the behind, though, right, Russ. Didn't he wind up holding something a little bit too long or the market caught up with him and he took a loss?

BUETTNER: He did - he - ultimately that that sort of ran its course. By the time he invested in, I think it was American Airlines towards the end of that cycle in 1989 or 1990, the market was sort of on to the fact that he was never really following through with this. And the stock went up initially and then it went back down. He didn't sell in time.

He lost, I think, $34 million on that and his father actually who had started following it him into some of these trades, as we documented in October, also lost a little bit of money on that as well. And then there was no point anymore that the game was sort of over.

CUOMO: And the income that you cited in that one year, you're puzzled by it it's interest income, why? Why is it so vexing for you that one number?

BUETTNER: Well, it's really striking, it's $52 million. Even at the junk bond rates at the time, you would have to have about $375 million invested to get that kind of return in one year. And the Casino Commission, as I mentioned before, and other auditors, were quite up in Donald Trump's affairs at that point in time.

And during that era, they said he had, depending on the month, between $2 million and a $100 million total in liquid investments in cash that he could use in any point in time, but you can't get $50 million in interest even from a $100 million in one year. So it really is just a striking mystery.

CUOMO: And where does that go for you? BUETTNER: Where does it go for me? I don't know. I mean, I've talked to former sort of auditors and investigators--

CUOMO: Could it have anything to do with his dad? I mean, I know when they had earlier reporting that the New York Times broke that the idea of a self-made man that the President sold is really just that he made that story up by himself. But it was his father's money that was not just starting him, but boosting him along his falls from grace from time-to-time. Is there anything there?

BUETTNER: Well, you're thinking just like we were, Chris. The first thing we did was check the banking records and the general ledgers that we have from his father's businesses during those very years, and there was no sign of it. There was money changing hands that we documented in October story, but this doesn't show up anywhere in there at all.

CUOMO: Look this is going to be digested for days, Russ. Let me put in my ask early, I'm going to need you to come back. As we start getting through this, we need to understand it in context, please come back. But congratulations to you.

In this business, the assumption is you'll be jealous that somebody else did it. Not me, I'm proud. Failing New York Times, read this piece today. I - you can't have journalism that's done better than this.

And I don't care who it's about, I don't care what it's about. Just look at the methodology that they take you through in the piece. It's why people get into journalism. Russ, thank you very much. David Cay, you are always value-added. Thank you very much.

For days people are going to be processing this story - for days. Take a look. I'm not saying it's the end of the Presidency. Don't be so fatalistic, and so extreme about everything. It's just what this President has said about who he is.

[21:20:00] You now have a way to look at it and see what's true and what isn't.

Now coming up, we have a key Democrat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, they're looking for the taxes in recent history. What is this reporting mean to him, what does this situation mean in terms of what the Democrats need to do?

Also another situation that must be exposed, Senator Mitch McConnell declares that Russia probe closed today. This is the latest in a string of effort to stifle democracy. We're going to show you what he's done before and what he's trying to do now. The height of hypocrisy must be exposed, these two next.


[21:25:00] CUOMO: This New York Times reporting about Trump's taxes from the 80s and 90s is huge. Well, we can't lose sight of other things that have happened right under our nose that really matter. For example, we now have the final indication that it is all hands on deck to clear this President from any wrongdoing. Listen to this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Special Counsel's finding is clear, case closed - case closed.


CUOMO: Must be nice, if you say it twice. Senator Mitch McConnell with his signature naked play for advantage. He knows by definition Mueller didn't close the case on obstruction and he didn't even mention it.

He would certainly say differently Mr. Mueller and certainly Mr. McConnell if you switch the "R" to a "D", next to this President's name, if you did that then Senator McConnell would say things like this.

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President", you remember that? All-out opposition.


MCCONNELL: Some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.


CUOMO: Naked play of advantage. The same man who now laments our paralyzing partisanship and wants us to move on, the same one who refused a vote on a SCOTUS nominee and was proud of it, vowed to punish Democrats for using the nuclear option - remember?


MCCONNELL: You'll regret this, and you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.


CUOMO: And you know what, they were wrong and he was right, and he's kept that vow, by making the job of naming judges more contentious than ever. Yet, he sees no problem indignantly calling on Democrats to be quiet and get back to work.


MCCONNELL: There is serious issues the American people need us to tackle. There's more progress for middle-class families we need to deliver.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: And do something. Senator McConnell spoke for more than 17 minutes on this, we've all watched it. He never once mentioned the 10 credible episodes of potential obstruction of justice contained in the Mueller Report. Case closed? In other words he ignored the entire second volume of the report.

Instead offering a version of events where Democrats are playing into the hands of Putin, absolutely zero shame in his game, know that. Ignoring the monumental embarrassment of what this President said in Helsinki.


TRUMP: I have President Putin he just said, it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.


CUOMO: Remember the White House then say, "Oh no, he said wouldn't", please. And actually admitting laughing our President did with the foreign foe about the probe into Putin's diabolical deeds just this past week.


TRUMP: We discussed that he actually sort of smiled.


CUOMO: McConnell ignores it all. And of course, Mr. Putin smiles. His adversary not only wilts from confrontation, he denies Russia's interference as much as Putin does. But keep in mind, POTUS isn't the only big-time GOP to ignore interference. Listen to this.


MCCONNELL: --there's been a little interest in the steps this administration has taken to make Russia pay for its interference--

-- and this administration has taken the problem head-on.


CUOMO: Really? Not only has the administration blocked bipartisan efforts in the Senate to guard our elections, but this idea is especially ironic, very rich coming, from this man in particular. Why?

Well for all that the President says about then President Obama not acting fast enough on interference back in 2016, fair criticism by the way. But what he leaves out is that one reason the administration dragged its feet was Senator Mitch McConnell.

When President Obama went to him to have the move be from both sides, so wouldn't look partisan, he refused action. And just like with so much we now have to wonder, why did he do that back then? All right so the question now is will Democrats get what they want in their fight for the truth? A Congressman not only taking on Republicans, he's taking on his own party to step it up, what's his plan, what he thinks matter. What should matter to you, next.


CUOMO: This new reporting from the New York Times is at least one indication, why the President is a hard no on handing over any his recent taxes. He does not like the story it is going to tell.

At the same time, House Ways and Means Chairman, Richard Neal has a job to do. And his meeting with Counsel to weigh the next steps in this fight to do oversight which includes the taxes.

A member of this Committee wants to get tough with the President. He is Democrat Lloyd Doggett here to make his case. Welcome to the show, sir.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: First, the New York Times, what's your take away?

DOGGETT: It's shocking. The President's demonstrated that he's a loser. And not just any loser, he's the biggest loser as far as individual taxpayers in that period of anybody in America, knocking out the competition in some years almost two to one.

It does raise another question as well, how does someone who is such a big loser, eventually get bailed out by a foreign bank? What other kind of money from abroad was floating in to keep him afloat. So there are many questions out there.

These were older tax returns. It certainly demonstrates another reason why we need the more recently returns.

CUOMO: Obviously, in the 2000s he got the gift of that reality show. And in fairness to him, he wound up doing it the right way, became a big hit, and he got tons of cash flow, which I'm sure helped him. We're going to know that story especially if you guys do your job and win in court.

DOGGETT: Indeed.

CUOMO: Now why do you think you'll win in court? The fight is pretty simple. The Statute is very clear, but it's never been used this way, so it's untested. They'll say, it's not real oversight, this is a political attack.

[21:35:00] You have no reason to get the taxes. You could just call the IRS and say did you audit the guy or not? You don't need the taxes.

DOGGETT: Well, we do need to know how this audit function operated. We have the history of President Richard Nixon, who was actually praised by the Internal Revenue Service publicly. But when we really got into a chance - our predecessors on the Committee at that time, to look at his returns, it turned out he owed a significant amount of money in unpaid taxes.

This Statute, as you know almost a 100 years old, could not be clearer. Shall means shall and you don't need a law firm - stack of lawyers, including his new personal attorney Bob Barr, to advise about these things. The Statute is clear.

I think that Chairman Neal can either seek to enforce the Statute without a subpoena, use a subpoena or we have the possibility of holding the Secretary or the IRS Commissioner in contempt.

CUOMO: Now you are one of the few Democrats who's not just saying hey it's wrong for the Republicans or the White House to stymie our oversight. You're on the Democrats as well. You believe it playing to passive. What do you want to see?

DOGGETT: Well, I think that were informed now by the President's new policy of obstruction today, obstruction yesterday, obstruction forever. He doesn't want anyone to talk, he doesn't want any documents produced. He creates a void with secrecy that he fills with more and more lies.

And so what I want is for us to recognize that were under new conditions. This is not a time for timidity. We need to be forceful. We need to use every tool. He seems to be almost begging for impeachment. I don't think it's time to go there at this point. But I do think it's important to use all of our powers, one of which is the inherent power of contempt.

CUOMO: All right. Oh, yes, inherent contempt, which is what?

DOGGETT: What it means, and recognized by the United States Supreme Court in the 19th Century is that the Congress can on its own part issue a subpoena and enforce that subpoena through arrest or through fines, and I think we need to be prepared to do both.

CUOMO: You don't want to throw the AG in cuffs though, right? I mean, you know that that would cause rancor and division that we certainly would have a hard time bearing in this current climate?

DOGGETT: All I want is for the Attorney General to realize he has a responsibility to the public, not just as a personal attorney of Mr. Trump, and to comply with the law. So if we have a lawless Attorney General or a lawless Secretary of the Treasury or some other official, it is our responsibility as a co-equal branch of government to hold them accountable.

I don't want to throw him in jail, but I'm ready to do so.

CUOMO: I hear you on that Congressman. You know, look, I'm of two minds on this. I've changed what I've been arguing - in the closing argument about this originally. I was like I just don't see the percentage for you guys. I don't see where it gets you as Democrats.

But I now understand that there's a difference between overreach and oversight. But this is a question that many are concerned about in this country. Look at these poll numbers that we have here about how people feel on this. The idea of how much is too much.

44 percent already says that you're pushing too much on investigating the President, right amount, versus too little you know get you to 53 percent. So you're 53:44, if you want to look at it that way. I guess, you could even argue I laid those stats out a little deceptively to weigh them against you. But putting that aside, are worried that it's going to be too much?

DOGGETT: I think this is part of president Trump's overall strategy, by denying, by building a huge stone wall. By denying anything, any reaching out we do to get the truth, is viewed as an overreach and is promoted by him as an overreach.

CUOMO: Well that's what Pelosi said, right? Pelosi said today that he believes that she believes the President is goading - G-O-A-D-I-N-G - pushing you guys, taunting you to impeach him? You believe that?

DOGGETT: I think he is. We see impeachment mentioned by all of his supporters, his enablers here in Congress as well as by him. That doesn't mean we shouldn't consider doing that if there are no other alternatives.

But I think this inherent power of contempt, which would involve perhaps our contracting with the jail, perhaps adding some security personnel to do an arrest - not because we want to arrest or to jail someone, but because we realize we have to show we're serious about this. We're not just going to go on through the courts and let them run out the clock.

Chris, you know as a lawyer yourself, I served for a time as a Texas Supreme Court Justice --

CUOMO: Yes sir, I'm aware.

DOGGETT: --that way appellate - the appellate process can go on and on and on with hearings and briefing schedules and rehearings. We can't let this administration run out the clock on the truth the American people need to know that.

[21:40:00] And also from my background as a Judge, I'm very concerned not just about this President, but about precedent. The precedent we are setting for another power-hungry President who would reach out and grab for more.

President Trump, when he makes these outrageous maneuvers, when he offers his bigoted statements and Republicans are silent and Democrats are timid, he's encouraged to grab for a little more. And I'm concerned about the erosion of our democracy by his conduct.

CUOMO: Well, it is interesting. I mean, you see the timidity of your own side as a factor in this. It'll be interesting to see what kind of adjustment there is. Let me ask you about a little look into our potential future, investigating the investigators. We both know that IG reports - Inspector General reports rarely come back showing nothing of any suspicion on what they've been looking at. There may be no referral certainly for criminal prosecution or follow- up.

But the idea that they'll have nothing to work on about the surveillance process that took place during that 2016, I think you'd agree with me Congressman, certainly understanding the process as a former Judge on the state level, there's a good chance they'll have something.

Now Christopher Wray today - do we have sound of it now? All right, so Christopher Wray today said in the Senate hearing, he has no proof that there was spying done in response, I believe, to Jeanne Shaheen. What does that mean to you in terms of what we need to look at going forward?

DOGGETT: Well, it means that Bob Barr used the term spying because it's a loaded term for what appeared to be a court approved investigation that was underway and did not involve spying and--

CUOMO: Do you believe it was only based on the dossier information that was bought by Clinton from the Russians? Fruit of the poisonous tree?

DOGGETT: I - no, I don't. But I believe that we should see the Inspector General's report before making a final decision. And I don't think there's justification for launching a big new distracting investigation when we have the facts right now and the President trying to stop Bob Mueller from coming here to explain them.

CUOMO: Do you think he can do that?

DOGGETT: Well, I think he can. I don't think he'll be a partisan in any way. I think everything, the Judiciary Committee or the Intelligence Committee does with him needs to be centered on the law and his responsibilities--

CUOMO: Understood. But you think the President would block him? As long as he's working for the DOJ, he's working for Bill Barr, Bill Barr could say no.

DOGGETT: Well, he could and he would be reversing himself as he has reversed himself, and as the President does --

CUOMO: He said he had no objections.

DOGGETT: --almost on a regular basis.

CUOMO: But what if the President has an objection and he then says well the President doesn't wanted to do it, so he's not going to do it.

DOGGETT: Yes and that's entirely possible. But, of course, I don't think that Mr. Mueller will be forever a Justice Department employee and I would hope when he completes his responsibilities, which should be soon, that if he's blocked by the President and his hand-picked lawyer Mr. Barr. That Mr. Mueller will then be able to testify before our Committees.

CUOMO: Congressman, thank you so much --

DOGGETT: Thank you.

CUOMO: --for weighing in on these matters of great importance in a time-sensitive way. Thank you very much.

DOGGETT: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Lloyd Doggett, Texas Democrat. Thank you sir.

All right, the world is warming. You know that's what science tells you. The scientists look at what's happening in the Arctic, they see a flashing red light. The Trump administration, they see green, less ice, more money. You got to hear to believe it, next.


CUOMO: Look, there really is no point in debating the science. We know the science. The warnings are clear from scientists. There are dire consequences because of human-caused climate change.

Now on Monday, our Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, seemed to highlight the upside of this tremendous downside.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: --ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.

Arctic sea lanes could come before - could come - the 21s century Suez and Panama Canals.


CUOMO: Now, look, the good news is, he seemed like he was reading those words, maybe he didn't write them. Maybe this is just some administration message, that's being put out and we shouldn't tarnish Mike Pompeo. But, yes, he did say them.

Here's the reality. The Arctic is melting. We know that the Secretary of State apparently knows it too. But not once in that address before the Arctic Council that he used the words climate change. Why stay mum on what is obvious, especially when you've acknowledged it before albeit, reluctantly. Listen.


POMPEO: I also believe that the climate is changing. That there's a warming taking place. I'm happy to concede that there is likely a human component to that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Concede? Let's bring in D. Lemon. Why do you have to concede? It's like conceding that two plus two is four. Why you got to concede?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Well it makes the whole point of what we have been discussing the Breaking News in The New York Times, is that this administration and people in the administration and folks - some people will do anything to create a narrative about what they want.

They think it's fake and what are they - they say it's fake because it doesn't behoove them, because they want to make excuses for things. Ultimately, because they want to be in power and they want to prove themselves right, even though it's not.

Let me just give you the facts. And this is this is just the world sign as you gave some of them. But here's what - here's what's concerning to me. Climate change and pollution are the main drivers of species loss and are threatening more than 40% of amphibians, Chris.


LEMON: 33 percent of the coral reefs and over 1/3 of marine mammals with extinction. And again that is according to this report. Monday, by major scientists throughout the world, it comes just a couple like - just what a few months after the UN did a very similar report that showed similar results.

So I went to Catholic school, they taught me about religion, they taught me about beliefs, the conspiracy theories, but they also taught me logic and science and mathematics. And you have to weigh the two and they taught me to believe in those things, science above all else. That's how we got here.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: Absolutely. You know what I believe in? The Lorax. Did you ever read that book? The Seuss book - The Lorax?

LEMON: Yes, Seuss' The Lorax. You're going way back--

CUOMO: --where they start taking all the trees, and start making thneeds.


CUOMO: T-H-N-E-E-D-S. And what happens when they're all gone? It's a dark and dismal place until they find one and they have to regenerate. You don't want to go that way. And that's the thing. The temperature gets hotter, the ice melts, they see opportunity.

But the melting ice creates more warm temperatures, more melting, it's cyclical. And something has to be done to stop it. And you know what you can find opportunity in that too. There's opportunity in the changes that are necessary, that's the tragedy of hearing this backward thinking from someone who we really know is intelligent. I don't know why the Secretary of State's on that message. But he's a smart--

LEMON: Well, you were reading the Lorax, I was reading Shel Silverstein, where--

CUOMO: "The Giving Tree"?

LEMON: --"The Giving Tree" and "Where the Sidewalk Ends".

CUOMO: I am the tree in our relationship by the way, I want you to know.

LEMON: I was also reading what Moby Dick, what else - there's lot of stuff, but--

CUOMO: The Great White Whale--

LEMON: There you go.

CUOMO: Hopefully, we'll get something like that together when we're on the boat this summer.

LEMON: Do you remember. Yes - well, we'll see. Hopefully, we don't get eaten by a whale. But, listen, remember all the consternation about - couple years ago happening around shooting and killings of unarmed black--

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: --folks in this country, still going on. But there was more talk about it. This President wasn't in office, the news wasn't consumed by politics. Well, Sandra Bland, remember her? She died in jail cell in a Waller County--

CUOMO: New evidence.

CUOMO: --in Texas. There's new evidence. There's new cell phone video from her perspective. She has a different perspective on what happens and we're going to break that down coming up. Then we're going to talk about the taxes, as well, don't forget that.

CUOMO: Of course, you will. You look like an accountant tonight. I like the glasses.

LEMON: Oh, I am.

CUOMO :-- little bit. Look at that guy, would you have him do your taxes? No way, unless you are Trump.

All right a big night of breaking news. The President taxes in sharp focus. Now I have an arguments making that maybe the President will see this reporting from New York Times as an opportunity, next.


CUOMO: Now, I am not one to offer advice let alone to the most powerful man in the world. But, your name were Donald John Trump, now would be the time to release your taxes, like right now.

The argument - well, practically New York is about to vote on releasing your state tax returns, which are an echo of the federal ones, as we all know. And as you can imagine, your salty words and salt tax burden on blue states like New York, not made you wildly popular. And the fight with Congress does not bode well for you in the courts.

And even if you get over that hurdle, turns out, 25 states are working on laws requiring presidential candidates on the ballot in their states to show tax returns. And I haven't heard of an under alleged audit exception yet, so that's not promising either, that's a practical.

Politically, you always want to control the narrative as much as you can, and that's only possible here if you empower the release of your taxes. The New York Times story raises legit questions about stock manipulation, lies about your income, lies about your wealth, curious income reporting on interest, none of that is good for your brand or your credibility. Some of it would have been softened if you were explaining what people would find.

Now I get the reason you don't want to release the taxes, it's because you know what they do and do not show and you don't like the story. I get it. I get it better than most actually for two reasons.

First, I investigated your net worth with a team - a talented team at ABC News. Remember, back in 2005 - remember you on the phone with Chris Vlasto? Remember he kept yelling at us - the investigative guru over there. You insisted you were worth billions, but you wouldn't give us any real proof, and we could only find proof of that much in debt.

Remember the letter that was from your lawyer, but sounded a lot like you, damning me back to the womb for getting your worth wrong? It was right then and even more right now.

The second reason is you and I share more common history. We were both given huge breaks by Jeff Zucker, Chairman of WarnerMedia News & Sports and President of CNN Worldwide.

Looking at the reporting of your taxes from the 80s and 90s, and the snapshots we got in the early 2000s, my guess is, Zucker giving you that reality show in 2004 - that changed your reality. You went from being in the 1 percent of all losses reported for U.S. individual taxpayers to a TV star, who was depicted as the ultimate top 1 percenter.

Now, look, I'm sure you don't like this narrative. But the only way to change it is to show your returns. At a minimum, the truth will come out on your own terms, and there's something to respect in that.

At the end of the day, isn't that what you always inflated your assets to get what you saw as respect, right? But if you man up and say this has gone too far, and it's not fair, here's the information, here are the taxes and along with it push for a law that makes it a federal requirement for all to show taxes and a run for the White House. And then a raft of tax fixes to plug some of the gaping holes in the code that you exploited in grotesque fashion. Now that would take up some headlines and get you at least a pinch of respect for some of those that are now looking on and seeing someone who is clearly not who you told us you were.

All right, that's my argument for tonight. Thank you for watching. We have big Breaking News, let's get to "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon right now.

LEMON: Somebody's going to be mad at you. You just told a big old - you just dropped a the truth bomb.

CUOMO: Truth bomb.

LEMON: Truth bomb. And he's not going to like the Jeff part, even though we know it's true. Jeff made him and Jeff made him and helped him and now he hates Jeff. And so he should be--

CUOMO: I don't know that the President--