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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Comey: "No Doubt" Trump Would Have Been Charged With Obstruction if Not President; Jim Comey: "Possible" The Russians Have Leverage on Trump; Tyra Banks Returns as Sports Illustrated Cover Model at 45. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 9, 2019 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:00] JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, "A HIGHER LOYALTY" AUTHOR: I knew it was a lie when it was first said at the time.

And it was, I guess, gratifying to see the Special Counsel have her admit that it was. But I gather she's back on saying it was a slip of the tongue again. And if I need to explain to you what her deal is, I - I can't help you.

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Why don't you meet James Smathers, a student at the George Washington University who also works on a student-run Political Action Committee. He's from California. James?

JAMES SMATHERS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Hi. In your book, A Higher Loyalty, you talk about the importance of political norms in our government. Do you think if House Democrats don't move towards impeachment for obstruction of justice, they will be putting politics over principles?

COMEY: It's a very hard question. I - I don't know what the right answer is. And - and I'm not qualified to answer it because I think it - it's only people in the House that can answer that question. I hope they'll stare closely at the facts and at their responsibilities under our Constitution.

But I've said this before. I kind of hope there isn't an impeachment because I think it will leave us in a situation where we're kind of off the hook.

We need an election where the American people stand up and say, look, we got important differences over immigration and guns and abortion, really important issues that we should respect difference on, but we have something in common, it's non-negotiable.

Our President must reflect the values of this country. Our President must tell the truth.

(CROWD APPLAUSE)

COMEY: And there's a lot of pain and polarization in this country. But I hope that's something that can unite Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. And so, there ought to be a moment of inflection that falls on us, the American voters.

And in a way, an impeachment process might derail that, and let us off the hook, and we don't deserve to be let off the hook.

COOPER: The - the counter-argument to that is one made by Senator Elizabeth Warren right now who said that not only is it Congress' Constitutional duty, but that every Member of Congress should have to go on the record for, you know, for our democracy, and for history to vote as to whether or not they think this kind of behavior from a President is acceptable.

Is there value in - in that idea?

COMEY: There is certainly value in the second part of that. I think everybody in leadership roles in American life ought to read the Mueller report and then answer this question. Is that behavior consistent with what we should expect from the President of the United States?

Republicans should be able to answer that. And Democrats, there's great value in that, again, because it will elevate the conversation to focus on values, which are the things most at risk with this President.

COOPER: The majority of people, American people, have not read the - the full Mueller report, 448 pages. Should McGahn, Mueller should - should there be - do you want to see them all testify?

Because that's another argument some Democrats are making, which is there's a lot of power in having public hearings in which people can watch it on television, actually hear from these people.

COMEY: I believe transparency is always good for a democracy. And so, the more information the American people can get about how the government's working, and how this President is acting, the better off we'll be. And so, I think we ought to have as full a development of the facts as possible.

COOPER: I want you to meet Garret Hoff. He's from California studying Political Communication at the George Washington University. Garret?

GARRET HOFF, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Thank you. What do you think is the biggest misconception that has been spread about you in the media? And why do you think that misconception has resonated?

COMEY: Probably the biggest misconception is that I was on somebody's side during the 2016 election. Now, it's a weird thing where the Trump people say I was on the Clinton side, and the Clinton people say I was on the Trump side.

But that idea that - that I and the FBI must have been acting with a partisan bias is disturbing, but also understandable, because so much of our country is divided. We're seeing the world with these partisan lenses, so it's almost impossible to imagine a group of people not on anybody's side. And so, I get why that sense has been fostered. But it's painful and damaging to the institution.

COOPER: Want you to meet Yolanda Hawkins-Bautista. She's an attorney and President of the Women's Bar Association in D.C. Yolanda, welcome.

YOLANDA HAWKINS-BAUTISTA, ATTORNEY, PRESIDENT, WOMEN'S BAR ASSOCIATION OF D.C.: Good evening. Are you considering running for public office? And, if so, which office, and under what party? I'm assuming it won't be the Republican Party.

COMEY: Well actually the question is easier to answer than that. No, never.

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

COMEY: Yes.

(CROWD APPLAUSE)

COMEY: I admire - I admire good people who run for office. We need good people on both sides of the aisle running for office. It's not my thing. But there are lots of ways to contribute, to serve your community and your country without running for office.

COOPER: You canvassed for Republican candidate in Virginia in the - a Democratic candidate--

COMEY: Democratic candidate.

COOPER: --for a Democratic candidate in Virginia. Sorry, excuse me. Would you canvass for Democrats in the upcoming election?

COMEY: Yes. I think it's very important that - first of all, I thought it very important that one House of Congress be in the hands of the opposition party, so the design of the Founders would work. There would actually be oversight and tension.

And I think it's very, very important that Donald Trump, again, not because of his policy positions, but because he is amoral, is unfit to lead that - to lead this nation that somebody else be elected President.

[21:05:00] COOPER: To - to Yolanda's question though, if things are as bad as - as you have been saying they are, with this Administration, the threat to the country is as serious as - as you say it is, why not do more than write occasional op-eds and - and then, you know, have your voice out there? Why not take another step and run for something?

COMEY: Yes. It's just not - it doesn't - it doesn't suit me for a bunch of different reasons. It's just not my thing. But I think there are plenty of ways to contribute. Look, I'm not loving this phase of my life. But I--

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I thought this was going pretty good (ph).

COMEY: Well no, I'm - I'm sorry.

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

COOPER: I'm kidding.

COMEY: I correct. I love being with you.

COOPER: Yes, yes, it's OK, it's OK (ph).

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

COMEY: And, obviously, I love Bob Mueller, I found out tonight.

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

COMEY: But I - this isn't fun. But I can't do anything else after the election.

COOPER: What is the next phase then for you?

COMEY: I don't know. But, probably involving students and teaching, which I love doing. But I - I have to try to contribute to a conversation, which I hope will urge Republicans and Democrats to elevate the conversation, and say, "So, what's the glue that holds America together?"

It's not our belief about taxes or it's not our belief about regulation. It's our values. We care about the truth and the rule of law. Our leader has to reflect that common glue that set of values, and we have to start there when we choose a leader, and we will get there.

But I think we have to shorten this period where we've lost that focus on values in the White House. And it has to - there has to be an inflection point in November of next year.

COOPER: I want to introduce Juliet Sanchez. She has one of the most important jobs in America. She's a public school teacher in Washington. She's originally from Colombia, came to the U.S. seven years ago. Juliet?

JULIET SANCHEZ, TEACHER: (FOREIGN LANGUAGE). Good evening, Mr. Comey. You lost one of your children when he was an infant. Your wife and yourself have been foster parents. You come from Irish descendant. What is your personal take on how immigrants, and especially immigrant children, are being treated by the current Administration?

COMEY: Every so often in our nation's history, the giant, which is the great lump in the middle of America, where a bell curve stirs, in 1963, little girls were murdered at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Sunday school, and the giant stirred. And Republicans and Democrats voted for the Voting Rights Act and the

Civil Rights Act, and changed our country. The images and the reality of children in cages at our Border is a stain on this country. And if there's anything good that can come from that, it will be a stirring of the giant.

Torches in Charlottesville, children in cages, wake up, think about what America is, and vote those values.

(CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COOPER: Our next question comes from Joshua Duboise, a law student at Howard University. He's from Georgia, served in the Army for seven years. Thank you for your service. Appreciate it. And what is your question Joshua?

JOSHUA DUBOISE, HOWARD UNIVERSITY LAW STUDENT: Thank you. What is your advice to those who are interested in joining the FBI or CIA but seek to do so with no political affiliation or allegiance?

COMEY: Come. We don't want your political affiliation or allegiance.

We need character. We need integrity, ability, and physicality. The - one of my proudest achievements at the FBI was in four years attracting a broader swath of America to thankless, stressful, underpaid work that's addictive.

Come. You won't regret it. It's a - it's a resolutely apolitical organization where you do good for a living. Nobody leaves because once you taste work with moral content, it never lets you go, and you never want to let it go.

So, come is what I would say.

COOPER: Former FBI Director James Comey, thank you very much, appreciate it.

(CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COMEY: Thank you very much.

(CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

COMEY: Thank you.

COOPER: That's it for our audience here in Washington. A reminder, the - the book, A Higher Loyalty, now out on paperback.

CUOMO PRIME TIME starts right now. Chris?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, thank you, Anderson.

I don't know if you're watching the Town Hall but Jim Comey just said on CNN he still believes it is possible Russia has something on this President. And then, he dropped this bomb.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: So, I think it's up to 800 former federal prosecutors who worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations who have signed a statement saying that Mueller's findings would have produced obstruction charges against President Trump if he weren't President. Do you agree?

COMEY: Yes, I agree.

COOPER: No doubt?

COMEY: No doubt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That's right. The former FBI Director just accused this President of a crime and also of potentially being compromised by Russia, and I haven't even gotten yet to what he said about Attorney General Bill Barr and Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein.

Now, this is definitely going to make waves in the media and in political circles, and certainly rankle the President. But can Mr. Comey substantiate the claims?

[21:10:00] We're going to get into that with people who have dug deep on the facts here, and we have a Democratic Senator here who was a big hand in what happens next. His reaction to Comey, and why Senator Richard Blumenthal thinks the President's son should go to jail if he doesn't show to testify.

Let's open this up with Cuomo's Court. We have Garrett Graff and Asha Rangappa. Thanks to both of you.

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TEXT: CUOMO'S COURT.

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CUOMO: So, Asha, the idea of Comey sitting there, didn't even think in response to Anderson's question, "Oh, yes, if he wasn't President, obstruction." Significance?

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well I think he's speaking as a former prosecutor. As Anderson mentioned, we now have over 800 former prosecutors who have said the same thing.

And I think when you look at the Mueller report, and the fact that Mueller went but - through 10 potential counts, element by element, listing it out, and Comey pointed out two particular instances, and not including his own firing, by the way.

One was asking McGahn to basically get rid of the Special Counsel, and the other was to try to limit the scope of the Russia investigation to future investigations.

So, you know, I think he was actually being quite conservative by saying there was two in particular, even though the report suggests that there could be as many as eight counts that have substantial evidence that would substantiate obstruction of justice.

I also think that he made it clear that the American public isn't aware or doesn't fully understand that the evidence laid out in Mueller's report is potentially for future prosecutors to be able to prosecute Trump after he leaves office.

CUOMO: Mel, do we have the sound of the President yet about the - just in this context because of what I want to setup in terms of conversation, I want you to hear what the President of the United States said today about the Mueller report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Mueller report came out. That's the Bible. The Mueller report came out and they said he did nothing wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, he's talking about his son, all right? Let's put that to the side. We're going to deal with that later in this show. We have Senator Blumenthal here to talk about the subpoena in one of the Senate committees.

Garrett, the Trump - the Trump line there is from the President "The Mueller report is the Bible." Now, I see those as haunting words. Comey tees up an absolute need to hear from Mueller. We have to hear if Mr. Mueller shares the analysis of Jim Comey.

Do you agree on the significance of that? And what do you think we'll - would hear from Mueller?

GARRETT GRAFF, JOURNALIST, "THE THREAT MATRIX" AUTHOR, FORMER POLITICO MAGAZINE EDITOR: Yes. And to add to what Asha was saying, I think one of the, you know, we think of Jim Comey today as the former FBI Director. But he spent most of his career on the federal prosecutor side.

Remember, he was a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia where Paul Manafort was tried. He was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York where many of these Trump cases are now being handled. And he was the Deputy Attorney General who sat in Rod Rosenstein's chair before Rod.

And so, I think that, you know, we have to take his word and his weight here seriously. And he's not out of line, as Asha says. I mean this is well within the bounds of what most serious federal prosecutors have said over the last couple of weeks since the Mueller report came out.

CUOMO: Right. But that's why Mueller becomes--

GRAFF: And I think what--

CUOMO: --so important, Garrett because he's the one--

GRAFF: Exactly.

CUOMO: --who did the digging here. And he's the one who, let's be honest, he left it undecided and confusing, and he needs to clarify it.

GRAFF: Yes. But and I think actually Comey was very generous in the way that he laid this out in the Town Hall that - that Mueller left it confusing for a specific reason was that he felt that he had been barred by the Justice Department from indicting the President, and that he felt it was unfair to make criminal allegations short of something that the President could be tried on.

CUOMO: Right.

GRAFF: And that he was gathering this information.

CUOMO: Right. I hear you - I hear you on that. But we have to hear--

GRAFF: Yes.

CUOMO: We have to hear Mueller articulate--

GRAFF: Absolutely.

CUOMO: --what the division was on the team, how it is that Mr. Barr and Mr. Rosenstein found it such an easy case to render a decision on when Mueller could not. We need to hear it.

Now, the other allegation tonight we got to get into, let's listen to this. It wasn't just about obstruction. It was about possible compromise of our President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think the Russians have leverage over President Trump?

COMEY: I don't know the answer to that.

COOPER: You think it's possible?

COMEY: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, why does he keep saying that? I know people would want to play this as new tonight. It isn't. He's said it before. The Mueller report was very clear in that. I know there are redactions. But it's only - it's less than 10 percent of the whole report. And we get this straight sense from Mr. Mueller that no criminal

conspiracy, Asha, no proof of compromise. Why would Comey say this knowing the heft that it has when he says it?

[21:15:00] RANGAPPA: Yes. So, Comey actually explained this that the counterintelligence part of the investigation remained with the FBI. Mueller's report actually notes this early on in this report.

So, he was not overseeing the - the counterintelligence part. He was overseeing the criminal probe. And his report reflects what he found in terms of evidence that may or may not be sufficient to sustain criminal charges.

What Comey was basically saying is that there is other evidence that could be collected on the counterintelligence side that may not necessarily be relevant to particular criminal charges, but that could relate to whether and how people might have been targeted, assessed, developed or even compromised to act on Russian interests.

I also think that it was noteworthy that he clarified, and I think this is so important, that the portion of the dossier, which he said was unverified, related specifically to the part about Trump's private behavior with, you know, potential women in Russia, not necessarily to the entire dossier, which he said was actively being corroborated and was actually consistent with many other pieces of intelligence that they were getting at the time in - in late December 2016.

I think that's so important because it's such a basis of a lot of misinformation that's out there.

CUOMO: All right, look, now - I give you the benefit of the analysis. But, Garrett, my point is they don't have any proof.

And if there were proof in this other thing, the idea of the way Asha puts it, is clever, but the idea of "Well there is other evidence that could possibly be collected," yes, but you didn't. You don't have it.

And this is a - the second time at least that I've heard Comey say, Garrett, about the President of the United States that he could be compromised. "It's possible." But he doesn't have any proof.

At what point do you have to put up a shut up on something like this?

GRAFF: Well but I think he was making a different point than he made last year. Last year's question was in specific regard to the tapes where Comey was saying it's possible they exist.

Comey's point tonight, I think, was of a broader one, which is it's possible that Russia does have leverage over the President.

And we get very caught up in this question of the salacious tapes without really considering the much more obvious opportunities for leverage that the President could have in regards to Russia in terms of the business dealings that we know for instance that the President was engaged--

CUOMO: Right.

GRAFF: --in trying to build Trump Tower Moscow during the course of this campaign.

CUOMO: Right.

GRAFF: We don't really have a good understanding of where the President's money is coming from in part because the President has made it so hard up to, you know, within the last couple of days in terms of turning over documents.

CUOMO: Right. And we hear it. And that's what the threads are that lead to Deutsche Bank, why were they the ones who lent him so much money? They have oligarch money that flows through there. We'll see if they turn over the documents, what they yield.

Asha, my point is this. I'm not knocking your analysis. It's spot-on. That's why I love having you on this show.

My point is at a certain point, when you overreach in the expectation of what could be, and it's not delivered on, it actually emboldens the other side in the counter-argument that you have nothing.

You've raised dangerous speculation. You pretend that the President might be connected to Russia. You pose these enticing questions. But the answers never come out the way you say.

That's what I'm asking like at what point does it have to be delivered on or let go?

RANGAPPA: I think it has to be delivered on. And I think this is why the Intelligence Committee, the House Intelligence Committee has actually requested a briefing on the counterintelligence portion of the investigation. This is what we have representatives in Congress for.

The counterintelligence portion is top-secret. It's classified. It contains sensitive methods and sources, intelligence from our allies. It cannot be released to the public. But that's why we have Representatives who are entrusted with oversight to be able to look at that investigation.

And I think through them we can get some of these answers and say, you know, was - there was a counterintelligence investigation on the President of the United States that suggests that there was at least a concern that he might be compromised, whatever happened with that.

CUOMO: Yes.

RANGAPPA: Was that ever resolved? Is it an ongoing national security threat? What are we doing about it?

CUOMO: Fair point. And good thing I have the Senator here. I'm going to ask him about what's happening on that front because this now looms a little bit larger.

Now, one other thing that Comey said tonight that is worthy of a second look. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: What do you think of the way Attorney General Barr has behaved?

COMEY: And I think he acted in a way that's less than honorable in the way he described it in writing and described it during a press conference and continues to talk as if he's the President's lawyer. That is not the Attorney General's job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: "Less than honorable." Garrett Graff, impact?

GRAFF: Big. And I think he goes on to say is part of that answer that he feels that Barr did not live up to the Justice Department's standard of a duty of candor that he was giving narrow legalistic answers, not respective of what the Attorney General should be saying.

And I think that that comment hits home as does the one where he went after Rod Rosenstein's character and said that he is a man of not sterling character, of not strong character. You know, that - that should mean something.

[21:20:00] CUOMO: Right. It also could mean that Comey is still upset that Rod Rosenstein took it out of him in that letter about why he should be fired. But, nonetheless, when you're a former FBI Director who's in deep in this situation as he was, these words are going to resonate.

Garrett Graff, Asha Rangappa, thank you both, important to have you tonight. Thank you.

Jim Comey, he just said he thinks the DOJ should take a hard look at whether to charge the President when he's out of office.

We have a top Democrat, Senator Richard - Richard Blumenthal. What does he think about Comey's arguments tonight? What does he think the path is forward for the President and for his son, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: 2020 is going to be a big year. Obviously, it's the reelection effort for the President.

It could also be the last year before this President could face criminal charges, that's in the opinion of the former FBI Director, Jim Comey. He was just minutes ago in a CNN Town Hall, dropping bombs like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Do you think he should be charged when he's out of office?

COMEY: I think--

COOPER: Based on what Mueller has shown.

[21:25:00] COMEY: Well I think the Justice Department will have to take a serious look at that. Whether it's a wise thing to do to a former President? I don't know. That's a harder question, a much bigger question than the facts of the case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: This as the President and his namesake are under fire for multiple subpoenas related to the Mueller report, which the President called today "The Bible," on what happened during Russian interference.

Let's bring in Democratic Senator and Member of the Judiciary Committee, Richard Blumenthal. Senator, good to have you.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Good to be here (ph).

CUOMO: That may be the first thing on Russian interference that you agree with the President on that the Mueller report should be regarded as the Bible. Now, in terms of the word of truth, what rang true for you in what Jim Comey said tonight?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, first, I want to see the whole Bible. We've seen a redacted copy of it.

And what rang true to me in those points that Jim Comey made so powerfully is, number one, Vladimir Putin succeeded beyond his wildest expectations in interfering with our democracy in 2016.

And, number two, that the President of the United States would be prosecuted for obstruction of justice but for his being in that position, in other words, but for the 20-year-old Office of Legal Counsel memorandum that says a sitting President cannot be indicted.

I was one of the former prosecutors, by the way, who signed that letter that Jim Comey just supported.

CUOMO: Right. I saw your name on there. Why would Comey be more believable to you than Attorney General Barr and Deputy A.G. Rosenstein, their conclusion that "No. We've looked at the evidence. You couldn't make a case here beyond a reasonable doubt." BLUMENTHAL: Bill Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein are acting as the President's defense counsel. They are really distorting and warping the Bible, the Mueller report in the interests of the President.

If you look at the Mueller report itself, there are 10 episodes. Four of them established conclusively the elements of obstruction, an act that interferes with an ongoing proceeding, the connection to the ongoing proceeding, and corrupt intent so--

CUOMO: If it were me. But when it's a President, it's a complicated analysis. Let's take out of it whether or not you can indict a sitting one, and the legal guidance. Let's just take it out for a second.

The idea that I have control over the proceeding as President complicates the analysis, and that unless you can show corrupt intent that I was doing something, I'm allowed to do anyway, but I was doing it with malice, basically, and I was doing it to serve myself, and not the right interest, it's hard to make that case. Isn't it?

BLUMENTHAL: Obstruction of justice and any criminal case is hard to prove when there has to be evidence of intent. Sometimes, it's documents. Sometimes, it's conversations. But you need that mens rea as the--

CUOMO: The mental thing.

BLUMENTHAL: Yes.

CUOMO: The mental component.

BLUMENTHAL: The mental component that constitutes corrupt intent, absolutely right.

But, in this instance, there is a plethora of evidence about what the President was doing, and why he was doing it. And that's why I agree with Jim Comey and the more than 700 other prosecutors who said the President would be charged.

Now, is it a wise thing to do? That's the other question that Jim Comey confronted. In the wake of the Watergate scandal, then President Ford concluded that charging former President Nixon was not a wise thing to do. He gave him a pardon.

And Gerald Ford had to live with the consequences of it because the American people really want justice and they want transparency, that whole Mueller report.

CUOMO: Mueller didn't say what Jim Comey or what you say. He could have. He said something else. Obviously, we all want to hear from Mr. Mueller, want him to explain it because he could have said what you just said. He didn't.

He said "Can't say that he did it, not that I'm not allowed to, but that in looking at the evidence, can't say he did it, and can't say that I can exonerate him," which is a weird word for a prosecutor to use.

You guys aren't in the business, in your past life, of finding me innocent. You are in the business of deciding whether or not you can charge me and find me beyond a reasonable doubt. Why do you think he said it the way he did?

BLUMENTHAL: That's what I want to know from Mueller himself rather than speculate on what went through his mind. And I want to hear from his team. I want to hear from Don McGahn and variety of others who would have knowledge and were interviewed or taken before the Grand Jury by Bob Mueller, and the full evidence and findings.

But here's what I know for sure. And that is that Bob Mueller also said in that report that if he could have exonerated--

CUOMO: He would have.

BLUMENTHAL: --the President, he would have.

CUOMO: Right.

BLUMENTHAL: And that's very telling. And we may see, as Jim Comey said tonight, the Department of Justice taking another look at Donald Trump after he leaves office.

CUOMO: Not with this A.G. Not with--

BLUMENTHAL: There'll be another A.G. after he leaves office.

[21:30:00] CUOMO: Right. I would say - not with this A.G. Now, two more questions. One, on Don Jr., these are heavy things that you want to talk to Mueller about. I understand your interest as an extension of oversight. I don't see that as overreach, not yet.

But, on him, assuming it's the discrepancies between what he said to you guys, and what's in the Mueller report about whom he may have told about the Trump Tower meeting, and what he knew about the Moscow deal, he said he - that's the best of his recollection in terms of who he told.

Now, you know that's a magic word in the law. He said, "To the best of my recollection, I only told Jared, Manafort, who were the two guys who were with me at the meeting."

Even if Rick Gates is right, and he told other people, he said that was his best recollection at the time.

Why drag him back in and make all of this drama about it if he's just going to say, "Yes, that's what I remembered at the time, Senator. Yes, now you tell me this. Yes, now I remember that yes, I told them to, so what?"

BLUMENTHAL: His recollection has to be tested. That's what prosecutors do. That's what investigators do.

When he says he has no recollection, and there are more than 140 instances of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians, during the campaign, or shortly afterward, he has to be asked, for the sake of our country, because Vladimir Putin succeeded beyond his wildest expectations in interfering with our elections.

What was the polling data that was provided to Konstantin--

CUOMO: Kilimnik.

BLUMENTHAL: --Kilimnik by Paul Manafort. Why was it provided? Why did you message WikiLeaks about the Hillary Clinton emails?

CUOMO: I get those questions. But Trump Jr. can't help you on that stuff.

BLUMENTHAL: He can help us on a lot of them.

CUOMO: Really?

BLUMENTHAL: He has knowledge about his own messaging to WikiLeaks.

CUOMO: Sure.

BLUMENTHAL: He may know why Roger Stone was directed to be in contact with Julian Assange. He certainly knows about the meeting at Trump Towers that he attended.

He should know about the negotiations on Trump Tower Moscow, which might have compromised the President because he denied those negotiations going on well after he denied him.

So, he is a central witness in preventing the Russians from continuing their attack again. And I think if the American people take away nothing else from tonight, they should be stirred and chilled by Jim Comey's words, the Russians are going to do it again.

CUOMO: Well that leads us to the conclusion that you guys are spending a lot of time getting to the truth of who you think lied to you, and what the campaign did and didn't do.

But what about fixing and hardening the election process? You know, what about finding ways to make it less likely it happens again? We seem to get like short shrift on that part of it, Senator.

BLUMENTHAL: And you are absolutely right.

The very significant thing about Richard Burr's decision to subpoena Donald Trump Jr. is it is a glimmer of bipartisan hope directed in this counterintelligence investigation.

I'm not on that Committee. But they are looking into what we can do to prevent another Russian attack. Part of it has to be to harden our election machinery. I think it is more susceptible to interference than Jim Comey may have indicated tonight.

But also, if the President of the United States denies that it happened, as he did on the stage of Helsinki, if he chooses to believe Vladimir Putin over our unanimous Intelligence Community saying the Russians did it, and if he as a - is averse to anybody even talking in his presence about it because he regards it as a challenge to the legitimacy of his win, that's what has been reported, then we are going to find resisting that attack very, very difficult.

I hope there'll be bipartisan agreement that we need to harden this election machinery.

CUOMO: Well the first effort from Klobuchar and Lankford in the Senate was rebuffed by the White House, and that was just to provide paper backup to the elections. So, the - it hasn't been warmly embraced to this point. Maybe it'll get better going forward when the American people hear more in some hearings about how bad it is.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, significantly, I have introduced a bill with the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, a couple of bills that are directed exactly at this effort. And I really do hope we'll have some bipartisan agreement.

CUOMO: Senator, thank you very much.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

CUOMO: One of many conversations to come, I'm sure. Thank you, Sir.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, so, listen, there is a lot going on in Washington. But I want to turn to something I can't believe is still not being addressed.

You want to know why we don't do anything about school shootings? I know we have all the feels, right, in one of these. The pain is real for us even if we don't directly experience it.

But you're not going to like the answer. I have someone who knows the truth. He fought for change. And he lost in his state as governor. And he knows why he lost. And you need to hear it, next.

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TEXT: BACKSTORY.

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CUOMO: Run, hide, fight. That's what we're teaching our kids now. We're leaving it up to them to deal with the school shootings. That's where we are. The new norm in the wake of this rash, we've had a dozen or so, only

19 weeks in, people would spend more time parsing what should qualify as a shooting than dealing with stopping the shootings. Just think about that.

It's the latest one in Colorado just a few miles from Columbine, time and again there are calls for change. We've seen tighter laws like background checks, but little more than that kind of political action.

Why is the question?

Governor John Kasich and David Axelrod are here. Gentlemen, thank you.

JOHN KASICH, FORMER GOVERNOR OF OHIO, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.

CUOMO: Now, let's go backwards. Axe, you weren't in the White House for Sandy Hook. But you remember this situation.

[21:40:00] That was supposed to be the tipping point, right, to take Malcolm Gladwell's expression that that was so terrible, so many kids killed in a situation that should have been detected that certainly there'd be change, and nothing came. If anything, it hardened resolve on both sides.

What was your takeaway?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN HOST, THE AXE FILES: Well I mean it shows how intractable the opposition is, how powerful, because, listen, the - the push that President Obama made at that time was for universal background checks.

90 percent of Americans say they approve of it. And yet, it could not move through Congress. And that is - that is how powerful the - the gun lobby is there, the issue is there.

And, you know, we - we have had seven of the - of the 10 worst mass shootings in the last decade. You know, we have 46 percent of the world's guns. We have 4 percent of the population.

And, you know, they're just - statistic after statistic points to tightening things up, at least in terms of knowing who's getting guns, and keeping them out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. And yet, the political will hasn't been there.

Governor Kasich knows a lot about that because he's experienced it in his own state.

CUOMO: Right.

AXELROD: And, you know, what worries me, Chris, just if I could make this last point is just how numb we've become to it.

These stories have become so common that you, you know, you have - you have to remind yourself just how dramatically wrong this is, and how different it is than the experience in other industrialized countries. We really - we really need to act, and we need to summon the political will to do it.

CUOMO: So, Guv, the idea that politicians have a tendency to act out of fear of consequence more than simply out of just good conscience, you lived this in Ohio. You wanted a red flag law.

You wanted to do sensible change, not to demonize the mentally ill, but to find ways with a certain show of proof, where you could get guns taken away from someone who seemed in distress.

Do I have it right and what happened?

KASICH: Well, look, the problem is, is that you have a force that opposes any change in the law. And in order to counter them, you need to have the public. I mean, if I had been able to rallying - rally 10,000 people on the lawn of the Statehouse, I think I could have gotten it done.

The problem is, is that the people who are for some sort of gun control are divided. They're not united. And people haven't seen the reason to show up. And I can't explain to you why, because David's right.

When 90 percent of the people support these universal background checks, why don't they happen? It's because those people who want no change are very loud in these people's districts. And yet, we don't hear enough from the public.

Chris, as I mentioned to you earlier, look, change comes from the bottom-up, not the top-down.

And if you don't get people who are demanding these kinds of changes in Town Hall meetings and meetings with these legislators, it won't happen, because the people who oppose any change are the ones that have the loudest voice. They're consistent. They're loud. And they're effective. That doesn't mean we can't get these changes.

When you think about Florida, that was a state that had the least chance to change the gun laws.

CUOMO: That's right.

KASICH: But when the Parkland kids, and they are heroes, when the Parkland kids said enough is enough, they made it impossible for the politicians down there to look the other way.

CUOMO: And, look, and the proof of it--

KASICH: And they got dramatic change.

CUOMO: The proof of it is after the Pulse nightclub shooting, you know, we were there, and that was terrible. And it was the first time that we had seen gays targeted, you know, not just kids in schools. This was a new demographic to attack.

Axe, you know, Rick Scott had nothing to do with it. He was nowhere to be found on that one as Governor. But then, when he wanted to be elected in the Senate, and you had the

Parkland situation, and they came down there with their parents, and as the Governor alluded to, crowds of thousands saying "We're watching. We're coming for you if you don't do something on this," he changed.

Is that the reality that--

AXELROD: Yes.

CUOMO: --you may say to a pollster, "Yes, I'm in with the 90 percent. But if you don't vote on it, if you don't carp about it, you get nothing."

AXELROD: That's - that's totally the case. And I think one thing we've seen changes, you know, we saw a bunch of seats change hands in suburban areas in - in the last midterm election. This was one of the issues that I think impacted on a number of those races.

But I want to say something about Governor Scott. You know, I did my Axe Files show with Cory Booker this week. And he introduced a very dramatic gun proposal, 14-point proposal this week.

The first person out-of-the-box to attack him was Rick Scott because I think he's trying to get well with the gun activists in his own party for fear that he strayed too far.

[21:45:00] So, you know, I think that within the - within particularly the Republican Party, and Republican Party primary constellation, this is a voting issue for people in - in a way that the other side is not organized.

And - and I totally agree with Governor Kasich. I - I - until people make this a voting issue, politicians are going to respond to where they get the heat from.

CUOMO: All right, let's leave it there. I just wanted people to hear from two men whom they respect that it's about them.

You can't just blame it on the NRA. You can't just blame it on some magical problem within government. It's about what you say you want and what you act on if you don't get. I just want you to hear.

KASICH: Show up when you feel strongly, Chris. Show up and make your voice heard. The people in this country are in charge. They just need to know it and use their voice.

CUOMO: Guv, Axe, thank you both for doing this--

KASICH: Thank you.

CUOMO: --especially at short notice. Appreciate it.

OK. So, I often say to you, "Hey, you guys reward opposition. You reward the negativity. That's why we get more and more of it in our society." Not always, and I'm going to be part of the change that I want to see.

It's nice to reward somebody for doing something she wasn't supposed to be able to do anymore, and it is in a level that matters, probably more than politics in our culture.

Tyra Banks has made a statement that's about as bold as any I've seen recently. She is back on the cover of Sports Illustrated 22 years after becoming the first African-American model to get her own solo cover. She's now the oldest model to be the cover of the issue.

45 years old, she's coming at it with a new perspective, tweeting, "This is for everybody that's been told they are not good enough because of their body, their age, their everything. #BanX is here to tell you that you ARE friggin' fierce no matter what anybody says!"

D. Lemon, I love this story.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: How are you?

CUOMO: One, full disclosure, big fan, big fan.

LEMON: I got a--

CUOMO: I'm not--

LEMON: I got a--

CUOMO: --objective on this.

LEMON: I got a surprise for you.

CUOMO: But I love - I love breaking the barrier.

LEMON: I've got a surprise for you.

CUOMO: What do you got?

LEMON: OK. Roll it please.

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LEMON: Look everyone, see what that says? It says Tyra Banks. Tyra Banks is on the phone. Tyra, tell me about this cover. It's everything. What do you want me to say to Chris?

TYRA BANKS, TELEVISION PERSONALITY, BUSINESSWOMAN, ACTRESS, AUTHOR: You know what? I want - I don't think Chris is ready. I don't know if Chris can handle that cover.

LEMON: Tyra, you look amazing. Were you nervous at all?

BANKS: You know what? I was - I was a bit nervous because I was 35 pounds heavier than the last cover I did 22 years ago. And I - at first, I was like I'm going to diet. I'm going to get in shape. And then--

LEMON: No.

BANKS: Yes. And then I lost seven pounds in one week like I really know how to like eat healthy and lose weight. But then I was in my mama's house, Don, and the Cheetos were calling my name.

LEMON: You got to - look, you got to do what you got to do. Listen, I love you. Do me a favor, and say, "Now, let's get after it."

BANKS: Now, let's get after it.

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LEMON: You're welcome. You're welcome. That was Tyra Banks moments ago.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. Look, I read the magazine for the articles. But I will say this that I love that she is taking the image.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Now, look, people will look at it, and be like, look, 35 pounds, maybe she is 35 pounds heavier, but it's in all the right places. She looks amazing for her age.

LEMON: She looks great.

CUOMO: I love that she's redefining--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --that you don't get to say what age is beautiful.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: You don't get to judge what body is beautiful. She's on the cover. It's a big statement.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And other people have tried to do it, Don.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But I love that it's her. I'd love that--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --it's the best of the past is now the best of the present.

LEMON: I - I love it too. And I love people who are making a difference.

And two of those people are going to be on my show. Jemele Hill, you know, former ESPN Correspondent, anchor, now writes for The Atlantic, has her own radio show, she's very outspoken, and also Martellus Bennett who wrote this - this book. It says Dear Black Boys.

They're - we're - we're going to discuss what happened at the White House today with the Red Sox and why some players went, the players of color did not go.

And we're also going to talk about why Conservatives keep touting African-American unemployment, and is that the right thing to do when they're trying to get the African-American vote.

CUOMO: I love that. You know, that was bothersome today because it was so obvious--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --that the divisions are being played upon.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And they're being made real.

We're taking it up in the closing argument about what happened at the President's rally, and what he decided to just kind of wave away as if it meant nothing. I really believe that in the main this country, as you know, is united on central values.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Most people are center-Right, center-Left, not these fringe types that we give so much attention to, and are so loud in their voice. But--

LEMON: And so angry.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Very angry! And, look, the media responds to it.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: The - the - the merry - the - the media plays to amplitude--

LEMON: Yes.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: --and to volume, sometimes to our own, you know, detriment. But you're going to have a very important conversation with them. And, look, on the other side of the scale, it's great that Tyra is on the cover, and it's not a big deal because she's Black.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: She already broke that barrier.

LEMON: She broke that barrier long ago. CUOMO: It's that now you don't get to define what's beautiful. That's for us to do, the people who want to look. And at 45, what a dream she still is.

LEMON: The loudest voices aren't - great for Tyra. The loudest voices aren't always the majority. They're just the ones that make the most noise.

CUOMO: That's true.

LEMON: We should keep that in mind.

CUOMO: The President's poll numbers--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --are proof of it.

LEMON: Yes. I agree. Colin Quinn--

CUOMO: See you in a little bit.

LEMON: --Colin Quinn is going to talk to us about that too. Colin Quinn will be on the show, comedian.

CUOMO: Very strong.

LEMON: Got a new CNN project.

CUOMO: Tyra, nothing about you, you noticed. I like that you have her number though. Strong. More reach than I expected.

LEMON: Let's get out of here.

CUOMO: I'll see you.

All right, the President just, as I was referring to D. Lemon there, he's down at his rally, and he got a big kick out of a joke that happened there.

It was an ugly joke. It was a joke that shouldn't have been let go. Not everything is funny even if it's meant in jest.

It was said about migrants, and it was real, and it's the wrong time with where we are in this country, and it's worthy of an argument that I hope you pay attention to, next.

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CUOMO: All right, the argument is two different bites at the same apple, which is we got to remember what matters.

A lie has been overlooked. I know you see and hear proof about this President lying too often. But the truth has to be called out for it to continue to mater. So, you need to know this.

This President is misleading you about aid to Puerto Rico. He's using a number of $91 billion, which is not what those Americans have received. It's what was allocated.

Even in that, it's too generous a description because that 91 number includes 50, 5-0 billion for potential future disaster claims that may or may not happen. And then, that additional money might go to them if warranted.

You see what I'm saying? A $11 billion is what they have actually received. It's just a fraction of what they need. And you have to remember the context.

The President thought about a dozen people died there. Remember? And he was like, "Ooh, thank God. It wasn't like Katrina." It's well over 2,000 people, another fact this President has refused to own.

And the reason they haven't gotten more money, like what they need, seems to point to the spite of this President. Reportedly, he keeps saying not to give them any more money, and then he exaggerates what they did get. And that's deceptive and it's wrong.

Now, that's the true part. The sad part is that most of you are going to shrug, right? You'll say, "This is what he does. He lies. How is this any different? And how is he any different than any of these other politicians?"

My argument is the more you forgive perfidy and a penchant for bad acts the more you're going to get of them. And another reason to look at this is that a lack of integrity in one area, like lying, is often indicative of a deeper defect.

Now, we saw that too. And it too must be called out. And I argue it cannot be similarly waved away, and here it is.

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TRUMP: And you have two or three Border Security people that are brave and great, and don't forget, we don't let them, and we can't let them use weapons. We can't. Other countries do. We can't. I would never do that. But how do you stop these people? You can't. There's not--

(AUDIENCE MEMBER SHOUTS "SHOOT THEM")

(CROWD LAUGHTER) TRUMP: That's only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement.

(CROWD CHEERING AND LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: What are they cheering for? Some generous spirit out there in the crowd says "Shoot them. That's how you stop the migrants."

Now, let's assume the man wasn't serious. But that - just that suggestion, even in twisted jest, doesn't it scream out for something more from a President? All he could muster is "Only in the Panhandle."

Of course, not. That's just all he wanted to say because he isn't bothered by the joke or maybe even the suggestion. And, in truth, he didn't get away with it. He was all but congratulated for it. And I bet it would go over pretty well at many of the Trump rallies.

And the proof of why is to look closer at what the President said. He offers up that we can't let the Border Security folks use their weapons. Why bring it up? Why bring it up if it's so disgusting an idea to you?

And they are armed. They don't shoot these people because they're not confronted with threat. And they see their job is primarily a humanitarian mission. If they deal with bad people, they deal with them accordingly. I've seen it.

And if you're really worried about them being so outnumbered, why don't you provide more resources for them through your emergency declaration instead of just building a fence, which doesn't help them with what they face right now.

He says "Others shoot them, but I would never allow that."

Why point to a bad example of a possibility? Why point to it as a possibility? The truth is you can't allow it, not here. This is America, all right?

Would you let the joke go by, here's the test, if you found it offensive? No, right? If the guy said "Let's shoot your kids," God forbid, he'd say, "Don't say that. Don't even joke like that. That's not us."

Why didn't he say this to this man? "Don't joke like that. We're better than that."

People who live in countries who do what you're talking about, those countries, their people run to us, because we're decent. Even if they don't have a right to be here, even if they never get to stay, we treat them with decency because this is America, land of immigrants, of law, justice, respect for humanity.

This President said none of that because it doesn't sell because he is in on the joke. But outside those rallies, people are not laughing with this President.

The country is suffering through more school shootings and the madness of pointless violence, and we all say we care. At a minimum, there's no need to joke about shooting anyone, especially not now.

I argue to you that America has become great not because of our differences but our shared values. Don't forget what makes us uniquely great in this country.

Thank you for listening to me tonight. There's a lot of news off this Jim Comey Town Hall, and D. Lemon has that on CNN TONIGHT right now.