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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Barr Taps Prosecutor To Examine Origins Of Mueller Probe; Senator Lindsey Graham Suggests Trump Jr. Ignore Subpoena; Trump To Meet With Putin, China's Xi At G20. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 13, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


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ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Lot of news tonight. We are out of time. Thankfully, Chris Cuomo's got a whole hour ahead of him. CUOMO PRIME TIME starts now. Chris?

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

Tonight, the former Deputy Attorney -- Attorney -- Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was giving a speech. He came right at former FBI Director, Jim Comey calling him a political pundit. The question is though can he counter Comey's argument for obstruction by this President.

But we have more breaking news tonight that is certainly more urgent actually, learning that A.G. Barr has assigned a top federal prosecutor to investigate the origins of the Mueller probe. That, according to a news report. We know who it is. We know his history. And this man named Durham is no joke when he is put on a case.

Also, new word tonight on events that led to the subpoena for Donald Trump Jr. We now know what prompted the Republican-controlled Senate panel to issue the summons. But what we don't get is why Lindsey Graham, the Head of the Senate Judiciary Committee is telling Trump to ignore it.

We're going to get reaction from prominent Senator Joe Manchin ahead. He helped confirm the Attorney General. Does he regret it? What does he think of his putting his own man on the case to look at what was done in the campaign.

It is a new week. But everything is getting bigger than before, so let's get after it.

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CUOMO: Breaking news this hour. CNN has learned the Attorney General Bill Barr has again raised the stakes. He's tapped a top federal prosecutor to investigate the origins of the Russia investigation. Now, we know that the President has been talking about this. We know

that the A.G. said in Congressional testimony that he thinks that there had been spying.

But we also know that the I.G., the Inspector General, Mr. Horowitz is looking at this right now. So, what will John Durham -- he is the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut, nominated by this President to head that position, but he's been in the DOJ since 1982.

And he has been relied on by Attorneys General of both parties before. This guy is no joke. And him being on top of the Justice Department's probe into this -- doesn't have any special powers, but this is a man who knows how to do this job.

Let's get reaction from a fellow Senator to both, knows Lindsey Graham, knows what's going on with everybody here, Joe Manchin, Democrat from West Virginia.

We're a little hairy here. This information just coming out, The New York Times just broke this story. Were you aware that the A.G. had put the Connecticut U.S. Attorney on the case of looking into the origins of the FBI investigation into Russian interference?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Well, first, Chris, good to be with you. And--

CUOMO: Good to be with you.

MANCHIN: --and I did not know until I just heard you and the promo about two minutes ago.

CUOMO: So, what do you know about Mr. Durham? I mean, you know any of his history that I've been talking about?

Janet Reno used him. Holder wound up expanding his credentials in terms of what he was looking at. I think Mukasey used him also, and then -- and then Holder must have expanded it from then. Now Barr is using him.

MANCHIN: Well he sounds well qualified and -- and has much experience. I just can't figure out what they're going to try to undo. You know, if you want to know what led to the investigation, it was the evidence.

I was on Intel Committee. We watched all this thing unfold. And it was the evidence that led us in the direction we went. And as far as in the Intel Committee and the Mueller -- two years of Mueller investigation, you have people that have pleaded guilty, people that have been sentenced to prison for wrongdoing.

I was very happy to see that our President was not involved in colluding with foreign agents and foreign country against our country, and I didn't think that was the case, but that was proven. But there were people that did an awful lot of wrong that was proven also, and they're paying the price for that. CUOMO: Oh, it's true. And there was a lot of wrong that wasn't criminal. I mean there was a lot of collusion, attempts of contacts at meetings--

MANCHIN: Yes.

CUOMO: --trying to get access.

MANCHIN: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: You know, that's all collusion. May not be a crime, but it may be something you answer for politically. But you know what they want, Senator. You know what your friend Lindsey Graham wants and others like him.

[21:05:00] They believe that this was a fugazi investigation that you faked the finding to the FISA Court to look at Carter Page, not you, but that, you know, the FBI investigators faked the evidence that they relied on the dossier that they had nothing, and that this has been political from the start by a Deep State Lefty cabal.

MANCHIN: This is not the Lindsey I know. Let me just say that. Lindsey Graham's been a dear friend since I've been in the Senate. And I can't explain what's going on right now and his thought process. I know he lost his dear, dear friend, John McCain, and our dear ally, and that might have had some effect. But I -- I really can't speak for that.

I just know that the facts of what we're seeing unfold and what has happened has been because that it was clear and evident. I mean the evidence we have was very clear.

CUOMO: Have you talked to him about any of this?

MANCHIN: We spoke -- not -- maybe a week ago, a little bit about what was going on, and he felt very strongly about what he's saying. So, I never doubted his sincerity about--

CUOMO: He's telling -- he's telling--

MANCHIN: --it. But he's--

CUOMO: --Trump Jr. to break the law.

MANCHIN: That's wrong.

CUOMO: He's telling him to ignore a Senate subpoena.

MANCHIN: Well I spoke to him before I heard he said that because I can say -- I can tell you this. Being on Intel Committee last year, we were going down one path, the Mueller investigates -- investigation started, and we were not going to not do our job.

I have all the respect for Richard Burr and Mark Warner. That Committee is the most bipartisan committee that I've had the pleasure of serving on since I've been in the Senate. They're most professional. The staff is excellent. And they're doing

their job. And they cross their T's and dot their I's, and take their time to do the research to make sure that they are exact.

CUOMO: Look, they've been pretty clean all along. I'm talking about Lindsey Graham now over on the Judiciary side.

MANCHIN: Yes.

CUOMO: I mean he is someone who people have always respected for his legal acumen. Now he's making the complete opposite arguments in favor of Trump--

MANCHIN: Yes.

CUOMO: --that he made against President Clinton, that he pointed out about obstruction that he pointed out about subpoenas. I'm referring to what triggered Watergate. Where--

MANCHIN: I can't--

CUOMO: --where is this headed?

MANCHIN: --I can't -- I wish I knew. All I can say is it's not the Lindsey that I have known. And for him to do and say the things that he said here of late makes -- doesn't make a lot of sense to us who have been close friends of his.

CUOMO: Let's stick with you here for one second here.

MANCHIN: OK.

CUOMO: You voted for A.G. Barr.

MANCHIN: Yes.

CUOMO: When you see what he has done now, if you could go back, hindsight's always 2020, would you cast your vote differently?

MANCHIN: Let me say -- let me put it back in -- in -- in -- in content here. First of all, I voted for most of the appointments that have been put before me if they were qualified and of good standing.

I might not agree with their politics, I might not have been a big fan of theirs in the past, but if they were qualified and have good standing, I always gave the executive the differential that they should have in putting their staff together.

As a former Governor, I asked the State (ph) Senators to do the same for me. With what voting for Mr. Barr the way I did and seeing after what he has talked about and what's come out as far as in -- in his testimony before the Senate gave me great concern about the Mueller report.

He interpreted it one way. He did not think that Mueller had any concerns or consternation about how he evaluated it. I said I wanted to hear from Mr. Mueller. Before I could tell you or anybody else, Chris, that I made a mistake, and I was waiting to hear that.

Seeing that now he's doubling down trying to find out how the investigation started gives me even more pause. I still want to hear from Mr. Mueller before I can tell you, either I made a grave mistake and I'm sorry for that, or I think the man is still qualified. I just disagree with him.

CUOMO: Your man, Lindsey Graham doesn't want Mueller to come either. You're -- you're going to have to talk to him about that.

MANCHIN: I'm having a hard--

CUOMO: I invite him on this show all the time, Senator.

MANCHIN: --I'm having a hard time with my old friend. I'm--

CUOMO: By the way, I invite him on this show all the time. I don't want to talk about him. I want to talk to him. So, he's always--

MANCHIN: I'm going to -- I'm going to encourage him, Chris--

CUOMO: --he's always invited.

MANCHIN: --to come on. I'm going to encourage him.

CUOMO: He's always invited. Let me ask you something. Seeing how ugly it's getting in Congress, before I let you go, you always save the best questions for last--

MANCHIN: Oh, boy!

CUOMO: --are you thinking at all about going back to the Statehouse running for Governor of West Virginia?

MANCHIN: Yes.

CUOMO: I know that Democrats wouldn't want to see that Senate seat up for grabs without Manchin in it to fight as a Democrat in West Virginia. But you given it a serious thought or no?

MANCHIN: Well I have and I am. I have and I am, I'll -- I'll put it to you that way. It's a state -- I love my state. I really love my state of West Virginia. I'm -- I was born and raised, and I know the people there, and I miss them every day.

And when I go back home, the greatest feeling I have is when I'm driving home, crossing the mountains in the West Virginia, I feel like I've been freed, I'm back home.

So, yes, I do miss it. I want to make sure that I put myself in a position I can help the state the most possible that I -- most possible ways that I can. I look for everything I can do here in the Senate that helps bring opportunity to my state.

But also knowing how patriotic we are, we're defending and want to be in a -- in a -- in a position to defend our country and keep it strong and breaking free (ph).

CUOMO: Can't do both. When do you decide?

[21:10:00] MANCHIN: I got to make a decision pretty soon. But I -- I would like to get through this summer if -- if that would be the case because I just came off a grueling campaign for a year and a half. It was no cakewalk, I can tell you that. It was tough.

And I got to talk to my family to make sure that they're up for another one, if we do this, and make a decision that's really just good for the family, but also that I think I can be in a position to help the state.

CUOMO: Well--

MANCHIN: It's all about West Virginia, Chris.

CUOMO: Always has been. I've known you a long time.

MANCHIN: Yes, that's right.

CUOMO: But you look the same. I look like my father now. When--

MANCHIN: No, no, I've watched you. No, no, no, you're not changing. You're OK.

CUOMO: When you make your decision, it's going to matter a lot to my audience. Let me know, so I can put out a word.

MANCHIN: I will. I'll come back.

CUOMO: And I wish you the best. God bless you and the family.

MANCHIN: Thank--

CUOMO: Joe Manchin, thank you, Senator.

MANCHIN: Thanks, Chris. Thank you, Sir.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

MANCHIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, now, you know, another never heard when it comes to this President, I've never heard a President praise a despot. But this President just did, and he's done it before.

And he went much further than nice words. Why would you praise a man who's notorious for undermining democracy? We're going to use it as the beginning of a Great Debate. But we've got breaking news to digest as well.

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CUOMO: Breaking news on our watch. The Attorney General has appointed a federal prosecutor. His name is John Durham. He's the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut. Now, his job will be, investigate the origins of the Russia investigation.

[21:15:00] This is something the President has been asking for, and it is certainly a good start for The Great Debate. We have Ana Navarro and Mike Shields.

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CUOMO: Both of you thank you for making a quick adjustment and reading into this. Let's touch on it. We'll move on. We're just learning about this.

Durham, Ana, is not a new name to this game. He's been in the DOJ since 1982. He was used by Janet Reno, Democrat. He was used by Mike Mukasey, Republican. He was used by Holder. They expanded him, kept him and expanded him. Now, he's been using -- used by Barr.

So, we cannot identify him as just some partisan shill. But the idea that the A.G. is putting him in place, Ana Navarro, to look at the origins of the investigation when there's already another U.S. Attorney looking at it out in Utah and an Inspector General, your -- your take on it.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think they are pandering to Donald Trump and his administration. But -- but, Chris, if I may, as they say in Congress, a point of personal privilege, I was hearing your interview with Senator Manchin about Lindsey Graham.

Lindsey has been a friend of mine for so many years. I used to be able to pick up the phone and talk to Lindsey anytime I wanted. He hasn't picked up the phone in a long time, so I'm going to use your -- your -- your show to talk to him.

Look, I was so proud to be a supporter of Lindsey Graham. I hosted fundraisers for him. I traveled with him. I love this man. He was a truth-speaker. He was a straight-talker. He was John McCain's best friend.

When I see what has become of Lindsey Graham right now, it hurts my heart. It hurts my heart because this is not the Lindsey Graham I know. Like Senator Manchin, I too don't recognize him.

I know he is a man who loves his country, who was a patriot, who has served this country. I am proud and grateful for his service. But I am hoping that Lindsey Graham realizes that he is not serving this country well, he's not serving the Constitution well, he is not serving the memory of John McCain well.

Ask himself, what would John McCain do in this moment? You know, he is not in Congress. He is not in the U.S. Senate to be Donald Trump's accomplice, Donald Trump's lawyer, Donald Trump's defender, an adviser, a legal adviser for Donald Trump Jr.

He is there to represent the people of South Carolina. He is there to defend the U.S. Constitution. Lindsey, go back to being Lindsey. I feel like -- like it's like an episode of the Body Snatchers, that horrible sci-fi movie from the 1970s.

CUOMO: Well, Will, you know, Lindsey Graham to hear it from his own mouth, he doesn't have any concerns or moral conundrums about what he's doing. He thinks it's -- they're are all questions of straight law.

I don't understand why he would encourage Trump Jr. to break the law in defying a subpoena. But he's walked that back a little bit. What's your take on his posture?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF, CONVERGENCE MEDIA PARTNER: Well--

NAVARRO: Look, it's -- you don't have to have a take on his posture. He said that--

CUOMO: Hold on, Ana. Let me get Will -- let me get Will in here. Go ahead.

SHIELDS: Hey, this -- this is Mike. Look, I--

CUOMO: Mike. Oh, I'm sorry. Mike, go ahead.

SHIELDS: That's all right.

Look, first of all, I think Lindsey Graham represents the people of South Carolina, not pundits on CNN, not anyone in the media. He does what the voters in his state want him to do. And that's why he's going to get re-elected.

Secondly, I just love it when people love a politician when they're on their side, and they think they have great integrity, and they're so thoughtful when they agree with them.

But when they disagree with them, they're no longer thoughtful, they're no longer an expert, they're no longer a legal expert, which Lindsey Graham is. Now, they've lost their way.

Maybe he was -- he's the same person the entire time, and he actually has an opinion about this because he's been in Congress for a long time, and has a lot of expertise in it. And so, I think Lindsey's doing exactly what he thinks is the right thing to do. And my guess is he has a clean conscience and he feels great about it.

NAVARRO: Mike, Mike, Mike, it's not--

CUOMO: What do you think of Mike's point?

NAVARRO: I think it's -- look, it's not that I disagree with the Lindsey Graham. It's that Lindsey Graham disagrees with Lindsey Graham.

There is so much video evidence, there is so much -- so many video clips, so much on the record about Lindsey Graham saying exactly the opposite of what he is espousing now that the -- the -- the hypocrisy is undeniable.

And I didn't like Lindsey Graham because he was a politician. I didn't need anything for him as a politician. I knew Lindsey Graham before I was a CNN pundit.

I knew Lindsey Graham when I was, you know, a young Republican supporting John McCain, and believing in people who were leaders and who were inspiring, who I thought--

CUOMO: Yes. But, Ana, maybe he is afraid that he's -- he's going to get primaried.

NAVARRO: --spoke truth. I knew Lindsey Graham when he--

CUOMO: Maybe he's afraid he's going to get primaried though, Ana.

NAVARRO: Listen, I knew Lindsey Graham when -- when--

CUOMO: I get that you know him. But you got to know his current predicament.

NAVARRO: --when he was willing to risk everything in order to do immigration reform, when he was willing to risk an election to do immigration reform.

And it is, you know, it is better to lose an election than to lose your soul, than to lose your integrity, than to lose your conviction, than to lose your principle, than to lose your morals, than to lose your -- your self with who you are in order not to lose an election.

Yes, I know his numbers were horrible before he started being Donald Trump's BFF. But is it worth it? That's an answer, you know, only he can provide.

[21:20:00] But, I can tell you, this is not about me being a CNN pundit. Mike, I knew -- I knew Lindsey Graham way before that. I knew him when -- when I was -- when I was working with John McCain, when we traveled together, when I was not on CNN.

CUOMO: So, Mike, how do you explain the obvious -- look, what's Lindsey's problem? Lindsey's problem is he said the opposite things in the past, right,

when it comes to his obstruction of justice analysis, when it comes to how he sees subpoenas in terms of how they're supposed to be respected, he said the complete opposite thing that he's saying right now.

How does that square with him always having been the same guy?

SHIELDS: Well there's a lot of that going around. I mean, Jerrold--

CUOMO: No, no, no, no, let's just stick with him.

NAVARRO: Yes, yes.

SHIELDS: Yes, right.

CUOMO: I don't care if it's contagious.

SHIELDS: So, either--

CUOMO: Why him?

SHIELDS: --either they're all politicians and you can see -- you can cast them all with a broad stroke.

Jerrold Nadler, his -- his idea of a contempt was completely different with Eric Holder than it is now as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee or political situations change, and people are politicians that way, or, you know, they change their mind.

And a lot of times, we love it when a politician will change their mind. Why don't -- why do they just stick to the same thing over again? Why don't they read the evidence and -- and look at what's going on, you can pick -- you can take your pick on those things.

I mean--

CUOMO: Yes, but they're both terrible because either you're just saying all politicians suck, and they have situational ethics, which I happen to not believe, and I would really think, Mike, you don't believe that either, or it's that Lindsey Graham developed a new definition of what obstruction of justice is.

SHIELDS: No. What I -- what I -- what I think is that Lindsey Graham knows what he's talking about. Lindsey Graham is a person who is -- look at -- look at how Lindsey Graham was during the Kavanaugh hearings.

I mean Lindsey Graham is someone who is sticking by what he thinks is the right thing to do in all circumstances. And when you happen to agree with him, you think that's wonderful. And when you happen to disagree with him, you think it's not.

CUOMO: Yes. But she's got you on the idea that he's the one who's disagreeing with himself. But, Ana, look, you know, to Mike's point, although Mike's being a

little bit more cynical than I think is necessary here, and that certainly he has been in the past.

But, look, the guy was getting killed because of what he said about this President during the primary. He wants to stay in office. Can't go the Thom Tillis road, you know, you wind up being caught between two different sides that don't want you, so can you blame him for making points where he sees points to be made?

NAVARRO: Yes, I can because I've known him for so very long. Look, this is the reality. Donald Trump has struck fear in the hearts of Republicans because he involves himself in primary.

So, you know, most of the Republicans who were against Donald Trump, whoever spoke up against him, whoever dared criticize him either lost in primaries, lost in generals, decided to retire or died.

And so, he has made it -- so this is much more of a Trumpian Republican Party now and they heed his words because they know--

SHIELDS: Ana, he hasn't made it that way.

NAVARRO: --that he will get involved in. Donald Trump prefers a Democrat to what -- what he views as a--

SHIELDS: Ana, the voters are making it that way.

NAVARRO: --disloyal Republican. He prefers a Democrat to be in Carlos Curbelo's seat. He prefers a Democrat to be in Mia Love's seat. He prefers a Democrat to be in Jeff Flake's seat because he doesn't want to deal with what he sees at this -- as a disloyal Republican.

So, you know, I -- I -- I get it. I get the political reality. It's just that me, me, personally, Ana Navarro, personally--

CUOMO: Yes.

NAVARRO: --not the pundit, as somebody who has known him for so very long, expected more of Lindsey Graham, who is brilliant, who is brilliant.

CUOMO: He's a very smart man. And he's very respected in the Senate. Now, he's got some controversy pegged to him that he should speak to. And, by the way, Mike, just so you know, Ana, you know this already, I invite the Senator on all the time.

I don't want to talk about him. I don't want to bring people on to take shots at him. I want him to defend himself and defend--

NAVARRO: And, by the way, Lindsey--

CUOMO: --his case. He's always welcome.

NAVARRO: But, wait, Chris.

SHIELDS: He represents the people of South Carolina.

NAVARRO: Cuomo, Chris?

CUOMO: Yes.

NAVARRO: Lindsey, if you have an issue with anything you're -- I'm saying, you know my number, baby. Give me a call because I got to talk to you.

CUOMO: All right. Ana, thank you. Mike Shields, I called you Will Shields. But that's an athlete. You're an athlete of a different sort, Mike.

SHIELDS: Thank you, by the way.

CUOMO: Thank you very much for being here.

NAVARRO: I'm not an athlete.

CUOMO: You're an athlete too. We'll talk about that sport off-camera.

All right, President Trump has a date with the leaders of both Russia and China coming up. What's the right way to play it? Remember what happened with hiding the interpreter's notes. Hopefully, we don't see a redux of that.

But these are really big meetings. What should happen? What are we worried about potentially happening? The perfect guest with a new book about exactly this state of play, next.

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CUOMO: Sometimes you get lucky and we did tonight with a topic we must address and we have the perfect guest for it.

Why? Well, context. The President is planning his first face-to-face with Putin since the Mueller report. At the same time, the President is taking his trade fight with China to the next level.

So, guess who we have? Knows both of the issues, look deeply into the roots of where we are, and where we might be, Jim Sciutto just wrote this book in my hand, The Shadow War: Inside Russia's and China's Secret Operations to Defeat America.

You can't be more on point than this book. Jimmy, I couldn't be even close to objective about you.

We went to college together. I love everything you've been doing. You're so successful. You're so deep in your knowledge about this on -- you had time with the kids and your family and the show to write the book. But you did it. And I like it (ph).

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE SHADOW WAR" AUTHOR, CNN CO-ANCHOR, CNN NEWSROOM: I owe them a lot, just to be clear.

CUOMO: Tomorrow it goes on sale.

SCIUTTO: It does.

CUOMO: All right, beautiful. Shadow War. Now, coming out of the shadows with these two big meats, tell us what is the plus/minus on the meeting with Putin?

SCIUTTO: Listen, if Trump is willing to -- to publicly or even privately con -- confront the Russian President on all the ways it's trying to undermine this country, fantastic. That's a win. But that's something--

CUOMO: Zero indication.

SCIUTTO: No. I mean that -- that has been his -- his attitude since prior to the election and since the election. And -- and, you know, against the advice of his own senior most advisers, right?

You see that people inside and outside the administration say the President won't go there. Why is that? I mean there's a personal connection or an affront that he takes based on the interference of the election. It's an insult to his victory in some way. [21:30:00] But for -- for our interests, America's interests, when

every military Commander, every Intelligence official, and the President's own appointed advisers know that Russia is acting every way -- every day in ways to undermine this country, but the President won't confront them, that's a problem.

CUOMO: But it's great for Russia.

SCIUTTO: It's great.

CUOMO: And it's one of the things you get into about what will feed their own reach, and their own aggression. How does this play into it?

SCIUTTO: Listen, here's the thing. Russia is fighting a war every day to undermine the U.S. Fronts that we know we know Americans know that Russia interfered in the election.

Do they know that they also attempted to interfere in 2018, will do again in 2020? Maybe not so much. They don't know that Russia has deployed weapons in space.

This sounds like Star Wars, but it's a fact today that there are Kamikaze satellites, as U.S. Space Command refers to them that -- that are capable of taking out the satellites we depend on, our military does, civilian technologies.

Russia is fighting a war under the waves. They -- they're deploying more advanced quieter submarines so that they could deploy their nuclear weapons closer to the U.S. shores without warning.

They're -- they're finding multiple ways to undermine the U.S., something that America figured out belatedly, is only trying to address now. But it -- anybody involved in this issue says the only way to win that, to fight back, is to have leadership from the top, which it doesn't have.

And the remarkable thing is that China, two different countries, two different histories, two different continents, you name it, two different governments, is fighting a very similar strategy to under -- undermine the U.S.

CUOMO: Now, he -- they have an outwardly trade and economic situation. You know, one absolute problem for the U.S. is that U.S. markets have priced in a successful deal with China.

SCIUTTO: They have.

CUOMO: So, if you don't get one, you're going to have market issues, and that could undermine the economy at the worst possible time for this President going in to re-election. But in the larger architecture of the division between the two countries, what does the tariff battle mean?

SCIUTTO: Listen, it means we're in a situation, we're in a Game of Chicken, basically, on this trade war, right? And -- and -- and here's something of an irony -- irony or contradiction.

The President will not confront Russia, a clear adversary of the U.S., for whatever reason. On China, he is confronting them in a way that previous Presidents, Republican and Democrat have not been willing to do, and that is on trade.

We have known Russia -- China's a bad actor on trade for years. They -- they -- they restrict U.S. companies in China in a way that they steal IP.

CUOMO: Steal IP (ph).

SCIUTTO: They steal IP. There's a chapter in this book about, you know, the -- the thousands of spies that China deploys to steal both state and private sector information.

They do it really well. It's -- it's state-sponsored theft. So -- so -- so Trump is confronting them on that. That's a good thing. That's a good thing.

The question is will his strategy work. Can you beat them with a cudgel in effect and get what you want because -- because, in effect, he's demanding China change its economic model here, we'll see.

And -- and, listen, the U.S. has a strong economy. President feels he's got a strong hand. We can fight this battle now while the economy's strong. China has limitless stimulus. And -- and they can also fight this battle.

And I'll -- and I'll tell you, we talk about U.S. domestic politics. China is an authoritarian country. But it has its own domestic politics. It has zero political incentive to give into an American President, to kowtow to an American President. That's a Game of Chicken.

CUOMO: Here's my sell for Jimmy's book. First of all, congratulations again.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

CUOMO: I love you, brother. Here's why. These are tough topics that he breaks down so that if you read this book, you are a 100 percent up to speed on both fronts. And they each have at least five fingers off the palm of their main incentive and their main plan.

He did a damn good job on this. The Shadow War deserves everything that comes its way in terms of sales and accolades. The Shadow War, Jimmy Sciutto goes on sale tomorrow. The best to you, again.

SCIUTTO: Thank you, Sir.

CUOMO: Thank you for being here tonight.

SCIUTTO: Appreciate it.

CUOMO: Help me out.

SCIUTTO: Good to be here.

CUOMO: All right, so the Attorney General has done a very big thing tonight on our watch.

The President said "I want to look more. I want more people looking at how did this probe start, why did they do it?" A top-notch federal prosecutor who has a long history of get -- getting to the bottom of stippy -- sticky subjects, he was just picked by Barr.

Why now? What will he do? What does it mean? And we're going to take on what Lindsey Graham used to say and says now with a man who understands the law better than I've ever dreamed of it, next.

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CUOMO: All right, it looks like the President's getting his longstanding wish. His Attorney General, turned defense attorney putatively, Bill Barr has gotten a top federal prosecutor to investigate the oranges, remember that, trouble with origins, of the Russia investigation.

Let's bring in Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's former A.G., obviously. Good to have you. One thin topic, one thick topic, tonight. Thin because, look, Durham deserves respect. He's been in the DOJ since 1982.

KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND PRESIDENT: Yes.

CUOMO: He's been used by A.G.s of both parties. He's a man who's respected for his ability to look. There's no reason to prejudice any of it, except on one level, has nothing to do with Durham.

You already have a U.S. prosecutor in Utah who's been looking at this for a while, for the same reason. We don't know what he's come up with. You have the I.G. looking at it, Horowitz. We don't know what his report is yet. Why do this now?

CUCCINELLI: Well Horowitz is looking at a defined slice of it. And the I.G. has to operate that way. And the -- their powers are limited within the -- within the department to a certain extent.

So, the -- I think the better question is the one you raised about Utah, and what's going to be the interaction between Durham, who is a 37-year career professional at DOJ.

CUOMO: 1982, he's been in there, I mean.

CUCCINELLI: And, as you noted -- yes. I mean he's been in there a long time. And he's worked on sensitive matters for, as you noted, Chris, Attorneys General of both parties.

And -- and, by all accounts, on all of those efforts, he's done a -- he's done a good job. So, that's all positive. I don't think this is out of the blue. I think that I mean I'm somebody who's been -- who's raised questions in our earlier discussions about the origin of this investigation.

And -- and -- and let's break that into two parts if we could. There's starting the investigation and then there is some of how they conducted it, most particularly, the FISA warrant with respect to Carter Page.

That looks to be the FBI's weakest point in light of the weakness of the Steele dossier, and what they didn't tell that court. So, I think there are much better footing with Mr. Durham with starting the investigation at all.

But some of the tactics used most -- most particularly, the FISA warrant, are going to -- are going to be very difficult-- CUOMO: Well--

CUCCINELLI: --for them to defend, I think.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: Jim Baker, you know, one of the guys who was involved with that does not see the reason for speculation.

CUCCINELLI: Right. General Counsel.

CUOMO: We'll see if it bears it out. One -- someone who agrees with you is Lindsey Graham. And I want to ask you something.

Do you think it's just politics that has led to his difference in perspective that he got beat up in the numbers really badly for the way he spoke about Trump during the primary?

And now that he's President, he's making his play, doesn't want to be Thom Tillis, doesn't want to be caught outside his own party getting primaried, and that's why he's saying things that run completely contrary to what he said in the past?

CUCCINELLI: Look, I'm not terribly in the habit of defending Lindsey Graham. But I would point out that in that primary where Lindsey was one of the 17 candidates, when he got out, you remember all the jokes he used to make about Ted Cruz and--

CUOMO: Yes.

CUCCINELLI: --including one about killing him on the Senate floor. And I'll never support Ted Cruz.

Who did he endorse? He endorsed Ted Cruz for President. So, he, look, Lindsey Graham is a political operator, and he adjusts as the circumstances change. Some of that is politics. And frankly, some of it is very sincere.

Donald Trump, some people will view this differently, has been kind of a learning experience for a lot of people in the Republican Party. And that doesn't mean they've adopted him or some of them oppose him based on what they've learned.

But it -- he has been a completely unique animal. And I -- I don't know that any of the usual plays descriptions work here.

CUOMO: But it just so--

CUCCINELLI: Now, I--

CUOMO: --just one thing--

CUCCINELLI: --you -- you know, Lindsey Graham 20 years ago -- 20 years ago--

CUOMO: Different guy.

CUCCINELLI: --said something very different than he's saying today. CUOMO: Different -- different guy.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, well--

CUOMO: I mean just him saying to--

CUCCINELLI: Yes.

CUOMO: --Don -- to Trump Jr., ignore the subpoena--

CUCCINELLI: True.

CUOMO: --I mean what lawyer would say that? You know, I mean I get that he's playing politics. He wants to be a little differential. But telling Trump Jr., ignore the subpoena, and I know he walked it back.

I know he's not going to tell somebody openly to break the law. But is that really just politics or is that just doing too much to be too nice?

CUCCINELLI: I'm not sure how to describe it. But I would say that I think the Trump Jr. subpoena is in a category of its own.

What I haven't seen reported or discussed very much is when he went back and testified before them for eight or nine hours previously, the deal with the Committee with the same Chairman, as I recall, was that he would sit one time, and he would sit as long as they wanted him, and answer every question they wanted--

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: --and he did that. And now it is the Senate committee that's going back on that arrangement. So, you know--

CUOMO: Well they got new information.

CUCCINELLI: --Senators are--

CUOMO: Jared Kushner went back twice.

CUCCINELLI: --sensitive to those sorts of things.

CUOMO: Kushner went back twice. He didn't have any issue.

CUCCINELLI: Then they shouldn't have made the deal in the first place. Yes, but Jared did -- Jared didn't make that kind of a deal.

CUOMO: All right, look, you just said if--

CUCCINELLI: And Donald Trump Jr. hasn't been part of the administration.

CUOMO: You said that this President has changed -- been a learning curve for people. We've had to learn that just what you hear today may not be what you hear tomorrow. They're adjusting to that as well. Ken, I got to jump. I'm out of time. But I -- I really appreciate this. CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: And as we learn more about what's going on, I love having you back, love having you often, and early. Thank you, Sir.

CUCCINELLI: I'll be back.

CUOMO: All right, different story but really interesting. You Game of Thrones person? I'm -- I'm going to try very hard not to give anything away. I don't know if you're catching up or whatever.

But it's not unusual for when something becomes hot, people start naming kids after characters, right? But there are a lot of people who named their kid after a main character in Games of Throne -- Game of Thrones that really changed what she's about last night.

And I feel like there could be 500, if not more, parents across this country right now like this, what did we do? Next.

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CUOMO: I really don't want to spoil Game of Thrones if -- if you're not all up to date on it.

But I got to tell you, today, there are parents all over this country with very mixed emotions from what happened on the show last night because you got 560 people who have named their kids after a character who went totally bad last night, things went really bad, if you are somebody who want your kid to be named after Daenerys Targaryen a.k.a. Khaleesi.

You know, she's been, you know, the central heroine of the whole thing, not after last night, and it ain't like it was just a moment of some character weakness either. So, in 2011, at least 3,500 American girls -- since 2011, 3,500 girls have been named Khaleesi or Daenerys.

Now, I want to bring in Donald Lemon who's--

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: No, no, no, no, no, no, no--

CUOMO: --parents may also be worried about his choice of first name--

LEMON: --it's not Donald. CUOMO: --Donald J. Lemon.

LEMON: It's not Don -- how dare you?

CUOMO: What?

LEMON: I'm out of here.

CUOMO: What?

LEMON: My name is not Donald.

CUOMO: Who says?

LEMON: My birth certificate.

CUOMO: You have it?

LEMON: Who are you? Trump? And I'm Obama? What the hell's going on in here?

CUOMO: You're the one named after this President.

LEMON: You--

CUOMO: You tell me.

LEMON: You--

CUOMO: That makes me Obama.

LEMON: I -- I had never been happier that my name is not Donald. Everyone calls -- calls me Donald. They thought it was Don -- Donald. It's just Don.

CUOMO: Donald J. Lemon.

LEMON: It's not -- it's not J. But you know, even the internet has my middle name wrong.

CUOMO: J--

LEMON: It's kind of weird.

CUOMO: --says when I looked.

LEMON: Yours -- your middle--

CUOMO: But like--

LEMON: --name is A.

CUOMO: So, what do you do? If you're a parent, and you named your kid after a character in a TV show that you love, and that character winds up--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --being a homicidal maniac--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --what do you do?

LEMON: I -- I can answer that very easily. I would never name my child after a television character. I wouldn't.

And I mean if -- but if you made the commitment, leave it. Obviously, you like the name. I mean it's a fictional character. What does it matter anyways? But I just think it's weird.

I don't even watch Game of Thrones. Can I tell you my Game of Thrones story?

CUOMO: Please.

LEMON: So, I was -- so I was dating this guy. He loved Game of Thrones. And it was like one of our first dates, and he's like, "I got to get home, you know, to watch Game of Thrones," all right? So, he's watched Game of Thrones on and -- and I'm like looking at him like "What is this crap?"

And I just I said, "Can we like mess around or something? I don't want to see this. I don't watch Game of Thrones." Come on, better things to do on a Sunday night.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: In truth--

LEMON: And then--

CUOMO: --maybe he didn't like Game of Thrones and the date was -- wasn't what he was liking--

LEMON: He's like--.

CUOMO: --he wanted to get out of there and then you followed him home. Donald?

LEMON: No. He just said -- that was an excuse to get rid of me and he successfully did. So, listen--

CUOMO: Yes, Sir.

LEMON: --interesting stuff coming up. You know these trade wars and all the tariffs, right? I'm going to speak to someone who voted for this President, a farmer, who's hurting right now.

CUOMO: Oh, good.

LEMON: He's concerned about losing his farm, and also, concerned about who to vote for next time. He said it may not be this President, this person for President next time. We'll talk to him coming on.

CUOMO: Fighting for the heart of the country these farmers are right in the crosshairs with this trade policy.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Great guest for you. D. Lemon, my man, I'll talk to you in a second.

LEMON: See you in a bit. Right.

CUOMO: All right, we should be used to it by now. But this President likes to say nice things about bad leaders. Why? We have a latest example of it today. And it's something that you have to look at because there's too much talk about good explanations that don't hold water. So, let's -- let's argue what's obvious, next.

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CUOMO: I was going to do a clever misdirection play for the argument describing something that sounds like our President but it's actually some despot. But you know what? There's no need for any device or to be clever.

American Presidents don't lift up bad guys, and that's a good thing. Strongmen prey on pandering. But for some reason, this President panders like we have never seen before.

Look at the contrast. Reagan, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall." This President, "Nice wall! Those Russians sure can build."

You know, look, this isn't funny. It's absurd, which can play -- absurdity can play as comedy until the consequence comes, the oppression from a despot, and worse, the inability to counter a despot because of how to -- out of position the U.S. is from all the pandering.

No recent President, Republican or Democrat has tried flattery of foreign fascist types for two reasons.

It's not in America's interests to embrace those who would destroy democracy. And personally, embracing bad guys diminishes their position. But not this President. Putin, Kim, Duterte, el-Sisi, now, Orban.

Look at Viktor Orban in Hungary for what he is. No real Free Press, slam so-called fake news, cozying up to Putin, hardline on immigration, accused of starving asylum seekers.

He recently said this. "We must defend Hungary as it is now. We must state we don't want to be diverse. We don't want to be mixed. We do not want our own --we want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others." We don't want that. We do not want this. We do not want that at all. "We do not want to be a diverse country."

Sound familiar? That's because it is familiar. Here's Steve King of GOP Congress infamy.

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REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies. You've got to keep your birth rate up, and that you need to teach your children your values. And in doing so, then you can grow your population, and you can strengthen your culture, you can strengthen your way of life.

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CUOMO: That's the same Steve King that our President still refuses to criticize. People wonder why. My question is why wonder? He's now praising Orban for the same reason that he won't go against King. He's OK with what they say.

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DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Viktor Orban has done a tremendous job in so many different ways, highly respected, respected all over Europe. Probably like me, a little bit controversial, but that's OK, that's OK, you've done a good job.

VIKTOR ORBAN, PRIME MINISTER OF HUNGARY: Thank you (ph).

TRUMP: And you've kept your country safe.

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CUOMO: No, not safe. Safe from what? Democracy? Diversity? Not respected all over Europe. Look at the organizations there and what they're saying about him.

In 2015, Orban, Trump, Trump, he built this big-ass fence and sold it as a way to protect Hungary from an invasion of asylum seekers, and then he tried to bill Brussels, the central seat at the EU saying that they owed Hungary for protecting all the citizens of Europe from the flood of illegal migrants. It's as if he wrote a script for this President.

And I know the pushback. It can't hurt to be nice. It depends on whom you choose to be nice to and why. My argument is we know why, and I don't need to say it, because this President's own person says it.

No irony. His Ambassador to Hungary, David Cornstein, the U.S. Ambassador there told The Atlantic in a new interview, Trump, quote, would love to have the situation that Viktor Orban has.

There you go. Now, we call it out because you, what you ignore, you empower, so we call it out.

You allow an administration to flout oversight, shirk con -- Constitutional mandates, badmouth judiciary, stack the courts with ideological exemplars, constantly seek wedge issues, carving the country into us and them, you mix in an increasingly hostile attitude toward longtime friends and warmth for perceived foes, where does it end up?

Most obvious point here is that you do not hear this President's pals saying Orban is a bad guy, POTUS is nothing like him. They're saying the opposite.

My argument is, enough with the rationales, enough with reaching for reasons for why this might make sense in some alternate reality, see it for what it is. This President says nice things about the people that he admires.

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