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Alabama Governor Signs Near-Total Abortion Ban Into Law; Trump Prepares To Unveil New Immigration Plan; U.S. Embassy Staff Ordered Out Of Iraq Amid Iran Tensions. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 15, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: --not only do we not help. We often turn the other way. Kevin wants to change that.


GUPTA: Thank you. Got it.

COOPER: Well it's a don't-miss one-hour prime time special hosted by Sanjay, Saturday 8:00 P.M. Eastern right here on CNN.

News continues. Let's go to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

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

Alabama just passed a law that bans almost all abortions. They clearly want to go to the Supreme Court.

We're going to get after the two most pressing questions. What's the chance that this law makes it to the Supreme Court? And is Roe v. Wade vulnerable? And if so how? We have key insights and information on both of those.

But this issue is much more about politics than it is about law at this point. And, in Alabama, it was all about men. Zero women in Alabama Senate voted to pass the ban. We have one of only four women, part of that body here, and she's far from finished with the fight.

A lot of chatter as well tonight about the military plans this President and his pals are working up to deal with Iran. Where is Congress in the equation? The Constitution says "They" are supposed to declare war, not the President. We have a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member on what lawmakers may do to stop the President.

What do you say? Let's get after it.



(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Look, it matters that it's all men making these decisions. 25 lawmakers voted to take away a woman's right to control her own body in Alabama last night. Now, this afternoon, the state's female Governor did sign that extreme anti-abortion bill into law.

It will make it a felony for a service provider, a medical provider, a clinician, a doctor to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, even if there is a health risk to the mother, not even impregnation by rape, impregnation by incest, neither is excluded from the measure.

Listen to one of the four women in Alabama's Senate taking some of her male colleagues to task.




FIGURES: --do you know what it's like to be raped?

CHAMBLISS: No, Ma'am. I don't.

FIGURES: Do you know what it's like to have a relative commit incest on you?

CHAMBLISS: On me? No, Ma'am.

FIGURES: Yes, on you. OK. So, that's one of those traumas that a person experiences just like that child experienced.

And to take that choice away from that person who had such a traumatic act committed against them to be left with the residue of that person, if you will, to have to bring that child into this world and be reminded of that every single day, some people can do that, you know, some people can, but some can't.


CUOMO: Shouldn't it matter that no woman wanted to vote for this? Yes, I get that the Governor signed it. But this is about legislation at this level. Now, first of all, let's be very clear.

The Alabama law only has one exception to the exclusion of abortion, and that is if the health of the mother is involved. Rape and incest, as you were just hearing there, from the Senator, is not an exception to the law. So, this is one of if not the most extreme restriction of abortion law in the land right now.

Now, that lawmaker was Vivian Davis Figures. She's the longest-serving woman in Alabama Senate. She joins me now. Senator, thank you very much. I appreciate it.



FIGURES: Thank you, Mr. Cuomo. It's good to be with you this evening.

CUOMO: Pleasure is mine. So, is it true Senator that you reached out to the Governor's Office and say - said, "Listen, you should have an executive exception here for rape and incest." Did you ask that and did you get a response?

FIGURES: I did. I called her office, left a message with her assistant, as well as put it in writing, and had it hand-delivered to her before she signed the bill, asking her if she would please send over an executive amendment that would make those two exceptions in the bill, incest and rape.

And she did not need to do - she did not do that, and she went on to sign that bill into law.

CUOMO: What do your fellow lawmakers tell you when you say, you know, when you went with that Gentleman there, it's one thing on the floor when it's being recorded, but what are the men and other colleagues saying to you about why they won't recognize rape and incest, why they want a law as harsh as this one?

FIGURES: Well what you have to understand is that this is a political hot button that is part of the Republican agenda across this entire country.

So, you have people who are in these offices, who are following orders, if you will. And although they know that those two exceptions should be made, they would not, they would not.

[21:05:00] I have to say there were four Senators who did vote for that exception, and that was Senators Ward, Jones, Marsh and McClendon. And I applaud them for that. But they turned around and still voted the bill to become law.

Let me also say too that it was in the Senate that it was those all Republican men who voted this bill into law. But before it got to the Senate, it came from the House of Representatives, which is where it started.

And let me make sure everyone knows that it was a woman, Representative Terri Collins who sponsored this bill. And it was also the other four or five Republican women in the House of Representatives who signed on as co-sponsors. So, this wasn't a law that was put into effect by just men.

And, of course, the Governor is a female, and she could have put that amendment on there with just an executive amendment sending it back over to the State House for both houses to vote it in, and she chose not to.

CUOMO: Right. But you know what? It depends on how you want to look at it. I mean there are people in the audience who will say, "Yes, that's

right, Senator. Women are very anti-choice as well. And they are strong about it, especially in your state, but across the country."

We see that the numbers for men and women are really not that different when it comes to how they feel about this issue.

FIGURES: Well, you know, there are people like me who are pro-choice and pro-life.

CUOMO: How do you be both?

FIGURES: I am pro-life. And I - well you be both because you don't personally believe in having an abortion for yourself, but you believe that you yourself should be able to make that choice for yourself.

Until you've walked in somebody else's shoes, you cannot imagine what they have gone through. You don't know their journey. You don't know their experiences. You don't know their plight. So, they should be able to make that decision for themselves.

Not only that God gives us free will, and he expects us to choose his word. But the other thing is, is that we don't have a law in this entire country on any books in any state that mandates what a man can or cannot do with his body. So, why do we do that to women?

CUOMO: Because women are the only ones that carry life.

FIGURES: Are you saying that we are not intelligent enough?

CUOMO: No, look, I mean maybe some are saying that. Maybe some of this stems from patriarchy when women were seen as chattel, and when men thought they had the right to control what women did and did not do.

And that's why one of the first challenges to Roe v. Wade after 1973 was about having to inform the husband, and it was a very big deal that the court upheld the right to privacy as part of that penumbra of Rights that zone of privacy.

But what about the counter-argument that "Well only women are blessed with the ability to carry life, men can't," that's why you don't have similar restriction?

FIGURES: And since we are, we should have more of a say-so what happens.

CUOMO: Understood. Do you think this law is going to make it to the Supreme Court because it does bear a striking resemblance to the Texas law that brought us Roe v. Wade in the first place?

FIGURES: Of course. That - that is the plan. That is the plan.

But while they are doing this, they are gambling with taxpayers' money, because if this - if this law is challenged, and the ACLU has already said they - they are going to file suit. So, when it's challenged, and we have to come up with those millions, potentially millions of dollars that are going to be taken away from education in the State of Alabama, away from mental health, away from so many of the issues that we need to be dealing with, that is gambling with taxpayers' money. And I think they're being very irresponsible fiscally.

CUOMO: I hear your argument on the money. And certainly, litigation isn't cheap.

But they're also playing with people's health because, as we know, one of the reasons that we had Roe v. Wade in 1973 was because women who were desperate, who couldn't find any other avenue to a dignified way for this did what they thought they had to, and many were injured, mutilated.

And, of course, I think the year before you had Roe v. Wade, you had almost 40 women died trying to get this type of procedure done. So, you have to keep an eye on all of that.

Senator, we're not one and done on this.

FIGURES: Absolutely. We - we argued that. We argued that.

CUOMO: Yes. And it - I think you have to keep--

FIGURES: Which is why I also put - offered an amendment to expand Medicaid because the - the women's health that it's going to affect most are poor women.

CUOMO: Absolutely.

FIGURES: So, I totally agree.

CUOMO: We've seen that - that it's like a - it's a regressive violation. Then you have the Hyde Amendment that comes in on that as well.


CUOMO: But we're not one and done on this on this show. We're going to follow it through the courts. We'll see where it goes. When you have something that's important in terms of what's happening in your state, let us know. You have a place on this show.

FIGURES: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right, Senator Vivian Figures, thank you very much.

All right, so we're talking about possibility here. Could the law in Alabama make it to the Supreme Court? We know that's the plan. Did they pick the right route? And if so, would Roe v. Wade be vulnerable? What is the vulnerability?

We're going to take a look at the history, and it is very predictive of what may happen next. [21:10:00] President Trump is also about to do something next, roll out a new immigration policy, a revamp of the whole system, he says, take you just 20 minutes to get it done. Why doesn't he just use the emergency declaration to relieve the situation? That would take like two minutes.

Great Debate, ahead.








CUOMO: All right, here's what we know. The new Alabama law is a flagrant contradiction of the federal standard found under Roe v. Wade. That is intentional. How do we know?

Well one of the bill's sponsors in Alabama said point-blank, this bill is about challenging Roe v. Wade. So, let's put that to the side.

Now, the Roe case in 1973 was actually the result of a test of a law that is very much like this law from Texas. The court found seven to two that Constitutional rights to privacy and liberty allowed a woman to terminate her pregnancy, if she so chose.

The court architected a three-tier standard during a pregnancy, setting 24 weeks as the point at which a fetus becomes a viable person under the law with rights, allowing the state to incur to - to change the laws of when you can get an abortion.

The new Alabama law actually harkens back to the old days, pre-Roe, and even someone like Pat Robertson says this law is too much.


[21:15:00] PAT ROBERTSON, TELEVANGELIST: I think Alabama has gone too far. They've passed a law that would give a 99-year prison sentence to people who - who commit abortion, there's no exception for rape or incest, it's an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe versus Wade.

But my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose.


CUOMO: Now, it's important to remember what's at stake. In 1972, the year before Roe, 39 women died from illegal or self-induced procedures.

That's the reality that people are afraid of going back to, back alleys, desperate days, potentially, as more than a dozen states try to further curtail access and opportunity when it comes to reproductive rights.

As much as we may like to think that the courts are not political, elections have consequences. And this President has been appointing federal judges at a record pace. In the process, the Right managed to reshape American courts.

Now that's why laws that seek to further restrict access rather than outright almost ban abortion like the Alabama law may now have a chance of actually getting through the district courts and maybe even the appellate courts.

But, again, going all in, like we're seeing in Alabama, that is likely an overreach, as even Pat Robertson acknowledges. Here's why.

The more extreme laws like Alabama's focus on whether a fetus is a person and when. But the legal foundation of Roe is not about that question. The landmark 1973 opinion stands on two pillars, a woman's Constitutional right to privacy, and viability of potential life that she is carrying.

Privacy was the key in 1976. That's when a court said a woman didn't have to get her husband's permission for an abortion. 1990, when the justices said teens must be allowed to get a judicial bypass on parental consent rules.

Then in 1992 - 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey, this was a big case. Webster was before the precursor to Casey saying that the privacy standards should shift to whether the law places an undue burden on the woman or put in place substantial obstacles in the way of obtaining an abortion.

You see, Roe v. Wade has not stood absolute. It has been eroded. This loose definition of what is undue or substantial, that provides an opening for more conservative justice.

And given that most of the legal battles are going to be fought before they get to the Supreme Court, the sheer volume of challenges may provide an opportunity to further whittle away at Roe. So, that's what we're dealing with here, and we'll see where it goes from there.

The President says on another big issue of immigration he's got a complete revamp plan that'll take just 20 minutes to get done. Why doesn't he just take two minutes and use his emergency declaration to give what the people protecting our Borders are begging for?

That's the start of a Great Debate, next.









DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not one more American life should be lost because our lawmakers failed to secure our Borders.

From drugs to the wrong people being allowed to come in, because of a corrupt and broken system that can be changed in 20 minutes, 20 minutes if they want to change it.


CUOMO: 20 minutes, says our President. We've had no real movement in 20 years or more. But sure, why not simplify this morass of moral and legal macerations (ph) called our immigration system like he does other complex systems.

Nevertheless, that's how long this President says it should take to approve his plan to revamp the whole deal. I must say it does not inspire confidence that this plan is supposedly the brainchild of this President's son-in-law, Jared Kushner who needed to be tutored in how the current system works.

Senior Administration officials tell us Border security and merit- based entry are key principles. What about - what to do about family separations? Why isn't that in there?

What about DACA? Remember, the group this President promised to help?


TRUMP: We could help the DREAMers. We want to help the DREAMers.

We will have a deal with the DREAMers.


CUOMO: Where is it? When is it? Why not now? So, why give this offering even at 20 minutes, when the President in two minutes could use his current emergency declaration?

I know I argued that it was a misapplication of the 1976 statute. I still think it is. But there's not a lot of case law on it, and nobody's really challenging it, except Becerra out there in California. We don't know what's going to happen with that lawsuit.

And it would allow him to tap pockets, and do this right now. Why not do that? That's the start of tonight's Great Debate with Angela Rye, and Ken Cuccinelli.




CUOMO: Good to have you both.

Ken, help me with that. I'm not saying that they shouldn't revamp the system. I'm just saying it's not politically practical. I don't think they can agree on what time it is in Washington, let alone immigration on a comprehensive level.

But the emergency declaration, I have this from legal counsel and sources at DHS, at CBP, at the White House, he could tap those pockets and have the Defense Department do more of what they're doing right now, building temporary places, helping with accommodations, helping pick up some of the roles there, non-essential to Border Patrol, why not do that?

KEN CUCCINELLI, FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL, SENATE CONSERVATIVES FUND PRESIDENT: Well, of course, they're doing some of it. I guess you're arguing, "Well, do more."


CUCCINELLI: And that - that's theoretically possible.

I think the - the roll-out here though, you rattled off things that aren't included, but let's look at what is included, and that is completely changing the legal immigration system, and securing the Border, those two things.

And it has always been a mantra, fairly bipartisan, I would say, that you got to secure the Border first before you do anything else. And - and though that's gotten less bipartisan over the years, and that's one element.

And the other element is - is the entire - is the structure of the legal, not illegal, the legal immigration system. I think it's perfectly reasonable to not throw in everything else you mentioned, to not include DACA, to not include these other things, meaning you - you take on the pieces you can handle.

[21:25:00] And I think a key element, and I've heard the President say it a couple of times when I've been in discussions about this subject is that they want to stake out what they're for in the legal system, and not just have everybody arguing, "I'm against this, I'm against that," but to stake out a positive position.

I think this is a very constructive part of the discussion. If it doesn't happen before 2020, what they're essentially doing is forcing it into the election whether it's the--

CUOMO: Well, look, that's - that's fine. CUCCINELLI: --Republicans or Democrats.

CUOMO: That's fine because there's nothing but opportunity to people on this issue because, Angela, there is an emergency right now.


CUOMO: The irony that the President faked an emergency about the caravans and the drugs and the terror, but now you've got these kids living on rocks and in the dirt because the good men and women who are trying to keep us safe on the Border are desperate for more resources, and they're going to start debating a - a full-scale plan when they're not just going to provide emergency relief?

RYE: Well, and Chris, we've seen the President do this before, right?

He will, you know, develop this whole new elaborate scheme, a whole new red herring, a whole new way of addressing something, when he doesn't know really where to start. That's what this is really about.

He doesn't know how to solve this other problem. He's assigned Jared Kushner who's known for--


RYE: I mean you could shake your head and that's fantastic. But the truth of the matter is simple.

This bill does - or this - this Border - these Border principals, these - these immigration principals don't address diversity visas. They want to eliminate them completely. This - these Border principles don't deal with DACA, which is also a crying shame in a crisis.

This bill or the - these principles because there's still no bill, and they criticized AOC for doing the same thing, does not deal with the fact that when you look at the military, the fact that folks fight in the military for our safety, for our protection, the - the number of immigration applicants that have been accepted, who have been allowed to become citizens, have gone down more than 70 percent. There's nothing addressing that.

All of these are crises. And here is our reality, Chris. The reality is the President is tapping more into the fear of this country, playing Footsie with the NumbersUSA folks who say that immigration makes our wages go down, when really, people can always increase wages.

We have to be real about what's going on. And this is the same conversation we were having last night, and it's simple.


RYE: You cannot develop policy absent people and compassion. It does not work. It results not just in hurt individuals but also hurt families.

They are now putting at a lower scale the idea of families being able to be brought in and - and admitted into this country because they already have a family member here. They are instead preferring people who are highly-skilled laborer - you know, labor.

I mean it's - it's a huge problem because at the end of the day what they're saying is you have to be amazingly brilliant, you probably have to be Whiter, diversity visas, again, are gone, and you can't even serve in the military.

This is reminiscent to me of what happened before the Civil Rights when it really began.

CUOMO: All right, so--

RYE: That's a problem.

CUOMO: So, Ken, how do you take those on?

CUCCINELLI: Yes, well, for starters, I hear a lot of complaining about what's not here.

And with the exception of the last comment about flipping the proportion of legal migrants, who are economically-based, they have a job lined up etcetera with family-based is the only substantive complain I'm really hearing here with what's in the bill.

RYE: You weren't listening.

CUCCINELLI: I hear lots of - you're both complaining about a lot of things that - that aren't in the bill, but not a lot about what is in the bill. What's in the bill is going to - are - are really all 70/30 proposals with the American people.

And, by the way, my expectation is that NumbersUSA will not support this because it maintains the same number of legal immigrants today, well, after the bill passes, as we have today.

CUOMO: Well there is no bill. These are just principles.

RYE: Not going to pass.

CUCCINELLI: And that's applicable (ph) from that perspective.

CUOMO: Even senior officials--

RYE: It's not going to pass.

CUOMO: As you know, Ken, I don't have to tell you this. They don't have a bill.

CUCCINELLI: Well, you know, well then why are we talking about it?

CUOMO: They just have some principles that they're outlining. CUCCINELLI: Because no one - because this is the first - this is the first administration that I can remember to put forward a coherent alternative to the current legal immigration system in decades.

RYE: That's not true.

CUOMO: It isn't.

CUCCINELLI: And then now they're going to take--

CUOMO: Come on.

RYE: There was a Senate bill that was passed under the Obama administration. That's--

CUCCINELLI: I didn't interrupt you. You just shake your head.

CUOMO: All right, go ahead. Go ahead, go ahead.

RYE: But it's - your - it's just not true.

CUCCINELLI: I didn't interrupt you. I'm just going to (ph) keep talking.

CUOMO: Well but - but it isn't true, Ken.

RYE: OK. Well then--

CUCCINELLI: And - and--

CUOMO: But go ahead.

RYE: And this.

CUCCINELLI: --and the fact of the matter is - the fact of the matter is Barack Obama did nothing but talk about this and use it as a divisive issue--

RYE: That's not true.

CUCCINELLI: --just like criminal justice reform.

CUOMO: You don't think the President uses it as a divisive issue?

RYE: That's not true. It's just not real.

CUCCINELLI: President Trump actually signed criminal justice reform.

CUOMO: You don't - hold on. I don't want to talk about anything else.

CUCCINELLI: Well he's - he's now put a substantive - he's put a substantive proposal on the table, and he's going to take fire from both sides for it.

CUOMO: The senior officials said it is light on details. It's just operative principle. CUCCINELLI: But he's willing to do it to advance it forward.

RYE: He said they were underwhelmed.

CUOMO: So, it's not a plan. It's not a bill. He doesn't know how to do it. Here's my concern with it. I'm fine with him putting something forward. I'm fine with him having the debate. But--

CUCCINELLI: If you really believe that, Chris, why are we bothering to talk about that?

[21:30:00] CUOMO: But Here's why because the--

CUCCINELLI: Why are we bothering?

CUOMO: I'll - I'll tell you. Because there's an emergency, right now, and you guys lined up to help him fake-rationalize what was the emergent situation, which wasn't the real one, and now you have it, and he--

CUCCINELLI: Well I don't know who you guys - who you guys is.

RYE: The Republicans.

CUOMO: --could use his declaration who - you were on this show plenty saying that the drugs and the criminals are the real crisis. Look at the numbers. And I kept saying to you--

RYE: And the rapists.

CUOMO: --the - but it doesn't - it doesn't come out in the numbers.

The real threat are these kids and these people coming with them that we can't control. I went down there, numerous times, to show you people the reality of what it is, and he's not addressing that.

And it's like putting forth a plan to fix the levees right after Katrina when all the people are drowning in the water, and need food and help, you're saying--

CUCCINELLI: Chris, the long-term solutions--

CUOMO: --let's fix the levees.

CUCCINELLI: --the long-term solutions all have to come through Congress. They do. Whether it's money to doing all the things you're describing--

RYE: Agree (ph).

CUOMO: But why not do what they're asking him to do through the emergency declaration?

CUCCINELLI: --the President can - can reach certain pools of money for the emergency declaration.

CUOMO: He can do it.

CUCCINELLI: But that is - that is short-term and Band-Aid solutions. And he's trying to put in - put at least in the public discussion a long-term--

CUOMO: I'm fine with that.

CUCCINELLI: --solution and to rally support for it.

CUOMO: I'm fine with just doing both.

RYE: But that long-term solution doesn't address the detention issue, which is what Chris is talking about is the emergency.

CUCCINELLI: You're right.

RYE: That's the whole point. Eliminating diversity visas is not an emergency. Dealing with the fact that people are--

CUCCINELLI: Look, folks--

RYE: --low-skilled versus high-skilled and focusing on high-skilled is not an emergency. Making sure that veterans and current - folks who are currently fighting in the military--

CUCCINELLI: He didn't say it was.

CUOMO: That's true.

RYE: --can't get - get - become citizens is not the emergency. It is a problem.

CUOMO: I'm just saying he could deal with the emergency and put everything else--

RYE: But it is not the emergency. And, by the way, he's silent on that.

CUOMO: --right out there. Everything else can be out there.

I'm just saying there's an emergency. It's very real. I'm afraid kids are going to die. They don't have to.

He's got this emergency declaration that I think is a fugazi emergency declaration, but he's got it, and he's using it to just build the fencing. Use it to help them do these other things.

CUCCINELLI: You know, one--

CUOMO: I don't get why he won't. That's all.

RYE: But that's not like I just - I just--

CUCCINELLI: Chris, one of the things that's interesting about--

RYE: --this is the last thing I - OK. CUCCINELLI: --this proposal is this would align America's immigration structure in terms of the proportions of people coming in, humanitarian, family--

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: --and economic with almost the entire rest of the world.

CUOMO: I'm OK with having that discussion.

CUCCINELLI: And I've - I've listened to the - to the additional smearing--

CUOMO: It's just there's an emergency.

CUCCINELLI: --of the President--

CUOMO: It's not smearing. I'm not smearing.

CUCCINELLI: --because changing this is somehow--

CUOMO: I'm not smearing anything. I'm saying--

RYE: I am.

CUCCINELLI: I wasn't saying you.

CUOMO: --there's an emergency and he's not--

CUCCINELLI: Yes, she is.

CUOMO: --dealing with it, and I don't get it. I got to leave it there.

RYE: Right. She is Angela. But good night.

CUCCINELLI: No, no, no, he's doing both at the same time.

CUOMO: No, he isn't.

CUCCINELLI: Chris, this is walking and chewing gum.

CUOMO: No. You can--

RYE: He knows better. No.

CUCCINELLI: You can do both of those any time.

RYE: He can't walk or chew gum.

CUCCINELLI: This is not blocking in--

CUOMO: He is not giving them - hold on - I got - listen, this--

CUCCINELLI: --any of that effort.

CUOMO: I don't have any more time to debate it. But there is no debate on this.

You call the Head of DHS and ask him if he's getting what he needs to deal with the overflow, Ken, and he's going to tell you, no. And a lot of what he needs can be given to him--


CUOMO: --through the emergency declaration, and they're not doing it, and I don't know why.

CUCCINELLI: They're getting more of all of it because of the emergency declaration--

CUOMO: No, they are not.

CUCCINELLI: --and not enough because of Congress.

RYE: That's insane.

CUOMO: That's I - I disagree with that. But you take it up with him. He'll make a different case. Angela, Ken, thank you very much, appreciate it.

The President has ordered warships and warplanes to go to the Gulf. Now, this situation is all about why with Iran.

How does he justify the move? They're saying heightened threats. He's got to show there's an imminent threat to be able to act unilaterally. That is if the Congress wants to do its job.

Senators on both sides of the aisle say they want answers. They should be in charge. The Constitution gives them the duty to declare war, not the President. A key Senator joins us next.








CUOMO: All right, so here's the latest. The State Department is pulling non-emergency workers out of Iraq. Why? They're worried about an Iranian attack there on them.

They're also sending a carrier group, the United States is, to the Persian Gulf. And there's talk of sending in U.S. troops, maybe as many as a 120,000. Why? That's the key question. A purported imminent threat coming from Iran, now that's operative

legal language. That's what the President needs to show to act on his own.

Democrats are demanding answers, including my next guest, Senator Chris Murphy.




CUOMO: He's on the all-important Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, good to have you back on PRIME TIME.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Has the White House articulated an imminent threat from Iran that justifies these military actions?

MURPHY: The White House has not articulated an imminent threat.

We have repeatedly asked for briefings in a classified setting from the administration, so that they can outline to us the information that they have that has caused them to take these escalatory steps, and they refuse to give Congress that briefing, which is absolutely outrageous.

There's rumors that that briefing is going to come sometime next week. But who knows? Next week might be too late.

Trump's military leaders begged him not to take the escalatory actions that he has undertaken over the course of the last several months. They begged him not to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement when Iran was complying. They begged him not to name the Iranian military, the IRGC, as a terrorist group knowing that that might provoke attacks on U.S. troops there.

He's ignored his military advice over and over. And now, he is set in motion a series of events that may end up in hostilities breaking out.

CUOMO: Well--

MURPHY: And, as you noted, if he wants to take action, he has to come to Congress, and he hasn't talked to us about the intelligence that would allow us to make that decision.

CUOMO: Well here's - that's the good news and the bad news, right? The good news is he doesn't have the power absent the show of an imminent threat to Congress even under the AUMF from 2001, even as reinterpreted, he doesn't have it.

The bad news is that's only as good as the political will to enforce it. And that's where you guys, with all due respect, Democrat and Republican, you've been giving power to Presidents for decades now. And they talk about taking back power, never happens. What's going to happen this time?

MURPHY: So, there's legislation on the floor right now that would withdraw funding for any preemptive strike against Iran. And at any time, even if we haven't authorized a military action, the United States Congress can pull funding.

CUOMO: Right.

MURPHY: We have the power of the purse.

CUOMO: Purse.

[21:40:00] MURPHY: It was used during Vietnam War.

CUOMO: Is it bipartisan?

MURPHY: But as you point - but as you point out, Congress doesn't have the willingness to do it.

The Republican leadership in the Senate seem willing at this point to outsource all decisions about war-making to the President. And, frankly, I will admit that Democrats were willing to outsource those--

CUOMO: True.

MURPHY: --decisions to President Obama during his tenure.

This has been a long-term abdication of responsibility. And it ultimately may get us in to an unnecessary and very messy war with Iran. This has been decades in the making, unfortunately.

CUOMO: You know what I haven't seen - what do you think of this suggestion? I've talked to your colleague Tim Kaine about this a lot.

Why don't you go on record, why don't all the Senators, who know that this is unconstitutional on both ends, it's unconstitutional for him, it's unconstitutional for you to let him do it, without having the discussion and the right process and the right findings?

Why not go on record on the floor of the Senate, get everybody who says, we're supposed to do this, not him, so, at least, we know that God forbid something happens, and people need to be held to account, like after the Iraq War, at least there was a vote there.

My suspicion is Chris, that's why Senators don't want to do it again, is that you don't want to own it, because we know what happened when you owned it the last time.

MURPHY: Well, you know, we don't want to own it, and - and I'm not amongst this group. I would vote for the - the right authorization of military force, if the circumstances presented.

But Congress really doesn't want to own military action any longer because the definition of war and the end of war is messy. It's not as if armies march against each other. It's not as if there are peace treaties.

And so, when the definitions of enemies and success and victory become so blurred, Congress just doesn't want to get its hand dirty.

CUOMO: Fair point.

MURPHY: But the Constitution doesn't change. It's still our responsibility. But to your point, yes, we should be able to put Members of the Senate on the record.

And this legislation, I referred to earlier, would be hard for Republicans to oppose because all it says is that the President does not have the power to launch a preemptive strike against Iran without Congressional authorization.

And I'd be hard-pressed to listen to a Republican argue against that bedrock Constitutional principle. We're going to try to get a vote on that in some way, shape, or form in the Senate in the coming weeks.

CUOMO: We're going to need you because one of the problems of what this President has done with his abuse of truth is that I don't know what happens if he comes to the American people, and says, "Here's what I want to tell you about what I know about Iran."

The intelligence agencies that he's bashed, the institutions of our country that he has questioned and put into question, now, this country that's so divided is supposed to accept his word? We're going to need a - a faction.

We're going to need Congress and the Executive to be on the same page so this is going to be something to watch, and that is part of our job.

And, Senator Chris Murphy, I appreciate you coming on to speak with candor about it. I will come back to you on this. I promise.

MURPHY: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Be well, Senator.

All right, now critics say that President Trump ought to get his head examined, literally. A former high-level member of a Republican White House decided to go down this road, and that's not what Congress saw coming.

This is a crazy story. D. Lemon, he's going to love it. Me? Not so much. Why, next.








CUOMO: All right, so listen to this story. Top House Republicans wanted to pick the brain of a former Bush 43 Economic Adviser about the trade war with China. They got that.

But they got a lot more, including a psychological profile of President Trump, and his Chinese counterpart. Larry Lindsey was the former administration official. And he said he enlisted two psychiatrists to analyze Trump and Xi.

They rated Trump a 10 out of 10 narcissist. President Xi got the same score. But the docs also called Xi, Machiavellian.

D. Lemon, what do you make of this?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Well I'm not a doctor or a psychiatrist. I don't want to diagnose someone. So, this is strictly my layman's--

CUOMO: You don't want to diagnose it but you stayed--

LEMON: --assessment.

CUOMO: --at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

LEMON: Am I glowing? Is that the same thing as the Badda Being, Badda Boom or whatever it is? That guy--

CUOMO: No, keep going.

LEMON: --that guy reminds me of you anyways. But, listen--

CUOMO: Thanks.

LEMON: --listen, you don't - you don't - you don't have to - you don't have to be a doctor to realize that he is a narcissist, and that he has an enormous ego, and that he likes dictators, and he likes strongmen, and he wants to show power, and he wants to be the center of attention for the 4th of July, rather than the country being the center of attention.

I'm not surprised by the findings. Again, I don't want to diagnose anyone. I'm sure these people - they were not his patients or they were not his doctor.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: So, you know, that's a caveat that we should put there. But, I mean, you don't - you don't have to be an expert to see that. He's an - he's an egomaniac. Come on!

CUOMO: Listen, I - I get the description. And I get all the buzz around this. I don't like it. As you said, they didn't examine the guy--

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: --let alone Xi. And I think you wind up victimizing the President when you do this.

LEMON: Agree.

CUOMO: And you give him high ground because he's able to say "Look what they say about me and look at this too." Just focus on what he says and what he does. Leave the qualification--

LEMON: You think I'm wrong to say he has a big ego--

CUOMO: --for everybody else.

LEMON: --and that he's an egomaniac?

CUOMO: I think that he has a huge id. So, the ego is actually a modulating device between the super-ego and the id.

LEMON: And the id and the--

CUOMO: I think he's got a huge id.

LEMON: --super-ego, right.

CUOMO: Hey, did you hear about this? The President--

LEMON: What?

CUOMO: --just pardoned his billionaire friend, Conrad Black.


CUOMO: Now, two things. One, Conrad Black is not a citizen of the United States, but he was imprisoned here.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: And he happened to just write a book about Donald Trump. Calls--

LEMON: Is it a glowing book?

CUOMO: --Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.

He was convicted a decade ago on fraud charges. He served like three- plus years in prison. But it was a long time ago. He's just pardoning him now. He's a British citizen. And he just wrote a book saying that the President is a great guy.

LEMON: It sounds like you're proving the story that we just--

CUOMO: I'm saying you don't need the narcissism label.

LEMON: --said before.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: Just point out stuff like this. That's what--

LEMON: And you're - and you're right. You just proved the point.

Listen, here's a question though that I have, and I think that everyone in the country should be concerned about, is if we're going to war with Iran. And Fareed Zakaria will be here to talk to us about that.

And we're also going to talk about the minority in this country ruling over the majority of people. Is that fair? Do our - is our election process - should our election process change in some way? We'll discuss all of that.

CUOMO: Deep thoughts from D. Lemon. I like--

LEMON: You think about what's happening with abortion.

CUOMO: A 100 - a 100 percent.

LEMON: A majority of people are in favor of abortion. But they're trying to strike it down. So, we'll see.

CUOMO: All right, my man, I'll talk to you in a second.

LEMON: See you.

CUOMO: All right, so more than a dozen countries have joined together after what happened in New Zealand, to clamp down on internet extremism, all right, especially because of the violence like terrorism.

The United States won't sign on to this. Why not? The argument of two points, next.








CUOMO: Can you believe that New Zealand was two months ago? You remember this man with ties to the far-Right opening fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, leaving 51 dead, injuring dozens more.

Another hater, that's what he was. But he did something uniquely evil. He broadcast the massacre live on Facebook. Fewer than 200 people, we're told, watched the attack live.

Facebook says it removed it 29 - 29 minutes after it started. Within 24 hours after that, users attempted to re-upload it 1.5 million times, you know, judge that for what you want.

The interest and reach aside, New Zealand's Prime Minister saw a need to regulate such online extremism, and she asked the world to join her in a pledge.


JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND: When it came to the way that this attack was specifically designed to be broadcast and to go viral, well responses to that needed a global solution.

There is more work to be done here when it comes to stopping the proliferation of online and violent extremism. So that was the basis of the call.


CUOMO: 18 governments signed on to the Christchurch Call For Action, so have a number of companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter.

Now, the argument is about who's not on the list. Us. President Trump didn't want to join his counterparts in Paris for the signing.

In a statement, the White House says, "The United States stands with the international community in condemning terrorist and violent extremist content online. We agree with the overarching message of the Christchurch Call For Action."

But then it goes on to say, "The United States is not currently in a position to join the endorsement."

"Not currently in the position?" I don't even understand what that means like is - is it not ready? Do we not have time? You know, we have other things to sign?

The White House officials say that the document could potentially conflict with the First Amendment. All right, now we're getting somewhere. Let's deal with this, two arguments.

The Supreme Court has been very expansive in protecting speech. In fact, the evolution of jurisprudence has been more expansive to protect more speech, even the most hateful ideas, things that we hate, we don't forgive, but we protect. The keyword though is speech.

Now, what did we see in Christchurch? We saw action. The murderer there did terrible things. He didn't just say them. He didn't just broadcast his ideas or even his verbal threats. He acted on them.

Why am I being so deliberate with it? Because it's a meaningful distinction in the law and in common sense. And, under the law, I believe, I argue to you that it would meet the exception from protection, a clear and present danger that would reasonably lead to imminent threat of harm.

How does it not make that reach that standard? It was that. He did harm. So, why isn't the White House making this case? Are there good people on both sides of this one as well?

Second argument, since when does this administration tread gently around legal precedent? Examples. The President tried to ban Muslims, all of them, from coming here, knowing it violated the law.

The emergency declaration we've been talking about tonight clearly abuses past precedent of what was a reasonable application of that 1976 statute. But he did it, right?

He's currently flouting well-established president - precedent, as a President of cooperating on oversight, regarding his tax returns and all those subpoenas. So, this President has always freely attacked judges and rulings he doesn't like, so why not be bold here?

I do not see the legal limitation. I don't see it. Why not sign on? What is it? Why would this President not want to stop people from broadcasting violent acts?

The most concerning point to me is he won't make the case to you. The White House won't come out and talk about it. They pushed it to the side, and I don't get it. I'm not making an assumption. I'm not trying to jaundice your perspective on this.

I want it addressed by our people in power. It matters. It's not about speech.

Yes, protesting, redressing the government, those are actions that could be seen as political speech. But this was an actual violent action that checks every box of what our Supreme Court has worried about, in terms of legislating this. Why not?

Thank you for watching us. CNN TONIGHT with D. Lemon starts right now.