Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Reports Making At Least $434 Million In 2018; Trump Announces New Immigration Proposal; 23rd Democratic Candidate Joins 2020 Race. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 16, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: There've been other pardons, some on firm humanitarian grounds, though it does help if you have a Kardashian willing to go to the White House for a photo-op on your behalf.

As for President Trump and Conrad Black, the swamp stench is strong tonight. And the President and his wealthy pal can beg our pardon on The Ridiculist.

And that's it for us. Want to hand it over to Chris. CUOMO PRIME TIME starts now. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: In line of succession for no throne except the one the President just flushed.

COOPER: I'm glad you got it.

CUOMO: That is a keeper line. Thank you very much for that, Anderson. Hello everybody, I am Chris Cuomo, and welcome to PRIME TIME.

So, the Trump administration has until tomorrow to turn over the President's taxes. And tonight, we have more reason to want to see them.

A new window into the President's personal finances that shows some very interesting irregularities. We have two men who work hard at lifting the lid off the Trump records. They're here to break down the numbers and the questions.

Also here, the billionaire leading the charge to impeach the President, Mr. Tom Steyer. He has a new ad out, and it is going after Democrats, accusing them of blowing it. Is what he calls a weakness actually a strength? Let's test his case.

And we hit 23 Democrats running for POTUS today, a historic number, but also a historic mistake, a radical idea that could turn this mess into a winning message.

It's Friday-adjacent, what do you say? Let's get after it




CUOMO: It's a big number from the President, $434 million in income for our President during his second year in office. It's a Wow! number. No disputing that. But it isn't the story. The story is where did it come from?

This President broke precedent by maintaining his interest in the Trump Org, increasing the need to see the taxes.

One thing we do know is that that income includes more than $40 million from his Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C. It's one of the few listed interests to show any kind of real growth.

Joining me now, two men who follow his money closely, Trump biographer, David Cay Johnston, and Ilya Marritz, co-host of the Trump, Inc. podcast from WNYC and ProPublica.

Interesting, for all the talk about how great the economy is, revenue gain in short supply for the President's portfolio. David Cay, what are you seeing here that people need to - to know?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, SYRACUSE LAW PROFESSOR, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, "IT'S EVEN WORSE THAN YOU THINK" & "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP" AUTHOR: Well, first of all, his income isn't $434 million. That's the revenue of his businesses.

CUOMO: Fair point.

JOHNSTON: His income is likely - likely be only 5 percent or 10 percent of that, and he shows over $300 million of loans, so he's paying a lot of interest out of his earnings.

What matters on those loans is we don't know the terms of them, we don't know exactly who the money is owed to.

Do these loans have - what are the interest rates on them? Do they have clauses that require him to make certain ratios? Is he subject to pressure for a balloon payment on any of those loans? And we have no idea.

CUOMO: No. David, you make the right point. Stupid of me to confuse the two terms. They couldn't be more different.


CUOMO: Revenue's about gross amount of money that comes in, income is what he's going to claim for himself.

One of the problems, Ilya, is putting the two together is we don't know about what the LC - LLCs that he has. He has like 500 of them. We don't know where he's keeping money, and where he isn't, what his debt services, and most importantly, who is giving this money into the companies?

Where do you take it?

ILYA MARRITZ, CO-HOST, "TRUMP, INC." PODCAST: Oh, I - I completely agree.

You know, on our podcast, in January, we went and stayed at the Trump International Hotel just to see what kind of action we could see at the President's hotel just a few blocks from the White House and the scene of all the action.

While I was in the lobby, I'd been there for 20 minutes, I saw a candidate for President of Nigeria show up with his retinue, and they stayed there that night. Earlier in the week, John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile had stayed there with a bunch of people from T-Mobile.

And so, these documents are interesting. They're certainly the most complete information that we have about the President's finances. But what I'm aware of and what we explore a lot on the Trump, Inc. podcast, and you all should go download it, please, is all the unanswered questions.

CUOMO: Right.

MARRITZ: We don't know who is paying him. We don't know who's buying the condos. We don't know who's buying the memberships at Mar-a-Lago.

And we don't know who is staying at the hotel and getting noticed. There's 434 million opportunities to be noticed by the U.S. President in those revenue figures he's reporting.

CUOMO: What is the line, David, about when it's not OK to stay at the President's hotel?

JOHNSTON: Only if you don't want a favor from him. If you want a favor, you show that you're paying tribute. You go there, you run up a big bill.

The Saudis took over a whole floor, if not more than one floor, at one time. You buy a $60 steak and a $36 cocktail, and you put money in the President's pocket in the way that he hears about it.

CUOMO: You think he does? He supposedly had divested.

JOHNSTON: Oh. Yes, no, he - well - well actually--

MARRITZ: Well he - he goes to his hotels all the time, you know.


MARRITZ: I mean the only restaurant he's been to in Washington D.C. is the one inside his hotel. So, he - he does keep a close eye on the place.

[21:05:00] CUOMO: So, you say the questions, Ilya, what do you need to know? Looking at this number, people see that big revenue, "Oh, this President's really wealthy. It's good enough for me. Stop going after him about it," what are your questions?

MARRITZ: Certainly, first and foremost, who's paying him? But beyond that there's so many, you know, no President has ever had a financial disclosure that looks anything like this. Most previous office holders have put net revenue, not gross revenue.

So, we don't know if he's actually--


MARRITZ: --making money or losing money here. If he's losing money, that's actually--

CUOMO: Key distinction.

MARRITZ: --a little scarier--

CUOMO: Net revenue is after you pay everything that you owe on the money--


CUOMO: --that you've had come in, what are you left with.

MARRITZ: That's right. And if he's losing money, that's in some ways scarier than if he's making money because it would suggest that he is subject to some kind of pressure that he's feeling pressures that you probably don't want an American President to be feeling.

Let's also keep in mind the President has donated or has been donating his salary to the government. And that sounds like a good and generous thing from a rich man.

But he also, in the two-plus years that he's been President, he took somewhere between $40 million and a $125 million from his trust and put it in his own personal accounts.

So, he's been drawing tens, maybe more than tens of millions of dollars into his personal account while not taking a paycheck from us, the taxpayers.

CUOMO: All right, so why do I care?


CUOMO: If it's his money, David, why do I care?

JOHNSTON: Well you should care for lots of reasons about leverage and influence over him. But also, Donald has a long history of having financial houses of cards, currently has three liens, mechanic's liens on the Washington hotel, totaling over $5 million.

That's a lot of money to be owing on a hotel. It's been open now for 2.5 years. Why hasn't he paid those bills?

Maybe he doesn't have the cash to do it. Maybe something else is going on. But I think the - that those liens are indicative of the way Donald does business, not paying people what he's agreed to pay them.

And, in fact, one of his witnesses testified in the Doral Country Club case, "Why didn't the - Trump pay the full bill?" "Mr. Trump feels he has paid enough. That's the way he does business."

You make a deal with him, "Yes, I think this week I'll just give you a three weeks of your pay - three days of your pay, Chris, and that's all I think you're worth this week."

CUOMO: Yes. There are a lot of stories that go around about Mr. Trump that way. Ilya, the subpoena deadline is upon us whether or not the Treasury

Secretary is going to release the tax. It seems doubtful. Where do you think this goes from here?

MARRITZ: Yes. I'm not a lawyer. It's sort of hard to say.

But I would remind the viewers at home that during the campaign, then- candidate Trump said that he did intend to release his tax returns as soon as the audit of his returns was over.

We have not confirmed that there is, in fact, an audit. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt. We're two-plus years into this Presidency. Every other President in my lifetime has released details of their financials. We've never had a President before who has so many of these unanswered questions.

And we know from Congress that they are going to fight tooth and nail to get those tax returns. We'll see if - if we get them and learn something more.

CUOMO: It's one easy thing that could happen. You know what Treasury Secretary, Mnuchin should do, at a minimum? He should comply with the subpoena, of course.

Give us proof from the IRS that this President has been under audit. We know they're supposed to audit Presidents and Vice Presidents. That should be easy to satisfy as a request. What years are under audit? Release that information. Prove something about this is not fugazi.

David Cay Johnston, thank you very much. Ilya Marritz, it's good to have you on. People should take a look at your podcast. And I hope to have you back again. Thank you, Sir.

MARRITZ: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right, both you gentlemen be well.

All right, so any of you see the President's rollout today, his immigration "Plan?" Why am I putting it in quotes? You'll see. Facts matter. And they were abused by this POTUS again.

Our fact-checking phenom with a new list of whoppers, next.









DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is the big, beautiful, bold plan.

Our plan includes a sweeping modernization of our dysfunctional legal immigration process.


CUOMO: Bigly on the sell, go bigly on the sell, that's what the President did today. This time, what's it about? A new immigration "plan," revamping the entire system.

Let's play a game called Facts versus fugazi, which is not a game at all. We get into it with Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief for the Toronto Star - Star. Always a pleasure.

Let's just start with one on the macro level. He calls it a "Plan." Is it?

DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STAR: We have nothing to suggest, Chris, that the President actually has a plan at this point.

This is a really basic kind of fact-check. But usually, when the President makes these kinds of speeches, he's unveiling a piece of legislation or at least a detailed framework.

As the great Immigration Reporter for Vox, Dara Lind pointed out today, we have no legislation, we have no timeline for the introduction of legislation, we have no framework.

All reporters at the White House today received from the White House was four pages of like elementary school graphics, outlining some basics about what maybe to come. So, the President is trying to sound, you know, large and in-charge by talking repeatedly about his plan, but we simply don't have one yet.

CUOMO: Under the category of "What?!" I think that's a first for us, these fact-checks. Well done, Sir.

OK. Family-based immigration, here's the sound.


TRUMP: Currently, 66 percent of legal immigrants come here.

They're admitted solely because they have a relative in the United States. And it doesn't really matter who that relative is. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Truthiness?

DALE: So, Trump's number was about correct, about two-thirds of people do come in through the - the family-based system. But as any immigration lawyer will tell you, it very much matters who the relative is.

As a Green Card holder, you can only sponsor your spouse, your young child, or an unmarried child over 21. If you become a citizen, the list expands to siblings, to parents.

But you still, you know, contrary to Trump's repeated suggestions, you can't bring in your - your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your grandparents.

[21:15:00] There is - Republicans point out a kind of chain process where the people you bring in can bring in people on their own. But because of how long that chain process takes, you don't often get, at least for many countries, to those distant relatives.

So, the - the - who the relative is, their identity, their relationships do indeed matter a whole lot.

CUOMO: Maybe he shaded it that way because he has to be careful about going after family reunification or what they call chain migration because that's how his in-laws got in here, through his wife, so he's got to be a little careful.

DALE: Yes.

CUOMO: All right, next one. His plan can't just be good. It has to mean that the Democrats stink. And here's his take on that and their plan.


TRUMP: Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages, and, frankly, lawless chaos.


CUOMO: Any of that verifiable?

DALE: Well so some of it is arguably, you know, political rhetoric that you can't fact-check. But I don't know how many times, Chris, I've come on this show to - to talk about this lie that Democrats support open borders.

But I think we - we have to keep calling it a lie as long as Trump keeps telling it. Democrats, at least the ones with any power in Congress and governorships, do not support unrestricted migration.

Every comprehensive immigration reform proposal or even the more recent proposals that have been less comprehensive have included Democratic support for tens of billions in various Border security measures, often including barriers and, you know, always including technology, sensors, funding for the Border Patrol.

And so, Democrats do not support Trump's wall. They probably want a - a different kind of deportation policy than the President wants. But this is simply not the same thing as supporting open borders.

CUOMO: The one thing he seemed to have had right was the time you needed to consider it. 20 minutes, he said, is all they need. That's right because there's nothing to it. So, you'd have to take no more than that amount of time to process what's there so far.

Daniel Dale, thank you for keeping the truth--

DALE: Thank you.

CUOMO: --and the facts straight for the audience.

So, the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi says that plan, if you want to call it that, is dead on arrival. Why?

There's not even a mention of the DREAMers in there. And the President has said he wanted to do a deal on the DREAMers. It was always in there. Now it's gone.

It's even going to face a cold reception with the GOP. Senator Lindsey Graham has a plan, and he thinks it's better than this one. He says this one's not going to make a difference.

So, if it won't make a difference within the party, and it's not going to make a difference on what's happening with the emergency right now, what's the point?

Let's debate it from two fine fellows, next.








CUOMO: All right, so let's try to have a conversation about what's motivating this President's "Plan." And you know what? For the sake of argument, let's just call it a plan.

I know that people are criticizing and saying it's not detailed. It's just a bunch of points. And that Nancy Pelosi won't even look at it because it doesn't have the DREAMers. And the Republicans are saying it's too much of an accommodation. And

Lindsey Graham says my plan is better. I think he's right, by the way.

But how does any of this help the emergency that is going on, on the Border? All right, let's discuss this, two great guys to do it, Ken Cuccinelli and Rick Santorum.




CUOMO: You got the law. You got politics and the law. Beautiful! Thank you very much, Gentlemen. Appreciate having you both here.


CUOMO: So, let's just start with just pure basic political reality, Rick. If you don't have great buy-in on the Right, and you don't have buy-in on the Left, why do this this way right now?

SANTORUM: Well I mean I think this is the President's attempt to try to - to try to bridge. You know, there - there are folks on the Right, and myself included, that - that look at the President's plan, and say, you know, there's no reduction in the number of legal immigrants.

CUOMO: Right.

SANTORUM: And that's something that that's been the standard fare for the President from the very beginning. But that's a concession.

And it's a concession, say, look, I'm willing to - to have more immigration in this country, if we focus it on strengthening the economy, and - and doing things to - to really help improve the overall - overall economic picture for all Americans that we bring in people who in areas where we have shortages, which is our highly- skilled jobs.

So, I think - I think it - look, I saw this as an olive branch to the Democrats saying, "OK, I - I'm not going to meet you on everything."

CUOMO: There are no DREAMers in it.

SANTORUM: But the issue--


SANTORUM: Well but I mean what he's talking about here is re - is reforming the - the legal immigration system, not dealing with so much with people who are - who are already in this country. I think he's talk - this was really focused more on how we should look forward--

CUOMO: Right. SANTORUM: --and bringing - and bringing and reshaping the legal immigration process--

CUOMO: Right. But he knew from them--

SANTORUM: --and support it (ph).

CUOMO: --it had to be in there for something to be on the table with them.

SANTORUM: Well, look--

CUOMO: He knew that.

SANTORUM: You know, it - it depends on--

CUOMO: I'm just saying.


SANTORUM: --whether you - whether you believe--

CUOMO: What no? It's always been on the table, Ken.

SANTORUM: Well, it's whether you believe a comprehensive solution is possible.

CUOMO: I don't.

SANTORUM: Or whether if we take it in pieces, we can--

CUOMO: I don't, by the way.


SANTORUM: --we can do it better.

CUOMO: But that's not what - this is neither fish nor fowl then.

But Ken, this is my point about it. That's the political calculus. All right, look, I have no problem - nobody should have a problem with somebody trying something.

But you have an emergent situation on the Border right now. That's what justified the President making an emergency declaration. But he only dealt with the fence, right? And don't take it from me because I know how you guys feel about what I say.

CUCCINELLI: And asylum.

CUOMO: Listen to Lindsey Graham. Listen to what Lindsey Graham said.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): A wall will not fix this. People are trying to be captured. More Border Patrol agents are necessary. But people are not trying to avoid an agent. They literally ask, where are the Border Patrol agents, so they can turn themselves in.


CUOMO: Now, in fairness, Lindsey may be a little tweaked because he has a plan that he worked hard on that this is going to overshadow. But still, Ken, I'm not saying we don't need physical barriers, never argued that on this show.


CUOMO: This situation needs--


CUOMO: --certain things. This plan won't take care of that. Why do it now instead of dealing with the emergency?

CUCCINELLI: Well part of it does deal with the emergency. They deal with the asylum piece where we have backlogs we haven't seen since the early part of the Clinton administration. And unlike the early part of the Clinton administration, we now have this family issue that is driving a lot of that backlog.

CUOMO: It's crushing us.

CUCCINELLI: And the President did speak - did - did speak to, frankly, the same thing that Lindsey Graham just spoke to. And that's, what do you do with people who are turning themselves into Border Patrol agents, and then immediately seeking asylum.

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: And the President spoke to that by - by changing the standard that Border Patrol agents get to apply in terms of who gets to the second round--

CUOMO: Now, it's--

CUCCINELLI: --who gets past them into the--

CUOMO: It's going to have a problem.

CUCCINELLI: --asylum system as opposed to turnaround.

CUOMO: He's going to have a problem with that. That's what--

CUCCINELLI: And that's a huge element - well - well but not really. I mean there's two - there's two reasons this is really beneficial. One, obviously, speed.

CUOMO: Right.

[21:25:00] CUCCINELLI: But two, once you actually apply it, you deter other people from come using the same pipeline, so you--

CUOMO: If you return them. CUCCINELLI: --you slow down the influx at the Border.

CUOMO: If you return them, I think that sends a--


CUOMO: --bigger message than even a wall that they're coming back, and people say--


CUOMO: --well it's not worth it because what we were told isn't true. It's not worth the money. It's not worth the risk, fine. But we're still tell - tabling what I think has to matter were - most right now.

And I know Ken's in touch with the men and women who are keeping us safe down there. Rick, you were very familiar with this issue.

I just don't get that there was all this talk about an emergency. And you guys are fine to say that Democrats were trying to hide from the reality and seeing the caravans for what they were, fine, fine, score points on that.

I was never in that basket. I always knew it was there because I've been there so often, and talked to these people so often.

But they have needs of building accommodations, of having more judges, of having more caseworkers, of having more medical officers, they need all of it. And I don't understand a lack of emergency prescription through the declaration--


CUOMO: --by the President, either of you.

CUCCINELLI: Rick, Rick, can I jump in here?

CUOMO: Go ahead, Ken.

SANTORUM: Go ahead. Go ahead, Ken.

CUCCINELLI: Chris, can I jump in here?



CUCCINELLI: --last night - last night, you challenged me when we were talking about this subject to talk--

CUOMO: I suggested.

CUCCINELLI: --"Go call the Head of DHS."

CUOMO: I suggested it to you. CUCCINELLI: Well this morning, as you know - as you know, I did. And he - and we talked about this issue. And he shared some of the things they've been doing and success they've been having.

But one point he said, "Ken, make sure they know that we asked Congress for $800 million," to deal for exactly--

CUOMO: And they got gipped.

CUCCINELLI: --what you were just describing, Chris.

CUOMO: And they got gipped.

CUCCINELLI: The humanitarian element, they got half of it.

CUOMO: Yes, they got gipped.

CUCCINELLI: Half of it.

They are - they're - and then the same people complain about the humanitarian problem, and how they're not dealing with Flores, and how they're not dealing with the housing of the families--

CUOMO: Yes, I agree. I don't like it.

CUCCINELLI: --that they're not funding doing that.

CUOMO: Yes, I don't like it.

CUCCINELLI: And there's only so much money available through the emergency declaration.

CUOMO: Yes. I don't like that either. I don't. And I see that as a Republican and Democrat shame on both - pox on both houses--


CUOMO: --for you guys because you're not dealing. You say you care, and you don't care. And, in fact, let's be honest. They're not even saying they care enough anymore.

You know, back in 2014, with the Obama administration, with the unaccompanied minors, everybody ran down there. You know, with the first roll we had of people coming through here, all the Democrats ran down there.

Now they don't even go. You have little pockets of people that go. I was down there. I was all alone the last time I was at the Border. I thought that there'd be media trucks and people there.

So, the compassion fatigue is real. But let's end it with where we started. What - what happens to get the help, Rick, that they need right now? Yes, Ken is right. DHS is working with DOD, trying to get more accommodations built, but it hasn't happened yet.

The emergency declaration can help things happen faster. Why doesn't the President use it and wind up cutting off a little bit of the animus towards the emergency declaration?

SANTORUM: Well I mean, you know, you're - it's sort of shocking to hear you say, well the President should act on his own without the Congressional approval and--

CUOMO: Well he already did it.

SANTORUM: --spend money - and spend money in a way that that - well, yes, he has. And - and I - I'm sure he could do more. But, you know, there's - as the President said, and we all knew, there's a limit as to what you can do and reprogram any (ph) money. And - and - and I think--

CUOMO: But he can do it. He can take some of the money that he has with DOD right now.

SANTORUM: I understand that. But the real--

CUOMO: And use it for this.

SANTORUM: But the reality is, as Ken said, this is money Congress should be appropriating. I mean this is money that is - that--

CUOMO: But - but they won't do it. And that's why he did the emergency thing for the fence.

SANTORUM: Why but - but, look if - if the three--

CUOMO: Why not do it for this? It's real.

SANTORUM: --if you and I--


SANTORUM: --if you and I or Ken and I and Ken and you and I can agree on this, then I can't imagine why Democrats and Republicans can't come together and agree on this too. I mean this is it's--


CUOMO: I can.

SANTORUM: --it's - it's plainly obvious.

CUOMO: I know why they won't agree.

SANTORUM: It's plainly obvious there's a crisis.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, me too.

SANTORUM: Even Democrats are admitting--

CUCCINELLI: Because the Democrats want to make--

SANTORUM: --this, it's obvious.

CUCCINELLI: --political hay out of it.

CUOMO: Because the President made political hay out of it.

CUCCINELLI: Because the Democrats want to make political hay out of it.

CUOMO: And defined a Brown Menace that was all about drugs and terror and people--


CUOMO: --coming to rape and kill us. And that's not what the threat was. This is.

SANTORUM: Everybody realizes the crisis is real now.

CUCCINELLI: Oh, yes. Yes. So--

SANTORUM: Everybody realizes that.

CUOMO: But it's about kids and families.


SANTORUM: Well, yes, but it's - it's--

CUCCINELLI: Yes, even the Democrats.

SANTORUM: --it's about enforcement--

CUOMO: Not - not about - not about guys with--

SANTORUM: --and taking care of them.

CUOMO: --not about guys with oozies running across with bags full of Fentanyl on their back.

SANTORUM: Still money that's needed.

CUOMO: That was an exaggerated issue. An offense was never--

CUCCINELLI: They're in there.

CUOMO: --the panacea.

CUCCINELLI: They're in there.

CUOMO: I know they're in there. But they're not the majority that he painted it as, as a picture, saying we were a fence away from fixing it.

CUCCINELLI: They were never a majority.

CUOMO: I know that. He's filled it as that. I know that. Anybody who knows the facts knew that it was a fugazi pitch. But he said that it was a fence as a panacea. CUCCINELLI: Yes.

CUOMO: And it wasn't. Even Lindsey Graham says that now. So, why not do what needs to be done? You already--

CUCCINELLI: No one ever said a--

CUOMO: --created the mechanism.

CUCCINELLI: --barrier was the Silver Bullet.

CUOMO: He did.



CUCCINELLI: --the President never said this will solve everything. The--

CUOMO: No. But he said this is the fix.

CUCCINELLI: --the - the numbers have always been for illegal immigration that more people have violated their visas to end up here illegally--

CUOMO: He never says that.

CUCCINELLI: --and cross the Border.

CUOMO: He - he never--

CUCCINELLI: Now we have this massive Border crossing.

CUOMO: Ken, you're a 100 percent right.

CUCCINELLI: He never said it was a Silver Bullet for that.

CUOMO: He never said the word Silver Bullet. But he has never mentioned visa overstays on planes. He's never mentioned the fact that you get more drugs at the ports of entry than through these open spaces that he wants to put physical barriers across. And we all know it.

[21:30:00] But here's what we agree on. Congress could also fix this, and they could do it, not in 20 minutes. But in 20 minutes they could decide to do something and at least come to the table.

Ken, Rick--


CUOMO: --thank you for having the conversation. Appreciate it. Best to both of you.

CUCCINELLI: Yes. CUOMO: All right, so, next guest wants the President to be impeached, and he's been putting up his own money, and a lot of it, to try to make that happen, but now, a shift.

The man is Tom Steyer. You know his name. But now he has a new ad that's targeting Democrats. What's his case? And let's test it, next.








CUOMO: The push to impeach the President, now taking aim at the potential impeachers known as the Democrats. A $1 million ad buy. That's buying a lot of airtime for this new ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You told us to wait for the Mueller investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when he showed obstruction of justice--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's defying you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's laughing at you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he's getting away with it.



CUOMO: Tom Steyer, the man behind the commercial, you saw him there at the end, and now we welcome him to PRIME TIME. Tom, thank you.

STEYER: Chris, thank you for having me.

[21:35:00] CUOMO: All right, so let's get after it on this. Convince me, why should they try to impeach this President?

STEYER: Well what we're asking for is televised hearings with a series of them in front of the American people, so that we can all see what the most corrupt President in American history has done. CUOMO: OK.

STEYER: Because if we're going to have a system of laws, then the President cannot be above the law.

He has to be part of that system and subject to that system. And if we don't do that then we have to understand that we've really abandoned the basis of our democracy, and the basis of our whole system.

CUOMO: All right, I understand the point.

However, couldn't that be satisfied by oversight and having the hearings they want to hold, except for this administration fighting back against the subpoenas? And that's going to be another legal fight in and of itself. But why isn't the oversight hearing process enough for you?

STEYER: Chris, I think as long as this President knows that there's going to be absolutely no ramification to doing the wrong thing, it will just encourage him to do more of the wrong thing.

If you're saying, we'll expose you but there will be no - no consequences for your breaking the law, there will be no consequences for obstruction of justice, and there will be no consequences for corruption, this President will be even more corrupt, everything we see will be worse than what we've already seen.

CUOMO: All right, I - I get your concern about the moral relativism of it. But this is a practicality at the end of the day. The President already knows there are not the votes to remove him. So, to the extent you're worried about that message, it's already been received.

STEYER: Well if you'll excuse my saying so, I would respectfully disagree.

CUOMO: How so?

STEYER: Because, in my mind, the most important power in our democracy is the opinion of the American people.

CUOMO: True.

STEYER: That's always been true, and it's true today. And I think what - if we had a series of televised hearings, like Michael Cohen, like Brett Kavanaugh, the American people would be riveted. They would be - absolutely pay attention.

And I've gone around this country and done at - over 50 Town Halls. What I know is Americans of both parties, Democrats, Republicans, Independents, are highly moral. They're very decent. They believe in our system.

And I believe they would be revolted by the behavior of this President and this administration.

CUOMO: Why isn't your opinion shaped by the polling we already have that people feel either Congress has gone after the President too much already or that they don't favor impeachment?

STEYER: Look, I think there are a lot of different polls out there, Chris. I could quote you some too.

CUOMO: You have one where they say they're in favor of him?

STEYER: But we have over 50--

CUOMO: Where they say they're 50 percent-plus in favor?

STEYER: They have over 50 percent of Americans think he's broken the law while he's been President.

CUOMO: Well that's different than saying he should be impeached.

STEYER: But I think if you'll allow me--

CUOMO: Go ahead, Tom.

STEYER: I know.

CUOMO: And, by the way, Tom, just so you know, I want to have you on this show plenty. Disagreement's what this show is about. It's just disagreement with decency.

STEYER: That's OK.

CUOMO: Never apologize for disagreeing. Go ahead, make your point.

STEYER: My mother would be proud of me. The hearings themselves will change the polls. The idea that polls are fixed in cement--

CUOMO: Fair point.

STEYER: --is entirely wrong. What we're saying is this. The American people relate through TV and through stories and through human conflict and human emotion.

If they see the Michael Cohens of the world, the Paul Manaforts of the world, Don McGahn, the President's family get up there and explain what's happened, they are going to be riveted, and it's going to change the polls.

In my mind, we have a very simple question here. We have a President who is absolutely disdainful of democracy, who's disdainful of the Congress in every single way, who's refused to cooperate or listen to them in any way or respond to their subpoenas, and we have a real question.

And he's also, it's not just obstruction of justice, which the Mueller report details, it's also corruption. This is a President who today reported that he made four - on CNN, that he made $479 million last year.,

CUOMO: Revenue, yes.

STEYER: What is going on is not right, Chris.

CUOMO: Listen--

STEYER: And the American people know it. We have 8 million people who've signed our petition.

The vast majority of Americans know this isn't right. And if we put it on TV, and let the American people judge, look, we believe in the opinions and the compassion and the bravery and the good sense of Americans.

CUOMO: I hear you.

STEYER: Give us a chance to see the truth and make up our minds. And what you'll see is the people in Washington follow the American people.

CUOMO: Well--

STEYER: They don't lead them.

CUOMO: You get a big Amen from me that too many in politics tend to act out of fear of consequence, instead of on good conscience. I'm with you. And I'm with you about banking on the American people. I do it every night.

[21:40:00] But what I'm saying is, you know, if you look at the exit polls of why they came out the way they did in '18, which is part of the premise of your ad, you know, the idea of where this was as why they went to the polls, you know, they weren't lying when they said it was healthcare.

This Mueller report/Russia/whatever wasn't even in the top four categories.

STEYER: Chris, can I--

CUOMO: And since then, we've had the Mueller report come out.

STEYER: --could I interrupt you for one second?

CUOMO: Yes. But since then the report has come out, and said, no crimes.

STEYER: Well, actually, that isn't what the Mueller report said, if you'll excuse my saying so.

CUOMO: On - on - on the first - on the first count. On obstruction--

STEYER: But - but two things which--

CUOMO: --we got nothing except for the A.G. Go ahead.

STEYER: What we've said all along is that there are two things going on here in plain sight. One is obstruction of justice, one is corruption. CUOMO: Right.

STEYER: But let me talk for one second about healthcare. I know that everybody in Washington D.C. loves to say that 2018 was about healthcare. And then, all of a sudden, Americans were concerned about healthcare. That's actually not true.

What Americans were concerned about was that this President and his followers in Congress tried to take away their healthcare.

CUOMO: Yes. That's - that's a fair iteration--

STEYER: I can't tell you--

CUOMO: --of what it was.

STEYER: --how many times at our Town Halls people would stand up, and say, "I wouldn't be here at this Town Hall if they'd gotten rid of the ACA because I'd be dead." That's what's--

CUOMO: So, why shouldn't Democrats double down on that?

STEYER: No. They had - you keep thinking that it's about healthcare, if you'll excuse my saying so, Chris.

What's going on is we have a President who is a rogue, who's corrupt, and who's attacking the American people. That's why the turnout went up so much. In 2014, the last midterm election, 37 percent of Americans turned out.

CUOMO: Right.

STEYER: In 2018, last year, 57 percent turned out.

CUOMO: Yes, yes.

STEYER: The turn out--

CUOMO: We've almost never seen anything like it.

STEYER: --the turn out by Democrats went up by two-thirds.


STEYER: From 35 million to 59 million.

They didn't turn out two-thirds more because they suddenly discovered they needed a doctor. They turned out two-thirds more because they understood that they were at risk that this President is a rogue that he's attacking their interests, and they were scared.

They were scared for their healthcare. They were scared because he was vilifying them. They were scared for the future. And I can tell you, from our 50 Town Halls, they were scared for our democracy.

CUOMO: Well-- STEYER: They knew, especially vets, who sacrificed the most for the country were very concerned, are very concerned that he's taking away the democracy that they went to war for.

CUOMO: I hear you. And I get what you're saying. You're drawing a distinction about what it was about the healthcare issue. It leads you back to the same source that they're afraid about him, and what you see as his corrupt instincts.

But, obviously, the Democrats are worried about this, Tom. They're worried about the political calculus. That's why Nancy Pelosi and others in leadership have been slow.

But your ad's going to make an impact. And I welcome you to come back. As we see the next step in the process, I want your take on it, and whether you think it's getting them the place they need to be.

STEYER: Well, Chris, I also want to argue the politics. We may not have time now.

But I've never understood how it could be bad for Democrats to stand up for what's right, and to show that this President is a straight-up crook. I don't know why that's good for Republicans or good for this President and bad for Democrats.

Why don't we stick to our guns, stick to what we believe in, and do what's right?

CUOMO: I don't disagree with you as a principle. It's about what they see as the plus and minus on it. And you are welcome back to do it. As soon as we have a turn in that story, come back, come back on, and let's continue the conversation.

STEYER: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right, you are welcome back, Tom Steyer.

All right, so nearly two dozen now where, you know, what Tom's talking about is, how do they best position themselves, how do they fulfill their duty, and also, their mandate to people they want to vote for them.

Well the crowded field now is going to be part of the calculus, all right? We've now hit an historic number with the entrance of this man, the Mayor of New York City.

Look, it's good to have a lot of people willing to run. But how many is too much of a good thing? I have a point and a pitch, next.







CUOMO: All right, let's just call out an obvious problem, 23 Democrats running. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio jumped in today, and he really makes the point too obvious to ignore.

He isn't even in positive territory in his own City with people wanting him to run. The New York Jets have more support, and that is a low bar.

Yes, anything can happen. And Trump was also laughed at early on. But at least half this field is seen as having no path to the nomination.

And while there is a benefit to diverse voices and competing ideas, the goal is to win. So, the question is whether making history for the most people in the primary may attribute to them making history for losing to one of the least popular, and most divisive presidents in modern history.

Now, for all the talk about fringe issues that dazzles you guys on Twitter, and the ho-hum about Biden being the past, he is killing the field in the polls right now.

So, the party clearly has to figure out what it is about, and then, who it is about. Now, on that score, I have a proposition.

One of the biggest criticisms of this President is actually a criticism of his administration, how they govern, complaints that his cabinet isn't just not only the best it is almost none of the best, and mostly, the rest.

So, what if this group of Democrats were to put the "We" before the "Me?" And after this first phase, let's have a first phase of everybody trying to figure out who's better than whom, and rides into the top, and changing the current polls, what about after that?

When they go into the convention, they all organize themselves into a slate, a truly united front. So, voters aren't just picking POTUS and V POTUS, but also picking an Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, Treasury Secretary, whatever they can fill out in a responsible way.

They'd still have to be confirmed, of course. But you would at least have people vetted in a real way over time with media access. Now, you may think this is far-fetched, and it is.

[21:50:00] And also, the idea that politicians would do this that their egos aren't too big for this, and that they'd settle for Secretary of the Interior or whatever, but we've seen some hints of it already.

Cory Booker's Deputy Campaign Manager tweeted that she donated to Kirsten Gillibrand. Why? To help her make it to the debate stage. And she asked others to join her. A high-ranking Pete Buttigieg staffer heard the call, did the same.

Micro, but it could prove a macro point. 23 Democrats want to be President. Only one's going to get the nomination. Whoever it is, they're going to go up and against an incumbent with die-hard supporters.

If the Democrats' goal is to retake the White House, they have time, but it has to be well-spent. They need a real consensus about who and what wins, not a war of attrition.

The question is, is this party and these people here about a pageant and personal gain, or about really getting a win for the team? Thoughts? Let me know.

Up next, how one program is helping young people prove themselves against all odds. What a story! Stick around for it.








CUOMO: Last year, Don Lemon told us about Oliver Scholars, a program that helps kids from underserved New York communities succeed at top schools. In tonight's Champions For Change, Don checks in on a grad who's now attending Middlebury College.



DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Why did I choose Oliver Scholars again? When I looked around and I thought about all the stories that I had done, there was nothing that personified a champion of change more than this program.

Oliver Scholars helps young people, mostly in the New York area, mostly Black and Latino students, who come from struggling communities, but who are good students. This program helps to bridge the wealth gap and even the race gap in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What we've made Bettys almonds (ph) into story.

LEMON: There's been so much change in one year when it comes to Oliver Scholars.

Number one, the kids that I got to interview are going to these great schools, and they're doing very well. That's exciting.

Number two, I got involved in the program.

And, number three, they have a - a - a new leader.

DANIELLE MOSS, CEO, OLIVER SCHOLARS: I am an Oliver Scholar in my own way. So, I didn't have the benefit of this organization. But I went to an independent school here in New York City. So, I have a very similar trajectory with that of our alumni.

LEMON: Immediately you saw the importance of a program really like Oliver Scholars?

MOSS: Oh, absolutely. You know, I think it's a really special journey.

So, once a student is admitted to Oliver Scholars, there's a 14-month Scholar Immersion Program that in many ways is an academic and personal boot camp, if you will. It's a big climb, but our students are always up to the task.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oliver Scholars' core tenets are--




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I associate myself more with scholarship.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I work really hard in order to achieve my goals.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most that I identify with is leadership. Oliver has boosted my confidence a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And service, it's always good to give.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just really love helping people out.

SUGEIDY FERREIRA, RISING SOPHOMORE, MIDDLEBURY COLLEGE: I graduated from Oliver Scholars in spring of 2018.

Coming from public middle school, you're not necessarily ready academically for the level of rigorous classes that you would take at high school, so a lot of the classes that I took at Oliver Scholars prepared me for them. Every class has a counselor and a tutor supervising the students.

MOSS: One of the things that the staff would say distinguishes this organization is how deeply involved we stay with our students. We are the connective tissue that connects educational opportunity with professional opportunities.

But I think our school partners understand their students, and their school communities benefit from the diversity that Oliver brings to their campuses. LEMON: This has been a big year for you.

FERREIRA: Very big year. Very big year.

LEMON: Sugeidy now is at Middlebury, finishing up her first year. She had a little bit of trouble, which most students do. Instead of isolating herself, she opens herself up to the world to help her with her problems.

FERREIRA: I was prepared for the most part. But it was definitely the culture shock that got me.


FERREIRA: It was a little hard at first. Definitely some big adjustments to make, you know, living by myself, being in rural Vermont, versus New York City, making new friends.

LEMON: So you felt--


LEMON: --isolated?

FERREIRA: A little bit.


FERREIRA: And then I got used to it, you know. I started looking on campus more, started doing more activities, joined softball team. Having a lot of activities to do on campus made me feel better and more connected to Middlebury College.

LEMON: Do you think you'd be in college at all if it were not for Oliver Scholars?

FERREIRA: I think I would be in a college. I just wouldn't have put the schools that I did on my list, because I wouldn't have thought that they were in my reach.


FERREIRA: I would have definitely set the bar lower if I didn't have Oliver.

LEMON: When I saw Sugeidy again, I was surprised at her maturity, and how confident and comfortable she seemed in herself, because before, she's like these wide eyes like "Oh, my gosh. I'm so excited I'm going to do this." And now, she seems like, "OK. This was tough. This was challenging. But I can do this."

As my mentor used to tell me, you'll be all right.

FERREIRA: I hope so.

LEMON: I wanted to join the Oliver Scholars Board and have some influence on its scholars, because of people like Sugeidy.

Kids from underserved communities, many times, only need someone just to give them the chance. And if they belong to a program like Oliver Scholars, I think it opens up the world to them.

FERREIRA: I am grateful that our hard work is recognized and that other people, beyond the Oliver Scholars staff, see what we can do and what we can accomplish later on in life.


CUOMO: All right, let's bring in D. Lemon. But I also, we need to remind everybody, Saturday at 8:00 P.M. Eastern for a Champions For Change special.