Return to Transcripts main page


Cohen Told Congress That Trump Jr. Had More Than A "Passing Familiarity" About Trump Tower Moscow Deal; Cohen Testimony: Pardons Were To "Shut The Investigation Down"; Don McGahn Informs Congress He Won't Testify Tomorrow. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 20, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Anyway, Judge Jeanine thinks real life is like Survivor, which is interesting because her show is sort of like Law and Order, when a suspect represents herself at trial and then punches the bailiff in the throat.

It's hard to imagine the President would actually boycott Fox News though. And surely he'll be back on the phone with Hannity sometime soon like one of those over - overnight, you know, late night talk radio callers riffing about Area 51.

If there's anything that calms an angry President Trump, it's being fed like a bird by Fox News Prime Time on The Ridiculist.

That's it for us. The news continues though. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Well done, and thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. Apologize for the voice in advance. Welcome to PRIME TIME on a huge night for oversight. A court has ruled the President's tax-prep folks must comply with oversight requests.

And, breaking on our watch, we now know much more about why Congress is so intent on going deeper. The House Intel Committee just released testimony by Michael - Michael Cohen that we haven't seen. And there is a lot in there we didn't know.

Cohen implicates the President's son for making false statements to Congress. He also told lawmakers one of the President's lawyers knew his testimony on Trump Tower was false.

So, what now? Lots to deliberate. And the more we learn, the more the President's stalling oversight looms large.

The latest, the President forbidding the central witness to his possible obstruction to testify tomorrow. Don McGahn? Not going to happen now. He says he's going to follow the President's orders and not testify.

What is Congress going to do about that? We're going to ask the man who issued the subpoena. The House Judiciary Chair is here tonight. As you can see, new digs, same sense of duty, so let's get after it.




CUOMO: All right, the House Intelligence Committee now knows things that we didn't know that they knew, when Cohen testified to them. This happened in March. They had kept it quiet. And now, they've disclosed it.

What do we know? The President's former personal lawyer implicates Donald Trump Jr. in making false statements to Congress about negotiations for Trump Tower Moscow. Jr. formerly testified that he wasn't involved, knew very, very little about the deal.

Cohen says the President's son had more than a "Passing familiarity." Jr.'s going back to the Hill to testify again soon, so there's going to be a lot to dissect.

Let's bring in our investigators. What a team! Michael Zeldin, Harry Litman, David Cay Johnston, and Ross Garber, the right group for tonight, thank you very much.

Only one rule, if you hear something suggested or said that you don't agree with, come on in. Don't wait for me. You guys know more. That's why I'm relying on you tonight.

All right, David Cay, let's start with you on in terms of what have you seen in the transcripts that pop some eyebrows?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, SYRACUSE LAW PROFESSOR, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, "IT'S EVEN WORSE THAN YOU THINK" & "THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP" AUTHOR: Well Michael Cohen says quite clearly that he gave false testimony and that Jay Sekulow, who is currently the President's lawyer, knew about it, and advised him to do that.

And if that's the case, and of course, we only have the word of Michael Cohen, we don't have it corroborated. But there is an email trail evidently from the testimony. Jay Sekulow's law license may be in jeopardy.

It certainly says Congress needs to be asking more about what exactly went on with the Trump Tower deal, and why they were so desperate to tell so many different stories in an effort to make it go away.

CUOMO: All right, let's - just for the audience's help tonight, we're going to put up sections of testimony as they become relevant, all right? So, here it is right now.

Chairman, so, Donald Trump Jr. had more than a passing familiarity that you were working on the project?

Yes, because we talked about if the project got going it would be a fun place for us to go.

All right, Michael Zeldin, so what? Let's do it - let's do it that way, Michael Zeldin. Let's bring in Michael Zeldin. I love David Cay. But he's not Michael Zeldin. There he is. Good.

So, what? Trump Jr. says I only knew a little bit about it. He says we talked about it a lot. So what?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, MUELLER'S FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT AT DOJ: So what is exactly the correct response, Chris. There is nothing that could be built on that exchange legally to implicate Don Jr.'s legal liability.

CUOMO: Right. So, let's put up the testimony from him just so people understand what we are opining about.

Did you have any involvement in this potential deal in Moscow?

Like I said, I was peripherally aware of it.

Harry Litman, do you dismiss it as quickly as Zeldin? What does "peripherally aware" mean and in terms of holding him to account?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY & DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: It doesn't mean what Michael Cohen says it meant. And no, I don't dismiss it, nor did Trump Jr. Remember, Trump Jr. thought he was going to be indicted over this, and he's assiduously avoided testifying about it since.

The thing about what Michael says though is how are you going to actually set up that he said-he said dispute because Mueller already saw it, and decided to pass. It's a little mysterious why he gave Don Jr. a pass.

[21:05:00] But if Congress wants to actually go after Trump Jr. for this, they're going to have to go through the Justice Department, and likely they're going to get a stonewall saying, "Ah, been there, done that, move along, Mueller decided not to, we're not revisiting."

CUOMO: Ross Garber, break the tie. Is it something or nothing for--


CUOMO: --for Don Jr.

GARBER: Litman said something very important. This is information that Bob Mueller already had. He already had that. He already had tons more information. The Special Counsel evaluated it, and dismissed it.

And I'll suggest one important reason. There are - there are two potential reasons.

One is that the witness had already pled guilty to lying to Congress. He'd already admitted to lying to Congress. And the second potential reason is related, and it's that it's - it's potentially simply not true.

Michael Cohen does not make a good witness. It doesn't sound like there are supporting documents. And I think, in the end, not much is going to come of this.

CUOMO: All right, so David Cay, back to you about the Jay Sekulow thing that started this wheel of discussion. Sekulow put out a statement. I spoke to him on the phone. He says, "Listen, I can't get into the facts because of the joint-defense agreement."

We can talk about whether or not it would hold because doesn't that privilege go with Cohen? And if Cohen broke it, couldn't his lawyer now speak? But we'll leave that for our lawyer heads another day with a beer in our hands.

But Sekulow says, "I dismiss this suggestion out of hand." Even if there is an email trail, again, isn't that something that the DOJ or at least Mueller would have already known?

JOHNSTON: Well the - I think his deeper problem, Sekulow's are, if Michael Cohen is right would be with his law license and with testifying before Congress.

Understand that the parties here had a joint-defense agreement, so everyone was sharing information with one another, perfectly proper thing to do, up until the point that you are a cooperator, and you flip and start helping the government.

But the testimony by Cohen is quite clear that he contends that Sekulow was perfectly aware after more than 10 conversations on which the only people were Sekulow and Cohen on the phone that saying that the Trump Tower project stopped in January of 2016, so remember we're way back--

CUOMO: Right.

JOHNSTON: --early before the first primary when it really went on until that summer. That's a very important fact, and--

CUOMO: If Sekulow was aware.

LITMAN: And - and - and quick point, Chris.


LITMAN: In fact, Mueller did not know this because Mueller decided he'd send his report, not to probe on to Sekulow because it would wind up piercing the attorney-client privilege. There's a good reason to pierce it here--


LITMAN: --because it could be a crime-fraud exception. But this is - this would have been news. We don't have that before.

CUOMO: Hey, listen, guys, hold on a second. ZELDIN: So, Chris--

GARBER: That's not going to happen in the Congressional - yes.

CUOMO: Well go ahead, Ross, finish your point.

GARBER: Yes, that - that - that - that's not going to happen in the Congressional setting.

CUOMO: Right.

GARBER: If the Special Counsel decided not to try to even pierce the attorney-client privilege that's not going to happen here. So, we're not going to--


CUOMO: All right, but--

GARBER: --you know, Jay Sekulow is not going to testify before Congress, I guess.

CUOMO: All right, and I'm not suggesting he should. And he dismisses this out of hand. So, if they don't have any proof--


CUOMO: --he's certainly acting with the confidence that he knows nothing can come out that he seems to be worried about based on his depo - disposition. And those who've been covering this for a while have gotten to know Mr. Sekulow pretty well in terms of what his signaling is of his behavior.

Stick around. I need more of you guys on this because we now know two things, OK?

These guys making arguments about Mr. Cohen having problems with his credibility is true. You don't have to be their great legal minds to know that.

But Congress believes him about things, and they were pursuing avenues that he told them about, some of which we still don't know, some now, we do. Now we know why they want Trump Jr. the way they do.

And now we know something else. A court said that the President's tax- prep folks need to start giving up information. And we know that the government is going after Deutsche Bank for more information, especially in light of what they allowed to leak about Kushner and Trump having funny different moves in their accounts.

Let's take it all on, next.








CUOMO: All right, closed door, no more. We're learning that during Michael Cohen's March testimony with the House Intel Committee, Cohen said that Trump attorney Jay Sekulow told him pardons were under consideration for both him and others to "Shut down the inquiries," and "shut the investigations down."

And when asked if Trump knew about those discussions, Cohen said, "I believe so."

Let's bring in this great panel of guys who've been doing this job on one level or another for a long time in assessing this kind of information. Quick show of hands, who believes that the releasing of the transcripts makes a material difference?

None? Oh, there's David, couple of shaking faces.


CUOMO: All right, only one. All right, I'll take it. And you know what, just for that, I reward you David Cay.

Now, the idea of this pardon situation, again, it's just going on Michael Cohen. We don't have any other way to corroborate that we know about it. What's its potential significance, David?

JOHNSTON: Well you can commit a legal act like granting a pardon in a way that is illegal, and if it is part of an effort to obstruct justice, that's a crime. And, of course, a pardon that is offered or granted for impeachment is absolutely prohibited under our Constitution.

CUOMO: Right.

JOHNSTON: But what I see happening here with this transcript is, you know, the dam has been breached, and it's just drip - bit by bit, more and more is going to come out.

What we need are hearings on television, so the American public understands that the man they saw on his TV show is not the man who is in the White House.

CUOMO: All right, understood.

Now the reason I disagree with the other three guys, put their pictures back up, so I can shame them appropriately, keeping your hands down is because materially this does change it, as much as my voice is changing right now, and neither case is the reason puberty. It's because we now understand better where the Congressmen's heads are, these Congressmen and women in terms of why they're going down these roads.

Ross, they believe Michael Cohen. They believe him about things he taught them about the finances, which is why they're going after Deutsche Bank. They believe him about Trump Jr., which is why they're trying to get him back. That's important.

GARBER: Well, so maybe they believe him, and maybe they don't. I think there are - there are two other potential reasons why they're heading down these paths.

[21:15:00] One is it's a fishing expedition. Who knows what they're going to get from the accounting firm, from Deutsche Bank, from - from someplace else. And - and so, it's possible they're looking for other information. And - and it's not that they believe Michael Cohen necessarily.

The second potential reason is it's somewhat of a stalling effort. You know, I - I - I know you've got the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee on a little bit later.

You know, I'll note that the only witness scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee today was somebody that the Committee knew wasn't going to show up, Don McGahn.

And so, you know, this business with Michael Cohen creates the appearance that Congress is - that the House is doing something without actually the reality of it. Remember, they've got a big, long, detailed report from the Special Counsel, and have - haven't decided that that even warrants potential impeachment proceedings.

CUOMO: Well but that's a political calculation. Michael Zeldin, I'm going to take issue with what Ross said, but I'm going to put it on you. I'll let Nadler answer for himself when he's on the show, and it's great timing to have him tonight.

But doesn't it stand to reason that this is a little bit of a shock that the President or the White House or whomever it is that's calling the shots waited on McGahn until the last second like this?

Isn't this something that they really should have given him on Friday, because now, you know it's going to redouble the efforts of them to fight this?

ZELDIN: Well I believe that McGahn knew all along that he was not going to be allowed to testify. I thought that when--


ZELDIN: --Attorney General Barr proactively asserted Executive privilege over the entirety of what McGahn testified to Special Counsel Mueller. That was the end of the day. And this is just the follow-up to that which was decided long ago.

CUOMO: Harry--

ZELDIN: He's not going to testify.

CUOMO: So, McGahn's not going to come in. What can they do next? What are the options, just to tee me up for when I talk to the Chairman?

ZELDIN: They can hold him in contempt--

LITMAN: Yes. They're - they're - they're - they're done.

ZELDIN: Sorry.

LITMAN: They got to - they got to court. They got to go to court. But they have real arguments here. It was a very aggressive opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel.

The big point is it says it - there's no court cases in support of it. And there - and the big point is McGahn's now a private citizen, so we don't have much doctrine either. On the other hand, it's all the President has - has made the order. They pulled the trigger. There's nothing left to do, but go to court.

And unlike the other court opinion that came out today, which really was an easy slap down of Trump, this is a tough issue, and will probably work its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. That means time.

CUOMO: Very interesting.

ZELDIN: So, Chris, let me add something to that.

JOHNSTON: And, Chris--

CUOMO: Go ahead, final word.

JOHNSTON: I don't see this--

ZELDIN: Let me - can I just add something to this, Chris?

CUOMO: We'll get final words from both of you. Michael, go fast, and let me get to David. Go ahead.


ZELDIN: So, there were two things that we have to remember about McGahn. One is the assertion of immunity, which is "I'm not going to show up at all." And the second one is Executive privilege that "If I'm forced to show up, what can I testify to." There are two very separate issues. I think they lose on immunity.

CUOMO: Fair point.

ZELDIN: And that they prevail on Executive privilege on a case by case, document by document basis.

CUOMO: Fair - fair point. David? JOHNSTON: Well my argument was similar, except they've waived Executive privilege. When they allowed Don McGahn to testify for 30 hours to Mueller, I think that's a pretty clear waiver of - of Executive privilege.

And we should all be concerned about a doctrine under which presidents can prevent people after they go back into private life from testifying. That should be very disturbing to us regardless of whether there's a Democrat or Republicans in the White House for the welfare of our republic.

CUOMO: Fair point. But you can be right, David. I got to go to break. And Zeldin can still be right because they could still say--


CUOMO: --all right, fine, they waived it.

But we're doing it document by document, conversation by conversation. That could be very frustrating for somebody who understands the facts in context, and Mr. McGahn, better than the people who'll be questioning him.

All right, we're going to need to do more of this because we have a new response from the President's lawyer, Jay Sekulow. He looms large in this transcript that was released.

And really, if you think about it, it's not fair to be talking about what Cohen is saying about him, and not include what he says about those suggestions. I'll remind you of that when we come back.

And then, we have the Head of the House Judiciary Committee here tonight. This is the night to have him, a big night, let's get after it.








CUOMO: All right, our keywords for this block are Cohen, Sekulow, McGahn, and Deutsche, OK? Let's bring back in our panel here. We got Harry Litman, Michael Zeldin, David Cay Johnston, and Ross Garber.

Our first, Michael Cohen says, Michael Zeldin, that he changed the timeline to make it look better on Trump Tower Moscow for the President, and that Sekulow knew. Now, assuming that this testimony was in Mueller's hands, before it was in ours, what's the significance to you of how bad that could be?

ZELDIN: Well if you look at the exact questions and answers, over the course of that transcript, Michael Cohen gives various answers to that exact same question.

One of the answers to Mr. Welch was when asked if Sekulow knew, he says, I believe--

CUOMO: Right.

ZELDIN: --if he did take it to a client, which he stated he did, but then if he spoke - there are so many qualifiers in that answer. No case could be brought against anybody on the basis of Cohen's testimony.

CUOMO: And in fairness to Sekulow--

ZELDIN: So, you need corroboration.

CUOMO: In fairness to Sekulow--

ZELDIN: So, you need--

CUOMO: Yes. You need corroboration, a 100 percent. The only corroboration we have tonight is from Mr. Sekulow.

And he says this. "I dismiss the suggestion out of hand." He told that to me. There'll also be a statement coming out. If we can't prove it, we only know what we show.

Next topic, McGahn. Ross, how big a deal that the President pulls him back?

GARBER: So, I think it's something that - that we all expected. I think the President either said or hinted as much. But McGahn is actually a - a key figure in this whole thing. You know, whether he testifies or not is a big deal.

You know, he spent many, many, many hours with the Special Counsel, much of volume to the obstruction volume. The Special Counsel's report is based on information that McGahn provided the Special Counsel. And--

CUOMO: How big a deal is it Ross if he says to Congress, "Look, he wanted me to fire. I think that he was trying to do things to stop this investigated." That's as far as he's going to go. He's not going to use the word obstruct in the affirmative against the President.

We knew that from his counsel many months ago that after McGahn went in, his counsel said--


CUOMO: --I don't think he did anything to give him criminal exposure.

[21:25:00] GARBER: Yes. And I think that's a great question for your next guest.

Let's assume that everything in the Mueller report is true. Let's assume it's all accurate. Let's assume all of that activity happened. Is that enough to start impeachment proceedings?

Now, the reason why I think folks are potentially interested in having McGahn testify is it puts a face, it puts - it brings the story to life. And the notion is that perhaps that might actually prompt impeachment proceedings.

But I think it's - it seems pretty obvious that that's not where the Speaker wants to go. I don't think that's where the Chairman wants to go either.

CUOMO: Well but he may not have a--

GARBER: But I think that's a good question for him.

CUOMO: --he may not have a choice because, you know, one of the things here, you know that old expression, hoisted on your own petard?

The more the President fights the oversight, the more he is forcing them to show that they'll take him on just because of that point. Everything else fades into the background. It's just that "Hey, listen, you're not going to keep us from doing our Constitutional duty."

GARBER: Well it's a chicken and--

CUOMO: So, the President's going to careful.

GARBER: --the egg thing, Chris.

CUOMO: A little bit, a little bit it is, you're right.

GARBER: It's an - it's an--

CUOMO: You're right about that. But that's the way--

GARBER: Well--

CUOMO: --it may go.

GARBER: Yes. Yes, I mean, you know, I'm - I'm that rare breed of impeachment defense lawyer - Republican impeachment defense lawyer.

CUOMO: Right.

GARBER: And I will tell you that when a Speaker of a House and the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee essentially take impeachment off the table, and are working so hard to avoid impeachment--

CUOMO: Right.

GARBER: --it strengthens the Executive's hand.

CUOMO: All right, so now, Deutsche--

ZELDIN: Well, can I just, may I speak to that--

CUOMO: Hold on, hold on, Michael, let me--


CUOMO: --let me switch topics and weigh on this. David Cay, the idea of what we learned from Deutsche today, here's the part that I don't get. Let me just bring people up to speed real fast.

2016-2017, internally within the organization, within the institution of the bank, they flagged money transactions that are going back and forth in Trump and Kushner's accounts.

OK. Is that that unusual? No, not so much, not with big real estate deals, sometimes they move a lot of cash. All right, so then why didn't the human beings who picked up the flags from the software make that same determination?

That takes us to the next step, David, which is who was the one who decided not to send those - those activity reports of what they thought was suspicious to the government?

The reporting says it was people from the private banking side here in New York who knew Kushner and his relationship with Deutsche. That wasn't supposed to be done. You're supposed to go to independent people.

I want your take on this, and then Michael Zeldin's, because he worked in this area of law for so long.

JOHNSTON: Well Deutsche Bank is notorious for "Don't-ask, don't-tell, don't see anything" that would get in the way of their very lucrative business of moving money for people.

And they've been fined over $600 million just for moving money for Russians. So, the bank in its statement issued a non-denial denial.

CUOMO: Right.

JOHNSTON: They said nobody was prevented from making a complaint upstream. And yet, they got news reports all over the place saying they deny it. They didn't deny it.

And I'm not at all surprised that Deutsche Bank is deeply worried about this. But remember, they're a licensed institution. They exist as a privilege granted by the state, by the government. And they are cooperating, according to the bank, with a whole host of investigations.

CUOMO: All right, Michael Zeldin, quickly, what are the questions that we need answered to understand the relevance of the Deutsche Bank situation?

ZELDIN: How was the information moved up the chain? The way these things work is you have a transaction monitoring system that generates alerts that an analyst analyzes and then moves upstream for decisioning to the Suspicious Activity Reporting committee.

We need to see all documentation on that, and to determine whether or not the decision was made properly, on a compliance basis, or improperly, for various bad purposes.

CUOMO: Gentlemen, thank you so much for making complicated things more accessible for the audience. I appreciate it very much, all of you, thank you.

All right, so now, former White House Counsel, Don McGahn, he was supposed to come tomorrow. None of these guys are surprised that the President pulled the string on him, and said, "No, you can't testify."

I am. I didn't think it was going to happen here in the 11th hour. I thought they would have done this a few days ago. Why antagonize Congress this way?

And when I say Congress, you know who issued the subpoena? Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York. He is the Chairman of the Committee. He doesn't look happy. He shouldn't be.

What does he make of that move by the President? What does he make of these headlines that are falling on our head tonight? We have him next.








CUOMO: All right, so the latest is that Don McGahn, the former White House Counsel says on orders from the White House, he's not going to show tomorrow when the House Judiciary Committee meets. The former White House Counsel's perspective is key to any investigation of whether the President obstructed justice.

Judiciary Chair who issued that subpoena is Jerry Nadler, Representative of New York, and he joins us now. Welcome back to PRIME TIME, Congressman.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Thank you.

CUOMO: Now, I don't know if you're late. I know you were in a rush to get over here. I was debating this with the panel. And I was saying, "Why did they wait till the 11th hour?" And these experts were saying, "Oh, everybody knew he was going to do this."

Not true. You had been given indications that you would hear sooner than later if he wasn't going to come in. Is this a surprise to you? What's your reaction to it?

NADLER: Well my reaction to it - well, first of all, we didn't know till the very end, and their pattern is to tell the Committee at the very end that someone's not coming in, the - the night before. I mean he's been on schedule for a month. And all of a sudden they tell us the night before.

But this is part of the pattern of, you know, of - of - of the President and - and Rudy Giuliani and the White House, generally, intimidating McGahn from testifying, acting lawlessly to protect - prevent him from testifying about the obstructions of justice, which he testified to - the President's obstruction of justice, which he testified to by Mueller.

So, you're dealing with a lawless President who is willing to go to any lengths to prevent testimony that might implicate him, that does implicate him.

CUOMO: What do you do next?

NADLER: Well we're going to - we're going to look at all our options. Well the first thing we're going to do is hold the - we're going to have to hold McGahn in contempt.

And then, we're going to have to pass a resolution in the House, enforcing our contempt citations against Barr and McGahn, and seek to enforce those subpoenas in court through the contempt citations. That's the next step.

[21:35:00] CUOMO: You know, the worry is if you go the legal route, it takes forever. We just saw what happened with Eric Holder. That case just - the former Attorney General under the Obama administration, that case just got settled a couple of weeks ago, went on for many years.

NADLER: Well it's not going to go--

CUOMO: Are you worried about that?

NADLER: Of course, that's a concern.

But the fact is the President made the same arguments that he's making, which are absolutely contemptuous of Congress and the American people, essentially that the Congress can't investigate the President or the administration, except in relation to a particular piece of legislation that we can't examine, waste, fraud, or abuse or - or abuses of power, obstruction of justice that that's beyond our purview, and we can't investigate that on behalf of the American people.

And that was just roundly rejected in - in a District of Columbia federal court today. Nonetheless, he makes that argument. Now, they will appeal that. But I think it's going to go very quickly.

CUOMO: How big a deal is it that his tax-prep folks have to turn over information to you?

NADLER: Well depending - I think it is a big deal depending what we find in those - in those - in those taxes.

CUOMO: How much more likely is it that you turn to an avenue of impeachment just for the added heft to the oversight request because of the recalcitrance of the President?

NADLER: Well the recalcitrance of the President and his lawless behavior is making it more and more difficult to ignore all alternatives, including impeachment, and we'll have to consider that, and all other alternatives.

CUOMO: What do you think of the idea of what Nancy Pelosi said a few weeks ago? "He's goading you. He wants you to do that." Do you believe that? And do you believe he'll like what he gets?

NADLER: Well I don't know. And even if he is goading us, he may be wrong to do so, from his point of view. But we're going to do what we have to do to protect the American people, and to protect the rule of law.

The President cannot be above the law no more than anybody else can, and he - he cannot seek to be a dictator, and to destroy the separation of powers, and to be above the law. That's what he's trying to do.

And if we want a democratic government, we can't permit that.

CUOMO: Congressman, why not go the route of impeachment? What is your hesitation?

NADLER: Well there are a lot of considerations on that. And - and we may do that. So, I'm not going to say at the moment the pros and cons.

CUOMO: OK. What do you think needs to happen in order to make that the only avenue you have left?

NADLER: Well, hopefully, it won't be the only avenue we have left. Certainly, we're going to pursue the - the subpoenas and the other evidence in court. We hope for good court decisions.

I'm sure we will get good court decisions because law is totally on our side. The President cannot take the position that Congress cannot investigate anything and that he is above the law. So, we will win those court fights. The only question is the question of timing.

CUOMO: How about Mr. Mueller? Is he on the horizon?

NADLER: He is. And hopefully, he will testify, although the administration, I'm sure, is pressuring him not to do so.

CUOMO: What do you think of him still being at the DOJ? Do you think you need him to leave the DOJ or does that not really change the analysis?

NADLER: Well as long as he's a DOJ employee, he is more subject to their discipline than - than as an ex-employee. I don't know what's keeping him there. The report is finished. I don't know why he's still there.

CUOMO: The idea of what came out in Deutsche Bank, I'm sure you're familiar with the reporting.

The idea that those SARs, Suspicious Activity Reports were not reported, that's not unusual, you know this from your oversight work for many years. But the idea that it was done by people within private banking, who knew Mr. Kushner as opposed to an - more independent body.

What do you think of that?

NADLER: Well that - that - that's - that's self-dealing. But we know that everything Trump gets into is self-dealing. We know that no bank, except Deutsche Bank, would deal with Trump for many years because he didn't pay back his loans. He went bankrupt.

And no - no one with any sense wanted to do business with him because of his gross dishonesty, except for Deutsche Bank, and the question has always been why.

CUOMO: Michael Cohen's testimony that was released from the House Intel Committee, are you familiar with the testimony already?

NADLER: Somewhat. I - I - I hastily read a newspaper account today.

CUOMO: The idea that he says Donald Trump Jr. and I spoke 10 different times about Trump Moscow, that seems to suggest it wasn't peripheral. But with the word, "I was only peripherally interested," what does that mean that kind of testimony? Is there really advance any exposure--

NADLER: Well it's - it's--

CUOMO: --for Trump Jr.?

NADLER: Well it should. Of course, Michael Cohen has lied, we know, and lied to Congress. That's why he's in jail, albeit he lied on behalf of Trump. But nonetheless, no jury is going to believe him unless it's corroborating evidence.

So far, everything he said since he decided to come clean, and testify against Trump has proven everything is provable that - that's checkable is proven true. But you'll need corroborating evidence.

[21:40:00] Now, the - the real question there is if - if Trump was, in fact, lying to the American people, and saying he had no business dealings in Mos - with - with the Russia throughout the 2016 campaign, when in fact, Trump Jr. and Michael Cohen and others on his behalf were negotiating for Trump Tower in Moscow, and reporting back to him, then he was lying to the American people. And Putin knew he was lying to the American people, which gave Putin leverage over him, which is a very dangerous thing to have a foreign government have leverage over a candidate or even a President of the United States.

CUOMO: Understood. Congressman, I just want to go back to something. I wasn't asking you about well why not do impeachment to push a political decision? I understand that there's almost an alchemy involved in this, and there's a lot of competing interests.

But I'm wondering more and more if, and I've always been slow on impeachment. When Nancy Pelosi came out and others came out, I was like "This makes sense. I don't know how they win on this."

But maybe it's not about winning. Maybe I was wrong. And that it seems more likely these days that the only chance for my audience to hear from the people and see the people who matter and determine for themselves how they want to judge this President is if you go down the road of impeachment, which would be more impressive to the courts.

NADLER: Well I don't know that. We - we won a tremendous victory in court just today.

CUOMO: True.

NADLER: I anticipate winning other victories in court without the impeachment argument to the court. And we'll see.

CUOMO: All right, I'll take it at that. Tonight was a very important night to have you. I know you rushed over here from somewhere else to do the - the hit with us, and I appreciate it, Congressman. Thank you very much.

NADLER: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, be well. Congressman Jerrold Nadler from New York. He is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the - the one who issued the subpoena to McGahn, and he is going to be driving a lot of what comes next, so that was important for you to hear directly from him. I'm glad we could bring it to you.

President Trump is not so happy with his favorite television network, CNN, I'm just kidding, Fox. But why does he have a problem? I want to talk to you about what it is that's bothering him, so you can just see how his head works, next.









DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's going on with Fox, by the way? What's going on there?

They're putting more Democrats on than you have Republicans. It's something strange is going on at Fox, well, something very strange.



CUOMO: Wow, I never imagined that the President would wind up asking his rally crowd the same questions that we ask all the time here, let alone hearing Fox get booed at a Trump rally, wow.

Why? What did Fox do that's so terrible? He's - they're giving his 2020 opponents airtime. They're doing their job.

D. Lemon is here right now. And I got to tell you I mean--

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: I'm better-looking than all those Democrats. Why do they have him on?

CUOMO: I mean--

LEMON: I'm going to break up with them. Wait, they broke up with me. What's happening?

CUOMO: High on the list of crazy talk. But, you know, look, well you and I take exception, especially what that nighttime line-up does is often really irresponsible, in my view.

LEMON: Often?

CUOMO: But they are doing their job by having on both sides. That's what they're supposed to do. He's got to know that. He's got to know that. How do you go bad on people who've carried you like a newborn for months?

LEMON: Because they've carried you like a newborn for months. And he said they've got to wean him off. They got to get him off the, you know, wean him off--

CUOMO: The teat.

LEMON: I'm glad you said it. I was--

CUOMO: I said T-E-A-T.

LEMON: --I was thinking--

CUOMO: That's not what you were going to say. LEMON: I was going to say it, and I was like, "Can I say that?" But no, they got to wean him off and, you know, so now, they've got to - they've got to do it. They want him to be on. They want the - the opponents to be on just like, you know, we had all the Republican candidates on CNN.

We couldn't, you know, back in 2016, say, "No Republican candidates," because that's not how we operate, right?


LEMON: We are a true news organization even at night. I know people at Fox or the Trump folks don't like to believe that because, you know, that's their talking point.

CUOMO: Look, whatever. We can believe whatever we want, you know.

LEMON: Yes, they believe whatever they want.

CUOMO: Because I know himself (ph) be true. But here's the irony is they had Pete Buttigieg on tonight. And--

LEMON: Spitting facts and truth, and they didn't like that.

CUOMO: Listen - listen to this. Listen to this.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make America dirty, when you've got Laura Ingraham comparing detention centers with children in cages to summer camps, summer camps, then there is a reason why anybody has to swallow hard and think twice before participating in this media ecosystem.

But I also believe that even though some of those hosts are not always there in good faith, I think a lot of people tune into this network who do it in good faith.


CUOMO: That's on Fox. Not a lot of MAGA hats were even in the background when he's saying that stuff. And look--


CUOMO: --it's the truth. You know, I mean I'm not talking about the whole organization. I worked at Fox News. I know there're good people there to this day.

But at night, you know, they are learning the lesson that everybody else has learned, D. Lemon. If you are on the President's side, it's only as warm as he wants it to be in the moment.


CUOMO: And when he goes bad on you, the Sun goes away. LEMON: It is a double-edged sword though, Chris. I mean it's - I'm not running for President. But if I was running for President, I would seriously consider of whether I should do it or not because they do at - listen, what Pete Buttigieg said that those hosts actually said that, and they've said even worse things.

CUOMO: Worse.

LEMON: So, I'm going to be concerned about being--

CUOMO: Tucker Carlson said paying women the same as men makes men depressed.


CUOMO: So, you shouldn't do it.

LEMON: I'd be worried about being associated with that. I'd be worried about providing a platform and money and people paying television ads to an organization that spreads hate and - and propaganda.

So, you know, it would be something that I would have to consider. I understand Elizabeth Warren's side, and I understand the other candidate's side as well. Go on, because there's a big audience.

What do you do? Do you go on because there's a big audience there? Or do you not go on for a principle?

CUOMO: Well, look, but that - that's all fine. Our job is just to offer them the opportunity.

LEMON: You're absolutely right.

CUOMO: I mean they - they won't come on with me either. You know, so--

LEMON: Speak--

CUOMO: --I mean they - but we--

LEMON: Same here.

CUOMO: --we make the invitation.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: I ask all the nominees all the time. People will say to me, "Why don't you have him on or her on?" I invite them all on all the time.

LEMON: Because they feel comfortable in certain places.

CUOMO: That's right. Why come here when you're looking for is a pass--

LEMON: When you're looking for a pass--

CUOMO: --and to get a pat on the back. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I don't fault them for that, by the way.

LEMON: I do.

CUOMO: You know, they're - they're playing to advantage. Not - listen--

LEMON: I do.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: They're - they're trying to distinguish themselves. They're all worried about going the - the Beto route, you know, where all the sudden the love's not there anymore, and they got to restart their campaigns, I understand that calculation.

LEMON: Do you know why I fault them for it? Because Hillary Clinton is not in the White House because she did - that's what she did. She picked and she chose. Donald Trump went on every single news organization. You called him, he figured out a way to come on your show, and I think every candidate should do that.

You should take advantage of the media, and take advantage of every single platform to get your message out. You do - like I said, I would weigh whether or not I would go on Fox.

At the end of the day, maybe I would do it just because there's a - there's an audience here. But I don't know. But I think that that's a mistake that they're making, the same mistake that Hillary Clinton made.

And listen, and speaking, you were talking about opportunity. Speaking of opportunity, imagine this. Imagine you're standing there at your graduation, your cap and gown, and someone says--


LEMON: --I'm going to pay off all of your debts.

CUOMO: Not just anybody either.

LEMON: Not just anybody, a billionaire. Billionaire Robert F. Smith.

CUOMO: And for him to look at the other alumnus--


CUOMO: --and say "Alumni, I got 2019. These - this is my class--

LEMON: You got to get the next one.

CUOMO: --but we are enough for our community--


CUOMO: --we are enough." I'll tell you what. That is something you do not hear a lot in the African-American community. Those were bold words--

LEMON: The President--

CUOMO: --backed up by big bucks.

LEMON: The President of Morehouse College. That's - that's - those are the graduates he was speaking to. The President's joining us in just moments here on CNN.

CUOMO: What a great guest!


CUOMO: Good for you.


CUOMO: I can't wait to watch that.

LEMON: See you soon.

CUOMO: All right, D. Lemon.

So, game's over, Game of Thrones fans. I know. I know. I know all the buzz going on about the finale. Guess what? I don't care. But I do have takeaways. I learned things from what I saw there that apply to today and every day.

So, I have a closing about how it closed, next.








CUOMO: All right, you watch Game of Thrones? I love Game of Thrones. So, I watched the finale, and I saw messages that resonate today. They refer to a king or queen as Your Grace. That's not just Game of Thrones, but they made a point of it.

It's an adaptation, Your Grace, of the idea that a ruler should empower the mercy and suggestive empathy of God. But they rarely do. They're too often about themselves and their power, certainly in that show, and that is the opposite of grace, and it's something for us to remember in a ruler.

Next, the Dragon Queen explaining why she won't pardon or forgive any of the common folk.




CUOMO: We can't hide behind small mercies. That couldn't be less true. However, we too often confuse being bold with going big. Too many confuse a quest for more with being better, firsts, even though they often lead to worsts.

The mistake is not surrendering the Me to the We. So then, when Jon Snow, her moral opposite, asks her to consider the fate of the many, and when the Council considers putting the choice of the next ruler to the ruled, same big mistake.


TARGARYEN: They don't get to choose.

SAMWELL TARLY, FICTIONAL CHARACTER, GAME OF THRONES: Maybe the decision about what's best for everyone should be left to, well, everyone.



CUOMO: Yes, laugh now while you can.

Then, when the Queen rejects her beloved's entreaties, right, and she won't see mercy as part of her might, tragic irony, what does he do? He kills her. Dramatic, but also symptomatic of the problem.

You can't or shouldn't just kill what you don't agree with. You can't or shouldn't look to overwhelm opposition. Only one who gets it is the one character that was developed to be an example of the worst.

In my opinion, he became first, the Dragon, the series example of gross power and fear and rage, the dragon is the only one who gets it in the end. How? All right, the dragon confronts the man who kills its mother. That's what he thought the Queen was. Now, he could have easily done that. He could have barbecued the killer.

Yes, there's this unique rant - rationale within this series about why it won't hurt Snow. But there's a bigger rationale as well. And it is that the dragon acts with outrage, not at him, but at the throne. It uses its fire to melt the Iron Throne that they all wanted so desperately.

Why? The throne represents the problem, concentrated power, the desire to concentrate power. Acton said rightly, "Power Corrupts - absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Tyrion gets the truth of this when he says this.


TYRION LANNISTER, FICTIONAL CHARACTER, GAME OF THRONES: From now on, rulers will not be born. They will be chosen.


CUOMO: Now, it resonates even in the ruling circle. But how? Those who laughed at that idea of choice for the many, what do they do?

They accede one by one to the choice of the new King. That's how consensus is always formed. You see it as the many. But no, it's always one by one, and connecting, and making people believe in the bigger sense.

The last point, Bran the Broken is King. He's in a wheelchair. And that's how we all are, broken, and in seeing the flawed as best, they divorce themselves from the idea of simple might-making right. The weakest is, in fact, sometimes the strongest.

Jon goes back to the Night's Watch. Devotees, you guys out there, hate it, you hate it. I don't care. But where else for the purest of heart and purpose to be than on the line between good and evil, and that's where he winds up, literally on the wall.

Last takeaway, Jon worries about his decision to kill the Queen. He says to the wise Tyrion, "Was it right? Was it right?" Tyrion says, "Ask me again in 10 years." So true.

Decisions were obsessed in the moment. We don't value them as a function of what comes next.

Remember, we're all so caught up in the now, and what matters, and seeing things in politics is so urgent, time is the teacher, and the ultimate judge of what was winning, and losing, and more importantly, who did the right thing when it mattered most. Will it stand the test of time?

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