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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Second House Republican Holds Up Bill Delaying Disaster Aid; Trump Attacks Joe Biden Over 1994 Crime Bill; Mount Everest Death Toll Rises To 11 Amid Overcrowding. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: -- surprise. Rudy Giuliani didn't get that platter of baloney past Chris, and it remains to be seen what if any meat he'll be slinging on behalf of President Trump's 2020 Presidential campaign, but he will surely now and ever more remain high atop the menu on The Ridiculist.

The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: It's not cheddar.

COOPER: It's there (ph).

CUOMO: It would have been provolone if it was Rudy.

COOPER: Oh!

CUOMO: You know because that's the Italian thing. Well done as always, my friend, and you can have whatever protein shake you want.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Republican sabotage is afoot in the House, says Speaker Pelosi. We have a Member of Congress who's holding up the Disaster bill. He wants to tell us why he is doing the right thing in his opinion, and we will test the case.

On the Democratic side, what's the bigger risk to Joe Biden? The President's tweets? Or, his position on the '94 Crime Bill? Congressional Vet, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn has a stern message for Presidential contenders on this issue, and you need to hear it.

And how many are going to die this year trying to climb Everest? We have new information tonight on the state of the fatal logjam. What do you say? Let's get after it.

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CUOMO: All right, so here's the latest. Congressman Tom Massie from Kentucky has become the second Republican

in a week to hold up $19 billion in disaster relief monies. His fellow Republican Chip Roy led the way on Friday.

Now, Roy says he has good reason to stop the bill even if it delays needed funding to people in his home state of Texas.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: Congressman Roy, welcome back to PRIME TIME. Good to have you here to make the case. Let me ask you, over the Memorial Day weekend, what did you tell your constituents who need this money?

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Well Chris, thanks for having me on, and thanks for focusing on this important issue, and let me tell you what happened. Last Thursday, Speaker Pelosi adjourned the House of Representatives for the Memorial Day recess for 10 days, and everybody was out of town.

And I'm heading to the airport to come home to Texas, and what I hear is that the Speaker was inclined to bring forward a bill that would spend $19 billion, unpaid for, without any head-nod towards the disaster we've got going on at our Southern border, and that she was going to do so by unanimous consent.

And that means she wasn't going to have a vote. And I don't know about you. But the American people were working last Friday. But unfortunately, the House of Representatives wasn't in Washington.

She was going to bring forward a bill, and have it go by consent, and I just happen to be of the belief that if you're going to spend $19 billion of taxpayer money, we should vote on it. The people's House have a responsibility to do our job and vote.

CUOMO: I got you.

ROY: So, I left the airport, went back, stood there, and I had stood up, and showed up on Friday, and I objected. Now, look, I've got a lot of understanding of how much this means to people in Florida, and Georgia, and Puerto Rico--

CUOMO: And Texas.

ROY: --even in Texas.

CUOMO: Yes.

ROY: And how important it is. But you know what? The Speaker has had five months to get this right. These - these are disasters that have been going on, one that occurred 18 months ago, we should do our job in the House, vote on it.

CUOMO: All right.

ROY: And have an actual debate. The people are tired of--

CUOMO: Here--

ROY: --business as usual in Washington.

CUOMO: Let's just go you - you - you unpacked three basic reasons of your resistance. Let's just go through them one by one. One, you said--

ROY: Sure.

CUOMO: --she's not letting a debate, she was doing this by unanimous consent, you know, the nod there is that there isn't going to be consensus on this. Now, Jim Clyburn--

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: --and in looking at the legislative history here, this is not new, this bill. You guys agreed on a set of monies and a set of principles. It went over to the Senate. They supposedly were going to like it.

The President didn't like the Puerto Rico money. Then it became more of a kerfuffle. But then, the stuff that you did like, the President got past the Puerto Rico part, the Senate then sent it back to you.

So, in essence, Chip, this is what you guys already said yes to. Why say no now?

ROY: Well, first of all, you'll know, and I think you, Chris, have looked at the record, a 150-odd Republicans voiced objection. It was a large number of Republicans that voiced objection to the first version of the bill.

But the bill went to the Senate. It came back. None of us had seen it. We didn't know what was in it. We knew that it was - had $2 billion or $3 billion more than the first version.

And now, we had to take a - accept what Speaker Pelosi's going to do, put it on the floor on a Friday, after everybody went out of town, and pass it by consent. That's not what the American people want. They want--

CUOMO: But the White House has already sent on--

ROY: --us to vote on it. And, by the way--

CUOMO: The White House had already signed off.

ROY: Sure. But the - the White House's view was that they wanted to try to get the kind of relief that they want to get in place, which I totally appreciate, in Florida, and Georgia, and Puerto Rico, and other parts of the country. But our job in the House is to vote. You shouldn't pass legislation, you shouldn't pass a bill that's going to spend $19 billion without voting on it.

There are many things that we wanted to have a discussion about and debate, including, by the way, the fact that we've got a Border supplemental that's been being ignored by the Speaker and we didn't have--

CUOMO: All right, so that's point two. That's--

ROY: --a bill that didn't even talk about that in the process.

CUOMO: That - that's point two. Now, I had had Dick Durbin on here. Obviously, we all know who he is. He's counting the votes for the Democrats in the Senate.

ROY: Sure.

CUOMO: He had said, look, I like this Disaster bill for a number of reasons. One of them is I think this is how we're going to deal with the emergency on the Border, Chip Roy, and I have talked about this on this show before. It's a constant concern for us here on CUOMO PRIME TIME, and with good reason.

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: So then, they took that away. They wanted a clean bill, as they call it. You stand up to that as a matter of principle.

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: I'm good with that. Although Chip, if you're going to make this stand, why not create more energy around getting help?

[21:05:00] It's not that just the Democrats don't want to do it. Clyburn makes a good case, says you guys can't agree on anything. Compromise is seen as capitulation like you're giving your head.

You guys can't even agree on getting done what will help stop these kids from being held in places where they're going to be sick, held too long, maybe worse. Why not?

ROY: Well I think you should ask that question to my Democrat colleagues who refuse to even have a vote or debate it.

What should have happened is Speaker Pelosi should have called us back in, or not adjourned, by the way, gotten the bill over from the - on the Disaster supplemental on Thursday, we should have debated it Thursday night, debated Friday, she should have put forward.

CUOMO: But that supplemental is filled with--

ROY: The relatively modest, by the way--

CUOMO: --things that have nothing to do with the emergency. I'm not saying they're not worthy debates. I think it's all worthy. The asylum rules, reunification, all that stuff, have the debate.

But you guys can't handle it all at once. You can't even handle one part of it. You can't even get these kids--

ROY: Well that four--

CUOMO: --out of harm's way.

ROY: But Chris, that four - that, Chris, $4.4 billion supplemental--

CUOMO: Yes.

ROY: --the Director of - of OMB vote sent up is a letter request to the Hill.

CUOMO: Yes.

ROY: Let's have a debate on that. We didn't have a debate in the House on that. Let's debate it along with this Disaster supplemental. Let's talk about the 100,000 people--

CUOMO: Too much time.

ROY: --who are not being apprehended.

CUOMO: Too much time.

ROY: Let's talk about the case.

CUOMO: Too much time.

ROY: Let's talk about--

CUOMO: Deal with the kids right now, Chip.

ROY: No.

CUOMO: You know they're dying.

ROY: Fine. Well we can have that debate about the beds that are needed to house the kids. Let's have the debate about the beds that are needed to deal with families. Let's have the debate about the Fentanyl that's coming across the Border, the cartels that are--

CUOMO: It's too much time.

ROY: --have operated and took control of the Border.

CUOMO: There's an emergency. It's like there's a hurricane coming, and you want to have a debate about preparedness for the next storm season. We got to deal with the crisis right now.

ROY: What I want to do - well we - but the crisis right now, Chris, is the flow across the Border. And if you don't stop the flow then that crisis is going to continue, and you're not going to have enough beds-- CUOMO: The crisis right now is the flow to the Border.

ROY: --in all the place in the world is not going to deal with the kids.

CUOMO: Just - just to - just to correct the context.

ROY: Right, right, in - in order to stop that--

CUOMO: Flow to the Border.

ROY: In order to stop that--

CUOMO: This isn't about drug mules and, you know, gangbangers and MS- 13. This is about kids and the people who are coming with them. That's the crisis they can't handle the flow of.

ROY: Right. But why are the kid - but why are the kids coming across? It's because the kids are being used by the cartels, often being been recycled--

CUOMO: Some. Some.

ROY: --and they're being abused because we're not doing--

CUOMO: In the main--

ROY: --anything to stop the flow.

CUOMO: But the numbers have that as nowhere near a significant percentage in terms of the number of legit economic and other different types of emergency desperation that's sending them to run.

I don't think we have to make it sound like it's all bogus. It's real need that's there. There's some people who are abusing the system, as always. But I don't think--

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: --you should write it off as that, Chip.

ROY: But you know as well as I do that the cartels are going to make - we had a report, came out a month ago saying the cartels are making $2 billion--

CUOMO: Yes.

ROY: --moving people across the Border.

CUOMO: They make a ton of money.

ROY: Not even talking about the narcotics. And they're abusing our asylum laws to do it. And so, we've got to actually address the issue at the Border, and not just have a Band Aid put on it with beds at HHS to house the kids. We need those beds, let me be honest, we need them. We need the beds. We need to deal with the families. But if you don't fix the asylum process--

CUOMO: I know. But why can't you do the beds first, Chip?

ROY: --if you don't deal with asylum officers, if you don't--

CUOMO: Do the - if--

ROY: Well I don't--

CUOMO: --if these weren't their kids, if these were our kids, and I'm obviously drawing a distinction as a point of emphasis, if these were kids from Texas, we would have gotten them the beds right away. We would have made sure they were safe--

ROY: Well--

CUOMO: --right away and well cared for right away--

ROY: But we're not--

CUOMO: --and then--

ROY: No, hold on.

CUOMO: --dealt with the worst.

ROY: But, Chris - Chris, hold on a second.

CUOMO: Yes, Sir.

ROY: We had an amendment on the floor two weeks ago, our last week, where we offered even just the $2.8 billion for those beds, and Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats voted it down like they don't care.

CUOMO: There was nothing else attached to the $2.8 billion.

ROY: This is a political issue for them.

CUOMO: My understanding was the $2.8 billion wasn't just beds.

ROY: They - they voted--

CUOMO: That it was other things that were in there also--

ROY: The $2.8 billion - the $2.8 billion was the HHS number that was important for the beds for the kids, not the 4.4, which is actually, in my opinion--

CUOMO: Right. That's a different number.

ROY: --more important to stop the flow.

CUOMO: Right. So, and then-- ROY: And that's what we need to do.

CUOMO: And--

ROY: Stop the flow.

CUOMO: One other thing because now we're - we're getting into this policy season, which is a good thing.

ROY: Sure.

CUOMO: The idea of hey, this wasn't paid for, this bill, amen to you--

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: --on that. You guys should make sure everything you give is paid for. You did not do it with the Tax bill though.

ROY: Yes.

CUOMO: And do you regret that that you put this tax? The President--

ROY: Well--

CUOMO: --calls it rocket fuel. I think it's low octane, at best, if you're looking at the numbers that just came out of the Congressional report, from a non-partisan point. You didn't pay for that one. So, why was it OK to not pay there, but this $19 billion has to be paid for?

ROY: Well I believe that all of the spending measures that we put forward should be a part of the budget and have a process that's balanced. If you want to have a debate about how much income we should have, you know, we've got a strong amount of income coming in as a result of the strong economy.

Now, you and I can agree or disagree on how much the tax cuts are causing economic growth. I think it's causing strong economic growth. I think the regulatory environment is creating strong economic growth. I think that's imperative.

What happened in the 1990s, Chris--

CUOMO: Right. But you know the deficit is huge because the cuts weren't paid for--

ROY: --the billion-dollar (ph) budget--

CUOMO: --and they haven't offset.

ROY: Right.

CUOMO: This new report says that it's--

ROY: No.

CUOMO: --less than 5 percent of what was needed to offset the cost, the amount of growth that they've brought in.

ROY: Yes, but that's not - but see - but that misses what happened. Look - what happened in the 80s and 90s, right? We had strong economic growth from lower taxes and lower regulations that led to unprecedented economic growth.

[21:10:00] And then, with the contract with (ph) America, Republicans came in and limited spending, and Bill Clinton, to his credit, went along with that with his era, big government is over. And by 2000, we had a balanced budget.

But today, we can't even get any of our Democrat colleagues to sit down at a table and have a conversation about spending restraint. We have a spending problem more than we have a revenue problem.

Now look, Chris, I'll be happy to sit at a table--

CUOMO: Right.

ROY: --with any of my Democrat colleagues, and have a conversation about what should be on the table.

CUOMO: Well lot of that spending came from this President's--

ROY: But you've got to have economic growth.

CUOMO: --last budget too. I'm just saying, look, you're making the right point, Chip. You guys got to sit down, you have to figure things out, especially where those kids are involved.

I just can't believe we're still watching and waiting and listening to the desperation for the men and women keeping us safe, and trying to--

ROY: But - and the--

CUOMO: --protect these kids.

ROY: --but the main point here - and I appreciate - I appreciate you focusing on this. The main point is the Speaker should have called us together and we should have debated it.

Instead of having one-minute speeches about people winning track championships or whatever, we should be on the floor of the House, debating the important issues, talking about these kids, talking about the cartels, talking about balancing the budget, having actual pay- fors for this kind of spending--

CUOMO: Right.

ROY: --and talking about how to get a disaster through--

CUOMO: Look--

ROY: --with a vote.

CUOMO: --I think you should do it. ROY: We just want a vote.

CUOMO: It'd be great. And then, when it moves to the Senate, you'll have to take it up with your colleague, Mitch McConnell because he won't put these things on the floor, but that's not your problem. Chip Roy--

ROY: Well--

CUOMO: --Congressman from Texas, Republican--

ROY: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: --thank you for making the case. You're always welcome on this show.

ROY: Let's go back to the Border.

CUOMO: We - listen, unfortunately, we're going to have to, and it's going to be soon. I'll give you a call when I'm on my way.

ROY: Yes.

CUOMO: Take care, Congressman.

ROY: All right.

CUOMO: Joe Biden is hitting back at President Trump who tried to weaponize Biden's support for the '94 Crime Bill. Has this President forgotten his ugly role in what led to that bill?

Jim Clyburn was on Biden's side back then, Democrat from South Carolina, and he has a tough message for those attacking the bill now. We have that next.

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CUOMO: All right, we got another player in the mix for you tonight. Two big issues for the Majority Whip in the House, the hold-up on disaster relief, and what he sees as a way forward, and the attacks on Biden about the '94 Crime Bill.

Now, this President's criticism about the Crime Bill is easy to dismiss. After all, his ugly and false accusations against the Central Park Five that group of Black and Hispanic kids falsely accused of a rape in the late 80s was part of what led to the calls for harsher punishment in that '94 Crime Bill.

But what about the shade from other Democrats running for President? Democratic Congressman from South Carolina and Majority Whip, James Clyburn says he has a message for them.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

CUOMO: Mr. Majority Whip, thank you very much for joining us on PRIME TIME.

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Well thank you so much for having me.

CUOMO: So let's start with this controversy from the weekend. First, looking at it broad view, do you believe that the President making the comments he made about the North Korean Leader in relation to the former Vice President, Joe Biden, was it so beyond the pale in your opinion?

CLYBURN: I think it was. One of the first things I learned in politics is how to respect this country, its leadership irrespective of what party you may be a member of, most especially, when you're traveling on foreign soil.

We have always learned not to criticize our President when he is on foreign soil. And certainly, the President ought not be tweeting insults back to the United States while he is on foreign soil.

CUOMO: The substance of the matter, if that was what it was ever about, was the '94 Crime Bill, and the idea that Joe Biden being for it is going to be an albatross.

Now, '94 was a long time ago. There was a lot of different things going on. You wound up being in favor of this bill because of the sum of its parts. Joe Biden makes the same argument. Is it bad for him?

CLYBURN: Well I don't think so. I think that we'd - we have to look even back beyond 1994. In 1986 and 1988, we had some crime bills that were very punitive, one of them at a 100-to-1, crack cocaine versus powder cocaine.

And in 1994, what we were trying to do is trying to reach some compromise on the piece of legislation that will reform those punitive things, and mix some kind of effort to have some prevention built into the law.

However, we lost the election that followed in November. And when we lost, our Republican friends defunded so much of the prevention stuff, increased funding for so much of the punitive stuff, the bill got out of whack. The whole law did. And that's what got us to where we are today.

CUOMO: Well-- CLYBURN: Nobody gives us credit. We revisited that in 2010. I worked very closely with Bobby Scott--

CUOMO: Right.

CLYBURN: --Congressman Smith on Republican side, and we finally got that 100-to-1 reduced to 18-to-1. So, we are making progress and made more progress with the recent bill passed earlier this year.

CUOMO: To the people who are running for President right now who are using the '94 bill as dividing line between how things used to be, and how they need to be now, do you have a word of caution for them, not just on using it against Biden, but in terms of how they understand what was done in '94?

CLYBURN: Well I wish some people will do a little more research and see exactly how we got to where we are.

The fact of the matter is we, on the Democratic side, did a yeoman's job in putting in the kind of prevent - the prevention programs, the preventive funding in the bill. And we got to understand.

On the punitive side, the Republicans wanted that, and we found a compromise that everybody could live with. All of a sudden, our Republican friends took out the prevention stuff, doubled down on the punitive stuff, and because they were in the majority, they were able to prevail.

[21:20:00] And so, I would caution my friends to - getting ready for the next election, to be very careful. Let's not be too unkind to people who find common ground on things. And remember, no matter who is in the majority of the day, they may not be there tomorrow.

CUOMO: So, how does that apply to what we're doing - dealing with right now with the relief bill?

To hear it from Chip Roy, "Look, we didn't get a chance to debate this. There's a lot of stuff in it that we don't like. Just because it came through the Senate doesn't mean that it's wholly responsible. We want proper process."

And, by the way, the Border, which is a nightmare, is getting no attention. It was supposed to be in here, and it isn't.

What's the weakness with that argument?

CLYBURN: Well I think that the weakness is we have been discussing this Disaster bill for a long, long time. We have passed disaster relief in the House.

You may recall, we passed a very comprehensive bill, sent it over to the Senate, the President said he agreed with it. All of a sudden, he got upset, did not want to approve funding for Puerto Rico, and therefore, we lost that battle.

I think that my Republican colleague is being a bit disingenuous when he says that we have not debated this issue.

CUOMO: Obviously, you recognize, Mr. Whip that what's going on at the Border is terrible, and it is being made worse by the inaction--

CLYBURN: Yes.

CUOMO: --from Congress and from the White House. I understand the argument that let the Disaster bill stand on its own. Fine. Why isn't there emergency-type action on something that is certainly an emergency?

CLYBURN: Well I think that we really need to come together. When you have divided government, you got the majority of Democrats in the House, a majority of Republicans in the Senate, and you got a President who seem not to want to find common ground.

I don't know why compromise has got to be such a bad word. A compromise is nothing but a process by which you seek common ground. Seeking common ground, to me, is an honorable thing to do in the legislative process.

And for some reason, this President seem to think it's got to be my way or the highway, and some of his friends in the Congress seem to be adhering to that. But that's not the way you legislate in a democracy.

CUOMO: Mr. Whip, thank you very much, appreciate having you on PRIME TIME, appreciate the perspective.

CLYBURN: Thank you so much for having me.

CUOMO: All right, God bless and be well.

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CUOMO: All right, so Van Jones has been praising this President for doing something to reform the criminal justice system. So, does he think the President is right about Joe Biden with respect to the '94 bill that we were just talking about with Clyburn?

A Great Debate with Steve Cortes, next.

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CUOMO: This President is throwing punches at Joe Biden tweeting "Anyone associated with the 1994 Crime Bill will not have a chance of being elected." And that he, this President is "Responsible for Criminal Justice Reform."

Sounds like the makings of a Great Debate. Let's bring in Van Jones and Steve Cortes.

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CUOMO: Good to have you gentlemen. I hope you had a good weekend. I hope you remembered the Fallen.

STEVE CORTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TRUMP HISPANIC ADVISORY COUNCIL HEAD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Van?

VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN HOST, THE REDEMPTION PROJECT WITH VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.

CUOMO: So, I don't want to go too deep down the road of what has already been done in this administration, what else might be done. The context of this is whether or not the President is right about the '94 Crime Bill, especially with respect to Joe Biden.

Your take?

JONES: Well look, let me just say, before we get into that that you now have - I'm happy.

Regardless, I'm happy, because for the first time in my adult life, and maybe in living memory, the President of the United States and the Democratic frontrunner are arguing who is the best on a criminal justice reform, not who's going to build more prisons, pass dumber laws, longer sentences, but who is going to be the best on fixing mass incarceration.

That is a tremendous watershed moment. Now, President Trump is wrong that, you know, Biden's record is going to make him unelectable on the point.

Trump has done better than anybody expected on the legislation. But on the administration, his Department of Justice is still doing bad, dumb stuff. So, you know, Biden can still hit him there. We can have a reason to debate.

But I just want to say to everybody, sometimes you got to take a step - step back, and take yes for an answer from both parties saying we've gone too far with incarceration, and both parties want to do better. That's a good thing.

CUOMO: Well let's see what happens when the economy changes, you know-- JONES: Well, fine, fine.

CUOMO: --when - when the economy is doing well, you don't have the same kinds of crime rates, you don't have the same kind of outcry.

JONES: We've had good economies and kept building prisons for 30 years, man.

CUOMO: It's true. It's true.

JONES: This is a good thing.

CUOMO: It's true. But, you know, look, I know '94 very, very well. It was a formative experience in my life. Why? Because that's when my father, Mario Cuomo lost, three-term Governor, very popular guy.

Why? Economy went south. He'd been there a long time. Crime was on the rise. The dominant cultural issue, you guys are both so young, at the time was the death penalty.

The country was for it. Mario Cuomo wouldn't shut up about being against it, and it wound up leading to the contract on America taking him out. So, I know the period well.

And one of the things that led to it, Steve, was an irrational fear of Black and Brown marauding criminals. We had these things in New York City, wilding, where people were running around.

Donald Trump was right in the center of it with false accusations against the Central Park Five. He has never apologized. He's never owned that he was wrong that he was part of that. He is connected to the '94 bill. He was part of the animus that led to the want for more harsh punishment.

How does he win on this?

CORTES: Well, Chris, first, he wins because I - and I think that's why the President's highlighting this right now is that when it comes to Criminal Justice Reform, in recent years, I'm not talking 1994, in recent years, the Conservatives actually occupy the high ground right now, which would occupy - which would surprise a lot of voters, I think, if they take a serious look.

[21:30:00] And not just President Trump, that's very important what he did with the First Step Act, but also when you look at the Governors, it's Republican Governors, people like Rick Perry, who's now in Trump's cabinet, who was a Governor of Texas, a place that's not known as being soft on crime, who closed prisons, and who said for non- violent drug offenders, instead of incarcerating them, let's give them treatment.

And not only because it's better for them and for society, but it's also better for the taxpayer, because it costs an enormous amount to engage in mass incarceration. So, the Conservatives are the ones who are saying we incarcerate too many people--

CUOMO: Conservatives have not led the way--

CORTES: --and for too long. So--

CUOMO: --on decriminalizing drug use, by the way. The First Step Act is a good thing.

CORTES: No. I--

CUOMO: It was a bipartisan thing. I'm glad Van worked with the people in the White House. But the idea that Conservatives are the ones leading the way in decriminalizing drug use, can't have that.

CORTES: OK. No, no, look - look who's - who's closing prisons in America? They are Conservative Republican Governors, and that is a fact.

JONES: Can I say something?

CORTES: That's not debatable.

CUOMO: I got one in my family who's doing the same thing.

CORTES: Yes.

JONES: Yes.

CUOMO: And last time I checked, he's not a Conservative Republican.

JONES: The - the - here's - here's what--

CUOMO: Go ahead, Van.

JONES: --here's - here's what I will say on - on both sides.

I think that the Democrats would be surprised to see that you've got, you know, Mississippi Governor Bryant has - has moved in a positive direction in reform, Governor Deal from Georgia.

So, you have a lot of Republicans, I agree with you, a lot of Republican Governors have been doing well on this. Democrats haven't given them credit, don't even know it's happening.

But what I'll also say is that, you know, Trump, though he did great on the legislation, Obama did better on the administration. You know, the Department of Justice implemented a lot of very smart policies that the Trump administration has rolled back.

And so, you're going to have both parties now, you can - will be able to point to good stuff that they've done, but also bad stuff that's been done, this is a constructive debate.

What I - if I were Biden now, I would not get sucked into this. Biden is making a big mistake to go and try to re-litigate 1994. It makes him sound old. It makes him sound like he's defensive. He just--

CUOMO: But he's getting hit from the Left on it, Van. JONES: But - but - but here's how - here's how Biden should handle this. He should just say, "Listen, we made - we - we did the best we could with - at that time."

When I was in the Obama administration, the Obama administration had good ideas on legislation, didn't get it passed, got stopped by Republicans, but also good ideas on the administration, our Department - our Department of Justice did really, really well.

Here's what I would do going forward. The more that Trump can trick Biden into talking about '94, the worse it is for Biden. The more that Biden can talk about what Obama did, and tried to do, and what he wants to do, the more he can win.

But no matter what, this is good for the country. Both parties being proud of backing us out of this ditch, and wanting to fight over that is a good thing. And other thing--

CUOMO: Yes. If that's what it is, I don't know that that's what it is. I mean, you know--

JONES: Well--

CORTES: And, Chris--

CUOMO: I - I get what the First Step is. But I think it's aptly named. It's one step.

JONES: Yes.

CORTES: Chris, I think this is--

CUOMO: And, again, Steve, you - let me bounce back to you because you ignored the premise of my initial question, which was--

CORTES: OK.

CUOMO: --Donald Trump has never apologized - I always call him Mr. President. But I'm talking about him then as a citizen. He wasn't President then, obviously back in the late 80s.

CORTES: Right.

CUOMO: He's never apologized for it.

CORTES: Right.

CUOMO: He thinks they still did it.

CORTES: Right.

CUOMO: I can't believe that he believes that. But he says it.

CORTES: OK.

CUOMO: And I don't know why he feels that he can have high ground on this with--

CORTES: Chris?

CUOMO: --what he did back then.

CORTES: Chris, I - I would love to get into all the facts of that night of what happened with the Central Park Five because they are not nearly as exculpatory--

CUOMO: All they had were their confessions.

JONES: No, hey, no, no, no, no, no.

CORTES: --toward those five gentlemen as - as you might want to believe they're--

CUOMO: All they had were confessions with a bunch a kids--

CORTES: No, they're not. And I - and--

CUOMO: --where they put them in separate rooms.

JONES: You're terrible.

CORTES: --and I know the facts.

JONES: Terrible.

CUOMO: I've read the books on it.

JONES: No, Steve.

CORTES: Hold on, I - I know the facts.

CUOMO: I lived it.

JONES: No, no, no, we're not--

CORTES: Very well. Now, listen, hold on a second.

JONES: --now. No, no, no, no--

CORTES: Hold on a second. And at best--

JONES: --no, no, no, no, I'm not guessing, no--

CORTES: --at best - at best--

JONES: I'm - no.

CORTES: You can't just say no a 1,000 times and not let me talk.

JONES: No. I'm not going to let you sit up here and lie.

CUOMO: Another guy's DNA was on the victim.

CORTES: At best - at best - at best--

JONES: No, no, I'm not going to sit up here and let you lie--

CORTES: Correct. And that was never in dispute, Chris.

JONES: --and - and smear the--

CORTES: I'm not lying. Chris, that was never in dispute at trial. The prosecutor in closing arguments said, yes, the actual rapist, the person who did--

JONES: Steve?

CORTES: --the physical insertion is not here on trial. That was established from the very beginning.

JONES: Steve, you are going to go back--

CORTES: You could be convicted of rape even if you're not the one--

JONES: No. Steve, this is - this is disgusting and pathetic--

CORTES: --who did the actual raping. Now, well--

CUOMO: So, they get five kids--

JONES: --on your part. You should be ashamed of yourself.

CUOMO: --and none of them was the one who did the raping?

JONES: You should be ashamed of yourself--

CORTES: Listen, at - at best--

CUOMO: You sound like the President.

JONES: --to be on - on air in 2019.

CUOMO: Who did the raping?

CORTES: At - no - at - at best--

CUOMO: None of those five guys--

JONES: Terrible.

CORTES: --what those five--

JONES: Terrible.

CUOMO: And then he says--

CORTES: The best case scenario for those five in Central Park that night--

CUOMO: And then he says-- JONES: You should be ashamed of yourself.

CUOMO: --the woman is going to have to live with this, and it's terrible.

JONES: Shame! Shame! Shame!

CORTES: --he's - all right.

CUOMO: Now he's - he's using the victim's tragedy.

CORTES: Can I - can I talk?

JONES: No. You can't because--

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Go ahead, Steve. But you can't pervert the facts.

CORTES: We get invited on to talk or no?

CUOMO: You can talk.

JONES: --the airwaves with garbage.

CUOMO: But you can't pervert the facts. Go ahead.

JONES: No.

CORTES: I'm - I'm telling facts.

CUOMO: But don't say - but don't say what's not true.

CORTES: No. A--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CORTES: A - OK. A fact - a fact is that it was never - there was - it was never a predicate at all. The prosecutor at the time did not say that the DNA, that the semen was from one of those five.

JONES: Sad, Man.

CORTES: And the best case scenario, the--

CUOMO: They didn't even bring it to trial.

JONES: You're a sad man, Steve.

CUOMO: They didn't introduce DNA at the trial.

CORTES: Hold on. The best--

JONES: Let it go.

CORTES: --the - the best case scenario - not - not - not DNA. Semen. That's why I said something different.

JONES: Terrible. Terrible.

CORTES: DNA was not in use at - at that time, you know.

CUOMO: It was.

CORTES: The best case scenario--

CUOMO: It was in its early stages.

CORTES: --the - the - well but it was no. It was not acceptable at that point in New York Court. It was not acceptable yet.

JONES: Let me - let me tell you. The best case scenario is that--

CORTES: Here's the - here's the best case scenario for those Five.

JONES: --you should stop lying.

CORTES: The best case scenario is that--

JONES: You should stop smearing these people who went--

CORTES: Can I talk?

JONES: No, not on this. No, nope, not on this.

CORTES: I mean did you bring me on to talk or not?

CUOMO: Go ahead.

JONES: I'm not going to - I'm not going--

CORTES: Yes. Oh, so I can't talk? So, I'm not allowed to--

(CROSSTALK)

CORTES: --I'm not allowed to review the facts of the case?

JONES: --to do. Because - because - because you're on the air--

CORTES: Because the facts of the case, Van--

JONES: --with this - with smearing these people who have went to prison and who were--

CORTES: The facts of the case are that in the best case, and if you put them in their absolute best--

JONES: --who were out of prison right now. They're out of prison right now--

CORTES: --light, they committed heinous acts of violence--

JONES: --because they were - they were railroaded-- [21:35:00] CORTES: --that night in the Park. Heinous acts of violence--

JONES: --by Donald Trump--

CUOMO: All right, let's end it there.

JONES: --and people like yourself.

CUOMO: Let's end it there.

CORTES: --even if they weren't guilty--

JONES: No, not going to let you do it. Not going to let you do it.

CORTES: --even - even if they weren't guilty of rape--

CUOMO: We can talk about the '94 bill

JONES: Not going to let you do it.

CORTES: Even if they weren't guilty of rape--

CUOMO: But until you guys decide to have Donald Trump own what he said--

JONES: No, Steve.

CORTES: --they were guilty of--

JONES: No. No.

CORTES: --violent assaults that night.

CUOMO: Listen--

JONES: No. They were railroaded and you should be ashamed of yourself, Steve.

CORTES: And that is not a dispute.

CUOMO: Yes. They were railroaded. You know it. You're protecting the President.

JONES: So sad, Steve.

CORTES: No.

CUOMO: You're doing it on the backs of kids.

CORTES: I am not.

CUOMO: They got paid $41 million for a reason.

CORTES: I am not. I--

CUOMO: This is why.

JONES: This is pathetic (ph).

CORTES: Listen, I would love to have a calm conversation with you--

CUOMO: He can never take the stain off of them.

CORTES: --about the facts of that case.

JONES: No, Steve, no, no, I used to - Steve, Steve--

CORTES: I'd love to.

CUOMO: You don't know that.

CORTES: Because I know them cold.

JONES: --you're disgusting tonight.

CUOMO: You don't know them cold.

JONES: Disgusting tonight, Steve. I usually try--

CORTES: I know them cold. And well then let's, Chris--

JONES: But you're disgusting tonight.

CUOMO: You don't - you don't know them cold.

JONES: You should be ashamed of yourself. Disgusting!

CORTES: --you and I can have a one-on-one debate about Central Park Five--

JONES: Disgusting! Pathetic!

CORTES: --and the facts of this case. I'd be back tomorrow night--

CUOMO: $41 million they paid those kids.

CORTES: --and we'll do it.

CUOMO: Donald Trump slandered them then.

JONES: Million.

CUOMO: And he knows it.

JONES: Terrible.

CUOMO: And he lives it to this day. He gets no high ground--

CORTES: No.

CUOMO: --on the '94 Crime Bill when he was part of the animus that led up to it. Gentlemen, thank you for making your cases, as always. Van, Steve, be

well.

All right, you've seen what's happening at the top Mountain - not on this show. Listen, you got to get the facts right. You go back, go back, and take a look. I'm laughing because it's ridiculous what was being suggested.

Now, what's happened at the top of Mount Everest? Things that didn't need to happen. These people were killed by congestion, OK?

Climbers can't get around one another because there's too many of them, trying to scale it at the same time in a small window. This is not what the metaphor of climbing the mountain was supposed to be about. This was not what the adventure was supposed to be about.

I'm going to take you through the facts of this situation and what they reveal, next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: Well thank God, it's almost over up on Everest. The dozens who are left in the Base Camp are not going to attempt to ascend after one of the deadliest seasons ever.

11 people killed, and it wasn't because of a single calamitous event, as we're used to hearing. This was different. Scores of climbers clamoring up a single route, creating a fatal traffic jam, all right?

Now, this is the photo that everybody was talking about. Look at this. I mean, are you kidding me? Now look, this is not an easy thing to ascend, obviously. And remember, you're doing this all at great detriment physically because you don't have the oxygen.

But, come on! Come on! 250 to 300 people, hours of delays in conditions that change in a matter of minutes, just to summit. On Everest, every minute is crucial, OK?

Now, let's just take a look at it, right? It doesn't look to scale like a big deal. But, come on, it's 12,000 feet. You're starting off at - at something that's going to be higher than anybody else is ever going to be on, unless they're on an airplane, all right?

Now, you don't want to be in a logjam up there in a place called the Death Zone, all right? It starts here, the Base Camp, all right? Now, this is what it looks like to you.

You know, you have all these people coming around, they're trying to acclimatize here before they make the trek, 18,000 feet, 50 percent of oxygen at sea level, all right?

It's all about thin air and getting the body used to it. What you can't control are the conditions. So now, you're not at your best. You got freezing temperatures, blizzards, avalanches. That's why you usually wind up having a death event.

Since 1922, the year that climbers have started recording the deaths, you had more than 200, OK? And why? Well most of them die up on the peak. That makes sense. Their bodies are frozen. You can't recover them because it's too dangerous and too expensive a task to retrieve them, frankly.

Now, most die, and as I said earlier, in what is called the Death Zone, above 26,000 feet. Well, why is it? Well, obviously, it's the highest. It's most dangerous. There's the least oxygen, we're not supposed to be there. The body cells literally start to die. Your judgment is impaired. The risk of heart attack, stroke increases dramatically, all right?

So, what we've seen in the past is that that's what's going to take you out. But now we have a new factor. 11 people are dead, you know. God bless them, the best to their families, and those who love them.

But this didn't need to happen. This is about overcrowding in that zone, all right? The latest fatality just yesterday was an American, 62 years old, Christopher John Kulish, and a 64-year old Austrian man also died. They died hours after actually summiting.

Now, this is not that unusual to die on the way back down. They made it to the 29,000 feet. That's like 20 Empire State buildings that they climbed, 33 percent oxygen. That means you're going up a big flight of stairs, and you're getting one out of every three breaths. I mean, just think about the deprivation.

Now, why on the way down? Well several factors. Let's take a look at them. You have altitude sickness. Like I said, the cells start to change. You're not supposed to be there, sickness from prolonged exposure, bad weather, smaller window to make back down.

So, you make this risk, right? All these things in life, the metaphor, scared money never wins, got to get to the top, coming back down, sometimes you're stuck. You're coming through a single route through Nepal, inexperienced climbers holding up the lines.

The permitting process has come under scrutiny. The Nepal government, specifically, is getting scrutiny because they failed to require proof of climbing experience for those that they issue permits to.

Now, one more title that this all raises for us. What is it that fuels our need to test our limits, no matter the risk? Why climb the mountain? What is the real test? Let's get into that with D. Lemon, next, now that we got the facts and situation under control. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: Why do you climb the mountain? Because it's there. Attack the obstacle, master the metaphor of overcoming, and the danger makes the success all the sweeter.

After all, that's what my motto "Let's get after it" is all about, facing the challenge.

But isn't there a balance being missed here with what we see in Everest? There is no small distance between testing limits and setting yourself up for trouble. What is happening on Everest warrants some straight-talk.

Let's bring in D. Lemon.

All respect and love for the people who make the trek, and really remember those who are gone, and my condolences to their families.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But when you look at that picture and understand what's going on, you do have to speak truth about what is it worth to get this achievement, you know, what will you go through to get what this is. What's your take?

LEMON: Well I - I'm going to speak to Woody Hartman tonight on my show, who took one of these pictures, and who just summited the mountain, and is down now, and he has really a - a very personal story about what it's like to come across dead bodies, and people who have lost consciousness.

And he actually said the exact quote that you said "Because that the mountain is there, and it represents the highest of what man can achieve, and - and maybe the toughest."

And, quite frankly, I think his best answer came when I said, you know what? Most regular folks will just ask you why you do it. And so, I'll save that for coming up.

I think it's - listen, I think it's tough. Before you would - before you could get the question out for me, if you, you know, you said to me, "Don, do - would you like to climb Mount - whatever, Kilimanjaro or Everest or whatever," it would be "No." I just don't - I think there are some things that humans should not do. And I - you know, but people do it, and more power to them. It's not for me.

CUOMO: And, look, and very often, it's life-changing for people.

LEMON: I'm sure.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: And it - it gives them a sense of themselves they didn't have. It could be empowering and motivating for the rest of their lives. I totally get it. I have friends who do it.

I am a risk-taker. I don't want to be called out as a hypocrite. I do a lot of things that are risky. I understand the risks. I try to calculate them. Sometimes, it works out. Sometimes, it doesn't.

But I think that you have to think about well what happens if it goes wrong? This is what I say to Mario all the time. My son is a huge daredevil. What happens if it goes wrong because--

LEMON: I saw him doing double jumps in the pool this weekend.

CUOMO: I will send you some pictures.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I turned around. I was washing the boat. I turn around, he is standing on a piling that's about this wide, 25 feet up in the air, and he's doing the Karate Kid thing, and then he's closing his eyes, and doing the yoga thing. Now, listen--

LEMON: Wait, do you remember - hold on. Do you remember the time he jumped off the boat?

CUOMO: Oh, yes.

LEMON: While you were gone - well we were going like 30 miles an hour?

CUOMO: Yes, like 30 miles an hour. He wanted to see how much he would skip. Look, he's one of those kids. He gets an adrenalin rush on things, and I get it. I get it. I was that way. I am still kind of that way with the fighting. But it does make you think--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --who's waiting for you at home.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: What is home about? What will be lost? What are you risking? I think those are real questions too. It's not just about climbing the mountain.

LEMON: Yes. I do risky things like pushing you and guests on television and getting in trouble. But--

CUOMO: That's risky enough these days.

LEMON: --I mean that risk is enough these days, but I'm not going to do that. Hey, listen, I got to tell you. You know, Bill Weld, who is a former Massachusetts Governor--

CUOMO: Sure.

LEMON: --running for President says that Trump prefers an Aryan Nation. I'm going to - he's going to join me. I'm going to ask him why he said that.

And you have got to stay tuned for my show. I was at the Pulitzer Prizes today at Columbia University. There was a surprise guest in honor of Aretha Franklin who got a posthumous Pulitzer. You want to hear her sing, amazing.

CUOMO: Oh, beautiful!

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I will do it. I'll be on the couch.

LEMON: Amazing grace as a matter of fact.

CUOMO: Picking ticks off my dogs.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I'll see you in a little bit.

LEMON: See you.

CUOMO: All right, why is this man smiling? Not yet. Wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it.

(VIDEO OF MITCH MCCONNELL)

CUOMO: That's close as you get. Why? Because he knows what he's going to do if there's another SCOTUS vacancy even in an election year. Merrick Garland who? So many are outraged about what Mitch McConnell said. I want you to hear it. But then, I want you to tackle the ugly reality, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CLOSING ARGUMENT.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: First fact in the argument, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refusing to put up Merrick Garland for a SCOTUS vacancy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): All we're doing, Chris, is following a long-standing tradition of not filling vacancies on the Supreme Court in the middle of a Presidential election year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Would he do the same thing if the President were in his party? Next fact, he said this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a Supreme Court Justice was to die next year, what would you do?

MCCONNELL: Oh, we'd fill it.

(CROWD LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Oh, the hypocrisy! Shame on McConnell! Poster child for perfidy, all things wrong with politics. Except, he isn't the problem, is he? He's a symptom like a fever rash, or clammy hands, or gas.

I now argue the reality, the root cause. Elections have consequences. Cue eye roll. Don't hear it in a judgy take-your-punishment kind of way. I don't mean it like that.

You control all of it, what McConnell does, what deals are made, they are all voted in or out these people, and they act out of fear of consequence, more than good conscience, you just saw it.

Witness McConnell for what he is. Witness the odd evolution of Senator Lindsey Graham for what it is. See, too many put too much emphasis on the players, and not the reality of who controls the game. We all hear it, and most say it.

Votes, "No, they're marginalized. They don't really count. It's all about the money, the elites, the insiders, the media, the whatever," and then you get Trump.

While one could easily argue that this President is an example of much of what his supporters say they are against, none of those influences was enough to prevail over people at the polls in the places that mattered.

That's why I argue it is a dangerous mistake to see this President as the root of your troubles. He is a reflection of what we have let our system become.

And in an odd twist, people saw things they wanted to change, things they hate, and they saw this President not as a cure, but almost like a virus, inserted into the corpus of politics to set about making it sick, as a way of, I guess, hopefully sweating itself out of the fever of favoritism they reject.

You're right to attack the players. Of course, decency is dead. Compromise is seen as capitulation, a word that draws on the idea of losing your head because of what you're doing. Sad. True.

But they don't control the game, not really. If you were to look at this and say, "I never want to see one of these guys do this again, I hate this," if you feel like that, and you're in Kentucky, there will never be another Mitch McConnell moment like this, if he gets voted out.

These people are only as bad as you allow them to be. Elections do have consequences. Remember your power, people. Remember it. Remember to use it.

This will be my clarion call to you during this election. It's all about you. You get what you want in a democracy. That's why Mitch McConnell is able to play the game because he has kept a player in it.

Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT with the one and only D. Lemon starts right now.

LEMON: Only what you're allowing them to be, you're so right, but you know what?