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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Mueller Reiterates He Didn't Clear Trump of Obstruction in First Public Remarks on Russia; Mueller Sets Record Straight on His Report; Chris Cuomo Talks with Newsmax, CEO, Christopher Ruddy; Expert: Dems Must Impeach Trump to Have a Chance in 2020. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 29, 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: --seems kind of like a habit of poor taste. President may not view Congress as an equal branch of government, but when it comes to hypocrisy about Supreme Court justice is, the White House may have just met its match in Washington and on "The Ridiculist" tonight.

And the news continues. Let's go to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME. Mueller was seen and heard and now there are more Democrats wanting action against the President.

Mr. Mueller said what he wrote. He was not allowed to charge the President and he would have cleared the President if the facts allowed but they didn't. So what is the way forward for Democrats and when will they decide? We have a top Dem, Senator Richard Blumenthal is there and he's going to give us some insight on that.

And wondering what the President was thinking, as Mr. Mueller was speaking and what it meant to him? MeToo, and we have someone who was in the room with the President right after Mr. Mueller's remarks, his longtime friend Chris Ruddy, the Head of Newsmax. He was with the President and now he's with us tonight.

And for all the talk about what Mueller couldn't do and wasn't allowed to do and what he didn't do, but what he thought he might do, he had one clear statement of concern about the integrity of our democracy and its being all but ignored. Is anyone focusing on how to protect our next election? Time to speak truth to power, what do you say? Let's get after it.

All right. Once and for all, together as one there was no exoneration. It was clear in the report. And for those of you who didn't read or didn't believe what the Attorney General was telling you and what the President was telling you was wrong. Mr. Mueller finally stepped forward and spelled it out plainly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL: A President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. The constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.

If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, Mr. Mueller said this is my first and hopefully last time speaking about the Russia probe, not so sure about that. Congress wants to hear from him. Now, both Speaker Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, they say nothing is off the table, so what will happen next?

Let's bring in a top oversight warrior. Senate Judiciary Committee Member, Richard Blumenthal, Democrat, Connecticut. Senator, always a pleasure.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Thank you. Good to be with you as always.

CUOMO: What did Mr. Mueller mean to you today?

BLUMENTHAL: What he meant to me was, Number One, the President of the United States would be in handcuffs - criminally charged, but for the fact he is the sitting President.

That's what almost 1,000 former prosecutors, including myself, federal attorneys general and assistant attorney generals said in effect that he would be criminally charged, but for that memorandum which articulates Department of Justice policy - not a rule, that the constitution forbids charging him while he's in office.

CUOMO: The DOJ put out a statement today, senator. Let's get to the second point in a second, but as a pushback on point one. The DOJ put out a statement in coordination with the press person from the Special Counsel's office saying, "There is no space between the DOJ and Special Counsel. That Mr. Mueller did not refuse to charge simply because of the policy against charging a President". Do you buy that?

BLUMENTHAL: There's no way anyone fairly reading what Bob Mueller said today can buy that claim. And just read the report if you need any confirmation of it. But the point is that, the American people need to hear from Bob Mueller himself on that point and others, and that's why he has to testify publicly, fully and fairly before the Congress, not just so that we can hear it, but the American people can judge for themselves.

CUOMO: He says he has no more information. So what's your second point? What was your second takeaway?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, the second point is the one that you have raised very powerfully just in introducing your show. His message to the American people is that the Russians are continuing their malign activity, a hostile counterintelligence operation against this country that was welcomed, aptly accepted by the trump campaign in 2016. And what happened then may just be the dress rehearsal for the attack they are mounting now and every American ought to pay attention to it. CUOMO: Any chance that Mitch McConnell would let you in bipartisan

fashion with one of our Republican colleagues mount an effort in that direction and you could sell it as offsetting what the House is doing.

As the House is figuring out what they want to do in terms of oversight, why don't we move on stopping the election? Show we're doing something, addressing all Americans' concerns. The poll numbers are sky high about concern about interference. You think he'd let you do that?

[21:05:00] BLUMENTHAL: That really is the question of the moment for me and many others in the Senate, as much as there's a focus also on impeachment and remedies for obstruction of justice or other criminal wrongdoing that are so powerfully set forth in this report.

Right now I am working with Republican colleagues on precisely that issue. I think there's more than a chance that Mitch McConnell would allow such legislation to go forward.

Just last week the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I, Lindsey Graham Republican of South Carolina as you know and a leading spokesman as well as activist for his cause and I collaborated on legislation to protect the election machinery against attack.

There's other bipartisan legislation that I am writing and collaborating with colleagues on that would, for example, require reporting of any approach or other kind of malign activity by a foreign government vis-a-vis a campaign.

I think the challenge for right now is to come together on that kind of bipartisan legislation that protects our democracy.

CUOMO: Good. I'll catch up with you on that. I'll reach out to Senator Graham and see if we can advance that cause as a public interest,, because it's exactly what it is.

Now on the other side, impeachment proceedings or continue down the road of oversight hearings, which do you recommend for the House?

BLUMENTHAL: There have to be hearings. There have to be public forum where Bob Mueller and his team and others and the underlying evidence that is the backing for his report, the facts the documents and other evidence are presented to the American people.

Think about Watergate for the moment. At the beginning of those hearings which preceded any articles of impeachment about 18 percent of the American people favored that outcome. It doubled after the hearings.

And so the American people need to see and hear Robert Mueller. The outcome today in terms of the focus, I think, reflects a fundamental fact, the face and voice matter so much and the power of television--

CUOMO: True.

BLUMENTHAL: --as you well know you can have such an enormous impact-- CUOMO: No question, people aren't going to read the report. They're not even going to read the reporting about the report when you see in here. Because, look let's be honest, Mr. Mueller didn't say anything today that you didn't know, he didn't say anything today that I hadn't read. But seeing and hearing it has impact. We're living it right now in this moment discussing it.

But you say there have to be hearings. Well, what kind of hearings? They can have hearings right now senator without starting impeachment proceedings, why should they then go that route?

BLUMENTHAL: They should have hearings right now and whatever they call it would be the same subject and it would be the face and voice of those witnesses, most prominently Robert Mueller, who has a real responsibility here. It's part of the job that he took when he agreed to be Special Counsel. That he would testify before the American people.

And you're absolutely right, what he said today was virtually word- for-word what's in the report. He cut and pasted the report. He highlighted it in great big red letters and exclamation points, but it had such power coming from him, because it could be played for people to see in here. They won't read the book, but they'll watch the movie.

CUOMO: So you don't think the House has to go down the road of impeach me right now? You believe there's time to try and do it just with oversight hearings?

BLUMENTHAL: I think that these hearings can be characterized and can be seen in the eye of the beholder and they may well lead to impeachment. As in Watergate, the facts need to be presented to the American people.

They need to hear the case, just as you have been presenting it. But till now, without the voice and face of Robert Mueller--

CUOMO: True. If people will comply.

BLUMENTHAL: He is the most credible.

CUOMO: If people will comply, it would be great for people to see and hear and judge for themselves. That gets you into legal avenues of resistance. Maybe if you go impeachment, you get some more deference from the courts. There's still a lot to work out. But we saw today the power of the word and the face when put together on the screen.

Senator Blumenthal, thank you for participating in this television show tonight. Thank you very much.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right be well.

BLUMENTHAL: Thanks.

CUOMO: All right. So, look, we've been arguing this year for weeks - we got to hear from the Special Counsel. He's the only fair broker on this. Now, look the Right is eating him for lunch, because they don't like the impact that he had today. That was to be expected.

But there are glaring points of contrast between Mr. Mueller, the AG and this President and we have them for you now to digest as you like. Next.

[21:10:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Bob Mueller is not on the same page with the AG and POTUS. Exhibit A, the POTUS position on the probe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a total witch hunt. I've been saying it for a long time. Witch hunt. Witch hunt. Witch hunt. This thing's been a total witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The Special Counsel--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: The need for "Full and Accurate Information" is of paramount importance. Now on that point it would seem our AG arguably misrepresented the reason President Trump was not charged with obstruction. In fact, he did so at least six times, including this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: He was not saying that but for the OLC opinion he would have found a crime. He made it clear that he had not made the determination that there was a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now we know why those two guys behind him we're looking like that the whole press conference. It doesn't match up. Why does Mr. Mueller keep saying the opinion is what kept him from pursuing and that Congress has a role in moving it forward.

[21:15:00] And why didn't Mr. Sessions or Mr. Rosenstein tell us a year ago that there would be no charge as possible against the President? Why are people thinking something was possible when it wasn't suspicious?

However, what is not suspicious as Mr. Mueller's mindset. He put it in writing back in March when he complained about Mr. Barr four-page memo that it did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of Mr. Mueller's work.

He said his hands were tied as his first point in that part of the report. And the man described as a Sphinx for the last two years doubled down today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: Under long-standing Department policy a President cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: If it wasn't a fundamental part of his inaction, why does he keep mentioning it? Here's why, because of what came out from the White House just hours later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Mueller spent two years. Did an exhaustive investigation and came back to say that there was no wrongdoing by the Trump campaign or any American--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: That's just not true. Just like he said in his report, this lifelong Republican, Mr. Mueller says, if he could clear the President he would so state.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Instead Mr. Mueller laid out five instances in his report that all met his own high bar for obstruction of justice. Look, we've been arguing for a long time that we needed to hear from Mr. Mueller, this is why.

You can say the President was exonerated, but he wasn't. You can say this was a hoax, but it never was. The attack on our election happened. It may well be worse than next time. And while the President continues to tell you it wasn't the Russians, Mr. Mueller says it was and it was bad and it should be a major concern for every American, that's what he said and that's the truth.

And it is now clear that the power of the presidency was abused to try and hide the truth. The only question that remains is what happens next, so let's take that question up. Options and realities from a top prosecutor and a political and Intel Pro. They look like the new cast of a major motion picture. But they're with us tonight.

[21:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: Mr. Mueller made it clear today, if he could have cleared the President of obstruction, he would have. Instead, he mentioned a different process that could hold the President accountable. Was he referring to impeachment? He definitely was talking about Congress.

Cuomo's Court is in session tonight with Laura Coates and Mike Rogers, good to have you both. First, this twisted statement that came out of the DOJ and Special Counsel afterwards saying, "there's no space between us", Mr. Mueller did not predicate is in action with obstruction on anything to do with the counsel's guidance. Do either of you believe that?

LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No.

CUOMO: You're answering for both. How about you Mike, is she a proxy?

MIKE ROGERS, (R) FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: You know and this one, I - it's a head-scratcher for sure.

CUOMO: I mean, let's just - look Mike you've been there, OK. You were at the highest echelons of Intel work while you were in the house and before. You know what it's like with the DOJ. Why continue - not to lie, but why continue to shade everything in deference to the press when the facts are clearly not that way?

ROGERS: Well, I mean, I think that - answer to that is politics, of course. And so there are people on the Left who say this is the worst thing ever and we're going to beat him till he don't move no more. And there are people on the Right that are saying nothing ever happened ever, and why we should move along? And as always, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

And so, what I - it's interesting to me, I think Barr was trying to put the happy face on what he saw. I don't know if it was - I can't say that he would be doing this maliciously. But what I think would be really important is to have Mueller actually testify at Congress because you could get a lot of these questions answered.

And now he's a free citizen. I think I would be surprised if Congress doesn't subpoena him to come up and have a conversation where they can ask them those questions on the obstruction piece.

I think the Russian collusion piece, I hope they get busy about how we defend ourselves going forward, that would be a really important thing.

CUOMO: It was good to hear Blumenthal say that is working with Graham on getting something done. I know it'll get no pick up, even the media won't give a damn about that. And you - we all know that's - my closing argument tonight is why the President should care about it more than anybody else and I'll argue that later.

So, Laura --Mike, I'll give them the middle road here, it's not a hedge, because you got Left, Right and then reasonable in politics but not in terms of avenues forward. There is no third way for the Democrats here? They either go heavy on impeachment and hope for deference from the courts that they can get things done faster, but there's a political cost or they continue going this way. How do you see it?

COATES: Well, Mueller essentially told them that they're limited in their choices. Their idea of trying to perhaps stall and kick that can down the road, to answer that very question Cuomo, does not lay with Mueller.

Remember, I think of the plan for Democrats oftentimes was we'll wait and see when he's testifies. We'll be able to pick down the road. Mueller said actually, I'm going to go ahead and speak right now and I'm telling you that you always had the answers in front of you.

This process of which I speak, you already knew was available, and so it makes them expedite this entire process. And I think the only reasonable thing to do at this point, not because the outcome is certain or because a conviction is eminent, but the fact of the inquiry needs to be started.

Because Mueller has, listen here's all the information you have. I can lead you to water, but I cannot make you drink. You can only open an inquiry and figure out whether the report is substantively informed enough for you to conclude a high crime or misdemeanor inquiry should be raised and I can't do anything more about that. It's not really a constitutional crisis, Chris, it's a political one.

[21:25:00] CUOMO: Yes. Listen, I mean, I don't believe - there's any reason for hyperbole here except you know that's the President's the game, not ours on this show. They should keep marching forward. But here's the risk, Mike - Coates is right as always, the legal acumen is there. But there's a risk involved.

Yes 67 percent or so of Democrats say impeach, but we know what they mean, they mean remove. You're not going to get removal. People keep comparing it to Nixon. This ain't Nixon. There was no Mueller probe. They found a felony there and they found that he was integral in that, that's when it changed the numbers, you're not going to get that here. What is the political plus, minus?

ROGERS: I think it hurts Democrats if they try to go into impeachment now in the next - think about the election is in 17 months. It's got to take that long to get the first subpoena served, I think, is that - on the current schedule.

I mean, I do think that they - if they wanted to do this to - in their terms the correct way, they can continue down the investigative path, have public hearings, try to make the case. And if it rose to the level where people on both sides of the aisle said, "Hey, this is an impeachable offense, we've got to do something" then I could take that up.

I just think now from the public's perspective, as you said earlier, nobody's read the report. They look at this and it looks like a big squabble when they've got real-life problems at home - and oh by the way, the Russians are trying to steal our elections. So I think it would be a mistake for them to go down this road. I think there's so many other really important things that they should be doing. I think it hurts them going into - I don't care if it says 67 percent.

Those hearings will get tiresome in hurry, because if you - if it looks like a courtroom - Laura certainly can expound on this. If it looks like a courtroom introducing evidence, that's just not good TV, that stuff can be really, really tedious.

CUOMO: Let's flip it though. Because Laura, Mr. Mueller didn't say anything that you didn't know today. And yet, because he said it and people heard it and watched it, it resonated.

COATES: The power of television, when you have the ideas of primacy and recency, the first thing you heard, the last thing you heard, you were actually able to look at it - like the jury looks at the person and says, "Oh, do I believe this person - do I think what they had to say was poignant enough, was there gravitas".

Here's why I disagree with Mike, though, on the issue of impeachment being so politically unmanageable. What the Congress has been saying all along is that no one is above the law. Well, if they treat it as an exercise in futility and say, you know what, for us to endeavor as opposed to running out the clock.

This is not a sports game where the American people are watching and saying you know what let's run out the clock until you have a rock and a hard place for choices again perhaps in the election.

Instead, the power of Congress is also reliant, as is the power of the executive and showing that there truly "equal branches" of government. If they choose not - it choose to instead weaken themselves and say we're not going to endeavor, then they have placed the President about the law.

Again, I'm not assuming there's an actual conviction or removal at the end of whatever rainbow we're speaking of. But certainly, not to even try because you want to run out the clock and because, the presumption is the American people would rather talk about kitchen table issues than the fact that they're that they're Congress is not as powerful as they promised to be in an election, that's a huge issue.

Talking about the interference in the election, Congress even risks their own election if they don't act.

CUOMO: All right.

ROGERS: I just got to jump in here in for a minute.

CUOMO: Please, please.

ROGERS: Laura and I don't normally disagree, but on this one I do. Congress has a very important role. When they're firing the number of subpoenas they are that are not getting serviced, I completely agree with you, Congress looks feckless, it's because is this shotgun approach.

If you're going to do this, then you need to set it up through investigative prerogative of Congress, and you need to be focused and you need to be quiet - not every one of these things should be a 20 minute TV run to the microphones event, and that's exactly how they've handled it.

And what it does to the American public is it completely turns them off to the process. They don't believe either side. You have both - good Americans on both sides of this and I don't know what's going on back there, but it looks awful.

And so that's that I think more of a risk for the United States Congress. They - just to say that they have to because it's only 17 months they should start the process, I just it's premature. Even though Mueller said - he never has really said Congress needs to do it. He's hinted around it.

Well, bring him up. Have them have a conversation. To me that would be a really important start. But focus it on not the YouTube moment for every member to get on TV, but a thorough investigation. You're talking about impeaching a President of United States - if you like them or don't like them, irrelevant.

This is major and the world looks at us. And I'm worried that we do this kind of in a willy-nilly way, that's all about political base that we hear - mentioned about every 30 seconds, and not about the institutions of both the Senate and the House and the executive branch, that's what I worry about.

[21:30:00] CUOMO: All right, let's see how it plays out. Let's leave it there. Guys, well argued on both sides. Looking we're going to know soon. They're going to have to make a decision at some point. Laura Coates, Mike Rogers, thank you very much.

I would be a great idea. If they want to play to advantage, who is there going to be the first one to reach across the aisle and say, "Hey, will you work with me, so we can get something done on how to protect the elections? I heard they're doing it in the Senate. Graham and Blumenthal, they couldn't be on more opposite sides with the President, but they're working together. Why don't we show the people that we give a damn about the democracy?" Who will do that?

All right. Next, I want to bring in somebody with valuable insight into how the President is handling this Mueller news, Mr. Christopher Ruddy was with him earlier in the Oval Office today. They are friends. What was the President's state of mind? He's firing off more tweets tonight. You know what that means. The Head of Newsmax, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Innocent, that is how the President described himself today despite the Special Counsel clearly saying that he and his team did not make a determination as to whether Mr. Trump did or did not commit a crime. So is this President purposely ignoring Mr. Mueller or is this just more of the same? Let's bring in someone who was with President Trump in the Oval Office shortly after Mr. Mueller's remarks, the President friend, Newsmax, CEO. Mr. Christopher Ruddy, welcome back to PRIME TIME.

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, NEWSMAX CEO: Chris, thanks for inviting me on.

CUOMO: It's good to have you. Give us a general sense. How was Mr. Mueller received by our President?

[21:35:00] RUDDY: Well, let me say, the President just got back from Japan. He was swearing in Kimberly Reed, the great new Chairwoman of the Export-Import Bank. He was in a really good mood. He's talking about this is going to probably create another million jobs. This is a President that's already created 6 million jobs. He's on pace Chris two be the biggest job creator if he serves two terms as President in the history of the United States.

Everybody thinks he's sitting around worrying about to Twitter or Mueller or - I think the thing that gets him most excited is the things he's doing. He's the results President. And what we were talking about interestingly enough at the end of the swearing-in, he and I, was that his poll numbers are so good because the media, like yourself missed the story. It's not about Mueller, it's not about Russia which was an empty story, it's about the results that he's delivering.

CUOMO: Well, hold on--

RUDDY: And that is not lost on the American people.

CUOMO: Hold on, hold on a second. I'm fine with you are arguing--

RUDDY: I'm not going anywhere.

CUOMO: No. But I'm saying I'm fine with you arguing that the American people have other interests than just this, but let's be very clear.

RUDDY: OK.

CUOMO: One, Russian interference wasn't an empty story, you've heard from every echelon of intelligence put in place by this President that it is a major threat to our democracy, it's a major threat going forward. Mr. Mueller ended his comments with that today. It's certainly not empty. And if you say the President doesn't care, why is he tweeting so much about it?

RUDDY: Look, the President - he's a type of guy that likes to respond. He doesn't take things sitting down.

CUOMO: I know, you guys always say that, he's counterpuncher. But if we didn't care, he wouldn't say anything. That's all.

RUDDY: This - Chris--

CUOMO: Yes, sir. RUDDY: This investigation cost the public $40 million, 500 witnesses,

two years. The President cooperated fully. I mean, he didn't exert his executive civil--

CUOMO: He didn't

(CROSSTALK)

RUDDY: This - well, he did written responses, but he had his lawyer - his deputy counsel said sit for 30 hours and at the end of the day what does the report say? That there was no evidence.

The purpose of the investigation was not to find if Russia interfered in the election, we know they did. We knew that before the investigation started.

CUOMO: The purpose was President says that it didn't happen--

RUDDY: --jurisdictional for Robert Mueller, let me finish - let me finish--

CUOMO: It's a bad fact--

RUDDY: The jurisdiction for Robert Mueller was, was there collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, after $40 million and 500 witnesses - look, I said to the President today. They knew within three or four months there was nothing to the collusion story.

CUOMO: Not collusion, criminal conspiracy. There was collusion--

RUDDY: --there were there was no evidence of conspiracy, no evidence of collusion--

CUOMO: There was evidence of collusion.

RUDDY: Mueller said today in his press conference.

CUOMO: He did not say that. He didn't say no evidence of collusion.

RUDDY: He said that we found no evidence that - he said Chris, did you watch the same thing I did?

CUOMO: Every second.

RUDDY: He said, he said we found no evidence - we found no evidence that the Trump campaign worked with the Russians.

CUOMO: True there was any criminal conspiracy--

RUDDY: This was a really strange press conference today. He says - first of all, he says there's a Department of Justice policy says, I can't indict a sitting President.

CUOMO: OK.

RUDDY: So he's abiding by that policy. Then he says, but I've decided - I've made up a new policy. I've decided I'm not going to say whether he committed a crime or not, because we can't indict him, therefore I'm not going to say or conclude. I think he knows what I know, which is that there's no evidence that the President or someone close to him and his campaign staff committed any crimes.

And so now they're putting this into a very political gray area by not doing a conclusion. What prosecutor have you ever heard in the history of prosecution says, I'm not going to say you committed a crime. I'm not going to say you didn't commit a crime.

CUOMO: None. But this is the first one--

RUDDY: You're either guilty of innocent.

CUOMO: I've ever seen with their hands tied.

RUDDY: This is bizarre.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: His hands were tied.

RUDDY: Chris, what's the evidence - tell me what you think is the most pressing evidence of obstruction? This is the only issue they've got for impeachment. What - what's the issue? The President I chat about this today. There is no evidence.

CUOMO: I don't know about what they are arguments are for impeachment. I think they had several arguments for impeachment. I'm not going to judge them, because they have to make them.

RUDDY: But tell me was the--

CUOMO: There was a pattern, but why this President of behavior that was calculated to stymie and frustrate the efforts of getting to the truth in this investigation. You could argue with the abuse of power.

RUDDY: Tell me what is the evidence - I want to know. Tell me one - I'll sit here for an hour. Tell me what is the one piece of evidence the President engaged in obstruction, which would be an impeachable crime? Give me one piece of evidence he did that.

CUOMO: His consistent efforts to work on Comey and people around him to get to people involved with this investigation, and to get to people who would be witnesses and to try to control testimony and try to control the process. Even though he oversaw it--

RUDDY: He never did any of that.

CUOMO: It could be seen as an abuse of power.

RUDDY: I've read those reports. I've read those reports, there's not one piece of evidence he ever tried to manipulate the witness.

CUOMO: On the five counts - they are on the screen right now Mr. Mueller and his team found significant evidence that these things happened. And I could see politicians arguing, we don't want this in our presidency. I could see it.

[21:40:00] RUDDY: I'm looking at the screen here, but I--

CUOMO: Ask - trying to fire Mueller--

RUDDY: None of those things--

CUOMO: Asking McGahn to lie, attempting to limit Mueller's scope, messing with Cohen's testimony, interfering with Manafort's cooperation deal.

RUDDY: None of those things happened. OK? He never fired Mueller.

CUOMO: They say they have significant proof of all of those things.

RUDDY: --you can think about firing Mueller, but he never tried - he fired Mueller. I mean, if he, would he fully cooperate. I personally think he cooperated well beyond what any reasonable person should have done.

CUOMO: Why didn't he testify?

RUDDY: He had his - well, I mean, I think after 500 witnesses and you--

CUOMO: He is the only one that mattered.

RUDDY: --two years--

CUOMO: He was the one they were looking for--

RUDDY: --press conference today, I'm glad he didn't testify.

CUOMO: I'm sure you are. I think he made a great move--

RUDDY: Because I don't think that--

CUOMO: --personally not testifying. I think he would have been in a jam, had he.

RUDDY: I think this is a highly political investigation. I - you know, I was somebody that in the past said very nice things about Robert Mueller. I did not think he was a partisan person.

CUOMO: Now you are doing.

RUDDY: But I was shocked by his press conference today.

CUOMO: You think he's leftist?

RUDDY: Well, for him it sounded very political, because he's basically saying I'm not going to say either way whether I think he committed crime or didn't, but I'm not going to clear up--

CUOMO: It's interesting Chris, because you know what I heard - I heard him saying, they say, I'm not allowed to say this. So I'm going to bend over backwards to be fair and say, not only am I going to say I wasn't allowed to charge him--

RUDDY: And you're capable of it. I have to admit, you're capable of it.

CUOMO: No, I'm not going to say that. Because here is what I wanted to hear him say, just for a point of clarity, because it seems so obvious, if he were not President, I would have charged him. That's what I wanted to hear him say just so that it could be straight without to all the double negatives or triple negatives.

Instead he said, I'm not allowed to charge and then he went down this tortured road of fairness. And even if I could charge, I wouldn't charge because he can't have a trial, so it's not fair. But if they were proof that he didn't commit a crime I would tell you, and I didn't. And if I could exonerate him, I would, but I can't.

You know I thought that was all tortured fairness, because prosecutors aren't in the business with exoneration.

RUDDY: OK. Well, you and I are on the same page. I think it was a disservice to the public after two years and $40 million and 500 witnesses and the President cooperating so much, I think the President looks at this. We talked about it briefly today.

It was highly political. We're now entering the political campaign season. The Democrats would like nothing more to have an impeachment process. Not that there was any underlying crime, which we already know that there wasn't. I mean we all agree there's no evidence of Russian collusion between the Trump campaign--

CUOMO: There were collusive acts by people around him and his campaign, but there was no criminal conspiracy according to Mueller. Let me ask you one thing before I let you go. Do you think the President will now acknowledge the next time he's asked, yes Russia interfered and we have to stop it from happening again.

RUDDY: Well, I think if you look back carefully, he has said things that he thought Russia did play a role.

CUOMO: What?

RUDDY: I believe that if you look at this - the biggest the biggest damage to our system was Director Comey holding that press conference about Hillary Clinton, clearing her, and then reopening an investigation to into her e-mails a week before the election.

CUOMO: Yes, he was--

RUDDY: That was a far bigger danger to our democracy to have the FBI Director so blatantly political. I think Russia, if you look at the actual amount of money that they purportedly spent--

CUOMO: Look at the reach they have.

RUDDY: It's relatively small in terms-- CUOMO: But who cares about the money. You keep mentioning that $40 million in probe, it's less than half what we spend on getting the President back and forth through his golf outings. You know money is relative. What I'm saying is the President keeps denying interference happened, I think how are we going to stop it? Where is the political will--

RUDDY: I think there's a few other Presidents there like - there's a few other Presidents that like to play golf a lot too.

CUOMO: Sure. It's just this one promised not to play at all and he's played more than anybody in this amount of time.

RUDDY: It's a shame--

CUOMO: I wanted--

(CROSSTALK)

RUDDY: --because there's so many - that there's so many issues the American public - really the infrastructure thing, there's pressing needs on education--

CUOMO: I agree. I think he should be doing it. Why does he have to hold them hostage like that and say if you investigate me I won't do infrastructure, he should do both.

RUDDY: Well, the truth is, the President - I don't think we've had a President than more willing to deal make and--

CUOMO: Just backed out of this deal.

RUDDY: --some of these done. And the Democrats are moving into a very highly political investigate, highly-charged, after we just spent - went through two years and $40 million and 500 witnesses. I'm going to keep repeating that, because it's so silly for him to give a press conference and say, "But, I don't know he committed crime and I won't say he didn't".

What? I mean, you know why is - why do we have to go through this? Now we're going to have to go through an year-long impeachment process in the middle of an election. Again, the public's going to see through it.

CUOMO: Well, we'll see.

RUDDY: And all of these pressing things that this country is behind in--

CUOMO: Listen, I see no reason--

RUDDY: --we should be addressing and I think this President--

CUOMO: --not to have it done. And I think this President should talk to Mitch McConnell, get things put on the floor.

RUDDY: So we should--

CUOMO: Get things going.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: or this - should do both. I'm always pushing progress. I just said I have Lindsey Graham and Blumenthal on the show to talk about their efforts to help secure the election going forward. I'm all for it Chris, I got a job--

[21:45:00] RUDDY: I have to say of the host--

CUOMO: Yes, sir.

RUDDY: I think you are fair on this. So I appreciate you.

CUOMO: Chris Ruddy, you're always welcome here.

RUDDY: Thank you Chris.

CUOMO: Even when I'm unfair, you're still welcome here. Be well and thank you. All right. So a man how has accurately predicted the last nine elections, he says, the Democrats should go for impeachment. Why? D. Lemon says he'll tell me, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: American University Professor Allan Lichtman predicted Trump's victory in 2016. In fact, he's correctly picked the winner of the last nine Electoral College outcomes. Now he's saying this. If Democrats want a chance at 2020, they are going to have to impeach Trump. I don't get it. D. Lemon says he does, so how about it brother?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: I do get it that he was on the show May 10th, just a couple weeks ago, seems like two years ago and said that the thinking on impeaching this President, especially for Democrats, is counter-intuitive.

And he lays out a list of reasons why incumbents have an advantage and if Democrats want to chip into that one way is to impeach him, because that takes away some of his credibility when it comes to not having a scandal in his column.

[21:50:00] He's going to join us that's quick tease (ph) he will be here as well as the fascinating and always candid Sheila Jackson-Lee Congresswoman--

CUOMO: What?

LEMON: On the Judiciary Committee.

CUOMO: She told me she was sick she couldn't do TV tonight.

LEMON: Well, she got well for me. We sent a doctor over to take care of her, and get it all down. So Allan Lichtman will explain that and Sheila Jackson-Lee will be on as well. CUOMO: That is a good show. But help me just with this - just give me a nibble on this. I know you don't want to give away the show.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He's had so many scandals already, how would going after him on impeachment, make the case to people that he hasn't been and on free?

LEMON: OK. I'll give you a quote, Democrats are fundamentally wrong about the politics of impeachment and their prospects for the victory in 2020. An impeachment and the subsequent trial would cost the President a crucial fourth key, which is one of those keys I talked about, the scandal key. Just as it cost Democrats that key in 2000, that's all I'll give you.

CUOMO: Listen guys--

LEMON: --Clinton.

CUOMO: Yes, I got. He's nine for nine, so it's hard to argue with them. But this is a tough one. I have to watch. I'll be seeing what he says. D. Lemon thank you for that.

LEMON: See you in a bit.

CUOMO: All right. OK. So what do we have here? What should the Democrats do when they pursue it with oversight or not? Mr. Mueller made sure today that for all the intrigue surrounding what should happen going forward, and let's be fair, Mr. Mueller was living out of like a rush song today. Even if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice, and he created some confusion.

But he made one thing very clear. He said one thing should concern us all, and ironically it is the one thing that none of your lawmakers are harping on. The argument, next.

[21:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Page 1 of the Mueller Report, what does it say? The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. The last thing Mr. Mueller said today was this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MUELLER: And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election and that allegation deserves the attention of every American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: But it ain't getting it. Hacking capabilities only getting better. Social media propaganda, bad guys are clearly ahead of the platform's ability and willingness to stop them. Election infrastructure, still vulnerable. It happened in 2016 and the experts say it will happen in 2020, more sophisticated, even.

Russia learned, what worked, what didn't. POTUS refuses to recognize this reality with denials like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be. I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: He's strong and powerful, all right, over your sense of perspective on this. Man, was that embarrassing. In fact, Former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tried to make hardening the election a priority then she was shown the door. She was told not to even bring it up in front of POTUS.

DNI Dan Coats, Director of Intelligence, he released a worldwide threat assessment, the first topic before weapons of mass destruction, cyber threats. And it says Russia is already looking to 2020 in developing new tactics to influence the election.

And now Mr. Mueller centers it for you today. Look, it matters what Congress decides to do about the President's arguable abuses of power. Of course, it does. But they're missing a bigger concern and ignoring something that is a certainty.

No allegations, no maybes, no proof, but not beyond a reasonable doubt. This is 100%. Russia came for us, Russia did, and they're coming again and we ain't ready.

And unlike the President's son-in-law who says the investigation hurt American democracy more than Russia did, no one who knows a damn thing about anything to do with securing our country or our elections thinks that Russian interference is a small deal. Mueller knew what you wanted to hear, but he ended by mentioning this problem. Remember that.

Now, as for the President, as you just saw or how i reminded you, he would rather embarrass this country on a world stage and all but congratulate Mr. Putin for his efforts, but he's making a mistake, not just on the facts but his feelings.

He thinks denying Russian interference is good for him, but he's not seeing it right. If they do it again and get better and get at the votes this time, god forbid, and they help him win again and he wins, well, how can that result be accepted?

If people know it was interference and played and this time they get to the votes? People think this President ignores interference because he thinks the Russians will help in and it's good for him, they're wrong.

If we know it was happening and there is any proof of actual interference with votes, which is clearly their goal, the concern should not be this President refusing to leave office if he loses. It should be a country that refuses to recognize his right to stay if he wins. Think about it.

A President who is focused on his self-interest should be worried about what the Russian do next, and it isn't. Any way you look at it on a day filled with confusing and conflicting thoughts and double and triple negatives about what Mueller was not allowed to do and what he didn't say about what he would if he have to do, he didn't have to.

This was positively clear Russia interfered. They're going to do it again and seeing how effectively their efforts put us at each other's throats, they have every incentive to go bigger than ever. Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT with D. Lemon, right now.