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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Trump: "The FBI Director Is Wrong"; Bernie Sanders Makes Case For Democratic Socialism; Fans Praise Keanu Reeves' "Hands-Off" Photos With Women. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 12, 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: --and I assume we will again.

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

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

The President said out loud on video tonight there's nothing wrong with taking dirt from Russia on an opponent, and he's open to doing so in 2020. He's also bucking his own FBI Director about disclosing any foreign interference, so much for all those denials about any willingness to enable interference.

We're going to get reaction in a moment from a candidate vying to go up against President Trump next year. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado is here.

Now, another question, do admissions like this from the President provide even more ammo for impeachment? We're going to ask former Democratic Party Leader Howard Dean.

And is anyone really stunned to hear the President's latest declaration? When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time. Credit to Maya Angelou. But boy is he a living lesson in this regard? We have an argument for all you disbelievers.

Let's get after it.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: Here's what we know. Russia attacked our last Presidential election. Mr. Mueller says the Trump campaign welcomed the help. And after all the denials, the President just said he would welcome any help again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS CHIEF ANCHOR & CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that email?

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK. Let's put yourself in a position. You're a Congressman. Somebody comes up, and says, "Hey, I have information on your opponent," do you call the FBI? I don't think - I'll tell you what--

STEPHANOPOULOS: If it's coming from Russia, then you do.

TRUMP: I've seen a lot of things over my life. I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI, in my whole life. I don't - you don't call the FBI.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI Director says that's what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI Director is wrong.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't - there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, "We have information on your opponent," oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it.

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CUOMO: While a lot of people are upset by what this President just said, it may be exactly what a lot of Democrats needed to hear.

We have a very fitting guest, one of the President's 2020 rivals, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. He's on the Intel Committee that met with Don Jr. today about exactly this issue.

Welcome to PRIME TIME, Sir.

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you Chris for having me.

CUOMO: What's your reaction?

BENNET: My reaction is that this is weak and pathetic. This is what he's been doing since the beginning of his Presidency. Even before he was President, he said, "WikiLeaks, if you're out there, send me the stuff. Russia, if you're out there, send me the stuff."

Now he's actually President of the United States, and he's effectively inviting foreign interference in our election. He has never held Putin responsible for what Putin did, and he stood next to Putin and said, "I'd take his word for it."

Every single Western democracy is under attack from Russia. And the President of the United States need to be somebody who can stand up, not just for America, but for our allies as well, and he's failed that test.

CUOMO: Does--

BENNET: Again.

CUOMO: Does this statement from the President today shed light for you on what his motivations were and those around him during this 2016 campaign--

BENNET: Of course.

CUOMO: --a lot of which was captured in the Mueller report?

BENNET: Of course, he's a cheater. And what Mueller showed is that, you know, he did everything he could to try to obstruct justice. He doesn't care how he wins as long as he does win.

And I, you know, I think more important than that, he doesn't care what's happening in the average lives of Americans or - or what's happening to America's place in the world, which is a real tragedy.

CUOMO: Well if it does inform your thinking about what his motivations were, and it sounds like if he was about this type of behavior, who was certainly abusing the Office, why is it that you believe that impeachment is not the right move?

BENNET: Well I think we need to have a process to lead us to a conclusion, and importantly, to lead the American people to that conclusion.

I've said for weeks that my reading of the Mueller report is that he committed impeachable offenses, but we have to have a public process so that we can air this out for America just as the--

CUOMO: But isn't that an impeachment inquiry? I'm not pushing for it. I'm saying, isn't that what you're saying without saying it because you're worried about the downside?

BENNET: Well I - I'll - I think we may have a semantic difference, so I'll accept your description of it, for the purpose of this discussion.

But I think that just as they did in Watergate, we need to have a series of public hearings and then reach a conclusion, and we need to manage this process in a way that does not inadvertently lead to the reelection of Donald Trump or make it easier for him to be reelected.

We can chew - walk and chew gum at the same time. But we need to do both those things.

[21:05:00] If we impeach Trump or don't impeach Trump, and that leads to, you know what, the disaster of his being reelected, we will have failed at doing our job. If we can do it and ensure that he only has one term then we've done our job well.

CUOMO: When people in your party hear what the President said, you already have basically two out of three of them who feel that you guys should have already started an impeachment inquiry, are you concerned that they'll say, "So Bennet and these other people who want to be my leader, they didn't want to do what we put them there to do, which is hold him accountable. They didn't want to do their job for whatever political analysis reason they have. Why should I vote for him now?"

BENNET: I think doing our job is making sure that Donald Trump is a one-term President. And as I've said over and over again, I think that he committed impeachable offenses, and they should start a process.

CUOMO: I'm with you. You know, Senator, it's an interesting analysis because you could argue, and please feel free to push back--

BENNET: Sure.

CUOMO: --that your job is actually not to make sure he's a one-term President, unless you run as the nominee, and now, it's your job because you're running for it. But as Congress, it's not your job to make sure he's a one-term President.

It's your job to do the work of the people. And the work of the people, in part, as the Constitution says, is to hold the Executive to account. And do you feel you guys are really doing that right now?

BENNET: I think - I think we need to do both. I think we absolutely need to do both. But I - I think we also need to understand that this government has been basically tyrannized by these guys called the Freedom Caucus and Mitch McConnell for the last 10 years, we keep losing to these guys.

CUOMO: Yes.

BENNET: We have a climate-denier in the White House. We have a guy who doesn't believe in freedom of the press, the rule of law, in independent judiciary, who won't turn over stuff to the FBI he should turn over to the FBI.

He's completely lawless unlike any other President we've ever had, and we need to win in the end in order to not just beat Trump, by the way, but to make sure that McConnell and the Freedom Caucus can't immobilize--

CUOMO: So--

BENNET: --our federal government.

Don't have a veto on climate, a veto on healthcare, a veto on guns. And we, to be honest, over the last 10 years, I think, have been less strategic than they have been about how to deal with this stuff, and we keep losing to them, as a result. CUOMO: So, you see the danger from outside. How about the danger inside? Bernie Sanders, certainly a formidable challenger for the ticket, he made a pitch today that he believes should define your party. Here's a sample of it.

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SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, and I quote, "Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God's children."

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CUOMO: Now, he can define it any way he wants. And, to be fair--

BENNET: Sure.

CUOMO: --I invite the Senator on this show all the time to have--

BENNET: Sure.

CUOMO: --this discussion. It's up to him to take that invitation.

But every time he says the word socialism, doesn't it trigger the same kind of cringe that hearing the President say, "I'm a nationalist." Does - doesn't matter how you define it, the word has implications.

BENNET: It certainly does. Look, Martin Luther King said it in the quote that Bernie just read. You can call it democracy or you can call it socialism. Let's call it democracy, American democracy.

FDR never called himself a socialist. Bernie Sanders will never call himself a Democrat. I think Roosevelt was a Democrat. I agree almost completely with Bernie's diagnosis of the problem.

In fact, I'll - I'll say it this way. There are a 180,000 families in America that are the top 0.1 percent, they control as much wealth in America as the bottom 90 percent, which is 290 million Americans.

CUOMO: Right.

BENNET: We have the largest income inequality that we've had since 1928.

CUOMO: Right.

BENNET: And as a former School Superintendent, I know our school systems are reinforcing the income inequality we have, rather than liberating people from it. We have a serious challenge on our hands.

CUOMO: Right. But it's about the solution, Senator.

BENNET: That - that might - that--

CUOMO: And what the Senator seems to suggest is give a lot more money to government, and let them take care of these things, and that scares a lot of people.

BENNET: Yes. So, I mean, I have a proposal, for example, that would dramatically increase the child tax credit this merit (ph) in America.

It would reduce childhood poverty by 40 percent, and it wouldn't add a single federal bureaucrat. My proposal to have a true public option instead of Bernie's plan to take insurance away from 160 million people that have it, these are the things, I think, we can stand for.

And when Bernie says it's either Trump or democratic socialism, that's a completely false choice. And to overcome McConnell, and to overcome the Freedom Caucus, what we need is a broad coalition of Democrats, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.

And that means we need an agenda that appeals to the - to - to - to the American people, and unites the American people. Why do we want to choose a vocabulary that divides people?

CUOMO: Right.

BENNET: We should unite people, and we should talk about the issues Bernie's talking about. You know, he's right about what he's saying about income inequality. He's right.

CUOMO: Right. But words matter, to your point, Senator.

BENNET: They - yes.

CUOMO: And the words you use are going to define you, not just the ideas behind them. Let's do this. I make this promise to everybody who comes on, who's in the race right now.

[21:10:00] As issues of the day come up that need to be addressed by those who want to lead us, we will reach out to your team to invite you on. The people who take the invitations are the people who get the time on this show. You will be invited back--

BENNET: All right.

CUOMO: --to talk about what matters to the American people. Senator Michael Bennet--

BENNET: That--

CUOMO: --from Colorado, thank you.

BENNET: That's the important question, Chris, not a debate about these labels. What matters to the American people? Healthcare, jobs, and climate. Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: 100 percent. Be well.

BENNET: See you soon.

CUOMO: So, the President thinks he would take foreign help if offered it in 2020. And he would think twice about telling the FBI about it. Could those words one day come back to haunt him? And by one day, I mean soon.

We're going to bring in a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, what is the law, what is right, next.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: So the President says he doesn't see anything wrong with listening to foreign governments offering dirt on a political rival during a campaign. So, let's set aside the "Should you do that," because that's just a simple no.

But legally, what would that mean? That's a question for a former Federal Prosecutor named Elliot Williams. Good to have you, Sir.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE RABEN GROUP'S GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS PRACTICE GROUP PRINCIPAL: Good to be back.

CUOMO: When is this behavior a crime?

[21:15:00] WILLIAMS: When's - OK. There's any number of crimes that could be violated here. There's campaign finance violations. And it's ironic that we're having this conversation literally, Chris, the day Donald Trump Jr.--

CUOMO: Yes.

WILLIAMS: --testified before Congress.

CUOMO: A man who benefited, according to the Mueller probe from their belief that he didn't know better that he didn't know--

WILLIAMS: Yes.

CUOMO: --that he was receiving value potentially wrongly from a foreign actor. But clearly, his father doesn't help that case, does it?

WILLIAMS: And - and - and, Chris, in legal term, I mean he barely escaped being indicted for this.

So, no, his father - his father doesn't, you know, doesn't help there. So, OK, there's - there's all the campaign finance violations. Look, if you're using computers there's wire fraud questions. If it really, you know, if - if you know what you're doing, and

interact with a foreign government, you start getting into the realm of espionage and national security offenses, and then computer hacking and - and other sort of computer offenses too.

So, there's a lot of things that are implicated when you start talking about taking the aid of a foreign government in our federal election system, and the President just opening the door to that, and it's, look, I guess it's - I'd like to say it's shocking, at this point but it's--

CUOMO: It's not shocking. Be honest.

WILLIAMS: Yes. No, it's not.

CUOMO: It's not shocking. And I don't know why anybody would pretend it is shocking. How many times does somebody have to show you who they are and how they feel? But let me ask you this.

WILLIAMS: Sure.

CUOMO: I need your help with this. So then he says hey the - George says to him - George Stephanopoulos says FBI Director says you're supposed to report it. He says, "He's wrong."

Now, interesting - interesting here though, Elliot, there is no law that says you must report it. But with the clearance in the Office he has, there is a different responsibility. There's a nuance here.

WILLIAMS: Right, absolutely.

So, look, what's - use an instructive example from 2000, when the Gore campaign just caught a package on its front - front doorstep of intelligence, not even foreign intelligence, but about the Bush campaign, they immediately called the FBI because something seemed kind of fishy about it. That's what you do. And that's when you're behaving properly to the norms.

CUOMO: The President did not see that as a proper analog. He dismissed it.

WILLIAMS: No, the President - right, he didn't. Here's the thing.

Someone spent a year in jail over that, and we're not even talking about interacting with a foreign government. This was just a loyal American supporter who apparently wanted to bring down George W. Bush.

The right thing to do here, even if there isn't a law on it, is to immediately notify the authorities. And this gets back, Chris, to the question of sound judgment versus what's lawful--

CUOMO: Right.

WILLIAMS: --or not unlawful. It's just--

CUOMO: And also, something else that I want you to switch hats for a second.

WILLIAMS: OK.

CUOMO: Now you're working as a lawyer for a Congress Member, OK?

WILLIAMS: Yes.

CUOMO: And they're on the fence about impeachment. And you hear him say what he says today, how much fuel does that give to the fire of walking into their office, and say, "What else do you need to hear about abuse of office?"

WILLIAMS: Right--

CUOMO: Abuse of Office is an impeachable offense. This is the guy that way he feels about his power. This informs us about why he did and said what he did in the last election. You got to make a move.

WILLIAMS: Exactly. And - and impeachable offenses don't require the reasonable doubt standard that is - which is kind of what saved Donald Trump Jr. And so, if he's behaving poorly and abusing his Constitutional oath, then absolutely this becomes impeachable.

And look, the President seems to be sort of this walking obstruction of justice machine. Every time he opens his mouth, he's either obstructing justice or stair - tiptoeing up to the bounds of what - what's lawful.

And statements like this can absolutely come in either in a criminal proceeding or in an impeachment proceeding as indicating his intent that this is what he intended to do back then, and it's almost like an ongoing scheme that he continues to keep perpetuating.

So, you know, I'd like to say the President ought to shut his mouth. I know we're not going to get that. But I did - just, we can't expect sound judgment from this President any more on any of this legal stuff, Chris.

CUOMO: Well, let's see. It's - it's - it's been working for him so far. Elliot Williams, thank you very much for being with us to help us make sense of this.

And be very clear, I'm not saying to you or anybody else that the Democrats should be impeaching.

I'm saying that they should figure out what they think is the right thing to do, and articulate it to you, and then do it, and stop going back and forth about what they're going to do, and what the process should be to get to a point where they can make a decision.

They need nothing else. They know what they need to know to make a choice about which way to go. They should do that. That's my point.

Now, the President didn't say he did take information from a foreign agent, remember that, because I see that getting spun the wrong way. He just said he would, so, controversy or non-troversy? How big a problem is this politically for the Right?

And another question that we're not going to escape tonight, is there a boogeyman looming for the Left as well? Dueling debaters, find out next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: All right, the President said he would take dirt from foreign powers on his 2020 opponents. Oppo research, he calls it. The law calls it a potential campaign finance violation, at the least.

Even his FBI Director said not to do that, call the FBI if anybody approaches you that way, it sounds, the way he's putting it, "Sure, I'll take it. I'd like to look," almost like a solicitation.

So, let's debate. We have Van Jones and Rob Astorino.

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TEXT: THE GREAT DEBATE.

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CUOMO: Van Jones, this is a problem because?

VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA, CNN HOST, THE VAN JONES SHOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a problem because it sounds to me like the President of the United States is literally asking for foreign help. I mean if you - listen, he didn't learn anything.

He was mad at the Mueller report, "Hey, I'm being investigated for doing all this bad stuff." He's literally admitting to most of the stuff that he would do right now, most of this stuff that caused the Mueller report to happen in the first place.

He's admitting that right now that he's open for business for foreign governments. I just can't imagine how any self-respecting Conservative Republican would say "This is great."

Again, I hate to say this. But if Barack Obama had said, "Hey, listen, let me know, anybody in the world, you got dirt on my opponents, I don't care where you're from, if you're from Kenya, please send me an email right now," there would have been Tea Party people marching in the street by the millions.

This is so far over the line. And yet, somehow, the Republicans, they're going to shrug and defend it tonight again, I'm sure.

[21:25:00] CUOMO: Well but the problem is do you help them defend it by taking it too far?

Example of Exhibit A, Kamala Harris, Senator, running for President just tweeted this. "China is listening. Russia is listening. North Korea is listening. Let's speak the truth. The President is a national security threat."

Rob Astorino, reaction.

ROB ASTORINO, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S 2020 REELECTION ADVISORY COUNCIL, FORMER WESTCHESTER COUNTY EXECUTIVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh marone, here we go. All right, listen up.

CUOMO: Uh-oh, he's invoking the Mother's name. Never good!

ASTORINO: I think you liked--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

ASTORINO: --that one, Cuomo.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

ASTORINO: Hey, Van, you know, I have not heard, not today, in anything I've read or seen on TV or listened on the radio, I haven't heard from any of the 24 candidates running for the Democratic nomination at any point that we should be talking about not what the President might do.

And, by the way, I think his comments were wrong. I'll start right off the bat and say, I don't think it was helpful. I don't think he should have said that. And he shouldn't do it, nobody should do it. But that's subjunctive whether he would or wouldn't.

We know definitively that a Presidential candidate did do it because Hillary Clinton did, and her campaign and the DNC paid for a foreigner's information on her opponent. So, it's already been done.

And this is the double standard and hypocrisy that we're seeing today of the "Oh my God, he has to be impeached." We don't even have an investigation into how Hillary Clinton did this or why she did it. And - and the Democrats are saying and don't do that investigation.

JONES: Well, look--

CUOMO: Van?

JONES: --I don't - I cannot believe that it is 2019, almost 2020, and you guys are still on the "But what about Hillary bandwagon?"

ASTORINO: No, no, because it's - it is - it is central to-- JONES: I don't - I'm not even going to - I'm not even going to have to--

CUOMO: Hold on.

ASTORINO: --it is central to the discussion we're having here.

CUOMO: Let him answer. Let him answer Rob.

JONES: Here's--

CUOMO: Let him answer. Go ahead.

JONES: --here's the deal. Hillary Clinton is not the President of the United States.

ASTORINO: Doesn't matter.

JONES: It certainly does matter. And I don't--

ASTORINO: No.

JONES: Let me finish.

ASTORINO: Come on, Van.

JONES: Hillary - Hillary Clinton is not President of the United States. She did stuff on the campaign trail politically and otherwise that I disagreed with, and criticized at the time the problem.

The problem is that where we are now is we're going into a new election cycle, and the President of the United States has a great opportunity to say - to say "Listen, I do not like the Mueller report. I don't like the way Democrats have been behaving. But I am going to be a guardian and a defender of American democracy. I don't want interference. I don't want a - a cheap - cheap tricks. I don't want information. Let Americans decide American elections."

That would be a great opportunity. He is missing that opportunity. And I think that, you know, I agree with what you just said. It's wrong for him to do that. I don't want to talk about Hillary Clinton anymore. But I do want to talk about America's elections now being at risk, and I think more at risk tonight than they were yesterday.

ASTORINO: Look--

CUOMO: Well also, look, let's be very honest. For all the talk about Russian interference, the least energy has been spent on stopping it the next time, and that is inexcusable.

And when people start wringing their hands about "Oh no, it's happening again," everybody told you what happened again, neither side is doing anything about it. They - some are trying. Klobuchar is - who's running for President tried to work with one of her Republican colleagues. McConnell wouldn't even put it on the floor.

You know who didn't want to hear this today, Rob Astorino?

ASTORINO: Who?

CUOMO: Don Jr. Because that man avoided an indictment because Mueller and his team didn't believe he knew that what he was doing was wrong.

But his admission, this President's admission that "Yes, I know you think it's wrong, but I don't. And I'd take the information because that's how life works," if that had been said before, how do you think Don Jr. would be looking today?

ASTORINO: No. But it's interesting. You know, you can disagree with the President, and I do, on this.

And - and I don't want hit - I don't want the President, I don't want any of the 24 candidates running on the Democratic side, a Senate candidate, I don't want anybody to be tempted and to take information and to use it.

But the President is right when he said you don't think they're going to or would - if one of the candidates, let's just say somebody from the foreign--

CUOMO: This is not--

ASTORINO: No, no, hold on a second.

CUOMO: This is not a viable argument.

ASTORINO: Hold on - hold on a second.

CUOMO: The fact that people will do things the wrong way does not--

ASTORINO: Chris, hold on a second.

CUOMO: --justify our President--

ASTORINO: I'm not - it's - it's - you're right.

CUOMO: --condoning the same.

ASTORINO: And I'm not arguing with you on that one.

But what the truth is, is that if one of these candidates had the "Golden ticket," if somebody came out with an envelope said, "Within that envelope is the information that will take down Trump and make you President," please, if you don't think they're going to open that envelope--

JONES: Oh.

ASTORINO: --or leak it to the press--

CUOMO: From a Russian?

JONES: Well actually-- ASTORINO: --which is exactly what happened with Hillary--

JONES: Hold on a second. Al Gore--

ASTORINO: --then we're joking ourselves, right?

JONES: --if you want to go back - look, you want to go back in - in history or whatever, Al Gore got information, and turned it in. I mean we do - we have - we do have people in our country who have an honorable track record.

ASTORINO: Good for him.

JONES: One of them is Al Gore. He got information that was ill-gotten and he turned it in.

So, I don't think that we should say just because as - as Cuomo was just saying, just because there are some people there who have low standards - I mean, listen, you can't raise kids that way. "Well you know what? Other kids would cheat. So, yes, I guess, you know if my kids cheat, it's OK."

ASTORINO: No. I'm not saying it's right.

JONES: I - I don't--

ASTORINO: I'm saying it's been done.

JONES: And I'm - I'm going to - well, listen, it may have been done to your point. But--

CUOMO: But that's the same thing as saying that it's right. You're saying--

ASTORINO: No, it's not, no.

CUOMO: --other people would do it, that's why he said it.

ASTORINO: I'm saying who did it with--

CUOMO: That's how it works.

ASTORINO: --Hillary Clinton, and nobody wants to have that discussion.

CUOMO: I don't - look--

JONES: Wait--

CUOMO: --it's just not apples to apples, Rob.

ASTORINO: But it's - of course, it is. Chris--

CUOMO: Of course, it is not. It wasn't that - we don't have any proof that Russia, as a government, came and said, "Here's value for you on Donald Trump, and you can pay us for it if you like."

ASTORINO: What--

CUOMO: We have the opposite proof, which is that they came time and time again with things they thought would help Trump, and put it out there, and his people around him were only too eager to try to get more of it.

ASTORINO: No. That's not what the Mueller report said.

[21:30:00] CUOMO: It says exactly that.

ASTORINO: The Mueller report said it was completely low-level people, hardly even connected to the campaign.

CUOMO: His son.

ASTORINO: And nothing was gotten out of it.

CUOMO: His Campaign Chairman.

ASTORINO: And nothing was gotten out of it.

JONES: What Mueller report did you read?

ASTORINO: Hence no collusion.

CUOMO: His son - no collusion is nowhere in the report.

ASTORINO: No - OK. No conspiracy.

CUOMO: Nowhere in the report does it say there was--

ASTORINO: No conspiracy.

CUOMO: --it's the big difference.

ASTORINO: Case closed.

CUOMO: Because this behavior is collusive behavior. "Hey, yes, let's work together. Give me what you have." It's not a crime, but it's wrong.

Van, your point.

JONES: Well, I'm just saying, I don't know what Mueller report you read. But let me just say - say a few more - let me just say a - a few more things, at least we're talking about it.

I - I have - actually was impressed to hear Biden over the past couple of days trying to remind Americans of what the standard is supposed to be, how we're supposed to act.

I've almost gotten acclimated to all this nonsense and crazy stuff, it's actually brought, you know, I got a little bit verklempt listening to like guys, it matters how we are.

He - he said the thing about - I'm not a big Biden fan, I'm trying to give some credit. He said "It's not the example of our powers. It's the power of our example." And I think that's true.

The power of the example of the President to tell the whole world, to tell children, and - and students are listening right now that "Hey, listen, yes, I might, you know, tell the FBI. But first, I want to get the dirt, and this is how the world works," he's making the world work by - worse by saying that. He's driving down the standards by saying that. He's not just adapting.

CUOMO: All right, we got to end it there, Van.

JONES: He's not just adapting to the standards. He's actually help - well actually adapting downward because of those--

CUOMO: Well, look--

JONES: --concepts (ph) and they're - and they're wrong.

CUOMO: Here's the good news. The people are going to decide what they want the standard to be. That's what an election is about.

Congress has a job to do too. If they believe that they have enough to hold someone to account, that's their job, not to figure out what the - the best political process is for it. So, they'll do their job, the American people will do theirs. Hopefully, we'll get somewhere soon.

Van Jones, Rob Astorino, appreciate the arguments as always.

ASTORINO: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, to impeach or not to impeach, look, for people who are sitting on the fence, what the President said tonight did him no favors in terms of keeping them there. The President's given them ammunition.

Does the former Party Chair and one-time Presidential Candidate Howard Dean see this as a change-maker? We're going to ask him about that and some new challenges to the Democratic field, next.

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CUOMO: President's got no qualms about foreign help. That's clear, and it always has been. The Democrats though have plenty of qualms about impeachment, and rightly so. My next guest knows plenty about running for President, and the political implications of this. Howard Dean, welcome back Sir.

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HOWARD DEAN, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR, FORMER DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for having me on.

CUOMO: Always a pleasure. Need the insight.

DEAN: What a night!

CUOMO: What a night indeed! Look, as I was saying, much to the chagrin of my team, I'm not surprised by this. How many times does somebody have to show you who they are?

Now, his son is lucky that the President didn't say this when Mueller was still looking at him because I think it would have hurt the argument that Don Jr. had no idea that having this kind of meeting, and taking this kind of information is wrong.

Now, obviously, that would have been a little bit of a tough thing to do because they would have need to know the facts before they had the conversation.

What I'm asking you is this. For the Democrats who are on the fence, what else do they need to hear to make a decision about what they think is doing their duty here?

DEAN: It's the way I look at it is, what's the easiest way to get rid of Trump, what's the most likely to get way - way to get rid of Trump? If you think Mitch McConnell is going to put his country ahead of his - his power, you are wrong.

So, we are not going to remove Trump from office by impeachment at this point. Now, can we build a case? Yes, I think Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler trying to build a case--

CUOMO: Isn't that their job?

DEAN: To build a case? Sure. And that's what they are trying to do.

CUOMO: Aren't you supposed to do the job out of conscience and not consequence?

DEAN: I think - I think you're supposed to do the job regard - I think you're supposed to do the best job you can to be the most successful you can.

And right now, building the case is much more important than prosecuting the case because we can't win with a Right-wing Senate that is in the grip of Donald Trump, and not the people of the United States of America.

CUOMO: But don't you win if you bring out the truth, not just in the pages of the Mueller report, because let's be honest, people aren't going to read it, but giving them the faces and showing them the places that make clear and plain what was done, and what wasn't done?

DEAN: And that's actually exactly what they're doing. They're going through this process to get Trump and his cronies in front of the Judiciary Committee to answer questions. And in order to do that, you got to--

CUOMO: Right. But the way they're doing it now, they're getting stymied all over the place because they're not at maximal power.

DEAN: They're not at maximal power - oh because you - so your argument is they should start impeachment proceedings, so that they could be at maximal power. We don't know that.

CUOMO: My argument is if that's what they think their job is, then they should do that, and stop not doing it because they're worried about the political consequences.

DEAN: I've--

CUOMO: Whether they do it or not is their call.

DEAN: I look at a different way.

CUOMO: Please.

DEAN: I think if their - their job is to get rid of Donald Trump, who's the threat to the nation, and the best way you can do that is the best way you can do that, and you might be able to proceed with impeachment proceedings before you're ready, it's not going to work, given the trend - intransigence of the Senate, so let's build the case carefully so the American people can get rid of him a year from November.

CUOMO: All right, so you have that case. Now you have another case that's being made, which is what are the strengths and weaknesses of the Democrats. Bernie Sanders is out there today trying to explain what democratic socialism means.

And let me be very clear to all the Bernie bros out there, and sisters, I invite the Senator on to have this debate about what he's about, and what he isn't, what it should be called and what it means, he has to take the invitation. All I can do is offer it.

Every time he says the word socialism, it's bad for your party, and he keeps saying it, tries to define it, but it's like how people get upset when the President calls himself a nationalist. It's a word that is tainted.

DEAN: Chris, I don't agree, and I'll tell you why. We get 70 percent of the under-35 vote, we get the vast majority of people of color, and we get most women, and I don't think socialism is going to have one effect on our base.

And I believe that Stacey Abrams has the right decision - right strategy here. The best way to win elections in this era is to get your base out and vote very heavily, which is what's Trump's doing on the other side.

So, I don't think the word socialism matters to anybody who wasn't around before the Soviet Union collapsed. I think it's a meaningless word. Yes, the Right-wing oldsters are using it because their base think it's - thinks it's not a meaningless word. That's not our base.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: Well but if you get the same people out in the same places as you did last time, you lose again.

DEAN: We're going to get more--

CUOMO: So, isn't this about thinking about those people who you could peel off from who you didn't get the last time?

DEAN: I actually don't think so, Chris. I don't think it's about peeling off the people in the so-called middle of the spectrum. It would be nice to get them. And I think they're probably sick of Trump, so we may get them.

The way we're going to win this is the way we picked up 15 seats in Virginia and 40 seats in the House, hopefully soon to be 41, in North Carolina, is by getting out our base, getting out our base. We have to excite the base.

CUOMO: All right, so one more question that goes to this idea of the base, and what that means, Left versus center-Left which, as you know, I don't have to tell you, you're the Guru, 80 percent of your party identifies as center-Left. That's what makes--

DEAN: Right.

CUOMO: --Joe Biden more appealing to your party, the farther he gets away from the coast. So, political correctness, I had Bill Maher on last night, no friend of the President.

Certainly, as he says, likes to caucus with the Democrats, but will call you out when he needs to, he says this political correctness is killing you guys because the heart of this country doesn't want to walk on eggshells. Here's how he explains it.

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BILL MAHER, REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER HOST, HBO: I think a lot of this far-Left political correctness is a cancer on progressivism.

I don't think you can underestimate - overestimate how much people have been choking on political correctness and hate it.

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CUOMO: Your take. DEAN: What is - what's political correctness?

CUOMO: Well, to him, it would be defined, without speaking for the man, as hyper-attention to what is said and what is done through a lens of punishment that is beyond what is practical.

DEAN: I - I - I - I think I still don't understand. But I will say that our party won 40 seats in the last elections. Five of them were extremely smart, thoughtful women who are on the Left.

The other 35 were people in the middle of the country in places like Oklahoma and Texas, Orange County, California, mid - middle of the - middle of Pennsylvania, our party is moving towards the center. It's the country that's moving towards the Left.

Average person in this country thinks Medicare-for-All is a really good idea. Now, we can get into the details of which plan they prefer, which is never a good idea during an election--

CUOMO: Well they think getting coverage is great. But it's about--

DEAN: Right.

CUOMO: --what it costs, you know, that is going to have to be debated and ultimately negotiated--

DEAN: That's true.

CUOMO: --if we get close to it.

DEAN: I actually think it's - I think the key is actually - I mean Medicare is a much less expensive system than the private health insurance.

I think the issue is can you get people to give up their private health insurance? And I think if you try that, they're going to say no. You have to give them the choices of that which is--

CUOMO: The public option.

DEAN: The public option is - is the way to go there. But that - I'm not going to get into this argument with all the different people running for President. They're all going to have their same idea.

You know, I think our party is in decent shape. I think we just need a strong nominee who isn't going to be obsessed with Donald Trump. The one way we can lose this race is that a year from September, we're talking about Donald Trump, we're going to lose.

Trump will make himself the issue. We have to talk about healthcare, the economy, and things that really matter to average people.

CUOMO: Right. And I think Maher's point was, remember when Obama talked about the Republicans, and said they have a circular firing squad, that's what he's talking about with political correctness is that if your own party is attacking each other over smaller and smaller issues--

DEAN: Well that's true.

CUOMO: --instead of trying to (ph)--

DEAN: I totally agree with that.

CUOMO: Well so that's--

DEAN: That is absolutely true.

CUOMO: --that's where I think he's going. Howard Dean--

DEAN: Yes.

CUOMO: --let me tell you, I love to try to test the boundaries of where things are, and you are great at explaining to the audience why the party sees things the way it does. Thank you, Sir.

DEAN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, speaking of political correctness, it seems it may have - may have affected Keanu Reeves in an interesting way, and it's actually working in his favor. I'll explain with D. Lemon, next.

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CUOMO: Keanu Reeves, he's been a Star for decades. But now, the internet has found a new reason to put him in the spotlight. He's posing with women without actually touching them.

The first fan to point it out joke, quote, "Keanu ain't taking no chances," a likely reference to the #MeToo movement, kind of, although that shouldn't be seen as a negative thing inherently.

D. Lemon, is this about Reeves being hyper-PC? Is he afraid of #MeToo? Or is he just being respectful?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: I think it's the first.

I think it's, you know, it's tough to say, but I do think that there are people who will approach you, and set you up, or realize later that they can get some money from you, or harm your career, and I think that he's being careful.

I worry about it. You don't?

CUOMO: I do worry about people doing things that are wrong. I don't worry about #MeToo because I see #MeToo as a good thing, you know, I mean, and I know you do also. The idea of the reason we needed it, the reason you need political correctness, in general--

LEMON: I'm not talking about the real allegations.

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: That - but that's what I'm saying is we need those things because for too long things have gone unanswered, and people have been silenced, and victimized. But you do have the opposite extreme of that as people seeing it as an opportunity.

Now, he hasn't said why he's doing it. Could be that he's not so crazy about touching people. You know, I mean--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --it could be a lot of different things.

LEMON: Yes. Well even now I - I started to ask people may I - they'll come up to me and say, "Can I get a selfie?" And I'll say, "May I hug you or may I do whatever," but it's weird because you know me, I mean, and you're worse than me. You're a bigger hugger and kisser than I am, right?

CUOMO: It's true.

LEMON: It is true. Sometimes I'm like "Chris, stop."

CUOMO: No, you've never said that ever.

LEMON: But we're - but we're being serious here. That's not - I think - I think I commend him because what he's doing is lowering the possibility of a false allegation, which - which would diminish the importance of the real allegations, the people who come forward with legitimate allegations.

CUOMO: That's good. Good take.

LEMON: I think - yes, I think - so I think that's a good thing that he's doing.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Whether he's doing it because he doesn't like to touch people or he says he doesn't want to be part of that because even just an allegation can be career-ending, just an allegation.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: No question. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Let me tell you this. Let's end on a positive. You know how old he is?

LEMON: He's - he is in his 50s.

CUOMO: 54.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: He looks amazing.

LEMON: Yes, I wish I had those genes.

CUOMO: Wow! He looks really good. He's younger (ph) on that.

LEMON: He's a year - he's a year older than me.

Hey listen, I have the - the former General Counsel for the FBI who's going to - on who's going to talk to us about all this, should you go - well he's going to talk to us about the President's comment, was he right or was he wrong?

CUOMO: Strong.

LEMON: We know - we know what it was but--

CUOMO: Well you need the analysis though.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: So people get it. Thank you very much, pal.

LEMON: See you in a bit.

CUOMO: Talk to you in a second.

Look, if a foreign adversary wants to help President Trump win reelection, he thinks he would take the help, totally unabashed about admitting it today.

Why are you surprised by this? Why is the internet bubbling up with "Can you believe it? Can you believe it?" Listen, I have an argument for you. Just please, give it a listen, and let's know what is obvious, next.

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CUOMO: All right, so let's just be clear about this. The President said he would take information from Russia or China about an opponent in the next election. Here it is.

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STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't - there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, "We have information on your opponent," oh, I think I'd want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it.

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CUOMO: I think he's right. I think he would take it. Why is it always Norway with him? But are you really surprised? When reminded that his FBI Director said he should alert authorities, he said the FBI Head was wrong.

You saw the Mueller report conclude that his campaign knew that Russia was trying to help, and was eager to get that help, right? Nowhere in the report does it say no obstruction or no collusion, but it does say that about his campaign wanting the help.

It also says that the favorable response to the offer of information from Russians almost got his son charged with campaign finance violations. He was in front of the Senate Intel Committee about that, in part, again today.

So why would this President say this? Because he thinks he can. Period! Remember, you who support the President, you acknowledge in polls, he's got low credibility, low integrity.

This is not about ignorance either. He's plenty smart and even more savvy. The truth is he does not care about your rules. He never has. Housing, law, contracts, taxes, he does not play by your rules.

And he doesn't think what he is doing is wrong because he is doing what he thinks is right for him. That's his one rule. "Do what is good for me."

The sooner you get that the sooner you'll get that what he is saying today, while arguably an endorsement of illegal behavior, and certainly wrong, none of that affects his judgment about what he should say and do.

That's why the best he could muster about whether to follow the law or his own interest when it comes to information from an inimical foreign power, the best he could come up with was "I guess you'd do both," meaning do the right thing and the wrong thing.

And, of course, as we all know, you can't do both, and he knows that too. We've seen his rule for himself in action so many times.

Pay people to be quiet? Of course. Admit it? Never. Lie? Always, to anyone about anything you need to. Attack institutions, courts, FBI, if they don't give him what he wants? Sure.

What about broader implications, broader than his concern for his own interests? Doesn't exist. Show his taxes? Forget it. They're going to have things that will make him look less than he says he is.

Security clearance procedures? Please! He wants his family in there, and he'll do what he can to get it. Forget proper channels.

Oh, and that Russia interfered, do something about securing the next election. Why? He thinks it's bad for him, makes him seem illegitimate.

Insult opponents like they were on the opposite side of a bar rooting for the wrong team? Of course! Decorum? Irrelevant, if it's in his way.

He wants to win, and he knows the way to win, especially now, is by showing the other guy or even the other woman is a bum.

Remember the scene from when he was first in Office? Pushed the Prime Minister of Montenegro out of the way, of course it was rude. He doesn't care. He wanted to be in front. How many times does he have to show you who he is?

But today, he may have said the wrong thing at the right time because he basically said that he would do something, accepting value during a campaign from a foreign source.

And while that might not be a crime, if he did it it certainly shows a willingness to abuse his Office, and it may shed light on what he knew was right and wrong in the last election, and why he said and did what he did to arguably stop the truth about it from coming out.

And why does that matter? Because there are a whole lot of Democrats, I would suspect, who will take that as a challenge to try to stop him. And he may have just given a lot of people on the fence a motivation to jump onto one side.

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

LEMON: So, you said it might not be illegal. But I just want to read you. You're - you're an attorney.

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