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CUOMO PRIME TIME

House Panel Subpoenas Kushner & 11 Others Tied To Trump; Pelosi Urges Dem Unity Amid Rift With New Congresswomen; Epstein Seeking Home Detention At His $77 Million NYC Mansion. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 11, 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] TOM SATER, METEOROLOGIST & WEATHER HOST, CNN INTERNATIONAL: It's going to catch the rainfall. They are going to have to depend on the pumps, which pump out about an inch in the first hour and then a half-inch every hour after that. All of these red dots you see are under 20 feet high in the levees. So, we're looking at 19 feet, Anderson.

These areas could be overtopped much like they were with Katrina on the area of the Lower Ninth Ward and in the same Bernard Parish on the East side. So, this is going to be something we're going to watch. We've never seen it before.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: All right, Tom Sater, thanks very much. We'll be watching.

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

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Democrats have authorized subpoenas for a dozen main players in the President's orbit, including son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Here's the question. Who will show and who won't go?

A leading Conservative is here to fight the move. But as this POTUS likes to say, "If you got nothing to hide, why don't you testify?"

And Nancy Pelosi has a fight on her hands to get the party on the same page. Can they take on this President if they're taking on each other? That'll be our Great Debate.

Plus, Jeffrey Epstein is trying to work another sweetheart deal for himself. We have the man who wrote the book on Epstein, insights into his mystery money and connections.

What do you say? Let's get after it.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Now listen, Mr. Mueller next week may highlight the findings on obstruction. But this President is going to be put into the crosshairs by Congress. And Congress will have to get people to testify to those findings.

So, here come the subpoenas. 12 key players in the Trump orbit, son- in-law Jared, former Chief of Staff, John Kelly, former A.G., Sessions, and the man who stepped in to oversee the investigation when Sessions recused himself, Mr. Rod Rosenstein.

The President says the Mueller report was the end. But, you know, that's not what Mueller said in that report. So, what is the case to hide from the light of scrutiny?

To make the case, Matt Schlapp, Chairman of the American Conservative Union. Hello brother. Good to have you.

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION, FORMER GEORGE W. BUSH CAMPAIGN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Good to be with you, yes.

CUOMO: Good to have you. So, make the case because I use the President's rationale, didn't - he didn't follow it in his own case. But "You got nothing to hide? Go and speak." Why not do that here, show of strength, one and done?

SCHLAPP: Yes, because it seemed at the time what everybody wanted to have happen is to have an independent voice come in, report to the DOJ on what exactly happened, what were the facts, what - what happened, what didn't happen. The President allowed everybody who worked for him to participate in that process fully.

And what you see with Democrats, I believe, is that they didn't like all the answers that came from Bob Mueller, and they want to get a mulligan. They want to start the process all over again. Now, they have the right to do it. They have the Constitutional right to do whatever they want.

But the President also has prerogatives for people who work in the Executive branch, for separation of powers to say, "Look, I've already said, I didn't have to allow these people to participate with Mueller, and I did, fully. What more can we learn?"

CUOMO: All right, so let's test the case.

SCHLAPP: Sure.

CUOMO: The biggest point is that this President never testified or submitted to real questioning.

His lawyers, I gave them golf claps here several times, the Raskins, Sekulow, little bit Giuliani in the coaxing to keep him out of the chair because they were afraid of what would happen. They gave him cover, good. But he violated his own rule of "If you've got nothing to hide, you testify."

So, they - this isn't a second bite at the apple because they never got the first bite. And in the Mueller report, Matt, he says, "Here are the findings. I can't do anything about them. That's Congress' duty." So, this isn't a do-over. It's an extension of the same play, isn't it?

SCHLAPP: Well he's wrong about saying that. Bob Mueller's job was to report back to the Department of Justice--

CUOMO: And he did.

SCHLAPP: --his findings.

It was not to have a call to action from Congress. When he - if - if that's exactly what he did in the report, and I think it's a fair reading of the report, I think that for many Americans, that's when he looks like he's getting political.

"I can't find anything. Hey fellas, up on the Hill, why don't you try to find something?"

And the thing is, Chris, is this, I watch your show, I watch a lot of media, I read a lot of media, we have covered this issue ad nauseam for two years, and there's not a scintilla of wrongdoing, except for some people believe that when Donald Trump fired Jim Comey that that equals obstruction.

CUOMO: Well they're like six or seven.

SCHLAPP: That's a Constitutional question--

CUOMO: Six or seven different points of potential obstruction.

SCHLAPP: --that - that - that's not - I don't agree with that. That's a Constitutional question about whether or not the President has the ability to fire people that serve at the pleasure of the President.

Now, people who don't like Donald Trump and don't want that decision- making don't have to vote for him. That's what you do in a democracy. But to carry on a mulligan investigation and to start all over again with these people who have already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers--

CUOMO: The money can't be the issue.

SCHLAPP: No, no, but the--

CUOMO: The money can't be the--

SCHLAPP: But you also--

CUOMO: We raised money on all kinds of things.

SCHLAPP: But why destroy people to just go through the meat grinder one more time, when--

CUOMO: Why is it destroying them?

SCHLAPP: --because you trusted Bob Mueller to find the answers, and he did.

CUOMO: Well Bob Mueller--

SCHLAPP: And he did.

CUOMO: Bob Mueller is your boy, first of all.

SCHLAPP: He's not my boy.

CUOMO: He is a minted Republican.

SCHLAPP: Nope, nope, nope.

CUOMO: A rock-ribbed Republican.

SCHLAPP: Let me - let me speak for myself about that.

CUOMO: Please.

SCHLAPP: I did the first political check on James Comey. I'm going to start with Comey. He was not a rock-ribbed Republican.

CUOMO: I'm talking about Mueller.

SCHLAPP: Bob Mueller might be someone who's been a registered Republican, but he was a Trump-hater, someone we call Never-Trumper. And he--

[21:05:00] CUOMO: He interviewed to be the Head of the FBI right before he did this.

SCHLAPP: Yes. And if he was interviewing to be the Head of the FBI, why all of a sudden is it obstruction of justice to get rid of James Comey who we would have replaced? He never brought that up to the President.

CUOMO: One has nothing to do with the other.

SCHLAPP: This is an insane. It does--

CUOMO: That - that - that has no logical connection.

SCHLAPP: Why would you take a job--

CUOMO: Him interviewing for the job--

SCHLAPP: --why would he--

CUOMO: --has nothing to do with him judging the--

SCHLAPP: --why would Bob Mueller--

CUOMO: --President's ability to work--

SCHLAPP: --why would Bob Mueller--

CUOMO: --with the best interests.

SCHLAPP: --ask the President of the United States the day before he's picked to be the Special Counsel for the job of FBI Director if he thought--

CUOMO: He was asked to come into interview. He didn't ask for the job.

SCHLAPP: Yes, he did.

CUOMO: That's not my understanding.

SCHLAPP: Yes, he did.

CUOMO: He was asked to come in.

SCHLAPP: Yes, he did.

CUOMO: By a mutual friend.

SCHLAPP: You don't come in and talk to the President about being the FBI Director unless you have an interest of being the FBI Director.

CUOMO: Oh, I didn't say he didn't have an interest. I'm saying he didn't ask to come in.

SCHLAPP: But if he thought that what he had just done to James Comey was unconstitutional and obstruction of justice, I don't think he would have agreed to be interviewed--

CUOMO: I don't think he knew.

SCHLAPP: --to be FBI Director.

CUOMO: And I think that he went into the investigation with exactly what he put on Page one of Part II, which is "I'm not allowed to indict a sitting President. That's the guidance."

SCHLAPP: He's given two different answers to that. I know the lawyer who wrote that OLC opinion who's now a Federal Judge. He is a great Democratic lawyer.

CUOMO: Right.

SCHLAPP: But the fact is - is Bob Mueller has given different answers as to why he couldn't go forward and indict the President, if he thought--

CUOMO: Well, yes well--

SCHLAPP: --he obstructed justice.

CUOMO: --we'll get that next week. It's one more good reason to have him on.

SCHLAPP: I don't think we will.

CUOMO: But this - well look, he's going to--

SCHLAPP: Do you think Bob Mueller--

CUOMO: --he's going to be asked.

SCHLAPP: --do you think - I think he's going to be asked.

But do you think Bob Mueller, the man you saw at that press conference, doddering through that statement, having trouble getting through that statement, do you think we're really going to learn anything as he--

CUOMO: I think that people didn't read--

SCHLAPP: --as he testifies?

CUOMO: --the book, and they will watch the movie. And I think that he will be impressive on reciting the findings. Do I think he changes the calculus? Not necessarily. But that's never been my bar. My bar is the transparency--

SCHLAPP: So we just do replay, replay--

CUOMO: I don't think it's replay.

SCHLAPP: --replay?

CUOMO: I think it is the end of the play. I'll give you this though. I do believe that after Mueller and this - the reaction of the first round, the Democrats have to make a choice.

If they're going to go down this hedge road of oversight, this will never end, and there's political pain for them. If they really believe what Mr. Mueller put out that there are at least six, seven grounds of potential obstruction, they should start an inquiry.

I'm not saying they can impeach. I'm not saying they should. But that's really their Constitutional duty.

SCHLAPP: Well they - they can impeach.

CUOMO: But I think well I'm - they maybe can. I don't know that they have what they need for Articles of Impeachment. We'd have to see them go through the--

SCHLAPP: It's a political--

CUOMO: --inquiry process.

SCHLAPP: --but it's a political question.

CUOMO: Of course it is, a 100 percent. All of its trappings of it being a judicial process are nonsense. However, this is going to be instigated by what the President does with these subpoenas. It is a show of weakness to not have your people comply if--

SCHLAPP: I disagree, completely.

CUOMO: Because he doesn't have Executive privilege.

SCHLAPP: No, no, no, I - I disagree completely. I think that there is a medium course here. There are times when Presidents have allowed people who work for them currently in the Executive branch to talk to Congress.

Sometimes that's done without television cameras. Sometimes that's done with immunity to make sure that the facts come out for the American people to see.

CUOMO: Right.

SCHLAPP: There's a million different gradations--

CUOMO: But this President savages people who are--

SCHLAPP: --to do this.

CUOMO: --unwilling to go out and make the case for themselves.

SCHLAPP: But - but if you would allow me just to finish this--

CUOMO: Please.

SCHLAPP: --is they jumped right as Nadler wants to do, and as the - this new radicalized Democratic majority in the House wants to do, they want this confrontation. They don't want to find the facts. They want the political confrontation.

CUOMO: That's - that's an opinion.

SCHLAPP: And you said yourself. It is my - totally, it's my opinion. That is going to be tested politically whether that's the wise ways to do this.

CUOMO: Well, of course. But it also - what I'm saying is this. What is the basis of not having the people come out and testify about what happened--

SCHLAPP: They have all talked.

CUOMO: --that might be obstruction.

SCHLAPP: Chris, here's the problem with that--

CUOMO: Not to Congress.

SCHLAPP: --is that we decided as a country - and most Democrats thought this was the right move when Rod Rosenstein said "OK, we're going to get a Special Counsel, somebody everybody can respect."

And I've been on this network and a lot of other networks where people lauded Bob Mueller, OK. And I will say this. The - they picked a person who has a - a high integrity and had high respect, and he did a thorough process, took a very long time, went through the midterms--

CUOMO: With the findings.

SCHLAPP: --can you imagine?

CUOMO: With the findings.

SCHLAPP: Can you imagine?

CUOMO: But he wasn't able to take any--

SCHLAPP: He found no wrongdoing.

CUOMO: No, it's not true.

SCHLAPP: He found--

CUOMO: He found--

SCHLAPP: --zero.

CUOMO: --a lots of different potential wrongdoing--

SCHLAPP: He got no wrongdoing.

CUOMO: --and obstruction.

SCHLAPP: He found no wrongdoing.

CUOMO: What are you talking about?

SCHLAPP: Name a specific thing that he said in that report that was indictable?

CUOMO: Well none of it is indictable--

SCHLAPP: That's right.

CUOMO: --because you can't indict a sitting President.

SCHLAPP: That's not what he said.

CUOMO: It is exactly what he said.

SCHLAPP: He gave two answers to that question.

CUOMO: No. On Page one of Part II--

SCHLAPP: At one point--

CUOMO: --it said--

SCHLAPP: OK.

CUOMO: --I can't indict a sitting President.

SCHLAPP: And then, what did he tell the Attorney General, what did he say at his press conference?

CUOMO: Well looking--

SCHLAPP: And what's he going to tell Congress?

CUOMO: --what he's--

SCHLAPP: He could come with three instances.

CUOMO: --what he said at his press conference is not what the Attorney General says. What he said at his press conference was--

SCHLAPP: So - so--

CUOMO: --"Listen, we did this case. We looked at it. If we could have said more, we would have said more."

SCHLAPP: So, this goes full circle? You say why didn't Donald Trump sit down Bob Mueller--

CUOMO: Yes.

SCHLAPP: --and his team, and answer all the questions.

CUOMO: This is exactly what he--

SCHLAPP: If Bob Mueller is an honest person who has nothing to hide himself--

CUOMO: Right.

SCHLAPP: --why is it he can't give the same answer over and over again?

CUOMO: No, no, no, no.

SCHLAPP: Let me - let me go here. Let me go here.

CUOMO: No way.

SCHLAPP: Let me go here.

CUOMO: All right, I'll give you a little bit of latitude.

SCHLAPP: The reason is--

CUOMO: But to equate--

SCHLAPP: No. This--

CUOMO: --these two men in terms of mendacity is, you know.

[21:10:00] SCHLAPP: Yes. I think Donald Trump is much more solid. Be--

CUOMO: When it comes to telling the truth?

SCHLAPP: Absolutely.

CUOMO: You believe--

SCHLAPP: Yes.

CUOMO: --that this President is more of a truth-teller--

SCHLAPP: Here we go.

CUOMO: --than Bob Mueller?

SCHLAPP: You - you - I know you don't think the President tells the truth. I've listened to your show.

CUOMO: And you do?

SCHLAPP: Let - I do trust the President. I think--

CUOMO: No, no, no, no, no, don't twist my words. I didn't say that you should never trust the President. I'm saying you don't think he lies?

SCHLAPP: I think--

CUOMO: Well--

SCHLAPP: You - you know, we can spend all day going through--

CUOMO: No. I just want a yes no.

SCHLAPP: --parsing of words.

CUOMO: I want a yes no. You don't think he lies?

SCHLAPP: I think Chris Cuomo lies. I think I have lied. I think people lie, and it's unfortunate.

CUOMO: You don't think this President lies to the American people more than we've seen in the past?

SCHLAPP: No, absolutely not. Matter of fact, he's, Chris, on the things that he said he would do as President, name one thing--

CUOMO: You're narrowly defining it.

SCHLAPP: No. No. The most important thing, "I want to be your President. I will do these six things." He's doing those six things. That is--

CUOMO: And that's not where his integrity ends that he did those things.

SCHLAPP: That's the most important--

CUOMO: In his selling of those things--

SCHLAPP: That's the most important-- CUOMO: --he even lied.

SCHLAPP: You want to look--

CUOMO: He called this tax cut a middle-class tax cut. It did not favor the middle-class.

SCHLAPP: I'm going back to Bob. I'm going back--

CUOMO: He said the wall would fix the problem. It is not a fix for the problem.

SCHLAPP: I'm going back to the question about Bob Mueller.

CUOMO: Oh--

SCHLAPP: The reason--

CUOMO: --good switch.

SCHLAPP: --the reason why--

CUOMO: Yes.

SCHLAPP: --you should be careful in dealing with a Special Counsel who can indict you, if DOJ goes along with it, is that they can look at your words, and say ,"Wow these words don't match up with these words." Bob Mueller's reasons for either indicting or not indicting the President, he's given different answers.

CUOMO: If the President could tell--

SCHLAPP: If - if I use that standard, I could indict--

CUOMO: --the truth and be consistent--

SCHLAPP: --Bob Mueller.

CUOMO: --he would have had nothing to worry about.

SCHLAPP: That's - that's untrue.

CUOMO: Matt Schlapp, we--

SCHLAPP: Carter Page had four FISA warrants on him.

CUOMO: Right.

SCHLAPP: And they didn't indict him. He never did anything.

CUOMO: So what?

SCHLAPP: Because you--

CUOMO: You don't have to be indicted. You don't have to find a crime--

SCHLAPP: Then why would you--

CUOMO: --in order to get a warrant on somebody.

SCHLAPP: --why - yes, but why would you use the FISA Court to go after somebody--

CUOMO: It was something about a pure (ph) intelligence situation.

SCHLAPP: --who never did anything wrong. No, no.

CUOMO: Yes, it's exactly what the FISA was.

SCHLAPP: My--

CUOMO: And I can't wait till they release it, so we can all see it.

SCHLAPP: I - I can't believe I sound like the liberal in this conversation. I think prosecutors can go too far. And I think a lot of time American citizens are victimized by prosecutors who want to do nothing but find any way in which they can indict--

CUOMO: Well - well--

SCHLAPP: --somebody instead of finding the real criminal underlying of what happened.

CUOMO: I have - I have no problem with getting to the truth. That's why I want to see the disclosure here. We'll see what happens next week and the responses to these.

SCHLAPP: Thank you for having me.

CUOMO: You are always welcome here to make that case.

SCHLAPP: OK.

CUOMO: Matt, thank you very much.

All right, next, the best indicator of who's moving up the Democratic polls, you got to look at who the President attacks. So, he went after Elizabeth Warren, and he made the right choice. We'll show you why.

The Wizard of Odds has the latest 2020 poll numbers. Who's moving where and why, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Who's up, who's down, and why? We have new numbers, and Harry Enten, The Wizard of Odds, great to have you here to talk about the state of play.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: Thanks to you.

CUOMO: You want to start with South Carolina, why?

ENTEN: Because it - first off, it's the hottest numbers. These literally just came in.

More than that, obviously in the last debate, we saw Kamala Harris go after Joe Biden's record on busing, and she was making a play for African-American voters, so South Carolina is a real shot to see whether or not that really had a true effect.

CUOMO: Because the percentage of African-American vote is significant there. This is also--

ENTEN: A majority.

CUOMO: --obviously the fourth one in.

ENTEN: Correct.

CUOMO: So, all right, those are two big indicators. What do we see?

ENTEN: And what do we see here? Well I've broken it down overall and among African-Americans, and we see that Joe Biden has an overwhelming lead in this South Carolina poll, leading the field at 35 percent, and Harris is all the way back at 12 percent.

Take a look among African-Americans though. Joe Biden's even doing better among them than he does overall with 41 percent, and Harris is running third with only 12 percent. She's actually running behind Bernie Sanders as well in the second poll (ph).

CUOMO: What do you think about this switch of Sanders and Warren because the story of the day is really Warren, but here, she's way back, why?

ENTEN: Well I think it's a bunch of things, not the least of which is I think this column gives you a pretty good indication. Elizabeth Warren is still struggling with African-Americans. This is one of the groups that she has not so much made an inroad with, so far.

CUOMO: Any insight?

ENTEN: Look, I think African-Americans know Bernie Sanders. They know Joe Biden. They trust those guys. They've run before for President, Joe Biden specifically.

So, Elizabeth Warren comes from Massachusetts. While she's certainly making a play, let's keep in mind, of course, that a lot of voters are still getting to know who Elizabeth Warren is.

CUOMO: You know, the second and third reason for numbers, we call the cross tabs in polls, and one of the interesting things to know about the African-American vote is that women within the African-American vote is really the strong suit for Democrats. It will be interesting to see how they are resonating with the women.

ENTEN: One other thing I'll point out, which we'll get to a little bit later as well, moderates or conservatives, African-Americans, that tends to be their biggest bloc among them, and obviously Elizabeth Warren is a very liberal candidate.

CUOMO: Strong point.

ENTEN: Yes.

CUOMO: So, now we go to the national numbers, and what do we see?

ENTEN: Yes, so basically there was also a - just a fresh day of polls, right? It's a beautiful day of polls for everybody. And what do we see?

So, we have the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, but I also have the CNN Poll of Polls. And what we see generally speaking is Joe Biden is holding on to that number-one position. He's a little bit weaker than he was pre-debate, but he's still number one.

And basically, then what we see is in both of these - both the Poll of Polls and in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, it's basically a three-way tie for second place.

CUOMO: But I wouldn't do it that way. I would do it this way. You want to look at this here?

ENTEN: Right - what?

CUOMO: Give me some - give me some color.

ENTEN: You want some color?

CUOMO: Yes.

ENTEN: How about some green?

CUOMO: I want to do this and this because we have a big discrepancy in those four - in those two.

ENTEN: We - we do have a big discrepancy here. Maybe it's a--

CUOMO: Look at how I did that? Look at how it came into a little arrow on both sides. That wasn't even intentional.

ENTEN: That's some beautiful artwork. Maybe--

CUOMO: All right, go ahead, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

ENTEN: --will be very proud of you. Now, what I - what I'd also point out is a few things.

Number one, margins of error matter here. This was also taken a little bit later, so I think it's going to be interesting to see whether or not Harris struggles in polls further and further out from the debate.

CUOMO: Huh? But it's interesting because we're saying that Warren, the President went after Elizabeth Warren, why?

Because we see a move, and it's important to note. The Wizard of Odds had said after the debate, when Warren got a pop, it's not about the debate for her. This is a slow build. What do you see in these numbers--

ENTEN: Look at this.

CUOMO: ---that validate it?

ENTEN: Look at this. Just March, April, May, June, post-debate, what do we see continuously going up? 6, 9, 10, 12, 15, percent. This is a continuous - this is a continuous climb for her.

I think this is better than a post-debate bump, because it tells you that it's not just about the debate. She's building a case with Democratic voters, and they seem to be latching on to that massively.

CUOMO: Not a splash.

ENTEN: Not a splash.

CUOMO: This is a tied. College?

ENTEN: Yes. I think that this is just so important. If you're kind of looking at where Elizabeth Warren base is, it's White college graduates, 22 percent post-debate in our CNN poll, in March, that's doubling her percentage.

She didn't really grow as much among Whites without a college degree. This is still a group she needs to do well among. White non-college grads, moderate conservatives and African-Americans is where she needs to improve. But right now, she's being powered by Whites with a college degree.

CUOMO: Very good look inside the numbers, and it's interesting, the difference between Harris and Warren.

Warren is making a case with the "I have a plan for everything," slow build. Harris made a splash in that last debate. It's interesting to see if there was any backlash against her in that South Carolina poll.

Wizard of Odds, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Shalom.

[21:20:00] CUOMO: That's good.

ENTEN: Be well, my friend.

CUOMO: That's like his tagline.

All right, another progressive moderate feud within the Democratic Party. Nancy Pelosi got some people upset. She's engaging in infighting with the freshmen. Can she settle the squabble? Must she? Great Debate, next.

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CUOMO: Now we've been watching accusations of racial animus play out on the main stage between Democratic candidates. But now, it seems to be spilling into the House.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the Speaker appears to be unfairly singling out women of color. Let's use that as a springboard for a Great Debate, Alexandra Rojas and Joe Lockhart.

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CUOMO: Rojas, why is it OK to use the rice - the race card against Pelosi?

ALEXANDRA ROJAS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS: I don't think that's the question. I think the question is, is why did Nancy Pelosi send a blank check to fund Trump's deportation and detention machine? And then that's because--

CUOMO: No. The question is why--

ROJAS: --her hand was forced to do it.

CUOMO: --does Cortez play the race card against Pelosi? That's the question.

[21:25:00] ROJAS: Because she's choosing to single out four women of color in Congress who voted alongside 90 other Democrats in the House part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus against this bill. Because again, why did we have to write a blank check to Trump's deportation and detention machine? Because the reality is, is that seven children have died at the Border under the Trump administration's watch. That is the real conversation. And the fact that--

CUOMO: Are you - are you troubled at all by whether or not those kids--

ROJAS: Yes.

CUOMO: --died because Congress, in part, because of the Democrats, delayed funding for so long?

ROJAS: No. I think it's because we're not actually, you know, it - we're taking Mitch McConnell as his word, asking, you know, with zero concessions and accountability for human rights abuses happening under our watch, this doesn't make any sense.

And I think, again, why are we writing a blank check without pushing? I think we have power in the House right now. And again, the reality is, is that four Democrats didn't do this. 90 Democrats in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus also voted alongside four other women.

CUOMO: All right.

ROJAS: And that, apparently, is why this is happening.

And so, let's face this in reality, which is the situation that it was a handful of centrist Democrats, I think, forced Nancy Pelosi to sign a bill with Mitch McConnell that had zero concession, zero oversight and accountability, when there are seven children that have died under the President's watch.

And even - even beyond that, right, we have women that are literally--

CUOMO: Well hold on a second.

ROJAS: --being forced to drink out of toilets. We're having--

CUOMO: Listen, well we don't know that.

ROJAS: Yes, sure.

CUOMO: We do not know that we are having women forced to be drinking out of toilets. We know that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that. But we need to see if there's proof of it. But hold on a second.

Joe, let me get you in on this. Look, there's no question--

JOE LOCKHART, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, CO-HOST, "WORDS MATTER" PODCAST: Sure.

CUOMO: --that a lot of Democrats were sideways on the nature of the funding that was being sent down. But what do you make of the state of play-- LOCKHART: Right.

CUOMO: --in your own party?

LOCKHART: Well listen, I think, you know, our party is used to vigorous debate. And I - and I think the people who made the point that - that Pelosi didn't get the best deal she could, have a point.

She's been doing this for a long time. I believe that she did - she got the best deal she could. But it - it goes beyond the pale, I think, when you start assigning motives to her.

I thought her - I thought, you know, let me say that I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has done a terrific job since she's been in Congress.

The freshmen, whether they're moderate freshmen or very progressive freshmen, have really been leaders. They performed well in hearings. They performed well in every part of the - in every part of the job.

But, you know, Nancy knows what she's doing, and she thought that was the best deal. And to, you know, go, you know, like the, you know, AOC's Chief of Staff said to compare the Democratic Caucus to segregationists, it's just wrong.

It's, you know, you can criticize the deal. You can say you could have gotten more, but you can't assign that kind of motive here--

CUOMO: Well but the - but Joe--

LOCKHART: --not to Nancy Pelosi.

CUOMO: --the problem, here's the thing. They did. They've done it more than once. And I would bet they were going to do it again. How can you take on this President when you have this kind of division in your own party?

LOCKHART: Listen, listen, I think the way we take on this President is the excitement and passion of the progressive wing of the party, but also the strength in the - in the center and the moderates.

The reason Nancy Pelosi is in a position to make these deals, whether it was a good deal or a bad deal, was not because of a great progressive movement. It was because moderates in 40 districts around the country turned Republican seats into Democrat seats. So, both of these groups have to have a seat at the table. We're not

going to beat Trump if both of these groups are fighting each other.

CUOMO: Yes, it's true.

LOCKHART: And it's Nancy Pelosi's job to keep the Caucus together.

CUOMO: I think that's the interesting thing, Alexandra. I hear you on your arguments that, you know, people call me up, make those arguments to me all the time, as I'm doing coverage of the Border, and what they think the priority should be. My question is whether or not your party is actually a party, or two or three different factions, in that there's a chance you won't come together behind a nominee?

ROJAS: No. I think that it's very clear that we all want to defeat Donald Trump.

I think the case that we're trying to make is let's not repeat the same things that got him to this place. I think that, you know, again, the focus has to be on the fact that we have people dying at our Border.

CUOMO: I understand that.

ROJAS: It doesn't have to be polite. This is about--

CUOMO: I understand that. But I don't give you high ground on that--

ROJAS: --doing what is best for them.

CUOMO: --Alexandra. I don't give you high ground on that because you guys knew for - not you, you're not in Congress.

But the Democrats knew for six months that they could not meet the standard of care on the Border. McAleenan came to you guys as CBP and Acting DHS, and said, "I need the money." You didn't give him.

[21:30:00] And DeLauro and others had conversations on this show as "We need guarantees. We need guarantees," but not in a moment of crisis, you don't. You need to get the money down there to stop the pain, to prevent the injuries and the death, and you waited six months. You don't think there's a price for that politically?

ROJAS: I think there's a price politically for saying that you're going to hold Donald Trump accountable, but not actually do it, and take the steps that you need to do it.

CUOMO: That's the counter-argument.

ROJAS: If - if you - if - if we are going to actually hold Donald Trump accountable, then do it. Do it.

Save - save the children that are happening at the Border, you know, keep families together, and hold the President accountable, by at least moving forward with Articles of Impeachment and inquiry on it, like this is not rocket science.

You can still fight for the issues that we care about and you can continue to question the fact that we have seven children that have died at the Border.

CUOMO: 12 families.

ROJAS: And we have families that are reported to being separated.

CUOMO: Yes. ROJAS: OK, 12, even worse.

CUOMO: 12 people, terrible reports of conditions.

ROJAS: And the reality that we're debating whether or not it's poll - if it's polite to talk about that right now or if it's polite to, you know--

CUOMO: I don't - I'm not talking about whether it's polite.

ROJAS: --challenge Democratic leadership, it's not - it's not--

CUOMO: I'm not talking about whether it's polite.

ROJAS: --well.

CUOMO: I - I think playing the race card against Nancy Pelosi was not a smart move both for their careers, and also for consolidation within your party. But Joe, Alexandra makes a good point.

ROJAS: But why - but why - I guess the - I guess the--

CUOMO: Yes, go ahead.

ROJAS: --point is, is that why single these four people out?

CUOMO: Because - because--

ROJAS: Why single these four women out?

CUOMO: --they are the group that play that card.

ROJAS: When 95 other Democrats also - yes but 95 other Democrats also voted for this bill.

CUOMO: Well she - she didn't call them out by name.

ROJAS: And that's why Nancy Pelosi--

CUOMO: But I get you.

ROJAS: --spoke out.

CUOMO: I think a little bit of that is media-baiting, to be honest with you, but she didn't call them out by name. But I take your point.

And let me bounce it to Joe, and I appreciate you making it, which is what do you do going forward? Alexandra has a point. There was a mandate brought in in 2018, and it was, check this President's ass. That was the mandate. Come strong. And you heard the words from those who won.

Yes, you turned moderate districts. But they were all talking that talk, Joe. And are you walking that walk right now?

LOCKHART: Well, listen, Chris, I think you got to go back to 2018. There's a couple levels of this. They - the - the checks were on things like healthcare and protecting pre-existing conditions.

There was not a groundswell in these 40 districts that's won the (ph) House for removing the President or for Bob Mueller's report. These candidates didn't run ads on Russia. They - they ran ads on protecting pre-existing conditions on healthcare.

And listen, I understand. There is a legitimate debate going on in the Democratic Party over how to take on Trump. And I think the subpoenas that were issued today, if they are defied, we may reach a breaking point, and - and we'll see that whether the Democrats move forward or not.

But to go back to the original point, I don't think that the Speaker singled out any particular Members.

There are some Members who are using social media very effectively to get out to new voters, and they are bringing attention, and calling attention to themselves, not just to call attention to themselves but for their issues.

CUOMO: OK.

LOCKHART: But to take the next step, and to say that - that - that she is some - she's playing, you know, she's a racist of some kind, it's just not true. And whether it's helpful or not or whether it hurts the party or not is - is not the most important thing. The most important thing is it's not true.

CUOMO: Well I hear you on that. But you know what I see in you too? I see it reflected with what's going on in the party. There's pragmatism, and Joe, I respect you for bringing that to the show.

And Alexandra Rojas, you've got the passion, and that's at play in this - in this debate as well, and it's good for you to bring it on this show, and let people see where it's coming from.

Thank you for doing it, both of you, all right?

LOCKHART: And we need both.

CUOMO: You - you got both.

ROJAS: Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll see how you reconcile it.

ROJAS: Thank you.

LOCKHART: Right. We--

CUOMO: James Patterson created some pretty wild fictional crime stories, right? Then he wrote a true one that might have been the most wild, Jeffrey Epstein's story. The best-selling author is here, keen insight, new twists in the case, next.

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CUOMO: Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein are pushing for him to get out of jail on bond, and live in his $77 million abode, pending trial.

But more accusers are still coming forward with claims against the sex offender. He is a top-tier sex offender. And he certainly got an easy deal the last time by U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta. Will it happen again? There's so much intrigue.

Let's bring in legendary Author, James Patterson. He wrote about the Epstein scandal, 2016, the book, Filthy Rich. Welcome to PRIME TIME, sir. Great honor.

JAMES PATTERSON, AUTHOR, "FILTHY RICH": Thank you, thank you.

CUOMO: Important to know what we were talking about before we came on. 2016--

PATTERSON: The thing about his abode now is the door's broke. So, so--

CUOMO: Thank you. Good. That 2016, you come out with a book, Filthy Rich.

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: Not a lot of interest in it. Even though--

PATTERSON: No--

CUOMO: --so much that existed.

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: I'm saying in terms of like being here next to me--

PATTERSON: Yes, yes, yes.

CUOMO: --or on these shows or the outrage.

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: Only now, we're starting to hear it. Why the delay?

PATTERSON: I think a piece of it, honestly, was the political side of it. I think what - what got a lot of media interested in the story when that - when Miami Herald stuff broke was the involvement of Acosta. And - and I mean he's in our book as well but--

CUOMO: Right.

PATTERSON: --but all of a sudden, you know, when - when - when we put the book out, he was not Secretary of Labor.

CUOMO: Right.

PATTERSON: So now it's OK, now we're going to talk about Trump and the Secretary of Labor and--

CUOMO: But there was a secrecy here intended or implicit.

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: Where he got the FIU job, you know, he got the job being Dean of the law school there.

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: He got a lot of people coming out for him and saying he'd be great as Secretary of Labor. Did they not know about this or was there a misunderstanding about this?

PATTERSON: I think - I think it's probably a misunderstanding. And I think - and - and I've heard people go all over a lot in terms of how - how it happened, how it's sweetheart deal.

I - I honestly think what happened, I've talked to a lot of people down there about it, is that it wasn't they're afraid of Dershowitz and - and Stone, and - and the other all sorts of them down there.

It was that these people had convinced them that one, we're not going to let all these girls testify because they can't prove they were there. And secondly that we're going to destroy them. We're going to destroy them.

And we're going to - we're going to - basically, if - if - if you come in, and - and - and we're going to try to, you know, get Epstein for prostitution, you're going to get him. But if you're going to try to get him on these, we're going to destroy these girls. We're going to - we're going to portray these--

CUOMO: Not the kind of thing that usually works with a prosecutor, by the way. "I'm going to destroy your witnesses that are underage girls."

PATTERSON: Well except that if you - if you listen to these girls, especially back then, you go, "You know what? It's tricky." They're going to - it's going to be tricky with them.

CUOMO: So, do you think that the culture--

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CUOMO: --difference. [21:40:00] PATTERSON: But so I think they were afraid. I think they're afraid.

CUOMO: Do you think that there's more cultural--

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: --currency now?

PATTERSON: Yes, yes, yes, yes. No. And - and I think that, you know, this is an interesting thing in terms of the - the whole #MeToo movement. I mean nobody seems to be rising up that much in - in terms of these girls.

I mean, obviously, they did in the Cosby case, and they did with Harvey Weinstein. This one, you know, I don't see a lot of women coming up and going out.

CUOMO: Oh, women are coming out though.

PATTERSON: Great. Great.

CUOMO: You - you're getting more people coming out. Obviously, they had to have new evidence in order to get these new warrants. They couldn't do it back then. Two things for you, one, when you were researching the book, this intrigue around his money, these dark notions--

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: --that not only does he not have the money that he was purporting to have, but that there was no real hedge fund. There was no real investment--

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: --business that it was about money that he was getting from people because they were tangled up with him, and what he knew about them. Did you ever get any meat on those bones?

PATTERSON: Not - not about that. I - I - I do think he - he made money for people. I think he was advising them, here's how to get out of tax issues, and - and some investment stuff.

And as we were talking before we get on here, you know, man, if you get Leslie Wexner around here, the guy that, you know, he - he knows some stuff, and - and he and - and Epstein were - were pretty tight.

CUOMO: And why do you think Wexner has been so tough to come forward?

PATTERSON: I don't think he wants to talk about the whole - I mean he - he may be ashamed of it and-- and - or he may just - thinks that he just doesn't going to - he's not going to talk about.

CUOMO: But he doesn't have any exposure as far as we know.

PATTERSON: Who knows? I - I don't know.

CUOMO: It is the Public Corruption Unit that's looking at this--

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: --which is unusual. It could just--

PATTERSON: Oh, yes, totally, yes.

CUOMO: --it could just be an administrative move. Maybe they had tough time fitting it in with who had been doing it before. But it is unusual to have this kind of--

PATTERSON: YES.

CUOMO: --you know, kid abuse case being handled by Public Corruption. As a--

PATTERSON: I - I got to believe that they have some new stuff in terms of trafficking--

CUOMO: Well they have to. They wouldn't get the warrants.

PATTERSON: --in New York. Right.

CUOMO: They would not get the warrants.

PATTERSON: Now - now the thing that, you know, what the beauty now is once they broke down the place, and found pornography, child pornography, presumably, in his apartment is at the worst case, they have that.

CUOMO: Right. But in order to get the warrants, they needed something else.

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: Otherwise, what they found in there would be fruit of the poisonous tree.

PATTERSON: Right.

CUOMO: And they wouldn't be able to use it. And it is a human trafficking story. It is abuse of--

PATTERSON: Yes.

CUOMO: --of minors and sex abuse story. It's not just about underage girls and a mistake.

PATTERSON: Oh, no, and that's - that's the huge thing about this. It is about trafficking. We need to obviously pay so much more attention. It is about these girls. We needed to pay attention to that.

And we need to - and we need to - what because - it's not that we're going to stop this. But these kind of sweetheart deals we have to at least limit them, cut them down. If they - if - if this does that then - then - then - then that's - that's a - that's a good thing.

CUOMO: Mr. Patterson, as we learn more, I would love to--

PATTERSON: Thank you.

CUOMO: --have your insight on understanding in context what we learn and what it means and what you already understand - understand.

PATTERSON: Yes. Well we did. We put out three investigators, private investigators in terms of digging up as much as we could dig up.

CUOMO: We got a lot more people on it now. That's for sure.

PATTERSON: Yes, yes, yes, oh, yes, yes.

CUOMO: We'll see where it leads. James Patterson, what a pleasure!

PATTERSON: Thank you, thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you.

All right, the biggest Inauguration crowd size ever, the most transparent President in history, a stable genius, and now this. Wait for it, next.

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CUOMO: Now, look, I'm not one to pounce on every POTUS peccadillo or truth-twisting tweet. But his latest boast demands a moment of our time.

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DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Any kind of a punctuation mistake, they put it on. So, I'm very, very careful. I - really, I'm actually a good speller. But everyone said that the fingers aren't as good as the brain.

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CUOMO: Good speller? Remember these? First you had the classic "Covfefe," all right? That stands alone. Then you had "Smocking Gun." Typo? He did it twice in the same tweet, all right? Strong point. I tried to make that case. It fails. He can't spell "Counsel." He repeatedly uses the word the wrong way. He misspelled Joe Biden in the same tweet, calling the former VP a low IQ individual, he got that part right.

And behold, the President's take on "Unpresidented," see it there? "Unpresidented." We could, however, possibly forgive "Tapp" and "Scott," with two Ts, Free. You should look up the etymology of scot free. You'll see lot of people made that mistake.

Let's bring in D. Lemon. A great speller? I - I don't think I can give him that. I just don't think I can give it to him.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: OK. So, I'm being honest. Don't make fun of me. I used to win Spelling Bees. My family used to--

CUOMO: Against who?

LEMON: --think that I was, you know, some really smart and, you know, person, prodigy.

CUOMO: Were these - were these open competitions?

LEMON: Because I would remember everyone's phone--

CUOMO: Was this in the house? Where did you win?

LEMON: Stop it. I would remember everybody's phone number. And I could remember everybody's name in the room.

Now, I can't - I cannot spell for, you know what. I can't remember any phone number. I - don't ask me even my own phone number. I can barely remember it. So listen, I'm going to cut him some slack. But here's the thing.

CUOMO: All right, I was going to say, I'm always interested to hear your thoughts on yourself.

LEMON: I'm trying - I'm trying to set it up.

CUOMO: But what does that have to do with this.

LEMON: I'm giving you a caveat.

CUOMO: All right, good, all right, good.

LEMON: I'm doing - so--

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: I'm going to cut him some slack. But here's the point. I am not the President of the United States.

If you are the President of the United States, and people hang on your every word, at least they used to, right, because everyone thought that whenever the President says something, it's serious, then you should check, and recheck, and double-check, and triple-check, and make sure that your spelling is correct, because not only is he inconsistent in spelling, he's inconsistent on capitalization.

So, if I were President of the United States, I would make sure, or I'd have some around me - someone around me to make sure that I spelled things correctly. So, it's not an excuse that he says that "Oh, we put it out there," when he misspells. He's the President of the United States. Get it right.

CUOMO: Also, it is another clever application of his victim complex is that he is--

LEMON: He's - he's the best at it.

CUOMO: --very good at blaming others for things--

LEMON: Of course.

CUOMO: --that he does. And this spelling thing, it's got to be on him. I mean, you know, it's just - there's no way it's on us. It's not about just a little typo and just stuff like that.

LEMON: There's a spellcheck on the iPhone or on your phone. It spells things for you. It will autocorrect sometimes, but you just look at it, and go, "Whoops, that was an autocorrect."

[21:50:00] CUOMO: I mean, you know, I mean it's like--

LEMON: It'll spell it for you.

CUOMO: You know, you just you--

LEMON: That's probably why - that's why I can't spell.

CUOMO: There's no excuse. He should look at a lot of these tweetz - tweets, and be like, "What did I write? What the Covfefe was that?"

LEMON: I was going to say when you came to me what in the Covfefe are you talking about? Hey, listen, let's - talking about the Covfefe on the show tonight, it's actually not Covfefe. It's some interesting stuff. You know the ICE raids?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Two cities that are going to be affected by these ICE raids, Houston and Los Angeles. We got the Police Chief of one city, and we've got the Mayor of another city, OK?

And also, I've assembled a group to talk about the squad, the tension between the squad, and the Speaker, and is there anything that will bring them together? Should they be fighting in public? What in the world is going on? You don't want to miss it.

CUOMO: We had a hot debate on it tonight, it's a great topic. D. Lemon--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --check with you in a second.

LEMON: See you, my brother.

CUOMO: All right.

Paul Ryan, he retired, haven't heard from him for a while. But boy, does he loom large in the latest book? The former Speaker has thrown some shade at the President. Why is he throwing shade now after carrying so much water and basking in the glow of the Trump sun?

That is the subject of our Closing Argument, next.

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CUOMO: So, if integrity is defined by what you do when no one is looking, and perhaps political principle is somewhat of a practical opposite, meaning it is what you stick to, when everyone is looking.

And in this new book, American Carnage, by Tim Alberta, we are reminded about how so many who staked their reputation on principle caved to political convenience in this administration.

Exhibit A has to be Paul Ryan because moments like this became a staple of my coverage of this administration.

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CUOMO: Do you hear that? That's the silence from Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

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CUOMO: Time and time again, this President would say provocative things, and they would say nothing. Ryan would never take an invitation to defend any of his standing-by, despite always casting himself as different, as putting principle before party.

But when he took the Speakership, insisting he would do it his way, his spine softened. Now that he's retired, he seems to be trying to recast his reticence to speak truth to power with this.

"We've gotten so numbed by it all. Not in government, but where we live our lives, we have a responsibility to try and rebuild. Don't call a woman a "horse face." Don't cheat on your wife. Don't cheat on anything. Be a good person. Set a good example."

He never said anything like that about this President when he had the power to make a stand, despite him saying he would never defend this personal perfidy of this President.

And I say, forget about his remounting the moral high horse about this President's personal life. I don't care about his personal life. Let's stick to serious politics and policy. And remember where Ryan stood while in Office.

Here he is on Trump's arguably inappropriate interactions with Jim Comey.

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PAUL RYAN, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: He's new at government. And so, therefore, I think that he - he's learning as he goes.

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CUOMO: On Trump's Charlottesville "Both sides" comment.

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RYAN: He's learning. I know his heart's in the right place.

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CUOMO: And on the Executive Order banning Muslims.

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RYAN: The President has a responsibility to the security of this country.

We need to pause and we need to make sure that the vetting standards are up to snuff, so we can guarantee the safety and security of our country. That is what this does.

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CUOMO: Did we? Because just 14 months before that, he was infuriated by the suggestion of the same type of ban. Proof.

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RYAN: What was proposed yesterday is not what this Party stands for, and more importantly, it's not what this country stands for.

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CUOMO: So, what happened? I'll tell you what happens. With every collapse of character, the offender in politics often rationalizes the fall.

"I told myself I got to have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right. Because, I'm telling you, he didn't know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all the time."

Yes, but you didn't. You said nothing too often.

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RYAN: I've decided I'm not going to comment on the tweets of the day or the - the hour. I haven't seen them all to be candid with you.

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CUOMO: And when he did speak, he was meek. And when he acted, he was in this President's shadow.

A FiveThirtyEight analysis shows Ryan voted in line with Trump's position 95.5 percent of the time, for the Border wall, to the fugazi middle-class tax cuts that ballooned the deficit, so much for being a budget hawk, right, Ryan's signature issue.

There are other examples in here of how those around this POTUS were once opposed, and then became patsies, Mr. Spicer, Mr. Priebus, Mr. Mulvaney.

Can you believe the man who now says you got to let Trump be Trump is code for "I'm scared," right? Mulvaney once said "We're not going to let Donald Trump dismantle the Bill of Rights."

But I focus on Paul Ryan, why? Because he could well have a second act in politics, and he could look good to the reasonable Right, and even some in the center, but he's going to have to own that he was just like the rest of them, not the best of them.

He was given a chance to do what he said he would do, all the things that made so many smile when he spoke, seeing in him a hope for a better politics, principle before party, progress before patronage. But when he had the power to be different, as Speaker, he was painfully the same.

Alberta writes that Ryan saw retirement as an escape hatch. Maybe an escape from Trump or from politics, but not from reality. This period that we're all living together right now is going to be remembered for a long time, and people will be counted what they stood for, what they stood against, and absolutely those who stood still.

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

LEMON: One observation. When you were playing the sound bite of Paul-.

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