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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Judge: Former White House Counsel McGahn Must Testify; Senator Kennedy On Ukraine Comments: "I Was Wrong"; National Enquirer Company Chief Pecker Talking To Prosecutors. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 25, 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]

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: The news continues. So, we'll hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, thank you, J.B. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

"A President is not a king," says the court, ordering Trump's former counsel, Don McGahn, to go before Congress. Now, what does that mean for the other holdouts?

Plus, we now know some of the charges Rudy Giuliani could be facing. And we have a Senator here, trying to give credence to the President's conspiracy theory counter-attack. The question is can anyone reasonably believe Ukraine, and not Russia, attacked our election?

And it's a big Monday, and a big guest. Ronan Farrow is here, as we get news that the President's pal, Mr. Pecker from The Enquirer, is talking to authorities in yet another case against Trump, and an exclusive look at Farrow's new podcast.

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

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: All right, so the big case specifically addresses Don McGahn, the former White House Counsel, and orders he appear before the House impeachment probe, to testify.

The President claimed that he could overrule Congress on the basis of immunity. The Judge crushed that. Here's the quote. "Simply stated, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings."

Now, this isn't just about McGahn. What about Mulvaney, Bolton, Pompeo, others, Mike Pence and his documents, all that is being kept from Congress by Trump, what does this mean about that?

Well, the DOJ is already vowing to appeal this case. But the law's against them on the issue of having to appear before Congress when rightly subpoenaed. The key question is what can people be compelled to talk about once they appear?

So, for the implication of the ruling, let's bring into session Cuomo's Court.

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TEXT: CUOMO'S COURT.

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CUOMO: Elie Honig, Jenna Ellis, thank you both, especially in Thanksgiving week. I'm thankful for you both.

Elie, what does this mean for McGahn when he shows up, and he starts saying, "President doesn't want me to talk about that," we go from immunity to privilege, what does that mean?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER FEDERAL & STATE PROSECUTOR: So Chris, the most important thing this ruling does is tell McGahn, "You do have to show up."

The President's - the President's position has been he doesn't even have to show up. He is what they called "Absolutely immune."

Now the Judge today, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson really blasted that down. She ruled that this idea of absolute immunity is a fiction. It is baseless. It is not something that exists in our laws, and gets separation of powers absolutely backwards.

Now, if and when Don McGahn does show up, and that's still pending appeals, as you noted, then he still could invoke this idea of Executive privilege.

But Executive privilege is narrow. It's not a blanket cover-all. It does not apply to ongoing discussions about criminal activity, I would argue, including obstruction of justice.

CUOMO: Now, Jenna, look, we're - we can't be that surprised. We had Harriet Miers. We had the SP case (ph). We know that the courts tend to shade in favor of due process. But then they get particular about what has to be exposed.

What does this mean for the other people being held back, Mulvaney, Bolton, Pompeo, even the Vice President's documents? Does this mean that they just go running to court to court, and say, they have to all come in? How does it work, do you think?

JENNA ELLIS, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN LEGAL ADVISER, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW ATTORNEY: Well this wasn't a surprise at all, especially coming from this Judge. And so, the White House has indicated that of course they're going to appeal and the Department of Justice as well. And so, this is far from over.

And what the precedent here is really what's important because when you start having White House Counsel and people who should have privilege being able to talk to their clients, in matters of national security, matters that are important to the Executive Branch, this is not part of Congressional oversight.

And so, when you talk about precedent and constitutional law for the past 250 years, while it's not necessarily an absolute privilege, it should be very, very close. And I think that's what the Department of Justice was driving at that the privilege between an attorney and their client--

CUOMO: Right.

ELLIS: --in this case, the President, is very sacrosanct.

CUOMO: Right.

ELLIS: And so, to breach that just for a witch-hunt, and for a fishing expedition, is not the precedent that we should be setting in this country.

CUOMO: Well but obviously the - the Judge and not the - not the first judge to do so, says that that basis doesn't hold water that these are duly-commissioned Congressional Committees. Their subpoenas matter.

Elie?

ELLIS: Their subpoenas matter but not necessarily in this context, and for this particular witch-hunt.

CUOMO: Well the Judge just said exactly the opposite.

ELLIS: So, the substance of it absolutely matters.

CUOMO: And I'm pretty sure that all--

HONIG: Yes.

ELLIS: And I disagree with her.

CUOMO: I know. Well but--

ELLIS: And I think should be overturned.

CUOMO: --but she's the Judge. That's the beauty of the system. You don't have to like it but you must obey.

So, what do you think, Elie, it means for these others because no Judge is going to call it a witch-hunt. We can guarantee that right now. So, what will it mean in terms of subject matter when they get up there to testify?

HONIG: So, two things, Chris.

First of all, it is going to be really hard to draw a distinction between Don McGahn and the need for Congress and the - and the entitlement of Congress to have that testimony and the need for Congress if they choose to take up this legal fight to get testimony from all the witnesses that are missing in action right now, Mulvaney, Pompeo, Bolton on down the line.

[21:05:00]

The other thing I want to take issue with is the comment "I'm not surprised from this Judge." I was in the court. I've been in front of dozens of Federal Judges in my career. I'm not sure how many Ms. Ellis has been in front of.

And I was in the courtroom for the McGahn argument. This Judge was on point, prepared, and couldn't have been fair. She heard out both sides. We were there for hours and hours beyond closing. So, it's really not fair to cast aspersions on this Judge.

ELLIS: Well and - and of course you're going to say that because you agree with that and, you know, trying to compare judicial records here, and the personal attacks really don't get you very far in terms of disagreeing with the actual merits of what she said.

CUOMO: Well but look there's been--

HONIG: I saw her in action.

CUOMO: Yes, but--

HONIG: I - I - I saw how good she was.

CUOMO: All right, so you--

ELLIS: And I've read the opinion.

CUOMO: Right. Well--

ELLIS: So, great.

CUOMO: --well that's a long opinion. You read fast, Jenna.

But, you know, look, the more important political point here is every time this President doesn't like a ruling, he attacks the Judge, going so far as to say the Flores settlement was decided by a Latino judge because he didn't know that Flores referred to the plaintiff, not the Judge. He does this time and time again.

Let me ask you something because you're being subtly accused of it. Do you believe it is wrong for this President to call out judges as being biased every time he doesn't like a decision?

ELLIS: I don't think that that's wrong necessarily.

CUOMO: Really?

ELLIS: I mean if a Judge here is - is showing him or herself to be a judicial activist, like so many of the Leftist appointees, I mean that's the difference between liberalism and activism and genuine conservatism. And that's why President Trump has been so strong with all of his

judicial appointments because conservatism means we're actually conserving the rule of law. We're not making these opinions based on feeling, based on outcome, preferences, or based on politics.

CUOMO: Right.

ELLIS: And so many of the liberally - the Presidents, who have appointed liberal judges, those outcomes are predictable based on politics.

CUOMO: And you don't think conservatives do that?

ELLIS: Not the Constitution.

CUOMO: You don't think conservatives do that?

ELLIS: Conservatives--

CUOMO: They don't do that?

HONIG: Yes.

ELLIS: Conservatives absolutely shouldn't. And if they do, we should call them out as well.

CUOMO: Oh--

HONIG: Chris?

ELLIS: But conservatism, in general--

CUOMO: Good. Elie, Elie, let me ask you something.

ELLIS: --definitely do not, as a principle.

CUOMO: Jenna, I'm with you.

Elie let me ask you something. Can you cite any examples of the bar associations in different judicial bars pushing back on nominees the way they have in this Administration?

HONIG: Sure. I mean there was a judge just recently who was deemed unqualified, who President Trump nominated to the bench.

CUOMO: There were several. In fact, I have Senator Kennedy on tonight who embarrassed a potential judge nominee in a way that I've never seen before. And we keep seeing letters from bar organizations, Jenna, that say they've never seen this many marginally-qualified judges before.

ELLIS: In--

CUOMO: Now, is that because all the bar associations are biased?

ELLIS: In their opinion though. CUOMO: So, they're biased too?

ELLIS: I mean this is the same thing we saw in the impeachment inquiry. Everybody, it's just their opinion, right? Anyone who is a qualified attorney should be able to read the law and apply it equally and fairly. That's the principle of conservatism.

CUOMO: Right.

ELLIS: And if you look back in American history, and you look at the bipartisan support for judicial nominations, never in the history of this country have there been outright baseless attacks against a President's nominations, just because he happens to be President Trump.

CUOMO: They had--

ELLIS: That is absurd. That is unconstitutional and it's unfair.

CUOMO: He had a nominee up there with Kennedy, who not only had never been in court, he didn't understand the basic terms of jurisprudence.

HONIG: And Chris, let me - let me respond to this.

CUOMO: Come on, Jenna, weak case on that.

Elie, go ahead.

HONIG: This President--

ELLIS: In your opinion.

HONIG: --this Administration has lost in federal court over and over and over again. Even in the last few months, we have not one, but two different cases about the Trump tax returns that he's lost on. The Administration lost on its efforts to hide Robert Mueller's Grand Jury material.

CUOMO: Muslim ban.

HONIG: The Muslim ban. And let's keep the--

CUOMO: How to treat kids on the Border.

HONIG: There are Trump-appointed judges.

CUOMO: Getting rid of the ACA.

HONIG: Right. And there are Trump-appointed judges--

ELLIS: And there were so many of those opinions that were unconstitutionally decided.

HONIG: --who have ruled against Donald. Donald Trump has appointed--

CUOMO: Yes. Because we should keep kids in cages. HONIG: --judges to the federal branch, who've--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

HONIG: --ruled against Donald Trump. In the case involving Jim Acosta's White House press pass, that was a Trump-appointed judge who ruled against the Trump Administration. In a case involving a challenge to Robert--

ELLIS: And let's also look at all of the challenges that he's won.

HONIG: --Mueller's appointment.

ELLIS: He's won so many. And so, I mean in terms of, you know, actually winning a lot of these cases, and - and he hasn't had to release his tax returns. That's unconstitutional.

CUOMO: The taxes, I think--

HONIG: Well--

CUOMO: --is going to be the most interesting one. His record thus far--

ELLIS: Absolutely. And the precedent--

CUOMO: --is bad in terms of his win-loss ratio.

ELLIS: --the precedent--

CUOMO: Compared to other presidencies. But we got to leave it there.

ELLIS: The precedent's so bad.

CUOMO: Well--

ELLIS: For this country. And if you hate Donald Trump that much that you're willing to sacrifice the Constitution--

CUOMO: Jenna?

ELLIS: --over it that is a dangerous precedent that we got.

CUOMO: Jenna, let me - let me make one thing clear to you, all right? This show is about respecting the law.

You said earlier "We don't need personal attacks to make a point." The idea that you have to allege that people hate this President, if they don't agree with everything he does, is demonstrable false.

ELLIS: No, I--

CUOMO: And it is - it's--

ELLIS: Well that's not what I actually said, Chris.

CUOMO: Well but that's the implication. I'm very simple.

ELLIS: You can go back and play that. Well that's your implication.

CUOMO: I get the simplification. But you know what?

ELLIS: But that's - I stand by my word.

CUOMO: I know you can.

ELLIS: And you can go back and play the clip.

CUOMO: I know.

ELLIS: But thanks for having me.

CUOMO: But I think you said it for a reason.

Jenna Ellis, Elie Honig, thank you very much both.

HONIG: Thanks guys.

CUOMO: Have good Thanksgivings. All right, so--

HONIG: Thanks, Chris.

ELLIS: Thanks.

CUOMO: --another legal situation to take up, the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, what's the speculation? What is he? Is he a target? Is he a subject? What's going on with these investigations? We now know more. We have reporting about what's in the subpoenas.

Now, in those documents, they have to give a range of potential problems, and what they could mean in terms of charges, and how they could fold into the impeachment investigation, it's all laid 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: New information, not just speculation. We have a hard list of the troubles that Mr. Rudy Giuliani could be facing. How? It comes from an actual federal Grand Jury subpoena. Feds are looking into conspiracy to defraud the U.S., acting as an

unregistered foreign agent, obstruction of justice, making false statements to federal officials, wire fraud, money laundering, and violations of federal election laws that prohibit the use of straw donors and foreign money in U.S. elections.

This ain't penny ante. It's not a "Gotcha" list. And it's not something that could be brushed off as anonymous sources. And it's important to remember who Mr. Giuliani is most closely tied to.

[21:15:00]

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GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE EUROPEAN UNION: Secretary Perry, Ambassador Volker, and I, worked with Mr. Rudy Giuliani on Ukraine matters at the express direction of the President of the United States.

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CUOMO: Express direction of the President of the United States, not an opinion. That is a recall. Remember who was calling the shots, which may bring us to this idea of insurance.

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RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL LAWYER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I've seen things written like "He's going to throw me under the bus."

ED HENRY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: Right.

GIULIANI: When they say that, I say, "He isn't. But I have insurance."

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CUOMO: Hmm! To which the President said today.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of Rudy Giuliani saying he has insurance?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Oh, I don't know. Rudy's a great guy. Rudy was - Rudy was the - and he - he covered that himself. You know that. Rudy is - Rudy is the best Mayor in the history of New York, in my opinion, the strongest Mayor, the best Mayor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

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CUOMO: And he ain't going to trash-talk him right now because Rudy is right. He knows a lot, and he was working solely as a defense attorney, but that only goes so far.

And it's clear, those who knew what he was doing in Ukraine offer a different take.

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FIONA HILL, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER TOP RUSSIA ADVISER: Rudy Giuliani was a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.

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CUOMO: Hyperbole aside, back to the subpoena, it asks for records as well related to the former Mayor himself, his company, Giuliani Partners, and any payment to Giuliani, or his firm, as well as political donations to the pro-Trump SuperPAC, America First Action.

Now, keep in mind, a Grand Jury subpoena isn't a wish list. The Feds can only list crimes that they are actively investigating.

Mr. Giuliani's lawyer says "All the SDNY had to do was ask us, and we would have given them whatever they wanted, because Mayor Giuliani has nothing to hide, and did everything in a proper and legal way."

Now, that aligns with the point that Mr. Giuliani keeps making that nobody at the SDNY has spoken with him. However, they don't have to.

And the longer that that is true, the less that that may be good for him. In a federal investigation, you don't want to be the last person they speak with. That might mean you're not just a witness, you're the target.

Now, Republicans can try to make a credible case that the President should not be impeached. But why instead this defense about Ukraine, and not Russia, interfering in our election?

Senator John Kennedy is here to make the case.

[21:20:00]

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: Now, even though the facts in the impeachment hearing seemed pretty clear to most of the witnesses, and most of America, a case can be made that the President did something wrong, but not worthy of removal.

However, instead of that case, some are now doubling down on the idea that the President did nothing wrong because saying it was Ukraine, and not Russia, who interfered in the 2016 election is right.

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CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Who, do you believe, was responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their emails? Was it Russia or Ukraine?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I don't know, nor do you, nor do any others. Ms. Hill is entitled to her opinion.

WALLACE: Well, I mean let me just - let me just interrupt to say the entire Intelligence Community says it was Russia.

KENNEDY: Right, but it could also be Ukraine. I'm not saying that I know one way or the other.

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CUOMO: Let's bring in Louisiana Senator, John Kennedy. That's him there and that's him here.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: Senator, thank you for joining us.

KENNEDY: How you been, Cuomo?

CUOMO: Better than--

KENNEDY: Good to see you, man.

CUOMO: Better than I deserve. Thanks for coming in. I don't want to just have people on to--

KENNEDY: You bet.

CUOMO: --call you liar, and say that you don't mean it. I want to hear it from you. Do you really believe that it wasn't Russia?

KENNEDY: I did that interview yesterday with - with Chris Wallace. Damn good reporter. I was answering one of his questions. And he interjected a statement, and asked me to react to it.

What I heard Chris say was he made the statement that only Russia had tried to interfere in the election. And I answered the question. That's not what he said. I went back and looked at the transcript. He said only Russia tried to hack the DNC computer. Now, Chris is right. I was wrong. The only evidence I have, and I think it's overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC computer.

CUOMO: That's what the consensus is.

KENNEDY: I see no - yes. I've seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.

CUOMO: All right, well first, let me just say, Senator.

KENNEDY: There is a lot of--

CUOMO: Let me stop you for a second.

KENNEDY: Uh-huh.

CUOMO: You just did something we've never heard this President do, which was say, "Hey, I know I said that. I was wrong." So, good, let's check a big honking box. You don't think Ukraine was the one to look at the server.

Then why do you think the President keeps saying something that he also knows is not true? Intelligence Community, the Senate Committee on it or, you know, entire apparatus that looked at this.

KENNEDY: Mm-hmm.

CUOMO: You guys have been briefed about it. Why does he say something that you know is untrue?

KENNEDY: Well here's why. There - there is a lot of evidence, proven and unproven, everybody's got an opinion that Ukraine did try to interfere, along with Russia, and probably others, in the 2016 election.

CUOMO: What evidence?

KENNEDY: In January of 2 - well in January of 2017, Politico did a long, long exhaustive article talking about it.

[21:25:00]

On October 21 of this year, The Economist magazine wrote a long piece, probably the best I've read, talking about Ukraine's involvement in the election. There have been pieces in the - in CBS, on Washington Examiner.

CUOMO: No. They - they raised questions.

KENNEDY: It was--

CUOMO: They raised questions.

KENNEDY: Well yes, I think--

CUOMO: But we both know Mueller--

KENNEDY: Right.

CUOMO: --spent almost 30 pages on this. He testified. It was not Ukraine. They were not part of the Russian apparatus. Yes, many foreign actors tried to interfere in our elections, and otherwise.

But that's not what this is about. This is about the President--

KENNEDY: Well if you look at--

CUOMO: --trying to justify--

KENNEDY: Right. And - and--

CUOMO: --leveraging Ukraine for political advantage, and I don't know why you want to be a part of that.

KENNEDY: Well if you look at the articles, Chris, I'm - I'm just - I mean I'm not saying they're all accurate. But they're all very reputable reporters.

CUOMO: Yes, so was our Intelligence Community.

KENNEDY: That talked about--

CUOMO: So was the Mueller report.

KENNEDY: That - right. But they - they talked about - I think it was pretty common knowledge that President Poroshenko at that time did not support President Trump. But let me tell you why it matters.

CUOMO: Yes.

KENNEDY: What matters is not what I think. What matters to me is, I analyzed this case, is what the President thinks. There are two scenarios, in my opinion. And I - I don't think this case is about a quid pro quo.

I think that - that Speaker Pelosi's theory, and - and Chairman Schiff's theory is that the President asked for an investigation of a political rival.

CUOMO: Mm-hmm.

KENNEDY: The alternative theory is that the President--

CUOMO: That's what his words were, Senator.

KENNEDY: Right. I understand. And I can see but why people have that interpretation.

CUOMO: Well he said it.

KENNEDY: But the alternative theory--

CUOMO: Is?

KENNEDY: --is that the President asks for an investigation of possible corruption by someone who happens to be a political rival.

CUOMO: Mm-hmm.

KENNEDY: Now, the latter is - could - is arguably in the national interest. The former would be in his personal parochial interest.

Here's what bothers me, Chris that in the House, Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi refused to allow the President or the Republicans to offer any evidence of the second theory. And I don't think that's fair.

CUOMO: Well but - but we have a whole - we have another phase.

KENNEDY: I don't - I think that - that offends me. I think that's a violation--

CUOMO: We have two, possibly--

KENNEDY: --of due process.

CUOMO: --two more phases. But we certainly have one more phase. And these rules are no different than they were under the Clinton impeachment. Let me ask you some questions. One, the President has given aid to Ukraine twice before now.

KENNEDY: Right.

CUOMO: Biden was the same subject of the same theories in each of the two prior distributions to Ukraine. The President never mentioned this. The only thing that changed between the two times he gave money to Ukraine, and this time, is that the former VP is running for President.

Is that just a coincidence?

KENNEDY: Well I don't think it's fair to assume without allowing the defendant to rebut the evidence that the President asked for an investigation of a political rival. I think he ought to be allowed to put on evidence rebutting that. That would be point one.

CUOMO: But he will at the trial. Rudy Giuliani came on this show.

KENNEDY: Yes.

CUOMO: And said that that's why--

KENNEDY: Yes.

CUOMO: --he was over there was to find Biden. Now, the alternative theory becomes "But the President hates corruption."

And my question to you, Senator, is, "Says who?" When have we ever seen this President make any move against corruption that involved funding?

He funds Russia. He funds Turkey. He says great things about North Korea. Since when is he a Corruption Hawk? He doesn't even talk about his own Administration that has the most corruption we've seen in modern history.

KENNEDY: Well I think when the case gets to the Senate, and - and the reason I'm offended by what's going on in the House, this will be the first partisan impeachment in the history of our country.

I think Chairman Schiff and Speaker Pelosi knew from the very beginning with - how they would vote, and what they were going to try to prove. This case is really being tried to the American people.

And I just think if you're going to try it to the American people, you ought to afford both sides due process. That's going to happen in the Senate.

CUOMO: Sure. It's going to happen the same way it did with Clinton.

KENNEDY: I certainly vow (ph) to do that.

CUOMO: Now in fair things, you know, you know, just so they know, you would never have that nice head of hair if you'd been in the Senate as long as it would take you back to being part of the Senate the - in the Clinton process.

But you went from land transfers to an affair in Clinton. You want to talk about a partisan investigation? And you want to talk about due process. It was all done by an Independent Counsel, yes, appointed by Clinton's Attorney General, Janet Reno.

But this has been way more open. You've got half the room in there only working to defend the President. We've never seen that before either.

KENNEDY: Chris, Chris?

CUOMO: Yes, Senator?

[21:30:00]

KENNEDY: If - if I were a - if I were a prosecutor, and I were prosecuting you for a felony, and I went to a federal judge, and I said, "Judge, trust me, Chris is guilty. So, I want an order that he can't call any witnesses. He can't rebut any of the evidence. He can't even have his lawyer in court," you know what would happen to me? You know what would happen to me.

CUOMO: I do.

KENNEDY: I would - the federal judge would look at me, I would either end up in handcuffs, or a straitjacket, or both. And - and--

CUOMO: Well we may still see that outcome here. But this is the difference. This is the indictment phase. Even if it goes through the - the judiciary, and they bring articles of impeachment, you and I both know, that is tantamount to an indictment.

And when you are being investigated for possible crimes, Rudy Giuliani ain't part of the investigation right now. He may want them to talk to him. But we both know they don't have to. And that's what's going on now.

The only difference is this President has half the room of prosecutors working very hard to find him not guilty of anything.

KENNEDY: Well I - I still think we'll just have to agree to disagree, my friend because--

CUOMO: About?

KENNEDY: --I - I just don't think it's fair. I just don't think it's fair not to give somebody due process when they're being impeached.

CUOMO: I'm not saying. I agree with you.

KENNEDY: I think they ought to be able to call their own witnesses.

CUOMO: I just think that this is due process. And you're going to have a trial. What I don't understand is this. Why not make this argument instead?

KENNEDY: Uh-huh?

CUOMO: Look, what he did here was wrong. If he wanted to go after Biden, he should have gone to the DOJ, or he should have gone to you, or his friend, Senator Graham, and said, "Look into this. I think it's worthy of looking into. He's an American citizen. I think he's dirty. Yes, he's running against me. But, you know, I - I think you should do it."

He could have done that. But he didn't.

And the theory is, and he'll get a chance to rebut it at trial, the only way this makes sense to ask Ukraine to do it, and not even to do it, just to announce that they're going to do it, is so his handprints weren't on it, but it would be bad for Biden, because we both know, someone makes an announcement that they're looking at John Kennedy for potential corruption, you got stink on you in that election, and that's what this looks like because that's what came out of his mouth.

Why talk about the Ukraine theory? We both know it's bunk, and now you're attached to it.

KENNEDY: Well, two points.

Number one, if you look at the articles I talked about, you will see that there's a lot of evidence that Ukraine did try to meddle in the election in 2016. And I think it was very common knowledge. I know it was that President Poroshenko, then, was actively working against President Trump.

Number two, and I believe that, Chris. And I think that that's-- CUOMO: I think that it's common knowledge that he didn't like Trump. That's what is said about him, but not that he was actively working against him.

And remember, you want to weigh two articles, which I'm very flattered by, as a member of the media, but you want to weigh it against the Mueller findings, the Intelligence Community findings, and the investigative findings that have been briefed to you in the Senate.

All of that you're saying should be equally balanced with two articles?

KENNEDY: No, I'm not. I'm not saying that.

I'm saying the - the allegations that has been made against me that there's, and against Senator Wicker, who was on the - the Sunday shows too that there's absolutely no evidence that Ukraine tried to meddle in the election, and that's just not true.

Go read the Politico article. It's a long exhaustive piece.

CUOMO: But why did Mueller say otherwise in his testimony?

KENNEDY: Go read The Economist.

CUOMO: Why does the Intelligence Community say otherwise?

KENNEDY: I - I - I don't know.

CUOMO: Why does Fiona Hill and all the experts say it?

KENNEDY: I don't know. But--

CUOMO: You do know, Senator. I don't know why you have to go this way--

KENNEDY: No, I don't. No, I don't.

CUOMO: --to defend this President.

KENNEDY: I don't know. I mean I'm telling you what I believe, Chris. But the larger issue is it's not what I believe. It's whether the President is allowed to offer a defense.

CUOMO: He will be, of course.

KENNEDY: And when this--

CUOMO: We saw the procedures.

KENNEDY: --when - when this - well he's not in the House. He's not.

CUOMO: But that's because it's the investigative and indictment phase.

KENNEDY: I mean it's not a - it's not a defense. But - but they're trying this case in front of the American people. CUOMO: Just like with Clinton.

KENNEDY: And the American people need to see both sides.

CUOMO: And if that hadn't happened with Nixon--

KENNEDY: And - and if I just--

CUOMO: --he probably wouldn't have resigned. This is about the American people. This is a political process. But Senator--

KENNEDY: I agree.

CUOMO: --I appreciate you making the case. I don't want people just calling you a liar. I want you to speak for yourself, and make the case to my audience. And you did that. And I appreciate it.

KENNEDY: Have a good Thanksgiving, my friend.

CUOMO: You too, and be well. I'm thankful for you taking the opportunity here. I don't understand the whole argument. But I'm happy you made it here. Thank you, Sir.

KENNEDY: Well have me back and we'll talk about it some more.

CUOMO: Done.

All right, another legal battle that's affecting this President, it seems old, but it isn't. It's real, and it's being done right now. Hush money payments to women, an extension of what is now a household phrase, Catch and Kill.

The Tabloid Titan, who's a friend of the President, who was involved in this, is being questioned.

Look who we have, perfect timing, Ronan Farrow. A look at his book that warranted a Pulitzer Prize, and a new podcast, and insight into Mr. Pecker. Thank you, Ronan. See you soon.

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CUOMO: All right, big news. One of Donald Trump's powerful colleagues is talking to prosecutors,

according to sources. National Enquirer parent company Chief, David Pecker was involved with the now infamous Catch and Kill, a former Playboy model Karen McDougal story.

We have the perfect guest, Author of "Catch and Kill." His reporting on this topic merited no less than a Pulitzer Prize. Not Pewlitzer (ph). I haven't won one. But I can say it.

Tomorrow, The Catch and Kill podcast with Ronan Farrow goes live. Perfect timing.

RONAN FARROW, "THE CATCH AND KILL PODCAST WITH RONAN FARROW", AUTHOR, "CATCH AND KILL": Pleasure to be here.

CUOMO: Congratulations on the work, on the suggestion of culture change, because of your work, now the podcast. But help us learn first. David Pecker, haven't we heard this story already? What is this new iteration of investigation?

FARROW: The significance of the story is ongoing.

What I and a number of other publications, the Wall Street Journal did great reporting on this, uncovered over the series of stories, is that David Pecker and Donald Trump had an arrangement to kill these stories before the election.

And there is still new information coming out about that, in this book, and this podcast, that's now coming up, based on this book.

There is a new allegation that the Enquirer buried a story about a claim that Donald Trump had been involved in a sexual assault of an underage girl. And maybe the claim is specious.

That's been true of a number of these stories that were caught and killed. But the process of a - a collaboration to get the story, and get rid of it, that is a potential violation of election law. And we already have--

CUOMO: How so?

FARROW: Well, you know, you are not supposed to have an arm of the media collaborating directly with a political entity, during an election, and spending money that is not a declared campaign expenditure, as you know.

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And the National Enquirer has admitted in an agreement with prosecutors that this happened, and it might have been illegal. This is after they lied to me again and again, in all these stories, and said, "It never happened. We were just exercising journalistic judgment when we buried these stories."

So, we know it happened. And now we're looking at this frenzy of investigations around Trump, and the Administration. And the way he manipulated the media to provide cover for some of the allegedly fraudulent activity that happened around him is at the center of many, many threads of that.

CUOMO: So, what would that be in terms of substance? The dismissal argument will be "This is penny ante. OK, it's a campaign finance, because he didn't do the paperwork. Fine us. We'll fix the paperwork."

You say, "No. There are darker potential iterations of this." How?

FARROW: So, the reality is you're absolutely right that when you talk to legal experts about this, they say, A, it's very likely a violation of campaign finance law, and B, very difficult to prove that, very difficult to ever bring anyone to justice for that sort of a crime.

This may be one reason why, again and again, prosecutors have passed up opportunities to hold the folks at the Enquirer accountable, and instead cut deals with them. That's how they got Michael Cohen behind bars.

CUOMO: Is it relevant that Pecker's talking to them?

FARROW: So, all the way along, David Pecker, and his subordinate, Dylan Howard, and this book, and this podcast, lays out some pretty crazy stuff about the collaboration they had with Trump.

They were shredding documents right before the election. They were going after these additional new claims that I document about Trump to try to get rid of them.

CUOMO: Why do they say they did it?

FARROW: So--

CUOMO: Just they like him? Is it just affection?

FARROW: They say in the agreement with prosecutors, the goal was to influence the outcome of the election. And that is why this is important to our democracy. And they have played ball--

CUOMO: But this cost money, Ronan. Killing a story ain't cheap, I would imagine, right?

FARROW: And it seems like at a certain point, David Pecker's patience waned, and he didn't want to do any more of these.

When the Stormy Daniels transaction came about, initially that was dropped to the National Enquirer. That's something I lay out in this book. And the National Enquirer, Dylan Howard, punted that to Michael Cohen. That's why he had to set up all this infrastructure, and these shell companies on the fly to do it himself.

CUOMO: Right. And we wound up getting the tape where the President said, "I don't know anything about this," and you hear him talking about it.

FARROW: That's right. CUOMO: But is that something worth mining for you that this is expensive? He may have liked him. But he didn't like him this much. Was there some type of financial arrangement as well? And if so, would that matter?

FARROW: Well there certainly was an arrangement where there was an expectation that there'd be some kind of a quid pro quo.

And, you know, at the very least, the sources that I have around the National Enquirer talk explicitly about David Pecker expected to get that invitation to the White House. He expected to get those introductions to potential sources of funds at a time when the National Enquirer was flat-lining. This was not something that he got nothing out of.

CUOMO: So, this book helped to start change culture. I know that we never want to get too far because if people read this book, they'll see that the impediments on you personally, and professionally.

I think one of the surprises of the book for people, if you haven't read it yet, which I can't believe there aren't any copies left of it, at the rate that it's selling, but that this was very hard for you personally. It was challenging for you personally to deal with the process and see what it was about.

Now comes the podcast, and what do you want the podcast to be as an extension of the effort? Starts tomorrow.

FARROW: So, this story that we've been talking about, the catching and killing of the truth, by the Enquirer, on behalf of Donald Trump, it's literally a plot point in this book that I'm unraveling the clues to try to document that.

But it's also it is representative of a larger figurative hole, the ways in which the media covers for powerful people on occasion, buries the truth. And all of us journalists who are fighting for the truth need to hold ourselves accountable.

And, in the book, and now in the podcast, you have these incredible people, in the media, sources who worked with investigative journalists, coming forward, and saying, "This is how we surmounted these obstacles. This is how we made sure that the Donald Trump argument that the press is the enemy of the people isn't true."

CUOMO: Don't you have a guy who was paid to spy on you?

FARROW: Yes.

CUOMO: In this?

FARROW: So, that suppression of stories went even as far as an international espionage operation, where I was getting followed around by spies with false identities, were staking me out.

And one of those spies becomes a whistleblower, develops a conscience, and says, "I care about the Free Press. Here is why I'm coming forward." He's actually the first episode of the podcast.

And so, for people who read the book, or if you haven't read the book, the voices you hear on the podcast are either a chance to get to know these sources better, if you've become attached to them in the book, or a good way into this story that's really accessible. They have a lot to say and a lot we can learn from.

CUOMO: What is the one change you would like to see that hasn't happened yet?

FARROW: You know, I would like to see more investigative journalism of this type. I think that we are at this crossroads where we have authoritarian rhetoric weaponized against the Free Press.

And yet, we have an incredible amount of good investigative journalism happening at the Washington Post, at The New York Times, at ProPublica, at The New Yorker where I write.

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And it is important for all of us to stay in that fight, and do good journalism, and stick to the facts, and not wear people out with shouting and partisanship. The truth matters. It matters to the future of our democracy.

And if we can cut through the - the ways in which the press gets subverted by powerful people, and keep empowering brave sources, like the ones who talk to me in this podcast, in this book, I think we've got a fighting chance at transparency and accountability.

CUOMO: So, Catch and Kill, the podcast with Ronan Farrow available tomorrow. Everywhere you can get the podcast?

FARROW: Wherever you listen to podcast, and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to listen, and sign up, and rate and review it. It - it is a chance to support this kind of investigative journalism, and these kinds of sources.

CUOMO: And I appreciate you taking the time and opportunity to make my audience smarter and better informed on something that really matters.

FARROW: Always a pleasure, Chris. Thanks.

CUOMO: All right, Ronan, be well. Happy Thanksgiving to you, your mom, the whole family.

FARROW: Same to you and your family.

CUOMO: I'm little bit of a fan of hers. But that's all right.

FARROW: She's great.

CUOMO: We'll say that - of course, she's (ph).

FARROW: She likes you too.

CUOMO: All right, we'll talk later. Thank you very much.

All right, so the Closing Argument, this story about the Navy SEAL, it's not about why he intervened. It's about what the lesson is coming out of it. I'll lay it out for you, and you see that it extends to every play this President makes, next.

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CUOMO: President Trump - Trump stepped in to help a controversial Navy SEAL stay a SEAL. And the Navy Secretary is now gone because of it. But this is not a story about yet another military man getting away from this President. It's about why.

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DAVID MARTIN, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well what message does it send?

RICHARD SPENCER, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE NAVY: I - that you can get away with things.

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CUOMO: That's my argument. The Red Hats should say "Get away with anything" because the goal of this President is not to be great. It is apparently "I argue to beat the system by any means necessary."

The law-and-order President who promised to end the carnage has ignored the law, ignored due process, attacked the justice system, not out of any grand principle of reform, just to protect himself. And he does it because he thinks he can get away with anything as President.

Now, a Judge just told him tonight he can't just wave his hand and prevent people from testifying to Congress. "He's not a king," said the Judge.

The Supreme Court is reviewing whether he must turn over his taxes to Congress as the law states.

Other courts told him he can't do what he wants to kids at the Border or to Muslims.

And when it comes to his party though, unlike with the law, he always gets a pass.

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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Show me something that - that - that is a crime. If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.

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CUOMO: You mean like this?

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SONDLAND: Mr. Giuliani's requests were a quid pro quo for arranging a White House visit for President Zelensky.

Mr. Giuliani was expressing the desires of the President of the United States.

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CUOMO: There is ample evidence, forget about the Latin, of a bribe, abuse of power. And the Senator's reaction to having his standards satisfied is you know what? Give a pass to the President.

Next, Trump's taxes. Way back in 2016, before Trump had clinched the GOP nomination, "But his taxes," was a rallying cry for opponents.

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SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Maybe in addition to that, last year, he wrote a big check to Planned Parenthood. Now, I have no idea if he did or not. Why, because he hasn't released his taxes.

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CUOMO: Hear that? That's Cruz. Now, he grew a beard to hide his face and says nothing.

Another pass. The Party that once stood behind President Reagan, shouting down Russia's leader, stood silent as this President took the side of Russia's leader over America.

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TRUMP: I have President Putin. He just said it's not Russia. I will say this. I don't see any reason why it would be.

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CUOMO: I keep going back to this because we have never ever seen anything like it before. It is anathema, not just to President Reagan, but everything the Grand Old Party was once about, and they said nothing. This is a President whose former lawyer is in jail for arranging hush money payments to a porn star on his behalf. And the Party that said President Clinton was a matter of moral principle, nothing.

This President lies like no politician we have ever seen, think about that, the most ever, and his Party, which used to campaign on the notion that character counts, now can't count on a millipedes feet how many times they've given this POTUS a pass for out-right perfidy, deceit, not being trustworthy.

The Party that likes to remind Democrats that it was their party in the South that spawned the KKK, and other White haters, now idly entertains the President, who has said so much to embolden White nationalists, even saying that he's a nationalist, when he knows the term is only used here by them, so much so that hate groups celebrate him.

Now, if they continue to allow this President to flout all standards of not just Presidential behavior, but adult behavior, if they stand for nothing, they will fall for anything. And that's what excusing obvious abuses and wrongs suggest.

What do they stand for except allowing Trump to do whatever he wants? They might as well change their name to Team Trump. I'm sure POTUS would be fine with that.

Here's the real question. If President Trump decided to rename the Party, who would stand in his way? That's my argument.

Now, one crucial figure in the impeachment probe has not yet been asked to testify, but that could change. Who is it? BOLO, next.

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CUOMO: BOLO. Be On the Look-Out. Federal prosecutors are circling Rudy Giuliani, and his associates, may have another key witness to testify on their business dealings. Who? The CEO of Ukraine's state gas company, Naftogaz.

He told Time Magazine that if U.S. prosecutors ask him to testify, he'd be willing to talk. Asked whether that's info on Giuliani, or about his now indicted associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the Executive said "Both. Everything is connected," was his quote, which is true.

Parnas and Fruman needed Giuliani to help them to get access and to help them to deal with this U.S. Ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, because they all wanted her out because she stood in their way of getting the investigations they wanted, and in the case of Mr. Parnas and Fruman, to get the Naftogaz.

Now, on the flip side, Giuliani used those two to look for Biden. So, we'll see what it leads to, and it - we'll see what it will spawn in terms of more conspiracy theories about Ukraine meddling because that seems to be the defense de-jour. That's French.

Now, remember, Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but the federal prosecutors are all over it.

Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT with the upgrade, Laura Coates, starts right now.