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Cuomo Prime Time
Trump Flips From "100%" To "We'll See" On Taking Mueller; Conway: If There's Collusion ON The Part of Democrats; Conway: "Nobody Here Talks About Clinton"; Trump Insists Wall Must Be In Immigration Deal; Conway: Manufacturing Is Back In This Country; Self-Proclaimed "Toughest Sheriff" Running For Senate; Does Arpaio Still Back Birther Conspiracy About Obama?; Trump Previously Tweeted Support for Arpaio Rival; The Great Debate; Trump's Bipartisan Image Rehab Show. Aired 9- 10p ET
Aired January 10, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: So, those are the facts. Now, it's time to argue the case. Let's bring in counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, joining us right now. Happy new year to you, my friend. It's good to have you.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Hello, Christopher. Congratulations on your new show.
CUOMO: Thank you. A fun four weeks ahead for sure.
CONWAY: I heard one of your New Year's resolutions is to allow me to finish sentences so I really look forward to this interview.
CUOMO: Well, good, just return the favor. So will the president sit down with the Special Counsel?
CONWAY: The president and his lawyers have made very clear from the beginning that this White House is cooperating with request for information, and that hasn't changed.
CUOMO: But will he sit down with the special prosecutor? He had said, sure, 100%. Now, he said, we'll see, we'll see. I don't know why we have to have an interview, very different, no?
CONWAY: Chris, so the president has also said as recently as today that this -- there is no Russian collusion. There is no collusion. I mean, your network has been covering it for the better part, well, for a year plus. Your morning colleague, Alisyn Camerota, told a radio show six months ago that she's got a little bit of Russia fatigue, she wonders every day if she should be covering this from segment to segment. I think many people agree, many Americans agree.
CUOMO: She got over it. She pushed through it.
CONWAY: She got over it.
CUOMO: It was Russia fatigue but it's like a flatten effect (ph). CONWAY: Why is that? Because it's such a -- but why is that it can't
-- but Chris, it can't -- Christopher, it can't possibly be because we found anything.
CUOMO: How do you know?
CONWAY: Where is the evidence?
CUOMO: How can you tell? Are you a lawyer? What do you know? What's --
CONWAY: Well, hold on, this is going on for -- you know that this is going on for a year. And you (INAUDIBLE) that you --
CUOMO: Right, nothing like federal investigative standards.
CONWAY: But Chris, think about everything that you have missed covering because of the obsession with the Russian collusion investigation, which the president has said as recently as today doesn't exist. And he also made the point that if there's any collusion that it occurred with the Democrats, you look at who paid for the dossier, you look at who was trying to pull different tricks to win the election that they lost anyway. And that's very concerning to me and many Americans.
But look, let's just talk about what hasn't been covered.
CUOMO: Now, wait, hold on one second. Hold on, hold on.
CONWAY: You want to cover who's up and who's down, what's up and what's down.
CUOMO: All right, and we will.
CONWAY: It's a stock market, the consumer confidence.
CUOMO: We're going to talk about --
CONWAY: What's down is ISIS and unemployment.
CUOMO: -- we're going to talk about a lot of things.
CUOMO: But you can't just --
CONWAY: To be fair.
CUOMO: You can't just run through an explanation, trample the facts and then move on. You got to give me a chance to get in it.
CONWAY: Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, don't do that just because it'll make for a great viral moment or a promo, I examine all your Cuomo promos.
CUOMO: But there's only one promo. And you're going to -- CONWAY: But hold on, hold on, hold on, what do you mean I trample the facts, be specific.
CUOMO: All right, here's -- good. Here we go.
CONWAY: Don't you say that.
[21:05:03] CUOMO: You say it was paid for by the Democrats. As we all know, right, it started off with a Republican funder then moved on to a Democratic funder. You say the president said there's no collusion.
CONWAY: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a second, no, no, no, hold on. Did the Democrats paid for it or not? Did the Clinton campaign paid --
CONWAY: -- millions of dollars. OK.
CUOMO: As far as we know, yes, they did.
CONWAY: That's a fact.
CUOMO: And Republicans funded it as well.
CONWAY: That hasn't been trampled, that's a fact.
CUOMO: But Fusion GPS is not a Democrat outfit as Sarah Sanders tried to suggest. You had Glenn Simpson in testimony that the Republicans wanted to keep quiet where he said, no, I got lefties, I got righties, I've got journalists on the left, I've got people from the right. I've never been paid by Russia. I'd never worked for Russia. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stated that he had this fact because she listened to a man named Bill Browder who give -- did some testimony.
CONWAY: But, Chris, this is your show.
CUOMO: So, those are the facts. But hold on.
CONWAY: Chris, this is your show, but look, I'm talking from the White House briefing room.
CONWAY: And, are we going to talk about the things that happened --
CONWAY: -- this week. Or even just --
CONWAY: -- today --
CUOMO: So this is happening today.
CONWAY: -- when the president --
CUOMO: This happened today.
CONWAY: -- again --
CUOMO: When he said he was going to sit down.
CONWAY: -- yesterday stood -- well, hold on, a lot happened here today. The president had a bilateral meeting with the prime minister of Norway. Then he had a two-on-two press conference with her.
CONWAY: Then a one-on-one but two-on-two with the questions press conference with her. In between, he did many things, at least of which, was another bipartisan action at about 5:30 today in the Oval Office. The president invited in members of the House and Senate --
CONWAY: -- Democrats and Republicans, and he signed the Interdict Act into law, and you're not telling the people that. It's relevant that we now have more money for our customs and border patrol to detect and interdict fentanyl, which is a major killer in this country. He signed, he gave the pen to Democratic Senator of Massachusetts Ed Markey because he sees --
CUOMO: In bipartisan spirit.
CONWAY: -- that this is -- well, no, it's not just a spirit, it's an action. That particular piece of legislation passed --
CUOMO: Yes, I'm glad you brought up Interdict. I'm glad you brought it up.
CONWAY: But you won't tell people what's happening. You're telling them what may be and what fantasies may actually come true one day, five years maybe.
CUOMO: That's not true. You should -- and by the way, you shouldn't dismiss national security concerns as fantasy. You shouldn't say it doesn't exist.
CONWAY: I don't dismiss it, and that's why Donald Trump is president. Hold on.
CUOMO: You shouldn't make (ph) the president as a standard --
CONWAY: The (INAUDIBLE) is nearly --
CUOMO: Hold on, I'll let you finish. Give me a chance.
CONWAY: You're talking about national security when it comes to Russia and --
CONWAY: -- the election?
CUOMO: Yes, absolutely.
CONWAY: What about national security who comes to the border? Then I guess we can count on you.
CUOMO: We talk about it all the time.
CONWAY: That we count on 54 Democrats in 2013 (ph) to vote for a wall? National security is border security.
CUOMO: Running away from the question.
CONWAY: And all includes the fact that the (INAUDIBLE) is all but destroyed.
CUOMO: Running away from the question. Of course, you are.
CONWAY: I'm not running away, Chris, from the question. I just don't find it to be particularly relevant for some --
CUOMO: I understand why you don't like the question. But, we must test what you said.
CONWAY: Well, I don't not like it, I just think it's weird.
CUOMO: All right, all right, good. That's your opinion. I'm going to keep asking it until we get --
CONWAY: The opinion of many people.
CUOMO: -- the answer. Well, we'll see because we don't know what Mr. Mueller has. And for the president to say, hey, there's no collusion, he said there was no contact by anybody on his team with anyone from Russia. Remember that? That has proven about a false --
CONWAY: Because he can't possibly believe that anybody thinks there would have had to be, and I'll tell you why.
CUOMO: Wait, say it again.
CONWAY: Hold on. Because the president -- hold on, when the president says that, and I will tell you, I have said it because I was the campaign manager for the winning part of the campaign.
CONWAY: And the idea that we would have to look any further than Hillary Clinton to be Hillary Clinton itself is a fantasy. I didn't need to talk to anybody in Moscow. I was talking to people in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina and the Macomb County, Michigan.
There's no reason to have gone anywhere outside of Hillary Clinton and how unattractive her policies were, how lacking in the vision and connective tissue with the forgotten -- the forgotten woman she was. We beat her fairly and squarely --
CONWAY: -- in this country through this Democratic elective process. But so many people still can't get over the election results.
CUOMO: Oh, and says my friend who can't keep Hillary Clinton's name out of her mouth.
CONWAY: No, no, hold on, you can't -- excuse me. I'll make you a deal, Chris.
CONWAY: I'll never talk about her again, but then you can't talk about the 2016 election because --
CUOMO: I'm not.
CONWAY: -- she lost that election and the only reason --
CUOMO: I haven't mentioned the election once.
CONWAY: -- we're still talking about it --
CUOMO: I haven't mentioned the election not even once.
CONWAY: -- is because -- no, what is the --
CUOMO: And I never do.
CONWAY: I'm sorry, hold on.
CUOMO: Because Russian interference --
CONWAY: What is -- no, no, no. No, what is --
CUOMO: And it doesn't --
CONWAY: No, no, no, no, no.
CUOMO: -- delegitimize the president's victory. You guys are frozen in that moment. That's why you bring up Hillary Clinton. That's why you're having her investigated.
CONWAY: No, that is not true. We don't care about her. Nobody here talks about her. Hey, Chris, nobody here talks about Hillary Clinton.
CUOMO: You do, you just brought her up.
CONWAY: You knew -- no, no, you're talking about --
CUOMO: You said we didn't have to go -- hold on a second.
CONWAY: -- the 2016 election.
CUOMO: Kellyanne. No shouting contest here. We're friends.
CONWAY: You're talking about the 2016 election. Don't you (INAUDIBLE) that we're talking about it.
CUOMO: I'm talking about you saying --
CONWAY: We won the election and we're going to win the next one.
CUOMO: You just said, we didn't have to look anywhere past Hillary Clinton to win. Is we inclusive of Don Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort who went to a meeting with a Russian lawyer with promising dirt on Hillary Clinton?
CONWAY: And what came of that meeting, absolutely nothing, you know it.
CUOMO: That's not the point. The point is why do you went, not what came out of it. Come on.
CONWAY: Hey, Chris, Chris, no --
CUOMO: Come on, Kellyanne --
CONWAY: -- the point is you can't get over the election. So we're going to talk about Russia and --
CUOMO: No, it's --
CONWAY: Yesterday -- no, I'm sorry. You know what, you don't want to talk about --
CUOMO: It becomes a problem. You want to talk about --
CONWAY: Chris, maybe I'm not a good interview subject for you.
CUOMO: No, no, hold on a second.
[21:10:02] CONWAY: No, no, no. Oh, yes, you want to about fentanyl, Kellyanne --
CONWAY: -- which is killing thousands of -- tens of thousands of Americans?
CUOMO: I'm the one who got the documentary on it. I'm the one who went to those firefighters who were still waiting --
CONWAY: And that's terrific.
CUOMO: -- for help from you guys.
CONWAY: Thank you for bringing attention to it. Now, what do you think --
CUOMO: The Manchester Fire Department, they're still waiting -- CONWAY: OK.
CUOMO: -- for money for you -- from you guys. It still hasn't come.
CONWAY: Chris, that's -- hey, Chris, don't talk about that. We had --
CUOMO: Is it untrue?
CONWAY: -- the chief of that -- we had the chief of the Manchester Fire Department --
CONWAY: -- here at the White House several times. He's very happy.
CUOMO: Have you given the funding to New Hampshire for -- to fight opioids since you got in there? No.
CONWAY: You realized that the -- you realized -- yes, we have. What are you talking about?
CUOMO: How so? What money --
CONWAY: Every state that money through the Santa Grand --
CUOMO: That's what Sherrod Brown was saying at the meeting today. This is a good move, stop fentanyl as it comes across the border, but you have to give money to communities as well. We'll see what you do on it.
CONWAY: Yes. And are you -- do you know what the Curist Act is? Do you know what Santa Grand's (ph) do? Do you have any idea? I doubt it.
CUOMO: I do but the money has to get on the ground.
CONWAY: Do you know what happened?
CUOMO: And it has to be put to work and that's not happening yet the way it needs to be.
CONWAY: It's nice to have an administration --
CUOMO: That's my point.
CONWAY: -- that's actually focus on it, focus on interjection of law --
CUOMO: We'll see. Hope it was good --
CONWAY: -- enforcement, treatment and recovery --
CUOMO: -- if it results in action.
CONWAY: -- prevention, education. There is action. We have -- the whole reason that the President wants to have a wall, and he will build that wall --
CONWAY: -- is in part to stop the flow of illegal immigrations, but in large part, also to stop the flow of illicit drugs.
CUOMO: You know how drugs get into this country?
CONWAY: It's poisoning our community. It's killing in many ways through the southern border, through the U.S. Postal Service. In many different ways, drugs coming into this country and had to stop.
CUOMO: Do you know how the majority of it gets into this country?
CONWAY: Educate me, please.
CUOMO: Well, you know the answer. You know that the wall, which -- we don't even know that's another topic for tonight. I don't even know what you mean when you say a wall anymore. The President said very different thing.
CONWAY: You want to know? I'll answer it right now.
CUOMO: But, no, hold on.
CONWAY: No, we didn't.
CUOMO: No, because I don't want to run away from this because this is an important point. Putting up the wall --
CONWAY: Wait. I'm sorry.
CUOMO: -- isn't going to stop illegal drugs coming into this country and you know that.
CONWAY: Oh that's not -- it's ridiculous.
CUOMO: They come by air and they come in tunnels. I've been in them. I've been in those tunnels.
CONWAY: They come all different ways. Are you saying --
CUOMO: Very scary.
CONWAY: I'm sorry, Christopher. Are you telling the viewers --
CONWAY: -- that no drugs come through the southern border? Did you just say that?
CUOMO: No. I'm saying the idea that a wall --
CONWAY: That's first.
CUOMO: -- is going to be the difference. CONWAY: Be an apple, don't be a banana.
CUOMO: The wall is going to be a difference is a joke saying that a wall will keep fentanyl out of this country --
CONWAY: It's a joke.
CUOMO: -- which the President said today is a joke because --
CONWAY: No, no. Drug is out of the country.
CUOMO: -- it comes by cargo ship and cargo plane. This is high grade pharmaceutical.
CONWAY: And he said that to the U.S. Portal Service.
CUOMO: Not something strapped on someone's back that one of your friends said --
CONWAY: Actually, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid.
CUOMO: -- someone walking them across with cantaloupe gas, it's not true. It's a fiction. Not a fact.
CONWAY: Hold on, Chris. The fact is, you know what percentage of -- you don't think any heroin comes through the southern border?
CUOMO: I said if --
CONWAY: You don't think any drugs come through?
CUOMO: -- it will make a real difference, putting up a wall.
CONWAY: OK. You know who you should tell that too?
CUOMO: Why did he bring it up today? He muddied the water of another wise, good and positive event. Why?
CONWAY: Muddied the water. Chris, listen, he's going to build the wall, and the wall will help to stop the flow of illicit drugs coming over our borders. You know how we know that?
CONWAY: Because he and our Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen and her predecessor, our now chief of staff, John Kelly, had asked the people whose job it is to be at the border, what they need, what they think, and they have told them what they need.
And part of what they need is better security, tighter security. They need the ability when somebody crosses the border illegally, they need the ability to remove that person, not have a 10 or 12-year wait period for the disposition of that individual who's now in the interior of the country. This President wants to put up a wall and you and others want to put a slip and slide, just let everybody in.
Is that really -- do you think that should be the policy of a sovereign nation that has border?
CUOMO: Nobody -- I've never heard that suggestion. And you had the President walk into that meeting and say, well, the wall can mean different things in different places. I'm open. I'll agree to whatever you guys come up with. That's not what he promised.
CONWAY: You realized that part of this is would now on his -- some of it is --
CUOMO: No, no. Not do I realize. You realize.
CONWAY: Excuse me. There's a physical wall, there's technology, there's fencing.
CUOMO: When the President was promising, it's going to be a big new wall all the way across. I'll build it in a year. People said exactly what you're saying now. And he shook his head in defiance and said, no, not me. That's these other guys. They're saying they're going to compromise. Not me, big brand-new wall, that's what he said. It's not a metaphor. It doesn't mean offense. It doesn't mean sensors. It's a wall.
CONWAY: Not a metaphor. It's a physical structure and you know it.
CUOMO: He changed, he changed in the meeting, Republicans say it, Democrats say it.
CONWAY: He confers it with the people. But you know what's changed? You what's changed? That he has said that in order to do a deal on DACA, it includes the wall and it includes an anti-chain migration and includes an end to the visa lottery system.
And what bothers a lot of folks out there, it sounds like, including you, is that you're going to get your main tool against him out of the way if he surprises you and actually does a deal on DACA. He promised transparency and accountability. Even people at CNN and other places have said they can't -- they never witnessed anything like that yesterday.
CUOMO: Are these the letters?
CONWAY: Your colleague Wolf -- no. Your colleague Wolf Blitzer --
CUOMO: Are these the letters, the anchor letters?
CONWAY: -- said yesterday that he really appreciated the transparency. I hope you do too as somebody who wants transparency and accountability.
CUOMO: Yes, I did too because it gave you an opportunity to see where the Democrats are and their rigidity --
CONWAY: We see every day.
CUOMO: -- the Republicans in their rigidity, and a president who agreed -- [21:15:00] CONWAY: We're not rigid.
CUOMO: -- with the Democrats and then agreed with the Republicans and then said he'll sign whatever they bring to him. That's what I saw.
CONWAY: We're not rigid. The President had said --
CUOMO: Well, you're certainly not rigid, that's true.
CONWAY: -- all along what has happened, what you just said, the President said all along that he is going to tackle immigration in a way that nobody else has. It helped him get elected, that includes now, the DACA, the wall --
CUOMO: What helped him get elected was being a hard liner on it. Not saying he wanted the bill as well. That's what people questioned.
CONWAY: -- and ending chain migration, ending the visa system. No, no. I think people are just nervous that he's actually going to continue to get things done.
You know, Christopher, he is trying to unify --
CUOMO: Why would they be nervous about that? Hold on, Kellyanne. That's the right word.
CONWAY: -- because everything is a political issue to them.
CUOMO: That's the right word, unify. I want to talk to you about that. Let me pay some bills and take a break.
CONWAY: You're doing a great job at that.
CUOMO: When we come back, I want to talk about your case for the President as a unifier --
CONWAY: And stop talking about Russia, anyway.
CUOMO: You think so. We'll be back in a second.
CUOMO: All right, thanks to you for being with us for the CNN special program, part of this four-week run. Thanks to you as well, Kellyanne Conway, for being with us.
Just to be clear, where we were in the last segment, I was asking you if the President would meet with the special counsel. You don't have any clear indication on that. What about the wall? You said you'll tell me right now what it means.
Does it mean what he promised during the campaign or is he open to the suggestion that security has different requirements in different places? Some places it sensors, some places fence, some places wall or otherwise. No need for a brand-new big bricks and mortar all the way across, true? [21:20:01] CONWAY: What's true is that after conferring with the experts who are involved in this process, Christopher, the President has discovered that part of it -- well, he knows part of it will be the physical wall, part of it is better technology, part of it is also fencing. You know, there are rivers involved, I'm told, there are mountains involved, but there is terrain that isn't conducive to building an actual physical structure in some places.
But make no mistake, you've seen the prototypes. You know that different -- many different firms did on constructing the border wall. And that is something that is an incredibly important piece of this. but I still can't get to you to agree that it's worthwhile. You said it's not going to help interdict any drugs that this is silly that they come through airplanes and boats and that's false.
CUOMO: That's not what I said.
CONWAY: That is not a fact. That is a false.
And I got to tell you something. If we can bend the curve on the drug crises alone in this country, we're on the losing side of it as a nation, right, left and center. If we can bend the curve, because this President has declared a public health emergency. He has --
CUOMO: That's important.
CONWAY: He went -- hold on. He went ahead today with bipartisan bicameral fashion, signed into law the Interdict Act. If his Secretary of Homeland Security is focused on this to stop the flow of illegal immigrants but also illicit drugs, if he is pressuring other countries who are synthetically --
CONWAY: -- making opioid as substantial (ph) in their labs, if he is going to do a public-facing campaign for prevention education, we have to come together. He is unifying this country. When he passes tax cut it was with all Republican votes --
CONWAY: -- but it doesn't only Republicans. It benefits people of all political stripes, all backgrounds.
CUOMO: That's what you say.
CONWAY: You don't say -- no, no, hold on. People are just starting to see how it is benefiting them.
CUOMO: It's not even in effect yet.
CONWAY: Christopher, hold on. What about the one million people who have bonuses. Wait a second.
CUOMO: That's completely divisive on a partisan level on an economic level. CONWAY: You look in the camera, don't look at me. Hold on, hold on. Look at the one million people, and I hope they're all watching. That would be great. Look at the one million people in the eye and tell them the bonuses they just got from their employers don't matter. That they're all --
CUOMO: Of course they matter. And that's what businesses do when you give them a tax cut, they still good about it.
CONWAY: Infrastructure is another unifying issue. What about infrastructure?
CUOMO: But they're not paying it in increasing wages. The problem with the economy isn't how much money corporations have. God bless them and God bless the stock market. That doesn't affect wages.
CONWAY: No, it's the decreases in the tax bracket that people have now. We have more people paying zero percent in taxes.
CUOMO: You know that and that's the criticism of giving corporations more of their money back, it's what they'll do with it.
CONWAY: No, Chris, its' full competition. It's called keeping the jobs throughout in this country and not shipping them overseas. We had a 35 percent corporate tax rate here. It was the highest in the develop world and it's now 21 -- but it's going to be 21 percent.
CUOMO: That's the nominal rate. It's not the effective rate. But look if you want to help our businesses, that's fine, but you made their cuts permanent and you made the individual cuts temporary because you were benefiting corporations over people.
CONWAY: I'm sorry, do businesses benefit from the doubling in the standard deduction just for individuals?
CUOMO: No, that will help people.
CONWAY: Do businesses benefit from the child care tax credit that haven't been doubled?
CUOMO: It will help some people in certain income brackets based on where they live. Look, nobody looked at this tax cut and said this was clearly engineered and designed to benefit the middle class more than anyone else.
CONWAY: Many people have said that, actually.
CUOMO: Middle class more than anyone else.
CONWAY: Where you work or no one that you hang out with --
CUOMO: Nobody says that I worked in mezzanine finance before I was here. I got tons of friends who are economists.
CONWAY: And I tell you who we here from.
CUOMO: No one, OK?
CONWAY: And we hear it from the manufacturing industry. We hear it --
CUOMO: I'm sure they like it.
CONWAY: Well, hold on.
CUOMO: I'm sure they like it. You're giving them more money.
CONWAY: Off two million jobs created, 200,000 or so have been in manufacturing. Manufacturing is back in this country, Chris. What about all of the blindest storefronts, the factories that have been shut down and repurposed or just sitting there as an eye sore as a relic of times gone by?
CUOMO: Their problem and everybody knows it.
CONWAY: Manufacturing if about this President and his administration are dignifying all types of work. They are saying some people are college material, go get your four-year degree, go get a bachelor's degree but some people should have -- they want to just have a high school degree and a skill certificate.
CUOMO: That's great. And you will incentivize all kinds of labor and that's great.
CONWAY: We're dealing with governors and state legislators.
CUOMO: That's great. You should.
CONWAY: And the Congress and workforce development and the apprenticeship program. This is important. This is nonpartisan and infrastructure should be very nonpartisan or bipartisan.
CUOMO: The tax bill was inherently partisan but we talked about that. Let me get one more topic.
CONWAY: Its benefits aren't partisan. Its benefits redound to those Americans who voted against Donald Trump, who didn't vote at all, who aren't bothered to register to vote. We don't run around and ask people what their politics are when we're benefiting them.
CUOMO: If this proportionately helps the upper income brackets incorporations, but look --
CONWAY: It helps the middle class and you know it.
CUOMO: I asked the question, you answered it. One other topic.
CONWAY: I actually talked to people in the middle class each day and it helps them. We hear from them every single day here. And I'm happy for them. I'm happy for them.
CUOMO: I talked to people in the middle class too, some are happy, some aren't, the polls reflect that. Let me ask you something else. About the First Amendment, OK, we all know it's a signature freedom in this --
[21:31:54] CUOMO: All right, the man calls himself America's toughest sheriff. Will he become America's toughest senator? 24 years ago, Republican Joe Arpaio was the top cop in Arizona's Maricopa County and became famous, someone say infamous for his harshness.
Troubling set the facts, he ran an outdoor jail called Tent City, Arpaio himself described it as a concentration camp. Inmates lived year around, exposed to the scorching heat of Phoenix summers, near freezing chill in the winter. They wear pink underwear, they ate green call it bologna allegedly, but that was nothing. Under Arpaio, they were also chain gangs for men and women. Conditions that rights groups called inhumane, overcrowded and dangerous. Remember, this was a jail, not a maximum security prison. It resulted in multiple lawsuits and a lot of death, especially by suicide.
So he was a huge fan of racial profiling. And when a judge finally order Arpaio to stop the practice, he refused as a matter of principle he said. And he was convicted of criminal contempt. That's when President Trump came to his rescue, before Arpaio serve any jail time, he got a pardon, it was the first for the president who supported Trump's campaign.
He's now 85 years old and he's in the race for the seat of Senator Jeff Flake, the Trump nemesis who announced he won't be seeking re- election. And he joins us now to make the case to you. Sheriff Joe, thanks for joining us.
JOE ARPAIO, (R) ARIZONA SENATE CANDIDATE: Hey, Chris. I think it's been years since we last met that you interviewed me, if I recall.
CUOMO: That's true. You look the same. I look a lot older.
ARPAIO: Well, it's the Italian olive oil for me.
CUOMO: Well, I'm going to have to up the dose. Let me ask you something, Sheriff. You've had such a long run. You've had so much controversy here at the end. You've got your health, but you've got your age as well. Why take this on? Why not just take the pardon, you lost your last race for sheriff to a Democrat in an all-Republican county. Why do this?
ARPAIO: Well, first of all, I disagree with your opening remarks. I can -- I'm not going to spend time justifying the tent city and everything else you said. But the question is why am I doing this? Well I'll tell you. First of all, I'm a big supporter of the president from day one, July 2015. I endorsed him, I introduced him and, I said he would be the next president. I guess so was right on that. So I have a great respect for the president, and between you and I, I don't like what's going on with certain people going after him. He's done a great job. And I want to do something to help him and help the people of Arizona. So I had a long career, 60 years serving my country, 56 years in law enforcement. Joined the army when the Korean War started. [21:35:10] CUOMO: Right.
ARPAIO: Was a cop in D.C. I can go on and on. But one thing people don't understand, I was regional director of Mexico City of the U.S., drug enforce and covered Latin America, was head of the DEA and --
CUOMO: No, I get the pedigree.
CUOMO: I get the pedigree Sheriff.
ARPAIO: Yes -- well I believe --
CUOMO: But you've been in the business a long time. You went out --
CUOMO: -- in some ignominious circumstances, and now you're asking the people to give you another chance. I mean have you changed? Do you no longer believe in profiling Latinos and stopping them just because --
CUOMO: -- of the color of their skin? Do you believe in no longer herding people together? Putting them in the bad conditions?
ARPAIO: That is wrong. That is wrong.
CUOMO: You're convicted.
ARPAIO: My guys do not raise (ph). Well, no convicted by a judge.
ARPAIO: No jury, who was very biased. I'm not going to go into his history. One day it's going to come out very soon.
CUOMO: You were told to stop discriminatory practice and you refused Joe, and you got convicted --
ARPAIO: No, no, no, we had the authority to do it by the federal government. They swore in all my deputies to be immigration officers and we were doing our job in that period. Evidently, the judge did not agree with it even though the federal government laid the guidelines how we would do it. But that's one issue. Then he turns it over to another judge for a contempt to court.
ARPAIO: Now that judge refused again me a jury trial. One day before -- one day before early voting Obama's Department of Justice hold their in Loretta Lynch, said they're going to charge me on a misdemeanor -- on misdemeanor, contempt the court, get the same time as barking dogs. And then during the election they charge me.
CUOMO: Why didn't you just stop stopping people because they were Mexican?
ARPAIO: We never stopped people because they were Mexican? We stopped people because they were committing a crime.
CUOMO: There was an established pattern of your pulling people over because they were Latino. That's how you got in court in the first place, Sheriff.
ARPAIO: No, no, that's what the judge --
CUOMO: That's what the prosecutor said. That's what the prosecutor said. They brought the case. This judge didn't just come knock on your door and tell you were guilty. There was a prosecution involved because of a pattern of conduct. Now either you believe in that kind of stuff and that's what you want to represent yourself as to the voters in Arizona, or you don't. Which is it?
ARPAIO: Well, I'm telling you, you're bringing that up, OK.
CUOMO: Yes, sir
ARPAIO: And I'm telling you again, we're not guilty of that contempt of court. And that's why the president realized that and gave me a pardon and I never asked for it. So we got a judge, is not going to go against the fellow judge and I contempt the court and everybody in the courtroom knew that I was not guilty.
CUOMO: Except the prosecutor and the judges.
ARPAIO: Well, right -- well what do you mean a prosecutor?
CUOMO: Somebody brought the case.
ARPAIO: No, no, no. And that everybody in that courtroom knew that -- I'm not going to say the fix was in, but it was pre-determined that I would be found guilty of a contempt of court. So we're appealing that and we'll see what happens.
CUOMO: Let me ask you something.
ARPAIO: You want to go on to something else?
CUOMO: Let's look at it in a different way. You're kind of reintroducing yourselves to the voters there. Is there regret that you hold in your heart for conditions the people were kept in? The nature of immigration enforcement? The birtherism claims about President Obama, things that are black marks on your record. Do you have regret? Do you have any change on any of those? ARPAIO: Well, you know, Frank Sinatra says "My Way" regret, so I few (INAUDIBLE) and I will repeat that to you. But with no -- I have no regrets. We did the right thing. My people did the right thing, we were very successful throughout my 24-year tenure, the longest-serving sheriff in the history of Maricopa County. No, I don't have a regret, a few mistakes, yes. Everybody makes mistakes.
CUOMO: Was the birtherism a mistake?
ARPAIO: Oh, now you're bringing that up.
CUOMO: Why wouldn't I?
ARPAIO: I'm going to tell you s something.
CUOMO: Do you think it doesn't matter? You want to be a U.S. senator and you were part of a campaign to delegitimize a president of the United States? Matters, you know.
ARPAIO: No, I started this because of fake document -- a government document. I didn't care where the president came from. I didn't care at all. That we had the evidence, nobody will talk about it, nobody will look at it. And anytime you want to come down, or anybody we'll be glad to show you the evidence.
[21:40:01] And by the way you'll -- you're going to hear more about this fake --
CUOMO: Do you believe that President Obama's birth certificate is a phony?
ARPAIO: No doubt about it. No doubt about it. We had the evidence, I'm not going to go into all the details.
CUOMO: You know, even Donald Trump now says that --
ARPAIO: It's a phony document.
CUOMO: -- that he believes that the president was born in this country, right?
ARPAIO: He never said about a fake birth certificate, that's the only thing I was trying to prove.
CUOMO: Then he wouldn't be legitimately born in this country, Sheriff, it takes us to the same place, it doesn't matter whether you want to talk about a forge instrument or anything else that was fraudulent. Ether the man was born in this country or he wasn't. The good news is we know the answer, he was. But if you want to be a U.S. senator, don't you think that people should have confidence in your judgment on something as crucial as that?
ARPAIO: Well this was the goal I have for quite a while, and I didn't reelected by the way when all was going on. So -- (CROSSTALK)
ARPAIO: That was the last election, and I'm not going to get into the sorrows popping. Three million dollars with the Department of Justice announcing the day before voting. So the fix was in emanating from Obama and holder when they opened the investigation, 60 days after they took office, Chris. And eight years until they finally got me on a contempt of court. So evidently it took them eight years to get this sheriff.
ARPAIO: So -- but that's OK.
CUOMO: Let me ask you something. You say you want to help the president. He's already backed Dr. Ward who's running on the conservative line there as a Republican.
ARPAIO: He did not, he did not, he did not, he did not endorse her.
CUOMO: Well, he came out in support of her. But --
ARPAIO: Steve Bannon is the one that a endorsed her.
CUOMO: My question is this. If the president will say to you --
ARPAIO: Doesn't matter.
CUOMO: -- hey, do me a favor, get out of this race, we already have somebody that they want. I don't want this to be ugly. Would you do it?
ARPAIO: I don't think he'll ever say that. I don't think he'll ever say that.
CUOMO: Do you think he'll endorse you?
ARPAIO: So well I'm not going to -- I don't know. And, you know, what? I never asked for endorsement. Everybody want my endorsement, every time presidential elections come up, everyone calls me for their endorsement and governors and everything else. So I guess I'm doing something right.
CUOMO: Well we see soon enough if you enter the primary, the people will vote and we'll have a decision. And I appreciate you coming on this show.
ARPAIO: I never lost a Republican primary, so I'm not expecting to lose this one, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. We will see what happens. Joe Arpaio, thank you very much for coming on the show. Appreciate your openness to being tested.
ARPAIO: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right.
ARPAIO: Thank you.
CUOMO: Up next, we'll have the great debate, Navarro versus Schlapp. Toe-to-toe, what do they think about possibility of Senator Joe Arpaio, maybe I'll give them a pass on that.
[21:46:58] CUOMO: All right, it is time for tonight's great debate. We got CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and Matt Schlapp, former political director for President George W. Bush. Good to have you both.
Brother Schlapp, help me, help me, help me. I'm talking to Kellyanne Conway. Well open disclosure, we've been friends for a very long time. We are friends, people are so nasty today, they want everybody to be inimical. However, on this issue of Russian interference, they bring up Hillary Clinton every time. The president mentioned Hillary Clinton three times today. Why can't we get just religion from the White House on Russia interfered, and he believes no one conflicted to him helped them do that. Why can't he just say that simple statement?
MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER POLITICAL ADVISER: Well, I don't know maybe I go to ought work for him to give me advice Chris, but I mean he says think --
CUOMO: Don't be cute Schlapp, you know it's the right question, why? Why do have to --
SCHLAPP: Look Russia --
CUOMO: And there was nothing and it's all about nullifying the election. Nobody's saying any of that who matters?
SCHLAPP: All I can tell you is that we have been talking about this for a very long time. And it seems very clear to me and Mike Pompeo was the source, that I was into on this, that Russia trying to tried to interfere and did interfere in this election, and has been doing it for 10 or 15 years. That in some people's mind World War III has already started on the internet with some of our enemies doing all this cyber terrorism.
SCHLAPP: So I think that is a very serious problem.
SCHLAPP: And I think the people around the president take it very seriously. I just think when people slip into the idea that there was collusion when there's been no evidence presented. I also think I'm exhausted of talking about that as well. I think it's time for Bob Mueller, who I served with, and I don't disparage, but it's put up or shut up time. We --
CUOMO: Why? Why? Well hold on, so let's bring in Ana. Because of fatigue? Because of fatigue?
CUOMO: The president had enough, what do you have?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Too bad, that's not how the process works. There's a process, the guy is taking his time, the guy is being methodic. I think there's being, been a lot of transparency to this. Why a Donald Trump keeping doing this, because his obsessive, it's either one of two things. Look, either his afraid of what Mueller's going to come up with, of what they might have on him and his campaign and his family, or he's really upset that he thinks this the delegitimizes --
NAVARRO: Delegitimize is his election. And his also obsess when Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is at Costco selling books on sale. You know --
SCHLAPP: She's working at Costco?
SCHLAPP: She's never been to Costco.
CUOMO: Times are tough, even with the tax cut?
NAVARRO: Guess what, actually I'm a Costco member, she goes to sign books at Costco, there's book signing --
SCHLAPP: Come on.
NAVARRO: -- that Costco. You really -- you know, really you should go to Costco, it's a great place, Matt. You got a hell of a lot of kids to feed, so it's a really better place for you then, than for me who's just given meal (ph). But, that's when, you know, he just can't let go of Hillary Clinton. He can't let go of the election. He's now been president for a year next week and he's and he's still relitigating and relitigating and relitigating this campaign and this election.
[21:50:07] He won, let it go. You know, but his reaction to these things make it bigger and give it more fodder. Mueller's going to do his thing. Give him time, respect the process. Let it go. Stop making it a thing daily.
CUOMO: Right, well -- yes.
NAVARRO: That's what they do.
CUOMO: Go ahead Matt.
SCHLAPP: Yes, I just -- I'll be honest with you. I work in White House and had a Special Counsel, it's unnerving for the president and for his staff, let's be honest.
CUOMO: Your president didn't talk this way.
SCHLAPP: I think the book isn't helpful for a lot of these staffers who talked to Michael Wolff, because they can compare with a -- told Michael Wolff to -- they have told the FBI which is what General Flynn got in trouble for so. I agree there's a certain amount of political peril with this thing goes on. I just don't believed that I -- I talked to a lot of people in government, I talked to a lot Democrats and Republicans throughout the day, and I think there is a consensus that unless Mueller has something we're unaware of, then there isn't evidence of collusion. But I agree, it's a process. All I'm saying is that, I want him soon to tell us what he knows and to report back. Because I think the American people deserve that. I think it's about time to stop talking about.
CUOMO: Well --
NAVARRO: Well, Matt says that book might have been bad. I think that book is actually one of the best things that has happened to the Trump White House and a Trump presidency, because it led to Trump finally being able to shed the albatross around his neck that was Steve Bannon, that made him do such stupid things, as endorsing Roy Moore in Alabama, that led to stupid things like the things that were said after Charlottesville. I think loosing Steve Bannon this break with Steve Bannon by Trump, by the White House, is a positive thing not only for Trump, but for the country.
CUOMO: Maybe look -- let's look at the evidence. What do we see? We saw him have this both sides meeting. Had it televised, few trick by him given points for that.
SCHLAPP: Great, great, great opportunity.
CUOMO: And look, you know, what I liked it, there was candor. I think the president though evidence that this ain't making a development deal with, you know, foreign investor in Manhattan, this was different, knowing what a clean bill is, knowing what's on the table. Knowing who's head is where. I'm just saying --
SCHLAPP: I don't agree with you.
NAVARRO: I don't agree with you either. I don't think he needs to know.
CUOMO: But suddenly, I have two people coming into the room. Good, I've been wanting to take you both on. So you come into the room you --
CUOMO: -- have someone on the left who says, DACA or die, that's it, we want this, we want a clean bill, you have the Republicans coming and say, no, we're here to do business. We want security. We remember '86 and, you know, were a little sideways with the base. This bill that love thing, scares us. The president needed to be that bridge. And he went in there and said, I'll agree to whatever you come up with.
CUOMO: McCarthy says, no, we need security, he said that's true.
NAVARRO: Chris, the people around that table have been working on the immigration issue for decades. People like Dick Durbin, like Lindsay Graham, like Bob Menendez, they know this thing cold. They could probably write a deal in 30 minutes --
CUOMO: They why does McConnell say, I can't bring him a deal unless we know where his head is and what he wants? I'm talking about the president.
NAVARRO: Well we knows where his head is. He want something that can pass a wall, whether --
CUOMO: We didn't even know what the wall is Matt Schlapp.
SCHLAPP: Yes, he does. Come on.
CUOMO: What is the wall?
SCHLAPP: Look Chris --
NAVARRO: You know, I think he said it OK. And he said yesterday, it's got rivers, it's got mountains, there's fencing. There's -- OK.
CUOMO: Well he promised something totally different?
NAVARRO: Who cares, I'm good with what he's saying now. Let's stick with it --
CUOMO: Matt, what about tomorrow?
SCHLAPP: Let me try, you're a great lawyer and you're doing a good job as if we're sitting in the box trying to trip us up and all this words. But what the American people care about is the big brush strokes of the policy, what the president is making clear, is that he wants free things, he wants money for a wall, finally, no more talking about it. Let's appropriate the wall, just like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama who voted for money for a fence previously that wasn't never really built. Let's actually do it this time. Let's end family chain migration, let's have a lot of immigrants, but let's have the people we need because of --
CUOMO: No. SCHLAPP: -- because -- let me just finish. Because of the skills that we need in the economy. And third, let's stop the diversity lottery system, those are the things he's asking for, and I think that the real question for the Democrats is this. Which is, as much as they want DACA, are they willing to give the president anything he wants in exchange for it? I think that's a very live wire. I think a lot of them are saying, don't support him, even when we agree with him, because we can't do anything to help Donald Trump.
So real question --
NAVARRO: You see, I don't buy that either. I actually think you're going to see that Republicans give and I think you going to give -- see the Democrats.
CUOMO: That's what's supposed to happen all the time, by the way.
NAVARRO: Here's what we got.
CUOMO: That's right, but --
NAVARRO: We've got -- we've got kids who have been coming to Congress, young people who've been coming to Congress year after year. We know their stories, we know their faces.
NAVARRO: They are the most compelling people, the most compelling heart wrenching stories in America. We have a hard deadline. And I think Democrats understand that with this guy, yes, he is capable of tearing kids who are American in other way but one, from this country. He is absolutely capable of doing it.
[21:55:03] Maybe George W. Bush wouldn't have done it, Obama wouldn't have done it, this guy is willing to do it?
CUOMO: All I'm saying is this, and this is not about clever lawyering OK, believe me, I am weakest mind in this bunch and uncomfortable with that. That's why I ask the questions. If I cannot believe that he wants the wall that he promised -- that he used to distinguish himself from the field that he insisted every time with the mantra and who's going to pay for it Mexico, all right, we'll divorce that as a joke, although the base didn't think it was a joke.
SCHLAPP: All right.
SCHLAPP: If you look at NAFTA negotiations --
SCHLAPP: If you look at NAFTA negotiations, I don't think --
CUOMO: And a tweet right after the meeting, he said, there's got to be a wall. That's confusing Matt at a minimum.
SCHLAPP: We're renegotiating NAFTA right now. And I think Mexico understand that he's serious.
NAVARRO: How do you define a wall? Not every wall is a wall is a wall. Make it out of legos if you have to.
CUOMO: That's fine, but it's only a wall --
CUOMO: -- when you say it is -- that was the confusion, Ana, Matt, thank you, I got to go.
CUOMO: Tomorrow on Cuomo Prime, we got Senator Bernie Sanders joining us live. What does he think a wall is? Don't forget, I'll see you in the morning on "New Day". Thank you very much.
"CNN with Don Lemon", the man, starts right after this.