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Cuomo Prime Time

Trump On Potential Stone Pardon: "Don't Want To Say"; Sanders Surges To Front-Runner Status In Dem Race; Trump Thanks DOJ For Getting Involved In Roger Stone Case. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 12, 2020 - 21:00   ET



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

The President attacked the rule of law like we have never seen. Forget the clever legal minds and devious debates. It is obvious what happened here. There is evidence that shows it, and we have it. So, let's get after it.




CUOMO: What do you do when a President dictates what is justice for his friends? We watched the President praise his Attorney General, and his cronies, and Trump are now saying the prosecutors, they're the ones who went rogue, Deep State.

It's all BS and there is a trail to prove it. The deception is not new. In fact, it is the directness that's startling.

Presidents usually - usual - pardon for something like this, right, think Bush with Weinberger, Clinton with Marc Rich, why, because they know that the institutions of justice would generally not go along with a perceived political payback.

But this President is post-Presidential. He is in automatic autocratic mode.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wasn't your tweet political interference?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No, not at all. He was treated very badly. Nine years recommended by four people that perhaps they were Mueller people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you considering a pardon for--

TRUMP: I don't want to say that yet, but I tell you what, people were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people.

Nine years for doing something that nobody even can define what he did.


TRUMP: Somebody said he put out a tweet, and the tweet, you based it on that.


CUOMO: It's a lie. It's easily defined. Roger Stone was convicted on every count, all seven, by a jury, not by the prosecutors, not by politicians. The jury said he lied to everyone, five counts of lying to Congress, one count of witness tampering, another of obstructing a Congressional Committee proceeding.

Now Trump, of course, was accused of some of the same types of behavior, arguably, the proof against him equal or better to what they had in the Stone case, and he got a pass. So, why not get his boy Stone a pass as well?

What do you do in a situation like this? First, we identify and expose the wrong. For that, Preet Bharara and Andrew McCabe, two well-known targets of the President, themselves.

It's good to have you both here. Thank you very much.


CUOMO: So, let me talk to you both equally. Preet is sitting next to me. Andrew, you're somewhere else. We'll split the difference on the monitor.

Preet, first, have you ever seen anything like this?


CUOMO: Period!

BHARARA: I don't even have to elaborate. You never see the overruling of line and career prosecutors by, you know, the - the Headquarters, main Justice, ever.

And you certainly never see it when the person who is being dealt, you know, a lighter hand, that's being done so at the behest of a President of the United States who has an enabling Attorney General, when that defendant is an associate of, confidant of, adviser to the sitting President of the United States.

You never see it. And there's a reason you never see it because it's blatant abuse of power.

CUOMO: The quick follow is, for them, "Oh, no, no, no, Preet, you have it wrong. The line prosecutors went rogue. Deep State! Mueller guys! Oh, they didn't even know. The A.G., he had no idea what was going on with the Stone case."

BHARARA: Yes. Do you know whose name was on the sentencing memorandum from Monday that said the appropriate guidelines range was seven to nine years like a gentleman by the name, Timothy Shea.

I don't know him personally. He was the hand-picked replacement for the prior U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia. And that person Timothy - Timothy was a close adviser to and counsel to the Attorney General Bill Barr.

So, he signs the document on Monday, Timothy Shea. And then, on Tuesday, after this whole hullabaloo that started with the President's tweet, signs a different document that says something completely different, after four of the line prosecutors, the career prosecutors in the office, assigned to the case, withdrew from the case, one of whom resigned from the Department completely. You never see anything like that. It's an extraordinary thing.

CUOMO: So, now you go to a second line defense, Andrew. And I just want to give every benefit of fairness before we drop the hammer about what needs to happen now.

"Sentence was too harsh, Andrew. Yes, he lied. He lied. He lied. He witnessed tampered, maybe the jury got him on all seven counts. But Wow! This was a really harsh sentence. This was the Feds doing payback for taking them to trial, the trial penalty."

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR, FBI: You know, the sent - that issue of the sentence being too harsh, that is the job for the judge. It is the prosecutor's job to calculate the range of potential sentence as per the Sentencing Guidelines.

Now, the Sentencing Guidelines, as Preet can tell you, it's not a perfect math equation. There is room for interpretation there. They list mitigating and aggravating factors.

And it's up to the prosecutors to compare the evidence and what the - what the defendant was charged with to with - to how those factors are described in the guidelines. And ultimately, they come up with a range.

If that range is too harsh to be applied to someone who's old, or infirm, or has no criminal history, those are all things that the judge takes into consideration, when they determine the sentence.


But the range that was put forth in the initial recommendation was absolutely according to the guideline for someone who has been convicted of very serious offenses, after going to trial, being convicted by a jury of very serious offenses.

CUOMO: And, you know, two other key factors. One, the lies stem from things that arguably he was doing for and to cover for Donald Trump.

MCCABE: That's right.

CUOMO: And two, a Republican Senator said, "You know, well, now we have a letter that one of the people involved says he didn't feel that he was being intimidated." Well, the DoJ had that letter. If they wanted to argue mitigation in the case, they would have done it. Everybody was aware of it. That's not something the DoJ just learned about, Andrew.

MCCABE: Of course.

And, Chris, look, how many times do we rely on the - the testimony of a victim of a crime who comes in, and says, "Oh, don't worry about me. I'm fine, I'm fine. I didn't think it was that bad," would we actually rely on that as - and give the defendant mitigating credit for the victims' charity? No, absolutely not.

Many victims would say that simply because they've been, you know, terrorized or they are in fear of saying anything else. So, I think that that factor has been really grossly overstated.

CUOMO: So now, why do we care? Preet, the reason we care is, I will suggest, and you will elaborate, that this comes after impeachment as no coincidence. This President feels "You're in my hand. I squeeze. You squeal and do what I say."

BHARARA: Yes, look, people can have good-faith arguments about whether or not seven to nine years was appropriate or not. You know, I actually tend to think it's a little bit high. That's not the point.

The point is the President's involvement on behalf of a crony who was in good faith prosecuted by his own Department of Justice, where you had the case overseen by his own United States attorneys, both the prior one and the interim one.

And do we want a system, in which the President of the United States doesn't just govern policy, but can pick and choose, and say, "You know what? I don't like that Chris Cuomo. Can you guys look at - look at Chris Cuomo? I don't like Chris Cuomo's relatives," or somebody he does like at Fox News, and says, "I understand they're under investigation. Can you shut down the investigation?"

If you say that what the President did here is OK, right, and Alan Dershowitz, I know, likes to say "Well the whole sentencing system is too harsh," well, the door swings both ways, then you're permitting or giving a permission structure to the President to say not only with respect to somebody that is close to him "Be more lenient."

He can say about any particular person named by the Justice Department "Go harsher on that person because I don't like him or her."

CUOMO: That's exactly right.

BHARARA: That - that's not democracy. That's not rule of law.

And - and every single Senator who looks the other way, who doesn't want to answer a question, needs to face the fact that you are endorsing the idea that the sitting President of the United States can single out a citizen, Jeff Bezos, or Roger Stone, or anyone else, for special treatment--

CUOMO: Right.

BHARARA: --whether harsh or lenient.

CUOMO: You know like who?

BHARARA: That's not right.

CUOMO: How about this for an example? And look, you feel it's far- fetched, you tell me, Andrew.

"Mitt Romney, hey, let's take a look at his taxes. Do me a favor. Go look into him. See what holdings he still has and still he doesn't." I mean how about they get some stink on him?

And he says, "Hey, put the screws to him." "Oh you know what? We have him on the case. We're going to cut him a deal. You know, really, this isn't a big infraction." "No, I want the max."

If this is OK, why wouldn't that be OK? What is to stop it from being not what the President can do?

MCCABE: There's absolutely nothing to stop it. And I think we saw that again today in these comments in the Oval Office when the President, after talking about how bad he felt for Roger Stone, then rebounded into talking about how - how insistent--

CUOMO: Vindman.

MCCABE: --he is that James Comey and I be prosecuted and thrown in jail. So--

CUOMO: And Vindman should be sent back to the military.

MCCABE: Exactly.

CUOMO: They keep - his people keep selling us this soft-landing thing. "You know, he's going to go to the War College. You know, that's a peach gig, everybody wants that."

Now the President says he should be investigated by the military. What's to stop that from happening?

MCCABE: Absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing. And we know that this President makes his desires known to the agencies, to the Agency Heads, through his public statements on Twitter. We know that.

We've seen that, of course, in this case. I saw that in my own case, when in December of 2017, he claimed that he was racing me to my retirement. I guess he won that race. So, that's the way that he works.

For him to step back now and say that he had no influence on the Roger Stone decision whatsoever is utterly preposterous.

CUOMO: No. But also, Preet, question the source! I'm sorry to say this. But I don't give the President the benefit of the doubt about telling the truth that he didn't have any influence over A.G. Barr, and I don't know why we would believe the A.G., if he said he had no influence.

Remember how he humana humana humanaed through the question from Kamala Harris about anybody suggesting anything to him.

BHARARA: Yes. Did anybody - yes, and he said, "I'm - I'm grappling with the word, suggest."


BHARARA: It's a pretty simple English word. I don't know why you have to grapple with that.

I'm just going to repeat the same thing over and over and over again. It should not be the case that the President of the United States can single out individual citizens for prosecution or for leniency.


That is - that is the end of rule of law in this country, and every Senator needs to understand that. It's as simple as that. And you can say it over and over again until people understand that that's what - that's what's at stake here.

You know, we've been talking for three years about investigations of the President, and abuse of power by the President. Some people don't think it happens, some people think it did, with the Mueller investigation, with the impeachment inquiry.

You know, I personally feel, and a lot of people I've spoken to in the last 24 hours feel, that what happened yesterday, the way he handled the Roger Stone case, and the way Bill Barr enabled it, and executed it for him, is worse than all of those other things. That's how bad, people feel.

Even in those other cases, you did not have a mass resignation or mass withdrawal, of people who have otherwise served the Department for years admirably. It's a big deal.

We hear there's reports of other people planning to resign. Maybe Timothy Shea himself will resign. That might be the right thing for him to do. But - but it's a big deal. And, by the way, it's not the end.

CUOMO: That's right.

BHARARA: I keep saying this is just the beginning. It's only been a week--

CUOMO: It's one week.

BHARARA: --since he was acquitted.

CUOMO: One week! They said he learned his lesson. He wouldn't do again. He'd be better. He learned the lesson. The lesson is he can--

BHARARA: Think - think about how he's going to go after--

CUOMO: --do whatever he wants.

BHARARA: --look what he did with Joe Biden. Joe Biden didn't do so well in the last two races. Now, he's going to see who the front- runner is.

Watch him. Watch him get his Justice Department to look at the people who were high up in the polls against him other than Joe Biden, and their family members. Mark my words. That's what he's going to do. And it has been enabled by people who - who should know better or in a position of power to tell him otherwise.

CUOMO: You know the frightening thing for me is I can't push back on it because it just seems as likely as anything else, by the pattern and the inclination of the person involved.

Preet, Andrew, God bless, good luck going forward.

And look, as Preet just told you, it's only been a week. You know, some of those GOP Senators, they whisper, you know, on background, "Hey look, you know, he'll calm down now. You know, this really unsettled him. He never thought something like this would happen to him."

Oh yes, he's settled down, all right? This is in one week. I will show you all the vengeful things he has done, not just today, a compiled of each day, one thing more shocking to the next, and who has any reason to say it will stop.









CUOMO: Remember, Republican Senators justify the abdication of their oath, largely by laughing off the notion that Trump was a continuing threat. They actually pitched a penitent POTUS.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I believe that the President has learned from this case. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: This notion has proved so wrong so fast that Senator Collins is pretending it never happened. Just today, her quote, "I don't understand why you keep linking how I voted to whether or not the President's learned to be more careful."

We link it because you said it, like others, in an apparent play to get or keep power.

And if she and the other GOPers were hoping that the President would play nice for a while to not excuse - you know, expose them right away as suckers, they were wrong again.

It has been literally a week since the Senate voted to turn a blind eye to Trump's transgressions. Each day, he has attacked institutions and of individuals that he was feeling badly about. He operates like he's in a cartel, not our capital.

The same day he was given a pass, his A.G. shut down any FBI or DoJ investigation of a Presidential campaign, unless he signs off, specifically declaring off-limits any cases involving illegal contributions, donations, or payments, by foreign nationals. Literally, Trump made himself, investigation-proof.

The next day, his Treasury armed Republican allies with sensitive financial records to target Hunter Biden, exactly what he was accused of engineering abroad.

On Friday, he fired Vindman and Sondland. He also threw in Vindman's brother. They said it was just awkward to keep them. That would prove to be a lie and soon. Wait on that.

Monday, the defense that "Rudy is doing his own thing. He has no real influence on the government," remember that, was revealed as a sham. Always was. The Attorney General now confirming Rudy Giuliani is funneling them whatever dirt he digs up in Ukraine.


WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had established an intake process in the field so that any information coming in about Ukraine could be carefully scrutinized by the department.


CUOMO: Odd that never came up in the trial.

Then, on Tuesday, as the DoJ apparently bowed to Trump's desire to go easy on his pal, Roger Stone, who is convicted of lying, by a jury, the Commander-in-Chief called for the military to pursue charges against LTC Vindman for telling the truth.


TRUMP: We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want.


CUOMO: No, they can't because you're telling everybody what to do, and nobody seems to want to stop you.

And just to remind you, how complete the pass was for this President, his Party blocked a vote on three bills just to make it harder for foreigners to interfere with our elections. Now, reporting sprouting up, GOP insiders worried about what Trump will do next. Why worry? You are the ones who told the country whatever he does is fine.

Now, Democrats are vowing to continue to check the power of the President. But how? We have Senate Judiciary Member, Richard Blumenthal here, next.









CUOMO: You know, again, what we're living through right now is not normal.

We haven't seen federal prosecutors who worked on a case, like the Stone case, resign from the case, some may be gone from the office of the government all together in protest, and then have our President mock them.

The President is trying to pawn off these resignations as proof that he rooted out Members of the Deep State. It's just not true.

Let's put the tough reality though to Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. He's also a former federal prosecutor and multi-term State Attorney General in Connecticut.

Senator, thank you.


CUOMO: Hard question, what can you do to stop this President from doing exactly what he just did, even next time to you?

"Look into that Blumenthal. It's got to be something." And when they come back, and say, "Oh, yes, we did find once he did this." "Yes, yes, the max, give him the max," why can't he do that if he can do what he did with Stone?

BLUMENTHAL: The first challenge, Chris, is to alarm and awaken the American people to the threat that exists.

We're in the midst of a perfect storm for American justice, a President who's corrupting the American Justice System with utter contempt for the rule of law, a - an Attorney General willing to be his political henchman, and a Republican majority that is morally spineless. So, awareness, as you're helping to do tonight, is a first priority.


I've also called for the Office of Inspector General, the independent watchdog within the Department of Justice, to begin an investigation immediately.

I've called on the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, where I sit, to begin oversight hearings, and call not only the Attorney General, but also those brave prosecutors who resigned their jobs in protest.

And finally, other options should be on the table, like the power of the purse. We have the power to appropriate or withhold appropriations.

And, one last point, Chris, that I think is very important to realize. The Judiciary has responsibility here too. My hope is that the Judge in the Roger Stone case, before she sentences him--

CUOMO: Judge Berman.

BLUMENTHAL: --will demand a full explanation.

CUOMO: It gets a little - it gets a little tricky for the Judge. Obviously, the Judge decides the sentence. She takes the recommendation from the prosecution. And prosecution amended their recommendation.

So, I guess she could go back to the old one. But that would be unusual also. I mean, look, it's a lot of pressure to put on the Judge because she's fixing something she didn't break.

You know, the GOP says the complete opposite of what you're saying, Senator.

They're saying, "Look, this sentence was crazy, and it was so high, it was probably politically motivated. We are actually administering justice here. We're being fair. They only did this to Stone because he's Trump's guy."

BLUMENTHAL: And the Judge can take into account the mitigating circumstances along with the severity of the crime.

As you put it very well, at the very outset, tampering with witnesses, intimidating them, trying to impact their testimony, that undercuts the very foundation of the rule of law. And you're absolutely right. Today, it's Roger Stone. But if the President can use the Justice System as a political tool to favor friends, or go after enemies, it could be any one of us.

And I must say there's no sugarcoating this situation. Ultimately, it's going to depend on the election because my Republican colleagues have shown they are going to enable this kind of corruption of our Justice System.

They have said, apparently, acknowledging it, that the President hasn't learned his lesson, and he's sending a message, "If you disagree with the President, your job, your family, maybe even your life are in jeopardy."

CUOMO: Let's see what happens when it's one of them. You know, if he goes after Mitt Romney, well maybe right now they'd be OK with that. They nominated him for President on basically the same policy platform that Trump had. But now, they're all silent when he's getting beaten up.

But just to be clear about the catalyst here, do you believe that it is any coincidence that since he got the - the pass in the impeachment trial, the President day after day has done things as bold as he's ever done.

BLUMENTHAL: No coincidence whatsoever, Chris. That's a really important point.

The impeachment verdict unleashed him, ugly, alarming, to feel truly that he is accountable to no one, he can do whatever he wants, as he said under Article Two, and he will be held accountable not by any Senate Majority, because he controls the majority.

And my Senate colleagues, and this point, is important too, are more than just tacit bystanders. They are explicit enablers. They are aiders and abettors here. And this unleashing, after that verdict, was done by them. It's no coincidence.

CUOMO: The power of the purse is an interesting aspect to this dynamic because the House is a catalyst there. And, right now, the Democrats have that.

Of course, you have political problems with that because that will be seen as you guys starving the administration of justice, if you don't want to fund it. So, this gets to be sticky. And often, the best change agent in a democracy is an election.

Let me ask you to put on a different hat for a second. Do you believe that your Party has somebody that can beat this President?


CUOMO: You have full confidence in that?

BLUMENTHAL: I have full confidence that any of the major leading candidates, now running for President, in the Democratic Party, can beat Donald Trump, because I think the American people are going to realize what is at stake here, and it's more than just how much money they make. It's also the values we hold precious.

You know, on my wall, Chris, I still have the Department of Justice seal. It means something. It means justice. Above all, Americans prize a system of norms and laws that underlie our Justice System.

And I think that's going to be a major factor. I think that we're going to be emphasizing healthcare, and education, and jobs, and economic progress, but I think values count too.

CUOMO: Well values count. But one of the values is unity. And we have never seen a President have a Party behind him the way the GOP is behind President Trump. And I say that as a compliment to him.


Politics is about power. It is almost unimaginable to see how your Party will be as equally committed to a candidate given what's happening in your primary. You have no concerns?

BLUMENTHAL: The lesson of these primaries, especially New Hampshire, is that Democrats, above all, want to win. And there won't be divisions, I don't think this time, about different political niceties or technical issues. I think the Democratic Party will be strongly united.

And the Republican Party, as united as it may seem, and it has become enthralled, it's the Party of Donald Trump, and my Republican colleagues, more in fear than in admiration, are in his grasp, also cannot win that election alone.

They need Independents. They need Democrats who voted for Obama, and then voted for Trump, to continue to support Trump. I hope I believe it won't happen.

CUOMO: Well we'll be covering it all. I mean, you know, my job is to expose. It's for you in elected office to propose and oppose solutions to what we bring to light.

We'll see how that goes in this election and before because you're going to keep getting examples from this President of just how much he can flex and how much his Party will take.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you for being with us tonight.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: All right, so for this election that we're living through right now, to be the ultimate check on Trump, the Democrats have to win, right?

Otherwise, the President wins a new term, and that is the complete validation of how he does the job. So, why would anything change in terms of what's being complained about? Bernie Sanders, top of the ticket, you can make the argument right now, he's tied in delegates, does he have what it takes to win over his Party and win over enough Americans to beat this President?

One of his top advisers, next.









CUOMO: Bernie Sanders reveling in victory after beating Pete Buttigieg narrowly - narrowly in New Hampshire. But his edge over his moderate rival, again narrow, about two points.

Sanders needs to widen the gap if he wants to take out President Trump. So, why is he the best bet?

To make the case, Senior Adviser from the Sanders Campaign, Jeff Weaver.




CUOMO: It's good to have you on the show.


CUOMO: So, I think it is fair to say that Senator Sanders has the biggest crowds, arguably the most devotees in terms of the energy of devotion and intensity, at this point, in the Democratic Party, certainly online.

Two big finishes at the top, but he did not match his performances in Iowa or New Hampshire from the last cycle. Why?

WEAVER: Well because last time, Chris, there were essentially two- person races. And so, you were going to split 50-50 or get one side of 50 or the other. And this time, you had 11 candidates running in Iowa and New Hampshire. And so, you're just not going to get those kind of margins. I mean, as

the race goes on, and it gets winnowed down, I think you will then see candidates who are getting those kinds of margins.

I mean the question then why don't you ask how come none of the moderates got it - did as well as Hillary Clinton did in New Hampshire last time or did as well as Hillary Clinton did in Iowa last time?

CUOMO: Well, I think they have the same argument, except it's probably a little bit better fact set for them as moderates, they would be splitting a vote that Bernie is not getting. That takes me to my next point.

The counter to your assertion there is that he's not getting Hillary's votes. He got only 7 percent of people who voted for Hillary in Iowa. I think he got 14 percent of people who voted for Hillary in New Hampshire.

And as to the size of the field, Jeff, we both know Trump had a big field in 2016. He got over 30 percent, 88--

WEAVER: Not at - not at this time in the race, not at this time in the race, Chris. I think you have to go back and look. It wasn't until--

CUOMO: Well it was - New Hampshire was a big field.

WEAVER: --March. I don't think he got over 30 percent until March.

CUOMO: New Hampshire, he got over 30 percent.

WEAVER: It wasn't - in the 30s.

CUOMO: And it was a big field. Democrats have had big fields before. Nobody has ever won New Hampshire with as small a number as Bernie did. Why shouldn't Democrats be concerned?

WEAVER: Well they shouldn't be concerned. Look, we're going to have a long process. I think you've heard all the candidates say it's a long process, and it will be. We're going to go now to some more diverse states.

Senator Sanders actually is expanding the base of the Democratic Party, bringing out new voters. If you look at the college precincts in New Hampshire, they had record turnout.

If you look at the turnout of Latinos, and other people of color, in Iowa, it was far higher than has ever been. That was because of the work of the Sanders campaign. Bernie Sanders is creating a bigger tent in the Democratic Party.

We're going to bring in a lot of working-class people. We're going to bring back those people, your last guest was talking about, who voted for Obama twice, and then voted for Trump. We're going to bring them back.

And we're going to expand the tent. We're going to bring a lot of new people, lot of Latinos, who haven't voted in the past, lot of other young people of color, who've given up on the Democratic Party, and a lot of young people in general.

CUOMO: I give you the wait-and-see on that because it's not fair. You've only had a couple of contests.

But you have not seen jumps of any remarkable fashion in either state. Iowa was net to neutral or negative. New Hampshire probably is going to wind up being net to neutral of 2016, maybe up--

WEAVER: No. No. I think it's record turnout.

CUOMO: --10, 15 or so percent.

WEAVER: I think the - the newspapers are reporting record turnout in New Hampshire, Chris.

CUOMO: It could - it could be close. We got to figure out what it is. But it's too - it's too early to say. I'm saying I'm not going to--

WEAVER: For sure.

CUOMO: --I'm not going to - I'm not going to come at you either way about that.

In terms of exposing the base, you ever get the - do you guys have the sense within your camp that the Party is a mixed bag for you that there are people in the Party that are still a problem for Bernie Sanders, whether it's because of the "S" word or because of 2016 that someone like Pete Buttigieg, with all due respect, he's been over- performing, he's a phenomenon of his own to this point.

But a guy out of nowhere, 30-something years old, Mayor of a nowhere town, given all he can handle to Bernie Sanders, what does that mean?

WEAVER: Well, look, I'm not going to take anything away from Pete Buttigieg--

CUOMO: Me either.

WEAVER: --or Amy Klobuchar for that--

CUOMO: Me either.

WEAVER: --for that matter, who also had a good performance on--


WEAVER: --on Tuesday. So, look, this is a long process. People are getting introduced to folks. But I'm telling you, is the Party a problem? No, I'll tell you what - what the issue is, Chris.


This Party is engaged in a major transformation right now at the grassroots level. In the 90s, it was a sort of a corporatist neoliberal party.

There's still an element of that Party, which hangs on to power in various segments of the Party, particularly in the donor class, and they do not like Bernie Sanders, let's be clear, they do not like Bernie Sanders. They're going to do everything they can to stop him.

There's a group that ran a lot of nasty negative ads against him in Iowa, who are planning on doing the same things in Nevada. So, yes, the corporate interests in the Republican Party and those that still exist in the Democratic Party are very reluctant for change.

And Bernie Sanders, for them, is a real danger because, as you know Chris, there's a lot of people in this town, whose sole purpose in being their power, their prestige, their access, is all around who they know and who they've palled around with.

Companies pay them a lots of money for that kind of access. And in a Bernie Sanders' Administration, that's going to go to zero.

CUOMO: There's no question that he has set himself up as an active enemy of those interests.

And then, you go beyond the elites, and I do think you have some structural concern there, among mainline Democrats like, you know, you saw this guy jump up in South Carolina, what's his name, Joe Cunningham, that they worry for all of the eloquence of the example and the illustration of social - social democratic principles and where socialism already exists in American society, they worry about it.

They worry about it, hurting them down-ticket. How do you alleviate their concerns?

WEAVER: Well let me tell you this, Chris. You know, everybody thinks that Vermont is a very Blue state. But it wasn't always a Blue state. And the - the truth of matter is, is that it's a Blue state in a large part, not - not exclusively, but in a large part, because of Bernie Sanders.

He won a seat that had been held by Republicans for decades in Vermont. He gets 25 percent of the rural Republican vote in Vermont.

And if you look at the last midterm cycle, you know, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, in the general election, wanted Bernie Sanders campaigning with her.

The Governor of Wisconsin, in the general election, wanted Bernie Sanders campaigning with him. Jacky Rosen in Nevada, in the general election, wanted Bernie Sanders campaigning with her.

Why? Because Bernie Sanders has a strong appeal among working-class people all across this country.

And if Bernie Sanders is the nominee, he is going to win Pennsylvania, he's going to win Michigan, he's going to win Wisconsin, and he's going to win back the Presidency for Democrats. CUOMO: Two quick responses. And I'll let you go. I know you guys are busy.


CUOMO: First, Bernie has got some high floor. What a base of support? So much passion for those who believe in him, lot of them young, lot of them disenfranchised, similar to the people that the President got.

"But he's got a low ceiling," they'll say, "he can only get 30- something percent. He won't have enough delegates when he gets to the Convention. He's not going to come out of there, even if it's brokered. His ceiling is too low to win a national contest."

Your response?

WEAVER: Well we'll let the pundits, you know, pontificate. We'll let the voters decide what his ceiling is. That's what this process is about.

And I'm convinced that when we get to the end of this, you're going to see all these people, "I don't know what happened. How could this have happened? We never saw it coming," just like they did in 2016, Chris. These--

CUOMO: Fair point. Fair point.

WEAVER: --these folks--

CUOMO: They said it about Trump too that they didn't see the movement that was behind him. They didn't understand what he was a proxy for. They didn't understand the depth of the disaffection.

And I say "They" a lot because we talked about the movement a lot. I was surprised, like everybody else was that that group of people would pick Trump as the appropriate agent. But they did.

So, you're right, you're right. The same thing could be going on with Bernie Sanders. The enthusiasm is intoxicating, that people have for him. The rallies tell the story.

WEAVER: For sure, for sure.

CUOMO: So, there's a flip side to that. The culinary workers in Nevada are a big get, you know, you need them there. You know this. This will be new for the audience. They do not like Medicare-for-All.

That's not my concern. That's about a policy. They can have a policy fight with Bernie. They talk about what we used to call "Bernie Bros," which I think is now way too limiting a term, savaging them online for going against Bernie Sanders.

We have heard this complaint consistently. And Jeff, I'll tell you the truth. You know I'm fair to you guys. You know I'm fair to the Senator. I invite him on all the time. It's up to him to take the invitation. They will come after me with gusto tonight for questioning Bernie Sanders' supremacy at the top of the ticket. You guys disavow them. Bernie will disavow those guys who send the snakes and the ugly messages. You're going to have to own them this time around.

What do you say to your supporters who are going after the culinary union people that you need in Nevada that crush anybody who criticizes the - the Presidential candidate?

WEAVER: Well I'll say what Bernie Sanders says, which is everybody should engage in discourse in a very civil manner. You know, this is a time, obviously, for people to talk about policy differences. That's what this process is about.

But it should be done in a civil way, so that when this process is over, whoever is the nominee, and we expect it to be Bernie Sanders, we'll see if that ceiling holds that you're - this mythical ceiling holds.

But if it's Bernie Sanders, or anybody else, we want to be able to bring this Party together, and to defeat Donald Trump.

And just one second on Medicare-for-All.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

WEAVER: You know, Medicare-for-All, what Bernie Sanders has said about it, and how it's structured is folks in culinary and - and other unions will get better benefits than they get now, and the value of their current healthcare will be given back to them in wages.


And you should know that there are other affiliated unions in California to the culinary who have the same healthcare plan they do, literally the same healthcare plan--

CUOMO: And have a different position.

WEAVER: --who have endorsed Bernie Sanders.

CUOMO: Yes, I know.


CUOMO: I'm well aware. And I've invited the Senator on to make the case. I invite you on as well. I'm happy to do only that issue, with Nevada coming up, and when we have to go to California, you're always welcome here to make the case.

WEAVER: I appreciate it, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Jeff Weaver, thank you.

WEAVER: Don't go after Chris tonight, folks, don't get after Chris.

CUOMO: Yes, we'll see. That's all right. It's part of the job. Good luck going forward.

WEAVER: Thank you.

CUOMO: The 2020 Democrats, all right, listen, you got to vet them because they are going up against an incumbent that is like King Kong. Trump is a fierce campaigner. He has his Party in the palm of his hand. And he now believes he can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.

So, I have an argument for those who are looking the other way to what is happening right in front of their faces, next.









CUOMO: Please be clear, there's nothing normal about what this President is doing, specifically his abuse of power, and lying about the same. And the problem continues right now.


TRUMP: I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this - this horrible thing. And I didn't speak to them by the way, just so you understand.


CUOMO: No, we don't understand because, Mr. President, you tweeted about this, about the sentencing of your felon friend, Roger Stone, the following. "This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!"

Hours later, your DoJ was undoing it. The same bosses who were OK with the sentence recommendation were suddenly not.

And then, what did you do? The "Attaboy!" "Congratulations to A.G. Bill Barr for taking charge of the case that was totally out of control perhaps should not have even been brought."

Point of fairness, I believe the President on this. I don't think he believes the case was warranted. The seven counts of guilt that the jury, a jury, not politicians, found was the kind of lying and obstruction that this President has arguably attempted often.

This was not a political move that got Roger Stone. The jury trial is the heart of fairness under law. It is politics that may get him a pass.

I argue Trump went straight at this because the GOP just told him he could. And sure enough, they're covering for him again. And no one has proven more loyal a lackey than the Attorney General, who swore not to do what he's doing right now.


BARR: The role of the Attorney General is to keep the enforcement process sacrosanct from political influence.

I feel that I'm in a position to be independent.

I can truly be independent.


CUOMO: Yes, or not, like blocking investigations of this President, check, working with Rudy on Ukraine, check, reversing the sentence that he was OK with on Stone, check.

And, once again, the GOP sits silent or cheering it all on. It is "Ride or die" for them. But know this, what you ignore, you empower. What you applaud, you own.

And here, it is as an alliterative illness, Trump's persistent, pervasive, perversion of the Presidency, out of a perfidious sense of self-importance. And this is not about liking the policy.

Just eight years ago, Romney ran on a platform of tax cuts and jobs just like this.


MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I mean, do you think Obamacare created jobs?


ROMNEY: Did his war on coal and oil and gas create jobs?



CUOMO: Came out of a Trump rally, and he had the culture war stuff too, anti-reproductive rights, pro-conservative judges, religious liberty. But now he's a pariah. Here's the problem.

Romney didn't change. The Party did. Can any of you in the GOP really think that you are having your finest hour? Few of you, at least off the record, say that you would say most of what you defend from the President's mouth.

The entire point of the Constitution is to guard against Presidents who behave like dictators. That's what the Founders feared. That's why it spells it out specifically that Presidents must take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

And yet, we're watching the Putinization of the Presidency, swearing revenge on whistleblowers, demonizing the Press, claiming immunity from oversight, refusing to release tax records, undercutting our Intelligence agencies, our diplomats, now our court system, that is the stuff of dictators, you know, all the guys that this President likes to go easy on.

Trump is attacking all of the things that make America great, ironically in the name of keeping her great. Any elected Republican who can't see the problem with that is either lying or so blinded by power they do not deserve the seat they hold. That is my argument.

Now, don't count on the Senate's Judiciary Chair to look into any of this Trump judicial interference. Lindsey Graham is losing no sleep. He's literally wearing Trump on his sleeve. BOLO!









CUOMO: BOLO! That means Be On the Look-Out.

The President's GOP allies, they work for you, or him?

Let's take Senator Lindsey Graham, Head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He says, "No, nothing wrong with the President messing with the DOJ sentence recommendation," as he luxuriates in his Team Trump attire on state TV. And he wasn't the only one.

Congressman Mark Meadows, now the Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee, also proudly shrouded in MAGA merchandise. "Country over Party," they say. But can we really believe where their loyalties lie when the answer maybe in plain sight?

By the way, were those jackets made in America? We're going to find out.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now. DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Was that a little

shade? Were you giving a little shade there?

CUOMO: I'm giving a lot of shade.

LEMON: So, here's the thing.

CUOMO: I am the storm.

LEMON: Susan Collins is very concerned. She's, you know, she's going to call the White House because she thinks the President should not be interfering in the DOJ and she's - he shouldn't be tweeting. So, I'm glad she's concerned, you know.

CUOMO: Well she'll set him straight.

LEMON: Strongly-worded letter.

CUOMO: She'll set him straight.


CUOMO: I mean he responds very quickly to any kind of negative feedback.

LEMON: Yes, he's learned his lesson.