Return to Transcripts main page

Cuomo Prime Time

Trump Threatening Democracy With More Election Chaos; Sen. Ted Cruz: "I've Condemned The Proud Boys Long Ago"; Trump Tells Far-Right Group Tied To Racism To "Stand Back And Stand By". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 30, 2020 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, Anderson, thank you very much.

Hey everybody, I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

Tonight, my opinion, not a night to talk about who won. The only clear outcome is that you lost. Now, partisans can spend their time comparing who was worse and why, or who was better, and Biden was this - no. Just focus on what's obvious.

Trump won't debate. He refuses to be tested. He will not make a case to you. He intentionally wants you to quit on this process, if you're not for him. He doesn't want you to hear anyone else, to compare plans, or to do any kind of fair comparison.

Bottom line, he does not want to debate, he wants to debase, words that are one letter different, but a world apart. Trump thinks he looks better, when he makes everyone and everything else look bad.

So, what does he do? Well you watched it, right? Cheapen the event, the moderator, the opponent, and most of all, the legitimacy of that forum. "It's absurd. It's a joke. Don't even pay attention. And forget about the election."

Make it all terrible. Trash your expectations of anything legitimate, anything better. Proof. Tell me one positive thing he said about the future of this country last night. Tell me one message he had about how great we will be and why and how.

I submit to you, it is the first time you've ever had an incumbent sell you on his re-election, by saying, "Vote for me. The other guy is worse."

Usually the metric is, "You're better off than you were four years ago." He can't play that, so he has to say "As bad off as we are, Biden would make it worse. As little as you think of me, think less of him."

Now, I think the only part that really mattered last night was the one time the President was measured. What was that about?

His false premise that absentee ballots are rigged and that, bad things may happen. And, in relaying that fate, he was very gentle with his worst followers, White hate groups, specifically, the gateway crew, the Proud Boys.

Today he said, "I don't know who the Proud Boys are," you know, like he did with David Duke of the KKK, like he did about what happened in Charlottesville, like he did with those gun-toting goons in Michigan, fighting masks.

He doesn't know the immigrants either, the ones seeking a better life. He has no problem telling them all to go to hell.

But with these guys, he gave the Proud Boys reason to be proud. "Stand back and stand by," they liked it so much, they put it on a T-shirt. Why? Because he needs them as part of this president's win or bust plan.

Literally, the election goes his way or else.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: They're sending millions of ballots all over the country. There's fraud. They found them in creeks.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR & DEBATE MODERATOR: Are you counting on the Supreme Court, including a Justice Barrett, to settle any dispute?

TRUMP: Yes, I think I'm counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely.

They're being sold. They're being dumped in rivers. This is a horrible thing for our country.


TRUMP: This is not--

BIDEN: There is no evidence of that.

TRUMP: This is not going to end well.

WALLACE: You go first.

TRUMP: I'm urging my supporters to go in to the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen.


CUOMO: We have poll-watchers. But what's he really asking? Is he really asking White hate groups to monitor the polls? Is that why he was so gentle? Is that why he said, "Stand back but stand by?" Or is it more Trump trash? "No. Don't look at it that way," says our first guest, Tom Friedman,

writes in his latest New York Times column, "Our democracy is in terrible danger, more danger than it has been since the Civil War, more danger than after Pearl Harbor, more danger than during the Cuban missile crisis and more danger than during Watergate."

Why? Isn't this guy just all hot-talk?

Tom Friedman, welcome back to PRIME TIME. Why do you take him so seriously, when apocalyptic suggestions of anything but his success are common for him?

TOM FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES, AUTHOR, "FROM BEIRUT TO JERUSALEM": Well, Chris, we are seeing something we've never seen before in our history, and it is the greatest voter suppression enterprise, ever mounted in this country, led by the President of the United States.

He is basically telling us, every day now, in every way, and in that debate that 73 million Americans watched, that one of two things are going to happen on November 3rd.

And one of them is not Joe Biden being elected. "Either I am going to be elected, by a majority of votes cast that day, or I'm going to delegitimize this election."


He is laying the basis for the delegitimization of any election that does not return him to Office, so it can be thrown into the Supreme Court or the House of Representatives.

We have never seen this before out of any president. It is the greatest voter suppression effort ever mounted in this country, and it's going to have huge - it's already having huge ramifications.

Already, Democrats are going to feel, if they lose, it's because he basically suppressed the vote and got people to not vote by mail, so they stayed home because they feared for their lives in a pandemic, or if he wins that - if he wins, the Democrats will be aggrieved. And if he loses, his own voters will insist it was all because of mail-in fraud.

We are going to not maybe have a contested election. He has set it up for an illegitimate election. And we are not going to be able to legitimately transfer power.

And remember, Chris, when we had this in 2000, we had Al Gore there. It was a question of chads in Florida. And Al Gore took a bullet for the country by abiding by the Supreme Court decision.

Donald Trump will put a bullet into the country before he abides by any Supreme Court decision that goes against him. This is the most dangerous thing I have ever seen in America.

CUOMO: You don't believe that if it got to the - one step backwards. Do you believe he can throw the election into Congress or bypass the results as expressed by the secretaries of state and the electors of each state?

FRIEDMAN: Look, I'm sure there's all kinds of ways he can do this by basically--

CUOMO: I'm not so sure, Tom. That's why I'm asking.

FRIEDMAN: But by - but by--

CUOMO: The system gets bigger than the President fast.

FRIEDMAN: By declaring victory that night, and then claiming that any votes that come in days or the week after have been delegitimized, and then unleashing an army, basically, of lawyers to make his case and muddy the waters. If--

CUOMO: Why is it different than 2000? We had that happen. It was one state, in Florida.

FRIEDMAN: Right, one state. I think this--

CUOMO: The Supreme Court says it. Trump says "No?"

FRIEDMAN: I think--

CUOMO: How does that work?

FRIEDMAN: Right. This will be all 50 states.

CUOMO: Right.

FRIEDMAN: And God knows what happens, what kind of violence he can unleash by his supporters. They may not even abide - if the Supreme Court even rules against him, I'm not sure what his supporters will do.

I have one fervent wish right now, Chris. And that is for the next national debate - 73 million people watched that debate. Here's what the Presidential Commission on Debates owes us.

Begin the debate with 10 minutes of instruction, by an independent election expert, about how you vote legally by mail, why it is legal, why it is possible, why it is legitimate, and here's how you do that.

The Presidential Commission on Debates owes us that. Otherwise, they are complicit in giving a platform for this President to pollute this election.

CUOMO: Now, one of the reasons that - Tom Friedman is not an alarmist, why? Well history, covering Lebanon's second Civil War, see things happen in otherwise fairly stable, understood democracies.

Does this really smack of that for you, Tom?

FRIEDMAN: Chris, can I tell you a joke? This is a joke about Syrian elections.

CUOMO: I could use one.

FRIEDMAN: We all could use one. So, this is a joke they used to say about Syrian elections.

There's an election in Syria, and President Hafez al-Assad won 97.8 percent of the vote. And his aides came to him and said, "Mr. President, you won 97.8 percent of the vote. It means only 2.2 percent of Syrians didn't vote for you. What more could you ask for?" And Assad said, "Their names," OK?

That's what this election is starting to remind me of, elections that I've seen in the Middle East, in countries that are run by autocrats.

Chris, this is not "Maybe." This man is laying the basis to delegitimize this election. "If I win, I won. If the other guy wins, he didn't win. And we are going to either go to the streets, we're going to go to the courts, we are going to muddy the outcome, in a way that we will not be able to have a legitimate peaceful transfer of power."

And he's doing this despite the fact that Chris Wray, the Head of the FBI, reported last week that there has been no such delegitimization of mail-in ballots in this country ever.


CUOMO: He said, when that was kind of paraphrased for him last night, by Wallace, he said, "Well, then he's wrong." Do you think the GOP would go along with this?

FRIEDMAN: Boy, I mean--

CUOMO: That's a $750 question right there.

FRIEDMAN: Yes. I'd like to think that there are many Republicans who would not go along with this. In fact, I believe there are many who will not go along with this. I don't think the whole Party has become so corrupt that it will go along with this enterprise.

But how many? I don't know. And the kind of intimidation that he's already unleashed, Fairfax, Virginia, last Saturday, we had Trump supporters out there, heckling--


FRIEDMAN: --fellow Virginia citizens, who were doing - exercising their constitutional right to vote early. So, I think we cannot rule anything out.

CUOMO: Well we got Ted Cruz coming up. He would certainly be a voice, people would be listening to. Let's see what he puts this proposition to in terms of what it means as a matter of principle.

Tom Friedman, thank you for the perspective, thank you for the warning and thank you for being on PRIME TIME.

FRIEDMAN: Pleasure, thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Tom, as you know, a best-selling author. "From Beirut to Jerusalem," a decent read for right now, heavy read, deep. He researched the hell out of that book, but a good read, and worthy, if you want to understand the context. We aren't going it alone here. A lot of things that are happening here have happened to other places before, worth the lesson, my opinion.

Only chance of getting Trump to be anything other than who he is, who he was last night would be what we were just talking about, Republicans. The people he needs have to stand up. But they, like the Proud Boys, are standing back, standing by. Why?

Let's ask one of the most prominent Republicans on the Hill, a one- time staunch Trump opponent, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, here, next.









CUOMO: One of the tough questions we're struggling with, is why do so many in this President's Party stand by him when he says things they would condemn in anyone else that they would never say themselves, even as he tries to undermine the legitimacy of our election.

Why not they all say, "Mr. President, denounce the Proud Boys, and do it now?" Let's ask a man with a reputation for great smarts and at one time great truth about Trump.




CUOMO: Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, Texas, out with a new book, "One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History."

Senator Cruz, Welcome. I finally got a way for you to talk to me instead of tweeting about me, give you a chance to sell your book, welcome.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Well, Chris, good evening, good to be with you.

CUOMO: The book, the central thought, one vote, one seat, one judge can make a big difference. So can one voice speaking truth to power, especially when it resonates like your own. Will you be that voice? Will you say playing nice with the Proud Boys is wrong?

CRUZ: Well listen, I've condemned the Proud Boys long ago. I think White supremacists, Klansmen, Nazis, are ignorant bigoted morons.

I also think that the American people care about the Constitution and Bill of Rights. They care about the Supreme Court. It was a big reason the President was elected. It was a big reason we have a Republican majority.

And I think this vacancy on the court, it's the reason I wrote this book that was released just this week, because it focuses on the rights that are precious to so many of us, free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment.

CUOMO: Right.

CRUZ: And how all of them really hang in the balance of the court, and I think that issue matters enormously, and for me, it's the most compelling issue.

CUOMO: Absolutely. Now, I will exercise my right, and say, was the President wrong to go soft on the Proud Boys in the debate last night?

CRUZ: Look, I wish he had been much clearer in his denunciation. I was glad today that he walked that back. And he--

CUOMO: No, he didn't.

CRUZ: I'm glad that he sought to walk it back. I'm glad his campaign sought to walk it back. But let me be clear also, the press is completely hypocritical on this issue.

CUOMO: Really?

CRUZ: The press is partisan in this regard. So, 10 years ago, 2010, Joe Biden gave a eulogy for Robert Byrd, who was a Grand Cyclops--

CUOMO: Right.

CRUZ: --of the KKK.


CRUZ: That's 10 years ago.

CUOMO: You're really going to go with that?

CRUZ: Oh, yes. You better believe it.

CUOMO: I know you're a master debater. And Professor Dershowitz tells me you were the star-- CRUZ: That--

CUOMO: --smartest student he ever had at Harvard Law. You're going to go with that weak-ass argument here? Byrd, who had a complete enlightenment about how hate was wrong, who changed his life, who spoke about it--

CRUZ: Chris, Chris, have you ever--

CUOMO: --who changed his ways?

CRUZ: --eulogized a Klansman?

CUOMO: You're going to--

CRUZ: I haven't.

CUOMO: He was a--

CRUZ: Or I'll give you another example.

CUOMO: Listen, but no, no, no, hold on. That's your example.

CRUZ: How about right - hold on.

CUOMO: That's your example. You're going to use that--

CRUZ: No, I'll give you another one.

CUOMO: --you're going to - well but hold on.

CRUZ: I can give you a lot of examples.

CUOMO: But hold on, because I don't want you to run away from the premise, Senator. I'm not you, but I'm not a fool either.

He did it in Charlottesville. He did it with David Duke. The old Ted Cruz, who he called Lyin' Ted, when he wasn't insulting your wife and your father, tweeted, "Hey, you're better than this, Mr. President."

What happened to that Ted? I don't know if he changed or did just you changed, for some reason, Senator?

CRUZ: Chris, I'm glad you take tips on insults from other folks.

CUOMO: Really? Am I insulting you, Sir?

CRUZ: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: How so?

CRUZ: Oh, yes, you are.

CUOMO: How so?

CRUZ: And you're enjoying it. That's fine. CUOMO: I'm not enjoying it at all.

CRUZ: Chris?

CUOMO: I'm not enjoying anything about this.

CRUZ: Chris, there was a time--

CUOMO: Except having an opportunity for you to say the right thing at the right time.

CRUZ: Chris, there was a time when CNN actually cared about being journalistic and talking about facts. Donald Trump broke you guys. I mean you're just--

CUOMO: Really?

CRUZ: --your entire show, your entire network now is just how much you hate Trump.

CUOMO: Really?

CRUZ: And you know what? I think a lot of people like are interested in - you said in your opening, it was very interesting, you said the President didn't say anything positive about the country.


Well I thought the most important moment in the debate, last night, was when the President made very clear that Joe Biden's policy agenda of shutting down the country, shutting down small businesses, and shutting down schools, and our priority needs to be opening up the economy, bringing jobs back, getting kids back in school. And that's a very different policy agenda.

We have had an enormous economic impact from this pandemic. We need to restart the economy. And I think the President and Joe Biden have very different visions. Joe Biden's policies, I think, don't work and hurt a whole lot of people.

And when I'm back in Texas, people in Texas don't understand why the press is just like the only thing you talk about is how much you hate the President.

CUOMO: Ted? Ted?

CRUZ: I get that the President's not your friend, fine.

CUOMO: Senator, when you were in the campaign, do you want me to read through some of the things you said about Donald Trump? You want to talk about somebody who had a chance to talk about policy, but just stuck with the person? Nobody did it more than you did. That's why he gave you the nickname he did and beat you down with it.

The idea that you're going to put that on the media, my brother, you were the guy who went on Twitter, talking about my naked ass, but you won't tell him, when he's being an ass. So, why would you put it on me?

CRUZ: Chris, fine, you hate the President. I get it.

CUOMO: I do not hate the President.

CRUZ: You know what? We started this year--

CUOMO: You are too smart to say something that stupid.

CRUZ: Chris? Chris? Please, please, please.

CUOMO: I respect him as president. I want better for this country. And frankly, I want you to speak to that as well.

CRUZ: Yes.

CUOMO: You can't say that we have a police difference over--

CRUZ: All right, Chris, we started this--

CUOMO: --closing down the country.

CRUZ: Chris, but please don't interrupt every sentence. You're behaving--

CUOMO: The President had to do it.

CRUZ: I get that you want to interrupt every sentence. But you're behaving like you were one of the debaters last night. We can have a respectful conversation, and speak to each other civilly, or you could yell at me.

CUOMO: Senator, how many times have I invited you--

CRUZ: Yes?

CUOMO: --on the show?

CRUZ: Well, I remember one time you tweeted out "Cruz is dodging my show."

CUOMO: 20 times.

CRUZ: Literally while I was on Fox. I was on Fox & Friends.

CUOMO: Is that - yes.

CRUZ: You had invited me.

CUOMO: Right.

CRUZ: You attacked me. And, by the way, I did a 15-minute interview with CNN--

CUOMO: I didn't attack you.

CRUZ: --that day that CNN didn't air.

CUOMO: I asked you to come on the show.

CRUZ: Chris?

CUOMO: And you said, "I just did one with CNN."

CRUZ: Chris?

CUOMO: Every show is different.

CRUZ: Chris, you literally put me on the screen, and said, "Ted is afraid to come on." And you invited me, while I was on Fox I mean it was - look.

CUOMO: 20 times I've invited you.

CRUZ: Let's actually talk about substance.

CUOMO: 20 times.

CRUZ: I think you're less - Chris?

CUOMO: You're here right now--

CRUZ: I'm here right now.

CUOMO: Because I want to give you a chance to speak.

CRUZ: Chris, I'm here right now, so let's actually talk about substance.

CUOMO: Good. Why do I care?

CRUZ: And let's - let's talk about--

CUOMO: Because last night, you say the most important thing was when he talked about the timing of who shut down the economy and when, which was always his--

CRUZ: No, not the timing.

CUOMO: --which was his choice.

CRUZ: What the solution is right now? 51 million Americans have lost their jobs.

CUOMO: Right.

CRUZ: They want to go back to work.

CUOMO: Right.

CRUZ: Small businesses want to open up.

CUOMO: Yes. CRUZ: Restaurants want to open up.

CUOMO: They should.

CRUZ: Movie theaters want to open up.

CUOMO: They should.

CRUZ: People want to be able to provide for their family.

CUOMO: They should.

CRUZ: Moms want their kids to go back to school.

CUOMO: Yes. Dads too.

CRUZ: And Joe Biden and the Democrats are responsible--

CUOMO: Dads too, you know? Dads care about their kids in school.

CRUZ: --for the shutdown.

CUOMO: Not just moms. Dads care too. And you know why it can't happen?

CRUZ: Absolutely.

CUOMO: And you know why it was wrong for him to tell your Governor he was doing the right thing when he wasn't, and he had to learn the hard way, same in Georgia, same in Florida? Testing, Ted. Testing. Testing, Ted.

CRUZ: Look, I am a huge proponent of testing.

CUOMO: The federal government has not been.

CRUZ: But let's be here very clear.

CUOMO: And the President has slow-walked it, Sir.

CRUZ: I get--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CRUZ: Chris, I get that your show wants to attack Texas, and Florida and Georgia, because they have Republican governors. We have also had much, much lower death rates than many other parts of the country. And it's political, the attacks you're making.

I think what we should be focused on, yes, testing, I'm a big proponent of testing. We need to do more testing.

CUOMO: Right, why don't we?

CRUZ: But we need people to go back to work.

CUOMO: Why don't we? CRUZ: And - and--

CUOMO: Why don't we do the testing so people can go back to work? Why don't we do the testing, so kids can go to school?

CRUZ: Well, I'll tell you, I've introduced actually legislation in the--

CUOMO: Have you?

CRUZ: --in the Senate to create a tax credit for employers to test their employees.

CUOMO: And what happened with it?

CRUZ: On a weekly basis.

CUOMO: Why haven't you guys voted on it?

CRUZ: Well the Democrats are blocking voting on everything. They've filibustered legislation multiple times. I don't think either Pelosi or Schumer actually want anything to pass because they've decided--

CUOMO: Did they read "Green Eggs and Ham?" By the way, have they tried that one yet or no? Saving that for you?

CRUZ: Chris?

CUOMO: Right?

CRUZ: Do you actually want to talk substance?

CUOMO: We are talking substance.

CRUZ: Or just insult?

CUOMO: I just like to call out the hypocrisy when it's there, because the audience's heads stay on straight that way because they're not like--

CRUZ: Actually--

CUOMO: --"Wait, this is the "Green Eggs and Ham" guy. Is he talking about filibustering?" That's what this show is, but I have to tell you, to cheapen it by saying "I want to take political shots about COVID."

You know I had it. You know my wife had it. You know my kid had it. You know I network with people all over this country who are still suffering with it. You know I hate that kids aren't in school or your staff should have told you, I talk about it every night. It couldn't be less political for me. I don't want people to get sick.

CRUZ: Except Chris, you attack Republican governors.

CUOMO: And if they tested more, Ted, they'd be better. CRUZ: And let me say something. There is something disgusting that Democrats are doing, that Joe Biden does, and that you do, which is--

CUOMO: What?

CRUZ: --you try to blame the people who have lost their lives on your political enemies, and that's just not right.

CUOMO: No. No.

CRUZ: It's not right at all.

CUOMO: I'm saying that when you hear--

CRUZ: And it's particularly not right when--

CUOMO: --when you hear 200,000 people die, you don't say "It is what it is." I'm saying that--

CRUZ: But you know what, it's particularly not right, Chris, when your brother--


CUOMO: --when - when you could have slowed it down, and you didn't, you own it.

CRUZ: --has presided over the State with the highest death rate in the country.

CUOMO: New York's record--

CRUZ: And I'm not - and I'm not--

CUOMO: --will stand for itself.

CRUZ: I know your brother didn't want those people to lose their lives.

CUOMO: Oh, no! Oh, well that's good.

CRUZ: But you shouldn't play politics with--

CUOMO: So, you don't think he intentionally killed them? That's good.

CRUZ: No, of course not.

CUOMO: That's very charitable of you, Ted.

CRUZ: Of course not.

CUOMO: Must be the Christian--

CRUZ: But I do think we can have a very reasonable policy discussion about the policy mistakes in New York and New Jersey of sending COVID- positive patients into nursing homes. I think that was a very serious policy mistake.

CUOMO: Because that didn't happen all over the country, right?

CRUZ: No, it didn't happen in Texas.

CUOMO: That wasn't the most vulnerable population.

CRUZ: It's one of the reasons why you're - the death rate in New York is four times the death rate in Texas. It was--

CUOMO: Texas, the place where the Governor said that you didn't need to test and you didn't need masks, right?


CUOMO: And the President gave him a pat on the head?

CRUZ: That's - that's just a complete fabrication.

CUOMO: Yes, uh huh?

CRUZ: And we test a lot.

CUOMO: Well the--

CRUZ: I've been tested many times.

CUOMO: --the same Governor who said we didn't need to shut down, go out, and then he had to turn around and do it differently because cases popped all over the place? That guy? Is that what you are talking about?

CRUZ: Chris, was it a mistake?

CUOMO: Or is that too political?

CRUZ: Was it a mistake when your brother implemented a policy that nursing homes had to accept COVID-positive patients and endanger the lives of tens of thousands of seniors in New York State?

CUOMO: My brother was the first one to say--

CRUZ: Was it a mistake?

CUOMO: --that there was a learning curve and that mistakes were made, and they changed things as soon as they could.

CRUZ: But then don't be a hypocrite about it.

CUOMO: Now look, I could write that off as a political attack, right?

CRUZ: Then don't claim - and I'm--

CUOMO: I could ask you - I could ask you questions about--

CRUZ: Look-- CUOMO: --only things that have to do with your family, but I'm not going to do that because the general propositions matter more.

CRUZ: Chris, Chris, I'm actually talking about public policy. That was a serious mistake.

CUOMO: And but - and testing is not public policy?

CRUZ: But I also recognize this is a pandemic.

CUOMO: Testing is not public policy?

CRUZ: Chris, please, I'm not interrupting you. Let me actually get a sentence without interrupting me?

CUOMO: I think you've gotten many, Sir. I'll show you the tabulation of who spoke and how much in the segment later.

CRUZ: All right.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CRUZ: Chris?

CUOMO: Yes, Sir.

CRUZ: This pandemic has been an enormous challenge across the country. I think Democrats and Republicans are trying in good faith to keep people safe.

But I think we can also have reasonable policy discussions about what works, A, to keep people safe, but B, to get people back to work. And I think people want to go back to work. This week, Disney announced 28,000 layoffs. Now, Disney is not a Right-wing company.

CUOMO: You see American Airlines?

CRUZ: They're a very liberal company. But what's interesting about Disney--

CUOMO: American Airlines is going to do tens of thousands (ph).

CRUZ: --what is interesting about Disney is they're doing the layoffs in California, because California shut down the theme park. They're not doing the layoffs in Florida because Florida opened Disney World. I mean, it's a clear contrast where Democratic politicians--

CUOMO: So you're saying that--

CRUZ: --in California have shut it down and they've cost people--

CUOMO: --so they're laying off the people where--

CRUZ: --people their jobs.

CUOMO: --they're out of business, and not the place that they're in business, and you're saying that's political?

CRUZ: No. I'm saying the policies of Democrats--

CUOMO: Oh, so what do you say?

CRUZ: --to shut the economy down are bad policies that hurt people's lives.

CUOMO: What do you do when people are getting sick, Ted?

CRUZ: And the layoffs are the direct result--

CUOMO: What do you do when people are getting sick, Senator, and you can't test them?

CRUZ: Well you don't send them to nursing homes.

CUOMO: And they don't wear masks? And you tell them not to.

CRUZ: You don't - you don't send them into nursing homes.

CUOMO: Oh, so - so the nursing homes was the sum total of the entire problem in the country? That's what it was?

CRUZ: Well it led to the New York having--

CUOMO: 7 million cases?

CRUZ: --33,000 deaths compared to Texas having 15,000 deaths. And Texas has 50 percent more population than New York does.

CUOMO: And what about all the cases that they had? And how many people got sick--

CRUZ: So, you should be - you should be--

CUOMO: --by the refusal to shut down businesses?

CRUZ: You know what? Our objective should be to preserve--

CUOMO: You say you want to open them up, but you won't discuss how.

CRUZ: Our objective--

CUOMO: You say you introduced a bill, but you won't talk about the President and his failure. The testing has to be done at the federal level, Ted. You know this.

CRUZ: Well--

CUOMO: You understand a little bit about state economics. You know the Governor can't do it himself, right?

CRUZ: Well actually governors have taken the lead, and have had much greater success. Texas' record on every level--

CUOMO: They've had to.

CRUZ: --is much, much better than New York and New Jersey and Massachusetts.

CUOMO: That's not true. Look at New York's numbers.

CRUZ: And Pennsylvania.

CUOMO: Look at the rate every day they're testing. My brother puts it out every day.

CRUZ: 33,000 deaths versus 15,000 deaths.

CUOMO: They were the hub of where people were coming. You guys want to celebrate China? You let in 40,000 people, it had already moved to Europe.

CRUZ: So, Chris let me ask you, does it--

CUOMO: They let in tens of thousands people, they went to the hubs.

CRUZ: --does it trouble you? Does it trouble you--

CUOMO: That's why we got so sick here.

CRUZ: --at all that New York and New Jersey had the highest death rates in the country?

CUOMO: Of course.

CRUZ: Does that - does that make you and pause and say, "Gosh!"

CUOMO: It all troubles me, Ted. And to watch guys like you stand by and--

CRUZ: Were - but - but Chris--

CUOMO: --stroke you beard like a wise man--

CRUZ: --does it make you think--

CUOMO: --instead of telling the President to get on it--

CRUZ: Chris?

CUOMO: --when you have power--

CRUZ: Chris, how about tell your brother to get on it?

CUOMO: --is a problem. My brother will stand for his own record.

CRUZ: And how about thinking about the public policy?

CUOMO: Why don't you talk to the President the way you talk to my brother, Ted? You afraid of him? You think he'll smack you down at home? CRUZ: Oh, yes, I'm terrified of the Cuomos!

CUOMO: Is that is what it is like he shelled you up in the primary?

CRUZ: You guys are really tough!

CUOMO: Not the Cuomos. I'm talking about the President. My brother's not the President. I'm talking about the President. The one who called you a liar, the one who said your wife was ugly--

CRUZ: Let me--

CUOMO: --that guy.

CRUZ: Look, I--

CUOMO: The guy now, who you won't say anything about.

CRUZ: I recognize that you like it - you actually wonder why you don't have a lot of Republicans that want to come on your show, Chris?

CUOMO: I have more than any other show.

CRUZ: Where you have me and yell at me, and insult - insult me.

CUOMO: I'm not - I'm not yelling at you.

CRUZ: And that's fine.

CUOMO: I'm raising my voice to match your own, because you want to play games, Ted.

CRUZ: You were yelling at me and insulting.

CUOMO: And people are dying.

CRUZ: And that's OK. That's OK, Chris. You're perfectly fine to scream and yell because you know what?

CUOMO: Oh, but you don't?

CRUZ: You're doing it because you don't want to discuss the substance.

CUOMO: I had you on to discuss these things.

CRUZ: Like you invited me on the show to actually talk about the Supreme Court and talk about the book, "One Vote Away." And instead, you just want to repeat insults over and over and over again.

CUOMO: Oh, but you're not?

CRUZ: But let's actually talk about the Supreme Court for a minute.

CUOMO: You just bring up my brother for half the interview because you're such a fair guy.

CRUZ: Well now you--

CUOMO: You're playing so straight down the middle, right?


CRUZ: --you were just - you were just playing in a biased way, attacking Texas, Florida, and Georgia--

CUOMO: Because the President's not at the top of the food chain?

CRUZ: --coincidentally happen be Republican states, when the death rates, they are markedly worse, and we should ask, when the death rates are markedly worse, in some states than others, we should ask a reasonable question--

CUOMO: Yes. Why didn't the President help sooner?

CRUZ: --where the public policy mistakes, where the decisions--

CUOMO: That's the question.

CRUZ: --that led to that.

CUOMO: Why didn't the President help sooner?

CRUZ: And, by the way, let me ask--

CUOMO: Why didn't he help the places that got hit hardest first--

CRUZ: All right, you want to talk about the President specifically, Chris?

CUOMO: --when they were all Democratic?

CRUZ: You want to talk about the President specifically? Was it the right decision or the wrong decision when the President halted air travel into and out of China?

CUOMO: Right decision. Should have done it sooner.

CRUZ: It was the right decision, even--

CUOMO: And should have not let 40,000 people repatriate. Next question?

CRUZ: OK. OK. So, I agree with you on that. I called for him to do it the day before he did it.

CUOMO: Next question?

CRUZ: But Joe Biden denounced it as racist and xenophobic.

CUOMO: No, he didn't. No, he didn't.

CRUZ: Yes, he did.

CUOMO: No, he didn't.

CRUZ: And Nancy Pelosi that week--

CUOMO: I'll be you - I'll bet you dinner.

CRUZ: --brought up a vote--

CUOMO: I'll bet you dinner Biden didn't denounce it.

CRUZ: --in the House, where - for Democrats to stop the ban.

CUOMO: I'll bet you dinner that Biden didn't say that. You were right about Pelosi. And it was a bad move.

CRUZ: He most certainly did.

CUOMO: You're wrong. You're right about Pelosi.

CRUZ: He most certainly did it, and by the way--

CUOMO: And it was a bad move.

CRUZ: And by the way, Chris, your colleagues at CNN, this is sort of the talking point, I, with Jake Tapper, actually read the Biden tweet to him. I don't have it in front of me right now. But he denounced it as racist and xenophobic.

The New York Times who, you just had Tom Friedman on, had multiple articles saying it was a mistake. It was terrible to hold air travel into and out of China.

CUOMO: Well you heard what I just said, right?

CRUZ: I can tell you, I chaired a hearing in the Senate, where the expert--

CUOMO: Did you hear what I just said?

CRUZ: So, you said - I agree with you now.

CUOMO: Oh, good.

CRUZ: But you know what?

CUOMO: Now? I've only said this.

CRUZ: The Democratic Party didn't say it then.

CUOMO: I'm not part of the Party.

CRUZ: The Democratic Party denounced it then.

CUOMO: Let me ask you one other thing while I have you that I think is almost as important as what you say about when we're shutting down and when we didn't because that's in the past. What the President said about the election, Senator, seriously, now, I'm happy to joust, but not when it's existential, OK? That's why I come at you about the pandemic, because for me, I don't play politics with it. I'm a little insulted by that. But I'm making it--

CRUZ: You don't play politics. You just only attack Republicans over it.

CUOMO: I'm making it--

CRUZ: But you're not playing politics.

CUOMO: I have Republicans on all the time--

CRUZ: It just happens to be Red states

CUOMO: --who are willing to come back--

CRUZ: No, no, no, but the only states you attack--

CUOMO: --all the time.

CRUZ: --you attack Texas, Florida and Georgia.

CUOMO: No. I point out those states--

CRUZ: Are there - is there anything similar about those states?

CUOMO: Please, Senator? You sound silly. I talk about people and how they're struck in those states all the time. I care about them, and I want them to be better. And I don't want them to be sick, and go through what I did.

CRUZ: You want them to be Democrats.

CUOMO: So that's why.

CRUZ: You want them to be Democrats.

CUOMO: I do it with Democrats too. I do it with them too.

CRUZ: No problem.

CUOMO: Anybody who's not doing the right thing when it comes to--

CRUZ: Look, look, you--

CUOMO: I talk about the kids in class, as a national problem.

But let me ask you this. The President has been hinting very strongly that if the election doesn't go his way, it will have to have been fraudulent. And you just heard Tom Friedman, and his concerns.

If your State and the other states certified their results, as they always do, and say "No, this is it. Our count's legit. We'll check as the law allows, but it's legit," and the President says, "No, not good enough for me. I don't want a transfer of power," what would you do?

CRUZ: So, that's not going to happen. There's going to be a peaceful transfer of power.

But let me say something. I wish that the two political sides actually had conversations where we listen to each other.

I have to admit it, it was surreal listening to you and Tom Friedman, talking about what you think Trump is going to do on the election, because from my perspective, I think it's projection.

I think the one that is going to challenge the election in all likelihood is Joe Biden. Hillary Clinton told--

CUOMO: Biden said last night he'd accept the results.

CRUZ: But Hillary Clinton told Joe Biden "Under no circumstances should you concede defeat." And not only that--

CUOMO: Who cares what she says?

CRUZ: --it's interesting. Tom Friedman talked about Bush versus Gore. So, I was one of the lawyers who represented George W. Bush.

CUOMO: I remember it.

CRUZ: In Bush versus Gore. There's a chapter, in my book, "One Vote Away" that talks about Bush versus Gore and elections. And by the way, it was Al Gore, who challenged the outcome of that election. It was Al Gore--


CRUZ: --who filed litigation.


CRUZ: And it took 36 days of chaos. It went to the Supreme Court twice. And ultimately, it was resolved.


CRUZ: Bush - the ballots were counted four times. Bush won all four times. And, at the end of the process, there was a resolution.


CRUZ: It's one of the many reasons why nine justices on the Supreme Court matters, because we need a resolution. And what my book does, I'd just like to say a second about it, if I could.

CUOMO: I haven't stopped you.

CRUZ: But - OK.

CUOMO: Keep talking, brother. CRUZ: Before I was in the Senate, I was a Supreme Court litigator. That was my profession, was arguing cases at the Supreme Court.

Each chapter in the book talks about a different constitutional right, whether free speech, religious liberty, the Second Amendment. And what I would say, look, I recognize a lot of your listeners are of a different political affiliation than I am.

CUOMO: Yes, but I invited you anyway.

CRUZ: And that's we're a big--

CUOMO: So, please finish your point.

CRUZ: --we're a big country.


So, my point is, if folks at home want to actually understand why so many millions of people are deeply concerned about protecting free speech, and religious liberty, and how those rights, and the Second Amendment, how they hang in the balance, what the book does is it tells the inside story of what's happening in the - with the justices, what's happening with the courts, what's happening with the landmark cases on those rights, many of which I helped litigate.

And I do think on Bush versus Gore, for example, we could easily find ourselves in November, and December, and January in the midst of nationwide litigation. It could be brought by Joe Biden or it could be brought by Republicans. Either side could bring litigation.

And I would encourage folks, if you want to understand the issues more, even if you don't necessarily agree with me, I think the book is a helpful tool to understanding these issues, and what's really going on--

CUOMO: Good.

CRUZ: --at the court. And I'll tell you the--

CUOMO: And I hope you stand by what you said about the peaceful transfer of power. I hope if you concede--

CRUZ: And you know what? I hope--

CUOMO: --that there's an obvious political play, I hope you speak up, Senator, because that's why you--

CRUZ: So, and I hope Joe Biden does too. If Joe Biden loses, I hope that you stand by it as well.

CUOMO: He said he'll accept the results. If he doesn't, then he's a liar, and he's got to be called out as such, unless they can bring up a material issue on either side. Then obviously, you got to have the system be put to work. But that's not what we're talking about, at least not yet. Senator Ted Cruz, appreciate you finally taking the invitation. Good luck with the book. The book is "One Vote Away."

All right, we'll be right back.









CUOMO: Why is it important to have the taxes? Because you want to see where money is owed and to whom, what would it mean for the President? Is there a potential conflict?

Those are all legitimate questions. They're not political, and the fact that it's not law that everybody who wants to lead us doesn't have to put that information out is ridiculous.

So, let's talk to somebody who can understand how these kinds of concerns translate into larger concerns about the safety and integrity of our democracy, OK?

Andrew Weissmann, lead prosecutor in the Mueller Special Counsel's Office. He is now the Author of a book called "Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation."

Mr. Weissmann, Counselor, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: So, what concerns you in all of this talk about the President's finances and now his discussions about how the election is not going to be legitimate? In your expertise, what rates legitimate issues?

WEISSMANN: So, let me just focus on the finances, since that's an area where I have some expertise on the issue. The political issue is one where I leave to you, and Senator Cruz to discuss.

CUOMO: You think that guy's going to talk about anything about this President?

WEISSMANN: With respect to the finances--

CUOMO: I don't know what he has on him. But he's going to stay quiet.

WEISSMANN: No comment.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

WEISSMANN: So, on the finances, there are a lot of unanswered questions, assuming The New York Times' reporting is correct, and you have $420 million in debt, that is a counterintelligence issue.

What you really need to know is who has that debt. You want to know who has leverage on somebody. $420 million, why somebody might be able to control that person? You want to know whether policy is being set in a way that's influenced by that.

There also were some other issues. There was information in The New York Times about a Russian oligarch named Agalarov. And you may recall that that same Russian oligarch was this - the person who put together the Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016 saying that Russia has dirt that they want to offer to the Trump campaign against Hillary Clinton.

So, you want to know more about that relationship, why it is that the Agalarovs, apparently, according to The New York Times, put up all the money for Miss Universe but made no money.

According to The New York Times, there was no money made by the people who advanced the money, but the President, then a civilian, made $2 million. So, those are all areas that I would want to explore.

CUOMO: So, you would want to explore. But the question becomes, you were in the business of exploring. Why didn't you guys pull the taxes? Why didn't you go down these roads?

WEISSMANN: Excellent question. So, one of the unique aspects of spending 22 months investigating the President of the United States is that it is extremely unusual that the person that you are investigating has the power to fire you, to pull the plug.

And one of the things I recount in the book is that when we issued a grand jury subpoena with respect to Deutsche Bank, and we were looking at Paul Manafort's finances, now - we were following the money there, the White House called up, irate, saying, "Are you looking at the President's finances?" As you recall, publicly, it had been said that's a red line.

And a decision was made, by Robert Mueller, at that time, and frankly, I supported it, because this is a hard call. What do you do when you're deciding, at the outset of investigation, do you risk being fired or do you go forward with the investigation?

And if you look at what we did, the agents and analysts and prosecutors put together an amazing set of cases. They figured out Russian interference in the election. They figured out the Russian hacking of the DNC. We figured out the sharing of polling data by Paul Manafort with a Russian operative.

My issue, and the one that I sort of respectfully dissent is that I thought that that decision to not look at finances early on, needed to be revisited. The information that The New York Times apparently has uncovered and the open questions that we have relating to the data that The New York Times has--

CUOMO: Right.

WEISSMANN: --is ones that we should have looked at.


CUOMO: Bob Mueller says people disagreed in the office, but he doesn't think you have all the facts.

"When important decisions had to be made, I made them. I did so, as I've always done without any interest in currying favor, or fear of the consequences. I stand by those decisions." It's based on "Incomplete information."

Do you have incomplete information? Is there something else you could have known that would change your opinion?

WEISSMANN: Well absolutely. I am certainly not professing to know every single thing.

I think I have a lot of information about the particular investigation, I spearheaded. But I wasn't in on every - every single decision and every single discussion. So, if there's additional information--

CUOMO: But do you think it was a political decision, from the DoJ, to not let you look at legitimate questions of fact and law, regarding the President's finances and associations?

WEISSMANN: I wouldn't say it's a political decision. It was - the White House wanted to know whether we were looking at the President's finances. They had publicly said that was a red line. And so, the concern was, are we going to be fired if we look at that.

And, as I said, I think, early in the investigation, that's a really difficult balancing to figure out what to do. But I think, as we started proving a whole bunch of things, and the investigation progressed, I thought we should have revisited that.

And the way I phrased it in my book is, at some point, you decide we have to do our job, and if we get fired, we get fired, and you just live with those consequences.

CUOMO: Boy, that is really - the book is an interesting read. I'd love to have you back, because there's going to be more application of what's in it, as we go along. Andrew Weissmann, thank you for taking this opportunity.

The book is called--

WEISSMANN: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: --"Where Law Ends."

We'll be right back.










TRUMP: I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace.

WALLACE: Well, then do it, Sir.

BIDEN: Say it, do it, say it.

TRUMP: You want to call them - what do you want to call them? Give me a name, give me a name. Go ahead.

WALLACE: White supremacists and Right-wing--

BIDEN: White supremacists.

TRUMP: Who would you like me to condemn.

BIDEN: Proud Boys.

WALLACE: White supremacists and Right-wing militia.

TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what, somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the Left.


CUOMO: Wow! A damning condemnation by the President of White nationalist and the Proud Boys. Not! How do we know? Boy, do the far- Right groups, like the Proud Boys, love what he said.

Our next guest would know. Her name is Samantha. She's a former member of the alt-right group, Evropa. Did I say that right?


CUOMO: Samantha, did I say that right? "SAMANTHA": It's Identity Evropa.

CUOMO: Identity Evropa.

"SAMANTHA": The worst.

CUOMO: Thank you.

She left after Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville.

Thank you for taking the opportunity to come on. I know this is not easy. But it really is important.

What do people need to understand about how what looked like a half- step by the President, last night, translated to a huge step-forward for groups like the Proud Boys?

"SAMANTHA": I think - I think for the far-Right, especially in terms of White supremacy or groups like the Proud Boys, without direct condemnation or disavowal of this Movement, of this ideology, they have tacit approval.

They feel invigorated. They're already making merchandise for it. They're already making large, loud, grandiose statements, excited for whatever the next move might be called for them.

CUOMO: And what does it mean to those kinds of groups and the people in them to hear themselves equated with movements like Anti-fascism or movements like systemic equality, Black Lives Matter, that banner. What does that mean to them, to be kind of put on even footing?

"SAMANTHA": I think for them, it is also an empowering situation. They feel that they are equal to, they feel that they are also a Civil Rights group, as opposed to just violent ideology.

CUOMO: And what does giving them confidence potentially translate into?

"SAMANTHA": I mean, the entire point of these movements, whether they start online, in-person, whatever, the entire goal through all of it, is to lead to violent action. So to have an Administration not condemn it, to have anyone not clearly state that this is a bad idea, they're winning, in their minds.

This is just another step-forward for them in terms of becoming mainstream, in terms of becoming a household name. People are now looking up the Proud Boys, and some people might actually get lost in their rhetoric.

CUOMO: What did it mean to you and members of your group, when the President said "Good people on both sides?"

"SAMANTHA": It was a - it was a celebratory moment. They took it as a win. It was taken as, again, a step-forward. It was taken as a reason to beat your chest and to feel good about being a White supremacist.

CUOMO: So, what changed for you? How did you go from harnessing hate to wanting to reject it?

"SAMANTHA": I think it was a few things. But I mean mainly it was - it was the death of Heather Heyer.

It was starting to pull the strings of what this ideology actually meant, looking at the slogans and the people that said them, just thinking critically about the Movement, really, things started to happen and more violence started to occur.

And when you join the Movement, at least for someone like myself, I convinced myself that it was just a White Civil Rights Organization. And I was able to ignore so many other things, for an amount of time.

But once the "Unite the Right" rally happened, once more people started dying, once the mass shootings started, or at least being tied to the alt-right, being tied to the far-Right, you can't ignore what is really going on. It's terrifying. And I could not be a part of that.

CUOMO: Well I'm glad you came to that decision for your own life. You got more of it in front of you than behind you. So, good luck with everything. And I wish the President had the same clarity that you do.

Samantha, thank you.

"SAMANTHA": I appreciate it. Thank you.

CUOMO: We'll be right back.









CUOMO: Tough night! We're going to have a lot of them. It's time to hold people to account, to put them on the record about what matters, and see where they are, so you can remember.

But we don't want to end on hate. We don't want things to be about animosity, even Samantha, coming out of it, even just talking about it. I want to cleanse the palette.

"No more word is more disgust, written about, thought about or misunderstand. Everyone seeks it. And when it's found, it makes everything else seem no longer worth seeking. It costs nothing to give and it can't be bought. It brings with it

warm smiles, deep contentment, sometimes, tears of joy, and even a sense of justification. Wise men analyze it. Poets romanticize it. But no one improves upon it.

Our word for it is "Love."

Some of us believe it was personified, nearly 2,000 years ago, in a manger in a stable far from here. Some of us - others see it embodied in other symbols and other events. Almost all of us celebrate festivals to it at this time of year. In doing so, we are reminded how good a whole year could be, if only we were wiser."

That is our wish for us, during this time, from me. This was a poem my father wrote. May he rest in peace! The more we focus on love, and being together, and what matters to all of us, the better we'll be.

"CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Those are words to live by.

CUOMO: That is--

LEMON: They really are words to live by.

CUOMO: That's what he did. That's why--