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Senate GOP Expected To Block Vote On January 6 Commission; NY Times: Prosecutors Investigating Whether Ukrainians Meddled In 2020 Election To Help Trump; Paul Ryan Criticizes Trump's Hold On GOP. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 27, 2021 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Reports at the time say 36 people were killed. Historians now believe the death toll might have reached 300.

President Biden's scheduled to visit Tulsa, next week, to take part in an anniversary ceremony.

That's it for us. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for "CUOMO PRIME TIME." Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Coop, I hope you have a good weekend. Thank you very much.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

We're awaiting a big vote tonight in the Senate, could happen on our watch. The Trump party is expected to block legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Insurrection.

And why? Well, this is the offered explanation.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I do not believe the additional, extraneous "commission" that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing.


CUOMO: How does he know already that there would be no new facts? It's an odd thing to say, isn't it? It's also odd that Mr. McConnell asked his colleagues for a personal favor to oppose this Commission. That's according to one of the Republicans, he pressured.

Why would this be so important to him? After all, this is the man who said Trump was responsible for January 6th, remember? Doesn't he want that assertion of his to have findings behind it?

35 Republicans in the House thought the terrorist attack of January 6, all the groups that coordinated, weeks out, to come to that bloody result, hunting them, as they secured the democratic process, they thought it was worth investigating, earlier this month. Sufferin' succotash, even Senator Lindsey Graham was once for it.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): When need a 9/11 commission to find out what happened to make sure it never happens again.


CUOMO: Now, he says he opposes the House-passed bill with the excuse that a Commission will turn into a partisan food fight.

Let's be honest, once again, commonsense is going to lose out to the nonsense of fealty. This is just as simple as choosing Trump over the truth once again.

This is what Trump brought to bear. You see the red hats. These were his people. He made them angry. He gave them the incentive to act. And they took it.

And now, his party, because they too are acting at his direction, are choosing better, to cover for terrorists, who attacked the Capitol, better to whitewash history, better to call them tourists and peaceful patriots than to do or say anything that may sully the Teflon Don, or more importantly, ruffle the feathers of his followers that are key to that party's shrinking base.

Even the mother of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick had a hard time convincing Republicans to meet, let alone to do what is right on the Hill today. 13 Republican senators declined to meet with her.

Here's her thought.


GLADYS SICKNICK, OFFICER BRIAN SICKNICK'S MOTHER: They're supposed to uphold the Constitution. And right now, I don't think they're doing it.


CUOMO: Gladys Sicknick, she calls not meeting with her a slap in the faces, or not picking a Commission, a slap in the faces, of all the officers like her son. Remember, there were about 140, who did their job on the 6th, protected the people, now, who don't want to look in to the situation, 140 who were hurt or maimed.

Now, when they vote against this bill, they will be saying that those people don't matter. But remember, a slap in the face, to the mother of a fallen police officer, they can handle that, because there is only one face they dare not slap.

Now, as we wait for this vote, let's bring in retired Army Lieutenant General Russel Honore, led the review of Capitol security, after the attack, in fact, he wrote the report that is the basis for this bill, joins us now on PRIME TIME.

Good to see you sir, as always.


CUOMO: So, let me ask you. Are you surprised that there's going to be no Commission?

HONORE: I'm very disappointed would be a better description, Chris.

On that day, my assessment, we had a failure of government. Our government didn't work. Our Department of Homeland Security will only, but the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Secret Service, Department of Defense, government didn't work that day.

If government was working, it's no way we wouldn't have had response forces there to help the Capitol Police. And therefore not for the help of the Metropolitan Police, from the District of Columbia, god knows what would have happened at the Capitol that day.

Our government failed. We need to figure out why did it fail? And we need to respect those offices, as you said, that were hurt and the ones killed with a proper investigation as to what happened, so we can prevent this from happening again.


Look, when the Speaker - when Leader McConnell go home tonight, he will get in the black Suburban. He has 10 Capitol Police protect him, 24x7, if he wants to.

If he wanted to go out to dinner tonight, he'll go home, collect himself, and go to a fine restaurant. They will take him to dinner if he wants. If he want to travel to - out to his home, back in Kentucky, they will travel with him, and they do, 10 of them.

Now, how does he explain to them that nothing happened, and the facts don't matter, when they protect him 24x7? This is a travesty of our democracy happening right here.

CUOMO: Congressman McCarthy says "No. This is a political hit job," and you were a political appointment. What do you say to him?

HONORE: Well, I think he's more political than I am. I respect him. He's got the right to say what he wants to say.

But I'm not a Democrat. And I'm not a Republican. We did our jobs. This is what happen when you tell the truth. People that don't want to hear the truth will find a reason to degrade you. I've been there before, done that.

I think we came close to the truth with our recommendations on increasing the police, hardening the Capitol, increasing the Intelligence, have more dignitary protection, provide the Capitol Police with better instruments, with the architect, to have surveillance and fences that could come on to the ground. What's political about that? I don't see that as a political.

But he has right to his opinion. And he told me that to my face. So it's not the first time I've heard it. But why - when he goes home tonight, he will get in one of those black Suburbans. And there'll be eight to 10 of Capitol Police taking him where he wants to go, and taking him home to California.

This is an absolute travesty to the respect of those officers who protect them, 24x7.

CUOMO: Let me ask you this, General. The Joint Intel report calls racially and ethnically motivated hate groups the most lethal domestic threat.

In your report, you found that threats to lawmakers have increased fourfold since a year ago, and there's a cross section between these threats. How do we fight this threat without actually understanding how it coalesced to create this moment on the 6th?

HONORE: Well, first of all, Chris, we don't have adequate laws, on the book, to track potential domestic terrorism. We track terrorism, foreign terrorism very well, and have done that pretty successfully since 9/11.

But domestic terrorism, you can go look and you can ask the experts. We don't have sufficient law that empowers the FBI, and local and state officials, to track potential domestic terrorism. We can only do something if they act.

And I was talking to one senior staffer about why we didn't have that law. And his flippant answer was because domestic terrorism - terrorists vote. They participate in the process. The Congress need to fix that by creating a law, so we can track what are they doing, what are they talking, monitor, as well as to go intervene before they act.

CUOMO: Do you think not having the Commission will make it more likely that we have a mistake and don't handle something well, again?

HONORE: I think it increases the probability.

I would want to think government has learned the lesson that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security will be working in concert with the Capitol Police, as well as the Park Police, and the rest of them, in the Capitol area, to prevent this from happening. I want to believe that they will be able to.

But what'd happen if it happens at 3 o'clock in the morning? Domestic terrorism don't have to have a big footprint to be able to show up in their trucks with their guns and go against the Capitol. What's going to happen when that'd happen?

And that's why we recommended a National Guard quick reaction force. There are members that don't want that. They don't want the National Guard on standby at the Armory.

The current system for getting support to the Capitol Police work well, if it's a Saturday afternoon, and you can organize it, and you get a permit. But what happen if we get another attack from domestic terrorism, going after the Capitol?

CUOMO: And now there's one opportunity--

HONORE: At 3 in the morning?

CUOMO: Now here's an opportunity to ask those questions, and come up with solutions that it doesn't look like we're going to have.

But let me take this opportunity here. General Honore, I'm sure you know men and women, who died in service to this country. And I honor their memories, and I honor your service to the country as well. Thank you for helping us tonight. God bless you and the family.

HONORE: Remember, Memorial Day, we--

CUOMO: Oh! It was a tough time to lose him.


I'm sure he was going to say something about we remember the people, who made a sacrifice, so that we can try to do better, in this place, certainly better than we're doing right now.

Sorry, I lost the General.

More pressure tonight on the man who holds the secrets of Trump's finances. Prosecutors may be trying to flip Allen Weisselberg. Now, you've heard this before. How do they get somebody to flip? By getting information that is bad for Weisselberg, maybe that has something to do with the Inaugural scandal.

What does someone who worked on the Inaugural Committee know? Stephanie Winston Wolkoff is here, former close confidante to Melania Trump. She knows what happened on the Inaugural Committee. Was Weisselberg involved? Next.








CUOMO: Well there's a lot of talk out there about what this special grand jury in New York means, especially when it comes to Trump and his top money man, Allen Weisselberg.


So, I think the speculation hasn't really helped anything. Court documents, they help something, especially if you're looking scandal- for-scandal. People tend to work in patterns.

Remember, the D.C. A.G. is running an active civil investigation into the Trump Inaugural Committee. That was also a part of the Trump Organization's kind of extended reach. Same players. Same dynamics.

And certainly, court documents there show a similar scheme, Trumpers inflating rates which quote, improperly, excuse me, "Improperly served to enrich the Trump Entities and its owners."

Email records, surfaced by Mother Jones, show once again, Weisselberg is right in the middle, apparently, engaging in detailed correspondence, and a breakdown of each expense.

The difference, in the D.C. case, no grand jury secrecy, we know who is talking, and what they're saying. And that includes the President's family.

Ivanka, Donald Trump, Jr. both asked directly about Weisselberg's role, a man who has worked with their father and grandfather their entire lives. Both claimed not to know much.

You know who does know. Our next guest, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff. She, for the last three years, has been working with investigators from New York and D.C. about her time in Trump-world. Her book is "Melania and Me." But there's a lot more to her story.

Stephanie, it's good to have you back. Thank you for taking the opportunity.


CUOMO: So, from what you saw and experienced, do you believe that there could be a connection between overpaying for a hotel, in the Inaugural process, and what they're looking at, in New York?

WOLKOFF: I think there is most likely, definitely a connection, Chris. And as you said earlier, the facts speak for themselves, in black and white.

CUOMO: Allen Weisselberg, you did not deal directly with him. But from what you understood, what was his role? And how important was it?

WOLKOFF: Allen Weisselberg's name never came up once, during the planning of the President's inauguration.

And so, when the deposition was released, that I've been a lead witness, for the United States Attorney General, District of Columbia, I was astounded that all the Inaugural invoices, audits were sent over to Allen's office, to the Trump Organization, which is the parent company for all of Trump's entities. Ivanka, in her deposition, refers to it as the umbrella company. Don Jr. refers to it as the - another brand name.

But it is the Trump Org that rules the roost. And the chickens have come home to roost. And the facts are the facts. And so, now that he is no longer president, he's going to have to answer these questions.

CUOMO: You talk about the deposition. I know that one of the aspects of it is an email of Weisselberg asking for detailed Inaugural revenue breakdowns.

"Doug, if you would be so kind as to send me the latest report reflecting all revenue broken down by its sources as well as a detailed disbursement schedule by vendor it would be greatly appreciated."

What insight did you gain in looking at the deposition about what that meant about what Weisselberg knew?

WOLKOFF: Look, I'm sitting here today, Chris, three years in, it's taken over my life, this investigation, as a lead witness, grand jury subpoenaed, from the Southern District of New York, all the way to the Intelligence Committee, and now USDC.

It is really alerting and alarming that the Trump Organization's role in not only being paid by the PIC, the Inaugural Committee, inflated prices, not market rates, which they insist, but as well as having authority over the finances of $107 million.

I was there. I was calling this out then three years ago - oh, actually five years ago, but really, 2018, I was calling out the inconsistencies, the irregularities. I had a big issue with all of them. And because of that, they threw me under the bus.

But the reality of all that is they actually put me in the center of all of this. And I had spent three years, trying to figure it all out, and connecting the dots, and helping prosecutors, not because I wanted to, but because I was subpoenaed to do so.

CUOMO: So, if the former president were to say, "You know what? Wolkoff has it right. Weisselberg did know all of it. He was in charge of it. He was watching the money come going out. I was busy being president," what is the chance that the former president was aware of what kind of bilking and different things were going on that you're talking about?

WOLKOFF: The former president, Donald J. Trump, knew everything that was going on during the planning of the Inaugural. He was very much involved in the day-to-day activity. He loved it. And Melania was as well.


When they said that they had no knowledge of how the finances were spent, as well as no involvement in the Inaugural, that's just not true. And the facts again, Chris, it's in the documentation.

CUOMO: And you believe that this is a reflection of how the President would have had a contact about his own business dealings at the Trump Organization that what Weisselberg knew, Trump knew, and also that the way you see his family responding to questions, in the depositions, you believe shows a pattern as well. How so?

WOLKOFF: This is a pattern of the Trump family. And if you don't go along with what they want you to go along with, they will accuse you of those things themselves.

They speak with such conviction, their pattern of inflation, their pattern of self-dealings it is consistent over and over. And it's obvious, when you've been, where I was, and seeing it happen, as a witness firsthand, there's no doubt that this is something that goes on all the time.

CUOMO: Stephanie, I appreciate the insight. Obviously, there's a long way to go here, and a lot more to learn. And I'm sure we'll be calling on you for your insight, from time to time, along the way. So thank you, in advance, for helping us, understand this story.

WOLKOFF: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: And I wish you the best for the family.

WOLKOFF: Thank you. You too.

CUOMO: All right, another aspect of news into Trump-world tonight. We're just learning about another federal investigation that we didn't know about, reportedly involving Rudy Giuliani, Ukraine and the 2020 election.

What is this one about? Next.









CUOMO: All right, breaking on our watch, "The New York Times" reporting tonight that federal prosecutors are investigating whether Ukrainian operatives, the government, whatever, we don't know the full scope, meddled in the 2020 election, to help Donald Trump.

This investigation reportedly started while Trump was still President. Specifically, prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York want to know if Ukrainians were pushing misinformation through Rudy Giuliani.

The former president's ex-lawyer doesn't appear to be a target of this investigation, at least not right now, which is confusing. Instead, they're focused on a member of Ukrainian parliament, named Andrii Derkach.

Now, a reminder, here is what Giuliani said, about Derkach, on this show, at the time.


CUOMO: You know our government sees Andrii Derkach as a guy who should not be respected or trusted, and that they think he's a propagandist--


CUOMO: --and an operative for the Russians.

GIULIANI: That's OK. They can see him that way. He is not.


CUOMO: Now, so look, he didn't believe that about Derkach. The government did.

Then, we had a man, on this show, who had worked for the Ukrainian President, while this was going on, and said that Derkach was absolutely filing - funneling information, and that Rudy was well aware of that, and making demands, and requests of them, as part of the exchange.

So, let's bring in Elie Honig, who knows the turf, from his time as a federal prosecutor, in New York.

Elie, why would it be that Rudy's not in trouble, but the Ukrainian guy is?


And it comes down to what did Rudy know? Because if Rudy knew that the Ukrainians were trying to funnel information, false information, into influence our election, then he's part of that crime. And if he did not know, then he's a dupe.

Now, there's good news and bad news for Rudy here. The good news is he's reportedly not a subject of the Eastern District of New York's investigation, meaning they don't believe he's somebody who's likely to have criminal liability.

However, I've seen that change. I've seen people gone from non-subject to subject and, sometimes, to target. It's all going to depend on how their investigation proceeds.

CUOMO: So, I'm looking down because I'm looking at the transcript of what the guy told me. So, the guy was the - one of the assistants.

Put Elie back up, please. Split the screen with me. Thank you.

While, I was talking to him, he was the - one of the assistants to the President. He says Rudy was working with Derkach. Derkach was giving him information. He was pressuring them to kind of make good on these suggestions from Derkach, and suggesting what the man called "Quid pro quo."

Where do the government interests lie in this kind of investigation?

HONIG: Yes, so Chris, there - it is a federal crime for any foreign interest to try to influence our election. Robert Mueller actually charged a bunch of Russians with trying to influence the 2016 election.

And where I think this could get dicey for Rudy is here. The Southern District of New York, we know, is investigating Rudy Giuliani. He is a subject and a target of that investigation.

And the key question in the Southern District investigation, over in Manhattan, is, was Rudy acting on behalf of Ukrainians? If the Eastern District investigation turns up that kind of information that could be used to hurt Rudy, in the investigation, across the river, in Manhattan, the Southern District.

CUOMO: But what's the chance that Ukrainians ever stand trial in the United States? I don't understand what the point of the investigation is. Shouldn't this be an Intelligence matter, where instead of a prosecution, it's an Intelligence operation?

HONIG: Yes, there's almost no chance any Ukrainian, based in Ukraine, faces arrest and trial.

CUOMO: Right. And there's no--

HONIG: We don't have an--

CUOMO: --there's no extradition treaty.

HONIG: --extradition treaty.

CUOMO: Right. There's no extradition treaty.

HONIG: With Ukraine.

CUOMO: Right, right.

HONIG: Exactly. So yes, I think there's two purposes here.

One is to sort of make the record. Mueller brought these charges that he probably knew he would never be able to actually make arrests on. But it's important that we know.

But the other thing is you don't know where an investigation is going to lead. The Eastern District could well find information that's incriminating to Rudy Giuliani. If so, by the way, I want to say, in an ideal world, they would share it with the Southern District.


However, I'll tell you firsthand, there's a long history of rivalry. It's a New York rivalry, right? Eastern District is Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island. Southern District is Manhattan and Bronx. We don't always play nicely together, SDNY, EDNY. We used to have what we call turf battles with them all the time.

The better way to do it is to share information. So, if Brooklyn, Eastern District finds information that's incriminating to Rudy, that shows he was working on behalf of Ukraine, he knew it, I would hope that they would share it with the Southern District, so it can be properly used.

CUOMO: While I have you, Weisselberg, what we were having in that last conversation, about any kind of patterned understanding of what happened, during the Inaugural process, versus what happens with business as usual, and what that could mean, in terms of the ability to manipulate Weisselberg, to help in an investigation against others, what do you think?

HONIG: Chris, all indications, including from Ms. Winston Wolkoff, in your last segment, have made entirely clear Weisselberg knows everything.

And if I'm the Manhattan D.A., trying to make this case against the Trump Organization, all of my focus is on trying to flip Allen Weisselberg. If you flip him, he has the keys to the castle. If you don't, it's going to be a much, much more difficult case to make.

CUOMO: Elie Honig, thank you very much. I appreciate you helping us, especially on quick notice.

HONIG: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: We just found out about this. All right.


CUOMO: Former House Speaker Paul Ryan re-emerging, you remember him. He was supposed to be kind of this new bridge character, Republican, but not like some crazy extremists.

And then Trump came. And he wound up going along with a tax cut that he would have never gone for before. And now, he's expected to call on his troubled party, to reject Trump. It's not what he did when he was in there.

Competing voices like Matt Gaetz say Republicans should redirect Ryan. He's on the road again with the QAnon kook. A whole lot of drama! Next.









REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: It was horrifying to see a presidency come to such a dishonorable and disgraceful end.

So, once again, we conservatives find ourselves at a crossroads. And here's the reality that we have to face. If the conservative cause depends on the populist appeal of one personality, or of second-rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere.


CUOMO: Very interesting, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, just moments ago, criticizing Trump, and his hold on the party.

Where was that when he was Speaker of the House, when he mattered, when things were shifting, when the power was sliding towards a toxicity, that he had always said he would never embrace?

Now, he seems to be picking a side in the GOP Civil War. And those, I guess, were fighting words to Trump lapdog congressman Matt Gaetz, who spoke earlier tonight, in Georgia, alongside the QAnon lady.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Taking advice on party-building from Paul Ryan would be like taking advice on how to interact with your in-laws from Meghan Markle.


CUOMO: So, who reverberates louder with the GOP right now? The man, who shared the presidential ticket with Mitt Romney? Or the man, under federal investigation, who's on a bizarro tour with a QAnon kook?

We both know the answer. We both! We all know the answer. But let's ask Charlie Dent, former member of congress, and somebody who's a struggling Republican right now.

Look, the answer is nobody cares what they're going to hear from the former speaker, and they are doing everything they can to stay out of the way of Gaetz and of the QAnon lady. So, what does that tell you?


I mean, rather than embracing a Paul Ryan sitting on the Board of a competing network that has given a platform to Matt Gaetz, and others, who are mounting these crazy conspiracy theories, promoting the big lie.

Though, I'm really glad that Paul Ryan is speaking up, but, for too long, too many, empowered, enabled, Donald Trump. We know that. I mean, look, on free trade, conservatives talk, "We're all free traders," right? But what did they do?

I begged them to put up bills on the floor to stop Donald Trump from imposing tariffs on Canada, in the name of national security.

They chose not to because they didn't want to upset him, and his base, and members in the Conference, who could then throw them out of power. So, I mean, this is the problem that we're facing.

Until they're willing to stand up and fight him, publicly, and not talking, just complaining behind closed doors, but talking loudly, then, you're not going to win this fight. We need people to join the fight.

CUOMO: Well, how does a Paul Ryan fit in? Because he capitulated, when he was in power. He went along with a tax cut, he would have never gone along with, an unpaid-for tax cut.

He didn't go out after Trump, when Trump would say things that he never would have tolerated in anyone else. He got pushed. He came up with all the little side antics and all this stuff that he did.

Now, he's learned something, or is this just a lesson that when you're not in power, you can say the right thing, but when you are, you don't?

DENT: Well, first, I'm a friend of Paul Ryan. I'm glad that he is speaking up, somewhat belatedly.

He was always somewhat stressed and tortured throughout this process. I mean, he wanted to push back against Donald Trump. Few times, he did, in 2016, during the Access Hollywood, only to have his legs taken out from under him, by many of his members.

I had asked Speaker Ryan and others, in leadership, at the time, to stage an intervention with then-president Trump, in early 2017, because of all the craziness that we have been dealing with, the travel bans and other issues that we had to confront with him.

But the truth is, too many were simply afraid to confront him publicly. Behind closed doors, they would have some intense conversations. But they didn't want to do it. And that's the harsh reality.

[21:40:00] And that's what's so disappointing about today, when Liz Cheney is standing up there, and Adam Kinzinger, and others, who really put their necks out there, not enough have joined them in the fight. That's what's so surprising about this.

CUOMO: Right.

DENT: They all - many of them feel the way they do. They feel the - the members, many of the members, in the House Republican Conference, feel the same way, as well as Senate Republicans, feel the same way that Cheney and Kinzinger do.

CUOMO: But we only know--

DENT: But they're--

CUOMO: --what you show. And the reason you say Cheney and Kinzinger, and all the other ones is because like there aren't that many others to name. I mean, you're really dealing--

DENT: Right.

CUOMO: --with a handful of people. And isn't that what today is all about, Charlie? I mean, this January 6th Commission, it's an act of terror, it's the first insurrection on the Capitol since the Civil War, and nobody wants to look at it? I mean, there's only one reason, right?

Senator McConnell asking for personal favors for people to vote to block this, there's only one reason, which is, "It's bad for Trump, so stay away from it." I mean, hasn't the fight over your party already ended?

DENT: No, I think it's still - I think it's still raging, to be perfectly candid, Chris. I think it is raging.

And by the way, personal favors, members would ask another member for personal favor on an issue that would affect their district specifically, "Can you help me? My district really needs this?" Not on a matter of conscience, not on a consequential policy matter. I never had a leader ask me for a personal favor, "Just help me out."

The issue here is yes, they don't want to enrage Donald Trump. But they also see this Commission, this independent bipartisan commission, as a way - as something that will step on their message in the midterm, because they want the midterm message to be about Joe Biden, and the Democrats.

CUOMO: Right.

DENT: The Commission disrupts that. But the thing is Republicans are better off with a bipartisan independent commission, than a partisan select committee that they will likely get. I think they're much better off with this bipartisan committee.

CUOMO: They'll just call it a-- DENT: I simply don't--

CUOMO: --they'll just call it a witch-hunt. You know what I mean?

DENT: Yes.

CUOMO: In terms of the people that they want to please.

But even Paul Ryan, you mentioned something earlier, I don't want people to ignore as a detail. He sits on the Board of Fox Corporation, which has as its subsidiaries, Fox News.

Look, if he really cared about the integrity of his party, and staying away from the culture wars, and focusing on your real principles, what's he doing sitting on that Board? What kind of message--

DENT: Well--

CUOMO: --does that send, Charlie?

DENT: Well, look, no one understands how people in talk radio and at Fox and elsewhere have monetized the conservative movement, how they've been able to make a lot of money, by stoking anger and outrage and grievance. Paul knows this. I've had conversations with him about this, when he was Speaker. He knows this.

So, I hope he uses that position, to try to get Fox into a better place, when it comes to these types of incendiary stories that they too often broadcast, particularly under opinion shows. I'm not condemning their news people. They have many good standard news people.

But that's - Paul Ryan understand this. And he can make it - he can make a difference. And he can start de-platforming some of these nuts that they put on, on the shows there that we all know, are causing problems with respect to--


CUOMO: I've never heard him say anything about it. And he's now brand- new to the Board. And we'll see if he does.

But, look, Charlie, look, I get where you're coming from. I grew up around real Republicans. I married into a family with real Republicans, who are good people, who are character-driven people, and care about the right things. That's not what your party is now.

And I'm following it, because as long as we have a two-party system, which I'm no particular, fan of, you need two to tango. And if one of them is broken, or one of them is out for opposition, we'll never get anything done, Charlie, and that's what we're seeing.

Last word to you.

DENT: Yes, Chris, one thing I'll say, conservatives, for too long, have talked about being conservative on certain policy matters. They haven't talked about conservatism in the sense of civic virtue.

How about virtues like stability, order, discipline, incremental change? That's where - you know, think about Edmund Burke. They've moved so far away from that.

When he started - when Trump came in, he wanted - he was about chaos, anarchy, disruption, disorder. These are - these are anathema to conservative virtues and values.

And so, talking about conservatism, as just some policies on taxes or regulation, I think completely misses the point of the broader philosophical debate that the party needs to undergo.

CUOMO: Who gets burdened by philosophy, when you have power, Charlie? Right now, it's just about power, and whether or not they can keep it.

I will keep the conversation going with you because we have to have optimism of this system getting to a better place. Be well, and I wish you the best for the weekend.

DENT: Thank you.

CUOMO: We have a big vaccination update, remember, tracking it, how it's going across the country? Cash incentives, they work! You're about to meet one of Ohio's newest millionaires. And she's immunized.

A lot to smile about, a good story, next.









CUOMO: California is the latest state turning to cash to get vaccinations up, offering more than $116 million in prize money that will be given away in dozens of drawings, next month.

Here are the other states that are doing similar things. New York, Maryland, Oregon, Colorado, all following Ohio's lead. Why? Because it works!

The vaccination rate has jumped 45 percent since the Governor announced these special lotteries. Critics note that Pfizer opened up eligibility for young adults around the same time. OK. But here's the proof. Vaccination rates for those above the age of 16

went from being down 25 percent, the weekend prior, to up 28 percent, after the lottery was announced.

Last night, Ohio awarded its first Vax-a-Million winners. A 14-year- old got a full college scholarship. Ohio's newest millionaire is 22- years-old, I love this, 22-year-old Abbigail Bugenske.

Abbigail Bugenske, how are you doing?

ABBIGAIL BUGENSKE, OHIO'S FIRST $1M VAX-A-MILLION WINNER: I'm doing well. I am doing great. Thank you for asking. How are you?


CUOMO: So there's so many things I love about this. First, you had already been vaccinated, because COVID had really taken a toll on you, and you were kind of desperate to be able to get into a better position. Help us understand.

BUGENSKE: I just really wanted to return to normal, which I think a lot of people, who got the vaccine early feel the same way. I was - I got vaccinated the very first week that 16-plus could get vaccinated. And I am just encouraging everyone, who is able to get vaccinated to get vaccinated.

CUOMO: Your parents' reaction, when you walked into their house, you were screaming so that "They thought I was crying, and something was wrong." And what did you tell them?

BUGENSKE: I came in screaming like, like you said, that I had won a million dollars. I'm pretty sure I was jumping around, and waving my hands as well. I don't know what else I could have said. "I won a million dollars."

CUOMO: Did what - did any part of you think that it was a joke? There's so many scams out there now.

BUGENSKE: Oh, absolutely. When Governor DeWine called me initially, I asked if it was a prank call, not once, but twice, the second time after he told me that I was Ohio's newest millionaire.

CUOMO: So once it sunk in, or has it sunk in, what does this mean for you?


CUOMO: How does life change?

BUGENSKE: It hasn't sunk in. So, I am still wondering how my life is going to change. I have been pretty isolated so far. I have talked to a couple media outlets. But, so far, nothing dramatic, too dramatic for me yet.

I've said a couple times that I'm planning on buying a car, donating to a couple charities, but nothing like buying a Lamborghini, or anything like that.

CUOMO: What about work? You work at General Electric. Does this change your life path at all?

BUGENSKE: Not right now. Still planning on continuing my Edison role there. Maybe an early retirement, but that's a - that's a long ways away for me.

CUOMO: You are - you have a - you want to pursue a graduate degree in aerospace engineering, right? You're an engineer now at GE.

Usually people think that lotteries are for suckers. And certainly STEM people like you, math, and applied math, and science people don't go in for the lottery, because the chances are too random. What made you do it?

BUGENSKE: So, I had already been vaccinated, like we talked about, so there wasn't much of a cons list. I had to put my name in the Vax-a- Million site. And it was kind of one of those, "Why nots? And who knows? It could be me!" And here we are!

CUOMO: Wow, it's just good for you. And look, the bigger good is that it's working in the state right now, right, because Ohio was kind of middle of the pack. I think it was middle of the country, in terms of vaccination rate, and now you're seeing it go up.

A lot of people your age don't get the vaccine. They don't think they need it. Either they've had it, and they were basically symptom-free, or they didn't have it at all. What do you say?

BUGENSKE: Personally, I think whatever I can do to protect anyone that I'm going to be coming into contact, as the COVID restrictions are lifted, I'm going to - I'm going to participate in that.

CUOMO: Good for you!

So, the first splurge is going to be a car. Is it true that you're looking at a used car?


CUOMO: Frugal!

BUGENSKE: That hasn't changed.

CUOMO: I like it.

BUGENSKE: I had a test drive for a used car planned for this afternoon that did not end up happening, but definitely still looking at used cars, yes.

CUOMO: Well, look, I wish you all the best. This is a great windfall in your life. I hope you use it to help yourself and your family.

And I also hope that the example shows that anybody can win this, and it can be a life-changer, and all it takes is doing the right thing to begin with, which is making yourself safe, for others, by getting vaccinated.

So, good luck, Abbigail. I look forward to the next chapter.

BUGENSKE: Thank you so much.

CUOMO: All right, we'll be right back.









CUOMO: This is my last show, as we enter into the Memorial Day weekend. And I think that we should approach it a little differently than we have in the past. Here's my humble suggestion.

This is kind of the first big deal since we re-entered our phasing into normal, since the pandemic. And it is an often abused occasion. It's beer and barbecues, "Happy Memorial Day!" We're supposed to be remembering the sacrifice of those who died. So how? How?

We have become a society that increasingly talks about the people that they don't like that they oppose. We're chippy. We're petty. We have social media. You can say it anonymously. You can say it without the person being there. We don't talk to one another. And it's a mistake.

And I believe that when you look at Memorial Day, and honoring the sacrifice of those who died, why, why did they die? Because it was their job, because they were young, because they went in, because they were believed, because they were patriots, there are a lot of reasons.

But, at the end of the day, the sacrifice was a function of them, finding in themselves, the desire, for the rest of us, to do things better.