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Cuomo Prime Time

FDA Authorizes Pfizer Vaccine Booster Shot For Those 65 And Older, At High-Risk; Witness: Brian Laundrie Argued With Staff At Wyoming Restaurant, Gabby Petito Visibly Upset; Search For Brian Laundrie Halted For The Evening In Florida, "Similar Operation" Back Tomorrow; Biden Meeting With Democrats To Try And Salvage His Agenda; Trump Sues Niece And NY Times Reporters Over Tax Documents; Professor Tells Ted Cruz Texas' Voter ID Law Is Racist In Fiery Hearing Exchange. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 22, 2021 - 21:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Let's head over to Chris "CUOMO PRIME TIME."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Problem, John is that the vaccine only works if you take it. Now I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME. The investigation into the death of Gabby Petito had a major development today.

We do have new details surrounding her possible murder. But there's also an emerging question in the authorities' desperate search for Gabby's fiance, Brian Laundrie. Today divers waded through a swampy nature reserve in Venice, Florida searching for Laundrie. Teams have been combing the area ATVs dogs choppers drones been going on for days.

Question, are they in the right place? Now we know that authorities are there for two solid reasons. Laundries' parents told investigators he left their home on September 14th Tuesday to go to the Carlton Reserve and that he never came back.

Second, his car was found there. But what if he never entered the park? Could this be a ruse? The parents are said to be concerned that their son may be missing because he hurt himself. Now they got a lawyer and to our knowledge have offered up nothing else than what's been reported after being advised by counsel to remain silent.

Luckily for authorities, other witnesses are coming forward. And they lead to our new developments not information about where Brian may be, but about the all-important timing and circumstances surrounding Gabby's death. For those unfamiliar with the case, Gabby Petito was found dead on Sunday. She was 22. She was found near the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

That's part of the journey that she had been on with her fiance this cross country trip with Brian Laundrie that started in June. Police stopped them at one point you're watching video of it because of reports that they had been in an altercation with one another and then they drove off.

Now comes word could be a critical witness. A woman named Jessica Schultz now she claims she saw Brian Laundrie last month and the van that he and Gabby had been driving. She saw them close to where Gabby's body was found this past Sunday in Wyoming.

She gave her account to the San Francisco Chronicle saying she has been in touch with the FBI. And then she put out a Tik-Tok video. Here's her take.


JESSICA SCHULTZ, CLAIMS SHE SAW LAUNDRIE & VAN NEAR WHERE PETITO'S BODY WAS FOUND: So I saw Brian Laundrie parking his van August 26th at Sprague Creek. So I already reported to the FBI what I had seen, so I wasn't 100 percent sure, but now that there's dash-cam footage of the van where I saw it. I'm 100 percent certain that I did see him parking his van.

And he was very kind of awkward and confused. And it was just him there was no Gabby. But that's only because as a van lifer, I was checking out their van. And I was checking out to see it was a couple or a solo dude. So it was a solo dude, as far as I could see, unless she was in the back somewhere.

But when I pulled up, he was driving still and hadn't yet pulled over. So I was like, hey, what are you going to do? Are you going to get over? Are you going to let me pass because it's only one car with the road and kind of pulled over like halfway and made me drive out of the road to go around him?

So that was just really weird. Van was there for several days and nights and it did not get booted. The weirdest part about it was, was that there was no indication that there was anybody actually at the van. Usually small van people have their doors open there outside of hammock or something, but we didn't see any signs of actual life at the van.


CUOMO: So now you get to well, what's the reliability of this? Schultz didn't comment to CNN. And the FBI tells us it won't comment on the report in the Chronicle citing privacy. So let's unpack what this could mean for the timeline?

Schultz was referring to this dash-cam video that other witnesses provided of what appears to be Petito's van marked near the Sprague Creek camping area. That's where a Petito was later found dead. Now, Schultz claims she saw Laundrie parking at there, she did not see Gabby.

Now, if that is accurate in terms of Gabby not having been there. That could be relevant. She continued to notice it there for days. You just heard her say. So what does that mean on the overall timeline? We'll show you. The last time the Petito Family had proof Gabby was alive was on August 24. How she FaceTime with mom, OK? So August 24th is the earliest day Gabby could have been killed. Now I say it in very qualified manner. One because we don't know but two, there's a reason to disbelieve that.


CUOMO: I'll get to it in a second. Over the period of the next three days, August 25, 26 and 27 there were multiple texts between Gabby's phone and her mom. So she's alive. Maybe I say her phone, because there is some doubt on the part of the family as to whether the texts were from Gabby.

One in particular seemed very suspicious on the 27th according to her family. Now you fold in what this alleged witness Jessica Schultz claims that she saw Laundrie and the van on August 26th. No, Gabby, at least that she could tell parked near where the body was found.

Schultz told the Chronicle she also saw the van parked the next day possibly again on the 28th but again, no Gabby and no Laundrie on those two days, just the van. However, the idea that Gabby could have been killed in that timeframe is subject to dispute. Why?

Another new account from a woman who claims she and her boyfriend saw Petito and Laundrie at a restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on August 27th and witnessed some explosive behavior. Here's that account.


NINA ANGELO, CLAIMS SHE & BOYFRIEND SAW PETITO & LAUNDRIE AT RESTAURANT: So Matt woke up this morning, and he's freaking out. And he's like, oh, my God. I know. I know how he looks familiar. Nina, we saw them in Wyoming. They were the couple fighting at the restaurant. We were at this restaurant, you guys Friday, August 27th 1 pm sitting right next to them.

They got kicked out of the restaurant and were fighting with the hostess. They were fighting with the hostess. She was hysterically crying. And she walked out and she was crying and she was lying on the sidewalk. And I was watching the whole thing unfold. And he walked back in the restaurant. And he's fighting with the hostess and we didn't know what happened. I don't even know what they got kicked out.

But they like left abruptly and like she was standing on the sidewalk crying and he walked back in and was like screaming at the hostess and then walked back out. And then he walked back in like four more times to talk to the manager and to like tell the hostess off.


CUOMO: Now look, all the drama and the injury can be dismissed. Gabby was crying because of the altercation. We saw her crying on video that could be consistent with her behavior. The most important aspect, the critical aspect is the day, the timing August 27th. If this is accurate, that affects timeline. Now, the witness you just saw so she and the boyfriend didn't connect the dots that the couple they saw at the restaurant that night was Gabby and Brian until this week when they started following the case in the news.

A manager at the restaurant did confirm to CNN tonight that there was indeed an incident on August 27th and that they have contacted the FBI. It's all raises a lot of new questions. Questions that Gabby's fiance Brian Laundrie could help answer, but he refused to participate in any efforts to find Gabby after he returned home without her on September 1st.

Gabby's parents reported her missing 10 days later why 10 days? We don't know that's for them to explain. Her body was found on the 19th. Laundrie has allegedly not been seen since last Tuesday.

So what might these new witness accounts mean to investigators, and if Petito's fiance is found alive? Is he vulnerable to arrest? Better minds Joey Jackson, CNN Legal Analyst, Criminal Defense Attorney and Criminologist Casey Jordan, good to have you both.

Let's start with the second first Casey and I start with you. If they were to find Brian Laundrie is what they know so far about his behavior and the circumstances enough for an arrest? Do they have probable cause?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST & BEHAVIORAL ANALYST: Well, we don't know exactly what they have. They're going to need evidence and we don't know what the cause of death was. So the first thing they're going to want to do is bring him in and talk to him.

But if he lawyers up and I know Joey Jackson is going to talk about that and refuses to speak, and they don't have any physical evidence that can link him with probable cause, to prove to a judge to get an arrest warrant, that whatever cause of death took Gabby's life could be linked to Brian Laundrie.

I think they need to get some evidence from him. We don't know what they have. We always think we know everything they know. But believe me there are hold backs that they are hanging on to so that they can speak with him. They will get the information they need to an effect an arrest, if it's an order.

CUOMO: Quick bounce question to you, Casey is where they're searching right now? There is a possibility that he went there left the car there but is not there among all the other possibilities. How does the FBI assess whether they're searching in the right place?

JORDAN: They keep searching if that is the only option they have. I think the red herring theory actually would fit here.


JORDAN: I personally don't think he's there. He's too much of a puppet master, and he's controlling the situation. And there's all this mumbo jumbo about the Mustang going to the park and then getting ticketed, and then ending up back at the parents' house. It would really help if the parents were talking.

But I think the police are there not because they have any indication other than the parents that Brian could be there. But because they don't have any proof or any leads, he could be anywhere else.

So if that's the best lead they have right now, because of what the parents said, and because of course of the Mustang being parked there. That's the one they're going to pursue. 50 percent chance it might go somewhere 50 percent chance they're getting there because they don't have anything else right now.

CUOMO: Joey the witness accounts. What do they mean to you?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: They mean a number of things. So it's important to put together any particular timeline to identify exactly what occurred when, when and how? So understand this, though, to the point in the question of probable cause. I believe that there's beyond probable cause to make an arrest.

I think we have to let everybody know whose listening and everyone could have a different opinion about whether there's enough evidence whether there's not the distinction between proving something at trial and arresting someone prior to trial is huge. Why?

Because when you go arrest someone what is probable cause mean? That means two things. Number one, there's reason to believe that a crime was committed and two that the accused committed so you don't have that proof of doubt.

CUOMO: Joey let's do this. That is the law. That is the analysis. Let's apply it to what is known here, and you can make the case for why you think the threshold has been met. Let's take a quick break. We have to discuss that but then also why everybody is hanging on the results of the autopsy? Why is it not enough to know that it was a homicide, meaning somebody else did this? There are answers to that as well. We have them stay with CNN.




TEXT: Let's get after it.


CUOMO: Alright, we're back with Joey Jackson and Casey Jordan. Casey is a Criminologist and a Behavioral Analyst and an Attorney Joey Jackson, of course, Defense Counsel extraordinaire, CNN Legal Expert. Now, we are discussing the latest implications of new witnesses and the analysis of the search in the Gaby Petito missing situation.

Now, the Laundrie home we are told that he returned from his trip alone to the house. Charlene Guthrie, who lives across the street, says "He mowed the lawn; him and his mother went for a bicycle ride around the block. Everything was just normal life once he came back, it seemed like nothing bothered him".

Now look, that's a stretch for her to know how he felt. But at least it places them at the home because even that's an open question. So Joey, you were saying you believe if a fiance reveals himself or is found, police can already arrest why?

JACKSON: I believe that not only do I believe that, but I believe that prosecutors may already have charges under seal, or they're certainly working on them. It's important when we have this conversation that we're not talking about a trial. We're not talking about proving someone's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

We're not talking about making a case to the jury. Clearly, we're not there yet. We're talking about a very low standard, that standard of law is called probable cause, which as I noted, is reason to believe that a crime was committed and that the suspect under review committed. And so what do we have?

We have a plenty am I saying he's guilty? No, I'm saying there's reason to believe that you are responsible, sir. And as a result of that, we're going to accuse you of murder. And we'll have you prove the case in court or disprove, as it were. What do we know?

You go on a cross country trip, you're documenting everything specifically with regard to where you are, what you're doing, who you're doing it with the fun time you're having? You have that digital imprint, the blueprint, it goes out to the public at large, then what happens all of a sudden, it goes cold, it stops.

And then what else happens? What happens is you go home, and the person you were traveling with is missing. Subsequent to that we determine that she's dead, and then you run or hide or wherever you are, and you have clean hands in that regard.

In addition to that, Chris, you have all of these witnesses, which are really attributing to his comportment and demeanor, and you have this fight between the two. Does that mean he's a murderer? No. But doesn't that at least give you enough to make the arrest and make the case? And that's all I'm saying?

I think its significant evidence. And I think in the event if he reveals Himself, he's going to be cuffed. He's going to be prosecuted. He's going to be brought before a judge. I think bail is going to be --

CUOMO: Two things. One, right now, we don't know of any charges as you said, maybe under seal. He hasn't even been named a suspect by police. There's no rush for them on that because they don't even know where he is. So then you go to the well, why him?

There are damning circumstances, as Joey just revealed. And his common sense would suggest to many of you, but remember, you only know what you show. This isn't about crowdsourcing a consequence as part of canceled culture. You got to know things for real. You got to demonstrate them in a prosecution.

So Casey that tells us to what picture is emerging. Let me play you an example of Brian Laundrie that fuels suspicion.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I just, I didn't want to go anywhere. And I think I don't have my phone. I don't really I don't have Wi Fi goes off without me. I'm on my own. So I was saying let's just go for walking through trying to get the kids to sleep. In the night, I did. I didn't get I didn't get really physical. I just tried to keep her away.



CUOMO: Casey what does this mean to you?

JORDAN: Wow! I see so much control going on there. It's her van but he keeps the keys to the van away from her. He's really just convincing the cops and probably gaslight-ting, Gabby convincing them that she's the one with the mental issues.

She is the one who might abandon him and jump in the van and lock him out. He doesn't have a phone. She could just leave him there on the side of the road and go home without him. He's the powerless one. And yet, you know that the 911 phone call that brought the cops to bring Brian pull him over is because a witness saw him slapping her.

And now he's saying he doesn't have a phone. And we know they're struggling over a phone all the time even the diner incident, you know, the latest information that they were having a fight with the hostess, there's always a phone involved. And he said the scratches on his face were him struggling over a phone.

There are control issues, which really are indicative of an abusive relationship, be it physical or psychological or emotional. You know, in criminology, we call them Cobras. They are cold and calculating. They know exactly. We call them puppet masters. They know how to mess with the mind of their partner so that everything is their fault.

And of course, then we see Gabby, just after this statement saying everything is her fault, she grabbed the wheel. She's the one who was slapping him. And you just have to wonder she's saying that because she's afraid of what's going to happen to her as soon as the police depart the scene.

CUOMO: And that's why it's so important to get the second part of the autopsy finding. The first part was that this was not natural causes. It wasn't suicide; it was homicide, meaning somebody killed Gabby Petito. The question is how? Those methods that way manner of death or of killing her will be indicative or there's a crime of passion that leads you to somebody who is closer in proximity knows somebody, or was it something else.

We're going to have to wait on that information when I get it. I'd love to have you both back Joey Jackson and Casey Jordan, thank you both. JORDAN: Good to be here.

JACKSON: Thanks.

CUOMO: All right. President Biden's agenda is at a crossroads but because of his own party, and that is the tricky part to swallow. It all hinges on moderate and progressive Democrats coming together. Even though they know they have an existential threat from the other side.

People who have demonstrated they will do anything to beat them. Are they risking helping their opposition? Congressman Josh Gottheimer was at a key meeting with Biden and other Democrats today. Where do things stand next?




TEXT: Let's get after it.


CUOMO: Is Joe Biden's legislative agenda in trouble? Or is this just kind of the workings of the big tent? There seems to be dysfunction in the Democratic Party. And it seems to be showing up in the numbers. Latest polling has 69 percent saying things are going in the wrong direction.

The president's own approval numbers underwater for the first time. Remember, polls, to the extent that they are helpful are snapshots of a moment in time. And that's where Biden is right now. He spent the day meeting with key members of his party that includes next guest, Representative Josh Gottheimer. Good to see you, Congressman.

REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): Great to see you, Chris. Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: Hope the family as well. It's been a minute. Thank you for joining us during this important time.


CUOMO: So the meeting today, we've heard different takes on the tone and tenor Biden was good. He was saying you got to work on it. But what is the reality? Are there problems among members in the House? Or is this really just about Joe Manchin?

GOTTHEIMER: No, at the end of the day, we're going to have a very productive day on Monday coming up. That's where we're going to vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package that we've been working on for months. It got 50 Democratic Senators and 19 Republicans last month, and now we got to get it across the finish line.

And this is a bill that, as you know, is so important to areas New Jersey and the tri state area and all across the country. We've got roads and bridges that are crumbling. We've got the gateway tunnel between New York and New Jersey, which is so important. And we got hit so hard with Hurricane IDA includes key resources for resiliency to fight climate change.

It's a critical part of the president's agenda, and, frankly, critical to the country. And now we've got to get it across the finish line. And you know how this is? We're still working on other pieces of such important legislation, like the president's reconciliation package that I'm telling you right now we're making - we made good progress on today, we're continuing to make good progress on we're going to get both across the finish line.

But for now, Monday, we got a vote on infrastructure, take a big win - big bipartisan win for the country, and then continue our very hard work on reconciliation.

CUOMO: I know you, Congressman Gottheimer. And you are telling me what you really believe. But you're also spinning the politics of your party right now. So I hear you and I know how important the bill is no question about it. It's very popular.

But again, two questions. One is Jayapal, in your party says a majority of the progressives will not vote for this bill that you say you have to get across the finish line on Monday, unless the reconciliation bill is attached. And to me that is a window into the obvious.

You got problems among your members. And what happens if they say you need both of these bills on the same time? Doesn't that at a minimum make Monday move?

GOTTHEIMER: We know at the end of last month, we all went to the House floor and voted to bring this infrastructure bill the roads, the bridges, the tunnel climate to the floor on September 27th on Monday, every single Democrat voted for that. And you know, I think we'll have the votes.

We've got this, as you probably know, a masterful legislator who's better at getting votes than anybody else Nancy Pelosi. There's no one better and she committed publicly then and reinforce it again this week that she'll help get the votes. And so I'm really confident that come Monday is a long way away in politics.


GOTTHEIMER: There's going to be a lot of back and forth but come Monday, we're going to get this done. Get it across the finish line. And you know, and I think --

CUOMO: --the reconciliation bill.

GOTTHEIMER: Well, the record there is, as you know, the infrastructure bill passed the Senate, it's sitting in the House for action. It's written and done. The reconciliation bill isn't written yet.

CUOMO: Right.

GOTTHEIMER: We're still working on it. We're still working on it. So it's you know, the one in front of us that we got to get done now is on Monday, but we're still working incredibly hard reconciliation, and we'll get it done.

CUOMO: But here is a thing Josh. I'm not countering what you want to happen.


CUOMO: But your own people are saying, no. I mean, let me just play Jayapal for the audience, just for context.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): We said at the time that that deadline was made, that that's great. But if we don't have the reconciliation bill, we will not be able to vote for the infrastructure bill.


CUOMO: What do you say?

GOTTHEIMER: What I say is that we can't afford anybody, any Democrat to block the president's agenda. And we certainly can't afford to have any Democratic vote against infrastructure, which is why I'm optimistic. And I'm just telling you where I am.

I'm optimistic that come Monday, the votes will be there. We're going to have to work together in between then and now and sort of between now and then to get it done, but we will. And again, I very confident about that and, you know --

CUOMO: Why are you so confident help me understand? You've always been the smarter guy. That's why I bring you on as a better mind. But Jayapal is not known for being a liar. And she's not there. She's not known for being a brinksmanship type player. She says if we don't have them both, we're not going to do it.

The reconciliation bill, you could argue is a bigger part of Biden's agenda than even the infrastructure bill. And this had all been dismissed along the way as just Manchin and Sinema and now, it seems to be as much about the House as it is the Senate. What am I missing and your confidence?

GOTTHEIMER: Because when we in August, agreed on this and came together, and knew we had a bill that came out of the Senate, again, with everyone from Bernie Sanders to Elizabeth Warren, to Joe Manchin voting for that infrastructure bill, sent it to the House and we said, OK, we've got to bring this up first. It's too late.

We have so many issues that are facing the country. And you know, better than anybody, those roads, the bridges, the tunnels, climate resiliency, we've got to get that done. So we all agreed every single Democrat voted to bring it up in September, we're here at the date on the 27th.

We also agreed to begin work on reconciliation, which we've been doing, and everyone, I got to give our chairs an incredible sense of gratitude for all they've done to bring this bill along. And we're almost there, but we're still working on it. We're going to get that bill passed too.

But first separately, we got to consider these pieces of legislation as they are. They're separate. They're two different pieces of legislation. We should consider them each on their own merits. And we're going to do that Monday. And then we're going to keep working.

And I hear what you're saying I get it. But the bottom line is we're going to keep working to bring everyone together. Again, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Clive and Whip Clyburn and Leader Hoyer are all behind it. We'll get there the president stressed again today just how important the infrastructure bill is to the country and obviously to his agenda.

So we're going to have to get there because I don't think anybody Chris, at the end of the day is going to vote to block the president's agenda when this comes to the floor on Monday.

CUOMO: What -- look, that is the big bet and Monday, you know, sometimes it's hype in the media, right? We try to make events out of things. You guys do, too. But Monday is the real deal. We will see where the party is right now and whether or not you're going to be a help or a hindrance as a collective for the president's chances in your own?

GOTTHEIMER: I'm ready to vote for it, man. And so --

CUOMO: I know you, you're a moderate. You're a moderate help. And I don't mean that is an insult or even as a label. But you know, you're about making deals and getting things done. We'll see how many of you guys are? Congressman Josh Gottheimer. You're welcome back on Monday, sir, if you'd like to come on and explain this state of play.

GOTTHEIMER: I look forward to seeing you man.

CUOMO: Always pleasure and thank you.

GOTTHEIMER: Take care.

CUOMO: Again, Josh Gottheimer is a moderate. OK. The progressives are saying something else. And just a note to all of you good people out there that are commenting on this situation and saying it's just Manchin. It's just Sinema. It isn't. There are problems on the House side of the party.

Can Pelosi get people in line? Can Biden help her do that? We will see on Monday. But to say the problem doesn't exist, is as foolish as the problem itself. Donald Trump has one niece, but not closes. Mary Trump has been warning the world about him. Now he is suing her and some "New York Times" reporters for the disclosure of his tax information. This lawsuit is very interesting, and very risky. What is in it? What is not in it? And what could it mean? We have answers to those questions with a prosecutor who has gone after Trump in the form of Trump University before he is surprised by this move why next?




TEXT: Let's get after it.


CUOMO: Donald Trump is suing his niece, Mary Trump, and several reporters from "The New York Times" why? Well, he wants $100 million because Mary Trump provided tax documents to the times, which he says violated a confidentiality agreement that she signed.

But the suit is so much more than that, in terms of what it could mean the implications, especially in terms of what isn't there. You know, what isn't in the lawsuit, what isn't in his complaint about what Mary Trump and "The New York Times" said about him? There is no claim of libel, meaning defamation, meaning, he doesn't say that what they said is false.

There is risk here. And that's why he didn't say that. The president every time he makes the former president opens him up to discovery on the same and possibly sitting for a deposition.


CUOMO: He would have to prove for instance, that what they said about his taxes was untrue. How would he do that? He'd have to disclose. We've seen him do this before he loves to threaten litigation, he threatened to sue me and my parents saying effectively, he wanted to damn me back to the womb.

He was once in a lawsuit involving our restaurants in his developing of the D.C. old post office building. Most of the time, it goes like this from when he was being sued over Trump University.



DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: You say that you and I had breakfast together this morning, right? Yes, on a false, it would depend on how you mentioned how you said it. I think it's a statement of hyperbole. It's the big deal.


CUOMO: A statement of hyperbole. Let's bring in Tristan Snell Former New York State Assistant Attorney General who led the prosecution of Trump in a separate Trump University case. Tristan, good to see you again, what do you make of this lawsuit?

TRISTAN SNELL, FORMER LEAD STATE PROSECUTOR IN TRUMP INVESTIGATIONS: You know it's a curious animal. Its part nothing burger. But it's also really in my view, a publicity stunt. And then it's a very fragile thing. You know, you can liken it to a bit of a Jenga building where you're late in the game, and the entire edifice is resting on one block at the bottom.

If you pull that block away, namely this nondisclosure contract provision, the whole thing will crumble. But it's a very curious thing.

CUOMO: A curious thing from the former presidents' perspective, otherwise, it's very straightforward. What are the confidentiality agreements say? What was your ability to breach it? What would have allowed you to breach it? What would have - that would be their side of it to the extent that they have to answer and defend. From the president' side what is the risk?

SNELL: Well, the risk is that he actually has to engage in discovery be deposed, testify under oath, in a deposition. I think the kicker though, is that he's gaming the system. I it's much like the Facebook and Twitter lawsuit from a couple of months ago that now everybody's forgotten about. I don't think these cases are ever going to get to that point.

I think that the entire point of this is for him to go on offense look like he's suing people so that his supporters will support his legal defense fund, and put money in his pocket that he can spend on all of this criminal defense work. That is the real issue here for him.

I don't think he ever intends for these cases, to make it to a point where he would actually have to give sworn testimony. There'll be gone by then.

CUOMO: What's the chance that he actually sits for a deposition that you say none, because he would never let the suit get to discover?

SNELL: I say none? I don't think he's going to let it get to that point. I think they're playing a game here, where they know that the litigation process takes so long, that it's going to be a year and a half, two years longer. They'll stretch it out. They'll basically say, oh, no, the scope of the deposition is too broad.

Oh, no. Mr. Trump doesn't need to sit for the deposition. They'll make it - they'll make the other side go to a motion to compel with the judge. They'll stretch the whole thing out even though he's the plaintiff, and the one bringing the case.

Usually the person stonewalling is the defendant. In these cases, I think you're going to see Trump stonewalled because he doesn't actually want to engage in discovery. He doesn't want to hand over documents. He doesn't want to testify.

CUOMO: Tristan Snell the perspective valued as always, thank you. All right, I want to show you what happened today with one of Trumps main body guards on the Hill. Senator Ted Cruz. He had some back and forth with a professor on the laws in his own state.

And remember, Cruz is considered a legal genius and a constitutional scholar. Did you see what happened in this back and forth about whether or not voter ID laws can be racist? I have it for you to see and then to discuss the implication with one of the truth better minds. Michael Eric Dyson, so smart he's got three names next.




TEXT: Let's get after it.


CUOMO: Today, Senator and Harvard Law Grad Ted Cruz constitutional expert appeared to get the short end of a debate on voting rights during a judiciary hearing. He asked USC Law Professor Franita Tolson, whether she thinks voter ID laws are racist. Here's part of the exchange.


FRANITA TOLSON, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA LAW PROFESSOR: So it depends. One thing we have to stop doing is treating all voter ID laws as the same.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): OK, so your answer. I want to move quickly. So it depends is your answer.

TOLSON: Yes, that's my OK.

CRUZ: OK, so what voter ID laws are racist?

TOLSON: Apologies, Mr. Cruz, your State of Texas, perhaps?

CRUZ: OK. Yes. So you think the entire State of Texas is racist? What about requiring an ID to vote is racist?

TOLSON: So I think it is pretty reductive. I'm not saying the entire State of Texas is racist.

CRUZ: You just said my State of Texas so you tell me what about the Texas voter ID laws is racist.

TOLSON: So the fact that the voter ID law was put into place to diminish the political power of Latinos with racist intent and have been found to have --

CRUZ: You're asserting that what's your evidence for that?

TOLSON: The district - the federal district court that first resolved the constitutionality of Texas as voter ID law.

CRUZ: OK, so your view is voter ID laws are racist. How about you, Mr. Yang?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with Professor Tolson of voter IDs laws can be racist.

CRUZ: Yes, that's just two.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some voter ID laws that are racially discriminatory in intent.


CUOMO: Now, let's move past the shame of crews playing such a silly game. Oh, you call the whole state racist? No, the professor didn't. She said in response to his question about what laws, your state's law.


CUOMO: It's a dirty trick, because it's not about the law, even for a legal expert, because it's about something else. What? Let's bring in Michael Eric Dyson, Author of "Entertaining Race". Welcome back to Prime Time.

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "ENTERTAINING RACE": Thank you, my friend it is great to be here.

CUOMO: What is your diagnosis of the debate?

DYSON: Well, it was a shenanigan. It was a sleight of hand. Senator Cruz well knows that this is not about the whole State of Texas being racist; it's about the fact that you can have a concealed license ID that will sufficiently qualify you to get voting rights to have your voting rights and exercise them.

But you can't use your state - your student ID. So we know in North Carolina, for instance, until recently when that law was struck down, that you couldn't - you couldn't use your public assistance ID or you couldn't use your state employee ID which is disproportionately held by black people.

In Wisconsin, until recently, well, now they accept military law, you know, live enrolled active military ID, but not the veterans ID. So the disproportionate impact on black people and brown people is sufficient, then when you add in the fact that it takes a lot of money to get the underlying documents. The reason a lot of black folks don't have state issue IDs, 25 percent of black voters don't have government IDs, compared to only 8 percent of white people why?

Because the underlying documents are hard to get, then trying to get them as a black or brown person living in rural areas, trying to go to the documents centers paying the fees anywhere from $75 to $175. Now, that doesn't sound a lot for people who are middle class and upper middle class.

But for people who are struggling every day trying to make ends meet, this is a deleterious impact upon them. So when you put all that stuff together, the Senator knows very well, that even if you exclude intent, consequences there, and the disproportionate consequence on black and brown voters, and by the way, those who are other abled - disabled voters can be added in and then you've got a nasty affair on your hand.

CUOMO: So here's the problem. Polls of popularity, if you look at whether or not people want voter ID, let's say you take the Monmouth Poll, which we respect as a source from June 80 percent support. There's another poll that shows that the number is similar, even with non-white voters 84 percent. So if everybody wants it, why fight against it?

DYSON: Well, look at what Ted Cruz did today. It depends on how you ask the question. If you're trying to set it up with disingenuous intellectual intent, and you're dishonest, then of course, people are going to go oh, no, that's horrible.

But when you disaggregate the data, when you break it down for people, and you begin to ask them other questions, do you think it's fair for people to have to go for a certain distance to try to get this one they have other valid forms of ID? Well, no.

Do you think it's important that people who have respect for the law and for government and have certain issued IDs but not others, that they should be somehow disqualified, then the answer is no. So it depends on how the polls ask the questions.

And let's admit at the end of the day, when Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for civil rights in this country, the polls began to catch up to where the conscience of the nation was posed on always determined what we should do? They register our contemporary opinion that should be shaped and molded according to the principles and practices of democracy that we claim to embrace.

CUOMO: How dangerous it is, is it for the Democrats, if they do not pass the voting rights bill that is before them.

DYSON: It is awful, darn and dangerous. We got to stand up. Don't be feckless or spineless stand up and say this is wrong we know this is wrong we know that that people are doing this look, you know, rhetorical ledger domain as Ted Cruz was doing today, and this sleight of hand.

You know darn well, that this stuff is not - does not have good intentions. It was good enough to elect old man, Bush, it was good. It was good enough to let young man Bush but all of a sudden, there needs to be vast reform when Democratic power began to assert itself.

This is not about the law. This is not about legal procedure. This is not about even the ostensible mess ups of the system, the hiccups and so on. This is about a naked power grab. And the Democrats have to find their voices and their consciences and say enough is enough. And we have to pass this bill.

CUOMO: Michael Eric Dyson, always intelligent always a plus. Thank you for joining us. DYSON: Thanks for having me, my friend.

CUOMO: All right. We'll be right back with the handoff.




TEXT: Let's get after it.


CUOMO: Monday will be a very big day for the Democrats. It will show you whether or not they understand what the true risks of their power is which is not whether or not they get those two bills together or separate? But about whether or not they can provide a united front that shows the people who voted for them that they can get things done when in power?

Monday will be a very big day. That's it for us tonight. "DON LEMON TONIGHT" with its big star D Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And another big issue that they have to deal with and that's voting rights that you were just talking about. I mean, my goodness, Ted Cruz, is he the biggest self-owner ever like that didn't go well for him.

CUOMO: Nope. But you know what, though? Here's the deal, brother. He - looking to win the legal fight even though it has the guise of legality. He even said to somebody else there. Forget about what the intent of the law is. What was the effect? You never forget about the intent when analyzing whether it's discriminatory in nature?

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: He knows these things. What bothers me about these guys? I'm never going to call him stupid he's not stupid. You know that's the game of the cheap --

LEMON: But that was your cell phone --

CUOMO: Why don't agree when you're dumb?