tv Cuomo Prime Time CNN February 25, 2019 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
hello, everyone, i'm chris cuomo. welcome to primetime. there it is. bernie sanders making his case directly to american voters at our cnn town hall tonight. is he the best the democrats have to offer or is socialism a boogie man that will haunt him in a general election? our table is full with better minds on this matter. and with michael cohen heading to testify tomorrow, what can he say that would matter most? former acting fbi director andrew mccabe is here with his take and wihis take on the a.g.
suggesting the mueller report could not reveal anything damaging about unindicted people. let's start by breaking down bernie's big night. shall we give a grade? >> who are we grading? >> bernie sanders. i'll save my grade for later. what did you think? >> listen, i think that he -- for the people who are -- who continue to be hungry for a progressive agenda, he argues, why are you going to go for the newbies, why are you going to go for the copies when you have the classic progressive guy? which is what he is. he did lay these issues on the table first in a national way. he's been doing it, you know, toiling around in the senate, obviously, for a long time. not a lot of people paid attention to it, and they did in a big way in 2016. and he answered questions. he answered tough questions. things like sexual harassment in his campaign. these are obviously issues beyond what he would do for the country. things that are really, you know, potentially hurting his
campaign and he answered them head on. >> so you got message and messenger. they matter. especially in the democratic party. that party has to love their messenger. where do you think things stand versus 2016? do you think bernie is the best iteration of the message they have to offer? >> he's the best iteration of bernie's message. i mean, the programs that he laid out, some of the legislation he alluded to, some of the foreign policy stances he said he would take, was bernie's greatest hits. a couple of questions about the question on reparations, i don't think he really fielded before but it's a new question for the democrats right now. but no, i think this was really sourt of a bakeup call to the bernie faithful. i don't see him making outreach to people that hadn't heard it before. i think people who are attracted to this message have perhaps heard it before. they might have heard some of it from elizabeth warren. they might have heard some of it from kamala harris. they might have heard it from pundits. they might have heard it from
other candidates -- >> voters like the new. >> yeah. >> even though bernie believes what he believes, right, he is one of the vestiges of a principled politician when it comes to what his platform is, but they like the new. so, how does he deal with that challenge, and how did he deal with it tonight? >> the sign of his success is not watching his presentation but is watching any of the other town halls, because they all sound like bernie sanders. the democratic party has moved towards him. i've been covering him for years. he hasn't changed in decades with the stuff he's talking about, but when it comes to the big issues like health care, education and minimum wage, the entire democratic party sounds way more like bernie sanders. >> so, is that a good thing or a bad thing? >> i think he doesn't sound any different to us. it could be a bad thing, though. he's not going to stand out the same way he did in a one-on-one against hillary clinton. of course, he lost that race, anyway. >> he lost that race and the difference between now and then is that people, wrong or right,
particularly on the democratic side, thought that hillary clinton was inevitable, if she were to go up against donald trump, or maybe even some of the other republicans. this is a completely different ballgame. now it's a democratic electorate fired up with one thing in mind, and that is, defeat donald trump. so, many of them are progressive and many of them are -- >> you think socialism is a barrier? you think that's something that trump is playing with for his base and won't resonate on the let at all? >> i think it could be. but you could get some of the poll sills that bernie sanders is offering from other people who voters might consider more electable against donald trump. it's more strategic, potentially. >> that's one thing, i don't think we heard a convincing case for. when he says, oh, bring a lie detector to the debate, well, that's cute. a lot of people tried that with donald trump.
whatever you're going to do, if you're going to go toe to toe with him, it's going to take more than a list of handy facts to point out he's wrong. a lot of people tried it. all of them failed. >> i read an analysis of how do you go toe to toe with trump. how do you figure it out? because i would have guessed, when i saw marco rubio in that one debate make that line, i thought it was a great line about, if he weren't here, he'd be selling fake watches on 34th street. i was like, wow, somebody gave him a great line, that's a real punch to the nose, and it wasn't. and we learned that night that you can't be trump. there's only one. does he offer something? we here, look, let's be honest. all democrats are saying the same thing right now. whoever it is, they've got to beat trump. that's all i hear from people in that party. does he answer those questions for people? >> i don't think he's laid it out clearly yet, but he does seem to think about and talk about in a way that is different than the other candidates. there's one way he distinguishes himself, he talks about the trump voters as voters who
should have a natural home in the democratic party. if you noticed hiss answ answer that, he didn't call trump voters deplorables. he tried to show a bit of sympathy. he didn't want to paint them as trump-like, racist and senn phonetic. he does believe that he has a kinship with those voters on the issues. there's a little bit of, they were hoodwinked. >> that's why he's going grass roots. let's put up the fund-raising numbers. this is something, to your point what does he offer that the other ones don't? ten million raised in less than a week. now, that is chicken feed, but it's about the rate and the number of donors. 359,914. 38.76% came from new e-mail addresses that hadn't given to him before. relevance? >> relevance is that every one of those doe fornors, those sma donors, if they're doing this correctly inside the campaign,
is e-mail address for voter outreach. that is the ball game now. and that is why so many of all of these campaigns, and the trump campaign, as well, on the republican side, they go for small dollars because small dollars equals grassroots, equals, voter contact, equals actual votes. >> if they're talking the same talk, right, and some kind of single payer mechanism for health care. on taxes, they want something that's redistributive in terms of actually targeting the middle class, then you have the secondary issues, and i know people will say, don't talk about the climate as secondary, we believe in science here on this show. when people go to the ballot box, it winds up not being one of the first boxes they check about why they went there. it comes down to the person versus the person. maybe in this election, more than we've seen in recent cycles. >> well, there's the person. and it's not just sort of personality in some sort of superficial sense.
there's a question of do you trust this person to actually get the ball over the line? do you trust this person, for example, to work with other parts of government to make this happen? when you hear bernie sanders talking about venezuela, oh, we want an internationally supervised election, that's how we're going to deal with that humanitarian crisis, that doesn't sound like what other candidates might say. >> not muscular enough. >> not detailed enough. i think he can be beaten on the details. even if people like what he's saying, you know, when you talk to particular solutions, even ar around income inequality, elizabeth warren is no slouch. she's thought this through. she's thought about federal and state implications of what she wants to do. likewise with some of the other candidates. he's not just going to sort of have this to himself. people will start out saying yes morally i'm with him. aroundry distribution, if that's what it takes, taxes, if that's what it takes, even around the ultimate foreign policy goals,
however, i have a different path to get here, and he's going to have to compete with that. >> the blind spot he had in 2016 that i think he spent a lot of work trying to adjust is understanding how diverse the democratic party is right now. as a white guy from vermont with a not very diverse constituency, he didn't really understand all of the issues that were important to every racial ethnic group in the democratic party. he got a lot of blow-back over that. he has done a lot of work, and we saw it tonight, to try to address issues of race and identity, but very interestingly, he did not endorse reparations, which has suddenly burst into the democratic primary as an important issue, and you have two of the top candidates, kamala maris, elizabeth warren who have, according to "the new york times," are for reparations. he didn't want to go there to endorse that. >> but he was making a good point. we often get caught up with buzz
words, with buzz word answers. reparations, for or against? but what does it mean? how would it work? how long have we been looking at this question? like, 55 years in terms of it could be legal and political? 120 years, in terms of what should have happened in the beginning? i was okay with that. i was okay with him saying, well, they said it, but what do they mean? how do they mean it? that's the kind of issue where that can work as an approach. don't just say you're for it just to check a box for people where you'll never be able to deliver because you don't know how to get that done. i'm okay with that. i feel like he has that same issue on other problems where persuasion does matter. >> as much as i just said and we all just said that there's so much of the focus among democratic voters is practical electability and so forth, it's just a fact, you know this. democratic voters, probably more than republicans, they like to fall in love. >> uh-huh. >> they like to have passion for their candidate. and people fell in love with bernie sanders in 2016. they just did. and those people -- >> they felt the bern.
>> they felt the bern and a lot of them still do and the question is whether that flame will stay alive or whether it will be different this year because of these other candidates who he considers bernie-lite, but might be potentially a person who can look at both of those issues. fall in love, but also be practically electable. >> people fell in love with him for and against the democratic establishment that's represented by the clinton organization. they may have a resurgence but the clintons are not dominating. nobody is trying to clear the field for any of bernie sanders' rivals. so, maybe people aren't so much in love with him. maybe he doesn't represent an attack on an establishment that seems to have dispersed over the last four years. >> they have a lot of things to figure out. this is a first step tonight. this is one of the big names we brought you tonight. bernie sanders, can he make you a pitch that will make him a president? dana, errol, ryan, thank you. always good to have you. i'm usually lonely out here. less than 24 hours from another
major event in washington. michael cohen, the president's form former attorney, is going back before lawmakers. he did lie to them before. he says this time is different. should they believe him now? and should andrew mccabe, you know him, should he be believed over the president? what does he think about michael cohen? what does he think about about the acting a.g., rosenstein, told us today about what should and should not be in the mueller report? an true drew mccabe, next. want a performance car that actually fits your life? introducing the new 2019 ford edge st. capability meets power.
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don't expect the mueller report to lay out every hint of misconduct involving russia. why not? because rod rosenstein made it pretty clear today. what matters is what they can show. listen. >> when our government makes anal gaan anal allegation of wrongdoing, we need to prove it. belief is irrelevant. investigators and prosecutors in america do not get to decree which facts are true. >> that's the standard for those still in government. my next guest is no longer there but he remains an integral
figure in this whole russia probe drama. his new book is called "the threat: how the fbi protects america in the age of terror and trump." andrew mccabe. welcome to primetime. >> thanks. good to be here. >> so, michael cohen comes tomorrow. where do you expect this to register on your wow-ometer? >> it's hard to tell. it's been somewhat recalibrated recently with everything that's been happening. i've been watching these developments as intently as everyone else had. i'll certainly be watching it wednesday. of course, don't know what mr. cohen will say, but as investigators typically look at witnesses, he is a person who had extraordinary access to multiple people who are most likely of interest to the investigators of this matter, and so i think the possibilities are limitless. >> if he ties the president to what he did with payments to women, how big of a deal is that legally and in terms of what
that might mean for our political process? >> well, it's hard for me to say how big of a deal that would be, for instance, to the work that the special counsel and his team are doing. but even putting that aside, i think it's enormously significant for a participant in those schemes to step forward and indicate that one of his cohorts, one of his coconspirat coconspirators, was the president, the current president of the united states. that will be a remarkable thing to hear from a witness, if that's, in fact, what we hear. >> but people expect that already, and i wonder, you know about the doj guidance better than i ever will on why they don't believe indicting a sitting president, but the southern dikt tickstrict could been much more effusive about the president, individual one. is there any -- what could the government do with that? what could politicians do with that information? >> well, i can't say what politicians would do with it but i think there are probably folks
who believe that the evidence of the president's conduct is relevant in the minds of the men and women of this country. whether or not the justice department decides to go forward and indict that conduct is a separate issue and it's one that as you noted constitutional scholars and folks at the justice department have for some time resolved by saying that a sitting president cannot be indicted. that's current policy. >> right. >> but even considering that fact, assuming that to be true, it seems to me, as a citizen of this country, it's relevant to know whether or not the president engaged in conduct that would be considered evidence of a crime were he not the president of the united states. >> what are your concerns about his credibility? >> mr. cohen's credibility? >> yes, sir. >> he obviously has deep credibility issues. he's now admitted lying to congress. those are all big hurdled for prosecutors and investigators to deal with, as you're trying to put together a case. but i will say, chris, this is
not unusual. we frequently conduct investigations and build cases and prosecutions on the basis of cooperators and witnesses who have credibility problems. there are ways to address those problems in court, as long as the witness has admitted the misdeeds and the lies that he's stated prior to that fact and has taken some sort of responsibility and culpability for it. they can still provide testimony that is compelling and relevant to a prosecution. >> with what you've heard from the southern district, where they gave him, like, a qualified check, right? they said he was kind of helpful to us, he didn't want to give us other information. the mueller problem more effusive in their praise for him, saying he was credibiliblc. how does that wash out for him? >> well, i think he clearly is getting credit for the mueller folks for providing information that is directly relevant. i know of interest to them an their investigation. maybe not so much so for the southern district prosecutors who are looking maybe more br d
broadly at mr. cohen's past activity and people he may have been involved in that have nothing to do with the ongoing russia probe. so, i think that explains the difference in the two reviews by the prosecutors and their presentencing reports. >> what would you want to hear most? >> you know, as an investigators, that illusive element you are constantly trying to uncover is the element of intent. i think mr. cohen has been in a position to have heard conversations and seen actions taken and maybe able to provide that sort of insider's view on what the intent of the folks at the center of this investigation truly was. that's been something that we have not seen to date. >> mr. mccabe, while i have you, let me ask some questions. credibility is a problem for cohen. arguably, it's a problem for you, as well. they found you at the fbi to be lacking candor. i know you don't like the basis for that judgment.
and a lot of other things in that igs report that came out. but you know, he's an obama appointee and he came to those conclusions. there's a criminal reference to prosecute -- to investigate -- not to prosecute. to look at your matter. so, what is your case for your own credibility? >> well, chris, as you know, with civil litigation on its way and also with the current investigative efforts, i am limited into what i can go into great detail with you tonight. >> people are going to watch and if they're on the fence, a lot of our viewers are on fence. well, this guy, the fbi says you lied. i mean, why would you believe him? what do you say to those people? >> what i'd say is, chris, a 21-year career in the fbi, absolutely unblimished career until the point the president decided and communicated to several people that he wanted me to go. what i can say about that ig report, which, as you noted, i deeply dispute, is that i never lied, never deliberately misled anyone, not in the ig's office, not in the fbi and certainly never a director of the fbi
under any circumstances at any time. >> how do you explain that guy who is not a trump guy, right, he was put in there by obama, and you were there a long time, people respected you there. him coming to a different conclusion? >> i can't explain why the process is so deeply impacted by politics. we all know, from the president's own statements, his absolute, very clear intention. the result that he want -- demanded from that investigation and that's, of course, the one they delivered. i can't explain to you why even now, as my team attempts to uncover the ig's own processes and policies and rules that should guide a fair and impartial process, we've had to sue them in federal court to get access to information that, as i understand, they are obligated to provide to the public. >> do you think the ig did what they did with your findings because of the president? >> i think the president had an impact on the ig's process.
i know that the process that i went through was one that was unfair and was one that left out multiple pieces of relevant information. the testimony of witnesses that were never referenced in the report. i can't explain to you exactly why that happened, but i have a great suspicion that the president's clear desire had an impact on it. >> you know, it sounds to me like you're accusing the president of the same thing he accuses you, right? he says mccabe had it out for me. he didn't like me, he opened up this investigation. you're making a similar case, mr. mccabe, which is, trump was out to get you, so, he persuaded an a.g. to say bad things about you. >> i don't think that's the case, chris. i think on the side of it, decisions that i made and the decisions that we made in those faithful days in may, right after the firing of the director, we relied on our training, our authority, our processes. we had facts in our hands that indicated quite clearly that we
had a basis to believe that a crime may have been committed or that a threat to national security might exist. >> so wait, explain that to my audience. >> sure. >> because that's a mouthful and i get it. you know, i went to law school, was never good enough to work for a place like the fbi, but the idea of, why did they start the investigation? politically, the argument is they had nothing. they just didn't like him. you don't want to talk about specifics. i get it. but you just said a phrase there that i want you to explain to my audience. what did you feel that you knew that justified your decision? >> right. so, chris, first thing you need to know is that the fbi does not make decisions based on politics. we make our decisions based on facts. and by the time the director was fired, and then with the president's own comments of the fact that he was thinking about russia when he fired the director, and the statements he made to the russian foreign minister in the oval office, about having relieved the pressure of the russia investigation by firing the director, this all on the heels
of his multiple comments to the director, one particularly in which he asked us to stop investigating mike flynn, which we, of course, refused to do, when those circumstances culminated with the firing of the director and the statements of the president, at that point, we had the facts in our hands, clearly observable of anybody who is watching this, to be concerned that a federal crime, that of obstruction of justice, may be taking place. and that a threat to national security may have happened. that's the fbi standard for opening a case. when we're in that place where we have those facts in our hands, we're obligated to conduct an investigation. doesn't mean that anybody did anything wrong. doesn't mean we're convicting anybody of a crime or throwing them in jail. it's simply, we're the investigators. it's time for us to do our job. whether that's the president of the united states or anybody else. >> do you still believe that the president might be compromised by russia or be some kind of
asset? >> i think that that is possible. that's why we opened the case. i think we turned those investigations over into the most capable hands they could possibly be in and i await the results of that investigation as does every other american. >> walk down this road with me just one more step, because i get the idea of, well, looks like he's really messing with this, and you guys would have an argument about whether or not a president can obstruct justice, i'm sure that was something that was a familiar conversation with you in making the decision that you guys ultimately made, but then, all right, so, maybe he's somehow compromised. based on what do you think that you can tell this audience gave you a suspicion that the president might be compromised by russia. >> well, first, let me address the thing that you just said there, chris. we don't sit around at the fbi and discuss or make decisions about whether or not a president can commit a crime. whether or not a president can be inindicted. those are issues for the department of justice. in the fbi, our responsibility
is investigations. >> so nobody ever discussed whether or not this is something that could go somewhere? >> we had long discussions about the facts that were in front of us, about the things that were concerning us about those facts and talking about what we thought we were obligated to do under the circumstance. it was the recommendation of the investigative team that we open the investigation on the president, that's the recommendation that i approved. and i should say, chris, that the deputy attorney general was absolutely shoulder to shoulder with me during those days. we talked this through several times. he knew what we were thinking, how we were thinking about it and the decisions we were making. he agreed with those decisions. he and i both briefed these steps to the gang of eight, the leadership on the hill. >> you say nobody pushed back. >> no push back. >> including republicans. including nunes. >> that's correct. >> now, as to why you think he might be a spy, and you still are suspicious of that. why? >> well, chris, you know, the initial suspicion comes from the actual potential crime itself. if you think that the president
of the united states may be trying to obstruct justice by cutting off or stopping the fbi's investigation into russian meddling in the campaign, why would a president do that? there is no clear reason why any president would want to impede the fbi's ability to understand what our most formidable foreign adversary is up to, especially activity that threatens the very health of our electoral process and democracy. >> one other thing while i have you. i understand the fbi practice of if we don't indict you, we're not going to trash talk you. we're not going to give out information about what fuelled our initial allegations. there's a suggestion from rosenstein and others, bill barr, that won't be done with mueller and others. do you believe that rule should be interpreted more loosely? >> i think we are in a remarkably unique situation here, chris.
i don't know that anyone would dispute that. that is a -- you have, i think, accurately summarized what doj kind of practice has been and policy, general policy is, doj has a habit of diverting from policy under extraordinary circumstances. this may, in fact, be one of them. that's something for the attorney general to decide. my personal preference, my personal belief is that the -- director mueller's work should be shared in its most robust form with congress and then after that takes place, i deeply hope that the mueller team's results are shared with the public in the most expansive way possible. we all recognize there's going to be information in there that cannot be shared. classified information, sensitive information. things like. that but i think the american public has a right to know what the special counsel team has uncovered for good or for bad. >> a lot of lying going on, it will be great for the american people to get some clarity. andrew mccabe, i appreciate you taking on these questions. you are welcome back.
be well. >> thank you, thank you, chris. >> all right. it's going to be michael cohen's word over the president's, starting tomorrow on capitol hill. once again, who is lying, why are they lying? a big determining factor is what they call corroboration. will cohen have evidence to back him up? where could it lead if he does? cuomo's court, next. guys do whatever it takes to deal with shave irritation. so, we re-imagined the razor with the new gillette skinguard. it has a unique guard between the blades. that's designed to reduce irritation during the shave. because we believe all men deserve a razor just for them. the best a man can get. gillette. (coughing) need a change of scenery? kayak searches hundreds of travel sites and filters by cabin class, wi-fi and more. so you can be confident
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this is going to be one hell of a week. you're going to see some very different things on capitol hill. you got trump's former personal lawyer, michael cohen, the man who knows the ins and outs of the trump organization. people tell you it's not true, he had a limited role, that's not true. he was involved in all kinds of things that lawyers usually aren't, all right? he's going to be grilled by lawmakers not once, not twice, but three times, which he's volunteering for. wednesday is going to be public view. his lies, the implications about what he said about the president, they're all going to come down to what he can show. that's going to be the big differentiator. so, credibility, what's congress, where are their heads
going to be on that? let's talk to two people on this topic. mike rogers and jeffrey toobin here in cuomo's court. jeffrey, he lied to congress. he's coming back now. that's got to hurt him. but he's coming back armed with different things than he had the last time. he has opened up about things he's had the special counsel give him a pat on the back and say, he was truthful with us. and the big x factor is what does he have to corroborate what comes out of his mouth? >> right. you know, in criminal trials, it is often the case that some very bad guy flips and spills the beans on the people who he had been working with in the past. and the cross examination is much like he is describing it. isn't it the fact that you're a liar, you're a thief, you're a killer, and jurors often believe those people, because they were on the inside. but the thing that they really need, these witnesses, is corroboration. are there e-mails or text messages or tape recordings that
were sent or received from the issues that are being testified about? that's what is usually -- that's the thing that really gets juries to believe them and then that would be valuable in front of congress as well. >> you can always know what he can show. now, mike, look, that's the hurdle. you've made no secret that you think he's damages goods because of the past. if he comes with documents, and if there's one thing i know about michael cohen, having gone through the events of the last couple of years, he likes to keep records of things. he likes to record things. he likes to have documents and e-mails and proof of things that, you know, he thinks might be interesting. this could be that day. when he comes in front of this congressional panel, if we see whether or not that's true or not. what's your take? >> listen, his cooperation happened after the raid on his office, and they took out boxes and boxes of material and as you said, chris, you -- we've
already seen that he has a propensity to take notes, to make recordings, all of that is probably in that fbi cache of material that would corroborate a little or much of it. >> in truth, he had the tape. we got it here at cnn, that established the most direct link, other than common sense, between the president and what was done in his name. he had his voice on tape showing that he knew that they were working with pecker to figure it out. that has already been cohen's biggest contribution to this point. so mike, though, to your ear, what are you waiting to hear most out of this testimony? >> well, this is going to be an interesting test for congress, first of all, chris, for this reason. everybody gets five minutes. when i was chairman, i would try to get people to cooperate and say, let's give one or two people 15 minutes so, you can kind of get some depth of questions and the followup questions. if everybody takes five minutes, this is going to be a lot -- a
lot of pandering, a lot of, this is my youtube moment and i don't think we're going to find out much. if they're smart about this and start asking questions, then, to me, what's interesting is the finance side. that's where he really brings a lot of intimacy with the trump organization, over a decade of time, including the things that might lead to that trump project in moscow. so, if i were an investigator, i'd want to know, well, tell me, how did all the other financial dealings work, and when they called you in, tell me why? what was going wrong by the time you got involved in it and oh, by the way, now let's start talking about what this trump tower was, and why were they trying to on fuse kate their relationship on this tower? that's a little bit of a mystery to me. i don't think there was anything wrong with it as long as you were transparent about it but they weren't. so something must -- there must be more to that story. i'd really like to know what that is. >> yeah, jeffrey, i'm sure that our heads are on the same page there, that there has been so much lying about the president of the united states, and if
there's one guy that michael cohen is definitely going to have a shot at in a credibility contest, it's going to be his old boss. and is that the same way that you're feeling about this, as mike is? that if michael cohen can explain why the president lied about some of the big ticket items surrounding this probe, that would be something. >> it would be a very big deal but remember the attack on him is going to be you're a liar, you're a thief. you're a bum. but the question that always comes back is, well, if i'm such a terrible person, why did donald trump trust me, for ten years? you know, the line you always used in summation as a prosecutor is, this witness is not my friend, not the government's friend, he's the defendant's friend. you know, he's the one who chose to confide in him. he's the one who chose, you know, to negotiate with his supposed girlfriends and pay them off. i mean, that's -- that's the, you know, the thing that cohen has going for him. that, you know, if he was such a terrible person, why did donald
trump give him all these responsibilities? that's a tough -- that's a tough thing to answer. >> and can i say, as somebody who worked with these folks, i tended to work with organized crime folks, pretty bad folks, the whole nine yards, and one thing is, if they get on the stand and say, yeah, i was a bad person, i did bad things and i feel sorry, remorseful for it, here's why, i think that's always a better approach to these things than trying to say, well, you know, i was kind of a good guy, he misled me, i really wanted -- no. you were a bad guy, you did bad things, you lied, now let's get that on the table, throw that up and then let's talk about the things and the relationships you had and why you did certain -- why did you make those certain decisions to do bad things? that is a lot more credible for a witness. >> appreciate it, fellas. thank you very much, both. we're going to know the answers very soon and i'll beg you to come back. all right, did you see the oscars last night? spike lee calling on voters to choose love over hate in 2020.
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did you catch the oscars last night? real advances in recognizing the black experience. the need to confront painful periods and hateful dynamics and move forward to a place where we are all more embracing of differences as strengths. bravo, oscar. spike lee won and said this, after jumping into samuel l. jackson's arms. >> the 2020 presidential election is around the corner. let's all mobilize, let's all be on the right side of history. make the moral choice between love versus hate.
let's do the right thing. >> political, sure. spike lee has zero love for this president, calls him agent orange. but last night, lee kept it positive, choosing love over hate, urging people to vote, not even invoking the president's name. so, what did the president do? this. tweet, "be nice if speak like l could read his notes or better yet not have to use notes at all when doing his racist hit on your president." the president invokes racism now? and then he mocks someone for how they read a script? has he seen himself on tv? listen, i doubt the president has seen "blackkklansman," but it ends with ugly scenes from charlottesville. you know, the truth. that was clear for everyone except two groups. white haters and this president. >> you had some very bad people in that group.
but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. >> did he know what that meant to everyone except the racists? i'd like to believe that the president of the united states just had an off moment, or he said it wrong. he doesn't mean it. but the facts slap that fiction in the face. he sees bigotry in a pretty ecumenical sentiment. but when asked about congressman steve king, you get this. >> you know, i don't know anything about the situation. when did he announce that? >> today. >> i have not seen it. he hasn't told me anything. we'll have to take a look. >> so, this really isn't about the benefit of the doubt. the truth is, i doubt there is any benefit to pretend this president doesn't love to stir the waters of division, including bigotry. and he knows that, and yet says this. >> i am the least racist person. i am the least racist person that you've ever met.
i am the least racist person. the least racist person that you've ever seen. >> now, many don't count these sound bites as broproof of the argument of where the president is wrong on race, but i actually find them the most instructive. here's the argument. he knows this isn't true. he knows what he does and he knows why he does it. so, if he isn't racist, what is he? he ignores bigotry where it is, unless literally forced to disown it, like with david duke, you remember that? he rushes out to basically defend white supremacists by saying there were god people on both sides. and what burned many about charlottesville, he didn't seize on the death of heather heyer. he seized on both sides and anti-fa, reducing the reality of the role of racism. why? if that bigot who killed heather were mexican, you think this president would have been similarly silent? be honest. no, right? he would have used it.
he would have used her death as proof of a wickedness, a problem, but not here. is entering illegally really worse than what heather heyer's death was about? the president played to the petty, bringing racism where it wasn't with spike lee. and he's poisoning us by ignoring bigotry but while it would be great to have leadership come from the top, last night in the oscars we got to see how the rest of you can make things better on your own, rewarding those who speak truth about our reality, that truth and embracing diversity, those are the best hope for america becoming greater still. and i hope that this president if he's going to keep taking these shots, at some point he at least owns why he does it. just like we always say on this show, why lie? if you have nothing to hide, why lie? that applies to russia, some ancillary matters around that
and applies to this, too. if you're going to ignore somebody like steve king and ignore racism where it's staring us in the face, you should tell the american people why you do it because it's obvious to everyone. thanks for watching. "cnn tonight" with don lemon starts right now. so according to the dictionary racist, a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races or who believes that a particular race is superior to another. you can do that through your comments. you can do that by ignoring racism. you can do that through your actions. you can do that through your policies. you can do that through ignorance. you can pretend you don't see it. all of that is racist material. it's all racist. you saw the back of my fat head there when i asked him a number of times -- >> i wasn't going to say anything. >> the least racist person, i
asked him that question a number of times. but just because you say it doesn't mean that it is so. it comes out in your actions and policies. or inaction. >> the reason we seized upon it tonight in putting together the closing is because i think they're the most instructive. he knows that that's not true, what he's saying. he knows it's ridiculous, and that's not because i'm painting him as a bigot. it's because he goes out of his way. he goes out of his way not to be as condemnatory as he is about so many things that matter. and that heather heyer murder when that happened, and he didn't do with that murder as he did with let's say katey steinly, but he'll seize upon that as proof of a problem. but when this bigot kills heather heyer that doesn't speak to any problem, and he had to be chased into saying the right
thing about heather heyer where he leaps at saying things about these others. i hope at some point he owns it. >> it's also where your priorities are. and even if you use it because it's politically expedient, ignoring the problem or prioritizing the wrong things, that is also racist behavior and ignorance and ignorance is part of racism. >> it's one of the most dangerous types of indifference that we have seen in world history. where you know that what you're saying is stirring a very dangerous brew. and while you may not be that convinced of it yourself, it doesn't matter. in some ways it makes it worse you see the need in yourself what you want to achieve, and then you do it. you own it. >> well, as i said during the campaign, i said he -- i started by saying if he's not racist then he's racist adjacent. and then after the s-hole
comments i came right out, chris, and said the president of the united states is racist. i opened my show that way. and you would have thought i setoff a bomb or something, but people just went nuts. but the evidence is there. i standby it. all you have to do is look at his words, his deeds, his actions going back to when he was a young man. and the biggest one of all, well besides the central park five would be the whole birther thick. but, listen, i got to go. you mentioned spike lee. i got to see those guys last night. >> fancy don. >> remember we were talking about diana ross? >> oh, yeah, i saw the picture. >> so i get to this big fancy dinner. it's actually a really good gauze. sir elton john's aides foundation. he has this huge oscar viewing party and he raised millions of dollars last night for aids research. and he and his husband will be
the one that stamps that out. but elton john, diana ross, don lemon. i said oh, my gosh, chris is not going to believe this and i fanned out -- and i'm not usually a fan boy, but i love her so much. she's like i'm 75, and i was like miss ross everybody knows it's your birthday. >> you loved it. you didn't wear the cape. it was over for me when i didn't see the cape. that should be part of your signature look. >> hey, i got to run. i got lots of news to get to. thank you for spending time with me. this weekend we also talked about race with your wife. >> wowed the crowd and rightly so. >> thank you. this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. so he's on his way to vietnam right now, but the president can't leave his troubles behind him at home, and make no mistake about this, this will be a week of one big deal after another
and many investigations swirling around this president. tonight paul manafort's legal team is attempting to argue for a lighter sentence for the crimes he admitted to in d.c. district court. which may be a tough sell. because let me just remind you of what prosecutors said about the former trump campaign chairman in their massive 800-page filing. okay? they said manafort, quote, repeatedly and knowingly broke the law, they said. his criminal actions were bold, it reads. and he lied to, quote, get this, okay? he lied, to quote, tax preparers, book keepers, banks, the treasury department, the department of justice, national security division, the fbi, the special counsel's office, the
grand jury, his own legal counsel, members of congress and members of the executive branch. let's go back through that. rewrite that. they said he lied to, quote, tax preparers -- that's a lot of lies. he lied to book keepers. he lied to banks, the treasury department, the department of justice, the national security division, the fbi, the special counsel's office, the grand jury, his own legal counsel, members of congress, and members of the executive branch. i just -- you needed to see that because that is whole lot of lying and for what? why is he lying so much? it could land the man who once ran the trump campaign in prison for the rest of his life. that's as trump pf's former law and keeper of secrets michael cohen set to enter questions tomorrow from the senate intel
committee and going to do it behind closed doors. but that is the beginning of cohen's three-day marathon on capitol hill. so just imagine, right, the split screen. there you go on the television on wednesday. the day cohen is set to testify in the house under oath live on tv. the question is will there be quest to end that nuclear threat from pyeongyang? >> we want denuclearization and i think we'll have a country that will set a record for speed in terms of an economy. >> so let's not forget, okay, the president seems to see kim jong-un through rose-colored glasses. >> we fell in love, okay? no, really. he wrote me beautiful letters. >> but you got to wonder.
is everybody in the administration on the same page? listen to this exchange between the secretary of state mike pompeo and our very own jake tapper. >> do you think north korea is a nuclear threat? >> yes. >> but the president said he doesn't. >> that's not what he said. >> he tweeted there's no longer a nuclear threat from north korea. >> that's right, he did. the president clearly tweeted last june, okay, and this is a quote. he said there is no nuclear threat from north korea. that was a quote. the president tweeted this, there is no nuclear threat from north korea. thursday will be day two of the trump-kim summit as cohen goes back to capitol hill for another grilling. this time from the house intel committee behind closed doors. now, you can bet the president that president trump will want to have a news karchs to get any
attention on any progress he makes with kim on the nuclear threat, but at the same time will undoubtedly have to answer questions on michael cohen. one big development we're not expecting this week and that is the mueller report. but that doesn't mean the president can rest easy right now. he says the timing of the report is totally up to his new hand picked attorney general william barr who in his confirmation hearing last month said he would provide as much transparency as he can. n note he said, as much as he can. >> i guess from what i understand that will be totally up to the attorney general. >> so there's no requirement that the report is ever made public. even though we the american people are the ones paying for it. the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein keeping his cards very close to his chest today. >> what's the attorney general going to do? you'll have