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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Source: Trump Slams Immigrants From 'Shithole Countries'; Sanders: Trump Slur Against Immigrants Is "Appalling"; WSJ: Trump Claims 'Very Good Relationship' With Kim Jong-un; WSJ: Trump Says 'I Know More About Wedges' Than Anyone; WSJ: Trump Says Mexico Will Pay For Wall Through NAFTA. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 11, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We hope they know that our thoughts are with them and that our love is with them as well. Thanks very much for watching 360, time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "Cuomo Prime Time", Chris.
[21:00:14] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Well said and an important message especially tonight. Thank you for that my friend.
CUOMO: All right, President Trump reveals where his head and his heart are when it comes to immigrants. There are other stories breaking out of the White House. Let's see what Senator Bernie Sanders has to say about it all. Are you ready to get after is it?
I'm Chris Cuomo welcome to "Prime Time".
This special program is designed to bring you the facts first. And the facts of the day are as ugly as is it instructive.
Just a few hours ago in the Oval Office, the president wondered allowed, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" He was talking about immigrants from African countries and countries with special protected status. We'll put them up on screen for you.
There are the countries, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, you see the list there. There are a lot of angry voices on television tonight because of this and with good reason. But I'm not going to be one of those angry voices, why? Because anger feeds the same instincts that drive what Trump said.
I get the anger, make no mistake. I'm second generation in this country. I'm profoundly connected to my immigrant roots, my desperate grandparents from a country that was considered a shithole by people like the president. This is what he thinks of the places and people that have fed the life blood of this country from its inception. He prefers, he says, to have more people from Norway. This is who he is. This is what he has been always. And the White House isn't even trying to hide it any more.
CNN was told by a staffer, that the base will agree with this latest slur, like they did with the NFL player stuff. Think about that.
Now, the big question, how to respond? And remember, President Trump is the kind of man who feels the need to tell you this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: He's so nice, he says it twice. He said today to "The Wall Street Journal", he knows wedges like no one who has ever lived. And indeed he is driving one into the American people, us and them, shithole immigrant and real American, Christian and Muslim. Just cross out the words at the foot of the statue of liberty. Put a big Trump sign there that says Norwegians welcome, please send photo first. You know, it would be funny if it weren't so damn depressing.
So here's the best idea I have, please don't respond in kind with angry words about the president or even his ideas. Anger begets anger. It foments more hate and bigotry. You should feel it, but do something better with it. And there is a response that is far more powerful. Just tell the truth about us. America's greatest strength is and has always been its diversity.
We do come from the hard hit places, the shitholes as our president likes to say. And you know what, that drives us, we work harder. We work smarter. We're galvanized. We're interconnected and interdependent. Our unity is forged in opportunity. It is laced with dreams of a better life for our families.
So Mr. President, please forget this harshness that may play to some small base. Appeal to something more basic, sweet strength. Be better than this. Because the people you lead who are the heart and soul of the greatest country in the world, America, they deserve better than this.
This is a big story, we need perspective, let's get it, one on one right now, with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Senator, I haven't seen you, happy New Year to you and the family.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: You too, Chris.
CUOMO: I wish I could say I was surprised by what the president said tonight, but I'm not. This is just one opportunity where the White House hasn't tried to gloss it over, hasn't tried to say it was a mistake, hasn't tried to say we got it wrong, they say, the base is OK with this, they'll agree, do you?
SANDERS: Do I agree? No, I think it is appalling, and I think of two things now, Chris. You know, my father -- I'm a first generation American. And my dad came from what I guess Trump would call a shithole, and that was a very rural and very, very poor area, and a very poor family from Poland, and he came to the United States alone at the age of 17. I cannot believe the courage that that took. And he was able to make a living and raise a family in the United States to become a very proud American.
[21:05:13] And second of all, what I think of, Chris, today, is all over this country you have decent people who sit down with their kids at the dinner table and say, judge people based on their character. Don't judge people based on the color of their skin or the country that they came from. Whether or not they have an accent or not. Judge them on whether they are good human beings, and we have a president today, the leader of our nation telling the whole world that that's not what he does.
I think the point that you made a moment ago, is the right point, it's not just to respond at anger, it's to build a political movement in this country which says, that that is not who we are. We will not tolerate that type of moral inadequacy, and we're going to create a very different type of America and get back to the values that help make us a great nation.
CUOMO: Senator, it's one thing to sell that message by preaching to the converted. There are certainly many people in the country who God willing will believe that. But what do you say to this so-called Trump base, the people that the White House is banking on agreeing with the president that we don't want those people, they don't belong here. What do you say to them?
SANDERS: This is what I say to them. What I say to them is, during his campaign, Trump made a whole lot of promises to you. And on almost every one of the promises that he made to you, when he told you that he would not cut social security, Medicare and Medicaid, well, he supported a proposal to cut a trillion dollars in Medicaid.
When he told you he was going to take on Wall Street, turns out that he appointed major Wall Street executives to top administrative positions.
When he told you he was going to take on the drug companies, turns out he lied to you about that one as well and appointed executives from some of the largest pharmaceutical companies to run major government agencies.
He told you he was going to be on the side of the working class of this country. And that was a lie. He is with his own billionaire class, and day after day, is fighting for legislation which hurts the working people of this country and benefits the people on top. I think people all over this country understand the truth of what I'm saying.
CUOMO: But they're being told something very different. Stock Market all time high. Companies throwing cash at their employees because they're so excited about the tax cut that will benefit all American families, cutting regulation has brought manufacturing back, cutting regulations has done more to grow commerce and the GNP in this country than ever thought imaginable in the last quarter of the Obama administration, they say those are their facts, how do you respond? SANDERS: Here's how I respond. The truth is that the tax proposal signed by the president will give 83 percent of the benefits to the top one percent at the end of 10 years, at a time of massive income and wealth inequality. And what I say is that after the horrendous Stock Market crash as a result of the greed after the Wall Street crash of 2008-2009 which devastated this country, what we saw is Obama beginning to put together an economy which grew stronger and stronger into something that Trump has benefited from.
So our job, though, is to recognize that while the very rich are doing phenomenally well. The middle class of this country continues to struggle. Millions of people today are working longer hours for low wages, et cetera, et cetera.
Our job is to pay attention to working families, not just the billionaires, and by the way, Chris, that gets us to the budget debate that is going on right now. And I hope we can discuss that.
CUOMO: We're going to discuss it. Let's do it right now, but here's the context for it. You may not like this, but this is the way I see it, so let's discuss it.
For all the ugly words that comes out of him and the beating that he gets from the media, and with due criticism, he is cleaning the Democrats and yours by extension. He's cleaning your clock on the policy matters. He got the mandate withdrawn. He got the tax cut. You had high ground coming out of that, because he did it along straight partisan lines, dividing this country by party and socioeconomics. But now you're about to give him back that high ground. You're going to do a deal on DACA. He's going to get that wall. That's my guess, and he's going to be able to say I got the wall, and I'm the great unifier, look at all these Democrats here, with my "bill of love," and you will then be 0 for 2 on the two biggest moves that he's done since he's been in office.
[21:10:10] SANDERS: All right, all right, all right. Chris, let's take one, and then we'll go to two. It is only media absurdities that looks at a bill like -- looks at something like the tax bill and say, oh, it is a victory for Trump. I understand that he won, but what the American people will quickly understand, is when you run up a $1.4 trillion deficit over 10 years and the vast majority of the benefits go to the top one percent, the American people understand that is not a victory for them. It may be a political victory for Trump and his billionaire friends, not for ordinary Americans.
CUOMO: Senator --
SANDERS: Second of all -- where we -- yes, go ahead. I'm sorry.
CUOMO: We'll go one by one. We'll both do one at a time. Look, you say a 10-year window. The cycle is 10 minutes now. This is about messaging, he got out in front of this message, the media corrects the facts, I do it all day. I've lost hairline doing it, senator. It doesn't matter. He's won the narrative of a big tax that's going to help everybody, companies are giving bonuses, the Democrats did nothing to help the middle class the way you guys promised you would. I know you don't have the numbers, the reality is, you got to find ways to use leverage. You lost on that too.
SANDERS: I don't agree -- well, of course, we lost the vote, Chris, but if you look at the polling done in this country, the vast majority of the American people understand there's something absurd when we increase the indebtedness that our children and grandchildren are going to have to face in order to give the overwhelming percentage of benefits to the top one percent, in fact to the top 1/10th of one percent.
A political victory for Trump and his friends? Yes. The American people, though, have not been supportive of that legislation. Furthermore, take it back a few months previously, look at the health care bill that Trump tried to get through. You tell me how many Americans think it was a great idea to throw 32 million of our fellow Americans off of health insurance. One of the least popular pieces of legislation ever brought up to the American people. Now, where we area today? This is where we are today.
CUOMO: And he got the mandate in the tax bill, which took a huge bite out of the ACA. It's going to destabilize markets, it's going to pop premiums and he's going to be able to blame that on you guys.
SANDERS: But Chris you don't have -- you don't have to argue with me about how bad the bill is. I helped lead the fight against it. All that I'm saying is, I think you're wrong --
CUOMO: You didn't stop it.
SANDERS: Of course we didn't stop it, we had 48 votes, they had 52 votes, you know, that is the arithmetic. They control the House, they control the White House. We did stop the disastrous health care proposal. Where we are today? This is where we are today.
In a year in which he tried to throw millions off of health insurance, give huge tax breaks to billionaires and net neutrality, ignore the reality of climate change, in fact make us more dependent on fossil fuels, now where we are is at a moment when Republicans are trying to end the parody agreement between defense and non-defense spending that is existed since 2011. Here is the story. I know it's not a sexy issue. But it is very important.
CUOMO: No, no, I brought you on to talk about what matters. If I wanted sexy, Bernie, I would have gone with somebody else, maybe, maybe not. So please --
SANDERS: I got to tell, one second, one second, Chris. I take that as a personal affront.
CUOMO: Really? Keep going, senator, please.
SANDERS: Just kidding. All right, so here is the story, the story is, that for the last four budgets, when we raised the defense spending by a dollar, we raised spending for the middle class and working class of this country by a dollar, equal for both sides.
CUOMO: Right. SANDERS: What Senator McConnell, the Republican leader now wants to do is to move toward an incredibly large increase in military spending, not quite clear, could be between $100 billion and $150 billion over the next two years, largest increase in modern American history.
SANDERS: But what he also wants to do is say, we are not going to pay attention and have parody for the needs of working families. They have not even reauthorized the children's health insurance program.
CUOMO: So what can you do about it? They haven't reauthorized chip. They're going to do away with parody, what are you going to do about it?
SANDERS: They're going to fight like hell. This time, you see, this time it is not a vote of 52 to 48.
CUOMO: That's right.
SANDERS: This time they need 60 votes.
CUOMO: That's right.
SANDERS: And I am going to do everything that I can to make sure that before we sign off on agreements the needs of the working class and middle class of this country are protected.
CUOMO: Would you shut down the government?
SANDERS: It's not just -- the burden is on them, they control the White House, the Senate --
[21:15:02] CUOMO: That hurts people too, senator.
SANDERS: -- open and shut -- if the government is going to be shut down, which I certainly don't want to see, it's on their shoulders.
SANDERS: But this is what I will tell you, I will not support a huge increase in military spending, and not pay attention to the social security administration, which is grossly underfunded and unable to perform what it has to do for the elderly or the disabled.
CUOMO: All right, I hear you on that.
SANDERS: -- let me just say. One minute, Chris. I will not ignore the student debt crisis in this country. The opiod epidemic that's sweeping this nation, the needs of our veterans, we're not just going to give tax breaks to billionaires and increase military spending, we are going to pay attention, if I have anything to say about it.
CUOMO: Use the leverage. Use the leverage where you have, and then you guys have to fight, whoever wins, wins. All we want is a fair fight and see which ideas come out on top. That's what you influence the elections.
DACA, you've got everybody on your side with the Dreamers. The polling is out for Quinnipiac. People look up the numbers for themselves. They're robust even among the GOP. So why do you have to give him the wall to do it?
SANDERS: Hey, why are you suggesting that I want to give him the wall? I don't want to give him --
CUOMO: Because that's the word I'm getting, that's going to be the compromise. You call it security. But he's going to --
SANDERS: Chris, hey, Chris --
CUOMO: And he's unity and --
SANDERS: -- get my colleagues on the show, it's not my view. Chris, all right, let's just deal with the DACA issue.
I hope everybody remembers that this crisis was precipitated by Donald Trump in September, when he ended DACA over a period of six months. Right now, you got 800,000 --
SANDERS: -- wonderful young people, all right? Who are living in incredible anxiety, because they may lose their legal status, 20,000 of them are teachers, 91 percent of them are working. Many of them are in school. They are in the military.
SANDERS: These young people may lose their legal status, and face deportation if we don't act.
Now, when Trump repealed the DACA executive order from Obama, what he said is, the Congress is -- you fix it now, I want legislation on this. Well, the Republicans control the House and the Senate and let us make sure that we have decent legislation. And the good news is, by the way, is that you have Republican senators working with Democratic senators who are making progress on this issue, may not be what I want exactly. But we are making progress and protecting the legal status of these wonderful young people.
CUOMO: I'm just saying, if you have the president come out of this immigration deal with the high ground of being a unifier and getting a wall after he calls the immigrants, people who come from shitholes, it's not good for the Democrats who are counting on you guys to get your job done. That's why I bring it up. And that's why incidentally senator, you're hearing these calls that would have been seen as fantastical before Trump for Oprah Winfrey. What do you think about Oprah Winfrey running for president, while I have you? I know you hate talking about the presidential cycle. Too bad.
(CROSSTALK) SANDERS: Clearly, this is a very talented intelligent woman. And if she chooses to run for president, I think she would be a very good candidate.
CUOMO: Would you run against Oprah in a primary?
SANDERS: See -- no, no. We're not going to get there. I do not believe in never ending campaigns, so I know you guys do. I don't. And that's not what the American people want. What the American people want us to do is to start working for the middle class and working families and not worry about who's going to run for what in three years.
CUOMO: Well, that's what the president promised to do, those were his people. They are up for grabs at this point, Senator Sanders, and that's why I appreciate you taking the opportunity to come on tonight. And be tested on what matters to the American people. Thank you.
SANDERS: Thank you very much, Chris.
CUOMO: Be well, senator.
All right, so, the big ugly word that came out of the president's mouth today, should we be surprised that the president slammed immigrants from coming from shithol countries? I'm going to keep saying the word because you need to understand that this is what he said. It's not my word, it's his.
So, is it true that the base is OK with this, and does that make it OK? Up next, the great debate. Sanders v Kingston next.
[21:22:45] CUOMO: All right, so we just have to be very clear about what's going on in the White House, OK, because the president is just showing you who he is. This is who he is, OK? We sum it up in a word, OK?
There it is. This is the gift that he decided to give the American people. It's a bad word. My kids are watching right now, I made sure they did. I don't want to teach my kids and your kids a bad word, my president decided to make that choice.
Here's the big mistake, though, hiding from the word, not speaking it, not really talking about it because it's too ugly. Laughing it off. Well, this is just how he is. Normalizing it. Well, you know, he was voted in, so it's OK, it's not OK. It is who he is. It wasn't a fit of pique. It wasn't a slip of the tongue, how do we know? Because he's given us the same impression of how he feels every chance he has.
Facts, according to "The New York Times", last summer, in another immigration meeting, the president said Haitian, "all have aids." And he reportedly said that immigrants from Nigeria would, "never go back to their huts after seeing the United States."
As a candidate, Mr. Trump called Mexicans rapists and insulted an American born judge of Mexican descent. Each time you hear one of these, we laugh it off, and it's always been a mistake. Who can forget when he infamously equated white supremacists with the people protesting against them last August in Charlottesville, Virginia? Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides. You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: On both sides, remember that? It was never two sides to that. You never equate anything with white supremacy and hate. We don't do that in this country. The president did. This is who he is. And it is no small irony that Oprah does come to mind for me.
Do you remember what Oprah said when she was asked the greatest lesson, the greatest advice she ever got. She quoted now deceased Maya Angelou, may she rest in peace, when someone shows you who they are, believe them. The question is, does it make it OK if the president said this and his base would agree? Let's debate that. CNN Political Commentators, Symone Sanders and Jack Kingston are with us.
[21:25:12] Jack. I'm going to give you a bye on the question of whether or not you condone this kind of thought or you agree with it. I'm going to give you the bye, because I know your answer is no. So the question is why is it OK for the president to say this because the base is OK with it?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't know that the base is OK with it, I do say that the president in a private conversation being the guy who talks the way he does, he's kind of a -- you know, bare knuckles type negotiator, I don't think it's the first time in closed doors he said things like this, nor was it for Lyndon Johnson nor was it for Richard Nixon as we look at some of the transcripts of conversations that they had.
You know, often leaders are in a position and they just use very crass language. But I can say this, that if he had a history of racism, we would know about it because he would have been sued over and over again and --
CUOMO: Symone Sanders is laughing, Jack. Why?
CUOMO: Jack, let's find out what she find so funny.
KINGSTON: -- laugh.
CUOMO: Let's see. Look, I don't know why she's laughing, she should be crying. But go ahead, Symone, what do you want to say?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm laughing because -- yes, if we had a history of racism, we would know it. The president is a racist whether we want to talk about the central park five who were exonerated and the current president of the United States, then a private citizen, took out a whole ad in "The New York Times" to say that these young black men did it. Whether we're talking about the racist --
KINGSTON: But, where are the lawsuits?
S. SANDERS: Whether we're talking about --
KINGSTON: Where are the laws he broke, Symone?
CUOMO: So if you're not sued, Jack, you're not a racist?
KINGSTON: No, I just -- you know this, my friend Symone.
S. SANDERS: Oh, congressman --
KINGSTON: And one of the things that does happen in today's society, the shortcut to victory is to call somebody a name. And I have seen it over and over again. And I know on the right we do it to the left, and the left does it to us, I think in this case, going beyond the crass language, he was trying to talk about meritorious immigration. And I think there's a very valid discussion on that.
S. SANDERS: OK, let me tell you why this is problematic congressman. You know, I love you, so let me help you. This is why this is problematic. The president of the United States of America, said in a meeting, and basically said, why do we have to take all these black and brown people? Why can't we just have good white immigrants? That is what he said.
KINGSTON: But Symone, he did not say that. That's the narrative.
S. SANDERS: Why do we have to take immigrants from the shithole of -- the shitholes of African countries and Haiti and El Salvador. Why can't we have the good immigrants from Norway? That is problematic. That's why so many people are upset, that's why some many people are calling him a racist.
KINGSTON: And you know what, Symone.
S. SANDERS: -- that's not even coded, that's just straight up racist.
KINGSTON: Symone, I'm going to give that to you, that I understand the interpretation of that, he is just been with the president of Norway, it was a convenience reference, remember, Symone, you know this about me, I lived in Ethiopia, I have --
S. SANDERS: No, I'm not --
S. SANDERS: OK, we don't have talk about that. Let's talk about --
KINGSTON: Well, wait a minute. You don't want me to make --
CUOMO: One at a time.
KINGSTON: -- interrupt me.
CUOMO: One at a time.
KINGSTON: OK, let me just say this, I lived in Ethiopia, I sponsor three children since they've been in an orphanage.
S. SANDERS: OK, we are in dangerous territory. You --
KINGSTON: What's that?
S. SANDERS: -- territory congressman.
KINGSTON: No, no, no. No, no, no.
S. SANDERS: What do you mean?
KINGSTON: As you probably know, I traveled many times with the Congressional Black Caucus to Africa, I was very involved with it, as with Senator Jim Inhofe, they're extremely fine people, one of the big mistakes Americans make when they say Africa. They don't understand it's 53 different countries. And you have --
S. SANDERS: Americans aren't making this mistake, though, congressman I agree with you. Americans aren't making this mistake, though, the president of the United States is. He's making broad generalizations about an entire group of people --
S. SANDERS: -- based on where they live, because he's ignorant of their experience. We need to have a frank conversation about that.
S. SANDERS: Donald Trump has a documented history of not only using racist dog whistle coded language, but engaging in racist practices, he discriminated against black people in his real estate company.
KINGSTON: No, that was --
S. SANDERS: So, yes, the president of the United States identifies with white supremacy. Yes, the president of the United States has repeatedly made racist remarks --
KINGSTON: OK, Symone, let's remember that --
S. SANDERS: -- and we got to hold him accountable.
KINGSTON: -- that real estate lawsuit involved his father who was named in a group of realtors, it was a -- almost like a class action suit, it wasn't against any one person. But I just would maintain that somebody who promoted women continuously, as a real estate developer and who hired many, many minorities, if he had a pattern of racism, there would have been lawsuits about it.
S. SANDERS: So, and --
KINGSTON: But let me ask you this, in terms of immigration, the policy, of having people come over. You got a million legal immigrants a year, you have 435,000 right now, who live in America under this temporary status. And what he has said is, if it's temporary, then there comes a time when things have settled down in their own country, and it's time for them to go home, so the temporary status is supposed to be temporary. And you would agree.
[21:30:03] S. SANDERS: And so congressman, let me respond to that. Let me respond to that.
So first and foremost, I want to be clear that the systems of racism and sexism and even ageism are not just transactional, so just because people promote women or they have female friends or they have black friends, or they promote and hire black people, does not mean they do not participate and perpetuate systems of racism or sexism. So you have --
KINGSTON: He may allow women, multimillionaires --
S. SANDERS: So secondly, secondly, I'd like to say about protected, the temporary protected status, one, Haiti and other places have been devastated first by, you know, some form -- some of America's foreign policy, if we want to be frank, but also --
KINGSTON: No. Let's rewind there.
S. SANDERS: But also natural disasters.
KINGSTON: Symone, I was on the foreign operations --
S. SANDERS: And so, we just can't talk about --
KINGSTON: Symone I'm not getting --
S. SANDERS: -- we're only talking about sending black and brown people back.
CUOMO: Hold on. Hold on.
S. SANDERS: What about white immigrants? Why are we not having --
CUOMO: Please, lady, gentlemen. Hold on one moment.
CUOMO: Jack, make a quick point. Let's get a response. And then we'll take a break. KINGSTON: I served on the foreign committee that did foreign aid. I want to know what American policy cause some of the problems in Haiti, that's what Symone says --
S. SANDERS: I would like -- I just want to -- I mean, we don't have enough time to break down --
KINGSTON: Because there's not any. We did nothing but --
S. SANDERS: But what I will say, is that America --
KINGSTON: -- very beneficial to Haiti.
S. SANDERS: -- there are many places that we have been around the world, where we have contributed to the decline, the political and economic decline of some countries, that's just frank. We have also done some really great things, but let's --
KINGSTON: I'm not aware of any intentional --
CUOMO: All right, yes, Symone, if you finish that point. So, we're going to take a quick break. But I just have a quick question for you, Jack, before we go. Because I want to make sure you're clean on this.
You are defending why he would have said this? You're doing it in different ways. What is your motivation? You're not even in office any more. Why would you defend him something as ugly and stupid as this? Why?
KINGSTON: OK, because, Chris, I don't believe he said this in the presence of Dick Durbin if he did not think it was going to be repeated. And I think that he used language like this, because he wanted to say it is time to talk about meritorious immigration the way they have in other countries.
S. SANDERS: No.
KINGSTON: Sixty percent of the people who come to America legally are only doing it because they have family here.
S. SANDERS: It's not OK to call -- it's OK to talk about black and brown countries as shitholes --
CUOMO: All right, we're going to take a break.
S. SANDERS: -- because you don't think people are going to hear you.
CUOMO: Jack, I'll just -- in this segment with this one thought for people at home. What you ignore, jack, you empower. You explain it to yourself anyway you want, but it was plain to everyone else. And the more you ignore it, the worse it's going to get.
KINGSTON: You can't ignore meritorious immigration either. CUOMO: One thing has nothing to do with the other, all right? But I want you back guys both to stay.
CUOMO: I want you to talk to you about some things with you after the next segment. We have a really good get this morning. We have breaking news, President Trump says he probably has a very good relationship with North Korea's dictator.
Up next, I want to talk to one of the reporters that were in the room for that. Michael Bender, one of the reporters behind today's bombshell interview with the president. Good to have you. We'll be with you in a second.
[21:36 32] CUOMO: There's breaking news tonight, some extraordinary and incendiary remarks by President Trump, including a complete departure from everything he's said recently about North Korea's Kim Jong-un. He's dismissively called him, as you know, little rocket man, threatened to bring down "fire and fury" on Kim's country, and boasted of having a bigger, better nuclear button than the dictator.
Now, after all of that, Mr. Trump tells "The Wall Street Journal", "I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un. I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised." And that's just one eye mopping headline from the interview. There's lots to talk about, we have political commentator Symone Sanders and Jack Kingston with us. They'll chew on the things that were said, but I want to get the facts first. We have one of "The Wall Street Journal" reporters who spent 45 minutes with the president today, Michael Bender. He's also a CNN political analyst. Michael, thank you for joining us.
MICHAEL BENDER, INTERVIEWED PRESIDENT TRUMP TODAY: Hey, Chris.
CUOMO: So, there's a lot in here. People should read it. You did the good thing of putting out a modified transcript. Good for people to digest. Two big things pop out to me, and then please add anything that I leave out.
CUOMO: This headline about Kim Jong-un, do you think the president really believes that there is good ground between these two men and that diplomacy between the two of them is in the near future?
BENDER: I'm not exactly sure what the president believes, and there have been a number of people -- employees of the White House who have gone down, lost their jobs trying to decipher what the president means or what his intent was. I don't know if he thinks he has a good relationship. I'm not sure if he's talked to Mr. Kim. Certainly that would be huge news.
CUOMO: He gave you a cagey answer. He said, --
CUOMO: I don't want to comment on that, I'm not saying I did or I didn't. I'm saying I don't want to comment on it. How do you read that?
BENDER: Well, what I read there, and what I think is definitely true is that he's signaling, as you alluded to at the beginning of the segment. He's signaling a new openness toward diplomacy in North Korea, there's -- you don't have to Google very far to find some really scathing remarks, combative remarks that he's made and tweeted at North Korea and its leader.
This is a whole different ball game. And these are his own words, unprovoked. We were talking about another topic. We were talking about foreign policy. Frankly, I wouldn't even thought to ask him what his relationship is with Kim Jong-un. He offered that assessment on his own. He offered that word on his own. And at the very least, I think -- what he's trying to do is show that he does support the talks that North Korea had with South Korea recently. He supports North Korea's participation in the games. He thinks that's a good thing. He thinks the U.S. is making a good show of faith by delaying military exercises around the Korean Peninsula, and this sort of adds into that narrative --
BENDER: -- of wanting to find a peaceful solution which, you know, I think is probably a good thing for today.
CUOMO: Right, so he said some -- he had some interesting turns of phrase in there. Yes, maybe they're trying to drive a wedge between us and South Korea. I can't blame them for that. I know more about wedges than anyone who has ever lived. That would have won the prize for me in terms of silly things to say in an interview, until he starts talking about NAFTA and seems to totally misunderstand the flow of commerce through NAFTA and why we entered into it in the first place. What was your take on those two things?
[21:40:08] BENDER: Well, yes, I thought the comment on the wedge, that he knows more about wedges than anyone. I thought it was a moment of self-awareness from the president. He did that another time when he brought up the relationship, and would not answer the question about whether he's talked to Kim Jong-un. We follow it again, and said this would be remarkable considering the combative tweets that you've made to Mr. Kim.
BENDER: And again he said, you know, I'd do that all the time. He kind of framed it as part of a strategy.
BENDER: Again, that he's -- time and time again, he goes after people on Twitter.
CUOMO: Yes, and then they become his best friends he said to you, which is --
BENDER: Correct, that's right.
CUOMO: -- totally not true. But, anyway, put that -- let me ask you this, how did you find him to be in this interview?
CUOMO: How did he seem? What was his mood? What was his head space?
BENDER: Yes, I would describe him as relaxed, he was calm, maybe there were moments of frustration, you mentioned it was a 45 minute interview, we went through -- kind of around the world with him on issues, there were definitely moments of frustration, talking about the Russia investigation, no doubt about that, but that's no real surprise, that's been a sore spot for him for the better part of a year now.
But with all of the, you know, with all the drama over at the White House, you know, the -- he brought up the "Fire & Fury" book on his own, unprovoked. He, you know, so he was eager to talk about the last year of his presidency, the highlights, the lowlights, you know, and this is actually how I found him, this is the third time "The Wall Street Journal" and I have interviewed him, since he's been president. And this is kind of how he is one on one, he's willing to engage on issues most of the time, it's not, you know, personality you see --
CUOMO: Got you.
BENDER: -- in the 20,000 seat arena, so, you know, he was -- he was pretty calm, and willing to sort of talk about anything we wanted to bring up.
CUOMO: You know, he's good, one on one, he likes to be tested, that's why I keep saying, come back to us Mr. President. Nobody makes the case for you as well, as you do yourself. You've got plenty to make the case for these days.
Michael Bender, thank you so much, it's great to get the insight of the person who is actually asking the question. Appreciate it.
BENDER: That's right.
CUOMO: All right, so let's unpack a little bit about what came out of this discussion about what's in "The Wall Street Journal". We have CNN Political Commentators, Symone Sanders and Jack Kingston.
Jack, you're in, it's OK mode tonight, so let me ask you, the president's -- one of his signature promises, Mexico's going to pay for that wall, he says in "The Wall Street Journal" interview, oh, yes, they will, because I'll cut a bigger deal with NAFTA, I have 10 different ways they'll pay for it. And they say give us one. Well, I'll cut a better deal with NAFTA and I'll take some of that money and pay for the wall. There you go, they'll pay for it. Do you think that counts?
KINGSTON: I think it might be moving in a direction where there's some difference in NAFTA that beneficial to America and it does bring money into the treasury, but I really say this, when it comes to immigration. What the Republicans like is that the president made a commitment to do something about it, and whether the wall gets built with bricks and mortar or it's just border security in another form, I think his base appreciates it, because he actually is trying to do something, and I know we had a tape of President Clinton one time when I was in the House, it said, I'm going to balance the budget in two years, it'll be four years, it'll be six years, we thought from a Republican standpoint, this is hilarious, the guy doesn't know what he's doing. But what Poland showed is that the president actually was trying to do this. Immigration is very, very complicated.
And so when you get into issues like the visa lottery, and e-verify, and building a wall or cyber or whatever, it is complicated. And I think he gets credit from that from the base, that sometimes his critics miss.
CUOMO: OK, I want to get Symone in on for the last word, maybe on the idea that Billion Clinton, they laughed at him and said he doesn't know what he's doing. Donald Trump, Jack Kingston, doesn't feel like he needs to say that about. What your final words Symone?
S. SANDERS: My final word is one, like Mexico is not paying for this wall. Donald Trump is the one that doesn't know what he's doing seemingly, and I think what we've seen this week is that he's proving what was in the Wolff book is actually is true.
And so what we saw today was the president spouting off about having a relationship with Kim Jong-un, but also, you know, last week he had a bigger button, this is confusing, it looks as though the White House is not on the same page with the Pentagon or the National Security Council. And again, Mexico is not paying for this wall. No one is paying for the wall.
CUOMO: Turns out there is no wall.
KINGSTON: As long as there's a wall, we'll be happy.
CUOMO: There is a wall. There is a wall already, and it is completely clear that what the president is going to do is do what everybody was telling him to all those months, Jack, when he would deny the truth which is, it's a fence in some places, it's sensors in some places, to have Kellyanne have to say, well, it turns out there are rivers involved, Jack. Come on, it was always going to go this way.
[21:45:07] KINGSTON: You know what, --
CUOMO: All right, we got to go --
KINGSTON: -- he's addressing the issue.
CUOMO: Right, -- but, you know what, what you -- S. SANDERS: He's totally backtracking. He's totally backtracking --
S. SANDERS: He doesn't even know where he stands on this wall or immigration, period.
CUOMO: Symone, Jack, I love a good back and forth and thank you for giving it to us.
KINGSTON: We're always here for you.
CUOMO: Thank you. Thank you --
S. SANDERS: Always, Chris. See you later.
CUOMO: Take care.
All right, so we found out it only takes 101 minutes for the president to do a complete 180. First he calls a surveillance act a mess, then he supports it, so what is "The Point"? That was a clue to bring in this pretty face, Chris Cillizza, next.
CUOMO: Two tweets, 101 minutes, that's all it took to throw D.C. into a tizzy.
So this morning, the president slammed a surveillance act just hours before Congress voted to renew it.
Next, realizing his administration actually supports the act, he tweeted again saying, "we need it, get smart." And then Sarah Sanders took to the White House podium and did what she does best. Completely deny that anything strange was happening here. Up is down, black is white, and you probably come from a shithole.
[21:50:12] CNN Politics Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza is here. And Chris, what happened to the truth, my brother? What happened to the truth?
He sounds good when you can't hair him. He's got a lot of hand gestures. His mouth is moving. Cannot hear you. Cannot hear a thing you're saying. You could kind of pantomime it, you know what I'll do? I'll go to break. We'll try to fix it. Although I got tell you, you've never been smarter. Let's take a quick break. Let's get Cillizza up. We'll be back.
Put your microphone on!
CUOMO: Facts first, turns out Cillizza was just mouthing because he had nothing to say. So in shame, I've brought him back. What happened to the truth? What happened with this FISA thing? He tweets one thing, then he tweets another thing, Sarah Sanders says nothing to see here.
[21:55:01] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Let me first say that many people said that last segment was the best I've ever been on CNN.
It's OK. So to the topic at hand, this is the thing, what Donald Trump didn't think was make a mistake. His first tweet -- there were two things going on. There was the FISA reauthorization and then there was an amendment to the FISA reauthorization. That was sponsored by opponents of it.
Now the White House was on the record of being supportive of it, he tweeted out something that made it sound as though he was siding with the opponents. He misunderstood, it happens.
The problem that you have is, you know, the White House not only incapable thing, how the president just made -- it was slight misunderstanding, everything is totally fine. They not only say that didn't happen but they act as though everything was totally on purpose. And any confusion was because you just don't understand the nine dimensional chess that the president is constantly playing which is isn't true.
CUOMO: I don't know why I'm smiling. It's because I like you. Because I think everything you're saying right now.
CILLIZZA: Yes, I mean it's not good for democracy.
CUOMO: He tweeted out. No, it's not. He tweeted out -- that's why we're here.
"With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it!"
CILLIZZA: No, it wasn't.
CILLIZZA: This is about domestic surveillance. He doesn't even know what is it is he's talking --
CUOMO: Look, and that's OK, all right? No, it isn't. I'm being facetious. So when Sarah Sanders gets up there and says there is no conflict. What are we supposed to do here? Because you know what they do, they shake the finger. Why don't you talk about the good things instead of just what he said now, misunderstanding how we do intelligence in this country?
CILLIZZA: Here's what I'll say to that again and again and again my responses, the president's Twitter feed is the best window we have. And probably the best window we've had into a president's mind that anyone --
CUOMO: I think I said that. CILLIZZA: Maybe I'm quoting you quoting me. We know that the president of the United States, this is him, this is him on his phone. So the reason that we cover what he tweets is because it's him. It's not the official White House, it's him. The thing that is difficult for me is, if you watched Sarah Sanders press briefing today, or if you saw highlights of it, essentially the argument she was making on FISA and other things was, the sky that you see above you that is blue, is not in fact blue, this is my left hand. It looks like my right hand but it is my left hand. There is a corrosive effect here. This is a president who has said more than 2,000 things according to "Washington Post" either totally false or misleading, Chris. There is a cumulative effect here, when we cannot even agree on the most basic of facts.
CUOMO: Now, I'll tell you what's worse. I'll tell you why what happened tonight with what he said about immigrants. I'm done parroting the president's ugliness.
CILLIZZA: -- white board.
CUOMO: The reason he's struggling, you know what, look, I asked my kids to watch tonight, two out of three did, I'll take it.
CILLIZZA: That's good.
CUOMO: Because this matters, this is who he is. And you know how we know? The White House isn't even pulling a Sanders on it.
CILLIZZA: That's right.
CUOMO: They're not even saying, we got it wrong, you guys are so pernicious and, you know, you always trying to take him at his worst. The White House spoke to CNN, one of the staffers and said, we're OK with this. The base will agree.
CILLIZZA: So --
CUOMO: One, I don't believe that, by the way, I don't like this ascribing all of the worst traits to Trump's base.
CUOMO: People in this country embrace diversity, we know it's out strength we know we all come from somewhere else just about. But that's an odd turn for the White House to have taken.
CILLIZZA: And Chris, quickly, I spent all my time writing about politics, political calculation, political strategy. There are things or there should be things that stand outside of "this is good politics." And all men are created equal in doubt (ph) by their creator was certain unalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And before that, by the way, we hold these truths to be self-evident.
CUOMO: Right. CILLIZZA: Self-evident is in -- everyone knows it. Those are things that should not be political calculations. They should be things that we all can agree on.
CILLIZZA: Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, no party, and unfortunately, we don't or at least some of us don't. Who cares if this is good for the base, it is bad for the country. No one can debate that.
CUOMO: And it's important, you know, I've been trying to keep the smile off my face. There is something laughably ridiculous about certain things that the president says, nobody who knows wedges as well as I do.
CUOMO: No one who's ever lived, it's sometimes laughable, but sometimes it's not. And tonight is one of those nights. Chris, I got to jump.
CUOMO: Thank you very much.
CILLIZZA: Thank you sir.
CUOMO: Appreciate you testing my broadcasting skills.
All right, that's it for us tonight. Tomorrow night on "Cuomo Prime Time", former Trump campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski is going to be on the show. And that interview is going to start with an apology for him, or it's going to be "rock 'em, sock 'em."
"CNN Tonight" with Don Lemon starts right now.