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Trump Leads GOP Efforts to Undermine FBI. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired January 25, 2018 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] ALLISON CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. Welcome to your "New Day." It is Thursday, January 25th, 8:00 in the east. President Trump is in Davos, Switzerland at this hour where he plans to meet with Britain's Prime Minister on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How did you not get this assignment?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. I am going to wrestle Jeff Zeleny to the ground next year for that.

CUOMO: I've seen that before. It ain't pretty.

CAMEROTA: No, it's not. Before heading overseas the President held an unplanned Q&A session with reporters at the White House declaring that he is looking forward to being questioned under oath. He said by special council Robert Mueller, this as "CNN" learns Mueller's team has given the President's lawyers possible topics for that interview.

CUOMO: We also saw a new twist in the negotiations over immigration reform. President Trump put a pathway to citizenship for some dreamers on the table. However it's conditioned to compassion, only if he gets billions for his border wall and border security. Does this bring lawmakers any closer to striking a deal? We have it all covered for you.

Let's begin with "CNN's" Jeff Zeleny live in Davos, Switzerland. Traveling with the President, I hope that you are in shape or you know how to hide. Camerota's coming for you.

CAMEROTA: I'm coming after you Jeff.

CUOMO: And there's a lot of Jersey coming your way and it ain't gonna feel good.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning Chris and Allison I think Allison may beat me on the ski slopes. I don't know but I can tell you there is so much snow here it has really been an extraordinary couple of days here in the snowy Alps.

A lot of fondue, a little partying at Davos, we of course are working hard. The President arrived here just a short time ago, not exactly his crowd necessarily. He has talked again and again against globalization, his populist rhetoric of his campaign. But that is not what people are discussing here today. It is still those comments he made before leaving the White House last evening, about the Mueller investigation. He finally answered the question; will you talk to Robert Mueller's team? Let's listen.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: are you going to talk to Mueller?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it actually.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want to?

TRUMP: Here's the story just so you understand, there's been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever, and I'm looking forward to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- hold you to reach a higher standard you would do it under oath?

TRUMP: I would do it under oath, yes, absolutely.

ZELENY: So the President says he would do it under oath. Now, the President's lawyer says not so fast. They issued a statement saying look the President was hurriedly going to Davos, these negotiations about how and when and what could be discussed are still being worked out.

As the lawyers stay behind and do that, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also stayed behind in Washington to work on immigration. The President is here now, and in this hour coming up he is scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Of course there's been some bad blood between them and some tensions between them as well.

The President was scheduled to visit the United Kingdom. He called that off, always worried about protests other thinks, so far here at least in Davos, no signs of protests. There are many questions why is President Trump here. I talked to one woman yesterday from here in Switzerland who had a hat on that says "I miss Obama". But the fact is Obama didn't come to Davos. It's been 18 years, since 2000, when Bill Clinton came to Davos during his final year in office.

President Trump doing it in his first year, the first time he's ever been invited to this elite global gathering. So many New Yorkers here of course, many people he'll recognize. So after his bilateral talks this morning, he'll meet also meet with some CEO's later today and give that big speech here tomorrow morning, Chris and Allison.

CAMEROTA: All right, Jeff. I'm watching you, OK. I'm keeping an eye on you there in Davos to make sure I don't have to go over there and check on you.

CUOMO: Chilling even makes the ferret hair on the top of my head stand up.

CAMEROTA: I don't want to open a can of Jersey on him you know? All right mean while let's bring back "CNN" Political Analyst and "New York Times" White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman. Maggie, let's talk about how the President is very excited to sit down

with Bob Mueller. As he said and he's happy to do it under oath, as he said. And there was only one caveat, if his lawyers agree to all of that.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Up to my lawyers, but, yeah.

CAMEROTA: It's up to his lawyers of course, that's true of anybody, right? Let's take the President at his word. I'm sure he would be happy to talk to Bob Mueller. How does the rest of the White House feel about this impending interview?

HABERMAN: No look I think he does want to do this. I've been hearing from people close to him for weeks that he has said privately he's really excited to do this because he believes that he can essentially sell someone on almost any version of what he thinks. He thinks he can convince these investigators that any suggestion of collusion, as he says repeatedly, is wrong.

The rest of the White House is not so thrilled with what he said publicly yesterday. They were already his lawyers, negotiating how this would take place. Would some questions be in written form? Which would be a lot easier for him, it's very hard when you are there in person and it's the thing some of his lawyers and advisers are the most concerned about.

[08:05:00]

So his comments did not go over great.

CUOMO: And by all accounts, he doesn't have that much discretion. He's not driving this process. He could wind up hauled before a grand jury. You know you think Bill Clinton. We'll see what shape this takes. He said a couple of things, Maggie we'd love your take on. One goes to the politics of this in his own mind, and the other to the practicality of what might happen in front of a panel of investigators. Let's start with the politics. Here was the answer the President gave to why he is different when it comes to what he'll do with these investigators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Under oath, Mr. President?

TRUMP: You mean like Hillary did it under, who said that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said that, would you do it under oath?

TRUMP: Oh you said it, you did say it, you say a lot. Did Hillary do it under oath?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea but I'm --

TRUMP: -- I think you have and idea. Don't you have an idea? Wait a minute, wait, wait wait. Do you not have an idea? Do you really not have an idea? I'll give you an idea. She didn't do it under oath. But I would do it under oath. Listen but I would do it and you know she didn't do it under oath, right? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She did do it under oath.

CUOMO: Obviously 18 U.S.C 1001, if you're sitting with federal agents, you lie to them. It's a crime. So a little bit --

HABERMAN: You could ask Michael Flynn, Michael Flynn could explain that.

CUOMO: That's exactly right, but that's not his point. It's not about the law it's once again Hillary Clinton, the person they never mentioned according to my friend Kellyanne Conway, why is this the way he needs to explain it to people?

HABERMAN: I think -- by the way, I think in fairness to Kellyanne Conway, I think it is true that other people in the White House don't spend quite as much time talking about her as she does, if we can just separate Trump from staff as we often do. Look I don't know that I think this is a political question, although that's certainly part of it because he did spent part of the gaggle with us, focusing on Andrew McCabe who at one point was the acting director of the FBI when James Comey was fired.

And the fact that he said how many of you paid attention to my speeches in the campaign? McCabe was a star of my speeches. And that is true that toward the end he was very focused on the fact that McCabe's wife had run for a State Senate seat in Virginia and her campaign had received a lot of money from Terry McAuliffe's super pact.

Trump described it yesterday as Terry is Hillary. Terry McAuliffe is obviously a close friend of the Clintons for many years. So he sees this as inoculating himself, especially with his own supporters who are already concerned about the FBI, already are mistrustful of this investigation and he is stoking that. He talked about the missing texts, although he described them as deleted. It's not clear they were deleted.

There was some glitch and they're not there. Between two FBI agents who had been speaking negatively about a variety of politicians including him. In terms that have alarmed republicans. So he is trying to flip it to the extent he can. I also think in that moment though that you just played he was genuinely aggravated, and it was not just politics. I think it was naturally where his brain goes.

CAMEROTA: Maggie, there was another moment that we want to play for you, because there was reporting that the President had asked Andrew McCabe who McCabe voted for in the election and that McCabe said he did not vote, but he found that question and that exchange troubling from the President. So yesterday, as you know, he was asked about that. Listen to what the President said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask Mr. McCabe who he voted for? Did you --

TRUMP: I don't think so, no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't think you did?

TRUMP: No I don't think I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did not?

TRUMP: I don't know what's the big deal with that? Because I would ask you -- who did you vote for? I don't think it's a big deal, but I don't remember that - I saw that morning. I don't remember asking him that question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible you did?

TRUMP: I don't remember asking him the question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, so you don't remember.

TRUMP: I think it's also a very unimportant question, but I don't remember asking him that question.

CAMEROTA: So our legal experts would beg to differ that it's an unimportant question. But what did you think of that moment from the President?

HABERMAN: It reminded me of Trump under oath in depositions where he does a lots of I don't recall, and either way it's not that big a deal. If you read depositions that he's given over the years or look at videos, that answer is very much in keeping. And it's really striking because White House officials the night before had acknowledged that he did, indeed, ask that question of McCabe, and their whole thing was this is just how he talks, he asks this of everybody.

That might be one of the truest things he said in this gaggle is when he said, I'd ask you that. He would absolutely ask a reporter that. The whole window for that's just how he talks and people should understand he doesn't really mean it. I think that passed a very long time ago. It has been explained to him by White House counsel, by advisers over a very long period of time this is a problematic question. If he continues doing it, it would indicate he doesn't care that's a problem.

CUOMO: Right but it is so instructive. I keep calling it exhibit A. One, as you say, and you, too, Allison, it is not okay, it is not normal and it is not right. He's not supposed to ask people for a loyalty test. Now there's the new problem of what this exhibits. It's one thing to say it to us. We were discussing this before the show this morning. He can say things that aren't true to us, and we either catch him or we don't. We can't charge him with a crime because of that.

[08:10:00]

HABERMAN: Correct, correct.

CUOMO: When he sits with these investigators, if he says, yeah, I don't think I said it, I don't think I said it. And they can show that, no you should know that you said it because your White House said you said it. And McCabe says you said it. That can trip the lying statute, too.

You don't get away with it just because you say you didn't think. And then, the last part may be the most important part, it's not important, it doesn't matter. That means something different to an investigator. Because if they're trying to figure out where your head was with a crime of intent like obstruction of justice and they get a sense from a series of answers from you, or from the President in this case.

So you don't really care about these things that are obstruction, you don't really care, you think they don't matter. That could be very damaging, and the lawyers may not be able to save him.

HABERMAN: Right no I think that's right. I think that looks this goes to a broader question which is why the Trump White House would like it if Trump talked less, most staffers there. Trump believes that he is his own best salesman. He thinks he does a wonderful job explaining himself, that nobody else can do it better. We have seen that time and again over the course of his first year in office. When you're dealing with a legal issue, less is often more, but Donald Trump is not about less.

CAMEROTA: Maggie Haberman, always great to talk to you. Thanks so much for being here.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: So the Justice department is warning the House Intel Chairman that it would be reckless to release a memo alleging surveillance abuses that contains classified information without letting the DoJ review it. Devin Nunes, the Republican, is saying he doesn't want them to. Were going to talk to the Justice Department about that and a lot more next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:00] CUOMO: The Justice Department is warning the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee that it would be extraordinarily reckless to release a classified memo that claims surveillance abuses were done by the FBI. It comes as President Trump says he's very disturbed when asked by reporters about whether he trusts the FBI.

Joining us now is director of Public Affairs at the Justice Department, Sarah Isgur Flores.

It is very good to see you again. Good to have you on the show.

SARAH ISGUR FLORES, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Good morning, Chris.

CUOMO: This is not an easy conversation to have. But it must be had. Do you believe -- or of course you do. What do you make of the suggestions that the FBI, the DOJ cannot be trusted? That you were in effect infected with just toxic people?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, you're referring to the memo that's over at the House of Representatives. A lot of congressmen have seen it, a lot of congressmen have been disturbed by it. And so I think what we're saying is, if you have evidence of wrongdoing, we really need to see that because if there is something going wrong at the Department of Justice or the FBI, we want to get to the bottom of it and we want to hold people responsible for it.

CUOMO: They won't show you because they say they don't trust you. Republicans don't trust the DOJ which is right now manned --

ISGUR FLORES: And they also --

CUOMO: -- and staffed at the top by Republicans.

ISGUR FLORES: Right. In fairness, they also haven't shown the Senate or the White House. So I don't think they --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: They don't trust them either. Well, the White House is different. I think that they're insulating the president here. But let's stick with you. What does it mean that they don't think they can show you?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, again, I think you see text messages, you see memos, and there are a lot of Americans who are disturbed by what they're seeing. But when it comes to this memo in particular we've shown the committees about a thousand pages of classified material related to this. And so what we're saying is, if you have evidence of wrongdoing, we absolutely want to see it. We want to get to the bottom of it and we want to hold people responsible if anything was done wrong.

CUOMO: Well, if they're going off what you showed them, then you know the conclusions they should arrive at. Do you think that there was any nefarious practices when it comes to FISA surveillance?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, we haven't seen their memo so at this point we don't know specifically what they're referring to and we've shown them a thousand pages of classified material.

CUOMO: Right.

ISGUR FLORES: We've provided witnesses. There's a lot of other things that they've gone through as well.

CUOMO: Do you think that you had a problem with the obtaining of FISA warrants?

ISGUR FLORES: At this point I haven't seen any evidence of that. But a number, a hundred congressmen have seen this and there are many who are very disturbed by what they've seen. So we would like to know.

CUOMO: So if what they've seen is what you've shown them and they're disturbed and you are not, what are we to make of it?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, Chris, as I said, they've seen over a thousand pages of material. Maybe they've seen something that we haven't. Maybe they've noticed something based on an interview with a witness compared to that material. That's why we want to see the memo.

CUOMO: Secret society in the FBI. True or false?

(LAUGHTER)

ISGUR FLORES: Well, again, you're referring to text messages back in December. We released about 375 text messages. This last Friday we provided Congress with an additional 400 pages. It was approximately, you know, a few thousand text messages in addition to the 375.

And again, I think a lot of Americans who saw that initial release of text messages were very disturbed by what they saw and understandably so. The inspector general is investigating it and I look forward to their report at which point, you know, we can discuss that further.

CUOMO: Have you seen any proof of a secret or shadow organization within the FBI that is trying to undermine Justice and the administration thereof?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, I'm not a member of any secret society. But --

CUOMO: How do we know?

ISGUR FLORES: I suppose that's very true, Chris. You don't. The first rule of secret society is you don't talk about secret society. That --

CUOMO: They believe it, Sarah. You have elected lawmakers going on TV and saying this exists.

ISGUR FLORES: No, Chris, what they believe is that we have a lot of text messages that a lot of Americans are disturbed by including Americans in Congress. And I think you should understand why they are. You've seen a lot of them, too.

CUOMO: But you are the keeper of this information. I'm asking you if you are disturbed. Do you think there's proof of a secret society? You should know better than I do.

ISGUR FLORES: Well, there's an ongoing -- Chris, there's an ongoing inspector general report. I'm not going to jump ahead of the inspector general on that. But you've seen --

CUOMO: Have you seen proof of one?

ISGUR FLORES: Of a secret society? Chris, the text messages were released to Congress. Six committees have them now on the Hill. Thousands of text messages. The text messages about the secret society, as I think has been reported now, has some -- it's unclear. And I think that's why we wait for an inspector general report. He's investigating this. CUOMO: So do you think there might be a --

ISGUR FLORES: Let the inspector general do their job.

CUOMO: Do you think there might be one?

ISGUR FLORES: In this whole back and forth, Chris, is it clear that I'm saying that we're going to wait for the inspector general report who actually has interviewed people, has all the text messages, has been doing their job for months now?

CUOMO: But you work there and you interact with these people all the time. Has anybody ever mentioned something like this to you? Has it ever come up as a concern?

[08:20:02] ISGUR FLORES: I think this is an unproductive line of questioning. But I'll keep telling you that the inspector general is investigating this. We'll have a report and that six committees of Congress have thousands of text messages now. A lot of Americans have seen these text messages.

CUOMO: Right.

ISGUR FLORES: And they're understandably disturbed by what they're seeing. The rule of law should be free from political bias.

CUOMO: Right.

ISGUR FLORES: From bias of any kind.

CUOMO: I feel like --

ISGUR FLORES: And so law enforcement should be above that.

CUOMO: I keep asking, Sarah -- you're totally right. I keep asking because I feel like you're walking a line of not upsetting certain political partisans who are driving this, but also representing the interest of the DOJ. Not an easy line to walk.

I would think that if I ask you whether or not there's a shadow organization within the FBI, you would know whether or not you've seen any proof of it outside of what the IG is looking at .

ISGUR FLORES: Chris -- OK. That's fair. Let me -- let me tell you more why I'm answering the way I'm answering. You're asking me to characterize a text message between two FBI employees that's currently under investigation by the inspector general. It is my job not to prejudge that investigation and let the inspector general do their job. This isn't about politics.

And what I'm telling you is that why the inspector general is looking into this is because the rule of law, our system of government depends on law enforcement being unbiased, being free from all of those considerations. That's what the inspector general is looking at. And when they have the report, why don't I come back on and we'll talk about it? CUOMO: You're always invited. What do you make of the suspicion that

they don't care what the IG says because they believe the FBI is corrupt and that you have had political operatives engineering investigations? You can't be trusted, they won't show you the memo. Do you agree with that assessment? Do you think there's a chance they're right?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, the inspector general's job is to look into those things. They announced several months ago that they were looking at how those investigations were run, whether they were done with any political bias, whether they were conducted fairly and according to the rules of the Department of Justice. And we'll see that report when it comes out hopefully shortly.

CUOMO: Do you have any confidence in the organization outside what you learn from the inspector general?

ISGUR FLORES: Of the FBI?

CUOMO: The FBI and the Department of Justice.

ISGUR FLORES: There are wonderful agents across the country and this is a serious job. As I think we saw in Colorado today, our law enforcement across the country deserves our respect, deserves our support. We had a deputy shot in Colorado last night.

CUOMO: Yes.

ISGUR FLORES: Today is the funeral of a U.S. Marshal who was killed in the line of duty just a few days ago. So absolutely, I have respect for our law enforcement, federal, state, local, tribal and I think that most Americans do.

CUOMO: The president of the United States says he's not sure.

ISGUR FLORES: No, that's not true at all. This president has supported law enforcement more than any president in recent memory probably. There's a reason that police morale is up, that line of duty deaths are down. This president has said he's going to tackle violent crime and he has done just that. So absolutely, those law enforcement officials across the country support this president because he supports them.

CUOMO: Then why did he say when he was asked whether or not he trusts the FBI that he doesn't know, he has to see?

ISGUR FLORES: We're talking about FBI leadership, an ongoing investigation that includes some text messages that you've seen and a lot of evidence, interviews, et cetera, that the inspector general has seen that you haven't seen. Let's wait for the inspector general to report. But we're not talking about the line agents out there doing their jobs every single day out in the field.

CUOMO: But aren't those the same people that we're talking about? That's what Strzok was, right? He's a regular field guy who's in a management capacity who is doing the job and is now under scrutiny for whether or not his politics went in front of his duty?

ISGUR FLORES: I'm not going to talk about individual personnel at the FBI right now.

CUOMO: That's a safe way to go, Sarah Flores. And I understand why you are.

Let me ask you something else. The attorney general, we understand, spoke to the special counsel. What can you tell us about the context of their discussions?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, we've confirmed that the attorney general spoke with the special counsel's office last week, and other than that we're not going to talk about anything that was discussed with the special counsel. But the attorney general, by my count at least, gave about 25 hours of public testimony last year before various congressional committees under oath. So I think you have plenty of evidence of what the attorney general said, saw, did, knows because 25 hours is a lot. And I know you watched a good chunk of it.

CUOMO: I did and I heard a lot of "I don't recalls" and "I don't remembers." Do you know if that's what happened in this interview as well?

ISGUR FLORES: I'm not talking about anything that happened in the special counsel's office. That's for the special counsel to do, to interview and to do their investigation. I'm not getting in the middle of that.

CUOMO: Was the -- did the president ask the attorney general to go to the director of the FBI and remove Andrew McCabe?

ISGUR FLORES: This is a story based on according to sources. I'm also not going to talk about what the attorney general says to his FBI director. But I do think the attorney general has made clear that he thinks that the FBI deserves a fresh start and that he has great confidence in Chris Wray, a man of great integrity, to get the job done.

CUOMO: Does he have confidence in Andrew McCabe?

ISGUR FLORES: I'm not going to talk about individual personnel at the FBI. But I do think that any FBI director who's coming in can have a fresh start, can bring in their own team, which is exactly what the last FBI director did and the one before that.

CUOMO: So you're not going to talk about individual people at the FBI unless you want to because you just spoke about Christopher Wray and said that the attorney general --

[08:25:03] ISGUR FLORES: Christopher Wray is the director of the FBI. You know that's different. Andrew McCabe is a career FBI employee and so is Peter Strzok, and a lot of the other people you're asking me about.

CUOMO: Did Christopher Wray threaten to resign? Did he threatened to take any action if they insisted on having him remove McCabe?

ISGUR FLORES: You're going to have to ask Christopher Wray that.

CUOMO: Do you have any knowledge of whether or not that's true?

ISGUR FLORES: I'm not going to talk about conversations that happen between Christopher Wray and the attorney general. I wasn't on the phone.

CUOMO: Did you hear anything about the conversation?

ISGUR FLORES: Chris, this is -- the attorney general and the FBI director according to anonymous sources. I'm not going to get into it. I think I've made pretty clear that the attorney general believes that the FBI director can and should bring in his own team, have a fresh start at the FBI.

CUOMO: Well, you could say I know for a fact it didn't happen because I'm sure you've talked to the attorney general about it. If you want to shoot down sources, anonymous sources are often some of the best as you know, Sarah.

ISGUR FLORES: Actually the president has addressed this so I'll refer you to his comments.

CUOMO: I know. And he denies it. He says it never happened. But he says a lot of things that don't always prove out to be true. And someone who's in charge of the administration of Justice, we need to know whether or not they're going to echo those types of sentiments for the president that's why I'm asking.

ISGUR FLORES: I think I've answered your question.

CUOMO: Final question, do you think it was right for the president to ask the acting director of the FBI who he voted for in an election?

ISGUR FLORES: I have no idea whether that happened.

CUOMO: If it did happen --

ISGUR FLORES: The president said --

CUOMO: -- do you think it was appropriate?

ISGUR FLORES: The president said it didn't happen so I'm going to take his word for it.

CUOMO: Andrew McCabe says it did. Does that mean you take the president's word over Andrew McCabe?

ISGUR FLORES: Andrew McCabe is on the record saying that happened?

CUOMO: That's what we're told in the reporting and the White House --

ISGUR FLORES: No --

CUOMO: -- didn't deny it.

ISGUR FLORES: According to sources --

CUOMO: The White House has said that the president asked him.

ISGUR FLORES: Chris --

CUOMO: One of those sources is at the White House.

ISGUR FLORES: You brought me on here to comment on anonymous sources.

CUOMO: The White House.

ISGUR FLORES: From conversations that were between two people and neither of those two people say that it happened.

CUOMO: The White House says that it happened.

ISGUR FLORES: No, they did not.

CUOMO: The White House says that that happened. Their conversation.

(LAUGHTER)

ISGUR FLORES: I have not seen that.

CUOMO: If it did happen, was it appropriate?

ISGUR FLORES: I'm not commenting on hypotheticals that the president as far as I know said didn't happen.

CUOMO: All right. I guarantee you're going to want to answer this next question. Are you ready? You guys -- you guys are weighing in in the Berkeley, California, the free speech case that's going on out there about whether or not the First Amendment and decisions thereon by that university are even handed when it comes to different political aspects. Why? What do you believe is happening there that warrants the DOJ weighing in?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, this morning we're filing a statement of interest in this case is Berkeley. But overall across the country what we're seeing is free speech really being squashed on campuses. And this is the place where free speech should be the most prevalent. We're seeing that controversial speakers aren't allowed to come. We're seeing hecklers veto win out. And it's a shame. Because this is where free ideas should be exchanged.

You know, a student was arrested for trying to hand out copies of the Constitution in Michigan? I mean, this is a problem. And so the Department of Justice is coming in and saying, if you're a public university, you are bound by the First Amendment and you can't pick and choose which side of debates are controversial and which sides aren't. You've got to let everyone speak. You've got to let ideas be heard.

CUOMO: And what do you want to protect against happening? ISGUR FLORES: We want to protect against universities -- the

government, really, if they're a public university, deciding which speech is favored, which ideas are too controversial to even allow to be heard on a college campus.

CUOMO: This is a very important issue. You're right. There are controversies on campus, there are also controversies with this at the White House. More than once the president of the United States has threatened to look at libel laws. Now I know and you know, almost all of the relevant laws are state laws. He couldn't control it.

But does the Department of Justice intend to defend the First Amendment when it comes to criticism of the government?

ISGUR FLORES: Well, I think this is a very, very different situation.

CUOMO: How so?

ISGUR FLORES: What -- what we're talking about on college campuses is the government telling Americans what they can and can't say.

CUOMO: Right.

ISGUR FLORES: That's a violation of the First Amendment. What you're talking about is whether a private citizen can be lied about and whether they have any recourse in law, whether state or federal. And the First Amendment obviously has some part in that. But there's also libel laws as we've said. So very apples and oranges, the comparisons you're trying to make.

CUOMO: I think that's debatable. It's also interesting that you characterize the case with the president as a private citizen and being lied about. I was just saying criticism of the government.

I appreciate you coming on. These aren't easy questions for you and I appreciate you taking the opportunity to come on and answer them, Sarah Flores. And you are always welcome to do so on this show.

ISGUR FLORES: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. You be well. I'll speak to you soon.

ISGUR FLORES: You bet.

CUOMO: Now tonight in "PRIME TIME" at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, we are going to take a deeper dive, the mandate of that special series is facts first. What do we know exactly about the facts that are driving the allegations by Republicans when it comes to the FBI.

CAMEROTA: OK. Chris, the president's position on Dreamers changing again to include a path to citizenship. But there's a catch. That's next.