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Sources: Trump Asked Rosenstein If He Was "On My Team"; FBI: "Grave Concerns" About Accuracy Of Nunes Memo; NYT: Mueller Focusing On Trump Tower Cover Story; Trump Presses Congress To Back White House Immigration Plan. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired January 31, 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: -- 10:00 tonight. Time to hand it over to Chris Cuomo for "Cuomo Prime Time".
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Book ended by Anderson. I love it. Good to see you my friend.
We have a facts first feast tonight. New information about what a controversial FBI agent did during the Clinton investigation. Then also new information from sources that Trump asked yet another top justice official for loyalty. Are you on my team, he asks. Wait until you hear who he asked and why. Does this show why Trump wants to release the much maligned Nunes memo? What do you say? Let's get after it.
I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time".
Breaking news tonight, CNN has learned exclusively President Trump asked yet another top justice official for loyalty. This time, it is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man in charge of the Russia investigation. He reportedly asked if Rosenstein was, "on my team." That's according to sources familiar with the meeting which took place back in December. That is when Rosenstein was preparing to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.
We're going to go one-on-one with former CIA Director Michael Hayden not just about what was said to Rosenstein, but also about the memo.
Good to see you, general.
But, as you know, this show has a mandate, facts first.
Let's look at Trump's loyalty plays. When Rosenstein testified to the House Judiciary Committee, he was asked about President Trump's alleged effort to get a pledge of loyalty from FBI Director Jim Comey. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Is it ever appropriate for the president of the United States to demand that the Department of Justice official or FBI director take a loyalty pledge? ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't have any opinion about that, Congressman. Nobody has asked me to take a loyalty pledge other than the oath of office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Can't say that anymore. So this is just not a one-off. The president has a pattern of controversially pressing top officials. More examples. All right. Not only did he ask Jim Comey for a loyalty pledge, he also asked director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, to lean on Comey about the Russia investigation, and he asked NSA Director Mike Rogers to publicly announce there was no collusion with Russia. And he tried to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the probe. You remember that? He was reportedly grousing, the president was. He was saying, Sessions was supposed to be his guy, asking where is my Roy Cohn, referring to the lawyer who taught Trump how to attack his enemies. He asked the now ousted Deputy FBI Director, Andrew McCabe, whom he voted for in the election as well. Now we have the president trying to get the deputy attorney general to commit to him being on his team.
Now, it all seems to relate to the president's desire, shared by certain members of his party, to release a memo that may well undermine the administration of justice in this country. And those, my friends, are the facts.
So now let's take this situation one-on-one, former CIA director and CNN National Security Analyst, General Michael Hayden.
General, good to be with you.
MICHAEL HAYDEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes.
CUOMO: I have two I have never seen observations off the top for you. Please tell me if you share them. One, I have never seen something like this where a sitting president and members of his party are going around the Intelligence Community to release classified information, saying it is intentional because they do not trust the DOJ or the FBI. Have you?
HAYDEN: I've never seen it, Chris, and it's most remarkable spectacle and really credit to the current director of the FBI, who went out there publicly and issued a statement, not with his name on it, but with his bureau's name on it, complaining about this and saying it's harmful not just to the bureau, but to America.
CUOMO: Relevant also because this is the man that President Trump chose, right? That's reason one.
CUOMO: Reason two, this is the man who many lawmakers have said to me over the last couple of days, well, we sent it to the FBI chief. We gave it to Chris Wray. He didn't state any objections. Now he's stating a lot of objections. The counterargument is this, general. Please take this on for us. HAYDEN: Sure.
CUOMO: Of course he doesn't want it to get out. It shows that they're dirty. It shows that they were abusing our rights in political interest, to get their own justification and to get their own result in that FISA application against Carter Page. That's the allegation. What do you make of that?
HAYDEN: Yes, I've actually been in that circumstance where people were saying, you're just pushing back because you're defending your folks or defending your institution. And I suppose that could be a motivation for me then, maybe for the director now.
[21:05:00] But fundamentally, Chris, this is about the facts. What the director said was that the memo is so incomplete, so deficient in the wholeness of information, that it leads to false conclusions.
And, look, he's offered to go up there in front of the whole committee, not just the authors of the memo, which is just one party -- in front of the whole committee with the people who crafted this particular FISA application and walk them through the logic and the process. And after that, if they still have issues, then we have issues. But they're honest ones.
CUOMO: That makes it reek of politics. If their concern is how this was done and the people who did it want to come to you and explain, even in open session, right, some of it you'd have to figure out whether or not they can talk about it in open session. But if you don't want that, it then begs the question of why.
Then you have these two kind of almost absurd conditions going on here. The first one is that Nunes, his name is on this memo even if it was written by his staff. And the word is that he didn't read the classified information that their conclusions in the memo are based on. So he didn't read the facts that the conclusions are based on.
And then as you just pointed out, you have all of these lawmakers jumping up and down and saying, this memo proves that they relied on that dirty dossier to get this surveillance done. But none of them have seen the FISA application, so how would they even know, general, how much of the application for the warrant was a function of this dossier?
HAYDEN: Chris, there's a lot of questions embedded in there. First of all, with what was in the FISA application, I mean there is nothing in my experience that would suggest to me that all that was in there was a narrow thread back to the dodgy dossier of Christopher Steele.
After all, Chris, let's keep in mind this was a renewal. So they had already established probable cause as to why they wanted to go up on this coverage. They probably had evidence from the coverage --
CUOMO: They'd have to have it, right?
HAYDEN: -- well, they have the original premise that the court accepted as probable cause. They had the coverage during the period when the FISA was active.
HAYDEN: And then they probably had additional information which may or may not have included information from the Steele dossier. But I'm quite comfortable in telling you that would not have been naked out there by itself. It would have been part of the corroborating information. And I think that's what the director wants to explain as to how big a web this was, how complex the argumentation was so that even if there may have been some information in there from the dossier, it wasn't the basic premise of the FISA warrant.
But, Chris, back to your first question as to why they're doing this, why they're rejecting the offer to come up and walk through it, I am saddened and disappointed to say that I think some members of the committee want the ambiguity rather than the precision, want the question out there rather than the answer.
CUOMO: The value of ambiguity over the value of clarity here for political purposes. That happens to be a line I took from you, by the way, general. And you are very good. I didn't even remember asking you that first question, and you answered it.
So the political expediency that seems to be at play, all right. Let's assume that winds up being a deuce, that people look at the memo and, you know, it's not as great as they're making it out to be. It's not illustrative of things that they're suggesting it is. Now you get to the, what's the impact? Why would this be bad for the Intelligence Committee and the DOJ?
HAYDEN: Yes, so there are two or three reasons out there. Number one, I think it's clear, and I'm putting all my chips over here with the bureau, that the memo is at best incomplete and therefore misleading. And so it's not the kind of truth-telling that we would like to have.
Secondly, there's probably a danger of putting sources and methods at risk although that can actually be resolved through redaction. We'll see if that happens.
And then finally over here, Chris, you've got the whole question of precedent. Look, this FISA process is very closely held. It's actually more classified than most of the things that I touched as director of either agency. It's kind of its own sacred ground because, I mean, this is very sensitive stuff. You're talking about the privacy of Americans. And so it's a closed universe between intelligence professionals and the American court system. And now we're going to open that universe and insert what, by anyone's definition, has to be an intensely political process. That's really a bad precedent.
CUOMO: General, give me a quick yes-no, other than -- I did a little research. Other than maybe Bay of Pigs here in Kennedy in terms of when he didn't listen the second time because he learned a lot more about having people around him. Other than that circumstance maybe, have you ever seen where a president has their own hand picked people from the DOJ in Rosenstein and Boyd, and his hand-picked FBI director, whom he picked to be a cleansing agent, come to him and say, don't do something, and he did it anyway?
[21:10:11] HAYDEN: Yes, you know, Chris, it's even worse than your premise because, you know, Bay of Pigs is geopolitical. There are a lot of factors bearing on the problem. This is a narrow, technical, legal question. And here you've got the president rejecting the advice of his technical and legal experts hand-picked by him in these organizations in favor of a political judgment made by a Congressional Committee. Boy, that just turns my world on its head.
CUOMO: General Michael Hayden, thank you so much. Your perspective is needed. And appreciate it.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
CUOMO: So, as we just said, Trump's choices to lead the FBI and the DOJ used words like "dangerous," "reckless," and grave concerns about releasing the GOP Nunes memo. So why would the president commit to releasing it?
Up next, we go one-on-one with a Republican Congressman, Steve King, Judiciary Committee. He says the president is doing the right thing. Next.
CUOMO: All right, let's get more now on the breaking news. But really this is more than that. This is something that we've almost never seen anything like this. Yes, you had all the politics surrounding the torture memo, and you'd have to go back to remember what that was where the CIA was on one side, the politicians on the other, but not like this. We have President Trump and a slice of his party throwing their own people at the Department of Justice under the bus, President Trump and the FBI director that he appointed as a cleansing agent, Christopher Wray. They are now in a showdown over the expected release of a Republican intelligence memo alleging FBI abuses of surveillance laws against the Trump campaign.
[21:15:28] Tonight the FBI is expressing, "grave concerns about making the memo public." Why? They say it is inaccurate because it doesn't have a complete basis, and they're worried about sources and methods.
However, the White House Chief of Staff, John Kelly, says he predicts a quick release, adding, "The whole world will see it." What is this about? Is this going to be good for the democracy or just good for political expediency? Let's take on this question with somebody who has a very strong opinion and a voice in the matter. Republican Congressman Steve King, member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Before we get after it, what's right is right. Thank God you are OK. You and the other Congress members who were on that train, horrible what happened to the driver of the truck. Horrible that any of it happened. But thank God you're all right. It's good to have you, Congressman. REP. STEVE KING (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, thank you, Chris, and I do want to say that there's a family that's saying good-bye to a loved one tonight and other families sitting around hospital beds, and that tragedy took place. If it was going to take place, the people that were on that train, I counted at least nine doctors that answered the call and two nurses that answered the call and a priest that gave last rites. The circumstances, if it was going to be a horrible tragedy, the American people would have been proud of how their members of Congress and that team launched into action and did the right thing. And so we all got together and did a ceremony and a prayer session tonight and prayed for the families. We're grateful that it wasn't worse than it was, and our prayers are with the families who are grieving tonight.
CUOMO: Well, look, it is good to hear that people stepped up, and it is horrible that they had to at all. And we'll keep track of what happened to the people on that truck, and we'll tell their story. Congressman, thank you for relaying that information.
KING: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, let's now get to the matter at hand. Make the case to me, Congressman. Why is releasing this memo the right thing to do when you have your own people, Republicans at the top of the FBI, Trump's choices at the DOJ, Rosenstein and Stephen Boyd, saying don't do this?
KING: Well, I think in the first place, when the Department of Justice put out that message that said don't release the memo, I don't believe any of them had read the memo at that point. And I'm not sure anybody in DOJ has at this point, but I am -- of course we do know that Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, went over to read the memo last Sunday. And the next action that seemed to take place at opening of business was that Andrew McCabe was then gone from employment as number two in the FBI. So that should tell us something. And --
CUOMO: It could tell us nothing, Congressman, because the reporting is -- well, we'll talk about your ability to do oversight because when you guys are this divided -- and I read the transcript to that vote to release this -- that does not sound like a group of men and women who can work together, but we'll get to that.
Christopher Wray, with McCabe, the reporting is that maybe something in his inspector general report triggered a concern that Wray had with McCabe. Maybe, maybe not. Nothing about this memo. Wray now had to step forward and put out a statement from the FBI saying, grave concerns. So what makes it worthwhile?
KING: Well, I wish he was more specific about grave concerns.
CUOMO: What else do you need to hear?
KING: But I don't believe we can point to an -- a potential IG report coming out and say that's the reason that Christopher Wray made the move to, I'll say, remove Andy McCabe. That had to be -- and I've read the memo, and I have that advantage, of course. But here's what the memo -- if the memo is incomplete according to the assertions of the DOJ, have they read it, haven't they? I don't know. But there's no such thing as a complete memo. You can always assert that about any memo. I believe it is solid. It's factual. But also, being objective, the information that is used to build the memo is not in the memo of course. And I have not had access to that, but I do know Devin Nunes, and I know a good number of the members, every member on the select committee on Intel. I trust them that they would not put their names on the line and have anything but the most solid information that is feeding the memo. And I read the memo carefully.
CUOMO: I got you.
KING: I believe it is objective, but one more thing, Chris.
CUOMO: Go ahead, Steve.
KING: I do not believe that there's anything in there that jeopardizes our national security or sources or methods.
[21:19:59] CUOMO: All right. Well, look, good because I would hope you wouldn't want to release it otherwise if you actually knew that. However, a few questions.
KING: All right.
CUOMO: One, you haven't seen the fact basis for the conclusions. That has to give you some pause.
KING: That's right.
CUOMO: You're reading conclusions. You don't know where they come from. You say you trust Devin Nunes. Member of Trump transition team Devin Nunes, running around at the White House getting intelligence, playing games, not telling the rest of the committee, getting investigated for ethics violations because of that, Devin Nunes. Devin Nunes didn't read the fact basis for the conclusions in his own memo either. Devin Nunes, who like you and everybody else who says this is the right move, hasn't seen the FISA application that you're criticizing. So where does your confidence come from?
KING: How does he get the FISA application? I want the American people to see --
CUOMO: But how do you judge it when you haven't seen it?
KING: We are going to have to pull all of this out, and that's one of the things the memo does.
CUOMO: But you're already concluding it was wrong, Steve.
KING: -- chase the rabbit trails down. I know what's wrong.
CUOMO: But how do you know it's wrong if you didn't see the application.
KING: -- memo, Chris.
CUOMO: Please, go ahead.
KING: Chris, the data will come out. The data will come out. I want it to come out. I want it all to come out. I don't know that we ever get to the bottom of this unless we do. And if we're going to have a Congress that does oversight, we can't accept the FBI or the DOJ or any other branch of government from closing the gate in front of us and saying, sorry, you can't look at this because it's classified. Then what I saw and what I believe happened could go on in perpetuity, and we become a banana republic. This is earth-shaking, and it does go deeper than Watergate and that memo --
CUOMO: Deeper than Watergate? How is it deeper than Watergate?
KING: Deeper than Watergate. How is it deeper? Because the FBI and the DOJ, by the information that I have observed and the testimony that I have -- I'm going to say the testimony that I have analyzed from listening to and questioning multiple members of the FBI and the DOJ, tells me that the FBI and DOJ have been weaponized. If they've been weaponized for political reasons much in the same way as the IRS, I believe it was weaponized for political reasons, America cannot tolerate that. And if it was used to influence an election and to undermine a transition and to undermine an inaugurated president, that should chill and shock you as well, Chris.
CUOMO: It could. The problem is that you're all in on that conclusion, but you don't know that it's true. You haven't even looked at the judicial proceeding that you're saying was dirty.
KING: -- conclusion. I said if.
CUOMO: But you said that is what you read in the memo is more troubling than Watergate. That is conclusory.
KING: Here's what -- it's not a conclusion. But I said what I read is more troubling, but we have to bring the evidence and prove it. I want evidence out front. I want it examined.
CUOMO: But why would you release these conclusions in this memo? Honestly, Congressman, we talk a lot about things.
KING: If we do not --
KING: If we do not, we're allowing the FBI, then, or the DOJ to decide they're going to police their own house. We can't let that happen.
CUOMO: Well, first of all --
KING: I think a lot of Jeff Sessions. I think he's a tremendous attorney general. But I'm worried about some other people in those ranks, and I think you'll see those names in a day or two. CUOMO: Look, I get that. I get that you believe there are bad apples, but just listen to the totality of what you're saying. Of course there's oversight over the Department of Justice. That's how our democracy works. But, you know, fact, for the record, the inspector general that's doing their independent review of the practices during the campaign brought out the texts that Devin Nunes and the rest of you seized upon as if they were your discovery. And then the missing text that you all seized upon as if it was relevant was then cleared up within the FBI, and they found the text. So the secret society that you all seized upon that wound up becoming bogus --
KING: I didn't.
CUOMO: This is a pattern of jumping for a conclusion because it is a beautiful distraction from the investigation --
KING: Not so, Chris.
CUOMO: -- you don't like. And now, -- but listen to what you're saying to us. You're saying --
KING: There are dots that need to be connected along the way --
CUOMO: I know. But you are saying --
KING: -- and history will look at this and say if we fail to connect the dots, we were naive and foolish. That's the other side of this coin. We've got an obligation to use our good judgment and common sense. There have been -- what is the numbers, seven different people that have been removed from the FBI and the DOJ. Seven of them over the last -- James Comey and on down the line.
CUOMO: Why would Christopher Wray --
KING: -- Andrew McCabe.
KING: He's probably not the last one for this week.
CUOMO: Why would Christopher Wray -- look, the fact that you get rid of people and chase them out of office is not necessarily a vote of confidence on any kind of justification.
KING: But they left on their own or the decisions were made by their superiors.
CUOMO: Did they? How do we know how they left? Do you know why Andrew McCabe left?
KING: I have a pretty good idea about most of every one of them yes.
CUOMO: You have an idea.
KING: Yes. I don't think Andy McCabe woke up on Monday morning and said, hey, I think I'm going to take some advice from Chris Wray and leave my job.
CUOMO: I don't either. I don't either.
[21:25:01] KING: I think he was told you're gone --
KING: -- because of what was read in the memo --
CUOMO: I don't think it was -- look, I know you read the memo, but here's the thing. You're going to release this memo. The Intelligence Community doesn't want to, and I got to tell you the justification for why that's OK coming from your side is -- is suspicious. And then you're saying, but I haven't seen the FISA application. I need to see the facts. Why wouldn't you do it the common sense way? I want to know what happened in the FISA application. You can find that out tomorrow. The DOJ guys said they will come to you --
KING: You think so?
CUOMO: They said they would come to you and explain how they did it and answer any questions that you have.
KING: Then they have capitulated to duress, but that doesn't necessarily mean if they explain it to us it's going to be how it was. We've gone through this for a year or a year and a half trying to get information out of the FBI or the DOJ. And they have not been forthcoming. I do think Christopher Wray is an honorable individual, and I think he has got an opportunity to put the FBI back on the rail --
CUOMO: And he says he has grave everyone cans and this is the wrong thing to do.
KING: -- Judiciary Committee. And Rod Rosenstein --
KING: -- was not forthcoming either. What I saw in his eyes when he was asked if the FBI paid for the dossier told me something entirely different than the answer that he gave under oath. But time will tell on that, Chris, on who's telling the truth on this and who survives.
CUOMO: You know, --
KING: But it took a long time to drill down through Watergate, and there's a lot to be drilled through here that's far more complex.
CUOMO: Watergate was a felony that you had an obvious cover-up and material movements by the president of the United States to stop the administration of justice and it resulted in his impeachment. If that scenario fits anything that's going on, it would be only a possible, possible, potential outcome of the Russia investigation, and it really seems like you guys are trying to mirror the stakes with your own. But we do have to wait for what comes out -- KING: Let me point out. Let me point out something.
CUOMO: But once you release this memo, you know the genie is out of the bottle. And even if it winds up being untrue, people will still believe it.
KING: I've said goes deeper than Watergate, but the reason it isn't bigger right now is because it hasn't identified a president. But I remember President Obama saying in April of 2016, when he said in an interview with Chris Wallace that there is no corruption, there is no fraud, there is no political bias. He said, that's guaranteed full- stop, how many times do I have to say it? We should go back and look at those words. We'll see how they ring in the ears of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the activities within the FBI and the DOJ as we get to the truth. I want the American people to see it all.
CUOMO: Well, it should start with the facts and then go to the conclusions. But Congressman, you went out of your way to be here tonight. This is an important matter. You had a rough day. Thank God you're OK. And I appreciate you making the case to the American people.
KING: Let's see how well my words stand up over time, Chris. Thank you. Appreciate talking with you.
CUOMO: We always do, and you will be invited back when we learn more.
KING: I'll be willing to do that for sure. Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: Thank you, Congressman.
All right, more breaking news tonight in the Russia investigation, Maggie Haberman from "The New York Times", she's going to call in right now. She has a headline you need to hear, next.
[21:31:43] CUOMO: All right, I'm actually getting read in on what we're about to learn right now. All right, good. So breaking news tonight in the Russia investigation, "New York Times" reporter and CNN Political Analyst Maggie Haberman is on the phone. Maggie, what have you got? What's the headline?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST (via telephone): It's a complicated one. It's a tick-tock into the drafting of a statement aboard Air Force One that the president supervised. He had Hope Hicks, Donald Trump Jr., and a lawyer with the Trump organization involved in the writing of this statement, and it was in response to a "Times" story that was coming about Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the campaign in the summer of 2016.
Specifically we've learned a couple of things. One is who was involved in the drafting, how it came about. We get into, you know, how it sparked an enormous amount of infighting. A significant piece in our story is Mark Corallo who is a spokesperson for the president's legal team for a time is anticipated to tell Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigators who want to speak with him and that is in previously reported, but about a conference call that he was on with Hope Hicks and the president the day after "The New York Times" story ran. It was a weekend, so this would have been a Sunday, where they were discussing e-mails involving a discussion between Donald Trump Jr. and people setting up the meeting that described its intent as about offering up dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Hope Hicks allegedly said that those e-mails would, "never get out." Her lawyer denies that was said. Corallo is expected to tell investigators that he wondered whether that meant she was looking to obstruct justice. Again, I want to make clear that her lawyer has insisted she was never discussing anything about destroying documents. But it is another turn of the screw in how they handled what was one of the deepest crises of last year.
CUOMO: That's interesting, and the context will be that on the reverse side, it will be Trump Jr., if they're the same body of e- mails that went into the discussion of this meeting that he wound up having, that he released those e-mails that Hicks may have been referring to.
But, again, you have act, and you have intent. And when they're looking at obstruction of justice, the intent is the tricky part.
CUOMO: Can a prosecutor find evidence of corrupt intent? So impeding and doing acts with bad cause. Maybe this fits into the puzzle. It certainly fits into our understanding. Maggie Haberman, whatever you were doing, get back to it. Thanks for calling us tonight.
HABERMAN: Thanks, Chris. Take care.
CUOMO: All right, well, perfect. That really helps us to set the stage for tonight's "Great Debate". CNN Contributor, Former Obama White House Ethics Czar, Norman Eisen, and CNN Legal Commentator, Former Trump White House Lawyer, James Schultz.
Gentlemen, thank you very much. Counselor Eisen, this latest piece of information that Mark Corallo, pr. guy for the legal team for Trump for a little while says he heard Hicks say these e-mails will never get out. Now, they did get out. Trump Jr. put them out if they're the same body of information we're thinking of. Is this relevant?
[21:34:56] NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Chris, thanks for having me back. It is relevant. It's another part of the mosaic, the evidence that is accumulating of -- as you say, corrupt intent to obstruct justice. We're not ready yet to find that the offense has occurred, but it's troubling.
You know, part of the problem is, it's evidence of cover-up, Chris, and that's what always goes along with obstruction. The effort to hide it. Whenever you have a witness who may have said -- and I know Bob Trout from my days in the white collar bar, he's an honorable guy. If he says no, you can take that seriously. But whenever there's an indication that a witness may have tried to hide a document or suggested a document might have been destroyed, that's another problem that you have.
So we have this drip, drip, drip, and this incident was so alarming that Mark Corallo, who's a very seasoned veteran of these wars, ran for the Hills. He was scared of obstruction, he saw it coming, and he quit. The case, boy, that takes a lot.
CUOMO: All right, so, Jim, I'm suspecting that where Norm sees a mosaic, you see an ink blot test where people see what they want to see.
JAMES SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first we see a denial by her lawyer. And, again, we don't know --
CUOMO: Well, the lawyer says she would have never been discussing destruction of documents. Obviously he's giving her cover from what would trigger a statute on her. But let's say, of course, she denies it.
SCHULTZ: OK. And let's say it's in the context of press conversation and whether or not it's going to get out in the press. Remember her job at the time. Everything needs context, and the context of this just doesn't match up to obstruction in my view. She's the press person. She has to deal with crisis communications. She's not dealing with evidence and facts and the issues that are going to come before an investigator or a court of law.
CUOMO: All right. We don't know enough. It's one piece in the puzzle. You guys have discussed it. I liked it. I have something else I want you to chew on. I've got to go over to the white board because Kevin, our floor manager, spent so much time doing on this board tonight. Then we had a whole fight. I did half. He did half. You can go to my Instagram and tell me which -- who did a better job.
All right, so Norm and Jim, you guys are going to take on the two sides of what this move with the memo is. It is either what is being sold as by the GOP, which is transparency. This is all about transparency for the American people. Or it's about expediency, distraction from the Russia investigation, distracting people's focus.
All right, now, on the transparency side, James, we're going to go with you first. The house Intel took a vote. They did it as order. It was divided by partisan lines, but they went through their procedure, had the vote. There is the public disclosure, which they're saying is the value here, that the people need to see, the people will judge. Their counsel, they're saying, scrubbed this to make sure that it was OK. They don't think they're going to hurt sources and methods, hurt the intelligence behind it. And then their big sell was that Christopher Wray, Trump's handpicked FBI director had seen it, and he hadn't offered any pushback. Do you believe the case for transparency? Make the case yourself, Jim.
SCHULTZ: So here's what we had. We had the Intelligence Committee with staff and some of the best lawyers on the Hill in the Intelligence Community conducting their review and ultimately preparing a product that was put before the committee that the committee decided to release. This isn't something that just done willy-nilly. This is done with seasoned staff on the Intelligence Committee, folks who know the laws as it relates to sensitive information. Then you have a similar process undertaken by the Democrats, led by Schiff. And they have their own memo out there. Let's not forget about that.
CUOMO: It's not out there, though.
SCHULTZ: -- to the majority memo. Well, it's been prepared.
CUOMO: Important facts, though, Jim. They voted not to let it out.
SCHULTZ: OK, it's been prepared. So then --
CUOMO: But they're not letting it out.
SCHULTZ: Then it goes to the White House, and it's now the White House's determination as to whether this thing goes or not. And there's going to be folks who have spent their careers in the intelligence, you know, Legal Community working on these issues, reviewing that document, and making a determination. And they're going to take into consideration what the FBI director had to say.
CUOMO: Are they in.
SCHULTZ: And they're going to make a judgment as to whether things are redacted or not?
CUOMO: Are they, because they fudged --
SCHULTZ: And then ultimately a decision will be made because that's the process, right, that would be the process that takes place. And if you hear the White House statements, they keep talking about process, right? And I know you're going to say, well, the president said last night.
SCHULTZ: But the White House said today that they were going to walk through a process.
CUOMO: Yes, but who makes the decision?
SCHULTZ: And that's apparently what's taking place.
CUOMO: But who makes the decision? President said a hundred percent --
SCHULTZ: Ultimately it's the president and the chief of staff that make that informed decision after the lawyers have had an opportunity to review it.
CUOMO: But, you know --
SCHULTZ: And apparently that's what's being done. [21:40:01] CUOMO: But Jim, legal counsel is only as good as it is listened to, right? So even if everybody there was being as conscientious as you say, and as reason as suspect it's not, the chief of staff saying it's going to get out real quick and then the whole world is going to get to see it. And the president saying 100 percent it's getting out and he hasn't read it yet. That takes us to the other side of the ball. And this is you, Norm Eisen, that it's political expediency.
We see Congress going around the Intelligence Community. We have not seen this, even the torture memo and what happened there where the CIA under Obama was against it. It was the Senate that wound up muscling that through. It wasn't Obama. It wasn't the kind of end run that we're seeing here, the DOJ and FBI concern.
Remember, these are Trump's people, Christopher Wray, Rosenstein, Stephen Boyd. These were his choices for this, and they're saying don't do it, the Senate Intelligence Committee. Nunes won't let them see it, not even the chairman Republican Burr hasn't been able to see the memo. The president hasn't even read it yet. Devin Nunes reportedly hasn't looked at the classified information, the facts that the conclusions in his memo are based on. And none of them, Norm Eisen, not a single person calling for the release of this memo, because what it shows about corruption in the FISA process, have seen the actual FISA application. They have not seen the proceedings that they want to say were wrong.
EISEN: Chris, with all due respect to my fellow White House counsel --
CUOMO: I thought you were coming after me for a second. I was like, this is going to be terrible. Go ahead.
EISEN: With all due respect to James and his focus on the process, this process is a sham, and it is putting our national security in danger for the sake of the president's political expediency. You heard it last night when he was caught on the hot mike, Chris. Are you going to release it? One hundred percent. And he hasn't even read it yet. They don't know what's in there, and this is not an isolated incident. They're using it as a smear on the theory that the best defense against the Russia investigation is a good offense. They don't know if the FISA warrant was proper or not because they haven't looked at the underlying evidence.
And, Chris, here's what's most disturbing of all. This abuse of the process is not a one-off. I have a new report out tonight with the American Constitution Society, my watchdog group, seven big lies, Chris. They've done this again and again. Mr. Trump and his enablers, starting with the phony claim --
CUOMO: Don't go through all serve. We don't have time.
EISEN: I know. I'll just do the first and the last.
CUOMO: All right. EISEN: The phony claim that Mueller, a Republican himself, has conflicts. Now this bogus Nunes memo. Trump's own people in the FBI and the DOJ in open revolt, Chris, saying it's a danger and that it's false. And you know where it's headed? This is the most ominous of all. It's headed to create a false justification to get rid of Rod Rosenstein. He is in the same jeopardy as Jim Comey was.
CUOMO: All right. So --
EISEN: This is bad.
CUOMO: So last word to you, James Schultz. Norm says it is a travesty of a sham of a mockery, also known as a travashamockery (ph). Why is he wrong?
SCHULTZ: Well, Chris Wray has said himself that the sources and methods are not being released and therefore we're not talking about a national security crisis here as Norm would seem to portray. What we're talking about is a dispute of facts and the FBI disputing what's in that report, not necessarily the sources and methods in this giant issue that's going to bubble up as a result of some national security emergency. It's just not there, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. Gentlemen, thank you for presenting both sides of this. I appreciate it. Good to have you tonight.
Another topic that needs our attention, the president says Americans are Dreamers too. What did that mean? How did that line land with people? That is something that needs to be debated. We have two great people. Navarro and Schlapp. Another "Great Debate" ahead.
[21:48:24] CUOMO: There's a lot that happened in the State of the Union Address. The president used it for one part to pressure lawmakers, support the White House immigration plan.
Now, part of the plan, right, part of the offer is a pathway to citizenship for so-called Dreamers. This is ambitious by the president. A lot of members of his own party don't like it. However, what's the offset? There's a give and there's a take. The take is very tough conditions for family migration and diversity lotteries. And then there was a line that mattered a lot to a lot of people. Here it was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream because Americans are Dreamers too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. You could take it a lot of different ways. The American dream, so if you want it, you are a Dreamer. But how are Americans like this one group of people we're talking about, who are in so much jeopardy right now. Ana Navarro, we have Political Commentator, and Matt Schlapp, Former Political Director for President George W. Bush. Ana Navarro, how did you take the line?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, with a shrug. I mean it's just, you know, one more line from Donald Trump and him giving red meat to his base.
Look, a lot of the Dreamers felt that it diminished their particular plight. I think the line is fight. Americans are Dreamers too and Dreamers are Americans too, in every way but one. I think we should not get hung up on one line. We should not get hung up on the semantics. And the focus for anybody who wants this issue solved should be on pressuring Congress and pressuring this White House and doing everything that you can in the next several weeks and several days, so that they reach a bipartisan deal that can pass muster and get the votes necessary to make it to the president's desk. Let's not waste time on this.
[21:50:26] You know, word debate, nobody even remembers what President Trump said 24 hours ago. We are now focusing on Russia. The focus needs to be on getting a law passed.
CUOMO: But there's a reason, Matt, that the second part of that clever line that Ana came up with wasn't there. Americans are Dreamers and Dreamers are Americans too. He didn't say the second part, because there's a big contingent in your party who doesn't want to call them Dreamers. They want to call them illegals. And they don't want them to be citizens. They want them on the way out of this country. So where does this go?
MATT SCHLAPP, FORMER POLITICAL DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I mean, the law is the law, and they're not here illegally, because Barack Obama gave them temporary legal status.
CUOMO: Deferred action.
SCHLAPP: That's right. So now --
CUOMO: That's the DA of DACA.
SCHLAPP: That's right. So now we're now getting to the point. And I do think -- look, Dreamers was a clever political title. I think these people, if they want to be American citizens, I think that's great aspirational goal. And we're going to see if Congress, which is the right way to do this, is a legislative question. The president does not have the power to wave a magic wand and make them citizens or give them a pathway to citizenship. This is for Congress to handle. So now it's appropriately in their hands.
And by the way, the deal that the president put out there according to one of your rivals, let's just say, network news poll said 72 percent of Americans think that the Trump immigration plan is a good plan. So I think it actually does strike a balance.
And by the way, as a conservative here on this panel, this is controversial. The idea of giving any single one person who came here illegally the ability to earn their legal status is a controversial thing with Republicans and with conservatives and the president is willing to bend and give in order to get something that he wants, which is real border security on the southern border.
CUOMO: Ana, do you think a deal gets done that has a pathway to citizenship?
NAVARRO: You know, I hope so, I hope so. Look, asking for $25 billion for a wall is a lot of ransom money when you are using the Dreamers as hostage. And I think a lot of people on the left, a lot of people who are immigration advocates, a lot of moderate Republicans who want to see the Dreamers get citizenship are willing to budge, despite fiscal conservative concerns, despite the concern of, you know, what does that mean? Why aren't we spending that money on the infrastructure? What does it mean regarding eminent domain on the border and how are we going to deal with those ranchers that have land there? There's a host of issues that come along with that. But people are willing to do that. The more problematic issues are the other two. The visa lottery and the family reunification or chain migration, depending on what side of the issue you're on, it's what you call it. I think they should go for a clean Dream Act for wall. People have moved on the wall. Donald Trump has --
CUOMO: All right, what about that idea, Matt, not going to happen. Why? Why isn't it good enough?
SCHLAPP: Well, because there are too many conservative Republicans, especially in the House, but also in the Senate, that they're not going to strike that deal, Chris.
CUOMO: Why? What's the rationale?
SCHLAPP: OK, because the rationale is the following, which is, we continue to allow people to come into this country, sometimes they get temporary protective status. And then there's an immediate pressure campaign to give them a pathway to citizenship. And also, when it comes to questions of chain migration, which is beyond the nuclear family. Let's make this clear, these are cousins, these are other --
CUOMO: A very few cases, very few cases.
SCHLAPP: Well, Chris, then they should be fine with doing this.
CUOMO: No, because you want to end it altogether.
NAVARRO: Listen, it includes --
SCHLAPP: Let me finish the answer.
NAVARRO: It includes --
NAVARRO: -- and include parents and it include siblings. There are no cousins included.
CUOMO: And you got a 5 million backlog of applications because it's so restrictive.
NAVARRO: It's a 15-year --
CUOMO: Hold on. Hold on. Matt, go ahead.
SCHLAPP: Yes, yes. If it's not very many cases, then this should be an easy thing for them to give in on.
CUOMO: No, because they don't want to get rid of it.
SCHLAPP: I know they don't. Well, then, they're not going to get a deal, Chris. So this is where we all are. You all think that the cause is the Dreamer cause. But there are a lot of us on the other side of this question who believe that like simply -- just like Ronald Reagan did in 1986, taking care of a population that is here illegally and giving them legal status without solving the fundamental problems in the immigration system and securing the southern border, we'll be right back here again and we'll be right back here again, and this is not a good way -- by the way, there are people waiting in line to be American citizens. They shouldn't be allowed to be cut in line by these other folks. It's not fair --
CUOMO: You guys want to reduce legal immigration, also, so they'll probably be in that line.
SCHLAPP: I don't. No, no, Chris. I don't. No, I don't. I'm part of a pro-immigration --
NAVARRO: OK, let me just say this --
[21:55:01] CUOMO: Ana, last word. We've got to go.
NAVARRO: There's a lot more that goes into fixing the immigration system, modernizing the immigration system, making it meet modern-day American demands than these four things.
NAVARRO: And so, you know, I'd say handle Dream Act and wall now and then go on to comprehensive immigration reform and handle the lottery visa and handle family reunification and handle all the other aspects.
CUOMO: I hear you. Let's leave it there, guys. We're going to have to see. Everybody says they're going to get something done by the deadline. We'll see what that is. Lady, gentlemen, thank you very much.
All right, a little bit of "Final Fact" action for you right after the break.
CUOMO: All right, "Final Fact." There's a lot of bad info about immigration out there. The crimes they commit are grossly exaggerated. Undocumented folks commit less crime than the rest of us. The cost/benefit ratio is backwards with the Dreamers. They put way more money than to the economy that they take out.
And then there's chain migration. A single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives that president said. That's wrong. Legal immigrants cannot sponsor distant relatives. Cousins for example are out of luck.
There's a 5 million-person backlog right now of just near-family, spouses, kids, because of the vetting. The question, why lie to paint an ugly portrait of immigrants? That's all for us tonight. Thank you for watching. Anderson Cooper is going to be back for a special edition of "AC 360" that starts right now.