Return to Transcripts main page
CUOMO PRIME TIME
Trump Moves Towards Releasing Memo, Hopes to Weaken Russia Probe; Pence Slams Manchin for Opposing GOP Tax Bill; Lawyers for Former Trump Campaign Aide Charged in Russia Probe Quit; WAPO: "Never Any Hesitation" by Trump to Release Memo. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired February 1, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: -- the memo and the pushback with that decision is growing. But that's just the surface. The real deal is to get deeper into the motivations and what's going to happen when this memo comes out. That's us tonight. Let's get after it.
I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "PRIME TIME".
Breaking news once again tonight, a bipartisan plea from senators urging President Trump to hold off on releasing the Republican intelligence memo and any effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller and his Russia investigation. But objectively, this president has great interest in doing exactly that. You will probably release the memo in the exact hope that it makes his base distrust anything that comes out from any branch of justice that is critical of him. Smart play for the President? Maybe. Bad move for you? Definitely. Why?
Once the administration of justice is a maybe in the minds of the American people, how much holds us together? That's the question.
We're about to go one-on-one with Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat on the intelligence committee and he's going to give us insight into the memo process. Remember, the Republicans haven't even let their Republican counterparts in the Senate Intelligence see the memo. We're also going to go one-on-one with the former Trump campaign advisor.
But let's begin with our mandate here. Facts first. There are concerns inside the White House that FBI Director Christopher Wray, remember, Trump's pick for being a cleansing agent that he may quit if the memo is made public. And that stands, "Raising hell among the Trump team." He is Trump's guy. Why would he defy Trump if he didn't really believe in his position? Deep state. He just got there.
The real question is why are these Republicans willing to push Trump's personal political interest at the cost of undermining the Department of Justice. Listen to Paul Ryan, speaker of the House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The more transparency the better so that the people of this country can see that their civil liberties are being protected, that the Constitution is being followed. That's why we think sunshine transparency and accountability is the correct antidote for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: They aren't doing any of that. Almost none of your law makers who voted for the memo have seen the actual basis for the conclusions in it. And none have seen the FISA application that they are claiming was manipulated by the FBI. Think about how backwards that is. Conclusions that you agree with before you know the facts that those conclusions are based on.
And you heard Paul Ryan there say it several times, they want transparency. If he wants transparency, why has he not called on the President to release his taxes? Why not say open your books, Mr. Trump? Open your private holdings so all these questions about money movements can be disinfected by the daylight of transparency. Why should you believe their intentions are in the interest of transparency when they ignore the President's profound lack of transparency?
Now, the larger question, could there be problems with how the FBI conducted surveillance on Trump folk or investigated Clinton? Absolutely. But this isn't how you root them out. Why not wait on the inspector general's report showing what was done and then release it to all of us. Why don't they do that? It seems because they want to control the message. And that is not about oversight. Those are the facts. That's the situation.
Let's take the breaking news. One-on-one with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a member of the intelligence committee.
Senator, I know there was bad weather. Thank you for making your way through it to be with us tonight.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's worth it, Chris. I'm glad to be with you.
CUOMO: Well, you are a good man to do that. All right. So let's put all t this to the test.
First, is it true that the House members on the intel committee there from the GOP did not let you guys see the memo, not even ranking member Senator Byrd, Republican?
MANCHIN: That's true. We have not. No one has seen that memo on this side.
Chris, the way that intelligence committee works on the Senate, we know it does not work on the House side from what Devin Nunes has done. He was sanctioned by his own committee to be off of the Russia investigation. He comes back and starts this own investigation on his own and he won't even reveal his sources.
We have nine different intelligence agencies that we cross check with to make sure that we're all in sync before anything is said, released or agreed upon. We don't come from the Senate side unless we have agreement in a bipartisan way.
[21:05:01] They're working in the House intelligence strictly on partisan, on a partisan participation. That is not how the intelligence committee on either side has been set up. And Devin Nunes, pardon the pun, he has neutered the confidence that people could have in the House intelligence committee. The Senate intelligence committee under Chairman Burr from North Carolina Republicans and Ranking Member Mark Warner from Virginia, basically are working together and they will work together. And we will come out with our findings working together. Not trying to defeat each other individually.
I cannot believe how they're operating and under the guidelines, they were all supposed to operate under, trying to come to the facts and the findings that we have released to the people. They have confidence in. It's just absolutely unbelievable to me.
CUOMO: Dysfunction, one sided, power play. It's not going to be new to people, unfortunately. However, what will be new is whatever is in that memo. And once it is opened up like Pandora's box, you are not going to shut it up again, not by having some competing Democrat memo, not by fact findings from the Senate intel committee. What happens if when the memo comes out, you have a sizable portion of people largely who will also identify as having voted for President Trump who say I don't trust the FBI. They were in cohoots to help Clinton and hurt my president, I doesn't trust the administration of justice.
MANCHIN: Chris, the only think I can say is I've been on intelligence committee, I've been on the Armed Services Committee for six years, I am so thankful and so appreciative of the intelligence committee, the judicial system, the FBI, the CIA and all the people that protect us every day and do up and beyond what anyone can even imagine that they do to keep us safe. And I would just say if you don't then you haven't spent enough time with them. If you don't believe that the sincerity and the professionalism that that have is real, then go out and spend some time before you start talking and degrade him.
These people do not do this for fame or fortune, Chris. I can assure you. They can all do an awful lot better financially if they go into the private sector. These are true patriots. I respect them. Bob Mueller is by far the most respected person that we have in the judicial community that both sides will agree upon. And I'll pray to the good Lord that the President or his administration does not move Bob Mueller, does not try to remove him any way, shape or form. Because you will see, I truly believe in my heart, that you will see Democrats and Republicans coming together as Americans and doing their job in the Senate and in the House. I really believe that.
CUOMO: Look at the -- just look at how the dominos are lined up here. And again, you know, statement against self-interest. I'm in the business of checking the FBI and calling out when they do things wrong and, you know, their choices and their methods. That's what we do it all the time. It's possibility of it being not done the right way in all cases. But once this memo comes out and says they were cheating on FISA, they were subverting that process and they were doing it to help Clinton, boom, that falls. So if that process was manipulated and those people were involved in the Mueller investigation, how can we trust that? And look at those lawyers they put around them, Senator, who donated money to Clinton, he put together a Clinton committee there just like what was going on in the FBI. I can't trust them. Anything that comes out of this committee is tainted. Then what?
MANCHIN: Chris, as soon as Mr. Mueller found out anybody had any connection or ties whatsoever, he eliminated. They were removed. And when they keep talking about all of the things that we can't believe or can believe or who's trying to sway each other, the facts are pretty direct in what we have in front of us to work with. You can't make this stuff up. You really can't. And I tell people you're entitled to your own opinion. And I know the theories that people have out there and all the paranoia going on. You're just not entitled to your facts.
CUOMO: Yes. But they fixed that --
MANCHIN: You can't make this stuff up.
CUOMO: They fixed it, Joe. That's what this memo is about, Senator. They can have their own facts. They have Gowdy and a couple others going there, look at the body of evidence. They put together their memo, they close off opposition. They get it to the President, they release it to the people and now, you have a narrative that is constructed by them for their own purposes. They are having their own opinion and they're having their own facts.
MANCHIN: Chris, let met -- let me say this, Chris. If anything comes out of intelligence or Armed Services that's not bipartisan, don't believe it. If we can't come to agreement in those very, very restricted confines that we work in, that the public never gets to see and we can't -- we're not worried about the cameras, we're not worried about the hype of politics of being Democrat or Republican, we're worried about the facts, the security of our country, if you see something coming out of a committee and I will say the two -- well, three committees almost.
[21:10:14] You have Foreign Relations, you have Armed Services and you have Intel, anything that comes out of those committees on a partisan basis only with Democrats or Republicans, something's wrong, something --
CUOMO: All right.
MANCHIN: Something happened and they're playing politics. That's what I would tell you.
CUOMO: All right. So people have heard that. I mean, look, that's what the show is about, right, is giving you the chance to speak to people. I'm just an intermediary. But know I'm going to have a conversation with you, Senator, that I wouldn't have with you in person because I'd be afraid you'd slap me around. I know you from your time as governor. I watched you hold that together in the midst of crisis by getting people to stay together even though when they hate it, some of the people on the ground for what was going on. You've tried to bring that to Congress in the Senate, bipartisanship. Standing against your own when you need to, standing with your side when you have to.
CUOMO: And where is that gotten you, Joe Manchin? You stand up, you tell the Democrats they should have respected the President. You tell them that they have to be more open mind about what works and what doesn't. The vice president of the United States goes down where you are going to be in a knife fight for your seat and this is what he says. Run the sound of Vice President Pence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I looked him in the eye and I told him, I said Joe the people of the Mountain State are counting on you. And I said let's get this tax cut done together. But Joe voted no. Joe voted no to give working families more of your hard-earned money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Forget about the fact that that's not true what that tax bill is going to do for your people. I've done my homework. That was your reward for standing up and saying Democrats should respect the President. The Vice President goes down there and undercuts you in your home state. What does that tell you?
MANCHIN: It tells you basically the leadership that we have in Vice President Mike Pence. You know, I -- he's been a governor. I was a governor of my state. Never once did I ever attack a Republican because I was a Democrat governor. I looked at them as West Virginians. I needed them to help my state and work together and fix our state and we always did that.
When he comes, at first it was unbelievable, Mike -- or Chris, is that Mike Pence comes to West Virginia two days after the President gives the State of the Union speech talking about how we should get together in a bipartisan way. Now, he spoke about Joe Manchin did not vote to repeal the horrible Affordable Care Act. Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Vice President, I'm not going to throw 200,000 West Virginians off of health care because you just don't like it and you're trying to keep a political promise.
You -- why don't we sit down and fix it in a bipartisan way? There's nothing that you have done since you have been vice president to work in a bipartisan way. You talk a good game but you don't sit down and work. And I give you the examples. They try -- they couldn't even get 51 Republicans. They lost three Republicans on trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
As soon as that was defeated, Chris, we had 12 Democrats and 12 Republicans co-sponsor a bill with Lamar Alexander a Republican fixing the health care bill. And Mitch McConnell has held that up. We haven't been able to vote on it. Help was there Mr. Vice President. Let's fix something.
Then he talks about Joe Manchin did not vote for the tax cuts. I worked with 21 different meetings with the -- with his administration, with Mr. Vice President and the Republican administration. I worked with them through this entire process. I met with them. I gave them four different proposals.
MANCHIN: And I spoke to my friends the night before. And I said, you know, before we throw caution to the wind, we have never in the history of the United States ever started out thinking we have an extra $1.5 trillion of debt. You put all of the importance as far as the permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and the largest corporations. You left the average West Virginia working person with a temporary tax.
And on top of that, to add insult to injury, Mr. Vice President, you went ahead and repealed the mandate which was unraveled the whole health care. So you're still determined to throw all these West Virginians, hundreds of thousands off of health care.
You're right, Mr. Vice President, I did not vote for that because it's not good for West Virginia. And you should not come to my state saying that you know what's best for my state when you would do everything you could to harm my state.
CUOMO: So when it comes to what will work down there, we'll split the difference, Senator. It's hard for me to agree that reaching out to the other side will get anything done in this current tribal environment.
[21:15:02] But I do agree with you 100% when you said that this type of behavior going there undercutting somebody who wants to work with you, that is what makes Washington suck to borrow your phase.
Senator Manchin, thank you for coming on to address the American people.
MANCHIN: Chris, if I can say --
MANCHIN: -- Chris, if I can say just one thing.
CUOMO: Yes, sir.
MANCHIN: You know, I worked with Susan Collins, my dear friend Susan Collins. In 2013, they shut down government. My Republican friend shut it down. I thought it was wrong then. Susan and I got the common sense coalition. We made it back. We opened it back up. They shut it down again and the Democrats I thought were wrong to do what they did, but they did it. We opened it back up. We're working together.
The Vice President should be working with us in a bipartisan way and coming down here and attacking the person, me, who have voted more as far as in the centers, 54% of the votes I voted with Republican administration because I want to get things done. And if I can explain it I can vote for it. What he has accused me of I can explain that to West Virginians because it just doesn't make sense.
CUOMO: But that's how things are right now. And I remember 2013, it was Joe Manchin walking tall and Susan Collins carrying the talking stick. Thank you very much for being with us, Senator. I'll speak to you again soon.
MANCHIN: You got it.
CUOMO: All right. We have more breaking news for you tonight in the Russia investigation. The old legal team is out. One of Trump's former campaign ads -- aides, his name is Rick Gates, his new team was seen at the building where the special council works. Does it mean that he's ready to make a deal. We take you inside, next.
[21:20:11] CUOMO: Questions, why did former Trump aide Rick Gates change lawyers. Why did his attorneys only offer their reasons for withdrawing under seal meaning privately. And this memo, is it going to make things better or worse? Great topics for a great debate. Let's bring in CNN contributor and former Obama White House Ethics czar, Norman Eisen and CNN legal commentator and former Trump House -- Trump White House lawyer, Jim Schultz.
Gentlemen, thank you once again. Norman Eisen, you heard those questions. Gates changing his legal team, what's your theory?
NORMAN EISEN, NORMAN EISEN: Well, Chris, thanks for having me back again. My theory is that there's a smell of a plea bargain in the Washington air tonight. There could be a lot of other explanations, Chris.
CUOMO: What are they? What are the other ones?
EISEN: Well, sometimes lawyers and their clients don't get along. They see the strategy differently. They have a difference on a question of ethics. Gates, we know, got a little bit of trouble for appearing in a video to raise money for his defense. Maybe he's running short on cash. He has a new lawyer, Tom Green. One of the toughest negotiators of plea deals in Washington. He's been seen going in and out of the special counsel's headquarters and just like we had these signs with Michael Flynn, Chris, when Mr. Kelner, Flynn's lawyer was seen there at Mueller HQ. I think there could be plea talks going on.
CUOMO: All right. So what do you think, Jim? He says he smells a deal, a smell in the air. I only smell my floor manager Kevin. He's got like a jasmine kind of patchouli thing going. What do you think this means? JIM SCHULTZ, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, there are three things. I think Norm is right about three of the issues. One is there's sometimes the client doesn't have the money to pay the bill, right? Doesn't have the green to do it. Two, that there's some disagreement between the lawyers on -- between the lawyer and the client on strategy. Three, that there's some conflict of interest or some issue that prevents the lawyers from going forward.
This is all under seal. We don't know what it is, Chris. But it could also mean that the strategy is to go harder and not make a plea deal. Tom Green is known as a very, very tough trial lawyer as well. So I think it's purely speculative whether a deal is in the works because they could just be going into Mueller and tell him no deal. We're going to court.
CUOMO: You know what? I hear you both. Very reasonable. I'm unsatisfied. We don't know enough to make this interesting. Let's talk about something else. The memo, if it is true the reporting and the President has looked at it or been briefed on it and wants to release it, Norman Eisen, when this memo comes out, does it make the situation better or worse?
EISEN: Chris, this memo is going to be a gigantic belly flop in the Potomac. When people come out and see as we have been hearing more and more details coming out because so many members of Congress have seen it, there's no basis for the allegations. They haven't examined the underlying evidence.
Mr. Trump's own FBI saying that the memo is misleading. The let down is going to be so severe. I think people are going to be disappointed and angry at this political game -- playing political games to try to lash out at the Russia investigation, this pattern over and over again, unfounded allegations. It's so disappointing, Chris. And I think there's going to be anger.
CUOMO: Well, for all your high dodging, Jim Schulz has a smile on his face like when I realized my kids forgot one slice of pizza. So why are you so happy?
SCHULZ: I'm just entertained by Norm. But I'll tell you, this is oversight. This is what the executive branch and the legislative branch of government do all the time. The legislative branch ask questions to the executive branch. The FBI is part of the executive branch. You know, no one has ever accused Paul Ryan -- Speaker Ryan of doing President Trump's bidding. On this one he agrees. He agrees that transparency is necessary. He's certainly seen the memo.
CUOMO: All right, question. First because that Paul Ryan thing, that threw me, Jim. I was kind of zoning out but now I'm back. Paul Ryan is all about transparency. He won't even tell Trump to release his taxes. This isn't oversight. This is out of sight. They wouldn't let the Democrats have their memo come out. They won't show it to the Senate Republicans. It just wreaks. It talks a smell in the air.
Jim, how does this not wreak of political opportunism and run around the intelligence community? Trump's own guy saying don't do this. It's the wrong way. How is that disinfecting transparency?
SCHULTZ: Look, you have the FBI and you have the rest of the -- and some of the intelligence community coming out against the release of this memo.
[21:25:04] But what you also have is the intelligence committee on the Republican side --
CUOMO: Of the House.
SCHULTZ: -- in the House.
CUOMO: Just the House. They won't show it to their Senate colleagues in their own party, Jim.
SCHULTZ: But it's still the intelligence committee. They have credibility. That staff has credibility. And if they've determined that it's the right thing for the American people that the American people see this then that's well within their right to do in their role as an oversight -- in their oversight role and a legislator.
CUOMO: But, Norm, the American people are only going to see they're reckoning of it. Jim says we see this all the time. I would counter to you. We've never seen it. They say, well, maybe with a torch (ph) or memo. The signs didn't line up the way they are right now. We've never seen in our lifetime the Congress go around the intelligence community to force one version of something on a judicial application that they haven't even seen.
EISEN: Chris, it's shocking. I don't even know if the majority is going to be allowed to keep the name intelligence in the title of their committee after what they've done here. If they had credibility it was shot long ago when Devin Nunes took his first midnight run to the White House to coordinate stories with the President. He's acting as as much of an advocate for the President as Jim was when he was his lawyer in the White House.
If the intelligence committee were serious, here's what they would do. There's a DOJ inspector general who has the clearances and the expertise to look at this. Refer it to him. He'll come back with a straight up answer. The IGs are independent. DOJ has one of the best. Or best of all, there's a FISA court. There's a court that oversees these warrants. Go to the court. Make your claim to the court. Have the court look. But why aren't they doing that? Because they know they're going to get booted from both of those independent reviews. So they're taking the cheap shot here but it's going to have huge blow back on them. It's a disgrace and it's a sad day for our country.
CUOMO: Go ahead, Jim, final point.
SCHULTZ: I wonder if it was a different topic if Norm would be saying the same thing that if we were talk about some other issue in the executive branch that the Democrats wanted to have oversight on and we're seeking information and trying to publish information, if he would be doing -- saying the same thing. It's just entirely different.
CUOMO: Hold on a second. I'll tell you what. I don't disagree with that. The hypocrisy is obvious. It's right now in this instant circumstance it's on the Republican side. I'm not saying that both sides aren't capable of this. It's just what's happening right now.
And one clarification, Norm, you know this. Jim Schultz, he didn't represent the President. He represented the White House and he was working under the Constitution and we respect you for your service to the country. And I appreciate you being with us here tonight. Norm, I say it every time, you get the best hair in the business. And, Jim, you have a beautiful head. I'll see you later.
EISEN: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: Now, why are we pushing back on Jim Schultz' record in here? Well, there's an intelligence to his position but the facts lead us in a little bit of a different direction. Our sources say President Trump has been calling friends saying the memo would expose FBI bias against him. So that's the motivation, not just oversight. And that balance against grave concerns from his own FBI director. What does that mean?
Up next, we go one-on-one with a Trump insider, Michael Caputo. He's looking there like he's the anchor of this show. He has seen all of this. Can he make the case to you that it's the right move?
[21:32:30] CUOMO: All right. Let's get more now on the breaking news. President Trump supposedly moving closer tonight to releasing the GOP memo he hopes will undermine special Counsel Bob Mueller's Russia investigation. Let's be honest. And that is despite increasingly dire warnings from the Justice Department of the damage that such a move might do. Speculative as well.
Let's go one-on-one with former Trump campaign senior advisor, Michael Caputo.
It's good to have you. Thank you very much.
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Thanks for having me, Chris.
CUOMO: Nothing intimidating about a skull ring on your finger. So the President wants to do this, my supposition based on the facts as we understand them. He doesn't like that investigation. This will show that some of the investigating done at the FBI level was engineered against him. So fact though, you can't trust what comes out if it's negative about me. Is that the right move?
CAPUTO: I don't think it's true what you're saying. I don't believe that at all. And I'll tell you why. As someone who's, you know, kind of in this jackpot, you know, I've already testified before the House Intelligence Committee. I've been called to testify before the Senate Intelligence and Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Intel twice. You know, there are a lot of us that are trying to figure out what's at the bottom of this.
You know, I quit the campaign in June of 2016. I worked and lived in Russia in the '90s. But somehow I'm being called in front of all these congressional committees, which by the way, cost 20 to $30,000 each time you go because you can't go unrepresented even if you're just the witness. You've got to be well represented. There are a lot of us, not just those of us in the jackpot but people who have been following this Department of Justice since the Obama administration. We watched, for example, you know, the former secretary of -- former attorney general on the tarmac of the airport in Phoenix --
CUOMO: With Clinton.
CAPUTO: -- with Bill Clinton.
CUOMO: Bad move. Made it wind up turning over the rains to Comey to make a decision, not just whether or not there was material for a prosecution but --
CUOMO: -- prosecute unusual. But you're making a key distinction here.
CAPUTO: I'm just saying I can go through the whole list but there's a litany of things that look bad and smell bad. And if this memo exposes this as crimes, I want prosecutions. I want to lock them up.
CUOMO: But there's a big if. Look, here's the first problem. OK. If that's what you want, this isn't the way to go about it because it's so unilateral. So when it comes out, this isn't going to lead to that kind of action. It's going to lead to push back and political warfare because that's what starting at. It's not starting as bipartisan. I did not start against an independent. So tactically, that's why it draws criticism for me.
[21:35:00] Now, you say I've been in front of all these committees.
CAPUTO: I've been in front of one. I'm on my way to others.
CUOMO: Fair point. And no reason and it's not right to talk to you about that question but those are politicians.
CUOMO: Those are politicians.
CAPUTO: It's a political prosecution.
CUOMO: And let me tell you, I do not see a potential for oversight. Maybe Senate Intel, reserve judgment there. They haven't been doing what everybody else is doing. Completely divided, bricks of politics. That's not the FBI. That's not Mueller. That's not the DOJ. Those are the politicians. On the FBI level, that's the suggestion they're making right now, the FISA application. Michael, think about it, if I came to you and said the Democrats were doing this, and they're putting out this memo but most of the people haven't seen the fact basis for it but they believe in the conclusions. And this judicial proceeding that they say was totally (INAUDIBLE) with the political advantage, none of them have read the application. What would you say?
CAPUTO: Do you find that unusual that a congressman wouldn't read something?
CUOMO: In this kind of context.
CAPUTO: I don't. I don't because if you're looking --
CUOMO: Subverting the justice system like this?
CAPUTO: The underlying documents, dozens and dozens of documents, and have multiple, multiple pages. And the congressman as usual will depend upon their staff to deal with that stuff and they read the summaries.
Now, in the intelligence committee, I met with them. I met some of their staff. On the Republican side. I have complete confidence in the people.
CUOMO: Why won't they show their Senate colleagues?
CAPUTO: Listen, if you think that's the first time a House committee would not show a Senate committee even on their own political side, anything, I mean, these guys have always been, you know -- when I worked in Congress they were arguing amongst each other.
CUOMO: Why won't you let this Democrat memo come out?
CAPUTO: I think they will. I think they will.
CUOMO: They just voted to put it through a process so it doesn't come out at the same time.
CAPUTO: You're talking about timing, the same process that the Republican memo --
CUOMO: Timing is everything.
CAPUTO: It is. It is. And the Democrats probably should have gotten to start on that memo a little bit soon.
CUOMO: It couldn't have gotten started with it until they understood there was another one and this was kept from them.
CAPUTO: I want to see both memos. I understand that there's a timing problem for the Democrats. But let me just tell you this, Chris. CUOMO: Go ahead.
CAPUTO: I find it rather interesting that people are up in arms about, you know, there's a damage to national security. The one sided nature of this when, you know, the media and the Democrats have been living on leaks that are filled with national security information and one sided information for over a year now. And for some reason, this memo is over the top compared to really important intelligence information that's been spilled out in the media because, you know, in way to attack the President.
CUOMO: Well, I would ask you to point out an example of something that's leaked out that is tantamount to what they're going to say about a FISA proceeding.
CUOMO: What has leaked out? And I've got nothing has come from Mueller except crumbs that are meaningless. That's why whenever people say we see no evidence of collusion, that is a true comma but, right?
CUOMO: True. I haven't seen any comma but, I don't think that Mueller has.
CAPUTO: But, you know, Mueller -- I mean Mueller's reputation is and I believe he's still that way. He thinks leaks are just, you know, the crime of century. I believe that --
CUOMO: So then you're fortifying my point.
CAPUTO: I don't think Mueller --
CUOMO: We don't have any idea.
CAPUTO: I have a problem with people around Mueller, I mean, in the past, who have been a part of this thing. I have a problem, you know, even with Chris Wray, who in December dissembled and avoided questioning and basically stonewalled Congress on the Senate side.
CUOMO: Chris Wray just got there. He was brought in by the President to be a cleansing agent.
CAPUTO: But if you saw some of the coverage afterward, especially on "The Wall Street Journal", you saw that he was dancing around and trying not to answer questions, telling them he didn't even think he could bring a FISA warrant to discuss it with them even though they were the chief oversight committee for FISA.
CUOMO: Because he's respecting the protocols of that particular procedure.
CAPUTO: This has been stonewalling since --
CUOMO: But why would Christopher Wray have any inside to stonewall when he was put there as a cleansing agent?
CAPUTO: I don't know. (INAUDIBLE) and I find these people really unusual to begin with.
CUOMO: Trump picked him. I said he is of high honor and integrity.
CAPUTO: And the President has regretted some of his other picks as well.
CUOMO: But all of them?
CAPUTO: Not all of them.
CUOMO: Because Christopher Wray comes -- Rod Rosenstein comes and say don't do it this way. Why not wait for the inspector general --
CUOMO: -- to come out from the FBI.
CUOMO: What about the IG report? Let it come out, see what --
CUOMO: If you don't want to just engineer the politics and the narrative, what other reasons? Is there a not a wait and do it that way.
CAPUTO: I understand that buy at this point in time I think there's so many things going on that are questionable and this investigation, in all these investigations. I'm excited to see this memo. I think we need the memo. I think we need both memos as soon as the Democrats go through --
CUOMO: And then what?
CAPUTO: And then -- you know, we decide. There are some --
CUOMO: Decide what?
CAPUTO: There are some that are saying that the charges could be brought from this panel.
CUOMO: On what basis?
CAPUTO: I don't know. I haven't seen it.
CUOMO: There's no jurisdiction.
CAPUTO: And by the way, Chris, as someone who worked in Congress --
CUOMO: Wait. Hold on. Just to understand what you're saying, because I've heard others say it as well, there can't be charges come from a memo that the Department of Justice doesn't accept as legitimate. It doesn't work that way. It will not happen.
[21:40:03] CAPUTO: I understand that this is an iterative (ph) process. I think we can get closer and closer to finding --
CAPUTO: We can get closer and closer to what happened. And if we understand what happen was completely ethical and not illegal then to be it. But if somebody was using Democrat opposition research in order to get a FISA warrant on somebody who work for the president and then grew that out into a massive surveillance operation. Chris, I was unmasked. I don't have any idea why I was unmasked. That means my wife was unmasked. My father, an insurance agent, was unmasked.
CUOMO: And you know the protocols are very specific for when that happens.
CAPUTO: But we also know those protocols were very relaxed --
CUOMO: We do not know that.
CAPUTO: We know that Samantha Power herself did not do a lot of her own FISA -- a lot of her own unmasking. But Some of her staff did it. I mean --
CAPUTO: That's not true. When it comes FISA -- the FISA court has not been around for decades and decades.
CAPUTO: This is a process that a lot of us are very uncomfortable with, especially on a libertarian --
CUOMO: That's a different conversation.
CAPUTO: But -- hold on, hold on. If the FISA process is being corrupted by political appointees because the Department of Justice was weaponized (ph) and the FBI is politicized --
CUOMO: That would be wrong.
CAPUTO: -- then it's wrong. Why don't you want to know?
CUOMO: No. It's not that I don't want to know.
CAPUTO: You don't want to know this way. CUOMO: And so you're not going to tell me, is that there's a toxic conclusion and I'm not going to know the basis for it no matter what when this memo comes out. That's the concern. But you know what we're going to have to do? We're going to have to wait and see and then we're going to get back after.
CAPUTO: Good to see you, Chris.
CUOMO: Michael, thank you for being with me. Appreciate it.
All right. There's more news for you tonight. This is actually breaking on our watch. The President's mindset on the memo. We're getting the "Washington Post" reporter who broke a story. He's going to be on the phone. That's up next.
[21:45:41] CUOMO: We know a lot of the what here. What's going on with the memo, what's being done to get it out? It's the why that is so confounding and so important. Breaking news tonight on President Trump and what his thinking on the Nunes memo is.
"Washington Post" report, CNN analyst, Josh Dawsey has a byline on this story and he's on the phone with us right now.
Josh, what did you learn?
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: So we kind of trace back the arc of the memo in how the President gave about in a couple of weeks ago in a call with some Republican lawmakers who said listen President Trump, you should declassify this memo. Then over time, he repeatedly watched television shows where Republicans like Trey Gowdy, Mark Meadows and others were on the air, including on CNN talking about the need to release it and the President became convinced that it would be good counsel for him that's get the Russia investigation.
As he said repeatedly, he thinks that the investigation is a witch hunt. He thinks it's a hoax. And he think that the action taken here by Rod Rosenstein, who's the deputy attorney general who's supervising Bob Mueller, the special counsel that was portrayed in the memo are going to paint him up in a bad light and (INAUDIBLE) out the Justice Department.
And so the President even this week has been warned by FBI Director Christopher Wray, Justice Department officials, intelligence officials, you know, of the risk of releasing this memo, the caution he should take. And he's been pretty resolute that, you know, he's going to release the memo one way or the other.
CUOMO: Josh Dawsey, thank you very much. So not only have we heard that the FBI Director that Trump chose, that he may quit over what's going on right now but now Josh Dawsey with "The Washington Post" and one of our analysts is reporting that there's concern that what's in the memo about Rod Rosenstein, another choice of the President, may force him out of the DOJ. Who will be left? Our thanks to Josh Dawsey.
Let's take this breaking news into tonight's great debate with CNN political commentators, Symone Sanders and Jack Kingston.
Jack, is there a concern in your smile that the President has the FBI Director on shaky ground about what's happening, that Rod Rosenstein, again, both of these guys, his choice, maybe on shaky ground? Is this memo worth about displacing his own people?
JACK KINGSTON, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, I don't know about them being on shaky ground. What I do know about is I have spoken personally to many members of Congress who are on this committee who have read this memo and they're not hot headed people. I understand that their suspicion on the left about some of them but people like Peter King, who is one of your frequent guests, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Michael Conaway, Will Hurd, these are not the hard right of the Republican Party.
These are people who frequently criticize and vote against President Trump. But they are absolutely appalled in what they have learned about the FISA abuses under a select few in the FBI, apparently under the other administration and perhaps to weaponize the power of the FBI for political reasons. These are not -- and let me underscore, I know these people well, they are not hot headed people. They are very thoughtful people.
SYMONE SANDERS, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, SANDERS CAMPAIGN: So if I may?
CUOMO: Let me yield time to my friend.
SANDERS: If I may, no one saying --
CUOMO: Never yield. Go ahead, Symone.
SANDERS: I think the real issue here is, OK, no one is saying that they're hot headed individuals. But these folks along with Speaker Ryan are aiding and abetting in the eroding of institutions and doing Donald Trump's bidding.
The fact of the matter here is if the committee -- the intel committee, which used to be a very highbrow, bipartisan committee that was interested in doing the real work of protecting our institutions against threats and working well with the intel community, if they're interested in doing the work, they will release the Democratic memo as well. They are not doing that.
If the FBI, the Trump's Justice Department, as he likes to call it, are all saying this should not be released, I mean I think folks are playing politics with our institutions. These are just Republican talking points.
KINGSTON: No. I know you love that expression but let me say this, Symone. I have served in the legislative branch. I'm very loyal to the legislative branch. So I have a bias. But I can tell you, we routinely fight with the executive branch over information, over direction of policies, over drug approval, over roads, over intersections --
[21:50:02] SANDERS: Right. That's fair.
KINGSTON: I mean -- and so -- and I could tell you, the Bush administration was just as difficult as the Obama or the Clinton administration of whom I also served. You could not get information from them. In this case, remember, the FBI ignored subpoenas and frankly --
CUOMO: There was a reason for it, Jack. They -- it wasn't -- there's no understanding of any deceptive intent by them. They were trying to protect protocols. Here's my question. Here's my question. Jack --
KINGSTON: We've gone through protocol, though.
CUOMO: I get -- no, I get that they are requesting it the right way. I'm saying that's why the DOJ says that they were resistant. That's why Wray went to the President to talk to him about them. So I don't see that as deceptive intent. I haven't seen proof of it, anyway. But here's my question. I was actually thinking while you guys were talking. I get what you're saying, I know Will Hurd, I know Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and she'll be a loss to you, guys. Peter King, I grew up with most of my life, although, he called me a bias left, which is a little hurtful.
KINGSTON: Yes. But you complimented his hair. I was watching.
CUOMO: That's because I don't return fire that way. I'm never in it for the hostility. I see that as weakness in argument when you have to come at me. But here's my question. If the concern is valid, if this memo shows arguable breaches of protocol by people in the FBI, why would you go about exposing it this way when you have to know it will frustrate your very intentions of any action thereon?
Because once this memo drops, it is seen as a one-sided forced narrative. The DOJ is uncomfortable with it and believes it is inaccurate. So the idea that charges will come from it, how? The DOJ isn't going to take this up. So why do it this way if you have legitimate concerns? Why not put out the IG report, independent, depth, time, let it come out, expose that, and then act on it politically? Doing it this way seems to frustrate the very intentions you're speaking to.
KINGSTON: Well, I believe the IG report would have a lot of redacted information and people would not be able to understand that. Therefore, the committee according to rules and procedures voted on it and now the President who, by the way, as you know, can declassify anything that he wants to. Now, we're going through the right process on it.
But I think that they really believe that there were absolutely civil liberties that were violated and that's where things are going to change. I think when people, for example, one of the most famous Democrats in the fruited plain --
SANDERS: But why can't we see the Democratic memo? Why can't we not see the memo from the Democrats on the committee?
KINGSTON: You know, Symone, let me finish this sentence. I'll answer that. Alan Dershowitz who is a very liberal Hillary Clinton supporting Democrat --
CUOMO: But that's his politics, not his jurisprudence.
KINGSTON: Symone --
SANDERS: Hold on. Hold on.
CUOMO: Dershowitz votes for Democrats. I know the Professor very well. He votes for Democrats but he argues for either side. He really does. I know -- you know -- go ahead.
KINGSTON: And I think what's going to happen is people who have -- has spent a career champion civil liberties. And I want to say this to both of you, I'm always very suspicious of the intel committee. I think they withhold information from the Congress and the public all the time. We were told, for example, that we were not -- there was no metadata that was being collected.
SANDERS: Chris --
KINGSTON: And you remember that. One of the heads of intelligence said that and the Senate Committee said it to Senator Ron Wyden, said, no, we're not collecting that data.
KINGSTON: But let me say this, Symone. I think we could release the Democrat memo. I'm not against that.
CUOMO: It should happen and the fact that it didn't is really speaking that incentive I talked to you about, doing it this way undermines the intentions no matter how genuine you say they are. Symone, final word.
SANDERS: "The Washington Post" editorial board is out today saying that -- tonight saying Speaker Ryan is aiding and abetting and the tarnishing of the United States House of Representatives, the high bar of this committee. I just have questions. Devin Nunes recused himself, what happened to the recusal, where is the Democratic memo? And if this information is so egregious, why are so many people coming out and saying that it is harmful to our institutions, it's not helpful to the investigation? This looks like Republicans on this committee are doing the bidding of Donald Trump, and that has issues. That's problematic. That's not bipartisan. And that's not in the best interest of figuring out and combating the fact that Russia interfered in our election. That's a bipartisan --
CUOMO: All right, fair points on both sides. Let's leave it there. And unfortunately, we're not going to know more until this memo drops. And that will probably be very soon. Lady, gentleman, thank you. KINGSTON: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Stick around. We have a special final fact next. Guaranteed to tell you at least one thing you don't already know.
[21:58:19] CUOMO: All right. Tonight is not a final fact. It's more of a final feeling. Not like the Boston song. This is coming directly from me. You guys surprised me with how you responded here to this series, not just the ratings but the resonance, the questions, the concerns, the criticisms. I ask you every night and in the morning to get after it and you did.
For example, today our youngest, Carolina, we call her Chacha. She turns -- look at that. If I look at that too long, I'll cry. So I'm with her for her birthday, right? And a guy comes up to me and he says I don't like how you push sometimes. But it always makes me think, that is perfect, that's all I want.
Popularity is a waste of time for a journalist. But to put stuff out there that makes you think about what you know, that's a gift. That's a value. Too many people are seeking an echo of what they already believe. I cannot give you that. And the truth is, you shouldn't want it. Not only is the truth more complex than partisan pundits make it, but why be one of the folks who says, I couldn't care less what other people think.
Pop always told me, listen hard, really hard, to the other side. That's how you know for sure when you're right, and you know how to improve when you're not. Also, I have a secret to tell you. I have worn the same thing every damn night of this series. Only like a dozen of you noticed. Why? Because I dig the look, but also to make a point about what matters. I focus on what I ask, and the work is what matters. That's how we provide value to you. Not by what we wear. That's silly.
So I want to say thank you to you for watching this, giving me the opportunity to burn the candle at both ends. I'm happy I did it to test power for you. I thank the people here who gave you the facts first. They worked very hard. And I appreciate everything that this opportunity brought us. So thanks for tonight.