Return to Transcripts main page
CUOMO PRIME TIME
Interview with Sarah Huckabee Sanders; Discussion of Immigration Policies; Interview with Sen. Charles Schumer. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 6, 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: I am Chris Cuomo. We're in Washington, D.C. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
The White House, stories keep changing on material facts, pressure keeps mounting from the Mueller probe. In the thick of it all, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. We're going to go one-on-one with her in just moments.
But also tonight, a spicy sit down with Senate Democratic leader with Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, testing the notion that Democrats deserve to be in the majority.
And outrage erupts after the attorney general argues that it is necessary to separate kids as young as infants from their parents at the border. What do you say?
Let's get after it.
CUOMO: Got to say it, the relationship between the press and the White House sucks. Sorry, but that is the truth.
Here is a moment that really captures the state of play.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Frankly, I think my credibility is probably higher than the media's. And I think that in large part, that's because you guys spend more of your time focused on attacking the president instead of reporting the news. I think that if you spent a little bit more time reporting the news instead of trying to tear me down, you might actually see that we're working hard trying to provide you good information and trying to provide that same good information to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. So, where are we now?
We're frozen over that 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The media can't stop asking about the obvious truth abuse. The White House hasn't given an inch. Well, tonight, we have a unique opportunity to get past this moment. The most visible member of the administration outside of the president himself is Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and she is here.
Sarah, it is good to see you.
SANDERS: Good to see you.
CUOMO: I respect you taking the opportunity.
SANDERS: Thank you. Thanks for being in D.C.
CUOMO: Well, I came for you.
What do you think about this as a positive pivot? Let's take a look at this situation and see if we can get to a place, mutual respect, both sides think credibility counts, and we move forward. What do you say?
SANDERS: All right. We'll give it a shot.
CUOMO: All right. Where's the sticking point? This meeting matters, you know it does. I understand the reference to counsel. I get it. Not just because I'm an attorney, but you don't want to answer for the lawyers, you don't want to answer for an operation that you're not a part of. I get it.
But you can answer for what you said. You don't have to refer to counsel for that. Sekulow is not your lawyer. He's the president's lawyer. You're saying, he didn't dictate this. He did what any father would do.
That turns out not to be true. You agree with that?
SANDERS: Once again, I know I answered this question on Monday. I answered it on Tuesday, and I'm going to answer it the same way today and you're probably not going to like it anymore on Wednesday than it sounds like you liked it on Monday or Tuesday. But this is a legal matter and the appropriate individuals to answer questions on a legal matter are the outside counsel.
And I would direct you to them. And frankly, I did direct you to them. And you had them here on your set and asked them that question and I would refer you back to that statement.
CUOMO: I get it. I didn't have them. But I understand what you're saying about CNN.
Why is it a legal matter, what you said?
SANDERS: Again, this is an illegal process and I would refer you to the appropriate venue to answer questions on a legal back and forth. And that is the president's outside counsel. And that's who you should ask those questions of.
CUOMO: So, even -- SANDERS: If you guys want to talk about questions that have to do
with White House policy and substantive policy, I'm happy to try to answer those and do the best I can to provide you that information. If you want to talk about things that don't have anything to do with me and that are the venue of --
CUOMO: Except it does, right, because this is what you said.
SANDERS: -- the outside counsel, that's who should answer those questions.
CUOMO: I get it. I get that that's the answer. But you also get it's unsatisfying, right? That's why we're frozen.
SANDERS: I mean, I don't understand having to answer the same question over and over and over again.
CUOMO: Because you haven't answered it. That's why.
CUOMO: In all due respect, it's because you didn't answer.
SANDERS: No, that's not true. I've answered it, you just didn't like the answer. There's a big difference between me answering it and you not liking the answer.
CUOMO: There can be -- no, fair point. There can be a difference. However, I don't know that there is here, because this is about something you said.
You could have said this then. When people asked you, hey, what Sekulow says, is it right? Why didn't you say then it's a matter for counsel?
SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to get into a back and forth with you. I've addressed it. The outside counsel has addressed it. They've answered this question over the last couple of days and I would refer you back to those comments.
CUOMO: Let's look at it a different way. Do you wish that the White House had corrected the error between where it started and where it wound up with Sekulow in this letter sooner?
SANDERS: I wish that we spent a lot less time focused on things the American people don't care about. I wish we spent a lot less time talking about this witch hunt and that we talked about things that impact everyday Americans. I wish we spent a lot more time talking about the economy.
I wish that your network had spent a lot more time today covering a very important piece of legislation that the president signed when he spent a good bit of time this afternoon talking about the importance of Veterans Choice Act that he signed into law today. And your network didn't even take that.
I wish those were the things that we spent time talking about that.
CUOMO: We didn't take the whole V.A. -- look, we did take Kudlow's whole symposium. A lot of people did not. You have to make choices in this business. But --
SANDERS: And I understand if you guys didn't want to put the veterans as the choice that you made and I think that's a sad decision you made.
CUOMO: You know that's not what it's about.
SANDERS: I know that that's something that's important to you, and I think it's sad that we don't spend more time on those topics. You and I have had that conversation both on camera and off-camera.
SANDERS: And it's not different on camera than it is off with me. I think you know that. And that's why I think we should be talking about issues that people care about.
CUOMO: Right, but credibility is something that people care about. The truth is what people care about. Nobody thinks, except for really, right now, the president and maybe you in this moment, that this is a witch hunt.
These are real questions. It's a real investigation. We see real indictments and lots of different threads to this story. But I understand that spin.
The credibility of it matters. When something that appears to be a lie, because the idea that the president's lawyer doesn't know what his client's role was in the drafting of that response, it just strains credulity. Common sense tells you, that can't be.
And how do we know? Because it wasn't. Sekulow changed his story. The letter came out, only when exposed.
Why wasn't this story changed sooner?
SANDERS: Again, that's a question you would have to ask the outside counsel. I'm not going to have a legal conversation with you here. If you want to talk about issues again that matter to the American people, I'm happy to do that. But --
CUOMO: You really don't think this matters to the American people?
SANDERS: I've answered this question multiple times. And no matter how many times I answer it for you, it's not going to change. It's the same one.
CUOMO: Look, it's got to be frustrating for you -- I'll try it one other way.
SANDERS: It's got to be frustrating for me to answer the same question over and over again? CUOMO: To be put in a position where you can't answer it. You seem
to be in a position where you feel that you are constrained to not be able to --
SANDERS: We are purposefully walling ourselves off and allowing the outside counsel to do their job. And we're doing ours.
CUOMO: But you did initially answer it, right?
SANDERS: I did. And again --
CUOMO: Do you regret that?
SANDERS: No, I don't. But I am starting to regret sitting here, because I've answered the same question a million times --
CUOMO: I just wanted to give you -- I wanted to give you a lot of chances at it, because I think it matters. I think it hurts your credibility. I think it hurts the dynamic.
But I gave you the opportunities. You made of them what you wanted, all right? It's not the only reason I brought you.
SANDERS: I'm very comfortable with my credibility and the fact that I think by sitting here right now and taking questions from you --
SANDERS: -- shows the type of person I am, shows my effort to provide information. And frankly, to be in an environment that's not exactly friendly, that's not exactly one that I think a lot of people in my position would come and sit in. And I think that speaks a lot to my credibility.
And if you want to focus on my credibility, I think that's something you should certainly look at.
CUOMO: I started the interview by saying, I respect you taking the opportunity.
Let me ask you something else that winds up being a pattern of this. What the president calls spygate, all right? You've now had a list of people including the speaker of the House, Gowdy, Nunes, Burr say, we looked at the information that is relevant, the FBI did nothing wrong.
Is it time for the president to stop saying that the FBI spied on him wrongly?
SANDERS: Look, the president has got some real concerns. We know that the FBI certainly participated in a number of things that I think, frankly, the American people are concerned about, not just the president, and we think they should be looked at. And that's what's taking place.
CUOMO: Right. But he keeps saying it like it may have happened and these people from your own party have looked at it and said it didn't happen.
SANDERS: The president feels strongly about this and that it should be fully looked at. And I think he's got some real reasons to be concerned. There's no question that there was a lot of foul play that went on in the FBI. We've seen evidence of that.
And certainly -- look, people were fired over the inappropriate actions that they took while they were at the FBI. And certainly, the president has a right to be concerned about that.
CUOMO: Nothing connected to what he says, though, about spying. That's why I'm just saying, why don't you just drop that and move on to another area where you don't know the facts?
SANDERS: Chris, there very a lot of reports that caused -- that raised a lot of cause for concern. And the president is asking that those be looked at.
Look, there's been nothing, literally nothing that has come out of the year and a half-long witch hunt that you guys have been on. Yet, everybody --
CUOMO: Why do you keep calling it that?
SANDERS: -- wants to spend plenty of time looking at that.
CUOMO: Why do you keep calling it that?
SANDERS: The president is simply asking that this being looked into as well.
CUOMO: I'll ask you a third time. I don't know why you keep calling it that.
SANDERS: Because --
CUOMO: Bob Mueller is one of the most respected people in your party. He's a decorated veteran.
SANDERS: Because there is --
CUOMO: Everybody stood up and cheered when he got this job.
SANDERS: I'm glad you want to mention the veterans now, but didn't want to cover it when we were actually --
CUOMO: Have I ever taken you a cheap shot at you? Why would you say that we wouldn't support the veterans?
SANDERS: That's not what I said.
CUOMO: You were the one who didn't want to invite one of the biggest veterans groups who was in favor of the Choice Bill to the ceremony today, the IAVA, one of the largest population, just because they haven't been as affectionate (ph) to the Trump administration.
SANDERS: We wouldn't have known that they went there based on the coverage by CNN today.
CUOMO: No, but I'm saying, look, I think that we have a very strong case to make that we cover veterans issues as well or not better than anyone. I don't think we need a cheap shot. I ask you the questions. You answer them the way you want.
The spying, I laid it out there for why I would think it would time to let it go when your own people say so. You had a shot at that.
Let me ask you about the economy in the first 500 days. That was a priority for you in coming on. What do you believe the case is for the American people, as we enter the midterms that if you look at the first 500 days, winning?
SANDERS: Absolutely. The economy, without question is one of, I think the president's signature moments in the first 500 days. Over 3 million jobs have been created. Certainly, the fact that unemployment is at the lowest that it's been in decades. Multiple people have said that we have the strongest economy that we've had since World War II. We now have more jobs available than we have people looking for them.
No one can argue the fact that the economy is in a better place under this president and under his leadership, in large part due to the tax cuts and jobs act that he helped orchestrate and get through Congress. And also, the massive deregulation. And just the environment that he has created for businesses to want to go out, grow their companies, hire people, and not just hire them, but pay them good wages.
We are in one of the best moments that we could possibly have economically. And it's a huge success for this president.
CUOMO: A couple of questions about, at what cost to the growth. The tax bill was fundamental, according to the administration and certain economists for juicing the economy. I don't mean that in a cynical way, but it did come at a cost, because you have a deficit that we haven't seen in a long, long time.
2017, I think it was $666 billion, the number of the beast. Much up from 2016, which was the last year you weren't responsible for. The estimates go up from there.
CUOMO: Trump was so strong on being anti-deficit when he campaigned. Your party is so strong on being anti-deficit. Why balloon it now?
SANDERS: Look, the president's working hard. That's one of the reasons that he's so emphatically focused on fixing the trade deficit that we have across the globe. He's making sure that we're protecting American workers and that we're putting more money back into American's pockets and we're not allowing countries to rip us off anymore. The president is the first person in a long time to stand up to
countries like China and say, not anymore, not on my watch. We're closing the gap. We're bringing the wealth back into the United States.
Look, we've grown $7 trillion, $7 trillion in wealth here in this country under this president. The deficit wasn't created in a day. It's not going to be fixed in a day. But the president is certainly focused on reducing that.
One of the big problems we had is the fact that previous administrations had let our military just drop down. And they had to have a huge surge in military funding and spending to rebuild our military and make sure that the president did his number one job, which is to protect the people across this country. And he did that by making sure our military was fully funded. And he did that by going off of what General Mattis and the folks at DOD said had to be done in order to put our military in the place it needed to be.
CUOMO: But the growth of the economy winds up being countered and mitigated to a certain point by the deficit. And you mentioned --
SANDERS: I certainly don't think that you can take away the strength of the economy because of the deficit. Don't get me wrong --
CUOMO: That's fundamental economics.
SANDERS: We want to fix that, and we're doing everything we can, but you can't take away --
CUOMO: But debt service --
SANDERS: -- the fact that this company has strengthened our economy and made it better. Ask any economist or individual in this country, are they doing better under president trump or President Obama? And I can tell you, based on the economy and the strength and the growth and the breaking down of barriers that this president has provided, they're better off under President Trump.
CUOMO: Well, certainly, people will say that and some will not. That's what elections are about.
You mentioned tariffs. There's an argument to be made that what people may have gotten back in their pocket from the tax cuts may be erased by the higher prices they're going to pay because of these tariffs. What about that?
SANDERS: We don't think so. The president is making sure he's focused on making good trade deals and not continued to be ripped off by other countries. We have countries like China where we have a $500 billion trade imbalance. And that has to be closed. That gap has to be --
CUOMO: The problem is clear. Whether this is the right solution is the question.
SANDERS: We can't continue to ignore it. And the president is focused on fixing the problem. And that's exactly what he's going to do. Thankfully, he's the best negotiator at the table and we're very confident in his tablet to get the deal we need to make sure we close those gaps.
CUOMO: Just interviewed Chuck Schumer. It will be on after you. He says that the president is a terrible dealmaker and one of his examples is, look at the economy right now. You have more jobs than you do have people. And yet the president said in the immigration negotiation, he wanted to cut legal immigration in half.
Why would you cut legal immigration if you need more workers?
SANDERS: Chuck Schumer is probably the only person in America that could find something wrong with a booming economy that's going on in this country right now.
CUOMO: But that's a good point about why you're cutting the workforce.
SANDERS: Schumer's been on so many different sides of the issue. He was against the Iran deal until the president became the president and got rid of it.
CUOMO: But what about this one?
SANDERS: I missed the last part of --
CUOMO: Well, I'll say it again. The idea that you want to cut legal immigration in half when you need more workers. Why would you do that?
SANDERS: Nobody here is against legal immigration. The president wants a system that works. He's tired of kicking the can down the road. We want to close loopholes and want to secure the border. There's nothing wrong with that. Those are good things.
CUOMO: But cutting it in half means you'll starve yourself of workers.
SANDERS: Chuck Schumer should quit playing political games and do what his job. He has done nothing.
Look, the Democrats no longer have a message. That's why they continue to drop in numbers and the president continues to go up, because he's actually doing things to help the American people and he's solving problems.
Democrats are going to have to decide, at some point, and they should decide it soon, do they hate this president more than they love this country? Because right now, all they do is attack the president. They offered nothing, they have no solutions, and they have no message.
And there's a reason that they're not going to do well in November and that's it.
CUOMO: They say they attack the country because they love the country, but again, that's what elections are for.
SANDERS: I can't imagine why attacking a president who has strengthened our economy, built better foreign relations, put national security back on the forefront, and made America respected again, made us feared again by -- and friends of our allies, I just -- I find it laughable that Chuck Schumer would find things wrong with the direction of the country is going right now.
CUOMO: He's not alone in that. You have members of your own party who are against tariffs and other bills right now. So, it's a little bit of a mixed bag.
Let's go back to you. Let's end where we started. Are you enjoying your job?
SANDERS: I am. And even in moments when I come on CNN, because I love our country. I think the president's doing a tremendous job. And we are, I think, moving the ball down the field in a way that it hasn't been done in a long time.
CUOMO: And you're OK with how you're doing it?
SANDERS: I mean, I think things are going pretty well. Again, I think that the country is moving in the right direction and it's doing that under the president's leadership. And I'm proud to be a part of that. And I think some really great things have happened over these first 500 days. And I think a lot of great things are going to take place over the next 6 1/2 years.
CUOMO: Do you believe that this is sustainable? This dynamic where we come at you with questions about what's true and what isn't, and those questions don't get answered. Do you think that by saying, we stink --
SANDERS: I --
CUOMO: -- that we don't like veterans, that we are bad for America, the president says we are enemies of America. Do you think that works for you long-term?
SANDERS: Look, what I think is important to remember is that you guys get to ask the questions, but you can't always complain about the answers. You constantly ask the same question over and over and over again --
CUOMO: That's the job.
SANDERS: -- and expect different answers?
CUOMO: That's the job.
SANDERS: And get mad when the answers don't change. No, the job is to get information and report the news. Unfortunately,
you guys quit reporting the news. When I can read a news story and I have no idea what side of the story the reporter is on, that's a good news story. You'll be hard-pressed to find a lot of news that looks like that.
CUOMO: That assumes that the story is completely evenhanded. That one side isn't more right than other, that something isn't demonstrably true.
CUOMO: That everything is unknown. That's not the truth. That's not the truth.
SANDERS: The news isn't an opinion.
CUOMO: Of course, the news isn't an opinion.
SANDERS: The news is reporting facts and letting other people make the decision --
CUOMO: That's right. And if you won't answer the question, Sarah, how can people do that?
SANDERS: I answer questions all day, every day. It's what I spend every minute of the day doing. It's why I'm sitting here at 9:00 at night answering questions to you.
CUOMO: But you have to understand the dynamic on the other side.
This is where we'll leave this. Let me tell you what it's like on the other side, OK? I haven't sat here and told you that you hate veterans.
SANDERS: I didn't say that.
CUOMO: Yes, sure, you did. You did that in a little bit more polite way.
SANDERS: Actually, Chris, that's the problem.
CUOMO: But the president acceptance horrible things about how we does the job and you complain about having a critical press. Come on.
SANDERS: I find it absolutely laughable that you would say to me that you're upset that the president says you got to do a tough (ph) job --
CUOMO: I'm not upset. I'm telling you that you're asking for scrutiny is what I'm telling you.
SANDERS: On this network alone, I've been called useless --
CUOMO: By me?
SANDERS: -- and so many other outrageous names? CUOMO: By me?
SANDERS: No, I'm just saying in general.
CUOMO: But not by me. You got to take each of his own, right?
SANDERS: I hope not.
CUOMO: I'm not holding you accountable for everything the president said.
SANDERS: But you're taking things I've said completely out of context.
CUOMO: The veteran thing was a cheap shot. I know where you were going with it. I'm just saying, it doesn't make it a healthy dynamic.
SANDERS: It wasn't a cheap shot. It was a fact. It was a fact you did not cover this topic --
CUOMO: We cover veterans all the time.
SANDERS: -- in a way that I felt like was important today.
CUOMO: I brought you on here because you said you wanted to talk about 500 days and we would handle the news of the day. Did I keep my word?
SANDERS: For the most part. I mean, a lot more on, you know, the back-and-forth versus the 500 days.
CUOMO: So, it would have gone like this, if you had answered the question.
SANDERS: But I get that it would be hard for you to spend a lot of time talking about the president's successes, of which there are many. And maybe we'll have a chance to do that --
CUOMO: The job, as you know, anytime, you want. Let's end it on that.
SANDERS: All right. Good to see you.
CUOMO: Anytime you want to come on to address what's important to the American people, you got a spot right beside me.
SANDERS: All right. Thanks.
CUOMO: Sarah Sanders, thank you very much.
All right, we're going to take a break. We've got plenty of fuel for the great debate. We've got Steve Cortes, Ana Navarro are here. Look at them, ready to go.
Also ahead, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer gets tested on the state and fate of his party. And back by popular demand, certainly, this is the most popular part
of the show with my kids -- tell me where I'm wrong. Go to my Twitter page, go to our show page. Tell me where I got it wrong or what you disagree with and we'll get after it online, during the break. And then right here -- coming up.
CUOMO: All right. We just had a big interview with Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, but now it is time for the great debate. We have Ana Navarro and Steve Cortes.
It's good o have you both here.
Let's set the table with this. We have two big stories, OK? We all know that there are kids on the border that are being taken from their families. We all know that that is not right.
The question is, why is it still going on?
Now, Mr. Cortes, do you disagree with that assertion, that it is wrong for kids to be taken from their families?
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's wrong, but where does the fault lie? Does it lie with the families or with the United States? You know, if you break into my house in the middle of the night, you're not an undocumented person. You're a thief. If you break into our country, if you show up without permission at our border and break the law and try to smuggle your children into the United States, you are going to be separated from your children.
That's a shame for those children, absolutely. It's heartbreaking, but it's not our fault as a country, it's the parent's fault for allowing that to happen, for forcing that to happen.
CUOMO: So, Ana, this is just about, when you break the law, this is what happens. Is it as simple as that for you?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is not a simple issue. It's not black and white issue. It's not a brown and white, maybe is what I should say, issue.
Look, I just came from Central America. I was in Nicaragua this weekend. People are getting killed there. Ortega's thugs, that dictator's thugs are killing people willy-nilly. There have been over 120 people shot and murdered in Nicaragua in the last six week.
And so, folks are fleeing. We have a political asylum law in the books in the United States. People who come here, a lot of times undocumented, a lot of times illegally, a lot of times through the border or over stay visas, can apply for that political asylum law, which is in the books.
NAVARRO: We don't want to be a place that takes political asylees, then change the laws. But right now, it's an available resource for people who are fleeing a volcano that just covered folks and an entire town in ashes and lava in Guatemala, who are fleeing violence in Honduras, who are fleeing a dictator, a corrupt dictator --
NAVARRO: -- Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
So, it's a very complex issue. It's about laws. It's about the execution of laws. It's about foreign policy and what's going on in those countries.
CUOMO: Right, but all --
NAVARRO: And it's about the fact that desperate people will do desperate things.
CORTES: Ana, I think you make a great point. I think you make a great point. By the way, why are not asking for asylum in Mexico? Which is almost always their first point of entry on their way to the United States. Ask for asylum in Mexico. Why is this always our problem?
And I think it shows us, by the way, that it's not just about asylum. It's about trying to find a way into the United States by hook or crook, because they don't want to do it the legal way, which is the way you did it, the way my father did it, the way tens of millions of people do it, is legal immigration. We have a right to control who comes into our homes.
CUOMO: First of all, there is a legal mechanism -- Steve, there is a legal mechanism for trying to flee and then ask for asylum. You can do it in your home country, as well. But you can also do it this way. Again, it gets a little complicated. What is not as complicated is how you choose to enforce the law.
The president promised that the policy would be one of love. Do you remember that?
CUOMO: Contrast that with what his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, just said about this. Here.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The law requires us to keep children in a different facility than we require -- than we do for adults. And every time somebody, Hugh, gets prosecuted in America for a crime, American citizens, and they go to jail, they're separated from their children, we don't want to do this at all. If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.
(END AUDIO CLIP) CUOMO: Now, that's from Hugh Hewitt, OK, a fully minted conservative. And the reason I point that out, Steve, is this is about having a heart, not a partisan stripe. We choose as a country how we enforce the law. You do not have to do it this way, where you get a Democratic senator who won't get let into one of the facilities saying that he saw kids in cages.
Don't you think we can do better than that, Steve?
CORTES: Oh, I do, by the way. And I think that our laws should be reformed. This was happening, by the way, under President Obama. This didn't just start happening, separating children from parents.
But let's also remember here, when we have a lawless border, which we've tolerated for decades in this country, let's talk about the families who are separated permanently in the United States, because their family members are dead, because dangerous illegal immigrants have been tolerated because sanctuary cities have become a misbegotten policy in places like my hometown of Chicago --
CUOMO: They're not new, either. They're not new either. Let's bring Ana in because --
CORTES: -- those families, by the way, those are separated families, Chris. And that's real. And that's permanent.
CUOMO: Well, every separated family is real. Quick fact check, you say, when we had a lawless border, like now it is fully enforced, the numbers of people coming across the border --
CORTES: Well, we're getting there.
CUOMO: Take a look, Steve, because they're going the wrong direction from this administration compared to the last one. Ana, how do you see this in terms of where it needs to go forward?
NAVARRO: Well, look, first of all, I think it's very important to know that what happened under President Obama, which I also criticized back then --
CUOMO: And rightly so.
NAVARRO: -- is different than what is happening now. What happened in 2014 was that we had a surge of unaccompanied minors making it to the border, and they were put in detention facilities and it was awful. And a lot of people, including myself, including a lot of Latino leaders criticized it strongly.
What is happening now is that families are being separated. Babies are being torn from mother's arms. They are being put in things that look like cages. That's why they don't let the U.S. senators in there, because they don't want people to be able to tell what's going on there. They don't want the pictures to come out, because they know that the American people are people of love, are people that know that this is a country built on immigration, are compassionate people who believe in family unity and who are going to be shocked and terrorized and horrified by those images.
CORTES: Ana, we're both on legal immigration.
NAVARRO: No, we're not.
CORTES: We're both on legal immigration. And if you don't want to be separated --
NAVARRO: Why don't you say that to all of that --
CORTES: Don't try to smuggle --
CUOMO: Hold on --
NAVARRO: Something I cannot stand is when you interrupt me. I let you speak until you're done.
CUOMO: All right. Finish your point, Ana.
NAVARRO: Well, you know, why don't you go tell the slaves that were brought here, how we're built on legal immigration.
CORTES: All right, that's not immigration.
NAVARRO: We are not built on legal immigration.
CORTES: The point is we're built on legal immigration. And if you try to smuggle your children across a sovereign border of the United States, then -- listen, it's terribly unfortunate. And I don't disagree that there are some human tragedies going on, but is that our fault or is that the fault of the parents who are making that terrible mistake and that terrible decision of trying to do that?
CUOMO: But you're discounting the desperation, Steve. You're discounting the desperation. Why did my family come here two generations ago?
CORTES: I'm not discounting, I'm not.
CUOMO: They were desperate. It was not because they were levelheaded and had options. This was a desperate cause to get here.
The system was different then. Now it's harder to get in. And out of desperation, they do it illegally. Doesn't make it right, but how you deal with it becomes a sensitivity issue. Here's another example --
CORTES: Chris, OK, let me ask you, then. What's your answer? Open borders?
CUOMO: No. CORTES: Is that your answer?
CUOMO: My job is to test power and judge what it does, hold it accountable for what it does. The people will judge it. I hold it accountable. That's what this is about. And this winds up being the theme of sensitivity.
CORTES: Look, you know who suffers the most to open borders?
CUOMO: Hold on, I'll tell you who suffers the most. The victims in every different dynamic.
CORTES: Yes. Hispanics, primarily.
CUOMO: Look at those in Puerto Rico right now. That's what I want to ask you about, Steve. Look at Puerto Rico --
CORTES: Puerto Rico has nothing to do with immigration. They're Americans!
CUOMO: Hold on a second, no, no, I'm switching topics --
CORTES: But hold on, I want to make up with more point.
CUOMO: Go ahead, make your point.
CORTES: Hispanic Americas suffered the most from illegal immigration in this country both in terms of dangerous illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities and in terms of illegal worker wage competition.
CORTES: Hispanic-Americans ironically suffer the most. So by having a good border, and sensible immigration, we're actually protecting Hispanic Americans.
CUOMO: Listen, that's a twisted way to look at it, but it takes us to the same point. Ana -- .
CORTES: Well, not really.
CUOMO: Well, that's your take. That's what it's all about. Exchanging ideas.
So, in Puerto Rico, the government says dozens were killed. The president, when he goes down there at the time, the estimate was lower, he said, thank God it's not worse, we could have seen something terrible. He was expressing concern.
Harvard then does a study. They go through 3,000 different households. They believe the estimate of those who died because of the storm and thereafter, 70 times that number. Not a word from the White House.
What's wrong with that, Ana?
NAVARRO: What's wrong with that is that it is American citizens who have been treated as second-class citizens. What's wrong with that is that if 4,600 cats and dogs had died in the mainland USA, particularly a red state or a purple state like mine in Florida, or in Texas with Hurricane Harvey, it would have been an uproar in this country. And we would have demanded answers.
What's wrong with that is that we are now in hurricane season again. And Puerto Rico is still reeling from the shock and the effect of Hurricane Maria.
What is wrong with that is that 4,600 Americans have died. And we don't even know who they are. We don't know their names. And we have not, you know, honoring those deaths by really finding out the truth.
CUOMO: Or acknowledging the reality and finding out the numbers.
Steve, final word. Go ahead.
CORTES: What happened in Puerto Rico was just an absolute tragedy, right? Two massive hurricanes in succession, an absolute tragedy.
The idea, though, that -- and I think this is where you're going with this, Chris, that the president somehow willfully neglected them -- or at least where Ana was going -- because they're brown people, because they're Hispanics is the most absurd and insulting notion.
When the left doesn't want to talk about policy, they constantly call this president a racist. And it's getting old and tired, because he's not.
CUOMO: Well, Steve, look, on a final word of it, if he acknowledged it, there would be a lot less criticism.
But I appreciate you being here. You make the show better, with Steve. Thank you.
Ana, appreciate it, as always. Steve Cortes, Ana Navarro.
All right. Things are spicy tonight and they'll stay that way with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in a sit-down today. We put him to the test with the state of play in D.C. and whether he can make the case for your votes in the midterms. You'll want to see this, next.
CUOMO: All right. So, the fundamental question in the midterms will probably be whether or not the Democrats have a better deal for you than the GOP under President Trump. Now, a secondary question is, who is to blame for so little getting done for you on a bipartisan basis, where we are right now in Washington, D.C.?
So, we went to speak some truth to power in the form of Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
CUOMO: Senator Schumer, thank you.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: Congratulations on your new show.
CUOMO: Appreciate it.
SCHUMER: Glad to be here.
CUOMO: Good. It's good to have you early on, kind of set the tone about who we think matters, so this is different.
Let's talk --
SCHUMER: You matter.
CUOMO: Let's talk politics, then we'll go into policy.
CUOMO: Joe Manchin, Senator of West Virginia, says he's open to backing Trump in 2020. When does he get a phone call from the Senate Democratic leader?
SCHUMER: Our senators are wonderful people. We have a great unity in our caucus. And one of the reasons we do is I let people come to their own decisions.
I'll tell them what I think, but there's no arm-twisting, there's no "you'll lose your committee". I won't put this on the floor. I've done none -- I've had to do none of that.
And people come together. Joe Manchin is a guy who likes to talk to everybody and listen to them and almost inevitably he does what's right for West Virginia.
CUOMO: I might back Trump in 2020? Never heard a setting Democrat or Republican say that about a president from the other party.
SCHUMER: I have faith that Joe Manchin will come to the right decision for West Virginia. He almost always has.
People never thought that -- you know, he was one of our strongest people on health care. Why? Because the people of West Virginia so desperately need healthcare.
CUOMO: Is this a reflection of weakness of the Democratic Party in states like West Virginia?
SCHUMER: We've stayed totally united. We are doing so much better than people think. There's public poll that showed Manchin up 13 points over his opponent.
CUOMO: And why would he say something like this? SCHUMER: Joe Manchin always keeps his options open to do what's best for West Virginia. I have confidence he'll do the right thing.
CUOMO: The idea of why he's doing it. He says Washington Democrats are making it more difficult for me to be a West Virginia Democrat. We keep hearing this, that the Democratic Party writ large is a problem and that people are going to have to go on their own if they want to win.
SCHUMER: I think 2016 is a reflection of that. I think it's all changed. We are focused in our caucus like a laser on the middle class, helping those who are not in the middle class get to the middle class, helping people who are in the middle stay there.
The difference on economic issues between the more moderate members of our caucus and the more liberal members of our caucus is rather small. And that's why on every major vote, you had total unity in our caucus.
CUOMO: But you've also got nothing done.
SCHUMER: Well, we're not in charge.
CUOMO: But you have to bring something to them, right? You can't just be anti-Trump, pro-Russia probe. Is that enough to win?
SCHUMER: Look, we -- it is not, and that's taken care of, itself, we don't have to do that. But we have proposed things that the American people really, really think are important.
Right now, you know McConnell says we're saying in in --
SCHUMER: August. We're making a health care law.
What is the number one that's bothering people right now, average Americans? Rising premiums. The premium -- the increase of premiums is giving -- is taking away more out of their pocketbooks than the tax breaks that have been given for large, large numbers.
CUOMO: That could be true for certain segments of the population.
SCHUMER: And for large segments of the population, it's middle class --
CUOMO: But it's whom they blame, Senator.
SCHUMER: Yes. Well --
CUOMO: Because they blame you guys.
CUOMO: I know. I know what the polling data shows that, no, Trump owns it now. He took the mandate away --
SCHUMER: And we have proposed all kinds of things that will make it better.
CUOMO: I hear, is it "Washington Post", and I hear this echoed in their own reporting, you went to the former President Obama saying we need you involved in these midterms, true?
SCHUMER: I did about six month ago. I think every party leader in the House and Senate goes to the presidents, former presidents of their party, and asked for help and he was gracious and he's helping us raise some money.
CUOMO: Highly antagonistic to the sitting administration, because they have made Obama their rallying cry of what must be rejected. Was that part of your calculation, of going to the former president and saying I believe in what you were, not what they're saying?
SCHUMER: I talk to him every so often. And he actually volunteered to help and do a couple of fundraisers for us. And I said, of course.
CUOMO: That's all it is so far?
SCHUMER: So far.
CUOMO: Do you need more Obama?
SCHUMER: Well, it will be up to our -- you know, we are helping our candidates, but they are running autonomous races. That's why they're doing so well.
You know, Heidi Heitkamp is North Dakota above all. Claire McCaskill is Missouri above all. If they think it will help them, they'll invite them. If they don't think it will help them, they won't invite them.
There is not one overall match. The one thing that unites us is some of these issues like health care, like infrastructure, like having taxes more aimed at the middle class than the highest end that unites our whole party. But each candidate does different things in their states. And that's one of the secrets to the success that it looks like we're on the verge of having.
CUOMO: Some say that that is a nod to the fact that the two-party system doesn't have the strength that it once did, that there is independents that is growing in this country, partly a reaction to formation to negative experience with both parties.
SCHUMER: If Democrats can't win votes in New York and say the Great Plains, we'll never be the majority. We have to win in both and I think we're doing a damn good job of putting together a platform and a program that sell well in both.
CUOMO: So, Obama, yes. The Clintons, no, is what I'm hearing. You're not going to reach out.
SCHUMER: I don't know, you're putting words in my mouth. I said Obama offered to help and do fundraisers. We said yes. It's up to each candidate to decide which leaders of the party are good in their states and not.
CUOMO: But you reached out to Obama, will you reach out to the Clintons?
SCHUMER: I talk to Obama every so often about things. And that's the bottom line.
CUOMO: Not the Clintons?
SCHUMER: I talk to them every so often, too.
CUOMO: But you're not asking them to get involved?
SCHUMER: If they offered to help raise the money for us, of course, we'd consider it. Absolutely.
CUOMO: They haven't offered?
SCHUMER: I don't think it's come up yet, no.
CUOMO: Why am I chasing? I'm chasing because --
SCHUMER: I don't know.
CUOMO: -- I don't know who the head of the party is.
SCHUMER: It is so rare --
CUOMO: Who's the head of the party?
SCHUMER: It is so rare for a president, a former president not to help the party that they were a part of. It's nothing new. It's not unusual. It doesn't say there's a total embrace. It doesn't say they're going to campaign everywhere. That's how it is.
As for the head of the party, we don't have a presidential candidate, but the leaders of the Democratic Party are pretty much on the same page when it comes to what we want to do. Our candidates are -- the unity in our Democratic Caucus here in the Senate has been amazing. That will prove to be very beneficial for us, not only in November 2018 elections, which you will see, but also should we become the majority in helping us get things done.
And in my prediction, if we get in the majority, we'll see, if we get in the majority, we'll have Republicans working with us far more than when they were in power, having us work with them.
CUOMO: But doesn't that mean that they are more fair in the interest of bipartisanship than you?
SCHUMER: It means we're going to reach out. They rejected us.
As I mentioned to you, on the major issues, they do what's called reconciliation.
CUOMO: Right. SCHUMER: We don't want or need Democratic votes.
Had they included us in health care, had they included us in the tax bill, it would have been a far better bill for the middle class. And they would have been better off. That's why they're suffering now.
CUOMO: Me Too matters to your office. I've been told that many times.
CUOMO: What Bill Clinton said about Me Too, a lot of controversy. Your take?
SCHUMER: Not getting into that.
SCHUMER: I think it's irrelevant to what we need to talk about.
CUOMO: Me Too?
SCHUMER: No, Me Too is important. What Bill Clinton said, the public can judge for themselves.
CUOMO: How are both of those things true at the same time, senator?
SCHUMER: They're true at the same time, because you judge the person by their own actions, plain and simple. What we have done, we passed a good bill in the Senate, bipartisan, that really dealt with the kind of problems that we saw in the Senate. That's what we should be doing.
Not commenting on everybody and every particular case. That doesn't help the cause. It may make nice news, but it doesn't help the cause.
CUOMO: It could change culture also by showing a consistency --
SCHUMER: Well, with doing something is most important we have.
CUOMO: Is the bill done? When will it be law that my money doesn't go to pay for settlements for lawmakers?
SCHUMER: There's a bill that's passed the House, there's a bill that's passed the Senate and now we'll reconciling the two. So, the answer is soon.
CUOMO: But if it was such a done deal, why did it take so long?
SCHUMER: Because there are certain differences. That's the legislative process.
CUOMO: But why does it have to be that way? SCHUMER: It should be that way, because we don't have one person running the place, you have 435 House members, you have 100 Senators. A, they have different opinions. B, on important issues, they should come together. And when the Republicans are willing to work with us, like on this, we get things done.
CUOMO: Why not pick up the phone and call the president on a day like today and say, Alice Johnson, right move, good job on that pardon, let's do more, let's do more on the issues that activated --
SCHUMER: Well, first, he has the power to pardon, not the Senate, not the House.
CUOMO: Right. But the underlying issue, people who are in jail for low level drug offenses and get huge sentences, you care about that, no?
SCHUMER: I do, but it should be done on the basis of fairness to all the people that way, not because Alice Johnson knew Kardashian and she happened to see the president.
What other presidents have done, Democrat and Republican, they have the Justice Department review it, they say, here are my criteria. So, let's say the criteria is, small amount of drugs, you shouldn't be 20 years in jail. Everyone should have an equal chance. Not someone who Kim Kardashian whispers in his ear about.
CUOMO: And yet, at least it's one. Why not congratulate him for that?
SCHUMER: It ought to be fair. American people want fairness, not just who has connections, who knows someone who's an elite person.
CUOMO: But every president pardons. You don't come out and say, Obama pardons all those low level drug offenders. I don't like it.
SCHUMER: No one has done it this way. Obama didn't. Bush didn't.
CUOMO: Because, you say, the celebrity aspect?
SCHUMER: Yes, that's -- but that seems to be the sole motivation. All the people he talks about are celebrities.
CUOMO: The idea of what you --
SCHUMER: And that's a symbol of unfairness to the American people.
CUOMO: How so?
SCHUMER: Because it should be based on the merits, not on who you know.
CUOMO: But couldn't it be a starting point? That's what I'm trying to say? You know, part of what we're trying to do here is identify common ground and push for progress there on. If you know that the president is on the same page as you when it comes to look at sentencing reform --
CUOMO: -- why not use this as entree, call him up and say, I like it, I'll work with you --
SCHUMER: We said to the president a year ago. There's a sentencing reform bill, bipartisan. On the Democratic side, people like Cory Booker and Dick Durbin. On the Republican side, people like Chuck Grassley and other -- many other Republicans.
We said, why don't you take up this bill? It's a bipartisan bill. He's the reason it's being blocked.
CUOMO: Who is?
SCHUMER: The president?
SCHUMER: The White House doesn't want it.
CUOMO: They said?
SCHUMER: Jeff Sessions doesn't want it.
CUOMO: Jeff Merkley is running around down at the border.
SCHUMER: He did a very good job.
CUOMO: Why aren't all of you there? Why aren't you using it as a hill that's worth dying on? This is not our country.
SCHUMER: Well --
CUOMO: Kids won't be taken from their parents on your watch?
SCHUMER: Well, Dianne Feinstein will be introducing legislation, which we will push very hard for, which will stop this from happening. That's our job.
Our job is to legislating. And Jeff Merkley highlighted it. He did a great thing. And now, we're going to try to get bipartisan legislation on it. That's our job.
And, by the way, there are lots of -- the omnibus bill, the big budget bill, Democrats and Republicans came together without Trump, and we did so many good things. We increased spending against opioid, you know, spending to fight the opioid crisis.
SCHUMER: We increased NIH funding. We got some education money restored. We got some infrastructure money restored. When are Republican colleagues are not so afraid of the White House, which really doesn't want to do anything except on its own terms, we could get things done?
And my prediction is this, Chris.
CUOMO: Go ahead.
SCHUMER: If we get a majority, I think Trump will move to us. Then he'll realize that this intransigence, this, you know, way of working isn't going to work, and he'll have to work with us.
CUOMO: If the sides are going to come together, wouldn't there have been over school shootings. I mean, you know there's so much things could be done. You can harden up the schools --
SCHUMER: Have you been following what's happening? Donald Trump --
CUOMO: Every day, every hour.
SCHUMER: No, Donald Trump opposed anything that the NRA didn't want. You know that.
CUOMO: They say --
SCHUMER: You know, you're --
CUOMO: -- that they wouldn't put something on the table that didn't have very aggressive gun control as --
SCHUMER: Oh, is universal background check supported by 90 percent of the people, felons shouldn't get guns, mentality ill people adjudicated, mentally ill, is that extreme? No, 91 percent of the people wanted it, Trump didn't.
Trump sat in a room with a bunch of bipartisans. I'm not going to be afraid of the NRA. The next day, he went to the NRA and said, I'm not going to do a thing to buck you. That's the reason.
You know, you've got to -- I understand you like to be, let's look at each side, but --
CUOMO: Is that an impression of me that you just did, Senator? Is that how I come off to you?
SCHUMER: No, maybe it was your father.
CUOMO: What I'm trying to do is, I'm trying to test the arguments to see why we're not getting more done.
SCHUMER: Yes, but on the arguments you bring up, like guns, it's clear as the nose on anybody's face that Donald Trump has stood in the way of very rational, very middle of the road -- 80 percent of gun owners support universal background checks, 70 percent of Republicans --
CUOMO: Understood. SCHUMER: He stood in the way.
CUOMO: Last question, defining the party. There's criticism out there right now that the party has changed. Sure, you're the leader. I'm not questioning that, but --
SCHUMER: I'm one of the leaders.
CUOMO: Chuck Schumer, deal maker --
CUOJMO: -- little guy, working family, that the party is that any more. It's the elite, the academic, the intellectual condescends to those who aren't smart enough to know what they know that adopts niche cultural issues and pushes out the blue collar men and women that you used to hold in your warm bosom of embrace.
SCHUMER: And still do. And I would say this, in 2016, maybe there was too much emphasis just on negative Trump and people lost that. We are getting it back.
SCHUMER: We are talking about things that matter, as I told you -- health care, infrastructure, taxes. We're talking to rural people about rural broadband. One third of all rural homes don't have broadband. You can't get Netflix. You can't do school work. You can't get small businesses to.
Franklin Roosevelt, 1930s, he said every American home should get electricity, even the rural homes. It's hard to reach them, because it's a necessity. We're saying the same thing about broadband, very popular in rural areas.
We're talking about job training, so we can prepare people for jobs. We are focused like a laser on middle class and people who want to get there. And as we get closer and closer to the campaign, as these issues get crystallized, it's going to help us dramatically.
We can't just be anti-Trump. And people sort of know what Trump is, he makes the anti-Trump argument himself to the majority of Americans. We have to be for a lot of good positive things. And again, we have done some of those and we're going to do more of them so that the middle class people, who are the Democratic Party know, not only care about them, and my prediction -- we will work with Republicans and if we get the majority, it's going to start happening.
CUOMO: And that's what the senator thinks is going to happen. He thinks that they're going to get the majority and then things will get better. We'll see.
Another important note, just after the interview, Senator Schumer told me that he wanted to expand on his answer to my question about Bill Clinton. He says that he believe the former president should have apologized sooner. So, there you go.
Now, I asked you earlier to tell me where I'm going wrong. So, you bring the facts and the feelings and you get the floor, next.
COUMO: Welcome back to CUOMO PRIME TIME.
We work for you, so you should get to tell us what you do and don't like.
Time now for tonight's edition of "Tell me where I'm wrong".
Sammy tweeted, Chris Cuomo, since you asked, love the new show, but I think you need to give your guests more time to answer your question. You cut off and assume what the rest of their answer will be, instead of letting them flush it out. #whatyoudidwrong, #justsaying.
All right. Here's the thing to factor in, filibustering, OK? Very often, answers are given by the players that we interview in a long way because they know the clock is against us. So, when I feel that they've made their point, I've got to get in there. It's subjective when I interrupt and when I don't, but I'm doing it for you. Know that.
Liz posted: Chris, don't be so nice at the end of the interview. Stay tough. I like the show.
Thank you for liking it, the team's great, that's why it's a good show. Look, you can't have it both ways. You got to disagree with decency. You can be hot but not hostile.
All right. Tomorrow, we're going to go one on one with Bernie Sanders.
That's all for us. Thanks for watching. Let's get after it again tomorrow.