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CUOMO PRIME TIME
CNN's Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61; Trump's Suggestion to Bring Russia Back into the G7 Raises Controversy; Muller Investigation of Collusion Continues; The Toll of Suicide on Family Members and Breaking the Stigma That Surrounds It. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 8, 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: All right. Thank you, Anderson.
I'm Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
This is a very difficult day for all of us at CNN. Anthony Bourdain, the renegade chef who became a household name and then, of course, a standout figure in the CNN family is gone.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: Look, Anthony Bourdain, who are you? I know. I have a pretty good idea who I'm not at this point. Who I am, who knows the answer to that? You know, I will be judged by, you know, the people who remember me and quickly forget me.
CUOMO: That was one of the few times that Tony Bourdain got people wrong. He is not going to being forgotten any time soon.
What a loss, just 61 years of age. The host of the award-winning series "PARTS UNKNOWN" took his life in a hotel room in France. It is hard for those of us who worked with him, but that is nothing compared to the pain for his family and friends and most of all, his 11-year- old daughter Ariane. We are thinking of them and we are here if they need anything.
Now, in just a minute, we're going to talk with one of Tony's friends. Chef Andrew Zimmern who worked with Tony and stayed close until his death.
Tony's life, as you know, was marked by his unique style, culinary curiosity and wanderlust and common touch. But his death and echo of the shocking loss of another cultural figure, designer Kate Spade, looms large as an example of a plague that we have ignored -- suicide.
CDC released a report just yesterday showing an uptick in rates in every state but Nevada between '99 and 2016. Suicide stole nearly 45,000 lives across the U.S. in 2016. Twenty-five states had suicide rates of more than 30 percent, 54 percent more than half who have taken their life did not have a known mental health condition. And for everyone who dies, hundreds try and thankfully fail, often more than once.
This is a crisis that spares no one -- gender, creed, color, our military, been hit particularly hard. Roughly 20 veterans a day die by suicide nationwide according to the V.A. The prevention hotline is going to be up for the duration of the show. If you need it, use it. But we understand there are many who will not come forward on their own.
So, later in the show, we're going to give you a tool that you can use that has been shown to be a live-saver literally. But here at the top of the show, let's not lose sight of the man who is now gone.
For some perspective on Tony, let's bring in TV personality and fellow chef Andrew Zimmern.
Chef, it's good to have you with us. I am sorry for your loss.
[21:05:00] ANDREW ZIMMERN, FRIEND OF ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Thank you, Chris. It's nice to be here.
CUOMO: How are you doing?
ZIMMERN: Hanging in there. I mean, I have my own mental health issues that I've been pretty outspoken about. I'm -- I've never been more grateful. It's probably been many years since I've been this grateful to have as much support as I've built around me and an incredible outpouring from friends and family, and others checking in on me, which is fantastic and great support, but also really buoyed by the impact that our friend Tony had during his time on earth.
I think what's given me just enough of a wrinkle of hope and positivity on the day is seeing the incredible impact that he has had on our planet. Although then 30 seconds later I realize that's why I miss him even more and I feel we got short changed.
CUOMO: How did you find out?
ZIMMERN: I woke up -- I'm actually shooting in Philadelphia where I'm coming to you from right now. My phone literally started beeping incoherently early this morning with notes from mutual friends of ours and close people who had told me the news. And -- at first it -- I thought it was the sickest joke that had ever been played until I started to see you know that there were 40 messages on my -- on my phone memos. I realized, oh my God, this isn't a joke.
And I read the -- I opened the first one I forget who it was from. And I swung my knees over the edge of my bed. And I always do a little morning spiritual check-in.
And I just started crying. It was -- it was so, so sad. I've been fortunate enough to be friends with Tony for about 13, 14 years now. Although we have -- we put it together over many dinners and phone calls and texts over the years that, you know, we had bumped into each other.
We were both cooking New York a long time ago in the '80s and into '90s. And we have both attended the same college, he several years before me. So, our paths were always crisscrossing. It was one of the clings early on when we started working at the same network allowed us to become faster friends than most.
Tony was delightfully cynical. He was someone you needed to prove yourself out to. He didn't cotton to mediocrity of any kind. There was no -- there was no time for him to waist on anything that was average in any aspect of his life. He did everything with a tremendous amount of gusto and style and class and smarts.
And if -- if you wanted -- if you wanted to be his friend, you needed to be you. He didn't like falsity of any kind. And I can't think of a friend of mine that could sniff it out faster than he could, either personally or professionally.
And I think that was -- that was the key to his great talent as a transcriber and interpreter of global culture, not just related to food but to music, to art, to -- I mean to movies. Tony knew more about movies than any other friend that I had.
He was an amazing man and an incredible chronicler of our times. As a culinarian, one of the handful of people when they write about this era 100 years from now, his name will be in there.
He changed -- he changed the very nature of the relationship that chefs -- real chefs in real restaurants have to patrons to food and most importantly their own professions. And I think that's probably his greatest contribution. He changed the rules of the game completely.
I was talking to a -- a mutual friend earlier, and, you know, in the '80s, you know, as Food Network was being created, there was no -- people didn't have the Internet in the palm of their hand. And we were used to chefs in white coats making things very fancy, and Food Network was all, you know, talking heads behind cutting boards.
And along came this short piece in "New York" magazine that became the book "Kitchen Confidential" that absolutely changed the way we look at chefs in restaurants, and almost overnight single-handedly evaporated one type of chef from our consciousness --
ZIMMERN: -- and elevated another chef into our consciousness. And he showed us the beautiful pirate ship of kitchens --
CUOMO: The pirate ship.
ZIMMERN: -- in this country and around the world.
Yes, a pirate ship. It was --
[21:10:00] CUOMO: It's the right way to put it.
ZIMMERN: He was an incredible -- it is. And he was -- and he was an incredible -- for anyone who played team sports or worked in a kitchen or worked on a TV crew or anything where you have the camaraderie and esprit de corps that's necessary to be successful, they can certainly relate to that. But Tony was one of the most important cultural interpreters of our time.
CUOMO: And unique. I mean, he would often correct me and say it's not about the food, it's about the culture, it's about the people and that connection. And, of course, he was so so right it starts with the food maybe in terms of the interest in this show, but it goes well beyond.
Let me ask you, when was the last time you spoke to your friend?
ZIMMERN: We shared a couple of texts and a phone call two or three weeks ago.
CUOMO: Any indication that he was in a bad place?
ZIMMERN: No. No, not at all. In fact, the last couple of times I spoke to him, I remarked to other friends of mine that I had never seen him as happy. He told me that in his -- in his relationship with his girlfriend, not only had he never been happier but he never liked himself more. Those were his words.
And we -- we actually were -- we had the occasion to text and then talk about a generous moment at an awards show that Spike Lee demonstrated to his girlfriend, walking across the room to speak with her after an awards show in Europe where she spoke out loudly about the #MeToo issues of the day.
ZIMMERN: And he -- he knew that Spike Lee had done something very generous to a member of my family that is -- has some mental health issues. And we conversed it about it at length.
My -- it's interesting that you talked about the unimportant nature of food to the conversation -- to the conversation that Tony liked to have with his audience in his shows. And that's true. We used to both joke that if we were doing shows, as long as you tell the same stories that we could tell about it hardware or, you know, plastic solo cups, we would do it.
CUOMO: I thought he was going to take a turn -- I thought he was going to take a turn in his life.
ZIMMERN: Food is a lot tastier.
CUOMO: When we would talk --
ZIMMERN: How so?
CUOMO: -- talk about his show and his passions -- you know, I love food, I love to cook, but I didn't have that culinary bond with Tony. And then one day, he asked me, you know, what are you passionate about? What is your thing? And I said, you know, nothing really. Typical stuff, family,
whatever. And I said, I love to fight -- and his eyes got so big. And he had recently discovered BJJ Brazilian jujitsu and he was so passionate about it.
CUOMO: And the last time I spoke about his new season, he said, you know what I love about it, the struggle. And I thought that was so interesting, especially someone living a life of recovery as he was, that he loved the struggle, the difficulty of figuring ways through it and how to get out of it. And I thought that was such a reflection of his resilience and what he had learned about himself.
And then this? I mean, how do you make sense of it, Andrew?
ZIMMERN: I don't make sense of it at all. I've lost many friends to suicide. I've been sober for 27 years and I've seen a lot of people not make it. I've seen a lot of people relapse and take their own lives.
I've seen -- I've had a lot of friends who, you know, have done the suicide by accidental overdose. And it is -- it is something that you can never make sense of.
And, you know, I think, you know, in a few cases, we can -- we can point to friends who have battled horrific depression very publicly. You know the Robin Williams comes to mind as someone who was very open about his struggle.
And so, when -- when the news came of Robin Williams' death, I did-- and I did not have a personal relationship with the man. But there was a small piece of it that made sense. As if anything could make sense of someone being in so much pain --
[21:15:00] ZIMMERN: -- that the only way out was to take their own life.
I did not see that in my friend Tony. And I'm -- I actually am -- the thing I'm -- I'm most afraid of right now is some -- some horrific thing that I didn't know about coming out, you know, in the news, in the next couple of days. And I pray that it doesn't, because I'd rather be struggling with, you know, I don't know why than having some reason put in front of me and thinking that maybe there was something I could have done or said to help him.
The idea that any human being, let alone someone you care about who is your friend, who has been there for you. I mean, Tony was always there for me whenever I wanted to talk about struggling in my own life, and was always far more interested in other people or news of the day than he was in talking about himself.
But I would -- you know, the idea that we -- we go to bed at night, night after night after night in so much pain until finally that's the only solution that comes to mind, to think of a friend or a loved one in that situation is just -- it's agonizing me right now. And my heart is breaking for, you know, the people who loved him, you know, his girlfriend --
ZIMMERN: -- his wives, his daughter who -- I have relationships with many of those people. And it's a very sad day for all of us, in the professional culinary world, in the world of television and storytelling where I come from --
ZIMMERN: -- and for his fans all over the world.
ZIMMERN: Tony understood the transformative power of travel as well as anyone. He almost created the idea himself. But, you know, as Americans especially, we devour other cultures with our mouths first.
CUOMO: Right, well said.
ZIMMERN: Right? We take in and accept other cultures through food, which is why Tony starts with food.
ZIMMERN: Which is why I start with food. But what's more important than food and Tony knew this better than anyone are people and their stories --
ZIMMERN: And the things that you can learn on the road that transform you. And then you hope bit by bit to import a little bit of that back into your day to day life once you get back home, the things you learn on the road were better versions of ourselves on the road. And I think Tony loved the version of himself that was -- that was on the road, that struggle that you talked about.
CUOMO: Well, so many others did as well, Andrew.
And I have to tell you, I know this is a terrible time. My hope is that by talking about him and remembering the beauty of your friendship and what he meant to everybody else, it will bring you a little bit of solace in a very difficult time.
Thank you for stopping your shooting to come to talk to us. I appreciate it.
Chef Andrew Zimmern, thank you very much for doing this. And really, I'm sorry for your loss.
And later, we're going to have more about Tony. And another member of our CNN family is going to join with us a very
personal story that will teach us about the pain of suicide for those left behind.
Plus, we really have something for you that you're going to want to stick around for. It has been proven to help you save someone who cannot save themselves.
But straight ahead, the tense summit with six of our greatest allies, and the reason behind President Trump wanting to add another seat at the table for Russia, next.
CUOMO: All right. Let's go to big news right now. Something that's happening right now and something that's about to happen.
We're in the midst of the two of the biggest international moments of the Trump presidency. The North Korea summit and Trump's call to add Russia back to the G7.
Now, let's go through the big points, OK. What do I have? Well, know lab -- well actually we know very little about the strategy on both fronts. But it's the outside optics that are very concerning.
First, North Korea, OK? President Trump went from being very tough to now all love for a known murderous despot. Why? Here's the gamble, right? By showing the love, Trump is hoping for peace, right?
But look at the give and the get. This murderous regime has wanted for generations to get this type of seat at the table. And Trump is hoping that he will get back nuke free peace. But it's a big bet because North Korea hasn't had to give up anything to get the gift of this summit.
And they have never made good on a promise of this scale before. So, that's the concern there. You are giving a lot, what are you going to get back?
Now, Russia. What are you getting for the love you've given to Putin? Nothing. Very unclear with this G7 strategy. The president dropped this nugget before he ended up to the meeting in Quebec.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: And now, breaking news, the White House says the U.S. along with other world leaders is kicking Russia out of the G8. This comes after a senior U.S. defense official tells CNN that on the Ukraine-Russia border, Russia, quote, has enough troops they could move against Ukraine at any time now.
(END VIDEO) [21:25:00] CUOMO: Donald Trump has never looked and sounded better. No, that was Erin Burnett explaining why Russia was kicked out of the G8, made it the G7.
What the president has said today was, we have to add them back. They should have a seat at the table. No one was meeting him there wants that. Why? Because of what you just heard Erin say.
They got rid of him from the G8 for good reason. Like what? They annexed Crimea, forcibly annexing Crimea from Ukraine. A violent land grab the likes of which we haven't seen since World War II.
Russia is still there, by the way. And Putin just said he would never leave. Then after Crimea, what happened? Two hundred and ninety- eight people blown out of the sky on Flight MH-17.
I was there in Ukraine. I saw the troops speaking with Russian accents, often in Russian uniforms being denied by Russia as being there, refusing to let the dead receive any respect. We heard their subtle and in-your-face threats that there was more to come.
And Russia does keep doing more -- poisoning spies, hacking the American power grid and, of course, missing with our elections and other countries' elections. No apologies. Just more chaos.
And yet Trump wants to give them this gift. Why?
Let's get after it with a former senior Trump campaign adviser who worked in Russia and knows the issues well.
Michael Caputo is here.
So, Michael, help me understand. Lead with strength, that's Trump on everyone but Putin. And once again, he is trying to be nice to a man who imagined aiming missiles at Trump's house. Why? Why does he want to give Russia a seat at the table?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I think the president -- and in the run up to the election talked a lot about wanting a better relations with Russia, just like President George W. Bush did, just like Bill Clinton did, just like Barack Obama did.
And he had optimistic hopes that there would be a better relationship. I think that's pretty much squandered now considering the things that have gone down between our nations especially in Syria and elsewhere. And --
CUOMO: Right. But, Michael, so much has change, right? I get what he was saying before. Who doesn't want better relations with any super, or close to superpower? That makes sense.
But then you go on the facts and circumstances. Then you have the Russian interference. You have everything else that's going on. Do you agree with this move to give them a seat at the table? CAPUTO: No, I don't. I don't separate myself from the president on
very many issues. This is one where I separate myself. You know, I lived in Russia in the '90s when the G7, they called it the Bolshoi Vasmyurka (ph) was trying to enlarge itself to the G8 with Russia.
And the G7 office in Moscow, my friend headed that office and they were very busy trying to put Russia through a series of tests and have things change in the country for the better in many different ways, whether it was civil liberties.
CAPUTO: Or free press or even economics before they considered them to be the Bolshoi Vasmyurka (ph). And I think, you know, just allowing them and again without -- like I've always thought that until the murder of the Forbes editor Paul Klebnikov is brought to justice, I don't want to see Russia in the family of man. Until the murder of Boris Nemtsov is brought to justice, I'm not really interested in this.
CUOMO: These -- and those are arcane names for many people. They won't be familiar with those situations. They can Google them and find out.
But you have 298 lives unaccounted for in terms of who took them.
[21:30:00] CUOMO: And we now know that it was a Russian launcher.
CAPUTO: But we know now that it was the Russians that shot them down.
CUOMO: A Russian launcher. You know, look, I'm fine with going on the facts. I just wish that there had been more probity here, more urgency by the Obama administration and this one.
But here is what I don't get, I don't get the disconnect. You don't agree with the move, and you're like a lot of people around the president, though. You'll argue, well, he wants to be strong on Russia. He's been very strong.
But then something like this happens, and you don't call it out as either a real hypocrisy or just a move that is dangerous and shows that something is amiss somewhere in his motivations. Why not? Why not more people saying Trump should have never said this?
CAPUTO: I don't think it's either of those --
CUOMO: This is a mistake, don't do it.
CAPUTO: I don't know the motivations for it. I'm not being called into the Oval Office to give him advice on this. But if I were, I would urge him not to do it. I would think that if the G-7 were interested as a group to bring
Russia in, they should do the same thing they did in the '90s and set up the operation in Moscow and urge them through a process that make sure that they deserve it.
CUOMO: Fine, but that would be being tough.
CAPUTO: In addition to that, however --
CUOMO: That would be being tough. See -- I don't see how he's being tough on this guy. I don't get it. I can't imagine any other leader who could get away with Donald Trump, with pretending to aim missiles at his house. Do you remember that video where Putin says here is the new capability that we have, and they put up a map of Florida and they simulate missiles coming down right where Mar-a-Lago is, and Trump said nothing.
CAPUTO: Yes. Well, I remember when Ronald Reagan said we're going to begin bombing in five minutes. There is a lot of miscommunication between nations.
I got to believe that Putin understands that Donald Trump's military killed 400 Russians in Syria when they were attacking American -- you know a base that contained American military men. I got to believe that the sanctions and other things that are still up against the Russians between the Americans and the Russians, those things are taken seriously.
I believe the people I know in Russia are confused. They don't know what to expect next from Donald Trump. Perhaps this is a way -- this G-8 proposal is part of a bigger strategy.
My problem is I don't think Russia is anywhere near ready for a reentry to the G-7, to the G-8. And there is a long onboarding process between now and then.
CUOMO: Well, it would be nice to know what's motivating all this. That's for sure.
Let me ask you something else that's much more clear. The special counsel comes down new charges against Paul Manafort, a man you know well. Witness tampering, obstruction of justice. Not the kinds of things that an innocent man does.
Not to prejudge, innocent until proven guilty. But rarely do you see somebody who is innocent tampering with witnesses. How do you explain this?
CAPUTO: I haven't seen the evidence. I don't believe -- I mean, this is out of character for Paul Manafort to do something like this.
CUOMO: I've seen it.
CAPUTO: I don't know about the charges -- [21:35:00] CUOMO: That filing is thick, Michael, and they have tons
of this communications and while redacted, they show a clear effort.
CAPUTO: I've seen it too.
I don't believe that Paul did what's alleged. I don't know exactly what Konstantin Kilimnik did, the second person indicted, the Russian Ukrainian indicted in this new filing. I think we're going to see more of this kind of hard push tactics on Paul Manafort because he is not declaring -- not pleading guilty and refusing to give information that doesn't exist on President Trump's alleged collusion with Russia.
CUOMO: How do you know it doesn't exist?
CUOMO: Why would the special counsel --
CAPUTO: I mean, as far as I know it doesn't exist.
CUOMO: Well, that's a difference. It's very different standard, right?
CAPUTO: As far as I know, it doesn't exist. But I don't believe -- I understand. But I don't believe -- I think Paul's stuck in a bad spot just like Papadopoulos is stuck in a bad spot, some of these other guys. They don't have anything to give.
CUOMO: We don't know that.
CAPUTO: The president and none of these men and women that were around him --
CUOMO: But you don't know that.
CAPUTO: I don't believe that they do because I was on the inside of that and I --
CUOMO: But it's important, words matter. And when you don't fuel the misperception of known fact with how you feel about things you're free to have feelings, you're free to come on --
CAPUTO: But we also know at this point we know of know evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We know of none.
CUOMO: Because it hasn't.
CAPUTO: Right? It had nothing to do with the elections.
CUOMO: But that's only at least in my case a function of what I have seen divulged through this investigation. You now, but the idea --
CUOMO: -- that there's been no truth, what is this the 20th set of indictments we have seen from this person and guilty pleas?
CAPUTO: Certainly -- none of them on collusion with Russia. We also know if you look at.
CUOMO: That's not true. But it's no Trump staffer who has been caught up in doing that.
CUOMO: But lying --
CAPUTO: They have.
[21:40:00] CUOMO: -- lying about conversations like this. When you say -- they're not going after Manafort simply for a squeeze, right, because they have indictments of other crimes that are unrelated to the collusion. But it does seem they were trying to squeeze him about this.
This is my last question on this for you. Why would they go to the effort to squeeze him, telling him about the tampering but not charging, then going for a change in his release order but not charging, and then only finally charging? That seems to be a stepped process where they believe there is something more for them to get. That's a lot of effort, isn't it?
CAPUTO: It is. It's the same effort that Weissmann and his cohorts put into the Enron investigation. This is chapter and verse of a federal investigation like this. I believe they're trying to put pressure on Paul Manafort in the hopes that he will give something on Donald Trump. I don't believe there is anything to give.
So Paul Manafort finds himself in a pressure cooker with really no way out except to face them down in court which is what he plans to do.
CUOMO: You spoke to him recently. How did he sound to you?
CAPUTO: You know, Paul knew what he was signing up for when he decided to fight this. He knew the lay of the land then. He knew that the men and women involved in the special counsel's office -- all you had to do was look at Enron and what they did to the Merrill Lynch executives who were eventually were found not guilty, put them in prison while they waited for that.
I mean, Paul had to believe during this stage of the game that it was getting more difficult, that Weissmann and the rest of the prosecutors in the Mueller investigation were turning up the heat. It's hot. Of course, it is.
But Paul is standing up tall. He is going to -- he knew what to expect and is working with his attorneys and they still feel that they'll prevail.
CUOMO: You start talking to people who are going to be witnesses in the case you are asking for trouble now he has it on top of the original charges. So, we'll see where it heads up. Michael Caputo, thank you for joining us this first week of the show.
Appreciate your adding to the mix.
CAPUTO: Congratulations on a great week this week, Chris.
CUOMO: Thank you, appreciate.
All right. Up next, we have some great debate as the president's former campaign chair gets into even more legal trouble like we were just talking about, not just with Mueller but also a grand jury.
The White House has a very clear strategy about how to deal with all of this: undermine the special counsel, say he shouldn't even exist. Let's hash this issue out once and for all, next.
CUOMO: All right. So what do we know now? With today's Manafort indictments, the Mueller indictment just hit another milestone: 20 people charged. That's on top of more than 100 counts on the books.
But there is this counteroffensive by Trump supporters to be sure, that there should be no special counsel, period. You think about it, you've been hearing that more and more.
So, let's get after it right now. We got Rich Lowry and Catherine Rampell here for the great debate.
Good to have you both. Thank you for joining the show.
[21:45:00] RICH LOWRY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Chris.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks.
CUOMO: So, Rich, we start with you. You heard the numbers there. These are crimes, if committed, they will be tried. How is this not proof positive that the probe was necessary?
LOWRY: Well, Chris, the way I think this should have gone down is there is a public interest in learning the truth about Russian meddling obviously and if there was any collusion.
The best way to do that is not a prosecutor which is -- he is basically operating in a black box except for when see these indictments, it would be a 9/11-style independent commission to get to the bottom of all this and issue a very public report.
And the obstruction case, to the extent there is one against the president of the United States, shouldn't be undertaken by a prosecutor who under current Justice Department guidelines cannot indict him for any crimes, but by Congress in an impeachment inquiry. If the Democrats take the House, they're welcome to do that. That would be the constitutional way to undertake such a query.
CUOMO: Did you have the same complain during Clinton? Did you say they shouldn't be doing this? LOWRY: Well, there was an independent counsel then as a matter of law.
CUOMO: What's the difference?
LOWRY: Well, one, the independent counsel is trying reported automatically under law. Very bad idea we pose the independent --
CUOMO: Well, there was the same political process no both cases, right, that's why they went away from the statute after that. They didn't want to renew it. But I'm saying --
LOWRY: Right. There was an agreement, Chris. We weren't going to do this again.
You get all the process crimes. People shouldn't lie to the FBI, that's wrong. But this is not the way to do politics. So --
CUOMO: All right. But, we don't know -- we don't know the full fruit of this yet.
LOWRY: We don't, but there is no sign so far any of these indictments of an underlying conspiracy.
CUOMO: Understood, understood.
LOWRY: And if there were a conspiracy, you would make people plea to that, not just to the process crimes.
CUOMO: Well, there certainly would be conspiracy. Collusion is not a crime on the books. It would be conspiracy.
But here is the thing, Catherine. There's one -- there are two lines, right? One is we haven't gotten any proof. We never asked that in any other investigation by the way.
When there is a murder trial, nobody says, well, I didn't get any proof out of it today. They wait for the jury to come back with a verdict before they have a decision. Not here. Why? Because we're playing politics.
What do you think of the notion that what Russia did and whether or not anyone around Trump helped, there is no reason for special counsel, Rosenstein made a mistake.
RAMPELL: I think that's absolutely incorrect. I guess the real question here is what is the right number of emails that Trump campaign officials should have exchanged with Russian agents? What is the right number of meetings that they should have held with Russians agents? What was the right amount of business that the Trump Organization should have been pursuing through the Russian government getting permitting for a Trump Tower in Moscow during the middle of the election?
These are all questions that I would hope the answer is zero. We know the answer is not zero. I think it's perfectly appropriate that those kinds of questions should be investigated by a seasoned law enforcement officer.
We have seen a -- you know, parallel investigations carrying out on the Hill. It's not exactly comparable to the 9/11 Commission. But you can imagine, you know, how politicized those have been. It's hard for me to imagine that any sort of attempt for a similar commission this time around that was open to the public would not be similarly politicized.
So, I think it's --
CUOMO: Fair point.
RAMPELL: So, I think it's appropriate that we have a law enforcement official investigating this, and that we are not entitled to know day to day where he stands on things. I think that would potentially, you know, hurt the nature of the investigation. It would further politicized it.
LOWRY: You can't say we want to know and then we're not entitled to know. That's the problem with doing this in the criminal prosecution. That's the -- the public has an interest in knowing. This isn't all about, you know, driving George Papadopoulos into the ground.
And Paul Manafort, you know could have been indicted probably any time over the last five, seven years. And there is no reason that Eastern District of Virginia couldn't have handled that case. You don't need a special prosecutor for that.
RAMPELL: Look, you know -- look, I agree with you. It would have been preferable if the crimes that Paul Manafort has been charged with, including money laundering, tax evasion, conspiracy against the United States government, it would have been preferable if we had caught that several years ago.
But you know what? We didn't catch it several years ago. And the reason why it's in the crosshairs now why it came to the notice of law enforcement is because this is a guy who -- who is $17 million in hawk to pro-Russian interests, who was strapped for cash, who showed up at the door of a major party candidate and offered to work for free, which you know for a seasoned political hand is a little bit suspicious.
For the kids watching at home, you know, if somebody shows up at your door for free and offers to run your political campaign, your presidential campaign, probably means you're not the customer, you're the product.
All of these red flags were raised as a result of election.
LOWRY: Right. RAMPELL: All of these things are related.
LOWRY: You're going to get -- you're going to get no argument from me that Paul Manafort is dirty. And it's been evident he has been dirty for a very long time, and there is some indications he was on the Justice Department radar screen for a very long time.
LOWRY: But there is no reason that that needs to be prosecuted by the special prosecutor.
CUOMO: But here's the reason -- here's the reason and then we'll end on this, I have another topic I want to get your good minds on. And it's this -- where it your confidence, Lowry, that the politicians can handle this?
You know, Catherine's point, we have these parallel oversight committees going on, Senate Intel -- I reserve judgment. Let's see what they come up with ultimately. But the House, what a mess. What an idea that they would be the only sets of eyes on this situation. We would have never figured anything out, Rich. It's so toxically partisan you need something independent.
LOWRY: I think in the political shock after the firing of Comey, you could have stood up a serious independent commission. And that would have been a better way to handle it.
Now, we don't know, Chris, I'll change my mind about Mueller if we see underlying facts. But so far, the indications are, it's a typical special prosecutor probe that kind of rumbles on and becomes an ongoing legal ombudsman against the administration it's targeting.
That's just not under the Constitution the way these things are supposed to be handled. It's supposed to be handled by politically accountable bodies. If he's obstructed -- if he's abused powers, it's for Congress to take it up and start impeachment inquiry.
It's not for the inferior officer in the executive branch --
CUOMO: But nobody argues --
LOWRY: -- to take it upon himself to investigate the abuse of power.
CUOMO: When Mueller came up and that this was what was going to happen, Trump didn't like it but there was no cry of non- constitutional exercise here by anybody within the party. But let's leave that debate there --
LOWRY: There were by some of my colleagues.
CUOMO: Right, but I'm saying -- look, they're not quiet people, all right? If they thought they had a strong case there, we would have heard it at that time.
LOWRY: I'm just saying there was a case and it was made by people. It wasn't necessarily made by Republican politicians, but I'm not here to carry water for Republican politicians.
CUOMO: Right, but I'm forcing it on you. I'm pointing that water right on your head, Lowry.
LOWRY: Don't do it, Chris.
CUOMO: Let me ask you something else. Preexisting conditions, the president said he would leave them alone, that they were very important trying to deal with it. And now, they're backdooring it, Catherine. They have DOJ in the form of Sessions through a policy move deciding to try to weaken the need of a requirement of preexisting conditions.
Do we believe this is something that can happen?
RAMPELL: They've already started doing it actually before the announcement, that they were going to no longer defend this particular provision of the Obamacare. They've done this through regulatory measures, by increasing the availability of short term health insurance plans, association health insurance plans that are not subject to these particular kinds of consumer protections which are, you know, guaranteed issue for people with preexisting conditions.
So, this is not the first time they've done this. And I think this is an occasion where it's both bad policy and bad politics. Those two things do not always coincide as I'm sure rich knows. But in this case, they do.
Look, this particular protection, you know, making sure that people who have cancer, who have lupus, who have MS --
CUOMO: People will die.
CUOMO: I know people think that that's hyperbolic, and it's not nice. Look, Rich, you can shake your head, but I'll tell you, I'll send you cases where if you won't cover people because of the condition, you wind up making them susceptible to the same and worse maladies, and you wind up have a lethality.
LOWRY: This is not the only way you can take care of people with preexisting conditions. And the reason why the Obamacare exchanges are so unstable and were unstable prior to President Trump --
CUOMO: Because they got rid of the mandate, by the way.
LOWRY: No, no, they were already unstable.
RAMPELL: No, they had largely stabilized if you look at the prices they had.
LOWRY: Well, they doubled over the course of the life of law.
CUOMO: That's because things didn't do what they were supposed to do and make the pool bigger. But go ahead, make the point.
LOWRY: You're pricing out middle class people who are not qualifying for the subsidies and can't afford health insurance. That's a perverse law. And the regulations are driving it.
So, what you want to do is have one way to handle it at least would be properly constructed, properly funded high risk pools to take care of people that it's very difficult to insure. And then have low cost insurance for everyone else.
CUOMO: Those pools haven't worked well and here is the problem, if you leave it to the corporations to figure out how to protect the people with preexisting conditions, they won't, which is why it had to be --
LOWRY: You can still have the regulation for high risk pool. You're not --
RAMPELL: Yes, you could do that, but Congress --
CUOMO: But then you price those people out.
Final point and we'll go.
RAMPELL: Congress has shown no interest in adequately funding high risk pools. Yes, there are a lot of different ways to skin a cat, as the expression goes. And you could have the subsidies for people and have guaranteed issue. You could have high risk pools and adequately subsidize those high risk pools. But Congress has shown no interest in doing that.
RAMPELL: So, you have to build on the system that you have or have the guts to come up with an alternative system that's adequately funded. And so, so far, Congress has mot done that.
CUOMO: Rich Lowry, Catherine Rampell, thank you very much.
LOWRY: Congratulations on the show, Chris.
CUOMO: Appreciate it.
LOWRY: I have one criticism. That is the worse drawn peace sign I've ever seen on that white board, or worse. But I don't like peace signs, so it's OK.
CUOMO: You don't like peace signs, that's the worst thing you've said today.
CUOMO: Take care. Thank you for making the show what it is. Appreciate both of you.
All right. When we return, we have a special moment here. We have a member of our CNN family, David Axelrod. You know the Axe. But he is talking about something tonight that's much more personal than politics. And he's going to helps us understand what the loss of Tony Bourdain means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, PARTS UNKNOWN: Is it all worth it? Man, look, I'm not going to say it's hard out there on the road. I have a good life. I have the dream job. I have the best job in the world.
But there is -- there is a price to be paid when your dreams come true. Is it worth it? If it wasn't worth it, I wouldn't do it. So I guess the answer is, yes. It is worth it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[21:55:00] CUOMO: All right. I want to bring in David Axelrod right now. You all know him. He's a pivotal part of our political coverage, but he's giving us a special gift tonight.
I want to remind people, David. After us, we're having a special tribute to Anthony Bourdain for the whole hour at 10:00. They're remembering Anthony Bourdain. That's right after this.
Now, Axe, people aren't going to know this. You have written about it in recent years, but you didn't for a long time. Your family knows this pain of loss.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
CUOMO: You've lost your father to suicide in the 1970s. You tweeted: Please, please let us treat mental illness, depression and suicide as health issues, not defects of character. That stigma is part of what prevents people from getting the help they need.
How do you think we end the stigma surrounding suicide?
AXELROD: Well, by talking about it. You know, Chris, for 30 years, I never talked publicly about how my father died.
I was 19 years old. I was a student at the University of Chicago. A police officer came to my apartment knocked on my door. My roommate was reluctant to let him in, it being the '70s.
And I said, no let him in. And he said, are you David Axelrod? I said, yes. He says, your father Joseph Axelrod? I said yes.
And I knew when he asked that question something terrible had happened, he told me that my father had committed suicide and I needed to go back to New York. The NYPD wanted me to come and identify the body.
And it was just a stunning surreal horrific event. But I didn't talk about it. I didn't talk about it for years and years and years because somehow I thought it besmirched my father's memory to talk about how he died.
And I finally realized that was all wrong, that it was, it was exactly that that caused him not to get the help he needed. And by the way, he was a mental health professional but he helped other people, but he didn't reach out for help, and so, it didn't feel like he could reach out for help himself.
And I wrote a piece in "The Chicago Tribune" on Father's Day in 2006 talking about this. And I got the greatest outpouring of letters and calls from people all over the country telling me that, you know, they've been struggling with depression or they lost someone to suicide.
AXELROD: And they didn't think they could talk about it. We've got to talk about these things. And maybe the one thing that will come out of those tragic deaths of Tony Bourdain and Kate Spade is that we'll have a more public discussion because we have an epidemic suicide in this country and we need to do something about it.
CUOMO: And it's a by-product of how we treat mental health. What was it that made you decide to come out about this in 2006?
AXELROD: Well, I mean, I thought long and hard -- first of all, I missed my father. It was Fathers' Day, and Fathers' Day fell roughly in the same vicinity of time when all of this happened in the spring of 1974. So, I was thinking about it a lot.
But I really did get -- I really started thinking about why is it -- why am I so afraid to talk about this? And then I had to confront the question of was I worried about him or did I think somehow, it was shameful for me that my father had committed suicide. And I was profoundly embarrassed when I came to that realization.
You know, mental suicide is a consequence of depression, of mental illness. You know, when I heard about Tony Bourdain today, it immediately took me back. I still don't know how my father got lost in that long dark tunnel where he felt he had no other way out or how Tony Bourdain did.
But we know that before people enter that tunnel, if they don't feel alone that you can perhaps prevent these things from happening. So, you know, that's why I spoke out then. I think we all need to be more upfront about this now and assure people who are struggling with depression and mental illness that it's not a defect of character, it is an illness like any other illness and there are treatments for it. You should reach out and get help and it's great that people are showing the suicide hotline that's going to be helpful. But we all need to be much more open about these challenges.
CUOMO: David Axelrod, you are saying what people need to hear once again. This time, it's personal for you, not political. But you know what? Any implications will become political in terms of how we deal with this plague of mental health that deals with these types of deaths by suicide. Axe, thank you for helping us out.
AXELROD: OK, Chris. Good to be with you.
CUOMO: The best to you and the memory of your father. Be well.
AXELROD: Thank you so much.
CUOMO: All right. So, as Axe was telling us, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, surprising losses. But they did not die in a surprising way. Suicide is a dirty secret in our society. It is plague that has taken more lives every year for decades.
We don't talk about it because as Axe said, there is a stigma and a shame attached.
Even the phone number on this screen, we put it up there. It's good. It's good to get the information out there. It's good to give people a chance.
But there's an assumption, and it's that people in that kind of pain will have the will to ask for help. But too often, they do not. The rest of us feel powerless to do anything, especially when the person in need never says anything.
But, maybe that's because we're not asking them the right questions. But you can. And in doing so, you might just help stop a suicide. Please do this for me and for yourself.
Search online for Columbia Protocol for Suicide Prevention. Columbia Protocol for Suicide Prevention. I also tweeted out the link. Go to my page, @ChrisCuomo and you'll see it.
What is it? Six very simple questions that you can ask anyone that you're worried about. One of them is whatever -- they ever wish they could go to sleep and not wake up? Have they started collecting pills? Have they gotten a gun, or given away valuables? Basic ways to help pick up crucial warning signs.
All right. You're going to be skeptical, I understand. The Marine Corps rolled out this protocol for everyone to use for legal assistance to members of clergy, what happened? Suicide among active duty marines went down 22 percent in 2014. That's a big number.
But here's the catch, maybe it's not the magic of the questions, the catch is that the protocol works because people care enough to engage. That's another thing that is revealed by suicide, another dirty secret. We need to care. Caring counts. It can literally be medicine for someone in mental or emotional suffering.
So, reach out. Don't wonder what's going on with someone, ask them. We are all in this together and we need to show it. If you do, it can literally be a life saver.
I'm Chris Cuomo. Thank you so much for being with me this week.