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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy; Woman Wearing Puerto Rico T- Shirt Gets Harassed; Elderly Man Gets Attacked for Crossing Border Legally; Interview with Rep. Tim Ryan. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired July 11, 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: Boy, that will be great. Anderson, thank you so much.
I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
Right now, it's about 3:00 a.m. in Brussels and many of the NATO allies are probably tossing in their sleep because President Trump treated the first day of the summit like he was talking to frenemies. Germany is Russia's captive? Why is he doing this?
Senator Chris Murphy is here tonight. He sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, and he says he has an answer, and we're going to test it.
Plus, have you seen the ugly episodes that just keep popping up with people of color being hurt with words and worse? Are these random exceptions or a sign of the times? We have a debate and the facts.
And will Congressman Tim Ryan gun for Nancy Pelosi's job again? There's unrest in the Democratic Party. Could the time be right? We're going to ask him.
What do you say, everybody? Let's get after it.
CUOMO: You may know that the motto of the American troops in Europe as part of our NATO commitment is "Stronger Together".
Well, President Trump took a hammer to that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Germany as far as I'm concerned is captive to Russia because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia. So, we're supposed to protect Germany, but they're getting their energy from Russia. Explain that. It can't be explained. You know that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: It was the insult heard round the world. And wait until you hear Angela Merkel's response.
So, what is Trump's plan? What is his purpose, doing this before the big Putin summit?
Chris Murphy is a Democrat from Connecticut, a U.S. senator. He says he knows.
Senator, good to have you on the show.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Yes, thanks for having me.
CUOMO: What is your suspicion? Why would the president of the United States go to NATO and beat it up right before a meeting with a man who needs to respect and fear NATO the most, Vladimir Putin?
MURPHY: So, I think this president views our friends as rivals. He thinks that we are stronger if those that are closest to us are weaker. And that is why from the very beginning of this presidency he's been taking it to some of our closest partners like the Canadians or the Europeans.
But I also think he's a deconstructionist. I mean, I think he still is listening to Steve Bannon and his crowd that wants to see the existing world order taken apart and the existing world order and the safety and security that is brought to the globe is due in large part to NATO and to the European Union -- two organizations that Trump is seemingly trying to destroy.
Now, there is clearly another theory of the case. The other theory of the case is that Donald Trump owes something to Russia, that the Russians have something over Donald Trump's head which is causing him to do their bidding because clearly the biggest winner out of today is Vladimir Putin. He wants nothing more than for NATO to be weak and for Europe to fall apart.
We will obviously wait for the Mueller report before we weigh in dispositively on the question of whether Russia --
MURPHY: -- has something over Donald Trump. But you have to consider that possibility.
CUOMO: Well, it is a possibility. But there are others. And the administration would point to the fact that you may not like the president's style but it is effective and sometimes it has an impact on the powerful that the rest of us don't understand.
And they'll say, you know, you think he upset Germany today by what he said, but what he said was the truth and they're OK with it and they're pointing to what the German ambassador said to Wolf Blitzer today.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMILY HABER, GERMAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: I don't think that the chancellor came out of the meeting today with the American president feeling belittled.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": So let me just be precise, Madam Ambassador. Despite these angry words by the president of the United States, the outcome of the meeting with Chancellor Merkel today was positive?
HABER: They had a very good meeting, and I believe the NATO summit was a very good summit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Change your read?
MURPHY: No. I mean, listen, the Europeans are trying to be the bigger party to this dispute. They are trying to do the right thing and hold together the transatlantic alliance. All they're trying to do I think is just survive Donald Trump so that 2 1/2 years from now maybe NATO still exists.
And so, of course, they're going to try to say that the alliance is still strong. But the fact of the matter is Europe is just making other plans right now. Right now, the Europeans are creating a parallel defense structure inside Europe to start making alternate plans because they're not sure they can rely on the United States. It also means they're going to be buying a lot of equipment from European companies rather than American companies.
So, no, I think the Europeans are going to continue to say the alliance is strong, the meetings are not as bad as you think because they're just trying to survive Donald Trump.
CUOMO: Well, you did have the head of the E.U. yesterday, another Donald, suggest America be good to its allies because it doesn't have that many, which then again suggested that maybe Trump is hurting us abroad. And now, we have these reports that in the U.K., that the U.S. government is telling people through the embassy there that Americans should keep a low profile during his visit. I mean, whoever thought that we'd have to deal with that in the United Kingdom?
But then you do have the idea that Trump isn't saying anything new, it's how he's saying it. Listen to President Obama talking about the issue of paying in to NATO, paying for one's own defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: The situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn't free. And we've got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, the training that's required to make sure that we have an incredible NATO force and an effective deterrent force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: He had gone as far as to say the word free riders, you can't be having a free ride in NATO.
So, is it just style that's the way Obama said it and the way Trump says it is, you're a bunch of bums and I'm not going to divide anymore if you don't pay up?
MURPHY: Well, you know, Trump is identifying a problem that is the relative lack of defense investment in Europe compared to the United States that was on its way to being solved. Remember, this is the fourth straight year that Europe has increased its defense spending. President Obama had actually begun to have some success on that.
And, you know, Trump also isn't wrong to identify Nord Stream 2, this pipeline --
CUOMO: The pipeline.
MURPHY: -- we talked about today, as problematic for -- yes, this is a pipeline that goes from Russia into Germany --
MURPHY: -- Merkel about it.
CUOMO: And the issue as I understand it, Senator, correct me because I know you have problems with this pipeline as well and I know that there was a letter signed by some 28 Republican senators, 11 Democratic ones, asking Trump to stop this pipeline because it goes directly from Russia to Germany and would therefore while benefiting Germany, would allow Russia to bypass a lot of the former Eastern Bloc States and that's a concern about inequity.
So, is the president wrong to say that this is a problem and that Germany is captive?
MURPHYY: So, the president is not wrong that is a problem. He is wrong that Germany is captive to the Russians. Right now, without U.S. leadership, the Germans are really the most substantial pushback on Russia that exists in the world.
But he's also wrong about how to get this done. I mean, listen, I've got a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old, and I tell them when they want something from their friend, punching them in the face over and over again is probably not the way to get it. And that's what he's been doing to Germany.
It's not just the way he treated Germany today. It's the fact that he sent an ambassador to Germany that has basically been mocking Angela Merkel and her party for most of the time he's been there. He's just not going to get things he wants by treating Germany so shabbily. They have a degree of respect for themselves and they're not going to be forced to do this by mockery, by the president or the people he sends to Berlin.
CUOMO: Later in the show, we're going to play for people how Angela Merkel responded, which really made a lot of people's eyebrows pop. And I think it was a pretty good reflection of the current state of the relationship. But what that means we don't know.
We also don't understand -- and you sit on the Foreign Relations Committee and that's one of the reasons I was happy to have you on tonight is that he's heading into the meeting with Putin. Everybody's expecting him to be tough with Putin because of Crimea, shooting down MH-17, what's happening in Syria, the acid attacks, and, of course, what happened with the U.S. election. And right before he goes into it, he beats up the bulwark that Putin needs to respect and fear most.
How can that be helpful to Trump?
[21:10:00] MURPHY: Yes, it's not helpful. His leverage was already almost zero with Putin, having invited Russia back into the G7 without any preconditions. But he just reduced his leverage even more by telegraphing to Putin that NATO is just getting weaker moving forward, not getting stronger.
The one thing Russia really fears is a strong NATO. That's why they put so much effort into trying to stop NATO from adding members. They tried to stop Montenegro recently. They're now trying to stop Macedonia. Russia doesn't want a strong NATO and that's what Trump is delivering to them, a weaker NATO.
I guess all of our fear is what happens in that room with Putin, what changes he make --
CUOMO: When they're alone, by the way.
MURPHY: Yes. And does Putin run circles around him? This administration has already signaled that it's willing to let them back into the G7, is willing to let them off the hook in Ukraine, for a trade. We don't know what that trade is. And I'm very fearful of what it could be if no one's in that room other than Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
CUOMO: Now, later in the show, we're going to have an expert and professor who's going to argue that it's actually Putin who has the most to risk when they go into that room. I'm looking forward to hearing that because it doesn't make sense to me on the outside.
But, Senator Murphy, thank you very much for your perspective. Appreciate it.
MURPHY: Appreciate it. Thanks.
CUOMO: All right. So when PRIME TIME returns, why do we keep seeing cases of people attacking minorities with words or worse? Is someone starting trouble? Is the answer to who as obvious as you might think?
It is the makings of a great debate with Ana Navarro and Steve Cortes, next. [21:14:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: Welcome back.
No matter your politics, this scene that we're about to show you was embarrassing for us all as Americans. This woman is wearing a t-shirt that said "Puerto Rico." And she starts getting harassed at a park near Chicago.
Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to change us, you know that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not trying to change anyone. I'm just trying to come here for a birthday party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, the world is not going to change the United States of America. Period.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should not be wearing that in the United States of America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a citizen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am a citizen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a United States citizen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you please get away from me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you should not be wearing that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you please get away from me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should be wearing the United States of America flag, not Puerto Rico.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officer, I feel highly uncomfortable. Can you please grab him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Puerto Rico is part of the United States, by the way. And look, even giving this guy the benefit of in vino veritas, you know, if he had a few, it's still the ugliest kind of sense we get better than.
And then you get to this other element. So, there is this young woman with this fool accosting her, and what do the cops do? Later on in the video, there is a female police officer who starts
warning off the man, but there was another male officer who seemingly stood by and did nothing. It was under review, and we're now being told that officer has resigned.
Now, this is not a one-off. There was another incident that fueled a ton of outrage. The 91-year-old man who had traveled from Mexico legally to visit his family in Willowbrook, California. He was beaten with a brick by a woman and several men.
The woman who according to an eyewitness shouted "go back to your country" has been identified by authorities as 30-year-old Laquesha Jones (ph). She was arrested late Tuesday on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.
Why are these happening right now? Are they a sign of the times or one-offs? And what do they say about us?
It is worthy of debate.
Let's bring in Ana Navarro and Steve Cortes.
Ana Navarro, what do you think we're seeing in these incidents?
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think, it feels, contribution as if every crazy racist has been let loose on the streets of America. I am very happy to see that racists are being held accountable. There's also the case of the cop in El Paso who pulled out a gun on Hispanic children.
And what's happening with the African-American community is horrible. Cops are getting called because somebody's wearing socks at a pool. Cops are getting called because somebody is barbecuing, because a little girl is selling lemonade.
I think the racists feel legitimized, feel empowered, feel that they can do it. I think there's this environment of us against them. There is rampant division. And, you know -- and we're seeing it worse and worse every day.
I will tell everybody, you know, whites, blacks, Hispanics, particularly communities of color -- folks, it used to be don't leave home without the American Express. Don't leave home without a smartphone that can video. It makes all the difference. The images is what is making people accountable.
CUOMO: All right. So let's flip it to you, Steve, with this notion. We all know the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire", right? It's always burning since the world's been turning. Another line in that song is, we didn't light it, but we tried to fight it.
And it's that second part that puts scrutiny on your side of the ball here. If you look at this, what, half dozen people that you have running on the Republican side who have some degree of cottoning to white supremacy or worse in different races around the country, the rhetoric of the president, the outgrowth of these incidents, do you feel a sense of responsibility?
[21:20:00] STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: OK. Chris, when you say there, by the way, that cottoning to white supremacists, that's just patently untrue regarding the president. I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else, but on behalf of Donald Trump. That's just not true.
CUOMO: I'm talking about the six people you have running around the country. I'm talking about the guy in Jersey, the guy who's Trump's choice for Senate in Virginia --
CORTES: OK. Look, here's the thing, I -- you know, violence is never OK. And the thugs who beat up that elderly man are thugs and I hope are held criminally responsible.
That idiot in Chicago who didn't even know, by the way, that Puerto Rico's part of America needs a geography lesson first of all, a history lesson. You know, he's reprehensible and totally dismiss him.
Let's also point this out. In Chicago also, my hometown, there was a white teenager, a disabled -- a mentally disabled young man who was incredibly abused by people and who repeatedly shouted "F Donald Trump" while they broadcast it on Facebook live.
So, there's ugliness all around. There's the violence against Steve Scalise. I don't ascribe those, by the way, and I don't blame those on Hillary Clinton or on Bernie Sanders just because the Scalise shooter happened to be a fervent Bernie Sanders supporter.
And I think it's unfair for you or for Ana to try to ascribe or blame Donald Trump because there might be some reprehensible racists out there doing rude and violent things in our country.
That is not Trump's fault. Just as the Scalise shooter is not Bernie Sanders' fault.
CUOMO: Do you think it's an unfair question, Ana?
NAVARRO: I don't. Look, this much is true. Donald Trump did not invent racism. He did not invent bigotry. He did not invent racial violence.
But it is also true that he has pandered to it. He pandered to it in Charlottesville when he equated neo-Nazis with those protesting against them. He pandered to it when he called black athletes sons of bitches. He panders to it at every rally when he demonizes immigrants and never brings up a positive immigrant story. It's all about the bad things that immigrants do.
The other day I was watching TV and I saw this clip of these two little kids in Montana going to a Trump rally. They must have been 8 years old. These two little kids talking about not wanting any more Mexicans here.
Look, you're not born a racist. You are taught to hate. And what we are listening over and over again -- and even if you say
that Trump does not have a responsibility, and I do think he is not solely to blame, but I do think he's legitimized, but even if you want to argue that he doesn't have a responsibility, I would say to you that as president of the United States and with the bully pulpit that he has he does have a responsibility to address what we are seeing daily in America, to address this division, and to call for racial unity and to tell people not to attack Hispanics, not to detain Hispanics for speaking Spanish, not to berate Hispanics in New York for speaking Spanish, not to berate a woman for, you know, displaying a flag of a Puerto Rico -- of Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory.
And to the people who feel attacked, the communities who feel under attack right now, the Puerto Ricans, the Hispanics, the African- Americans, everybody, you know what the fight back is? Vote in November. Vote. And stand with those that stand against that. And punish the ones that don't.
CORTES: Everything you just said about Trump supposedly cottoning racists is wrong. It just patently is. When he talked about Charlottesville, when he said both sides he meant both sides of the debate over Confederate monuments, not both sides of the Charlotte protests. When he talked --
CUOMO: Where did you get that from?
CORTES: -- when he called NFL players who are protesting a bad -- from watching the speech --
CUOMO: He said there were good people down there who were just wanting to celebrate their monuments and their history. No, there weren't. They were haters --
CORTES: No, he meant the both sides --
CUOMO: Who liked the Confederate flag because of its ugliness. You know that, Steve. Those people don't like you either, by the way.
CORTES: Chris, there are good people on both sides of the monument debate. Not good people in the neo-Nazi side. There are no good people there.
And regarding the NFL, there were white players who kneeled as well, who knelt as well. So that was not also a racial issue --
CUOMO: Come on, Steve. Please.
NAVARRO: Come on.
(CROSSTALK) NAVARRO: Stop playing dumb on national TV.
CORTES: It's totally -- no. Because, you know, it's corrosive to our political discourse in this country that when you disagree with somebody politically, your automatic instinct is to call them a racist rather than talk about the policy on which you disagree.
CUOMO: And you don't believe the president has anything to do with that tone, who when he watches this segment will call it fake news and find five terrible things that my kids should never hear about me and put them out there. And his talk like that you don't think --
CUOMO: -- contributes in any way to a tone of cynicism and ugliness. And you don't think he has a responsibility to be better than that?
CORTES: No, quite the opposite, Chris. This president, first of all, is not a racist. And there's no --
CUOMO: I never said he was.
CORTES: There's zero evidence that he is.
CUOMO: I never said he was.
CORTES: Secondly, his policies have been the opposite of racist. All he's doing is making life better for my community, for Hispanics, for African-Americans --
CUOMO: Then why are we seeing all these incidents popping up around the country? Why is there an increase?
CORTES: Because, unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where there's ugliness and some of the ugliness is from people who hate Trump. Some of the ugliness is from people who love Trump. Ugliness regardless. That's why.
But again --
CUOMO: You don't think it's weird that your party --
NAVARRO: Yes, merely coincidence. Just merely coincidence --
[21:25:00] CUOMO: Is it coincidence that your party's got six guys running this year who are all -- who align themselves with this kind of ugliness and one of them the president picks as his choice for senator?
CORTES: You'd have to list me these six. I know one of them who's in Chicago who by the way ran --
CUOMO: Mel, give the list of all six. You got the guy in jersey. You've got the senator -- the guy who's running in Virginia. I don't like saying their names because frankly I don't want to give them any more attention.
NAVARRO: California. The guy in Virginia.
CUOMO: I mean, there are about six guys who are doing it now.
NAVARRO: Guy who lost in Virginia who talked about the Chinese --
CUOMO: I'm just saying why, why encourage that kind of stuff?
CORTES: I have no interest in -- I have no interest in defending these guys. And I don't know enough about them to even want to defend them. And I don't want to quite frankly.
But I will absolutely defend President Trump and tell you that he's not a racist.
CUOMO: He's backing one of them for U.S. Senate.
CORTES: I think it's evidence to Americans from the public record --
CUOMO: He is backing one of them for U.S. Senate. He's backing a guy -- Steve, you need to hear this.
NAVARRO: The Central Park five, housing issues.
CORTES: Oh, gosh.
NAVARRO: Mexicans are rapists and criminals.
CORTES: We're going to go back to Central Park Five now?
CUOMO: It's not like it stopped mattering to those --
NAVARRO: It's not like it was something --
CUOMO: You spend 13 years in prison, see if it doesn't matter anymore to you, Steve.
NAVARRO: Right, nothing matters.
CORTES: Hold on.
CUOMO: He called for the death penalty for those guys. (CROSSTALK)
CORTES: Another thing that you said is that he is disparaging of immigrants. And that's not true. He's disparaging of illegal immigrants.
And I am sick and tired of liberals trying to conflate illegal immigration with legal immigration --
CUOMO: So when he says they are sending us some real beauties --
CORTES: He's married to an immigrant.
NAVARRO: Yes, he loves immigration, particularly the ones that he wants to work at Mar-a-Lago. Talk about the epitome of hypocrisy. The guy spends his time railing against immigration and yet wants to bring 78 foreigners to work at Mar-a-Lago here down the road.
You think there's not any people here where I live who can do the job? He's a hypocrite and he's a racist.
CORTES: I have never heard him say one disparaging thing about legal immigrants to this country. He's the son of an immigrant, as I am. He's married to an immigrant. He loves immigration and what it does for this country.
He can't stand illegal immigration, and he couldn't have been more clear about that, by the way, in his race for the presidency --
CUOMO: So he doesn't want to reduce -- he doesn't want to reduce legal immigration? He doesn't want to reduce legal immigration?
NAVARRO: Let me ask you something.
CUOMO: Hold on a second. We do --
CUOMO: He wants to reduce -- let me do it differently. He wants to reduce legal immigration. He does not speak out when these incidents happen that smack of an ugliness in this country even though theoretically he holds the highest moral position in the country. Why?
CORTES: Look, regarding immigration, I think we do need to do immigration better. And that's not racist to say that we should move to a merit-based system.
CUOMO: I didn't say better. I said less is what he wants. He wants less people coming in.
CORTES: Well, by the way -- CUOMO: So don't say he loves it when he's looking to abridge it is
what I'm trying to say. But also --
CORTES: Hold on. We shouldn't be called racist just because --
CUOMO: I'm not calling you a racist. I'm not about the labels. I'm about the reality of it, Steve. That's all I'm saying.
Ana made a point earlier. You never responded to it. Maybe he has no responsibility for any of these ugly acts we're seeing. Maybe this is just who we are at our worst and this is what he inherited.
Doesn't he have a responsibility to speak to it and say stop it? And if you think you're doing this because you're aligned with me I hate you for it. And if you think this is us at our best you're the worst. Why doesn't he say that?
CORTES: He did just that if you remember during the transition when he was the president-elect. He did just that. When he literally looked in the camera, I believe it was on "60 Minutes," and he looked in the camera and he said if you think you're doing this in my name, stop it. And that's exactly what he said. And he couldn't have been clearer.
NAVARRO: And he'd been president for 18 months and daily members of our community are getting assaulted and attacked. And he hasn't said one word. He hasn't used that presidential pulpit --
CORTES: That's not true.
NAVARRO: -- once. And if you think those little kids --
CUOMO: That is true.
NAVARRO: Let me tell you, if you think those little kids at that Trump rally, when they say they don't want any Mexicans here because they're overpopulating the country, can tell the difference between you or a Mexican who crossed the border yesterday, they can't.
CUOMO: And remember --
NAVARRO: For them, you're all Mexicans. We're all Mexicans.
CUOMO: Let's end the debate on that. On one expression that came from a much better mind than my own. What you inspire, you own, and what you ignore, you empower. That's guidance for us. It's guidance for the president as well.
Steve Cortes, thank you for making the case. Ana Navarro, as always.
CORTES: Thank you.
CUOMO: As a reminder of who we are at our best, because I don't want you to think that I'm just trying to project a reality of America that's always ugly, that's always bad, that is part reality but it's not the entire reality. And here's the proof. You remember the pint- sized African-American entrepreneur Reggie Fields, reported to the cops by his white neighbors for accidentally mowing part of their lawn? For free, by the way.
Well, guess what. Business is booming for the 12-year-old tycoon. He's hiring so much and so many people with his expansion of his business, President Trump may claim him as proof of the new economy and rising fortunes for African-Americans. Ah, the irony.
All right. Next topic, this is a hot one also. Are Democrats looking for a new leader in Congress? Congressman Tim Ryan, he tried and fell short in 2016. But is now the time for change? Is this the face of the future? We discuss next.
[21:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: All right. The Democratic Party is having a moment. There are new faces like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez. They're upsetting long- time incumbents, or certainly she did. And there's a growing number of progressives pushing for things like universal health care and the abolishment of ICE.
Now, all of this is creating speculation that there may be a shake-up in the party's leadership. One name being thrown around a lot is Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan, who just happens to be with us tonight on PRIME TIME.
Congressman, thank you.
REP. TIM RYAN (D) OH.: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: So, is it time for a change?
RYAN: You know, my position hasn't changed since I ran last year. I think we -- the country is calling for change. They want new leadership. And I think the Democratic Party needs to give it to 'em.
CUOMO: Nancy Pelosi says you, Seth Moulton, you're nothing. You're the inside of a donut. That you have no support in the caucus.
RYAN: I believe the word was inconsequential, Chris.
CUOMO: Inside of a donut works better for me. It's a more vivid picture for people and it will rile you up. What's your response?
RYAN: Yes. You know, I was very disappointed in that. I mean, take a guy like Seth Moulton who's recruited 20 or 25 different veterans to run. He's served himself. He's one of a few vets that are in our caucus.
And I think to call his work inconsequential is not what we want to do. We need to come together as Democrats. Obviously, we have huge threats with what President Trump is doing domestically and abroad. And we need to come together.
And I also think that those kind of comments about people in our own caucus and our own Democratic caucus is disappointing because what it does is it communicates to all of those veterans that Seth Moulton is helping that they're inconsequential. You know, blue-collar people in Ohio, they're inconsequential.
And I think that's the exact attitude that got us in the position we're in right now.
[21:35:00] CUOMO: All right. So there are two things to test here. One is what you guys are about and maybe what you guys want to think about whether or not you're about. So, let's start with the second one first. When you look at Ocasio-Cortez, she's an extension of the Bernie Sanders mentality. And he's a weird fit for you guys because he's an independent but he runs as a Democrat, caucuses with you guys.
So, she wants free everything. And she's part of this new part of your party that wants free everything -- free college, free housing, free health care. Abolish ICE.
How do you feel that that will work on a national scale with voters?
RYAN: Well, I think when we're talking about congressional races, we have to leave the issues to the local candidates. This is a diverse country regionally and a variety of other ways. So, each candidate's got to determine what's in the best interests of their local community that they're running to represent. And I think as far as what's happening in Washington, D.C., she talked a lot about economic issues.
I think that's very important to not say, well, you either got to be identity politics or you got to be economic. You really -- you've got to be both and we should be both because all of these issues are important. But she did talk a lot about the economic issues.
And here's the main point. To me, this is not about going left or going right. To me this is about elevating the conversation in the country. We've got to get away from this pettiness. We've got to get away from the personal attacks, whether it's against -- what Donald Trump's doing or what some Democrats are doing to other Democrats.
We've got to get beyond this. We have so many challenges. You look what's happening in communities all across the country. Look, the unemployment rate is really low and the stock market is really high, and yet people still feel high levels of anxiety.
Fifty percent or 60 percent of people can't withstand a $400 or $500 emergency. People are still struggling with health care, opiates. There's a lot of challenges.
So, the pettiness has got to go away, and what I want the Democratic Party to be and to do is to elevate the conversation, move beyond this left-right divide and beyond the pettiness and say, look, there's a huge mountain we've got to climb and if we don't join hands, we're never going to get to the top. CUOMO: Right. So I get you on tone. Everybody would like it to be a
little bit sweeter. In this country, a little bit more common ground, a little bit more constructive -- certainly from where I sit.
However, the tone is a function of the message. What is the message? Because if it's going to be well, you pick what you want to be for your particular district, that works up to a certain point.
But at some point, if you want to have something like we saw in 1994 or 2010, big midterm swings, both of those were motivated by, yes, negative reaction to a president at the time but harnessed and attached to a greater mandate and agenda. You have to be for something, not just against it. And outlining the problems won't be news to anybody. We know what the problems are in this country.
RYAN: We sure do.
CUOMO: How do you solve them? Have the Democrats figured out what the reason to believe is for the voters out there?
RYAN: We need to be a party, and I think we are a party of creating opportunity. For people who work hard, they play by the rules, there should be opportunity there.
And I think whether you're talking about a Bernie Sanders candidate or another kind of candidate, everything they're talking about is, how do we relieve some of the pressure from the middle class and the poor people in the United States of America? The people that aren't benefiting from the stock market, aren't benefiting from the tax cut, what do we do to help those people?
And if that's their mandate, then we're going to have -- if we get in charge, we're going to have a big discussion on how to do it.
[21:40:00] CUOMO: A lot of them voted for Trump and a lot of the demographics suggest that's not your party anymore, that you're new immigrants, you're young people, and you're white collar now, you're not blue collar. Do you agree with that assessment?
RYAN: I don't think so. I think -- I think people took a flyer on Trump. I think a lot of working-class people took a flyer on Trump because neither party addressed the main structural economic and cultural issues of our time -- globalization, automation. Neither party really addressed those issues.
And so, you have communities all across the Industrial Midwest and the South that have been hollowed out. And so, the Democrats need an agenda of opportunity but also how we're going to rebuild the country, how we're going to be and use our ingenuity to redefine the United States, to bring private investment.
And this is a distinction I think we need to make, that it can't just be government spending.
RYAN: The government has to do some things. It has to stimulate. It has to rebuild.
CUOMO: Trump was pitching a little bit of that also. It hasn't happened yet. And that's why you've got to put meat on the bones of how and what will make it different.
And I'll tell you what? Here's my promise. Congressman, you're going to be a player. As this conversation goes forward, I'm going to invite you back regularly, as well as people who oppose your ideas so we can have it out here for the American people. That's the job.
RYAN: Let's do it.
CUOMO: All right. Let's get after, it as we say, and it will happen soon enough, sir. Thank you.
RYAN: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: All right. So, you've got to talk about what's happening at NATO. This summit in Brussels is so important.
And things got ugly early with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president of the United States. She grew up behind the Iron Curtain. And today was basically accused of being Putin's patsy. You've got to hear about this, next.
[21:43:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: I'm sure you've been working all day, so let me give you the back story of what happened in Brussels.
When President Trump brought the diplomatic sledgehammer to the NATO meetings there, he went after Germany specifically as, quote, captive of Russia. But you've got to keep your eye on some of the president's most trusted advisers after he says it.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It should have never been allowed to have happened. But Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they're getting from 60 percent to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and the new pipeline.
And you tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not. And I think it's a very bad thing for NATO.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Did you catch White House Chief of Staff John Kelly right there? Let's zoom in just in case you didn't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And you tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not. And I think it's a very bad thing for NATO. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Boy, if that doesn't look like open agreement, I don't know what does.
It looked a little bit like he felt captive in that room. But Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, says he was just upset over the choice of breakfast. Seriously?
Anyway. They cannot explain away how the leader of Germany, Angela Merkel, reacted. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Because of current events, I want to add that I myself lived through a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union and I'm very happy that today we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now, this might be a familiar story for you because Merkel explained it to President Obama when he awarded her the Medal of Freedom in 2011. In fact, she watched the Berlin wall being built when she was a child.
Merkel said of that story: Seeing grown-ups, even my parents, so stunned that they broke out in tears, it shook me to the core.
So this was obviously very insulting to her. But what are the political ramifications? Let's start with the question. If the president is so convinced that Merkel and Germany are controlled by Russia, why did he go to Merkel to ask for advice in April on how to deal with Vladimir Putin, that doesn't make any sense.
And the bigger question is why knock NATO right before meeting with the man who needs to respect its resolve the most, Vladimir Putin? Many are arguing Trump is just off on his own when it comes to NATO. But sometimes a picture tells the story better, specifically this one. Today's NATO family photo.
You see our president in there? He is literally looking away from everyone else in the picture.
I'm joined now by professor emeritus of Russian studies at both NYU and Princeton, Stephen Cohen.
[21:50:00] STEPHEN COHEN, NYU & PRINCETON PROFESSOR EMERITUS: Thank you.
CUOMO: Been looking forward to get your insight for a while.
COHEN: Thank you. CUOMO: So, let's dive right into what the real considerations are.
Forget about style, forget about what was said. What it will mean. Where do you see us heading with our president, NATO, and Russia?
COHEN: Give me one second, though. When Trump's going on about the 66 percent dependency on Russia, you know that's about gas.
CUOMO: A hundred percent.
COHEN: It's gas.
CUOMO: Natural gas.
COHEN: I mean, the European Union gets close to 38 percent of its gas from Russia.
COHEN: The first American president to worry about this was Reagan. And we've been discussing it ever since, about the pipelines being built.
So, this is an old story except that Trump got his numbers wrong. It's not 66. It's about 30 --
CUOMO: But nobody's ever accused him of hewing to the facts.
COHEN: No. Well, but it's an old problem. I mean, is it OK for Europe to get a third of its gas from Russia?
CUOMO: Legitimate issue. And Democrats and Republicans in this current round of the administration went to Trump and said, help stop the pipeline that goes directly from Russia to Germany. So, it's clearly a concern.
COHEN: But let me ask you. Is that driven by a desire for American profit? Do these American gas companies want to furnish the energy that Russia's furnishing to Europe? In other words, is Trump flocking for American energy?
CUOMO: Well --
COHEN: I don't know. I'm asking you.
CUOMO: One of us read about it for four hours today and the other for 35 years. What do you think is motivating it?
COHEN: I don't know. I mean, you know, he says America first. It's a vast energy market, Europe. We agree on that.
The problem is we're digressing from the subject, but it's terribly expensive to send liquid gas, which is what it would have to be from fracking, from the United States to Europe.
CUOMO: That's right. COHEN: Which would make it too expensive for Europe. So we're not
going to wean Europe off of Russian energy. Nor is there any threat --
CUOMO: So he can raise a stink about it. Maybe it will help him with some kind of leverage. The question is, is he doing this the right way and what is your overall concern about what happens with this summit and beyond?
COHEN: So I am deeply alarmed. Is that OK? I bear bad news.
I think that our relationship with Russia today is worse than it's ever been, more fraught with the possibility of war, even more dangerous than the Cuban missile crisis. Now, that's my considered opinion. People would say no, Cohen's being alarmist. But I consider that.
The second thing is I don't know how you are, how old you are, but I remember many summits like Trump's going to have with Putin. The first one was with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Stalin during the war. And since then, every American president has had a summit meeting with the Kremlin leader.
So we accept them. And we've come to think of them as a way to avoid nuclear war between the nuclear powers. You agree with that.
COHEN: But now we come to this moment. I say the situation in our relations with Russia is exceedingly dangerous and yet Trump departs to meet with Putin after NATO in a way no other American president has ever departed, under a cloud of suspicion, where people say he's going to give away X, Y, and Z to Putin, he can't be trusted, he's not loyal.
I don't believe this Russiagate saga. But it doesn't matter what I believe. It's the reality.
And we've never been here before, where the job of the American president is to be sure we don't get into a war with Russia, and Trump is not empowered, at least in the political media establishment. That's you. That's what I want to say.
CUOMO: Ultimately, the power is his own and he has gone out of his way to be sympathetic to Putin and Russia and say he wants better relations. Doesn't that help mitigate the risks that you're concerned of?
COHEN: Well, I guess it would depend on whether you think better relations with Russia is good idea. He campaigned, Trump did, saying cooperation with Russia would be great. I agree. I mean, he had in mind the same thing Trump has in mind.
It would be great. I would say it's imperative. It's necessary, for myself, for my kids, your kids, all of us. The problem is, is that Trump, presumably having in mind all the
conflicts between the countries today, right, from Ukraine and Syria, to cyber war and the rest, is he well-prepared to negotiate with Putin on these issues?
CUOMO: What do you think?
COHEN: I don't know. I don't know who advises him on Russia.
CUOMO: Well, that's scary when one of the foremost experts in the area doesn't know who's advising him on the subject matter.
COHEN: What he did was kind of funny I thought. The quarrel with the Europeans over what they contribute to NATO is they're not paying their 2 percent, only paying 1.5 percent on average. He says, you got to pay two. They drag their feet.
He says, OK, now you got to pay four. The deal is running out.
COHEN: I mean, we've seen this before, right, where the guy says, we're trying to buy a car. You got until 5:00.
So, it's an extremely serious moment, and I personally think that he's the only president we've got. And we've got to hope that he and Putin wind down this new Cold War somewhat.
CUOMO: Well, let's do this, Professor, now that I have you in the mix. I'm going to Helsinki. We're going to see what happens. And when we come back, please come on the show and explain what you think happened and needed to happen and didn't. Done?
COHEN: You know what time it is in Helsinki?
CUOMO: Right now? Tell me.
COHEN: I don't know. I guess six hours, later, seven.
CUOMO: I'll know when I get there.
COHEN: It's not the same time.
CUOMO: Professor Stephen Cohen, thank you very much.
All right. Let's check in with Don Lemon, a preview of "CNN TONIGHT" just minutes away.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": If you don't want to hear it like it is, don't talk to Stephen Cohen. I mean, he is --
CUOMO: Hey, but that's why we bring on people who know.
CUOMO: Because we want the perspective of people who understand what we are living right now through the prism of history and what's happened before.
LEMON: He's always honest in his assessment whether you agree with him or not, and he and I have gone back and forth. I mean, he'll tell you that. Some things we agree on and some things we don't.
CUOMO: Boy, if that's not a meeting of the intellectual heavyweights, I don't know what is.
LEMON: But he's a good man.
COHEN: It was exhausting.
LEMON: He's a good man and I like people who tell it like it is.
But speaking of that, speaking of exhausting, he said it was exhausting, you know what's exhausting, Chris? All of these bigots who are on the ballot for Republicans, you touched on it in your great debate earlier tonight. We may disagree on this. I think we're going to disagree on this because you don't want to give them publicity, right?
I'm from the South. I'm from Louisiana. We like to shine light on cockroaches, right, to get them out of the corner and make them scatter. And that's what we're going to do. Tom Foreman has put together a detailed piece.
LEMON: He is going to detail all of this and we're going to break it down. What is going on? It's not even fringe anymore. Why are Republicans supporting so many bigots? That's what we're going to talk about.
CUOMO: It's the right thing to do. You remember when I had Corey Stewart on, Trump's pick for Senate in Virginia, you know, he's just hewed way too closely to white supremacy for any kind of acceptability. But a great discussion. I look forward to watching you have it.
LEMON: See you soon.
CUOMO: All right.
So, coming up, the president's new Supreme Court nominee has a history of advocating against the indictment of a sitting president on criminal charges. That is very upsetting to a lot of people. I'm going to argue that it shouldn't be and I'm going to tell you what the real questions are and how we know what they are, next.
[21:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: All right. Facts first. Steve Cortes in the great debate said he didn't know who was running that had ugly views for Republicans. He knows the names and they shouldn't be a mystery to you either.
John Fitzgerald, Seth Grossman, Arthur Jones and Paul Nehlen. Those are four. I could add a fifth, but I don't want to get too technical about it.
They're all running for the House. They're all running as Republicans. They all believe in really ugly things and it raises the question: why would that party embrace anybody like this? Check it out for yourself.
Now, another thing, we're going to do the whiteboard tonight. There's a big concern for critics for Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's pick for Supreme Court and it is that Trump might have picked him because he believes the president can't be indicted.
Now, first thing I want you to know is, it's not as big an issue as you may fear because the current Department of Justice guidance from all the way back 1973 and again in 2000 is that a sitting president cannot be indicted. You can impeach and then indict. So, this idea that Kavanaugh is bringing something new to the mix is not true.
He also wrote however in a 2009 law review article that a president should be exempt from any legal action including subpoenas to testify while in office. It's 2009 article. You can read it for yourself.
Here's the key point though that you're not being told. He did not say this determination should be up to a judge, even one like him on the Supreme Court. He clearly said that Congress should make laws to insulate the president in the way that he was writing.
The point is, right now, there are no such laws, which is why we have the Mueller probe, right? And would suggest that Kavanaugh believes that a president is exposed to investigations absent any such law.
So, there are some really important questions to ask the nominee. Here's the bigger problem for me. I don't think Kavanaugh is going to answer any of them. Why?
First, cynicism. This process is a farce. You've never seen one of the nominees I guess since Robert Bork, be candid. But more directly, I know it because Kavanaugh wrote that, too.
In the same 2009 article, just a few pages after the part about insulating a president, he wrote that judges shouldn't have to answer questions about policy views for fear that answers would impinge on their ability to make independent decisions on the bench.
However, there's hope, and here's the hope. Kavanaugh says that this is a matter of culture in the Senate, OK.
What is culture? It's a lot of things. But what it isn't is law. So, what does that mean? If it's not a matter of law, that means it's up to him.
And I'm spelling these parts out for you because they really matter. The judge gets to make the determination of what he answers. And here are the two questions. If he just answered these two, it
could make such a big difference. One, how do you think Roe versus Wade should have been decided? Number one. Number two, do you think a president must comply with legal process like a subpoena?
If he answers about Roe and he answers about process, it could change the stakes and so much of the acrimony we're seeing right now.
Thank you for watching.
"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.