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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Examining Russian Election Meddling; Interview with Gov. John Kasich; A Look at Ivanka Trump Remarks about Policies. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 2, 2018 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


21:00:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, my friend.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

A major headline from the Trump administration today. Russia attacked our election. They're attacking us right now as I speak. And we have to do everything we can to safeguard the upcoming races.

The intelligence chiefs, homeland security chief, national security adviser all on the same page, and then came President Trump. You're going to want to listen to what he said tonight.

Then, we get into testing the Russia realities. A former U.S. attorney general is here to argue Russia may not have cared about whether Donald Trump would win. So what does Michael Mukasey think the hacking motive was?

The president's own daughter talks about what she calls a low point in his presidency. Ivanka Trump has broken with her dad on one of his signature policies.

It's Friday for me because we're not on tomorrow. So what do you say? Let's get after it.

(MUSIC)

CUOMO: No need for pundits when we can talk to a player. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey knows the laws. He knows the threats that extend from actors like Russia. He knows them firsthand as a prosecutor and a federal judge.

Great pleasure to have you on the show.

MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Great to be here.

CUOMO: So when we look at the state of play, impressive show of power today from the U.S. government. Big chiefs coming out saying big things. It's real. It's ongoing. We have to get after it.

Then the president comes out, ignores everything that they just said, blames the media as a threat, calls it a hoax. Where does that leave us? MUKASEY: I think it leaves us where we were before. The fact is that

we don't need a direction from the president to the intelligence chiefs to be on guard against Russian interference with our elections, number one.

Number two, as far as what the president says on any given day, frankly, he says a lot of things. He is, I think, campaigning against impeachment rather than saying anything that is designed to affect the outcome of the case. So, I kind of brush that off.

CUOMO: But to go back to your first point, that we don't need the president for the intelligence community. That's a little counterintuitive. We expect the leadership from the president to be of paramount importance when we're dealing with threats like this, which to the democracy is basically existential. So, for him to not be on the same page seems to be highly counterproductive.

MUKASEY: It's counterproductive, but it's not at all necessarily critical. These intelligence agencies, particularly in an administration where statements get made all the time, I think are pretty much doing their jobs without regard to what the president may be saying on a day to day basis.

CUOMO: Although Coats did say in the past, the director of national intelligence.

MUKASEY: Right.

CUOMO: You, of course, know that. That he didn't have a big plan ready to go to fight from a cybersecurity perspective because he needed the president to come to him and say, you need to do this. So, it's not as simple as just independent authority.

MUKASEY: It's -- it may not be as simple as independent authority, but the fact is there is planning going on inside the Department of Homeland Security, inside the National Security Agency, inside the FBI, inside all of these agencies. They don't, I think, need necessarily a "Mother May I" from the president.

CUOMO: Now, that's politics. Let's move to law because we know why the president doesn't like talking about Russian interference because he hates the probe. He sees the probe as being about him.

He believes that it delegitimizes him. He doesn't want anything to do with it. He doesn't want anybody to put any stock in it, hence all of his invective toward it and those of us who cover it.

If you were his attorney, he says, I want a sit-down with this guy. I'm going to tell Mueller the truth. I'm going to get myself done with this once and for all. You say?

MUKASEY: Don't do it.

CUOMO: Why not. I'm telling the truth. I have nothing to hide. I did nothing. MUKASEY: That's fine. Mueller doesn't need the president's testimony. He's got everything he needs if he's conducting an investigation into what he's supposed to be there to investigate. There's no necessity for it.

CUOMO: Why not?

MUKASEY: Because the president has been quoted on every subject that Mueller is investigating or supposed to be investigating. He was put there for one reason and for one reason only, and that is that there was supposedly a conflict in the Justice Department conducting an investigation into a relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians. That's what it says in the initial order, and that's the only justification for having a special counsel.

CUOMO: Don't you think it's a real one?

MUKASEY: The justification?

CUOMO: Yes.

MUKASEY: I don't know whether it's a real one or not.

CUOMO: The supposed conflict of interest that Rosenstein was worried about.

MUKASEY: Yes, there would be a conflict in an investigation of the president's campaign. But --

CUOMO: So he did the right thing picking the special counsel?

MUKASEY: Query whether there was enough evidence to suggest that kind of -- that there was a criminal interaction between the Russians and the president. But assuming that there was, then he had to have picked a special counsel.

CUOMO: Because you had written earlier, early on in the case, that they shouldn't have picked a special counsel. They didn't it. Do you feel differently now?

MUKASEY: No, I don't. I still -- because -- take a look at what's emerged from the special counsel's investigation. There is no case that has emerged from that investigation that relates to the reason he was put there.

There's the Manafort case, which is on trial now in --

CUOMO: There's the Flynn case.

MUKASEY: There's the Flynn case, which was lying to --

CUOMO: Kislyak.

MUKASEY: -- an FBI agent.

CUOMO: Well, about his discussions with Kislyak. MUKASEY: About his discussions with Kislyak relating to sanctions.

CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: That has nothing to do with Russian meddling in the election.

CUOMO: How do we know? I'm just asking the question. I mean you've been dealing with these things on so many different --

MUKASEY: I don't understand the relationship between the question of whether sanctions were going to be lifted or not --

CUOMO: But do you think -- I mean I don't know. Maybe you know. I don't know the full context of what he talked with Kislyak. I don't know what made Sally Yates so concerned that she came to the White House to talk to McGahn about it. I don't know the full context.

Do you?

MUKASEY: No, I don't. But even assuming that it was proper to appoint a special counsel, we haven't seen anything yet from the special counsel relating to the only reason why appointment of the special counsel is justified, i.e., a conflict with the Justice Department.

All the cases that have been brought are cases that could have been brought by a U.S. attorney's office and indeed many of them have been farmed out to the U.S. attorney's offices.

CUOMO: Right. Hindsight, 20/20, though, in terms of the actual cases. But when you saw what the president was doing with Sessions, with Comey, and continues to do all the time, imagine if Jeff Sessions had kept it in-house, or I guess if Rosenstein --

(CROSSTALK)

MUKASEY: Look, Jeff Sessions --

CUOMO: He recused himself.

MUKASEY: Had to have recused himself because there's a regulation in place that says if you work on a campaign --

CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: -- and there's a criminal investigation relating to that campaign, you can't be involved --

CUOMO: The president puts it on Sessions and says it was a bum move and he should have told him about it. It was a total hoodwink.

MUKASEY: Wrong, wrong, wrong. As far as it being a hoodwink, Sessions would have had to have had the gift of prophecy, along with the president in order to believe at the time he was appointed, that there was going to be an investigation and that he was going to be conflicted. I mean, you know, he's --

CUOMO: Sure. I totally get it.

(CROSSTALK)

MUKASEY: He's a great guy, he's not a prophet.

CUOMO: That's why I was confused by your initial writings on this one because of my respect for your mind and that Rosenstein -- the only thing he could do is get a prophylactic in play, get somebody who had one layer away from the president, which technically a special counsel does --

MUKASEY: Right.

CUOMO: -- because otherwise he could have been fired like that if he were running it.

MUKASEY: The question -- yes, the question is whether Mueller was -- whether the mandate that was given to him was an appropriate mandate. The initial mandate was to investigate what Jim Comey testified to before the House committee.

What Jim Comey testified to before the House committee was not a criminal investigation. It was a national security investigation. You don't need a special prosecutor to conduct a national security investigation.

He corrected that --

CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: -- I think, later on, although we don't know what the complete order looks like because it's all been redacted.

CUOMO: A lot of people make the argument that we haven't seen anything yet. So, therefore, this wasn't worth it. But just in a straight line of duration, this has been -- we have a graphic of it, which will be completely familiar to you.

But for the audience's sake, this has not been going on a long time at all as special probes go, let alone what we've seen recently on a political side with Benghazi. Why make that argument? Not you necessarily but I keep hearing it.

MUKASEY: Not me at all.

CUOMO: So I want your take on it -- of, it's been going on so long. We would have known by now. Do you buy that?

MUKASEY: Depends what the evidence is that they have. I mean, take a look at who they have as defendants.

CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: Manafort has a co-defendant. CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: Named Gates, who is cooperating with the government.

CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: The theory was that they're bringing a case against Manafort to put pressure on him to testify against the president.

CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: They don't need that. They have Gates, who knows everything that Manafort knows because he was in there to the full extent that Manafort was, and he's already cooperating with the government.

CUOMO: Right.

I wonder -- my take on that was always different. I hear what you're saying, and I know you don't own it as a theory, but only the logic of which you need him or not.

MUKASEY: Right.

CUOMO: My theory about why he kept the case was because of the players that it involves. Not that he was just trying to pinch him and I know better minds that mine argued look what they did with him when they were dealing with his bail restrictions.

If they have proof that he was playing with witnesses, I understand why they got punitive with him and changed his conditions. You have done the same thing if you were sitting on the bench.

MUKASEY: Yes. But there are ways to do that without putting him in.

CUOMO: Right. But if you told him before --

MUKASEY: It's done with child pornographers.

CUOMO: Right. But if you've warned him before and it's happened again, now you got a different picture, right? Which is what you were led to believe.

MUKASEY: Yes. But you can still do it without putting him in.

CUOMO: Understood.

MUKASEY: This is the 21st century.

CUOMO: I hear you. But at the end of the day, do you believe that the bar for the necessity for this probe must be charges against somebody from the Trump campaign and maybe some connection to the president himself?

MUKASEY: In retrospect, I don't judge the bar as being charges against -- certainly against the president himself. Can't have that.

CUOMO: Right.

MUKASEY: I think --

CUOMO: You believe in that. You don't indict a sitting president?

MUKASEY: You can't.

CUOMO: That's the DOJ guidance.

MUKASEY: And I believe it's correct for a variety of reasons, including the fact that the executive power -- that's what the Constitution says. The executive power is lodged in the president. Everybody who exercises executive power exercises it based on its derivation from the president. In essence, it would be the president prosecuting himself, number one. And number two, he's got the power to dismiss the case. And so, the case is a futility at the start.

You can't -- so that's why you can't indict a sitting president. It doesn't have anything to do with being above the law. If he's impeached, he can certainly be indicted.

CUOMO: Right, it's about process.

MUKASEY: Correct.

CUOMO: And that's what Kavanaugh argues as well and we're going to hear a lot about that when his hearings come up and I would love to get you here for that and before. Your mind makes things better for us.

MUKASEY: Thank you very much.

CUOMO: It's just the truth. It's just the truth.

MUKASEY: Please, please. Thank you.

CUOMO: Former Attorney General, appreciate you being here.

All right. We saw something different from the government on Russian interference and something painfully the same. We're going to lay it out for you on the magic wall, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Today, we saw something extraordinary, at least for this White House. It was a show of force from top government officials speaking loudly, forcefully against Russia's continued efforts to attack our elections. The Russians did it before. They are still doing it, and we need to stop it. That was their message.

This follows a letter by National Security Adviser Bolton to the Senate saying the same and including in the letter that the government is all about investigating anyone who may have helped the Russians and bringing them to justice. What an irony in that given what the president keeps saying.

Now, listen to what Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: In regards to Russian involvement in the midterm elections, we continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States.

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It's not just risk to our prosperity, privacy, and infrastructure we have to worry about, and that's why we're here today. Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs. Do you know how long many of us have been waiting to hear this acknowledgement of recognized fact? Russia trying to weaken and divide the United States. Very tough stuff and very real.

But then came the president. The situation was perfectly teed up for him. He could have said, stop saying I don't care about Russian interference. Look at what my people just said.

But instead he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. I had a great meeting. I had a great meeting.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

We got along really well. By the way, that's a good thing, not a bad thing. That's a really good thing.

Now, we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: On the same day that all of his chiefs, all the big mohabs (ph) are out there laying the case to fight back against Russia, he says this. Not a word about the attack on our election by Russia. He plays the tired hoax card. Instead of attacking the attackers, he attacks the defenders, the media.

Still worse, who did he do it for? The base at a rally. The people who need to hear what the intelligence community believes the most.

And then there was this baffling nugget. You just heard him talk about the meeting with Putin, how it was really good and they talked about everything, and that that's a good thing. Did you know that he still hasn't informed his intelligence chief about what happened between the two men?

Don't take it from me. Listen to the man himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: You're saying today that the president has directed you to make the issue of election meddling a priority. How do you explain the disconnect between what you are saying, his advisers, and what the president has said about this issue?

COATS: I'm not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened at Helsinki.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Helsinki was the last word. How can he not be in a position to understand and discuss with full cogency what happened in Helsinki? He's the director of national intelligence.

Helsinki, still stinky when it comes to what happened between these two men. And at least Dan Coats needs to know.

Now, if this is all an accurate reflection of what they want us to believe, yet the president keeps telling us something very different, we get the play. What's happening? Trump is putting the me before the we, and that works for an adoring crowd. But he was elected for the we.

In this case, that would mean owning the facts of what happened with Russia and doing what he must to keep the country safe.

Bottom line: he needs to be on the same page with his people. That's what being president demands.

So, let's take a quick break. When we come back, we have Governor John Kasich. He's following what Russian attacks on the democracy meant. He has ideas for what needs to happen. He has ideas for what he has to see his party and the country writ large do on major issues.

So, we're going to talk to him, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: A group of intel chiefs walked out today to say Russia is still trying to hack our elections, and we have to stop it.

POTUS doesn't seem to be on the same page. There's a disconnect between him and them, his party and him, his daughter and him.

Where is common ground on election safety, the continuing crisis on the border?

One man who's thinking about this problem is the governor and former Republican presidential candidate, John Kasich of Ohio.

Good to have you back on the show, sir.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Good to be with you again, Chris. CUOMO: So it was all teed up --

KASICH: You're doing very well. You've got a good show going.

CUOMO: Thank you. I know you were waiting out to see how it would go before you would accept the invite, so I take your presence as approval.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: All right. Let's get to what matters. So, it was all teed up for Trump today, for the president. Big issue: Russian election attacks and continuing interference. His chiefs all said we have to stop it.

He could have come out and said, to Kasich, to Cuomo, and everybody else, stop saying, I don't care. I just showed everybody here we're going to have the biggest plan ever. We're going to make it safer than ever.

But he didn't. He didn't even mention it. He doubled down on the dumb arguments that the media is the problem, not Russia, that it's all a hoax.

Where do we find common ground and progress?

KASICH: Well, you know, I didn't agree with the earlier -- the former attorney general saying, well, they're just going to go and do their thing, and they don't really need approval from the president. Of course they do.

I mean, he's the leader. He needs to publicly talk about this. I guess he has charged his people to go up and draft plans.

We do know that there's some money being sent across this country for local election officials to be able to -- and secretaries of state to make sure the election is going to be sacrosanct.

We do know that the Russians are engaging in trying to divide us. You know, they put these things up online, picking on our divisions. They try to accentuate them to drive us farther apart.

There's also the real possibility and concern about voter registration. That's where they can really get at things. And so, if all of a sudden, they disrupt and remove names from the voter registration lists, which most of them -- or many of them are online, they can create tremendous confusion.

And, look, Chris, there's a lot of things that are at stake. The press is a critical institution in our country. The Justice Department is a critical institution in our country. The election -- we can't have a situation where people are wondering if the elections were fair.

Now, I'm glad to see that whole cadre of people up talking about the fact they're going to take more action. But we have a bigger issue than what we've even discussed so far, and that is the possibility of cyberattacks on our country from the big four, from Russia, from China, from North Korea, and you noticed that Iran was just threatening us on cyberattacks.

We do not have a central place to coordinate all the different pieces of our government and to make sure that we have a policy that even regards our private sector companies that can be hacked, that can be cyberattacked.

I don't know what they're waiting for on this because you have too much division. And when you have too much division, you don't have the kind of common goal, the offense and the defense. And frankly, offense and defense are so related in cyber.

So, we've got the Russian interference in terms of using places like Facebook. We've got their ability to begin to see if they can hack and disrupt our voter registration. And then we don't have a cyber policy.

And it just didn't start here. It didn't go on in the last administration. This is a desperate need. They could target our infrastructure, and you saw how Iran was threatening us by using this asymmetrical threat in warfare.

So, we've got to deal with so many issues here, and we need the president.

CUOMO: And he's got a block on this one because he thinks it's bad for him on some level. So even when all of his chiefs are out there, he takes it in a different direction.

But this isn't the only issue where we're dealing with this contagion. We see it in the crisis on the border also. Everybody knows it's wrong. Everybody knows the system doesn't work. Everybody knows that we need rules and recommendations and policies, but it's not happening.

Why and what's the remedy?

KASICH: Politics. People are worried about primaries, about offending, quote, the base. And if you spend your time, you know, in these elected jobs trying to satisfy your base, Chris, let me tell you -- you know, you know a lot about politics. You had a father, you got a brother. I mean, these are people that have given their lives to politics.

If you put your finger up in the wind, today, the public loves you, and tomorrow they dislike you intensely, and then the next day, they like you. If you're a leader, you have to be willing to have good people around you and to walk a lonely road. You can't just -- you just can't ignore things.

So, the Congress -- I can't -- I can understand what they are doing. Of course we want to make sure that our border is secure, but I think we need a bigger policy, Chris. I think that we need to have a policy that looks at the region, to stop the drugs from coming in, to get rid of the drug cartels, the gangs.

You know, that's what we tried to do in Colombia. We should do it in the whole region, and we're not taking care of business in our neighborhood. And that's why we're experiencing so many problems at the border.

But, look, Chris, I've got to say to you that I've watched this stuff for so long. I just had dinner the other night with a former governor here in the state. We just shake our heads. I become convinced that the solutions to so many of the problems that we have in this country have to be solved where we live.

Stop waiting for somebody to come in on a big white horse and solve the problems. Take control of them where you live. Try to address whatever it is, poverty, whether it's the issue of human trafficking, whether it's the issue of drug abuse. It doesn't matter.

We have to drive America with a value system where we come together regardless of party, regardless of philosophy, to have a common purpose and a common goal and then send that up the stream. Don't wait for the people at the top to fix our problems.

And just to tell you one perfect example of it is the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King came out of the church.

CUOMO: That's true.

KASICH: He came out of the civil rights movement. He didn't make it.

CUOMO: Well, most of the major movements --

KASICH: It was people at the local level that said, we'd have enough, and that's what we've got to do m this country. Take our country back.

CUOMO: Most major social movements percolate. They are grassroots movements.

The problem we're dealing with here, though, just to put a finer point on it, is inertia, right, Governor? Is that you have people who have become so disaffected, so non-believing in the institutions stoked largely by the successful candidate in the last presidential election, who played on that disaffection and said, I will be effectively the virus to the body, the corpus that you hate of government. I'll go in there. I'll make them all sick for what they've done to you people.

And that's largely what he's been doing. He's been largely disruptive and that's why many are happy with him and how he behaves. But once you lose your faith in the institutions --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Well, that's exactly why --

CUOMO: It's hard to get things done is what I'm saying. KASICH: Look, that's exactly why I didn't support him because

negative populism doesn't work. Positive populism can. If you sit with a hundred people who have difficulty and you blame somebody else, you'll get nothing done. But if you look at them and say, why don't we together build a bridge to a better tomorrow, you can have optimism.

And the fact is rather than people venting so much anger at those up top, why don't we make a commitment to the problems that exist where we live? People think they don't matter enough. Guess what? They do matter. Everybody watching matters. Get a hold of something.

My wife the other night just had a little charity dinner to deal with the problem of opiates in this one community. It was so well- attended. People were so happy.

We don't care what their party is or their philosophy.

CUOMO: Well, look, on one level --

KASICH: This is a common issue and a common purpose and a matter of the heart.

CUOMO: No question, especially when you're talking about opioids and even larger, all politics winds up being local.

However, there is an ingredient that we need. The positivity you're talking for -- about has an uphill fight. Negativity has always been a quick fix in politics. There's nothing new. But, boy, is it on fire right now?

And I know that you're making a different fight, but you're going to need a lot more to join with you because the politics of negativity have taken hold right now, and they're doing very well for the president in this regard. His numbers are coming up. The economy is strong.

You know, he's doing it that way --

KASICH: Wait a minute, Chris. Let me tell you. Hold on.

CUOMO: Give me a last point. Go ahead, Governor.

KASICH: In the Republican Party, the Republican Party has shrunk from 31 percent or 33 percent down to about 28 percent. You see, there are so many Republicans now, suburban women -- that's why these races are so close all over because what's happening, the politics of negativity is turning people off. They're having -- they don't want any more of it.

So, while the numbers are good within the party, the party has shrunk. We're now seeing a drift in both parties, the Democrats being far left.

CUOMO: Right.

KASICH: You're seeing more and more independents.

CUOMO: True.

KASICH: Independents represent disaffected Democrats and disaffected Republicans.

CUOMO: True.

KASICH: And that's what we need to understand. There is a great middle.

CUOMO: True. There certainly is a great need, and people are looking and we'll see what they find.

Governor Kasich, thank you for being part of the conversation. Appreciate it.

KASICH: Hey, thanks for the chat. Thanks for letting me talk, Chris. Good luck. God bless you. Keep it going.

CUOMO: Thank you, sir.

Ivanka Trump in the news. Why? Splitting with her dad on tearing families apart at the border. She calls it a low point.

But does she have more of a responsibility? I'm slow to go after the family of candidates for obvious reasons. I grew up as one.

But she's a sitting official. She's high up in the administration. She has her father's ear.

You know what this is -- the making of a great debate with these two. Got the game face on. I respect it, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Ivanka Trump broke ranks with her father, the president, and with his administration this morning. How? She said publicly, vehemently she was against the policy of separating families at the border.

Are her words enough?

The setting for our great debate with Angela Rye and Jason Miller.

Angela, is it enough?

ANGELA RYE, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: It absolutely is not enough, Chris. To your point before we went to break, Ivanka has a formal, official role in the president's White House. She has an obligation to not only tell her father the truth but also her boss, the man who's serving as commander-in-chief.

Because you had a few sleepless nights, because it troubled your spirit and your heart and you did not take the necessary actions to stop him in his tracks, to reverse course on policy, to tell him how damaging this is going to be not only for, you know, Americans everywhere all over the world who are looked upon crazy at this point, but also for the kids who frankly have been traumatized by this.

So, I would tell Ivanka if -- you know, you talked about she has her father's ear. Let's say that on this particular issue she doesn't, well, she now has an obligation to solve for what's happened. She can do that very simply. There are two entities that are raising funds and I would tell this to the viewers as well -- Flights to Reunite and Kids in Need of Defense.

They can go and donate money to ensure that no other family member is deported without their children. At this point, up to 463 adults have been deported without their children, and that's a shame.

CUOMO: All right. Jason, the other side?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And, Chris, I got to give Ivanka credit this morning. I was at the event with her. I was sitting about 20 feet away and it was a workforce event where she was talking about all the great things the administration is doing for the economy and for training workers for the future.

In fact, Mike Allen with "Axios", who was the organizer of the event, said she was the biggest draw they've had, even bigger than Bill Gates, bigger than Michelle Obama, so it's really a good job.

And for about 29 minutes of the event, they were talking about the economy. And then the final question came around to the high point and low point, and Mike offered up the low point. Ivanka weighed in on the immigration front.

After she talked about families being separated at the border, which along with I believe the number is 88 percent of people in the United States, she said she wants to see families kept together, which I believe they should be kept together if they're trying to come into the country illegally until they're processed and then deported and sent back to the country that they're trying to come from, if they don't try to come in through the proper channels.

And then she gave what I thought was a very strong answer for Ivanka, a much stronger answer than I would have thought, saying that it's wrong that so many of these kids are being brought in through coyotes and traffickers.

CUOMO: Yes, let's play it. Here's what Ivanka said that Jason said was a good answer. Here it is.

MILLER: You're going to play the full answer? OK.

CUOMO: Yes, the part you like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: We are a country of laws. We have to be very careful about incentivizing behavior that puts children at risk of being trafficked, at risk of entering this country with coyotes or making an incredibly dangerous journey alone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, Jason, here's my problem with this sound bite. It makes no sense to me.

RYE: None.

CUOMO: You separate the kids is the problem for the kids. That's the trauma to the kids. The coyotes and all these other things, you're not incentivizing them to do that by splitting up kids on the border. They're doing it out of desperation, not because they think it's easy.

See, incentivizing in a corporate context suggests you're making it sound like it's easy and good. It is hard and dangerous and deadly for them to do what they do. I've seen the bodies in the desert and in the river. They die doing this, and they're well aware of it.

What is she talking about? Who is incentivizing what?

MILLER: Chris, I think it's very clear what she's talking about. She's saying that we're a country of laws, that we have to have a border that we enforce, and that if we're sending a message --

RYE: So then it's not her low point.

MILLER: Hold on. Let me -- saying if folks are trying to come through -- trying to cross into the United States and they're not going through an official port of entry and they're trying to enter illegally, and we don't deport them back to the country that they're coming from, then we're sending the signal to the rest of --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We do. That's the thing, Jason.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: Hold on. I got to answer the point here. She's making the point that we have to go and finish that process.

CUOMO: Look, Jason, I don't -- let's bounce it to Angela because I don't see the logic. Angela, we do deport people who come --

RYE: There is no logic in it. Let me just say this. If this is going to be called a great debate, Chris, my expectation would be that the other debater does not continue to repeat oneself in expectation for us to finally agree.

The bottom line is this: this is not right. It is inhumane. And for Ivanka to say at first this was a low point and then to defend the policy means it, in fact, was not a low enough point. And all I'm saying to you is simply this. You can't say that I'm against separating families and then on the other breath say, but they shouldn't be coming here to begin with, and they're going to be separated until they are deported and then their parents are deported without them.

What do you say to the 463 families who have been or the 463 adults who've been deported without their children? How do you explain that? How do you justify that? How do you at all say that that is humane behavior? What is the explanation for that?

CUOMO: Jason?

MILLER: Chris, I'd just respond to what Angela said a moment ago. If we are going to call this the great debate, then don't put me on with someone who's just part of the open border crew who just wants to essentially not have any border --

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: First of all, let's be very clear. Let's be very clear. I can't wait to search your genealogy and see if you have any illegal immigration in your family.

I don't know what you're talking about. You've never once asked me if I'm for open borders. You've never once asked me that.

MILLER: Clearly you don't want to --

RYE: At least I have the decency not to continue to repeat myself in this debate.

MILLER: Clearly, you don't want to enforce the border laws because that's what I've said.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: No, what I don't want to enforce is your president's nonsense. That's what I don't want -- come on, man. You guys know that this policy is ass backwards, plain and simple. You know this policy is inhumane, plain and simple. Like if you just take yourselves out of it for just a moment, take off the lenses of bigotry for just a moment and imagine --

MILLER: OK. So, now, we're getting into the name-calling?

RYE: Yes, we are.

MILLER: OK, great.

RYE: I'm calling this process, this procedure, is absolutely based on bigotry and fear-mongering. If you don't understand that your president announced his campaign by talking about --

MILLER: My president?

RYE: -- building a wall.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: He's our president, Angela. He's the president of the United States.

RYE: No, not mine. Not mine. I will never --

MILLER: Oh, not?

RYE: I will never claim a bigot, ever.

MILLER: Are you --

RYE: Now let me just finish because --

MILLER: Are you a Canadian?

RYE: -- I know you're off on a red herring because you're losing the debate. So let me finish this point for you.

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: Because, Angela, you scream at people. You're rude.

RYE: Come on, dude. I'm not screaming.

MILLER: You call names at people.

RYE: The only person that's rude is you --

CUOMO: All right.

RYE: -- because you're so afraid for me to get to the comma because the debate ends at the comma, dog. This is over. You have nothing to add except for asking me if I'm Canadian. And, no, I'm not.

I wish I could tell you where from Africa my ancestors came from, at least part of them, but I wouldn't know because the same bigots who are bringing -- who are sending people back away from their children are the ones who brought my ancestors here on a (INAUDIBLE) ship. Congratulations.

MILLER: If he's not your president, then -- I mean, who is your president?

RYE: You want to stay on that point because it has nothing to do with child separation --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We both know what Angela's point is. She says she doesn't accept Trump's politics. But he's obviously the president of the United States. Everybody knows that.

And let's end this on one fact. We just heard from a senior HHS official that they told the Trump administration if you do this, you're going to separate families, and it's going to be bad for kids, and they did it anyway. That's one of the facts that sheds light on what this has been about from the beginning.

Jason, Angela, thank you very much. Try to have a smile sometimes.

The president bragged against about his summit with Vladimir Putin tonight, but more than two weeks later, even the nation's senior most intelligence official still doesn't know what happened in the meeting between the two men. That is highly unusual and a serious problem. More next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Let's bring in Don Lemon because we just had a moment on the show. Are you ready?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, "CNN TONIGHT": I look up and I'm not TV. I thought you were going to introduce me, but there I am.

CUOMO: I was. You were talking at the time when I was trying to introduce.

So, D. Lemon --

LEMON: Yes, sir.

CUOMO: Angela Rye and Jason Miller were just going at it.

LEMON: I saw it. The last part.

CUOMO: There were two moments I want your take on. She says "your president" to Jason Miller and he goes, what, you're not an American, and she says no, I'll never claim a bigot as my president.

What do you make of that?

LEMON: Oh, that's tough. Well, he is our president. I mean, he was elected, right? He is our president.

But I understand that some people have really strong feelings about this president. Many people said the same thing about the last president, you know, he's your president, you know, he's not my president. I think he's the president of the United States.

Listen, Angela is an American citizen. She's free to feel how she wants. I know people who will not call his name. They'll only say "45".

That's up to them, but he's the president. Whether you want to call him that or not, your president or not your president, that's your business.

CUOMO: Context of a larger truth that she was arguing --

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: -- which is what she sees happening on the border to her is about intolerance and bigotry, and she reflected it back on her own personal experiences.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER: He's our president, Angela. He's the president of the United States.

RYE: No, not mine. Not mine. I will never --

MILLER: Oh, not?

RYE: I will never claim a bigot, ever.

MILLER: Are you --

(END VIDEO LCIP)

CUOMO: That was the first one. She said I am an American and I wish I could tell you where my family is from exactly in Africa, but I can't, because they were brought here as slaves by the same bigots who are doing this on the border now.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I think -- well, I know people find what this administration is doing so egregious that they can -- there are many people who can understand why she says not my president. But there is a larger truth to what she says and each of us as anchors here on CNN, we went back and we traced our roots.

I don't know where my family is from. I have no idea, I have a general idea, but there aren't specific records. I think what the larger -- her larger point is that we haven't in this country dealt with racism in a substantial way. We refuse to talk about it when people bring it up, we're accused of being race baiters and on and on.

So, I think she's equating to people -- this administration treating people who cross the border as other. And that that is a -- that is a line that runs through the American fabric that we need to talk about.

CUOMO: Strong point. D. Lemon, we'll watch your show at the top of the hour. We know one thing for sure about the people that you come from. It was a land of good looking people. Don Lemon, I'll see you at the top of the hour.

LEMON: And they love you. I don't know why, but they do.

CUOMO: All right. So, Don was just making a point there that's going to play into our closing argument.

Us versus them. What does it mean to be pro-life? The pope just made a major shift in Catholic teaching and it's getting a lot of attention. I'm going to argue it matters for a reason that many are not discussing, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Please tweet me or go to my Instagram page and give me your take on this closing argument. El Papa, the pope, says the death penalty is no good under any

circumstances. It is now inadmissible as part to the catechism because it undermines the dignity of that life. Paragraph 2267 of the catechism.

Now, this is different. It used to be OK as a last resort if it was to avoid safety from the unjust. Now, he changed it.

So even a person who does something horrible to be redeemed, deserve dignity. That's the point that he's making. No longer just a last resort for safety.

This is smart on one level, stunning on another. Here's the argument. The smart part is squaring the logic of being pro-life. If you don't -- if you believe that you don't mess with life in one area, you don't mess with it, period.

It's logical, and it plays to an inconsistency that we see here in America. Many who call themselves pro-life are also pro-death penalty. That's always struck me as odd regardless of any arguments about innocence of the actor and biblical assertions of eye for an eye because for believers, either the big man calls the shots of who lives and who dies, or we do. Which is it?

But then I read a little bit more into Bergoglio's words and thoughts, and I thought about it a little bit more, and I see something that's not just smart but stunning. In Argentina, the pope then Bergoglio, that's his name, he wasn't only a huge opponent of the death penalty, but of inequities of how we treat the living. His argument has always been if you're pro-life, then you're pro-all life equally.

So, the question for you is, are you pro-life? And if you say yes, do you mean just when it comes to a fetus? How about when it comes to a grave felon? How about when it comes to color?

Now, you may answer quickly and say yes, but do you see that in the choices of your politics, in our collective choices about our economy, our institutions, our justice system? Do we see it on our border with all this us versus them? Christians and Muslims? For many now with how men treat women?

Look at the yawning gap of rich and poor in this country. How laws like "stand your ground" make killing so easy. That let white men go free and let black men die without an arrest.

It happens in a system where fairness under law is too often not the reality.

You look at the border. People are not valued the same. We know what their homelands have been called, how their illegal entry has become a judgment on their soul.

The pope is just as strong on respecting those lives as he is an unborn baby. Are you? Because if you are not, then you may have to reconsider your quick answer of being pro-life.

Thank you for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.

There he is again.

[22:00:00]