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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Talking with Attorney for Former Roger Stone Aide Andrew Miller; Discussing Latest on Russia Probe; Another Tax Cut?; Kim Jong- un Up to More Games. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 10, 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: Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. And welcome to PRIME TIME.

A Roger Stone confidant is facing a contempt charge in the special counsel probe. Is this about hiding the truth? His lawyer says, no, it's about exposing it. He's here to make the case to you.

And looks like Trump wants to give himself another tax cut. A rule that is good for him and people like him, not so good for the rest of us. One of the architects of the original Trump tax plan is here to test it.

And as Charlottesville braces for the return of white supremacist marchers, Trump calls out would-be protesters. The problem is he's talking about NFL players taking a knee, not the Klan. Seriously?

It's Friday but we've got so much news that we're going to stay late tonight. Two hours of PRIME TIME.

What do you say? Let's get after it.

(MUSIC)

CUOMO: So, tonight the focus of special counsel Bob Mueller's probe is on three people. They are all connected to one man, longtime Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone. One of them is a radio host identified as the back channel to WikiLeaks. Another is a friend of Stone's known as the Manhattan Madam.

And the third is a former aide of Stone's named Andrew Miller, who refused today to comply with a subpoena. So he is now facing a contempt charge. Why dodge if you have nothing to hide?

Let's get after it with Miller's lawyer, Mr. Paul Kamenar.

Welcome to PRIME TIME, counselor.

PAUL KAMENAR, ANDREW MILLER'S ATTORNEY: Thank you, Chris. Good to be here.

CUOMO: Good to have you. Let's test the case. Is this about hiding? Is this about ducking the truth?

KAMENAR: Absolutely not, Chris. This is a constitutional challenge to the lawfulness of the special counsel Mueller. What we did was challenge his constitutionality on the grounds that he was not properly appointed under Article 2 of the Constitution. And we said that if you're going to appoint him under the Constitution, he has to be appointed by the head of the department.

CUOMO: Right.

KAMENAR: And the head of the department is Jeff Sessions, not Rod Rosenstein.

CUOMO: Right. You made that objection. It was ruled on by the judge in a 90-plus-page decision that every expert that we've had on about it and that I've talked to in the reporting feels confident about it.

Let me put up the key excerpt for people and then we'll talk about why we're still testing. And this is what the judge said.

Multiple statutes authorized the special counsel's appointment, and the official who appointed the special counsel had power to do so. So, for these reasons explained in further detail below, the witness's motion to quash the subpoena is denied.

In other words, you have made the argument. It's been weighed and measured and found lacking. And while the A.G. didn't appoint the special counsel -- he recused himself -- Rod Rosenstein, someone who is directly answerable to the president, did. So where is your issue?

KAMENAR: Very easy, Chris. Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation.

CUOMO: Mm-hmm.

KAMENAR: He did not recuse himself and he could not recuse himself from the Constitution, which requires the head of the department to appoint the special counsel.

But what you have on the screen there was a different argument in terms of is there even statutory authority to appoint a special counsel?

CUOMO: The judge said yes.

KAMENAR: This judge said yes. There's another judge who is also hearing this case in the same court, and the argument she had last week, she said these arguments are -- and this is her word -- compelling. She hasn't issued her decision yet.

But you have to remember, Chris, this --

CUOMO: Compelling in what context, counselor? Compelling political questions.

KAMENAR: Compelling -- no, compelling -- CUOMO: Because this judge said that too. These are interesting

questions, but they are not legally sufficient.

KAMENAR: No. The judge -- the other judge said that the statutory argument was a compelling argument in terms of the lawfulness.

In any event, Chris, these are one judge in our case, and the reason we had to not appear at the grand jury was so -- in fact, we even asked this judge to hold our client in contempt of court because under the rules of appellate procedure, you can only appeal a contempt citation.

CUOMO: Right.

KAMENAR: So we had --

CUOMO: So you had to be in contempt in order to turn to the appeal.

(CROSSTALK)

KAMENAR: That's right.

CUOMO: I get that.

KAMENAR: So we're not hiding anything. OK.

CUOMO: I get you -- hold on. I get you on the procedural argument. I'll give you that. We'll stipulate to that for the point of this discussion.

However, why isn't it about hiding? This guy is not some constitutional, you know, reform zealot. If he has nothing to hide, give the documents over that they say. Give the testimony. Roger Stone says Andrew Miller has no knowledge or evidence of Russian collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal activity.

KAMENAR: That's right.

CUOMO: Then testify.

KAMENAR: All right. Here's the thing, Chris. He already talked to two FBI agents for a couple hours.

CUOMO: He didn't give them everything.

KAMENAR: And then they asked for all the documents. He gave them all the documents.

CUOMO: He didn't give them all of them because they're asking for more documents.

KAMENAR: Well, not really, Chris. They're not asking for more documents. They're just asking him to testify about this, and now he is --

CUOMO: There was a June deadline that he had to meet in handing over additional documents and he did not.

KAMENAR: And he did on June -- he did.

CUOMO: So, he gave them everything they asked for?

KAMENAR: Exactly.

CUOMO: There's nothing outstanding?

KAMENAR: That's -- nothing outstanding. So, all that's left is, OK, go into the grand jury.

And he has a principled issue here. He, himself, is a very staunch libertarian. He worked on Gary Johnson's campaign in 2016. He doesn't -- didn't vote for Trump, doesn't like Trump's policies.

So, he is committed for a restricted government power. What we have here with Robert Mueller is basically a super U.S. attorney, more powerful than the regular U.S. attorneys. And regular U.S. attorneys --

CUOMO: He's directly answerable to Rosenstein, so how is he more powerful?

KAMENAR: OK. Well, so are these other attorneys, but listen --

CUOMO: All right. That's my point. So, how is he super?

KAMENAR: Well, he can file cases in any jurisdiction, in D.C., Virginia, New York. Your regular U.S. attorney cannot.

But listen to this, Chris. All these U.S. attorneys are nominated by the president, appointed by the president with the consent of the senate.

So here you have Robert Mueller acting like a U.S. attorney at large, a super U.S. attorney, and he hasn't been -- gone through the confirmation process.

So that's why our two arguments is that if he's an inferior officer, Jeff Sessions has to appoint him. If he's a superior officer, the Senate has to confirm him. And he's not really being supervised closely by Rosenstein. He's basically given free rein. He's indicting Russian foreign agents.

CUOMO: Well, he has a specific mandate. Rosenstein reviews it. We've seen that decisions have been made to parse out different things that Mueller started looking at and then went to the southern district. So that, you know, there's been a judiciousness in terms of what he can do. I don't see why you think that's a clear question.

KAMENAR: Well, no, it is because in terms of the supervision, Rod Rosenstein basically does not effectively control the actions --

CUOMO: Why not? KAMENAR: Well, because you see that there has been no limits on

Rosenstein's -- on Mueller's jurisdiction and authority. He is now going after Manafort, which is -- has nothing to do with the Russian investigation.

CUOMO: But in the mandate, it says that things that arise from it.

KAMENAR: Sure. And it can go as far as you want on that. But we're still challenging whether or not he can lawfully exercise those powers under the Constitution.

CUOMO: What I'm saying is the judge ruled on this, and you're saying you're not satisfied with the ruling even though --

KAMENAR: Yes.

CUOMO: -- this could easily be dispensed with, and Mr. Miller could go on with his life if he really has nothing to offer up. This seems like a potential distraction of process.

KAMENAR: It's not a potential -- the Constitution is never a distraction, Chris. These are important principles.

CUOMO: Right. But you're assuming it's unclear under the Constitution. This judge says it is not.

KAMENAR: Well, that's one judge. You have the Court of Appeals. You have the Supreme Court.

Chris, remember in Morrison versus Olson, you had that case in terms of the independent counsel --

CUOMO: Right.

KAMENAR: -- where the district judge ruled he was unconstitutional, and then by the way, they were held in contempt of court, too.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right, but there was -- but you remember what the issue was in that case, right? It's not the same one that you're bringing.

KAMENAR: It's still the same issue as whether or not the special -- in that case, the independent counsel satisfied the separation of powers in the appointment clause. They ultimately ruled that they did.

CUOMO: Right.

KAMENAR: But in Morrison, Justice Scalia dissented and that decision by the way is basically going to be overruled, if it already has been. Many jurists, including Justice Elena Kagan, said that Justice Scalia was right on point on this. So that decision --

CUOMO: But you had a majority decision that went against what you're arguing right now. KAMENAR: No, not on point because we had several other arguments that

were not addressed in Morrison and that dealt with a different issue of whether the three-judge court can be the appointing power.

So, it is a very weak precedent at best, and the Supreme Court has the last word on this. We think --

CUOMO: Is there any case that has ever ruled the way you want to see it?

KAMENAR: Well, this is a precedent-setting case. By definition --

CUOMO: No.

KAMENAR: -- there isn't. But we have a lot of arguments that we make to show that we do have a good case.

CUOMO: Right.

KAMENAR: The judge recognized it --

CUOMO: If you lose, will he testify?

KAMENAR: He'll have to testify if we lose, of course.

CUOMO: So, he will not hold out -- because he's libertarian. Maybe he would just hold out on principle.

KAMENAR: No, no, no. He's been cooperating with the special prosecutor -- special counsel in this case. So he's not going to be a recalcitrant witness. We're just standing on principle, Chris. This is the Constitution that's involved and that's what our main interest is.

CUOMO: Well, both are true. He is a recalcitrant witness, but you're saying it's because of principle.

KAMENAR: No, he's not.

CUOMO: Well, he won't testify. That's what I'm saying.

KAMENAR: He won't testify but it wasn't --

CUOMO: That's by definition recalcitrant.

KAMENAR: Well, usually, recalcitrant -- I'm not testifying for no good reason, where I just don't want to talk to you. I refuse --

CUOMO: Well, that's debatable because we don't have any precedent here to justify your argument.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We'll see how it goes. I'll give you that.

KAMENAR: The court stayed the contempt, by the way. CUOMO: Right.

KAMENAR: And the case law is that if you raise a good issue, a constitutional issue --

CUOMO: True.

KAMENAR: The judge usually stays that case. That shows that --

CUOMO: True. Fair point.

KAMENAR: OK.

CUOMO: Fair point. It's Friday night, I'll let you end on that one.

KAMENAR: Thank you.

CUOMO: Counselor Paul Kamenar, thank you for coming on. As we learn more about this case, do me a favor. Please come back, all right?

Good to have him on the show.

So one of the other Roger Stone connections is the "Manhattan Madam". She has a name. It's Kristin Davis. She testified today before the Mueller grand jury. She did not have this grand constitutional case that Mr. Miller has.

What does it mean that they brought in the Manhattan Madam?

We also have the case of the curious new radio duo of Rudy and Jay, Trump's lawyers. We take on both in "Cuomo's Court", next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So why would Mueller call the "Manhattan Madam", pause -- I mean to testify about Roger Stone? And why are the president's lawyers on the radio hosting a show running down the probe? Is that going to help them with Mueller?

Let's bring in Laura Coats and Jim Schultz for "Cuomo's Court".

Laura Coates, let's start with the "Manhattan Madam". Why?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, because she has a professional relationship with Roger Stone, who by his own admissions, his own statements, has alluded to his own relationship with Julian Assange, who has infamously now posted a lot of the e-mails that were hacked by Russians to the 2016 election. So, they're trying to figure out what it is she knows about his relationship with that person?

CUOMO: Why would she know anything?

COATES: Well, because she served as a clerical assistant to him following Andrew Miller's bout as his aide, who worked with him as his scheduling and calendar and issues around that. So, perhaps, there is something to be had about the corroboration of Sam Nunberg who said that he told him he was talking to Julian Assange, was with him at different points in time. So, perhaps, she could give him information about that particular aspect of it.

CUOMO: All right. But then Stone said that he was just puffing when he was talking to Nunberg, and Nunberg says that could be true. So how do you see the decision to have Kristin Davis on the stand?

COATES: I see the decision as one that's a comprehensive investigation to not leave any stone -- forgive the pun -- unturned because you actually have to have corroboration about --

CUOMO: It's a good pun by the way.

COATES: I thought so. Have to have good corroboration about things like that. You can't just take everyone's word if credibility is a factor here.

CUOMO: I got you. But, you know, Schultz, it's like -- let's come in on this. The idea is how tenuous are you going to get? You know, you haven't called Stone. If you want to know, call Stone. But they're calling people around him.

How far away from somebody, how small a role can somebody play in someone's life and still get called before a grand jury?

JIM SCHULTZ, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Look, they are clearly looking at the people in Roger Stone's orbit to see what they know before they decide to call Roger Stone to the stand. They want to get the information, corroborate the information that they may already have, and then eventually get to Roger Stone and put him on the stand and ask him what he knows and what contacts he really had.

CUOMO: So they can show that there was some activity that would equate with collusion?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think they're -- right. I mean, that's the purpose of the investigation is to look. It was an intelligence investigation to begin with, a foreign intelligence investigation to begin with, looking at interference with the election. And there was some discussions and public statements made by stone about his relationship with Julian Assange.

CUOMO: Right.

SCHULTZ: And, again, he did say that was puffing. He did walk that back a bit. But the bottom line is, you know, these prosecutors are going to verify that.

CUOMO: OK.

SCHULTZ: They're going to verify that information and then call him in.

CUOMO: So one more thing on this, Laura.

COATES: You know what? If I can -- CUOMO: Go ahead.

COATES: If I can just say, though, if he is a target of the investigation, he himself, and the goal is not to get to perhaps somebody who is more directly in with the campaign like Donald Trump, then they would never call him. They would be trying to get everyone around him to talk about the information they have. And he himself may be the target.

Remember, you got an indictment of those 12 GRU agents where they talk about somebody who is an American citizen, who was in cahoots.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right, and Stone had said he didn't think that was him, but it was so obvious it was him.

COATES: He admitted it was.

CUOMO: Right, on my show. Thanks for watching, Laura Coates.

COATES: On your show, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Let me ask you --

SCHULTZ: I think it's a little premature to be labeling him a target at this point. But we'll see what shakes out.

COATES: He could very well be, though.

CUOMO: Well, that would be rationale for not calling him and calling people around him. That's your point, Laura. I get that. But if everything that could be speculated about, alleged about Roger Stone were true, what's the crime?

COATES: Well, he cannot, as an American citizen, facilitate or solicit the help of a foreign national of any kind to try to influence the election. That is a part of collusion. That's an umbrella term that's often used, and the focus has always been on members of the Trump campaign.

But in reality, Mueller's mandate is far more expansive. It also includes looking into things he discovers in the course of that campaign --

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: -- of that collusion investigation. So, if he is somebody who facilitated and solicited the help of a foreign national, that is the crime.

CUOMO: You think stone could get stuck for that, Mr. Schultz?

SCHULTZ: I don't know. We don't know what -- we don't know what Roger Stone -- what communications he had as of yet. I mean, that's clearly what they're trying to get at here by pulling these folks in that are in his orbit, to find out what he knew and what he said and the communications he had.

CUOMO: All right. Next topic, while I have you here. Schultz, are you OK with Rudy and Jay Sekulow having a radio show and co-hosting and beating up the probe and making their case?

SCHULTZ: Look, they have a job to do as lawyers, and this probe has been in the public domain, and they have to have a pulpit in order to defend their client. And their client is in the news day in and day out talking about the probe, criticizing the probe.

This is an opportunity for them as the lawyers to speak on his behalf, as his lawyer, and make their arguments in public. And maybe that prevents the president from going out and doing it himself.

CUOMO: Coates?

COATES: Well, there's a court of public opinion, and then there's the kangaroo court with the peanut gallery. They are now in the latter.

It is to me ridiculous that two private attorneys on behalf of the president of the United States, not on behalf of the office of the White House counsel, are making their claims over the airwaves in this fashion. And they, I'm sure, will at some point try to articulate the attorney-client privilege about different things they've talked to him about. They're essentially throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping one will stick, and they know full well that this is an argument that's going to lead to a greater discussion perhaps if impeachment is ever able as an opportunity. But they are trying to appeal to that.

But in my mind as a lawyer, as an officer of the court, I think it's pretty unconscionable that they're going to use this medium. It really undermines the credibility of their client and demonstrates they have no strategy other than a focus group using the media and the people who listen to Sean Hannity's show.

CUOMO: Coates, for you at home, was a former federal prosecutor.

So, Jim, go ahead. Go ahead.

SCHULTZ: So, day in and day out, you know, the folks that are on the other side of this, the Democrats from the House and the Senate, the folks that want to see Donald Trump fail, day in and day out are pontificating about this investigation, making arguments and throwing statements out --

CUOMO: But nobody is saying they shouldn't be in the media. Nobody is saying they shouldn't be in the media --

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ: There needs to be someone telling the president's side of the story. CUOMO: Look, they're on TV all the time. I invite them on here.

They take other invitations. They go on. They talk whenever they want.

Nobody is barring them from having their say. It's about what Coates' phrase was, in this fashion. And when you are simultaneously bashing the probe, saying it's unsubstantiated, shouldn't stand, there are no arguments, it's unconstitutional, and asking the special counsel to accept your terms for an interview, how do you think those things go together? Peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and sardines?

SCHULTZ: It depends whether the special counsel is caring about the court of public opinion in making determinations as to what this interview is going to look like.

CUOMO: They're human beings, right, Jim?

SCHULTZ: That factors into all of it, and the court of public opinion matters to all the folks involved in this thing.

COATES: Well, to answer your question, it's peanut butter and sardines, Chris. And the actual court of law has an interest in this as well because if you think about it, they are going to try to make some argument -- Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow at some point, once Mueller is frustrated by the absence of good faith negotiations and is forced at some point if he chooses to issue a subpoena, they're going to have to go before a court of law and not a court of public opinion and articulate that they in fact were negotiating in good faith, were not using terms like perjury trap as a pretextual reason for the president, the head of the executive branch, to thumb his nose at the subpoena power of a grand jury.

And they're going to be faced with the commentary on that very show, and the court of law is not going to be receptive. That's my hope as somebody who is a member of the court of law.

CUOMO: Now, I didn't play any sound from the radio interview --

SCHULTZ: There's been no allegation out of special --

CUOMO: Go ahead, Jim. Make your final point.

SCHULTZ: There's been no allegation that the president's legal team is acting in bad faith in these negotiations. Certainly not out of the special counsel's office. It's irresponsible to say it at this point in time.

They've gone back and forth a number of times now with some conditions. They're narrowing the scope. That's clearly what the president's legal team is looking to do, and Mueller wants to ask as many questions as he can.

So, those two -- those two parties are going to continue to argue and negotiate over this for some time to come.

CUOMO: All right. Final point. Laura Coates, defend yourself. He says what you said is indefensible.

COATES: It's not irresponsible. In fact, actually quite astute, and here's the reason why. Their comments that they're making on the radio and other mediums in the interest of their client in the court of public opinion are based on their statements that they are trying to avoid the so-called perjury trap.

Now, trying to evade a perjury trap, if you know as an officer of the court, which would suggest that every single person who goes into a court of law to answer questions either at trial or an investigation is somehow being nefariously enticed by somebody who is looking to administer justice.

CUOMO: Right.

COATES: And so, if that's their basis, that's not negotiating in good faith. And if that's their sole basis and the court hears that exclusively from the radio, then they would make that assertion. It's not irresponsible. It, frankly, is inferred by the content of their own statements.

CUOMO: I reserve judgment on the ruling until we see more facts of what the investigation is. But I will say this right now. They don't want to put the president in that room for one main reason, Jim, and I don't have to tell you this because you have experience with the president yourself.

They are afraid of him freelancing and him answering questions in a way that goes beyond the scope of what he needed to answer and getting himself in trouble. And they won't be able to help him when he's looking at a federal officer. That is their main concern no matter what else they're arguing. We know that's what it is.

And I didn't play any sound from the radio for one very self-serving but important reason. I want them to do it on this show, not without being tested. You need to be tested to get respect and legitimacy for your arguments. They're welcome here anytime.

Laura Coates, Jim Schultz, on a Friday night, thank you very much.

COATES: Thank you.

CUOMO: The attorney general slamming sanctuary cities once again. But is his case legit? I have the facts and what figures, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Facts first. Sanctuary cities are in the news again because the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is once again bashing them.

So where are the sanctuary cities?

Here's a map. You'll see most of them are on the coast, but there are plenty in the middle of the country as well.

Now, are sanctuary cities bad? The Sessions/Trump argument is local governments don't round up and deport people, so they are putting your life and law enforcement's lives at risk.

First, local governments don't deport anybody. The federal government does.

Semantics, says Sessions. If a city doesn't help or release its bad guys, that's bad enough. But is that a fair legal analysis?

Here are the facts. Trump didn't start this fire. He's just blowing on it. Both the Bush and Obama administrations basically deputized local law enforcement to help catch people in the country.

So what happened?

The cities kept getting sued for profiling, holding people too long while waiting for federal officials or getting them for the wrong reasons because they often didn't have the full case jacket, the information from the feds. And they kept losing cases and being fined and it got expensive. So, what they did was start passing laws saying the federal government needs to do this job itself, OK? So those are the facts.

Then there's the administration's main policy argument. This is about public safety, collecting immigrants who come here illegally is essential to crime-fighting. That's what Jeff Sessions says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This should be obvious, but if you want to reduce violent crime, then we have to get serious about illegal immigrant crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Why? What is his argument? Illegal entrants are a significant aspect of crime overall.

But that is wrong. Even if you count all those who are caught for entering illegally, they are still not a significant part of our crime problem.

Proof. OK. First, a study found in March that violent crime actually falls more when immigrants are living in a community, especially if they are here illegally.

Why? Because people who are here illegally have a tendency to stay under the radar. It makes them less willing to commit crimes. That's the theory of the study.

More proof. The Cato Institute -- all right, Cato Institute not a liberal place, right? They looked at Texas, which ironically is where Jeff Sessions was making his argument today. And they found that people there legally were 25 percent less likely to be convicted of homicide as people who were born here.

Why? Well, again, two factors. The first one is that entering here illegally does not mean you are automatically a killer, OK? We keep hearing that from some of our friends and not friends on the right. They're selling it, but it's untrue.

And, again, when you are here illegally, you want to hide from law enforcement. How do you hide most effectively? By not committing crimes.

So this is a reality that I'm not making up and isn't just owned by the Cato Institute. The White House Chief of Staff John Kelly admitted this in April.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The vast majority of the people that move illegally into the United States are not bad people. They're not criminals. They're not MS-13.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: If they're not, they're not, they're not, then why do we keep hearing it? Do you know why? Why do we hear that they sell drugs, they rape, they gang-bang, as if it were the rule and not the exception?

Because they're not gang bangers, but you know what this was? Fear.

Selling fear works. It just happens to be fake fear in this situation. It is fear that drives support for harsh treatment and walls and other things that Trump can deliver on and look good. That's sad.

Sadder still is that there is a real crime problem in this country that Sessions could be spending a lot of energy on in this speech and otherwise. But that doesn't seem to be as important, and that leaves us with a question. Why not?

OK. We're going to take a break. When we come back, President Trump wants to give another tax cut to himself, and this time he wants to bypass congress. Our next guest is the man who helped Trump secure the first round of tax cuts.

Marc Short is here to make the case. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: So, we got the big tax cut. It wasn't really tax reform, but the cut was supposed to be the centerpiece of the party's message in the midterms. But not so much, at least at this point. Why? And what is up with this latest cut that cuts out Congress?

Perfect guest, Trump's former Legislative Director Marc Short is here.

Welcome to PRIME TIME.

MARC SHORT, FORMER TRUMP LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR: Chris, thanks for having me on.

CUOMO: It's good to have you.

All right. Let's talk about this tax cut. First of all, my suggestion there in the introduction that the GOP was supposed to go long and strong with this tax cut, but we haven't been hearing much about it.

Is that because you know that it doesn't help the same people that put the president in office as much as it helps people like me?

SHORT: Oh, no, I don't think that's the case, Chris. I think if you look at the overall tax benefits of the $1.7 trillion estimated, $1.1 million is going to individuals, $600 million for companies and businesses.

So, I think the reality is that people across the country are benefiting from it. Unemployment's at an all-time low. Unemployment for particularly African-American and Hispanic-Americans is at an all- time low. Estimates say that for a family of four earning $70,000, they get a tax benefit of over $2,000.

So, no, I think the vast majority of Americans are benefiting from the tax relief plan.

CUOMO: But there's -- right, it's about which people. First of all, unemployment, very low. Underemployment, not as low. A more specific problem. What kinds of jobs? How many hours? What is the pay?

Wages are not moving the way we need them to. People in the middle class have not grown in any way near to what those in the top 1 percent have. Eighty-plus cents of every dollar of this tax cut go to the wealthy, not the people who put Trump in office.

Defend.

SHORT: Chris, I think that the reality again is that those that are taxpayers across the country, the ones benefiting, as I just said, a family of four that is earning $70,000 is getting a $2,500 tax break.

CUOMO: Some.

SHORT: Now, if you're talking about families or individuals that are earning exceedingly higher than that, then prorating that, of course, there's going to get a higher tax benefit than $2,500.

CUOMO: Why of course? You called it a middle class tax cut. Doesn't that mean the middle class --

(CROSSTALK)

SHORT: It's talking about a percentage. If you're a family of four and you're earning $72,000, that $2,500 is pretty significant to you.

CUOMO: No -- I like that argument. It's a shaming argument that, hey, you're saying $2,500 is like chicken scratch, but it's not when you make 70. Not on my watch, my friend. What I'm saying is if it's a middle class

tax cut, then give me the 80 cents of every dollar as a middle class family and not the 20 that you're giving. If you're going to call it middle class, take care of them the most. You didn't.

SHORT: No, that's not true, Chris.

CUOMO: Eighty cents. That's what the CBO scored it.

(CROSSTALK)

SHORT: I can walk through this for you again.

CUOMO: I know, but I want the first (ph) analysis any more than the first time.

SHORT: Because, look, you're distorting the analysis. The reality is the top 1 percent or 2 percent pay roughly 40 percent of the taxes in America.

So, naturally, if you're going to look at it that way, then you're going to say that they're going to get a higher percentage. But if you're looking at what the actual income is for an individual in middle income, then they're getting a larger percent of tax break --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But not everybody, but here's the difference, right? We're playing a little bit with math here. Not everybody who makes 70 grand got that cut. There are a lot of different demographic figures that went into it. But if you make a lot of money, you did.

And what they're trying to do now with the capital gains cut going around Congress, which is too in the weeds for us tonight. But, again, 80 plus cents of every dollar of that cut is going to go to the 1 percent.

I thought you wanted to help the middle class the most. Then help them the most. Don't help me.

SHORT: Chris, the middle class is the one that's benefiting --

CUOMO: Not the most.

SHORT: They're the one that got the larger percentage in the tax rate from what they were pay tock what they're paying now.

CUOMO: But overall, the amount, they're less.

SHORT: They're also the ones benefiting from the most from the child tax credit, because that is a much more significant deduction for them that they're receiving from the tax plan.

So, yes, the middle class is the one that's benefitting from this tax plan, significantly so.

CUOMO: But not the most.

SHORT: It's why -- it's why you're seeing such tremendous economic growth in our country, why you're seeing GDP at 4.1 percent. I know you want to talk about what it was in the Obama years, which was 1.8 percent average across those eight years. So, yes, the economy is growing because of that tax plan, and those benefiting from it are the middle class.

CUOMO: There are a lot of different reasons the economy could be growing, but I'll give you that point for the sake of argument that there's no question right now the economy is agreeing in robust fashion, and we'll debate why as we get closer to the elections.

Let me ask you something else while I have you here. So you were on the inside with Trump. When he would bash the media, what did you say to him about it? When he would attack the media, when he would attack situations and lie about them, who around him said -- because you were in the room, so I want to know.

Did anybody around him say, you know, that's not true by the way?

SHORT: Chris, I'm not sure that the president was looking for my opinion about the way he handles his interactions with the media. I think that, by and large, you see that roughly 90-plus percent of the coverage of the president has been negative, and I think that he's anxious to find a day when he actually gets a fair shake in the mainstream media.

CUOMO: Well, look, it's about what he says and what he does, right? It's not like you have to cherry-pick. I mean that's the point.

It's just weird, Marc. You're there. He's saying all these things. You don't say anything.

But then you came and join the enemy, right? That's what he calls, the enemy of the people. So, you said nothing then, but now, you're with us. Why?

SHORT: Well, Chris, I appreciate --

CUOMO: We're glad to have you by the way. Glad to have you.

SHORT: I can tell you are. I appreciate the invitation to be on your network. I'm excited to be able to provide a perspective that perhaps your network was missing as far as advocating for the Trump administration policies.

So I think that will be hopefully beneficial to your viewers to get a different side of the conversation as well.

CUOMO: A hundred percent. But I want the perspective of somebody who was in that room. So you're saying that people who were there felt that it was so unfair to him, that it was okay for him to attack the coverage. And if he tells the truth, he tells the truth. If he doesn't, he doesn't. SHORT: Chris, I think you've heard me say previously when I was asked

this question on a different network, I said the free and fair press is a cornerstone of democracy. It's what's essential to democracy.

CUOMO: Right.

SHORT: And I think you'll hear me protect the right and freedom of press each and every time you ask me that question.

And so, yes, I think there are plenty of us who believe the press is not the enemy of the state and that -- or enemy of the people. But at the same time, I do think the president has had an unfair representation in the media and the coverage that he's received, and I don't think there's any doubt about that.

CUOMO: I just think that you can believe both of those things at the same time obviously, and the president doesn't. That's why I asked you about it because you know what? Your perspective on economics but also the mindset and the tactics of the president are going to be invaluable to the office. And that's why -- to the audience, and that's why I'm very happy to have you on the show. You are welcome back again anytime.

SHORT: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: Marc Short, appreciate it. Welcome to the team.

All right. So turns out we have problems with North Korea. President Trump said the threat was gone, but the only thing that is gone for sure seems to be any positive momentum. So, the question becomes why?

Do these things just generally go this way, or did we take the wrong approach? Phil Mudd says he can feed your mind on this in just three points.

Feed your mind. That's what I meant, Phil. Don't make that face. It made sense, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: So, the Kim regime in North Korea is now calling American proposals to give up its nuclear weapons gangster-like. That's not good.

So, let's discuss it with CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd who is here.

So, you say you can take care of this, clarify in three points, and they go to pace, posture, and progress.

Let's start with pace. Is this the way it usually goes, that it seems ugly early?

PHIL MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: No way. Look, you got to go into this with an understanding of what your adversary wants. In this case we went in misunderstanding our adversary. We go in with what we call a rational actor model, Chris. That is he

can't feed his own people. He must be willing to give up nukes so we can relieve sanctions and he can feed his own people.

Kim is sitting there saying, if they want this so bad, they must be willing to give me something up front, and we of course said no. We both went in with a common problem. We misunderstood our adversary.

CUOMO: All right. That takes us to how we went in, posture. They had the summit. Was that the right move?

MUDD: I believe it was the right move to figure out after years of mistakes, after years of misunderstandings what our adversary thought about, we should have walked out and said, OK, now, we understand they may not be willing to move on denuclearization. What's the next step? We haven't gotten there yet.

CUOMO: And the way they came out of summit and what the president said, was that the right move at the time?

MUDD: Of course not. You go into this saying the primary thing the North Koreans want is to protect the regime of a dictator. The primary thing we want is to get nuclear weapons off the table and to tell the North Koreans that response if you take nuclear weapons off the table is sanctions relief. If you go into that misunderstanding what your adversary wants, if you don't know what the goalposts are, you can never score a goal.

We need to understand what our adversary wants. It's pretty simple.

CUOMO: So, the third P, progress. How do you make progress in this situation?

MUDD: I hate to tell you this, but we got to make two assumptions that nobody's going to like. Number one, are we going to show some leg going in. Are we going to tell them we'll relieve some sanctions before you denuclearize? Nobody here wants to do that.

There's other things on the table here. The second thing is, are we going to give them security assurances about the future of North Korea if they don't move on nukes? I don't think we're going to do that.

CUOMO: Did you just say show some leg?

MUDD: Show some leg, Chris. What we do every time when we go out for beers. You show me leg.

CUOMO: Phil Mudd, thank you very much. As your friend, stay off the drugs.

MUDD: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Charlottesville is going to be subjected to white power protest this weekend. It is the one year anniversary of that deadly horror show. President Trump says the protesters should be called out and forced to stop what they are doing.

Here's the problem: he's not talking about the white supremacists. He's talking about the NFL. Why?

Closing argument, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: Closing argument: The NFL preseason kicked off last night, though the Jets are playing right now and they're clearly the dominant team in the league. Yes, I am a delusional Jets fan.

I'm also not surprised that President Trump picked up right where he left off, criticizing players who choose to take a knee or raise a fist in protest.

He says: The NFL players are at it again, taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the national anthem. Numerous players from different teams wanted to show their outrage, in quotes, in something that most are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love.

Be happy, be cool. A football game that fans are paying so much to watch and enjoy is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Untrue.

Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your national anthem or be suspended without pay.

Why is Trump doing this? So many protesting players, white and black have said this isn't about disrespecting the flag. He knows that. He doesn't seem to care.

Why? This works with the part of his base. How do we know? He said it.

Cowboys owner Jeffrey Jones gave sworn testimony that Trump told him, quote, this is a very winning strong issue for me. Tell everybody you can't win this one. This one lifts me.

How does this lift anyone? So, it's OK if it divides people and stokes prejudices. That's leadership, that's winning?

This is like a domestic form of jingoism, patriotism that's really about targeting a minority. In this case, mostly black players. And once again, he is suggesting that they are stupid, by saying they're unable to define why they protest. That's what's what he says.

Here's another thing. He knows that isn't true. In fact, he said it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to ask all of those people to recommend to me, because that's what they're protesting, people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system, and I understand that. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: If he understands, the question is does he really care?

Here's a point for and against. For, the Trump administration is working on prison reform. And that could make a really positive difference for minority communities. Now, we have to see what happens with it. But if it does, that's a point for his understanding.

Point against, he takes on the NFL protest and ignores the trash that is heading to Charlottesville to mark the first anniversary of their deadly racism by having another rally. And the president says nothing. He picks on the NFL players who are part of one of the most unifying aspects of our culture and ignores the ugliest division.

The president says he's the least racist person you know. The president says he's all about uniting the country.

So, here's my argument: we only know what you show. If you are not a racist, then attack the racists instead of targeting mostly black protesters and suggesting they are dumb, especially after the shameful moral equivocation about Charlottesville that the president had a year ago. He certainly should not ignore the anniversary, he should embrace it.

People -- you bring people together in America in the spirit of what is most American: rejecting intolerance and bigotry.

You want an easy win, here's a pro tip. Go after the Nazis peddling hate, not our sports heroes who are protesting injustice. That way, the president gets his win and that win doesn't make the rest of us and what this country stands for losers.

That is the closing argument.

I don't have to say good night because we're going to keep going. We've got a bonus second hour of CUOMO PRIME TIME on this Friday night.

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