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CUOMO PRIME TIME
Bob Woodward's Book Includes Explosive Revelations about the Trump Presidency; Woodward Book Describes "Crazytown" White House; Colin Kaepernick, the New Face of Nike; Primary Upset in Massachusetts. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 4, 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: Thank you, Anderson.
I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.
Fear is spreading as Watergate journalist Bob Woodward pulls back a curtain on another White House, revealing some of the darkest secrets yet of the Trump presidency.
We have the latest excerpts for you, and we have friends of the president. They know firsthand what he's like, what it's like inside the White House. How do they take on the revelations? Did they know about the book? We'll see their defense, and we'll test it.
Then, the president tweets something that may be his most improper move yet. He scolded his own attorney general, saying he shouldn't have indicted two Republicans because it might jeopardize the GOP majority in Congress. That is all kinds of wrong. But is it impeachable? We'll test that notion.
And Colin Kaepernick is the new face of Nike. Can you guess who's not happy about that? We have the response that Nike was banking on.
What do you say, my friends? Let's get after it.
CUOMO: All right. Now, this is not just another book, OK? This is one of the most respected journalists around, Bob Woodward. You know his name. That tells you much of what you need to know.
Now, on a day that the president expected this to be all about his chance to leave a lasting impact on the Supreme Court with the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, instead his aides are disputing whether the White House really is, quote, crazy town.
Here to help us sort out fact from fiction, CEO of Newsmax, friend of the president, Chris Ruddy.
Always good to see you, sir.
CHRIS RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: Glad to be on.
HAYES: Now, let's just start with this ain't Omarosa, OK? Like, you know, if we were going to have titles on TV. She has a lot of tapes. We'll see what she can prove and what she can't.
Bob Woodward is a man who deserves respect. You can't just dismiss everything in this book out of hand, can you?
RUDDY: I think Bob Woodward is a good reporter, but he has a history of being a hostage to his sources. I mean, many books he's done where if you're giving him information, administrative sources, administration sources, they get good -- then get portrayals in the books. People that don't give him good information, like the president, they don't come across so well. And --
CUOMO: He reached out to the president. He wanted to talk to him. You heard the phone call between the two of them, right?
RUDDY: Well, the way this book has turned out, I think the president looks like he was smart not to talk to him because he talked to a lot of people that were ex-administration people that were not very happy with the president. At least that's what we are led to believe based on that. It's all anonymous sourcing.
CUOMO: Right. But that doesn't mean it's not true.
RUDDY: Well --
CUOMO: As we all know, most of the best reporting we get is from anonymous sources because they don't want to be revealed, and they're often likely to tell you the most truthful things.
RUDDY: But, Chris, I'm watching your network. They're saying that people in the book are afraid World War III is going to break out and they're protecting the country from the president. Usually people that feel that strongly, they'll go on the record, especially people of the caliber who he's quoting and sourcing.
CUOMO: Not if they're still there.
RUDDY: Well, a number have left. They haven't spoken out publicly. They haven't said anything negative about the president.
This book is not so much fake news as it's old news. I mean, it's a redo of Michael Wolff's book. Very similar themes. The president is crazy. The president says nasty things about people.
CUOMO: But doesn't the commonality breed credibility? That these are things I've heard almost without exception. I've heard many times.
RUDDY: I think if you repeat a lie long enough, that everybody else thought --
CUOMO: No, but I've -- look, as you all know, we're part of a pretty small community here of people who actually have understanding of sourcing, of what's going on inside the White House. I am surprised by very little that's in the book. He's documented it very well. I haven't gotten to read all of it yet obviously. He's got lots of hours of things that have been recorded.
Do you want to get in a fact fight with Bob Woodward?
RUDDY: Well, I would say, look, there's 28 reporters covering the president from "The Washington Post." Bob Woodward's home newspaper, and yet they never seem to report any of this on a daily basis, a weekly basis, a monthly basis. Don't you think the timing of this is very suspicious, Chris? One the even of a congressional election --
CUOMO: No. You tell me why it is.
RUDDY: Well, here, right, the president and the Republicans are facing a congressional election. The Democrats are making the president an issue. They can't make the results or his job performance an issue because when you look at it, the economy has gone from 1.5 percent GDP growth under Obama, 200 percent increase. It's like at 4.5 percent.
CUOMO: Well, you're cherry picking your quarter.
RUDDY: Well --
CUOMO: But I don't think anybody is arguing that the economy isn't strong. It's not the sole measure of the presidency.
RUDDY: It's soaring. The economy is soaring.
CUOMO: But any Republican who got in there -- this is my speculation, you tell me if I'm wrong -- would have cut taxes, would have cut regulations. I don't think they would have done what he's doing on trade. We'll see what it yields.
But what holds him out as unique is his style and the way that he talks, what defenders of his call style. That matters too, Chris. That's why when you're looking at how he is in there, it explains so much about what seems to be apparent dysfunction.
RUDDY: Well, I think there could be some improvements in style and approach. I agree with that.
But I also think that if you look at the president's performance, other presidents would have come in, Republicans, I'm not sure they would have cut corporate taxes to the degree he did. You know, I spoke to someone at the EPA during the Reagan years, he said that Donald Trump rolled back regulations in a year that took Reagan eight years to do.
If you go through some of the things he's done, these trade agreements all over the world --
CUOMO: We don't have any agreements yet, right?
RUDDY: Well, we have one with Europe, and it's now going to benefit us about $50 billion. American farmers -- (CROSSTALK)
CUOMO: We don't know what's laid out yet. It's not final.
RUDDY: We signed the -- Larry Kudlow got, you know, the deal.
CUOMO: Right, but it's not --
RUDDY: It's done. So, I think you're going to see --
CUOMO: We have to see what the deal is and what it isn't. I'm not saying he won't get things done. I'm saying I don't think that you get to score him on that basis because he's been making a lot of noise about it alone. The economy, the numbers are what they are.
RUDDY: That's not noise. That's bottom like you have the lowest unemployment.
CUOMO: No, I didn't say that's noise. I said those are the numbers. I'm saying on trade, that's noise until he puts it to paper.
RUDDY: So, a book like Bob Woodward's in my mind is a distraction. It's a distortion.
You don't have people -- I speak to a lot of people in the White House. I'm friends with Larry Kudlow, John Bolton. There's probably half a dozen people I speak to regularly over there.
Nobody is saying what I'm hearing out of that book. Nobody is saying -- I believe -- again, this is old news.
There was a lot of turmoil in that administration the first six to eight months, and I think there was a couple reasons for it. First of all, the president was new to govern. He had never done this before, even though he had been a great businessman. Second, I think, you know, Reince Priebus was not the best chief of staff to start off on. I think now that's pretty clear.
When General Kelly comes in, you see a radical change in that administration, and I think the president -- you know, they all say he's fighting with General Kelly all the time. I hear they have a great relationship.
CUOMO: Well, this is not the first time we've heard Kelly accused or quoted as calling him an idiot or something worse or being completely disgruntled about what it's like to work with the man.
RUDDY: How many times have you called a friend or family an idiot or jerk? You know, John McCain --
CUOMO: Many, but I never deny it because I'll put it into context for you and I'll explain it's part of love. I don't deny it and say it's a lie like he does all the time.
RUDDY: Well, the press is trying to imply that somehow it's a conviction when it's just a -- CUOMO: Well, then own it. Say you said it. Say you're taking it
wrong. Don't come up with a tortured defense like Tillerson did. You know, own it.
RUDDY: This is the only president -- all the presidents have had kitchen table talk among their aides.
CUOMO: True, but you've got a big organization. If somebody calls Chris Ruddy an idiot, how does that go over?
RUDDY: They're not going to be fired. I'm not going to be upset about it. And --
CUOMO: Come on.
RUDDY: I was just at John McCain's service. You know how many times John McCain would say, hey, what are you doing, jerk? He's called everybody a jerk, an idiot --
CUOMO: To your face is different when you're not there and they're trying to explain what they don't get about you.
RUDDY: I'm sure he'd do it behind my back too. You know, he -- Donald Trump comes out of the World War II generation, you know. My dad was a World War II guy.
You know, these guys didn't go to sensitivity class. They just were gruff. They told you what they thought. In the heat of battle, your -- everybody is a pain in the neck.
But at the end of the day, you know, there's real values there. He believes in something. And, look, he's accomplishing things.
So I'm not saying everything he's doing right -- I think it would be good if the tweet volume went down, there was a review process.
CUOMO: It's not just the volume. It's the content.
RUDDY: Well --
CUOMO: He likes to see opponents as enemies. He likes to see people who disagree with him as less than him and somehow bad. I don't get that as a leadership style in America, do you, as a president?
RUDDY: I don't think it's a great approach, but it's his approach, and it's worked for him. And --
CUOMO: By what measure? He does not have a majority of the country in his favor. He has fomented tensions that I don't know how they make us productive, make us productive. People say --
RUDDY: He won an election you guys said he wouldn't win.
CUOMO: A hundred percent. RUDDY: He's had I think pretty remarkable approval numbers
considering the drum beat of negative press attacks.
CUOMO: He won -- you guys can say, look, it's going to be what he delivers. It's going to be what he delivers. I understand that, and I accept it to a certain degree because, you know, at the end of the day, performance is productivity and we'll see what he can get done, and then people will vote on it. Tone matters, though.
RUDDY: But I think the public sees through it. Let me give you an example.
How many times in this book do they say people calling him an idiot, stupid, Rex Tillerson supposedly called him a moron?
RUDDY: You know, it's all kitchen table talk, but they're trying to make it seem like it's somehow real. Quinnipiac poll recently asked Americans what are the two best attributes of the president, and they said, 63 percent, he's a strong leader. That's pretty amazing considering again the attacks you guys are giving.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans said he's smart. You know, this is a guy that we might again think of some of his approaches as unconventional, but I think you have to give credit where it's due. He's -- there's a certain genius at work.
CUOMO: I just don't see it as mutually exclusive. I think that you can say -- I've never said the president is anything less than intelligent. I think that because he is intelligent, he's making very definite choices.
RUDDY: Well, I'm not sure your view is held by many, many of the people at CNN.
CUOMO: I'm only concerned with -- I only control one person. You're looking at him in the ugly suit.
What I'm saying is this. What comes out in this book is you've got a level of dysfunction. What comes out in this book is things we've heard before. They've got concerns about his ability to tell the truth, so much so that they have been banging and banging on Mueller to let him answer questions in written form.
And, Chris, I'll tell you, as a longtime political hand and as a lawyer, there's only one reason I want you as my client to answer in writing. You know why? So I can control it.
RUDDY: I think it's fairly common sense, especially --
CUOMO: I don't trust you in the chair. I want it in writing. And they're going to give it to him with collusion, but not with the obstruction stuff.
RUDDY: This president, in terms of this investigation, has been exceedingly transparent. His lawyers, I think, made a very bad error by turning over documents that any other president would have exerted executive privilege on. And, in fact, it will probably cause a lot of trouble totally unrelated to Russian collusion.
You know, two years into this, Chris, you notice Woodward's not talking about Russian collusion because he knows there's no evidence of Russian collusion.
CUOMO: Well, that's not what he was talking to the people in the White House about the dynamic there as they had talked about it. He reported it.
RUDDY: Well, I mean, this has been going on for two years. He's been doing an investigative book and he comes with no evidence of Russian collusion.
CUOMO: But that wasn't his mandate of the book. The book is what it's like inside and how they make --
RUDDY: The biggest theme that's been ongoing is the idea of Russian collusion. The best he could say, he talks about the president. He says -- he quotes the president, everybody is out to get me. I -- when you read that book, you have to think maybe Donald Trump's right. People are out to get him.
CUOMO: To be fair, there is nothing in the mandate of Woodward's book that is about him looking at the Russia probe. It's about the style and the substance in the White House and how they do the business of the American people. That's what it is. It is not about whether the probe is right or wrong.
RUDDY: Well --
CUOMO: Just to be fair to Woodward.
RUDDY: Well, he had that as a potential purview. What's been going on in that investigation has been a key part of what the White House has been dealing with.
CUOMO: I appreciate you coming on to make the case from the president's perspective. Always welcome on this show.
RUDDY: I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do that.
CUOMO: We'll do it again.
Chris Ruddy, thank you very much.
So how about the sum of substance of what you get in the book? Well, it's not out yet. It's not on sale until next Tuesday. It's already number one on Amazon.
So, what we've done is there are a lot of excerpts out there. That's a common strategy. It's not like it leaked or anything like that. They want to promote sales.
We have the five biggest takeaways from the book, next.
CUOMO: He's gone off the rails. We're in crazytown. That's a quote from White House chief of staff John Kelly according to Bob Woodward's new book on Trump.
So, there's a lot out there about what's in this book. It's almost 450 pages. We've culled the excerpts that are available. We got the top five for you, OK?
And here are the biggest takeaways. Disrespect is run amok. Trump is described exactly as his critics imagine him to be. Relentlessly vulgar. Disrespectful, disengaged. And he sets the tone for a staff dynamic that is described as a zoo without walls, all right?
Just a few of the examples of what the president says about his staff. Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, he says he dresses in cheap suits like a beer salesman, all right? Who else?
I don't want you to do any more negotiations. You're past your prime. That's what he supposedly told his friend and now Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
All right. And he calls his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, mentally retarded. A dumb Southerner.
Now, if he sounds like a naughty boy, the adults around him agree. Defense Secretary Mattis said, Trump has the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader.
The White House chief of staff, General John Kelly, calls the president unhinged and an idiot and says this is the worst job he has had.
So, number four, all right? Now, for me, this should be number one, all right? Aides actively conspire to reduce Trump's impact. Example: a draft of a letter that would have withdrawn the U.S. from a trade agreement was on President Trump's desk.
So what does Gary Cohn, the former chief economic adviser do? He says, according to the book: I stole it off his desk. I wouldn't let him see it. He's never going to see that document. Got to protect the country.
Imagine that. People we didn't elect who, by the way, many of whom have not looked that good over time with that they did in the White House. They're acting to protect us from the man who was elected to lead? Wild.
All right. Number three, this is basically number four that gets worse. It isn't just on policy but on matters of national security that the people around Trump are trying to protect him from himself, let's say. Last year, Trump reportedly called Defense Secretary Mattis and said
he wanted to assassinate Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. He said, let's F-ing kill him. Let's go in. Let's kill the F-ing lot of them.
That's what's reported as him saying. Mattis tells his aide, we're not going to do any of that. We're going to be much more measured.
OK. So, number two, Trump's own lawyers worry that he will commit perjury. His former attorney, John Dowd, staged a practice session to simulate an interview with the special counsel. Dowd told the president, according to the book, don't testify. It's either that or an orange jumpsuit. The president responds, I'll be a real good witness. Dowd told him, you are not a good witness. He quit the next day.
Then number one, the White House needs a new line of defense to accurate criticism. Everyone denies everything. They say it's all fake, all 448 pages of hundreds of hours of interviews that echo exchanges and explosions that many of us have heard about from similar sourcing.
One particular bad move, Trump tweeted his typical fake news fist in defense of Mattis and Kelly. He put up there that their quotes were made up, frauds, a con on the public, likewise other stories in quotes. Woodward is a Dem operative. Woodward, of course, of two Pulitzer Prize fame. He's talking about that Bob Woodward of Watergate.
Again, this isn't some gossip from a bar. He's got hundreds of hours of background interviews, dozens of firsthand sources, including those in Trump's inner circle past and present. The real problem is that Trump said Woodward is fair on tape when he called the writer. Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's really too bad because nobody told me about it, and I would have loved to have spoken to you. You know I'm very open to you. I think you've always been fair, but we'll see what happens.
We're going to have a very inaccurate book, and that's too bad. But I don't blame you entirely.
BOB WOODWARD, LEGENDARY JOURNALIST: No, it's (INAUDIBLE). It's going to accurate, I promise.
TRUMP: All right, OK. Well, accurate is that nobody has ever done a better job than I'm doing as president. That I can tell you. That's the way a lot of people feel that know what's going on and you'll see that over the years. But a lot of people feel that, Bob. So --
WOODWARD: I believe in our country and because you're our president, I wish you good luck.
(END AUDIO CLIP) CUOMO: Now, it's not a fact. It's how the president feels, and that's OK. He's entitled to his opinion.
But you heard him there about Bob Woodward. I think you've always been fair.
The proof of what is in the book is also shown by what Trump said. No one told him that a guy like Bob Woodward wanted to talk to him about a book that he was writing? Now, either that proves that this staff is afraid of exposing Trump to real players and real scrutiny, that the staff is dysfunctional, or that Trump is lying once again. And no matter which of those or some combination that it is, all of it is demonstrated by what is in Woodward's book.
All right. So that's the story of today. We have breaking news we're following right now out of Massachusetts. We could have another possible surprise win in a Democratic primary.
Who is it? How big a deal is this? We're going to set it up for you, and then we have our great debate, next.
CUOMO: Breaking news. Another stunning primary upset appears to be in the works, this time in Massachusetts, the seventh congressional district there. A ten-term Democratic congressman named Michael Capuano has just conceded to Ayanna Pressley. She's the first woman of color to serve on the Boston City Council in its 100-year history.
Now, what does this mean for the party? Is this another progressive upsetting some kind of more centrist? No. Capuano is a very progressive Democrat, but he just conceded, saying Pressley will make a great member of Congress.
We have Miguel Marquez at the Pressley headquarters in Boston. This is a shock if for no other reason timing. They're barely getting the returns in.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's only been an hour and a half that polls have closed and this is the Pressley headquarters right now. It went absolutely bananas when Mike Capuano, the ten-term congressman from the seventh district here, a very deep blue district in Massachusetts, conceded.
The votes have only started to come it, but clearly he saw the writing on the wall. This is not like it was the far left versus the center. He was progressive.
She was also very much into Boston politics. He was a councilperson. She worked for John Kerry. She worked in Democratic politics her entire life.
For her and for her constituents mainly in Boston -- he had greater support in the districts outside of Boston. In Boston, it was about bringing a different sort of leadership to Washington, a much more vocal leadership, and clearly the voters responded. We saw those returns coming in very heavy in Dorchester and Jamaica Plain areas where she has a lot of support, and clearly it paid off tonight.
This place is absolutely going nuts. We expect her to come out very shortly to address the crowd here -- Chris.
CUOMO: All right, Miguel. Stay in my ear and let me know what you hear, OK? And if it's worth it, we'll come back to you -- Miguel Marquez.
That's a big deal. Let's take it up with our great debaters. We've got Van Jones and David Urban, perfect panel for this.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wow.
CUOMO: Gentlemen, thank you for being here.
You know, very interesting. Pressley has a unique line. This is about style of power and influence of what people wanted representing their district in Washington. She says those closest to the pain should be closest to the power.
She is outspoken about how her father was incarcerated. She was a survivor of rape. She's very raw, very real.
This was not about the new left versus the old left, Van. How do you see it?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, there's a wave sweeping through this party. It's about the outsiders versus the insiders. It's a generational shift.
It's about women. It's about people of color. It's about people who have been called the base of this party for so long saying, we're tired of being the base. Can we actually just be in the leadership sometimes?
Don't just have us knocking on doors. Don't just have us being the foot soldiers. We want to be the generals. We want to be able to actually lead and go forward.
There's very little to distinguish these candidates when it comes to policy. But when it comes to energy and when it comes to a critique of the status quo, you have a Democratic Party that feels like we were led off a cliff by the Hillary Clinton machine, and people are tired of being told to wait and wait and wait. And folks are not waiting.
CUOMO: Well, they also want to knuckle up, Dave, right? The concern for you, you see in terms of disposition is --
URBAN: This is huge.
CUOMO: -- you know, Pressley, again, if you match them up policy for policy with Capuano, their big clash wound up being Colin Kaepernick.
CUOMO: They wound up going at it in the debate when she was like, no, no, well, he's doing didn't divide --
URBAN: Chris --
CUOMO: -- the practices of people -- these are people who are going to fight Trump actively. That seems to be what Democrats --
URBAN: Well, listen, that's great. And Van's trying to minimize the schism in the party here, but this is yet another sign of the Democratic Party's race to the far left. Look, at this pace, Bernie Sanders isn't going to be progressive enough to get the nomination, right?
CUOMO: But her policy positions aren't that different than the guy who's in there.
URBAN: As you say, right, this isn't about the policy. And as Van said, this is about the perception. She -- Capuano is a ten-term incumbent, a pretty progressive, highly thought of gentleman here in Washington, and he just had his lunch eaten by this young newcomer who's out-left him.
And so, as you look towards 2020, listen, as you look towards 2020 --
CUOMO: I think that you're spinning us on the out left, Van, because she's out-left him, she's more aggressive. She says, I'm going to fight Trump. She's going to say, I've been victimized by policies that Trump wants to bring back.
URBAN: A 10-term progressive congressman just lost.
JONES: Look, you may be correct in the bigger picture. There is a move to the left in this party.
URBAN: There you go.
JONES: And it could be good. It could be bad. I like it though than I don't like it.
URBAN: Van, listen, acknowledge this. Go ahead.
JONES: I would say in this case, there's another dynamic harder to understand if you're not in this party. It's just a generational sea shift. You've got a bunch of folks who were knocking on doors for Obama 2008, Obama 2012, finally ran for local office in 2014, '16. People are ready and hungry.
URBAN: That's great. JONES: And there's a generational shift happening and she represents
that more than a lurch to the left. But you're going to see that happen across.
URBAN: But you just said, look, it is partly a shift to the left. And that's going to make it very difficult for a centrist, kind of blue dog Democrat is what your party needs to win a national election.
CUOMO: Why is that what it needs when one in your party was the most extreme type of angry rhetoric that we've heard from a presidential candidate in a generation?
URBAN: Chris, you're a smart guy. Come on, man. You're a smart guy.
CUOMO: Hold on a second. Hold on. Trump is no centrist Republican.
URBAN: Listen, Chris, I'm not talking about Trump.
CUOMO: He is a flagrant example of your party.
URBAN: I'm talking about the Democratic nomination right now, OK? If you think that a right of center kind of blue dog Democrat a la Conor Lamb or Ralph Northam, the guys who have been racking up victories for the Democratic Party are going to get the nomination for the presidency, you're fooling yourself.
JONES: Let me tell you what I think. Here's where you could be wrong. I don't know, but here's where you could be wrong. I think folks like us have been around for a long time. We have an electability test, an electability standard as if the world didn't change a lot with Obama and even more with Trump.
I think people are more interested now in authenticity than credibility.
URBAN: Listen --
JONES: And I think if you are an authentic believer in your policies and your politics, you're going to get a 10 or 15-point bump just because you're just not taking your talking points from a pollster or reading stuff out --
URBAN: Look, I agree --
CUOMO: It would be nice if they could go together. It would be nice that you could be authentic but not be full of it every time you open your mouth. That would be nice.
URBAN: There are some races where there are really, really good candidates in the Democratic Party on your side who are extremely authentic. And I can -- I don't want to give free air time to your side, but there are lots of those.
Look, I think here, people -- you know, Ms. Pressley is a very impressive candidate and will do very well in Boston. Is she going to do well in Ohio, Pennsylvania --
CUOMO: She's not running for president. She's just trying to get into Congress. You have that problem, Dave.
URBAN: Chris, listen --
CUOMO: Hold on. I had to go with the news tonight, but we're covering up the news of this book. The mean the whole point about you guys --
URBAN: It's not the news. Chris, it's all a part of the same thing, Chris.
CUOMO: You guys keep leaning back on the economy. The economy's doing well. Meanwhile, you can't keep breaking every rule of decency and don't think it's going to come back to bite you in the behind at some point.
URBAN: So, Chris, let's just -- your five big talking points you had there, right?
CUOMO: Yes, sir.
URBAN: You're a fact-based guy, right?
CUOMO: I am.
URBAN: You're very factual. So, of those talking points, right, you had Mr. Dowd come out this afternoon and say the practice session never occurred. None of that stuff took place, OK? You had -- I don't know Mr. Dowd. You had General Kelly and General Mattis, two men who I know and I hold in extremely high esteem.
CUOMO: Both deny the allegations.
URBAN: Who both came out and said this is patently false.
URBAN: OK? So, there -- Rob Porter, right? The staff secretary. Gary Cohn said, I took a piece of paper off the president's desk with Rob Porter. Rob porter's job as staff secretary is to manage paper flow on and off the president's desk.
CUOMO: Not to hide stuff from the president so he can't act on it. That's not paper flow. URBAN: That's your characterization. That's Bob Woodward's
characterization. What may have happened --
CUOMO: That's Gary Cohn's characterization according to the book.
URBAN: Chris, do you know if that memo was properly vetted and signed off by Gary or others to put it on the president's desk at that time? I don't know the facts behind it, but I do know those gentlemen's job was to control paper flow on and off the president's desk.
CUOMO: That's not how it was described in the book.
URBAN: Well, Chris, of course, it's not described that way. Of course, it's not described that way.
CUOMO: But remember who you're talking about. That is Bob Woodward. It's not Omarosa. It's not some disgruntled staffer.
JONES: Chris --
URBAN: Again, I will stand by General Kelly and General Mattis every day, 10 days out of 10, rather than Bob Woodward.
CUOMO: I'll tell you what, the things they're accused of saying, it's not the first time I've heard them accused of it, OK?
URBAN: Then you're saying you don't believe the credibility --
CUOMO: No, I'm saying they say what they say, and I can't disprove it. I'm just saying Bob Woodward --
JONES: I got to say this one thing, somebody who has worked in a White House, I want to say this. If what Bob Woodward says is 50 percent false, if what he says is 90 percent false and only 10 percent of what he says is true, we are in a national emergency.
If just 10 percent of what he's saying is true --
JONES: -- because I've worked in a White House, and I'm going to tell you right now, there is an orderly transmission. Every single thing that hits the president's desk is usually vetted at a number of levels. If there's a dispute, it's laid out in a memo so the president can make a decision.
JONES: This group believes this. This group believes that. Usually, the chief of staff tries to get this worked out.
The idea that people are sneaking in there, crawling in the White House on the rug --
URBAN: No, that's characterization again --
JONES: -- and snatching stuff off, if 10 percent of that stuff is true, we are in a national emergency, and I wish Republicans -- what if 10 percent is true? What are you going to do about that? Don't put it all on everybody else that something is happening in that White House.
URBAN: Listen, I'm not -- I'm trying to be. This is an accurate show. That's why it's the number one rated show on CNN, Chris. Congrats again.
You know, I'm not going to stand here and not push back on things that have been -- that the gentlemen who have been accused of saying these things have come out today and said patently false. I mean, you're talking about gentlemen who have served their entire lives in service to their nation.
JONES: You're not -- you're not worrying about any of this?
URBAN: General Kelly laid his son at the altar of freedom and you're calling him a liar now?
CUOMO: No, that's not --
JONES: OK, fine, but you're not --
CUOMO: Honestly, I think that's a little gratuitous.
URBAN: It's isn't gratuitous, Chris.
CUOMO: It's not about going after their credibility. I'm just telling you, I get Van's point. I think he's being too generous, all right? I've never heard of Bob Woodward only being 10 percent true.
I've studied him my entire life. I've read what he's read. I know his methodology. I get mentored by his partner Carl Bernstein here.
URBAN: Chris --
CUOMO: I'm telling you, he ain't just 10 percent right. I'm not saying people won't fall on the sword and they won't speak to duty.
URBAN: I agree with Chris Ruddy --
CUOMO: But I'm just saying what's in that book deserves a fair hearing.
URBAN: And I'll give it a fair hearing. Look, and you know what, Chris Ruddy was, I think, correct earlier on. This is Michael Wolff redux.
CUOMO: No way.
URBAN: What new news is in here?
CUOMO: Bob Woodward deserves more respect than that. I'm sorry. JONES: No.
URBAN: What's new in here, Chris? What's new?
CUOMO: Look, I think that you have this depth of concern about the confidence in the president of the United States, the extent people go to to protect him from himself, I've never heard anything like that before.
URBAN: Now you're going back to the quote where Gary Cohn is alleged taking a piece of paper off his desk.
CUOMO: No, there are others.
URBAN: I don't know the others.
CUOMO: Mattis about what was said to do with Bashar al Assad. Anyway, I'm out of time. We'll talk about this more. The book's not even out yet.
URBAN: Oh! All right.
CUOMO: It's out next week. I promise, brother, we'll get a second bite at the apple.
JONES: Congratulations to Ayanna Pressley. That's an extraordinary, generation defining victory.
URBAN: It's a big win.
JONES: Congratulations to her.
CUOMO: It's just happening now. We're trying to get Miguel to get her if we can. We'll try and bring her the audience and see what this win means to her.
Gentlemen, thank you.
URBAN: Thanks, Chris.
CUOMO: Van Jones and David Urban.
All right. So, look, when it comes to this Woodward book, it is relevant this isn't the first time we've heard about this kind of chaos in the Trump White House. It just is. Why? Because when things happen more than once, when you hear it a lot, it raises the credibility of it. Of course, you always have the standard of proof, but this new book "Fear" has the most detailed evidence with some of the most well-placed sources that we've seen to date.
So, we're going to do some cross-checking with a man who was witness to the chaos firsthand. Anthony Scaramucci was in the White House. He's still in close contact with people, and he speaks his mind, next.
CUOMO: All right. So, today, the president of the United States went after journalist Bob Woodward after his new book described crazytown inside the White House.
Let's dig in to the facts and the feelings. White House insider, former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.
Anthony, always a pleasure.
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Congratulations on the show.
CUOMO: You've heard what's going on with the reactions to this. Mattis says never happened. Kelly said, I never said it. The White House comes out and says this is all untrue.
Bob Woodward, months of interviews taped, documents all untrue? What's the chance of that?
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I mean I think the chance is low but where I would disagree with Van is let's say it's 10 percent, 20 percent true, even 50 percent true, what everybody is missing about this is that the president has an operating style that's different from the other 44 presidents. And he's an aggressive guy. He has a tendency to say what's on his mind. He wears things on his sleeve.
And despite all that, I think he's been resoundingly effective. If you look at his record, Chris, a lot of great things have happened for the country over the last 19 months. So what's really at issue is, is the style of his communication and who he is as a person, is that what the American people voted for? Is that what the American people want?
And so, my opinion -- and you're going to disagree with me, and obviously half the country will disagree with me. We'll have to see what happens in 2020. But I think by and large, people are looking at the direction the country is going in, looking at the success in national security, the economy, et cetera, and saying, OK, this is obviously an unorthodox, non-Washingtonian guy, a guy that doesn't have the diplomacy or the organization style of the other presidents.
So, whether it's true or whether it's not true, my guess is that elements of it are true, and my guess is that so what if the guy is very successful in terms of how he's handling the economy.
CUOMO: But that's where the disagreement comes in.
SCARAMUCCI: So, that's definitely up to debate.
CUOMO: I don't understand how a good economy is an excuse for bad leadership. SCARAMUCCI: No, I didn't say it was an excuse. What I'm saying is
that there's a result orientation to this guy's 50-plus-year business career. And there has been a result orientation for the last 19 months.
CUOMO: He has been successful at one thing, and you know this. Anthony, you are an actual businessman, OK? You actually built a business that's really successful.
SCARAMUCCI: I built two very successful businesses, thank god.
CUOMO: He never has.
SCARAMUCCI: One of which I just returned to. So, yes, I --
CUOMO: He never has. He has never done what you did.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. But you can't --
CUOMO: He's a great salesman. He's a great marketer, he's made an amazing brand business for himself and he was really good on TV playing that role. He's never been a great businessman returning equity to investors, making other people wealthy, paying his bills --
SCARAMUCCI: Hold on a second. Let's step back. You can't say the same thing at the same time. Let's split the two things.
He has been a successful businessperson. He has a very lavish lifestyle that shows off that business success. He hasn't been a public company operator. He hasn't been an asset manager like me.
CUOMO: He's never run a business.
SCARAMUCCI: But he has built good brands. I know a lot of people who have lent him money for these business projects that have made very good money alongside --
CUOMO: A lot have lost a lot of money too.
SCARAMUCCI: OK. So, hold on a second. You're talking about something different. You're talking about his operating style and his management style.
SCARAMUCCI: Is that management style working, OK, in a way that everybody likes?
CUOMO: Or is it happening despite that?
SCARAMUCCI: So, let me address. OK, let me address that. OK, so his operating style and his management style, he needs help. He actually needs somebody in there that actually likes him, somebody in there that gets his personality, knows when to call him on stuff that they disagree with, but do it in a enough of a deferential way where he's OK with it or he's not flustered with them or --
CUOMO: He's president of the United States.
SCARAMUCCI: I understand that. But, you know, here's the problem, OK? Without a good managerial structure around him -- let's use Reagan as an example, OK? Reagan put Meese in there, Baker in there. He put Deaver in there.
The only one he didn't know that well coming in was Baker. The other guys knew him well from California. They got along great.
The president has nobody in the mix right now that he can turn to say that he's had 10, 15 years of operating experience with. Tell me one person inside the White House --
CUOMO: His kids.
SCARAMUCCI: His kids. Only, but they are a generation younger than him. I'm talking about something like a Deaver, something like a --
CUOMO: I don't disagree with that. But there's a reason that people either didn't want to stay, got pushed out, or to --
SCARAMUCCI: You said to me if I wanted to be objective and totally analytical about the situation, he needs to hire people around him --
CUOMO: If he can get him.
SCARAMUCCI: Of course he can get them. I mean, he can get just about anybody that he wants.
CUOMO: They've been trying to hire a lot of people for a long time.
SCARAMUCCI: That's your sources, but my sources tell me that -- other people say they would of course love the opportunity to work in the White House.
But he's doing something I do disagree with, OK? What he's doing is he's mixing things up where his style is now so abrasive and his style is now so caustic, OK, that it's actually costing him, okay? My 83- year-old father would see it differently. He worked in construction his whole life, never went to college.
But if you take a rock and smash a rock with a sledge hemmer ten times it may not break, 20 times it may not break. On the 99th time, when you hit that rock, it will shatter into pieces and you don't know which one of those hits caused it. So, what I would say to the president, stop hitting the rock, OK,
because you're going to shatter something, which is known as your base. You're going to shatter something which is a large group of blue collar people frankly that think you're the only lone advocate for them in Washington. So stop smashing at the rock. Change your style.
You're an adaptive guy. You're an entrepreneur. You went through a major bankruptcy. Change your style. If you change your style --
CUOMO: He doesn't change his style.
SCARAMUCCI: OK, you think so, but I don't think --
CUOMO: He is who he is. He says the same thing.
SCARAMUCCI: He's an adaptive guy. He can change his styles.
CUOMO: Let me ask you one thing. Don't name any names.
SCARAMUCCI: Go ahead.
CUOMO: You cannot tell me that you have not heard the president called by the people on the inside the exact same things that are reported in this book. They can deny it all they want. Now, that's what you're supposed to do in those positions. I'm not besmirching their integrity, but you know you've heard him called those things.
SCARAMUCCI: Well, I've heard him -- I've heard him people call things that if they showed up on TV would be regrettable. I've heard them called --
CUOMO: And said about him.
SCARAMUCCI: I've heard them call him things that if it showed up on TV would be regrettable.
SCARAMUCCI: And I've said things that have actually showed up on TV that are regrettable.
CUOMO: You own what you say in a very unique way, though.
SCARAMUCCI: But I do own what I say. And some of the things that I said were actually regrettable.
And so, I'm sure people said things that were regrettable, but that's part of what's going on in there, is that it's a rough and tumble environment. People are shooting at each other.
What I don't love about the situation is that everybody is talking anonymously, OK? So, if you've really got chops, if you're really got bones, get up and say the truth and the way you really meant.
CUOMO: Porter spoke. Reince spoke. Others spoke. SCARAMUCCI: Now, let me tell you another thing that's going on. A lot of these establishmentarians that are living inside the White House, they want to go back to their buddies inside of Washington and say, wink, wink, yes, I'm just working there but I don't like the president. And someday, the president's not going to be here, but you know how Washington works. We're all cockroaches that are going to be living in this kitchen forever, so you got to like me after the president leaves.
And so, one of the things that's happening with the Woodward piece and other pieces like it is I've got to prop myself up, say something anonymous to Bob Woodward, have it get out there that I'm not really inside the president's inner circle because all these Washingtonians really don't really like the president and I've got to live with these people after the president leaves.
And this is where the president is making a huge mistake. If the president would only listen, he would hire people that actually like him. He would hire people that actually care about his agenda, care about the American people, and care less about the Washington establishment.
CUOMO: He seems to want to check, look --
SCARAMUCCI: You know, he likes hiring these guys that have these big, you know, titles and so forth. And they may like him, and they may not like him. Your sources tell you that they don't like him. My sources tell me that they don't like him.
But you want to know something? I've never heard any of those people specifically say that. I mean, the only thing I heard General --
CUOMO: That's because they have class.
SCARAMUCCI: The only thing I heard General Kelly say is that I got to let you go. I shook his hand, I said, OK, that's fine. I haven't heard him say anything, any of those other things firsthand.
CUOMO: I've got to let you go too. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you for the truth.
SCARAMUCCI: Good to be here.
CUOMO: I appreciate it.
SCARAMUCCI: I'm trying to say it straight, brother.
CUOMO: And I appreciate you being on the show to do it.
SCARAMUCCI: God bless.
CUOMO: All right. We have more to come on a very big upset that was not expected in the seventh congressional district in Massachusetts. It is another proof of change within the Democratic Party. This could be the new congresswoman from that district. How did she do it? Next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CUOMO: You hear what happened in Massachusetts, the seventh congressional district? Another upset within the Democratic Party. Ten-term incumbent Democrat Mike Capuano has just conceded to 44-year- old Ayanna Presley. Now, she is first black woman to serve on the Boston City Council in its 100-year history.
What does this mean for the party? A little bit of a twist here. Usually it is, well, Pressley in this case would represent the new left, she is way more progressive. Way more left than Capuano.
Not true. Capuano is very progressive. This is actually about style of leadership that Democrats in the area of Massachusetts wanted, diverse urban areas. They wanted someone who wants to take on Trump and knuckle up.
And that's what Ayanna Pressley is. She has this great expression I want to talk about with you.
But let's bring in Don Lemon. He's going to be talking about this I'm sure coming up on the show. It's good to have you.
Those who are close to the pain should be close to the power. That has been somewhat of a chevalet (ph) for Ayanna Pressley. She is using it on the campaign trail. She knuckled up about Colin Kaepernick against Trump. She took on Capuano about that.
She is taking on things with the aggression that the Democrats there wanted because it's not about policy, left versus center. Capuano and she line up pretty close in terms of what they want government to do.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And she said she knew that they were going to vote the same way. And it's very clear, Chris, she said one of the reasons she tells "The New York Times" she did this is because she wanted to combat the hate that is coming out of this White House.
Very quickly, she's going to be on our show a little bit later. You're going to hear directly from her.
CUOMO: All right. Don Lemon, I'll be watching. Thank you, my friend.
CUOMO: All right. So, something happened during the break in the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is creating a lot of backlash. It had nothing to do with testimony. It hasn't started yet. I'm going to take you through it. I have an argument, next.
CUOMO: You've heard the expression, I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it, right? Two things. First, Voltaire didn't write that, a woman named Evelyn Beatrice Hall did. And second, the fact is that we know who wrote it. I'm going to argue now a feeling I think is becoming less true. Why? Because we just don't disagree with decency anymore.
Trump has generated a lot of political success by weaponizing disagreement. He doesn't have opposition. He has enemies.
So, how we deal with what and who we disagree with matters a lot in America. That takes me to the Kavanaugh hearing today. A display, frankly, of everything I think that's going wrong in our political culture. Lots of time spent with lots of words and little accomplished other than grandstanding and disagreement that was often gratuitous. I hope it gets better tomorrow.
But then this happened. I want you to watch something. The man on the left highlighted tells Kavanaugh, my daughter was murdered at Parkland. Kavanaugh turns away and then you see him escorted out.
The man is Fred Guttenberg. His 14 year old was murdered in the Parkland school shooting. When he went to shake Kavanaugh's hand, this is what happened. And this is only what happened, OK?
Why did the judge turn away? The White House says, oh, well, security intervened. No, they didn't. You're seeing the pictures right now.
First, he turned away and then security came in. That's the damn truth, all right? The judge should be asked why.
Well, justice is supposed to be blind but that means I'm biased, not ignoring what is right in front of your face. Why did you do that? I don't mean to indict him. He may have a good reason. He may have no reason. He may say I don't know what you're talking about, I didn't know what was going on, I just wanted out of there. Maybe.
But we need to hear it. Why? Because I hope that in Kavanaugh's mind, Guttenberg didn't represent a set of beliefs that he finds some threatening he couldn't make contact. That's why the judge should explain.
And here is what he shouldn't say, what the White House put out. New video of hearing room clearly shows security intervened when Judge Kavanaugh was approached. Watch it again, please. OK?
No. No, Raj Shah. You don't have to come on the show if you don't want to, but you can't get away with, are you going to believe your lying eyes B.S., OK? He wasn't pushed away by security. He made a decision.
I'm not indicting the judge. I get that he is a car pool dad and people say he's a good man. I get it. But how we disagree matters.
We cannot turn away from each other just because we don't like what the other is saying. The right to believe something includes the right to say it, be heard and be judged by larger society. And, yes, it does work both ways. It's not always equal but it works both ways. You can't silence opinions because you don't like them.
Look, some day here is why. If you allow what you don't like to be silenced today, you will never know for sure that what you believe won't be silenced tomorrow. That's not what America is. It can never be us.
Let's see what the judge is asked tomorrow. We'll be covering it here. Thank you very much. I'm late getting to Don.
"CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON" starts right now.