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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Trump Rages as White House Hunts Anonymous Official Part of 'Internal Resistance Movement;' Trump Calls Anonymous Writer of Op-Ed in the "New York Times" 'Gutless;' Anonymous Op-Ed Writer Calls the President Amoral, Off the Rails, Reckless and Erratic. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired September 5, 2018 - 21:00   ET

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


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo, and welcome to PRIME TIME.

If you work in the White House and have been talking about the president, you may be watching me right now from a closet or under a desk. And yes, I can report it is true. Trump is looking for you.

Why? One day after excerpts from Bob Woodward's stunning book on the chaos inside the White House, that came out, now, an unnamed senior official working inside the Trump administration right now claims he or she is part of an internal resistance movement meant to thwart the president's misguided impulses.

So, the reaction is what I'm talking about. The president has reportedly sounded the alarm. He wants the sources revealed, calling the anonymous writer of that op-ed to the "New York Times" gutless and actually demanding on Twitter that the source be turned over to the government at once.

His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is here to respond to allegations made about him and the president, and he's going to update us on whether or not the president will talk to Robert Mueller. There has been movement reported.

And Trump's Supreme Court nominee does the all too familiar dance. Lots of stuff in general. Nothing specific. But we don't need the judge's words to tell us the truth about the process.

The time is now, friends. Let's get after it.

(MUSIC)

CUOMO: We've got a real witch hunt going this time, and it's happening in the West Wing. The White House reportedly scrambling to root out whoever this senior official claims to be as part of the resistance within the administration supposedly to protect the country from the president himself. Trump already reportedly seething about aides talking to Bob Woodward. He wants to know who. Literally, we're hearing stories of people avoiding him right now because of these questions.

The anonymous op-ed writer who calls the president amoral, off the rails, reckless and erratic as all part of a theory that he is a potential threat to the republic and people are needing to act to accommodate him and counter him. When the president heard about all of this, he raged.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the failing "New York Times" has an anonymous editorial -- can you believe it? Anonymous. Meaning gutless. A gutless editorial.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Then, as the opinion piece began to marinate, the wheels were spinning in Trump's head. Treason, question mark, he asks in all caps as a tweet. Then made that demand I was telling you about to the "New York Times."

We have never seen anything like this. I know I've said that before. But this one is worth remembering.

Gutless person? Look, that's his opinion. He's fair to call him that.

But turning them over. "The New York Times" he's saying this to. To him, the government, at once, in the name of national security. That is just a wild suggestion, let alone from a president of the United States.

And we do hear the White House is closely examining the writing. They're looking for key words that might reveal whom it could be within the ranks. Who defied the president?

Will they be found? Should they be found? Who is it? It's one of the biggest parlor games going right now.

So what about Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani? He seems to know most things. He's certainly never in doubt.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME, Counselor.

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: How are you, Chris?

CUOMO: All right. I get from that initial introduction. This is a long day that we've had here.

The substance of the book, you've gone on record and said this was never said, this story about the president --

GIULIANI: Yes, it's completely false.

CUOMO: -- talking to Rudy Giuliani and using terms about diapers and you being a baby. You say it never happened.

GIULIANI: I don't say it never happened. I'm telling you it never happened. I have at least up to eight witnesses now who confirm it including probably my most trusted security man Bo Wagner. I know what -- I've talked to the president about it. I've talked to

about eight people who were there. I'll tell you exactly what happened. I was on five shows right after "Access Hollywood." I did them all, which is kind of unusual.

The plane waited for me. The campaign plane waited for me. And when I got on the plane, the staff applauded me. The president stood up, said, Mayor, you weren't tough enough. And then he laughed. And he said, you did a great job -- you did a great job. Thank you. Nobody could have done what you did.

And then he called me over, called me over. He put his arm around me. He put me close to me and he whispered something in my ear about how much courage I have. I won't tell you exactly what he said.

That's exactly what happened 100 percent --

CUOMO: The word "diaper" was never mentioned?

GIULIANI: The word "diaper," word "baby," criticism, no.

Now, here's the tell-all part of this. Bob Woodward never sought to contact me about it. He has some gutless wonder who told him this lie. OK, he's got a source. But who's the principal in the story? Me.

He never interviewed me or any of the other eight witnesses that were there because he had a nice juicy little thing he could use to promo his book, make money, and this is the Woodward scheme, all the time. That whole press release yesterday includes that stupid story? Because Woodward had calculated this can sell me books. He doesn't want to get it contradicted --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You don't think Woodward deserves some respect as a journalist and as someone whose word is usually good in reporting --

GIULIANI: If he calls and apologizes to me, I'll say that. His word's not good.

CUOMO: Why not?

GIULIANI: If somebody printed a false story about you, Chris, and he didn't bother to call, would you -- would you have any respect for him? I wouldn't. He didn't call Jay Sekulow either on the Dowd story.

CUOMO: You say you have eight sources who counter his narrative.

GIULIANI: I don't -- look, on a personal level, I don't need eight sources. I know what happened.

CUOMO: I hear you. But I'm just saying you say you want him to turn over his sources, put out the tapes --

GIULIANI: I don't want him to turn over his sources. I'd like him to have somebody listen to that tape.

CUOMO: Who?

GIULIANI: I don't know. Some third party. I don't care who it is.

CUOMO: How about me? I'd like to heart tape. And I'd like to know your eight people.

GIULIANI: I'll tell you my eight people off the record and maybe on the record at some point.

CUOMO: Why not on the record?

GIULIANI: I give you a couple of them, right?

CUOMO: Well, the president's not going to talk to me. And your security guy's compromised as a source. Just to be fair. I'm saying if there are other people there, put them out there. Let them say this is what happened.

GIULIANI: Well, I will. I will put them out there.

CUOMO: Because that's what you guys are asking him to do.

GIULIANI: Well, if he puts his out, we'll put ours out and I may put mine out anyway.

CUOMO: Yes. I mean, if you go first, that's the best way to --

GIULIANI: Steve Bannon a couple of days earlier told a completely opposite story --

CUOMO: Steve Bannon?

GIULIANI: I haven't talked to Steve. But he told a completely opposite version of it to someone else and it was printed. Very much along the lines that I told you.

This is totally false, Chris. Completely 100 percent false.

Now, why doesn't he call me about it? Why -- if he wants -- if this is a search -- if this is Bob Woodward, icon of Washington, search for the truth, you don't call me? You don't call Jay Sekulow when you say Dowd told Mueller that the president was lying or would end up in an orange jumpsuit or something like that?

Jay Sekulow completely denies it. And Jay says he never called me. I know Jay's number. He knows Jay's number.

Woodward has interviewed me for other books. The reason I asked for the tape recording is I know he tapes the conversations.

CUOMO: He does.

GIULIANI: Fine. God bless him. He doesn't do what Cohen did. He doesn't lie to you. He does it. I have no problem with that. CUOMO: Right, but there's no confusing Woodward with Michael Cohen.

I mean, completely opposite ends of the spectrum. But even bringing him up in the context, Woodward is a man worthy of respect. That's all I'm saying.

GIULIANI: Not from me personally, he isn't.

CUOMO: Well, I get what you're saying about your disagreement --

GIULIANI: I have no respect for a man who writes a scurrilous thing about him, that I'm a baby, I need to be in diapers, and he doesn't call me to ask me my version of it. He doesn't call anybody else to ask their --

CUOMO: No, I hear you on that. I hear you on that. That's a fair request.

GIULIANI: And I know he did exactly the same thing to my co-counsel.

CUOMO: Well, but here -- but then you have what they're --

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: And then we end up, we end up in the promo for the book. I'm not a fool.

CUOMO: Right, but you're going to have to take up a publisher with that also, right? They are trying to sell books. That's their job. But it doesn't --

GIULIANI: Woodward is a genius at knowing how to sell books.

CUOMO: But there's a lot in this book beyond those two stories --

GIULIANI: How do I know what's true?

CUOMO: -- that lend a flavor that is very familiar for those of us that cover this White House. And then that op-ed comes out today that is an echo of exactly the tone, the tenor, and the concerns that are listed in that book. Coincidence?

GIULIANI: Maybe yes. Maybe it was orchestrated. I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: What do you make of the op-ed today where somebody says I'm working there right now, I'm a Trump appointee, and we're worried, we have to protect you from him?

GIULIANI: Well, number one, I don't know how much of it to believe. Is it a Trump appointee? Is he in the White House? Is he phoning it up? How much is "The Times" complicit?

CUOMO: "The New York Times" is complicit? You think they'd risk their reputation on a kill shot like this if it was proven to be false? (LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: Oh, no. No, no. I don't think so.

CUOMO: That's a heavy charge. I've got to tell you. I mean, you and I go at it over charges because I feel like you guys invest a lot of confidence in propositions that you like and you shoot down propositions that you don't like even with better or equal factual basis.

But on this one, for them to be lying about this, for them to put out an anonymous op-ed that doesn't -- nobody exists behind it, you realize what a miscarriage of journalism that would be.

GIULIANI: Yes. So you're asking me do I trust "the New York Times"? Do I know what they did here? I don't.

But do I trust "the New York Times"? I'm sorry, Chris. I know this shocks you. I do not trust "The New York Times."

CUOMO: You believe this anonymous person either doesn't exist or isn't telling the truth?

GIULIANI: I didn't say that. I said I don't know.

I don't think he's telling the truth. But he may be a guy inside the White House. He may be upper level, lower level. Maybe he's in the old executive office building, a whole bunch of other things.

But I don't trust anything I read anymore, not after the stuff that's been done to me, the latest one being the great wonderful totally honorable Bob Woodward, who will quote a scurrilous thing about a public figure and not ask for their version of it.

CUOMO: I'll tell you what gives me concern about believing what's in the op-ed and what's in the book. Very often, I measure veracity by reaction. I see how people react to stories. And it often tells a lot.

What the president has done in reaction to the last two days screams concern that he's dealing with the truth. With him going on a hunt in the White House for who talked to Woodward, for him saying "The New York Times" has to turn over their source to the government as a matter of national security? Do you realize how crazy that notion is, to even suggest, let alone from a president?

GIULIANI: Chris, I don't know where you're coming from but --

CUOMO: Turn over a source to me? I don't like what they said. It's a matter of national security?

GIULIANI: We don't know who this man is. We don't know what position he's in. We don't know how sensitive it is. I'm sure he exists.

Suppose he's in a very sensitive national security position. This guy is obviously an unhinged guy, a guy without many morals, without any principle. If you -- if somebody in my mayor's administration --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- wrote this about me.

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- I'd want to get him out.

CUOMO: Of course you would.

GIULIANI: Right away.

CUOMO: But you wouldn't have said to the "New York Times" give me your source. You have more respect for the First Amendment than that, do you not? Redress of government. The ability to use as political protest your words even in defiance of those in power? You don't ask for those people to be turned over.

GIULIANI: Well, I guess if the "New York Times" would give me a hint at what level he's at in government -- if he's just a lowly person in government without national security information, without top security clearance --

CUOMO: He's a senior official they say and he's appointed he says or she says by Trump.

GIULIANI: Then I think it's a national -- it is -- this is a potential national security issue.

CUOMO: Because they're being disrespectful of the president?

GIULIANI: No, because the man is working for a person that he describes as an irresponsible president.

CUOMO: Yes.

GIULIANI: A man who should be removed from office.

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: And he's working there as a coward rather than coming forward, holding a press conference, telling us who he is and putting his allegations --

CUOMO: Counter-argument. It is an act of conscience to come forward at all. They do so anonymously because they believe they must stay. Because they believe they even complement some of the things the president's agenda is trying to motivate. And that he or she is needed in there not to be a deep state but a steady state because --

GIULIANI: Good lawyer, Chris.

CUOMO: -- of the president. That's what they say.

GIULIANI: Good lawyer -- the guy in my book is a weasel. CUOMO: Look --

GIULIANI: And any executive situation, anybody at the top would feel that way. If somebody writes something like this --

CUOMO: I get that you would feel like that, the person at the top would feel like that. Certainly the president does.

But what I'm saying is you have to be open to the possibility that as a matter of conscience --

GIULIANI: Well, he would write this --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: - because if they were to come out, he or she, they'd be a huge star. They'd be a huge star if they came out and said this stuff. They'd be hugely popular. Instead, they're saying they want to keep doing their job.

GIULIANI: They want to be little weasels. How much leaking is he doing? This is a nice relationship with the "New York Times" that he's got. If he has -- if the guy would do this to protect the country in his estimation, who gives him the right to decide that? He could leak -- easily leak national security information. Easily.

CUOMO: No, I don't think you could jump to that --

GIULIANI: Well, I can.

CUOMO: -- because we know that he or she came forward and didn't give any national security information.

GIULIANI: Well, they didn't need to right now. Who knows what his relationship is with "The Times"? I don't think "The Times" would print this if they didn't have a relationship with this guy.

CUOMO: Well, I don't know that we can say that. Obviously, they have to know who he is or who she is to have confidence if in it because they know people are going to come at them. But think about, it the president hears about it, he says I want you to give me the person. Then he says in a separate interview, you know, I don't get this whole protest thing, I don't know why we allow it.

I mean, can you imagine that notion in any other context? Why do we allow protest in the United States of America?

GIULIANI: OK. Here --

CUOMO: I've got a smile on my face, but I'm dying on the inside.

GIULIANI: Don't die. I don't really want to see that. I mean, you're too good a friend.

CUOMO: Who says that, Rudy? You would never say that.

GIULIANI: The reality is that what he's referring to are the protests at the hearing --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- which if they ever happened in court people would be put in jail.

And it is really an offense to do that because it's interfering with your First Amendment right, my First Amendment right, to hear this thing in a civil way. And I can't help but thinking we are now seeing the total, the total end of any kind of civil United States Senate. I mean, it started with Bork, and Republicans did it to Democrats and Democrats did it to Republicans.

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: And now we have like a circus town hall meeting in place of an advise-and-consent hearing where generally the president has given his choice so long as the guy is qualified.

CUOMO: Well, the man is qualified. But I've got to tell you, they made it the circus because they allowed these men and women to sit up there and answer nothing. Because when they have the numbers they want to get their people through.

So, you have this illusion of something called the canon of judicial independence, which somehow means that this man or woman can't tell you what they think about anything. Then they get on the court and, all of the sudden, they have a bent. It's B.S., and we both know it. But the party in power allows it. And so the system continues.

GIULIANI: But you would agree that this is both sides. I mean, this is the Kagan playbook.

CUOMO: A hundred percent.

GIULIANI: The Ginsburg playbook. The Gorsuch playbook.

CUOMO: The only one who didn't follow it was Bork, and that's why he got dinged, because he was too honest.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: And now, they all say nothing. So you have Kavanaugh with all this stuff written and now he says, well, that's what I believed in 1998. Well, I don't really know that I can really take a position on it now. I may come up with a case like that.

Yes, you might. That's why they're asking you whether or not a president can be investigated. Rudy, don't you think that's an important question from this judge? Shouldn't he have to say whether he thinks the president should be investigated?

GIULIANI: I believe these things should be more substantive, but I'm not a fool, Chris. I know it's not going to happen because as soon as Bork happened, everybody went into hiding. Clinton -- I mean Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. So, Trump here is doing nothing different than they did.

CUOMO: Well, but the context is a little different because it is possible, OK, slash probably, and then we'll segue into this topic so you can talk to us about Mueller, that this judge may, he may deal with a case or controversy that involves the president and an investigation. Don't you think he should say whether or not he thinks the president can be investigated? Because he's written that he can't.

GIULIANI: I don't think he should. I wouldn't give my -- an indication of how I'd rule on a case before all the facts and circumstances are before me.

CUOMO: But the concept of any case it's possible. You can tell me that.

GIULIANI: We're talking about whether the president can be subpoenaed or the president can be indicted --

CUOMO: Investigated. Investigated at all, he wrote. Civil or criminal, that a president should be relieved of that, immunized.

GIULIANI: I actually think that because it is a question that could come up for him as a judge he really can't give an indication before he reads all -- unless he has a very firm, non-negotiable position or an unmovable position.

CUOMO: I'm saying the possibility. Don't you think he could speak to the possibility of whether a president can be investigated?

GIULIANI: No. I don't think he should. I think he should reserve his decision for the briefs and for the argument in the court.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But he wrote already that a president -- don't you think he has to speak for it when he already wrote what his position is?

GIULIANI: If he trapped himself into doing that, he'd have to recuse himself.

CUOMO: The trap is not doing it.

GIULIANI: No --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: The trap is saying then I wrote that, now I can't talk about it. Why would you vote for somebody who wrote that a president can't be investigated who may see a case where a president's being investigated?

GIULIANI: Because you have faith that the man will -- the man will listen to the facts and circumstances. It's one thing to say something in abstract. It's another thing to stick to the same thing when it actually comes before you and there are facts that argue against it.

And the reality is many justices have done that. And that's -- I mean, many justices, particularly the more right-wing ones going to the middle. You have very few examples of the left-wing ones, although you do with Frankfurter eventually, a couple of others, that were left and they came to the middle almost conservative.

CUOMO: Look, I've got to tell you -- do you agree with him, by the way? Do you think a president can't be investigated?

GIULIANI: Of course. Yes, I believe a president can be investigated.

CUOMO: Can. You disagree with Kavanaugh.

GIULIANI: Well, I disagree with the abstract thing he said in the article. I don't know how he's going to rule. But I also think that that investigation can be circumscribed by the needs of the office. Which is why a president can't be indicted, a president can't be subpoenaed --

CUOMO: Right, I get you on that. I get the DOJ guidance.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: -- than, that by the way.

GIULIANI: Look, among other things, a president has to be investigated for the purpose of possible impeachment.

CUOMO: That's right. That's what's so onerous about this, because he wrote, you know, you can impeach him first. But not if you can't investigate you can't.

GIULIANI: Then actually that answers the question. I haven't read the article. That answers the question. He's not saying that he can't be investigated for impeachment.

CUOMO: I think that it was actually the weakness in the law review article. That's what it was. And when I read it that's what jumped out at me. Then I had better brains read is it and they said yes, that's the loophole.

GIULIANI: I'll read it again. But --

CUOMO: He said impeach him first. You can't impeach if you can't investigate. His answer's like a riddle.

(CROSSTALK)

GIULIANI: Well, his answer probably then contradicts itself.

CUOMO: Yes. That's why he should talk about it now before getting a robe.

GIULIANI: And he doesn't mean it.

CUOMO: For the rest of his life.

Let me ask you something about Mueller. Because you may be a guy that's part of the team that brings the case in front of this bench with this judge sitting on it if this plays out in a way you don't want it to.

GIULIANI: Only one case in the Supreme Court. I'd love it. You know I wouldn't. I wouldn't because it would be bad for the country.

CUOMO: Well, it would certainly be a controversy that would have us twisted up. Is there progress? We heard reported that some written responses may be allowed from the president and his team to certain questions regarding collusion. Accurate?

GIULIANI: Yes, yes. Since we last talked, they responded to us with a concrete reasonable proposal. We came back to them with a few changes but not material changes. We are now awaiting their response. I'm hopeful that maybe we're going to get a yes, in which case we can probably move forward with written questions and see if that doesn't satisfy them and satisfy us.

CUOMO: But what about an oral interview?

GIULIANI: So far, we have not agreed to an oral interview.

CUOMO: You think that's sustainable?

GIULIANI: It's sure sustainable on Article 2, meaning the things that would be covered on obstruction. I do believe it's sustainable since they basically can get everything they want on collusion --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: And this was done with Ronald Reagan. So, it's not without precedent. And by the way -

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I know that aspect of it. Because Woodward has quotes about this where Mueller supposedly said, I need to hear him on why he did certain things regarding Comey and other things, I need to hear from him.

GIULIANI: Well, let's say -- let's say for argument's sake that his answers in writing are the same as the answers he gave, you know, to the various interviews. And he's going to see them. I mean, he's got the tape.

CUOMO: Yes, but it's not the same.

GIULIANI: Yes, it is.

CUOMO: No, it's not.

GIULIANI: Well, OK --

CUOMO: Talking to me is different than talking to a Mueller investigator who can slap you with a felony if you lie to them.

GIULIANI: Well, they can slap you with a felony if you give the wrong answer.

CUOMO: You and I don't agree on that.

But look, I defer to you because you're the prosecutor, you're the man with the experience and the reputation.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But this idea of a perjury trap, there's perjury and there's a perjury trap. One is really an abuse of prosecutorial discretion. If he comes in there and doesn't tell the truth that's on him, not on them.

GIULIANI: I don't think -- yes, if they bring him in for a question they know the answer to --

CUOMO: Right.

GIULIANI: -- and they already don't believe him on that answer, then that's a perjury trap.

CUOMO: They'd still have to make a case for perjury beyond a reasonable doubt.

GIULIANI: No, they don't. Because this is just a report, Chris.

CUOMO: Then there's no charge. They don't have anything to sustain the case for impeachment.

GIULIANI: They can write anything they want.

CUOMO: Right, but they can't prove it. And then you're going to have -- you're going to have to prove it in the court of public opinion.

GIULIANI: Maybe we have to prove it -- maybe they have to prove it to an overwhelmingly Democratic House. That can be not too hard.

CUOMO: It still has to go to the Senate.

GIULIANI: They're never going to -- the Senate has no chance of ever impeaching him, whether it's Democrat or Republican. You need 67 votes. So let's be realistic.

CUOMO: Right. That's why I'm saying, what are you so worried about? Put him in the chair.

GIULIANI: I'm not worried about anything. I don't want ten months of a long protracted impeachment investigation when you don't need one if you're just careful as a lawyer.

CUOMO: Well, but when by careful you mean not doing what he says he wants to do most of all, which is talk to Mueller and give the people the answers they deserve. GIULIANI: Of course he does. But I'm his lawyer. I'm supposed to --

Jay and I and our team are supposed to protect him like we would protect you.

CUOMO: What about -- let me ask you one last thing. Any sense of time horizon on this?

GIULIANI: Yes. There are some dates in it. They're all -- they're all pretty fast. I can't give them to you exactly because they're subject to negotiation right now.

CUOMO: Christmas? Before Christmas?

GIULIANI: Oh, no, no. Before the election.

CUOMO: Oh, good to know. I'll take that. That's good enough. That's more than I thought I was going to get.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: Rudy Giuliani, thank you very much for the arguments and the information. Appreciate it.

GIULIANI: Thank you. Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, this op-ed is a big deal. You can look at the anonymous source as a good person or a bad person. But what's going to be the fallout?

And what about Kavanaugh? Is he as good as confirmed?

Great propositions for a great debate. With these two. Next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. We know what's on the table tonight. Let's get to the great debaters. We've got Brian Fallon and Ken Cuccinelli.

This op-ed, yes, it's fueling tons of speculation because we want to know who it is. So let's start with that.

Brian Fallon, I know you guys don't know who it is. But do you think you should know who it is? Do you think that this person should have come forward or was this a crime of conscience, Brian, where they decided to stay quiet because they feel their job is too important?

BRIAN FALLON, FORMER CLINTON 2016 CAMPAIGN PRESS SECRETARY: I think it would have been better and more powerful if the person had given their name. But look, I think this is a cry for help from the inside. Unlike the past criticism you've seen the president dismiss as coming from the deep state or coming from Hillary Clinton or coming from Democrats, this is a call coming from inside the house. This is Trump's own people that are making these complaints about him.

And I think that the real onus is now on Congress. This is a cry for help. This person fears reprisal, fears being fired if they speak up and give their name. I think this is a cry for help to Republicans on the Hill to stand up to this president in a way they've been too fearful to do so far.

CUOMO: Ken Cuccinelli, this is the movie that scared the como si chiama (ph) out of people like you and me when we were growing up when the call is coming from inside the house. They finally answer the phone and they're saying the Woodward book was right, we have to literally take steps to distract people, to protect them, to insulate them from what the president would otherwise do. Do you believe him?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I'm not sure that I do. I agree with Brian. And, honestly, with respect to the person should have named themselves, that's the -- that might make this both credible --

CUOMO: You both have said that. But what about the idea that they think the job was so important, Ken? What about that notion? That I can't leave. I have to be here.

CUCCINELLI: No, that's ridiculous.

CUOMO: I have to keep doing this.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, that's -- I have to continue being a mole. That's not appropriate, honorable, nor do I think -- there's some question about legality in this, depending on what their job is. And look, even something as simple as calling it a senior Trump official. Really? What does senior Trump official mean?

And the fact that it's in the "New York Times," who dropped their standards again as it relates to Trump to publish an anonymous letter, something that is very rare, highly uncommon. This is the same newspaper that dropped its standards in the 2016 election to openly take on Trump because they said it was so important. You know, there's a credibility problem with this --

CUOMO: Why?

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: As fascinating as it is. If I could just make one other comment.

CUOMO: Please, go ahead.

CUCCINELLI: Biggest distraction out of this is we're not talking about the most important thing today which is -- of substance which is the Kavanaugh day two. This has swamped it in terms of news.

CUOMO: Well, look, it might not be that way if the man said anything in response to specific questions. And I don't blame Kavanaugh for playing by the rules of the game.

But it is a game. It's a charade. And everybody knows it. That the numbers win. The idea of relying on this mythical canon of judicial independence

which somehow means, Ken, I can't say a damn thing about anything, even if I've written about it, until I get on the bench and then all of a sudden, I have a bent.

Let me ask you two this, though. All right. You think the person should have come forward. Fine. The president says they have to come forward, "The New York Times" must turn over the source to the government as a matter of national security.

That stinks to high heaven to me. But I'm the reporter. Do either of you like that?

CUCCINELLI: Well, no newspaper's going to do that. We just saw them in the movies this summer, the review of the history of the presidential paper --

CUOMO: The Pentagon papers.

CUCCINELLI: -- the Pentagon papers. Yes. And it raises some fascinating questions.

But depending on this person's job, a lot of different things are possible in terms of that analysis. And that's one of the problems with not knowing who it is, is it lacks credibility and it raises more questions --

CUOMO: But how about the president's credibility, Brian, when he says turn the person over to me? Which to a journalist is crazy talk. And then in the same day says and, by the way, the whole idea of protests, what's going on at this confirmation hearing, I don't know why we allow it.

A president of the United States? It's going to make my hairpiece fall off if he keeps talking like this, Brian Fallon. I mean, how do you explain that kind of talk from a president about our signature freedom?

FALLON: You can't explain it, Chris. But I think that those of us that worry about the state of the republic have more reason for concern tonight because I think that this is going to send the president more into a tailspin.

We know that he's imbalanced as it is. He's somebody that wakes up and spends the first few morning hours of his day watching Fox News and live-tweeting it. So this is not someone that takes the job seriously. Now, I think he's probably going to enter even more of a tailspin going on a true legitimate witch hunt within the White House to find out who spoke to Bob Woodward, who wrote this "New York Times" op-ed.

So, those of us that are worried about how this president is facing the global challenges on the world stage, how he's going to deal with domestic crises, I think -- I think we have to be concerned that things are only going to get worse ease gets further distracted by trying to figure out who done it. CUOMO: Ken says no.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, Chris, you started with being shocked at his comments about the protests at the Senate hearing. That is shocking. Seventy arrests. Democrat senators clearly coordinating, introducing people out here who are part of organizations that are making organized protests to the point of arrest. This isn't part of a democratic process.

CUOMO: Of course it is.

CUCCINELLI: No, it isn't. That's on the sidewalk. You're totally wrong.

CUOMO: Sidewalk? Redress of government, my brother. You do it even if it's going to get you in trouble. You know, it's a right that people have to decide whether or not they want to exercise.

CUCCINELLI: I don't buy it for one minute and you wouldn't buy it either if the tables were turned, it was different parties. That would be outrageous.

CUOMO: I say it all the time, Ken, if you break the law you're a criminal and you're going to have to deal with the process.

CUCCINELLI: Great, like the person inside the Trump White House.

CUOMO: But standing up in a hearing and being heard -- and by the way, you heard people from both sides of the aisle standing up at hearings today and, you know, making their case. They all get removed.

But why shouldn't they be able to be heard? And who would ever think of silencing that? If you want to --

CUCCINELLI: And Democratic senators coordinating with these people --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Prove it. But if it's protest, defend it.

CUCCINELLI: You think it's acceptable for sitting senators to coordinate with that kind of lawlessness?

CUOMO: I need proof of that.

FALLON: Ken, you can't have it both ways. You have senators like Susan Collins in Maine who's going around saying I'm not hearing from my constituents, they don't seem to care about this issue. And then when you see expressions of outrage about the steam-rolling that Republicans are doing here with shoving this nominee down people's throats before his records are even revealed, I don't think you get to complain about that. If senators were having town halls and having an open setting where they could hear from these constituents maybe that would be something else. But there's no forum for this right now.

CUCCINELLI: Yes, unfortunately --

FALLON: People are shutting these town halls. And you know what? The people that are standing up and rising up and complaining in these hearings, these are people that are not content to go quietly. They're willing to risk arrest because they will live with the practical realities of the decision that's Kavanaugh's going to make if he gets on the Supreme Court.

This is not a game. This is not some political parlor game where Republicans get to say hey, we have 51 votes so we get to make the rules and everyone can just shut up and bear the consequences.

CUOMO: You still have to hear the dissent. I mean, that's the nature of democracy.

Ken, final word to you.

CUCCINELLI: This is part -- this is part of the rise of violence as part of the left-wing swing of the Democratic Party --

CUOMO: But they're not violent.

FALLON: What violence? What violence, Ken? What violence?

CUCCINELLI: Challenging to the point of arrest.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You had a right-wing person do it today in another hearing.

FALLON: It sounds like Trump. There's a history of protest and civil disobedience in this country when the government is not serving its people. That's what we're living through right now.

CUOMO: I just never heard --

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON: You don't have to take my word for it. The Trump administration's own officials in bylines in the "New York Times" are saying to me.

CUOMO: All right. Brian, Ken, thank you very much. Important discussions to have. We'll keep having them.

All right. Does any of what we're dealing with right now come as a surprise to my next guest? He is Governor John Kasich of Ohio. And he's been sounding the alarm about Trump and his ways and what it could mean to the democracy and what it has now meant to force any real change onto the local level. So we have him here for his take on the current situation. He's walking in right now. I've never seen a less staged shot on television.

We'll get the governor on TV, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: All right. For all the talk of anonymous op-eds and Bob Woodward's deep background sources, there have only been a few in Trump's own party who have been willing to speak up, certainly on camera.

One person who's done that consistently is Ohio Governor John Kasich. And we welcome him back on the show.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Good to be with you, Don.

CUOMO: It's good to have you.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: It's all right. I take it --

KASICH: I'm sorry. I just saw Don Lemon.

CUOMO: I take it. It's a huge step up.

KASICH: Don Lemon said, if you will do that, I'll buy dinner.

CUOMO: People do confuse us sometimes. Except for the body. I'm in much better shape.

(LAUGHTER)

CUOMO: I mean, he really is a bag of donuts once you take the suit off.

Let me ask you this. We are vexed by what's been happening the last couple of days. Some are vexed by what's in the book and what's in the op-ed. Others are vexed by the president's response there too. What is your read?

KASICH: It's just chaos all the time. I mean, and it seems like he's the commander of the chaos. You know, whether it's -- not just this. I look at other things. I look at what happened at the G7 when he wouldn't sign the statement, or the ruckus that happened at NATO.

Or -- there's so much going on all the time. And we -- it's like there's a tornado every day. Now, that's fine if that's the way he wants to run it.

But what I can tell you is when you have all that chaos, how do you get in -- how do you solve the biggest problems? You know, when everybody's trying to put out fires and there's this happening and that happening. I am the seventh largest state in the country. I couldn't deal with all this chaos and be able to achieve anything.

So, that's what I'm really concerned about, is that things aren't getting done.

CUOMO: But his people counter by saying economy, regulations, strength abroad, America's great again -- KASICH: OK, let's take them all. First of all, the economy's doing

well. I give them credit for the fact that they have deregulated. I don't want them to go too far, though.

Being able to deregulate, cut down some of the government regulations, is useful. Secondly, though, they passed the tax --

CUOMO: People argue they've gone too far, by the way.

KASICH: Some have, and I share some of their view. We got the tax bill, but we didn't pay for it. We run up the debt, so my two daughters in college are going to have that pay for it.

There should have been tax reform like Reagan did. We didn't get it here. We just got the tax cut.

Is it helping? Yes, it's positive. But over time, mounting debt is really a problem.

OK. Let's talk about what's happened overseas. OK, we're in these trade wars with everybody, this tariff fight, which I don't know anybody in either party thinks it's a good idea because at the end, you know what the president had when he came into office? He had a package in front of him where if they'd crossed the T's and dotted the I's, we'd have had a free trade agreement with the Europeans.

Now, we've gone through this tariff on steel and aluminum and we're back and forth. That's chaos.

CUOMO: They say Kudlow has a deal with Europe that's better than ever, his deal with Mexico's going to be better than ever, and Canada's going to come along. Do you believe any of that?

KASICH: Well, I would like to see that happen. But we didn't need to go through all this to get a good trade deal with Europe. We didn't need to go through it.

And then what about all of the noise that we hear about that we want to support our allies and all these things they're doing or not. It just creates doubt and it creates confusion and it creates -- now, we need to be tough at times. But you can't get everything done by putting people in a corner. Telling the Canadians, well, if you don't do this you're out, you know?

I mean, what -- I'm also concerned a little bit, Chris, about the pressure that we're putting on everybody. OK? The Iran which we walked away from it which I don't think we should have. And it left us -- I don't like the Iranians. But there are ways to deal with it.

We withdrew from this thing. It's aggravated our allies in that case. You look at -- and we push them into a corner.

Now, we're involved in Syria -- in Turkey pushing them into a corner. They've got an economic mess that the leader over there created that we are -- in some ways we're making it even more difficult there. At the end, you just can't be having these problems with everybody.

If you put people in a corner, if you back a person into a corner or an animal in a corner, you know what happens? Ultimately, they strike or they resent it. That doesn't mean that we should not be tough, but we have to be more selective and we have to recognize we need our allies.

Let me give you one more. The Chinese. We need our allies to be working with us to tell the Chinese to knock off the rip-offs, tell the Chinese that we expect better behavior out of them. Who do we go have a meeting with?

I mean, I talk to these people around the world who are -- they're just really uncertain about where we are. And look --

CUOMO: And he says that's a strength for him and his people say this is all style. I've fought that notion because I don't believe it's stylistic and I think the last two days have proven that. This is not a management style.

If this is true by any measure, what's in the Woodward book, what we read in that op-ed today, there's a problem going on in that White House that you see as a contagion in terms of every situation you've just seen -- the chaos to get to a point that you could have gotten to otherwise, always using hostility, using aggression where at some point you have to act or be acted upon. Those are real problems.

KASICH: I do --

CUOMO: No one in your party stands up about it.

KASICH: Look, I learned early on in my job when I had a fight with the unions that sometimes you have to fight and stand tough. But if you do it all the time, it's distracting. You can't achieve your bigger purposes. And it's not about some -- it's not about I win, you lose.

The other thing is when you look at the Congress, though, it's like 24 hours since John McCain was put to death and look at this circus of a hearing that's going on.

Here's what I think at the end. The federal government right now's not functioning. And you know, every time I talk to your folks, I say, we have to begin to solve many of these problems where we live. If we have problems with poverty, with drug abuse, with bullying, with infant mortality, we can't -- the federal government is not functioning now.

So we, where we live, regardless of what our party is, whether we're liberal, conservative, these are issues that need to be solved. Gang problems in Chicago, that's not an ideological issue or a partisan issue. How do you want to solve that? Bring the community together.

I don't care who you are. I don't care who you vote for. Nobody wants this gang problem to continue.

We can work together as a community to solve these things. And I've been part of some of it. And we need to do that around the country.

So, instead of people sitting around worrying all the time about what's happening in Washington, we've got to get off the couch and figure out what we can do, where we live, Chris. That is -- that is the antidote to all the partisanship and the breakdown in Washington.

At some point, they'll get their act together and then we can have them do some things, but right now, I don't know what they can accomplish.

CUOMO: I take the message. I do believe that most things that we've seen start at a local level. But at some point, we need to get better out of our leaders and our institutions down there, and that's what hopefully the midterms will be working toward, whether it's left, right, or reasonable, whoever gets elected, hopefully they go in there with more of a sense of a purpose.

But I've got to leave it there, Gov.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: More a sense of the country and not partisanship or who gets the political gain. That can be done.

CUOMO: It would be nice.

KASICH: And I hope we will get better activity out of the White House. I really do. It's my country. I love my country.

CUOMO: It's -- hopefully we're not a -- hopefully we're at a tipping point and it goes the right way because his reaction today to saying I need the source from the "New York Times," him saying I don't know why we allow protests, that's the wrong direction.

Governor, always a pleasure to have you here. We need your voice.

KASICH: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you very much. So this op-ed, which is dominating all types of media, the author actually says that the cabinet was thinking about the 25th Amendment but they didn't want to spark a constitutional crisis. That is such an extreme thought. Does anybody know what's in the 25th Amendment?

We're going to take you through what that would have meant and what it is all about, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. The so-called member of the resistance within the Trump administration says the cabinet whispered early on about the policy of invoking the 25th Amendment. So, what's in the 25th Amendment? You could just Google it and figure it out.

It provides a very, very complicated, constitutional path for power to be stripped from the president without impeachment. But usually, it's about mental incapacity. And usually requires the president to trigger the process. That's not going to happen.

So, this anonymous senior Trump official says, quote, no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So, what is that all about?

Let's bring in Don for this, because it's going to be a major part of "CNN TONIGHT" that's coming on.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes.

CUOMO: You know, look, anybody can just read the 25th Amendment. I've spent time studying it. That to me sounds really farfetched. What's your read on that?

LEMON: I agree with you. I think it sounds even more so than impeachment, right? It's a more complicated process. But you know what it is, the vice president -- by the way, you said for mental incapacity, but it's for whatever reason, but usually mental incapacity.

If the vice president says, you know, I don't think, I don't think this guy or woman has the capability of being the president or carrying out their duties, them and eight cabinet members --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- can do it, and the president loses power immediately, right? But then, again, you would have to -- if he challenges it, then both houses, two-thirds, whatever, again, complicated process.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: But the question is, as you said, though, I don't think we'll ever get that. Is this constitutional crisis? Some people say we're already in one.

And we're going to speak with John Dean, who would know about that. We're so lucky to have John Dean as one of our contributors here on CNN because he's been through all of that, if we're in a constitutional crisis or not, and how do we -- where do we go from here? What happens from here?

CUOMO: Well, I'll tell you what, what I don't like, is I'm even hearing it on the show tonight, people defending him attacking a free press and a right to protest and saying, well, this is what he really means. No, that's not the kind of thing we rationalize in America. It's a scary statement of where we are today.

I'll be watching you tonight.

LEMON: We don't turn people over. We don't turn anonymous sources over to the government. That's not what we do.

CUOMO: All right, Don. See you in a little bit. Thank you, my friend.

LEMON: Yes, sir. CUOMO: So, nearly everywhere we looked in Washington today, we saw hypocrisy on display. This op-ed, thou, was a window into something. And the president's response to it requires response in itself. And I will make a closing argument to you about exactly that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. Today showed us what's wrong and the question is, what are we going to do about it? Because there's no question, we have a problem.

Let's be clear. Trump cut taxes. The way he did it added to the debt and is going to increase deficits. He made choices about winners and losers.

He also slashed regulations. But many would argue he's gone too far in kind of a naked rollback of what President Obama had done.

Even if you take all of these things as progress, they are not the pure measure of a presidency, just by themselves. First of all, they were not unique ambitions for a Republican, cutting taxes, cutting regulations, that's not unusual for a Republican.

And, you can't overlook the fact that there's so much more to leadership than just taxes and regulations and what is needed is lacking. The president is, by most accounts, of those in the White House, a constant source of negativity and chaos in the guise of incompetence, all right?

That's what we heard in the Woodrow book -- the Woodward book. So much so that staffers openly mocked him and now we hear maybe even conspired to save the rest of us by derailing Trump's efforts. That's a problem.

Trump's not going to change. That's not the solution. How do we know? His response, which supports the allegations against him, frankly.

Now, he's on a witch hunt, trying to find out who's talking. He's going to have a tough task, because it's harder to find who's not talking in that White House than who is. And it's going to be harder to find out who would not have written something like this than the person who did.

And maybe that's why Trump actually called for "The New York Times" to turn over their source to the government. Is he like new to this country? That's not how a free press works. That's not how dissent works. This isn't a junta he's running.

Trump also said today that he doesn't think we should allow protesters like this. Too noisy! What are they doing, all this noise! They don't belong there. You should do something about it.

He doesn't get it. Yes, if you want to say these are concerted efforts and it's all organized, now, prove it. Prove it's nefarious, because if it's what it looks like, people coming out because they couldn't get any redress anywhere else, they couldn't get lawmakers to do something in this process that was more responsible, given the weight of this appointment, and this charade of a hearing that they put out, left and right, we've seen judges from both sides.

Well, in general, I would like to say, I believe that in that. Oh, but in the specific, oh, no, I can never answer it. You know, it's the can on of judicial independence.

Really? You find in there where a man or woman with never give you any sense of where they are and they get on a bench forever and all of a sudden they have a bent that's consistent with their judgments every time. It's a sham and everybody knows it and both sides allow it and that's why people don't have confidence in their institutions.

And the worst part for me is that the president says these outlandish things about a free press and protest and he gets offended. Oh, that's not what he means. It's only these organized protests he's talking about. And depending on the job this man or woman had who wrote this anonymous op-ed, it might be national security issues. Maybe they should be turned over to the press.

Lady Liberty would go from sighing to hyperventilating if that ever happened. We don't rationalize attacks on a free press in America. We don't find reasons to close down protests in America.

You don't have to like it. You don't have to love it. You don't have to agree. But you have to allow it.

And we're not going to turn over sources. It's not who we are as journalists. It's not who we are as Americans.

So here's my argument. You're not going to change the president, but you can change your dependence on him. Assuming a fraction of the stories over the last couple of days are true, to all the more reason for Congress to do what it promised in the last set of elections, take power back from the executive that you gave when you shouldn't have over the last administrations and do the job for the rest of us.

Trump says, I just want to win. He gets to sign the bills into law so everybody could win. A by-product of productivity would be less dependency on what the president says and does. And I am sure we could all use less of that.

Thank you for watching me.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.