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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Refuses to Turn Over Trump's Taxes; Democrats Set to Hold Barr in Contempt After He Defies Deadline; New State Laws Target Reproductive Rights. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired May 6, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: --would have muzzled manes and munched on carrots. The question now is does President Trump have any support for his claim?

And I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Vice President Pence is going to take a hard pass on anything involve but - involving a bunch of limber-jockeys and tight pants and boots carrying riding crops, talking around words like stud.

So, as ever, only President Trump can explain what following rules has to do with political correctness.

Remember, rules are for losers. So, if the horse shoe fits, wear it on The Ridiculist.

That's it for us. The news continues. Chris CUOMO PRIME TIME starts right now. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Black Beauty is not only black, she's also Arabian. Well done, A.C., very well - well done, thank you, Sir. All right, all right.

COOPER: All right.

CUOMO: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

This President is determined to oppose. He has his Attorney General say no to giving Congress the full Mueller report. And now, he has your Secretary of the Treasury saying no on the President's tax return offer to Congress.

Rule of law matters, everybody says it, but how do you enforce it, OK? What does the law say about any of this? We're going to bring it in to Cuomo's Court in session tonight.

And now, we need to add Mueller to the list of who and what this President wants to oppose. The President no longer seems to want the man who "Totally exonerated" him to tell all. What's he afraid of?

And will his A.G. hide Mueller too? We have a Member of the House Judiciary Committee here. What are they going to do come Wednesday?

And one of the strictest abortion laws in the nation is about to go in effect. Many see this as being about politics. I don't. I see it as about rights, and the biggest push to take them away in a generation.

So, what do you say? Let's get after it.




CUOMO: All right, the President's Treasury Secretary says he isn't giving over six years of the President's personal tax returns because the President's de facto Defense Attorney, also known as Attorney General Bill Barr told him not to.

What will this do to the contempt vote plan for Wednesday in the House? We're going to deal with that with Steve Cohen, Congressman from Tennessee. He's on the Judiciary Committee.

But let's take this up right now with a couple of experts about what the law is and what can happen and what should not happen. Asha Rangappa, David Cay Johnston, here in Cuomo's Court.




CUOMO: Good to have you both. Professor, David, let me start with you. Help me with this. I was looking at the law. Why am I even talking about Mnuchin? The - the law says--


CUOMO: --certain people in Congress, one on the Senate, a couple on the House go to the IRS. Where does he come into it?

JOHNSTON: Well the law actually says the Secretary, which would be Mnuchin, but under something called a Delegation Order, the responsibility to comply with the law has been given to Charles Rettig, the IRS Commissioner--

CUOMO: Right.

JOHNSTON: --who is a tax lawyer.

The fact that Mnuchin has stepped in rather than Rettig suggests that Rettig is unwilling to openly break the law, which could put his law license in California in jeopardy as well as putting him in jeopardy eventually of five years in prison.

So, this is a very interesting thing that Mnuchin who completely is loyal to Donald Trump, clearly at this point, regardless of what the Constitution and the laws say, is the one who's being put out front, not Rettig.

CUOMO: That's interesting. You know, Asha, yes, obviously, that - that's a straight read on the law, but it does really contemplate that the IRS would be the one deciding this. We have never heard from anybody on that side of it.

Now the legal case becomes "Well this is not a legitimate exercise of oversight, so says the DOJ, so I cannot comply, sorry," good enough?

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's not good enough. Congress has broad oversight powers. And when it has a legislative power like the power to tax, it - it kind - it has this implicit power to have oversight over the enforcement of that law.

Here, particularly, this particular law that the Ways and Means Committee is using to request this tax return actually stems from a circumstance, which is directly relevant to our particular case right now, which is to have some oversight over potential financial interests of public officials that may be impacting how they are going about their public duties.

So, in terms of the legislative intent of this law, in particular, as well as their broad oversight power, generally, I think that Congress has a very strong case here, and that the Secretary is - I don't even know where he's coming from on this one.

CUOMO: Well - well, look, we got the quote from his letter. I have determined that the Committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose. The problem with the law is, David, for Mnuchin, it doesn't give you any discretion. It just says "Shall." So shouldn't this be the--

JOHNSTON: That's right.

CUOMO: --President's personal lawyer going to court and suing, you know, trying to get whatever the federal equivalent of an Article 78 proceeding is, you know, to say, we need a preliminary injunction.


CUOMO: Don't take my guy's taxes.

[21:05:00] JOHNSTON: Yes. It absolutely should be his personal lawyer trying to fight this.

And, by the way, you know, the same law also says that the President has the right to see anybody's tax return by the same method, written request. We don't see any objection being raised to that.

You know, when Woodrow Wilson was a doctoral candidate in political science in 1885, he wrote a book in which he pointed out that the investigative powers of Congress are perhaps more important than its legislative powers.

And we cannot have a system of checks and balances if there are no checks and balances.

And that's what seems to be going on here with Barr, on other matters, and the Mueller report, and here on tax, and I think we're going to see more of this absolute defiance of the Constitution because Donald has no idea what's in the Constitution.

And, at this point, it's pretty clear he doesn't care.

CUOMO: Well he knows how to say no though. So, Asha, what becomes the check to restore the balance?

RANGAPPA: Well I think that Congress is issuing these subpoenas. They're going to end up in court because the White House is stonewalling them at every front. You know, the problem here is that they are grounding these subpoenas in their oversight authority, and I think that they have strong grounds here.

But, ultimately, that is an implied power in the Constitution. And, you know, it kind of gives some leeway for the White House to be able to challenge it.

If they were to invoke their impeachment power, which is an explicit power laid out in the Constitution and say that this is the grounds on which they are trying to obtain evidence or information to determine whether impeachment is warranted, they would actually have a much stronger platform on which to request them because--

CUOMO: So, you got to be careful--

RANGAPPA: --that would be abuse of (ph) power.

CUOMO: --from the President's perspective of whether or not he gets hoisted on his own petard that all of this saying no and all of this that he's using as a weapon right now blows up in his face, and almost forces them to go down the impeachment route.

That takes us to Wednesday.

So, David, what's your suggestion about where this leads? Do you think they vote in the House to hold the A.G. in content? Do they add the Treasury Secretary? Does that get them what they want?

JOHNSTON: Well the political and legal areas now both - separate at this point. Congress has both the ability to hold the Attorney General in contempt and have it go to court, but they also have inherent contempt.

And Congress has in the past, though it's been more than a 100 years, had the Serjeant-of-Arms arrest people. They've tried people. They've incarcerated them. I doubt that would go over well with the public.

CUOMO: Right.

JOHNSTON: So, the Democrats have a problem here. They need to make it clear that they are following their duty and are being provoked by the President, and the same time not to overplay their hand the way the Republicans did with Bill Clinton.

CUOMO: Asha, inherent contempt, I've seen that in your eyes on this show before - before. By the way, I want you to know, I have seen inherent contempt. I don't know if it's the same one that David's talking about. But I've seen it.

Let me ask you though. Nadler put out a quote also that, you know, "Compelling need to protect the autonomy and effectiveness of its investigations." The idea of this being a battle of whether or not this is oversight or overreach, how do you see it at this point?

RANGAPPA: I see this right now as a fundamental battle about our structure of government. This is about Congress' power as an institution, not about, you know, one party, but as an institution to act as a check, as an oversight on the Executive Branch.

Remember that there are a lot of questions that end up as battles between the Executive and Congress that are not justiciable in court. In other words, the - the courts will not necessarily intervene because they expect these branches to work it out.

And so, when you flout the norm of that kind of compromise, that back and forth, you know, there's always a little tension there, you really are undermining and eroding a very important institution in our tripartite government.

CUOMO: I got to go. But am I right, if people want to Google this law, didn't this grow out of the Teapot Dome, David, or something like that, this law?

RANGAPPA: Yes, yes, it did.


CUOMO: It was one of those hearings? All right.

JOHNSTON: --it absolutely did. And - and questions about whether Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon was a crook.

CUOMO: Right. That's it, right. So, this - this law was about finding ways to keep people accountable. That's where we are today. Asha, David, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

All right, so oversight, what can they do? What should they do? What will they do to deal with what is very plain from this Administration? The Administration is doing this, "Hmm, we don't care what you ask for. What are you going to do about it?"

We're going to bring in a House Judiciary Democrat, Congressman Cohen. Here he is. He looks serious. How seriously are they going to act, next?








CUOMO: So, did you see this letter that came out? More than, I don't know, 500 former federal prosecutors are pushing back on the decision made by the top lawyer in the country, Attorney General Bill Barr.

It's this open letter. They make the case that the only reason this President wasn't charged with obstruction is because he's currently in the White House, and he wasn't charged with obstruction because, you know, that's where he is, and that would be against the guidance from DOJ.

This, as the House Judiciary Committee, continues to push for testimony from Robert Mueller, despite the President saying the Special Counsel shouldn't say a word.

We have a Member of that Committee, Congressman Steve Cohen, Tennessee, joins me now.




CUOMO: Good to have you, Sir.

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: So, what does this letter do? What does the President saying "I don't think Mueller should testify" do to your sense of urgency to have him, and where are we on that becoming a reality?

COHEN: The Committee is doing all it can to get Bob Mueller to testify before our Committee because the best evidence rule, which is universally accepted, and it would be the same here, is that the person with the most knowledge should be the one to testify.

Bob Mueller has the most knowledge of the Mueller report, and should tell the American public what it contains, as he said in his letter to - to Bill Barr after his three and a half page summary was known that it didn't correctly reflect the context or the - the meaning and - of - of his report.

So, he needs to come. I think that we're doing all we can. I don't know if it'll happen this month. We certainly hope it'll happen before the--

CUOMO: Why wouldn't it? COHEN: --we break--

CUOMO: Who can stop it?

COHEN: Well he's still an employee of the - of the Justice Department. Being an employee of the Justice Department, they can stop it, and he is still an employee. And, as I understand, he's expected to be an employee for at least the end of this month.

[21:15:00] I - I'd - I'd suggest that he resign and be able to - then be to be free to testify although there'd be certain matters he could not testify too that were - that were redacted and - and privileged and - and I'm sure he would contour his testimony to what was permissible to be released to the public.

CUOMO: The A.G. has said that he had no objection to Mr. Mueller testifying. But, of course, if the President has an objection, the A.G. may take that up as his proxy. We've seen that before.

That takes us to item number two. The Treasury Secretary even though, you know, look, it says Secretary in the statute, but really you would think the IRS Commissioner would be dealing with this request from Ways and Means.

Nonetheless, the Treasury Secretary sent a letter to you guys today saying "No, no taxes. Not a legitimate oversight exercise, sorry. DOJ doesn't agree." Is that satisfying?

COHEN: It's just stonewalling. And it's what the Trump Administration will do. The statute clearly says that he shall turn them over when requested by the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee.

They can't re-interpret the statute. Only the courts can re-interpret the statute, not that there's anything to re-interpret. It's a clear statement that the Treasury is supposed to turn it over.

Trump has a lot he's hiding in his tax returns. He doesn't want the public to see his returns. He's lied about it for a long time. He lied when he said he was - I believe he lied when he said he was under audit.

But even if he was under audit there was no reason for him not to release his returns. That's not a reason you would not release your returns.

He learned taxes like he learned business to some extent from his father Fred Trump. And The New York Times exposed well how Fred Trump saw the tax laws as a way to evade paying as much money as he could to the United States government.

And when this - his sister resigned from the Court of Appeals in the Federal District Court, up in New Jersey, it was because she was under investigation for the same fraudulent scheme that Donald Trump was beneficiary of, that his father pulled off, to - to get around and take the tax loopholes that were available, and maybe some that weren't proper. But it's beyond the statute of limitations to evade our tax laws, and not to pay what he should have to--

CUOMO: Right.

COHEN: --fund the United States government.

CUOMO: Well, look, I don't know about what his father did. And I don't--

COHEN: So, he's not going to release his taxes.

CUOMO: --I don't know about his sister.

He doesn't want to release his taxes. We know that. You're supposed to have an ability to get it. We'll see how that'll get litigated, which will get added to the list of things you're going to have to fight.

Seeing how he's in straight-oppose mode, this is going to be a test of the strength of these subpoenas, and the cause that underlies them. That takes us to Wednesday. Do you believe that the Attorney General is going to have a contempt vote coming his way?

COHEN: I suspect he will. Although he has - there's been constant negotiations with the Judiciary Committee staff and - and Barr staff.

And I think they've come to an agreement to meet on Tuesday, and possibly try to work out an accommodation. If they can work out an accommodation and come to an agreement before Wednesday that would probably stall a contempt vote.

Mr. Nadler has--

CUOMO: What would an accommodation look like?

COHEN: Well the accommodation would be seeing the report, having more than Mr. Nadler's Committee members see the report, and - and be able to digest it, and not have limitations put.

But I'm just guessing. I don't know exactly what Mr. Nadler is asking. He's asked for the whole redacted report for the Committee and for the Congress to see, and also for the underlying evidence. I'm not sure if the - what - what - what the considerations would be in - in an accommodation.

CUOMO: Well it's good to hear the sides are talking. Hopefully, there'll be some progress, not just process.

So, obviously, he was supposed to show up, he didn't. You guys made a whole show of it. It was all over Saturday Night Live. We'll play it for some people here who didn't get to see it.


COLIN KELLY JOST, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE WRITER, NBC: Just think about the poor intern who had to go find a KFC at dawn and order a 12-piece bucket and then be like, "Oh, no, no, no, it's for my boss. He's uh - he's a Congressman."


JOHN OLIVER, LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER HOST, HBO: He's biting into leftover KFC or, as it's more commonly known, "Trash."


OLIVER: And two, that means this adult man probably laid in bed all night thinking about how (BEEP) awesome his chicken joke was going to be, and he was completely wrong about that.



CUOMO: Oliver's way out of line going after KFC as not being tasty. But how do you feel about the rest of it?

COHEN: Well it was a - The New York Times properly described as levity. The New York Times also used one of my quotations in my press conference as the quotation of the day on May, the 2nd--

CUOMO: Yes, I saw it.

COHEN: --which is an honor, and I appreciate they did that. And - and I think the comedians are kind of off base.

Sarah Silverman was probably right when she tweeted that it was a hat on a hat that just the - the - the figurine, the ceramic figurine would have been sufficient. The bucket was probably a bit over - overboard.

I shouldn't have eaten it. It didn't taste good. And it didn't picture well. But the fact is it brought attention to Chicken Barr--

CUOMO: Wait a minute. What do mean it didn't taste good? Which recipe was it? Was it original recipe?

COHEN: Really - it was the traditional recipe--

CUOMO: Was it extra crispy?

COHEN: It was - it was cold, and so the skin was pretty awful.

CUOMO: Oh, all right, that's it.

[21:20:00] COHEN: But it's - the things you do - the things you do for the - for the photographers, I guess that was a little mistake. But it was a, you know, it was to bring out a point that he was chicken, and we got a - a hashtag out of it for Chicken Barr.

CUOMO: Oh, I got the point.

COHEN: And I think people know that he was afraid to come. He didn't want to face Barry Berke and Norm Eisen. And there's great precedent for counseled questioning witnesses, not

an impeachment hearing, which is what Collins talked about, but in hearings of all kind. Bobby Kennedy did it back in the days, where Roy Cohn did it as well in the McCarthy hearings.

CUOMO: Sure.

COHEN: In the 90s, Richard Ben-Veniste and - and Chertoff did it in the Whitewater hearings. There've been lots and lots of cases. And then the Republicans brought in a - a lady to question Ms. Blasey (ph) in - in the Kavanaugh hearings.

CUOMO: Sure.

COHEN: So, there's plenty of precedent, and it would have been appropriate.

The problem is not that we don't have a really great Members on our Committee, which we do, but in five minutes, it's really tough to follow-up to have your questions, to have a - a person who's the - the witness, who would filibuster, which they have.

Whitaker did it. Barr did it at the Senate.

CUOMO: Right. There's a lot of politics too, Congressman, also.

COHEN: And fili--

CUOMO: There's a lot of - lot of people they're just making a point. They're grandstanding sometimes. I don't even - Hirono had like some great substance to ask, but she just like made a statement and, you know, in their hearing, instead of asking Barr any of that stuff--

COHEN: Well some people do made statements.

CUOMO: --you know?

COHEN: You have your option to make a statement.

CUOMO: I mean obviously she's Senate, not House. But you know what I'm saying.

COHEN: You can ask questions.

CUOMO: I know. But, you know, I'm just saying that that - that--

COHEN: But it's tough to follow--

CUOMO: --clouds it sometimes. That's all I'm saying, Congressman.

COHEN: But five minutes is tough to do it.

CUOMO: It's true.

COHEN: I mean I was a defense lawyer. You have 30 minutes you can get, and you can crack a witness. And - and Barry Berke and Norm Eisen could crack this guy because

there's so many holes in his statements and so many - so many questions about his legal standing on his - on his statements concerning the President's authority that it should have a 30-minute opportunity.

I could take the 30. Jamie - Jamie could take the 30. There are lots of people. Jerry Nadler could take the 30. Pramila could. There are lots of people our Committee given 30 minutes, but you can't give 20 - maybe everybody could. We've got great members.

CUOMO: Right.

COHEN: But you can't give 20-some-odd people 30 minutes each or we'd be there forever.

CUOMO: Any regrets about the chicken and the antics and all that that was done, not just by you, by the way?

COHEN: I guess that the - the - I didn't eat during the statements. I, number one, regret is eating, number one, and number two, probably, I should have just brought the - the - the ceramic chicken that would have been enough, and that's what was advised by Sarah - what's-her- name Silverman--


COHEN: Sarah--

CUOMO: Silverman.

COHEN: --whatever, comedian wrote me and said - yes , she said it was a two - a two-hatter. She's probably right. But then, you know, I'm not a professional at that. And I probably should have just brought that.

But one staffer brought in his ceramic chicken and was pleased to have found it. And the other the - the staffer brought in some - some KFC, so I brought them both, and it just kind of happened.

But I'm happy that you give me this opportunity to explain it. I've gotten a haircut. I - I ate roast chicken today. And everything's good in Memphis.

CUOMO: Well hair looks good. I'm a big fan of KFC. I understand why people attack it. But if it were cold--

COHEN: And I was in Houston this week. I was in Houston this week. And our friend asked about you, and had a very good weekend.

CUOMO: Oh great. Good to hear. Good to hear.

You know, before earlier when I was talking to Anderson, I called you the chicken-chomping Congressman. I was just playing on that joke. It's always said with respect. You're always welcome on this show. I'm just saying everybody needs to be so aware of keeping the dignity

of the institutions right now because there're plenty of people trying to tear them down.

Congressman Steve Cohen, you're always welcome.

COHEN: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: And thank you. Be well.

All right, Georgia is now the leader in taking us backwards when it comes to a woman's right to her own body. I'm going to show you where this is coming from politically and where this is headed legally if the Right gets its way. Next.








CUOMO: You see what just happened in Georgia? Roe versus Wade is in the crosshairs. Make no mistake about that. Limiting the legal right on the state level and exaggerating what is right and true on the political level. Take a listen.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby. I don't think so.


TRUMP: I don't think so.


CUOMO: They should boo. He shouldn't think so because it doesn't happen. That's called homicide. No state allows a baby to be born full-term, and then you decide whether or not to execute it. God forbid anything like that would ever happen.

But why? Why sell that? Because he's trying to enrage pro-life folk as part of his base. He was never pro-life before he decided to run for President. Look, dismissing the President speak is easy. Dismissing the stakes is not. There is a new Conservative majority on the Supreme Court. And state lawmakers all across this country are passing bills to provoke litigation in the hope of changing the Roe standard.

So, as the Right tries to change the law in 10 states, the Left is trying to codify Roe as law at the state level for the same reason, anticipating change to protect what is now the federal law.

Georgia's Governor is pushing the envelope with his so-called Fetal Heartbeat bill, which would essentially make an abortion after about six weeks illegal.

Keep in mind, Georgia's law is already currently at 20 weeks, which is more restrictive than the federal standard. Fetal Heartbeat bills, like this, are under consideration in eight states.

Remember, a lot of women don't even know if they are pregnant for six, seven weeks, so think about that. By the time you figure out you're pregnant, you may no longer have the right to your own body.

Mississippi, Ohio, heartbeat laws there take effect in July.

Meanwhile, state legislators in Montana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, they've gone even further. They're pushing infanticide bills. They would require medical professionals to provide care to a baby born during an attempted abortion.

Now, remember, that is up to 20 to 24 weeks depending on where you are. This is an extremely rare scenario. It makes it sound like babies are being born alive after abortions all over the place and people are choosing to murder people.

What you're seeing is Republicans running with the fiction - fiction that POTUS is pushing. It's fear-mongering, goes back to the campaign.


TRUMP: You can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day.


CUOMO: It's just not true. That's complete BS. Look, whether he's ignorant or not on the issue doesn't matter anymore. He's President of the United States, OK? What's totally true is that this fight is about the rights of women. That's what it is.

Take all the ugly political dressing off it, and that's what it's about. The Right, the political far-Right is trying to curtail access and opportunity when it comes to reproductive rights.

[21:30:00] The fact that the Roe standard has never been codified into legislation is proof of this political uncertainty. Yes, the law of the land is currently Roe. But the Right and the fight is far from over. So, what's going to happen with this effort to open the Roe-Wade floodgates? What's the politics here? It is worthy of Great Debate, next.








CUOMO: Couple big questions tonight. Should this President be able to frustrate Congress the way he is, ignoring subpoenas, and other Congressional action?

And what do these state laws mean for the Roe standard? What would happen if that case came up in front of this Court? Heartbeat bills, a clear attack. Will they make it to the Supreme Court?

That's tonight's Great Debate.




CUOMO: We got Christine Quinn and Rick Santorum. Good to have you both.


CUOMO: Rick, I'm not going to get into the Pelosi "I don't know if the President would accept," the like - I'm not going to - I'm not going to play forward. We don't need to. Let's just deal with where we are right now.

Are you concerned at all that he doesn't use his own lawyer to contest the request for his taxes?


I think there's a legitimate point that - that Steve Mnuchin and the White House is making that the White - that the Congress shouldn't be able to do fishing expeditions, you know, calling people's taxes just to find out if they can find dirt on the person. [21:35:00] I mean that's not what that statute is there. It's to look at whether the enforcement mechanisms that - that are in place for the IRS are being used correctly, not to play politics with individual tax returns.

CUOMO: But where does it say that you get to have discretion in whether or not to follow that law when it says "Shall," and the Head of the House Ways and Means Committee says "I want to see and whether or not the IRS is doing the oversight and the auditing they're supposed to do?"

SANTORUM: Yes. That's why we have a court. And - and that's why, you know, the - the - the different branches of government have the ability to - to try to stymie the other, and the court makes the decision, you know, which is correct.

And - and I think there's ample - ample evidence that - that the way that the Congress is approaching this is not consistent with the statute.

And if we give the Congress the opportunity to go out and do witch- hunts on individual tax returns from - from people, whether it's the President or anybody else, that is a real problem.

I - I - I know--

CUOMO: All right, but just--

SANTORUM: --I know me as a taxpayer would not like to see that happen.

CUOMO: Just to be clear, by the way, the statute allows the President to get anybody's taxes the same way with just a written request.

Christine, this came out of Teapot Dome. This came out of fears about whether or not--

QUINN: Correct.

CUOMO: --one of our officials was on the take.

And it was to allow certain members, not anybody, not everybody, but certain Members of Congress to get the taxes, to take a look and see if they could discover motivations of what was going on in an oversight capacity.

How is that not in keeping with what they're trying to do now?

QUINN: It seems perfectly in keeping. And, honestly, I think the Republicans and the far-Right know it is perfectly in keeping.

Now, look, it's unique that we don't have the President's taxes because basically everybody else who's ever run for President or was certainly a party nominee has put their taxes out there. So, that's unique.

But clearly what Congress is doing is within the confines of the law. And, again, both you and Rick have said IRS. We're not talking about the IRS Commissioner here.

We're talking about the Secretary of the Treasury, which really raises even kind of more political questions about what's going on. This is just another attempt at, you know, obfuscating and trying to keep the truth from the public.

And, just basically, in the most basic of ways, if you don't have anything to hide, why would you go into court to seek the ability to hide things?

CUOMO: So, Rick, if this is the way they keep up, any subpoena, they say no, you want anybody to testify, they say no. Don McGahn doesn't even work at the White House anymore. They say no. They'll have their prejudice. So, is this just going to be just litigation from now until whenever?

SANTORUM: Yes. I think given the - the nature of what, you know, look. There was a two-year investigation, all those money spent at and there's a report.

And it - and it basically said that, you know, by and large the President didn't do - and certainly, the President didn't do anything with colluding with Russia and that there - the obstruction of justice claim was indeterminate and - and the decision was made by the - by the proper prosecutor.

This should be the end. And I think that, you know, Nancy Pelosi, I think, believe or not has this right. I think the Democrats are in great peril, as they continue to go down this path, it is - it is the President's political advantage to block everything.

Because I think the longer they keep this thing alive, the more they look like all they care about - they don't care about the, you know, what's going on in healthcare, they don't care about the economy, they care about getting Donald Trump.

And the more they - they keep on that, I think the--

CUOMO: Well they - they just - they just--

SANTORUM: --better for the President.

CUOMO: --won an election on healthcare during the midterms. That was like the main thing that brought people out for them.

QUINN: And--

CUOMO: But, Christine, what's your take on it?

QUINN: And not for nothing we won the election on healthcare. Also, it's the Republicans who are blocking things like the Green New Deal going forward. And it's the Republicans--

SANTORUM: No one's talking about that. They're talking about Trump.

QUINN: The Republicans are the ones blocking good voting legislation from moving forward.

Look, the Democrats in the Congress have shown they can move important issues forward, and continue to do their job, which is to uphold the Constitution, and seek the truth.

CUOMO: All right.

QUINN: It is the President and the Republicans who are stymieing--

CUOMO: Let me--

QUINN: --those efforts.

CUOMO: --let me - let me pivot topics here because I don't want to leave - I don't want to leave these heartbeat bills behind.

Christine, what's the concern with what just passed in Georgia, and what you may wind up seeing more of, a state passing through its legislature, a more restrictive right to reproductive acts such as - reproductive rights such as abortion? This is a six-week bill.

QUINN: These so-called heartbeat bills are exactly what you said, six- week bills. They, for all intent and purposes, are an end run around Roe versus Wade, and a clear attempt to make abortion illegal in new - across the country. That's what they are.

And we've seen in states where they've been passed already, courts strike them out or enjoin them. This is a clear attempt to take decisions about a woman's body and birth out of the hands of a woman and out of the hands of doctors.

And that, to me, is really shocking.

CUOMO: Look, I mean you don't have to like abortion. You can be dead set against it, Rick. I mean we're all coming from the same set of catechism on this particular panel tonight.

But if you don't like Roe, that's one thing. But for a state to codify something that they know violates the federal standard, what do you make of that?

[21:40:00] SANTORUM: Well I mean everybody that passes a marijuana law violates a federal standard, when they pass a recreational marijuana law, and they do it, and you - in, you know, sanctuary cities, they pass laws that violate it, and the court determines whether they have the right to do it or not.

Look, the - the - the legislatures as well as the Congress have the right to challenge the court. And - and - and if the court composition changes, as it has over time, on a variety of issues, they have the right to go and challenge that.

I just have to make a point, Chris, because you and Christine both made the point, you in your introductory, and Christine, where you basically invalidate the point of view that me and millions and millions of other Americans have with respect to this issue, which you just say this is all about choice, all about a woman's right, no.

It's all about the life of a little baby. And - and you can invalidate that and say that - that doesn't matter. But to millions of Americans, it does matter, and it's not that we hate women or want to violate women, but we truly do care about the life of that child on the woman, and we think a good society protects those children.

CUOMO: No. But do you care about the rule of--

QUINN: You know what? But - but Chris, wait, I want to say something.

CUOMO: Hold on a second. Christine, hold on a second. You - I'll get to you. But what rules in this society, Rick, how you feel with your faith or the rule of law? What rules?

SANTORUM: Yes. But the rule of law is determined - should be determined, in my opinion, in this area by the - by the collective morality of the people of this country.

CUOMO: Really?

SANTORUM: That's what legislatures are trying to do. Absolutely. I mean--

CUOMO: So the Supreme Court passing making--

SANTORUM: Nine people shouldn't make that decision for the rest of the country.

CUOMO: Really?

QUINN: But they have. And that's how our country works.

CUOMO: So, you don't believe - so - so you don't believe--

SANTORUM: No, they shouldn't.

CUOMO: --in the Supreme Court.

SANTORUM: No. I just don't believe that they should be--

CUOMO: You don't believe it's the supreme law of the land.

SANTORUM: --injecting themselves into a matter that is something that the public can handle and handle very well and did--

QUINN: Really? Then who gives these state legislatures? Who gives these--

SANTORUM: --before Roe versus Wade.

CUOMO: Yes. When people were killing themselves in back alleys before Roe v. Wade?

SANTORUM: People are dying now too, Chris. I mean the reality is-- QUINN: No.

SANTORUM: --in fact millions of--

CUOMO: Not like that.

QUINN: That - Rick, that is a big - that is a lie.

SANTORUM: --millions of children are dying.

QUINN: The--

SANTORUM: No, millions of children are dying, Christine. That's a reality.

QUINN: You know what--

SANTORUM: Over 60 million children--

CUOMO: Because you define - you define child as born at inception (ph).

QUINN: If you really - if you really - if you really cared--

SANTORUM: --have died. That's the truth.

CUOMO: All right, one at a time. Christine, go ahead.

SANTORUM: That's the truth.

QUINN: --if you really cared about the health of human beings, you would never take an issue like this away from a woman and her doctor.

SANTORUM: 60 million children.

QUINN: And a six-week bill - a six-week bill takes it--

SANTORUM: 60 million children.

QUINN: --makes it illegal. And this bill and - have been clearly struck down by the courts. Abortion is the law of the land. And you--

SANTORUM: And we're trying to change that because we want to protect lives.

QUINN: And you are trying - you are - you are doing an end run around the Constitution and you are putting--

SANTORUM: Yes, we are. Absolutely. No, around the Supreme Court.

QUINN: --and--

SANTORUM: They're not the same thing.

QUINN: The Supreme Court set the law on this. And, again--

SANTORUM: Yes. And they did it wrong.

QUINN: --you talk about caring about human beings lives.

SANTORUM: Yes, I do.

QUINN: Then why would you take away a woman's ability with her doctor to make decisions when her life--

SANTORUM: I'm taking away--

QUINN: --may be at risk. You take it away because you actually do not care about women.

SANTORUM: Do you realize a baby dies--

QUINN: You take it away politically.

SANTORUM: --in an abortion? Do you realize that? Are you ignoring that fact? That's a - that's a reality.

QUINN: I am focusing on--

SANTORUM: This is a human life that is being extinguished.

CUOMO: Not a legal fact.

QUINN: It is not a legal fact.

SANTORUM: It's a real - do - do you disagree that a - at the moment of conception, a child is human and alive. It's a human life.

CUOMO: That's its viability.

SANTORUM: It's - is it a - it is a--

CUOMO: It's - it is a viable human being. And it's not recognized--

SANTORUM: --is it a human life--


SANTORUM: Answer the question.

CUOMO: --under our law as a person under the law.


SANTORUM: Answer the question.


SANTORUM: Answer the question.

CUOMO: You know what the answer is.

SANTORUM: Is it biologically a human life? QUINN: No.

CUOMO: You know what the answer is.

SANTORUM: I do. I said every biology that's working (ph) in the world at conception that is a human life. You ignore that reality.

CUOMO: The only thing--

QUINN: No. It is not - that is not the medical--

SANTORUM: You guys talk about being the party of science.

CUOMO: Listen, hold on a second.

QUINN: That is not--

SANTORUM: This is so a-science.

CUOMO: There--

QUINN: --this is - that is not science.

SANTORUM: This is just not reality guys.

CUOMO: There is no question--

QUINN: That is not science.

CUOMO: Hold on, hold on, hold on a second. Let me just set the table.

SANTORUM: It is true.

CUOMO: Hold on a second.

QUINN: No, it's not.

CUOMO: Calm down, calm down.

SANTORUM: It's not - it's not a belief. It's a fact.

CUOMO: Just calm down.

SANTORUM: It's a fact.

CUOMO: The only thing that can be created by--

QUINN: No, it's not.

CUOMO: --two human beings is a human being. Period! The law recognizes a person--

SANTORUM: So, what are we discussing?

CUOMO: --with rights at a certain standard.

SANTORUM: So, you're so - so--

CUOMO: You are conflating the two.

SANTORUM: OK, so, Chris, before - before that - before that--

CUOMO: You are doing it for convenience. That's OK. But either you respect the law, or you don't.

SANTORUM: OK. Before that thing is a thing, before that thing is a person, what is it?

CUOMO: What do you mean what is it?

QUINN: What do you mean?

SANTORUM: What's that thing in the womb that you're killing, what is it?

CUOMO: There are all these different stages of cellular development.

SANTORUM: But what is it?

CUOMO: Go Google it.

SANTORUM: So, it's called property.

CUOMO: What I'm saying is you either accept the law or you don't.

QUINN: Rick, you are - Rick, you are--

SANTORUM: So, it's the property of the woman.

QUINN: Rick, you are - you are--

CUOMO: I'm OK with that.

SANTORUM: So, I'm just asking, Chris, is it the property of the woman at that point? It's not a person? It's the property of a woman?

QUINN: It's not--

CUOMO: Her body is always her property.


SANTORUM: OK. So that - but - but that's a unique human being--

QUINN: But, Rick, you--

SANTORUM: --inside that woman.

QUINN: No. There is not--

SANTORUM: So is that - is that woman - is that the property of a woman--

QUINN: Rick, Rick, Rick--

SANTORUM: --so you can do whatever you want with it?

QUINN: Rick, it is part--

SANTORUM: So, let's - let me ask you this question, Chris?

CUOMO: Wait--

QUINN: Rick, can you stop for one second--

SANTORUM: Then let me ask you the question.

QUINN: No, because you're not Chris Cuomo.

SANTORUM: So, Christine, if - if - if - if that--

QUINN: You don't get to ask the questions.

SANTORUM: --if the woman - if the woman--

QUINN: Let me just say--

SANTORUM: --who was carrying that child because - let's say she was blind, and she decided she wanted to have a blind baby too--


SANTORUM: --so she can inject that baby with something that would blind the child--

QUINN: Rick--

SANTORUM: --not kill it, just blind it--

QUINN: Rick--

SANTORUM: --would that be OK?

QUINN: Rick, you are bringing up - you are bringing up--

SANTORUM: Would you say that's OK?

CUOMO: I'll tell you - look, I'm going to go to Christine on the point. But I'll tell you what's not OK. I think perverting fact patterns, perverting realities--

SANTORUM: I'm not perverting anything.

CUOMO: --and trying to demonize what people do, you guys make it sound like this is cheaper than condoms, this is easier than condoms--

QUINN: Right.

[21:45:00] CUOMO: --so just go abort your babies. These are painful decisions for these women. QUINN: They're huge--

SANTORUM: It's still taking a life, Chris.

CUOMO: These are things they live with for the rest of their lives.

QUINN: --they're huge - they're huge--

CUOMO: Yes, I know. And they think about it. And they think about it in a way that you never will, Rick. So, you're projecting all these emotions--

SANTORUM: That's not true, Chris. I--

CUOMO: --and sensibilities on ethics on people in a decision you'll never make.

QUINN: And, Rick--

SANTORUM: --I help and support--

QUINN: And, Rick, let me just say--

SANTORUM: --I help and support crisis, crisis and helping those (ph).

QUINN: --Rick, let me just - oh, crisis.

CUOMO: Help and support? It's not in your body. Christine, last word to you.

QUINN: Yes. Let's be clear here, Rick. With all of your distortions and horrible tales--

SANTORUM: You didn't answer my question first.

QUINN: I answered it numerous times. When - when a woman gets pregnant, that is not a human being inside of her. It's part of her body.

SANTORUM: It's a lie.

QUINN: And this is about a woman having full agency and control of her body and making decisions about her body, and what is part of her body with medical professionals. Those are the facts. And that is the law of the land.

SANTORUM: So that - so the baby is property, chattel.

CUOMO: Listen, this is--

SANTORUM: And they can do whatever they want to that.

CUOMO: Look, you can--

QUINN: This is about a woman's body.

CUOMO: --you can argue--

SANTORUM: So they can beam (ph) the baby.

CUOMO: Listen, you can argue the - the debate--

SANTORUM: They can do whatever they want. They can torture the baby.

QUINN: Rick, you're spinning fake stories.

CUOMO: The - the debate is fine. The debate is fine.

QUINN: You - you - you're so desperate here.

CUOMO: Guys, I got to leave it there.

QUINN: You're so desperate here. You're bringing up fake stories.

CUOMO: No, no, no, listen--

QUINN: Not desperate. I'm just - I'm just asking questions.

CUOMO: Listen, no, you're not. You're not.

SANTORUM: Answer them.

CUOMO: You're asking provocative things that are trying to make people angry about what's done--

SANTORUM: Because they're real.

CUOMO: --and that's OK.

QUINN: But they're not real.

CUOMO: All I'm saying is you guys go too far when you pervert the facts. And we have the President of the United States saying that a baby is born at the end of full-term, swaddled in a blanket, and then they decide whether or not to execute it. You know that's BS.

QUINN: That's a lie.

SANTORUM: Well Governor of Virginia said.

CUOMO: It - it divides people. Nobody said it.


SANTORUM: Governor of Virginia said it.

CUOMO: It's not the law anywhere in this country.

QUINN: Nowhere.

CUOMO: It's homicide. One person said something stupid and you want to make it something that you can use to advantage.

SANTORUM: They're--

CUOMO: That doesn't help your cause.

SANTORUM: Talk to - talk - talk to the survivors of abortion. It's not--

CUOMO: And it certainly - and it certainly - it - it certainly--

SANTORUM: How about Kermit Gosnell of Philadelphia? I mean there's--

CUOMO: It certainly not square with your religion.

SANTORUM: --there's lots of instances, Chris.

CUOMO: I'll tell you that. Go ask a priest if he's OK with you arguing the case that way and see how he feels about--

SANTORUM: I will. I'd be happy to.

CUOMO: You know, if you get to the--

QUINN: Well they don't believe in lying, priests, don't believe in lying.

CUOMO: --if you get to the right place by lying and distorting the facts, no priest is going to like it.

SANTORUM: I'm not - what am I - OK what - tell me - what did--

QUINN: No priest is going to condone lying?

SANTORUM: --what did I lie about in - in the way I presented the case?

CUOMO: You tell me what state allows you to swaddle a full-term baby and then have a side conversation about whether or not to kill it?

SANTORUM: Look, you have - you have states that basically say--

CUOMO: Say - say none. Say none.

QUINN: Where? Nowhere. Nowhere.

SANTORUM: --no--

CUOMO: Say none.

QUINN: Nowhere.

SANTORUM: The debate say--

CUOMO: Say none.

QUINN: Nowhere.

SANTORUM: The State of New York allows a baby to be killed--

QUINN: No, it does not.

CUOMO: Please, please.

SANTORUM: --allows a baby to be killed up until the moment that--

QUINN: No, it does not.

CUOMO: A full-term baby to be born and swaddled and executed--

QUINN: That is a lie.

SANTORUM: --up until the moment that baby is born.

CUOMO: Say none.


SANTORUM: That's the reality.

CUOMO: That's crap. Look, I got to go.

QUINN: Look, Chris, I would--

SANTORUM: That's what the - that's what the law says.

CUOMO: It does not.

QUINN: --I was part of passing that law in New York.


QUINN: With the National Institute of Reproductive Health. It does not say that.

CUOMO: Does not say that.

QUINN: But that is a lie the far-Right has peddled--

SANTORUM: Not a lie.

CUOMO: Rick, you're better than this.

QUINN: --since it was passed.

CUOMO: You're better than this as a Catholic and you're better at this--

SANTORUM: Not a - it's not - it's not a lie.

CUOMO: --as a consumer of public thought.

SANTORUM: Because, look, the--

QUINN: It is a lie. I helped pass the law.

CUOMO: I got to go. I got to go. I got to go. QUINN: It's a lie.

CUOMO: We'll do this again.

QUINN: Thank you.

CUOMO: Because they're going to be plenty more of these.


CUOMO: But, come on, Rick, give me a break on this stuff. Thank you very much.

SANTORUM: I am. I'm telling the truth.

QUINN: You're lying.

CUOMO: You're telling the truth the way you see it but you're distorting fact to get there.

QUINN: You're lying.

CUOMO: So, I don't know how that's the truth.

SANTORUM: Well then you have to respect when - I think when you--

CUOMO: I respect everybody's opinion on it. But this idea that you're putting out, the President telling the crowd, and they're booing about a full-term baby, and then they decide whether or not to execute, what are you trying to do in this country?

These things are hard enough without making people think crazy things. But you're going to just stoke hate in the interest of what, in the interest of what? That's what people have to ask themselves.

All right, you watching TV last night? You watched today? You see Game of Thrones? I'll tell you what. I don't buy what everybody's saying about this coffee cup just left on the table. I don't think it was a mistake. What do you think of that?

And I'm going to bring in D. Lemon to figure out what's brewing. Get it? Get what I did there?







(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: You catch last night's Game of Thrones? That ain't a grog mug, Daenerys Targaryen sitting with a Starbucks coffee cup.

Now, how did this happen? 15 million bucks an episode, we're always reading these stats about how much of everything they use, and how meticulous, and all the money, and the shooting the scene, coffee cup.

One of the main seat's attention, she's like, "Oh, they want him to be the king, not me." It's a huge scene. They must have looked at it a 100 times. Leave a coffee cup?

D. Lemon, gaffe--


CUOMO: --or something more?

LEMON: Well, yes, of course, it's a gaffe, though maybe--

CUOMO: Mm, I don't know.

LEMON: --they wanted us to talk about--

CUOMO: Yes, that's what I'm saying.

LEMON: Guess what? If we're all talking about it, I mean that's good for them and that things must be OK, I guess in the world if this is the biggest thing that's on people's minds, you know, I don't know.

CUOMO: Oh, it was big. Look, I - I didn't love the episode. But I'm on it. But I must say my suspicion that it was intentional is injured by fact.

LEMON: What do you mean?

CUOMO: There are other examples of this having been done. Let's show a couple of them of where--

LEMON: The water bottle?

CUOMO: Yes. Like what do you got? Put - put one of them.



CUOMO: This is in Gladiator.

LEMON: That's Gladiator.

CUOMO: Remember this movie?


CUOMO: See the gas motor? It's going to - you're going to see at some point. You're going to see a motor. Can you see it? LEMON: Oh.

CUOMO: Yes? All right? So, there's a little nitrous bottle there or something like that--

LEMON: Looking busted (ph).

CUOMO: --going on. All right and in Braveheart, show Braveheart -


CUOMO: --you're going to see something in a second here. You see the van as the lower (ph).


CUOMO: There's a van. All right, so, look, there are mistakes.

LEMON: There are. There's one where there's a water bottle--


LEMON: --what's that?

CUOMO: I don't know. Baby grabbing a thumb?

LEMON: Yes, I have no idea.

CUOMO: Oh, it's a fake baby, keeps moving its hand like a real one.

LEMON: It's a - oh, it's a fake baby. OK. Got it, got it, got it.

So, I have - we figured out there was some controversy or discrepancy about whether it was actually a Starbucks cup. Starbucks picked up on it because they wanted the publicity. We've actually tracked it down and figured it out. We have the exact cup.

You want to see the cup?

CUOMO: That's worth money.

LEMON: There's the cup.

CUOMO: Oh, there it is.

LEMON: There's the cup right there. So, it was actually you have the - where's your CUOMO PRIME TIME cup? So, this is the new cup that everyone should order. This is the cup that was actually--

CUOMO: Can you get that in any stores?

LEMON: --in Game of Thrones. Yes.

CUOMO: Or can you only get it right now?

LEMON: You can - it's a limited offer. It's called Limited Thrones-- CUOMO: Look at how he looks at himself. Look at the picture of yourself again. Man, that's love right there, boy.

LEMON: Yes. This cup only comes in large. So, anyways--

CUOMO: But it's empty.

LEMON: That's something that you would say.

CUOMO: Like his head.

LEMON: Speak--

CUOMO: What do you got?

LEMON: Speaking of, you know Rick Reilly. Rick Reilly--


LEMON: --wrote the book.

CUOMO: Genius.

LEMON: The book is called Commander in Cheat about golf. So, we're going to be talking about Tiger Woods and the Medal of Freedom and why--

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: --golf is so important, why the President would do that.

And just to get our minds off of everything too bad or serious, and talk about something fun, Royal Baby, remember the Bishop that performed the wedding ceremony for them?


LEMON: He's going to join me and talk about this Royal Baby and the family, yes.

CUOMO: Oh, beautiful. And it's good news.

LEMON: Good stuff.

CUOMO: God bless the baby.


CUOMO: I wish the family the best. I'll see you in a little bit.

LEMON: See you soon.

CUOMO: Get out of there. Empty cup. I think I won that one. You tell me on Twitter. But send them to Don.

All right, we talk too much about stuff that doesn't matter enough what the President says and tweets, I hear your criticism. But tell me this. I'm going to argue that there is something that too many of you aren't taking seriously enough.

I'll make the case, then you decide, next.








CUOMO: "Investigate the investigators," says this President, and the Attorney General says, "Yes, sir."

"People don't like our eagerness to benefit from Russian interference, and all the lying, call it the Deep State, Lefties in the FBI trying to help Clinton and hurt Trump."

"A decision you don't like?" "Attack the judge. Biased."

"A rate increase?" "The Fed, it's jaundiced."

"You want people to testify, see my taxes?" "Oppose it all. It's all dirty."

This behavior is worthy of much more concern than it gets. Why? Institutions matter. In a democracy like ours, they are all we have as checks on absolute power.

We need to trust them, and rely on them to decide critical questions, not blindly. You should question them. You should test them. But we have to believe in them. They have to stand.

Could this President contest an election? Sure. That'd be his right. We have infrastructure to check the outcome. We have courts to decide any dispute. But what if you question all the steps and powers that proceed from such an election contest?

What if people don't have faith that anybody's doing the checking, that any court can be fair? Because that's what this President tells them, right?

Then what? Next point. He won't, this President, comply with Congressional requests, even subpoenas. He's using the Attorney General to carry water for him and attack his enemies, and the Treasury Secretary to block requests about the probe, and now, his taxes. He's saying Mueller shouldn't testify. But he can't control that, not really. The crux of the argument is this. If you allow this President to keep getting away with violating the separation of powers and having people who work for you in this country simply do his personal bidding, what would stop him from trying to avoid any operation of law?

That's why we need the probe report out in full. We need Congress to do their job, not because of a desired outcome but because that's what the Constitution demands. That's what keeps the institutions strong.

That letter, over 500 prosecutors saying this set of facts would be charged as a crime if not for the person doing it being a President. Why is it 500? We didn't get the number wrong. More people keep signing onto the letter. That's why the number of prosecutors is going up.

Focus on what matters. This Attorney General is telling you not to believe those 500 people. And the man who did the investigating, Mueller, clearly didn't want that to be that simple. So, you have to take a look at the need for oversight. You have to let the process play out.

I know I've been tough on Democrats about what the plan is. That's because I see too much posturing, not because they don't have a job to do. If they're kept from doing their job by this President, and any and all who help him in the cause of evasion, what else might they choose to ignore. That's the argument.

Thanks for watching. D. Lemon, CNN TONIGHT, right now.