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Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Denies Talking To President Trump About Mueller Probe; Report: “Pipeline” Of

February 11, 2019



<Date: February 8, 2019>

<Time: 10:00>

<Tran: 020801CN.V01>

<Type: Show>

<Head: Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker Denies Talking To

President Trump About Mueller Probe; Report: “Pipeline” Of

Undocumented Trump Golf Club Workers; Jeff Bezos Hints At Saudi Ties

To Blackmail Efforts; President Trump Declared “In Very Good Health”

After Annual Physical; Why John Dingell’s Final Words Matter So Much

In Divided D.C. Aired 9-10p ET - Part 2>

<Sect: News; Domestic>

<Time: 21:00>

<End: 22:00>

CUOMO: Yes, and I disagree with that.

CORTES: --the entirety of the illegal immigration. But well--

RYE: But I just told you about somebody who scaled a wall at the Southern border.


CORTES: --whether you agree or not, Customs and--

CUOMO: Well, no--

RYE: Aired on (ph).

CUOMO: The facts.

CORTES: Well because it wasn’t good enough--

CUOMO: Customs and Border Patrol, DHS, have never said--

CORTES: --or big enough and well-monitored (ph).

CUOMO: --the wall is their top priority, never. Never has anybody in charge there said we need the wall first and most.

CORTES: Whether or not it’s top priority doesn’t mean it’s not a crucial priority.

CUOMO: But--

CORTES: They have - they have many reforms that they need to do their job better--

RYE: Crucial would mean top.

CUOMO: Yes, crucial would mean top to me too. CORTES: --in this country. And--

CUOMO: But look, the President made it top, and we know why, Steve. You didn’t tell him to say it during the campaign. I’m not blaming you for the sloganeering. But this was his line, and it really worked. And Mexico was supposed to pay for it.

And now, he’s making it too personal. He’s making this about his promise and protecting him with the base, and he’s got you guys in a tough spot because you know you can’t argue on the merits that anybody wants the wall more than anything else. Nobody says that.

The people who are polled say it. The politicians who are on the border don’t say it. DHS and CBP don’t say we’re a wall away.

RYE: That’s true.

CUOMO: Only he does. That’s your fix.

CORTES: No, no, he has not said we’re a wall away from the fix. That’s just not true. It is a really important tool. It’s a vital tool in getting control of the illegal immigration system in this country, among many other tools, and E-Verify perhaps, the most important of all.

I agree. That should be nationwide. It certainly should be--

RYE: Can I just ask a question?

CORTES: --Trump Organization-wide.

CUOMO: All right.

CORTES: That’s important.

RYE: Steve--

CUOMO: All right, last word to you, Angela.

RYE: I just have one question.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

RYE: How tall - no, I don’t even have a - a last statement, it’s a last question. How tall must the wall be to prevent anyone scaling it?

CORTES: As tall and as--

RYE: This is (ph) the question.

[21:30:00] CORTES: --well-built as Customs and Border Protection tell us. And, by the way, we’re not talking about habergeons (ph)--

RYE: Is 10-feet - is 10-feet high enough?

CORTES: --wall. We’re not talking about something old-fashioned. We’re talking about something with anti-tunneling technology underneath, something that’s very tall, extremely hard to climb with technology--

RYE: Something like SBInet?

CORTES: --with sensors and cameras and monitors--

RYE: Like SBInet that failed?

CORTES: --something - something like--

CUOMO: It’s called bollard fencing.

CORTES: --they have in Israel, which has proven to be 99 percent effective, according to our own--

RYE: How tall is that wall?

CORTES: --Department of Homeland Security in Israel.

CUOMO: That wall is armed, by the way. So, it’s a little bit of a different situation.


CUOMO: Right?

RYE: Right. They - they don’t like to say these things, you know (ph)--

CUOMO: You know, they’re - they’re dealing with an existential crisis.

RYE: --important.

CUOMO: So, it’s a little different. I thank you both for this.

Wait, there’s the President again. I’m going to have to put him on hold.

RYE: Thank you.

CUOMO: I can’t have my phone ringing all show along, you know, you can’t have a phone ringing off the hook. Steve, Angela, be well, and thank you. Have a good weekend.

RYE: Thank you.

CORTES: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, so let’s go from this politics into some dark intrigue. Here’s the question.

Why would the National Enquirer want to blackmail Jeff Bezos, as he alleges, and is there some kind of Saudi connection? That’s the new wrinkle. We have great investigators on this, next.








CUOMO: All right, first up, the histrionics at the hearing with the acting A.G, all right? Note that Matthew Whitaker was clear about not having discussed the Mueller probe with President Trump. Listen to this.


WHITAKER: I have not talked to the President of the United States about the Special Counsel’s investigation.


CUOMO: Now, this was seen as a big deal, although I got to tell you, I don’t know why the President hasn’t asked. If he’s not a target, that’s what he keeps saying that they told his lawyers, wouldn’t he want some facts to back his feelings?

Anyway, when it came to getting answers about the Southern District of New York probe that was a different story with Whitaker.


WHITAKER: I am not going to discuss my private conversations with the President of the United States.


[21:35:00] CUOMO: All right, we’ve got two great guests to sort this out. We got Mike Isikoff, who was in the room today, and Mike Rogers. Gentlemen, thank you, especially on a Friday night. Let’s deal with Whitaker first.

Mike, do you think - Mike Rogers, do you think that this was a worthwhile hearing? And, if so, what popped out to you?

MIKE ROGERS, FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN PARTY MEMBER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Just welcome to the 22 - 2020 Presidential cycle. I - I thought this was demeaning to the Committee all the way around. I mean, to me, it was just very disappointed.

They brought somebody before the Committee and, basically, they didn’t have any allegations that there might be some wrongdoing. They just said “We think you did wrongdoing. Now tell me why you didn’t?” I just think this is a terrible way to run an investigation on a Committee, number one.

And then, when the A.G. was clearly didn’t understand the protocols of the House, when he I thought was rude to the Chairman of the Committee, I - was just shocking to me. I don’t know if anybody over there didn’t walk him through that you would never do that.

That’s their place. It’s a separate but equal branch of government. And the Chairman, by the way, could take as much time as he wants, even under the five-minute rule.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: And so, I just - it to me, it was just a poor performance on what the - how democracy works in the United States today. I was - I was - I was frustrated for everybody.

CUOMO: Mike Isikoff, what came across to you?


This was more political circus and theater than it was, you know, fact-gathering. You know, clearly, the Democrats had a lot of pent-up anger they wanted to vent about the mere fact that Matt Whitaker had been acting Attorney General at all.

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: A guy who did not have any real qualifications for the job, who was not confirmed by the Senate, whose, you know, main, you know, part of his resume was he had been defending President Trump in the Mueller investigation.

But that said they didn’t really get much out of him. The - you know, asked the direct question, “Had he spoken to the President--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --about the - the Mueller investigation.” He said flatly no.

He also indicated he had not - in other lines of questioning, said he had not discussed other investigations, so that would encompass the Southern District as well. So, I - I don’t know that anybody gained from this hearing.

CUOMO: Now Mike, are you feeling me on what I was saying in the introduction that I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with the President asking the acting A.G. about what is - what - why wouldn’t the President say, what’s the best thing he’s got on collusion?

You know, what does he have? What’s the best evidence? If he’s not a target, if he’s not a subject of the investigation--

ROGERS: In - in this environment, Chris--

CUOMO: --why wouldn’t he call?

ROGERS: --in this environment--

CUOMO: Well, at least, he’ll have a fact basis for his feelings.

ROGERS: --you - you can’t even say that. I think your phone is ringing. You can’t say that--

CUOMO: Is it him again?

ROGERS: --you can’t say that with a straight face.

There’s no way. There’s no way that the President - and if there were anybody around him, if - if - if I were anywhere near the President, I’d say, “Do not talk about it.”

This - this and - this thing is - is risen to a level that you should not have a discussion. You may or may not be a target, eventually. You may or may not be engaged - named in the Mueller report, even though there - there is no indictment, all of that could be possible.

You could be absolutely exonerated in the Mueller report too. That’s also a possibility. So just don’t talk about it. Go be President. I - I - I would highly recommend that they do it.

And - and if the people at DOJ are smart, sounds like they are, they’re basically counseling their Interim and probably their Attorney General, “Don’t talk to the President about this one - until the report comes out,” and then they’ll have their chance to, you know, to take a bite at that Apple.

CUOMO: All right, other topic.

The Saudi connection aspect of the allegation from Jeff Bezos, just quickly, Mike Isikoff, Bezos says, laying crumbs in the statement that he put out, that you had Mr. Pecker go to the White House with a Saudi guy that he was trying to raise money from. The dinner was a reward from the President.

The Khashoggi reporting that the Washington Post did would really bother the Saudis, the Saudis wound up give Pecker the money. Pecker’s now going after Bezos who owns the Washington Post, maybe this has something to do with the Saudis, maybe even the President.

Is there anything to the suggestion?

ISIKOFF: Well, you know, you certainly have to place the Saudis as persons of interest in this case.

One of the Washington Post reporters last night was - who had been investigating this said that the Bezos team had suggested that they believed that it was a government entity that had hacked - that had hacked Bezos’ phone and got - and gotten these pictures.

Now, you know, look, somebody like Bezos, you know, billionaire chief of one of the biggest companies in America, you would expect to have pretty sophisticated cyber-security on his devices.

So, you - that - that would suggest that some really sophisticated actors gotten into - had gotten into his phone or wherever these pictures were, and hacked them.

[21:40:00] And, you know, you look at foreign governments as likely suspects, and certainly, you know, all the circumstances you just mentioned, you know, would point to the Saudis as - as people you would want to look at right off the bat.

CUOMO: Mike Rogers, any reason to even have the President in the conversation about this other than the fact that he just doesn’t like Bezos, which puts Bezos on a very long and Agusta (ph) list?

ROGERS: Yes. I think it’s too early for that. But I--

CUOMO: But I mean like ever. Is there any reason is there--

ROGERS: Oh, you mean in - in the - in this--

CUOMO: --why - why would this have anything to do with the President? I mean he may not like Bezos.

ROGERS: Right.

CUOMO: But why does he care about any of this?

ROGERS: Unless that there was some - something to do with the Saudis, you know, on some suggestions about helping out AMI that - and that’s not have - has not been discussed. So, I think we should be careful about that. I don’t - I have never seen any of that.

What it looked to me on the face of it, when I look at it, by the way, I looked at both the California Statute, the Florida Statute, the New York Statute, I think this is extortion at least by state statute.

CUOMO: Oh, you do?

ROGERS: I do, because you can say that any positive press at a time when you’re working a contract would be something of value. I think it’s going to be easy to prove the thing of value is--

CUOMO: Oh, no, I get that.

ROGERS: --that they were going to print a story.

CUOMO: I just thought the context--

ROGERS: But and that’s - and really, that was the one piece of the extortion that wasn’t there that they said, if - if you do this--

CUOMO: Oh. Right.

ROGERS: --I won’t do this. And, by the way, that happens all across America, sexting cases, there’s plenty--

CUOMO: Sure. Absolutely.

ROGERS: --plenty of precedent on this. And here’s the thing on the Saudis.

CUOMO: But they’re not usually done as part of a legal negotiation that has lawyers on both sides trying to deal with each other in a settlement. It just seems like a pretty naked attempt to do something like this with all of these people--


CUOMO: --being a part of it. That’s why I--

ROGERS: Well and - and here’s the thing--

CUOMO: --thought it would be harder to prosecute.

ROGERS: --on the Saudis, real quick.


ROGERS: I - it looked like to me that AMI was in the money hunt.

CUOMO: Right.

ROGERS: And who better to hunt money from the Saudis? That’s why they did the glossy piece, didn’t fit their criteria. So that’s why I’m saying I - I wouldn’t drag the President into it.

I think that visit to the White House was them picking up the phone going, “Hey, I’m going to the White House.”

CUOMO: Sure.

ROGERS: “Why don’t you come with me? I’m really important. Wouldn’t it be great if you invested in this company?”

I think I see more of that happening than I do any grander conspiracy about the President getting the Saudis to invest in AMI, to go after the Washington Post. I - that part is just a bridge too far from it.

CUOMO: Right. Mike Isikoff?

ISIKOFF: Yes, Chris, can I put something out? Look--

CUOMO: Please.

ISIKOFF: --everybody’s applauding Bezos - Bezos for going public with this.

And, you know, he probably did do a public service. But there was a way he could have nailed AMI even better, and that is, he could have gone to the FBI, and the FBI would have instantly investigated this case.

They could have wired Bezos or one of his agents that who meeting with either was Dylan Howard, the Content Officer who was making these threatening emails, and they could have arrested them on the spot.

Go back, remember the David Letterman case in 2009--


ISIKOFF: --when he was being extorted, you know, by somebody threatening--

CUOMO: But that was only one. There weren’t teams of people on either side.

ISIKOFF: Right. But there was--

CUOMO: Doesn’t that make it more difficult to prosecute?

ISIKOFF: --there were specific people who were making--

CUOMO: Right.

ISIKOFF: --sending these emails and, you know, they, on their face, presented a prima facie case of extortion, and had the Amazon - had Bezos taken a step further, gone to the FBI, had himself or somebody else been wired for a one-on meeting - one-on-one meeting, you know, they could have made a much stronger case in real time.

CUOMO: Look at you, SpyHunter. Mike Isikoff, thank you very much, Mike Rogers, it’s why you guys are the best. Thank you for helping my audience on a Friday night. Appreciate it.

ROGERS: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, it’s that time of year again, checkup time. President Trump was once basically called the healthiest man in the world by his doctor, remember all that? So, how is the Burger King’s cholesterol now? We’re going to find out next.








CUOMO: All right, so it’s been about a year since the President was told he should get on a diet, and nearly a dozen White House sources and others close to the President are telling us this. “They don’t believe he’s set foot in the Fitness Room in the White House residence, maintaining his view that exercise would be a waste of energy.” That is not a joke. That is what he actually thinks and really should be a story in itself. But the good news is the President’s own physician reported today he’s in very good health, and anticipates he will remain so, for the duration of his Presidency and beyond.

Let’s bring in D. Lemon. Despite some not great habits, he is healthy, wealthy and likes fries.


CUOMO: What?

LEMON: What happened to healthy, wealthy and wise?

CUOMO: Oh, is that part - I didn’t know that was part of this saying.

LEMON: Yes, well he’s healthy. He has a common form of heart disease, right, as well as high cholesterol.

So, you know, a lot of Americans have that. But the thing that you talked about where he - he hasn’t set foot in the Fitness Room, you know why he hasn’t done that, right?


LEMON: He thinks that--

CUOMO: And people think we’re kidding.

LEMON: No. He thinks, and it’s been documented, that through interviews and through people who’ve written about him--


LEMON: --that energy is - it’s like - we’re like batteries.


LEMON: Like we have a finite amount of energy.

CUOMO: It’s true. He really believes that.

LEMON: I guess that’s why you left the wise out (ph).

CUOMO: And he tells stories where he says, “How many guys have you known who’re in their 40s or 50s and they run all the time, they work, and then they just drop dead of a heart attack? They ran out of energy.” He really--

LEMON: Yes, that--

CUOMO: --believes that. And I got to tell you, you know, may - there’s nothing to that idea. But maybe people--

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: --put too much emphasis on physical greatness. And, you know, lifting huge weights, and being jacked, and being super healthy, you know, maybe it doesn’t--




LEMON: Are you talking about yourself? I was just going to say--

CUOMO: --no, no, no, I’m saying maybe we shouldn’t have these kind of--

LEMON: Oh, he’s kidding again (ph). Oh my God.

CUOMO: --impractical standards where people lift small cars, you know, the equivalent over their head like it was nothing. Maybe, you know, we shouldn’t ask that of people, maybe it’s an unreasonable standard.

LEMON: Have you no shame, Mr. Cuomo? And, guess what, those - people will know that those are empty, right? Those are like plastic things that are empty?

CUOMO: Literally, the average man would crumble and lose all his energy if he tried to lift that weight. But, don’t worry, I took care of you. I got you working out too. Put up the picture of Don.

LEMON: Can I tell you--

CUOMO: There you are - there you are. Look at you, there is you getting after it. See?

LEMON: I - I’m living my best life. That was in Santa Barbara, California, and my dog was serving me tennis balls, and I was playing tennis. That - that is my child. Now, I got to tell you--

CUOMO: You got some - you’ve got some cankles on you. Look at the size of those cankles you got there.

LEMON: Don’t be - look, those are naturally big--

CUOMO: Some big knees.

LEMON: --I was about to say fine, you know, what (ph) legs.

CUOMO: You got some big knees.

LEMON: Those are nice, yes.

CUOMO: You’re built like a doll (ph). You got like no cuts on you at all. You’re all smooth.

LEMON: I’m beautiful. What’s wrong with perfection?

CUOMO: Nothing. That’s what I’m saying.

LEMON: Why mess with perfection?

CUOMO: You don’t have to lift all these heavy weights and sweat and work-out and be jacked. You could just look like that. You’re fine.

LEMON: No, I do - listen, I do work-out with a trainer. But listen, I’m not - I’m not - I don’t have anything to prove.




CUOMO: There he is.


CUOMO: 88, 89--

LEMON: I - I love who I am.

CUOMO: --90.

LEMON: 100. No, you’re - you’re like Anchorman.

[21:50:00] No, listen, here’s the thing, here’s the thing. I am a man of a certain age. I have nothing to prove. I don’t have to do marathons. I work-out for myself, for my health, and for my well- being, for my mental health.

I love life. I will never have a six-pack. You know why? Because I also love food. And I also love to sleep. And there is no shame in--

CUOMO: Your game.

LEMON: --my game. I got to tell you one more thing. I got one more thing.


LEMON: So, I was on an entertainment show today, and they asked me about our relationship, and they asked me about you. And you know what I said, what I always say to you, I--

CUOMO: Best-looking man you ever met in your life except for yourself?

LEMON: No, I told them, first of all, your hair you - your hair was not real. By the way, you got a smaller toupe today.


LEMON: That’s nice. It looks good.

CUOMO: You know how much it costs to get this thing trimmed? LEMON: I know. And secondly--

CUOMO: They got to rethread it in.

LEMON: --I said no one loves Chris more than Chris.

CUOMO: That’s not true.

LEMON: And if you don’t believe me--

CUOMO: I have and I’m highly self-loathing (ph).

LEMON: --just ask Chris.

CUOMO: That’s why I’m so pushed for achievement. I’m not as comfortable with myself as you are, someone suggests too comfortable.

LEMON: So, we were talking about - one of your former colleagues, remember Sam Donaldson was on the show last--

CUOMO: Oh, yes, love him.

LEMON: --early in the week, amazing.

CUOMO: Great mentor.

LEMON: Another one of your former colleagues is going to join me tonight, and talk about, did AMI screw-up their immunity deal? What it means to them legally? Mr. Dan Abrams--

CUOMO: Oh, genius.

LEMON: --will be here.

CUOMO: That guy is great TV, and he knows the law.


CUOMO: Beautiful guy. Great booking. I’ll see you in a second.

LEMON: He’s in great shape too, if - he’s ripped.

CUOMO: He is. He is.


CUOMO: He’s - he’s not playing tennis with a dog.

LEMON: Ha-ha.

CUOMO: I’ll see you in a second. Come on, you know that was good, the picture of him with a big.

All right, so, I just read, this is very serious and poignant and so perfectly timed, the best leadership message that I’ve read from a Democrat in a long time, a clarion call to action, and acceptance of a responsibility that seems all but forgotten.

It came from the longest-serving Congressman in U.S. history. There he is, John Dingell, Democrat, Michigan. He passed away yesterday. And he left us a message written in some of his last hours, and it is a gift.

I’m going to give it to you next.








[21:55:00] CUOMO: American flags are flying at half-staff tonight, an order from the President in recognition of the late Congressman, John Dingell who represented Michigan for an incredible 59 years, a respectful gesture from the President considering especially how often the Congressman was critical of him.

But the President should also pay attention to Dingell’s message. We all should. So, he retired in 2014, not out of fatigue, but out of frustration, saying he no longer recognized the institution he loved.

He passed yesterday, and was lucid until the end. In fact, he saw our present politics more clearly than most. He left us a letter to remind us where we need to be in this country.

It is not Left, nor Right, but reasonable, and focused on progress and the process of compromise, disagreement with decency, a call to something bigger than what our electeds are about today.

In the letter, which he dictated to his wife, current Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, on the day he died, he says in part, “In our modern political age, the presidential bully pulpit seems dedicated to sowing division and denigrating, often in the most irrelevant and infantile personal terms, the political opposition.

My personal and political character was formed in a different era that was kinder, if not necessarily gentler. We observed modicums of respect even as we fought, often bitterly and savagely, over issues that were literally life and death to a degree that, fortunately, we see much less of today.”

And by being that way, he listed all the fights, as he said, bitter, savage fights that Congress took on, and found solutions for, Medicare, civil rights, the Clean Air and Water Acts, and more, big, big tasks.

He reinforces this reality of Congress being so much more than the mucked-up works, the mockery it is now, by saying this.

“All of these challenges were addressed by Congress. Maybe not as fast as we wanted, or as perfectly as we hoped. The work is certainly not finished. But we’ve made progress. And in every case, from the passage of Medicare through the passage of civil rights, we did it with the support of Democrats and Republicans who considered themselves first and foremost to be Americans.”

And that point that we should be about country before Party and people before Party is reinforced by another reality, which he articulates so well.

“In my life and career, I have often heard it said that so-and-so has real power as in, “the powerful Wile E. Coyote, chairman of the Capture the Road Runner Committee.” It’s an expression that has always grated on me. In democratic government, elected officials do not have power. They hold power, in trust for the people who elected them. If they misuse or abuse that public trust, it is quite properly revoked (the quicker the better).”

Too many of you in office are playing a game you were never asked to play. Too many of you are there too long, and for the wrong reasons.

The culture of opposition in place of progress has engendered such disaffection that an outsider of questionable credentials and even more suspect character became President, largely on the promise to disrupt the rest of you in your insider intrigue.

Now, while it’s hard to argue that this President is bringing purely positive change, the need for change is real. And Dingell, the Dean of the House, knew this to be true until the day he left us, a message from a dying man that could breathe life into an ailing political process.

Thank you, Dean. Our respects to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and their family. May he rest in peace, and may his message live on.

Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON starts right now.

LEMON: I’ve heard so many people talk about him and nothing - nothing but good things about him.

Sheila Jackson Lee was on speaking about him. I’ve heard other people on this - this network and others say - talk about his commitment to the public, and public work, and for doing good things.

(Byline: Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon)

(Guest: Eric Swalwell, Angela Rye, Steve Cortes, Mike Rogers, Michael Isikoff)

(High: “I have not talked to the President of the United States about the Special Counsel’s investigation,” says acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker while testifying in a heated hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. New reporting from the Washington Post describes a pipeline of undocumented workers from places like Costa Rica being used to build the President’s Crown Jewel, the Bedminster Golf Course, and it details how immigrants traveled north to work as groundskeepers, housekeepers, dishwashers. Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos alleges ties between Saudi Arabia and National Enquirer’s publisher, David Pecker, and how it could all relate to the murder of Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. President Trump’s physician reported that Trump’s in very good health, and anticipates he will remain so, for the duration of his Presidency and beyond. American flags are flying at half-staff tonight, an order from the President, in recognition of the late Congressman, John Dingell who represented Michigan for an incredible 59 years)

(Spec: Matthew Whitaker; Mueller; Pardons; Donald Trump; Bedminster; Golf course; Undocumented; E-Verify; President; Illegal immigration; National Enquirer; Jeff Bezos; Saudi; AMI; White House; Washington Post; Fitness Room; Energy; John Dingell)

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