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August 21, 2018

President Trump's lawyers really don't want Trump to sit down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for an interview in Mueller's investigation of Russian election interference and possible collusion or obstruction of justice by Trump or members of his team. Specifically, lead lawyer Rudy Giuliani argues that Mueller is setting a "perjury trap" for Trump.

Trump made his own version of that argument on Monday. "So if I say something and [former FBI Director James Comey] says something, and it's my word against his, and he's best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: 'Well, I believe Comey,' and even if I'm telling the truth, that makes me a liar," he told Reuters. "That's no good." On CNN Monday night, Chris Cuomo explained why Trump and Giuliani are wrong.

"Perjury traps" are a form of entrapment where prosecutors bring you in just to get you to lie, with no legitimate fact-finding objectives, Cuomo said. That's not the case with Mueller. "Perjury is what they're really worried about," he said, and perjury — "a material representation of fact for the purposes of deception" — is a crime, meaning it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Giuliani knows this, Cuomo said, but he's intentionally spinning a narrative where Trump is being victimized.

To illustrate what the Trump team is afraid of, he showed the newly released memo that Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Supreme Court pick, wrote in 1998 as part of the independent counsel's team prosecuting President Bill Clinton. The questions he wrote for Clinton are "salacious and disgusting" and "raunchy," but Kavanaugh also phrased them in a way would ensnare "someone like Trump," Cuomo said. "That's what his folks are worried about — not what will be done to Trump, but what he will do to himself when he's confronted by smarter people who are motivated to show that he has lied and falsely disparaged the special counsel." Watch below. Peter Weber

August 2, 2018

Pope Francis has approved a change to Catholic teaching, ruling the death penalty inadmissible in any case, Chris Cuomo said on CNN Thursday night. Cuomo, who clearly knows his Catholic catechism, took a moment to explain what that means, and why non-Catholic Americans might care what the pope does. "Even a person who does something horrible can be redeemed, deserves dignity, that's the point that he's making," he explained.

"This is smart on one level, stunning on another," Cuomo said. "The smart part is squaring the logic of being pro-life: If you believe that you don't mess with life in one area, you don't mess with it, period. It's logical, and it plays to an inconsistency that we see here in America," where "many who call themselves pro-life are also pro–death penalty," a contradiction that's "always struck me as odd," he added. "For believers, either the Big Man calls the shots of who lives and who dies, or we do — which is it?"

The "stunning" part is the scope of the pope's consistent embrace of life. When he was called Jorge Bergoglio in Argentina, Pope Francis "wasn't only a huge opponent of the death penalty, but of inequities of how we treat the living," Cuomo said. "His argument has always been that if you are pro-life, you are pro–all life, equally. So the question for you is, are you pro-life?" If you answered yes, he had some pointed follow-up questions. "The pope is just as strong on respecting those lives as he is an unborn baby," he said. "Are you?" You can watch his entire argument and decide below; Cuomo said he wants your feedback, too. Peter Weber

July 13, 2018

Thursday's House Judiciary and Oversight Committee hearing with FBI agent Peter Strzok "was 10 hours of traveshamockery, a travesty wrapped in a sham wrapped in a mockery — not my word, but it fits," Chris Cuomo said on CNN Thursday night. "You had the angry Republicans who didn't make the case that bias tainted the [Robert Mueller] probe, the high-dudgeon Democrats who have contempt for the other side. But it is Republican Paul Gosar who take the prize for showing this situation at its best — and for that I mean, at its worst." He repeated Gosar's (Ariz.) opening gambit: "'I'm a dentist, so I read body language very, very well.' Is that in the same vein as 'I'm not a dentist, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn last night and I can gladly do your dentures'? Crazy."

"We asked all the big Republicans to come on who were big at the hearing today," Cuomo noted. "None of them came on. They all went on Fox."

Cuomo broke out his whiteboard to detail why he thinks House Republicans failed to make their case against Strzok and their ultimate target, Mueller. For the GOP, "this was more about making allegations than asking anything," Cuomo said. He illustrated the GOP fruitlessness with one "standout moment" in which Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) "made [President] Trump's case that the probe is a 'witch hunt' by attacking Strzok as a philanderer, not a trace of irony on his face." Strzok wasn't "contrite" about his texts, which do show bias against Trump, but House Republicans promised to uncover facts, he said, and in 10 hours, "no proof was offered that Strzok did something acting on bias."

"Here is the big takeaway: There are three facts that work against the GOP, and I don't know they did anything to vitiate or get rid of them today," Cuomo said, running through them. Watch below. Peter Weber

July 11, 2018

On Tuesday, President Trump pardoned two Oregon ranchers serving time for arson on public lands, calling the punishments against Dwight and Steven Hammond "overzealous" and "unjust." The sentencing of the Hammonds was a primary inspiration for the 2016 armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon by scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy's sons and supporters.

"Why does this seem like newfound religion for Trump in siding with the cattlemen?" CNN's Chris Cuomo asked Tuesday night. "Because it is. During the Oregon occupation, Donald Trump, at that time, sided with the government," telling The New York Times that "you cannot let people take over federal property" and "you have to be firm and you have to be strong." So why did the Trump White House side with the ranchers on Tuesday and slam the Obama administration for being firm and strong? he asked. "What's the formula" for Trump's executive clemency, including the controversial pardons of Joe Arpaio, Scooter Libby, and Dinesh D'Souza? "Obama bad, Trump good, and if you are angry and act on it, I will protect you, even if you break the law," Cuomo said. "The message is as obvious as it is ugly." Watch below. Peter Weber

July 11, 2018

President Trump is heading to his NATO summit with a suitcase full of threats for one of America's most enduring and successful alliances. With Trump tweeting and talking trash about NATO, the Senate on Tuesday approved a nonbinding motion in support of the alliance — 97 senators voted in favor, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted no. That overwhelmingly bipartisan support is "as rare as a unicorn" these days, Chris Cuomo said on CNN Tuesday night. And Trump should listen. Cuomo pointed to his whiteboard.

NATO was started in the 1940s to defend the West from Russia and its Soviet Union, and despite what Trump may tweet, NATO has nothing to do with trade and no country pays into a NATO defense budget, Cuomo said. Trump said his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the easiest part of his trip to Europe, and he calls Putin "fine," but Putin "is not fine," he added. Putin's Russia annexed Crimea, shot down a civilian airliner, disrespected the dead victims, is fighting U.S. interests in Syria, and tampered with the U.S. election. Trump "doesn't want to talk about any of these things," Cuomo said. Instead, he's making a "misleading" argument about money.

Trump says NATO countries aren't paying their fair share, but what he's really talking about is their own defense budgets, Cuomo said. U.S. defense spending accounts for 67 percent of NATO's collective $917 billion in defense spending, "but remember, that's on our own defense," he said. "That's a separate situation," and it's worth wondering why Trump's working to "shake the foundation of organization that has kept relative peace for decades." Watch below. Peter Weber

June 22, 2018

First lady Melania Trump's unannounced visit to Texas to visit migrant children locked up in detention centers was "odd" given that "the architect of their despair is her husband, who took them from their parents," Chris Cuomo said on CNN Thursday night. "But then it got bizarro" when she wore a jacket screaming "I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?" to the plane. "I don't care what the first lady wears," he added, but the message was galling and the explanations for why she wore it make absolutely no sense.

"Now, something that makes perfect sense," Cuomo said. "Melania did not go to a facility with young kids. No toddlers, infants, preschoolers." Why not? Visiting teenagers "wouldn't be as shocking, or as troubling, and she had cameras with her and around her, and they don't want you to see the reality," he said. "They don't want you to see the kids crying, to get a feel for their fear and the worries of those who are overwhelmed by this situation, one the president created to make a point — a point that has blown up in his face and forced him to do what he has never done: to back off. But please, don't be fooled — this is far from over."

Cuomo took apart Trump's argument that arresting all migrants is necessary, then he circled back to the young kids, unable to see their moms or even their lawyers, scared and isolated. "I can't believe we aren't better than this," Cuomo sighed. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 15, 2018

It's getting hard to find people — other than Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — who are willing to publicly defend the Trump administration's new policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. Even President Trump (falsely) blames Democrats for his own family-separation policy. So CNN's Chris Cuomo invited Joe Arpaio — the former Arizona sheriff, current U.S. Senate candidate, and convict pardoned by Trump — on Thursday night's show to stand up for "zero tolerance."

"I understand separating the kids from their families," Arpaio said. "What about the thousands and thousands of people I locked up in my 58-year law enforcement, taking the parents out of the houses for drugs or whatever, leaving the kids separated?" "Those were serious crimes, not a misdemeanor of crossing the border undocumented," Cuomo pointed out. Arpaio said that if he's elected to the Senate, he'll work to make the laws "tougher," faulted Central America and Mexico for not stopping people from migrating, and blamed the parents for bringing their kids across the border illegally.

"Now for the kids?" Arpaio said. "I feel sorry for them." Cuomo said if he felt sorry for the kids, why not keep them with their families, and if Arpaio had a problem with young immigrants coming illegally to the U.S. for work, why not go after the "fat cat" factory workers who hire them. "All I'm saying is this, Joe: Why are we being the harshest on the weakest?" he asked. "You know a lot of these people are trying to get asylum, they're fleeing persecution, they're looking for a better life, and they're getting treated like they're all felons when they come across. That's a policy decision — the law doesn't make you have to do it this way." Watch below. Peter Weber