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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump's Legacy. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 3, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: All right, thank you, Anderson. We've got much more on major developments in the Russia investigation.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Chris Cuomo in for Don Lemon.

And he's what's happening right now. CNN has learned special counsel Robert Mueller is crossing the president's red line. Remember when the president said it was going too far if the special counsel looked into his finances.

Well, that's where the Russia investigation is headed. The FBI reviewing financial records related to President Trump, his family and the Trump organization.

CNN also learning that Mueller has issued grand jury subpoenas for documents and testimony from people involved in that Trump junior meeting at Trump Tower. The president's White House attorney, Ty Cobb, issuing a statement saying, quote, "The White House is fully committed to cooperating with Mr. Mueller."

Tonight, we're going to ask presidential counselor, Kellyanne Conway about all of this, but first, president Trump weighs in on it all from his rally in West Virginia. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That's all it is.

(APPLAUSE)

CUOMO: Interesting. Are we seeing a presidential pivot making it more about the election? And the democrats not just about the media.

Let's get to CNN's Athena Jones in West Virginia. Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Hi, Chris. That's right. New details and new developments are out tonight that aren't likely to make the president very happy since he has spent months railing against this Russia investigation.

He did so again tonight, coming out on stage here in Huntington, West Virginia, swinging in the wake of this latest news. Just out today that special counsel Robert Mueller has issued subpoenas related to Don Junior's meeting last summer with that Russian lawyer at Trump Tower.

The president coming out spending five minutes blasting this Russia story as a total fabrication and a hoax. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It's just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That's all it is.

(APPLAUSE)

It just makes them feel better when they have nothing else to talk about. What the prosecutors should be looking at are Hillary Clinton's 33,000 deleted e-mails.

(APPLAUSE)

Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign. There never were. We didn't win because of Russia. We won because of you. That I can tell you.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: The president went on to jokingly ask the crowd, are there any Russians here? Then he went on the say that democrats can't beat republicans at the voting booth, and so what they are trying to do is they are trying to cheat his supporters out of the future they want, and out of the leadership they want.

And Chris, I can tell you, this crowd really ate up those words. There are people here -- people who were here who waited hours to get into the building, and this latest tirade signals to us that the president is not planning to change this approach of constantly talking about this Russia story, and investigation that he has repeatedly called a witch hunt. Chris?

CUOMO: Well, being out there with his people is in the president's wheelhouse. Athena Jones, thank you very much.

All right. Joining us now is Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president. Kellyanne, thank you for joining us. I appreciate it.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: It's my pleasure, Chris. Hi.

CUOMO: All right, Kellyanne, let's talk some news of day, and then we can dive into deeper policy discussion.

The two bits of news coming out of the special counsel's office, the first is that the special counsel is using a grand jury that subpoenas have gone out to people and related to documents with respect to that Don Junior meeting. What is your response to those actions by the special counsel? CONWAY: Grand jury proceedings are supposed to remain private, so

it's unfortunate that's not the case here. I would refer you to the statement put out by the special lawyer for Donald Trump, Ty Cobb. He said today he was unaware, and we were unaware of this, but anything that accelerates the process is agreed to by us, and at the White House, and we'll continue to fully comply. That's all we know at this moment.

[22:04:53] CUOMO: And the reason it becomes more intriguing is that on the heels of this reporting, there's a second layer, which is that the special counsel is looking and asking for financial documents related to the president's holdings, and to people who may have had business dealings with the president who may be relevant to the investigation.

The president had said, looking at his finances may be a red line not to cross for the special counsel.

CONWAY: Look, the president has said that Jim Comey, the former FBI director, assured him on three separate occasions that he is not personally a target of any investigation. We know that these types of -- these types endeavors end up being fishing expeditions and they are broadly cast nets, and I would remind everybody that in terms of President Trump, he have said that he has no financial dealings at Russia whatsoever.

He said the Miss Universe pageant which is an annual event happened to make its way to Russia eight or nine years ago. He was there for that, and he just -- his sons have also repeated that the business has no financial dealings with Russia. They do business all over the world, and in this case, you know, again, I think people are just talking about an investigation that exists, but looking for collusion and conclusions that don't exist.

And I like the fact that CNN took about almost a full week off sinking away from covering the Russian so-called investigation. Because, and you know that the polls say that 6 percent of Americans say it's the most important issue to them, but that it consume 75 percent of the coverage.

So I do think Americans are owed full coverage of all the issues. I say it back the economy, jobs, healthcare, certainly national security and the like. And I hope that your network will continue to do that.

CUOMO: Well, you know, we try to cover everything that matters and sometimes you have to cover things even when they are not popular. I mean, these are issues of potential national security. You have to cover them especially in light...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: How is that though?

CUOMO: Excuse me?

CONWAY: How is it an issue of potential national security? CUOMO: Well, I think the efforts...

CONWAY: What is the basis for saying that?

CUOMO: The efforts by and of behalf Russia to interfere in the election, and what they may have tried to, whom they may have tried to cultivate in furtherance of their efforts are very important questions. They have to be investigated and from the president's perspective, he should want them investigated because if he is cleared by the special counsel, that's the best validation he could hope for. Is it not?

CONWAY: Well, so far, he is clear. Let's make very, let's make that very clear, but secondly, the president and his counsel have said repeatedly including today, anything that accelerates this investigation to its conclusion, we're all for, and also everybody has agreed to comply.

Jared Kushner complied last week when he shared the information that he had with the House and Senate officials and then gave a statement right here steps away at the White House.

Obviously, everybody, but look, again. Let's look at the meeting that you are talking about, and the people like to focus on. What came of that meeting? I became the campaign manager two short months later. Nobody said to me, hey, we've got the silver bullet, that the secret weapon on how to beat Hillary Clinton. Here it is. Here's the dossier.

The only dossier we know about is the phony baloney thing that apparently was provided by using Russian money, meant to damage candidate Trump. And look at what Donald Trump has done as president. He is building up the military, we're exporting coal to Eastern Europe, and we took significant and decisive swift action in Syria when Assad was gassing his own people.

None of that was pro-Russia. It's all -- it's all pro-America, and pro-freedom and democracy.

So, I appreciate the fact you're saying you try to cover all the issues. I do respectfully disagree because I think there are so many issues. Yesterday here at the White House, we had a round table discussion with military spouses.

Ivanka Trump, and (Inaudible) and Secretary Acosta, that's a real issue impacting the real Americans. It's not hypothetical. It's not circumspect. It's illusionary. It's real. These military spouses, 92 percent of whom are female, 41 percent of whom have dependent children, as we speak, have a difficult time finding full employment because they move every two or three years.

CUOMO: Very true.

CONWAY: They are highly educated, highly motivated and they should be valued by a work force, and we're doing something about that here at the White House. CUOMO: We know the issue well. I've covered it. There's no question.

One of the things you dealt with in that meeting was about the problems with certification, and when you move from state to state very often, your professional status winds up being undetermined and that's something that military spouses need help with.

It's very important, but it's not an either or. These questions surrounding Russian interference also matter, and all we know really for sure about the meeting with Don Junior is who was there and why Don Junior was interested in going in the first place, which was at the invitation of a potential chance to get bad information from the Russian government about Hillary Clinton.

CONWAY: Well, we actually know more than that. We know more than that. We know what Don Junior has said, we know what Jared Kushner has said and I think came of the meeting. That Jared Kushner had texted an associate and ask him to please get him out of the meeting because it was a waste of time.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Right. We know what they've said. That's true. That those are a couple of sources of information about the meeting, but that...

(CROSSTALK)

[22:10:01] CONWAY: And why don't you believe them, why are you ascribing negative motives, nefarious motives to my colleagues into relatives of the president, but we're not...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: How am I doing that?

CONWAY: ... looking at the evidence we have about -- well, you're saying that's what they said.

CUOMO: Yes.

CONWAY: What is leading us to believe is not true? Again, as campaign manager I never had to go as far as Moscow to find anything negative about Hillary Clinton. I just listen to Hillary Clinton.

CUOMO: I understand.

CONWAY: She was a walking treasure box of (Inaudible).

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I understand.

CONWAY: She had no uplifting message, no optimism, and she didn't even run a good campaign. Even Van Jones, your colleague at CNN said she lit a billion dollars on fire. I agree with him.

CUOMO: But regardless of who won the election and how Hillary Clinton handled herself and handled her campaign, it's all irrelevant to the questions of Russian interference.

CONWAY: That's not true.

CUOMO: Of course they are.

CONWAY: If you want to talk about the election we should talk about it -- no, no, no.

CUOMO: I'm not talking about the election. I don't even think it came out of my mouth until you brought it up.

CONWAY: It's not -- no, this investigation is not about Russian interference. That you know that, right? You're talking, you're conflating too.

CUOMO: I think it is exactly about that. I think one of the reasons that this meeting is so troubling is because what the president had called a hoax, and a witch hunt is now demonstrably not that because Russian people reached out, and not, like, citizens. Not just, like, good people from Russia...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: But I'm asking to what end?

CUOMO: ... but a lawyer of very specific contacts reached out to his son with a solicitation of negative information about his political opponent.

CONWAY: Right.

CUOMO: And then either duped him or whatever happened in the meeting happened.

CONWAY: But we had this conversation for months now.

CUOMO: It shows it's not a witch hunt.

CONWAY: No, no, what happened in the meeting? What do we know happened in the meeting? Again, there is...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We know why we went to the meeting but it's hard to know what happened in the meeting.

CONWAY: No, because you just want to re-litigate something from last -- from last week, you don't want to cover the Medal of Honor recipient this week.

CUOMO: Not true.

CONWAY: You don't want to cover that it's the coal miners getting their jobs back.

CUOMO: Not true. It's not an either or. It's not an either or. And you say why don't I believe Jared Kushner.

CONWAY: It isn't your network.

CUOMO: Why don't I believe Don Junior? One, unfair assumption. I'm not saying that I disbelieve anyone, but you must give a nod to the existence of this fact as well. The initial statement that Don Junior put out with apparently, the help of his father, was misleading at best about what that meeting was about.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: He, well, first of all, he corrected that...

CUOMO: So, when somebody is misleading, it hurts their credibility on that issue. Fair point.

CONWAY: Well, Chris -- Chris, he has corrected that statement or added to it weeks ago, so I do have to respectfully disagree that somehow CNN is covering all types of issues and not just this one where we basically we're having the same conversation we had a few weeks ago, because you're not -- you're not pushing it forward at all. You're re-litigating something that's already the subject of an investigation.

CUOMO: I hear you. But actually I am. I did advance it.

CONWAY: No, no, no. But hold on. But that's not unfair. What came a bit.

CUOMO: You brought me back. I advanced it by what Mueller just said he is doing.

CONWAY: What came of this investigate -- what came of that meeting? That meeting was...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We don't know.

CONWAY: ... completely nothing, and the president himself in Warsaw, I believe at a press conference made very strong statements against interference of any type. But you want your viewers somehow to believe that interference equals impact, and we know that simply is not true.

CUOMO: No. I think that's -- I think that's unfair.

CONWAY: No one with any type -- excuse me. No one with any type of credibility has said that a single thing that happened affected the election outcome, and that is why the election and how the campaigns were run is relevant. There are 70,000 votes in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, and Michigan they were not procured...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I agree that there is no proof...

CONWAY: ... in Moscow, they're procured in Milwaukee, Madison.

CUOMO: ... to date that any tabulations were affected. I have never said reported or suggested otherwise.

CONWAY: Right. But let's keep reminding people that that is not the case.

CUOMO: That doesn't mean these questions don't matter. And what I asked you about initially was not what do you think about that meeting Don Junior had. But it was about that the special counsel suggesting that -- the reporting about the special counsel that's latest, suggests that he is looking into the financial information of people who may have had dealings with the president.

The president had said that's too far. So now that we know that the special counsel wants to expand the investigation that way, what's the president going to do about that?

CONWAY: Chris, the reason the president said that his financials should not be looked into is because of what I repeated to you already, which is he hasn't, he said he has no financial dealings in Russia.

CUOMO: Understood.

CONWAY: The Miss Universe pageant went here, happened and go there. His boys have said, his sons have said, they don't do any business in Russia. But look, I have to respectfully disagree. I think that you want to cover the story with the exclusion of covering the over 800,000 jobs created.

The fact that Dow Jones hit 22,000 yesterday for the first time ever, 31 or 32 record highs now, the fact that the president just today made it easier for veterans to access good care through his health initiative. Probably the fifth or sixth major initiative to help veterans in this country that he's done.

[22:14:53] The 24/7 hot line here at the White House. The Veterans Choice Act where if you cannot access quality, timely care, through the V.A., which most veterans tell us they can't, you can do it in the private -- the private medical world like you and I can.

That you got the Whistleblower and the Accountability Protection Act. So many things that impact real Americans happening here at the White House, that you just don't hear about on your network. And I beseech you to cover all of the above. You keep insisting you are but there's not going to be a single show on CNN tonight tomorrow, or the next day unless you can't the cooking shows whatever the Parts Unknown shows that doesn't feature this Russia, Russia, Russia.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well, that's because that matters.

CONWAY: It matters at CNN.

CUOMO: Not everything is equal. It's not either or.

CONWAY: It doesn't matter to the public. Six percent said it's the number one issue to them but its consumed 75 percent of coverage.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: First of all, even if -- even if that were true...

CONWAY: Aren't you the least bit reluctant to just continue to...

CUOMO: ... popularity does not always equate with news worthiness.

CONWAY: Come on.

CUOMO: These are important questions.

CONWAY: Aren't you just -- Chris, you're a responsible person. Aren't you just the least bit reluctant? Don't you disagree with your colleague Alison Camerota in the slightest bit that there are some strategic about the story line?

CUOMO: I agree with Alison. By definition, whenever she says anything. What did she say, I'll agree with it.

CONWAY: She said something to you, in fact, on a radio show that, you know, you wonder what other news you're missing or what are we going to cover, or what are we not covering today because we're covering this. You've got to feel a little bit of trepidation.

CUOMO: No.

CONWAY: That you are covering an issue...

CUOMO: I don't.

CONWAY: ... that 6 percent of Americans tell pollsters...

CUOMO: I don't.

CONWAY: ... that is most important to them when 75 percent of them...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I cover it because I think it's right. Because I want to know what the Russians did to try to get to the president's son, I want to know. And I want to know that we now understand those tactics and techniques so we can stop it the next time.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: I don't really think...

CUOMO: I want to know what financial dealings may have been used, if any, to try to compromise people around the president, and I want to know to the question I just asked you, will the president do anything with respect to the special counsel if he continues to probe finances connected to the president because he has suggested?

CONWAY: What do you mean will he do anything?

CUOMO: Well, he suggested that...

CONWAY: What does that mean he will do anything?

CUOMO: He suggested that's too far. That's too far.

CONWAY: Right. Because he knows that there is no connection. Because he knows there's no nexus between the two. But let's back up a second.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But what will he do about it now that the special counsel is looking at exactly the area that the president told him not to.

CONWAY: You definitely are spouting out two words for every one I'm giving tonight. But anyway.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

CONWAY: I will just say this to you. Thank you. That if you are so concerned about what family members of presidential candidates get from Russia whether they're involved in Russia, then please explain to your viewers why you're not or never were as a network incensed about Bill Clinton getting a $500,000 speaking fee in Russia, and his wife turning around and giving 20 percent, being part of the 20 percent of the Iranian rights that went to Russian interest. Why you're not at all concerned that...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: We were very concerned. We looked at it throughout at the time.

CONWAY: No. You're not. You're not concern now.

CUOMO: And neither of them is President of the United States that's why.

CONWAY: You actually have evidence of that. Hold on. You actually have evidence of that. If Don Junior had taken a nickel let alone $500,000 from Russian interest for giving a speech in Russia, you would have one of those fancy graphics with neon lights and a hologram of him.

CUOMO: By the way, one of the early indications here was one of the president's sons saying that they have gotten a ton of money from Russia recently in their businesses. I mean, that was not something that was introduced by the media. It was introduced by the family.

CONWAY: Chris, you're just throwing things out there now.

CUOMO: I'm not. I'm just saying that trying to make this...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: OK. Are there any other issues today that animated you, do you think might be worth discussing?

CUOMO: ... what about is about the Clintons, it's just -- Yes.

CONWAY: OK.

CUOMO: I want to talk about something else while I have you as well. The policy that the White House got behind, the proposal to change the criteria to get into this country legally. Not about illegal immigration. Legal immigration. This new merit-based standard that they are thinking about.

And a simple question of just looking at it, as a question of what are our values, who are we here? Is, I don't think you or I are here right now in this country if this criteria set existed when our ancestors came here, Kellyanne. They wouldn't have made it under these standards of having a good income, being able to pay their own healthcare, being highly skilled, speaking English. We wouldn't have been here.

And yet, our people who came from nothing, scraped their way to a better life, and look at us. We're doing OK. Why make that the standard?

CONWAY: Yes, we are. This is because you're equating things that don't belong equated for the following reason. This is a 2017 look at our immigration policy and the effect that it has had. And Congress will need to take this up, we're very happy that Senator Tom Cotton and Senator David Purdue were here at the White House yesterday standing shoulder to shoulder with President Trump as they made the case that when we depress wages for Americans, we are hurting low wage Americans.

We're hurting those who are trying to compete with illegal immigrants for jobs, and low skilled workers for jobs. You see that, you couple that with what the president is trying to do with his apprenticeship program, where he is saying we want to dignify and respect all career choices, all types of jobs in this nation, and we like people to acquire the skills that they need.

[22:19:59] And what you see happening in this country, you can't deny that we're allowing people into this country who are not filling the criteria that you just said about your ancestors or my ancestors where, I mean, some of the Italians in my family had to wait years separated from your families.

They had to come here, learn the language, have a family responsible for them, have a job a way to support themselves, the men lived in, did they call them rooming houses where they lived together for a long time. All they did was work and work and save so that their family members could come here.

And for us to not admit at the immigration system is not broken, the President Trump ran on and is governing on America for American workers. Trying to help those who do want a job to compete. You can't compete with somebody who is willing to take $6 under the table. It's not fair, and it's not fair to the American workers.

CUOMO: OK. The suggestion in response is one, there's a reason there are only two senators there. Many believe that this bill doesn't have a shot because republicans and democrats in the Senate are against it. And one of the reasons -- there are two big reasons they are against it.

One, economists and the economic data do not suggest that immigrants are taking jobs that Americans want. You go to your growers, you go to your farmers, you go to your service industry, you go to Donald Trump and ask them why they are looking for foreign workers. It's because Americans don't do those jobs.

CONWAY: It depends on the industry. I think that, I find that to be very obnoxious, and elite and feat way of looking at things that it's not your original phrase.

CUOMO: You can criticize the suggestion any way you want. The data backs it up.

CONWAY: No, no, no, It comes -- listen, republicans -- excuse me. Republicans and democrats have both said what you just said, and it's offensive. Again, go back -- excuse me, go back...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Republicans and democrats are both saying it, maybe you should listen to them.

CONWAY: Chris, go back to -- no, no, no. They are saying that immigrants are here to do the jobs Americans don't want to do. Illegal immigrants are here to do the jobs. That's very troubling for a very simple reason. Go back to our ancestors. They did jobs that maybe nobody else wanted to do.

Americans who want to support themselves and their families, who are we to say what jobs they would and would not do? That's incredibly unfair to a whole swath of Americans who are out of work and looking for work.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's supply and demand.

CONWAY: You know, many of the experts say that we -- many of the experts say that we are -- we are...

CUOMO: It's supply and demand.

CONWAY: ... we are a nation of labor in search of jobs.

CUOMO: If the Americans were doing those jobs, the immigrants wouldn't come. They wouldn't be needed. They wouldn't come.

CONWAY: That's just not true. CUOMO: They only come here for a better way of life. If it's not available, they wouldn't come. So that's one reason. The second reason is...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Yes, well, they come for a better way of life. That is true for many of them. But Chris...

CUOMO: The second reason is, that it goes to our core values. When we talk about our ancestors, Kellyanne, and I know how proud you are of your family, and how proud they are of you.

CONWAY: I am.

CUOMO: ... for what you've done with opportunity in this country as they broke their backs to provide for you and for me. That promise at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, are not words just added later as Stephen Miller suggested at the press conference. They matter.

Those were the solemn promise of this country to the world. Not that we just take the best of the best. We take those yearning to be free. You know the words better than I do from the poem the New Colossus.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Hey, Chris, we also, but you know, I know you're giving some...

CUOMO: It seems like we're changing that message.

CONWAY: Look, you're giving some sweeping statement about America and patriotism and I totally agree with American patriotism. That's why I'm here frankly, serving in the White House, but let's be honest.

Did you ever get this exercised about the illegal immigrants who were deported many times and have felony convictions that killed people like Kate Steinle? Have you ever felt this impassioned about it? I'm asking a question because you act like everyone is the same, and that's not true, and what the senators and the president were saying yesterday is a merit-based immigration system should be considered as a way to make sure that we aren't keeping wages higher, and we're remaining competitive as American, and in the American work force. People who are looking for work with others.

But you know, there's another senator today who really caught my ear. Late today, Senator Mark Warner, he is a democrat of Virginia, and he said that it was, quote, "disgraceful." We hear agree with him. Disgraceful that conversation between President Trump and world leaders are being leaked.

I hope you agree with me, as an American, Chris, that we can't have leaks of conversations between a president and other world leaders, and feel good about that, and cover the content of those conservations. It should be a chilling effect to everyone today that a president, as senator Warner said, a democrat from Virginia said, often a Trump critic said, you governors, senators, presidents have to able to know that they're having confidential conversations and if not, our national security is imperiled.

CUOMO: Well, look, just don't packed those things. One, nobody likes for, in any way, ignores the fact that somebody would take someone else's life. Whether they are here legally or illegally. This standard is about legal immigration not illegal.

[22:24:59] If people are here illegally and there are laws they must be enforced. people know that. How to enforce them that's up to our leadership, but the standards that we set for who is welcome...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: Are you for sanctuary cities, do you think that's a good idea? Because that means the law is nothing.

CUOMO: I'm not for or against anything. I'm a journalist. I'm not an elected leader. People didn't put me anywhere.

CONWAY: Well, OK, so you're not for the rule of law?

CUOMO: I am for the rule -- of course, I'm for the rule of the law. I'm an officer of the court. I'm an officer of the court.

CONWAY: You're asking for the rule of law. You want to appeal to America tonight.

CUOMO: I'm an officer of the court.

CONWAY: Are you for the rule of law? That's interesting, which is this nation, we're a nation of law.

CUOMO: Of course, of course, we're for the rule of law. But how you enforce the law is the subject of question.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: OK. The rule of law...

CUOMO: And that's one issue but that's not what we're talking about here.

CONWAY: ... the rule of law would say that sanctuary cities should not get grants from DOJ and DHS.

CUOMO: That's fine, but that's not what we're talking about here. This is about the standards for who gets in...

CONWAY: Well, we are talking about...

CUOMO: Well, you brought it up, but my question was, who gets into this country? Who are we? What are we about?

CONWAY: Well, go back to we're talking about Mark Warner.

CUOMO: Who do we invite? And then, yes, to your issue you brought it up.

CONWAY: And that's where we came.

CUOMO: Leaks are something that is always of a concern to somebody who is damaged by them. The President of the United States when he was running...

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: We all are.

CUOMO: ... he loved leaks.

CONWAY: It's not so (Inaudible)

CUOMO: He literally shouted out that he loves WikiLeaks. He wanted them to go find Hillary Clinton's e-mails. So, he was not any defender of confidentiality then. But now he is because he has been aggrieved by it.

CONWAY: I just want to state for the record who mentioned Hillary Clinton again. It's not me.

CUOMO: What's -- no, you start it. But who, what's in that transcript that of concern, that his signature to his base about the wall. He seems to dismiss it's just a political device to the president of Mexico. That's what's in this leaked transcript. He says that the wall is the least important thing we're talking about.

(CROSSTALK)

CONWAY: No, Chris, I think what Senator Warner...

CUOMO: It only matters politically. That's what he said to the president.

CONWAY: .. is saying, I think what Senator Warner is saying today, is absolutely correct me, probably reflects democratic Virginia, he probably reflects the views of many Americans, millions of Americans where you cannot have national security imperiled because somebody thinks they're cute. By leaking confidential conversations subpoena had the state here and had the state -- has a state abroad.

CUOMO: The leak is one issue. The substance of the leak is another, and you know this conversation that you brought up between the Mexican president and the American president is troubling to those who voted for him on the base of his signature promises like the wall.

CONWAY: No, it's not.

CUOMO: When he seems to dismiss it as a political device.

CONWAY: You're going to discover who the Trump voters are now? Wow. OK. I love to take you guys...

(CROSSTALK) CUOMO: I think we know very well who they were and we know how their support for him has waned in recent polls.

CONWAY: They certainly were...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Maybe because he hasn't delivered on his promises.

CONWAY: Undercover Trump voter missing, but look, on this...

CUOMO: What is that supposed to mean? What is that even supposed to mean?

CONWAY: Because you're saying -- because you're telling me that -- that you're telling me that the Trump voters are troubled by elite...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No, I said that the wall was a signature promise that resonated with his base, and led to many votes.

CONWAY: And the president is very committed to it. He got $1.6 billion...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's not what he said to the Mexican president.

CONWAY: That's not true.

CUOMO: Do you want me to read you the transcript?

CONWAY: He got $1.6 billion -- no. He got $1.6 billion for that wall just last week as part of a multi-billion-dollar security package. He believes, I hope you agree, that a sovereign nation has to have borders that matter. With Mexico he's been very tough. He's renegotiating NAFTA, we have a trade deficit with Mexico is not that you believed.

He has warned them that the flow, the never-ending flow of people and drugs over our border are hurting our nation and poisoning our communities. And he is very serious about the wall. He got funding for it just last week. So you know that. You know he is going to stick to that campaign promise.

CUOMO: There's no question that there are problems with what comes across the border illegally. Too many of us have been down there.

CONWAY: So why doesn't it matter enough to you?

CUOMO: It matters. It matters.

CONWAY: So let me ask you a question.

CUOMO: Hold on, hold on a second. CONWAY: Let me ask you a question. It's not illusionary.

CUOMO: Kellyanne, you hit me with a lot of sticks that are often unfair. You just said, why doesn't it matter? OK. I spent my weekends, OK, my time off shooting a documentary about what's going on in New Hampshire, and you know this. I was with the same firefighters that the president took pictures with saying, I'll be there for you, I'll get you more treatment centers, and I'll get you more of this and that, which hasn't happened.

CONWAY: Yes, it is. No, no.

CUOMO: Don't say I don't care. I care deeply. I have covered the issue for years. I know it better than most.

CONWAY: Good. Then let's talk about it.

CUOMO: We got a whole documentary coming out on. And opioids matter.

CONWAY: I can't wait to see it.

CUOMO: The president is saying that he won New Hampshire because it's a drug den, wasn't actually well-received by the governor or the people of that state, and that's another thing that came out in these transcripts. What do you make of that?

CONWAY: And what the president is saying is that this is a crisis. He has been to New Hampshire before saying it's a crisis of epidemic proportions and he's absolutely right. You know, with opioids, something I work on here at the White House every single day, Chris, and it's part of why I'm here, frankly, no state has been spared in a demographically who's been untouched.

I'm sure you saw this on New Hampshire. And the president recognizes it's an epidemic that we have to try to solve.

Talking about a nonpartisan issue in search of bipartisan solutions, I hope we can do that. And very recently, secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price tonight traveled to New Hampshire together. We met with Governor Sununu, we've met here with the two senators from New Hampshire. Both democrats they came here to the White House to have a meeting with Governor Christie who heads the bipartisan commission and I were, we feel like this is an area where we can all work together. We have to cut down on the supply and cut down on the demand.

[22:30:02] There has to be interdiction, prevention, treatment, and recovery. And I will tell you as somebody who had these grieving families cry on my shoulder, I love the fact that we are learning from them. They're so and they suffered so grievously. And I can't even relate.

But we are learning from them how to avoid this for other families in the future. We're talking to first responders. I went to the Manchester Fire Department in New Hampshire and saw the amazing model that they have there, where other -- you've got other, they tell us you have other fire stations and their first responders coming from around the country trying to learn these best practices.

CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: They are doing God's work out there, but they are understaffed and they're under resourced and they are still waiting for help.

CONWAY: We've met with the healthcare professionals. We met with the faith-based employees and we've met with those in treatment and recovery, and that Senate bill, where no democrats would even come to the table to talk about the Senate bill had $45 billion.

In addition to the same sick grants that have been distributed in addition to the private grants that people apply for. I mean, so much can be done on the opioid crisis, but a lot of people are going to have to take off their partisan gear to get this done.

We have heard from governors, 25 governors, lieutenant governors and state health commissioners, and you know what they tell us, Chris, they say that a couple of things are going on. You've got a restriction on the number of beds after which you can get Medicaid reimbursement, we're working on that piece of the regulation.

They also tell us that in many of the medical schools the curriculum does not include overprescribing. In other words, how to prescribe, and so making sure that our very smart physicians and pharmacists who are being trained in many different arenas also understand that they...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: The medicine cabinet becomes the first drug dealer for a lot of kids in this instance.

CONWAY: Yes, it does.

CUOMO: The criminalization of addiction is a problem.

CONWAY: Well, the Fentanyl the Carfentanil coming in.

CUOMO: The resources for treatment and the access and the parody...

CONWAY: They're coming through the postal service. Coming from China.

CUOMO: .... within insurance. They're all real issues.

CONWAY: Yes.

CUOMO: We're studying them very closely. Again, I don't know anybody else who is coming out with a documentary like the one that this news organization is doing.

CONWAY: I very much support to seeing it. I thank you for the time tonight to talk about it because it's just boiling our nation.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You are always welcome to talk about what matters. And in fact, let's end on an up note. There was positive changed as perceived in the White House in the form of General John Kelly as chief of staff. We hear that he is quickly insinuating himself into all matters of importance. What is your perspective on the influence that the general has had so far?

CONWAY: I'm pleased to have General Kelly here as the chief of staff, I'm pleased to report to him. I like the protocol, the idea that there's a paper trail, there's a pecking order, and I do believe that General Kelly is a very accessible individual even as he commands respect and he also shows respect, and that's incredibly important for many leader and manager.

We have had a very good busy week here. There have been many activities here at the White house. The president is on the road tonight as you know, and I believe that General Kelly focuses on both the chief part and the of staff part, and that's not a comment whatsoever on any other leaders and managers that we have had here.

You ask me about General Kelly and what it's like to work under him and I'm answering your question. I also think that General Kelly is a great asset to this president. He is a generational peer, and he comes from President Trump's cabinet, so he knows firsthand and full well how vitally important our cabinet department and agencies are, and how active this cabinet is.

We often don't get the coverage for the men and women who serve in our cabinet and the things that they are doing every single day on behalf of the American people.

CUOMO: Good to hear. Positive change is good news. Kellyanne Conway, it is always a pleasure to have you, discussing what matters to the American people.

CONWAY: Thank you, Chris. I heard that General Kelly is a little bit Italian too. I have to verify that. I don't want you to say I'm lacking credibility if, in fact, he is 100 Irish. But I heard from one of his staffers tonight he is partly Italian. I want to verify that.

CUOMO: Well, that explains it all then, doesn't it? Kellyane, be well. Thank you for being with us.

CONWAY: Thank you. Take care. God bless.

CUOMO: All right. So you just got a good and fulsome sample of the presidential strategy on a number of pressing issues. What are the strengths and the vulnerabilities? We're going to break it all down next. Stay with CNN.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. We do have breaking news tonight. Sources telling CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller is looking into potential financial ties between President Trump and his associates and Russia. That was one topic of the discussion in a wide ranging and energetic interview with presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway. Let's talk about what the strengths are coming out of the White House

and the vulnerabilities. two great guest who will weigh on this. Chris Cillizza, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, and senior political commentator Rick Santorum, former senator and republican presidential candidate. You two are even more handsome at night.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE, CNN: Yes. I've been told that.

CUOMO: We agree on that? Good. We have a quorum, let's proceed. Mr. Cillizza, what did you hear? What pops out and why?

CILLIZZA: The second half of the interview, I actually thought was really interesting and enlightening. The first half of the interview, I just think when it comes to Kellyanne and the Trump White house more broadly as it relates to the Russia investigation, I just, I think the facts sometimes don't comport with what the argument was.

The idea that this investigation is not about Russia and Russia's meddling in the election, that's exactly what it's about. I mean, you can believe it's a hoax, but it is -- no one questions that. The other thing is she said to you, Chris, you know, this isn't -- tell me how it would affects national security.

I mean, again, I don't think it's a partisan statement in any way, shape or form to say if a foreign government is actively meddling in our election, which is a fact that the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the Office of the Director of the National Intelligence all unanimously agree on, with the goal of helping one candidate and hurting another, which again is something that all those intelligence agencies agree on, that that is something that we as citizens would accept that is having to do with our national security.

So, one other quick thing. Kellyanne repeatedly said that we here at CNN don't cover -- 6 percent of people care about the Russia story and yet we devote a lot of time to it. My pushback on that would be, Donald Trump thinks about it a lot, and how do I know that? Because I look at his Twitter feed.

And his Twitter feed is the direct line into what he is thinking and doing in any one moment, and you go through that Twitter feed and you get a ton of Russia. A ton of stuff about the media and how bad we are.

What you don't get is much on opioids. You will occasionally get something about the economy, occasionally something about immigration. But I will tell you and I would say to anyone who supports Donald Trump, go look at his Twitter feed. I'm not -- I'm not fooling you. Russia and the media are what he spends his mind share on.

[22:40:01] CUOMO: Rick?

RICK SANTORUM, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Yes. I couldn't disagree more with Chris on this fact that he makes the comment. You made the comment, Chris, that, you know, this is all about Russia and that its interference in the election. OK. That's great. But most of the media is not talking about Russia, and its

interference in the election. What they are talking about is any rule the president or any of these people may have had in that. So that's a piece of it. I would agree with it. That there's a piece of the story, is how much or if at all, did Donald Trump or any of his network of people have with what the Russians were doing?

But very little is about actually what the Russians did, and how it impacted the election. So -- you can make the case, this is all about the Russians' interference with the election, but no. Really. It's about what did Trump have to do with the Russian interference in the election, and that's where the administration gets a little, you know, hair on fire.

CUOMO: I get you, I get why they are upset about it, Rick. But here's the problem with the suggestion. There is a reason. The why matters here. Why? Because that's what's coming out of the committees. That's what is generating the reporting.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: That's what being leaked by people who want to continue to keep the story.

CUOMO: It's not always leaked, it's often -- it's often work product of good reporting as well, in fact, I might even give a little bit of a nod to the Cillizza and the other people who really muck raking and picking this stuff out. I think they've actually been producing more of it than has been given at them.

SANTORUM: What are they muck raking that has to do with Russian collusion as opposed to muck raking with respect to Donald Trump having anything to do with this?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well, the understanding of -- two things. One, I'll answer your question. You asked me a question.

SANTORUM: Hold on, I haven't seen any stories of any note about what actually Russia did. But I've seen lots of leaks about whether Trump or some people...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Every time we get information about how it was done, it comes out immediately. And it's OK to say, boy, there's a lot of attention on the collusion part. It's fine. But I wonder...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Is it true?

CUOMO: What I wonder if it's OK, is the idea of blaming us for caring about this, it sounds absurd when I hear it, Rick.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: It's not -- no.

CUOMO: Kellyanne, who is smarter than everybody on television right now, questioned whether or not it's even a national security issue.

SANTORUM: It's the preoccupation with the fact to the exclusion of everything else.

CUOMO: But it's not to the exclusion of everything else.

SANTORUM: Well, it is pretty much.

CUOMO: That's bogus and it's bogus on two levels.

SANTORUM: You go back and look -- go back and look the coverage since the media...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: No, you go back and watch my show, and you look at it in the morning, and you tell me that this is all we cover. And I'll buy you dinner wherever you want. The second thing is, Cilizza's point. The president focuses on this more than anybody else.

SANTORUM: Because he watches your show.

CUOMO: So obviously -- he does and we respect the viewership and we find it to be very important. He is always welcome to come on the show as well as watch it. Chris.

CILLIZZA: No. I mean, I actually think the senator, it's a fair point that this -- I do think -- look. What we -- what do we know? If you believe the intelligence agencies, which I do, because I have no reason not to.

What we know is they unanimously agree that Russia meddled in this election, to aid Donald Trump and to hurt Hillary Clinton. What we don't know broadly speaking -- we don't have the full picture of how they did that.

Now, I would argue, and I would take the senator's word for it, but what we're trying to do from a journalistic perspective is we're trying to unveil as much of that picture as we can. Do we know more about it as it relates to the Donald Trump, Jr. meeting in 2016? We do. Do we know if that's 20 percent of it, 5 percent of it, 80 percent of it? We don't.

CUOMO: We don't know.

CILLIZZA: OK. We see one little piece. So, I'm nt...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Chris, I have a question.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

SANTORUM: Chris, the other Chris, Cillizza.

CILLIZZA: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

CUOMO: You've been better.

SANTORUM: OK. So you mention that you know there is a Donald Trump meeting. And other things have been reported about...

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: Don Junior. But yes.

SANTORUM: Don Junior, yes. I'm sorry, Don Junior meeting. What has been reported, and Chris, you said you would answer this, and you didn't. What has been reported in the last three months about Russian collusion that may have had nothing to do with Trump?

CILLIZZA: Russian meddling in the election that had nothing to do with Trump?

SANTORUM: Right.

CILLIZZA: No, you're right -- but I'm not -- I'm not disagreeing with you. I'm saying we know much more that has been reported there.

CUOMO: Right. Which was my point. That's what's come out.

CILLIZZA: I don't get why that -- we don't know how big the picture is. I think it's uniquely possible that it's a much bigger picture and the Trump Don Junior meetings and those sorts of things, Mike Flynn, whatever that is, is 10 percent of it. My point is, we don't know because we don't have the full picture. The only person who has been close to the full picture is Bob Mueller.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: There's nothing's being leaked. That's the whole point.

CILLIZZA: We're trying to find out the fuller picture.

[22:45:02] SANTORUM: No, I understand. But if the Trump piece is, let's take your number, if the Trump piece is 10 percent of the story...

CILLIZZA: Sure.

SANTORUM: ... of what the Russian, you know, interference with the election was, and 90 percent is everything else, we're not hearing anything about the 90 percent is my point.

CILLIZZA: But we don't know. It could be 90 percent the other way. My point is we're trying to unearth as much as we can. I mean, that you may not accept that, and that's OK.

CUOMO: No, I hear you.

CILLIZZA: But I mean, I think we're trying to do what we can. I don't know if it's 90 or 10, we're just trying to take the facts as they come to us, and report on them.

CUOMO: Right.

CILLIZZA: It's hard for me to say, this is 80 percent of it. You have to pay attention to it 80 percent. And this is 20 percent because, frankly, candidly, I don't -- we don't know.

SANTORUM: Right now, zero percent on the other side. That's the point.

CUOMO: But Senator, this is more cleverness than it is clarifying. We're dealing with an unknown. So, to ask us how we define the unknown. We don't know. But you must cover it when it is relevant, and that's really what the job is. These are the important questions. When we learn information you get into it.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: This is the extent...

CUOMO: But I want to ask you about something else.

SANTORUM: Hold on, but just one final point and you can ask me whatever you want. This is the extent of the Russian collusion, what's been reporting of this a few meetings.

CUOMO: But we have no reason to know that.

SANTORUM: If this is the extent of the Russian collusion in the election, we don't have much of a story here.

CUOMO: Well, again, you want to qualify the unknown, and we can't do that. We'll cover it when we get information. That's the job. I want to ask you something quickly though.

Because once again, I'm blessed with a field of ethnics in front of me, and this immigration policy. I have to ask you this, senator. If these criteria were in place, if this was the promise to the world of what got you through the golden door. We wouldn't be here right now. You know your people wouldn't have made it on the basis of this criteria of being able to speak English, having a high paying job, being able to pay their own insurance, being high skilled. What are we doing...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: yes. First off, you're talking to a son of an immigrant. My dad was an immigrant to this country.

CUOMO: I know.

SANTORUM: My grandfather came into this country. You know, look, I'm very sensitive to the idea, you know, to making sure that we have a country that is bringing as you said, you know, quoting the poem, at the Statue of Liberty island, the reality is we have a system right now that is out of the control. I'm talking legal immigration. It's done by chain migration.

In other words, you get into this country because you have a -- because your uncle or your aunt or your niece or your nephew that, you know, got into this county before you. That is not a rational way to bring people into this country.

The idea behind the Cotton/Purdue idea, is people should get into this country not because you have a relative here. That's really not a good basis to bring somebody in. It should be because you want to come into this country, and as you know when you come into this country, you have to sign a document that says you will not be award of the state.

I mean, that's usually not -- usually, I shouldn't say, look, many times that doesn't come to fruition, but the reality is you have to prove that you're capable of coming here on your own merits and enter into this country and can be an addition to this country. That has always been the way.

We have changed over the last 20 years, and as a result of that, immigration has exploded. We have had more immigration, legal immigration in this country in the last 20 years, than any 20-year period in American history we are approaching the highest percentage of immigrant-born population in this country more than even the great wave in the 1800's.

And so, the idea that we want to, hey, wait a minute, take a pause on this, and maybe change the way we structure immigration, and make it more merit-based in the sense that each person on their own, in respect to whether you have a relative or not, it can, it gets into this country, I think to a lot of people makes sense.

CUOMO: To a lot of people, there are only two senators up there for a reason. Right? This is highly unpopular...

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Only three...

CUOMO: But for good reasons.

CILLIZZA: But the truth is...

CUOMO: You have to be careful with your definitions. I don't have the time to get into this now, but I wanted to get the senator on record about it. Because this is going to be a continuing conversation. How we define who we are matters in our values matters not just domestically but to the message to the world. That's what that lady liberty always represented. She wasn't just for us.

(CROSSTALK)

SANTORUM: Well, what number makes -- what number makes... CUOMO: I don't think it's about how many. I think it's about who.

SANTORUM: OK.

CUOMO: That matters just as much. You have to figure out the right level but how you define who gets in. Chris Cillizza, thank you very much. I owe you. Senator Rick Santorum, always a pleasure. Gentlemen, thank you for being with us.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Chris.

SANTRUM: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right. When we come back, H.R. McMaster told Susan Rice that she maintains full security clearance. What does that mean? That she has full permanent access to classified information. So what does this mean for the president who express concerns that she is unmasking Americans? We have answers for you ahead.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right. We got some new information that's raising some very important questions. And we're lucky we have some people with us tonight to answer it. Well, what are the, what's the information?

President Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster is telling his predecessor Susan Rice she will have full permanent clearance to classified information. Why? And what does this mean to any unmasking concerns?

CNN national security analysts Steve Hall and Juliette Kayyem join us. You guys understands this stuff very well. So try, let's try to talk people through why this happened and what this means. Why would H.R. McMaster say this to Susan Rice, Juliette?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: This would be actually he's sort of saying the normal thing, which would be that the predecessor in such a high level would continue to have their security clearance because of legacy issues, the potential to write a memoir, assisting the new team, even if the new team is of a different party.

The natural transitions of national security occurs amongst personnel because obviously our national security threats do not end on inauguration day. And so, in some ways this latter is more significant -- or is not significant because it's telling her she gets to keep the security clearance. It's significant because it undermines everything that Donald Trump, H.R. McMaster's boss has been saying about Susan Rice.

CUOMO: All right. So, Steve, let's speak to that part. So, punitively, is this that if H.R. McMaster is saying you keep it, that means you didn't do anything wrong, it means that this unmasking talk must not be substantiated.

STEVE HALL, NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Well, that's exactly the interesting point and I would agree with Juliette here. This is sort -- it's a bit of fresh air -- sort of a breath of fresh air in the sense that this is how government usually works. But you're absolutely right. Because the real issue here is by implication, you know, what is McMaster saying?

You know, if McMaster is believing what his boss, the President of the United States, Donald Trump is saying about Susan Rice, that there's some sort of horrible problem with unmasking and so forth, then you know, you would think that they would think twice before they extend the privilege of maintaining these clearances.

So the more interesting part of the story actually is, how does McMaster go back and explain this, or you know, was there some sort of a quiet conversation where Trump said, yes, OK, whatever if that's what you guys normally do it, that's fine. So that's the part of this where it's more curious to me.

KAYYEM: Yes.

CUOMO: Well, let's scratch at it a little bit, Julia. I mean, what happened to Nunes investigation? You know, he went rogue with unmasking, right, with his own committee.

KAYYEM: Yes.

CUOMO: And he said I'm going to do it and the rest of the committee wasn't even signed on to it. I mean, that's been bizarre for a while what's going on there, but what does this development mean for his probe of all of this allege wrongful unmasking. Why would H.R. McMaster move to redeem the credibility of Susan Rice if she's part of this probe that's going on with a friend of the White House Devin Nunes?

[22:54:56] KAYYEM: That's exactly I think it's safe to say that Devin Nunes is insignificant, irrelevant and is being ignored by everyone who is acting like an adult in this story line.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But how do you really feel about Nunes' significance?

KAYYEM: Well, look, it's not me. It's the republican Senator Burr who is leading the Senate intelligence investigation who said that was sort of Nunes thing and we're not really caring it. They had Susan Rice come testify and the Burr said, the republican senator said we didn't even ask her about that. That's Nunes' thing.

So, in other words, there's nothing there. Nunes was told information from an NSA staffer. That staffer was fired or dismissed in the last two days. It's clear McMaster with the help of John Kelly, the new chief of staff, is getting the National Security Agency to act like the National Security Agency, that it's not an appendage of Bannon or anyone else.

It is people who are committed to our safety and security whose politics we don't even know most of the time and who are trying to protect you and me from the dangers that we face. So this is a -- this is a refreshing in so many ways.

CUOMO: All right. So let's take one more layer down there, Steve. Which is if any of it is true, that there was so much unmasking that went on during the Obama era, first of all do you agree with that notion? And two, explain to us why it shouldn't be the red flag that many are making it out to be?

HALL: Well, to go after the second question first, I think if there were serious red flag, if there were some significant issues and look, I'm not -- I'm not brushing off the idea that unmasking is not a serious topic, especially if it's unauthorized or done improperly. It's difficult to do that because there's lot of layers of review that go into that.

But if it really were that red flag, I think you're absolutely right, the implication that McMaster would simply say yes, OK, whatever, you know, Rice, you can go ahead and have it. That's an indication right there that it's not such -- not such a big deal. But you know, unmasking, if it were not done properly could be a big issue.

I have yet to see anything serious that indicates that there was some sort of problem either with Rice or with anybody else who had access and who had the ability to say I would like this piece of information, that name unmasked. I have yet to see it.

It's much more likely it would seem to me that the administration wants to draw our attention to a potentially serious topic if unmasking was done, as opposed to looking at the real problem which is what was the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians before the election?

CUOMO: Philip Mudd, a CIA and FBI former official whom we all know and love, every time unmasking comes up, he sends me a nasty message that I wasn't strong enough in making a point, Juliette that unmasking happens all the time. And that it has been made into a boogie man and it is a big red herring and that that's what you do.

KAYYEM: Right.

CUOMO: Is that you try to find out who's involved. What you do with that information is an entirely separate issue and subject for review. But the idea that someone unmasked a lot is only impressive to people who don't know what they're talking about. Do you agree and why?

KAYYEM: I always agree with Phil Mudd.

CUOMO: I do not. So tell me why you do.

KAYYEM: No, and at least in this instance is for two reasons. One is because the law is clear and it allows for unmasking. So let put it this, the law allows for unmasking. It recognizes that it may be necessary, either because a crime is being committed or because to understand the totality of the intelligence, you need to know who the person is, right?

And this has to do with what Steve was saying about the investigation into Russia. So, the law recognizes it as a right and as an important authority for national security officials to know and so that's why -- that's why in this instance I will agree with Phil Mudd.

CUOMO: Juliette Kayyem, Steve hall, thank you for helping us understand this better. I appreciate it.

We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, more on tonight's big developments in the Russia investigation. A grand jury is impanelled. Subpoenas have been issued over Donald Trump, Jr.'s now infamous meeting at Trump Tower. Investigators are also examining financial documents related to the president, his family and the Trump organization. We're going to show you how the president is responding. Remember he said messing with his money is going too far. His response tonight.