CNN's Cuomo Grills Trump Surrogate Over False 9/11 Claims, Support For “Rough[ing]” Up Protester

Chris Cuomo: “The Reason It's Relevant Is The Guy May Be President Of The United States”

On November 24, CNN's Chris Cuomo interviewed Trump Organization executive and Trump campaign surrogate Michael Cohen regarding Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump's false claim that “thousands” of Arab-Americans cheered in the streets following the 9/11 attacks and the candidate's seeming endorsement of the alleged assault of a protester who disrupted a recent campaign rally. Trump's claim that “thousands” of people took to the streets in Jersey City, New Jersey to celebrate the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks has been debunked and widely criticized. PolitiFact tore apart Trump's statement, saying that it “defies basic logic,” and that "[i]f thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence." From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:

CHRIS CUOMO (HOST): Let's take these one by one. 9/11 happens. Horrible by anybody's reckoning. The idea of celebrating that is inhumane. Donald Trump says he saw it. He believed it. Thousands and thousands. People say no, it's not true. He says, yes it is. Why make a point of something like this?

MICHAEL COHEN: Well, I think what he's doing is he's comparing it now to what-- the terrible tragedy that took place in Paris and what's going on all around the world with ISIS. They are really a group of thugs. They are terrorists. And they're changing the way the world sees Islam.

CUOMO: Bad guys. Anybody who would celebrate something like that, no matter what their faith is, bad people. But, why exaggerate it? Why say --

COHEN: Well why would you that say he's exaggerating it?

CUOMO: Because he said “thousands and thousands.”

COHEN: You know, whether it's “thousands and thousands” or a thousand people or even just one person, it's irrelevant. To celebrate this tragedy, this killing of innocent people, that went to what? To work, right? Trying to enjoy the American dream to earn a dollar. It's wrong and Mr. Trump is making his point. Now, many people have criticized and said well, it's not true. It didn't happen. Washington Post, on September 18th of 2001, did a pretty in-depth story on this exact position and they acknowledge -- Mr. Trump also has millions and millions of followers, as you know, on social media. I can't tell you the number of people that have responded and said I'm from Jersey and I've seen it.

CUOMO: Yes, here's the thing. I know other people have said it. They say it to me on social media. One, that Washington Post article, that was one paragraph in the whole story, the author walked it back, they said the FBI investigated allegations of it, they never substantiated a claim of thousands. The reason it's relevant is the guy may be president of the United States and what Donald Trump says has to be as accurate as it can be, and thousands and thousands is, at best, a gross exaggeration. And if you're going to be president of the United States, don't you have to say it right?

COHEN: The exact number, I don't think anybody can say. If Mr. Trump said thousands, I have to --

CUOMO: “Thousands and thousands.”

COHEN: And I would have to turn around and say that he's probably right.

CUOMO: Probably right?

COHEN: He's probably right.

CUOMO: No, he's probably wrong.

COHEN: No, he's probably right.

CUOMO: There is no way to substantiate “thousands and thousands.”

COHEN: And there's no way to say that it wasn't there. The problem that you have --

CUOMO: Sure there is. They don't have the reports. They don't have any video.

Later in the segment, Cuomo asked Cohen about an incident at a Trump campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama where a Black Lives Matter protester was allegedly attacked by Trump supporters. A day after the altercation, Trump was interviewed on Fox News' Fox & Friends and attempted to justify his supporters' reaction to the protester, saying “maybe he should have been roughed up.” From the November 24 edition of CNN's New Day:

CUOMO: Another point of this that became a flash point, and it's always great to get your head on it, is this guy comes, he protests at the event. Nobody likes when that happens, but that's part of the process, right? He gets beat down at the event. Donald Trump says well, maybe he deserved it? He was doing something terrible --

COHEN: The guy's a professional agitator. Supposedly -- rumors are out there -- of course the internet and social media, the guy's been tazed, what? 30 times. He goes to these various different rallies and he creates all sorts of problems. You know what? It happened. Obviously, nobody wants to see anybody get injured. Nobody wants to see --

CUOMO: That's not what he said, he said “maybe he deserved it.”

COHEN: Well, maybe he did. Maybe he did. He went there to cause a problem. He went there to start a fight. This is nothing to do with Black Lives Matter. This is a guy that's looking for media attention on his own.

CUOMO: I haven't even said the phrase. I'm saying white, black, green, yellow, the guy comes to your event and gets beat up. You should be against the people that beat him up.

COHEN: I agree, nobody wants to see anybody get beaten up. But if the guy goes there for the purpose of creating an issue, he wants to be an agitator at what was a great, you know, great event for Mr. Trump, 14,000 plus people, you know what? That's between the individual who wants to be an agitator and the people that are there to listen to Mr. Trump and to try to see America become great again.

CUOMO: What about their leader? Doesn't he want to inspire people to be their best selves? Or does he want to inspire them to be like whatever the worst agitator that they have come at him?

COHEN: You know what? The guy's an agitator, the guy's looking for a problem. It's like the guy who walks into a bar and he wants to start a fight with somebody and he ends up getting beaten up. You know what --

CUOMO: And as a bartender, you know what I used to do? I used to be like “whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Take him outside. Keep your hands off him.”

COHEN: Beat him up outside?

CUOMO: No, because you want people to be better than what's coming at them.


COHEN: Well, every now and then an agitator deserves it.