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Trump Revokes John Brennan's Security Clearance; Trump White House Has Zero Black Senior Staffers; Trump Campaign Taking Legal Steps Against Omarosa. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 15, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Thank you, Anderson.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

President Trump yanks the security clearance of former CIA Chief John Brennan. Why? To punish him for criticizing Trump, proving that this president's pettiness extends both to his words and his deeds. And his spokeswoman teased more could come.

Jim Clapper is on that long most unwanted list. Could he be next? The former DNI is here with his concerns.

This is dangerous, no question about it, bad for you and for me. And most of all, remember this, it's a distraction. And it won't work here.

Trump wants to get away from the talk about his treatment of people of color. But it's too important to deflect. So, we have one of Omarosa's fellow "Apprentice" alums joining us. Has she ever heard the president say the N-word?

What do you say? Let's get after it.


CUOMO: A little context. You know how I say here from time to time what we ignore we empower? Well, here we go.

Paul Ryan and other GOP big shots all told us Trump was just trolling us when he threatened to pull security clearances from intel chiefs that he didn't like. That would be too reckless, too petty. He wouldn't do that.

He did. He pulled the clearance from the former top spy for the United States of America, CIA Chief John Brennan. And the White House has a list of nine others who could be next. Those are names that conveniently double as a list of people whom Trump blames for the Mueller probe.

One on that list is former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, our guest tonight.

Welcome to PRIME TIME. Good to have you, sir.


CUOMO: What do you make of the move?

CLAPPER: Well, I think it was, as Mike Hayden indicated earlier, it was petty and vindictive and it was very personal against John Brennan.

But, you know, this is really not about us individually. And whatever intrinsic contributions we're able to make as formers. And, you know, there's a long-standing tradition, that former officials, particularly seniors, would be available for rendering advice, counsel, whatever. I have not, nor has John, had any access to classified information since we left the government.

So I thought the rationale advanced by the press secretary was completely phony. In fact, in a couple of instances, it was factually incorrect. The bigger issue here, Chris, to me is what this implies, the implications of this for the First Amendment.

And the other question I have is, you know, where does this end? What is to stop President Trump from, say, suspending the eligibility for access to classified information of Bob Mueller and his entire team? And they have to -- they have to operate -- they can't operate without access to classified information.

So, it's not about us as individuals so much as what are the broader implications here which I find quite disturbing.

CUOMO: Well, let's look at both. When you were in your active time for government, did you ever consult with the past team, others who had been in government before?

CLAPPER: Oh, absolutely. I did that a lot. I consulted with former DNIs when I served as an agency director twice. We -- I had a regular program to bring in former directors.

CUOMO: So that does have value, then, drawing on past experience.

CLAPPER: I think so. And in my case, I can't speak for the others, I have consulted with certain senior members of this administration. I won't name them for their own protection.

And again, it's not about access to current classified information. What they're interested in is drawing on our history and corporate memory.

CUOMO: So, it does compromise them a little bit, not in terms of disclosing their identity but in terms of compromising the integrity of their efforts. They can't just call you up if you don't have security clearance and start sharing scenarios with you or they put themselves at risk.

CLAPPER: Well, that's true. And I don't want to hype the value of what we bring to the table. And certainly as I said before, the republic is not going to stand or fall based on whether or not I continue to have access to classified information. To me, it's the bigger issue in what this symbolizes --

CUOMO: Right. So, let's look at that. If he president wanted to pull Mueller's security clearance, how easily could he do it?

CLAPPER: Well, pretty easy. I mean, you know, the president --

CUOMO: There's supposedly a process. You just saw him ignore it with you guys.

CLAPPER: Well, the president does have the authority to, you know, exercise here if he so chooses. Now, it's unprecedented for a president so reach down and take such an action on an individual just because he doesn't like what he says, and that's really what this is all about.

And I just think -- again, it's not about retired formers like myself or Mike Hayden or John. It's about what else could be done here. Mueller or ask that members of the intelligence community declare who they voted for. And if you don't vote for me, you don't have -- you don't keep your clearance.

I mean, where does this stop? You know, I'm perhaps exaggerating a little bit here but this is bigger than just -- much bigger than just revoking John Brennan's eligibility or possibly mine or the others.

CUOMO: Well, when you look at the list, what I'm calling the unwanted list of 10 people, it's all about somebody who has some connection to the probe that the president clearly hates. Even though his current intel people are saying it's an important probe, it needs to go forward, we need facts and we need to understand what the Russians did and who helped them.

Putting that to the side, do you believe that that would be the extent of it? He only cares about the probe. Or is that enough exposure to concern?

CLAPPER: Well, that is a common denominator, that we had some connection with -- in my case, the intelligence community assessment that kind of was a catalyst for all the subsequent events that have taken place to include the Mueller investigation. So, if perhaps that's being held against me, I don't know. I suspect it has more to do with my criticism of the president.

I've also looked for opportunities to agree when I agreed with actions that the administration took.

CUOMO: The criticism is you guys aren't supposed to talk. Not that you don't have the right to talk but that it's not right for you to talk. You know too much, you're supposed to be the keepers of the secrets, and you don't politicize your opinions because what you know is too valuable, you should stay on the sidelines. Brennan has flagrantly ignored that directive.

CLAPPER: You know, Chris, I retired from the military 23 years ago, from the Air Force. And when I left then, left the government, it never crossed my mind to speak up or say anything critical of whoever the president was then. But I spent a good part of my life, 50-plus years, 34 of it in the military, defending this country and its values and standards and institutions, which I feel, as do the others involved here, are under serious assault. And this is going to get worse before it gets better, I predict.

And I felt a duty, an obligation to speak up because of that long history of defending these things that I think are extremely important for this country. And sure, at my advanced age, I'd just as soon dance offstage, but I feel a duty and an obligation to speak up. I think John and Mike and others feel the same way.

CUOMO: You can do your dancing on your own time. You've got a lot of gas left in the tank and we need you on this show on a regular basis.

General Clapper --

CLAPPER: Well, the irony, Chris --

CUOMO: Yes, sir.

CLAPPER: -- just one brief comment --

CUOMO: Please?

CLAPPER: -- is if anything, his doing this apparently reflects concern for what we've been saying, and if anything gives us more legs. And I'm sure it's going to help Mike Hayden and me sell more books.

CUOMO: Jim Clapper, thank you very much. Appreciate you being on the show.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right. So, I'm calling it a 10 most unwanted list because that's what it is. We're going to take a closer look at it. And we're going to see why Trump says that these people are bad and then what the facts show, next.


CUOMO: Sarah Sanders rattled off President Trump's ten most unwanted list at the White House today. The first victim of this new brand of West Wing injustice was John Brennan. We told you about him just before the commercial.

Security clearances go through a process, and the removal is supposed to as well. We learned about all of this recently because of problems, ironically, that members of Trump's own team had, like his son-in-law, getting and keeping clearances.

But that was about cause. This is about spite. The former CIA director has regularly criticized the president, including when he called Trump's meeting with Putin in Helsinki treasonous. So Trump now says he's got to go. And he gives a reason.

So what's the reason that he gives with Brennan?

He says Brennan was the root of the phony probe and the dossier. The president knows that is B.S. or he should know. Because the intelligence community did all the fact finding and they do report to him.

Remember, the Russia investigation started in the FBI, not the CIA. OK? Comey was in charge of the FBI. Brennan was CIA. He says he didn't even learn about the dossier for half a year after the investigation started, all right?

So, what does that tell us? It tells us this is just about political payback.

Then, what do we have next? Michael Hayden, OK? You also see him here on CNN. The former director of national security, and the director of National Security Agency, and the CIA director. Those are two really big jobs.

Now, what has he done? He's compared Trump's policies to those in Nazi Germany.

So, his crime? Well, none in terms of the probe. He didn't really play any role in any of the things that we're looking into right now. He just talks too much for Trump.

So, think about that. He is being punished for exercising his right to free speech.

You heard James Clapper say in our last segment, this guy, that when he was in there as director of national intelligence, he used former officials from other administrations to learn, to pick up on leads, to get things faster, to make decisions better. He says he has talked to senior administration officials. He doesn't want to say their name, because who knows what Trump would do to them?

Now, they won't have access to that. How does that make us more safe?

All right. How about Bruce Ohr, OK? Now, what makes Bruce Ohr interesting, he's over here. Bruce Ohr is interesting because he's the only one on this list that's still a government employee. He still works for the DOJ.

What's his connection to the Russia probe? Well, his wife worked for Fusion GPS. Who's that? That's the same firm that hired Christopher Steele, the man who developed the leads, bundled together and now called the dossier. The dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton, OK?

The Nunes memo alleges Steele told Ohr that he was, quote, desperate Donald Trump not get elected. Do we have proof of that? No. But we do have proof that this guy may not be able to do his job as well now because he needed that security clearance.

All right. Who else is on here? Former national security adviser Susan Rice. OK? You see her right here. Now, how is she relevant? Well, you remember when Trump claimed

without evidence that Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower? I know some of you still think that. It's not true.

Listen to Trey Gowdy. He also shot it down.

Now, again, Representative Nunes, he says that some of the campaign officials had been unmasked at the request of an administration official. That's true. Susan Rice never lied about that. She admitted it.

She also says it needed to be done to assess the information. And, by the way, that's exactly why unmasking happens regularly.

Now, as for some of these others, Comey, McCabe, they say they don't have security clearances anyway, and that's not unusual because when you get fired like Strzok and Sally Yates, you lose your clearance. So, the fact they're on the list tells you that this isn't about cause, it's not about how these people dealt with the trust of national security. None has been accused of abusing their access to secure or confidential or classified information. That's the standard.

That's why Jared was seen as a security risk. That's why they have a process with someone like a Rob Porter, Trump's people. But these men and women who serve the country, these two, they (AUDIO GAP) it's just all political payback.

So, those are the facts. And we'll see who falls next.

Now, of course, this is not just about petty politics. It is also about the politics of distraction, for the president to get away from the Omarosa firestorm.

But you know what? What a president says to people of color and about them matters, as is the reality that people of color have no presence on his senior staff. We're going to take that up in our great debate, next.


CUOMO: Zero, the inside of a donut. That is the number of black senior staffers who currently work in this White House. But despite this, Sarah Sanders says the White House is a diverse group of people from all different backgrounds.



SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We value diversity, not just at the White House but throughout the entire administration. And we're going to continue trying to diversify the staff. We have a large number of diverse staffers from various backgrounds, both race, religion, gender.


CUOMO: She also says that the president's comments about Omarosa aren't about race, basically because he's mean to everyone.

So, will this White House actually diversify?

Let's get to the great debate. Ana Navarro and Niger Innis.

Good to have you both.


CUOMO: Niger, why does that explanation work for you?

INNIS: It works for me because regardless of how many blacks or Hispanics he has in senior policy positions, but, of course, we know about Dr. Ben Carson, secretary of HUD that's doing some extraordinary things as a pilot project coming out in Detroit that people should -- kind of like a one-stop shop service facility that's going to be in the heart of inner city Detroit to service the community, very, very creative things that are going on in HUD.

We know that there's a Hispanic secretary of labor, I believe, or commerce. I might have the two conflated. But regardless, look at the policies.

We already know about record low unemployment. We know that the gap, which is normally huge, between back unemployment and white unemployment, good economic times or bad economic times, that gap has been slashed by 40 percent. So, it's at 3 percent. It virtually doesn't exist with Hispanics and whites.

Here's the best part. It was just a few years ago, Chris and Ana, that small businesses were so pessimistic that more of them for the first time since the Great Depression, more of them were closing than opening --

CUOMO: What does that have to do with race?

INNIS: NFIB -- because actually the biggest generator and fastest grower of small businesses, guess what? Hispanic women. You know, the biggest recipient of jobs which comes from small businesses --


INNIS: -- are going to be those that are disproportionately unemployed, blacks and Hispanics. I prefer to focus on policy, not color coding in the White House.

CUOMO: Right. But, Niger, let's be honest. That's convenient for you in this case because he doesn't have any black senior staff members. And the reason you --

INNIS: I'm glad he didn't have one anymore, in particular.

CUOMO: Another piece of proof of him only having the best people around him, right? We were promised only the best. And Wilbur Ross, by the way, is not a Latino. So you know --


CUOMO: Or at least not yet.

INNIS: I mixed the two --

CUOMO: I know. But the reason it's hard for you, Niger, is because he doesn't have anybody in those positions.

Now, Ana, let's bounce the ball back over to you. What does this mean?

NAVARRO: Look, there should always be diversity in a cabinet. It should be representative of America. There should always be diversity in a senior White House staff. It too should be representative of America.

But there also should be diversity of thought. The problem with Donald Trump is, you know, the reason he had an Omarosa there is because he could point to her like he did during the campaign trail and say, look, my African-American there.

It's not enough to have somebody that is black or white or brown or of any color if they are nothing other than rubber stamped. If they are expected to say yes and be yes girls and yes boys to everything that this president says. The secretary of labor, his name is Alex Acosta. He is a Cuban-American from Miami.

INNIS: Thank you, Ana.

NAVARRO: Somebody I know.

And I have been brokenhearted to see that Alex has remained silent and has remained complicit with this administration despite what's happening at the border, despite seeing children of our community treated the way they are treated and put in cages.

So having a rubber stamp, having rubber stamps around you that become complicit in what's going on in this administration, it doesn't matter if that rubber stamp is brown, white, black, blue, yellow, red, you name it. A rubber stamp is a rubber stamp.

And that is why Donald Trump appoints people. He told us that about Omarosa. He put her there knowing the kind of person she was. He hired her four times, because she spoke glowingly about him, defended him, antagonized everybody that did not defend him and did not agree with him, attacked them, while she was there. That's why he put her there.

His only qualification is not color of skin --

CUOMO: Well, we saw that --

NAVARRO: -- it's whether they are willing to bow down and kiss his ring. CUOMO: Niger, that points --

NAVARRO: Among other parts.

CUOMO: -- fair and made beyond complexion, right? Because what we saw with John Brennan today, that's about political payback. That's you say things I don't like about you, I'm going to come after you, use the power I have, I'll pull your security clearance.

Whether it has any practical effect or not, he'll do it. That's what he does.

INNIS: You know, in preparation for coming on your tough show, I scoured the Constitution, in particular the Bill of Rights, and I looked and I looked and I looked again for the right to get security clearance for a former government official.

And guess what? It ain't there. It is not -- that's because it's not a right. It is a privilege.

And it is a privilege bestowed by the president of the United States as a courtesy. It does not have to be extended. And the question --


CUOMO: No, it doesn't. But when is it supposed to be pulled? There's a process, Niger. We just watched people go through it. Ironically, Trump's own, right, who had trouble either getting or keeping their security clearance because they have problems with conflicts in their backgrounds.

They're supposed to be that hey, you don't deserve it because we believe that you're compromised in your ability to keep secrets. That's not what this is about.


INNIS: Well, Chris --

CUOMO: And if you do it to Brennan, who else can he do it to? What if Clapper's right and he says, you know what, Bob Mueller, you want to do the probe, fine, but no security clearance for you either, I don't like what you're doing? Is that OK?

INNIS: Well, Chris, it's one thing for you to be critical of the administration, some of the policies, even the president himself, but the vitriol coming from someone like Brennan has been so palpable --

CUOMO: Does he have a right to speak or does he not?

INNIS: Of course he has the right to speak, but he doesn't have the right to continue to receive the privilege that's bestowed by the president of the United States.

CUOMO: Why should the president punish somebody for speaking out if they haven't done anything to compromise their clearance? INNIS: It is not a question of punish if you're talking about a

right. But if you're talking about a privilege, essentially a favor, a courtesy --


INNIS: -- then the question one might ask is why the hell didn't he take it from him earlier?

CUOMO: Well, what do you think of that, Ana? I agree with Niger that it's not a right to have security clearance but you're not supposed to yoke it just because you don't like what somebody says about you. That's called censorship.

NAVARRO: It's not a right. It's a privilege. It's one that he's folks earned through years, many of them decades of service to the country, starting when they were very young, some of them.

Look, I think it's largely symbolic, Chris. Why? Because like Clapper told us, like Brennan said, they really have not seen classified information since Trump became president. I highly doubt that anybody at DOJ is calling Sally Yates to ask for her opinion or anybody at FBI is calling James Comey because they know that anybody who would call any of those folks on that list would probably put their jobs at risk.

I think those 10 individuals, those 10 Americans should wear being on that list as a badge of honor. The fact that despite risking losing their clearance, despite risking payback and vindictiveness and vengeance from the administration and from the president himself, they had the guts to stand up and put party over anything else, put party over clearance, put party over bureaucracy, tells us everything about them.

I think they are going to come down in history as people that -- not all of them, but a lot of them I think should wear this as a badge of honor.

And look, here's what we know about Donald Trump. He loves to flex his muscle. He loves to be able to do things that he can do because he can do them, right? Whether it's issuing pardons or overturning executive orders. And in this case taking away what is clearance.

I think it's another point where he gives red meat to his base. Look, to me, Donald Trump is the president of the 40 -- you know, the 89 percent of Republicans who support him.

And that's a very small number. That's a minority of the country. But that's who he's the president of. And that's who he does practically every action he takes for.

CUOMO: Niger, do you have any concerns about how else the president might exercise this kind of power?

INNIS: Not at all. The Mueller campaign and investigation has occurred unencumbered. Jeff Sessions has not been fired. No, I have -- I have no concerns.

And let me just give a snapshot of someone we're putting on Mount Olympus, Mr. Brennan, what he said last night. He said that this is the most divisive president in the history of our country. That's more divisive than James Buchanan, who conspired with -- who is alleged to have --

CUOMO: You've got to go back quite a ways, Niger, don't you? You've got to go back quite a ways.

INNIS: How about Johnson, who had the Vietnam War and race riots in the street? How about Nixon with Watergate? Come on.

I mean, there's hyperbole and then there's hyperbole. This is the Brennan that people are making into (INAUDIBLE)

CUOMO: But how do you punish hyperbole in a place that celebrates free speech? That's what's new here.

Usually, we would do it like this. You'd come on and you'd say I think Brennan shouldn't say what he's saying, I don't think it's even close that Trump is the most divisive and that's how we deal with it. We don't usually punish people through the presidency the way we're seeing here. And that's why we debate it.

But, Niger, you know you're always welcome here to debate the case. And, Ana, you're a must.

INNIS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Thanks to both of you.

All right. So, Omarosa joins a long list of former "Apprentice" stars to accuse the president of racism. Marshawn Evans Daniels voiced concerns even before the election. Why? What she wants you to know about the president, next.



DONALD TRUMP, THEN-REALITY TV STAR: Was it Marshawn that didn't want to present or was it Brian that didn't want her to present?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I gave Marshawn ownership of the presentation.

MARSHAWN EVANS DANIELS, CONTESTANT: This would be what happened. That is not --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She dropped the ball.

TRUMP: Marshawn dropped the ball.

Marshawn, you fired. I hate how you let your team down. Out. Go.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: The White House attacked Omarosa and her book with essentially who are you going to believe? It's sad when the president of the United States is in a tough call credibility-wise with a reality TV villain.

So, let's get after it with someone who knows both of these people well and in the world that originally brought them together. Marshawn Evans Daniels is the woman you just saw getting fired as a contestant on "The Apprentice". She's also the author of "Believe Bigger: Discover the Path to Your Life Purpose." Tonight, she's our guest.

It's good to have you. Sorry to replay that bitter memory --

DANIELS: I know, it's been 13 years.

CUOMO: -- but I want people to have some context.

DANIELS: The only time I've gotten fired. That's when I knew that 45 made some bad decisions.

CUOMO: Right. If only it had stopped there.

So, let me ask you, is it just sour grapes for you or do you believe you have insight into who the man is that is now president of the United States.

DANIELS: Well, you know, I have been very vocal leading up to -- in 2016, leading up to the election about my stance on Donald Trump running for president. And let me tell you, when I did "The Apprentice" 13 years ago, I was fresh out of Georgetown Law, I'm 25 years old, I went on that show like millions of others who auditioned trying get on, wanting an opportunity to show what they were made of, to also be mentored by someone who seemed to be a very inspirational figure.

And it really is heartbreaking because I do believe that this presidency could have been great. The idea that you could have been non-partisan, he could have been what we thought perhaps he was. But when the birtherism movement started, which I believe is going to be a catalyst moment for resurrecting racism in America, that's when I started to be concerned.

It wasn't the person that I knew on set but we were on set. "The Apprentice" is a game show. And perhaps he was just playing a game.

CUOMO: Do you believe that he has any racist tendencies in him? Did you ever see anything like that?

DANIELS: I do believe that he has -- well, there's this phrase in the Bible that says: out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks. And I can't judge someone's heart but you can tell a tree by its fruit.

And the fact that he disparages African-Americans, that he disparages Hispanic-Americans, but also he doesn't just leave that to Americans, he has spoken very vitriolously (ph) around people of color around the world. That's something we should pay attention to.

And, you know, Martin Luther King has said that it's not the words of our enemies that we will remember, but the silence of our friends.

And what concerns me are the people who are remaining silent, particularly evangelical leaders in this country who have chosen to stand very close to him. And I think it creates a challenge where we kind of believe -- begin to believe and showcase that Christianity and racism can co-exist and that's dangerous. That's territory that I don't think that the evangelical leadership realizes that we're -- they're crossing into territory that may take us decades to get back from.

CUOMO: Well, also, I think you're seeing what matters most in politicians to certain members of that voting group, which is the ultimate positions, who do they get on the court, what kind of leader do they have in there in terms of reproductive rights or what they just see as abortion. I think that matters more than measuring the man, or at least that's we're seeing demonstrated.

However, Sarah Sanders argues this has nothing to do with race, what he says about Omarosa. Here's her argument.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This has absolutely nothing to do with race and everything to do with the president calling out someone's lack of integrity.


CUOMO: Basically, the argument is it's not because she's black, he's mean to everybody. He's an equal opportunity hater.

DANIELS: Yes. Well, he is a hater. He is aggressive -- I'll put it that way -- when it comes to people who he feels are disloyal and who do not conform with the protocol that is what is required to operate in the orbit, in the ecosystem of the Trump life.

But the idea that this isn't a racial thing I think is just willful ignorance and putting lipstick on a pig, quite frankly.

The reality is that there are certain phrases that when they are directed toward African-Americans it does resurrect very painful memories. My parents, just one generation ago, the same generation that Trump was, in were using segregated bathrooms.

To not have the emotional intelligence in 2018 to understand that, calling a woman of color, a black woman, a dog, that that's not filthy, that's not foul, and that it's not racially insensitive one year from the anniversary of Charlottesville, where a woman lost her life -- to not understand that, and the idea that we keep glossing over it, a lot of people say, well, I don't like what Trump says, I don't like how he says it, but you are willing to allow it.

And we've traded decorum we've traded decency, for power and an agenda.

And, look, I get that there are people all across the aisle who have very strong religious beliefs, I'm a woman of faith. I'm never shy about that. But I also believe that there is a responsibility to speak up because what we're doing is putting a stamp of approval on something that we can't come back from.

CUOMO: So --

DANIELS: And a lot of people are standing on the wrong side of history.

CUOMO: Here's the question for you.


CUOMO: If, just hypothetically, if there were a tape on which the president of the United States, Donald John Trump, used the N-word --


CUOMO: -- or if we were to hear him use it in real time on television, do you think it would matter to his poll numbers?

DANIELS: You know, I don't know that -- it would probably impact poll numbers. Poll numbers --

CUOMO: You think so?

DANIELS: Probably to a certain extent because there's this obsession with the N-word in that it's like this line in the sand that if you cross that line, then, all of a sudden, we have a visible reason to revoke privileges and to cause you to step down.

I don't know that that would happen here. But listen, why do we actually need a tape? I said this when the "Access Hollywood" tapes came out a couple of years ago. Are you not already entertained?

We have someone on tape who is saying things that are vulgar, that are talking about abusing women. We've heard what he has said about African-Americans, calling NFL players SOBs, which is -- there's a deep history of white men in power calling black males SOBs. And there -- we've seen this time and time again.

So, what if there is a tape? I don't -- if I were in Vegas right now, I would put my money on the odds that there were. Like the idea that someone who would call a woman a dog, call Maxine Waters a woman of low intelligence, that he would make statements so cavalier but very -- in a sense of arrogance and entitlement, the idea that he wouldn't is very unlikely.

And so, the question is not whether he said it. It's really not about the polls. It's about the people.

Who are we as a country? Who are we as Americans? Who are we as believers? And what are we going to do about it? CUOMO: Some deep thoughts.

Thank you, Marshawn Evans Daniels. Appreciate it.

DANIELS: Thank you. Glad to be here.

CUOMO: All right. So, this was the subject dominating the news cycle until the White House announced the confiscation of John Brennan's security clearance this morning. Is that a coincidence? No. Just look when the decision was made to pull Brennan's clearance.

But there is one photo you that need to see that puts the move into context. I'm going to show it to you next.


CUOMO: Welcome back.

I didn't mention something earlier because I wanted to use it now. Do you remember the famous Situation Room photo from the night of the bin Laden raid?

John Brennan -- you see in the upper right-hand corner -- President Obama's homeland security adviser taking part in one of the most important operations in American history. That man has now been stripped of his security clearance by a president seeking revenge.

Don Lemon is here.

And this is very interesting because on one level you could easily argue this is nothing. They don't need it. Clapper will say it. Hayden will say it. Brennan may be saying it right now on TV for all I know. We don't use it anymore, it doesn't matter.

But it compromises the people who are in there now in terms of using those men the way they used men who came before them.

And on another level, Don, it means everything.


CUOMO: It means if this president doesn't like what you say, he will come after you any way you can.

LEMON: I'm glad you put up that picture, Chris. And I think you're right about that. But you said it doesn't hurt them.

You know who it does hurt? It hurts the American people and it hurts our safety to have all of these men who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations with so much experience under their belt, the man who was in, on capturing and killing Osama bin Laden, and you don't want that at your fingertips? You don't want their expertise you? You don't want to hear from them?

CUOMO: Now you can't have it.

LEMON: It's short-sighted. It's petty.

And that enemies list we talked about. This is an unofficial one. But we're going to have John Dean on who knows about the original enemies list, and he's going to talk to us about the relevance of that today, how it all seems to be tying back to what we learned about Watergate, trying to silence people who speak the truth.

CUOMO: And for an administration that's trying not to be dovetailed with the Nixon debacle, the fiasco, why would you ever put out an enemies list when you know that that's something that was one of the scarlet letters of that administration? Why would you create a point of comparison?

LEMON: Hey, do you remember the reporter reading the enemies list on CBS and actually read his own name off the enemies list?


LEMON: I wouldn't be surprised if that happened to one of us one day.

CUOMO: Well, I hope not because you know me. I hold out hope that we're going to -- there's going to be a bottom, that you're going to hit bottom and people will start to demand better of the president and that, you know, hey, yes, but the economy's good is not enough to excuse all these things. And, of course --

LEMON: Economy's been good for a long time.

CUOMO: It has. In fact, we're doing something on that tomorrow night. News got in the way tonight.


CUOMO: Also, let's not be distracted. We know there's a reason this was timed for today. That's why I still use my time tonight to talk about what he doesn't want us talking about.

LEMON: Smart (ph).

CUOMO: That's often where the truth lies.

LEMON: Yes, don't fall for the okeydoke. I said that today. This is a distraction, distraction 101.

But it's also a very important story because it is silencing critics. That's not the American way.

CUOMO: Yes, because sometimes distractions are as obvious as they are ineffective.

But that's the weird thing about you, is why did you change your background tonight? New show?

LEMON: What do you mean? No, I didn't change my background.

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: It's the same background, right?

CUOMO: Got you. That's how easily you can be distracted, Don.

LEMON: I know.

CUOMO: That's you why you need me.

LEMON: You need to watch. The show is called "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon.

CUOMO: I watch.

LEMON: It comes on right after yours.

CUOMO: I go home, I look at you, I take meds and I watch the how.

LEMON: By the way, you're the new kid on the block. You should know that. Respect your elders.

CUOMO: I do respect you. You get my respect.


LEMON: People are going to think we're serious.

CUOMO: I'm going to leave you now.

LEMON: I love you, buddy. I'll see you soon.

CUOMO: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Here's our closing argument tonight. It's going to be something I unfortunately have to believe you haven't heard much about. And that is so horrifying. There's a sex abuse scandal that is rocking the Catholic Church, the proportions of which we've never seen before.

And when I tell you why almost nothing is going to be done about it, you will be shocked. That's the closing, next.


CUOMO: Arguably the worst proof of abuse by the Catholic Church to date came out today. And it isn't getting a lot of attention. Isn't that a scary thought?

In fact, it could be argued I should be talking about Omarosa or pulling clearances right now instead of this story. But I think that's really wrong. I think there's time for everything that matters, and this really does.

A grand jury in Pennsylvania issued a report that was nearly 900 pages. 300 predator priests victimized more than a thousand children dating back to the 1940s. And yes, the church, my church, covered it up. Are we really over the abuse of children? Is it because the details

are so terrible?

There's no question the stories out of Pennsylvania are the worst I've ever heard. Clear predation. Grooming. Organized team efforts to prey on kids, boys and girls, some in the hospital or in diapers.

And the church, godless in its apparent indifference in some cases, unholy in its efforts to avoid exposing these bad men to authorities and others. It needs to stop. Everybody says that but you know what they don't say or don't realize? You need to care about it for it to stop.

Because for all the reporting and the movies, "Spotlight" and the outrage, and the calls for change and even action by Pope Francis, right now, the majority of these men named today will not be punished. Can you believe that? Why?

Because for all but two, it's too late to prosecute under Pennsylvania statute of limitations. Many of those named are dead and maybe their punishment in the next life will be worse than anything that can be meted out here as justice. But as for the living, under law, right now, Pennsylvania statute prevents victims of child sex abuse from filing a lawsuit if they've already turned 30 years old or filing criminal charges if they are over 50. And that's not just in Pennsylvania. Dozens of states have similar laws, some giving victims as little as two years from the time of abuse to report it.

First, why put an expiration date on justice? Especially for child victims. We don't do it with homicide. Is abusing kids, as rampant as we now know it to be, not of equal social value?

Supporters of these statutes will say, it's about fairness in the process, that with time, memories get fuzzy, evidence deteriorates, witnesses vanish, it's harder for someone to defend themselves. What about the victims? There's a dozen reasons that the death penalty is a poor process, and yet states allow it, why? Just to bring a victim solace.

So, we will kill someone to help the family of a murder victim, but we won't give the benefit of time to someone who is living as a victim. What kind of social choice is that?

This is where our lack of outrage and sustained attention comes in. We've known about this scandal and many others involving predators finding their way into taking care of kids. How can these laws still work this way?

We know damn well victims of sexual assault most often take time to come forward, if they have the will to do it at all. And with kids, many of them are too young to even fully understand what happened to them, and they've been lied to by these animals to believe nothing bad happened. And by the time they figure it out, the law may exclude them.

So, what is that law telling them? Too bad, you didn't come forward fast enough. You missed your chance for justice.

Look, we know organizations, even religious ones, will protect themselves even if it means they're going to victimize children in the process. That's where the law comes in, that's where you come in. Some of these priests were in New York at some point, and this state where I am wouldn't pass a law to protect kids like these by extending time to prosecute. That is wrong.

And if you don't say that with your demands and your votes, it won't change. When I say #letsgetafter it, that's what it's really about. Please pay attention to this story, demand something better.

Thank you very much for watching.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.