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Rep. Brad Sherman (D) California And Rep. Mike Quigley (D) Illinois Were Interviewed About Their Take On The Idea Of Impeaching President Trump; Former Parlor Owner A Bridge Of Chinese Investors To Trump; Who's Visiting POTUS At Mar-a-Lago And Why?; Boeing Is Facing Safety Questions After Second 737 Max 8 Crash In Less Than Six Months; R. Kelly Is Facing 10 Counts Of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired March 11, 2019 - 23:00   ET




As we wait for Robert Mueller's report in the Russia investigation the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill is taking a major tool that Congress can use against the president of United States off the table.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying she does currently support impeaching President Trump despite believing that he's unfit to occupy the Oval Office.

The speaker telling "The Washington Post", this is a quote, "I'm not for impeachment. Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan I don't think we should go down that path because it divides the country and he's just not worth it."

Joining me now is Congressman Brad Sherman, a California Democrat who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman, so good to have you on. Welcome. You introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump that was back in 2017. But now Nancy Pelosi is saying, she said impeachment is not worth it. What's your response to her?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I introduced articles of impeachment long before anyone else, six months into Trump's term because I thought that he had committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

I know that Pelosi said he's not worth it. I think that was a fastidious comment. She has to determine whether the hearings that will be at the judiciary committee will be titled impeachment hearings or just investigatory hearings. And I think either way we need to gather more information about the activities of Donald Trump and his corporation.

LEMON: So, you're saying it's not -- you don't think she believes it's completely off the table at this point, though. She feels that way. SHERMAN: I think she said that she's waiting for bipartisan support.


SHERMAN: That will happen when we get not only the people watching CNN but those who are unfortunately watching Fox at this point to realize that this president has crossed so many lines.

LEMON: OK. Well, let's listen to what else she had to say and then we'll discuss more. Here it is.


NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I just don't believe in it. They wanted to impeach President Bush for the Iraq war. I didn't believe in it then. I don't believe in it now. It divides the country. Unless there's some conclusive evidence that takes us to that place.


LEMON: That was the crux of the other question before. I mean, unless there's some conclusive evidence. Have you seen any kind of conclusive evidence?

SHERMAN: There's conclusive evidence that this president has committed many high crimes and misdemeanors, many felonies. He violated section 1512 B-3 of the Criminal Code when he threatened Comey in order to protect Flynn. He violated it again when he fired Comey in order to derail the investigation of the Russian involvement in our election.

And he did it a third time when he threatened Mueller in order to prevent Mueller from looking at his personal finances. The question isn't whether he's committed felonies and whether they've been well documented because all these things are open and notorious. The question is do we have the political support in the country so that we'd have not only the legal right but the political capacity to remove this president.

We don't have that support yet. And I don't think we'll have it unless new information is presented to the American people. Just because he's crossed the line legally and technically doesn't mean that the people are ready to support impeachment.

LEMON: OK. So then with that said will you continue to push to impeach President Trump?

SHERMAN: I support impeaching President Trump. And I think it's important that we talk about impeaching President Trump because imagine what he would have done in his first two years of office if no one was even breathing a word about impeachment.


SHERMAN: We know that he would have fired Mueller and he would have done dozens of other things. God knows what crosses his mind. And now and then something holds him back. So, it's important that impeachment be on the table. It is legally justified. But it's not politically possible to actually remove the president until we change the thinking of the American people.

LEMON: OK. So, I want to ask you about something else that's very important today. About the White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders today refusing to confirm or deny an Axios report that the president told donors that, quote, "Democrats hate Jewish people." Even though Trump said this to reporters. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party. They've become an anti-Jewish party. And that's too bad.


I will only point that out because I think it's relevant to the story. You are Jewish. You are a Democrat. What's your reaction to those comments?

[23:05:06] SHERMAN: I think having Donald Trump, a man who looked at Charlottesville with Nazis marching and said there are good people on both sides, I don't count on him as a defender of the Jewish people.

I do think that it is important, as Congress has, to repudiate this notion that somehow Jews are loyal to a foreign government. I remember when Jack Kennedy was running for president and so -- and his detractors claimed, he'll be loyal to the pope or to the Catholic religion.

The fact is we are a multitude of different people. We all come from somewhere, except for Native Americans. But we're all loyal to the United States. And anytime someone questions my loyalty or the loyalty of any American, that needs to be rebuffed.

LEMON: Congressman Sherman, thank you for your time.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

LEMON: Now I want to bring in Congressman Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat who is a member of the intelligence committee.

Congressman, I appreciate you joining us here as well. What's your response to what you just heard from Congressman Sherman about impeachment?

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: You know, I tell my colleagues on the far-right you tank the Mueller -- you tank the investigation on Russia and then you halted it and then you tried to shut down Mueller, that's wrong.

But I tell my friends who were filing articles of impeachment over a year ago is had you done that successfully you never would have learned about everything we've learned from Mr. Cohen, Mr. Manafort and other court proceedings. Let special counsel finish his job.

The criminal investigation is taking place right now and the House and Senate select committee on intelligence have just begun their work again, especially the House. We have the gavels now. If you only focus on impeachment, which it shouldn't be, you would have missed your chance.

If your only focus is on impeachment, you've got to recognize you maybe, maybe get one shot at it. But clearly, the American public's voice on this is going to matter a great deal. And you cannot come off as carrying torches to the castle. This is extraordinarily serious. I do believe the president has abused his powers. But I also believe in the process.

LEMON: Let me ask you this, then. Because considering that Speaker Pelosi has says - has said the president, President Trump is ethically, intellectually, and curiosity wise unfit for office. If evidence does exist of wrongdoing why keep someone like that in office if you believe all those things?

QUIGLEY: Well, you're very, very close to an extraordinarily large addition in my mind of evidence toward that end. And that's special counsel's report. In addition, again, the House select committee on intelligence has just started to reopen that investigation. And I think there's real information to be found of the president and those around him wrongdoing.

Again, you've got one shot at this. If you leap ahead before you have that information, you're certainly not going to succeed. And I think more importantly, the American public will never find out fully what took place, what the Russians did and who was involved.

Now, what we know so far is the president was surrounded by people who were committing crimes. We need to know if the president was involved in that. Maybe more important than all of this is -- was American policy influenced by this, Flynn with Saudi Arabia, Cohen telling us about Trump tower in Moscow, Manafort with a Ukrainian peace plan trying to help the Russians out?

These are important things. This can't be rushed. I clearly understand the frustration and anger. But I think we're a lot closer to a lot more information right now.

LEMON: Congressman, you said the American people will never know. You mean if not for the full report? Is that what you're saying?

QUIGLEY: If we're not allowed to complete our investigation -- first of all, the special counsel report will come out, and we're going to learn a lot more. But if the House doesn't complete its investigation --


QUIGLEY: I don't think the American public will fully find out everything because appreciate they are very separate missions, what they're trying to do. LEMON: Do you think -- do you think that this is -- some have said

that Nancy Pelosi is saying this and that some Democrats are taking this stance on not impeaching the president because there's no smoking gun when it comes to the Mueller report. Is that true?

QUIGLEY: No. I think what you're seeing here is a focus on there's a lot of other things to focus on. We can't -- we can't be seen to the American public as a single-issue party --


LEMON: Got it.

QUIGLEY: -- they're only going to try to impeach the president of the United States.


QUIGLEY: There's a whole country to run and a president who I think is unfit for office. And we need to stop his extraordinary policies. That has to be our focus.

[23:10:02] I think that's what you saw with Ms. Pelosi's statements today and her remarks today.


QUIGLEY: Impeachment is clearly out there. But let's get the complete body of information so we know exactly what we're dealing with. Because again, if that's all you're focused on, you maybe get one shot. You'd better have all the ammunition you have.

LEMON: Congressman Quigley, thank you.

QUIGLEY: Anytime. Thank you.

LEMON: Two presidents, two White Houses under siege, and the amazing parallels between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon.


LEMON: Nancy Pelosi making a statement tonight saying President Trump is not worth the trouble of impeachment. But she also argues that he is unfit to lead the country.

Let's discuss now. Max Boot is here, the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Also, CNN Presidential Historian, Mr. Douglas Brinkley.

Gentlemen, good evening. So good to be back. Good to have you on.

[23:14:56] So, Max, Speaker Pelosi says impeachment is not worth it. But you argue that the president has committed crimes, the congressman has an obligation to impeach regardless of what it might mean politically. Right? MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I think speaker

Pelosi is talking in a political sense about what is politically prudent and expedient. And I defer to her on that. I mean, she has a point to say that if the Democrats simply pursue impeachment right now without any bipartisan support it could well blow up in their faces. That's a legitimate point.

But on the flip side of the ledger is the fact that Congress does have a constitutional responsibility to enforce the law and if the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, which I think is more likely than not in this case, what kind of message does that send about our regard for the rule of law if you give the president a pass because it's too politically difficult to try to hold him to account?

I mean, this -- I mean, I know that Nancy Pelosi's aware of these competing imperatives and she is trying to balance them in the best way possible.

But you know, nothing she says should be construed as giving the president a pass to do whatever he wants because the Justice Department has already said that he cannot be indicted, which is questionable. But that's the Justice Department position.

So, if he can't be indicted, and if he can't be impeached, is he king Donald? Is he above the law? What kind of accountability are we going to have for him?

LEMON: That's a very good point. Douglas, historically, has there been a reluctance to impeach the president based on politics? Am I forgetting similar comments from Newt Gingrich maybe, for example?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, you know, I think what's happening for Nancy Pelosi as she just saw what happened to Bill Clinton. That was in her own lifetime. Clinton got impeached by Congress. Got booted to the Senate. He survives and he became a folk hero rising up to, you know, high 70's in public approval after he was impeached.

So, I think for Pelosi from a political point of view she wants to lower the expectations. Perhaps the Mueller report isn't going to be as damning as many on the left hopes it is.

And so, if everybody is banging an impeachment drum and the Mueller report comes out and it doesn't prove collusion with Russia or anything of that sort, meaning Donald Trump is not charged with felonies, then it may not be the issue for the Democrats in 2020.

But I think it would be more about Trump's incompetence than getting into an impeachment proceeding, say, in the fall of '19 when we're running right into Iowa, New Hampshire and the 2020 campaign. But I think Bill Clinton's what's on the mind of Nancy Pelosi and how Clinton was able to elevate himself by being impeached.

LEMON: Yes. I have to give a hat tip to a few of my colleagues here at CNN. Marshall Cohen, Annie Grayer, Tad Yellen (Ph) and McKinney (Ph). And they found multiple similarities between Trump and Nixon discussing the Russia investigation and Watergate. They both talked about firing the people investigating this. Watch this.


TRUMP: Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens. But I think it's really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said you should fire him.


LEMON: The difference is, Max, that Nixon said that in private. Trump said it out loud for the world to hear. But does that difference actually protect President Trump?

BOOT: Well, it shouldn't, Don, but in a weird way, it sorts of seems to because we have seen this playing out in public with Trump making these comments on Twitter and his speeches that Nixon would only make in the privacy of the White House, later revealed on the White House tapes.

And so, because Trump is saying this stuff in public there is somehow some kind of widespread feeling that somehow this is less criminal because he's saying it out in public or he's admitting that he fired Comey to stop the investigation of the Russia thing.

That's not something that we're waiting to a White House tape to uncover. Nixon -- Trump confess id right there on prime time with NBC News. And so, somehow that's inured us to what's going on and because it hasn't all come at once and it has been in plain view, I think there's been a tendency to discount it and say, you know, that's just Trump being Trump.

And I think that is extremely, extremely dangerous because it is very clear to me that what President Trump is doing is just as bad if not worse than what President Nixon did and he needs to be held to account for that.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, Douglas, we know that most presidents have been critical about press coverage at times. Right? But Nixon and Trump are the only ones to label the free press the enemy. Take a listen.


TRUMP: We are fighting the fake news. It's fake, phony, fake.


[23:19:58] TRUMP: A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people. And they are. They are the enemy of the people.


LEMON: What do these comments say about these two presidents, Douglas?

BRINKLEY: It's astounding, the similarities between Trump and Nixon. When Max and I started out in our careers as historians, you know, it was a natural assumption that Ronald Reagan was the defining Republican figure, that Nixon was kind of on the ash heap of history.

You know, he got driven out of the White House in 1974, resigning in disgrace, never really able to rehabilitate himself. But Donald Trump seems to be a student of Richard Nixon, operating in devious ways, trying to destroy the press.

I once wrote a biography of Walter Cronkite, and you would not believe what Nixon tried to do to Cronkite's life. Infiltrate CBS, put plants into rallies to get CBS to turn it into a false news story. Just shenanigans like we've learned about Nixon and Watergate or the Brookings Institute.

Most people saw that Nixon's what you don't do in politics. Trump is a child of Nixon. He saw Nixon as the guy who not only won in 1968 and beat the liberals but won in 1972 in the biggest landslide in American history over George McGovern.

So I promise you when you look at 2020 Donald Trump's again looking at how Nixon did it in 1972 because he doesn't have a historical mind, Trump, but he does have a memory of his own lifetime and he wants to turn the Democratic Party to a hard left candidate like McGovern was and use issues like abortion or, you know, women's rights, demonize the Me Too movement and you know, civil rights, very much taking a page out of the Nixon playbook.

BOOT: And I think actually, you know, Trump is worse than Nixon because Nixon had compensating virtues that he was a foreign policy virtuoso and in domestic policy he was actually fairly liberal.

I mean, he started the EPA. He started OSHA. He did a lot of good things. And with Trump it's hard to see what are the countervailing virtues for all of this villainy, which is in plain sight.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I've got to tell you guys, thank you. And I've got to say don't miss the new CNN original series "Tricky Dick." The series premieres Sunday at 9. I can't wait to see this. Sunday at 9. Tricky Dick.

Ever wonder what the president does during his vacations at Mar-a- Lago? Anybody? Who he talks to? What they talk about. We're going to discuss next.


LEMON: So, we are learning more about the ex-owner of the massage parlor where Patriots owner Robert Kraft is accused of soliciting prostitution, specifically learning more about her connections to President Trump.

The Miami Herald is reporting that Cindy Yang arranged for Chinese business executives to attend a Trump fund-raiser in New York City and Yang now runs a consulting company that promises Chinese investors access to people in Trump's orbit. Joining me now, "The Washington Post's" Philip Bump. Also, Caitlin

Ostroff, who broke the story with the "Miami Herald." Fascinating reporting. Caitlin, thank you. Phillip, thank you for coming on as well.

So, Caitlin, we're going to start with you. Walk us through what you found. Who is Cindy Yang? And what are her connections with the president?

CAITLIN OSTROFF, DATA REPORTER, "MIAMI HERALD": Yes. So, we started looking into inadvertently Cindy Yang after Robert Kraft was busted in the solicitation of prostitutes, prostitution, the massage parlors.

And so, we started looking to see who owned the parlors, who the original owners were, and we kind of stumbled upon Cindy Yang, and then we later looked through some of her social media postings and found all of these connections with President Trump and other high- ranking Republican officials.

She was posting photos with them. And it kind of led us to start asking, you know, how did a former business owner who until recently really didn't have much political history get so into this circle with high-ranking politicians.

And so that's -- the question of who is Cindy Yang, I mean, we know that she was a business owner. We know that she is offering her consulting business, offering to get people into the orbits much prominent politicians, specifically Chinese businessmen, as with a fund-raiser at the end of 2017.

But the jump of how did she get from business owner to in that orbit is still the question that I think we and others are trying to answer.

LEMON: That's a very big question. She seems to have, you know, Caitlin, she seems to have a lot of pictures with people who are in the Trump orbit. Rick Scott, Kellyanne Conway, Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump, Jr. If this was President Obama and his children or advisers, Republicans would be screaming right now.

OSTROFF: I mean, the question is, you know, how did she get that access and how is she getting others that access? And so, one of the things that we learned through a source was that she was bringing in people who were Chinese residents to the fund-raiser at the end of 2017 in New York. It was an RNC fund-raiser. And they -- the RNC has said that people who come into their fund-raisers and who are getting very close access to the president, but the question is, you know, were they paying their own way? Which would be illegal.

Foreign nationals can't contribute directly to a campaign. Or were they being brought in legally through Cindy Yang and not being -- and her not being reimbursed? And so, there's a lot of questions left to be answered.

LEMON: All right. So, Philip, thank you for standing by patiently. Because now I want to bring in talking about your analysis in "The Washington Post". you have looked at how people pay a lot of money to belong to Mar-a-Lago, the president's club.


[23:29:59] LEMON: And what sorts of access they get to President Trump and to people around President Trump. I just want you to listen to President Trump attacking Hillary Clinton on the 2016 campaign trail. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They've made hundreds of millions of dollars selling access, selling favors.

It's called pay for play. And some of these were really, really bad and illegal. If it's true, it's illegal. You're paying and you're getting things.

We've just learned she tried to get $12 million from the king of Morocco for an appearance. More pay for play.


LEMON: So usually it's people say pay to play. But is it -- is this -- is Caitlin's reporting evidence of pay to play for the Trump administration?

BUMP: Yes, I think that it's important for people to consider. We were sort of so used to it by now that we just think, you know, Donald Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago yada, yada, yada.

He's going to a private club, essentially stepping into a black box where no one knows who he's surrounded with except for the fact that they are predominantly people who are clients of Mar-a-Lago, therefore clients of the Trump Organization and therefore people contributing to Donald Trump's wealth directly. But they're also people who come in for various random events, right?

So we see folks like this woman, Yang, in Florida. We see other folks who are associated with Donald Trump through Mar-a-Lago who are able to get access to Donald Trump. I just randomly went on Instagram this morning and was trying to see who was posting photos from Mar-a-Lago and there's a picture that a woman posted of President Trump and her saying, I asked him something and I said something to him about Middle Eastern women.

This is just a random person who happens to be at Mar-a-Lago and who has access to the president of the United States outside of the eye of the media simply by virtue of paying money or being in event that is generating revenue for the president himself. It is a remarkable situation that we sort of let fade into the background noise of the Trump --

LEMON: As I said, we become inured to so many things that are not normal when it comes to this particular administration. I want to put this up, Philip. This is from ProPublica. They published a letter that they have obtained from a dentist friend of Donald Trump who in the letter asked Trump to establish an oversight committee at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The message was sent on Mar-a-Lago letterhead, was addressed 'dear king.' There is a stamp on top that says 'the president has seen' and a handwritten note from Trump to send to and then to the secretary of Veterans Affairs, who is David Shulkin.

BUMP: Right.

LEMON: Is this how policy decisions are made here?

BUMO: I mean, it is, right? I mean, this is literally a friend of the president's writing down on his personal -- the letterhead of his personal club. Do this, you know, I say you should do this thing. That's not the only issue with the V.A.

There's also this report from ProPublica last year where there were three people, rich guys who were Mar-a-Lago members, who essentially worked as a secret head of the V.A., giving instructions, having regular meetings with Shulkin, telling him sort of things he should do, simply by virtue of the fact that they were Mar-a-Lago club members.

And again, I have to reiterate, all of this is happening in quiet. There's a point in time in which advocacy organizations asked for a list of all people who visited Mar-a-Aago so they can check and see who's trying to get influence with Trump.

And the only thing that was turned over was a list of 22 people, all of whom attended Mar-a-Lago with prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe in 2017. They are keeping all of this behind closed doors. We have no idea who is meeting with him, what they are saying to him, what they are asking for, until we get dribs and drabs like the ProPublica report.

LEMON: Dear king.

BUMP: Dear king. What do you say?

LEMON: Ah, thank you, Philip. Caitlin, thank you. I appreciate it.

OSTROFF: Thanks.

LEMON: We are learning more tonight about a plane crash that killed over 150 people. And if you fly at all, you need to hear this. It's next.


LEMON: Boeing is facing new safety questions tonight over its 737 Max 8. That's after 157 people died Sunday on Ethiopian Airlines flight 302. It is the second time in less than six months that one of the planes has crashed within minutes of takeoff. A Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 flight went down over the Java Sea last October, killing 189 people.

I want to bring in now CNN Aviation Analyst and former FAA Inspector, David Soucie. He's the author of 'Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.'

Good to see you. Thank you, sir. I wish it was under better circumstances, of course.


LEMON: Take a look at this graphic. It is from "The New York Times." It is the path of every Max 8 flight in just one week. And you're urging flyers to exercise caution when it comes to the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. That's something that you have never done before. Why now?

SOUCIE: I've never done that before, Don, because I've never seen the reason to do it. In this case, I'm concerned. I'm very concerned. I did receive, though, a copy of the memo from the FAA that just came out a few hours ago, actually. It's called a CONIC, which is the commercial notice to the international community. So it's basically an airworthiness directive for the international community and it was stemmed off and it referred back to the JT 610 flight that was not too long ago, the Lion Air.

In it they had five things that they did. Basically, they issued the airworthiness directive. They said we're going to test everything. We're going to make sure that it's right. We're going to review the maintenance procedures and the operations procedures. We're going to review the bench testing of the angle of attack indicator. And then we're going to return it back to service and we're going to look at updating the manuals.

[23:40:00] They haven't -- that's a lot of looking at and reviewing and checking. You know, that's important stuff. And that puts me a little bit more at ease knowing that that went out to the international community and that every one of these airplanes is required to have that done. But it's not enough. It's still not enough, Don. There are many things that they still need to do to make sure that this aircraft is safe.

LEMON: I want to put up the top three airlines using the plane in North America and again, this is according to the Times. Is it safe to fly these planes?

SOUCIE: Don, you know, let me put it this way. I would go. I would fly these airplanes myself. Would I opt to take a vacation right now and bring my granddaughter with me? Probably not. I would put that off until I know more about what's happening. But I'm going to err on the side of safety. You know me long enough to know that I'm going to do that. But as far as myself, I think that would be an acceptable risk to take on myself. But would I put my whole family on the airplane? I don't think so.

LEMON: So, David, China, Indonesia, Singapore, and Ethiopia have ordered airlines to stop using these planes. Should the U.S. do the same thing?

SOUCIE: I believe they should. I do, Don. I've looked at the -- and people say it's irresponsible of me to say that. I've gotten a lot of grief for saying that earlier today. But here's the situation. I looked at the ADS-B data, the data that comes directly from the angle of attack indicator through this radio system and reports that data back. And that system is available. And I looked at it and it's what we call high definition package, which includes a lot more detail than what you'd find on flight radar 24.

Now, in that data, we have ADS-B recordings of the vertical speed indications. Now, in there, it's very clear that even before the aircraft takes off, even before it leaves the runway, there's three indications, three data points, if you will, that say that the aircraft is climbing at 2,500 feet per minute.

Well, that's impossible. It's on the airfield. It's still on the ground. So these are erroneous indications. And they continue. They continue on out. And if I put that right up against the Lion Air accident, it's the same thing. We see the same kind of indications in that data, that it was erroneous and the pilot was reacting to it and having to fight against it.

LEMON: David, I'm so glad to have you on. Thank you, sir.

SOUCIE: Thank you.

LEMON: R. Kelly faces 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and prosecutors say they have some really damning evidence. His publicist speaks out, next.


LEMON: R. Kelly is due back in court Wednesday in connection with his child support case. He's accused of failing to pay his ex-wife more than $160,000. But he's also charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for allegedly sexually abusing teenage girls. Some women recently came forward in a documentary series accusing Kelly of abuse.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Can you describe the physical abuse?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't really talk about being abused. It brings back memories. It's very painful to talk about it again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He stole my life from me. Being abused like this. And I don't think he understands girls that are young, how impressionable we are, and how traumatic these experiences are. They change you forever.


LEMON: Joining me now is Darrell Johnson, a publicist for R. Kelly. I'm so glad to have you here. Thank you. The world is fascinated with this story, and we appreciate you joining us here this evening. So let's talk about the -- today the mother of Joycelyn Savage said that she is pleading for a face-to-face interview with you to arrange it between her daughter --


LEMON: You say that could happen as early as this week?

JOHNSON: It could happen if all the terms are met.

LEMON: So, can you tell us what the conditions are? What are the conditions?

JOHNSON: Based on the last meeting, I heard that happened. It turned out pretty bad.


JOHNSON: We have maybe one camera, a mediator, not to just let them do what they do, and someone to sit and just listen. And when it's over, perhaps interview each participant there and say, you know, what did you get out of it? And everybody got what they wanted.

LEMON: I want to get that out of the way because that's the newest piece of information in this. Is that the meeting -- there are two families here who've been saying that their daughters are being held hostage. You've reached out to one family. The other family -- you reached out to both. The other family you're trying to get in touch with to arrange a meeting as well.

JOHNSON: I'll get in touch with them tomorrow.

LEMON: OK. He's facing 10 charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. It's after two decades, Darrell, of constant accusations. These women are lying?

JOHNSON: I'm not calling anybody a liar. What I would say is to those people who have brought the facts, their attorneys, present your facts and Mr. Kelly will have his day in court. Now, if I was a judge, me personally, and I thought a guy was a known pedophile over the last 30 years, why is probation even on the table? If this guy is a known pedophile, if he's holding these people hostage, why haven't the doors been kicked in?

LEMON: I think that's a legal process. I don't think that speaks to guilt or innocence.

JOHNSON: I'm not saying that. I'm just saying if a judge over these years thought that this is what it was, you've got enough to indict, just have zero bond.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, speaking of that, he couldn't come up with $161,000 in child support, $100,000 in bail money.

[23:50:02] Who came up with that money?

JOHNSON: Let me say this first. Mr. Kelly walked into court with $60,000. It was about those children. That's what they see it. He said, judge, I have 60 grand. They said, nope, we want 161, 637.18. That's what we want. Not less (ph). He went to jail. But it was about the kids. If this is about the kids, you get those kids at $60,000 and then you work something out. They didn't want that.

LEMON: So who came up with the money?


LEMON: Fans?

JOHNSON: Fans came up with the money.

LEMON: You saw no one you know personally?

JOHNSON: I don't know anybody.

LEMON: No one he knows personally?

JOHNSON: Yeah. Plausible deniability (ph). I know nothing.

LEMON: Does he know who it is?

JOHNSON: I don't think he knows.

LEMON: OK. So, here's -- so, after all these years, when you think it's Remix, Ignition, all of these songs, right, that he has, R. Kelly can't come up with that amount of money?

JOHNSON: You know what?

LEMON: R. Kelly has made millions.

JOHNSON: Michael Jackson made billions. He died broke. Whitney Houston, for what I understand, Tyler Perry had to fly her body and pay for her funeral. This is what I understand. This is what I heard. So, people --things happen. I mean, things happen, you know. R. Kelly is -- he says it, you know, he doesn't read that well. He said that he's not the best writer.

LEMON: So, he mismanaged his money? He spent it all?

JOHNSON: I'm not saying he spent it all. People took advantage of him, too.

LEMON: OK. So, you set up this interview with Gayle King. We all saw this moment right here. I want you to look at this.


R. KELLY, SINGER: Y'all killing me with this (bleep). I gave you 30 years of my (bleep) career.

I hope this camera keeps going.

GAYLE KING, CBS ANCHOR: No, we're going to let the camera keep rolling.

KELLY: This is not true. It doesn't even make sense. Why would I hold all these --


LEMON: SO, is -- what do you think of that? Is R. Kelly in control of himself as a crisis person? What do you think of that moment and the interview?

JOHNSON: If I was facing seven years in the state penitentiary, I'm not going to say I would act like that, but how do you act when you're going to spend the rest of your life in prison? I thought it was a real moment.

LEMON: You think that helped him?

JOHNSON: Well, you know what, we'll see. At the end of the day, people are going to judge whatever they think, anyway. I think the interview needed to happen. I really do believe it. And I think there are several things that happened that followed after that. So, yes, I think it did help him. I don't think the emotions are going so high, but I think he was being himself.

LEMON: I think most people are worried, like, they think, gosh, what is going on? I'm just being honest. I'm not judging either way. But if I look at that, I'm going to say, man, R. Kelly, whew. If you are close to him, you got to be worried about him.

JOHNSON: I'm not worried. I'm a (INAUDIBLE) expert. That's what I do. And so my job is to help my client navigate from point A to point Z to help him understand what is happening. Again, we have to let the facts take us where we go. And right now, you know what, I'm not really -- I'm not really sure I'm hearing a lot of stuff.

LEMON: Can I ask you? The Illinois state attorney's office says that they have video evidence of R. Kelly and an underage girl and there are people who insist it is R. Kelly on the tape and the girl.

JOHNSON: It's called discovery. If you have the tape, release the tape and bring it out. If it's the girl that you say it is, then why is he walking around? Why was there bond? I wouldn't give him a bond. I'm just a practical thinking (ph) person.

LEMON: The families of all these women who say they're being held against their will, that R. Kelly has brainwashed them into staying with him, why would he engage in a relationship like that? Does he have any responsibility, you believe?

JOHNSON: Let me say this to you. I've been with Mr. Kelly for three weeks. Six hours a day. I have a key so I can walk into his apartment when I get ready. I take his phone at will, I go through his phone. I'm with him. Half the time, he's not even there, he's playing basketball or at the lounge, things he likes to do to calm his mind. Those young ladies come freely. I'm there.

LEMON: So, Darrell, you said you've been with him for three weeks.

JOHNSON: He's my client. He's my client. What I'm saying to you is --

LEMON: This has been going on since the '90s. It is almost three decades.

JOHNSON: I can't speak on the '90s. I'm telling you right now what I'm dealing with --

LEMON: The accusations.

JOHNSON: The accusations of these two young ladies in the home with him now are brainwashed, being held hostage, not being fed, in some black room, being told what to say. I've been there and I've not seen that.

LEMON: So, everyone wants to know about the underage girls, right, and then he says, well, he said it wasn't underage girls, just that he likes women. But Aaliyah was 15 or some folks say 14. He never addresses that. You don't address that.

JOHNSON: I don't know Aaliyah. I can't speak on something I don't know nothing about. There has never been any criminal charge brought up against (ph) Aaliyah.

[23:55:02] I've heard a whole lot of things about some other people.

LEMON: But you're representing him. Shouldn't you know about that?

JOHNSON: Should I know about what?

LEMON: About what happened with Aaliyah.

JOHNSON: I'm not an attorney. My job is to deal with what's happening right now. I'm not going to call anybody. But I would say my client has professed his innocence. That's what he's professed. He will have his day in court.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

LEMON: I really appreciate it, Darrell Johnson. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Many studies show that too much screen time can be unhealthy for young people. But our first CNN hero of 2019 is teaming up with hospitals to make screen time healing time is a high school student working off at his parents' basement. Zach Wigal set up to prove that gamers can also be do-gooders. Today, he is making video games a part of recovery for sick kids all across the country.


ZACH WIGAL, CNN HERO: Actually (ph) people believe that video games are hurting (ph) the minds of America's youth. But video games are incredible tool for helping kids find a source of fun and relief during stressful and difficult times. (UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): To people who think that games are just games,

they are so much more than that.


(UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE): We don't have to talk about maybe, say, we can play the game because that's way more cool than having to talk about me being sick.


LEMON: To see Zach and his gaming team in action and to nominate someone you think should be a CNN Hero, go to Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.