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President Trump Rattled By Robert Mueller's July 17 Testimony; Father And Child's Death Shook Everyone; Donald Trump War Of Words With Megan Rapinoe; Remembering Michael Jackson. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 26, 2019 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL REPORTER: Chris, so, I think it's great you share that.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Listen, anything I can do to help, starting with myself. Good doctor, always a pleasure.

Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts now.



CUOMO: Golf clap from D. Lemon.

LEMON: No, that wasn't a golf clap. That was good. That was good one. I'm glad you shared that. I'm really glad you shared that. I will share -- I've shared my story a little bit with you before but I'll share more. But this is about you. I commend you for that. I know that --


CUOMO: No, it's about all of us. It's about all of us.

LEMON: I was dealing with racial profiling event back in the 2000s. In the state of depression, went to a therapist, she prescribed Zoloft. And all of a sudden, I started feeling better. And I was like, why didn't I do this before. Right?

And then there was another incident. Then after my sister died, I actually need to go more. Right? After you deal with death. But, you know, you don't want to do it because you think that in some way people will think you're weak. Right? They'll think lesser of you if they figure out.

But that is actually the wrong attitude to have. And I've told you after Newtown I couldn't, like I've ran to the therapist office. It was all I could do to get that I couldn't get there fast enough.

CUOMO: Yes. What clicked for me was when a friend of mine said, you know, you're such a hypochondriac. If you have a problem you go to a specialist. But, you know, you've been asking yourself why you have dreams that end in abject disaster on a nightly basis. And you're not going to go talk to somebody about it? You're not going to figure out what it is.

And I thought about it. And I was like, yes, because I'm ashamed. And you know, the truth is, Don, and Sanjay and I were talking about this, you should think that people are going to think less of you. They will. That's part of the problem. It is real.


CUOMO: I can't wait to see what fun some fool has with the fact that I told them I go to therapy. You know, I say have at it. Enjoy yourself. Because I think the important thing for our society is to start respecting that vulnerability is strength not weakness. Recognizing what you need is strength not weakness. And men struggle with this mightily.

LEMON: Well, I was getting for the show so I didn't get to see all of your show. I saw a big portion.

CUOMO: Sanjay made a big difference.

LEMON: Yes. Absolutely. Sanjay is the best. Right? Dr. Gupta. I call him. I respect him --


CUOMO: How do you say it?

GUPTA: Gupta.

LEMON: Dr. Gupta.

GUPTA: That is right, yes.

LEMON: Because some people call him Gupta.

CUOMO: Yes. Some people do.

LEMON: No, but I don't know if you guys talked about it. There's a cultural issue with it. There's also a generational issue. I know that within my community, when I told people that I was -- I was dealing with things, they're like, you don't need to go talk to anybody. Just go talk to your pastor.

You don't share your family business. You don't tell all your business. You keep that in the family. You keep that personal. You get on your knees at night and you pray. Yes, that all helps. But that is just one part of the solution. Actually, going to talk to someone who is a doctor for a --


CUOMO: Would you do those things when you hurt your back?


CUOMO: When you hurt your back would you just talk to family, your pastor and pray?

LEMON: Yes, I would do that.

CUOMO: To me, that's the analogy.

LEMON: Part of it.

CUOMO: You do it, right, but you're going to the chiropractor.


LEMON: If you can get your butt out of bed.

CUOMO: That's the same thing.


CUOMO: You got to treat it the same way. I'm happy we took the hour tonight to do it.

LEMON: I congratulate you for doing it. And of course, again, Dr. Gupta is the best. You are too nice job. You did a public service tonight, both of you, everyone who is involved in your show, your entire team. I'll see you a little bit later this evening. We got a long night ahead, sir.

CUOMO: Yes, sir.

LEMON: All right. I'm going to get this show underway though.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And it's true. Seeing something with your own eyes makes it real in a way that reading about it and imagining it just doesn't.

And right now, we're seeing the unmatched power of a picture to show Americans what the immigration debate really looks like. The real -- my gosh. There's the photograph, undeniable human cost, the death of a father, and his not quite two-year-old daughter. Twenty-three months old.

Oscar Alberto Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria who left El Salvador, traveled to Mexico where they tried to cross the Rio Grande. They drowned on Sunday. As his wife and mother Tania Avalos watched helplessly, her mother.

This is a picture so heartbreaking, that it's affected all of us. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Everywhere I went between last night and today. Everyone talked about it. They said they can't un-see this picture.

And it is clear. It made an impression on the president too. But in the face of this tragedy, and others like it, he blames Democrats again and again.


[22:04:58] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Democrats are solely responsible for the humanitarian crisis because they refuse every single effort to shut off the magnets of child smuggling, hard to believe.

The asylum policy of the Democrats is responsible. Because they will not -- they will not change the asylum policy. If we had the right laws that the Democrats are not letting us have those people, they wouldn't be coming up. They wouldn't be trying.


LEMON: Well, the fact is, this is a crisis of the president's own making. No matter how many times he tries to dodge responsibility for the results of his own policies.


TRUMP: A lot of people are starting to realize that I was right when I said we have a crisis at the border. Everyone saying now we had a crisis at the border it wasn't manufactured crisis, which they were saying. It wasn't manufactured at all.


LEMON: So here's the thing that I think that for political expediency the president and his accolades or his apologists will say. Now all of a sudden there's a crisis. When people were saying there wasn't at the border, they were saying in the context of him declaring a national emergency in order to move funds there.

No one has ever said it wasn't humanitarian crisis. That is a talking point for this administration. And they know the difference and for conservative media. They know the difference but they refuse to admit it because it is convenient.

There's always been a humanitarian crisis. But it has been a crisis of his own making, policies of this administration's own making now. There's a distinction there. The way people talk about it now, and then when he wanted to declare, he declared a national emergency.

Nuance, revolutionary, revelatory, nuance, we have seen the tragic results of this president's policies. We've seen it with our own eyes, and so has he.

Like I said, a picture is worth a thousand words. And there's another picture that is sure to get the attention of this president along with millions of Americas. And that is a picture of Robert Mueller sitting in Congress testifying publicly. That's going to happen on July 17. A picture this president really doesn't want to see. But you know he won't be able to look away.


TRUMP: The Mueller thing never stops. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction, there was no nothing. How many times do we have to hear it? This is a disgraceful thing. And now we keep -- I heard about it last night. And I just said does it ever end? At what point does it end?


LEMON: The only time we've heard from Mueller only a month ago. He spoke for just under 10 minutes. But hearing him and seeing him captured our attention in a way the roughly 200,000 words in his report couldn't.


ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL TO U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Two years ago, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.


LEMON: Americans will be on the edge of their seats when the former special counsel testifies. Make no mistake about it. Even if all he does is, he reads his report, if he reads from the report, this must- see TV, even in the White House.

After all, as far as the president is concerned, if it's not on TV, if it's not on Twitter, of course it just didn't happen. That's the way to get his attention. He has staffed his administration with people he sees on Fox News, with people he sees on cable. People he sees on CNN. They end up working for him.

He tweets quotes of what he just seen on TV all the time. After we cover a subject all of a sudden, he'll tweet about it. This is a president who is all about television. After all, he was a reality star before he decided to run for president.

He choreographed his campaign from day one with made for TV moments like the Trump tower escalator ride, right? So probably it shouldn't be a surprise that he is really, really impressed by TiVo, which I should point out went on the market 1999. But the president is still pretty excited about it.


TRUMP: I said you have to see this. It's great invention. It's called TiVo. OK? I don't want to be advertising but you know, it's like better than television. Because television you never see it again. With TiVo you play it back. I played it back.


LEMON: OK, sorry. This is serious stuff. I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt here because maybe he's using it in a way when people talk about copying like they'll say Xerox something even though, you know, it's not being -- whatever. All kinds of people make copiers now. Maybe it's the way that people say Kleenex when they're talking about tissue. [22:09:58] Maybe he means the DVR or maybe he's call him the TiVo. OK?

So, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt in that, but TiVo.

For the -- for the TV president it's a picture worth a thousand words. A picture like this, a picture that's moved the public, and clearly made an impression on the president himself. Will a picture like this led him to change his policies? And also lead Congress actually to get something done and the Senate and all of our lawmakers.

We've got much more to come on the human toll of this crisis at the border and what the president is saying about it. That's next.


LEMON: Every day we hear statistics about the crisis at the border with Mexico. But numbers really don't tell the whole story. It is heartbreaking photograph like this that humanizes desperate situations. People are dying.

Oscar Martinez and his little girl Angie Valeria drowning in the Rio Grande while trying to reach the U.S. Tonight we're learning more about this tragedy.

Here's CNN's Michael Holmes.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: This is the heartbreaking reality of the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. The bodies of a young Salvadoran father Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month old daughter Angie Valeria face down on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande.

Mexican journalist, Julia Le Duc, snapped this gut-wrenching photograph. A little girl in red pants tucked inside her daddy's black t-shirt clinging to him in their final moments.

[22:15:07] Their bodies found Monday morning. Martinez's wife, Tania Avalos in agony, walking behind the stretcher carrying the bodies of her loved ones.

The Mexican newspaper La Jornada says on Sunday Avalos told officials her husband and daughter disappeared in the river. After the three of them went to the American migration office only to discover it was closed for the weekend. And that he decided to cross the river.

He took their little girl over first leaving her on the American side. But when he went back to get Avalos, the daughter jumped in after him. Martinez tried to save her. All the while Avalos watching helpless from the Mexican side of the river.


JOE MARTINEZ, OSCAR ALBERTO MARTINEZ'S FATHER (through translator): When she saw that he and the little girl were being dragged, the little girl waved at her.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOLMES: Sadly, Martinez and little Angie were swept away by the

strong current. The photographer who took the tragic photo says she's seen many drownings but this was unlike any other.


JULIA LE DUC, MEXICAN JOURNALIST/PHOTOGRAPHER (through translator): This should be an invitation to debate and to consider changes on the migratory policies. And for the two governments to ask themselves, what are we doing for the immigrants? Or why in the middle of the despair a father, and head of the family doesn't care on risking his life and his own daughter's life just to try to make it to the other side thinking that he will find a better future but only to find death?


HOLMES: Martinez's mother in El Salvador says she warned him not to make the dangerous journey north. But her son wanted the American dream for his family.


ROSA MARTINEZ, OSCAR ALBERTO MARTINEZ'S MOTHER (through translator): They lived here with me in the same house. So, they wanted to have their own house. And that was what motivated them.


HOLMES: Don, in just the last hour, a local lady came down put that rose on the river bank, said a prayer for these two lives taken on the Rio Grande here. Now Oscar Martinez he was an economic migrant you could say. So many people though are literally fleeing countries like El Salvador for their very lives. And that is why they're willing to take risks like this. And put their families lives at risk as well. Don?

LEMON: Michael Holmes, thank you so much.

Joining me now is Juliette Kayyem and Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Michael D'Antonio is here as well. He's the author of "The Truth About Trump."

Hello to all of you. Thank you so much for joining us. Michael, I'll start with you. You're in the studio. And thank you for the note about this because when I woke up this morning and saw the front of the New York Times as well, I just, you know, I thought about it last night, and then I woke up and there it was in the corner --



LEMON: -- in the heart on the cover of the paper.

D'ANTONIO: For the world. LEMON: Yes.

D'ANTONIO: I mean, this is circulating the world. And this is America's image to the world. This is the country that used to welcome your huddled masses yearning to be free. And now this is what we are.

LEMON: This is what the president said when asked what the photograph of the father and his young daughter made him feel. Watch this.


TRUMP: I hate it. And I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law. They have to change the law. And then that father who probably was just a wonderful guy, with his daughter. Things like that wouldn't happen.


LEMON: So, he says probably was just a wonderful guy. I mean, that's a big difference. Kind of depart (ph) how Trump has talked about immigrants in the past. Here it is.


TRUMP: They're bringing drugs, they're bring crime, they're rapists.

We are bringing in some very bad, bad people.

These aren't people. These are animals.

And in those caravans, you have stone cold killers.

These people were vicious.

I look at some of these asylum people, they are gang members.


LEMON: Is the difference here that there is a picture? I mean, is that -- you know, what turns a migrant from being a threat to our country to probably a wonderful guy?

D'ANTONIO: You know, I don't think there is enough of a difference being expressed by the president. This is a sociopathic policy carried out by a sociopathic leader. And it has the tragic results that we've seen.

Now this a crisis that he created. During his presidency we actually hit a 30-year low for migrant crossings in 2017. But now we're it's escalated again because he's instituted all these policies that are scaring people. They're desperate. They're saying, well, I'm going to go now before it gets even worse.

And you know who was an economic migrant? Donald Trump's grandfather. His father who he forgot was born in the Bronx. He said that he was born in Germany, was the son of an economic migrant. His mother was an economic migrant. So, this is the height of cynicism and cruelty.

[22:19:57] LEMON: Interesting. Max, I want to bring you in. We know images have affected Trump in the past. It has affected the president in the past when he saw the images of the children suffering from a chemical attack in Syria. Remember that? He decided to take action there.

Do you think this image will have a similar impact on the president? I'm wondering that in the context because he keeps blaming it on Democrats. But go on.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, clearly, I mean, the shocking and horrifying image, Don, is galvanizing Congress into action. So, you have had the House and Senate that have passed pretty similar appropriations bills and now the question is ironing out their differences and getting the money to where it's needed on the border.

But is this going to cause Donald Trump to fundamentally reorient his approach to immigration? No way. Because this is the basis of his entire presidency, and really his entire identity is based on vilifying and smearing immigrants and calling them horrible names on which you've just shown.

He's also dehumanized them calling them animals who breed and infest. And this is the kind of direction that the border patrol and other agents of the U.S. government receive from the very top.

I mean, this is, you know, just a few days ago you had an administration lawyer who is arguing with straight face in court that these children should not be given a bed so sleep on or toothpaste or soap.

So, this kind of cruelty is really core to the Trump policy. And so, you may see things get a tiny bit better with the passage of these appropriations bills. But I don't see any fundamental reorientation of Donald Trump's horrifying anti-immigrant stance which translates into these terrible policies at the border of locking children up and putting them into inhumane conditions.

LEMON: Juliette, we're also learning tonight that federal asylum officers have just asked the federal court, a federal court to end Trump's policy of returning asylum seekers to Mexico while awaiting immigration court hearings.

They say it putting lives at risk. Calling it, and this is a quote, "fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our nation and our international and domestic obligations." Is this significant? And if so, how significant is it?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: It is significant only because it is at least, you know, the Trump has been losing a lot of these cases in course -- court.

So, it's a forum in which there will be another argument about whether the returning of asylum seekers who, remember, are doing so lawfully isn't more dangerous than keeping them here letting them stay with family. And figuring out some sort of, you know, family processing policy that would allow them to come in.

But that they still go forward through a court and a proceeding to determine whether they actually should be asylum seekers.

I should say, you know, I'm on the show as sort of, you know, one of the tough people and we talk about national security. I just want to say how disturbing this picture is. And the overall policies in the last week I sort of, have not been able to keep it together on this.

And I think because it is -- so someone who comes from crisis management in homeland security, our obligation in government is sort of singular. And that's something known as family unification. It's because in any crisis or disaster across the world. A tsunami, an earthquake, or flooding, the primary sentiment of anyone is how is my child? It's a thing that animates anyone.

I'm a mother. I have three kids. You know, if you lose one in the shopping mall. Where is my kid? And I think what's so disturbing about this policy it's so inconsistent with how one ought to deal with the crisis, which is you unify people. You do not separate them.

We can deal with the laws whether they are right or wrong or the funding whether it should be this number or that number later. But at the moment of the crisis the only thing that should animate any of us is to bring families together.

And that is our policy for the exact opposite. Just to sort -- it's not -- it's beyond enraging. It's like you can't even get your head around that this is the United States government. This is their policy.

LEMON: Thank you all, a longer conversation to be continued. I appreciate your time.

The president ranting today about the news that Robert Mueller is going to testify publicly in front of Congress and the American people. So, just how worried is he about what the former special counsel will say?


LEMON: Robert Mueller set to testify publicly about his findings before Congress on July 17. Since the news broke last night, President Trump has been on the attack on Twitter and on TV. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Here's the problem. Robert Mueller, they work for him and the two lovers were together and they had text back and forth.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Well how come we haven't seen it all? I mean, you did -- you gave William Barr the authority to --


TRUMP: You know why? Because Mueller terminated them illegally. He terminated the e-mails. He terminated all of the stuff between Strzok and Page, you know.


TRUMP: You know, they sung, you've never seen it. Robert Mueller terminated their text messages together. He would -- he terminated them. They're gone. And that's illegal.


LEMON: OK. So, joining me now to discuss is former FBI General Counsel Jim Baker, and former Federal Prosecutor Kim Wehle. She is the author of the new book. It's called "How to Read the Constitution and Why."

Welcome to both of you. First, I have to do fact checking. Jim, I'm going to go first but let me just give you the facts first. The FBI initially couldn't gain access to texts between Page and Strzok for technical reasons. But the DOJ's inspector general did recover them. They not only informed lawmakers but they published the texts.

Members of Congress read them out loud at Strzok's televised hearing. So, the president is accusing the special counsel of a fairly serious crime with no evidence. Is that correct?

JIM BAKER, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think he is pointing at a different set of texts. Texts that were between the two of them during the time period when he they were working for the special counsel. I think that's what he's trying to say.

[22:29:52] And there was some kind of technical mistake, technical problem. When they transitioned out of their positions my understanding is that the devices were rebooted. Basically, they were wiped and prepared for the use of someone else. But that, you know, that's a technical thing that happened.



BAKER: I beg your pardon?

LEMON: Didn't we end up getting all the texts, meaning --


BAKER: I think there is a body of texts that we did not get. Yes, the Department of Justice disclosed to Congress in an unusual way a number of those texts. But I don't think that was all the ones that potentially existed.

LEMON: OK. We'll just check on that. Did you finish your thought?

BAKER: Yeah. Well, the point is, like, look, there's no evidence whatsoever that anybody committed a crime with respect to the deletion of those texts. It was a technical thing that happened. It was routine procedure. And for the president to accuse Director Mueller of himself somehow being involved in a crime is outrageous. And we shouldn't stop being outraged by those kinds of statements from the chief executive.

LEMON: Kim, I want to bring you in now, because while the president is claiming that he's, you know, being harassed. This is a senior adviser, Jared Kushner, his son-in-law. This is his take. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, I think at this point this whole thing is a waste of time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they did interfere with the U.S. election. The Mueller report did conclude the Russians did interfere. So it wasn't a complete waste of time, was it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I don't think that's why they're calling him. But it's kind of neither here nor there.


LEMON: So which is it? Are they worried or not worried about Mueller testifying? What is it?

KIM WEHLE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think they probably are worried about Mueller testifying, because unlike the text situation we actually have multiple, hundreds of pages summarizing actual evidence, meaning testimony of witnesses and documents. And Mr. Mueller laid it all out in plain English. Not many people have read it because it's overwhelming. So I think having someone of his stature and independence. That's why he was appointed was because he's independent of the Justice Department.

Sit and actually even walk through for the American public, these are the facts and this is the law, because the law has been distorted not just by the president but by the attorney general, the law on obstruction of justice, the law on conspiracy/collusion. I think that would very helpful then people can draw their own conclusions.

LEMON: Maybe this is my -- just my perception, but it appears Democrats are -- they got a lot of -- they're weighing a lot on this, right? They're putting stock in this. Could it backfire on them?

WEHLE: Well, you know, we're -- you mentioned I'm writing -- I wrote a book. The book talks about the separation of power. I liken to a three legged stool. If we have one branch of government that is not functioning, then the stool falls. That's democracy. Democrats right now are the only part of Congress that are set up or situated or interested --


LEMON: I mean Mueller testifying.


WEHLE: I think that would be the kick off potentially to impeachment.


WEHLE: I think his base isn't going to budge. I think for the rest of us we'll learn something. And that's not a bad thing.

LEMON: All right. So Jim, Jay Sekulow, one of the president's attorneys told CNN neither the White House nor the DOJ were planning to block any of Mueller's testimony next month. I mean could they even do that?

BAKER: Well, I mean excuse me. I mean I think they can try. It's a good thing that he said that. I hope they stick to it. We'll have to see. They can try to do it. But look, I mean I think Director Mueller is going to there and answer questions. And if somebody from the administration wants to try to become part of the hearing, I think they are the ones that are going to have to assert whatever privileges they're going to try to assert to stop him.

But there's -- I just really think if Director Mueller -- if he sticks to the report, which he said he wants to do, when he had a press conference. And that's all he's going to talk about. Then I don't know on what basis they could possibly claim executive privilege or anything else. All that's in the public record, and that's, you know, honestly, that's probably all the Democrats are going to get from him anyway.

He's not going to -- I would expect, I would be surprised if he strays beyond really what was said in the report. But we'll have to see.

LEMON: Is it -- Kim, this kind of goes with what we we're saying before. Let's dig in a little bit, because the White House keeps complaining about Congress overreaching, right -- presidential harassment or whatever. And he said this Mueller thing that the Mueller thing never stops. Wasn't the Mueller report a road map to Congress to start investigations? You touched on it a little bit before, but go on.

WEHLE: It had to be, because the -- according to the Department of Justice policy, not a law, cannot indict a president. So if a president commits murder, if a president bilks the Federal Treasury and puts it all in the (Inaudible) in this bank account, presumably there has to be some accountability. If it can't happen through the judicial process, which are prosecutors brings cases before judges, it has to be through Congress.

That's the only option, or we're creating a presidency that's a monarch. Not just a president.

LEMON: You know, Kim, you have got a new book, How to Read the Constitution and Why. And we have heard a lot of talk lately about constitutional crisis. In your opinion, are we there?

[22:34:50] WEHLE: Yeah, I think we are for sure there for the reasons I'm describing. I think we are allowing -- and this isn't just under Trump, but for decades too much power amassed in the presidency and a Congress that's not exercising its mandate and prerogative to check the executive branch on behalf of the voters. The idea behind the constitution is the power is in the people, not in the people in the office.

And certainly, the revolutionaries didn't fight and die to have a more powerful president. They fought and died for the opposite. And here we're talking about protecting someone that needs scrutiny. I mean that's just human nature.

LEMON: I have heard that many times from some very (Inaudible) people on this program. The president has -- not just for Trump, but it's too powerful. And there needs to be more checks and balances. How to Read the Constitution and Why by Kim Wehle and Jim Baker, thank you so much, I appreciate it. Well, he didn't write the book, but I mean Jim, thank you as well.

Both of you have a good evening. The president picking a fight with yet another athlete who doesn't want to visit the White House, his feud with a U.S. woman's soccer star. We're going to talk about that next.


LEMON: So President Trump is getting into a war of words with U.S. women's soccer star, Megan Rapinoe. She was asked if she'll go to the White House if the women's national team wins the World Cup. This is what she told soccer magazine, Eight by Eight is the name.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. Not going to the White House. We're not going to be invited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not going to be invited?



LEMON: So that set off the president who tweeted this. Meghan should win first before she talks. Finish the job. We haven't invited Meghan or the team. But I'm now inviting the team win or lose. Time to discuss now, CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan is here. Christine, here we go again, another dispute between President Trump and a prominent athlete.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Exactly, Don. The difference here, though, is that this is with an athlete who is representing the country right now on foreign soil, in France, trying to win the World Cup. The red, white, and blue, wave the flag, all of that. So this is unusual. This is not an NFL team. This is the U.S. women's national team, which I would argue is the most popular, most successful national team men's or women's.

The U.S. sends abroad from our shores and has been doing that for the last 20 years. So it's a remarkable target that he's picked in this case.

LEMON: One of her teammates, USA defender, Ali Krieger, tweeting her support today, and this is a quote. In regards to the president's tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you. But I standby and Rapinoe -- that's the way it's pronounced in here, the way it's written here in the Twitter account, and will sit this one out as well.

I don't support the administration nor their fight against LGBTQ plus citizens, immigrants, or our most vulnerable. So do you get this sense that this team would even want to go to the White House?

BRENNAN: No, probably not, Don. This is the team that has come after two generations or two decades ago, another generation or two of the 1999 women's World Cup team. Brandy Chastain, (Inaudible) they're very much like that team. They are looking out for much more than themselves, frankly. They're fighting, of course, for equal pay. They have this gender equity battle going on.

And it's not about them. It's very much in, I think, in keeping, Don, with what we're seeing politically in our country with so many women now in Congress and in the Senate. And girl power, whatever you want to call it. So I -- there's no doubt in my mind that they're going to have each other's backs. And for them, it's always been about much more than just soccer.

LEMON: And also, Meghan is very outspoken about the gender -- the equity gap and salary gap and also about, you know, she's one of the first to stand with Colin Kaepernick. So that's a good lead in this question. He also went after the NBA in these tweets today, saying other than the NBA which now refuses to call owners. Owners, please explain that I just got criminal justice reform passed.

Black unemployment is the lowest level in our country's history, and the poverty index is also best number ever. Leagues and teams love coming to the White House. Why is he making this about the -- you know, regardless of the fact check on what he wrote about -- put that aside. Why is he making this about the NBA, too?

BRENNAN: It's interesting, because Megan Rapinoe is also openly gay. And she's obviously very vocal on those kinds of issues. And she did kneel in defense of Colin Kaepernick. So look at what we're talking about here. To your point, a woman who has been defending Colin Kaepernick, talking about what she doesn't know what it's like to be African American, of course, as a white woman.

And yet, she cares about these issues. And then the president brings up African Americans. So, you know, as a sports journalist, I don't know is he playing to his base. Is that where he's going with this? But it is interesting. We're talking Rapinoe, who is openly gay. We're talking about, in this case, that tweet as you mentioned, the NBA and black athletes, African-American athletes.

It is stunning. Why even bring that into a conversation about the soccer team? And why even bring the soccer team in to your Twitter feed at all. (CROSSTALK)

BRENNAN: Right, when they're trying to represent the country and when the nation has fallen in love with this team. This is -- you're picking a fight with moms and dads in red states who love Title Nine. I can make a case there's parents in red states love Title Nine more than parents in blue states. So it's really interesting and quizzical to me why he's even doing this.

LEMON: Christine Brennan, always a pleasure. Thank you.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Ten years since Michael Jackson died. What is his complicated legacy look like now? We'll talk about that.


LEMON: It maybe hard. It is hard to believe. Michael Jackson died 10 years ago this week at the age of 50. The King of Pop's remarkable career spanned nearly his entire life. But what is Michael Jackson's legacy today? His music was groundbreaking, no doubt. But many people are conflicted over the allegations that resurfaced in the documentary Leaving Neverland. That Jackson sexually abused young boys.

Let's discuss now. Kierna Mayo is here and Tre Johnson. I love having conversations with you guys. Thank you so much for joining me. Kierna, I'm going to start with you. Ten years after his death, a few months after the documentary Leaving Neverland, I think it's a tough question.


LEMON: What is his legacy? Michael Jackson.

[22:49:57] MAYO: Don, I was just saying to you I was afraid to come here today to even have this conversation. His legacy can't be reduced to a block of time. We have to talk about his legacy over years and years and years. But what we know today and what we must wrestle with, in my opinion, is what has come out about him. These allegations are so incredibly toxic.

And we are in a world -- you speak of 10 years since the death of Michael Jackson. And I think anyone who has loved Michael Jackson knows exactly where they were 10 years ago. But we are in a world post MeToo. We are in a world where movements have come to the fore that demands that we listen when people say they've been victimized.

LEMON: OK, all right. But let me play devil's advocate here.

MAYO: Please.

LEMON: He was never convicted. He went to court.

MAYO: Granted. LEMON: Never convicted. And then all of this coming out after his

death, he can't defend himself again. So in the eyes of the law...

MAYO: Sure. Certainly, and he's also dead, you know? And I'm not judge and jury.


LEMON: You struggled with it.

MAYO: I struggle. I struggle with it. And I keep coming back to this line, you know, man or woman in the mirror. We've all got to come to this from where we are. And for myself personally, my evolution, my heightened consciousness in the 10 years since the death of Michael Jackson is to learn to look at him as more than just this tremendous figure who has contributed so much art to this world.

LEMON: So Tre, you know, Kierna is not the only one who is conflicted. Michael Jackson fans all over the world, they're conflicted about this. They loved him as a child star. But then he became an adult pop icon, a lot of troubling issue, serious allegations against him. Can we separate the man from the art?

TRE JOHNSON, ROLLING STONE WRITER: I mean, I think people can. I think it comes down to a personal choice, right?

MAYO: Right.

JOHNSON: I echo a lot of Kierna's sentiments. But, you know, for me, I think this is about the idea that you have to grapple with his whole story as a human being. I think people who loved Michael Jackson and feel that his legacy is firmly imbedded only in his music only and his performances. There are people who say, like, that's enough about me. Like, I don't need to hold anything else about him.

But I think I choose to hold both. I choose to hold his full story. So for me, I don't want to separate the man from the artist. I think there is obviously a difference between what Michael Jackson was as a public figure. But as a private man, he did things that we have to keep tied together as his entire legacy.

LEMON: Kierna, I just mentioned your piece here. You wrote a piece just a few months ago called He's Out of My Life, Letting Go of Michael Jackson. You were attacked by Michael Jackson fans, right? That's why you were nervous. Let me just read some of it, OK? You said without knowing exactly when it happened, the person who was once my family in my head began to feel like a stranger.

Over time, protecting my heart from a changing Michael Jackson happened by the sheer force of cognitive dissonance. For years, I ignored the sideshow others were calling Wacko Jacko as much as one humanly could. I separated that Michael Jackson from my Michael and carried on. That Michael from my Michael and carried on. What llamas? What bizarre behavior? What Debbie Roe? What infatuation with little boys?

MAYO: Yeah. And I think we're all guilty of this, I mean --


LEMON: Why do you think you were attacked, though?

MAYO: Why was I attacked?

LEMON: Why are you worried?

MAYO: Well, you know, we don't discuss politics. We don't discuss religion. And we now don't discuss Michael Jackson. He is officially on the list of things that can really break the party up, right? People are vehement about how they feel because the love was so compelling. It was passionate. It was real.

LEMON: But you came to the realization that he wasn't what you wanted him to be.

MAYO: He wasn't what I wanted him to be, because I personally cannot align myself with anyone who has this line of questioning facing them, dead or alive. I don't want that to be my personal legacy. I understand that it's a conflict. And what I write in the piece, what you don't discuss is that I have had a life -- my life in many ways was shaped by Michael Jackson's career.

I mapped out who I thought I was going to be based on the Jacksons. I was going to be the 10th Jackson.

LEMON: Since I can remember, starting with the 45s.

MAYO: Exactly. So I mean many people that enter Michael Jackson's world, you know, from the Bad Album.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, Trey, does -- you know, does race play a part in how folks feel about Michael Jackson today. Like she said, you know, it just (Inaudible) has it been easier to write off other black celebrities like R. Kelly and Bill Cosby who also have huge falls from grace?

JOHNSON: Yeah, you know, I mean I think that's a really, really, really tough question about Michael Jackson. I think, you know, as delicately as you can say things like this, you know, I think one of the things that's unique about Michael is that here is a man whose entire life arc started optically and sonically in one particular place.

MAYO: Yes.

[22:54:58] JOHNSON: Like, he was doing Motown black music. And over time, you know, I think many things about him seemed to transcend his traditional identity. And I think in many ways as we recognize Michael Jackson as being a black public figure, so many things about his life and his appearance changed in a way that distanced himself from a lot of, like, the core community that founded him.

I also think, too, when we talk about R. Kelly and we talk about Bill Cosby, I think what's a little different about the relationship with them is that, one, they present obviously as conventionally, a traditionally black in appearance and in the way that they moved throughout the culture. I also think, too, it's been easier for people to, like, draw the -- find the bread crumbs between what felt like was their public-facing art and contributions, and trace that back to either the contradictions or seeing them as clues as to who they actually were behind the scenes, too. We don't have the same type of crumbs for Michael.

LEMON: Yeah. I'm out of time here. But you have to remember, we talked about this a little in the break. When people say they're going to cancel, they're not going to play the music, or they take the TV show off. Remember, there were other people whose livelihoods are --


MAYO: Absolutely.

LEMON: -- dependent upon, you know, other actors on the show, writers, producers, same thing with the albums, writers, producers, and they count on that money. So you're not just cancelling the artist, you're cancelling the entire culture, the ecosystem around and where people earn their living. So just -- listen, I'm not condoning any of it, but just think about that when you say I'm going to cancel and I'm not going to play the music or violent music anymore. Thank you, both. I appreciate it. That's it for us. Thanks for watching.