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U.S. Women's Soccer Team Demands Equal Pay after Stunning World Cup Victory; Interview with Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA); Billionaire Jeffrey Epstein Accused of Sex Trafficking Minors. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 7, 2019 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Today's two-nothing victory against the Netherlands proved Team USA is the most dominant women's soccer team in a generation, and the athletes say they deserve to get paid as much as their male counterparts. Something their wildly excited fans are also demanding.


CROWD: Equal pay! Equal pay! Equal pay! Equal pay! Equal pay!


CABRERA: Also, there's a new twist in that feud between team captain Megan Rapinoe and President Trump. Rapinoe firing the first shot weeks ago declaring there was zero chance she was visiting the White House, and Trump firing back, maybe Rapinoe should win first.

Well, Rapinoe did just that. She and her team won decisively. And what does President Trump have to say now? Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you invite the women's team to the White House, the soccer team?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Haven't really thought about it. We will look at that certainly (ph), yes.


CABRERA: Hasn't really thought about it. I want to bring in CNN's' Amanda Davies in Lyon, France.

Amanda, what is the team captain, Megan Rapinoe, saying about her big win?

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the first thing she said is that it's time to celebrate, Ana, and it's fair to say the party is well on its way. This has been talked about as the biggest and best Women's World Cup yet with so many of the former players I've been talking to this week talking about it as the best standard of the women's game they've ever seen. And the U.S. women's team saw off the competition in some style to claim this record-extending fourth crown. So Rapinoe was joking full time that sunglasses season would be in

full swing with the parties getting started. I have to tell you, there are already some videos doing the rounds on social media with some decidedly dodgy singing. Thankfully, this women's team, their footballing skills significantly better than their singing voices.

But it is a very well deserved party after a victory over a Dutch side that were, or are, the European champions. They followed up wins over the likes of England and France to beat the Dutch today. And these were teams that had been talked about as being hot on the U.S. women's team's heels.

But they not only won the tournament off the -- on the pitch here. They really sent the message about what they wanted to get off it, and that is what Rapinoe also took the moment to talk about afterward.


MEGAN RAPINOE, MIDFIELDER/WINGER AND TEAM CAPTAIN OF THE U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: We've done exactly what we have set out to do. We've done exactly what we want to do. We say what we feel. All of us, really.

I know that my, you know, voice sometimes is louder, but, you know, in the rooms and in conversations and -- everybody is in this together. We are such a proud and strong and defiant group of women. I don't think we have really anything to say.


DAVIES: And that strong, defiant group of women have become just the second women's team ever to successfully defend their World Cup crown. They've now got those four stars on their shirts. And the frightening thing, Ana, for the rest, they're now only a year out from the Olympics where the quest for another Olympic gold will be on.

CABRERA: Yes. We're looking at awesome pictures of their reactions after this big win. After the goals that were scored today, these two goals that led to their victory.

Amanda, I'm so curious given this back and forth between Megan Rapinoe, President Trump, and a potential White House visit. Do you have any sense of how many of the members of Team USA would go to the White House should they be invited?

DAVIES: No. What we do know is, over the last couple of weeks, a number of the team have already come out and said that they wouldn't be accepting an invitation from President Trump.

Megan Rapinoe, of course, was the person whose interview emerged. It was actually an interview that was done in January but was released just a week or so ago where she used language that will be not repeated on television in terms of her view as to whether or not she would accept that invitation from Donald Trump.

Her teammate, Ali Krieger, also came out in support of that, said -- saying she wouldn't be accepting the invitation. Alex Morgan had said the same.

So, of course, we heard from Donald Trump. He's thinking about whether or not he will extend the invitation. But then the follow-on to that will absolutely be which of this U.S. women's team will take up that invitation? They wouldn't be the first set of athletes, of course, not to take up that invitation.


[19:05:00] DAVIES: Lindsey Vonn famously refused the invitation after the Winter Olympics. Steph Curry is another big U.S. sports star who hasn't done so.


DAVIES: So, certainly, watch this space.

CABRERA: All right, we'll keep watching. Thank you. Amanda Davies reporting from Lyon.

Now, earlier, I spoke to Michelle Akers who's been there, done that. She's the Golden Boot winner who starred in the historic 1991 and 1999 Women's World Cup victories by the U.S. Here is our conversation.


CABRERA: Michelle, what's going through your mind today? What does today's win mean to you?

MICHELLE AKERS, FORMER MEMBER OF THE U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM: Ah! Incredibly emotional. It's my -- it's my team out there, you know? I feel like I'm running every run with every single one, blocking every ball.

And it's been a long haul. This team is fighting for more than just winning a World Cup. They're trying to push boundaries and change the world, essentially, so it means a lot on many different levels.

So I'm just really proud of this team. I don't -- I'm -- I could cry, and I'm so happy for them. And we got burgers going and margaritas going, so I'm celebrating.

CABRERA: Well, cheers! Cheers to you! Michelle, you know, the U.S. hasn't been known as a soccer-centric nation. I wonder if that changes today. What has this World Cup victory accomplished, do you think, for women's soccer in this country?

AKERS: Well, the USA -- it's the USA mentality, right? It's not just about being the best in the world as a -- as the USA, as the -- an American, the country. It's really about changing everything for the world, and that's the cool focus of this team.

It's not just winning. It's changing things. So, I mean, they should be celebrating, and they are carrying our legacy, which is part of the whole picture, right?


AKERS: So this team has really made a name for themselves. And they're standing on our shoulders, but they're also a totally different entity. So that part I'm really, really proud of.

CABRERA: And they're also leading the way for women, not just in soccer but across the board. And I know they've been fighting hard for pay equity. We know -- we've been reporting on the disparity in pay between men and women's soccer players.

According to "The New York Times," each team player, in this case, will earn about $250,000 for winning today's World Cup title. Now, if the U.S. men's team had won today, players would earn about a -- $1.1 million, so over a million dollars each.

And just moments ago, in fact, Michelle, the President weighed in on the issue of equal pay for female athletes. Let's listen.



TRUMP: I want to congratulate the women's soccer team on winning the World Cup. That's an incredible achievement. It was a very exciting game. I got to see a little bit of it, and they're great players. And it's a great honor to have them capture it for the United States, fourth time, and that's a tremendous thing. So congratulations to the team on the World Cup.

I would like to see that -- the World Cup to look at numbers. Because when you look at World Cup soccer, that's one thing; and you also have to look at soccer, professional soccer. You have to see who's taking in what.

So I don't know what those numbers are. I would like to see that, but, again, you have to look at the great stars of the men's soccer, the great stars of the women's soccer. And you have to see, year- round how are they all drawing, what is the attendance for women's soccer outside of World Cup. But I would like to see it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- actually did, yes. The U.S. alone for that --


CABRERA: Michelle, could you hear? What's your reaction?

AKERS: My reaction. God, I wish he would have seen the game. That would have been great. I played in a lot of World Cups and the presidents have always watched those games and attended in person. That would have been awesome.

I think winning this World Cup makes a great case, actually supports exactly what the women's national team for the USA is saying and what women want equality-wise. And not only women but dads, sons, everyone. It's an equal pay thing, equal opportunity. So I'll be looking forward to what happens next.


CABRERA: Our thanks to Michelle Akers there.

Coming up, the President's approval rating hits a career high. So what does that mean for the candidates running to replace him? I'll get reaction from Joe Biden's national co-chair, next.


CABRERA: Welcome back. A new poll shows President Trump's approval rating has surged to its highest level yet.

The "Washington Post" and ABC News survey finds 44 percent of registered voters approve of the job President Trump is doing in the White House, a five-point increase since April. Now, the poll found 51 percent approved Trump's handling of the economy. More than half for the first time in his presidency. So what do these numbers mean for the Democratic candidates running to replace him?

Joining us now, the national co-chair for Joe Biden's campaign, Democratic Congressman Cedric Richmond.

Congressman, good to have you with us. If we continue to get strong economic numbers, are Democrats going to have a problem on their hands in 2020?

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), LOUISIANA: I don't think so. Those economic numbers tend to favor those at the top of the economic ladder, and you still have too many people working every day to figure out how they're going to put a -- keep a roof over their head, food on the table for their children, keep them in a good school, take care of an ailing parent.

So when you see economic numbers, far too often, they don't cover working-class families. And almost every single time, they don't cover minorities that are in the work environment or seeking to get in the work environment.

CABRERA: OK. Let me pivot to the comments former Vice President Joe Biden made that he apologized for yesterday, comments he had made about his ability to be civil and work with segregationist senators in the 1970s. Here's how famed Harvard professor and Bernie Sanders surrogate Dr. Cornel West reacted. Listen.


DR. CORNEL WEST, PROFESSOR OF THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY, HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL: He's now regretted what he said. He now apologizes. Two weeks later -- two weeks ago, he said he wouldn't apologize. He said -- oh, I see, you check the polls and find out where you really stand. He's change a lot in two weeks, not just changed a lot in 40 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CABRERA: Congressman, what's your reaction to that?

[19:15:01] RICHMOND: I don't have a reaction to that. I'm not always going to be the Black guy that responds to something else some other Black guy says. I think the number says that --

CABRERA: No, but does he have a point that two weeks ago, Joe Biden --

RICHMOND: No, I don't --

CABRERA: -- said he wasn't going to apologize. In fact, Cory Booker had asked him to apologize, and he said, Cory Booker should be apologizing to me. I mean, this is a starkly different tone and message from the Vice President.

RICHMOND: I don't think he -- I don't think he had anything to apologize for in that sense. I think what the President -- the Vice President did was apologize for, when he talked about it, talking about it as if there was some fondness of those segregationist senators. The fact that he has the ability to walk and work across the aisle and work with people who don't necessarily like him or that he doesn't like is not something that I think that I would not apologize for.

Look, I passed criminal justice reform last year. There are 4,000 people going home from prison this month because Hakeem Jeffries, Cory Booker, and other people were able to work with Donald Trump.

I don't like Donald Trump. I think Donald Trump has some racist tendencies, if not a racist. But in order to pass criminal justice reform, it was something that I did. And I don't think Cornel West or anybody else had a problem with me working with the Trump administration to get criminal justice reform done.

So if you're going to attack Vice President Biden for working with people he didn't like, that didn't like him, well, attack me, too, for passing criminal justice reform and working with Donald Trump who I know the African-American community has a serious problem with.

But we did it. We were applauded for it. And I think that that's what's missing in politics. That if we can move the ball forward for the people we represent, the people we care about, the people we love, the people who need us to do it, it doesn't have to be easy, but it's necessary.

CABRERA: Now, after the first debate, a source close to the campaign told CNN, Biden knows he has to do better. And the Vice President's own admission, he says he wasn't prepared for the attacks. Listen.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Why didn't you fight it like this in the debate?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 30 seconds? CUOMO: Were you prepared for them to come after you?

BIDEN: I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came out. She knew Beau. She knows me. I don't -- anyway, I -- but here's the deal. What I do know -- and it's a good and a bad news -- the American people think they know me, and they know me.


CABRERA: So he wasn't prepared for those types of attacks. How is he going to change in terms of his strategy in the next debate in Detroit later this month?

RICHMOND: Well, I think the beginning of the -- Senator Harris' question is what caught him off guard. The question she started with, Mr. Vice President, I know you're not a racist. Well, yes, we do know the Vice President is not a racist. The racist lives in the White House.

And so I think that is the part that caught him off guard, but what has come out later is that the Senator's current position is not much different than the Vice President's position on busing back then. And look, I do not believe we should be talking about busing. Not the Harris campaign, not the Biden campaign.

CABRERA: And so let's not talk about busing right now because I think --


CABRERA: -- you know, we're beyond that part of the conversation.


CABRERA: The fact that he wasn't prepared for that kind of an attack, if you -- if he wants to go up against President Trump in the general election, I mean, that moment in the debate has some people questioning if he is ready to debate somebody like President Trump who's going to come at him a whole lot harder than what we heard from the Democrats.

RICHMOND: Well, I think that he's prepared for any attack from President Trump. I don't think he was prepared to answer, necessarily, whether he was a racist to other Democrats in the field who, by the way, have real relationships with him, but there's nothing that Donald Trump can say that he won't be prepared for.

And if you look at the numbers, he is the only Democrat in the field right now that's outside the margin of error in a head-to-head matchup with President Trump. So at the end of the day, he is still the strongest candidate to take on Donald Trump. He's the only one beating him outside the margin of error, and I think people realize that.

CABRERA: All right. Congressman Cedric Richmond, thank you very much. Again, representing the Biden campaign. I look forward to talking to you again as the --

RICHMOND: Thank you for having me.

CABRERA: -- the campaign continues. Thank you.

Coming up, a billionaire financier with powerful friends now in jail about to face charges of sex trafficking. That story next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


CABRERA: Tonight, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein is sitting in jail accused of sex trafficking underaged girls. Epstein is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow. That's when this new indictment is expected to be unsealed.

According to the "Daily Beast," prosecutors allege that Epstein sexually exploited dozens of underaged girls in a scheme that involved paying them cash for, quote/unquote, massages and then molesting or sexually abusing them. Epstein's lawyer has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

If all this sounds familiar, it's because Epstein has been here before. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to two state prostitution charges and served 13 months in prison. He avoided a possible federal life sentence after securing a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors in Miami.

Now, one of the prosecutors in that case was President Trump's current Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. He has denied any wrongdoing.

CNN's Boris Sanchez joins us now. This is a story, Boris, that has a lot to do with money and power. What more do we know about Epstein's connections to high-profile people?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana, it is one of the most fascinating aspects of this story. Jeffrey Epstein's friendliness with major names is really glaring, including President Trump. The two of them, apparently, were friendly in the past with President Trump flying on Epstein's private jet. Epstein allegedly also recruited one of his victim from Mar-a-Lago, the estate.

President Trump also has a bit of an unfortunate quote that he gave to "New York Magazine" in 2002 that he will likely distance himself from shortly. The President telling "New York Magazine," quote, I've known Jeff for 15 years. Terrific guy. He's a lot of fun to be with. It's even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jeffrey enjoys his social life.

It's been reported that after these allegations came up, President Trump banned Jeffrey Epstein from his Mar-a-Lago resort.

[19:25:03] And that's not Epstein's only connection to the White House. He also, apparently, was very friendly with former President Bill Clinton who flew on his private jet many times, including to his private island in the Caribbean. Epstein was also a major donor to the Clinton Foundation and to other prominent Democrats.

But perhaps the person who has seen the most pressure come from this case is, as you mentioned, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. The White House was asked about this situation and the confidence that President Trump has in his Labor Secretary back in February when a judge deemed that deal that Acosta struck with Epstein's attorneys to be illegal because many of Epstein's -- none of Epstein's victims were notified about that deal.

Then-Press Secretary Sarah Sanders defended Acosta, repeating a line that he gave during his confirmation hearing about that deal being the best-case scenario that they could achieve, admitting that Epstein's attorneys put a lot of pressure on his office when he was the U.S. attorney in Miami.

Sarah Sanders also said that the White House would be looking further into that deal, but we have not heard anything from them as a result of this arrest, Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Boris Sanchez reporting from New Jersey as the President was there this weekend. Thank you.

Coming up, what does it mean for the U.S./U.K. relationship when a British ambassador calls President Trump inept, insecure, and incompetent? The fallout from leaked diplomatic cables in your weekend presidential brief, next.


[19:30:01] CABRERA: Cleanup is underway in southern California after the area was rocked by two major earthquakes and at least 3,000 aftershocks.

[19:30:01] Thankfully, no major injuries or fatalities reported.

We are getting some more video showing the moment the earthquake hit the town of Ridgecrest, including this one that shows the quake shaking cars, sending a cat scattering and another that shows the shaking sending water splashing out of a backyard pool. The California governor is calling for a statewide early alert system to prepare residents in a better way for quakes in the future.

Meanwhile, a diplomatic rift is brewing between President Trump and the United Kingdom after leaked cables show the British ambassador calling Trump inept, insecure and incompetent. "The New York Times" and the "Washington Post" are reporting that in one of the cables the ambassador likened Trump's ability to withstand scandals to a scene from "the Terminator" writing "Trump may emerge from the flames battered but intact like Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of "the Terminator." The White House did not comment to CNN about the leaked cables but the President slammed the ambassador earlier today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The ambassador has not served the UK well. I can tell you that. We are not big fans of that man.


CABRERA: That brings us to your weekend Presidential brief. A segment where we highlight the most pressing national security issues the President will face when he wakes up tomorrow. And with us now, CNN national security analyst Sam Vinograd. She helped prepare the Presidential daily brief for President Obama.

Sam, you know the UK ambassador and you say you've written and read more cables than you can count. Just how impactful is the leak of these cables?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Ana, cables are supposed to be a safe space. President Trump makes policy decisions based on feelings, but his peers and predecessors relied on private inputs to inform policy approaches.

The leak of these cables is incredibly impactful from a national security perspective. I saw this first-hand when Chelsea Manning several years ago leaked hundreds of thousands of U.S. state department cables. One once that happened, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, for example, a colleague of mine, had to resign because things he said about the Mexicans in cables became public.

In addition to the leak of these British cables, the content of the cables is worrisome as well. Darroch (INAUDIBLE) that President Trump is inept and says that he maybe be indebted to dodgy Russians.

If other British officials put credence in what Darroch has written, it is just logical that they haven't engaged as deeply with President Trump which is worrisome based upon the fact they're supposed to be one of our closest allies. President Trump is responding by denigrating Darroch. But he shouldn't kill the messenger here. President Trump done the real damage to our special relationship with the UK, not these cables.

CABRERA: You mentioned Iran and ambassador Darroch questioning Trump's tweet about the Iran strike he called off. There's now activity on the Iranian nuclear front. What should we expect this week?

VINOGRAD: Well, Ana, the Iran nuclear deal put safeguards on Iran's nuclear program to try to extend the time it would take for them to break out to a nuclear weapon. Iran previously blew through one of these safeguards which was the amount of uranium they could keep in country. Now they have taken an additional step and said they are surpassing a ceiling on the level of enrichment at which they can enrich uranium.

These two factors combined, the increased stockpile of low enriched uranium and that surpassing the ceiling on enrichment levels means it would take less time for them to break out to a nuclear weapon.

The real question is how the international community responds. Arguably, the Iranians are breaking international law and we could see the United Nations as well as European countries reimpose nuclear- related sanctions. France and others at this point are trying to buy time to negotiate with the Iranians. And the Iranians probably view breaking through these safeguards as their Trump card. Their way to push the Europeans to give them revenues that are currently being held up by U.S. sanctions.

CABRERA: The administration is focused on Iran's nuclear activities and its bad behavior but Trump seems less focused on North Korea's. Otto Warmbier's parents just filed a claim against a seized North Korean cargo ship. Do you think Trump will support their efforts?

VINOGRAD: Well, Otto Warmbier's parents are taking action where President Trump won't. They are trying to hold North Korea accountable for the torture and murder of their son, an American citizen. They filed suit in district court several months ago and were awarded a half million dollar judgment against North Korea.

More recently, they filed a claim against this North Korean sanctioned busting ship and there are a series of logistical and legal hurdles that would really preclude them from getting assets from North Korea. And President Trump may be one of the largest hurdles that they face. President Trump has coddled Kim Jong-un and said that he didn't think Kim Jong-un know about Otto Warmbier's torture despite the fact there's strong analysis that the North Korean regime would not have captured, detained, and tortured Warmbier without Kim Jong-un's knowledge.

So even if this claim against North Korea by the Warmbiers move forward, it's likely President Trump would try to interfere because his primary objective is trying to keep Kim Jong-un happy about this point.

[19:35:19] CABRERA: All right. Sam Vinograd, as always, good to have you with us. Thanks.

VINOGRAD: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, why the site of an upcoming Nicki Minaj performance is sparking outrage among human rights activists.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[19:39:29] CABRERA: Actor Cameron Boyce who starred in the Disney channel TV show, "Jesse," has died. His family says Boyce passed away in his sleep after suffering a seizure that resulted from an ongoing medical condition. Boyce starred in movies including "Eagle Eye" and "Grown-Ups" with Adam Sandler. He was set to appear in the upcoming HBO comedy series "Mrs. Fletcher." Cameron Boyce was just 20 years old.

Uncertainty and criticism surrounding Saudi Arabia's decision to invite rapper Nicki Minaj to perform at a world music festival later this month. It was just last year the ultraconservative king come lifted a 35-year ban on movie theaters and gave women the right to vote. And right now, many women's rights activists still remain in prison.