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CNN TONIGHT

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Is Interviewed About The Controversial Citizenship Question; White Man Calls Police On Black Man Visiting A Friend; Federal Judge Says DOJ Cannot Swap Out Its Legal Team In Census Case; Top Dems Demand Acosta Resign Over Epstein Deal, As Trump Administration Fights Back. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 9, 2019 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: A federal judge in New York refusing to allow the Justice Department to swap out its legal team in the case. The judge saying the government provided, quote, "no reason, let alone, satisfactory reasons for the substitution of counsel." And the president tonight is predictably blaming the judge who was appointed by President Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Senator, thank you for joining me. I really appreciate it.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be on.

LEMON: Why do you think this administration has been pursuing this census question the way that they are. Because so far at least the courts are not having it.

BOOKER: No. Look, even the Supreme Court in their opinion talked about the fact that there was seemed to be no justification or no truthful justification of what they are trying to do.

I think this is just a cynical attempt to undercount particular Americans, minorities, and immigrants in certain communities in order to benefit other communities. It's yet another example of what Donald Trump tries to do in our country, which divided us against each other. To have zero-sum game type politics that's us versus them.

It's so contrary. So, what we need to do in this country which is to bring folks together have more of a unifying force. And this actually has real consequences.

It can cost communities tremendous amounts of resources. It could affect congressional district lines drawn. It's everything this anti- Democratic that he's trying to do. And if you read the Constitution, it is deeply against the Constitution intent as well.

LEMON: Listen, on some nights this could be the only thing that we talked about but there is so much happening. I'm going to go for -- to a lot of subjects. So, I want to talk about Obamacare now, OK.

The administration is arguing before the very conservative fifth district court of appeals that it's unconstitutional. Two Republican appointed judges suggesting they may strike it down. Are you worried, senator?

BOOKER: Look, I am severely worried. I mean, I see communities across this country why the Affordable Care Act has done in terms of giving and expanding access to millions and millions of Americans.

What this president is trying to do is what he tries to do in his earliest days of the presidency which is rip healthcare away from all those who got access and to throw us back into a reality where insurance companies decide who gets insurance and who doesn't.

Where their top reasons for declaring bankruptcy or people not being able to afford their healthcare. This is a president who seems to has it out for this legislation which is really means he has it out for American people. It's unacceptable.

LEMON: So, another subject, as I told you, it's a busy day. I want to talk about the labor secretary, Alex Acosta. You are calling on him about -- you ask him to step down over his role in the 2008 sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein. Why should he step down, Senator?

BOOKER: You know, he participated on what to be the face of severe prosecutorial misconduct and another example, yet another deeply, hurtful insulting example, that the rich and the powerful get a very different justice system in the rest of America.

And at the moment we have people sitting in jail for life sentences. Life sentences for non-violent drug offenses and somebody who was trafficking in children and severe cases of sexual -- sexual crimes.

For him to have Acosta accommodated him so much, giving him such a lenient sentence, to me is clearly about prosecutorial misconduct and goes deeply to the undermining of faith that folks have in a justice system it seems to be tilted as Brian Stevenson so eloquently says. We have a justice system that treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent.

LEMON: Well, I'm sure you know the Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility is looking in to whether that this deal between Acosta and Epstein whether it was improper. Are you confident that this investigation will be fair?

BOOKER: No, I'm not. Look, I voted against him. He should not have been confirmed in the first place. There are enough of these red flags that this is a person who should have never been in the cabinet of the United States President.

So, I'm hopeful that the investigation will be fair on the face but this is a person that should resign himself. This is a president that should take him out of this position and what the president was tweeting today, not to give in any way a deference of the severity of the crimes and the potential misconduct is just unacceptable.

LEMON: The last time I had you on, as I'm sure you remember, you called out forcefully the vice president, Joe Biden over his comments about his ability to be civil and worked with segregationist senators in the 1970's. On Saturday, he apologized, and you said thank you.

[23:05:03] BOOKER: Well, I said more than that. First of all, it shouldn't have taken him 18 days to that. As I said at the time when we talked, we need a nominee. We need the next president to be someone who can speak to racial issues and could take risks and open themselves up and have open honest dialogue.

And if they make a mistake and we all do, not to fall into a defensive crouch and demand an apology from other people. In this case, he demanded an apology from me.

And so, of course, you know, I'm very grateful that he did the right thing. I'm sorry it took him 18 days and even more than this, it shouldn't have taken him years to address the 1994 crime bill.

And the fact that it was one of the things that's super charged mass incarcerations in this country that has many people still serving on unjust sentences today. So, the fact that he suddenly now speaking to issues he should have spoken to either when it immediately happened, like 18 days ago or 18 days before or larger issues like the crime bill. This is good, it's healthy, I welcome that.

But I think it's just the beginning of the kind of conversation we need to be having in this country. Because these are real issues that have their legacy and really harmful things.

LEMON: Yes.

BOOKER: Costing us billions of dollars incarcerating people and causing them their liberty, one of our most valued and cherished ideals.

LEMON: Before I ran out of time, I've got to ask you about this. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked today about an NBC report that said that his relatives were slaveholders and whether that would change his view against reparations. Listen to his response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: You know, I find myself once again in the same position as President Obama. We both opposed reparations and we both are the descendants of slave holders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: How do you respond to that?

BOOKER: You know, I -- I mean, Mitch McConnell doesn't seem to even in any way there express an understanding of these issues or, you know, the bill that I have in the Senate which would call people together to study this issue, the legacy of slavery.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let me just ask you there before you go. Because I know and I'm going to let you talk about that. I rarely have seen you in a loss for words? Why are in a loss for words over this, over that response?

BOOKER: I mean, first of all, I didn't hear this earlier today so it's the first time I'm responding. Dear God, this has been a couple of years of my life for Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump where things come out of their mouth that I just sometimes have to just sometime -- you know have to just take a step back for a second and gather myself.

This is not the spirit we need from our leaders on either side of the aisle. I just sat with Mike Lee today and talk openly about the racial disparities in our criminal justice system that has created a nation that now we have more African-Americans under criminal supervisions than all the slaves in the 1850s.

And for anybody from Joe Biden to you name it to not understand why in communities of color, this criminal justice system is just abjectly without sort of moral fiber, moral strengths that we live in a country where people do not understand how racism pervades system that perpetrates such savage injustices, where people who watch what's happening with Epstein and can see all these things we talked about tonight are tied together in such ignorance of the pain and hurt it causes.

I had a woman come to me today named Ebony (Ph) whose father is incarcerated. He's 65 years old, he has been in decades for non- violent crime. And every day it's coming up to yet another just had another Father's Day another birthday where she can't be with her father.

And the way she looks at all of this and the legacies of just institutional racism of implicit racial bias and all the things that we could be talking about and working on together and to think this just hurts one community doesn't hurt us all.

We need leadership from both sides of the aisle, this is what I saw in Mike Lee today, they can call it like it is, stop this cynical, political rhetoric and begin to heal in this country, bring people together to do something about this problem.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I just want to say, I know that you have a bill and you've talked about it before. But it's to study reparations and if it's even feasible.

BOOKER: Yes.

LEMON: So, but we have to talk about that another time because we're unfortunately out of time. But they can check your web site and find out about the bill. Senator Corey Booker, thank you for your time.

BOOKER: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: That of course was Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker. I want to thank him for joining us tonight.

You know, the Democrats vying for the 2020 nomination will go head to head at the CNN Democratic presidential debates. Be sure to watch Dana Bash, Jake Tapper, and I moderate two nights of debates, July 30th and 31st. It's going to be live from Detroit.

[23:10:05] Up next, we've got to talk about this video that's going viral. A young boy pleading with his father not to call the police and a black man trying to visit someone in his building. But there is more to the story than you think. Tonight, I'm going to talk to the man who was stopped and caught the whole encounter on camera.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, no. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to your son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, go. It's the better. I agree with him, daddy. It's the better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Ok. It is the video that everyone is talking about. A young boy pleading with his father not to call the police on the black man trying to visit a friend in his building.

In a moment, I am going to talk to a man who was stopped and who caught the whole thing on camera.

But first, CNN's Stephanie Elam sets the scene for us.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Despite pleas from his young son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to call police right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, don't. Don't, don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes, yes, call the police.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[23:14:59] ELAM: This man called the San Francisco police on another man when he wouldn't identify the resident he was visiting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I will hold the door here for you while you call your friend.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is OK. Nobody is asking you to hold the door. You can do whatever you want. But I'm recording you right now and you are going to be the next person, look at this. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't need to threaten people --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not threatening you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are threatening me that I am going to be the next person what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are going to be the next person on TV.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: On the phone with police the resident calls the man a trespasser. His son sounds distraught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is a trespasser in my building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, let's go please.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to your son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, go. Let's go to the better. I agree with him, daddy. It's the better. Let's go, please. I don't like this. I don't like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is standing in the lobby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, I don't like this. Let's go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: That man we now know is Christopher Cukor. And tonight, he's speaking out about the encounter on media. Writing, "A chance encounter this past weekend has upended my life in an unexpected ways.

Many of you know the parts that you've seen - the video of a conversation that happened outside my home. I'd like to share some extra details about the event that I think adds some important context."

In the video, Cukor is heard telling police that the man walked into the usually locked door as he and his son were walking. A practice the man refers to is tailgating.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tailgated through the door, as I left, he walked in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tailgated to the door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is -- he appears to be African-American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appears to be African-American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know, 30's?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-five, software engineering.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's wearing pink polo shirt and a Yankees cap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All good. All good. Software engineer, brother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pink polo shirt and tennis shoes and jeans. You have to be here for when you call them

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is filming me and refusing to leave and saying I'm going to be the next person on TV.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: The man filming the encounter is black. Wesly Michel is a San Francisco based software engineer. In a statement to CNN, Michel said, quote, "I'm taken aback by the support that I have received in the last few days and how quickly my experience has been shared. Unfortunately, this incident mirrors the experience that African- Americans endured daily where we are questioned on whether we belong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he is waiting for a friend, and I asked him to dial on the phone box.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he said he would not. So, I have no way of knowing if his friend is actually here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, so I'm here to just rob whatever -- a mailbox.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just asking you for your friend's name.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have to (muted). I don't have to tell you (muted).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: But Cukor says he wasn't motivated to say something because of Michel's race. Writing, 'First, just some background on that day. I was leaving my building with my child to take him to a friend's house. Like many in San Francisco, I live in a building with a security call box and residents in the building count on that security measure. I notice Wesly Michel caught the door and entered the building without using the call box. I did what came naturally and asked where he was going. I want to be clear on this point. This is something I do regularly regardless of who the other person is."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he's not a (Inaudible) as far as I can tell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dad, let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to your son, and walk away. I will stop this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will stop the recording.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree. Let's go. Let's go, daddy. Let's go now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: In his post, Cukor explains his action writing, "I offered to hold the door open while he used the call box to contact his friend. As I learned later, Wesly was a friend of a guest of a resident in the building. The building resident was not expecting Wesly. When the encounter turned confrontational, and I couldn't resolve it myself, I called the police."

Eventually, Michel's friend does arrive to the relief of the boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Cathy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Told you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took you so long to get here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy, look what you got us into. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friend is handicapped, just give me one second while you be (muted) in front of you kid. OK?

Remember, I am recording you. I am (muted) recording you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: As the incident escalated, Michel decided to record it. Telling CNN, quote, "I videotaped this incident to protect myself and to support my story should police get involved. In fact, I was vindicated when the police arrived by showing them this video. I could never have imagined how quickly my desire to protect myself would unfold."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you his friend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he is actually here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. yes, he's actually here. Go ahead. I'm recording you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He refused to identify himself and now he is filming me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at you. Look at you

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: With a few days since the incident, Cukor acknowledges how both men arrived at the moment armored with their different realities.

He writes, "Here is where the complexity begins. I was coming into the situation with my unique history.

[23:20:00] My father was murdered outside his home by a trespasser who he confronted alone. For my child's safety, my safety, and that of the building, I felt it was necessary to get help in this situation.

Furthermore, I've encountered trespassers in my building and we've been robbed several times. This is not uncommon in San Francisco. And the bad actors are all different colors.

I now realized that Wesly was reacting based on his unique history as well. Unfortunately, there is a terrible pattern of people calling the authorities regarding people of color for no other reason than their race.

The last thing I ever intended was to echo that history. And I'm sorry my actions cause Wesly to feel unfairly targeted due to his race. I believe people are good at heart. It's our past experiences and fears that cloud even our best intentions. I hope Wesly will read this and understand my history as I have tried to understand his."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your phone away from me. Stop filming me. Take your phone away from me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. If you touch me I will (muted) take your phone away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: For his part, Michel also said, quote, "I believe that ultimately everyone wants to be seen for who they are and not to be judged. I am an American, a brother, a son, and an ambitious engineer who loves to code and wants to greatly contribute to the tech world in S.F., a city that I love.

All of this playing out on a video that went viral with more than one and a half million views. Don?

LEMON: Stephanie Elam, Stephanie, thank you so much. We asked Mr. Cukor to come on the show tonight, he politely declined and indicated that he'd made his perspective known on the blog post and we just shared with you and Stephanie's piece right there.

Now I want to bring Wesly Michel, the man who filmed that tensed encounter. Wesly, thank you. Man, those are complicated story. We appreciate you joining us. The man who called the police on you, Christopher Cukor writing in that medium post, you saw it, he wrote it today about his past experiences. What do you think of his explanation for why he acted that way?

WESLY MICHEL, SOFTWARE ENGINEER: Right. It's a very -- it's a very good assessment. I can understand that he's been traumatized. It is very, very difficult to try to communicate based on his past experiences.

Personally, as an African-American male, I've been stopped and harassed at stores at different locations. I would have police officers asking me if I belong there or even in my apartment complex, I would have people randomly telling me that I don't belong at that location.

So, but I don't let those experiences shape or define the way I see other people. And I feel that, you know, as a group or even just with his experiences, it makes -- it's very important that people take those experiences and we learn from them but not to impose those ideas and those -- that sensitivity amongst people you don't know.

And it's very important too to just basically say that as a human being, it's very important that my responsibility --

LEMON: Go on.

MICHEL: My responsibility is not to make everyone around me feel comfortable. It is very important that people understand that. I should be able to walk around freely and not feel that I should constantly prove that I'm not a threat to the people around me.

LEMON: So out of all -- you know, you have had permit patty, you know, you've seen all the videos of people calling the police, this is a pretty thoughtful explanation that usually don't get, when you said you would hope that he would learn from that.

Do you think that he's learned anything? Because as I'm sitting here listening to both your stories, I have to honest, both of you in a sense can be right, and both of you in a sense can be wrong. Because we all have our shared experience.

I'm not saying that it's right that he called the police on you. And I'm not saying that it's right the way you reacted as well. Because I live in a building and if someone tried to come in and I wouldn't let them in the building unless they have permission to come into the building regardless of what race they are or what gender they are.

But I understand because I live in the skin as a black man that people often see you as a threat when you're not. So, it's odd that I kind of understand both sides. Do you get what I am saying?

MICHEL: Yes, that's actually a very good point. I'm glad that you mention that. Reading the articles that's been written about me and the way that people perceive the video, I can understand how people have come to the conclusion that I was just, I randomly try to get inside the apartment.

The truth is both parties knew that I was attending at that location. That's the truth. The second thing, I actually tried buzzing --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, both parties knew you were attending --

MICHEL: Attending this barbecue party.

LEMON: OK.

MICHEL: The second thing is --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So, he knew you were -- what do you mean by both parties? I just want to make sure we have that straight for questions.

[23:24:57] MICHEL: Right. So, he said that he later spoke to someone in the apartment building that was throwing the party.

LEMON: OK.

MICHEL: And said that I was not invited into that barbecue. What I'm saying is that is incorrect actually. I was invited into that party.

And the second thing I will tell you is I actually tried buzzing myself in while waiting for my friend to come out. So, I wasn't just standing there. They should have a video of that.

As I'm buzzing myself to get in, I see him come out. He's in that building he's coming out. So, I figured I could just run inside and wait, I should say wait for my friend to actually come in.

As I'm walking inside, he asked me questions I (Inaudible), so I basically said I'm here waiting for my friend and he then decide to tell me to buzz the person that I was previously trying to buzz to come downstairs.

It's an experience that actually touched me and I think that's one of the reasons why I saw this situation differently because as this have happened to me in the beginning in prior times, I've never actually recorded the situation.

When he told me he was going to call the police, the first time, I decided to pull my phone and I realized that this situation I was going to need to prove that whatever this guy tells the police, I would have to prove my side and the only way I can do that is through taping.

LEMON: Yes.

MICHEL: So, I had to protect myself.

LEMON: Because you thought when police got there, they may have thought that you are trying to break into the building, is that correct?

MICHEL: Yes.

LEMON: OK, OK. I understand that. But do you understand why he wouldn't let you into the building? Because honestly, I don't know I would have let you into the building, Wesly.

MICHEL: Well, the question -- the question you need to ask yourself is that if there was, if he saw another person that looks just like him with his son walking inside the building, would he have reacted the same? That's the real question.

LEMON: That's a very good question. That's a very good -- that's a very real question. But what I'm saying to you is, maybe if it was a woman with a child I may have had a different response, I don't know -- but living in a building and knowing what happens especially having single women who live in my building, I don't know if I would let anybody in the building if they didn't, if they weren't buzzed in or if they didn't have the permission to be there.

MICHEL: That's --

LEMON: I don't know if I would have reacted the same way. I may have said, who are you here to see? Can I call them or do you mind waiting outside until you can -- we have some issues with the building? I don't know.

MICHEL: That's a great -- that's actually two things I'd like to say to that.

LEMON: Yes.

MICHEL: The first thing, I would be more than happy to wait outside. It's the fact that he actually detained me as a civilian.

LEMON: Right.

MICHEL: That made me feel very uncomfortable. The second thing I'd like to point out is that he never asks my friend for her I.D. and she actually does not live in San Francisco. She was also visiting.

So, when he mentions and she's not African-American. So, when he states that this is something that he does normally, why is it that he feels comfortable that she was there.

LEMON: So, the woman -- this was the woman at the end that came up, right? And you said, I love or whatever.

MICHEL: Absolutely.

LEMON: So, she doesn't live in the building?

MICHEL: She doesn't live in San Francisco.

LEMON: I thought that she was the woman who actually lived in where you were going.

MICHEL: Nope, and I never told him that was the girl that live there. I said that I'm here waiting for my friend.

LEMON: Got it.

(CROSSTALK)

MICHEL: I told him he was right around.

LEMON: And so, he let her in -- and he let her in without even questioning.

MICHEL: Right. So, if you were to reframe the question, though, and it wasn't me but it was her at the door in the beginning, the question would be would he have let her in.

LEMON: That is a very good question. And that I think only he can answer that. But I do understand your perspective on that.

MICHEL: Absolutely.

LEMON: So, he acknowledged that the way that many black people are treated in this country, saying that he didn't mean to make you feel targeted because of your race, do you accept that apology?

MICHEL: Quite honestly, I feel like a lot of people who may see that on TV. But quite -- I mean, there is a difference of being of seeing something and actually experiencing something. You can't quite understand the feeling that it feels like to be African-American and have someone tell the police officer that this person has just now threatened me.

In fact, the police did arrive at that location. And this is something that a lot of people aren't aware of. And him and his son were there in a corner and they are shaking and he kept screaming that this man threatened my life, my son and my life.

I put my hands up and I had my phone in my hand and I said officers, everything you need to see is right here. The video is three minutes and 15 seconds long. It took 40 -- it took four minutes for them to go through the video and say, hey, there is nothing here.

LEMON: Why would he say that you threatened his life? From what I saw in the video it didn't seem like you were threatening.

MICHEL: This is one thing that a lot of people don't understand and it's very important that I mention it here.

[23:30:01] And this is also one of the reasons why I recorded it in the first place.

LEMON: Listen, I've got to tell you that I understand because I was involved in something similar, but it was a racial profiling incident, and when the cops came, they thought that someone else called police on me when I actually called the police. So I understand your feeling on that.

But, you know, just the part about living in a building and safety and security, you know, again, I am not sure. I am not sure if I would have let you in. But maybe if it was a woman with a child, maybe I would have let them in. I don't know. I don't know. That is a real tough one to answer.

The fact that he let somebody else in who was of a different race, you know, that -- unconscious biased that is real. Do you -- do you think that this could have been resolved differently now that you look back on it?

MICHEL: Oh, wow, that's actually a very interesting question. Multiple times I have tried to deescalate the situation by telling him that, you know, it is totally fine. I am standing outside. I am not so sure if people realized this. I am actually standing right there. I am no threat to him or -- I am not running away. I am not running inside of the building.

LEMON: But you could have walked away and waited. I mean --

MICHEL: I could of.

LEMON: Or he could have walked away. He could have just walked away.

MICHEL: Absolutely.

LEMON: Because you were out once -- once -- you were in the (INAUDIBLE). You walked out of the building and so you weren't -- you didn't access the building, so he could have walked away.

MICHEL: Right. People also have to understand. The building requires a fab to get upstairs in the elevator and to get inside. That's why I mentioned, "What would I rob, the mailbox?" It was -- it was -- at this point, it was just getting ridiculous.

LEMON: Do you -- would you ever be interested in sitting down and talking to someone like Christopher even after this?

MICHEL: Well, the thing is -- I've actually -- prior to uploading the video, I actually tried to reason. I went downstairs and his wife was there. She was clearly upset. She was raising her voice. I was calm the entire time. I kept showing her the video. I said, hey, take a look at this video and you will understand, because she kept screaming, that I traumatized her son.

And then it was then I realized that it's always going to be my words versus his. I did have the opportunity to sit down, but I realized that I couldn't get -- if he was willing to tell the police that I was threatening his life, I couldn't sit down with Christopher specifically on the subject because I am not too sure exactly any other fabrication that would come out of this, about our encounter.

LEMON: Boy. I asked you that because there are two different realities here. I completely -- don't get me wrong, part of my job here is to challenge, right, to challenge you.

MICHEL: Right.

LEMON: And to play devil's advocate and try to see what he was seeing and what you were seeing. But I live in the same skin as you and so I understand the frustration especially for men of color who are often seen as more violent and more aggressive and those sorts of things and often seen as the aggressor.

I also understand the safety, being responsible for the safety of people you live with, right? So, that's why I asked you, if you would ever consider sitting down to talk to him, because there is no -- how do you work this out? How do you work out those two different realities that you both share and you both live in the same city, same America?

MICHEL: Right. I think that a conversation should be had. You know and I think -- I guess my question to you is what would be obtained from that conversation? What would we learn from that conversation? Because I wouldn't -- what I gained from that conversation is really important.

I live in San Francisco. You know, growing up, I lived in the suburbs. I've had police officers pulled me over. I've had one cop actually had his boots on my twin's (ph) chest because he said that he didn't actually belonged there. He said -- and we were right in front of our house. I interacted with police officers all the time.

[23:34:57] So for someone to actually -- for someone to say that, you know -- and I apologize that, you know, something as gruesome has happened to his father. It also shows that --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Say it again.

MICHEL: That something as -- because of the death of his father.

LEMON: Yeah.

MICHEL: But the fact that he had to have interactions with other minorities or other black people in his life and to still treat me that way shows me that he hasn't actually evolved from that. He's still hurt from that. So, you know -- I think diversity training is -- LEMON: Look, it is not upon you. Listen, I think that you said right from the beginning. You said it is not up to you to make other people feel comfortable. You are absolutely --

MICHEL: Absolutely.

LEMON: -- right about that. I'm just wondering if you would ever -- when you said would accomplish -- I don't know but I think you might have get an understanding of each other, but maybe that's not what you want. I know that you were nervous before coming on. Is there anything that you want to say that you wish you would have said during this interview? I think you conducted yourself very well. Is there anything else that you want to say?

MICHEL: Thank you. I appreciate that. In regards to when people call police officers, I think that the one other thing that I will, you know -- it is very, very important for people to understand, when you call a police officer or an African-American male, it is completely different than someone calling a police officer on someone else because to me that's a death threat.

That can be my -- I can literally die from that altercation, and I would just simply be another hashtag in the news or in Twitter. It is important that people understand that. But when people like you saw in the Barbecue Betty (ph) and when I mentioned those situations, I was trying to explain, I was trying to convey that there is a false sense of entitlement.

There is this false sense of this belongs to us and if you don't follow my rules, I will call the law to enforce those ideas. I think actually because -- I think that I would entertain the idea. For the past few days, as you can imagine, it has been very stressful listening to comments online and literally trying to keep myself. But I think over some time we should be able to have a communication.

LEMON: Listen, again, thank you. The only way -- this is a tough conversation. I mean, even for us to have as two men of color and -- but I think that we have to do this. I know exactly what you mean when you say that this is mine, that somehow he plays himself in a position of authority over you that is not warranted or deserved. I completely get it. It happens to me all the time. My question is, who do you think you are? Who do you think you are to do that?

MICHEL: Absolutely.

LEMON: Thank you, Wesly. Good luck.

MICHEL: Thank you. Thank you for your time.

LEMON: Good luck. Thank you. I appreciate you coming on. So, I am going to discuss. We still have time. We are going to do this. OK, we'll discuss this now with Neil Franklin. He is a former Maryland state police major. Neil, what do you think?

NEIL FRANKLIN, FORMER MARYLAND STATE POLICE MAJOR: Hey, Don. Well, first of all, I applaud Wesly for having the courage to come on. LEMON: Right.

FRANKLIN: I'm sure it wasn't easy for him. Regarding the conversation, I heard his feelings about whether or not he should engage in the conversation about this but -- and what he would gain or not gain but I think others would gain. I think people listening -- hopefully some of the people who are making a comment online would be able to learn from this.

These are the types of conversations we need to have about race. I want to point out something that you touched on, Don, regarding the different perspectives that people have.

When I was a head of training for the Maryland State Police, we had a Johns Hopkins Leadership Program where we had a professor, Professor (INAUDIBLE), who was teaching about perspectives for police officers doing traffic stops and encounters, field interviews and so on, that getting us, the police, to recognize that, and he used this analogy of ghost.

We all have our ghost that we bring with us in each encounter. We, the police, have our ghost of previous encounters of things we hear about the danger of traffic stops and interacting with people. But also the person that we are interacting with having the field interview with or traffic stop with, they have their ghost.

[23:39:57] And it is not just about their personal experiences or negative experiences that they've had with police but also all the stories they have been told by family members or people in the neighborhood of these encounters going wrong.

And we have to understand it and give it time, deescalate, remain calm and let that initial tension pass so that we can have the conversation that needs to be had right then and there so that -- for instance in this case, we are not calling the police, and using resources that are scarce.

LEMON: Neil, I got to go. We spent a lot of time on this and so way overtime on the show, but I appreciate your perspective. Thank you so much. This conversation will continue. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The Trump administration is dealing with another big legal setback tonight. A federal judge ruling the Justice Department cannot change its legal team in the census citizenship question case, saying it hasn't provided a satisfactory reason for doing so. Let's discuss now.

[23:44:59] John Dean is here as well as Harry Litman. Good evening, gentlemen. Thank you so much for joining us. John, first, the Supreme Court. Now, a federal judge denying the DOJ's motion to swap out its legal team in the census citizenship question. How big of a blow is this to the Trump administration?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think it makes it little tougher sliding (ph) for them for this reason. I think they thought they were going to put a whole new team of lawyers in on these cases, and they can make a whole new set of representations to the court that are contrary to the representation they have already been made, and the biggest being that they told the Supreme Court that they had to have the case resolved by the 30th of June.

Well, that has come and gone, and now they're stretching it on and on and saying there is no deadline.

LEMON: Harry, you heard Chief Justice John Roberts called the DOJ's argument contrite.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Right.

LEMON: Now, a federal judge is saying the Justice Department had no satisfactory reason for essentially -- for the swap essentially, that the courts keep calling out the administration nonsense. Is that what's going on here, they just keep saying, hey, this is nonsense, stop it?

LITMAN: Yeah, they're getting kind of lumpy and bumpy on this. It really does -- as John says, for the actual cases, it may not be inseparable. But as an overall trend, you have an administration that has a sort of political ammo of saying whatever it feels like and just brazening it out. They've tried that same kind of approach in the courts.

But in the courts, there is (INAUDIBLE) truth and you have judges now increasingly emboldened to stand up and say, the department openly flailing for some response, any response, and the court saying, how about starting with the truth? Can we try to do that? And the spectacle for the department overall is really willful.

LEMON: So John, Speaker Pelosi made this argument as to why the president is fighting so hard to get citizenship question on the census. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This is about keeping, you know, Make America, you know his hat? Make America White Again. They want to make sure that people, certain people are counted.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, to Pelosi's point, there are serious implications if this question was included on the census. Is that why Trump is fighting so hard, do you think?

DEAN: Well, there certainly is very clear evidence that's now available tracking this back to an expert on how to redistrict in a way that favors Republicans and is very racist in its modus of doing that. That shows that's the root of this whole thing, is to try to get the census count where citizenship is put into the equation, that then becomes a part of apportionment for state congressional districts and they can make that lean towards the Republican Party for the next decade.

I think the courts are very aware of what's going on and that it has nothing to do with the voting rights contrary to their statements to the court that this is what it is all about.

LEMON: Harry, the president said something that he probably shouldn't have over the weekend. Watch this.

LITMAN: Yeah.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You need it for many reasons. Number one, you need it for Congress. You need it for Congress for districting. You need it for appropriations. Where are funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens or they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So --

(LAUGHTER)

LITMAN: Right.

LEMON: He did say it.

LITMAN: He gives the game away, right? He gives the game away and Judge Furman, you know, is saying -- he gives the game away at the same time lawyers are being pushed in there saying, we are trying to figure out some other rational, but you have both the evidence that John spoke about and the president on the line saying, this is what they're doing.

So they're pretty much telegraphing or trying to come up with some story, any story, and the courts and individual federal district courts in the position to say, that is not going to fly, I want to hear the real thing. And it was a very aggressive move on the courts' part to actually refuse their effort to substitute counsel. It's a general indication of the mistrust with which the administration has now held on this case and maybe more broadly.

LEMON: Harry and John, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

LITMAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Will the labor secretary be out of a job as soon as -- soon over his sweetheart deal -- the cut -- the 2008 -- he cut in 2008 for Jeffrey Epstein? I'm going to ask someone who held the same office during the Clinton administration. That's next.

[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump is standing by his labor secretary, Alex Acosta, even as critics are calling on him to resign over his role as a U.S. attorney in 2008 in cutting a sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein.

Here to discuss now, Robert Reich, who was a labor secretary under President Clinton and is the author of "The Common Good." It is so good to have you on. Thank you so much for joining us. Listen, this is an enormous story. Earlier this evening, I spoke with Trump confidante, Christopher Ruddy. I'm not sure if you got to see that. It is about the future of Acosta at the White House. Here's what he told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS RUDDY, CEO AND PRESIDENT, NEWSMAX MEDIA: I think the plea agreement he did is indefensible. I think that he's not going to stay for long. I don't want to make a whole judgment on every position that he has taken. I haven't spoken to the president about it. But I do think and we were reporting on Newsmax actually tonight, our White House correspondent says he will be out in the next couple of weeks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you make of Ruddy's comments? Is the writing on the wall for Acosta, do you think?

ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR: Absolutely. I think he will be out in the next couple of weeks. Public opinion and congressional opinion is turning against Acosta. The Republicans are talking not only among themselves but also many of them are talking publicly about -- just the political liability that he is right now.

LEMON: Would any other labor secretary or high level government official under any other administration still have a job?

REICH: No, absolutely not. You have to understand, the Labor Department is the largest law enforcement agency outside the Justice Department that is specifically there to protect vulnerable people, workers who have lost their wages and workers who are sexually harassed of their federal contractors (ph), people who need the protection of the federal government with regard to very wealthy people, big corporations.

And you have somebody who is heading the Labor Department who caved because he said in his own defense -- Acosta said that he just didn't want to -- could not take on all of these wealthy individuals, all the wealth, all the power, all of the people who were defending Jeffrey Epstein.

[23:55:01] Well, that by itself seems to me to disqualify him from being a labor secretary any longer.

LEMON: Speaking of qualifications or about qualifying, all Republicans -- this was known by Republicans before his nomination. How did Acosta even make it through the vetting process?

REICH: Well, that's a very good question. How did he even make it through the White House? Why was he even somebody who the president wanted to be labor secretary in the first place? You know, a lot of this was known. I will assume just for the sake of being fair to Republicans and being fair to the Trump White House that not all of it was known. Some of this has come out much more recently.

But even so, on the basis of what was known then, it is very surprising that Trump nominated this person and also extremely surprising that the Republicans in the Senate went along with it.

LEMON: Trump comments today about Acosta actually fit a long pattern of him sticking up for men who have been caught in scandals. It is often said the president lacks empathy, but, I mean, it doesn't seem that way in these cases with certain individuals.

REICH: I think that the -- certainly the men that that Donald Trump has sided with. I mean, if you're talking about Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes and Kavanaugh, I mean, these people have been people who have been political allies of the president, not just men but political allies.

But when it comes to men who have been accused who have been Democrats, Al Franken, Bill Clinton, obviously, the president changes his mind and doesn't worry about sexual harassment. I think a lot of it has to do with politics. It is not just a male-female thing.

LEMON: Robert Reich, thank you for your time. I appreciate you joining us.

REICH: Thank you very much, Don.

LEMON: And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.