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House Speaker Pelosi Call for Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to Step Down for Constructing Previous Plea Deal with Jeffrey Epstein; President Trump Criticizes British Ambassador to U.S. after Leaked Cables Critical of the President; Exclusive: Joe & Jill Biden Sit Down with CNN. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired July 9, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The alleged behavior shocks the conscience.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The one thing you cannot say about Joe is that he's a racist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's going to have a problem with black voters.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can go back and pick everybody's record apart. No one knows the context at the moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden thinks out loud. Some of those thoughts you want to say keep them to yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, July 9, 8:00 now in the east.
Late last night House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, to resign over that secret sweetheart deal that he made with multi-millionaire and registered sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein has been indicted on new sex trafficking charges that allege he exploited dozens of girls, some as young as 14, at his homes in New York and Florida. So this morning we are waiting to hear from Secretary Acosta and the White House on these new allegations and Acosta's future.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Also this morning, Jill Biden told CNN's Chris Cuomo that Senator Kamala Harris, her attack on her husband at the first Democratic debate came as a surprise. But she assured that American voters didn't buy it. Both Jill and Joe Biden are also opening up about their son Hunter Biden's mental health struggle. That is a CNN exclusive coming up.
CAMEROTA: So let's talk about all of this. We want to bring in Sarah Isgur and David Gregory, CNN political analysts. We also have Joey Jackson here, our CNN legal analyst, to help us understand what's going on in the Jeffrey Epstein case.
But first, Sarah, let's just talk about the politics of all of this. Can Alex Acosta survive this now that we know he decided to do this sweetheart plea deal that was so beyond anything that other standard prosecutors say would ever have been applicable in a case of a sex offender with this amount of victims? And by the way, Alex Acosta in the sweetheart plea deal didn't even alert the victims to telling this. That's one of the egregious things. Do you think he politically survives this?
SARAH ISGUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: First of all, and this is great testament to journalism in general. We wouldn't know about all of this but for a lot of work of journalists behind the scenes. And second, the political question, it's interesting. There seems to be a lot of wait and see. Yes, Nancy Pelosi came out last night and called on him to resign, but so far none of the Democratic or Republican senators who voted for his confirmation have said one way or the other. So I think that a lot of people are waiting, holding their breath a little, to see what all comes out in this case, which is, frankly, probably not a very smart political move. I think voters are kind of sick of that game, but that's the D.C. game at this point, maybe.
BERMAN: There's so many levels to this. One of them is the legal side to it, with the explicit criticism from the current Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Southern District of New York, on Alex Acosta, who is in the cabinet, David, and then just the fact that Jeffrey Epstein who is charged with sex trafficking is someone who the president of the United States knows and was friendly with, someone who the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, knows and was friendly with and traveled with. Really an extraordinary reach to this case.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, it's seedy. Those connections, the quote from President Trump, cringeworthy, talking about how Epstein liked women, beautiful women on the younger side, and certainly liked his social life as he told "New York" magazine. And now you've got a sitting cabinet member who's attracting a lot of unwanted publicity for the president.
And what we've seen from the president before is when you have this kind of distraction, he may ultimately cut the ties even if Acosta stands by what he did, the deal he made under those circumstances. It is worth pointing out this was known, he was vetted. He was vetted by the Senate. And as we discussed last hour, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia asked him about the deal. But this was not a huge issue, and in part because some of these new details it has been pointed out from investigative journalism have now come to light which make it look in hindsight as a horrible deal for somebody who was rich and powerful who could get off. It's sickening. And that will have it be looked at.
It'll be curious now how Acosta now, Secretary Acosta addresses all of that and whether if he stands firm on it he'll get the president's support for doing just that, because we've seen the president back people who take a strong stand. CAMEROTA: Joey, have you ever seen a plea deal like this with this
number of victims, their age, with just the scope of what the allegations against Epstein were, the charges against him, a plea deal like this?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The simple answer is no. Let's be clear about what this is. This is justice for the rich and powerful and then there's justice for the people who don't have the resources to get justice. We prosecutors do deals, and I'm going to say that non-prosecution agreement, in English essentially what the prosecutors are saying is that we're not going to prosecute. We think in the interest of justice there are other conditions you can meet and satisfy and we're going to hold it in abeyance. You satisfy that, we're going to be all good.
[08:05:05] But in the context of how all that happens, it does not, does not, did I say, does not happen when you have 36 people who where their allegations there are as heinous as there are and that carry as much time as they do. And so clearly there had to be something else that was amiss. And I don't think it's a mystery that public corruption was investigating this case based upon how did this sweetheart deal come about? Was there an exchange of funds, resources? I'm speculating, don't know. But it's the normal cost of events when you go in and negotiate with prosecutors you talk about what's reasonable. We know what the law says, we know what the conduct is. What can we do --
CAMEROTA: And the law said, I think, correct me if I'm wrong, 45 years to life in prison. So that's what would have been reasonable.
JACKSON: You know what, when you look at that to that magnitude, whether that sentence would be reasonable is another question. I think what you have to look to is what is the maximum exposure. And I have never seen an instance where you're looking at life in prison, where you get a deferred prosecution, plead guilty to state charges, and then you are able to go out and work and go to your job and earn an income. That doesn't happen, and it's atrocious.
BERMAN: Very quickly, any double jeopardy issue here? It's sort of the defense that Epstein's team is putting forward here.
JACKSON: I don't see it for a couple of reason. I think there's another defense, John, and I'll tell you that in a minute. Double jeopardy I don't think you're going to have for a very significant reason. There was no adjudication of the matter. It was not resolved in any way, shape, or form. He wasn't tried, he wasn't convicted. It was deferred. And so to that extent you could exhume it, and you have other charges that potentially were not mixed up in this. And so I don't see double jeopardy. I do see perhaps a contractual argument. To what extent should he have relied upon an agreement that said we're not going to move forward. We know that New York is separate from Florida, but it's the federal government giving you a promise. Why not rely upon that. Be sure that his lawyers are going to condition arguments upon that at the very outset.
CAMEROTA: Let's move onto what President Trump is thinking about, what's on his mind this morning, and Sarah, that is what should happen to the ambassador, the British ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch. It was exposed, or revealed that he said some unflattering things about President Trump in these confidential cables that he sent back to his home office.
BERMAN: Which is his job, by the way. His job is to send his unvarnished assessment of what he is seeing in whichever country he's in.
CAMEROTA: Sarah, that's usually what ambassadors are supposed to do, but somehow these cables were leaked, maybe they were hacked. We don't know the backstory of who leaked these or how they became public. But now President Trump is basically declaring him persona non grata, that the U.S. will no longer work with him. Is that how this is all supposed to unfold?
ISGUR: Well, what an interesting few years, and we've seen so many of these national security leaks really undermine some of the relationships between strong allies. Can you think of really a stronger ally to the United States than Great Britain? And clearly this would be damaging for any relationship. You see the U.K. standing by their ambassador for now. You see the president tweeting about it. No surprise there. But I think the real story here is these national security leaks that keep happening. They've happened on our side. They've happened to other countries. You're going to find that diplomatically countries are going to have a find a new way to communicate, protect against leaks, or you're not going to have ambassadors writing their true thoughts in these cables.
BERMAN: I want to know two things. One, we're hearing from London this morning, the British prime minister is standing by Ambassador Darroch, who I'm sure, David, is someone you have run across in Washington over time. He's well-known in social circles and been there for some time. And I also want to note, and you alluded to this, the president is going directly after him on Twitter this morning, calling him the whacky ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States, is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. That's the president of the United States speaking about the British ambassador to the United States.
And there's a question, David, about whether he was disinvited to a dinner last night with the Emir of Qatar, who was here. There's a question about whether or not Ambassador Darroch will be disinvited to a White House event today with Ivanka Trump where he was expected to attend.
GREGORY: It's so shortsighted. Fine, you can be offended if you're the president. But this is where I think President Trump acts like he's in some tabloid war in New York real estate circles or in social circles instead of thinking about the presidency itself, which is bigger than him. He has to worry about his representative, the United States government's representatives all over the world, their ability to give unvarnished advice and feedback to the United States government and have that be free flowing. The question of leaks, as Sarah says, is very important and concerning. And the reality is that the president is making this a deal. The government is going to be in transition anyway, there could be a new ambassador, maybe not.
[08:10:02] But the relationship is so much bigger than this. The U.K.'s ambassador to Washington is important and heretofore has played an important role as being someone who not just speaks for the government, has strong relationships within Washington, both on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch. But our relationship with the U.K. is also base said on the head of state going and dealing with each other at that level. So that's not going to be broken. But, again, the president needs to protect his ambassadors around the world from this kind of response by a foreign leader.
BERMAN: All right, friend, stand by, if you will, because up next Jill Biden, the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, talks about the political attacks targeting her husband.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JILL BIDEN, JOE BIDEN'S WIFE: I think we knew this was going to be a little bit tougher. Probably Kamala was a little bit of a surprise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: We have new sound from Chris Cuomo's exclusive interview with the Bidens, next.
BERMAN: All right, we have a CNN exclusive, Joe and Jill Biden sitting down with our Chris Cuomo, the Democratic front-runner and his wife. They're no strangers to really full-bodied contact politics but they admit they were caught off-guard by Senator Kamala Harris' debate attack against the former vice president over his record on race and segregation.
Here is part one of Chris' interview with the Bidens.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I appreciate you guys taking this opportunity.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Happy to be here, man.
JILL BIDEN, WIFE OF JOE BIDEN: Thanks, yes.
CUOMO: Thank you. This time how is this different for you?
JILL BIDEN: Well, it's -- you know, I think we knew this was going to be a little bit tougher. It feels a little bit different. There are so many candidates in the race. But so far, it's gone pretty well. So, we've been in, what, two months and things feel good.
CUOMO: Biggest surprise for you so far?
JILL BIDEN: The biggest surprise I think was the debate. I think -- you know, I think probably Kamala was a little bit of a surprise. I think that's the biggest surprise so far.
CUOMO: Different position for you. Fighting from the front, right?
JOE BIDEN: Yes.
CUOMO: You've been an underdog pretty much your whole career. You've achieved amazing things. But what surprises you about fighting from the front?
JOE BIDEN: Well, I knew that whoever is in the front is going to have a target on their back, and I knew that was occurring, but, you know, what surprised me is the response of people on the street, the people that no matter where I am, there's an enthusiasm and all the talk about hits and the rest, but I keep having endorsement after endorsement.
The governor of Connecticut endorsed me, you know, the mayor, the leading African-American person here in Waterloo -- not here, but in Waterloo, endorsed me, introduced me, surprised me. A number of African-American leaders have endorsed. The mayor of Atlanta, sought- after endorsement.
So, what I try to do, Chris, is focus -- I know this is a marathon. And I try to focus on just my feel here, what's happening in the street, what's happening when I go out. And it's been -- it's been gratifying.
You know, I -- I've been surprised not about the attacks but I've been surprised at the intensity sometimes of the attacks.
CUOMO: Making you second-guess yourself?
JOE BIDEN: No, it doesn't. It doesn't make me second guess, but it makes me decide, this race is about the future, man. And we can go back and pick everybody's record apart, if you want to go back 20, 30, 40 years, you take it out of context because no one knows the context at the moment. And so, it's really easy to distort. It's just surprised me a little bit, some of the stuff that's come out in terms of the attack lines.
And -- but I'm not going to go there. And I'm just going to try -- look, Barack said it best in another context. He said, you don't want to form a circular firing squad. The only person who wins in that one is the president of the United States, the guy who's there now.
CUOMO: 2016, such a hard decision for you. Frankly, at the time, I didn't know how it could have come out any other way. Did you think that Joe Biden had had an amazing run, but that was it in 2016? Did you think that was it?
JILL BIDEN: I did and I think Joe thought that as well. Once this president was elected people started coming up to us and saying, you know, Joe has to run. He has to run.
And then Charlottesville occurred and then it sort of got louder and, Jill, you have to tell Joe he has to run. CUOMO: What did that do to you? How did you process that
JILL BIDEN: Well, I think -- you know, I have always said that I thought Joe would be the best president and I've always supported him and I know where his heart is. I know his values. And I think he's in such direct contrast to what we have now with president Trump.
And so, as I started to think about it and our family did, I said, you know what, it's the right decision.
CUOMO: Why is it worth it as somebody who grew up in politics. You know what's going to be done with him. On his best day, at his best, running at 105 percent, you know what it's going to be like, and that's just the primary, let alone a general election against one of the most fearsome politicians we've ever seen.
Why is it worth it?
JILL BIDEN: It's worth it because it's going to change the lives of so many Americans. I mean, look at what Joe can do on education, on climate change, on foreign policy -- I mean, everything that he's worked so hard for, and that makes it all worth it.
CUOMO: You said at a rally, you want to talk big ideas. I'm going to cure cancer. Did you mean it that way?
JOE BIDEN: I did. What I meant was, what I've said all along, we can fundamentally change the face of cancer and eventually we'll cure -- I think we'll be able to cure almost every cancer.
[08:20:04] We're curing cancers now, Chris.
But the thing is, we're devoted to that notion and there's so much -- think of what we can do in this country if we take the resources that are being wasted now and spend it on significant research on cancer, on Alzheimer's, on diabetes, on so many things.
I've been sitting down with the so-called PCAST, the scientists who used to advise us. We're on the cusp of so many breakthroughs and what are we doing? We're doing nothing. We're wasting -- not doing nothing, the government can actually rally enormous support, intellectual capacity is -- you know, we're tweeting from Normandy from some actress or something. I don't know.
It just seems to me -- Chris, you -- I'll say you know -- I think you know me, I've never been more optimistic in my life about the possibilities of this country.
CUOMO: Why? We're so divided. We can't be together on anything. We can't get Congress together to help kids on the border.
JOE BIDEN: Well, the thing of the matter -- the fact of the matter is, we're in a better position. Our politics is broken, but the public is not broken. The point of the matter is there's so many opportunities. We not only have the greatest military in the history of the world,
we've led by the example of our power all these years. We're in a position where we have the capacity to do so much. We have the greatest research universities in the world, more than the rest of the world combined. It's all right there.
What bugs me, what bothers me is there's one big roadblock and I'm not being melodramatic, it's Donald Trump. Donald Trump. And what he's done is everything, everybody has done when they try to gain power and break down the barriers, he's trying to divide us in every way, on race, on religion, on ethnicity, across the board. That's the only way he can stay in power.
And it has to stop, Chris, because, look, if we can't bring it together, we're in real trouble.
JILL BIDEN: Americans want us to be reunited. We were just at a rally here in Iowa and everyone was saying, we have to work together, we have to solve these problems. They're too big. They have to solve them together.
CUOMO: One fight at a time. That's the general election. You have to find a way to bring your party together. It seems the fundamental tension now is, is Joe Biden the right fit for this party at this time?
They're coming at you not on policy, but the way you discuss policy, the phrases you use, that you are not in step with their lingo, let alone where they want to go.
BIDEN: Well, let me tell you, I think I'm more in step with the lingo than any of them. I was asked to go into 24 states, campaign for 69 candidates. (INAUDIBLE) to go into those places.
You remember I got criticized, I said we're going to win back the House of Representatives. We went in and beat Republicans head on. We took them on issues of health care. We went to their neighborhoods and made the case against them.
You know, half of it -- my dad would say, showing up, making the case. The idea that somehow we have decided that our system doesn't work anymore, which I'm hearing some of them, that we're going to, you know, pack the courts, we're going to fundamentally change the way -- I'm going to do what Trump did. You know, if we take control, I'm going to go in there and I'm just going to by executive order.
What are we talking about? Look, this is the Fourth of July, man. We're celebrating what a group of revolutionary folks did. They put down their life, liberty, scared honor, why? For a value set.
And if we give that up, Chris, we're in real trouble.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So, up next, we're going to hear more from Jill Biden. She's going to come to her husband's defense again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Hunter came out in a magazine article talking about his struggle with mental health. I say bravo for him and I'll tell you what --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: All right. We're going to hear certainly also more about their children. So, more of Chris' exclusive with the Bidens, next.
[08:27:50] CAMEROTA: Now to part 2 of CNN's exclusive interview with Joe and Jill Biden. The former vice president has endured family tragedies throughout his life. His first wife and their 1-year-old daughter were killed in a car crash in 1972 and then his son Beau lost his battle with brain cancer in 2015.
Now, well, Joe Biden's second son from his first marriage is facing mental health issues and addiction. And the Bidens open up about his struggles. Watch this.
CUOMO: Hunter came out in a magazine article talking about his struggle with mental health. I say bravo for him.
JILL BIDEN: Thank you.
CUOMO: And you're hearing how the campaigns negotiate, what does it mean, points to a stigma. Nobody would have ever said if Hunter Biden come out and said he had leukemia, God forbid.
JILL BIDEN: Yes.
CUOMO: We'd all be like, oh, jeez, you know, I hope he can get the treatment. I hope he'll all right with it.
Mental illness, mental health issue, what does it mean? How do -- what has Hunter's health meant to you and what do you want it to mean in terms of what you put into the campaign about?
JILL BIDEN: Well, we've seen the struggle. You know, we've seen the struggle and we know that most American families are dealing with some sort of struggle like we are. And I think they can relate to us as, you know, parents who are hopeful and are supportive of our son and we will continue to be supportive, and I think that makes us more empathetic about helping other Americans, and I think one --
JOE BIDEN: He's going to beat this.
JILL BIDEN: Yes.
JOE BIDEN: This kid, I'm telling you, as you know, you knew Beau, Beau is my soul. Hunter is my heart. And Hunter has been through some tough times, but he's fighting. He's fighting. He's never given up. He's the most honorable, decent person I know.
And I read that article and all I could do is think of, my God, he gives me so much credit than I deserve as a dad.
JILL BIDEN: It's courageous.
JOE BIDEN: But it took enormous courage. I knew nothing about that article, nothing about that article, except he told me toward the end he was having this long interview.
But it's a catharsis for him. And, look, everybody has to deal with these issues in a way that is consistent with who they are and what they are. This guy is the most generous, honorable man that I know. And I am confident, confident, he's going to make it.
And, look, it's a.