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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Acosta Blames State Prosecutors For Jeffrey Epstein Sex Crime Deal; Ex-State Attorney Hits Back At Labor Secretary Acosta; Cuccinelli: ICE Raids "Absolutely Going To Happen". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 10, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, ANDERSON COOPER 360: -- emergencies that says that 10 to 15 inches of rain could fall within 24 hours. We'll continue to watch that carefully.

News continues right now. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, CUOMO PRIME TIME: All right, Coop, thank you very much. I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

The President's Labor Secretary has learned well from his boss. When confronted with wrongdoing, he blamed everyone else involved. But one of them is firing back tonight. Let's look at what we know and test who is right.

The legalities in this Epstein case are going to take time. But the politics are playing out in real time. And Mr. Acosta won't resign as Labor Secretary. Will Congress force his exit? Should it?

We have a Senator and 2020 hopeful leading the charge on that. We'll ask her about the latest on that, and the Border fix from Senators from her party, Senator Amy Klobuchar here tonight.

We also have the President's Acting Immigration Chief sounding the sirens that ICE raids are absolutely coming. Is that the best or worst move right now?

And we have news on what Democrats are planning for Mr. Mueller. We have the plan and the stakes.

What do you say? Let's get after it.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: "Not me, boss," that's what you heard from the Labor Secretary today, a lot of excuses. "Don't blame me. Blame them for the Jeffrey Epstein sweetheart deal." Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEXANDER ACOSTA, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF LABOR: Simply put, the Palm Beach State Attorney's Office was ready to let Epstein walk free, no jail time, nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, the former Palm Beach County State Attorney says that is BS. Barry Krischer put out a statement saying, quote, "Federal prosecutors do not take a back seat to state prosecutors." True, by the way. "Mr. Acosta brokered a secret plea deal that resulted in a Non-Prosecution Agreement in violation of the Crime Victims' Rights Act." OK?

He says his office took the Epstein case to a Grand Jury that returned a single indictment. The U.S. Attorney's Office produced a 53-page indictment that was abandoned when Acosta cut the deal. So, what does this mean now?

Let's bring in Senator Amy Klobuchar among many Democrats demanding Acosta's resignation.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: Senator, good to have you on the show, as always.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so the dialectic goes like this. "We don't like the deal. The deal kind of stinks. Lots of deals stink. Why should the Labor Secretary resign so many years later?"

KLOBUCHAR: The Labor Secretary actually has jurisdiction over human trafficking, and this is something that should be a major focus of his. And what we've now learned is that he made a deal behind closed doors without consulting with the victim.

We already have a Florida District Court Judge who has said that this was wrong and illegal. And I don't think--

CUOMO: He says he followed the Office protocol.

KLOBUCHAR: No.

CUOMO: As a former prosecutor, could he have been following the Office protocol and not the Crime Victims' Act as well?

KLOBUCHAR: I don't buy this. You're supposed to, as a prosecutor, do your job without fear or favor. And your mission is to make sure that justice is - happens, no matter who the defendant is, no matter how connected they are.

And what I saw here today is that he first blames the victims. He says, "Well they didn't really want to come forward, so I didn't want to," give me a break!

You have cases all the time, especially when you have a major defendant like this with a sex ring, where maybe you're going to have to make sure the girls are protected. Sometimes, we even would subpoena someone to testify, just to be able to get the bad guy, all right?

CUOMO: And he did other cases that were of similar subject matter--

KLOBUCHAR: Yes.

CUOMO: --where there were--

KLOBUCHAR: Right.

CUOMO: --much different prosecution angles. Let me ask you this though. The--

KLOBUCHAR: Well we had one in Minnesota recently, where the - the U.S. Attorney's Office got over 30 years for two girls.

CUOMO: Right.

KLOBUCHAR: So, anyway.

CUOMO: This is the most lenient sentence any of the prosecutors I've spoken to--

KLOBUCHAR: But - but--

CUOMO: --I'll add to the list, I've ever heard of, for these kinds of crimes.

But let me ask you this. You guys knew about his role when he came up as Labor Secretary. He was asked about the Epstein prosecution. Why wasn't there the same high dudgeon then?

KLOBUCHAR: Well I didn't support him, and a number of my colleagues didn't. And then, some of this information had not come out till later. But I did want to really point out something.

CUOMO: Please.

KLOBUCHAR: Because this is the issue of the day here, where he suddenly is blaming the local county attorney.

CUOMO: Yes.

KLOBUCHAR: And I want to make clear as someone that had that job before, when the Feds would come in and say they'd want a case, sometimes we'd go back and forth, and say, "Look, we think we can do this one." Sometimes they'd say "OK."

But a lot of times we go where we thought we could get the longer sentence or they would just take it. And we had very cordial relations with the U.S. Attorney when I was there, so we'd have a lot of discussions.

But most of the time, they would be able to take the case because they could get the longer sentence, and would have the resources. In our offices, we ended up doing a lot of white-collar cases. I put a judge in prison, my office did.

[21:05:00] But the point of the story is I don't buy this at all. I believe that local D.A., who basically says, come on, the U.S. Attorney's Office here have this long indictment and they should have gotten a good sentence, and certainly not given him a deal where he can work six days a week, leave jail, and go to work, making billions of dollars, while other people in the same circumstances, like the one I just mentioned, go away for 30 years.

CUOMO: No, I understand all that. And it is interesting that Secretary Acosta did not bring up his work with human trafficking in his role as a Cabinet Secretary when it is under his auspices. That - that's a fair point, and he didn't even mention it.

Let me ask you about something else. A couple of your colleagues on the Democratic side in the Senate are coming out with a bill tomorrow, I understand, Senator Schumer and Merkley, I think, are the main sponsors, to deal with the conditions at the Border, and it covers separation and some other guarantees of how people are going to be kept.

However, the main role for Congress in what's going on down there is not addressed, which is the set of rules, the statutory rules that are causing a lot of the constipation on the Border. Why isn't the Senate bill addressing that?

KLOBUCHAR: Well we are - we're going to put this bill out tomorrow. And I think what this bill gets at is some standards for detention, so they'd - you don't have situations where kids don't have toothbrushes or so.

CUOMO: Right. But they can't meet the standards--

KLOBUCHAR: They needed to stop--

CUOMO: --because they're overwhelmed.

KLOBUCHAR: Right. Let's get--

CUOMO: And part of being overwhelmed is resources, part is rules.

KLOBUCHAR: OK. The other thing we're going to address is you stop this separation of kids from their parents.

The other thing that must be addressed, which is the must, bigger issue that I think would resolve all of this is comprehensive reform, which gives us the money because the score on that bill, the amount of money we would bring in from 2013 was something like a 50 - a $158 billion reduction of the deficit.

Think of, if you're talking about improving these facilities, and if you're talking about allowing for asylum cases like they should be to be processed in the countries, where the people live--

CUOMO: That'd be great.

KLOBUCHAR: --we would be able to fix a lot of this, Chris.

CUOMO: That would be great.

KLOBUCHAR: But this President, every step of the way has said "No." Even when we tried to help the 2 million DREAMers in this country with support of Senators like Johnny Isakson and Mike Rounds, Republicans, he said "No." And that's--

CUOMO: Do it without him, and make him veto a bill or, you know, just go around it, because if you're going to wait for the President, he's not going to work with you on it, Senator. I mean we--

KLOBUCHAR: Well that's why as--

CUOMO: --we both know it.

KLOBUCHAR: That's why I want to be President because I believe we can get this done within the first year, and we can stop this chaos at the Border.

And you need someone in the White House that's able to work to get this bill done, so we stop the chaos, we have comprehensive immigration reform, which would be so much better for economy when we don't have enough workers in nursing homes in Minnesota, and we have the administration continuing to threaten to deport people who are here on temporary status legally.

It is a major problem, much bigger than the Border.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something else while I have you here. Mueller comes in next week. I'm - in doing the research for this, everybody's talking about where are the Democrats? What are their plans?

Let me reverse the thinking on this for a second. What happens if Mueller doesn't wow people with his testimony? He says he's going to stick to the report. I think there's plenty in that report that people haven't read that would be surprising to them.

But what if he doesn't deliver? What if the needle doesn't move after the Mueller testimony? Should an impeachment inquiry be abandoned as an effort? Is that going to be some indicator for you?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, you know, I have been in favor of moving forward--

CUOMO: Yes.

KLOBUCHAR: --with impeachment proceedings because I see those 10 points of obstruction of justice. That aside, I think it is very important for the nation to be able to hear Director Mueller testify. They should be able to hear it.

And, by the way, even if he just sticks to the facts of the report, it is a lot easier to digest, the former FBI Director under Republican President exactly outlining everything that Russia did.

We had a classified briefing today about what went on with Russia, and I can just - I can't reveal what happened there. But I can say that what we know publicly, and that is that Director Mueller said in his report that in a systematic and sweeping fashion Russia interfered in our election.

And what I would love to get out of this testimony of Director Mueller is the public to see the two ways they did it very clearly, one, by trying to hack into election equipment. And then, secondly, with the propaganda and the lies and those fake divisive ads they bought.

People have to understand it because we're starting to see it again. And that's why I want to have my backup paper ballot bill, the bill that I've tried many, many times to get through passed, we're going to try it again, and - in the coming weeks.

And then, secondly, to make sure that we do something about these ads, these political ads, when there's no rules of the road for those big social media companies.

CUOMO: Senator Klobuchar, always happy to have you on the show to talk about what matters to the American people. I'll see you again--

KLOBUCHAR: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: --soon. Be well.

KLOBUCHAR: I'll see you soon.

CUOMO: And good luck going forward.

KLOBUCHAR: All right, see you.

CUOMO: All right.

KLOBUCHAR: Bye.

[21:10:00] CUOMO: Now, when we're talking about Epstein, you got to stick to what is common sense on these things, all right? Don't get buried in legalese. Don't follow the finger-pointing. And please don't get caught up in the intrigue of who was better friends with this guy? Who cares?

Let's take a look at the facts of what we know about how it was handled, OK? We are going to dissect them with one of the best investigators around. What was done that seems fine and what was fugazi, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: This President's Labor Secretary stood in front of cameras for almost an hour today. Now, you can argue who's trying to save his job. Others will say he was just trying to explain the deal he cut for multi-millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

But here's what matters. The deal that Alex Acosta says happened has to be looked at through the lens of a different time, when victims weren't treated as they are today.

Let's bring in Asha Rangappa. She worked at the FBI. She understands these investigations.

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TEXT: 3 QUESTIONS.

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CUOMO: And let's just do a smell test on his version of events, OK?

[21:15:00] First question, meeting with the defendant counsel in a hotel, multiple times, saying that - meeting with him multiple times, at least once that we know of in a hotel, saying that "Well they kept starting and restarting the process, Asha, you know, they were in control of it. It was very frustrating for us."

The idea of him having prosecuted other cases with this subject matter, and having very different outcomes, what does that all mean to you?

ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, Chris, on first, let's - let's start with this (INAUDIBLE) this was a long time ago when (INAUDIBLE) different. We're talking about 2008. This isn't 1910, before women had the right to vote or something.

And the - the facts of this case involved more than 30 victims, all of whom were minors at the time that the criminal activity occurred, involved trafficking across, you know, state lines.

CUOMO: Yes. This was the real deal.

RANGAPPA: You know, it's the kind of thing that--

CUOMO: It wasn't a one-off. It wasn't a close call.

RANGAPPA: No. This--

CUOMO: It wasn't one person and questions of consent.

RANGAPPA: No. CUOMO: It was the real deal.

RANGAPPA: That's right. This is not a he-said-she-said.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: This is the kind of thing that a reasonable juror, let's say, would acknowledge was wrong.

And the very fact that there were so many victims, all of whose, you know, testimony would have been fairly consistent, and they had corroborating evidence in the form of phone records and flight manifests, suggest that there was quite a lot of evidence here, and that does not pass the smell test, in terms of what he said today in his press conference.

CUOMO: His idea that "Well look, you know, the state, you know, I had to deal with the state, you know. This was their case, you know," when's the last time you heard a federal prosecutor say that?

RANGAPPA: Yes. You know, the - the Feds are typically happy to take a good case from the state. Now, let's remember that this started because of a complaint to the Palm Beach Police Department in 2005.

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: The Palm Beach Police Department asked the FBI to get involved because of how concerned they were. The FBI then investigated and basically had a 53-page indictment ready to go.

Now, at this point, in the span of, you know, I think - in the span of about six months, this - this translates into a plea deal, where he then - Epstein pleads to these lesser charges in state court. It's important to remember that--

CUOMO: Like one - one victim involved--

RANGAPPA: --states and federal government are two--

CUOMO: --who was 17, you know, it was like the best-case scenario for him, and then the most lenient deal I've ever heard of, 18 months, only 13 served, six days a week, 12 hours a day on work release.

RANGAPPA: And there was nothing that would have prevented the U.S. Attorney's Office from continuing to investigate this further, if they believed that there was not a strong case.

Remember that trafficking cases does - do not have a statute of limitations--

CUOMO: Right.

RANGAPPA: --I believe, as of 2003, which is why the Southern District of New York is actually able to indict Epstein for some of the same conduct that Florida was looking at. This is the same timeframe, and even-- CUOMO: Why--

RANGAPPA: --some of the same facts.

CUOMO: Why the Public Corruption Unit--

RANGAPPA: Go ahead.

CUOMO: --being involved, Asha? What does that mean to you?

RANGAPPA: You know, I don't - I don't know. I mean, you know, I defer to prosecutors who have worked Public Corruption cases. There is some nexus there.

I would probably caution against jumping to big conclusions because, you know, Public Corruption can involve anything from low-level officials to high-level officials, in terms of their, you know, involvement in this kind of thing.

And this was a pretty extensive operation, so I do see a lot of big conclusions being reached, and I'm not sure - I think it's a bit premature to implicate certain people without more evidence.

CUOMO: I agree. Asha, thank you for helping us understand the context of why this is being looked at again. Appreciate it.

RANGAPPA: Now, politically, should the President have to own this Acosta mess?

On the one hand, well what did the President know? You know, he was vetted by the Senate. On the other hand, this is his Cabinet Secretary in charge of human trafficking, so does he have to own that?

How about the Border? Should the President own the conditions at the Border? Two great questions for a Great Debate. Let's get them both, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: When asked if he would step down today, Secretary Alex Acosta said, quote, "I serve at the pleasure of the President." Tonight, he is still serving. So, if there were a miscarriage of justice that Acosta should own with the Epstein deal, does President Trump now own that too? Let's use that as the start of tonight's Great Debate with Cenk Uygur and Dave Urban.

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TEXT: THE GREAT DEBATE.

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CUOMO: Hey, good to have you both on. Dave, nice to see you.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER TRUMP 2016 CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Chris, thanks for having me tonight.

CUOMO: Let me start with you. Dave, what's the - the argument for him owning it?

Well, Acosta, not to blame the President for what Acosta did back then. That's not fair. I don't care how good of friends or not, the President was with Epstein. I don't think that's fair either. Cenk will disagree. That's fine. That's his role.

My question is this. He is in charge of human trafficking, OK? His reputation in that area is at best sullied. Should this be a concern for the President?

URBAN: Now, look Chris, I - I think in this instance, look, if you - if you go back and look at media accounts from when this case was prosecuted in 2000 - in 2006, 2008, you know, Secretary Acosta was praised by many in the media for doing something that wasn't going to - going to take place, getting a real conviction against a guy who was being let off on state charges. This is, I mean you can say--

CUOMO: He didn't get a conviction. He took a plea.

URBAN: Well he took a - took a plea. And if you look at the affidavits by the career prosecutors involved here, look, this - he was the U.S. Attorney.

He was not all the - as you know Chris, you're a smart guy, you're a lawyer, Cenk's a lawyer, lots of AUSAs involved in this, lots of folks involved in this. You know, the Secretary didn't make the decision on this alone. He didn't overturn.

CUOMO: But he did cut the deal.

URBAN: Look, Chris, Chris--

CUOMO: He's the name on the deal.

URBAN: --Chris, he didn't overturn anybody. He - he went according with all the people in his office, all the career prosecutors, FBI. What - what he got was a deal that - that no one else was getting at the time.

So I think, look, it's a terrible thing. I'm glad that the Southern District of New York is prosecuting this - this - this guy who's by - by all accounts a really bad individual. And - and, in retrospect, look, maybe the state could have done something differently.

[21:25:00] The evidence must not have been there at the time because I promise you, Chris, that the good men and women of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office back then, in the Southern District of Miami were doing their jobs. They were trying their best.

Do you think anybody there wanted to let this creep go? I promise you they didn't.

CUOMO: I think--

CENK UYGUR, CEO & HOST, THE YOUNG TURKS: Yes.

CUOMO: --it's a legitimate - I think it's a legitimate question. Cenk?

URBAN: Because I promise you, they didn't, Cenk.

CUOMO: But I'm going to - hold on a second.

URBAN: You think that--

CUOMO: Let's be very clear.

URBAN: --you think that the - you think that the--

CUOMO: Hold on, Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave, Dave--

URBAN: --career prosecutors want to let this guy go, Cenk? That's--

CUOMO: --hold on a second. David--

UYGUR: Yes.

CUOMO: --hold on. The--

URBAN: Yes.

CUOMO: I like the reversal. You know how many times I've had to say that to you when we're talking about the Mueller probe? You know, do you think the FBI would really go after somebody politically? Now, you're using that one me.

URBAN: But - but - but Chris, it - but, Chris, because it's a legitimate--

CUOMO: I respect - I--

URBAN: --because it's a legitimate question.

CUOMO: I - I thought it was legitimate back then too. I don't believe in casting aspersions on the investigators because you don't like the outcome. But let me--

URBAN: I'm not casting aspersions. I'm-- CUOMO: I know. But you just you had a different perspective back.

UYGUR: Dave, let's go.

URBAN: No, no, Chris, I'm saying--

CUOMO: I'm just pointing that out.

URBAN: I'm asking, do you believe that the fine men--

CUOMO: No, I don't. I don't.

URBAN: --and women there want to let this creep go?

CUOMO: I don't think this was about investigators.

UYGUR: Can I add something?

CUOMO: I think if about anything, it was about influence on the outside. Cenk, your take.

UYGUR: OK. So, now there's a number of issues here. First of all, Acosta comes out today and says it was a different time. What was it? 1908? It was 2008. That's not that long ago.

Well in 2008, did you let child molesters get away? Was that the - the time that we were living in? No. That is the worst excuse I have ever heard. Then he blames it on state prosecutor. State prosecutors came out today and said, "Absolute lie, not remotely true."

And we're not talking about the FBI here, Dave. I know you Republicans hate the FBI. You hate the rule of law these days.

URBAN: Cenk, I don't hate the FBI.

UYGUR: OK. So--

URBAN: Don't - don't - don't - don't mischaracterize anything I say.

UYGUR: --OK. So, hold on, hold on.

So then, the FBI did their job, and they got amazing evidence, about 30 women, a 53-page indictment - indictment, and then what does Acosta do? He lets him off the hook. He let him get out of jail for six out of the seven days.

Why? Because he's rich, and he's connected, and he was represented by Kirkland & Ellis, a law firm that, hey look at that, Acosta used to work for.

So, a bunch of rich people get together, and go, "Hey, should we let our buddy off?" "Well you guys are representing him, so OK, so fine, let's let him off." And on Donald Trump--

URBAN: Cenk, it's such a joke.

UYGUR: --are you--

URBAN: You know what? People are way smarter. Make an--

UYGUR: Hold on.

URBAN: --argument that actually holds water, buddy.

UYGUR: OK. Yes, all right.

CUOMO: What doesn't hold water?

UYGUR: Hey, hey, listen, listen--

URBAN: Chris, you really believe--

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Hold on, hold on, guys, guys, let me reset.

URBAN: Chris, you're a smart guy.

CUOMO: Cenk--

URBAN: Chris, you're a smart guy.

CUOMO: Cenk, Dave? Let me reset.

URBAN: Do you really believe that there's a--

CUOMO: Let me reset.

URBAN: --conspiracy with that, Chris?

CUOMO: Let me reset.

URBAN: It's a joke.

CUOMO: First--

URBAN: Sure.

CUOMO: --other than the fact that Acosta didn't do the work release part, that came after him, but the leniency was certainly part of his negotiation, Dave. What I'm not getting from you in response to Cenk is what made the deal OK, when the witnesses were available then, and they weren't even told about the deal?

URBAN: Chris, listen, I'm not - I can't litigate each part, piece and portion of that thing, OK? I'm not going to say--

CUOMO: Then what doesn't make sense?

URBAN: Well, no, Chris, I - I can't - I can't give you an answer on that part of that, right?

CUOMO: But you're saying it doesn't make sense. URBAN: I'm just saying--

CUOMO: What doesn't make sense?

URBAN: No, I'm not saying it doesn't make sense. I'm just saying I can't--

CUOMO: You just said it doesn't make sense what he's saying.

URBAN: No, I'm not saying - I'm saying, Cenk, what he's saying about is this giant collusion between, you know - I worked at this law firm, worked at this law firm, wink, nod, wink, we're going to let this really bad guy go. It's - it's not - doesn't even make sense.

CUOMO: Well Acosta says that--

UYGUR: But that's a fact.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Acosta says--

UYGUR: But that's a fact.

CUOMO: --that the pressure from the defense counsel was--

URBAN: Not a fact, Cenk.

CUOMO: Acosta says things I've never heard from a federal prosecutor before.

"These defense attorneys, they were so good, Dave. They just kept coming, and like there was so much pressure, they kept messing with our process, and making us redo the deal, and saying we didn't like this deal, so we have to do it over," when have you ever heard a federal prosecutor--

URBAN: Chris, Chris--

CUOMO: --talk about defense counsel that way?

URBAN: Chris, you know what? I - I'm not here to defend the words of the - Secretary Acosta today. What I'm saying to you is, I look back, and you're a lawyer, Cenk's a lawyer.

UYGUR: You kind of are.

URBAN: We know how the offices work. We know - listen, Asha (ph) was just down here earlier, right? She was the AUSA for many years. You know, I - I promise you that each one of those people in those offices wanted to put this creep behind bars for as long as they could. They did the best job they could. You don't think--

CUOMO: It's not about the integrity of the FBI.

UYGUR: Not true. CUOMO: It's not about the integrity about the FBI.

URBAN: I'm not talking about the FBI, Chris.

CUOMO: It's about the outcome.

UYGUR: He's--

URBAN: I'm not talking--

CUOMO: And who manipulated it.

URBAN: Chris, I'm not talking about the - these are complex cases, Chris.

UYGUR: Hey, Dave.

URBAN: There are - there are lots of - lots of prosecutors involved here. And at the time, I promise you, they made the best case--

UYGUR: No.

URBAN: --they could at that time.

CUOMO: Final point to Cenk, go ahead.

UYGUR: OK. There was not a lot of prosecutors involved. It was Acosta. He made the decision. I don't know why you keep--

URBAN: Really? Cenk?

UYGUR: --sitting up for a guy who was so lenient on a child molester.

URBAN: He was - he was the U.S. Attorney. He did all the work.

UYGUR: No, Dave.

URBAN: He worked it all up.

UYGUR: It's my turn, OK? So, now, Acosta's best case scenario is, "Hey, I was such a terrible prosecutor that I - I was overwhelmed by the defense attorneys who are so good, I'm such a terrible prosecutor and - and lawyer." So then why are you the Labor Secretary?

His worst case scenario is "Hey, a lot of connected people wanted this guy off." His middle-case scenario is, "Come on, he was rich. I was - I couldn't put away a rich guy like this."

Imagine if a poor or middle-class average American had been accused of molesting dozens of kids, do you think they would have let him walk like this?

URBAN: Hey, hey, hey, Cenk, get--

[21:30:00] UYGUR: No way because Epstein was connected.

URBAN: --get your facts checked. So, Cenk, Chris--

CUOMO: All right, Dave, last button.

URBAN: You're - you're - you - you care about the facts.

CUOMO: Yes, what's the fact?

URBAN: Chris, you care about the facts here. You care about the facts.

CUOMO: What's the fact?

URBAN: The facts were there's an affidavit on file, go look it up, from the career prosecutor, female-type, who was in charge of this case, not Secretary Acosta, OK? Look at that. Go read it.

CUOMO: Yes, but he did the negotiation - he did the negotiating of the deal.

URBAN: I - I recommend - I--

CUOMO: He owns that.

URBAN: No, Chris, Chris, Chris--

CUOMO: He owns that.

URBAN: --admit it, Chris. Admit it, Chris.

UYGUR: And Trump. How about Trump?

URBAN: Admit it, "David, you're right. There was a female career prosecutor."

CUOMO: But - well then Acosta's lying? Acosta's a liar?

UYGUR: How about Trump?

URBAN: No, no, Chris, admit it. There was a female career prosecutor as a lead on the case.

CUOMO: Acosta says he did the deal.

UYGUR: Don't try to blame women, Dave.

URBAN: Chris, I - I'm not blame--

UYGUR: Don't try to blame women.

URBAN: Cenk, I'm not blaming women. You're so lame.

UYGUR: That's disgusting. That's disgusting.

URBAN: Cenk, you're lame.

CUOMO: Guys--

URBAN: Cenk, stick to the facts.

UYGUR: No. Acosta was accountable.

CUOMO: Look--

URBAN: Stick to the fact, Cenk.

UYGUR: Acosta was in charge.

URBAN: Facts are - the facts are--

CUOMO: The - the - let's - listen, this discussion--

UYGUR: Your facts are disgusting (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: --this discussion has ended its utility for tonight.

URBAN: Chris.

CUOMO: Were there - were there multiple people on the deal? Yes.

URBAN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Does Acosta own that he negotiated the deal? Yes. Nothing else is relevant. We will learn more.

URBAN: No, Chris. There are - lots of other things are relevant.

CUOMO: We will discuss more.

URBAN: Lots of other things are relevant here, Chris. They were relevant. There were lots of other prosecutors who wanted to put this guy away for a long time.

CUOMO: He did the deal.

UYGUR: What did Trump know and when did he know it?

CUOMO: I got to leave it there.

UYGUR: What did Trump know? And when did he know it?

CUOMO: No, that's - that's--

URBAN: Cenk!

CUOMO: --not an interest for me at this point.

URBAN: You're still trying to do (ph) Cenk.

CUOMO: But we'll see how it goes as we go forward.

URBAN: Not in factual.

CUOMO: Cenk Uygur, Dave Urban, I respect the passion. I'll talk to you again.

All right, you're going to hear more about that case, and it's going to have a lot of political purchase. But I got to tell you, wait for the closing because this is not a story about politics for me. I'll engage that angle. It's relevant. It's relevant. He is this sitting Labor Secretary, but there's more.

Now, another story. The President had promised mass immigration sweeps across the country, OK? Do you remember how muscular that was for his base? Now, his new top Immigration official says, "Oh, they're still coming."

Let's bring in Ken Cuccinelli to explain why they would do this now, how they will work, and what he's learned in his new capacity about the conditions down there. What are his concerns? What are the fixes? Next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: OK, so the Border situation.

The Trump administration is saying that there will be massive migrant roundups for people who have deportation orders. They're about a million of them. Obviously, you can't take on that kind of scope of humanity, but they do have very ambitious plans.

Democrats counter with today's hearing about kids in cages. So, the fix is still a long way from now. It's about whether or not we're going to make this situation any worse in the short-term.

One of the administration's top Immigration officials is Ken Cuccinelli.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: You know him from his time here on CNN. Congratulations on the appointment. I haven't spoken to you on TV since then.

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES DIRECTOR: Thanks, Chris. CUOMO: It's good to have you on the show. So, you were brought in as fresh eyes.

CUCCINELLI: Well let's get after it.

CUOMO: Let's get after it.

We - you were brought in for fresh eyes on a troubling situation. What do you make of these reports of inadequate medical care, unsafe and unhealthy conditions? What have you seen? What are you worried about?

CUCCINELLI: Well I was down, not last week, but the week before last at El Paso. That sector went from number six to number two behind the Rio Grande Valley in only about eight or nine months.

And, of course, you've reported on the numbers that happened in May, really a - a near unprecedented spike in numbers, but that wasn't the toughest part.

The toughest part was that those 144,000 apprehensions were over two- thirds, almost three-quarters families and unaccompanied children. And when you talk about overcrowding, the Border Patrol, in particular, was designed to handle individual adult male Mexicans.

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: They don't have the facility, which means short-term turnaround, they don't have the facility.

So, the way the system is supposed to work is that they then offload detainees to ICE. But ICE is oversubscribed in their detention facilities. And so, the pipeline has become clogged as it goes down the root, and, obviously--

CUOMO: So, you don't think it's about--

CUCCINELLI: --if it gets clogged anywhere--

CUOMO: --you don't think it's malfeasance?

CUCCINELLI: --it shows up, up front.

CUOMO: You don't think it's malfeasance?

CUCCINELLI: Pardon me?

CUOMO: You - you don't think it's malfeasance? You don't think it's people doing their job--

CUCCINELLI: No, I think this is--

CUOMO: --the wrong way. You think--

CUCCINELLI: Well, malfeasance on the part of Congress.

CUOMO: But not in terms of the men and women who are doing it? CUCCINELLI: That but--

CUOMO: Because the troubling part of the reports is people--

CUCCINELLI: No, look, Chris--

CUOMO: --saying they were told to drink toilet water--

CUCCINELLI: --Chris, one of the things I appreciate--

CUOMO: --and all that.

CUCCINELLI: Yes. Yes, yes - the - no.

And - and, Chris, one of the things I appreciate about you is you've gone down there, you've looked yourself, you've developed your own opinions based on facts, and I appreciate that, and I know a lot of other people do too.

And what - what I saw was, for instance, children being cared for well in a Border Patrol facility that was never designed to house children. And - and - and you, of course, saw the Inspector General's report and the pictures in there, and that was largely a function of raw numbers.

This system, for the fourth month in a row, is over a 100,000 people coming over the Border. I looked at data all the way back to 2012, there's never been a single month over that mark--

CUOMO: It's true.

CUCCINELLI: --or really nearing in that--

CUOMO: The numbers are astronomical.

CUCCINELLI: --in that seven years' time.

CUOMO: And, listen, let's talk - so let's talk about--

CUCCINELLI: They are astronomical. And - and there's only so much you can do.

CUOMO: Well let's talk about what is being done. And this is the part I don't understand.

CUCCINELLI: Yes.

CUOMO: I don't have any problem with the law being enforced. I think that if you come in illegally, you have a problem. You have to deal with it. But I don't understand sweeps--

CUCCINELLI: Right.

CUOMO: --now because I don't know how you can add to the capacity problem. I don't know who will process these people, where you will keep them. You're overcapacity now. Why do the sweeps now? It seems like a - a nightmare scenario. CUCCINELLI: Well the fact that, you know, it's even newsworthy that ICE is doing its job, which is, as you noted, to pursue really first ask, but then pursue those who - who won't respond on the removal orders, so there's about a million removal orders where people have gone--

CUOMO: Right.

CUCCINELLI: --all the way through a long process. They got due process and so forth. And that's the pool that ICE has to work from in terms of removals. There are other things ICE does.

But in the removal space, what they try to do operationally is set up to process the particular people in that pool quickly, so that they don't just jam them all in detention centers that are already overcrowded.

CUOMO: They don't have the manpower to do that.

CUCCINELLI: That they process them out quickly.

CUOMO: It seems to be like this is a political play--

CUCCINELLI: Well ICE has manpower to do some of it.

CUOMO: --on harshness.

CUCCINELLI: We're not talking about doing all of it, Chris.

[21:40:00] CUOMO: I know. But I'm saying that doing any of it is a political message of harshness that I know this President likes. But I just see it as adding to a contamination right now. You have, like you just said, over half of these people are families and kids.

CUCCINELLI: Well but you can't - you can't--

CUOMO: You can't care for them. And you're going to put more stress on the system.

CUCCINELLI: --forfeit - you cannot forfeit the other parts of the pipeline.

The end of the pipeline of illegal immigration is deportation. And we're talking about the crowded points well before that right on the front-end, when people come across the Border, but you also have to - have to work on the back-end.

Just like in my agency, we're working to knock down the asylum backlog of cases while supporting the Border effort.

ICE has to do the same thing in its - in its own realm of authority, where they have to continue to - to enforce removal orders, all the while backing up CBP in terms of detention with the Border crisis.

CUOMO: But why add to a system that's overtaxed? Why not just prioritize that right now-- CUCCINELLI: Well there's - there's a few--

CUOMO: Look, here - here's my real question is that it seems that--

CUCCINELLI: Yes, I--

CUOMO: --the President wants to choose to keep hammering on the harshness, and keep hammering on enforcement--

CUCCINELLI: No.

CUOMO: --and going after them, and not dealing with the true crisis of humanity, and caring for these kids and families, which he never prioritizes.

CUCCINELLI: Chris, you said yourself that it's important to enforce the law, as it's written. And I would note that the appropriation bill that passed last month, most of that bill went to care for children, and what happened.

CUOMO: Yes.

CUCCINELLI: So, we went from about 2,500 kids in these facilities, not designed for them, down to below 350 with only a handful, maybe 20 or so that have been there more than the - the requisite 72 hours, which is our target time for those kids to be placed in appropriate facilities for children.

And - and when Congress actually stepped up to do that one small part of its job, the system started to work with respect to those children. We have not seen Congress do that either with asylum loopholes, which are attracting a lot of these folks--

CUOMO: Fair point.

CUCCINELLI: --nor with adults for detention, which is what you and I are talking about, not just in terms of removal--

CUOMO: Fair point. But I'm saying we're still getting reports--

CUCCINELLI: --but also in the second stage at the Border.

CUOMO: But we're still getting reports, Ken, and I know that this is why you were sent down there.

We just got one out of Arizona that was reported on by NBC first last night that the conditions are beneath the standard of care that we expect from ourselves in this country.

That seems to me to be the most important piece of this. And that should take all the energy until it is dealt with the right way, and then you deal with capacity, and you deal with enforcement, once this crisis period is gone

CUCCINELLI: Well but you - you - you just excluded one item that is the solution from the overcrowding, and that is that Congress has to allocate the funds to provide adequate facilities. That is Congress' responsibility.

CUOMO: They just gave you four-plus billion dollars.

CUCCINELLI: I mean and - and at least - and at least - that's right. And - and that, as I told you, most of that went toward care for children, not just detention--

CUOMO: Good.

CUCCINELLI: --but medical care and all sorts of other things, transportation and so forth, the things we need to take care--

CUOMO: Yes.

CUCCINELLI: --of those children correctly, the way everyone wants to take care of them, including this President.

CUOMO: Well I don't know.

CUCCINELLI: But we also need to expand that capacity with respect to families and adults.

CUOMO: I hear you about expanding capacity.

CUCCINELLI: And until Congress steps up and completes its job--

CUOMO: I hear you.

CUCCINELLI: --we're not going to solve the problem.

CUOMO: I hear you about capacity. I hear you about the rules. I hear that it's not done.

The President's priorities, we - we disagree on. I go on the facts of what I see on that as well. You are always welcome Ken Cuccinelli. And I'm going to need you to come back because this situation--

CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: --is not ending. Good luck down there. I hope you can make things better.

CUCCINELLI: Oh well we're taking it step by step, we will.

CUOMO: Ken, thank you.

All right, let's lighten up a bit. I got a question for you. This is a what-would-you-do. I'm channeling my inner John Quinones, whom I love. You're driving on the freeway, money starts to rain out of the sky, real money.

(FROM REDDIT/TRIBAT_1 VIDEO OF PEOPLE PICKING MONEY ON THE FREEWAY)

CUOMO: Do you do what they are doing? Do you drive by? Is there some third answer? D. Lemon and I will deal with a real-life ethical dilemma, and I will tell you what I would do, next. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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[21:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: All right, here's the question. You're driving on the highway. Cash comes raining out of the sky. What do you do? You pull over and scoop it up?

More than a dozen drivers did just that after an armored car's door flew open like something out of a movie. How much money are you looking at there? $175,000.

Police are now warning of criminal charges if they don't give the money back. So far, five people, including this guy, have turned in a total of 4,400 bucks, all but $200 were taken.

D. Lemon? Uh-oh. D. Lemon.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: That is a total of 15 - 17 bucks.

CUOMO: I - I - I guarantee if anybody smells that money, it's musty because this guy never opens his wallet. He's tight as two coats of paint.

LEMON: I always buy you dinner--

CUOMO: So, you are - what? This isn't working. So, you're driving down the road.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Money comes flying--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --out the sky.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: What do you do?

LEMON: What do I do?

CUOMO: Yes. Be honest. We're only on live television. LEMON: I probably would take some pictures of it if I felt I was in a safe space - safe place at - or I would just drive away. I wouldn't do it, not going to do it.

CUOMO: Why?

LEMON: I don't know. It just doesn't seem right. Number one, I don't like being on the sides of Highways or Interstates. I--

CUOMO: All right, let me change the scenario. You're on a country road.

LEMON: --I refuse - so what - I'm just - let me just say this.

CUOMO: Nobody's around.

LEMON: OK.

CUOMO: Money comes flying out of the sky.

LEMON: Well nobody's around?

CUOMO: Nobody's around.

LEMON: Nobody sees me?

CUOMO: Nobody will see you.

LEMON: And who - who does the money belong to?

CUOMO: Came out of an armored car, arguably FDIC-insured.

LEMON: I don't know. I believe in karma, seriously. I don't think I would do it. I think I would turn it over - I think I would turn it in. I'm that guy.

CUOMO: The law is clear. Now, you're walking down the street, and you see a $20 bill, there's a de minimis standard.

LEMON: OK.

[21:50:00] CUOMO: But there is a - there are laws against taking mislaid or lost items and keeping it from yourself. You're supposed to notify the police. If a certain statutory period goes by, you get to keep it.

But I think this is more of an ethical dilemma, and this is free money. It's not somebody's money. It's not that you saw it fall out of someone's car.

LEMON: Wait, wait, OK, let me ask you this. So, if I turn it in, and no one claims it--

CUOMO: Then--

LEMON: --after a period of time, it's mine? CUOMO: Then you get it.

LEMON: OK. Well then why wouldn't you just turn it in? That way you're clear on - you're good.

CUOMO: Because you want the money.

LEMON: Yes, but you're so--

CUOMO: Because it's cash money.

LEMON: I know people at home are like, "Are you crazy, Don to keep?" I wouldn't keep the money. I'm sorry I wouldn't.

CUOMO: Well, look, here's the test of integrity Pop taught me. Would you do the right thing if nobody would know that you did the wrong thing?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I have to tell you, it's easy for me with my crazy blessed life to say I wouldn't do it, because I don't need the money.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But if you did, I totally understand why people were picking it up, and gathering it, and trying to--

LEMON: Don't get me wrong.

CUOMO: --drive away.

LEMON: I'm not judging - I'm with you on that. I'm not going to judge someone who needs it or someone who keeps it. I'm just you - you asked me what I would do.

CUOMO: And I'll tell you I get you. And I'll tell you what.

LEMON: That's what I would do.

CUOMO: That guy who came forward and anybody who comes forward, that is something where there should be a fund saved up to reward those people for doing the right thing because if we don't - you reinforce that kind of behavior, it's a 100 times more powerful than just punishing people who do it wrong.

LEMON: I would--

CUOMO: All right, go ahead.

LEMON: --I would like to meet that guy. And I think well check back with--

CUOMO: Have him on.

LEMON: --check back with him in a couple of years, I bet something really good happened to him. Hey, guess what?

CUOMO: What?

LEMON: Speaking of something really good, Charlamagne tha God is on.

CUOMO: Ooh!

LEMON: And you won't believe our conversation. I'm telling you, you - you have to watch it because he does not hold back.

He's going to talk about all of the Presidential candidates, what he thinks of them and why he asks them the question he - questions he asks them on his show, The Breakfast Club, almost every single day.

CUOMO: Great name, great brain, I'll be watching.

LEMON: See you.

CUOMO: See you in a second.

All right, top story. Should there be heat on Secretary Acosta for the deal with Epstein? Yes. But why? Power privilege? Sure. Ugly politics? Maybe. But there is something that's being masked by all that that must be exposed.

There's a new accuser that's step forward. I want you to hear her and what she represents, which is much bigger than anything else, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: CLOSING ARGUMENT.

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CUOMO: The more we learn about the Epstein deal, the more it smells. Secret deal brokered by now Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, gave a multi- millionaire sex offender a light sentence.

But for all the power and privilege, while problematic, it all masked something that should concern all of us a lot more. This is about something that's happening all over this country, to our kids. This is about human trafficking and sex against someone's will, the grooming, manipulation, and abuse of children.

Just today, we heard from yet another accuser, Jennifer Araoz. She says that she was recruited for Epstein when she was just 14, raped by him at 15.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER ARAOZ, JEFFREY EPSTEIN ACCUSER: He knew very well my age. He knew exactly, you know, who he was hanging out with.

I was telling him to stop, please stop, you know.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, CO-ANCHOR OF NBC NEWS' "TODAY", NBC NEWS CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: And did he?

ARAOZ: No, he did not stop. He had no intention of stopping. And that's what he wanted. That's what he got.

I just thought like, you know, it's my fault like I was like obligated like that's just what you're supposed to do, so I really did not know better.

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CUOMO: "Didn't know better, Obligated, That's what I was supposed to do," I have heard those words in these types of stories firsthand all over the country.

I've driven the streets with my team to see girls forced to walk the same for sex, for money. If not, they face consequences. We did a documentary on this. You can see it on HLN on demand. This is one of the most hidden and pernicious problems in our society.

So, spare me who was better friends with Epstein. I don't care about that intrigue. Spare me what bothered me most from Mr. Acosta today, this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The message to victims is come forward.

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CUOMO: Come forward? Why would they come forward after what you did? You didn't even tell them that their abuser wasn't going away, as expected.

What he did is proof of why they don't come forward because the trafficker won, the bad guy won, and the stories about this guy fit the mold of what is happening all over outside the world of rich and powerful.

The average age a child first becomes a victim of sex trafficking, 12 to 14. These girls have sex with 10 men a night, six nights a week, 240 sexual partners a month.

How many kids? They don't know. They can only estimate. So many are afraid to come forward. So many are lost in the system of kids that are just gone in our society, American kids.

So, why should Mr. Acosta be judged now for then? That's a fair question. There are two reasons that we must consider. Because it was kept quiet and the deal didn't get scrutinized at the time, why didn't it?

Second, Secretary Acosta is in charge of human trafficking for us, as the Secretary of Labor. His biggest case on the issue gave the most lenient deal ever. He didn't even mention his work in that area today in a real way.

We know he tried to cut funding for sex trafficking victims. Was that just about budgets? Was it about priority, the fact that he doesn't get it as evidenced by this earlier deal? Can he be trusted to own it? Those are the real things to consider.

Thank you for watching tonight. As we get those answers, remember the problem. It's so much bigger than Epstein.

CNN TONIGHT with D. Lemon starts right now.