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CNN TONIGHT

Alex Acosta Getting Near The Exit Door; Megan Rapinoe Called For Unity; President Trump Wants Acosta To Stay; Trump's Charity Event Canceled; Kim Darroch Resigns. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 10, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Was that's just about budgets, was it about priority, the fact that he doesn't get it as evidence 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.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I can't -- it's hard to even listen to that young lady that you played. And to hear the facts of what you said. It's just unbelievable. You know, sadly, I was on the Upper East Side tonight and my friend Shiva (Ph) her daughter died. Rest her soul.

But they all knew Epstein. They all live within a radius of him. It is big talk not only there, not only around the country but especially there because they live in the neighborhood with this man. It's just unbelievable to hear the stories that people are saying about him.

CUOMO: Well, we have to find out why the deal got made the way it did. And why it was kept a secret as it was. But I also want to use this as a chance for people to understand that this problem is very real. We often call prostitution is not that, it's trafficking.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: This is different than prostitution. This is different than me too. This is child sex trafficking.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: This is, I think beyond. May I ask you a question as an attorney?

CUOMO: Please.

LEMON: You heard -- is there anything that you heard from Acosta today because he's saying, basically it was out of his hands the sentencing the sweetheart deal, this was something that the state, I mean, this was all the states jurisdiction. Did he say anything that you -- that made you think differently about the decisions that were made?

CUOMO: No. Everything he said makes me very suspicious of what was done. None of it comports to what I've experienced as a journalist, let alone, as a lawyer. I've never heard a federal prosecutor say well, you know, it's the state case, never heard that.

I've never heard a federal prosecutor say well, you know, this defense counsel, Don, they were so good. They were such big shots they put so much pressure on us they kept making us redo the deal and saying we don't like this deal, give us a different deal. I have never heard federal prosecutors do that.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But I have heard attorneys -- I have heard attorneys on today -- and legal experts on the day saying well, that's just how these cases are prosecuted. That's what happens in these cases. I got, listen, I have, you know, assembled a panel here, assembled a group of people here and we're going to talk about that.

CUOMO: Can there be undue influence? Of course, there can. But the idea of someone asserting it as the status quo is what I'm saying is unheard of. Him saying well, look, this is the way it is. You know, everything he said is not the way it normally is.

In fact, as a prosecutor, he had other cases with the same subject matter that he did not handle anywhere near this way.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: So, there's plenty to question. There's plenty to find out about who knew what and why. Why did he immunize the co-conspirators? But the bigger issue is, we don't do anything about this problem and there are kids and they are disappearing at a rate that we don't even understand.

LEMON: Yes. We're going to talk more about all of this right now. Thank you, Chris. I'll see you tomorrow.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And what a performance we saw today from Alex Acosta, President Trump's labor secretary. Another page from the Trump administration play book. What seems to be the inevitable scandal heats up, well, you try to talk your way out of it.

President makes supportive noises; he says he feels very badly for you. But when things get too hot you take questions to bring the temperature down. Take some questions to bring the temperature down and hope you won't end up fired by tweet.

So, it's no surprise that Acosta stood in front of reporters today offered one excuse after another for his handling more than a decade ago of a sweetheart deal for a multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein who now faces new charges in New York for his alleged role in a sex trafficking ring.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: I know that in 2019 looking back on 2008 things may look different. But this was the judgment of prosecutors with dozens of years of experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes. Right there throwing prosecutors under the bus. But the secretary as people in this administration always seem to do was really speaking to an audience of one with his job hanging by a thread.

A senior administration officials tell -- official tell CNN the president his first instinct as usual was, quote, "screw him," and an impulse to fight back. But the official also said one day you're here, one day you're not. And I want you to listen to what a long time Trump ally Chris Ruddy told me just last night. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX MEDIA: The plea agreement he did is indefensible. I think that he's not going to stay for long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He said he'll be gone soon. That too, though is speaking to an audience of one. The question is, how will that one take all of this?

[22:05:03] Sources say the president himself told Acosta to hold the press conference and wants the secretary to keep his job. Others saying that they think Acosta handled himself well today. I guess they must like deflecting, blaming and parsing of words.

Just listen to what the secretary said about the SDNY bringing far more serious charges than the plea deal that he gave Epstein, which netted him just 13 months behind bars, most of it on work release.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: In all kinder I wish it would have happened. I'm glad to see that it's happening now. He's a, you know, he's a bad man. And he needs to be put away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He needs to be put away. Do you hear yourself? You are the U.S. attorney. Couldn't you have put him away on federal charges? At least could have tried? But instead, Acosta rambled on about how different the world is today as if we're talking about 1948 instead of 2008.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: Today's world treats victims very, very differently. Today's world does not allow some of the victim shaming that could have taken place at trial 12 years ago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These victims say you failed them.

ACOSTA: I understand what the victims say. And I'm not here to try to say that I can stand in their shoes. Or that I can address their concerns. I'm here to say we did what we did because we wanted to seek Epstein go to jail.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You heard him right there. Acosta says he understands what the victims say. Well, a new victim came out today. Jennifer Araoz told NBC, NBC News that she was just 14 when a woman she called a recruiter talked to her outside her school and eventually convinced her to visit Epstein. After about a year, she says this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Jeffrey Epstein rape you?

JENNIFER ARAOZ, JEFFREY EPSTEIN ACCUSER: Yes. He raped me, forcefully. Knew exactly what he was doing. And I don't think cared. What hurts even more so is that if I wasn't afraid to come forward sooner then maybe he wouldn't have done it to other girls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That's just one alleged victim out of dozens. I have seen pleaded not guilty to federal charges and his attorney has not returned calls from CNN today about the latest allegations.

But this is a man who got that sweetheart deal from Alex Acosta. Now the House Oversight Committee wants Acosta to testify about that deal. I'm going to talk to a member of the committee later on in the show. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi's mind made up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He should resign. I think the president should ask him to step down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And against all the backdrop of this this latest example of White House chaos. Twenty-twenty is looming right now and Democrats vying for the chance to go up against the president. Well, they are battling to break away from the crowded field.

They'll go head to head to head in our two-night CNN Democratic presidential debates. Dana Bash, Jake Tapper and I will moderate this July 30 and 31st live from Detroit.

And a lot of those candidates who are trying to breakthrough with black voters well, they're stopping by radio's The Breakfast Club to sit down with Charlamagne tha God.

He's got a lot of fascinating things to stay about the campaign and the candidates. And if you don't know him, you should. We've got a great conversation coming up. And I asked him how his show is different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, CO-HOST, THE BREAKFAST CLUB: But I actually think that they were coming to our show. Because they thought that they could get over on the black and brown audience. Like they didn't think that, you know, we were as prepared as we are when it comes to the show.

So, I think that they thought they could come in there and just, you know, do the usual political rhetoric. Spill scripted talking points and, you know, hey, onto the next thing. But I think that the jig is up on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You definitely want to see that interview. Lots more to come from Charlamagne tha God in just a few minutes. But in the midst of everything that is going on right now -- see how I did that -- this is pretty amazing.

Of course, I'm talking about the ticker tape parade here in New York today for the U.S. Women's national soccer team. Following its fourth, it's fourth, fourth World Cup title.

But it wasn't just a celebration. It wasn't just the dancing.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

LEMON: You know, it was so nice seeing them celebrate and cut loose. They deserve all of the partying and all the fun that they're having. They deserve all of it.

[22:10:00] But it was, you know, it was the rousing speech from co- captain Megan Rapinoe. She said that she was at a loss for words but she never really is. And yes, some of those words are sometimes profanities.

And if you expected some of the, you know, kind of tough talk you heard from her in the past. Well, what she had to say today it may have been surprising. But it was exactly right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEGAN RAPINOE, CO-CAPTAIN, U.S. WORLD CUP CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM: This is my charge to everyone. We have to be better. We have to love more. Hate less. We got to listen more, and talk less. There's been so much contention in these last years. I have been a victim of that, I have been a perpetrator of that.

But it's time to come together. This conversation is at the next step. We have to collaborate. It takes everybody. This is my charge to everybody. Do what you can. Do what you have to do. Step outside yourself. Be more. Be better. Be bigger than you have ever been before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But, no apologies and no regrets today from the labor secretary. Can he keep his job? That is a question for Shimon Prokupecz, Kirsten Powers, and Mr. Joey Jackson, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:15:02] LEMON: A White House official saying tonight that Alex Acosta still has President Trump's support. While two others say the labor secretary did a good job today defending the secret plea deal that he negotiated as a federal prosecutor with Jeffrey Epstein, the multi-millionaire charged with sex trafficking.

I want to talk about this now with Shimon Prokupecz, Kirsten Powers, and Joey Jackson. All joining me here on the set. I love it. Right here in New York. Good to see you.

man, this is a disturbing case. Let's talk about this. Good evening to all of you. Kirsten, I want to start with you. The president wanted Acosta out there today. He refused to resign. No apologies. No regrets. But, you know, it's revealing when he said Epstein is a bad man that he needs to be put away. Didn't he have the ability to do that?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I know. Well, he really was talking almost like he was an outside observer of this whole thing that he didn't actually have any power at the time. So, he was like a helpless observer seeing this really, really bad man.

And let's be clear. Like this is evil what Jeffrey Epstein has done. I mean, and we don't -- I think we only know the tiniest, tiniest bit of the story. This is somebody who lived all over the world with a private jet with a private island. It's harrowing to even think about how many children were harmed because of this man and because he wasn't put away.

LEMON: I didn't think about it. I thought about the aspects between here, you know, and the island. Right?

POWERS: Right.

LEMON: I didn't think about, as you said, all over the world and what could come of it. Very interesting.

Joey, let me get to you as the legal person here, anything he said today that would make you rethink this sweetheart deal that made in 2008 where he got sort of a work release kind of thing. Was there anything Acosta said that makes you think that this was a right move?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. In fact, it reinforces that it was the absolute wrong move. Let's talk about realities. First, putting it in context. This man was facing a lifetime felony. So how do we go from a lifetime felony, that's the sentence. That would be a federal sentence a lifetime felony.

How do we go from that to a state prosecution, wherein you have a 13- month sentence and you're going to work every day? I'll tell you how. Because you're rich and powerful. You have the connection and you buy your way out of it. So, let's wrap our heart around that.

Furthermore, there was an accusation or representation made by Acosta that there was insufficient evidence. You have three dozen women -- three dozen girls. Excuse me. That's not evidence? That's insufficient? That is -- there are cases I can tell you the federal government prosecutors there are no witnesses. There's something called circumstantial evidence and that carries today. And so, I don't buy that.

Furthermore, you talk about insufficiency we can't move forward to prove our case. The federal government has over 95 percent conviction rate. So, where do we get to the point where we simply cannot move forward, we can't prove our case and then to lay it on the doorstep of the state and to say well, they let him surrender himself, et cetera. I just think it was gross misrepresentation.

So, for people who don't know any better they would buy it. I know better. And I can't tell you that I don't buy it.

One last point. It was also stated that, you know what, it's uncommon for the federal government to get involved in state cases.

LEMON: Right.

JACKSON: That's a crock. And I'll tell you why it's a crock. Because customarily there's something called concurrent jurisdiction. Right. For those of us in English that means that the federal government can prosecute and so can the state.

And as a practical matter the federal government swoops down and they take cases from the state that they think they need to because the interest of justice demands they could. In one such case I actually tried in the southern districts two summers ago. State case feds said we're taking it and therefore they took it.

So, to tell me and to tell the viewing audience that this never happens. That's just not true.

LEMON: OK. He said it's not what he bargained for because entered a plea, a state plea. Acosta said the sentence was a jurisdiction of the state. He's saying that, but that was after.

JACKSON: It's concurrent jurisdiction.

LEMON: OK.

JACKSON: That means the state can prosecute. But guess what. So, can we as the federal government.

LEMON: OK.

JACKSON: He chose not to prosecute.

LEMON: And standby, Shimon. Because while I have you here talking about this. Because this is one of -- I took some notes here. He seems to suggest that victims in Florida in the Florida case posed a challenge because some of them were concerned about their identities being exposed. They refused to testify or denied that Epstein had committed any crimes.

And according to the prosecutor's affidavit one victim refused to testify even after being subpoenaed. That victim whose lawyer was being paid for by Epstein according to the document. Also made statements meant to exculpate Jeffrey Epstein.

So, what does that mean? He's saying that well, we weren't sure whether we could prosecute them. Some of the victims changed their mind, they even said that he didn't commit a crime. They were taking his side. Is that -- is that legitimate?

JACKSON: What that mean is that he's making excuses.

LEMON: Got it.

JACKSON: For what he did not do. And had the ability to put what he calls this evil man away --

LEMON: Right.

JACKSON: -- and did not do that because he was rich, he was powerful and he was connected to his boys.

LEMON: Yes.

JACKSON: That's what happened.

LEMON: Shimon, thank you for standing by patiently. You're sitting by patiently.

[22:20:01] He referred to additional allegations, he talked about new evidence. First of all, they had plenty of evidence, especially if you listen to Joey and if you read the affidavit.

The Miami Herald's Julie Brown who pursued the story for two plus years, reports that they had enough evidence to charge him with molesting as many as three dozen girls. So, when he says new evidence, what's he talking about? New crimes.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I don't know.

LEMON: What is he talking about?

PROKUPECZ: I wouldn't even know how he would know this because he has no window into the Southern District of New York's case. A lot of what we heard from the southern district was that this was based in Palm Beach and Southern District of New York and Manhattan.

And a lot of this information had already been out there. This isn't like something new has come to law enforcement and that's how they know this. What I think happened is they went back and they went through witnesses and victims and they started putting this case back together.

The other thing what leads me to believe that someone -- this is someone -- the old charges is that the Southern District of New York said we were allowed to pursue this case because the non-prosecution agreement did not say that we cannot. It only said that charges cannot be brought in Florida, in the Southern District of Florida not the Southern District of New York.

So therefore, that is how they were able to bring charges. The other thing, to Joey's point, you know, we heard this was really so disturbing today from Acosta. This talk of rolling the dice, you know. Like, we didn't want to roll the dice.

Because in the end what it says is, he was just -- he was afraid of losing the case. That's what that indicates to me. And a lot of prosecutors go through this. But you have to be tough. And you have to take chances as a prosecutor. You're the United States attorney in Florida. You're sitting there you're going to get tough cases and you're going to have to make tough decisions.

And that's -- it just would seem that he kind of just like you know what, I don't want to deal with this, the political fallout. Losing a case like this to him would have been too severe and he didn't want to pursue it. And that in the end is what he was worried about. It's very clear.

LEMON: But isn't there -- isn't there another option to continue to investigate?

PROKUPECZ: That's exactly it. And that's the other thing that I found so troubling is, what prosecutor if you don't have enough evidence and know it's clear this guy was up to no good, he was doing bad things, what prosecutor doesn't say let's keep investigating until we have more. It's a bad prosecutor.

LEMON: So, Kirsten, you know, he keeps saying that we live in a different world now. And I -- listen, I would understand that if he's talking about me too or women in the workplace and that sort of thing. Right?

But when it comes to child sex trafficking, and child prostitution.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: There's people have always been serious about prosecuting people involved in that. This was -- I mean, were things so different in 2008?

POWERS: Yes. Also, this wasn't that long ago. I mean, that's the other thing. I mean, he is really talking about like it was the 1950s.

LEMON: Right.

POWERS: It actually wasn't that long ago. I do think that there's a problem with when the victims are poor, when they're not from families that are, you know, standing up for them and coming to the defense. You know, most of these girls have been described as borderline homeless, you know.

And so, they were already very vulnerable in addition to being children. I think it's true that sometimes it's not taken as seriously as other cases. That people tend to think they are disposable. And that's obviously wrong today. And it was wrong then.

So, I don't know -- you know, it will be understandable if you didn't know anything about this issue. But he's standing there saying that, you know, this is his job. This is what he does. He was responsible for this. And he just should have taken accountability for it.

LEMON: I've got to run. But you -- I don't know if you guys heard Chris Ruddy on last night, who is a confidant or a friend of the president. He thinks he's going -- he's got to go. And I've heard people, I've heard people on conservative media saying he's got to go. Do you think he's -- do you think he'll keep his job? Acosta?

POWERS: I don't see -- I mean, I think -- look, the conservatives already kind of don't like him because he's not pushing things as hard as they would like him to. So, I think if he goes it's not going to because of this. This is going to mean excuse to get rid of somebody there.

LEMON: Yes.

JACKSON: He should have given voice to those victims, to Kirsten's point, regarding the issue of, you know what, they're homeless, they're young, they're vulnerable.

POWERS: Yes.

JACKSON: Well, you as a prosecutor have the ability to stand up in front of that jury and to say you know what, convict.

POWERS: Yes.

LEMON: Yes.

JACKSON: He needs to go.

LEMON: Thank you.

JACKSON: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it.

Twenty-twenty candidate -- candidates are battling to breakthrough and get their message to voters. And a major stop, a major for a lot of them is radios The Breakfast Club and Charlamagne tha God. He tells me what he thinks voters want to hear. That's next.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As the 2020 race surges toward the primary the Democratic candidates are working hard to earn the black vote. And one stop that many of them are making is an interview on The Breakfast club. Why is that? Well, the radio show has a huge following on air and online, especially with African-Americans.

On the show, the candidates are grilled by host Charlamagne tha God who definitely does not hold back. The conversations focusing on black voters, top of mind issues and a whole lot more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Joining me now, Charlamagne tha God.

GOD: Hi, Don. What's happening, sir?

LEMON: I've been trying to get you on here for years.

GOD: Well, I'm happy to be here.

LEMON: I'm happy that you are here.

GOD: Yes, I ducked a couple of other shows just to make sure that I get to you first.

LEMON: You know, we talk offline sometimes. And I have to tell you, I really admire what you do. I admire your candor. You don't care, you say it however you feel, whatever you mean you say it and standby it. And I appreciate that.

GOD: Thank you.

LEMON: I think that's why your show is so successful. One reason your show is so successful because you hosted eight of the 24 Democratic candidates.

GOD: Thanks. It feels like more than that.

LEMON: Right. They all come on to talk to you. What is the difference on your show when they -- than other interviews you think?

GOD: I think that they know that they can come to us and be a little bit more loose. But I actually think that they were coming to our show because they thought that they could just get over on the black and brown audience.

Like they didn't think that, you know, we were as prepared as we are when it comes to the show. Sob I think that they thought they could just come in there and just, you know, do the usual political rhetoric spilled. Scripted talking points and you know, hey, onto the next thing. But I think that, I think the jig is up on that. I think they know they got to come and be prepared.

LEMON: Let's talk about some of the issues. Because the candidates come on your show they open up about all types of things. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOD: Have you ever smoke?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have. GOD: OK. Like in college --

(CROSSTALK)

[22:29:59] HARRIS: I did inhale.

GOD: you did inhale?

HARRIS: It was a long time ago, but yes.

GOD: What about chick filet? You like chick filet?

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're my kind of guy, man.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Before I declare presidency. I'm dating somebody really special.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Cory Booker got a boo.

HARRIS: You must not read the blogs, Charlemagne.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you think of me when you look at that?

CHARLEMAGNE THA GOD, THE BREAKFAST CLUB CO-HOST: I can't believe that's news. That's what people care about throughout the whole interview, you know? But I think the reason that they care about those sound bites right there, is because, like I said, there's nothing you can ask a politician that they will not have an answer to, a scripted answer to. But, you know, you don't have answers to those kinds of questions, because you're not getting asked that kind of stuff anywhere else.

LEMON: But sometimes, I say, like, I will watch an interview and the answer to that question was so easy. Why didn't they just say this, right?

THA GOD: Oh, yeah. Joe Biden, he fumbles the ball all the time. He misses lay ups.

LEMON: So let's talk about that then. What -- you think he fumbled?

THA GOD: Yeah. I think Joe Biden fumbles all the time, because Joe Biden suffers from old (Inaudible) entitlement. He just can't simply say I was wrong. He can't simply, hey, you know, I thought this way at one time. But now I think a different way. Instead of him just admitting that some of the things that he actually did was wrong.

LEMON: Then why do you think that he has such support among African- Americans. Is that everything to do with the Barack Obama or is it because black folks dislike him? THA GOD: It's all about Barack Obama. You know what I'm saying?

Like, I'm from the south. So when you go to your grandma's house, if you have got a friend with you, your grandma is going to say, hey, yeah I will fix him a plate. When you're not around, grandma has questions.

LEMON: Do you think that there is -- because you said it was an old -- what were your words, Joe Biden suffers from --

THA GOD: Old white male entitlement mentality, privilege.

LEMON: Do you think that there -- that some people are too old to run?

THA GOD: I don't think people are too old. But I think that you can have old ideas, you know? And I think that you have got to be willing to learn new things, you know? Really you have to be willing to unlearn, you know? Unlearn, you know? A lot of these guys aren't telling us what they've unlearned, because they're still holding on to those old things that we're complaining about.

LEMON: Are there others who you think could answer better in this race other than Joe Biden.

THA GOD: Answer what better?

LEMON: Answer questions better, especially when it comes to the black agenda.

THA GOD: I think Mayor Pete is great, you know, with his -- the Frederick Douglas Bill that he passed. That's his specific black agenda. I think Senator Kamala Harris is great, you know? I think Elizabeth Warren is good. I think this is the first time that these Democrats have had to present a black agenda. I think that Democrats -- black people have been so loyal to Democrats for so long for no reason.

We haven't asked for anything. But now this year, we're saying what is your black agenda? And they're creating one.

LEMON: Why do you think this president, this administration gets away with so much stuff?

THA GOD: Old white male entitlement. Only old rich white male can get away with the things that Donald Trump is getting away with. People say it all the time. If Barack Obama did a quarter of the things that Donald Trump has done, he wouldn't even made it to the nominee or anything. He would have been out first round, whatever.

Like, so it's like we know what it is. Like, why do we ask these questions when we know the answers. You know Donald Trump is getting away with what he's getting away with, because of old white male entitlement, the age old white privilege that's been going on in America since the beginning of time.

LEMON: OK. So then what you do say to people who say -- listen, this is about beating Trump. And someone, you know, I don't know. It's going to take someone who is like Trump to beat Trump (Inaudible) white male.

THA GOD: So if you want somebody that's like Trump to beat Trump, you're essentially saying you really don't have a problem with Trump. You just may not like Trump because Trump doesn't represent your particular party maybe. Like, what does that even mean? Would you want Donald Trump on the Democratic side? Would you really want somebody like Donald Trump as a Democrat?

Because if you do, if you say yes, than that means you really don't have a problem with Trump. You just have a problem with the fact that he's not representing your party.

LEMON: So no matter who the nominee is, let's say the nominee is not the person you want it to be.

THA GOD: I don't know who I want to be yet. I think I want it to be Senator Kamala Harris, only because I feel like, you know, Donald Trump is setting the stage for the first woman president, specifically a woman of color. Because if you see how women of color have rallied since Trump has been in the White House, whether it was the women's march that (Inaudible) put together in Alabama.

(CROSSTALK)

THA GOD: When it turned it out in Alabama, like, it seemed like the stage is being set for a woman of color president. When you see somebody as qualified as Senator Harris, it's like why wouldn't you want that? Why wouldn't you rally around that.

LEMON: Do you think America would vote for a gay man?

THA GOD: Yes, absolutely do, 100 percent.

LEMON: To be president?

[22:34:51] THA GOD: Yes, I do, wholeheartedly, because I think that when you talk to somebody like Mayor Pete, I don't have a conversation on Mayor Pete and say to myself, this is a great gay man. This is a very charismatic great man. I say he's a great man, that he's a charismatic man. I think he's an honest man. I don't think he's an honest gay man. He's just an honest person.

Like, even that conversation we had. That was a very honest conversation to say man, I love chick fillet's chicken. I just don't like their politics.

LEMON: Is there anyone you are surprised by either they're doing well or not doing well.

(CROSSTALK)

THA GOD: Mayor Pete. I'm not surprised that Cory's not doing well.

LEMON: That he's not tracking as high as many people thought -- polling I should say.

THA GOD: I don't think Cory has an identity yet, you know? I like -- I like -- I like -- I like -- I like -- I like -- I like some of the things that Cory Booker says, but for some reason he's just not standing out, you know? I don't know.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What do you mean he doesn't have an identity yet?

THA GOD: I don't think people don't know what he is and what he's about, you know? With Senator Harris, you at least can point to what she did in California, you know, her being a prosecutor, you know? Mayor Pete has gone out there and, like, carved a lane for himself to at least you can say he's charismatic. When Cory -- first of all, you got to think Cory's following, right? Cory's a black man. When you see a black man for president, who do you compare him to?

LEMON: Barack Obama.

THA GOD: Exactly. So that's the bar. He's not even scratching the surface of that, you know, quite yet. I just think that he can be doing a lot more to present, you know, who he is and what he's about to the American people. I thought he did good in the debate, though.

LEMON: Charlemagne, thank you. I really appreciate you, seriously. I have so much respect for you. You have no idea.

THA GOD: Thank you. I have respect for you too.

LEMON: Thank you, brother, Charlamagne Tha God. OK, so someone thought this was a good idea. The president's Florida golf resort was supposed to be hosting a charity golf tournament put on by a strip club. But tonight, the Trump organization is cancelling is the event, all the details next.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump's company cancelling an upcoming strip club sponsored charity golf tournament just a day after it was first reported by the Washington Post. The news comes after the charity affiliate with the event dropped out, reportedly saying that they didn't know the strip club was involved.

The Trump Organization saying, in a statement, and this is a quote, "the event was originally booked with the understanding that it would be raising money to support a local charity benefiting underprivileged children.

Now that the charity has removed its affiliation, the event will no longer be taking place at our property, and all amounts paid will be refunded." So let's discuss now with Alice Stewart and Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump."

Good evening to all of you, so.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: Michael, both of you, I should say. Michael, this event was scheduled to take place this weekend at Trump's Doral golf course in the strip club that prominently shows -- we can put up the logo for the Miami all stars, the kids' charity who thought this -- I don't know, who thought this was a good idea?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, I imagine that there would have been a time when the president would have thought it was a good idea before he was the president. So we remember that in 2006 when Baron, his son, was just four months old the president attended a golf outing in Reno, and actually Lake Tahoe. And that was where he met Stormy Daniels.

And so the idea of there being adult entertainers around a certain golf tournament and the president or Donald Trump being happy about it, I don't think this would have been farfetched to the people running Doral three or four years ago.

LEMON: So you think this would have gone on, you know, before Donald Trump was president? No big deal.

D'ANTONIO: It goes on a lot. I mean, this is the world of golf tournaments, for guys chomping cigars and drinking beer in their golf carts. You know, this -- it is not a very high class activity in some arenas. This is the kind of thing that Donald Trump partook of himself.

And, you know, there's an old saying that the fish stinks from the head down, to quote Tony Soprano. This is a case where the boss -- there was a day when he would have thought this was A-OK.

LEMON: All right.

D'ANTONIO: It made money.

LEMON: So Alice, the women caddies at the event there would have worn pink miniskirts, sexy white polo's. That's according to the strip club organizer. And some would be auctioned off as caddies. With everything going on right now, what do you think? I mean you've got Epstein. You've got Acosta. You have E. Jean Carroll. I don't know. There's something about tone here, right, being tone deaf.

STEWART: Right. Well, all of those cases that you just referred to that you have been talking about on the show are awful, terrible instances. And I think they are separate from this right here. But as Michael said, and as you said, look. It's no secret golf tees and TNA are synonymous with charity golf tournaments.

That's the way it's been for many years. You have guys out there playing golf, and this is what they want to do.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And also the women here, you assume the women here were willing participants. They're grown women. (CROSSTALK)

STEWART: Exactly. Right, the problem is when you are having this kind of activity for a children's charity. That raises a red flag. And when the golf club has the president's name on it, that's another issue, and the fact that this host organization says the women will be wearing certain clothes at the golf tournament.

It goes on to say that later on they'll go to a "high end strip club later" and there will be a tasteful burlesque show. Look, all of that is fine and good for raising money. But it's just too much. It's just not acceptable when you are talking about a children's charity and it does involves the president. How it got to this point, no one knows.

[22:44:56] The good thing is they called it off. I would like to think if nothing else comes of this. People will go to the Miami all stars website and donate money to that charity. It's a good organization to help kids to further their playing basketball and fitness and nutrition activities. Hopefully, the good will come of that.

The good thing is the charity has been called off. And hopefully, the vetting process for golf tournaments at Trump Organizations gets improved.

LEMON: I want to give you one more shot, Michael. Listen, I think Alice brings up a good point. I almost hate to compare it to the women who were, you know, accused of the president's accused of sexually assaulting, because again these women are willing participants. They're grown women. They can do what they want with their bodies.

And if they want to participate in an event like this, that's their business, right? The question is it was a business in that much trouble?

D'ANTONIO: Oh, that's a very good question. You know, in -- back in the day, Doral was a very fancy club. And it was considered one of the classiest golf courses in America. I don't think they did a lot of this back then. I do think the president's golf operations are in need of cash flow. So this may have been a thing where, you know, it is money that matters. And no one thought twice about it until the Washington Post published it.

LEMON: And getting some new people in there to see -- to check out the place. All right, thank you, thank you both. I appreciate it.

STEWART: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The British ambassador to the United States resigning this morning just days after leaked diplomatic cables showed that he had called the Trump administration clumsy and inept, launching an escalating feud between Trump and British officials. Joining me now to discuss, Ambassador Nicholas Burns, Ambassador Burns is a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and Greece, so good to have you on. Thank you so much.

AMBASSADOR NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO NATO: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: There's no question that Darroch's criticism is stinging, but was it wrong?

BURNS: No. It wasn't wrong at all. It was a devastating critique of President Trump, and an accurate one. But this was a private diplomatic cable from the British ambassador in Washington to the British foreign office in London, a classified cable. This is what diplomats do. We're not sent abroad just to be nice. We're sent abroad to, you know, discern what's happening.

Tell the truth to your own government. And that's what Kim Darroch did, the British ambassador. He didn't deserve this. And there's a British side of this scandal. That is someone leaked his cables. That's a violation of the Official Secrets Act in Britain. There's an American side, Don, which you're referring to, our vain, vengeful president couldn't stand this criticism, and so he made Ambassador Darroch essentially persona non grata.

He called him all sorts of names on Twitter. And we've never had an American president -- we've had an American president in the last 80 to 100 years lash out at our closest allies like this.

LEMON: Listen, Ambassador the leaked cable Darroch says -- in this cable, Darroch says "we really don't believe that this administration is going to become substantially more normal, less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction driven, less diplomatically clumsy, and inept." He also says the president radiates insecurity and describes conflicts within the White House as "knife fights." Is all that getting lost in the political coverage of the ambassador?

BURNS: I think it is. I mean we don't normally read these secret diplomatic cables from other governments. But the Daily Mail in Britain has published them. And this critique is consistent with what a lot of other people around the world, our best allies, are saying privately when you travel to these countries about our president, because he doesn't keep his commitments to them.

And Don, we're in this very strange situation where the president never utters a single word of criticism of Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong- Un of North Korea or Xi Jinping. And yet, he tees off on the British ambassador, Angela Merkel, on Justin Trudeau of Canada, and as you know, Prime Minister Theresa May is on her way out. It's her last day or two in office.

And the president was again critical of her. It's strange when the president goes after our Democratic allies, and yet he coddles all these authoritarian leaders. That's a bad place for the United States to be. And people are talking about this. They're noticing it. And they're worried about American leadership. LEMON: Darroch also says in the cables, "there is no filter. We

could also be at the beginning of a downward spiral rather than just a roller coaster. Something could emerge that leads to disgrace and downfall." Was there any chance that this president would handle these comments gracefully, you think?

BURNS: No. I think we know enough about President Trump now after 2 1/2 years that he bricks no criticism. He's a street fighter. He will return fire to anybody who he thinks fires on him. But here's the -- here's the really sad thing about this. Kim Darroch was trying to do the right thing for his government.

He didn't want these comments to be made public. President Trump has an obligation to the American people to put his hurt feelings to the side and not make our closest relationship, arguably with any country in the world, much worse because of a temper tantrum in Twitter. And that's what happened this week. And, you know, the relationship's going to go forward.

We're too close to Britain for it to stop now. But you wonder about how the British people are going to feel about the United States and our government when they see their ambassador humiliated by our president.

LEMON: Ambassador, "The New York Times" is reporting that many in the Washington diplomatic scene had similar opinions. The former French Ambassador, Gerard Araud, said yes, yes, everyone does. Does the president think opinions of him will change because he's doing this, because of this episode?

[22:54:54] BURNS: You know I don't know if the president is that self aware. I think he acts -- he seems to act emotionally. He seems to be angry when he issues these tweets. I'm not sure he's thinking about the consequences of his actions. But, you know, when you -- he doesn't have a lot of goodwill out there when you travel around the world. We've left the climate change agreement.

We've left the Iran agreement. We're cutting refugee admissions by 2/3. On these big global problems where the United States needs to help other countries, we're no longer helping. I think that's the root of the distrust in allied capitals about this particular president. And again, this is unprecedented, Don. We've had disagreements with Germany and France and Britain, plenty of them, but never about trust and about not trusting the occupant of the White House.

LEMON: Ambassador Burns, thank you so much.

BURNS: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)