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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Is Interviewed About Robert Mueller's Upcoming Testimony On July 17th; No Apologies From Alex Acosta; Tucker Carlson Accuses Rep. Ilhan Omar Of Hating The United States; Alex Acosta Refuses To Resign And Tries To Defend Role In Epstein Case; One-On-One With Governor And Dem Presidential Candidate Jay Inslee. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 10, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The White House giving a thumbs up tonight to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta. Two officials telling CNN they think he handled himself well in defending the secret plea deal he negotiated years ago as a federal prosecutor with Jeffrey Epstein, the multi-millionaire, who this week was charged with having operated a sex trafficking ring in which he sexually abused dozens of underage girls.

President Trump instructing Acosta to hold a news conference today. He didn't apologize for the controversial deal or express any regrets and even made a point of throwing Florida state prosecutors under the bus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: A state grand jury brought that single completely unacceptable charge. A state official allowed Epstein to self-surrender. I wanted to help them.

That is why we intervened. We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail. He needed to go to jail. There was value to getting a guilty plea. You can always look at a play after the fact and say, should it have been the safe play or should you have gone for the big score?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, tonight the White House saying Acosta still has Trump's support, but the question is for how long.

I want to bring in now Susan Glasser, Juliette Kayyem, and Scott Jennings.

Good evening, one and all. So good to have you on.

Mr. Jennings, I'm going to start with you. So, we saw the embattled labor secretary Alex Acosta defend the Epstein plea deal he oversaw. The president ordered him out there. Will he keep his job? SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, honestly, I'm

not sure because there are two issues for Secretary Acosta right now. The Epstein issue, which is a huge distraction for the White House and for the president and his agenda, and then you have a number of people in the White House who do not believe he has been properly executing the president's agenda as secretary of labor.

That's a cabinet where a lot of deregulation issues need to occur. There's a lot of people in the White House's policy stream that don't think secretary Acosta has done right by President Trump and what he wants to see happen at the Department of Labor.

Ultimately the Epstein thing, though, is a huge distraction, and when you serve in one of these jobs, ultimately you serve at the pleasure of the president, and if you become a major headache and distraction for the president, honestly, I think you have a duty to resign so that someone who isn't a distraction can take over.

LEMON: Well, Chris Ruddy told me last night he thinks it will be a matter of weeks. What do you think?

JENNINGS: Yes, it sounds to me like Chris Ruddy I think is -- it could be shorter than that, honestly. I think -- I think Acosta had to do what he did today, and I know there are people who say some of the things he said today were not entirely accurate, but it strikes me he's on the shorter end of the stick right now.

LEMON: Susan, Katie Rogers over at "The New York Times" asked Secretary Acosta what makes him so confident that the president will keep him on. This is Acosta's answer. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: I am here to talk about this case. I'm doing my job. If at some point the president decides that I am not the best person to do this job, I respect that. That is his choice. I serve at the pleasure of the president.

I thought yesterday he was kind and he showed great support. But we have to remember we are here because we are part of an administration that is creating jobs, that is creating growth, that is really transforming our economy and focusing it on, you know, the forgotten man and woman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, Susan, step one to keep your job, praise the boss. Did he do enough of that, you think?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I don't know. It wasn't over the top, as sycophantic flattery goes. You know, there is -- this is a new factor, I would say, in my years in Washington, the kind of audience of one factor played out on national television.

It really has been a striking aspect of the last few years, that, you know, increasingly you have senior officials in the government not just in private but in public basically appealing to the boss and only the boss.

But, you know, tonight, Don, I'm struck by listening to your previous segment and then comparing it with this. We're in a situation in the Washington where you lose your job for telling the truth in a secret diplomatic cable to your own government if you're the ambassador to Britain because when President Trump doesn't like it, but you keep your job if you gave a sweetheart plea deal to a sex offender.

[23:04:58] I mean, you know, the juxtaposition of this particular news cycle is just one of those jarring moments that suggests that we've moved pretty far away from what we would previously consider under any administration, Democratic or Republican, to be a normal situation.

LEMON: Juliette, one senior administration official put it this way to CNN's Jim Acosta. He said one day you're working for the president, one day you're not. We've seen how this can sometimes play out with other cabinet secretaries. Sometimes you're even fired by tweet, you know?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. It's true. I mean, who would have thought that Secretary Purdue of the Agriculture Department would be the last man standing at this stage? But he may outlive all of us.

Look, I view this not just as a sort of a Trump internal, you know, who's in, who's out story from the perspective of making government dysfunction. I'm not even talking about sort of Trump's policy agenda. It relies on consistency, continuity and trust. That's what it is.

You know, whether it's, you know, the State Department working with its allies or the Defense Department working with other military, or, for example, the Department of Homeland Security working with its state and local partners.

So, the sort of who's in, who's out and we don't know tomorrow undermines that consistency and continuity that leads to good governance.

So just looking at New Orleans State. New Orleans is already flooding. It is going to get hit likely with the hurricane. We do not have a secretary nor a nominee for the Department of Homeland Security because of Trump's not liking the last -- the last one.

We don't have a head of FEMA. I mean, that's the kind of thing where it's just, you know, they can't even get the basics right, that a city's about to flood and we don't even know who is in charge.

LEMON: Scott, listen, here's the playbook, OK? A controversy swirls around a cabinet official, ethics violations flying on private planes or just not liking the guy, and the president offers a, like it's lukewarm response. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about your interior secretary? DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're

looking at that, and I want -- I do want to study whatever is being said. I think he is doing --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he in jeopardy?

TRUMP: I think he's doing an excellent job but we will take a look at that and a very strong, and we'll probably have an idea about that in about a week.

Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. We're setting records. Outside he's being attacked very viciously by the press, and I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.

I'm very disappointed by the attorney general, but we will see what happens.

We'll see. I mean, we have a -- he's a very fine man, but we're going to make a decision some time tonight. I felt very badly because Secretary Price is a good man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I mean, Scott, we get that we'll see response a lot, don't we? And then yet, you have Secretaries Zinke, you've got Price, you've got Pruitt, you've got Attorney General Sessions, they're all gone.

JENNINGS: Yes, in some of those cases, Don, those people were actually executing the president's agenda. I don't think there is any doubt that Pruitt was doing exactly at the EPA what Donald Trump wanted.

The difference for Acosta here is a lot of people that are inside the Oval Office with the president talking to him about his agenda daily do not believe Acosta is even doing that.

And now you pile the Epstein thing on top of it, it strikes me that his enemies here in the personnel stream are stacking up, and with an administration that's got, you know, a little bit of time left in the first term. You don't know whether you're going to win re-election or not.

There's a lot of regulatory issues they want to get accomplished at labor and they feel like in many cases Acosta and he's people have slow-walked it, and frankly, maybe not even been honest with the White House about their slow-walking some of these issues. These are Archean things that aren't in the news every day, but are really frankly vital and important to conservatives.

LEMON: But by the way, Susan, in the case of Secretary Price he was forced out only a few hours after the president's we'll see. I mean, this can happen -- sometimes happen quickly. GLASSER: Well, look, this happens in any administration. There are

often expressions of support for the doomed official up until the immediate moment when there isn't.

I'm remembering Juliette talked about FEMA. Remember heck of a job brownie, so, you know, President Trump is not the first president to, you know, express support for somebody right before he chops their head off.

I think the thing that we should also note, though, about this particular case is that there is clearly an ongoing weakness and usually when you get dumped is when you already had some internal political rivals or political trouble in an administration. Number one.

Number two, President Trump is uncomfortably close himself to this particular scandal. Remember that the president doesn't want us talking a lot about Jeffrey Epstein, with whom he had a long-term friendship and close relationship.

And let's be real. As a parent of a 14-year-old, this is a horrific story. You know, we are talking about the president of the United States, he now says he hardly knew him, but, you know, a previous life was a close friendship and often apparently in private settings with Jeffrey Epstein and these young women.

And so, we're going to be talking about that as long as there is this ongoing controversy involving a senior official in the Trump administration and whether he gave a sweetheart deal to this exact same alleged sex offender.

[23:10:06] So, you know, it's a pretty horrible story that involves Trump himself.

LEMON: Juliette, does this administration have a vetting problem?

KAYYEM: Is that what you call it? Yes. It does. It's just clear that nobody is going -- look what's happening over at the Defense Department. I didn't even mention them, right? We don't have a secretary of defense. I think some of the services -- I think three of the four services don't have a lead.

Now the deputy or the vice chair of the joint chiefs has a sexual harassment allegation or actually I think a retaliation issue going on. His nomination I think is going to be pulled.

And so, you know, there's two problems. One is there is no vetting. The other problem is I've never seen so many disgusting men up for big jobs. I mean, you're vetting, right? So that you catch something.

How -- how are people like this serving at the highest levels of government? I mean it. I mean, just the sort of the sexual harassment, the corruption and everything.

So, it's not such a vetting process as it is sort of, you know, I guess ethics issue as well, that these people are getting nominated. And I have to say just going back, why -- I don't understand the Acosta -- how he became secretary. I'm very curious about that for the same reasons as Susan's saying.

There's a lot of connections going on here that I'm sure Trump doesn't want us to talk about but Acosta as head of labor was not an obvious pick and I think Trump may very well want Acosta to go away.

LEMON: That will have to be the last word. Thank you, but interesting. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

The spotlight shifts when Robert Mueller finally testifies before congress in just one week. On live TV with Americans from coast to coast watching. I'm going to talk to one of the lawmakers who will be questioning, asking some questions, and that is Congressman Jaime Raskin. He's here and he's next.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: One week from today, Robert Mueller will testify before both the House judiciary and intelligence committees. Each is expected to have only about two hours with the former special counsel to question him about the findings in his 448-page report. But some Democrats are concerned that it may not be enough time.

One of the lawmakers who will be questioning Mueller is with me tonight, and that's Congressman Jamie Raskin, a member of the House judiciary and oversight committees.

Congressman, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us. So, listen, there's on week until --

(CROSSTALK)

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Good to be with you, Don.

LEMON: Absolutely. There is one week until Mueller's testimony but so little time for questions. You told our Manu Raju today that Democrats need to resist the impulse to editorialize. Explain why that's so important.

RASKIN: Well, what we need to do is just to be a vehicle for communication for the special counsel. Whose words in his report have been distorted and misstated repeatedly by Attorney General Barr and by Donald Trump.

You know, with their idiotic mantra of no obstruction, no collusion, they've cast a cloud of propaganda over the whole country.

So we just want to give special counsel Mueller the chance to come and to dispel the fog of propaganda, you know, on pages one and two of the report, he says I don't deal with the question of collusion, which is not a criminal law concept, it's an antitrust law concept, and, in fact, he details more than 150 episodes of interactions between the Trump campaign and various Russian nationals. So, there is plenty of evidence of collusion in the vernacular sense its criminal conspiracy that he says he can't establish with that. (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Do you actually think you can get politicians not to editorialize? That's a big ask?

RASKIN: Well, I think you've given the time constraints, I think that we're going to be very disciplined, we're going to follow a script.

LEMON: OK.

RASKIN: And we're going to try to work as a team. We've gotten some practice doing it in some of these hearings, trying to read off of the same script, and I think we need to give him the chance to speak to the country. I mean, there is so much evidence of presidential obstruction, we just need him to state it in his own voice, in his own words.

LEMON: OK. So, you chair the House oversight committees hearing on kids in cages. I just want to play some of the emotional testimony that you heard today. This is from a migrant woman speaking through a translator, OK? Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JASMINE JUAREZ, MIGRANT (through translator): My name is Jasmine Juarez. My daughter, Maria and I fled Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States. We made this journey because we feared for our lives. The trip was dangerous but I was more afraid of what might happen to us if we stayed.

So, we came to the United States where I hope to build a better, safer life for us. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, I watched my baby girl die slowly and painfully just a few months before her second birthday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Powerful testimony. What are you trying to accomplish with these hearings?

RASKIN: Well, that was Jasmine Juarez, whose three-year-old daughter died after contracting a serious respiratory ailment. When she arrived there at the detention center, the ICE box, she said that they encountered lots of kids who were coughing and sneezing and clearly sick and it was just a matter of days before her daughter, Maria, got sick.

And yet there was no medical attention and we had testimony also from a doctor today, Dr. Gutierrez, who said there are all kinds of doctors who want to come in and help. They're not allowed to come in and there is not sufficient medical attention at all.

So, you know, Ms. Juarez testified about how she would wait in line all day long and then not be seen by a doctor and finally they gave her some Tylenol. [23:20:00] And by the time they got out of the detention center, it

was too late for her daughter. They went to the hospital and they couldn't save her.

LEMON: Yes, listen, I want to ask you -- I got to get this in before we run out of time. The House oversight committee also asked the embattled Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to come and testify later this month about the sweetheart plea deal that he gave Jeffrey Epstein when he was a district attorney in Florida. What more are you hoping to hear from Acosta?

RASKIN: Well, first of all, we want to give an opportunity to the victims of all these sexual assaults who are now young women who were then girls, 13, 14, 15 years old, the opportunity to testify about what this has done to them.

Acosta oversaw essentially a double system of justice. While they're putting lots of people away in jail or prison for marijuana offenses, for example, they're letting the wealthy and well-connected Jeffrey Epstein off after having committed dozens of sexual assaults against girls.

These are rapes and sexual offenses, and he got a really sweet sweetheart deal where basically he spent half the day in some kind of mellow incarceration and then he could go do whatever he wanted and that was after a plea relating to the least serious offense with a 17- year-old girl who is the oldest one involved and they decided to describe it as soliciting prostitution, so they basically labeled her a prostitute instead of dealing with the realities of his offenses.

Now, after a storm of outrage about this, the prosecution is happening. Better late than never.

LEMON: Yes.

RASKIN: In New York, but Acosta ends up with egg all over his face and he's a terrible poster boy for this double system of justice under this Trump administration.

LEMON: Well we're out of time. But we look forward to both of these hearings and see how you guys conduct it. Thank you so much, Congressman. I appreciate your time.

RASKIN: Thanks for having me, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Fox News host Tucker Carlson peddling blatantly racist statements about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar who was born in Somalia. He calls her living proof that U.S. immigration laws are a danger to the country. She's calling him a racist fool.

The story tonight from CNN's Chief Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: But she isn't grateful. Not at all.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: A new low for Tucker Carlson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: She hates this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: The Fox host on an anti-immigration rant, blasting Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: That should worry you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Saying immigrants like her are, quote, "undermining the U.S."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: Ilhan omar is living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country. A system designed to strengthen America is instead undermining it. No country can import large numbers of people who hate it and expect to survive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Omar hit back, calling Carlson a racist fool.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): It's really quite disappointing to see Fox News give a nightly platform to the white supremacist rhetoric that is coming from the likes of him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Now a new skirmish in the immigration debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Make America white again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: With Carlson tapping into a frequent theme on the right and with his critics accusing him of fearing a powerful woman of color.

On Wednesday, reaction to his rant getting a supportive retweet from President Trump. On the other side, progressive activists renewing their calls for advertisers to black list Carlson's show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMAR: We don't only welcome immigrants, we send them to Washington.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Omar is both a historic figure, the first Somali-American elected to the U.S. Congress, and a lightning rod of controversy, a frequent target of Fox's right-wing shows.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Think about it. Omar wears a hijab. Is her adherence to this Islamic doctrine indicative of her adherence to Sharia law, which itself is antithetical to the United States Constitution?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Jeanine Pirro was suspended by Fox after that rant. Now Carlson is invoking Omar's history as a refugee, resettled by the U.S. when she was 12 years old. And now living an American dream.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: After everything America has done for Omar and for her family, she hates this country more than ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: No, Omar responded on Twitter. Carlson is lying. She loves the country and resolves to, quote, "make our union more perfect."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMAR: It wasn't long before I arrived that I noticed that a lot of America's promise wasn't extended to everyone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Her critiques of America not living up to its ideals, particularly for people of color, are common and well-received on the left, while on the right people like Carlson react with disgust.

It's one of the usual topics on his show. Democrats, he says, wants you to believe America is an awful place. This time Carlson is taking Omar's concerns and making a huge leap, saying immigrants with views like hers are dangerous.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLSON: We're importing people from places whose values are simply antithetical to ours. Who knows what the problem is but there is a problem?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: That rhetoric is being denounced by some on the right as well as the left. Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic saying Carlson divides America and betrays core American values, and Omar is saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMAR: I truly believe he is a racist fool who is quite weeping about the fact that we have an African-born member of Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Omar's message --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OMA: And now he gets to call me a congresswoman, I'm sure pisses him off.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Brian Stelter joins me now. She and AOC really get under his skin or the folks at Fox.

STELTER: Yes, as much as the Fox talk shows in prime time are pro- Trump, they're really all about being anti-Democrat, and you see that day to day especially when it comes to these women of color who are new members of Congress.

Look, Omar today said there should be an ad boycott, she said advertisers should not support Carlson's show. Carlson responded by saying she is trying to shut me up but Fox has my back.

[23:30:02] He says I am not a racist, he says nobody in his espouses racism. But what he does promote is a form of white identity politics, an attempt to take back the time, to go back in time. Of course, that's not going to happen, but that's what he promotes on a daily basis, and he does that by targeting and demonizing people like Ilhan Omar.

LEMON: Brian, I want to bring in now Wajahat Ali. Wajahat is an op-ed writer for "The New York Times."

Good evening, sir. You've been following this, I'm sure. You say Carlson's words are white nationalist talking points and Carlson is helping to mainstream them. Explain that, Wajahat.

WAJAHAT ALI, OP-ED WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah, I mean, if it talks like a white nationalist, if it behaves like a white nationalist, if it tweets like a white nationalist, it's Tucker Carlson. And don't take my word for it. The leading white nationalists in America, Don, for the past two years have said that Tucker Carlson is their greatest ally. He is their guy.

They say he uses his show to mainstream all of their talking points. That's Andrew Anglin of The Daily Stormer, one of the leading Neo-Nazi websites. He said literally that Tucker Carlson's show is literally Daily Stormer television. So you have to ask yourself. Why are the advertisers supporting a man who mainstreams and promotes white supremacists, not even just white nationalists, Don, white supremacist conspiracy theories?

Remember last year, he said that the South African white land owners are being oppressed. That was a completely debunked conspiracy theory. Even after it was debunked, guess who promoted it? Tucker Carlson. He says he is against diversity, right? He says immigrants are polluting the country, making it dirtier. He calls immigrants invaders, repeating a talking point, another white supremacist conspiracy theory that was mainstreamed by Donald Trump.

So this is the feature, it's not the bug, and I'm not being radical here in calling him out as a white nationalist. This is who he is, just look at the words, look at his own clips and then compare them to the talking points and rhetoric of leading white nationalists.

STELTER: But at the same time --

ALI: It's exactly there.

STELTER: -- he also -- he also says he welcomes immigrants. He just wants them to like America, not hate America. So he's able to employ these rhetorical devices --

ALI: Right.

STELTER: -- to say bring on the immigrants, you know. Let's bring in millions of people. But then he attacks immigrants like Omar because he claims she hates America.

LEMON: But just --

STELTER: I don't think he's willing to listen to her actual critiques of American policy and understand where she's coming from.

LEMON: But Brian, does he believe this or is this something -- is he just out -- is he selling what people are buying? Which one is worse? I think the second one may be worse.

STELTER: I think people say Carlson has changed a lot over the years. He was on CNN and MSNBC in the past espousing a very common form of conservative politics. What we've seen on his show and other shows on Fox in recent years in the Trump years is a more extreme version of this rhetoric, anti-immigrant rhetoric. It's a classic chicken or egg question about whether they're following Trump or Trump is following them.

ALI: Don, may I just say this?

LEMON: Sure.

ALI: I think we're giving him a pass because none of us are Ben Carson. We don't know what's in Tucker Carlson's heart. None of us are God. We just judge people based on their actions, their behavior and their rhetoric, right? And so if Tucker Carlson repeatedly shows you who he is for the past two years, if it was a one-off, you know, we would be outraged but this is who he is consistently.

What he said about Ilhan Omar is she represents people who come from places who don't have -- who have values that are antithetical (INAUDIBLE). That is coded language, brown, dark people, Muslims who come from S-hole countries, that was a throwback to Donald Trump, by the way, let's not forget that Tucker Carlson supported and defended Donald Trump's comments when he said we don't want people coming from S-hole countries.

And so I think we in the media give Trump and Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham a pass. Do they really believe this or are they just saying it to rally up their base? Does it really matter, Don? Because the detrimental effect is it's dividing America. It's increasing racial hatred. And again, it's mainstreaming what --

LEMON: That's why Wajahat -- that's why I said the latter part, if he's just selling what people are buying, that's actually worse, because then it's disingenuous.

ALI: Because he knows better.

LEMON: Yeah. Ilhan Omar said they called him a racist fool. She's not backing down, Wajahat. Do you think enough people on both sides of the aisle are standing up against his bigoted rhetoric?

ALI: No, there aren't. I mean, Donald Trump retweeted it. Donald Trump in April re-tweeted a photo of Ilhan Omar next to the burning towers that got her death threats. Donald Trump retweeted Britain First, an extreme right-wing, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim group. Remember those three tweets he did two years ago, those fake videos? It took him like a year to bring them down. I don't know if he has even brought them down.

Look at Ilhan Omar. The West Virginia GOP on GOP Day in the state capitol had a huge poster, Don, of Ilhan Omar next to the burning towers. So this has been deliberately promoted by the right-wing media infrastructure, both politicians and media personalities.

What I'll say is this: They are laundering their anti-immigrant, anti- Muslim talking points, in Tucker Carlson's case, white nationalist talking points, through Ilhan Omar. They're laundering it. They're saying, oh, look, we're just attacking her and her views. Who is she?

[23:34:59] A black Muslim woman who wears hijab and is a refugee. She becomes their pinata. They can just say, no, no, no, you're attacking our free speech. We're just attacking a Democrat who is allegedly progressive and radical. No, it's racist.

LEMON: Yeah. I've got to run. I know you have a lot more to say on this, but I'm out of time. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

STELTER: Thanks.

ALI: Thanks.

LEMON: Calls are getting louder for Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to resign, and one of those calling for his resignation is presidential candidate and governor, Jay Inslee. I'm going to talk to him about that and his plans to curb the climate crisis. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A White House official tells CNN the president wants Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to keep his job. That's what he wants now anyway. But other sources have told us it may all come down to the news coverage of the scandal over the sweetheart deal Acosta gave Jeffrey Epstein. That was back in 2008.

[23:39:59] The president himself reportedly told Acosta to hold a press conference today in an effort to defend himself. The question is: Did it work?

Let's discuss now. Washington Governor Jay Inslee is here. He is a Democratic candidate for president. It is so good to see you.

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

LEMON: You've called on Acosta to resign.

INSLEE: Yes.

LEMON: Did he say anything that would change your mind today?

INSLEE: No, and the fact is that this is consistent with the whole Trump administration. It is an administration of by and for billionaires. It is one that is accepting of moral turpitude. This sweetheart deal with a billionaire has a stench to it that you can smell all across the nation. There is no excuse for it.

And I think it's consistent with who the president is in coddling billionaires, "A," and, "B," there's something else here that I think ought to be troubling to people. It is consistent with his sort of view of women. You will recall this is the president who said, if you're a star, they let you do it.

And now we have a labor secretary who basically said, if you're a billionaire, we'll let you do it, in a sense. That's not acceptable in America. This is consistent with a long going pattern of the president's moral turpitude. He needs to go.

LEMON: Still want him to go. OK. Let's talk about this because I know climate change is a big issue for you. Mandatory evacuations are going to begin tomorrow in my home state of Louisiana, residents of New Orleans, bracing for a hurricane which could bring over a foot of water by the weekend.

Alaska is in the middle right now of a record heat wave. That's New Orleans that we're looking at now, but Alaska is in the middle of a record heat wave. This is a signature issue of your campaign. What's your reaction when you are seeing all of these related -- do you think it's related to climate emergency?

INSLEE: Many of these emergencies are made more frequent and more intense. That is a scientific reality. And my reaction is a mixture of sadness because I know the victims of the fires in Paradise, California, I know the victims of the floods in the Midwest, and anger at the Trump administration for lying to the American people.

And this is a dereliction of duty by the president, to lie to the American people. We have current national security threats to the United States. We have Americans whose homes are being burned and homes are being flooded, and he is trying to convince them there is no problem here. But it's also mixed with a view of optimism.

Look, I'm offering a plan to the American people: To put eight million people to work, to mobilize the U.S. economy, to build a clean energy economy, to lead the world in job creation. We are capable of doing this.

So it has to be a mixture of all of those passions. We need a leader to spark this mobilization. I'm up to that job.

LEMON: So do you think it's -- some people say we're at the point of no return. We've already passed the point of no return.

INSLEE: It is clear that there is a lot of this baked into the system. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a century.

LEMON: Wow.

INSLEE: So we are going to be seeing changes. But this is our last chance to prevent the cataclysmic things that we otherwise will experience.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about this pipeline because you are the first candidate to publicly oppose this planned pipeline in Michigan. Your opponents say it's important for safely providing heating oil, right? But look at that. I mean, it would replace a 66-year-old line that leaders say is an environmental risk. Why are you against it?

INSLEE: We recognize two realities. Number one, to stick another pipeline under the great lakes, which is a source of water for so much of our civilization, frankly, to put that risk under the water, the people of this region do not want to run that risk. Number two, we have to recognize science and people who argue with me and my climate plans are not arguing with me, they need to argue with science.

And the science is very clear. We cannot be building infrastructure that's going to be here 50 or 60 years from now. If we continue to do that, the planet is going to cook. It's burning right now. It is scientifically untenable to be building a pipeline there that you think you're going to keep burning oil and gas 50 or 60 years from now.

We have to make some decisions now. I am the candidate who is saying this. That this has to be the top priority of the United States, and the science dictates this. So I'm looking forward to the next debate when we can see who has really got the muster on this.

LEMON: Before I let you go, I want to talk about this tweet that you tweeted, showing your support for Megan Rapinoe, the United States women's soccer team. I mean, look at that pose. It's familiar.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: What's your takeaway from their message?

INSLEE: I think that picture has exactly one world-class athlete in it. It's the one in the red jersey. Look, she has been so inspirational to people. I mean, talk about in this moment of darkness in the White House to have a moment of light from her. She is wonderful. It's sort of the Jackie Robinson story of this century, that she has asked for the president to honor inclusion.

[23:45:00] This is a bright moment for the country. And fighting the battle for equity in pay, we feel very -- we're kind of radical. She's a Seattle person, right? We're radical in Washington. We think women should get paid the same as men for the same work. We are all calling for her team to get equality in their pay as well. That would be another bright day for America.

LEMON: Governor, thank you.

INSLEE: Thank you.

LEMON: Always a pleasure.

INSLEE: You bet. Thank you.

LEMON: So, how did Jeffery Epstein make his millions and what was his reputation at the time? I'm going to ask someone who was his peer on Wall Street. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump's labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, giving a press conference today where he attempted to defend his role in the lenient plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein, who now faces new charges in New York for his alleged role in a sex trafficking ring.

[23:50:07] Let's discuss now. William Cohan, the author of "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short." He joins me now. We are going to talk about that in a little bit. Thank you. It is good to see you.

WILLIAM COHAN, AUTHOR: Good to see you.

LEMON: Let's discuss this. Before you became a journalist, you worked on Wall Street for many years, right, same time as Jeffrey Epstein. If you say --

COHAN: He's a little earlier than I was.

LEMON: He's a little earlier than you, OK. You said he had a reputation as an outlier. COHAN: Absolutely.

LEMON: Why is that?

COHAN: Because he was fired basically from Bear Stearns, supposedly was a derivatives trader for five years in the late 70s or early 80s at a time when there weren't really a whole lot of derivatives to trade. I knew that he got to Bear Stearns as a result of teaching Ace Greenberg's son at the Dalton School where of course he was famously a teacher and Bill Barr's father was the headmaster.

So -- I mean he used his connections through Ace Greenberg who was of course a one-time head of Bear Stearns to get the Bear Stearns. It is not clear what he did there or --

LEMON: So how did he make his fortune?

COHAN: It's the biggest mystery on Wall Street right now. Nobody can really figure it out. I mean, supposedly, you know, I have heard everything from shorting the British pound like George Soros did to -- you know, managing the billions of (INAUDIBLE) and sultans and Les Wexner and somehow using the alchemy of the fee structure of 2 and 20 over long bull market to make money.

But, you know, money managers, he didn't have a fund. He didn't have a hedge fund. He didn't have a private equity fund. There's trace examples of anything that his fund did or bought or sold in the stock market. It's a mystery.

LEMON: What have you learned since he was arrested? Anything?

(LAUGHTER)

COHAN: I mean I haven't learned a whole lot about his financial, how he made his money. I've learned a lot about his bad habits.

LEMON: Yeah. You mean beyond what's in the news?

COHAN: No, I mean very much what's in the news.

LEMON: OK. I mean just beyond what has been reported is what I am saying because people talk, you know.

COHAN: Look, the interesting thing is, Don, you know, he was a total kind of outcast on Wall Street, but he very much fit into some social circles in New York.

LEMON: Yeah.

COHAN: And a lot of people will vouch for him that you would never think would vouch for him.

LEMON: All right. In addition to working on Wall Street, you also cover it, right? Let me get your thoughts on this. This is the fed chairman, Jerome Powell, responding to his pointed question from House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): If you got a call from the president today or tomorrow, and he said, I'm firing you, pack up, it's time to go, what would you do?

JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: Well, of course, I would not do that.

WATERS: I can't hear you.

(LAUGHTER)

POWELL: My answer would be no. I kind of said what I intended to say on the subject, and what I've said is that the law clearly gives me a four-year term and I fully intend to serve it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The president is constantly criticizing Powell, who he nominated for the job for not cutting interest rates. How political has this, the fed chair's job typically been?

COHAN: It's always been a political football. Most fed chairs ignore it. I give Jerome Powell a lot of credit today for ignoring it and saying he's not going to fall for it. Now, he may still cut interest rates because that's what the president wants him to do, which I don't think is a right thing.

LEMON: I want to talk to you about -- this is your book, right?

COHAN: Thank you.

LEMON: It is called "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short." It covers the lives of old high school friends, one of whom was JFK, John F. Kennedy Jr. He is on the cover of People magazine. People are talking about him now. What led you to write this?

COHAN: So, Don, first of all, you know, life if fragile. These were four of my friends from high school. I noticed over the years that unfortunately they were dying young and tragically. I sort of was collecting their stories. I wanted to be able to both a memoir of their lives. It is very personal to me. But also have a big reporting challenge.

I have written books about the collapse of Bear Stearns and how Goldman Sachs got through the financial crisis and the Duke lacrosse scandal.

In each case, it was an effort to try to figure out what happened to these firms and these situations. Once again, in this case, I want to know what happened to my four friends. We basically lost touch.

I would see John around town. This was before Facebook and before Instagram. Before, it wasn't easy to keep in touch. No social media. So, once you lost touch with people, you lost touch with people. This gave me a chance to figure out what happened to them.

LEMON: This one I definitely want to read, because I have lost some friends --

COHAN: Yeah, we all have.

LEMON: -- early, right?

[23:55:00] I want to read this. I think I will start it as soon as I get home tonight. Thank you.

COHAN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you very much.

COHAN: Pleasure.

LEMON: The book is called "Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short" by William D. Cohan. I'm going to tell you my JFK Jr. story right after this. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.