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Trump's Labor Chief to Break Silence; U.K. Diplomat Resigns; Rep Gerry Connolly (D-VA) is Interviewed About the U.K. Ambassador; Trump Slams Home Depot Boycott; Court Sides with Trump. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired July 10, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: A continuing challenge.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: If you look this -- go ahead, quickly.
MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I was just going to say, in 2018, in the primaries, when a Democratic woman ran against a Democratic man in a non-incumbent seat, the woman was (INAUDIBLE) for Republicans. Republican woman versus Republican man, a woman was less likely to win.
Come back tomorrow. Brianna Keilar starts RIGHT NOW.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, his fate is in serious jeopardy. And just a short time from now, the labor secretary, who gave a sweetheart deal to a millionaire now charged with underage sex trafficking will break his silence.
And the top diplomate from America's greatest ally is resigning after he called President Trump inept and incompetent.
The president forgets his own history of calling for boycotts as liberals target Home Depot.
Plus, they fought the law and the law won. Why the court losses are piling up for the Trump administration even as he gets a big win.
And a strip club will host a golf tournament featuring, quote, caddy girls at one of the president's resorts.
We start with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta clearly on thin ice. We're going to hear from him next hour, making his first televised comments after new charges were filed against multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Acosta is under fire for broking a lenient plea deal for Epstein in Florida when he was the U.S. attorney in Miami, despite multiple victims, alleged victims, coming forward, underage girls who claimed that they were sexually assaulted by Epstein. This takes on even more significance, especially because the Labor
Department is in charge of human trafficking and Epstein has long faced accusations for under age sex trafficking for which he is now charged. But as of right now, Acosta still has the support of President Trump.
Let's go to CNN's Abby Phillip at the White House.
And the question is, how steadfast is the president's support for his labor secretary?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is very much the question as of this hour, Brianna. And I think there are not that many White House officials willing to stick their neck out and say that President Trump is definitively going to do one thing or another. A lot of aides are basically saying, we are waiting and watching to see what happens. And the president is, more importantly, watching to see what happens.
Alex Acosta is taking matters into his own hands in the next hour by coming before the cameras and potentially trying to explain himself. We have been told by a senior administration official we do not expect him to resign. So this could be his attempt to really reframe the narrative about what we know about his role in this deal that he brokered with Jeffrey Epstein back 11 years ago.
And the other person who will be watching, of course, is President Trump. Aides say he is watching all of this closely and is going to gauge how well he thinks this is going for Alex Acosta based on the coverage of all of this in the coming days and weeks.
This is clearly a case where the pressure is building on the White House. It's building on Alex Acosta. They're doing something that, frankly, they don't do very often, getting before the cameras, holding some kind of availability. We don't know yet if he will take questions. But it's going to be a key moment for him as he faces some serious questions about whether or not he can survive this.
Pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill, as well. And President Trump, yesterday, defended Alex Acosta, saying he's done a great job as my labor secretary, saying this was a long time ago, 15 years ago. It wasn't 15 years ago, but he claimed that it was 15 years ago. And President Trump is trying to give Alex Acosta some space here to clear this up. We'll see if he's able to do that around 2:30 this afternoon at that press conference.
KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching you, Abby. Thank you.
And in the wake of these new federal charges against Jeffrey Epstein, investigators encourage victims to come forward with their previously unreported stories.
We are now hearing from one of the women who has stepped forward to tell her story about disturbing interactions and claims against Epstein. I do have to warn you here, these details are sexually graphic and they may be disturbing to some of our viewers. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER ARAOZ, CLAIMS SHE WAS RAPED BY JEFFREY EPSTEIN: I would have just my underwear on because he -- that's how he liked it. So -- and I would give -- massages his back and then he would potentially, later on, turn over and play with himself. And he would also, like when I would play with his nipples, he used to get turned on by that. And then he would finish himself off and then that would be the end of it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ever tell him your age?
ARAOZ: I told the recruiter. I've mentioned it in front of him, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're 14 years old.
ARAOZ: Yes. He knew very well my age. He know exactly, you know, who he was hanging out with, you know? I don't think he cared.
[13:05:03] Was terrified and I was telling him to stop. Please stop, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And did he?
ARAOZ: No, he did not stop. He had no intentions 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did Jeffrey Epstein rape you?
ARAOZ: Yes, no, he -- he raped me. Forcefully raped me. Knew exactly what he was doing. And I don't think cared.
What hurts even more so is that if I wasn't hurt (ph), then maybe he wouldn't have done it to other girls. afraid to come for have done it to other girls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: CNN has reached out to Epstein's lawyers for comment about the latest allegations, but has not yet heard back.
The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my duties. And with that explanation, the British ambassador to the U.S. resigned. Leaked diplomatic cables reveal Ambassador Kim Darroch called President Trump, quote, inept, insecure, incompetent, among other things, and these insults had the president fuming. In a series of tweets he called the ambassador, quote, stupid, wacky. And the British prime minister, Theresa May, foolish. Despite this insult, May defended Darroch in parliament after his announcement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I have told him that it is a matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position as ambassador in Washington. Sir Kim has given a lifetime of service to the United Kingdom and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: International diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is outside of the prime minister's residence in London.
Nick, put this into context for us, how it's being received in the U.K., but how bad this could be for U.S.-U.K. relations, or good, like, possibly if they're repairing things.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Sure. Look, I think it depends, have we reached the bottom yet as to how bad can this be, is President Trump going to issue another round of tweets that will sort of double, triple down on the tweets he's already put out, or will he try to move on. We don't know.
If this is the bottom, this is a bad moment in the relationship without a doubt. You asked about how this is going down here, and I think you heard in parliament there, always a rowdy place, but when the prime minister spoke about Kim Darroch's career, and what the country owes him in support of this tremendous career, you could hear the cheers and I think that is being felt widely across Britain at the moment that this has been an unfortunate situation, but that Kim Darroch was doing his job. He was doing nothing than he had been trained to do, was expected to do, that other British diplomates had been doing over the years and that any future diplomate would be expected to do in working in Washington, which is provide a frank and fair assessment of the people that they're dealing with back to the government in London.
So how does this get repaired? Well, Kim Darroch has clearly made that somewhat easier. But it probably will be down to the next prime minister to pick, or at least have a strong hand in picking the next ambassador, who may well be friendly to the next prime minister and as the next prime minister is expected in a few weeks to be Boris Johnson, who has a positive relationship with President Trump then perhaps the next ambassador is going to be able to get over some of the damage done. But we don't know if we're at the bottom yet, Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Nic, thank you so much for that report, outside of 10 Downing Street.
I want to bring in Virginia Congressman Gerry Connolly with us now. He's a Democrat. He's a member of both the Foreign Affairs and the Oversight Committees.
You've been watching this. The British ambassador to the U.S. announcing his resignation. Are you concerned that his leaving sets a precedent?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, (D-VA): Yes, I am. Ambassadors and other personnel in embassies, ours and others, are obviously assigned the task of profiling key political leaders, the good, the bad and the ugly. And they need to be able to do their jobs. And essentially this ambassador is guilty of only one thing, honestly portraying this administration. And I think it has to be balanced. You know, for Trump to be outraged, let's look at what he's done. He criticized Theresa May, the prime minister of Great Britain, while in Great Britain. Oh, he -- in fact, praised her likely opponent at the time. He favored Nigel Farage as the ambassador of the United States, a third-party candidate who has led the Brexit effort and is considered kind of fringy within British political circles.
[13:10:07] So, I mean, he's done a lot worse than just a candid assessment of a political figure and yet we have all of this outrage because the ambassador -- the British ambassador, by all accounts, doing a great job, told the truth.
KEILAR: I do want to talk to you about the controversy surrounding the labor secretary at this point in time. Is the Oversight Committee on which you sit going to investigate Alex Acosta's actions? Is that within the scope of the committee?
CONNOLLY: Our committee has broad scope. So, obviously, if we decided that was something we wanted to do, we would. My hope is that we don't have to get to that. Mr. Acosta is now in a completely untenable situation. The fact is that because of his lack of action when he was U.S. attorney in Miami, there are dozens, maybe more, of additional victims of Mr. Epstein, young girls like the ones you just profiled and interviewed, who didn't have to suffer but did because an adult with a person of responsibility didn't do his job. And that's Mr. Acosta.
KEILAR: Do you want to hear from him? Do you want him to testify, even if he does step down?
CONNOLLY: Yes. I mean, I guess. I mean, I'm not quite sure -- you know, I think that would almost be sordid because I don't think he has a very good defense.
KEILAR: Well, do you -- can I -- let me -- let me ask you this, then. You just said something that I want to -- I just want to zero in on. Do you think that his leniency and his participation in that lenient deal, plea deal with Epstein, allowed Epstein to abuse more women? Directly you --
CONNOLLY: Absolutely. Absolutely. Under that deal, federal charges were dropped. Mr. Epstein was allowed to work out of jail with a misdemeanor charge. Went to work every day. Still lived his lavish lifestyle. And the victims at that time were not notified, let alone consulted, about that plea agreement. That's unconscionable and it led directly to Mr. Epstein resuming his predatory behavior with even more victims.
KEILAR: You were in this Democratic caucus meeting this morning. I want to ask you about something the speaker said on the heels of some very visible members, young members, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticizing the speaker for dismissing them during her interview with Maureen Dowd. She addressed the infighting, the speaker did. She implored members to stop the Twitter attacks. How was that message received? I think by and large, after the July 4th recess, tempers have cooled
and all of us understand, look, we have a bigger struggle on our hands. We can't be fighting amongst ourselves when the threat of Donald Trump to our democratic system of government, to the values we all share is very real, very palpable. That's what we've got to address and we need to be united in doing it.
KEILAR: To that point, when you have a House bill, one that the Senate didn't even take up, that it was considered much more palatable, obviously, to Democrats when it comes to the, say, the immigration issue, the migrant issue, the treatment of migrants at the border, you had members who some of these members did not even sign on to that.
Do you see Democrats dealing in a way with their own version of the House Freedom Caucus?
CONNOLLY: No. I think that's really overstated. There are a lot of us -- I'm one of them -- who voted against both the rule and the bill because we were denied the opportunity to put in four or five key protections for children. And we felt, you know, that that was kind of an egregious thing. It was at the last minute. And it was just an up and down vote on what the Senate sent us. And that was unacceptable.
I would hardly call that a breach that rivals what the Freedom Caucus represents. Now there's no motion on the Democratic side to vacate the chair and threaten the speaker. That happened twice, both to Boehner and Ryan on the Republican side. They had their hands full with a very unstable majority. Our majority has fractures and differences, but it's a healthy kind of debate and it's not unstable at all.
KEILAR: Can I ask you a final question?
KEILAR: U.S. Customs and Border Protection are saying they're now going to investigate some claims of sexual abuse of migrants who were held in an Arizona facility. You have two oversight hearings this week. You're going to hear from the inspectors general of DHS, of HHS, you're going to hear from the acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan next week. What do you want -- what answers do you want from them?
CONNOLLY: Well, I'll tell you, at least speaking for myself, Brianna, I want to know what is going on within border patrol. I mean, we now find out that there are these sort of FaceBook groups that made fun of people who died and are making fun of public figures because of their advocacy on behalf of immigrants crossing the border or coming to the border. That's very disturbing in terms of you're supposed to be defending the border and upholding American values. Those aren't American values.
[13:15:23] And now we learn about not only the conditions at detention centers all across the that border, but we now learn about the possibility of sexual abuse. And so I think we want to know a lot more about the culture of Border Patrol and what's being done to hold people to account. KEILAR: Congressman Gerry Connolly, thank you so much for being on.
CONNOLLY: My pleasure, Brianna, anytime.
KEILAR: The president rails against a liberal boycott of Home Depot, forgetting his own history of pushing boycotts.
Plus, it's exactly one week before Robert Mueller's hearing and since the majority of Americans have not read his report, one group gave it movie-like treatment.
And caddie girls, The story behind a strip club hosting a golf tournament as one of the president's resorts.
[13:20:57] KEILAR: President Trump is jumping to Home Depot's defense after some on the left called for a boycott over its founder's support for President Trump. Trump tweeting this, more and more the radical left is using commerce to hurt their enemy. They put out the name of a store, brand or company and ask their so-called followers not to do business there. They don't care who gets hurt, but also don't understand that two can play that game.
The thing is, the president himself actually loves boycotts. Just last month he called for Americans to boycott AT&T, the parent company of CNN. And as you can see here, this list goes on and on.
I want to bring in CNN reporter Daniel Dale to discuss this.
At one point Trump, not president, but then just Donald Trump, called for people to boycott the entire country of Italy.
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, all of Italy. That was over the Amanda Knox murder case. He also called for boycotts of the entire country of Mexico, of Starbucks over the messages on its cups, of the NFL, of Univision, of CNN, of AT&T because it owns CNN. And so these have been frequent, they've been personal, they've been political.
My personal favorite, Brianna, is his call in 2012 for the boycott of Glenfiddich whiskey because a man he doesn't like in Scotland, an opponent of his golf course there, won an online poll as the top Scott. And so this has been -- you know, for every reason under the sun, this president, who announced yesterday he opposes this boycott, has himself called for boycotts.
KEILAR: That one is very interesting.
So he's called for boycotts, even while he's been in office. What's the impact of that?
DALE: Well, I've now seen at least three academic studies that have assess the impact of his negative tweets about companies on those company's performance. And what they've generally found is that there's a short term impact, the share price might fall that day, but long term the company recovers. That's not to say the companies like this. You know, the president has tens of millions of followers. He can impact a perceptions of these brands. But it doesn't seem like it's killing the companies in the long term.
KEILAR: Yes, Glenfiddich, probably OK.
DALE: They're probably fine.
KEILAR: All right, Daniel Dale, thank you so much.
DALE: Thank you.
KEILAR: The president getting a big win in court today, but he has also had several losses in the past week alone.
Also, the Mueller report turned into what looks like a graphic novel exactly a week before Mueller's blockbuster hearing.
[13:27:54] KEILAR: A pretty big win for President Trump as the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit, just moments ago, that alleged the president was violating the Constitution by essentially accepting gifts when foreign officials patronize the Trump International Hotel here in Washington. Trump tweeted his response, quote, I don't make money, but lose a fortune for the honor of serving and doing a great job as your president, including accepting zero salary.
But this win comes after a series of loss these week. In just the last few days alone, courts have also ruled against the president's administration in four separate cases. In one, a judge ruled the Justice Department cannot change up its legal time in its fight to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Another court ruled the president can't use Pentagon funds to build his border wall. And yet another told him he cannot require drug companies to list their prices in television ads. Finally, an appeals court ruled the president cannot block people on Twitter because it violates their rights under the First Amendment.
Former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams is here with me.
OK, so put these losses into context.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: OK, look, on average, executive branch, you know, the president's administration loses about 30 percent of their cases in federal court. This administration is losing about 70 percent of its cases in federal court.
Now, if you -- it's -- you know, the way -- and "The Washington Post" did a study on this a couple of months ago and framed it -- and nowadays it's like dating, right, or relationships. If it happens once, you can blame it on the other person. If it happens 70 percent of the time, it's time to say, look, it's literally not you, it's me. And they're making a lot of faulty, legal arguments on shaky legal ground that's leading to a lot of consistent losses in court.
KEILAR: And sometimes the idea is to delay it, right? So that's some of why they go to -- why the administration goes to court.
But on this issue of the emoluments clause, right, this big word that I think actually now most people know what it means, this idea that you're not allowed to benefit, right? And this case, they won. And there are other cases involving this that allege that the president is benefiting financially from being in office.
[13:30:02] WILLIAMS: Now, what they did, they ruled on standing, which is that you have to be harmed in order to bring a lawsuit.