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Trump Retreats From Claim He Was "Not Happy" With Racist Chant And Steps Up Attacks On Minority Congressmen; House Dems Holding Mock Mueller Hearings, Watching Old Testimony As Trump Claims He Won't Watch Weds. Hearings; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Robert Mueller Testimony; Source: Biden Bracing For Rivals To Target Him At CNN Debate; Sources: Trump Privately Adopting More Hawkish Tone On Iran; Trump Accusers Grapple With Furious Backlash, Death Threats. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 19, 2019 - 19:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: ... Eastern and Pacific only on CNN. I'm Brianna Keilar, in Wolf Blitzer. Thank you so much for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT tonight, Trump's change of heart. The President now defending the crowd that chanted send her back calling them patriots. So why is he backtracking again? Plus, Democrats right now mapping out how they plan to question former Special Counsel Robert Mueller. What we're learning about the highly anticipated hearing? And breaking news, U.S. is now monitoring an American ship from the air after Iran seized a British tanker. So are tensions in the Middle East about to boil over? Let's go out front.

Good evening, I'm Bianna Golodryga in for Erin Burnett. And out front tonight, the backtrack. One day after President Trump said he didn't like the racist send her back chants at his rally. Well, today he's clearly changed his mind, defending the crowd behind the chant and tripling down on his attacks on four minority American congresswoman.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're dealing with people that hate our country.

The things they've said about our country are terrible. It's a disgrace what they've said.

They can't call our country and our people garbage.

You just can't talk about our country that way and when people are angry at them, I fully understand it.


GOLODRYGA: So he now seems to sympathize with those behind the send her back chant, a chant incidentally that echoes the words from his own racist tweet over the weekend where he implied the women aren't Americans and can go back to where they came from. So let's be clear, the group of women have been outspoken about Trump's policies, but they're supported by the First Amendment. They're elected officials and let's not forget, the President himself has a long history of disparaging the country.


TRUMP: Mothers and children trapped in poverty and the crime, and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives. This American carnage stops right here.

... the laughing stock all over the world.

We get a lot of killers, why, you think our country so innocent?


GOLODRYGA: That was then, but now, well, it's a different story and then our Abby Phillip press the President about just that.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In the past you've said that America is the laughing stock of the world that you don't believe in American exceptionalism. Why is it OK for you to criticize America but not Democratic congresswomen?

TRUMP: I believe all people are great people. I believe everyone is great. But I love our country and I'm representing our country and people can't go around speaking about our country and saying garbage.


GOLODRYGA: Look like deflection to me and Abby Phillip is out front live outside the White House. So Abby, despite some Republicans hoping to just move on from this, the President, he seems willing to keep this fight going.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Bianna. The President is spending a lot of time today defending his supporters who chanted send her back. And one thing that we did not hear from him today was him repeating his disavowal of those chants like he did yesterday. In fact, the President was focusing on these congresswomen, trying to insist that they were not allowed to disparage America that their comments were beyond the pale and that his supporters had every right to respond the way that they did in the face of that kind of criticism.

But as I noted in that question, President Trump himself has been a critic of America over the course of his political career even as president, but the President dodge that question, and he dodged many others in that gaggle including whether or not he believed that it was crossing a line, for example, to say send her back to his own wife who was not born in the United States and was born in her home country of Slovenia. So President Trump is trying to change the subject still. But toward the end, he was also asked another question, what about the

first amendment rights of these women, of these congresswomen who like every American has a right to speak their mind? The President seem to say that his supporters also have first amendment rights to speak their mind. And that may be true, but the bipartisan consensus of this week appears to be that there are some things that do not belong in the public square and Republicans this week, told President Trump that those send her back chants have crossed the line. He walked them back yesterday, but today he seems to be going back on that walk back as he has done many times before, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. We've been in this situation many times before indeed. All right. Abby, thank you. And out front, April Ryan, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, and Keith Boykin, former Clinton White House aide.

April, let me begin with you because the President was asked again and again today about the racist chant and every time he deflected at one point, though, he seemed to defend it. So is he changing his tune once again?

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: You know as I said before, it all depends upon how the wind blows. Well, for this president, it is about his base, what they think. If the numbers rise, because he's saying this, he will keep on doing it.

[19:05:06] I was in the Oval Office yesterday, when he told me, I asked him, "What will you do to stop it or will you stop this?" He said, "I'll try. I'll certainly try." But today it doesn't sound like he's certainly going to try. We're hearing from a lot of his base that feel it's OK.

I mean, just a couple of days ago, after the tweets, when the President was doing his manufacturing of it, you heard the crowd clap and cheer for him talking about they should go back to their home countries. I mean there is a certain sector in his base that feels this is OK, but this is America for all people. The President is going to go with the wind and he listened to his wife for a minute, but now he's going with his base and what they feel, he's going by the polls.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, he's doubling down. Just yesterday he said he was trying to start talking over the chant, though we counted 13 seconds where he just let the chant continue. Let me switch to Rick Santorum, because yesterday, the President said he wasn't happy with that chant. Listen to what he's saying now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're not unhappy about the chant?

TRUMP: Those people in North Carolina, that stadium was packed, it was a record crowd and I could have filled it 10 times, as you know. Those are incredible people. Those are incredible patriots.


GOLODRYGA: And he defended them again today later this afternoon. So let me ask you, do you see these people behind the chants as patriots?

FORMER SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R-PA): I think that was over the top and I think the President was right yesterday in saying that he doesn't agree with that sentiment. I think what you're hearing from people is that there is a push, the Democratic Party has gone so far to the left and embracing socialism, values that that most Americans don't embrace and I think people are responding to that.

GOLODRYGA: But why not just focus on that, because there's plenty to focus on there and if you disagree on policy, have at it. Why go after people because of their skin color which it appears that he is or because of the country they may came from?

SANTORUM: I'd say I disagree with that. I fundamentally disagree that the President is going after him because of their skin color. They're going after them because of the comments that they've made and the positions they hold. I mean, look, these are folks who are out there, who are trying to seek attention. These are not these are not people who just sort of made quiet comments. These are folks who have sought to get the spotlight on them for some of these, I think, very much out of the mainstream beliefs as the president focused on today, a lot of anti-semitic beliefs of some of these people.

RYAN: Well, what's the excuse for Barack Obama? What's the excuse for Barack Obama then? What's the excuse for Barack Obama when he said that Barack Obama being allegedly born in Kenya was the reasoning for his political platform, that's how he became who he is now. What was the excuse then?

Barack Obama was not speaking ill of anyone. He was not saying anything. He wasn't looking for attention. He was just trying to be President of the United States and he was considered illegitimate. Why? Because he was a black man whose father was from Kenya. What's the excuse for that?

SANTORUM: All I can say is that Donald Trump has been in the public eye for 30 or 40 years and it's only been in the last three years that all of a sudden Donald Trump is a racist, so I don't know where that all come from.

RYAN: No, no, no, no, no, let's go back to the Central Park Five ...


RYAN: ... the Central Park Five and he's housing applications where he put a seal on. All of a sudden, no, there's a little bit of a history.

SANTORUM: All I know is that Democrats embraced Donald Trump for a long, long time but didn't have any problems with it.

GOLODRYGA: Can I just jump in on what the issue at hand is and what transpired this week, Keith, because in my mind when I know that somebody could be sued if they said to one of their colleagues at work, go back to the country they came from, it's hard to interpret that as anything other than racist.

BOYKIN: It is a racist remark and even Republicans have condemned this remark this week. I'm surprised, I'm not actually surprised that Rick Santorum won't do it, but it's clearly ...

SANTORUM: I condemn the remark, I don't think it's racist.

BOYKIN: ... what's clearly racist and it's a good thing that you, Rick, don't get to say it was racist.

RYAN: You know better than that, Rick.

SANTORUM: So do you.

BOYKIN: And so, well, I can tell you this as an African-American ...

SANTORUM: We all have our opinions.

RYAN: I do know better than that because it's a racist statement.

BOYKIN: ... I can speak with much more authority about this issue than you can.

SANTORUM: I think everybody has the right to speak on this issue.

BOYKIN: But let me just speak about this issue, you've already had your fill about this.

RYAN: The Republicans is trying to play this down and you know this, this is your talking point.

BOYKIN: Let me just say this, this week started ...

GOLODRYGA: Right, let's keep ...

BOYKIN: ... this week started on Sunday with Donald Trump sending out racist tweets, telling people to go back home to Africa or to their home countries. Then on Wednesday he goes to North Carolina, he leads the crowd basically in a chant telling these women to go home to send them back. Then, the following day he says he tried to stop it which was clearly a lie and then today he says that the people who were chanting were incredible patriots. The problem is this president does not speak with moral clarity on racial issues.

[19:10:00] We saw this with Charlottesville when he said there were verified people on both sides. We saw this when David Duke endorsed him and he claimed he didn't know who David Duke was and then he admitted that he did know who David Duke was. We was this even going back to Pat Buchanan because Trump in the past had said that Pat Buchanan was a Hitler lover, but then in the campaign he decided, oh, he loves Pat Buchanan.

This guy has no ability to speak with moral clarity on racial issues and that's a problem because the president holds the bully pulpit and should speak with firmness of certainty when it comes to denouncing bigotry.

GOLODRYGA: And Rick I don't disagree with you, there are a lot of issues at hand to debate, but why not just get past any sort of racist tendencies, racist commentary at all? Why not put that behind you which it seems that most Republicans want to do and focus on the issues and policies at hand?

SANTORUM: Look, I have been wishing the President would do that for a long, long time. But the President says a lot of incendiary things and you have some of these congresswomen who have ...

RYAN: And racist things.

SANTORUM: ... you have some of these congresswomen who have - again, I go back to my point, they have made a point to go after the President and they love the idea that they're getting a lot of focus on what they're saying and doing and frankly I don't think it hurts the President to have that focus on them.

GOLODRYGA: Senator, I have followed your career for many years. I have never once read or heard you saying something like go back to the country you came from with anybody that you disagree with.

SANTORUM: And nor would I, nor would I. I'm not, look, I think the President work was ignorant ...

RYAN: That's right, exactly.

SANTORUM: ... I don't think it was racist. But it was an ignorant statement, obviously, three of the four women were born in this country. So it was a foolish statement, but the idea is that --

BOYKIN: And it's a statement that he wouldn't made to white people, he made it to black and brown women. Think about this ...

SANTORUM: Again ...

BOYKIN: ... Donald Trump spent five and a half years lying about Barack Obama's birth certificate. Obama never told Donald Trump to go back to where his ancestors are coming from.

SANTORUM: Then why does the President ...

BOYKIN: Just because you're attacked doesn't mean you have the right to debase the conversation to the lowest common denominator.

RYAN: Exactly.

BOYKIN: A part of being a president is bringing up the dialogue not bring it down.

SANTORUM: Then why does the President ...

RYAN: That's right. SANTORUM: ... in every single speech talk about the things that have

happened in this economy from people who are black and brown. And he takes particular pride in the poverty rates and what we've seen happen in those communities and talks about it and brings a lot of people of different color ...

RYAN: But he's also ...

SANTORUM: ... into his White House to talk about this.

GOLODRYGA: Senator, I agree with you ...


SANTORUM: He cares about these things but he doesn't play the old racial politics games and that's what the Democratic Party is fixated on. I think that's one of the reasons we're not going to be successful.

BOYKIN: Calling black country shithole is not playing a racist game? Telling black athletes that they're SOBs is not playing a racist game? Spending five and a half years lying about Barack Obama's birth certificate is not playing a racist game? Telling Mexicans that they're rapists and drug dealers is not playing a racist game? Telling Muslims they shouldn't be in the country is not playing a racist game?

This guy is - his whole career is based on white identify politics and racism.

GOLODRYGA: It just appears like all of this can be unnecessary, it's lighting a fuse that's once again dividing the country even more especially as you mentioned, Senator, there's a lot to tout here over the past couple of years, especially the economy. I think a lot of frustration lies in why and focuses more on that as opposed to incendiary comments. I think we're going to leave it there though.

SANTORUM: I'm not going to argue with that.

GOLODRYGA: We're going to have to leave it there. This has been an enlightening panel. Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

GOLODRYGA: And out front next, intense preparations underway tonight as Democrats gear up to question Robert Mueller. So what will they be asking him? Congresswoman Speier who will go face-to-face with Mueller is my next cast. Plus, the debate stage is set, should Joe Biden be concerned that he's going to face off against Kamala Harris once again. And breaking news, CNN learning tonight that the president is privately taking a more hawkish stance towards Iran, so how will he resolve the escalating tensions, we'll have that coming up.


[19:17:46] GOLODRYGA: Tonight, all eyes on Capitol Hill just five days away from when Robert Mueller will testify publicly before the House Intel and Judiciary Committees. But at least one person says he won't be watching.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you plan on watching Mueller testify?

TRUMP: No, I don't. No, I won't be watching Mueller.


GOLODRYGA: This as we're learning Democrats on those committees are now involved in intense preparations to map out their final game plan for Mueller. Our Manu Raju is out front. And Manu, how are Democrats preparing for what's likely to be their only opportunity to question Mueller?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. They realize that this is going to be a hugely significant moment. One that could reshape public perceptions about what exactly occurred during the Russian interference campaign in 2016 as well as the President's apparent efforts to try to tamp down or thwart the Mueller probe.

And Republicans and Democrats have actually held mock hearings. Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee as well as Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee had aides sitting in pretending to be Robert Mueller as they practice for this high-stakes hearing next week. In addition they did other things as well, they watched old Mueller testimony from hearings past to see how he as a witness handle questions.

They also have been instructed to reread the Mueller report to make sure they're absolutely grounded in some of the details of the report. And they're preparing to split up questions, have a script of sorts for each individual members to ask questions to make sure they hit all the key aspects of the report. Now, Bianna, we are told that the House Judiciary Committee is going to focus on the obstruction of justice aspect of the report. They're going to focus mainly on five areas that were detailed out of 10 episodes of obstruction of justice.

Those five episodes include the efforts of the President to apparently tried to fire the Special Counsel through Don McGahn then his former White House Counsel as apparent efforts to try to get Jeff Sessions then the Attorney General to try to limit the scope of the probe to exclude the President as well as the potential of the President appearing to try to interfere with witnesses, potential dangling or pardons, people like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen.

Those questions will be part of the House of Judiciary Committee's probe hearing and then House Intelligence Committee will ask about those Russian contacts that happened with Trump campaign officials. All of that will play out next week as Republicans trying to raise questions about the credibility of the Mueller team.

[19:20:09] So you'll see two competing narratives emerge from this hearing. We'll see how much the Special Counsel ultimately reveals, because as we know he says he's not going to say anything beyond the four corners of the report, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: That's right. A lot of prep work going into next week and of course we'll be covering it all here live for you on CNN. Manu, thank you. And out front now, one of the members of the House Intel Committee, Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Great to be with you.

GOLODRYGA: So your committee as I take it is going to be focused on volume one of the Mueller report, that's the Russia interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia. What specific questions do you have for Robert Mueller.

SPEIER: Well, I'm not going to tell you exactly what I'm going to ask because it really will depend on what his testimony is. But I think it's very important that we drill down on how much of the interference by the Russians was welcomed by Donald Trump, how much of it was encouraged by Donald Trump. We do know that there were 270 different contacts by the Trump campaign with Russian operatives And there were over 30 for meetings with Russians during the Trump campaign.

I mean this is pretty remarkable. This is an adversary and Donald Trump and his campaign is meeting with these individuals who want to give the President, then the candidate, dirt on Hillary Clinton. There is no question in my mind that the Russian intervention went further, further than what has been told to us in the Mueller report even. I feel very certain that they got into the campaign in a way that we don't know and got into the machines, the voting machines more than we know and we may never know.

GOLODRYGA: And I want to go back to you saying that you your questions were going to depend on his testimony. He has said flatly that he will be sticking to whatever is in the report. So I'm assuming you already have questions prepared for him in line with that.

SPEIER: So I'm going to ask him as I'm sure many other people are going to ask him, if you did not have the Justice Department guidance, which is not law, mind you, guidance that says a sitting president cannot be indicted, would you indict him? And he certainly will be asked that question in the Judiciary Committee and probably in the Intelligence Committee.

The other thing that we're concerned about because it's an intelligence committee is the efforts for counterintelligence activities going on with Russia. The fact that Paul Manafort and Richard Gates met both of the campaign chair and campaign vice chair met with Mr. Kilimnik who has been established to be related to the GRU, one of the Russian military intelligence agencies and shared polling data, not just once or twice but a number of times during the campaign and went over their strategy for the 18 states that they were focusing on.

That to me suggests that there was certainly an invitation to cooperate. There was an interest in coordinating and you need to go no further than the Cuban cigar club that they met at and then all exited from separate doors.

GOLODRYGA: The President says that he will not be watching for one. Do you believe that?

SPEIER: Of course not. He can't keep himself away from the TV. He will be watching and I'm sure he will be on executive time during the entire day of the hearings.

GOLODRYGA: Congresswoman, we spend a lot of time talking about how you and your committee are preparing for the hearing, Robert Mueller is also very familiar with these types of hearings as well. I want to play for you former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said that his advice for those questioning him and how he believes that Mueller will come prepared.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Were I Congress, I would pick the top three or four areas that they think are most impactful and go through a very deliberate series of questions to get Director Mueller to talk about the evidence that supports each of those elements of the crime.


GOLODRYGA: Do you agree with that strategy quickly?

SPEIER: Well, that is good advice. I also think that it's important to point out in his report he says in a number of circumstances he couldn't get the evidence because it was either destroyed or encrypted and it would be interesting to hear his comments on that as well.

GOLODRYGA: All right. We'll have to leave it there. Congresswoman, thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

SPEIER: You too.

[19:25:03] GOLODRYGA: And OUTFRONT next, more than 3,000 inmates released from prison today. Our Van Jones the man who helped lead the charge to free the men and women is out front with us. How did he make it happen? And Iran stops another tanker. The U.S. military believes this was all pre-planned and coordinated, so what does Iran's game plan?


[19:29:21] GOLODRYGA: Tonight, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris preparing for rematch. They'll share center stage at CNN's debate in less than two weeks. But she's not the only one the Biden campaign has their eyes on. A source telling CNN they're anticipating most of the other candidates on that stage to direct fire at Biden. The Vice President's strategy? Well, he'll try to point out policy differences, particularly on healthcare. Out front now Michael Nutter, former Mayor of Philadelphia and Joe

Biden's supporter, Jess McIntosh, CNN political commentator and former Director of Communications Outreach for Hillary Clinton's campaign, and Van Jones, former Special Adviser to President Obama and host of the VAN JONES SHOW. Welcome all.

So, Mayor, let me start with you.


How prepared and how important is it that Biden comes better prepared than he was during the first debate?

MICHAEL NUTTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there is no question that the vice president has some work to do. You know, first debates often are a challenge, especially if you haven't been on the field in a while. I expect that he will be very, very prepared.

And certainly with every respect to Senator Harris, you know, there will be ten people on the stage. She has eight other folks to worry about as well. When you're -- whether ahead in the polls or people think you're ahead of the polls or perceived front runner, folks are coming at you. And you know, part of your strategy is to -- you may not score a lot of points, but you want to make sure you don't lose any at the same time.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, I think a lot of people were surprised with the candor that the vice president gave to our Chris Cuomo when he said he just wasn't prepared for Senator Harris to come out and the way she did. Many questioned, well, what's going to happen when the president comes at you at a debate? But clearly, there are going to be other candidates we're focusing on.

And, Van, I wanted to ask you about the Pete Buttigieg question and what we can expect to see from him, specifically with regards to Beto O'Rourke. You interviewed Mayor Pete. You say he is the real deal.


GOLODRYGA: He has outraised Beto tenfold if not more for the second quarter.

JONES: Right.

GOLODRYGA: What are you looking for specifically from Beto coming into this debate? How important is it for him to have a good night.

JONES: I mean, it's do or die for Beto. I mean, he is prepared and qualified to go to the next debate, so he's still be around. But he is becoming more and more of an afterthought.

Listen, Pete Buttigieg is a potential phenomenon. He is something -- he has got a magical quality to him. When he talks, he can slow down time. He can make all kinds of points beautifully that that the average person can understand and that intellectuals can appreciate. He reminds me of Obama in that regard. And so, he is the most

dangerous person on that stage. He is the best athlete on the field. And all he has to do is not lose ground. And just continue building the incredible provision he is building in Iowa.

His entire strategy is Iowa. He is building a digital operation. He's building a fundraising operation. So, I think -- nobody knows what Beto's strategy is. He's got to do something to get himself back in the game.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, he was a superstar once upon a time.

JONES: He was a superstar.

GOLODRYGA: Only a few months ago.

But when you talk about Mayor Pete, I agree with you. You hear so many people say that he's got that "it" factor. Yet, he is still really dragging when it comes to the African-American vote.

What does he need to do? Because he is not getting the nomination without that support.

JONES: Well, first of all, a lot of other people have to fall away because there is -- there is one nickels and dimes lying all over the floor there that he's going to have to scrape up for himself in general and as those fall away, that will be available to him.

I think he's got a problem with the African-American community because I don't think he answers the questions great yet. And I think also, you know, the fact that he didn't handle the police brutality thing well is a problem. But here is what I know about the guy -- I'm neutral, I'm not -- I hear him saying, I want to be president, but here's what I know about this guy: he learns fast and he can improve, and he just had the biggest opportunity above him of all the candidates.

GOLODRYGA: And he's admitted failure in South Bend as well. Yes.


JESS MCINTOSH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I liked the way that he was actually able to say I couldn't get it done, which is not a thing you hear from politicians very often and that kind of candor does really resonate with the voters. But there is a gender dynamic here where male candidates are allowed to be praised for their potential. Women have to show up with all of the qualifications already in place.

JONES: Good point.

MCINTOSH: So, I think a lot of women are looking at Mayor Pete and saying, sure, yes, he looks great. But he is a 37-year-old mayor from a very small town. We have women running who have been in the Senate for years with really long proven track records of getting things done in terms of vision. Why should I should I care more about somebody who looks like he could do a lot of good when I have women who have already.

GOLODRYGA: And one of those women, Elizabeth Warren, right?


GOLODRYGA: And we're expecting a big night between her and Bernie Sanders. They go back many years. They say they are friends. They are aligned on many issues. Yet, as we know Elizabeth Sanders has a plan for just about everything. Bernie Sanders not so much.

I want to you listen a sound bite about Warren talking about her relationship with Sanders.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Bernie is terrific. We were friends long, long before I ever got involved in politics.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I talked to Elizabeth Warren every single day.

WARREN: We just don't attack each other. It's not about a pact. Bernie has been my friend forever and I've been his friend forever.

SANDERS: Elizabeth is a friend of mine. I think she is running a good campaign.


GOLODRYGA: It's a breath of fresh air to hear that, though, right?

MCINTOSH: It's true.

GOLODRYGA: How long will it hold? When do the gloves come off?

JONES: This time next week we're cutting to a fist fight.

GOLODRYGA: You never know in this world.

MCINTOSH: No, I think it's a genuine friendship. I think it's based on a lot of ideological similarities. I don't think that either one of them has a ton to gain by really going after the other one.

If we do see fireworks, I think it's kind of counterintuitive I more likely to come from Bernie than Elizabeth even though he is ahead in the polls, because his momentum is really slowing, while hers is just gathering steam.

[19:35:10] That's one of the major dynamics from the last debate as we saw the two men in the front drop down and the two women who had been in six to third really rocket up.

GOLODRYGA: And many say that Bernie Sanders is the same Bernie Sanders they saw in 2016.


GOLODRYGA: I want to bring in the mayor, because you say Bernie Sanders has never been reluctant to go after anyone.

NUTTER: Well, no. I mean, when folks play tennis they might be friends but you are taking the shot. You are trying to win.

And so, I'm not saying anybody is putting a knife in anybody's neck. But if there is a policy difference, you are going to articulate what that difference is, make your point. And then move on.

So I mean, this is -- this is the big leagues here. Nobody -- nobody is playing. They can go out for drinks afterwards. But on that stage, the rule is protect yourself at all times.

GOLODRYGA: They're both to come ready to play. That's for sure.

Van, I want to talk to you about something important to you. Very proud of you, your work on this as well. Today, more than 3,000 inmates, men and women, have been released under the First Step Act.

You worked to pass that bipartisanship, it works, along with Jared Kushner. Talk about what went into making this work, and how you're feeling about this right now.

JONES: I mean, I don't have words. You know there is nothing more important than freedom. Human freedom and human dignity, there's nothing more important than that. It's beyond partisanship. It's beyond politicians.

They were people serving life sentences for stuff people in Washington are doing this weekend. It didn't make sense. But it wasn't just a Van Jones and Jared Kushner show, that's what the media showed.

You had formerly incarcerated people like Louis Reed, Topeka Sam, directly impacted people like Jessica Jackson, people who just cared, and they just wouldn't let this thing go. And this bill -- you remember, it died a thousand deaths on the hill. All the experts said no way. Trump will never sign. It's never going to have -- and these grassroots folks Cut 50 and FAM and all these groups wouldn't let it die. And Freedom Works and American Service Union all got together, and as a result now, you've got people coming home.

And think what much more we could do if -- on some issues, not everything but on some, we could get together.

GOLODRYGA: And think about how many lives have changed for the better because of that. Thank you so much.

JONES: Well, it's --

GOLODRYGA: What a great note to end the panel on. Thank you. Have a great weekend.

Van, though, has got a great weekend coming up, too. Don't miss the Van weekend show on Saturday at 7:00. This weekend guess who he is talking to? None other than soccer star, Megan Rapinoe.

Wow, you're so lucky.

And OUTFRONT next, breaking news. We're learning new details about the president's new strategy when it comes to Iran. This as the rogue nation storms not one but two tankers today.

Plus, three women who claim they were assaulted by Donald Trump are speaking out. What does justice look like to them when their alleged attacker is the president of the United States?


E. JEAN CARROLL, AUTHOR: Oh, total jail time, total jail time for the rest of his life. Absolutely.



[19:41:48] GOLODRYGA: Breaking news: President Trump is adopting a more hawkish view on Iran. Three sources tell CNN the president is now putting less emphasize on diplomatic talks to end the crisis. This comes as Iran boarded two tankers earlier today.

First, a British flagged tanker was seized as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping lane. Iran claims the tanker was violating shipping laws. Iranian soldiers also bordered a second British ship but allowed it to continue its journey.

Barbara Starr is OUTFRONT from the Pentagon tonight.

And, Barbara, the U.S. military believes this was all preplanned and coordinated by Iran?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, they do at this point. That's at least the assessment the U.S. has at the moment because the two events, two seizures happened just half an hour apart. Iranians boarding both tankers, as you say holding to one of them, eventually letting the other one go on its journey.

There is a good deal of concern that Iran, of course, stepping up the level of provocations in the Persian Gulf. You know, the British at this hour trying to decide how to respond to all of this. But for the Trump administration, the immediate security concern is there are U.S. ships -- commercial ships moving through that area tonight. And we know from the U.S. military, they have patrol aircraft overhead keeping an eye on that U.S. shipping, plenty of fire power in the region if they run into trouble.

But they continue to say here at the Pentagon that they are not looking for war. They want this all to deescalate. Nonetheless, there are U.S. troops in the region and earlier this week, of course, we reported 500 troops going to Saudi Arabia to a remote air base. So they can fly their advance fighter jets out of that air base. And they too can patrol this region. Don't look for the U.S. to pull back any time soon. They want to keep

that military deterrent out there. They want the Iranians to deescalate -- Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: Of course, it's coming just hours after the U.S. said that it downed an Iranian drone as well. So, tensions are clearly rising.

Thank you so much, Barbara Starr.

STARR: Sure.

GOLODRYGA: And OUTFRONT now, Retired General Spider Marks.

Thank you general for joining us.


GOLODRYGA: So, how significant of an escalation is this in your opinion?

MARKS: Well, from the Iranians, clearly this is escalatory. They will continue to do this. We anticipated this them doing this.

I'm confident that from the U.S. side, and from the coalition side, that there is very little likelihood we would escalate and try to be a more aggressive than we presently are as Barbara described in terms of the deterrent effect of our presence and our increased presence in the region.

Look, in the Straits of Hormuz, there is nothing that ever serendipitously happens. It's always been a focused globally. And so, these events are all orchestrated by the Iranians. We could expect more going forward.

GOLODRYGA: So, let me ask you, though, something that the defense intelligence director said today. Robert Ashley was asked about this. And he said that Iran is going into recession and the glide path that they are on is more of the same. What you see is an attempt to break that status quo is to look to divide us with European powers to try to get the European powers to come in, to have an economic impact.

[19:45:03] So, if that is the case, why then seize a British tanker if, in fact, the Iranians are hoping the British and Europeans will help them?

MARKS: Yes, General Bob Ashley is I think spot on with his analysis here. You're right. It seems odd that the Iranians would do something to further potentially coalesce the coalition and all the partners that are involved in what's all taking place in the straits. But also, what they are trying to do is throw darts into this collection of partnerships and try to get some different responses so that the narrative can change, the pain can be felt in other capitals, not just Tehran.

So, their behavior is quite normal. GOLODRYGA: Well, perhaps they are also responding to the British

seizing an Iranian ship last week as well. Either way, it does seem to be that tensions are rising and escalating.

General, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

MARKS: Sure enough, Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: And OUTFRONT next, women who say they were assaulted by Donald Trump speak to CNN about watching their alleged attacker get elected and deny allegations.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like we have been brushed aside, and forgotten about.


GOLODRYGA: Plus, Jeanne Moos on why the race for 2020 is literally cursed.


[19:50:14] GOLODRYGA: Tonight, the forgotten ones. More than a dozen women have come forward with a range of acquisitions against President Trump, from unwelcome advances to sexual harassment and assault. Now, three of them are speaking out, saying they feel left behind and are demanding justice.



E. JEAN CARROLL, ACCUSED TRUMP OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: He managed to penetrate me, against my will completely.

JESSICA LEEDS, ACCUSED TRUMP OF ASSAULTING HER ON PLANE: And then also not realized that he was putting his hand up my skirt.


M.J. LEE, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These three women were sexual assaulted years ago by Donald Trump.

(on camera): So, this would have been at Mar-a-Lago.


LEE (voice-over): Mindy McGillivray says it was at a concert at the Mar-a-Lago Club in 2003 when she was a photo assistant.

MCGILLIVRAY: A hard grab on my right side so I jumped up. I'm startled.

LEE: Jessica Leeds says it was on an airplane when she was traveling for work in the early 1980s.

LEEDS: We're struggling. I'm trying to push him off of me.

LEE: Author E. Jean Carroll says it happened inside of a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s.

CARROLL: The minute I was in that room, that door was closed and he shoved me up against the wall and banged my head.

LEE: Two of them say they decided to go public with their allegations after this explosive "Access Hollywood" tape leaked.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.

LEE: Their tipping point, this moment at a presidential debate in October 2016.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN DEBATE MODERATOR: Are you saying that what you said on the bus 11 years ago that you did not actually kiss women without consent or grope women without consent?

TRUMP: I have great respect for women. Nobody has more respect for women than I do.

COOPER: Have you ever done those things?

TRUMP: Women have respect for me and I'll tell you, no, I have not.

MCGILLIVRAY: I jumped out of my seat and I pointed to the TV and like you, son of a bitch. You're a liar.

LEE: For the past few years, a reckoning has roiled the nation as women have spoken out under the banner of #metoo, powerful men in media, entertainment, business and government have been forced to reckon with allegations of misconduct and violence.

The woman who spoke out against Trump has been cheering on the movement, but they have also watched their alleged attacker get elected president of the United States.

TRUMP: She would not be my first choice that I can tell you.

LEE: And deny all of their allegations.

LEEDS: Trump really is Teflon. It just slides right off of him. Things that he has done, he doesn't seem to pay the price for.

MCGILLIVRAY: How can he serve the United States of America as the president when he is hurt countless women? Countless.

CARROLL: Nobody is holding him account accountable yet, not one person.

LEE: More than a dozen women have come forward with a wide range of acquisitions against Trump, from unwelcome advances to sexual harassment and assault. LEEDS: He was all over me, hands everywhere.

LEE: Trump's most recent accuser detailed her assault in a new book. Since coming out, these women received support but also furious backlash, one even described death threats.

CARROLL: I had seen what happened to Jessica Leeds and Mindy, I had seen it. Vehement denials and how dare they come forward.

LEE: The question these women are grappling with, what does justice or accountability look like --

TRUMP: It's a totally false accusation.

LEE: -- when the accused is the most powerful man in the world.

CARROLL: Oh, total jail time. Total jail time for the rest of his life. Absolutely.

LEEDS: For him to lose the election in 2020.

MCGILLIVRAY: To say I'm sorry, I'm sorry for making you uncomfortable. I'm sorry for disrespecting you or hurting you in any way.

LEE: Some worry they will be entirely left behind by the #metoo movement.

MCGILLIVRAY: We're the forgotten ones, I feel like we have been brushed aside and forgotten about.

LEE: But Trump's latest accuser says she is more hopeful.

CARROLL: There is a way. I know there is a way, because women are angry.


GOLODRYGA: MJ joins us now on set.

It's such an important story to tell. I'm so glad you did this piece, and it just breaks your heart when you hear people refer to themselves as the forgotten ones. What stood out to you the most when he talked to these women?

LEE: You know, what's interesting is obviously these three women have different stories and break grounds there of different ages. They have different careers. They have never met.

But they have a couple of things in common. I was struck by the fact that each woman said they remembered exactly what they were wearing at the time of the alleged assault. None of them went to the police and also all three of them told me they would love to some day meet one another.

GOLODRYGA: Perhaps they can find strength in numbers. MJ, thank you. Great to see you.

And OUTFRONT next, Jeanne Moos on politicians trying to off swearing.


[19:58:26] GOLODRYGA: Well, it's official, 2020 is literally cursed.

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the story of a cuss word added to the presidential campaign.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I won't say it. It's a terrible word. I won't say what this guy said if we don't have the bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED). That's right.

They're trying to take you out with bull-(EXPLETIVE DELETED), OK? (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

Defrauding the public with ridiculous bull-(EXPLETIVE DELETED).

MOOS: It even spawned its own hashtag.

(on camera): Many of the president's supporters are going ape- (EXPLETIVE DELETED) over the president saying bull-(EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(voice-over): "Amen," tweeted actress Kristy Swanson.

"Inject the Trump directly into your veins" read another tweet.

But Beto O'Rourke's even stronger curse word --

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I was, like, yes, what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I mean, we're -- I'm running for --

MOOS: -- delivered with his 10-year-old daughter, Molly, beside him, caused a fellow Democrat to confront O'Rourke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We already have one vulgar-in-chief. Do we need to replace him with another?

MOOS: In the past, it was Ted Cruz who used an ad to attack Beto for his language.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sharing his wit --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- his wisdom.

O'ROURKE: What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are these guys doing?

MOOS: Now, it's a Democratic voter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, Beto, clean up your act. Honestly.

O'ROURKE: Yes. No, great point. And I don't intend to use the "F" word going forward.

MOOS: Ah, for the innocent old days when Joe Biden delivered the "F" bomb -- in a whisper.


MOOS: But these days, this is a nation in which even self-help books help themselves to expletives.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

O'ROURKE: So (EXPLETIVE DELETED) proud of you guys.


MOOS: -- New York.


GOLODRYGA: Thank goodness for the bleeps. Well, thank you for joining us.

"AC360" starts now.