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CNN TONIGHT

Democrats Tackle Hot Button Issues on Healthcare and Gun Control; Veteran Loses His Hope in the System; Ivanka Trump Gets Moral Compass From Father; Donald Trump, Jr. Denies Family is Profiting from Presidency; Jerry Falwell, Jr. Allegedly Belittles Students and Staff; Will Antonio Brown Play Amid Sexual Assault Allegations. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 13, 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.

And we're going to answer five big questions in the hour ahead. Was the Democratic debate a battle between the moderates and the progressives and which sides came out on top?

What is the fallout from Beto O'Rourke saying at the Democratic debate, "Hell, yes. We're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." Also, who does first daughter Ivanka Trump said gave her moral compass?

Plus, why is Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. facing backlash from the students at the Evangelical school.

And will the New England Patriots star allowed star receiver Antonio Brown to play Sunday as he faces allegations of sexual assault and rape?

A lot to get to in the hour ahead. But we're going to begin with the Democratic debate and the question of Medicare for all. Biden making this challenge to Warren.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My distinguish friend, the senator on my left does not -- has not indicate how she pays for it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Direct question. You said middle-class families are going to pay less. But will middle- class taxes go up to pay for the program?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, what families have to deal with is cost. Total cost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, let's get right to it now. The big picture. Mark McKinnon is here. Desiree Barnes here as well, Joe Lockhart. Good evening. It sounds like in this corner and in this corner and in this. And you guys are all in the house. It's so good to have you. We're going to make you a part of the our -- we usually have a fire --

(CROSSTALK)

DESIREE BARNES, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AIDE: I love it.

LEMON: This is our fire site check. Welcome, one and all. Mark, I'm going to start with you. We saw the top 10 Democrats on the stage last night. We had moderates and progressives. Did voters get a better idea of how the people in the field differ do you think?

MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THE CIRCUS: Yes, I think they really did. I think there was a much more forceful debate from Joe Biden and from Amy Klobuchar on some of the more moderate centrist positions particularly on healthcare. Biden and Klobuchar and others took on Sanders and Warren on the issue of the cost of the program.

And more importantly, the idea that private insurance will be taken away. And that's what's really unpopular. I mean, Elizabeth Warren said that people don't like health insurance companies. That may be true. But a lot of people like their plans, and that's the difference.

So that dividing line because much clearer last night than it had been in previous debates. So, you got a better sense of kind of the divide in the Democratic Party and where the debate centered. I thought it was a very healthy debate.

LEMON: Did you find there were -- that far apart on any one policy, Joe?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think on this policy. I think there's a myth that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are more in touch and closer to the Democratic electorate than the moderates. Amy Klobuchar and Joe Biden.

MCKINNON: It's a good point.

LOCKHART: And the polling shows the exact opposite.

MCKINNON: Right.

LOCKHART: The Democratic Party they -- I would say it's about 30 percent of the Democratic Party is in the Sanders and Warren wing.

LEMON: Say it again. I was busy trying to figure out.

LOCKHART: Yes. About a third or less of the party is supportive of the policy Warren and Sanders.

LEMON: Got it. Got it.

LOCKHART: But two-thirds is a much more moderate. And Mark put his finger on what the problem is. I think Harry Enten was saying this morning that 60 percent of Democrats say they like their healthcare coverage.

And that 65 percent to -- I think 40 -- or 55 to 40 say they would oppose any plan that took the choice of keeping their healthcare plan.

So, I think what the debate did is it kind of exploded that myth. That somehow Sanders and Warren were the ones that capture the party's hearts. Because really the strength in the party is with Klobuchar, Biden and with the rest of the field.

LEMON: It was interesting there was no coordinated defense between them when people attack their plans, you would think. Because they're pretty close on the plans. Did you -- I'm sure you watched.

BARNES: I have thought.

LEMON: Who was -- who did you think was better equipped to take on the president in a debate. Yes.

BARNES: Overall?

LEMON: I was going to say in general.

BARNES: Well, I honestly was really stunned by Mayor Buttigieg's performance yesterday. He to be the youngest candidate on the field, he seemed like one of the most mature candidates on stage that night. And took a very serious and brought it back to what I think the American people actually care about, what is democracy. How it's supposed to run and what government means to us.

But more importantly, he respected the intelligence of the voter. When he came home and said, you now, I respect your choice. And I think that you have the best capability of deciding what the solutions are to the problems you face. And it's not going to be me telling you this is one way or this is the way you should proceed in fixing your problem.

[23:05:00]

I also think that Senator Warren came out -- I think people underestimate her. And she is just a quiet storm. It's a steady --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But did it show last night do you think on the stage? Because you didn't hear that much from her last night.

BARNES: I think it showed in the way that her personal story resonates with voters that I think folks think she would normally not play well with. Saying that she paid $50 per semester or a year to go to University of Houston and working a part-time job and what that meant.

I think that resonates with the American people. And I think that was far more personal. And that's going to play well on the general election stage if that nominee is --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: If we can go back to the mayor. Because you talk about -- he also -- he also jumped in when they were fighting, you know, when Secretary Castro and Joe Biden, the former vice president when they were having their moment. And he said this is why people hate --

MCKINNON: Ys.

LEMON: -- politics in Washington.

BARNES: Yes.

LEMON: -- or hate and debates or what have you. So, again, talking about the people at home. But he had a very emotional moment last night telling his coming out story in the closing remarks. Let's watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I came back from the deployment and realize that you only get to live one life. And I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer.

So, I just came out. I had no idea what kind of professional set back it would be. Especially because inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community.

What happened was that when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and reelected me with 80 percent of the vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He went on to make the case that this election is not about any one person, not about President Trump, but about the collective trust, meaning as Desiree said, about the voters. What did you make -- how is that --

(CROSSTALK)

MCKINNON: I'm always compelled when I hear Buttigieg speak because he talks about these issues in such a different way, you know. It's so refreshing. It's never sounds like a talking point. It's never sort of says, at the same way twice. It's not like he's reading a teleprompter.

It's just unique, it's fresh. And he's talking about issues and ideas in a way that we just haven't heard, particularly Democratic candidates talk about faith, for example.

He's coming stories very powerful, a compelling human story. You know, he is, I think he has exceeded expectation more than anybody in the field.

LEMON: Yes. Well, -- MCKINNON: He was a guy nobody knew; with a name you couldn't pronounce.

LEMON: Right.

MCKINNON: Came from a place where nobody knew.

LEMON: An out gay man who talks about --

(CROSSTALK)

MCKINNON: And out gay man.

LEMON: Yes.

MCKINNON: Yes.

LEMON: Well, he's not so skinny because skinny kid with a funny name. But he's a -- you know what I mean. He's not as in --

MCKINNON: Yes.

LEMON: I'm not saying --

MCKINNON: Yes. I mean, there's probably nobody more different than Donald Trump than Pete Buttigieg.

LEMON: Yes. But interesting having said that, right, that he speaks about things in different ways. You heard what Mark said. I'm wondering if this primary race is going to be about come down to whether the people want someone who is a safe bet. Or do they want someone who is ready for transformational, who's going to push transformational change. Maybe it's a combination, I have no idea.

LOCKHART: Yes. And I think that's the right question. And I think up until now I expect this to continue for our -- it's a steady hand. It's a -- you know, we have been through this period in politics where Washington experience is something that people run away from as fast as they can.

BARNES: Yes.

LOCKHART: You know, you don't have insiders, you're running for national office in a successful way. In the CNN/Des Moines Register poll they ask them what attribute was most important to you? The top attribute was D.C. experience. That's --

(CROSSTALK)

MCKINNON: That's interesting. How we change --

LOCKHART: That's -- and how it happened was Donald Trump.

LEMON: Donald Trump did that. Right.

LOCKHART: And that's why we're looking, that's why -- (CROSSTALK)

MCKINNON: We want the opposite of that. And so maybe experience is OK. And by the way, I think if you're putting your finger on something which is it's not just electability about Joe Biden. It's something that people know.

BARNES: Right.

MCKINNON: It's the calm and something it's like, I remember that time. It was different, it was predictable.

LEMON: OK. OK. So, here's what that -- here's what I thought all along. Not just this season but always. Is that it's interesting to see to compare and contrast candidates in the debate.

But being a president is not about making decisions and answering questions in 30 seconds.

MCKINNON: Yes, exactly.

BARNES: Absolutely.

LEMON: Right? So, I don't -- is it fair to put people on stage and say OK, you have 30 seconds, you have a minute to answer this question. Because when you are president of the United States someone says you have a minute but in a very --

(CROSSTALK)

BARNES: I think --

LEMON: -- rarely if it ever that doesn't happen. Go ahead, Desiree.

BARNES: Well, I just think now the American people want, you know, their leaders to not have their reputation just rely on strong rhetoric. I think the American people want their politicians and leaders' reputations to rely on actual results.

LEMON: So, let me ask you this. Because today Joe Biden said -- I should be respectful -- the former vice president --

BARNES: Yes.

LEMON: -- said that maybe the people on the debate stage should stop criticizing him because it doesn't end well. That's a little Trumpian to me. I mean, but does he have a point? You saw what happened with Julian Castro, you saw what happened with senator -- Secretary Castro and then Senator Harris.

[23:10:03]

When she criticized him, she got a bump in the polls and then she went down.

BARNES: Yes. Well, you know what, I can say is what doesn't really work out on stage. And I think what we notice in every candidate yesterday is when you criticize former President Barack Obama, more importantly.

In that regard an I think I heard a lot of candidates who may have critiqued President Obama in the past who use that as a way to get to vice -- former Vice President Biden. And unfortunately, that didn't work out well.

While I think you heard basically passive apologies from a lot of candidates yesterday who, you know, said that they owed a lot to former President Obama.

But I think it is fair for the primary -- during this primary process to critique and to be objective to every single candidate on that stage.

LEMON: I love having all of here. Thank you so much. You probably want to sit and listen to this next interview because --

BARNES: I like to.

LEMON: Yes. You want to do that. So, thank you all.

Dramatic exchange on the campaign trails today between Bernie Sanders and a veteran who is battling serious illness. And I want to bring in now Annie Grayer who is covering the Sanders campaign for CNN.

Annie, I appreciate you joining us. So, this is very emotional. Emotions ran high tonight at a Sanders town hall in Nevada. Let's take a look and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN WEIGEL, U.S. NAVY VETERAN: Now they're saying that, you know, I didn't resign or do something or something --

(CROSSTALK)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: How are you going to pay off --

WEIGEL: I can't. I can't. I'm going kill myself.

SANDERS: Don't. John, stop it. You're not going to kill yourself.

WEIGEL: I can't deal with it.

SANDERS: All right.

WEIGEL: I have Huntington's disease. Do you know how hard it is? You know, you probably don't, do you? I can't drive. I can barely take care of myself.

SANDERS: All right. Let's talk at the end of the meeting, OK?

WEIGEL: Thank you. Thanks for listening. (APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Annie, please, tell us more about that moment and what happened after.

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN SANDERS CAMPAIGN EMBED: Yes. Don, so that was in Carson City, Nevada. Senator Sanders first public event since the Democratic debate last night in Houston.

And as you heard at the end of that exchange Senator Sanders promised the veteran that he would follow up with him once the town hall was over. And as promised, as soon as the event wrapped and Senator Sanders took photos with whoever in the audience wanted Senator Sanders followed by his wife Jane walked over to the veteran to continue their conversation.

And this really just shows what's at stake with this healthcare debate. And what Senator Sanders who continues to hold smaller events more intimate town halls allowing people to share intimate stories that they may not otherwise get the opportunity to share.

LEMON: Annie, thank you so much. I want to bring my --

GRAYER: Thank you.

LEMON: -- political analyst -- thank you very much, Annie. I want to bring my political analyst back in here. Mark, what do you think? It shows the seriousness of healthcare.

MCKINNON: Not only the seriousness of healthcare but a super- emotional human moment out there that magnifies the issue but also gave Sanders an opportunity to show some humanity which he doesn't do very often.

I mean, he's just this sort of policy driven guy, but you know, he handled that the right ways of got you. Let's do this quietly and do it alone. He didn't try and -- he didn't try and, you know, take advantage of the moment for himself publicly on television and took it away quietly, which is I think the right way to handle it. It was a great moment for him.

LEMON: Yes. You know, you hear people talk about sort of in polling. This is what the Americans want and preexisting conditions and on and on and skinny repeal the -- this the real life. And death. Possibly death. A real life and death issue and how people feel about their healthcare.

LOCKHART: It is. And I think the important point and I think Kamala Harris made this last night, and I give her credit, is all of the Democrats on that stage. They may have some policy differences, but they are all committed to making sure that this guy gets taken care of.

And what had they don't say enough is the Republicans are in court right now, Donald Trump's Justice Department to take away preexisting conditions. To strip Obamacare of the individual mandate.

BARNES: Yes.

LOCKHART: So, I think that is a much more powerful argument. It's you know, people aren't going to sit at their kitchen table and talk about, you know, my plan versus your plan.

MCKINNON: Yes.

LOCKHART: What they -- what the Democrats should focus more on is what Bernie Sanders did today. And talk about how this right of healthcare under this government is under attack. Obamacare if Republicans are elected in 2020 will go away.

LEMON: Desiree, I'll give you the last word.

BARNES: Yes. And I would say just from my own personal experience I was able to at 24 years old work for the federal government. And I had private student loans that I had to pay back. I lived on a couch for two years and saved every piece of my paycheck from the White House. And I was able to stay on my mother's healthcare. And I was able to pay on my student loans.

That should not be the reality for most Americans. You know? And if that is to go away where folks can't stay on their family members healthcare until the age of 26, I think that could be destructive and you would not have me sitting here.

[23:15:01]

LEMON: Yes. Thank you all. I really appreciate it. Thank you.

BARNES: Thank you.

LEMON: Beto O'Rourke is demanding a mandatory government buy back of assault style weapons. And that's frustrating some lawmakers looking to find a way for Democrats and Republicans to agree on gun legislation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Frustration over gun control measures on Capitol Hill tonight after Beto O'Rourke was asked about mandatory gun buy backs on assault weapons during last night's debate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you proposing taking away their guns and how would this work?

FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am. If it's a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield.

(APPLAUSE)

O'ROURKE: Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: While Some lawmakers saying that plays right into the hands of Republicans. And shortly after those comments, one Republican state Texas state lawmaker apparently threatened O'Rourke on Twitter. His name is Briscoe Cain. He tweeted this. "My AR is ready for you Robert Francis."

[23:20:04]

Well, Twitter deleted that after O'Rourke called Congressman's words a death threat. Now Cain is accusing O'Rourke of spinning his tweet into something it wasn't.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRISCOE CAIN (R), TEXAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: It's long been unofficial motto of the State of Texas. Come and take it. The Battle of Gonzales which scared (Ph) of October 2, 1835. Not, you know, the anniversary is coming up. And that's really what it means. Just come and take it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, joining me now is Juliette Kayyem and Rick Wilson. Rick is the author of "Everything Trump Touches Dies." Good evening. Rick, I'm going to start with you.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Good evening.

LEMON: How is that spinning -- what's the spin here?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, I think this was honestly -- I'm a little more cynical than most people on this whole factor. Because I think Beto is looking for a way to breakthrough in a race that he's already pretty much lost.

LEMON: Right.

WILSON: He's already -- you know, he's in the lowest possible tier of these guys. So, he went out there last night and waved his arms around and did something he knew would be inflammatory. And he knew it would be well out there well beyond where the majority of Americans are on this matter.

Because he's not talking about background checks or red flag laws. He's talking about a police-driven gun seizure across the country. And he knows this is never going to happen. And he also knows he's never going to be the president of the United States at this point.

He understands that the race is done for him. So, he's out there doing something that I thought was fairly cynical.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Rick, listen, Rick, I understand what you're saying. And I'm not saying I disagree with any of it. What I'm saying is by this Congress, this representative saying that somehow his tweet is being spanned by Beto. That's what I don't -- that's how I meant. How is this --

(CROSSTALK)

WILSON: Sorry. I understand what you're saying. Look, these guys are spritzing on Twitter and the guy made a statement that was as much as he wants to like, retcon the statement. It probably was a little bit over the line.

I have said some things on Twitter myself that are over the line. I was -- I have a pretty good detector when they are. That was probably right up there on the border.

LEMON: Got it. Yes. OK. Thank you for answering that.

Juliette, listen, even Democrats are calling out the remarks. And you know, one of them Chris Coons said that it was, he's concerned that this is going to be used, you know, in years to come. And sound bites where by Republicans by saying look Democrats want to take your guns away.

But this is what a recent Washington Post/ABC poll found. That 52 percent of people are in favor of mandatory gun buyback programs for assault weapons. While 44 percent oppose. So, is -- you know, some Democrats some people may not like what he said, but is he actually far off base?

KAYYEM: No, he's not. And I'm so glad you raised that poll. There's this feeling like Beto he's so crazy. This idea is so crazy. So, let's just put the numbers as we know them. The vast majority of Americans believe in an assault rifle ban. Up to 70 percent in some polling.

The Washington Post poll that you said also had that 31 percent of Republicans support a mandatory buy back. NPR did a similar poll that showed 20 percent of Trump supporters support a mandatory buyback.

Why is that? It's because since most Americans support an assault rifle ban, you have a problem which is you have five million AR-15s, for example, on the street. How are you going to get them off the streets?

You do mandatory buy back. You have what they call, sort of rolling amnesties, sort of over time, you let people come in and they get paid back. You ban things like, you know, magazines and other things that would let people shoot lots of people quickly.

That's sort of my big concern now. It's the reason why you want these assault rifle ban, put handguns aside is because of their capacity to kill a lot of people very quickly.

So, Beto is clearly at the very least in an evenly divided American debate. This is not a fringe notion of a mandatory buy back. It's worked in other countries. New Zealand and Australia were different obviously.

But the idea that we'll be threatened by fear of, you know, when are the gun people going to say. The gun people are actually many of them are for this -- for these policies.

LEMON: Yes. In that same Washington Post/ABC poll, Rick, support for universal background checks is huge. It's 89 percent. Congress, though, has been unable to pass anything. Does that show how far we are from any kind of mandatory gun buyback program?

WILSON: Look, I think -- I think one of the things as a guy who is very experienced in polling and very experiences in asking polling questions. If for your second question in that poll was what is a mandatory gun buy back, most Americans could not tell you what that means. Most Americans do not understand the implications of that. And when they do the answer changes.

Now look, the phrase universal background checks sound great. Right now, we have background checks that cover roughly 95 percent of all gun purchases through the NIX system. Almost every gun purchase already goes through it.

[23:24:55]

The marginal areas where we see gun crimes emerging are mostly not from people who have legitimately obtained their fire guns but who have done so by criminal means or done so by legitimate means.

We do have to tighten that system up. We should work on that. We should focus on that. But I don't think that the flush of polling that we've seen after all these events and they're very tragic. I'm not minimizing them.

But we always see these polls come out, they soar up there with those numbers and then they drop back. And as a percentage of the most problems in all the polling that people look at every time. We do as panels the most important problems.

Gun violence is very rarely in the top 10. It's always things that are more relevant to people's immediate lives. These are tragedies. I'm not minimizing them in any way. But there are -- there are bigger issues and bigger fish to fry for most voters when it comes to election day.

LEMON: All right.

WILSON: So, we'll see what happens. And we'll see if Congress feels motivated to tighten up. There are areas we can look at that I think have to be carefully balanced on red flag laws and areas that we have to tighten up.

And frankly, what we should be doing in the federal government is encouraging more prosecution of gun trafficking crimes which has very little attention. LEMON: Thank you all. Thank you both, I should say. I appreciate it.

WILSON: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: CNN and the New York Times will co-host the next Democratic presidential debate live from the battleground State of Ohio. It's coming October 15 right here on CNN.

Ivanka Trump telling a bunch of donors she gets her moral compass from her father. A lot to talk about, next.

[23:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, when Ivanka Trump was asked at a fund raiser what personality trait she got from her parents. "Politico" reports that she, "told the crowd of roughly 120 high-end donors that her mother gave her an example of how to be a powerful successful woman. And her father passed onto her his moral compass."

Joining me now to discuss, New York Magazine's Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi, also McKay Coppins, author of "The Wilderness," and Michael D'Antonio joins us as well, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Good evening. So here we go. Michael, what do you make of her moral compass remark? You say she hasn't always thought that way?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, it's the opposite of what she told me. She said that her mother gave her moral grounding and it was her father who taught her about business and achievements. So, this flip-flop actually is consistent with her dad. So maybe she's telling the truth this time. Maybe he really is her moral guide and we're witnessing it.

LEMON: That was audible. That was an audible gasp. Why do you say that Olivia? Why are you laughing?

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTIN CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: It was a good joke. But I think maybe -- I think that's probably true. I think she's been pretty clear right historically about her relationship with her father and what she's gotten from him. But I think appealing to donors is completely different.

And Donald Trump is not someone who people readily see a lot of empathy or traits like that from. And I think it's her job to humanize him in some way, and that's a difficult task. And maybe by implying that she gets her moral compass from him, it seems like there's a lot to him that maybe we don't know.

I think maybe that's what she was going for. To suggest that there's a side of him that is good and that is just not visible to the public. And that she is somehow, you know, evidence of that. She's the result of that. I think it's a way to convince people that there's more there that we don't see. LEMON: Sir McKay, you know, early on as you know, there was this idea

that Ivanka and Jared would be a moderating influence on the president and on the administration. But in your "Atlantic" cover story this week, here's what you write.

You said, "Trump began to tire of Ivanka and Jared's incessant lobbying. Every tome he turned around, they were nagging him about something -- new refugees one day, education the next. It never stopped. Their efforts to change his mind about the Paris climate accord exasperated the president who took to mocking their arguments when they weren't around."

So it seems to suggest that their moral compass doesn't always point to in the same direction here.

MCKAY COPPINS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: That's right. I mean, the clear trajectory of Ivanka and the White House suggests that her own political views, her world view, is not aligned with her father, it does not impact her chief utility is as kind of a cajoler (ph) weapon that Trump can wave to prove to people that he's more respectable than he might seem.

I mean, this is the thing about Ivanka. She is polite. She's well- mannered. She's properly socialized to get along with fellow rich people and maybe more centrist-leaning rich people. And so when you have her in a room full of donors, she knows how to speak the language.

And she's able to kind of say you like what you see? I got this from my dad. But behind closed doors when you are actually in the White House together, Trump is less inclined to listen to her on the political issues where he knows she's not aligned with his base.

LEMON: So Don, Jr. was asked today on "Fox and Friends" about investigations into whether the president is using his office to help his business. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's ridiculous. I mean, first of all, he's not involved at all with those things. They also neglect to talk about the fact that we voluntarily stopped doing any international deals.

[23:35:03]

I mean, just think of the opportunity cost. The amount of deals that I have done over the last 10 years, extrapolate that over the eight years of what will be his presidency. That's a lot of deals. Someone bought a cheese burger at the Trump hotel. It's asinine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, he is saying it's ridiculous but it's not?

D'ANTONIO: Well, we see where he gets his ethical grounding as well. This is a fellow who has been overseas, scouring the landscape for business during his father's presidency. The idea that this president isn't taking emoluments, both foreign and domestic is really absurd. So, he can go on the propaganda network and issue the family line, but it's not true.

LEMON: But he's also downplaying it because it's bigger than a cheeseburger at one hotel.

D'ANTONIO: Oh, it's massive. This is millions of dollars that have been paid to Trump entities and now the president is soliciting the next gathering of the G7 for Doral.

LEMON: People eat this thing. They buy it. No pun intended to the cheeseburger, but they actually believe that.

D'ANTONIO: Oh, I think they may although if you've ever eaten on one of the restaurants at a Trump facility, I wouldn't recommend the beef.

LEMON: Is it from Trump steaks? McKay, listen, there's also the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo making this joke today at an event at Trump's D.C. hotel. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I look around. This is such a beautiful hotel. The guy who owns it must -- going to be successful somewhere along the way. That was for the "Washington Post" in case they're in the back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So he's trying to please the boss, but is he also rubbing the allegations of corruption in everybody else's face?

COPPINS: Yes, I think so. I mean, look, this has been central to the Trump family ethos. You can modify everything. You sell everything. You press your advantage wherever you can. There's been a lot of reporting on the fact that from the second that Donald Trump was elected, the people in the Trump family, people in the Trump organization started looking for ways to take advantage, right?

And so people like Mike Pompeo, a lot of people in the president's orbit frankly, they go out of their way to tout their boss' success, but they also know that the corruption allegations don't bother him that much because this has been so central to the way the Trump has operated for so long that it seems like he barely sees it as something wrong. This is just what you do. This is how you make your money. This is how you build your empire.

LEMON: Well, Olivia, even the Republican House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, was defending using a Trump property earlier this week. Is this how all of his allies -- is this what they're going to do? Basically make a joke out of it and rub it in people's faces?

NUZZI: I think so. You know, to McKay's point, I think it's not just that he doesn't see anything wrong with it, but it's actually a central part of his pitch. It has been since he started running for office, that he knows the system so well because he's a part of it and he knows how to exploit it. And he will exploit it for the benefit of his supporters. That is part of his pitch, that he just is smarter than everybody else. And so, I think --

LEMON: Well, that's got to be the last word. I'm sorry, I'm out of time. Thank you.

NUZZI: It's OK.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.

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[23:40:00]

LEMON: Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of Liberty University under fire tonight by some students at the evangelical school in Virginia. They are questioning his leadership and they want answers about e- mails he wrote allegedly belittling students and staff members at liberty. Here's CNN's Martin Savage.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Losing faith, an uncommon sight. Students protesting at one of the largest Christian colleges in the world, targeting the schools president, Jerry Falwell, Jr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not being a great religious figure. He's not being a great leader.

SAVIDEG (voice-over): Founded in 1971 by his father, Jerry Falwell, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, today boast a student body of 110,000 students. But Jerry Falwell, Jr. is facing a backlash over the culture and business dealings at the school. And just this week, the revelations from e-mails over the past decade in which Falwell belittle his students and staff members.

ELIZABETH BROOKS, JUNIOR LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: We want to know the truth. We want transparency through that process and we want accountability for Falwell himself. We want to know what the president is doing.

SAVIDEG (voice-over): Counter protestors were also on hand supporting Falwell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a lot of it has just been taken out of context to smear his name, personally, but I think some of it might be true. I think a lot of it probably is exaggerated.

SAVIDEG (voice-over): Reuters this week reported on dozens of e- mails, some of which contain offensive language. In one from 2010, Falwell reportedly called a then student emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded.

In a 2015 e-mail reported by Reuters, Falwell is quoted as lashing out about students parking and private lots instead of paying parking fees to Liberty, "These students need to learn to play by the rules or they can go to another college. I'm tired of this crap."

In other e-mails reported by Reuters, Falwell calls a university official, a bag of hot air who couldn't spell the word profit.

[23:44:58]

In another, Reuters says, Falwell calls another official a half wit and easy to manipulate.

Speaking to CNN, Falwell confirmed the e-mails were authentic, but said they lack context saying, "I would have to see the full thread to see what I was talking about."

Falwell also told CNN that the e-mails had been stolen and that he's asked the FBI to investigate what he calls a criminal conspiracy saying that former employees and board members have leaked documents and e-mails in an attempt to oust him.

Falwell's demands for a federal probe follow a political story based on e-mail and unnamed sources accusing him of presiding over a culture of self-dealing of the university including real estate transactions that would seem to benefit family and associates.

SAVIDGE (on camera): When asked about his tumultuous week, Falwell replied, "I really don't care what they say. In the end, they are going to look like fools. So, I'm actually very much enjoying this week." Don?

LEMON: Martin Savidge, thank you very much. Should accusations of assault and rape keep a player off the field? That's a question for the new England Patriots and star wide receiver Antonio Brown. What the league and his team are sating, next.

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[23:50:00]

LEMON: The New England Patriots grappling with an important question tonight. Should serious accusations against a player keep him off the field? Star receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of rape and sexual assault by his former trainer and bible study partner, Brittany Taylor.

She filed a civil lawsuit against him on Tuesday. Brown and his representatives deny the allegations, but though he's eligible to make his season debut with the Patriots Sunday while the league investigates, the team has not said whether he will take the field.

Let's discuss now. Donte Stallworth is here who played 10 seasons in the NFL, as well as Mina Kimes of ESPN. So good to have both of you on. Thank you so much.

DONTE STALLWORTH, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Thanks for having us.

MINA KIMES, SENIOR WRITER, ESPN: Thanks for having us. LEMON: Donte, I'm going to start with you. Since there isn't a criminal investigation, Brown can technically still play while the league investigates. Do you agree with how the team is handling this?

STALLWORTH: I know that I played for that organization for two years, and I understand how they operate. They try to do their best to put aside all distractions, any possible distractions. They try to focus on the game and focus on football and anything else is pushed outside and left to the media to talk about and discuss.

But the players in the locker room and the head coach specifically, ban the players from speaking about things that are not detailed towards the game and towards playing in the game.

So, that's the typical way that they handle it. I don't know if it's, you know, morally right or not, but that's the way that Belichick has handled things for decades in that organization, and it's worked for him on the field.

LEMON: Considering that the allegations here or the accusations, Mina, what does the NFL stand to lose if Antonio Brown plays this weekend?

KIMES: Well, I think it's tricky from the NFL's perspective. There is something called the commissioner's exempt list. It's a status that they can impose on players, putting them on paid leave while they're deciding whether or not to suspend him.

Now, I think the reason why Antonio Brown is not on the list is the league is afraid of setting a precedent, making that decision based on civil allegations before they've even had a chance to talk to the accuser. That's supposed to take place next week.

I get that from a labor perspective, but when he's out there in uniform, it does send a message about the league's priorities. They need to figure out very quickly if there's going to be more evidence surfacing here because if there does, it's going to be a bad look for the NFL.

LEMON: Listen, the NFL has struggled, really, I mean, it's been public -- and in public, struggled to adequately address issues of domestic violence and violence against women. Brown is the league's highest profile receiver on its marquee team. How crucial is it that the league get this one right?

KIMES: It's absolutely crucial. Now, as I said, I understand from a labor perspective why they don't want to set a precedent here in acting too quickly, but they need to gather information as quickly as possible and also convey, I think, to people that they're taking this very seriously. That's the NFL.

I don't understand why the Patriots would be rushing him out. Football doesn't matter here, but it bears mentioning. They're playing the worst team in the NFL. They're one of the best teams. They absolutely do not need Antonio Brown. Donte mentioned that they don't like distractions. Him being on the

field is absolutely a distraction. It's going to be a talking poin and it kind of befuddles me they're even considering it.

LEMON: Thank you both. I appreciate it.

STALLWORTH: Thanks for having us.

KIMES: Thanks for having us.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

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[23:55:00]

LEMON: Detroit's economic struggles are well known and it remains the poorest big city in America. The U.S. Census Bureau says more than one-third of Detroit's residents and nearly half of the city's children live in poverty.

Well, this week's CNN Hero is working to change that. She's a nurse who found her mission while making a house call more than 20 years ago. Meet Najah Bazi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAJAH BAZZY, CNN HEROE (voice-over): Working as a nurse, I went to visit this Iraqi refugee family and an infant that was dying. And there at the house, they absolutely had nothing. There was no refrigerator. There was no stove. There was no crib. The baby was in a laundry basket. I decided that this wasn't going to happen on my watch.

How's your apprenticeship going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty good.

BAZZY (voice-over): Nurses are supposed to fix things. We are healers. And this is just a place that heals the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: To see how Najah is providing basic needs, education and hope to thousands every year, go to cnnheroes.com.

[23:59:59]

Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.