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Donald Trump Possible Abuse of Power; Democrats Heads to Iowa to Win Voters; More Troops Sent to Saudi Arabia by the U.S.; Antonio Brown Released by Patriots Amid Accusations of Sexual Assault and Misconduct; Democratic Candidates on Late Night TV; African-American Student Terrorized by Neo-Nazis Took Them to Court and Won; Judge's Running Club Helps Skid Row's Homeless Rebuild Their Lives. Aired 11p- 12a ET

Aired September 20, 2019 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: -- hour ahead here.

A source telling CNN President Trump pressured Ukraine's president in a phone call back in July to investigate Joe Biden's son. We have all the details for you.

Also, tonight, the United States sending additional troops to Saudi Arabia following the attack on its oil fields.

And in the 2020 race, the countdown is onto the Iowa caucus. Democratic candidates attend a steak fry this weekend as the attacks ramp up against the front runners.

Also, ahead, the New England Patriots fire wide receiver Antonio Brown amid rape allegations.

And standing up to hate, a young African-American was terrorized by a white supremacist but she took them on and won.


TAYLOR DUMPSON, FORMER STUDENT, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: The fact I'm able to still speak out against it, is the part that drives them crazy. And that's the part that I love the most. And because that gives me strength.

Because every time we used to seeing and think about how white supremacist activities are happening non-stop around the country and around the world. That's the fuel for me. That means that so long as they're going to keep going, we have to keep going too.


LEMON: We're going to get to all of that this hour. But first tonight, the big picture.

A source telling CNN that President Trump pressured Ukraine's president to investigate Joe Biden's son. Here to discuss, Susan Glasser, Ryan Lizza, and Michael Isikoff. Good

evening, one and all. I appreciate you joining us.

Michael, I'm going to start with you. The Wall Street Journal is saying that the president pressured Ukraine's president about eight times in that call. Is this an abuse of power?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: If as reported, it certainly an abuse of office. The president is using his office as president of the United States to pressure a foreign leader to give him ammunition against the political opponent.

I mean, it's hard to find something, you know, quite as serious as that up to now. The question is, you know, it's the ball game is that transcript of the phone call. We can have press reports of it, we can have former officials describing it. But until we actually see the wording in the transcript, I'm not sure -- I mean, that's what needed to move the ball forward.

So, the question is, how are we going to get the transcript? We can wait for somebody in the intelligence community to leak it. We can let Adam Schiff go forward with his, you know, trying to get that complaint from the inspector general. But I'm not sure that Schiff is going to be able to make it public.

He's bound by intelligence community rules, HIPC rules. That he, you know, all this would be classified behind closed doors.

It seems to me the only way we're going to see that transcript which isn't the ball game is for the House judiciary to go to court, you know, as soon as possible. Subpoena the transcript. And hope they get a federal judge who will say I can't rule on this without actually seeing the document.


ISIKOFF: Most likely under seal. But that at least moves us closer to seeing what was actually said in that phone call.

LEMON: Let's bring Ryan in. Ryan, if reported, if this is true, --


LEMON: -- is this an essence the president colluding with another country to win the 2020 election? Haven't we been down this road before?

LIZZA: Well, it's even -- it's worse now that he's attempting to collude. There's no evidence that the Ukrainians was -- the Ukrainian leader was on board with this or agreeing with this. Imagine the position that he was in.

The president of the United States dangling foreign aid in front of him when his country is has been invaded by Russia. Is constantly paranoid about Putin's intentions in the region. And not only does he have Trump befriending pumping up Putin in all

sorts of ways, but then he has the American president pressuring him to essentially help his reelection campaign with, perhaps the understanding that the U.S. is not going to back Ukraine if he doesn't.

So, it's the president attempting to get that collusion. We don't know exactly what the Ukrainian response here was. So, it's even worse than, you know, the Russians coming to the United States and trying to get some of the Trump people to do things.

You know, as Michael said, this is the definition -- if this is all true, this is the definition of an abuse of power. It's using your office not to benefit the United States but to --


LEMON: To benefit yourself.

LIZZA: -- to benefit yourself.

LEMON: And to win an election. Yes.

Susan, you know, you say the writing has been on the wall for quite some time now that this president has been obsessed with Ukraine.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, that's right. First of all, Don, it's an outgrowth of his own obsession with 2016 and the Russian intervention.


And interestingly, the Wall Street Journal and others have reported there were two requests that Rudy Giuliani and Trump were making of the Ukrainians. One to investigate Joe Biden's son. And the other was to investigate what role Ukraine may have played in what he thinks is trying to fuel the charges against Paul Manafort and the Russia collusion narrative.

And the other part doesn't get as much as attention. But I think it goes to President Trump's mind set in his obsession.

But, you know, I just also want to make the point that even what we already know is absolutely pretty mind blowing here. Even without the transcript. I agree with Michael that it's important to see, you know, how explicit if it all was Trump making a linkage to the aid, for example, the arms funds.

Now, even if he wasn't, what President Trump has already said, what Rudy Giuliani have already said. They were sending the president's personal lawyer to Ukraine publicly, as well as privately demanding an investigation of the president's opponent.

This is extraordinary thing. Essentially, he's already been publicly demanding that Ukraine investigate his political opponents. This is unprecedented in and of itself it seems to me already. And this is without knowing what the whistleblower --


LEMON: Even from what Rudy Giuliani allege in the interview last night with Chris.

GLASSER: -- its allegation. Absolutely. I think we're so -- this is one of those Trump moments where we can't process this. Because actually it's so big that words and comparisons defy it.

The idea of a president, you know, going to a foreign power and demanding that they get involved in our elections. We already know that part.

LEMON: Yes. Ryan, I know you want to jump in here. But let me play this and then I'll get you to respond to it. This is what President Trump said about the call in the Oval Office today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss Joe Biden his son or his family with the president of Ukraine?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It doesn't matter what I discussed. But I will say this. Somebody ought to look into Joe Biden's statement because it was disgraceful.


LEMON: So, there you go. It doesn't matter. So, the president says no evidence. Biden's threat to withhold aid to the Ukraine in 2016 was retaliation for Ukraine's prosecutor investigating Biden's son who worked for Ukrainian gas company. Does Trump just fear Biden is his biggest competitor? Weigh in in all of this for you and what Susan said as well.

LIZZA: Well, I think in July he did -- I actually Trump has been relatively silent about Biden since this period. Right? He hasn't actually weighed in as much in the Democratic primary.

A lot of people around him were saying stop talking about Joe Biden. You're helping him win the primary. Because every time he hits Biden, it helps him. Right? Because every other Democrat starts to defend -- defend Biden. So, I think this is a legacy of the summer when Trump was obsessed with Biden. But you know -- well, let me leave it there. I know Michael was headed want to get in.

LEMON: Yes, Michael, what do you want to say?

ISIKOF: Well, no, first of all, a couple things. I think Susan is absolutely right. The fact that Rudy Giuliani was going over there meeting with the Ukrainian officials making the same argument and demand that they investigate as the president's personal lawyer. Was, you know, was -- he's acting as an extension of the president there. He's the president's personal representative. So that's what gives credence to the reports today that the president

himself was making the same demand that his personal representative was already making of the --


ISIKOFF: -- Ukrainian officials. I mean, it's, you know -- the totality of that is I totally agree with what Susan is saying, is pretty stunning. The question is what do you do with it, how do you move it forward. And I do think that's why it's so important.

I think the transcript is going to be like the tapes were during Watergate. If the Congress can get a hold of them, if they can be made public, they could become the smoking gun.

LEMON: So, Susan, let's take a look at the time line here, OK? President Trump spoke with Ukraine's president the day after Robert Mueller testified before Congress, and the resignation of the former DNI Dan Coats was announced three days after that. One day after Mueller. Is that shameless? What do you think? What is --

GLASSER: Again, I think President Trump is obsessed with the investigation of him and has been from the very beginning. He has a sense that, you know, a grudge against Ukraine is how various sources have described it. You know, he thinks they're against me there. And I'm trying to reopen relations with Russia.

And by the way, it's also in the same period throughout the summer leading up to the G7. The president once again said that Russia should be readmitted to the G7 unilaterally even though they continue to be at war through their proxies in eastern Ukraine. Even though they have of course continued to take over the Crimea peninsula.


The context here it was like, this isn't just some random foreign country --


GLASSER: -- that Donald Trump is intervening. And let's just be clear. That first of all, the geopolitical significance of this is unbelievable. And the aid that President Trump was holding up was the thing that's been cited by his Republican allies on Capitol Hill and people in his own administration as the only significant evidence that actually the Trump administration was standing up to Russia.

And it appears that Trump does not support that. And of course, he doesn't really support his own administration's policy towards Russia.

LEMON: Yes. Michael, listen, the Pentagon announcing tonight that it will send additional troops to Saudi Arabia after the president slap new sanctions on Iran. Do you think this response is enough?

ISIKOFF: You know, look, I think that -- it's not clear exactly how many troops are supposed to be a modest amount. But, you know, what's pretty surprising from that is the president who's been trying to withdraw from the Middle East. He's been trying to bring troops back. That's been consistent all along. And now he's having to reverse that by sending troops in. It is a total reversal of where he's been trying to go.

But, you know, why did this happen? This has been, this was blow back for his policies, you know, to impose sanctions on Iran and scrap the nuclear agreement. So, in some ways, his hard-line stance against Iran has undercut what he was trying to do in the Middle East which was withdraw troops.

LEMON: Thank you all. Something different about Michael. I can't put my finger on it.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don. Like Jerry Garcia (Ph).

ISIKOFF: For now.

LEMON: All right. Hairy, we'll see you. What was the 70s thing? Was that guy that wolf man Jack. Who is the guy --

GLASSER: Yes, wolf.



LIZZA: It was Jerry Garcia (Ph) you're thinking of.

LEMON: Yes. Maybe it was wolf --

GLASSER: You're thinking of Mendel (Ph) --

LEMON: It was a show with a wolf. Yes. All right. Thank you, all. I appreciate it.

Things are really heating up in Iowa. Eleven-thousand people expected for the big Democratic Party steak -- steak fry in Des Moines tomorrow and 17 presidential hopefuls will be there. We're going to tell you which took -- which top candidate, I should say, is going after another. That's next.



LEMON: New tonight, 17 Democrats running for president in 2020 are in the same state this weekend. They're all in Iowa. That, as some of the candidates amp up their attacks on Elizabeth Warren in the wake of her rise in the polls.

Let's discuss now. Mark McKinnon is here, and Rekha Basu as well. Thank you so much both of you for joining us. Before we get to what's happening in Iowa, Mark, I want to ask you about this Ukraine story about the president pressuring the Ukrainian president multiple times to investigate Joe Biden's son. Biden today said that, this is a quote -- well, I'm paraphrasing,

there's no bottom to Trump's willingness to abuse his power. What so you think of this?

MARK MCKINNON, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THE CIRCUS: Well, I think it's true. And of course, why wouldn't he? He hasn't been held accountable for anything. And so, they stretching those limits. Stretching the limits of executive power.

You know, I was thinking today about I think a lot of people in Congress are thinking about, you know, not only rewriting the laws and maybe even the Constitution because they just -- I don't think the founders ever imagined that somebody would test the guardrails like the president has. He just keeps pushing it further and further.

LEMON: But even -- this is according to the reports. But even what Rudy Giuliani admitted last night. You heard what Susan --


LEMON: I mean, that is still just egregious in itself. Yes.

MCKINNON: Egregious for sure. But again, you know, was this the sort of thing that's going to bother Trump supporters? I doubt it.

LEMON: Yes. Interesting. So, Biden is a front runner. Democrats don't have a nominee yet. But no matter who it is, how are they going to fight this president? His campaign tactics are really scorched-earth tactics. How are they going to fight him?

MCKINNON: Well, I think with jiu-jitsu, you know, you don't try and beat Trump by being Trump. You do it by being something completely different. That's why I think it'd be interesting, you know, let's say -- let's say Pete Buttigieg were the nominee or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris. I mean, somebody that just the Trump isn't used to.

I mean, Biden I think he kind of gets. You know, you can kind of see that contest. And see how Trump would handle it anyway, or how he deal with it. But he's not good at dealing with the unknown. And I think some of these candidates are interesting and different and it will be interesting to see how they deal with Donald Trump.

LEMON: They may throw him off.


LEMON: Hey, Rekha, you know, the Iowa caucus is getting closer each day and the candidates are starting to really focus on the state. Starting with a big steak fry this weekend. What are people saying there?


LEMON: And what are they looking for?

BASU: I mean, I think that people are looking for someone who can beat Trump, quite frankly. And it's interesting because I've been having conversations with people who I consider progressive and feminist and women who are asking questions like, but do you think America is ready for a woman president?

I mean, there's this great sense of fear that the person has to be able to beat Trump. That's the most important element. And at the same time that that's playing out, there is, I think a really interesting surge in sort of identity group politics where tonight there was an LGBTQ forum for the presidential candidates in Cedar Rapids.

There's going to be a youth forum on Sunday. There's a steak fry tomorrow. There's something else UCI which is a progressive group around economic reform.

So, there are a lot of groups that are getting very jazzed and very excited about this race are ones that do identify as a minority in some way. And yet, then there's this other sector of people who are worried that, you know, if it's a minority you can't win the mainstream.

So, it's very interesting to see what's going on. I think -- I think they're really going to be looking for who wows the crowd and fires them up to the extent that they are going to want to turn out to vote.

LEMON: Interesting. You know, things got heated and off track at Biden's Iowa climate town hall today. A woman accused him of siding with insurance companies.


He told the audience member that she has a good candidate in Bernie, but she said that Sanders was not her candidate. And then, Biden said this.



JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, if you're willing to pay and I respect you, if you're willing to pay the extra taxes and you think you get much more for that, then that's good. That's good.

But let's at least acknowledge. Tell Elizabeth to tell it's going to cost a lot of money.


LEMON: You know, there Biden goes after Senator Elizabeth Warren who has been taking some heat from some --

BASU: Yes.

LEMON: -- of the other candidates over support from Medicare for all and how she'll pay for her plans.

Mark, you were in Iowa this week. What are people saying? Is there a momentum for Warren there?

MCKINNON: No question. Crowds are huge. A lot of energy and a lot of momentum. Iowa is always important, Don, as we know it's the first contest that happens. But it's even more important this time because New Hampshire is also traditionally really important but not as much this time. Because Sanders and Warren are both from neighboring states.

So, it's already baked into the pie that any expectation that one of them will probably win that state. So, it makes whoever wins Iowa that much more important. You can arguably say then that in this case whoever wins Iowa is going to run the board and take it. Because, you know, it's just -- it's going to be the launching pad. And there's so much heat and energy right now there particularly from progressives where we saw from the audience today. And that's where Elizabeth Warren is getting a lot of her lift.

LEMON: So, goes Iowa, so goes the rest of the country?

MCKINNON: I think it's highly likely this election.

LEMON: Interesting. Rekha, CNN is reporting that Senator Kamala Harris looking to reframe her presidential bid by setting expectations high in Iowa. Earlier this week, a reporting caught up with her telling fellow senator Mazie Hirono I'm f-ing moving to Iowa. How much work --

BASU: Right.

LEMON: -- does she have ahead of her if she's going to Iowa like she said.

BASU: She's got a quite a bit of work ahead of her here. You know, there was a recent poll that came out of Iowa voters, rural voters. And it placed her at something like 5 percent. It was low. She was not even in the top four or five.

So, she knows she has a work cut out for her. And she has just hired 70 more people and she's opening 10 new field offices around the state. So, she's serious about Iowa. She really wants to connect with Iowa. She really -- she really wants to connect win Iowa and win Iowa. So, we'll see what happens.

I mean, so much of it has to do with debate performances. Right? She has a good debate and her numbers surge and then people think she has a bad debate and her numbers go down. So, she especially seems to be kind of held responsible for her debate performance more than any of the other candidates. I'm not sure exactly why that is.

LEMON: Yes. Well, listen, Mark, one last thing. The Circus on Show Time back on Sunday at 8 p.m. this week. You spoke with one of Trump's Republican challenger and that's Mark Sanford. Let's watch.


FMR. GOV. MARK SANFORD (R-SC): Donald Trump he has a comfort level with debt that you and I don't have. Because we didn't have a daddy to bail us out when we got into a pinch, you know. And it's not the experience of the American taxpayer. The Chinese are not going to come bail us out. And we are walking away toward a financial hurricane.


LEMON: What do you think? Do you think Sanford of any of the other Republican challengers will breakthrough?

MCKINNON: Well, Donald Trump has enormous -- is enormously popular in the Republican primaries has highest historical favorable ratings within a party with the exception of George Bush right after 9/11.

But I've learned in campaigns that there's only two ways to run. Unopposed and scared. And so, you got to take it seriously. And there's three different guys. One from Illinois, one from the northeast, one from the south.

Mark Sanford, former governor and former congressman talking about issues that the president has abandoned. Debt and deficit and free trade, which are traditional Republican issues that a lot of Republicans care about. So, you know, they're going to get some sticks and throw stones. But that's why the president is trying to shut down these primaries including in South Carolina.

LEMON: Well, thank you both. Thank you, Mark. Thank you, Rekha.

MCKINNON: Happy birthday, mom.

LEMON: Happy birthday, mom.

BASU: Thank you so much.

LEMON: You're going to get points for that.

BASU: Also, if I can just add a little pitch. The Des Moines Register is going to be releasing its next Iowa poll tomorrow.

MCKINNON: That's right.

BASU: Over the candidates stand.

MCKINNON: Tomorrow.

BASU: CNN -- CNN/Des Moines Register poll. So, look for that around 7 p.m.

MCKINNON: That will be a biggie.

LEMON: Yes. I look forward. Thank you for that, Rekha. I appreciate it.

BASU: It should be interesting.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

BASU: Thank you.



LEMON: Star wide receiver Antonio Brown dropped today by the New England Patriots amid accusations of sexual assault and misconduct. The NFL says its investigation is continuing.

Joining me now is Christine Brennan and Areva Martin. Good evening. Thank you so much for joining us. Christine, I want you to listen to Coach Bill Belichick dodging questions about Brown hours before the team released him.


BILL BELICHICK, GENERAL MANAGER, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: I don't have any comment on anything off the field situations or questions on that. So, I'm not going to get into that.

Yes, I think I've already addressed this. So, we're going to get ready for the Jets here. I'll be happy to answer any football questions. But the rest of it. I'm done with the rest of it.

So, yes. That's -- yes. I'm good. OK? Thank you.


LEMON: What do you think about how this played out?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN CPORTS ANALYST: Well, that's typical Bill Belichick. And he doesn't --


LEMON: I was going to say Bill Belichick is always like that, but go on. Sorry.

BRENNAN: Right. He was even a little sharper and crispier than usual. But you know, the Patriots brought the man -- this on themselves.


I mean, Belichick if he's mad about the questions that journalists are asking valid, good questions any time especially in 2019, especially in the era of Me Too, then look at your owner and complain to him for signing this guy.

So, you know, this is the reality in the NFL and frankly we are seeing this crossroads, Don. To me, we are seeing the National Football League colliding with public opinion and with Me Too and with the need in our country to listen to women.

The good news is Antonio Brown is gone. And the NFL is saying it may continue the investigation and even issued a warning about if another team signs him, look out. He could be put on the commissioner's exempt list. So it's a good day in terms of listening to women, but the NFL is really having trouble dealing with this new reality.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Areva, you know, he sent the -- the interesting thing is that he sent these text messages, right, which was surprising. Sports Illustrated reported these harassing text messages to a second accuser. The texts allegedly sent by Brown, seemed to encourage a third party to research the accuser's history and included a photograph of her children. What kind of charges could that bring?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, obviously some kind of tampering with witness charge, Don, if it's verified that he actually sent these text messages. There seems to be some question about whether they are from him.

But it's really, you know, quite remarkable that he's accused of raping one woman who has come forward, filed a civil lawsuit, talked about three acts of sexual misconduct and the third being, you know, actually making allegations of rape against Antonio Brown.

The second woman comes forward. She said she's not filing a lawsuit. She is not, you know, going to law enforcement, but she just wanted to make her story known about what happened to her when she was commissioned to paint a mural at his house, and then she alleges that she gets these threatening text messages.

I think, you know, as Christine said, the NFL has to make a decision. Why a new team would sign him in the midst of these very serious allegations? We're not just talking about sexual harassment. We're talking about the most egregious act possible, an actual rape allegation, and yet he was signed.

I want to commend Nike. They acted, you know, fairly quickly in terms of ending his endorsement deal with respect to Nike. I think more companies have to act more quickly when these kinds of allegations happen. It's important to note that the NFL has a code of personal conduct and it does not require you to be, you know, found guilty in a court of law. It's not the same standard that would be applicable in the court of law.

Look, you're making a lot of money. You have to represent this organization. You can't do anything that tarnishes the reputation of the organization. So, hopefully this is message to anyone else that plays in the NFL that these kinds of allegations are going to be taken seriously and there will be consequences for your conduct.

LEMON: Christine, if Brown is signed by another team, he could potentially collect a salary, but would be ineligible to practice or play in the game. Under what circumstances would the NFL bench him even if he is signed?

BRENNAN: There's the commissioner's exempt list. I think that is what we are talking about here, paid leave. In other words, you can park someone on that list, whether it's Michael Vick or Kareem Hunt or Greg Hardy, and then figure out what is going on. It's usually done for a short period of time as the NFL is trying to figure what the truth is and what isn't. So, the fact that the NFL has already spent a week or so investigating Antonio Brown, Don, to me -- it tells me they may be getting closer to some kind of a decision. Now, again, the facts are out there and fans and observers can also kind of come to a decision as well.

This is not just one woman, it is two women, different place, different time, different allegations, and yet there's a similarity there. So, once the NFL makes a determination, then Roger Goodell, the commissioner, would conceivably put him on the commissioner's exempt list which would mean you get paid but you cannot play. So then that's the decision, a football decision, by the way, not a cultural or right or wrong decision.

In my humble opinion, it's a football decision. Would a team want to sign him knowing that you are signing him, you're going to have to pay him, but you're not going to have him playing for you? I think that's the gauntlet that was thrown down in this NFL release that just came out in the last hour.

So, we're investigating here, and you might not have him if you sign him. I think the league -- that was a strong statement. It is rightfully strong. We are talking about allegations of rape here. This is serious, serious stuff. But, the NFL does seem to understand now five years after Ray Rice that it's in the ballgame here in terms of making these decisions.

Keep in mind, 45 percent of the fan base of the NFL is women and girls. The other 55 percent should care as well, men and boys. But this is important to the NFL and they seem to be getting it now.

LEMON: Thank you. That got to be the last word. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

BRENNAN: Thank you.

LEMON: The democratic candidates hitting the trail and late night TV, and they got jokes.



LEMON: Late night TV is the latest battleground for the crowded field of Democrats vying for the chance to run against President Trump. But they are not just playing it for laughs. Brian Stelter has that.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The late night primary is well underway. Witness Kamala Harris, slow jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's why I am committed to passing a Green New Deal, creating clean jobs, and finally putting an end to fracking once and for all.


JIMMY FALLON, NBC HOST: Hmm, hmm, hmm. Mamala Kamala just don't give a frack.

STELTER (voice-over): And the next night, Cory Booker on Jimmy Kimmel.

JIMMY KIMMEL, ABC HOST: Is it true that the primary reason that you're running for president is to give you an excuse to move out of Newark?


STELTER (voice-over): And Elizabeth Warren on Stephen Colbert.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why don't we just quit now and do a selfie line?

STELTER (voice-over): And a Thursday night visit from Andrew Yang on Seth Meyers.

ANDREW YANG, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll be the first president to use PowerPoint. Hopefully --


STELTER (voice-over): Bill Clinton launched this modern day trend by playing the sax on Arsenio Hall Show. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama delivered top ten lists on the campaign trail.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Just for fun. Issue executive order commanding my brother, Jeb, to wash my car.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the number one Barack Obama campaign promise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Yeah.

STELTER (voice-over): Now, more and more campaigning is happening here on the late night stage. Donald Trump went this route before the 2016 election, though he hasn't been back on late night since. Democratic hopefuls have replaced him.

STEPHEN COLBERT, CBS HOST: Are you going nuts?


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, the reason I came on the Jimmy Kimmel Show is because I'm not.


FALLON: You got insulted by the president of the United States.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: Yeah, that's how you know you made it.

STELTER (voice-over): Yes, it is a chance to show more laidback human sides. But comedians can pose tough questions, too.

HARRIS: We got to talk about issues like choice for women and access to reproductive health care.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am proud to be the only one in the Senate who lives in a black and brown, low income community, below the poverty line.

STELTER (voice-over): And launching your campaign on late night is far from a sure thing. Just ask Kirsten Gillibrand, who announced on Colbert and is no longer running. Many others are still trying. Late night has become about substance, not just style.

COLBERT: How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to raise the middle class taxes?

WARREN: So, here's how we're going to do this, costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations --

COLBERT: Taxes is what you mean by cost?

WARREN: Yeah. And hard-working middle class families are going to see their costs go down. And --

COLBERT: But will their taxes go up?

WARREN: Well, but here's the thing, I --

COLBERT: No, but, here's the thing, I've listened to these answers a few times before --

STELTER (voice-over): For presidential want to be, it's about finding enough balance between keeping it real and keeping it light.

KIMMEL: This is the one I think you should go with. Good enough for Rosario Dawson. Good enough for you.




LEMON: Brian Stelter joins me now. Brian, welcome.

STELTER: Thanks.

LEMON: How crucial are these appearances for a serious presidential candidate?

STELTER: They're getting more and more important. We've seen the "Colbert" primary this year. Not just on late night. We've seen "The View" primary, "The Breakfast Club" primary. You know, some of these candidates like Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, right now the top two contenders, they have not gone on a Sunday talk show for a serious interview all year. They have gone on late night because they see the value.

We think about politics, Don. We talk here about politics in our brains. We talk about the fight and the intelligence of it. A lot of politics happens in our heart and in our guts. I think actually in the last couple of years, President Trump has reminded me of that. That a lot of politics is about connecting emotionally and what these candidates are trying to do, too.

LEMON: Does it translate into votes, these appearances?


STELTER: I have not seen political scientists actually prove that.

LEMON: Yeah.

STELTER: I think these campaigns, in some cases, they are desperate to get on the shows. Some of these lower-ranking candidates like Bill de Blasio, who got out of the race today, wanted to get on these late night shows.

Getting on these shows actually is a way to show that you're a serious candidate even though sometimes it's for last (ph). What I think is great about the last two years is we're seeing these comedians ask some actually serious questions.

LEMON: I said -- I have been saying this for a while. I actually said to Jimmy Kimmel last week that we almost do the same thing.

STELTER: The same thing, huh.

LEMON: Except he does it -- they do it with humor. They talk about Trump. They talk about the same topics except they will put a comedic spin on it.

STELTER: Yeah, some advantages over you, though. You actually have to study up and take this seriously --

LEMON: Exactly.

STELTER: -- and be prepared.

LEMON: Right, exactly. I mean, it is similar because they talk about Trump. They cover the news, what he is doing every day, but they make people laugh --

STELTER: Colbert says, hey, I'm just trying to tell people you're not alone. You're not the only one watching this, thinking some of this is crazy.

LEMON: Well, we'll see who makes the next late night appearance.


LEMON: Thank you, Brian Stelter. I appreciate it.

STELTER: Thanks.

LEMON: American University's first black female student body president faced on campus hate crimes and online attacks from Neo- Nazis, but she's fighting back. She tells her story, next.




LEMON: Hate crimes are on the rise in America, but one brave young woman is fighting back. After white supremacists targeted the first African-American female student body president of American university, making her life a living hell, she took them to court and won. CNN's Sara Sidner has the story. Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the first time Taylor Dumpson has sat down and done a television interview after suing and winning her case against the people who were tormenting her online. She actually sat down face-to-face with one of them and received an apology.


SIDNER (voice-over): Taylor Dumpson's life changed forever within hours of becoming an American first.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taylor Dumpson --


SIDNER (voice-over): Dumpson went from being elected American University's first black female student body president in its 125-year history to being plunged into a world of hate.

TAYLOR DUMPSON, STUDENT LEADER: I was on my way to campus. I was wearing an AKA jacket, and I ended up having to take it off because the hate crime literally had the letters of the sorority on the bananas. And so me wearing the button down that I had just gotten, that was me walking around with a target on my back.

SIDNER (voice-over): A still unidentified person committed on campus hate crime, stringing up bananas with nooses with the initials of the historically black sorority Dumpson belongs to and other racist messages. Days later, she was under attack online by neo-Nazis, spurred on by Andrew Anglin, the creator of one of the most prolific neo-Nazi websites.

DAVID BRODY, LAWYERS COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS UNDER LAW: He told his many, many followers to basically go get her.

SIDNER (voice-over): A hate-filled feeding frenzy began when the website published her name, photo, contact information, and social media accounts. The Anti-Defamation League was the first to warn Dumpson. They emailed, saying she had become a national target for hatred.

DUMPSON: I was alone, home alone. The first thing I did was I closed my blinds. I locked all the doors. I turned all of the lights out. And in the way that people tell you whether it's a hurricane or tornado warning, you know, to hide in a hallway and get small -- you crouch down. That is what I did.

I rocked in a fetal position, sobbing and crying, to the point where I had to take a screen shot of the e-mail and send it to my mom and dad because I couldn't talk.

SIDNER (voice-over): After months of online harassment, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Everything from here ability to study to her ability to eat was impacted.

DUMPSON: I was terrified. I didn't know who these people were. I didn't know where they were. I didn't know if they knew were coming to find me. I didn't know if they knew where I was already.

SIDNER (voice-over): Dumpson decided to fight back. With the help of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, she sued some of the people investigators could find who trolled her. She sued the website and Anglin, its creator.

(On camera): What would you say to the Andrew Anglins of the world?

DUMPSON: You picked the wrong one. You picked somebody that wasn't going to back down.

SIDNER (voice-over): Dumpson won her case.

BRODY: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first court decision in the country that has held that online harassment can interfere with public accommodations.

SIDNER (voice-over): The judgment equated online harassment with physical harassment.

BRODY: Civil rights laws do not stop where the cloud begins.

SIDNER (voice-over): Anglin did not respond for comment. Neither he nor a representative for his company showed up in court. The judge handed Dumpson a default $725,000 judgment. And separately, she received something almost no one does, a face-to-face apology, not from Anglin, but from one of the trolls. She agreed not to say his name or exactly the words exchanged as part of a restorative justice settlement. (On camera): Online especially, people want to snap back, right? They want to clap back. They want to attack. And that's not what you did here.

DUMPSON: I think that we always have the opportunity and the possibility to grow. For me, it was really, really important to -- even though you're a white supremacist, even though you're a neo-Nazi, even though you think like this, I don't think you're always going to think like that, and I don't think it has to be that way.


SIDNER: The man who apologized was the only one who came forward. He also promised to walk away from online hate and do community service. Now, when it comes to Taylor Dumpson, she was accepted to law school. She's now a law student. But she says she doesn't disclose where because she knows she will always be a target. The hate has not completely stopped. Don?

LEMON: Sara, thank you so much. We'll be right back.




LEMON: Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent to address a surging homelessness problem in Los Angeles, city officials report that the number of adults living on the streets is up 16 percent in 2019. It is a complicated problem found all over L.A.

But the epicenter of this crisis is in the downtown neighborhood known as Skid Row. And that's where you'll find this week's CNN hero. Three times a week, every week, Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell wakes at 3:30 a.m. to try to change the lives of those struggling with poverty, homelessness, and addiction. His unique strategy? Running.


CRAIG MITCHELL, CNN HERO: Running is a mechanism for the participants to build relationships.

This is the one time I'm at the front of the pack.


MITCHELL: Lawyers, social workers, people from all different walks of life running with people who are recovering from addiction and homelessness.

Good job.

We affirm. We listen. We support. It shows what open-minded people, who really care about each other, how they can treat one another. And it's a lesson in and of itself.


LEMON: To see how running can create a support network that helps people get off the streets, go to right now. Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.