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CNN TONIGHT

Hard to Say Thank You to the President; Shoplifting No Big deal to LaVar. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 20, 2017 - 22:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: All right, this is CNN Tonight. I'm Chris Cuomo in for the one and only Don Lemon.

So as America prepares for Thanksgiving, the president seems to have thankfulness on his mind as well. Specifically, the feeling that he was not thanked by the father of one of three UCLA basketball players that he helped to get out of China after allegations of shoplifting.

The father involved is no ordinary parent. His name is LaVar Ball. The big talking attention-seeker who dismissed the president's efforts to CNN. The president taking the bait, when he, Mr. Ball told ESPN that he didn't think it was a big deal. The president called him, quote, "very ungrateful."

So the table is now set for what could be an epic clash of smack talkers. Tonight LaVar Ball is here, and he has a message for the president. Mr. Ball, thank you for taking the opportunity.

LAVA BALL, LIANGELOS BALL'S FATHER: No problem.

CUOMO: Did you ever think that you would be on CNN discussing geopolitics and the President of the United States?

BALL: Never in my wildest dreams.

CUOMO: So as we live this dream. Let's discuss how we got here. Your son was with UCLA, they're playing ball over in China. They get detained with allegations that they stole merchandise from a store. The president finds out about it, he of course is in China, he's meeting with President Xi, he gets involved, the boys are released, they get to come back home which was never a certainty until he got involved. He says that your...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: Well, how do you know -- how do you know he was involved before I even knew that. I mean, he didn't know they were over there. And like, OK, what was the reason for him going over there in the first place?

CUOMO: The president was in China to meet with the president of China and discuss trade matters. But he certainly was informed about the boys... (CROSSTALK)

BALL: And that's before...

CUOMO: ... when he was in China and that's why he got involved he says.

BALL: OK. He didn't get involved until he got to China?

CUOMO: I don't understand your question.

BALL: So he wasn't going over there beforehand?

CUOMO: He was going over there beforehand.

BALL: So the question what I'm trying to say is.

CUOMO: What are you trying to say?

BALL: It's not like he was in the U.S. and said, OK, there's three kids in China, I need to go over there and get them? That wasn't the thought process, right?

CUOMO: Right.

BALL: What we're talking about right now is a lot of stuff about my son just because his last name is Ball. We're not talking about the other two kids.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well, to be honest, we're talking about your son -- we're talking about your son.

BALL: I'm talking about my son too.

CUOMO: Right.

BALL: Right.

CUOMO: But we're talking about your son because of you. And what you said. This isn't picking on your son, it's because of how you inserted yourself into this...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: OK. Nobody said...

CUOMO: ... and seek to disrespect the president's effort.

BALL: It's when somebody asks me a question that's not disrespectful if I feel nobody didn't anything. I don't have to say to go around saying thank you to everybody. I mean...

CUOMO: You don't have to go around saying thank you to everybody, that's true. BALL: He didn't call me. I didn't shake his hand. He didn't have to

say that. But I'm just saying, if I -- I have to know what somebody's doing before I say thank you, I'm not just going to go around and say thank you.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: You come around and shake my hand, and meet me, or meet my son, or anybody and then say you know what, maybe I can help you out.

CUOMO: Right.

BALL: OK. Let's do it that way. But just because people say things, you know, that's supposed to be true, like hey, I stopped him from serving ten years. Maybe we were doing some talking with other people before he even got there.

I mean, there's a lot of matters that go around for the president to deal with as political.

CUOMO: All right. Let's take this step back.

BALL: I mean, as far as me, let me deal with my son and let him deal with what he's going through.

CUOMO: OK. Mr. Ball, let's take one step back because you seem to have doubts about what the president did. You said you were talking to people...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: No, I don't have -- no doubts about what he did. I got doubts about what he didn't do. How's that?

CUOMO: You have doubts not about what he did but what he didn't do.

BALL: So what I'm saying is, hey. I'm going to tell you this, if I'm coming to get you...

CUOMO: yes.

BALL: if I'm coming to get you, let's say I'm coming to get you out of trouble. If I'm coming to get you out of trouble, you best believe I'm going to take you with me. So if I come over here and say, excuse me, sir. Whoever, can you do something for this kid or this person? And allow me to take them with me? That's if I'm doing something for somebody.

CUOMO: All right. Let's...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: Not going to come over there and say, let's be a little lenient on it, but I'm out of here. CUOMO: All right. So what you're saying, that because the president

of the United States didn't bring the boys home with him, he therefore didn't enough or do you think he really didn't do anything?

BALL: No, I'm not saying that. I didn't say nothing about him. I didn't say nothing about him.

CUOMO: I know, but you're kind of talking about him without saying his name. I'm just trying to clear up the confusion.

BALL: He's the one who said he saves the kids. I mean, I'm not coming back home and I'm just saying anything. There's no confusion.

CUOMO: There a lot of confusion.

BALL: It's just somebody ask me a question and I gave a lot of confusion to you.

CUOMO: It's a lot of confusion to me. It is, that's why I needed you on. Do you think the president helped...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: Why is it confusing? Are you concerned?

[22:05:00] CUOMO: Because I don't understand what you're saying. I am concerned. Did you think that the president helped the boys get out?

BALL: Because you have to listen very carefully, very slowly.

CUOMO: I'm trying.

BALL: Did he help the boys get out?

CUOMO: Why do you doubt it?

BALL: I don't know. If I was going to thank somebody I would probably thank President Xi.

CUOMO: President Xi.

BALL: I'll thank him. He's in China, he's the head -- he's the head...

CUOMO: True.

BALL: ... the President in China.

CUOMO: True, and the president of the United States said you should thank him.

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: Somebody can make a suggestion and somebody could do something. You have people that make suggestions you got people that do things.

CUOMO: I just don't understand your skepticism about it.

BALL: Why don't you be a little lenient? What is the skepticism about? Why are we talking about this with all these political matters going on in the world?

CUOMO: Well, but this is the one that concerns your involvement.

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: You know, somebody is going -- somebody is going to tweet -- and my involvement is always going to be with my son, but I don't have to deal with everybody around me.

CUOMO: I understand.

BALL: I just want to make sure he's taken care of.

CUOMO: But the president...

BALL: There's a lot of people that go around and say, LaVar, this is what I did this for your son. I did this for your son. I did this -- he would never be where he was if I didn't do this for him. I'm not trying to hear all that.

CUOMO: I know, but there's a difference between...

BALL: I'm just saying when you go over there what are we talking about.

CUOMO: Hold on, LaVar, there's a difference between some...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: We're talking about a president doing something for my son.

CUOMO: Yes, that's what we're talking about. We got it. Now we're now on the same page.

BALL: OK.

CUOMO: So the president...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: What did he do for my son?

CUOMO: The president says that he spoke to the Chinese president. He says that the boys were informed.

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: OK. That was nice. That was nice.

CUOMO: That's the involvement of the president of the United States matter. And then he wanted some thanks. And instead, you said, who? What was he, Trump, over there for? Don't tell me nothing. (CROSSTALK)

BALL: He wanted some thanks...

CUOMO: Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.

BALL: I mean, you are trying to make it sound like that, I'm just saying.

CUOMO: That's what you said.

BALL: I didn't meet with him face to face. I know exactly what I said. But you buffered it up like you said that you don't want to say thank you to nobody. No, come meet like a...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Is that how I sound? I was trying to say much more even than that. I was trying to be much more even. I don't want to...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: No, I know how you were trying to see it but that's OK.

CUOMO: I'm not trying to say it with an even tone.

BALL: I know you're trying to add tone to it because that's what you do.

CUOMO: No, no, no. What I tried to say...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: And you can't say it with even tone.

CUOMO: ... is tries to figure out what's going on, LaVar. Why would you push back on the president?

BALL: I mean, you can open your eyes and see what's going on. I'm not saying nothing to the president. I'm not saying -- I'm not just saying thank you to anybody for nothing. I had some things done, I talked to some people that did some things, too.

CUOMO: Who?

BALL: Like I said people trying to -- it doesn't matter.

CUOMO: Sure, it does.

BALL: I mean, it's not big names like you're thinking of. So like I'm saying people are saying, I said it wasn't a big deal to have my son was shoplifting and nothing like that, I'm saying like this, it wasn't a big deal because being raised in South Central L.A., I've seen harsher things, I've seen 16, and 17-year-old kids have to go to jail for life that were my friends. Doing bad things, making bad decisions, I mean, doing stuff that's harming people. CUOMO: Right. But do you understand why when people see these

allegations and you say it wasn't.

BALL: The way I look at it was, OK, he shoplifted, he wasn't -- he wasn't -- he wasn't physical. He returned it. He fessed up to it. It wasn't like, no I didn't take them, I didn't take them. I mean, nobody got hurt. He didn't run in there with the assumption of hey I can't wait until I get to China because I'm going to get some good stuff.

It was an impulse thing a bad decision at a bad time. That's all it was for an 18-year-old who never did anything wrong, never been late to class, 4.0 student. I don't think people are going to demean him over one bad decision concerning that it was victimless.

He didn't grab nobody's arm, he didn't do nothing. He tried to slide something away, understood what he did, but it's not going without punishment, but I don't think you should come down on a kid for making one mistake like that at 18 years old.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I don't think that what we're seeing the coverage of this, is that the boys are being demonized for what they did. There's no question that there are much worse crimes than shoplifting...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: Yes, it doesn't matter.

CUOMO: ... but shoplifting -- but shoplifting...

BALL: Exactly.

CUOMO: ... does matter, and in China you go to jail for it.

BALL: Yes. They're still a crime. It's just like people said in China. But listen, you go to jail...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: In fact, you could go to jail here for it.

BALL: ... you go to jail here in USA. And you get caught people try to make -- exactly. They try to make it a big deal like, they're saying...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's kind of a big deal.

BALL: If you shoplift in China, boy, that's big time. You are going to jail. You can go to jail anywhere you take anything. So that's the point that shouldn't be said.

CUOMO: I know, but in China.

BALL: If you want something, and you want it, you shouldn't just go and steal it.

CUOMO: Hold on a second.

BALL: You can to Africa and somewhere and do the same thing anywhere you go in someone else's country, yes, it's going to be a little deeper than what you thought it was.

CUOMO: All right.

BALL: And that's a fine thing. But we already got that point across.

CUOMO: All right. So let's put the boys aside, we know what they did, you say that they apologized, that's good.

BALL: OK. Yes.

CUOMO: Now, they were in a place that didn't need to let them go, and they could have been held for a long time.

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: They were in a place that didn't let them go.

CUOMO: Didn't need to let them go.

BALL: He said he got them out of jail. You heard what he tweeted because he's mad at me. I should have left their asses in jail.

CUOMO: Yes.

BALL: First of all, they weren't in jail, they were in a hotel. Now how did they get to the hotel on bail?

CUOMO: Did you make that happen?

BALL: Somebody had to do something. Somebody had to do something.

[22:10:03] CUOMO: Did you do it?

BALL: I'm telling you, somebody had to do something.

CUOMO: I know. I'm asking you, did you do it?

BALL: I'm asking you, I'm asking you. Did he do it?

CUOMO: He says he helped get them out of China.

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: OK. If he paid for the money to put up whatever we needed to do then I will say thank you. Did he do that?

CUOMO: So that's the bar, if he doesn't put up the bail for the boys then he doesn't deserve thanks? Come on.

BALL: No, it's not if he didn't put up bail. He said he help. How did he help? If he helped, I would say thank you.

CUOMO: He says he spoke to the president of China.

BALL: OK.

CUOMO: And that was related to you and the boys. You were told that he helped.

BALL: You can help a lot of people. So anybody who speaks to the president -- I should thank anybody who speaks to the president.

CUOMO: No, but this is the president of the United States who spoke to the Chinese president. That's not just anybody. You know what kind of power he has. I don't get why you're hiding from this. I don't get why you're ducking this to be honest with you.

BALL: Why would I hide for nothing.

CUOMO: I don't understand.

BALL: If I was ducking this, I wouldn't be talking to you.

CUOMO: But you've...

BALL: It may seem like I'm ducking, but I don't duck nobody. That's why...

CUOMO: You're talking -- you're talking around it.

BALL: Because you don't understand it.

CUOMO: Why couldn't you just say thank you to the president? Your son said thank you.

BALL: Why are you talking around it?

CUOMO: I'm talking right at it.

BALL: How much Intel do you have on the situation? Were you there?

CUOMO: I was not there.

BALL: I can't hear you. Unless you were there, you can talk to me.

CUOMO: You can hear, look, you don't have to be there...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: I was not in China.

CUOMO: I understand.

BALL: But you weren't there, though. But you see...

CUOMO: But hold on a second. But LaVar, you were there, but you don't know... BALL: I was there.

CUOMO: I know you were.

BALL: I do know what I did.

CUOMO: Do you think the president helped?

BALL: OK.

CUOMO: Do you think the president helped?

BALL: Do I think the president helped?

CUOMO: Yes.

BALL: I don't know.

CUOMO: So do you think he would be lying about helping?

BALL: You can say what you want. I didn't see him talk -- I don't care, and I don't know. I wasn't there, I'm not going to say nothing I don't know, and I don't see, and I don't hear.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: So the president of the United States says he helped and you say if you didn't see it, you didn't hear it, you don't believe it.

BALL: Hey, if he said he helped, that's good for his mind.

CUOMO: What do you mean good for his mind?

BALL: I mean, why even got to say it? If you helped you shouldn't have to say anything. If you help, you shouldn't have to be -- if I help somebody, I don't walk around saying, you know I helped you now, come on now, you give me some love, I helped you, come on, for real?

CUOMO: All right.

BALL: Somebody told me about the tweet a couple days ago. I don't even tweet, I'm just saying why is that on your mind. All this stuff going on and that's on your mind, the father didn't say thank you, and you're supposed to be the head -- you know you're the head the U.S. Come on.

CUOMO: OK. Fair criticism. The president is asking for thanks. You can criticize that. Should he be doing that, should he not be doing?

BALL: What is the criticism that? I'm just -- I'm just stating a point that what I'm saying is, there's a lot of other things that's going on.

CUOMO: No question about it.

BALL: Let him do his political affairs and let me handle my son and let's just stay in our lane.

CUOMO: But he thinks that he did something for the boys and he should be thanked and instead you took a shot at him.

BALL: OK. That's fine. If he thinks it that's fine. If he thinks it -- I didn't take a shot at him.

CUOMO: You did.

BALL: Somebody asked me a question, man. I give him my opinion, but I am not taking a shot at the president. For what? I don't know him like that.

CUOMO: It sounded like you were taking a shot at the president. It sounded like it.

BALL: I mean.

CUOMO: I did.

BALL: You can sound...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I'm just being honest with you.

BALL: But it's not. But why would it sound like that. Because you want to take it that way, so you can have news...

CUOMO: No, it's because of what you said, and it's because you won't -- you won't say thank you. Hey, thanks. Your son said thank you, the other guys said thank you.

BALL: OK. I already said -- I already...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Thanks for helping me.

BALL: I'm not the other guys, though. I'm not the other guys. I'm doing something else. I'm not the other guys.

CUOMO: What do you see -- I agree with you, you are not the other guys.

BALL: So I know you're trying to round something up and that's OK.

CUOMO: No, I think you are.

BALL: That's part of your job. But you know, I don't get easily tussled like that.

CUOMO: I think you are. I think you're very clever, I see your big smile on your face.

BALL: Are you going to say thank you to me? CUOMO: I'm going to say thank you to you at the end of this interview

I will thank you, I guarantee you.

BALL: No, are you going to say thank me now?

CUOMO: I guarantee you. You know why?

BALL: Are you going to thank me now?

CUOMO: You know why?

BALL: Are you going to thank me now?

CUOMO: Not yet, you haven't earned it yet.

BALL: Why you don't thank me?

CUOMO: You haven't earned it yet.

BALL: But no, why are you not going to thank me?

CUOMO: You haven't earned it yet. We're still short.

BALL: Come on, you can say thank you.

CUOMO: Your son said thank you for helping him get him out of China.

BALL: You can say thank you. Can you say thank you, Mr. LaVar Ball?

CUOMO: I will thank you at the end of the interview.

BALL: Listen, how about we do it now. I just want to hear it.

CUOMO: You know what, I'll show you what?

BALL: I just want to hear it now.

CUOMO: Just to be decent, just because it's a nice thing to do.

BALL: Yes.

CUOMO: Mr. Ball, thank you.

BALL: Now, because it's a nice thing to do.

CUOMO: ... for being here with me on CNN Tonight. Don Lemon thanks you from wherever he is. Don Lemon should thank me for talking to you on his show right now.

BALL: Why are saying thank you.

CUOMO: Wait, hold on. Will you thank me back?

BALL: I just want to say why are you thanking me. Give me a couple of reasons,

CUOMO: Will you thank me back?

BALL: Give me a couple of reasons why you're thanking me.

CUOMO: First thank me back.

BALL: I'm just asking a couple of reason, I have to know why you're thanking me. You just can't say thank you and thank you...

CUOMO: You took time to be on this show, there are other things you could have done.

BALL: But I'm just saying -- yes.

CUOMO: That's why I'm thanking you.

BALL: And? Come on. That's why you're thanking me. Come on now.

CUOMO: But it doesn't take much to say thank you, why won't you say thank you to the president.

BALL: Well, if someone does something for you, you say thank you.

CUOMO: Somebody did something for you, say thank you.

BALL: OK. I would have said thank you if he put him on his plane and took him home. Then I would have said thank you, Mr. Trump for taking my boys out of China and bringing them back to the U.S.

[22:15:07] There's a lot of room on that plane. I would have said thank you kindly for that.

CUOMO: So because he didn't take him home on the plane, no thank you?

BALL: Well, I'm just saying, that's how I would say thank you. I'm just saying, you might say thank you a different way. You don't say thank you like any kind of word.

CUOMO: No, it's not how you say thank you. It's that when you say thank you.

BALL: I can tell you don't mean nothing about it.

CUOMO: That's not true, when I say thank you, I mean it.

BALL: Don't get so excited, man.

CUOMO: When I say thank you, I mean it. I mean it.

BALL: No, you don't. No, you don't. You know how I can tell?

CUOMO: Tell me.

BALL: You know how I can tell?

CUOMO: Tell me.

BALL: I'm not going to tell you, because I'm going to let you anything that out. I got you.

CUOMO: That was good. I'll give you that.

BALL: Little laughing I never hear nobody.

CUOMO: But with me, with me, it's one thing. With the president of the United States, I think you are enjoying this back and forth...

BALL: Hey, why are you so -- what are you adamant...

CUOMO: But my question is, are you worried you've taken on too big of an opponent?

BALL: But let me ask you this question. Let me ask you this question. He's not an opponent, because I don't know Trump like that. I haven't done anything to him, he doesn't done anything to me so I don't consider him an opponent, I just consider him a human being, and the president of the United States.

CUOMO: Well, all of that is true.

BALL: That's his title. My title is LaVar Ball, the big baller, the CEO of the big baller brand. That's we just got the title like that. But we're still both men and we're both human, but I'm not going to go out and be like, you know, if a person doesn't say something to me or for me, I'm not going to -- I'm not going to tweet, I'm not going to do all that.

CUOMO: But you do...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: Because for what? I mean, is it that big of a deal?

CUOMO: You do feel...

BALL: But is it that big of a deal at all?

CUOMO: I think that it has become a big deal...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: I just ask you is that big of a deal?

CUOMO: ... because the president responded and it seems like you're in a little bit of a war of words.

BALL: Why did he respond -- why would I be -- why would I be in war with a guy with the most powerful -- the most powerful man in the world?

CUOMO: That's my question. Why would you take on Donald Trump after he helped your kid?

BALL: I don't know. What do you mean, take on Donald Trump, take on him for what? What are we doing for each other? CUOMO: That's a good question, I know what he did for you.

BALL: What are we doing for each other?

CUOMO: And instead of saying thank you...

BALL: What did he do for me?

CUOMO: ... you took a shot at him.

BALL: What did he do for me?

CUOMO: He helped get your son out of China, where he could have been in jail for a long time.

BALL: What about some other -- why was he going to be in jail for a long time?

CUOMO: Because he stole something before the Chinese authorities.

BALL: How long do you think he's going to be in jail for it?

CUOMO: It could have been a long time. There was a minimum of three years.

BALL: OK. But the Chinese people were like, you know what, he's OK. He has so much character in 18 years that he's allow to have a pass for that.

CUOMO: That's your son.

BALL: One bad decision at a time.

CUOMO: And he said thank you to the president of the United States, something his father didn't want to do. What type of -- what kind of example is that to give your son?

BALL: Is that to my son? I'll tell you what type of example it is. you know where my boy's at right now, because of me. Because I spend all that time love for them. Don't come to me at one time and think you did something for my son. He's 19 -- about to be 19...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It's a big one time though if he's in jail in China. It's sound like he's -- you coach saying I taught him how to come off the pit.

BALL: Hey, I tell you what. I tell you what. I taught all my boys -- is he in jail? Is he in jail?

CUOMO: Not any more.

BALL: I taught him how to be exactly how he is, a respectful young man. That's what he is.

CUOMO: You think you're being respectful to the president of the United States?

BALL: Now you can say what you want but you can't find no bad stuff about it.

CUOMO: You think you're being respectful to the president?

BALL: I didn't say anything about him?

CUOMO: Yes, you did.

BALL: yes, most definitely, I am.

CUOMO: You said, who? What was he over there for? Don't tell me nothing, everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out. Disrespectful.

BALL: I just say who to anything. Like I said, if somebody is talking to me don't tell me nothing. I don't like people talking to me and when I say don't tell me, then that means, leave me alone. That means stay in your lane. Leave me alone. Let me go my way, you go your way, that's what it means.

Now you take it to a whole different level. You act like you -- what's your last name?

CUOMO: Cuomo.

BALL: Are you Trump's brother? You want me to thank you?

CUOMO: You don't have to thank me, I didn't get -- I didn't get your son out of jail in China.

BALL: That's what I'm saying. You kind of talking about this, but you are...

CUOMO: You don't have to thank me. I didn't get your son out of jail.

BALL: Why. But how many people -- but many people put their resources together to get him out?

CUOMO: I don't know, you tell me, I keep asking, you won't answer.

BALL: But hey, I tell you the things -- I'll tell you the things I do know he did. I know he apologized and wrote a sincere letter. I'm talking about my son.

CUOMO: Your son. Your son did the right thing in the situation. Nobody's saying anything else.

BALL: Exactly. And that's what he does.

CUOMO: I know. It's you I'm talking about.

BALL: You want to talk about what's going on the outside, the people that's involved. That people that's involved. Those are the ones that have to be understanding of what's going on and we have to move ever like that.

CUOMO: Yes, you're one of those people.

BALL: I know, I helped - I helped my son get out of U.S. -- I mean, out of China, how's that?

CUOMO: You think you helped more than the president of the United States?

BALL: I had some people -- I had some that had boots on the ground that knew the situation when we first jump on it. So I keep those people with me to help me.

CUOMO: You think you would have gotten him out of China without the president's help?

BALL: To help me out. And that's really I talked to enough to people -- I talked to enough people and I said thank you too, face to face.

CUOMO: So.

[22:20:01] BALL: And they didn't come around. I say thank you when I see something, I don't just say thank you because it's just talking I did this, I did that.

CUOMO: So if the president like invited you to the White House...

BALL: No, I'm not -- that's just me.

CUOMO: ... would you say thank you then?

BALL: Heck, yes, if he invited me to the White House, I would thank him for inviting me to the White House.

CUOMO: Would you thank him for getting your son out of China?

BALL: I'd say thank you for getting me to your house, that's how polite I am towards people. If you invite me somewhere, and you do something nice to me, I'm going to say thank you.

CUOMO: I think you have made this way more difficult than you needed to.

BALL: Thank you, kindly, sir.

CUOMO: I think you made this more difficult than you needed to. And you round out provoking the president of the United States.

BALL: You know what, you making this more difficult. LaVar didn't say thank you to the president.

CUOMO: You didn't.

BALL: So that makes me a bad person?

CUOMO: No. I'm just saying, you didn't thank him. BALL: Just swim on this?

CUOMO: And it doesn't make any sense why you won't thank him.

BALL: Hey, man, did you thank the doctor -- did you thank the doctor for bringing you into this world? Well, you better go back and find him. Because you lucky.

CUOMO: Listen.

BALL: You need somebody like me. You are wound tight.

I am. The president calls me a chained lunatic. We're probably going to end up in the same column.

CUOMO: I am. The president calls me a changed lunatic.

BALL: Is that what the president calls you, a changed lunatic?

CUOMO: Yes. You and I probably going to wind in the same column in terms of people who get on the wrong side with the president.

BALL: Hey, no. We can't earn like that. We didn't do nothing to nobody, man.

CUOMO: All I'm saying is...

(CROSSTALK)

BALL: We both having a good time here, and trying to get a little intellect. All I'm saying is, this is fun to you, I can tell.

CUOMO: Look, it's interesting. I'll give you that.

BALL: It's OK. You know what?

CUOMO: LaVar Ball.

BALL: You know what, it's got to be interesting.

CUOMO: You make it interesting. I'll give you that.

BALL: I like how you keep saying my whole name, man.

CUOMO: That's -- but we have to do. I do feel -- I do feel like we've gotten to know each other. I've got to be honest. I do feel like we have a little bit of a bond here. A little bit.

BALL: Just say, hey, LaVar. Because I'm going to call you, hey, Chris.

CUOMO: You can call me Chris whenever you want. My friends call me Mo. You can call me Mo. I'll give you that.

BALL: Why they call you that?

CUOMO: Cuomo. That's why.

BALL: They talk about, you talk about Mo.

CUOMO: It's not that deep, LaVar, it's Cuomo, that's all. Don't overthink it.

BALL: Look, that's where the Mo came from.

CUOMO: But here's what we learned. Yes.

BALL: Chris Mo?

CUOMO: Cuomo, not Chris Mo.

BALL: Hey, man, you get...

CUOMO: LaVar, get your head straight.

BALL: Chrome-Mo like Google. Like the Google Chrome.

CUOMO: All right. That's it.

BALL: That's your hip-hop name in the hood.

CUOMO: LaVar Ball, thank you for coming on CNN Tonight. I appreciate you taking the time.

BALL: Hey, Chris Mo, thank you for having me on here, man. I appreciate you, Cuomo.

CUOMO: I'm laughing at something else, I'm not laughing at you. That was too weak a joke.

BALL: Hey, I want to send some Mo...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Send it to me because it's too expensive I can't afford it. Send it on. We'll give it to charity.

BALL: Hey, I want to send you some stuff, man. I'm going to send you some stuff, man. You can give it to charity, put it around your neck, choke it on your head. Do what you want.

CUOMO: LaVar Ball.

BALL: But it's your big baller gear, and you're going to be a big baller family.

CUOMO: LaVar Ball, the best to you and your family for Thanksgiving, the best to your boys and the best to your wife as well, OK?

BALL: Hey, you have a great thanksgiving. Hey, and I have a message for you.

CUOMO: What is it? BALL: Tell Donald Trump to have a great Thanksgiving, because big

baller is.

CUOMO: I hope you're thankful for him. Take care.

BALL: Thankful to everybody doing Thanksgiving. It's November.

CUOMO: Be well. Happy Thanksgiving.

BALL: All right. Take care. Take care.

CUOMO: When we come back, President Trump has a lot on his place. He's got North Korea, he's got the GOP tax bill, he's got Roy Moore and he's got the big baller. So why in the face of all of that, is the president dealing with the man that was just on your screen. We'll discuss it seriously when we come back.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All righty. President Trump suggesting in a tweet that LaVar Ball is very ungrateful, that the president got his son and two other UCLA basketball players released from jail in China.

They had been detained for shoplifting. That was the allegation. The boys said they were sorry, the president says he helped.

Let's bring in CNN political commentators Angela Rye and Mike Shields. I bet both of you are happy you're not me tonight, aren't you?

MIKE SHIELDS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Hey, Chris, thank you. Thank you.

CUOMO: So, Mike, thank you, Mike. Thank you.

ANGELA RYE, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Thank you.

CUOMO: See how easy it is. But not for LaVar.

RYE: I wouldn't thank Trump either.

CUOMO: No, yes, let's get to that, Angela Rye. But your kid wasn't stuck in a jail in China on allegations of shoplifting. If the president got involved and helped him get out of that situation would you thank him?

RYE: Here's the question, Chris.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's the question. That's the question and, you know the question.

RYE: And that is truly the question. If the president did what he alleges he did on Twitter, number one. Number two, LaVar Ball just brought this up, and you said i again, confined to a jail. They were confined to their hotel room. I don't know how they got to their hotel room, but here's what I do know.

The president himself often puts his own credibility at stake. You can breathe hard, whoever just breathe hard, that's fine. But his credibility is often at stake. I think we can point to what just happened with Congressman Fredericka Wilson and this phone call about La David Johnson.

This man regularly said that he does thinks that no one else recalls it being done that way. So there's reason to say, maybe he didn't have that much to do with it. The fact that he thinks they were in jail and they were confined to their rooms also calls what he thinks into question.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But, Angela, Angela.

RYE: Sure.

CUOMO: You know well enough to know that this is a little bit of a distinction without a difference. If the Chinese authorities want to keep you in country for a larceny allegation, you've got trouble. You could be in a hotel, you could be in a palace, you could be in a jail.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: Of course, Chris, but that's...

CUOMO: You're in trouble.

RYE: Of course, but I'm saying, I think that facts do matter, and the fact that this particular president does not know where they were does beg the question, you know, what did he really do? How involved was he? And I think that that's fair.

CUOMO: All right. Let's bounce it over -- let's bounce it over to you, Mike. The president says he was involved. Angela Rye seems to be running with the theory that maybe he didn't help. We need to know more. Are you suspicious?

SHIELDS: No, we should rely on the facts. The fact is they're home and that's something to be celebrated especially the week of Thanksgiving regardless of who thanks who or anything about it.

[22:30:02] There's three Americans that were overseas. And what LaVar Ball confirmed was they actually did something to deserve it. They weren't wrongfully in the sense detained. He said they took something, they put it back, but they admitted they did something wrong.

So the facts are we know they did something wrong. The facts are we know they were detained in some fashion.

And the facts are we know they're home. And so that's enough for but here's -- here's the bigger picture. We're watching two master class marketers go with each other here. And it's like Donald Trump finally found a dance partner that can hang with him in terms of self- promotion.

I mean the most shocking thing about your interview that you just did, was it was a good like 12 minutes into it that before he mouth -- he talked about big Baller brand because that's really what this is all about.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I take that as a credit to my ability to keep the interview focused.

SHIELDS: Yes, it must be because you know...

CUOMO: I guess I'm thanking myself to continue on the feud.

SHIELDS: Lavar Ball is a -- is a master marketer. The president is. The president knows if I pick a fight with him, everyone's going to be talking about what I want them to talk about. He does it all the time.

The media and everybody else takes the bait. And Lavar Ball does the exact same thing, and you'll see this -- they'll keep playing this back and forth, over and over again.

CUOMO: Well, he seemed to want it let it lie. He didn't want to say thank you, but, Angela, in addition to your thread on suspicions about the president's credulity, do you think that Lavar Ball saw an opportunity here and went for it, and that's why he's playing with the thank you?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that the president actually started this. The issue is, he talked about his children. I don't know that many parents out here who wouldn't take sincere offense to someone at begging their kids to grovel for them being back here.

I think that they're already indicated that they were sorry. I think that they are -- they have already indicated that they're grateful. So the president, Chris, took shot at them first and I think it's second nature at any parent who wanted to save their children whether they are the wrong or the right.

CUOMO: Mike Shields, this is on the president, he shouldn't have been asking for thanks, it was beneath him and that's what instigated it all, do you agree?

SHIELDS: Look, guys, I wouldn't do it that way, but it just goes to show that everything is so sort of hyper partisan now, that the president talking about how he got people freed from China can turn into a criticism of the president and a big partisan...

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well, unless, Angela Rye's...

RYE: That's not -- that's not what happened.

CUOMO: Hold on a second. Unless Angela Rye's suspicion that the president didn't do what he says he did is true...

SHIELDS: Right, and my suspicion is...

CUOMO: ... why does he not have high ground here, Angela, assuming that he did speak to the Chinese president, and the Chinese president did do Trump a favor, and let the boys go. Doesn't he have high ground? Wasn't that a good thing he did?

RYE: You would have high ground, Chris, if you weren't begging for thanks. If you were not mad that people were not grateful enough to you.

And I do have to say, I think it's interesting that regularly, the people he picks on in this way, are athletes of color. He also attacked Marshawn Lynch today. Like there's -- there's regularly this issue like grovel, like say thanks, master. Like it's ridiculous and I think that what...

CUOMO: That's very provocative. Mike shields, do you think that race is involved?

RYE: Listen, I have to be honest with you, that's not OK.

SHIELDS: Well, I think the three athletes he freed from a potential prison sentence were athletes of color. And I think actions speak louder than words here.

So this is exactly sort of where the public debate in the country is, the economy's growing, the regulations are being cut. The manufacturing sector says it has the highest confidence it's had in a decade, but people on the left don't like some of the things the president tweets or says.

And they get mad at his words. And other people are saying, I'm happy with the president because of his actions. And that's actually a microcosmic for everything. So his action was to get the people freed. But we're going to have a huge partisan debate about the words that he said afterwards.

RYE: This is not partisan. This is -- to me this is not partisan. You know, actually, whether Lavar Ball -- I don't know even what Lavar...

SHIELDS: My suspicion is that you are being partisan. That's my suspicion.

RYE: I'm sorry, Mike, that that's your suspicion. So let me be clear to you and use my words in ways that are very, very thoughtful and -- so that you can understand them. My name means bringer of truth. So that's what I'm about to bring you.

I don't know what Lavar Ball's politics are. I don't know what LiAngelo Ball's politics are. What I know is that whether it's Marshawn Lynch or a sports commentator like Jamele Hill or is it congresswoman named Frederica Wilson or to Congresswoman named Maxine Waters who has down women on this -- on this particular network. This president has an issue that he cannot get past when it comes to

people of color. This to me is not partisan, it is racial. He has issues with people of color, period.

CUOMO: Mike, we have not seen the president call out white players and coaches who do not stand for the National Anthem. As the same as he has with let's say Marshawn Lynch. Do you think that is just coincidental?

SHIELDS: I think he should -- I think he should be more proactive in that, and I think, look...

CUOMO: Why does he not, is what the question would be.

SHIELDS: I don't know the answer to that. And look, let's take a step back. I will admit that the president invites some of that criticism of his, because of things like how he botched Charlottesville, right?

[22:35:00] So let's -- I can be truthful and tell you that, that he invites some of that himself, but I think his actions speak louder than words in this case. He just freed three African-American basketball players from going to jail, that's an action.

And so I think that you know when you get into the NFL issue there, you know, it is predominantly an issue that breaks along racial lines. And so if you're going to criticize people for bringing that up, it's going to seem that way and I understand that.

CUOMO: Now, let's hold it there, because I want to take a break but I will just let the audience know, they should remember just for context something you started with, Mike, was that Wall Street's doing great.

The unemployment rate is down, they must remember, that the president before he was president as citizen Donald Trump, used to mock pointing to Wall Street, as a reflection of main street. He used to mock the unemployment rate a measure of labor success saying it was all a big deception.

Now he's embracing those same measures, point of context. We're going to take a break. Please both of you stay with me. When we come back, what is more important to the White House, denouncing an alleged child molester or keeping a Republican seat in the Senate? Those are the states in Alabama, Kellyanne Conway, main adviser to the president, answering the question this way today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So vote Roy Moore?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I'm telling you that we want the votes in the -- in the Senate to get this tax bill through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: What was she trying to say? We'll discuss next. [22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right, another day has gone by, and the president has once again refused to comment publicly about the sexual assault allegations facing Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

But his staff is talking. Let's bring back Angela Rye and Mike Shields, it's good to have you back there. So what did we hear today? We had Kellyanne Conway this morning on Fox and she was making somewhat of an interesting argument.

She didn't want to say vote for Roy Moore, but she did want to say take a look at that Democrat, and why is he so good. He is a problem. So where does it leave the White House exactly, Mike Shield, what are they asking voters in Alabama to do?

SHIELDS: Well, couple of things, I think that it's a sign that there's an indication that Roy might win, and I think that before people just sort of wrote him off and said there's no chance he can win here, and now he may be in the Senate and have the ability to vote on legislation...

CUOMO: To be fair, Mike, I hear that very little. Very few people say he has no chance to win in Alabama. He should win by all rights.

SHIELDS: No, I mean since the allegations came out, you've had polls that show...

CUOMO: Even then we've seen it contracting in the polls but everybody thinks he has got a legit chance to win.

SHIELDS: I disagree, Chris. What I've seen people is writing him off, and polls that came out that said he was down by 12 points, and now I think there's a realization. And look, I've said this on CNN, I wouldn't vote for Roy Moore.

I believe his accusers, but I also can tell you that when I say that on CNN, it is someone who doesn't want it to be seen. It probably earns him some votes in Alabama.

And I think when Mitch McConnell tells him to step down and when everyone is sort of attacking him. The voters in Alabama look at that, and that actually sort of reinforces his position down there with a lot of voters.

CUOMO: Be that as it may. Angela Rye, that doesn't explain why the president of the United States who clearly is not shy about waiting in the controversial waters, he took on Lavar Ball.

We can't hear enough about that. And I have -- I can't believe I'm saying this. But Lavar Ball kind of made a good point, he said, with all this stuff that's going on. Why is he worried about me and what's going on with this?

RYE: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Why isn't the president saying anything about Roy Moore?

RYE: Well, I think that it's really hard to throw stones when you're living in a glass house, Chris, this is someone who's had several women accuse him of sexual misconduct and that -- well, that's the worst than sexual assault allegations but also sexual harassment.

He's been accused of groping and he also someone who has confessed of groping women and kissing them without their permission.

So why would he weighed in -- weighed in this. This is actually very dangerous territory for him. And giving what's happening for Hollywood to Capitol Hill, his action would be a time where maybe, the Teflon Don moniker that he's earned would backfire potentially. So he's got a lot to lose by touching this issue frankly.

CUOMO: Do you think that's what it is, Mike?

SHIELDS: Well, no. I mean he waded into the issue. And went after Al Franken the other day and I -- but one thing I sort of will agree with this, this puts the president...

RYE: But why Al Franken and not Roy Moore?

SHIELDS: Well, I'm going to answer that.

CUOMO: Go ahead.

SHIELDS: This puts him in a position of if you think this through from a due process perspective, right? So Al Franken is a senator, Mitch McConnell has said there is an ethics process. Let's go through due process here.

They're -- were not going to have due process before the election. You're not -- there aren't charges being filed against Roy Moore. Actually, he's just being accused of things.

And so the due process then becomes the electorate. And that's what -- that's what Donald Trump's people would say. These allegations came out about the president before the election, the voters knew about it, and they elected him anyway.

So he's now out himself in a position to say, I'm going to let the voters of Alabama to decide this. That's very similar to where he is. But when someone sitting a United States senator and gets accused to something or if they have done something in office, that's the due process that they were following the Senate.

RYE: That was before he was elected.

CUOMO: But he hasn't even said that.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: I realize he hasn't said that, that's the position he just put himself in. CUOMO: Yes, right. But just to clear up what, Angela, is saying.

You are right, what the allegation -- not the allegations but what happened with Franken happened before he was elected. That's true.

RYE: Right.

CUOMO: That may weigh into the process, but that's a little bit of a distraction, as is saying if the allegations are true, Roy Moore should step down. That's a hedge, right, Mike, because there will be no investigation. There will be no investigation. There will be no charges. There will be no prosecution.

[22:45:00] So that is a hedge saying that, it's not good enough. You're not really taking a position on this. But to your point the president hasn't even said that, he hasn't even said, let the voters of Alabama decide, why not? Why so shy on this?

SHIELDS: I think the White House has -- I mean I think that's where they're going.

CUOMO: The White House? I'm talking about Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. The man who said, if you don't hear it from me, don't believe it.

SHIELDS: Well, I mean, I don't understand that distinction, if the White House is saying it, that's the position of the president. I mean I don't think anyone disagrees with that. And so, that is -- look, I'm just telling you this as a political analyst.

He's now put himself in a position that's consistent with Roy Moore and what, Angela's, talking about which is things that came with the president which is to say, the voters are going to decide after they have already heard these allegations.

CUOMO: But he hasn't said it himself.

SHIELDS: It kind of gets him away from having to talk about that issue which I'm sort of agreeing with you on this. You are arguing with but I'm still the same.

CUOMO: I'm not arguing with you, I'm just trying to clarify the point. Believe me, you'll know if I'm arguing with you. What I'm saying is, he doesn't usually shy away from saying what he thinks for himself. He hasn't done it here, it's a little curious. Angela Rye, appreciate it very much. Mike Shields, appreciate the perspective.

RYE: Thank you.

SHIELDS: Thank you, Chris.

RYE: Thank you, Mo.

SHIELDS: Thank you, happy thanksgiving.

CUOMO: Chris Mo, Google Cuomo...

SHIELDS: Happy thanksgiving to you, too.

CUOMO: What was he even talking about?

RYE: Happy thanksgiving, Mike.

CUOMO: He made me question where my own nickname comes from. You are both welcome in the morning by the way, I want you to know that. You know...

RYE: Good night.

CUOMO: ... it's have to get up early once in a while. Good night.

RYE: Good night.

CUOMO: When we come back, the Justice Department is suing to block AT&T from acquiring Time Warner which you know owns CNN. The question is, what's really behind this? And some of you thought we wouldn't cover this story. You were wrong. Next.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CUOMO: All right, the Justice Department filing a lawsuit today seeking to block AT&T's planned acquisition of Time Warner, of course the parent company of CNN.

Some were suggesting we wouldn't cover this story. You are wrong. Of course we would have covered it. It matter. The DOJ is claiming the $85 billion deal violates the anti-trust law. Now this is an unusual argument in this situation. We're going to tell you why.

The president definitely opposes the deal. Why is up to debate. He's certainly not a fan of CNN's coverage of him, but is that what it's really about?

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson says that AT&T has no intention of backing down from the government's suit. All right, let's talk about this.

We're going to bring you, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and former federal prosecutor, Renato Mariotti. Gentlemen, good to have you both here.

Let's just make the case, Ranato, that the president doesn't want this to happen. We know he doesn't because he said it. October 22nd, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: AT&T is buying Time Warner and does CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: A vertical merger. If you look it up on Google, you'll see they don't get blocked very often. The president doesn't like this one. Does he have a strong case?

RENATO MARIOTTI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, he doesn't. And the when you use the term vertical merger, the way I'd explain it to people is when you -- when two companies that aren't in the same industry combine with each other.

Like for example, we have a combination of I believe it was on Amazon and whole foods, they're not in the same business so typically the government has nothing to do with that.

Because anti-trust law -- and I practiced it for many years, isn't so much concerned with the concentration of power as much as it's concerned about the concentration of power in a specific market.

So if Pepsi and Coke tried to merge or CNN and Fox News tried to merge for example, that might be a problem. But what's weird he is in addition to the fact that you have a merger that doesn't seem to be something that the Justice Department would usually be concerned with that were very aggressive position by the Justice Department.

In addition you have statements by the administration that targets CNN, not only the ones that everyone knows in the tweets where the president talks about CNN, but also you have Jared Kushner suggesting CNN fire 20 percent of its employees.

You have Jeff Sessions, the attorney general refusing to answer questions about whether or not the administration in the White House tried to interfere or give impudence in this merger.

There are a lot of questions about this that I think people deserve the answers to because we cannot have it where news organizations are bullied by the administration if they don't have the right political views.

CUOMO: And it's interesting. People should look at the complaint for themselves, but they seem to be arguing that this is a mostly vertical merger and they it is going to be added cost to consumers because of it.

And that would be the reason for attacking it despite the two companies being in their own supply chain, the same supply chain which usually would make you immune from this. All right, so that's the law. Now we go to the political media perspective on this. How do you see it?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST: This is -- as the guests were saying. There's smoke here but no fire. You know, there is this theory that maybe President Trump was using this deal upon CNN. This -- let's be honest, it will be the concern all year long.

We had wondered all yearlong within this building, this is somehow this deal going to go sideways because of CNN's coverage? At one point there were speculation maybe CNN would get spun off, and maybe the management will get forced off.

Instead what we see is the Justice Department trying to block the deal in court in order to slow things down, sort of blocks. Now this is going to go to a judge. We'll see if AT&T and also if the government prevails.

This deal could still go through. But it's definitely delayed things, and that could be an attempt by the Trump administration to punish CNN. But again it's only a theory. We need to find out if there's actual evidence.

And say we, and it's actually these attorneys for these companies are going to sort of find it out now. They will to sort every process. And attempt to get a hold of the e-mails or any other evidence that maybe the government -- the Trump administration is trying to interfere. For now it's just a theory.

[22:55:00] CUOMO: And we do know that the DOJ reached out to states, I think 18 states attorneys general to try and get them to join this suit, so far no takers.

STELTER: Yes, that's unusual that none in the states wanted to join this.

CUOMO: Right, let me get you take on something while I have you. News came out about Charlie Rose, accusers on him. What is the state of accusations, what has been the response from CBS and what from Charlie Rose?

STELTER: The Washington Post interviewed eight women, three on them on the record who described inappropriate behavior by Charlie Rose on one of the sexual advances.

In some cases like groping incident, Business Insider has three other women who have come forward tonight describing similar behaviors. So we've seen CBS suspend him from the morning show. We have seen PBS and Bloomberg cut ties with him.

You know, his famed Charlie Rose Show, one of the best known television programs out there for intellectual debate and conversation.

But Rose is admitting some of this behavior while denying other pieces of it. And for now he'll be off the air waves. I think it's hard to imagine him being back at any soon given the severity of allegations there in the Washington Post story and they are terribly.

CUOMO: Brian Stelter, thank you very much, great special tonight. Renato Mariotti, thank you very much, appreciate tonight and in the morning, too. To all of you, that's it for us. Thanks for watching.

I'm Chris Cuomo in for Don Lemon. I'll see you at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow morning for New Day and then I'll be back here tomorrow night. Why sleep when I can be with you? Have a good night.