Return to Transcripts main page


Michael Cohen Signals Openness To Cooperating With Federal Investigators; Cohen's Lawyers, Avenatti Depriving Client Of Fair Trial; CNN On Scene As Border Patrol Agents Detain Group Of Children, Adults In South Texas; Controversial Immigration Arrests; CNN Original Series; CNN Hero Rob Scheer. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired June 15, 2018 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. 11:00 on the East Coast live with all the new developments this hour. Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney indicating to family and friends that he is willing to cooperate with federal investigators. That is what a source is telling CNN, that it would relieve some of the pressure on himself and his family and that he is growing angry with the treatment he is getting from President Trump. What could this mean for the President? We're going to take a look at it in the hour ahead.

But Michael Cohen lost a round today in the Stormy Daniels lawsuit against him and President Trump. It involves her attorney, Michael Avenatti and he is here to talk about it. I thought maybe I wouldn't be able to talk to you on TV again. Good to see you by the way.


LEMON: So, here's what happened, the Judge today denied Michael Cohen's request for an immediate restraining order against you. The final decision will come what -- this month, for a month or so?

AVENATTI: Next month. A number of weeks.

LEMON: So -- but you're here talking to me, so what's going on?

AVENATTI: Correct. Well, Don, I mean, it's pretty obvious. You know, they can't beat us on the truth, the facts, the evidence and so, they want a judge to basically muscle me and prevent me from speaking to the American people and also prevent me from providing evidence and facts and documents to the public. And we're going to fight it to the end, and we're going to continue to insist that I and my client be permitted to speak about the case and speak about the facts and the evidence.

LEMON: OK. So they responded, the lawyer sent this to me today. Similar to the defendant's exparte application to stay the case on which Mr. Cohen ultimately prevail, there is now a briefing scheduled in Mr. Cohen's motion for a restraining order. Mr. Avenatti either needs to respect the jury and the code of professional conduct or remove himself from this case. What do you say to that? AVENATTI: Well, where is (inaudible) likely denied, I mean, is he

here? Is he going to take my seat after this, you know, this is what's ironic, Don, you've extended multiple invitations to Michael Cohen and to his lawyers. They are nowhere to be found. You know, they'd rather issue some written statement as opposed to take this seat and answer any questions, forget about the tough questions, OK.

LEMON: Even the President did it today. I mean, he was standing out on the lawn, right?


LEMON: Whether you believes him or not, we see -- at least he have the opportunity to respond to it.

AVENATTI: Correct. So, Brent, if you're out there, I mean, we talk from time to time again, I mean, you know, go down to the CNN studio, make yourself available and answer some questions. I mean, come on television if we don't know what we were talking about and we were wrong, I mean, we know it is going to happen, Don. They are going to continue to dodge this and look, they made a critical error. They filed this baseless motion. They sought this emergency order and the Judge blew them out in about 18 hours. Many of those hours were overnight. OK. So this took no time at all. We're confident that the motion's ultimately going to be denied. You know there is --

LEMON: You think that finally you're going to win.

AVENATTI: I think we're going to win, and I think it's transparent as to what they're trying to do. And look, the last time I checked there's something called the first amendment in this country, and that applies to you and me and everyone else. And we're going to continue to exercise our right to tell the truth.

LEMON: You know what they say about you, right?

AVENATTI: Well, they say a lot of things about me, but let me tell you what they don't say. Let me tell you one thing they don't say, they don't say I'm not effective, they don't say, we're not doing a good job, and they don't say that we should shut up, because we're terrible.

LEMON: I think they think you're doing a good job in the court of public opinion. I do, I mean and I don't think anyone can deny that. But they think you're a publicity hound, and they say that Michael Cohen can't get a fair trial, because you are sort of tainting, I guess you're tainting the jury pool or tainting how people may judge him, if they can judge him fairly.

AVENATTI: So, two things. It's rather ironic that Mr. Blake name Mr. Cohen would claim in our case that we're tainting the jury pool. Because remember it's their position that there's never going to be a jury in this case, because the whole thing is going to go to arbitration. And they had express previously how confident they are about that. So there will be no jury pool according to them, so that is the first one. Second of all, I'm not a publicly hound, Don. This is -- it's not a

publicity tour. It's a truth tour. And let me tell you something, they are very nervous and very upset because of how effective we had been over the last 90 days. And I will tell you this, every time I go on television whether it be this network or any other network, it always results in additional leads, additional information, and in some cases additional critical evidence being brought to light in this case. And they are nervous about it. And they should be nervous about it.

LEMON: And you think that is why they want to shut you up, because you get leads every time you're on TV.

AVENATTI: they want to shut me up, because I am terrible.

LEMON: Yes. But I do have to say, that you are right. If Michael Cohen, if Stormy Daniels, if Michael Cohen's attorney would come on this program, we'd have him on as often as possible to talk about the developments in this case.

AVENATTI: I know they've been invited on your show, I know they had been invited on Anderson's show and other shows, countless shows to come on and answer any questions, let alone tough questions. And they keep dodging the invite, and then they want to complain when I go on the shows and answer questions.

[23:05:12] LEMON: Well, I have to say again, and you know, I know, you won't like me comparing to the president. People said the same thing about Donald -- candidate Trump and the other candidates during the election. Why do have them so much, well, he said yes, and you said no. And if you want to compete with him, right, you come on as well. So Clinton didn't do that, the other candidates didn't do that. You call them up and say will you come on the show and you would.

And so we call you up and say will you come on the show and you will. And we call Michael Cohen up and say, will you come up in the show and he said no. His attorney says no. So I think you're absolutely right on it. If you want to defend yourself, you should probably in the best light, the best way you can, you should probably view it in real- time instead of through statements.

AVENATTI: 100 percent. But you don't see me trying to shut up Rudy Giuliani, do you?

LEMON: No, because -- well, I am glad-- go ahead. What do you think of what he said tonight?

AVENATTI: I think it's fabulous. Every time Rudy goes on television our case gets better. In fact, as opposed to trying to shut him up, I'd like to drive him to do his appearances if need be. I would be happy to send a car and I will drive.


LEMON: OK. Well, speaking of that, this is not my reporting, because I have my own reporting about Michael Cohen. And I do know that this is tough on him personally, it is expensive. I don't think it's as expensive as you're saying, I don't know at least that is not the indication I'm getting from sources, but it is expensive. I don't think the White House is going to pay -- they're paying his legal fees right now.

AVENATTI: Not with this cheap President.

LEMON: But there is reporting out there that says that he is indicating a way that he may cooperate with Feds because he is angry at the treatment allegedly with the President and his team, especially Rudy Giuliani has given him, sort of down-playing him. Saying, you know, I knew him, I always liked him, but he didn't do that much for me. Is that surprising to you?

AVENATTI: No. I am not surprise at all. I mean, this is what happens when you put a guy on an island. And that is what they've done. They've put Michael Cohen on an island. He feels alone. He feels his desperation is beginning to set in. You know, I understand he is a family man, I understand this is obviously tough on his wife and kids. And they have my sympathy. I feel bad for them. And look, the weight of the world is on Michael Cohen, and it's only going to get worse before it gets better. And I think with each passing day and week that he waits to go to the Southern District of New York and provide whatever evidence he has, he is putting himself more and more at risk for serving substantial time.

LEMON: OK. So the last time I reported on him and I spoke to him about this and I reported on the air that he believed that in the end, everything will be proven to be lawful, that he did for this President. And so, therefore, the idea of flipping or cooperating it doesn't matter, because he doesn't believe there was anything that was not lawful. So, he doesn't -- I would imagine he doesn't believe he is in as much trouble as everyone is saying or thinks he is.

AVENATTI: You know, I agree with you that he doesn't believe he is in that much trouble, because all you have to do is look back a few weeks when he was on out the stoop smoking cigars with, you know, one or more associates including the individuals from Russia, while we are all in federal court on connection in this matter. Which is one of the dumbest things I've seen any potential criminal defendant do in any case in a very long time. But sooner or later, Don, reality is going to set in for this guy. And it better be sooner, because if he continues to sit on the side lines he is going to run the risk of serving substantial time.

LEMON: So, then what do you want? You said, he better -- I guess -- the Southern District is really in control of his future, right or his freedom if they do decide to charge him with anything. But the question is that you talk about Michael Cohen a lot, but what does that have to do with your case? Because ultimately it's the President, right, who is the target of your investigation in your heir? No?

AVENATTI: Well, Michael Cohen and Donald Trump are both defendants in our case, and you know, we believe that they were conspirators related to the payment of the $130,000 and the cover-up that resulted in the way that the money flowed. To quote Mr. Giuliani, the way the money flowed through, quote-unquote which was one of the most remarkable admissions --

LEMON: Funneled.

AVENATTI: Funneled -- yes, funneled, thank you. Which was one of the most remarkable admissions I think I've seen in any attorney make, especially on television.

LEMON: hey, I got to go, but I want to ask you, because, I think it's an important conversation, 16 pages reconstructed, right, from shredding of documents from the FBI. They got encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal. Do you think any of that which is surprising you and excited to know if you could get those encrypted messages, you think some of this is related to your case?

AVENATTI: I think there is now doubt that some if it's related to our case. And Don, let me tell, I think that that evidence is going to be some of the most damaging evidence to Michael Cohen and the president. He is not using signal to communicate with his grandmother about Christmas or Hanukkah plans.

LEMON: He could be overseas and just wants the free texting.

[23:10:01] AVENATTI: On signal, I doubt it.

LEMON: Thank you.

AVENATTI: Thank you.

LEMON: I appreciate it, by the way Michael Cohen wants to come on, his representatives.

AVENATTI: Brent Blakely, Brent, if you're out there, come on.

LEMON: Thank you. I meant me. Not you.


Thank you Michael, I appreciate it. Michael Cohen now signaling an openness to cooperate with federal investigators, we ae going to talk about that.

Plus the President's response when asked about their friendship.


2LEMON: So tonight a source telling CNN that Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney, may be open to cooperating with federal investigators. I want to talk about this now with CNN Political Analyst, Patrick Healy, politics editor at "The New York Times" and CNN Legal Analyst, Areva Martin, the author of "Make It Rain."

Areva, hello to you and Patrick.

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Hello, Don. LEMON: So, were you listening to our last conversation, anything --

where you listening to Michael Avenatti? Anything you want to comment about with that before we move on?

MARTIN: No, I think he is dead on. I don't understand this motion by Michael Cohen to, you know, try to restrain and prevent Michael Avenatti from talking about the facts of this case. That is an unusual motion and I agree with Michael's theory that he is somehow tainting the jury pool, there's not supposed to be a jury. This is supposed to a case that is decided in arbitration. So I think Michael Cohen and his lawyers are going to have a lot of explaining to do to a judge if they expect to win this motion.

LEMON: OK. I've got a quick question for you and then I'll move onto Patrick.

[23:15:00] I mean, this a guy with a diminished income and job prospects, isolation from his main client, increasing legal costs, his business is under investigation too, federal investigation. I mean how could he not be considering something to help the situation?

MARTIN: Yes, I don't think -- it's feasible for anyone in his position to not consider doing whatever they can do including talking to federal prosecutors, and that is assuming that federal prosecutors are at the point where they believe that they would even, you know, be willing to strike a deal with him. But the pressure on Michael Cohen is unbelievable. It's hard to even put into words.

We talked about the cost. We've been talking a lot about the cost of his defense. Some say 15 lawyers were working around the clock reviewing those voluminous documents that were seized from his office. Some say charging up to $1,000 maybe $1,200 an hour, but this easily can be a multi-million dollar defense that he has to mount.

And let's face it, anybody who comes into battle Trump's orbit, their life pretty much gets destroyed and Donald Trump demands loyalty from people, but it's not a two way street. It's not reciprocal. He does not, you know, give the same loyalty that he expects and demands. And it wasn't long ago that Michael Cohen was talking about taking a bullet and doing whatever he could to protect this President.

LEMON: Right.

MARTIN: And the President isn't doing anything to suggest that he is loyal to Michael Cohen in the way Michael was at one point loyal to him.

LEMON: Who was it, Patrick, was it Rick Wilson, he said everything Trump touches dies -- I forget someone wrote that and we had --

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's a long list. I mean, some of them are in jail now.

LEMON: Michael Cohen is out Patrick, he is out about facing cameras every day. Even earlier today. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael, are you going to (inaudible) the prosecutors? Are you concerned at all?

MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S PERSONAL ATTORNEY: (Inaudible), thank you so much. Awesome, (inaudible).


LEMON: I wonder what the best that he can hope for, and if I mean seeing Paul Manafort going (inaudible) I wonder --

HEALY: That is a chilling scene. I mean, that really brings it home. But the thing to remember about Michael Cohen, he is an incredibly self-confident man who saw himself as very much the right-hand of Donald Trump for years. Worked in power circles, moved in power circles, was a confident fixer to Donald Trump to solve this guy's problems for years.

And so seeing him out and about he is not the kind of guy who would sort of -- like, you know, sort of stay home and cry into his Kleenex. That is not who he is, but the reality is there's so much that is hanging over him now. And the pressure that he is under, you've got to wonder when Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani start playing like the "Wheel of fortune" about pardons. Like you never know if pardons are going to come around to you, you wonder what that does to a person's thinking.

LEMON: Patrick, I don't think, he think that he did anything wrong. So I don't know if he feels the pressure and I said this to Michael Avenatti, I don't know if he feels the pressure that everyone else thinks he should be feeling.

HEALY: When you've got 15 lawyers, who are looking through and you know the notes that you've taken down on someone like Donald Trump who's poked so many versions about so many stories, I mean, look he knows what's in there. He knows what he --

LEMON: Let's just say for the sake of this argument, what if there's no there-there? What if there is nothing there?

HEALY: There might be no there-there on Donald Trump, there might be something there-there on --

LEMON: What if there's something there-there for him?

HEALY: Maybe, but it's going to wipe him out possibly financially. And that is a real concern.

LEMON: All right. What do you say, Areva?

MARTIN: Yes, Don. Even though he may not have done anything wrong and that remains to be seen and obviously he is innocent until proven guilty. Just the prospect of facing federal prosecution and having to defend yourself in what could be years of litigation, that is going to destroy his practice. Who's going to hire him as a lawyer, who is going to hire him as a business consultant? We saw all of those --

HEALY: Leads that to millions.

MARTIN: I mean he is toxic.

LEMON: Well, if he gets out of this someone may say, well, he can get out of that.

MARTIN: That may be five years from now and you would be an incredibly happy that you get out of this unscathed.

LEMON: Well, I am just asking --

MARTIN: His career has already been blown up.

LEMON: Well, I ask because -- because we talk about this weighing on him, and the last time I spoke to him and I reported it here on CNN, he does not believe he did anything wrong. He doesn't believe there's anything -- any reason for him to cooperate.


HEALY: that is probably true, Don, but this is guy who is used to moving in power circles at 30,000 feet, you know, one of the major figures in New York City, you know, I mean, in terms of, you know, Donald Trump power circles. And now he is, you know, he is laying low and being dogged, you know, by paparazzi.

LEMON: I want to get this in, because the President was asked about him this morning. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you worried Michael Cohen might flip?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did nothing wrong. You have to understand this stuff would have come out a long time ago. I did nothing wrong.

[23:20:03] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he still your friend?

TRUMP: I always like Michael. I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he still your lawyer? Your personal lawyer?

TRUMP: No, he is not my lawyer, but I've always liked Michael and he is a good person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to know, if you are worried that he is going to cooperate with federals prosecutors?

TRUMP: No. I did nothing wrong.


TRUMP: Nothing wrong.


LEMON: One, clearly there's distancing that is happening right there, I think. And -- because their relationship goes back decades.

HEALY: Right, and this guy -- when you use the word fixer that sometimes gets thrown around a lot, but he was Donald Trump's fixer. Whatever problems sort of came out, Michael Cohen was not just a lawyer, but he was a defender. He would get on the phone with reporters, with other politicians, the donors, and he would try to talk you down into a corner.

LEMON: And Areva, whenever there was something really sticky people in the organization they reported, they would say let's, you know, call Michael Cohen. What do you think of what the President said? Quickly, I got to run.

MARTIN: Well, it shows that Michael Cohen has already suffered devastating consequences from his relationship with Donald Trump. He is an outsider. This is a guy that prided himself on being in the inner circle with Donald Trump. He is not in the inner circle, he is not the lawyer for Donald Trump.

He is someone that Donald Trump says he hasn't spoken to in a very long time. So he is isolated, he is on an island, and that can't be a comfortable feeling facing what could be federal prosecution and potentially long jail time.

So, I don't think Don, that he is comfortable as you suggest that he is done nothing wrong. Of course he is going to say he has done nothing wrong. Who would say I did something wrong. He would make an admission like that. He is done nothing wrong until it's proven that he has done something wrong.

LEMON: I see a guy, you know, on video, bouncing around, going to restaurants, you know, the sunshades, walking down the street in New York. I am just asking. Thank you guys. I appreciate it.

HEALY: Thanks Don.

LEMON: When we come back CNN's own Ed Lavandera witnessing border patrol agents detaining a group of undocumented immigrants at the border, including four children, one only 11 years old, alone and trying to get to his mother. We'll have this story next.


LEMON: Nearly 300 children have been placed at the government's temporary shelter in Texas in just the last two days. That is what a Texas state lawmaker is saying tonight. It comes as CNN witnessed first-hand a group from Honduras being taken into custody at the U.S. border tonight. CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene.

(BEGIN VIDEO) ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to see people moving

through the thick south Texas vegetation. The Rio Grande rolls by just beyond the tree line. And then just like that they appear out of the brush, a small group of undocumented immigrants walking into a public park.

We just came across this group of undocumented immigrants here in the town of Mission, Texas. Two adults, four children just finished crossing the Rio Grande here a little while ago. And now they're in the custody of border patrol. This group is actually made of three different groups. They say they met along the journey from Honduras and decided to enter the United States together. Border patrol agents give them water and they sit in the shade as they wait for a vehicle to take them to a border patrol station.

There's Jonathan Ariel, 11 years old, he says he left Honduras with cousins, but they abandoned him along the way. He says his mother lives in Virginia and told him not to make this journey alone, but now he is here. I told her I wanted to come, he says, but she said it's very dangerous.

Are you scared? A little, he says. It's a brief conversation that leaves you with many more questions about how a young boy can get to this point. As an unaccompanied minor, he will likely end up for a time being in a children's shelter like this one as federal authorities try to connect the boy with his mother. The rest of this group is made up of two adult women with their children.

(Inaudible) is 24 years old, and she crossed the border with her little boy. Why did you come? She says gang members left a note at her home threatening to kill her, and that is when she decided to flee. Are you afraid they're going to separate you from your children? Yes, he is my son and I love him, she says. I have carried him throughout my journey. Dalia says she did not know she might be separated from her son once she was taken into custody in the United States, but she says I have nothing in Honduras. The families are loaded up and taken away, unsure of what happens next.

Don, the question now is what happens with these young children. Jonathan, the 11-year-old gave me his mother's cellphone and I was able to speak with her in Virginia tonight. She says that immigration authorities have already reached out and that tomorrow, they will talk again to make plans as to what happens next.

The bigger question is what happens with the two adult women and their children. It's not clear if they're going to be prosecuted and separated while they are in custody. Even though the Trump administration says this zero-tolerance policy is designed to prosecute 100 percent of the people who cross the border illegally, the fact of the matter is that isn't happening, at least not yet. But federal officials that we spoke with today, would not outline exactly how it is being determine, who gets release and who gets prosecuted. They wouldn't explain how those decisions are made, so the fate of those children and those mothers at least as far as we know right now are still up in the air, Don.


LEMON: Ed Lavandera, thank you. Awful, a complicated story. Now I want to bring in now to discuss this. CNN Political Commentator, Van Jones, the host of "The Van Jones Show" and CNN Political Commentator, Steve Cortes as well.

Good evening, gentlemen. So, Van, you saw from Ed Lavandera's story there at least 2,000 children now in the shelters forcibly separated from their parents including a 11 year-old boy, you saw there trying to be reunited with his parents. Is this a crisis? Is there a crisis now?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Well, we're in moral crisis. I mean, first of all, we shouldn't be calling it a zero-tolerance policy. We should be calling it a zero humanity policy, zero human rights policy, zero dignity policy, zero common sense policy. You know, this is -- it's terrible. Listen, it's not illegal to flee for your life to another country. United States actually led the world after people were trying to flee Germany and were sent back to the ovens (ph), the United States led the world to adopt a standard of human rights that says if you are running for your life, you can seek asylum and the government has a right to make a determination. Is it real? Is it fake? They can send you back if it's fake.

But the idea that you're going to criminally prosecute every single human being that shows up and as a result of that prosecution, take away their children and incarcerate their children, too, there's not another country in the world that's doing this.

And the Obama administration did it in limited context with some people. This is being done across the board in a whole scale (ph) manner that is going to result in literally -- they keep doing this, thousands and tens of thousands of young people being permanently scarred.

LEMON: And listen, it's not a law. They keep saying it's not a law. It's a policy. It's a practice. It's not even a policy. It's practice. It's not a law. There have been cases in the past administration. As you mentioned, the Obama administration, separating families before the so-called zero-tolerance policy was announced.

But they separated families in instances where a familiar relationship could not be verified or the well being of the child was a concern. And so it is different in this. It's not the same thing. It should not be completed.

So, Steve, president today was out, good that he came out to talk, but he falsely blamed the Democrats for his administration's family separation practice. Today, he said that the Democrats forced that law upon our nation. That is just a lie. He is the president. He has the power to stop this practice. So, why continue this lie instead of just fixing it?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he does want to fix comprehensive immigration reform. But I think the important point here, look, it's a tragedy, absolutely. Here we are on father's day weekend, right? It's a tragedy when children are separated from their parents. But the tragedy is because of the actions of their parents.

In this country, take immigration out of it, in this country --

LEMON: Steve, before you go on with that, could you just please just be courteous enough and respectful enough to answer my question directly. I asked a very simple question.

CORTES: I'm answering it. If you --

LEMON: If you can go on -- hang on. Could you just answer the question? I asked you in the first part of the response to your answer, can you answer my question directly? Then you can back into spinning, I know that's why you're here. But I asked you, why the president continues to lie about this instead of fixing this practice and blaming it on someone else when there is no blame there?

CORTES: OK. The president wants to fix it. He -- all right, the president wants to fix it and he offered an incredibly --

LEMON: Why does he continue to lie and say its the Democrats?

CORTES: Because the Democrats would not --

LEMON: It's not the Democrats' law. He said specifically today, he said, I hate the children being taken away, the Democrats have to change their law. That's their law. That is a lie. Please address me directly. Why does he continue --

CORTES: It's not a lie.

LEMON: Yes, it is a lie. It's not a law. It's not a law. It's not a law, Steve. It's not a law.

CORTES: Well, it's surely permissible by law.

LEMON: It is a practice. It is a practice. It's not a law.

CORTES: It's fine. It's a practice.


CORTES: It's a practice. And that's a practice --

LEMON: And Republicans rule the House and they rule the Senate. And there is a Republican white house. So why does he continue to lie and say that it's a Democrat law? It's not.

CORTES: OK. Look, you can continue to call him a liar or we can talk about how do we actually solve this crisis.

LEMON: I'm telling you the truth. He is a liar.

CORTES: I agree it's a crisis. LEMON: But I am asking you to answer the question directly. And you won't answer the question directly. And every single person I've seen come on television today whether it was on this network or another network, someone asked them directly about this lie that the president is saying, and they will -- they just spin and they won't answer the question.

I'm asking you a very simple question. All you have to do is say, I don't know why he continues to lie or you'll have to ask him why he continues to lie. That's all you have to say. But you won't do it because --

CORTES: I would say --

LEMON: -- the Democrats -- no. It has nothing to do with the Democrats. The Democrats are not in charge. They're not in charge. They're in the minority.

CORTES: We don't have 60 votes in the Senate. We don't have 60 votes in the Senate.

LEMON: The president could stop this right now if he wants to.


LEMON: He interprets --

CORTES: And if he did, by the way -- he would purge more people showing up with their children. And if you decide to commit a crime --

LEMON: Steve, I really want to be respectful with you. I want to talk and I want to hear your side, but I think you're being incredibly disrespectful when you come on and I asked you a very simple direct question that's so easy to answer, and you sit here and you spin and you lie to my face. That is disrespectful. I know people are --

CORTES: I'm not spinning and I'm not lying.

LEMON: Yes, you are. I know people out there are saying, why won't you let him talk, because I think when you come on this network, you have the opportunity to speak to the American people directly.

[23:34:58] And if you are not honest in your answers, then you are doing a disservice to the people who are watching.

CORTES: What have I said that's dishonest? What have I said that's dishonest?

LEMON: I asked you why the president continues to lie and say that this is a Democratic law when it is not a law and it was not done by the Democrats.

CORTES: I don't know why --

LEMON: And it is not the same practice. It is not the same practice as other administrations. So please answer now. CORTES: Correct. It's not.

LEMON: So answer my question. Why does he continue to lie and why won't he fix it?

CORTES: Look, I don't know why he calls it a Democratic law. I don't know why he said that, OK?

LEMON: Thank you for answering me.

CORTES: So I answered your question very directly. Now, to the question of, though, is this a new practice? It absolutely is. And the president, by the way, ran on -- this was his signature issue of his 2016 campaign, was getting tough on the border, tough on illegal immigration within our country and tough on the border.

So, no one should be shocked or appalled or surprised that he's following through on that foundational promise of his 2016 campaign. So, is he being tougher? Absolutely he is within the parameters of the law.

JONES: I would just like to say a few things here. There's no such thing as a Democrat law. Laws are passed by the U.S. Congress --

CORTES: I don't know why he said that.

JONES: That's really, really unfortunate that he just won't take responsibility for his change of practice. In other words, he is not courageous enough to say what you just said. What you just said is awful, but at lest it's true. This is my attempt to hurt children and thereby send a political message. You're willing to acknowledge that.

CORTES: It's protecting American children, Don. Don, do American children matter?

LEMON: That was Van. That was Van. It's not me. That was Van. That was Van.

CORTES: Van, do American children matter? I mean, do we get the right to say who's allowed to be invited into our home? Anybody can break and enter into the United States of America. Is that --

JONES: It is a very important question for conservatives. If you just give me a second, I would like to speak to you as a conservative.

LEMON: Quick, Van. I need to get to break.

JONES: And then we'll come back. Listen, it's a question of values and character. In pursuit of even a noble goal, what are you willing to do? Are you willing to torture people? Are you willing to hurt children? I'll give it to you, having a secure border, maybe that's a noble goal.

But that's not the question. The question is, what are you willing to do? If you are willing to torture, are you willing to murder? Are you willing to hurt children? Then you have a different set of questions to answer. Let's talk about it.

LEMON: Stand by, both of you. I got to get to the break. We'll continue on the other side. We'll be right back.


LEMON: So Van and Steve are now back with me. So let's continue this conversation. So Steve, Van was saying what are you willing to do in pursuit of a policy? These are his words and I think he's right. You can have a secure border, but you don't have to scar children. So, go on.

CORTES: Right. Agreed. By the way, these children contrary to what Brian Karem said when he grandstanded in the White House briefing room, they're not being thrown into cages. They're actually being put into very humane, hospitable places with education and sports and good food and all that sort of things.

It still a tragedy that they are being removed from their parents. But they're being removed from their parents because of the actions of their parents. If you decide on your own that you can break our immigration laws and just show up in our country without permission, you are subject to prosecution.

JONES: Can I say something about that?

CORTES: -- anything, anywhere in the world you get separated from your children and that's a tragedy for the child because they didn't have a choice.

LEMON: Go on.

JONES: First of all, let me just say a couple of things. I assume that as a conservative, you are pro-life, anti-abortion, is that correct?


JONES: You are. And so when somebody says, look, I want to have an abortion, you would say, listen, you don't hurt that child in the womb because of the choices of the parent. You weren't careful enough, something happened. You would say, you protect children even when their parents make dumb decisions, is that correct?

CORTES: Yes, but --

JONES: OK, so, why wouldn't you apply that to the border?

CORTES: No, but hold on, if someone is convicted of a crime --

JONES: I'm trying to talk to you as a conservative. Why won't you protect the children at the border even if their parents made bad decisions? Even 2if their parents made bad decisions? Why won't you protect the children?

CORTES: Come on, do we separate criminal parents from their children in this country?

JONES: Yes, we do.

CORTES: Yes, we do. Every single day.

JONES: The reason it's not working is because other administrations looking at the same families said, all of these families aren't criminals. All of these people don't have to be prosecuted as criminals. And they did is, they wisely made the choice, very few were charged criminally, others were detained. This president now says every single person got to be charged criminally.

CORTES: What is your answer? Open border? Is that your answer? Anyone can come in? If a family shows up, they're in?

JONES: This is a tactic of a demagogue. You either say --

CORTES: No, you're demagoguing.

JONES: You're demogoguing.

CORTES: Black and brown Americans have suffered more than anyone from illegal immigration. Our community has suffered the most from tolerating illegal immigration --

JONES: And therefore, do what to babies?

CORTES: Get serious about enforcement.

JONES: Therefore -- to breastfeeding babies. Therefore, do what?

CORTES: That did not happen.

JONES: That happened multiple times. Therefore, do what to breastfeeding babies?

CORTES: It has been reported multiple times by people.

JONES: You can't answer the question because you know and I know that it is despicable and inhumane to scar children for life for the transgressions of their parents. And it's a choice. We can secure the border without scarring children. We can secure the border without hurting babies, and you know it and I know it.

LEMON: OK. Can you see this picture of the kid crying there? Daily News says, callous, soulless, craven, Trump. It's a mom there and she's being taken away from her child by what I assume is a border patrol and ICE agent. And you're saying that breastfeeding thing didn't happen, but there are multiple accounts of stories that are similar. So, Steve, go on. I will just let you finish, please.

CORTES: Look, in this country, forget about immigration, in this country when someone commits a crime, sadly, is removed from their child. So we do this everyday. So your logic is unsound there --

(CROSSTALK) JONES: -- about the criminal justice system and immigration than you do apparently. All of these people --


JONES: All these people have not been charged criminally. This is a new --

CORTES: I'm not talking about immigration.

[23:45:00] LEMON: I promise you, we will be having this conversation. I appreciate both of you coming on. Steve, I appreciate you coming on. I asked you to come on. You should know from any guests that I've had on this show, I will invite you back as long as you're honest and you answer my question directly.

I know your going to spin. That's what pundits do. But just the courtesy for me and the people who are watching, just answer the question directly, then you can spin your, you know what all, OK? So, thank you. You both have a great weekend. I appreciate it. This weekend, make sure you watch "The Van Jones Show" tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. We will be right back.


LEMON: I want to bring in now CNN's Kamau Bell, host of "United Shades of America." Welcome. So, I want to talk about what is going on at the border. You know they're separating the kids. They said it's a Democrat law. Democrats are blaming the White House and so on. All these Bible verses of being thrown around.

[23:50:02] How do we get to such a low point? What do you think of what's going on here?

W. KAMAU BELL, CNN HOST: I mean, first of all, I would like to ask if Van Jones is still around. I would like to give my time to Van Jones.


BELL: I think he is handling quite well.

LEMON: He's gone.


BELL: You know, this week on "United Shades of America," it's about Alabama. It's a special episode for father's day. My dad is featured quite prominently in it. One of the reasons I did is because I feel like Alabama gets tarred and smeared often in this country. And this week, Jeff Sessions, who is from the great state of Alabama, has stepped up to once again tarred and smeared Alabama with his nonsense about quoting Bible verses to separate families from their kids.

So, for me, it's clearly a disgusting thing that is happening. You know, we call it the Bible Belt Alabama. There is a lot of proud Christians in Alabama and Jeff Sessions claimed to be a Christian but he is clearly a selective Christian. There are lots of things in the Bible that we don't do. That's one of them.

LEMON: So, this is -- your hometown is Mobile, Alabama. Right?

BELL: Yes, sir.

LEMON: And you go with your father?

BELL: Yeah, my dad lives there. He could live anywhere in the world he wants to.

LEMON: Let's watch.

BELL: He is a successful man.

LEMON: OK, let's watch.


BELL (voice over): My crew is doing OK by most measures. But my dad is way more impressive. He was the insurance commissioner for Alabama which made him the highest-ranking black person in Alabama. He was the first Alabamian to become the president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

He has met with multiple presidents. Clinton, Obama, nope (ph). But before all that, he was a struggling artist in the bay area. That's where I got that from. His life really started in a shack in Vredenburgh, Alabama, 100 miles outside of Mobile. It got a population of 312. And the shack is on land that my family still owns, right off of, don't get too impressed, Bell Road.


LEMON: Well, he's definitely your father because he looks like you without an Afro.


LEMON: So, you look like him. I mean, highest-ranking African- American in the state. What's it like going back and going through your family heritage together?

BELL: I mean, I've been going there since I was a kid, but now that I have kids, I take my kids back there. It means a lot more to me. When I was a kid, it was just a place where I had to go to visit my dad and my grandma. And I wasn't that excited about it as a kid honestly because it was Alabama.

But as I grow up and get older and I have kids, I realized how important it is to me that my kids know where they come from. And, you know, and so to go back and really be able to highlight that area, it was really great. Happy father's day, dad.

LEMON: Absolutely. Got a few seconds left here. Tell me about Bree Newsome, African-American woman who is pro-confederate flag -- that's in this episode, right? BELL: No, Bree is not pro-confederate flag. She is a black woman who -- Bree Newsome is the black woman who climbed the confederate flagpole and pulled it down.

LEMON: I'm sorry, yes! She was the one that pulled it down. I was there when it happened. Sorry.

BELL: Yes.

LEMON: Sorry, I'm glad you did that.

BELL: The last segment was rough, Don. I get it. I don't blame you. It was hard.

LEMON: Sorry.

BELL: Bree --

LEMON: How is she doing now? She climbed up. I was there. I saw it. How is she doing?

BELL: She's still a superhero. She is still climbing up and pulling down metaphorical (ph) flags every day. I follow her on Twitter. Bree Newsome is amazing. I was honored to have her on the show.

LEMON: Bree, don't be mad. I'm sorry. It's been a long week.


BELL: It's been a long week.

LEMON: Thank you.

BELL: It's been a long America.


LEMON: I can't wait to watch. Thank you. I'll see you soon.

BELL: Thank you.

LEMON: Be sure to tune in, all new episode of "United Shades of America," Sunday at 10:00 p.m. only here on CNN. We will be right back.


LEMON: There are nearly 430,000 children in America's foster care system. This week's CNN hero was one of them and remembers carrying his few belongings around in a trash bag. Nearly 30 years later when he and his husband adopted four foster children, he couldn't believe it when each of their kids arrived with a trash bag in tow.

His shot sparked a mission to provide kids in foster care with a tangible sign of love, something that tells them they are seen and they matter. Meet Rob Scheer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB SCHEER, CNN HERO: Many children in foster care are put in a situation where they do feel invisible. They do feel that they do not count, that they have no voice.

It's up to us to make sure that we're there to help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so cute. It's an angel teddy bear.

SCHEER: We need to make them feel wanted by all of us.


LEMON: To see exactly how Rob is doing that, go to for the full story. And while you're there, nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero.

CNN is launching an exciting series next week that you don't want to miss. Here's a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): A special CNN series, our anchors profile champions for change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We travel the globe telling stories of change makers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This time, we are joining a mission to make a difference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Giving time to the causes that are dear to our hearts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And sharing the stories of the champions leading the charge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): It was for a great cause. That's motivating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to help them in ways that helps them see this is not how your life has to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an opportunity to pay it forward. To do something that is going to be meaningful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are the kinds of students any community would be blessed to have.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just warms your heart that you can help someone with food.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the champion, you're gonna know my name, you can't hurt me now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Join the journalists of CNN as we work alongside "Champions for Change." All next week. Presented by Charles Schwab.


[24:00:00] LEMON: That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching.