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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Calls Puerto Rico a Success; Donald Trump Jr. Not at All Concerned about Legal Problems; November's Midterms; Ayanna Pressley had an Incredible Upset Victory; Hurricane Florence Making Its Way Towards the Carolinas. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 11, 2018 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Yes. No, and when are you down there? Tomorrow? I'll follow you soon after that. But again, they pay us to do it. But if I lived there, I wouldn't stay. I would leave. I would do exactly what the emergency responders and the leaders are saying. I would get out, board my house up, do whatever I have to do.

Again, as I said to you just moments ago, I know from experience having grown up in Louisiana, you -- there's no way that you can, you know, outmaneuver a hurricane once it starts bearing down on you. And you see it coming, and there is absolutely nothing you can do.

You can replace your belongings, you know, pictures, whatever. Take some snap, some photos of them, put them in a safe. Do whatever you have. But your life is worth more than that, than staying behind. Just don't do it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I'm with you. Look, one of the things I didn't say to Mica, because, look, I'm not here--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Lovely woman.

CUOMO: I'm not here to judge. I wish her well. I hope when I call her down there, she tells me everything is great. Come on by. We're actually open.

But when you stay behind, if you make a miscalculation, it's no longer just about you. There are going to be people who will have to come and try to save you, and their lives are going to be put on the line. They do it willingly, but you're putting them at risk as well.

LEMON: Yes. Hey, you know what? Every so often when I'm like driving, you know, on the FDR, which is here or on the west side, anywhere in Manhattan, I look up, and I look for the Twin Towers because remember they used to be -- you could figure out where exactly you are.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: And you'd look up, and you'd see those Twin Towers. It's just, it's still after all these years, it's still stunning to me. I still look up expecting to see those towers.

CUOMO: Yes. I've never, you know, I've never dealt with anything like that in my life, that kind of loss, being down there that day, seeing everything that happened and in the days and weeks afterwards. Totally changed my life. I got engaged 11 days after 9/11.

LEMON: Yes, I know.

CUOMO: We got married a couple months after that. That was an acute form of post-traumatic stress disorder that I had. I dealt with it that way.

But, you know, I was thinking of it this morning. Every year I don't look forward to this day. Today I was helping these charities raise money. Team Rubicon, an amazing organization for vets to help with disaster and logistics and coordination and using all their skills.

We've tried over the years, 17 years on now, to make this day about something more than what was lost.

And that's really important. And I know it's important to those who are mourning lost loved ones. They like that this day has become more than about just the bad of that day.

LEMON: I can't put -- you know, I can't put this loss into words. But I am going to save you from the dog house and say that was one of the best decisions you made is marrying your lovely wife.

CUOMO: For me? Best decision. For her, jury's out.

LEMON: I saved you. Hey, Chris, thank you very much. Safe travels. I'll see you down there soon, my friend.

CUOMO: Be safe.

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Here's our breaking news right now. It's hurricane Florence strengthening tonight. It's a monster category four storm with winds of 150 miles an hour expected to bring life-threatening storm surges and rainfall to the Carolinas and the mid-Atlantic states.

OK. Look at it. There is the satellite on your screen right there. We're going to have brand new, a brand-new forecast. It's coming up. It's during this show, so make sure you stay tuned.

And with more than 20 million Americans facing the threat from what could be the strongest storm to make landfall on the East Coast in decades, President Trump started out really well today. He really did. Presidential, focused on the job at hand, the job of protecting Americans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The safety of American people is my absolute highest priority. We are sparing no expense. We are totally prepared. We're ready. We're as ready as anybody's ever been.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So far, so good. But just when we all thought, hey, he's got this, the president started to talk about hurricane Maria, the deadly storm that struck Puerto Rico last September. And it all went very, very wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all because it's an island, so you can't truck things onto it. Everything's by boat.

And I actually think -- and the governor's been very nice. If you ask the governor, he'll tell you what a great job. I think probably the hardest one we had by far was Puerto Rico because of the island nature. And I actually think it was one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about.

I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success. Texas, we have been given a-pluses for. Florida, we've been given a-pluses for. I think in a certain way the best job we did was Puerto Rico, but nobody would understand that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He's right about that. Nobody would understand calling the disaster response in Puerto Rico a success. Nobody would understand that.

[22:04:55] An estimated 2,975 American citizens died there after hurricane Maria. That is the most recent estimate, but the government still isn't sure exactly how many, and it's nearly a year later.

Some 3.4 million residents were left without power when Maria struck. Many of them had no power for weeks of deadly heat there.

Just days ago, the Government Accountability Office released a report slamming FEMA's response in Puerto Rico, saying the agency was unprepared and failed to deploy enough qualified staff. That is not successful by any measure.

And this is not the first time that this president has graded himself on a curve. I'm being generous there. Remember his visit to Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria? There he is right there lobbing paper towels into a crowd and then saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Governor, I just want to tell you that right from the beginning, this governor did not play politics. He didn't play it at all. He was saying it like it was, and he was giving us the highest grades. And I want to, on behalf of our country, I want to thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: And that's not all. He is still calling his disastrous meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki a success. That is a president who can't admit his own mistakes, let alone learn from them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: One of my best meetings ever was with Vladimir Putin.

We had a tremendous meeting with President Putin. A lot of things were accomplished.

In Helsinki, I had a greet meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. I had a great meeting.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I had a great meeting. We got along really well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Your mom always say learn from your mistakes. Learn from your mistakes.

But President Trump's tone-deaf hurricane comments weren't the only time today that he veered away from being presidential. First, I want you to listen to his somber tribute to the victims of crash flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Your tears are not shed alone for they are shared grief with an entire nation. We grieve together for every mother and father, sister and brother, son and daughter who was stolen from us at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and here in this Pennsylvania field.

We honor their sacrifice by pledging to never flinch in the face of evil and to do whatever it takes to keep America safe.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You know what? That is exactly the kind of thing you want to hear from the president of the United States. It really is.

President Trump did well there honoring this solemn anniversary. But that same President Trump began the day, 9/11, the day 2,977 people died at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania -- President Trump started this day with tweets about Russian collusion, eventually tweeting this on his way to Shanksville.

And this is how he reacted to the crowd the at the airport on arrival. Double fist pump. A picture that shocked a lot of us. But sometimes a picture doesn't tell the whole story now, does it? So we took a look at the video. See for yourself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Everybody there, how are you?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is how the president of the United States reacted on his way to a memorial for 40 people who died when United Airlines flight 93 slammed into the ground, after some of those passengers and crew tried to wrestle back control of the plane from the hijackers.

I'm going to ask you a question. Be honest. Is that presidential? Is it? Can you imagine -- now just imagine if you're sitting there, he's criticizing the president. Imagine if President Barack Obama had done that. What would you do? What would you be saying right now? How would you be reacting right now? Tan suit.

Remember this. This was his tweet about 9/11, 17 years since September 11th. That was his tweet, exclamation point. Those are the thoughts of other recent presidents right here.

This is the 44th president, Barack Obama, tweeting. "We will always remember everyone we lost on 9/11. Thank the first responders who keep us safe and honor all who defend our country and the ideals that bind us together. There is nothing our resilience and resolve can't overcome, and no act of terror can ever change who we are."

[22:10:06] That was the 44th president. Forty-third President, George W. Bush, who was commander in chief on that terrible day, tweeting simply, "This is a day I will certainly never forget. This morning we pause to say a prayer for the lives lost."

And the former president, Bill Clinton, tweeting, "Today we honor all those who lost their lives 17 years ago in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Their loved ones and the brave first responders who risked their own lives to save others. The best tribute we can pay is to live our lives in a way that redeems the years they could not have."

Let's discuss now. Kaitlan Collins is CNN's White House reporter, and CNN Political Commentators, Ana Navarro and Mike Shields also here this evening. Good evening to all of you.

So, Ana, watching the Oval Office pray today when the, you know, with the reporters there with FEMA, homeland security, at first the president seriously seemed in command. It seems like he was committed to safety. But then he veers off-course. He's flat out wrong when he says the response to Puerto Rico was one of the best responses ever. It is offensive. I think it's offensive. What about you?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I don't even know what to expect from this president when it comes to Puerto Rico and the response to Puerto Rico anymore. Practically everything he has done and said is inappropriate. It was insufficient. It is offensive.

And if you and I are offended, just imagine how you would feel if you were Puerto Rican or imagine how you would feel if you are the relative, if you lost a loved one, if you are one of the 3,000 families in Puerto Rico who lost somebody that day.

And let me remind you we are talking about 3,000 American citizens. Those 3,000 deaths were American citizens, U.S. citizens. So to consider anything that involves a death of 3,000 Americans an unsung success is frankly shameful and just indecent.

But, again, it's not surprising from this president. Look, he began the morning by behaving as if he was cheering on a sports team, as if he was applauding a, you know, touchdown when he went to the 9/11 site. And then he goes and does this in the afternoon. There's still an hour and a half left in the day. Maybe he can congratulate us on Pearl Harbor.

LEMON: Kaitlan, the president said, ask Puerto Rico's governor because he'll say it was a great job. But that's not what the governor is now saying in a sharply worded statement, is it?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: No, it's not. That's actually the response that a lot of people had when the president said that. Not a lot of people viewed the response to hurricane Maria as a success.

And certainly not the governor of Puerto Rico, who put out this statement today, saying that "No relationship between a colony and a federal government can ever be called successful because Puerto Rico -- Puerto Ricans lack certain inalienable rights enjoyed by our fellow Americans in the states. This is the worst natural disaster in our modern history. Our basic infrastructure was devastated. Thousands of our people lost their lives and many others still struggle."

So still highlighting that struggle that a lot of people still have, a lot of people who just recently regained power there. And that was actually a criticism of at this time when this happened. Because there have been several other hurricanes and storms right before hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico.

Those affects areas like Texas, and the southern west part of the United States. And the response we saw from President Trump was a lot different than what you saw to that. What you saw in Texas compared to what you saw in Puerto Rico.

That was where a lot of that criticism came from because people said that the president had a hard time showing empathy when he was in Puerto Rico, that same empathy that he showed when he was in Texas.

Of course you showed some of the clips earlier, the way he threw paper towels, taking selfies with people, saying that it was a lovely trip, and even comparing the death toll to that of in Louisiana after hurricane Katrina.

So that is a lot of things that the president was criticized for, for being tone-deaf in those situations. Now, what people will be watching for going forward with hurricane Florence is if the president changes his attitude toward that, changes his reaction toward that, and that's actually going to be a pretty big test for this administration because, Don, as you know very well, if they mess up something like this, it can really hurt them politically, especially so close to the midterm elections.

LEMON: Yes. Mike has been sitting by patiently. Mike, you know, I just want to play more from the president today and then get your response. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The problem with Puerto Rico is their electric grid and their electric generating plant was dead before the storms ever hit. It was in very bad shape. It was in bankruptcy, had no money.

[22:15:02] It was largely -- you know, was largely closed. And when the storm hit, they had no electricity essentially before the storm, and when the storm hit, that took it out entirely. The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think, was tremendous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, Mike, you know, the president there essentially blaming Puerto Rico because it's an island, blaming their electric grid, saying that they were bankrupt. I want -- does that irk you in any way? I mean is that, at minimum, insensitive?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I mean, look, and Kaitlan is a great White House reporter. Maybe she can back me up on this. There was not a single request from Puerto Rico that came to the White House that the president did not grant.

So to lay at his feet the fact that an island nation of Puerto Rico, which by every Puerto Rican would tell you not enough has been done there for the last 30 years and to compare that to Texas, where the infrastructure, the National Guard, the state has money, the state has roads, it has infrastructure, hospitals -- to compare those two states is just frankly absurd, and I think it is a partisan attack to try to hang this around the neck of the president.

The ship -- they had to take the navy ship comfort, which the president immediately sent down to Puerto Rico, and it couldn't even dock. So the military is being sent down there. Aid is being sent down there, but the island itself is incapable of accepting a lot of help.

A lot of people that died were actually trapped on the side of mountains that couldn't be reached. Now, I don't know if we expect a corps of engineers who by the way are down in Puerto Rico still to this day.

So when we say Puerto Rico's bad, what you're really saying is that the FEMA career people and the corps of engineers who are missing their families right now and they're down working for our government to try and help people -- you're basically saying they suck.

LEMON: Do you think it was-- (CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: And I think it's incredibly offensive to those people when they're trying to help the people in Puerto Rico. It turns into a big partisan fight. The governor has been talking about we've been denied our rights as Puerto Ricans because I'm sure he's for statehood.

So, what do you know, we're turning this into another partisan fight and I think it's actually disgusting to be honest.

LEMON: Do you think it was an unsung success, Mike?

SHIELDS: I think considering what Puerto Rico started with, that they were able -- there were a lot of really well intentioned, effective people in FEMA, career people in FEMA, career people in the National Guard, career people in the corps of engineers that are doing amazing work down there, and no one is going to give them any credit for the hard work they're putting in, in incredibly difficult circumstances because this gets turned into a partisan fight to try and slam the president.

So, for the president to back up is people that he sent down there and for him to have granted every single request -- maybe Kaitlan can correct me if I'm wrong.

LEMON: Yes.

SHIELDS: Every single request for Puerto Rico that came across the president's desk, he said absolutely.

LEMON: Is it incumbent upon this president--

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Let me just say--

LEMON: -- Ana, for, or is it just as the commander in chief, that he should and his agencies should be prepared to deal with whatever level of storm there is? Go ahead, Ana. Sorry.

NAVARRO: Look, here's the thing. We knew Puerto Rico was an island, and it was going to present logistical issues because of that. We all knew Puerto Rico has been going through a very tough time economically. It's been, you know -- which has affected the infrastructure, which affected the electric grid. None of this was a surprise. That is why--

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Or was it the president's fault that that existed beforehand.

NAVARRO: Nobody is saying -- nobody is saying that it was the president's fault.

SHIELDS: Yes, you are, Ana. Yes, you are. NAVARRO: What I'm saying -- no. Let me rephrase it for you in the

event you're having a hard time hearing or understanding my accent.

SHIELDS: You're great.

NAVARRO: What I'm saying is that it was not a surprise. We knew it was an island. It's been an island from the moment it was created. Therefore, there should have been more preparation. More things should have been there--

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Therefore we should rate it differently when we're judging how the response is. Exactly right.

NAVARRO: No, I'm not going to -- no. Because American citizens are American citizens whether they're in Puerto Rico, whether they're in Texas. And so if I know you're going to be needing more help because of your circumstances, I should be prepared to give.

SHIELDS: Then what should they've done? Should they have sent the comfort ship down during the storm or should they waited until after? What would you have done differently than all the requests that came from the island--

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Listen, one of the things--

LEMON: Mike, I think that's an unfair question. She's not a safety official and not a FEMA official, but go on.

SHIELDS: Well, exactly.

NAVARRO: Listen, people like Russell, people like General Russell Honore, who was the guy on the ground after Katrina, after George W. Bush realized that there had been huge mistakes and had the humility to admit that he had made mistakes on Katrina.

General Honore has said just what slow and lack of response there has been. You know, here in Florida, we had elderly citizens die in a, you know, home for the elderly because there was no power for three or four days.

In Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, a U.S. commonwealth, U.S. citizens died because there was no electricity.

SHIELDS: Which is terrible.

NAVARRO: For months and months and months. It's not been until a few weeks.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: It's tragic. No one will say it's not. [22:19:58] NAVARRO: OK. And you're telling me that the U.S.

government couldn't do more to provide generators? Do you know how many people died because they couldn't get their--

SHIELDS: What I'm telling you is that the White House granted every request that was asked of them. So the corps of engineers, the army--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: The people -- but no one saying that's a success, Mike. That's a difference.

SHIELDS: So really what you're blaming is you don't like the FEMA--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: No one is saying it's a success. No one is saying it's a success. Mike, no one is saying it's a success except for the president and you.

SHIELDS: Look, it's -- it is not -- we should never -- I don't agree with calling it a success when people have died. If one person dies, that's terrible. We don't want to see that anywhere.

But I also know the president gets backed into a corner from partisan attacks and this just like everything else becomes partisan and we can't have a reasonable conversation about what we started with as infrastructure there. When we start comparing it to Texas, which is a completely different infrastructure--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. Mike, Mike, Mike, let me ask you this.

SHIELDS: But if you don't make this partisan--

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: If you don't think it's a success and you think people are backing the president into a corner--

(CROSSTALK)

NAVARRO: Well, Mike--

LEMON: -- hold on, hold on, Ana. Don't you think he should reframe it or say it differently? Because it's not a success. He's saying it's a success. You are backing him up, and something that's completely not true. Regardless of if they could have gotten more there or not, it didn't happen.

So then why would you characterize it as a success? Why can't you say, the president should not characterize it as--

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Don, for the same reason that the coverage of this should be fair. The coverage why can't there be fair coverage?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: There is, we're discussing it.

SHIELDS: Why can't we assess Puerto Rico from the way it should actually be assessed, and why can't we give credit to the men and women who are away from their families working down there to make things better in Puerto Rico?

They work every single day for the government. They were sent down there by the president, who only hear you're terrible.

LEMON: Because people dies--

SHIELDS: You're not doing a good job.

LEMON: Two thousand people died.

SHIELDS: And so that puts it into this two partisan corner. The president said it was great and people attack him.

LEMON: And you want to put a flowery bow on it. Two thousand people died. We should not do that. We should not say, OK, here is it, it's fine. Listen, I understand.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: But Don, we have the ability to say both things.

LEMON: Those people -- the people who go down there and the people who save lives and who go to help, amen. They should get, you know, all kinds of congratulations.

SHIELDS: But they don't.

LEMON: Hang on, please, producers. I need to concentrate. They, of course should be congratulated, but that's not what this is about. Especially that is insulting to people who lost their lives, their family members for you to say, why aren't we congratulating those people? Well, because a lot of people died, and they didn't have to.

Listen, I got to run. I'm out of time. I'm in trouble. But Kaitlan, you've been standing by patiently. I'll give you the last word, please.

COLLINS: Well, I just wanted to say that I don't think a lot of people are just criticizing the president saying that he's responsible completely for everything that happened there in Puerto Rico. But 3,000 people nearly did die.

Roughly the equivalent of the same amount of people who died on 9/11. That is why the president was being criticized for saying it was an unsung success today because he wasn't just saying they did a good job handling Puerto Rico, but he said that they did a better job handling Puerto Rico than they did to the hurricane responses in Texas. Things that actually the president and his administration were pretty widely praised for.

So I think that is the concern there. Also the way the president spoke and the differences about how he spoke about people who live in Puerto Rico and people who live in Texas as if they are two different people and not all Americans.

So that was a lot of the concern with what the president said, not all just criticism of his handling of what exactly happened there with the federal contracts, what was done there.

LEMON: Much--

COLLINS: It was what the president said about it that raised a lot of scrutiny.

LEMON: I've got to go. I'm out of time. Much more on this and Florence as we go on here. Thank you all. I appreciate it.

When we come back, hurricane Florence, a monster category four, taking aim at the Carolinas. I'm going to talk to the mayor of a city in the path of the storm. He warns this one is really serious.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's the breaking news right now. Hurricane Florence, a giant category four storm, threatening 300 miles of the mid-Atlantic coastline. More than 1.5 million people in low-lying areas of the Carolinas and Virginia under mandatory evacuation orders to move inland before Florence makes landfall. That's later this week but a lot of people say, hey, they're going to stay put.

So I want to bring in now Mayor Bill Saffo of Wilmington, North Carolina, a city that will likely take a direct hit if the hurricane stays on its current path.

Mayor, good evening to you. We thank you so much. We know it's a very busy time for you. It is a monster storm. Tell us what your city is doing to prepare.

BILL SAFFO, MAYOR, WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA: Well, we have prepared as well as we can, the citizens of this community and this area have heeded the warnings. A lot of people have moved out of the area. This is a monster storm, this is a big storm, one of the biggest storms we've seen on the Carolina coast in quite some team.

Our emergency management folks have done a phenomenal job in coordinating with our state officials and our federal officials in making certain that people are prepared and the warnings are out and that people have heeded those warnings and have moved out of the area.

A lot of the Barrier Islands have done a mandatory evacuation of the beach community. So we're as ready as we can be, but we have to be prepared and just be ready to ride this storm out.

LEMON: Well, let me ask, I mean, just to be honest here, because Wilmington sits on a peninsula, right? The storm surge is estimated to be as high as 13 feet, mayor.

SAFFO: Correct.

LEMON: Water like that, that kind of water, what will it do to your city?

SAFFO: Well, you know, we have low-lying areas we know are going to be affected. We know that our Barrier Islands are going to be affected. We do mandatory evacuations of those particular areas. We tell people to take precautions, to get out of harm's way.

We know the areas that have -- that do flood. We're going to see some storm surges here, no doubt about it. We've gone through these things before in past years. So people are prepared. People are ready. We've made the precautions.

But the thing that I want to make certain that the citizens know is that once this storm is upon us, we're not going to be able to send emergency personnel out--

LEMON: Right.

SAFFO: -- to save you or to help you. You have to heed those warnings. Get out of harm's way before the storm takes place and just ride this thing out. We just want everybody to be safe, get through this thing.

And, you know, we'll be able to take care of people's property and repair the damage that's going to happen. But we want people to get out of harm's way as quickly as possible.

LEMON: Yes. The word -- here's what the mantra should be. Get out. Get out. Get out. Mayor, thank you for your time. You guys are preparing. I hope people heed the warnings. Good luck, and we'll talk to you soon, OK?

[22:30:03] SAFFO: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Thank you.

When we come back, the mega crowd loves him, and now he's become his father's strongest defender. But is Donald Trump, Jr. still playing to an audience of one, his dad?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In a wide-ranging interview today, Donald Trump Jr. saying he's not concerned about legal problems for himself in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, but making the unfounded and outrageous claim that investigators will do anything to get his father, also saying President Trump can now only trust a smaller group of aides in the wake of The New York Times anonymous op-ed.

Well, a lot to talk about with CNN Contributor, Michael D'Antonio, the co-author of the new book, "The Shadow President: the Truth About Mike Pence." Good evening, sir. MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: Good to have you here. So let's talk about this, about Donald Trump Jr. He had an interview with Good Morning America this morning slamming the anonymous New York Times op-ed writer. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty disgusting. It's pretty sad. Perhaps it's a disgruntled person who's been thrown out because they didn't deliver on what they were supposed to do.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's the crime though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you're subverting the will of the people. I mean to try to control the presidency while not the President. You have millions and millions of Americans who voted for this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So he doesn't mention any actual crime there, right? But I mean the question is the focus usually always been on Jared and Ivanka, right? We know that Ivanka is the favorite here. But the question is I wonder if Donald Trump Jr., because he's a hit on the campaign trail with the (Inaudible) folks, whatever, if his stock is rising with his father.

D'ANTONIO: I think it is. He's also replacing Michael Cohen in a way, Cohen...

(CROSSTALK)-

LEMON: He's the fixer?

[22:35:04] D'ANTONIO: He's the fixer. He's the guy, who's willing to be really tough, and he understands what I think a lot of people who serve in the administration do not understand, and that is that there is no moral core. There aren't a set of values. There isn't a set of values. There is only what pleases Donald Trump, the President. And really your job is to figure that out every day.

And if it's saying A today and B tomorrow and C the next day, that's what you're supposed to do. And he was born to this. Trump Tower is a house of lies, and he was raised in that house of lies. So he's familiar.

LEMON: Yes. But let's not forget, though, OK, because one of the big reasons that this whole Mueller investigation is happening is because of that Trump Tower meeting. So, you know, he's created some problems for his dad. And I just, you know, I just want to play this, and then we'll talk about it. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you scared that you could go to jail? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not because I know what I did, and I am not

worried about any of that, you know. That doesn't mean they won't try to create something. I mean we've seen that happen with everything. But, you know, again I am not...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But some say that Mueller has been successful. He has indictment of Manafort. He has a plea deal from Cohen. He has Papadopoulos sentenced. You know he's got a litany of close associates of your father's under investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All for things that happened way before they were ever part of any campaign. So if they get Manafort on a 2006 tax charge, you know -- again, I understand that they are trying to get my father, and they'll do anything they can to get that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It's so frustrating because he's wrong. This isn't for everything that happened before the campaign. That is absolutely wrong. But the way he handled it, that's almost the way his father would handle it, is pretend that, oh, this is all before the campaign.

D'ANTONIO: And he in some ways delivers his lines, you know, in an updated fashion. So Donald Trump Sr., the President, is the 1950s, 60s version of this shtick. And Donald Trump Jr., whose education is more recent and his world experience is more varied, he's delivering this in a modern way. He has his own political ambitions. We shouldn't forget that.

LEMON: Do you think that he is essentially -- that he is auditioning for a future in politics?

D'ANTONIO: He told me that he -- politics himself. He's toyed with the idea of running for mayor of New York City. I mean that's a pretty farfetched idea. So maybe he would move. You know there are Trump properties all over the country. He could relocate to Florida or Virginia and run there. I think that he sees this as part of the dynasty.

LEMON: You think his dad sees that?

D'ANTONIO: I think so. You know there is also in this family's imagination an Ivanka presidency. So this is a family that has always considered itself superior, considered themselves practically royal. Why wouldn't they think in these terms?

LEMON: OK. Thank you.

D'ANTONIO: Thank you.

LEMON: Appreciate it. When we come back, is she the new face of the Democratic Party? I am going to talk to Ayanna Pressley, whose stunning upset of a 10-term Congressman in Massachusetts may be just one of many signs that women of color are taking the party by storm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [22:40:00] LEMON: November's midterms could turn out to be a milestone for African-American Democrats, especially for women of color. Take the case of Ayanna Pressley. In last week's Massachusetts primary, she beat ten-term Congressman Michael Capuano. Her reaction when she realized she won that race? It's priceless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AYANNA PRESSLEY, (D) UNITED STATES CONGRESSWOMAN: We won? We won.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

PRESSLEY: We won? We won?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That wasn't you going wow. That was you going, we won, we won. Ayanna Pressley, I am talking to you. She joins me now. Ayanna, thank you very much. How are you doing?

PRESSLEY: I am doing great. I am happy to be here. I am sorry we missed your primary night, Don.

LEMON: That's OK. We wanted to have you, but we understand. You were very busy and you're talking -- you were busy talking to the people who made this victory possible. So we certainly understand that. We're just happy that you're here now. You pulled off a stunning upset against a ten-term congressman.

The seventh district is the only district in Massachusetts where the majority of residents are people of color. Do you think that had an impact obviously on this race?

PRESSLEY: I think the impact is that we made it a point to ignite this electorate and to expand it. Every constituency that conventional wisdom would tell you is unreliable and would not turn out, turned out. And that is because we met people in community where they were. I believe that every single person deserves a seat at the table of democracy.

We engage people as an equal partner. People who had been in a fetal position since 2016 came out and we restored their hope. And for many people who had none, we gave it to them for the first time, so...

LEMON: Listen. I think people -- obviously, the voters there appreciated your candor, because you've been very direct about what your mission is, how you would vote, and what have you, because during the campaign, you -- and you said that fetal position since 2016. Not a lot of people would say that. But you admitted that you would likely vote the same way your opponent, Congressman Capuano would.

But you argue it takes more than voting, the right way to battle the overwhelming hate coming from the White House. You have no Republican opponent in November so it looks like you're going to get to get your chance. What did you mean by that? PRESSLEY: Well, I do believe ultimately our electoral victory was

less a referendum against hate and more a mandate for hope. We ran a campaign not only talking about the need to resist Donald Trump and the draconian policies coming out of this White House everyday, where it just seems as if we are drinking from a fire hose of insult and assault by the hour.

[22:45:11] But that it was important that we advance the Massachusetts seventh, the most diverse and unequal district in our delegation and perhaps in the country. And the systemic inequalities and disparities that were worsening under this administration existed long before Donald Trump was in that White House. And so I don't think that because we're in the minority as Democrats, that we have to put our hope, our aspiration, and our vision on a shelf.

And that hope and that extension of partnership is what resonated with people throughout the Massachusetts seventh.

LEMON: Yeah.

PRESSLEY: And what I mean is that these times require bold, activist leadership. Last night, I organized a phone bank to lobby senators around the Kavanaugh confirmation, and we're not finished yet. I refuse to accept these things as an inevitability. When this administration is coming at us like a locomotive, to roll back every civil right protection and free freedom.

(CROSSTALK)

PRESSLEY: And so we have to fight. We have to organize. We have to mobilize just like we did with the ACA.

LEMON: All right. Let me get in here because you know our time is limited when we do these shows. And I know this is your first national appearance, and so I just want to make it really good for you and to get as much out of it as possible. Can we talk a little bit more broadly about the midterms and about our -- you know, the landscape.

There are at least 68 women of color running in House and Senate and governors races this fall. What do you think is behind this trend?

PRESSLEY: Well, I think we are defying and challenging conventional wisdom and assumptions about who has a right to run and when and how they can run and win. All the data supports that when women run and they are well resourced, they are successful. And so in that sense, I don't see our race as an outlier or that much of an anomaly.

And again, I hope we have ushered in a new paradigm shift. We did not accept corporate pac money. We raised a million dollars in grassroots donations. We built a people-powered army and movement of 1,000 foot soldiers. We invested in digital media. We made it a point to register and to engage the assumed unlikely voters.

And so I hope we've ushered in a new paradigm shift. We weren't even on TV except for ethnic and specialty media, Telemundo and (Inaudible).

LEMON: OK. Ayanna Pressley, Ayanna Pressley, thank you so much. We appreciate you joining us. We wish we could have had you primary night, but again, we're glad you're here. Please come back, best of luck.

PRESSLEY: Thank you so much.

LEMON: Absolutely. When we come back, how one career diplomat is standing up to President Trump by walking away, I am going to talk to the former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam about why he quit and his advice for former colleagues. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:50:00] LEMON: The American Ambassador to Vietnam thought he would lose his job soon after President Trump's inauguration. He didn't, but he did end up resigning after his disagreements with the Trump administration. Ambassador Ted Osius joins a growing list of State Department staffers on departing over conflicts of principle. And he joins us, as well.

Good evening, Ambassador. Thank you so much.

TED OSIUS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO VIETNAM: It's a pleasure to talk with you, Don.

LEMON: Absolutely. Why do you think that you were going to lose your job? Why did you think you were going to lose your job when President Trump took office?

OSIUS: Well, actually, I sent in a letter of resignation the day after the election because I thought they were going to clean house. And even -- I thought even career ambassadors would be asked to leave. And I was asked to stay. And I did for as long as I could, because I believed it was my duty. I had sworn an oath to the constitution and I wanted to uphold that oath absolutely as long as I could.

I believed in the relationship that I was working on. It was a dream job for me to serve in Vietnam, and I wanted to stay as long as it was possible to do so and not compromise my ethics.

LEMON: You privately disagreed with a number of Trump administration policies like the travel ban on majority Muslim countries.

OSIUS: Yes.

LEMON: What was the issue which caused you to resign? What was the one -- you said OK, I can't do this anymore?

OSIUS: Well, the one that came closest to home was when they asked me to facilitate the deportation of Vietnamese refugees. People who live in the United States, often in most cases who came to the United States right after the war in the years from '75 to '95, and didn't really have a country to go back to because the country that they were loyal to is a country -- south Vietnam that doesn't exist anymore. Some of them were Amerasians, the children of American soldiers.

LEMON: Did they give you a reason?

OSIUS: Yeah. They said it's -- we're going to deport these people because they're subject to orders of deportation. But two previous Presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had adhered to an agreement that said we won't deport people who came to the United States before we normalized relations with Vietnam in '95, because they left -- they left because they were war refugees.

They were the children of war. In the case of the Amerasians, they call them wedoy in Vietnam. That's the dust of life. They weren't really accepted in Vietnam because they were the children of our servicemen. They looked like me or they looked like you but they didn't look like Vietnamese. And they had no place except the United States as their home.

[22:55:04] LEMON: You -- your partner, Clayton Bond, resigned his diplomatic post, as well. And your family, you and your family have chosen to keep living in Vietnam. How have your resignations impacted your message in your adopted home country?

OSIUS: Well, the Vietnamese were not wildly enthusiastic about being forced to accept these deportees. They're people who don't have any loyalty to the current government. But they have been -- the Vietnamese have been very, very welcoming to me and to my family. Just recently, they gave me the order of friendship.

It never before had been offered to a U.S. ambassador, so they consider me a friend of Vietnam. And I am welcome there as a private citizen. My family and I are very happy living in Ho Chi Minh City.

LEMON: Yeah. I just want to read just a little bit from your resignation letter. You said while each of us has a different reason for departing, many of my friends and former colleagues are deeply worried about the policy direction of the current administration, as am I. Ambassador, thank you so much. I appreciate your time, best of luck to you.

OSIUS: It's a pleasure. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. When we come back, Hurricane Florence barreling towards the Carolinas, up to 20 million people could be impacted. We're going to have a brand-new forecast. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)