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Trump's Presence Rejected by People in the Wake of Pittsburgh Massacre; Birthright Citizenship Could End Soon?; President Trump Taking His Immigration Rhetoric One Step Further; Kanye West Now Says He Is Done With Politics. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired October 30, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Or attend both of them on the same day, which was not good optics. But today was a photo-op. Not to say the president shouldn't go, shouldn't show up. He's supposed to be the consoler in chief. But many people there said, hey, not right now.
And if I lost someone, if I'm in grief and you called me, Chris, and you say, hey, Don, you're my boy. I love you. Can I come see you? And I say, hey, Chris, not right now. The family is dealing with some issues. Give us a minute here, and I'll let you know when you come over. What would you say?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I would be kind of hurt that you saw me as something that would be a force for negativity in a time of loss.
LEMON: But you know what I'm saying.
CUOMO: No, I do know what you lost. But here's my thing. I'm slow to blame a president or any elected leader for doing the right thing. Those people deserve the respect of the president of the United States.
LEMON: No, no, no. The right thing is to go.
LEMON: I'm talking about now. And if you want to go and you want to be respectful of the folks, then in due time when they are ready for you to come, you can say, I'm not going to go to western Pennsylvania on whatever. I'm going to -- or eastern or wherever.
I'm not going to go down to Georgia or Alabama, or I'll cut it short because I'll come whenever you want me to come, not that I need to come because it needs to fit into my schedule, because I need these photographs, this image of me going because it helps me with my approval rating, and it also helps me with the midterms.
If you really are -- if you really are with people and you really respect them, then you do things in their own time and on their watch and not on yours.
CUOMO: Understood. And I don't know who was telling him not to come and to come. I know the rabbi from the synagogue now said that he was welcome.
LEMON: He didn't say come. He said he's welcome. He didn't say hey, Mr. President. That's the difference between an invitation and saying surely, yes, you can come. That's not an invitation.
CUOMO: All right. Be that as it may, he was going to have the same problem no matter when he went--
CUOMO: -- which is the way he talks and the phrases he used -- I mean, look, especially to Jewish-Americans, OK? Bringing back Stalinesque, or certainly what was used by Germany during World War II as propaganda is really disgusting and startling to them, and I don't know who told the president it was a good idea to bring those phrases back.
I can't tell you how often in politics a phrase is used that you think is colloquially one way but then you get told it's something else and you're like, no, I never meant that, I'll never use that again.
CUOMO: He says nationalist. They had to tell him, no, no, no, not nationalist. Don't say that. And he does it anyway, and he doubles up on it. Enemy of the people. Don, that's not even code. It's not a dog whistle. It's what they said. Why would you ever bring something back like that if you don't want to own its history?
LEMON: Well, I feel like you're making my point that I start.
CUOMO: Better, right?
LEMON: Yes, better. But seriously, I feel like you're making my point. Not that he shouldn't go, but in time. And every situation is not the same thing. You can't say, well, you know, this president went to that tragedy in this amount of time. This president went to -- you have to weigh things. You have to weigh--
LEMON: And you have to read the room.
LEMON: You have to allow people their time because they're the ones grieving. You're not the one grieving. You can't tell me in my grief what I need to do and how I need to handle it. That's all I'm saying.
CUOMO: I'm 100 percent on that. You make the perfect point.
LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: Something that obviously played out both ways today.
CUOMO: There were people who were angry about it, and they did it even in a moment where everybody needed to be on the same page.
LEMON: There's much more to talk about with this, and we're going to do it in this hour. Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: I will be watching.
LEMON: See you tomorrow. Thank you, sir.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon.
And take a look at these pictures. They tell quite a story. The president of the United States visiting the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 congregants were massacred in the worst anti-Semitic attack in this nation's history while at the same time, just a block away, protesters filled the streets.
LEMON: People in the crowd holding banners reading build bridges, not walls. Pittsburgh, proud home of refugees and migrants. And words matter.
That comes after congressional leaders, the governor of the Pennsylvania and the mayor of Pittsburgh and the county executive all refused to meet with the president today. So, when Air Force One landed, the president was not greeted by local officials. Instead -- and it was stark.
[22:05:00] Instead, he was met by Colonel Mark Goodwill of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and his wife, Michelle.
The message was pretty clear, and that was don't come to Pittsburgh, not today. Not as a grieving community is just beginning to bury the dead.
Yet, President Trump insisted on visiting the city today.
And a White House official tells CNN there was a discussion about pushing back the visit by a day or two, but the optics of going to Pittsburgh on the same day as a campaign rally weren't good.
So, let's be clear. In other circumstances, the president of the United States would be welcome. We want our counselor in chief to bring -- consoler in chief to bring us a message of hope, to stand up for our values in the face of tragedy.
And to be fair, President Trump tried to do that today, meeting with some of those wounded in the synagogue attack, and a family member of one of the victims and expressing his sorrow, which was exactly the right thing to do, OK? But as that protest sign said, words matter. This president's own
words, his message of hate and fear, are what made him unwelcome by some, many in Pittsburgh today.
The progressive Jewish group, Bend the Arc, in an open letter signed by more than 35,000 people, told this president he is not welcome until he denounces white nationalism and stops his assaults on immigrants and refugees.
Yes, words matter. Like falsely claiming, falsely claiming a caravan of immigrants a thousand miles away from our southern border constitutes an invasion. And the president doubled down just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you look at that thousands of people, somebody said, you know, in that one, they built it down. I'm pretty good at figuring out how many people.
Thousands and thousands of people in the bridge. When you looked at that bridge loaded up with people, that's called an invasion of our country. This has nothing to do with elections, and I've been saying this long before election. I've been saying this before I ever thought of running for office. We have to have strong borders. If we don't have strong borders, we don't have a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: This has everything to do with elections, with the midterms just one week away, this president is desperate to change the conversation, changing it to the campaign message that worked so well for him two years ago -- fear. Fear of some shadowy other. So now the president is floating the idea that he could end birthright citizenship by executive order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment, of course, one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, 14th Amendment.
TRUMP: Now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That is nonsense. Surely he knows it. I hope he knows it. He might like to, but the president cannot do an end run around the 14th amendment to the Constitution with just the stroke of a pen. The language is very clear.
Here it is. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.
The amendment ratified after the Civil War in 1868, expanding citizenship and equal protection of the laws to everybody born or naturalized here, including former slaves. Remember that.
So, the president suggesting that he might end birthright citizenship goes against everything this country stands for. But this is nothing but a con, a stunt, a big plate of red meat for his base. That red meat with a side of attacks on the press. Remember this old favorite of the president's?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When I say and come out with very, very strong statements about media, I'm talking about the fake news media. They are truly an enemy of the people. The fake news, enemy of the people. They really are. They are so bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: A source close to the White House tells CNN President Trump's top advisers are pushing him to play to the base. Sound familiar? And keep sticking to the media, even in the wake of 15 pipe bombs targeting CNN and top Democrats.
And so, the president falsely tweets about the so-called fake news media being the enemy of the people, not to mention what may be his favorite new talking point. The false slur that Democrats are an angry mob.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:09:56] TRUMP: These are bad people. We can't let this happen to our country. Republicans believe in the rule of law, not the rule of the mob. That's what it is. It's a mob.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Angry mob. Enemy of the people. Immigrant invasion. Are there any positive messages in there? Anything positive in angry mob, enemy of the people, immigrant invasion? It's all very negative words, and they're the president's own words. And words matter.
So, listen to these words, will you, today from rabbi Jeffrey Myers. Who is mourning 11 worshippers killed in their synagogue on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAZZAN JEFFREY MYERS, RABBI, TREE OF LIFE SYNAGOGUE: I said to our elected leaders that you're our leaders. We turn to you. You're the models for our country. When you speak words of hate, when you speak ill of the other candidate, any words of hate, Americans listen to you. They get their instructions from you. When you speak words of hate, you say to them, this is OK. You can do it as well. So, I turn to all of our elected leaders because hate doesn't know a
political party. Hate is not blue. Hate is not red. Hate is not purple. Hate is in all. I turn to them to say, tone down the hate. Speak words of love. Speak words of decency and of respect. When that message comes loud and clear, Americans will hear that, and we can begin to change the tenor of our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: We've got much more to come on the president's visit to Pittsburgh, a city of mourning and protests.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump visiting Pittsburgh just three days after the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history despite being asked by the city's mayor not to come. The reason the first burials were scheduled for today.
Protesters gathered in the streets, some saying that the president would not be welcome until he fully denounces white nationalism.
I want to bring in now Frank Bruni, Peter Beinart, and Stephen Moore. Stephen is the author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy."
Good evening. Good to see all of you. Thank you for coming on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you.
LEMON: Peter, as I said in the introduction and early in the show, no public officials greeted this president at the airport and did not want to come to meet him. Why is that?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's partly because -- and this is something I'm very proud of as an American Jew. American Jews voted overwhelmingly against Donald Trump. American Jews voted the against Donald Trump at twice the rate of white people, and I think the reason is that most American Jews, not all but most American Jews in their guts know that when someone breeds hate against vulnerable groups, against Mexicans, against Muslims, they always come for us. It always comes around to us, and they knew that for Jews, treating a stranger with decency is also self-defense.
LEMON: So why did he go?
BEINART: I think he went because, you know, it's a photo-op. Maybe he actually genuinely feels upset about what happened in Pittsburgh. But what he hasn't reckoned with is the way his hateful rhetoric about Mexicans, about that caravan, that caravan of strangers, turned around and turned into anti-Semitism. And that is not surprising. People who know history could have predicted that.
LEMON: Yes. Frank, a doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said the victims did appreciate the president's visit, that he did console them. Some of the people who were there. But given how he was met with protests; do you think that his visit helped heal this community?
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think it helped heal the community, but I have to say I do think it was the right thing. I mean, and we wouldn't be asking ourselves if it was the right thing if he wasn't the wrong man. And he's the wrong man for all the reasons Peter just talked about.
LEMON: The right thing -- the same thing I had with Chris. I'm not saying that it's not the right this, but was it the right time?
BRUNI: I'm not sure what the right time is. I honestly feel like we're getting into the weeds with that. I think that with any other president, we would have just said this is a gesture of respect. This is the right thing to do. This is what you do at a moment of great national grief. This is what do you in the direction of healing.
The problem, again, is that he's the wrong man. He doesn't have, at this point in his presidency, given everything that has preceded this moment, he doesn't have the moral authority to go into a community that's hurting like this and to be a healer. So that's the problem.
LEMON: Even with people saying that the mayor and saying, not right now. We want you to come, but not right now. So, you don't think the timing has anything -- if you--
BRUNI: There might have been a better timing, Don, but I honestly don't think we'd be talking about this if he wasn't the wrong man. Here's the other thing that I think is even more significant than the fact that local politicians didn't greet him.
If I'm reading the reporting correctly, congressional leaders, Democratic and Republican who were invited, said, no, we don't want to go with you. And, again, that's about the fact Donald Trump earned that rebuke. He has earned that rebuke every day of his presidency up until this point.
LEMON: Stephen, a progressive Jewish group at the protest said that they would welcome the president if he denounced white nationalism once and for all. Why not just give a full-throated speech doing it and then denouncing white nationalism, that it's evil?
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, I don't know that he's ever actually used the term white nationalism. He talks about nationalism, and I think nationalism is -- I'm a nationalist. I'm for America first. I wrote a book about America first.
LEMON: But you know that's not what I'm talking about.
MOORE: No. But--
LEMON: I'm talking about white nationalist, the people who are--
MOORE: But show me when he's ever used the term white nationalist. I don't--
LEMON: I'm not talking about him using the term.
LEMON: I'm saying him denouncing white nationalism, a full throttled denouncing instead of saying there are very fine people on both sides.
[22:19:54] MOORE: Look, I don't want to go back to this. But I do want to make this point. You know, you made the point earlier on this show that it was inappropriate for Trump to politicize this caravan that's coming, right, this caravan of immigrants.
I don't think in my lifetime I've been in politics for 35 years. I've seen a more politicized event, tragedy like this one. I mean from the moment this tragic, horrendous act happened, everyone started blaming the president for it, which is I think for most Americans a little bit over the top.
LEMON: Who started blaming the president for it? Be specific.
MOORE: You've done it. Not you personally, but CNN does. Look, I was watching--
LEMON: No, no, no. Let me -- CNN did not do that. The question that has been asked and what people have said on this network is that they think the president contributes to a climate where this can flourish, not that the president is directly responsible to that. That is two different things and don't pretend you don't know the difference.
MOORE: Well, I don't know. I'm not so sure about that. I don't see the distinction here. I mean, I watch CNN on Sunday. Let me give you an example.
LEMON: Do you see--
MOORE: Let me just make one quick point. On Sunday morning, a guy who writes for your paper, Tom Freedman, was asked how do you -- how do we stop these kinds of acts of -- these horrendous acts. You know what he said? Vote Democratic.
BEINART: And he--
MOORE: What a thing to say about a tragedy. Talk about capitalizing on a tragedy.
LEMON: I'll let you finish, but I don't want to get too far afield.
BRUNI: He's talking about a reality larger than the tragedy.
BRUNI: He's saying what Don was saying earlier. Which it's fair to ask the question about the extent to which this president has sown hate with his rhetoric. And Tom is saying if you want an end to that rhetoric and if you don't want to ask that question any longer, vote Democratic. That's what he's saying.
MOORE: He's saying if you want non-violence, vote Democratic.
LEMON: I don't think it's so -- I don't think it's so terrible to ask if the president has contributed when the person who sent pipe bombs to people used the president's own rhetoric, has photos of him on the side of his van.
I don't think that it's untoward to ask if he contributed when the person who went into the synagogue and killed these people said, I did it because of the people -- the caravan that's coming to the country. All rhetoric that this president has used in speeches and continues to use. Why is it so odd to ask that question? Is that odd?
BEINART: No, in fact it's important to ask these questions in order to make sure these things don't happen again, right. And we know that this man was provoked by the torrent of racist hysteria that has been produced by Donald Trump and other networks about this caravan and what he did.
And, again, people who understand history would not -- will not see this as surprising. He saw Jews as the hidden hand behind this nefarious threat to the nation, which is what anti-Semites have done historically. Donald Trump may be too ignorant of history to understand that. Then smart people around him need to tell him that.
LEMON: Go ahead, Steve.
MOORE: I know Donald Trump. I've spent a lot of time with him. He's not anti-Semitic. My goodness, his son-in-law and daughter are Jewish. His grandkids are Jewish. I mean, look--
BEINART: Can I--
LEMON: But that doesn't mean anything.
MOORE: No, I mean, that does matter. I mean, that's like saying -- your argument is like saying, well Hillary Clinton is responsible for the shooting of Steve Scalise because this guy had, you know, pictures of Hillary Clinton on--
(CROSSTALK) BEINART: No, no, but it's very different.
MOORE: No, how is that different? How is that be?
BEINART: If you can show hateful rhetoric that Hillary Clinton was responsible for that would potentially dehumanize people to the extent that someone might think it was worth killing someone, then we can have a conversation about that.
MOORE: You don't think it's hateful.
BEINART: Hillary Clinton has not done that. Donald Trump specializes in dehumanization.
You don't think it's hateful to say the president is a racist, that he's a more (ph) xenophobe, that he's--
BEINART: Not if it's true.
LEMON: Not if the evidence shows it. What's wrong with -- I don't understand this.
MOORE: I don't think Donald Trump--
LEMON: OK. Well, that's fine. That's your opinion. That is an opinion.
MOORE: But you keep calling him that.
LEMON: Because every time I call him that, I show the facts, what he said about--
MOORE: Let me just give you an example. Nationalism is not a racist term.
BEINART: No, but let me ask you this question.
LEMON: But people know when you say nationalism, they know--
MOORE: No, they don't.
LEMON: Smart people know what that is a dog whistle for.
BEINART: Well, let me ask you-- LEMON: And it's a wink and a nod to white nationalism.
BRUNI: You said something I want to say that I think is flatly irrelevant. You said the president is not an anti-Semite. That might be true, but we're talking about the fact that he is happy to indulge and to foment hatred of all kinds if it works to his political advantage.
And in that context, it doesn't matter if he's an anti-Semite or if he's a racist. He's willing to score anti-Semitic and racist points when it benefits him. If you're honest, you have to admit that.
LEMON: And nationalism at the very least is a politically incendiary and toxic word and he should--
MOORE: I think you have made it -- by the way, when he give that tone--
BRUNI: What about the tone?
LEMON: The president himself said I know I shouldn't say it, and then he said it.
MOORE: Well, because, you know, it's become a politically incorrect term to say nationalism. But if you look, I mean, nationalism--
LEMON: You just proved my point.
MOORE: You think it's nationalist--
LEMON: You're saying what I'm saying.
MOORE: Just something that the left has made politically incorrect doesn't mean you can't say it.
BEINART: Steve, other people may mean different things by nationalist.
MOORE: This is one of the reasons Trump won the election. People are sick of political correctness.
[22:24:59] BEINART: In 2013, Donald Trump--
LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. Political correctness, being politically incorrect, is not carte blanche to say things that are--
LEMON: -- racist and stupid or homophobic or misogynistic, and that's what people -- or I'm not politically correct.
MOORE: What are you supposed to do, find all these words you can't anymore because the left--
BEINART: No. Listen, we don't know what's in Donald Trump's heart, but we do know what he has said. Going back to 2013, he said a stream of tweets based to Jon Stewart saying, why don't you tell us your real name, John Leibovitz. What's that about?
MOORE: Well, I'm not aware--
BEINART: Which other major American politicians ever speak that way? What could that possibly be interpreted as if not an anti-Semitic comment?
MOORE: So, you know, you made this claim that he's somehow anti- Semitic. How about the fact that, you know--
BEINART: I said he traffics in anti-Semitism.
BEINART: What's in his heart, I don't know.
MOORE: Why do you think he wanted to move the capital to Jerusalem?
BEINART: Because I think he thinks it's good politics.
MOORE: He is pro-Israel.
BEINART: You know, there's a long history of people who are pro- Israel and anti-Semitic. They're not (Inaudible).
LEMON: OK. I've got to go. I don't see where statements of fact are wrong. If you have the evidence that points to someone being a racist, everything they say and things that they do points to them being a racist, I don't think that's--
MOORE: Except his actions aren't racist.
LEMON: That is a--
MOORE: He's given us the lowest black unemployment rate. He's-- (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: That is the -- what does that have to do with anything? Thank you, President Obama.
MOORE: Because his actions are helping--
LEMON: That low black unemployment rate started with President Obama.
MOORE: It's the lowest it's been in 50 years.
LEMON: Thank you, President Obama.
MOORE: The rise in black--
LEMON: We're supposed to thank him and give him credit for not screwing up the economy?
MOORE: It was growing at 1.5 percent under Obama and that was--
LEMON: OK. I'm just saying.
MOORE: We have the lowest--
LEMON: Don't cut -- don't say that -- it's an opinion.
LEMON: All you have to do is look back. Look back to him being sued for housing discrimination. Look back at what he did with the Central Park Five. Look back what he called countries that are for people of color. Look back at the Muslim ban. Look back at the birther movement.
If the evidence is there, what do you want me to do, lie about it? I'm a journalist. I have to give the facts and the truth. The truth and the evidence point to him being a racist. He's a racist. His policy and his words are racist, end of story.
MOORE: I don't believe that, and I know him--
LEMON: We'll be right back. We're going to talk about it. Speaking of.
[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The President taking his hard line immigration rhetoric a step further in an interview with Axios, falsely claiming that he can use an executive order to put an end to the automatic granting of citizenship to anyone born in this country. This is known as birthright citizenship and is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, meaning it can't be swept away by the stroke of a President's pen.
So what's really driving this President to make this claim? Back with me now, Frank Bruni, Peter Beinart, and Stephen Moore, OK so, Frank, timing is everything. One week to election. What is driving this? Why, speaking of the last conversation we were having, birthright citizenship.
BRUNI: There's a nice segway here. What's driving it is he thinks this is something that's going to stir up and appeal to his base. I don't think the President believes for a nano second that with a stroke of a pen he can end birthright citizenship. I don't believe anybody in his orbit told him, with any confidence that he can in a nano second with a stroke of a pen in an executive in order to do this.
He's saying something that he knows will appeal to his base. And it's interesting because a week before the midterms, he seems to have abandoned any hope or much hope of moving people in the middle. And his entire strategy seems to be to whip up the base and increase turnout with things like this, and with saying that he's going to send -- what is it, 5,200 troops to the border to meet fewer migrants than those number of troops. So that's what this is about.
LEMON: Steve, Paul Ryan responded to the President's executive order -- talk about the 14th Amendment. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. We didn't like it when Obama tried changing immigration laws via exclusive action. And obviously as conservatives, you know, we believe in the constitution. You know as a conservative, I'm a believer in following the plain text of the constitution.
And I think in this case, the 14th Amendment is pretty clear. And that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process. But where we obviously, totally agree with the President is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Where is the fall 2018 Paul Ryan? But I mean he says it is unconstitutional and it's not conservative. So what's the President's point?
MOORE: So look, I agree with Paul Ryan that President Trump cannot do this through an executive order. But this has also been an issue -- I have covered the immigration issue for a long, long time. I am very pro-immigrant by the way. This is a very legitimate issue for public debate, about whether illegal immigrants can come to the United States, have a child here, and then that child become a citizen.
Now, the constitution may be clear about this, but that may mean that we need to amend the constitution to change it. You know we're one of only two countries in the world that have birthright citizenship. Now look, why is it important? Because the American people are sick and tired of illegal immigration. And I think all of you would admit -- I think -- I hope you all would that there are hundreds of thousands of mothers who come into the United States from foreign countries, have their baby here so that that baby can be an American citizen.
LEMON: You said there are only two other countries. There are 30 countries that have some form of birthright citizenship.
MOORE: Well, only Canada and the United States have, you know constitutional requirements of this kind. And look, it's a legitimate debate. I don't even know where I fall on this. I kind of think I would fall with Paul Ryan. But why not debate this issue? And I wonder what you all think about this. Don't you believe that this encourages illegal immigration when you can bring in a child as an illegal immigrant?
By the way, if I were Mexican, I would do that. I would say -- the greatest asset in the world is a U.S. citizenship.
LEMON: There's so much to talk about. There's so much to unpack here, because the biggest immigration problem is not people coming across the border or people who are coming over to claim asylum. It's people who are overstaying their visas and they're from countries like Europe. But no one says anything about that, why? Because they're not black or brown people, let's just be honest about that.
MOORE: I don't agree with that. I mean look, I mean it is true about half the illegal immigrants come in, overstay their visas, and about half of them come over the border illegally.
LEMON: Is someone yelling about the caravan of people flying in on United or American or...
MOORE: They're concerned about people overstaying their visas. Absolutely they are.
BEINART: To me, the question is do we really want, with Donald Trump as our President, to be rewriting the 14th Amendment? I mean honestly...
LEMON: You don't trust him to...
LEMON: Conservatives say the Second Amendment is sacrosanct, should not be touched. These amendments should not be touched or challenged. But all of a sudden, the 14th Amendment is -- we can...
(CROSSTALK) [22:35:08] MOORE: They're selective, originally. Yeah, but you're making my point, though. The purpose of the 14th Amendment was to give citizenship to the former slaves. It had nothing to do with an illegal immigrant coming into the country and having...
LEMON: Thank you for making my racist thing.
BEINART: The point was that we would have one class of American citizens. Everyone born here, no matter what the status of their parents, would be considered equal. I don't buy the idea that people come here to get citizenship. I think they come here because they can live a better life, period.
MOORE: Absolutely they do.
BEINART: But the truth is if we -- I mean if we start opening up the question of who, born in the United States, does not deserve to be a citizen based on having been born here, in this political climate with this -- I agree with Don -- racist American President. I have no idea where that goes, but it's not a good place.
BRUNI: This has been a debate -- as I said, this has been a highly debated issue for many...
LEMON: It was meant for slavery, and it's time to relook at it because we don't have slavery anymore. Well, there weren't AR-15s when the Second Amendment was written.
MOORE: But look, there are many legal scholars who believe that the 14th Amendment does not apply to an illegal immigrant who comes over the border and has a baby here.
BEINART: Not Anthony Scalia.
BRUNI: You are correct that the President sometimes brings up questions regarding immigration and other things that are legitimate points of debate. This is a phony way to bring it up a week before the election, and it's phony to suggest to American people that he can with an executive order...
MOORE: And you know we just had a discussion about how you all are politicizing this mass murder that happened a week ago. Which is worse?
LEMON: When did we have that conversation?
MOORE: I brought it up. I said -- you know I mean I think most people are watching the show would agree... (CROSSTALK)
LEMON: How is that politicizing it? Are we out on a campaign trail...
LEMON: Frank, who was it you said?
BRUNI: We're back to Tom Friedman's column.
LEMON: Oh my, gosh. You're comparing a column in the New York Times to the President of the United States.
BRUNI: Let's go back and read that because I am sure he doesn't say people were shot and killed. Vote Democratic. He was talking about a climate of hatred that Donald Trump has sown and the fact that he is sown...
LEMON: I have got to move on. I have got to move on. "The Washington Post" published an op-ed that's by George Conway, right? He is a conservative attorney who is also Kellyanne Conway's husband, and Neal Katyal who was a Former Acting Solicitor General under President Obama. And in it, they lay out how birthright citizenship is a constitutional right, and they say -- here's the quote.
The fact that the two of us, one a conservative, the other a liberal, agree on this much, despite our sharp policy differences underscores something it is critically important to remember during a time marked by so much rancor and uncivil discourse. Our constitution is a bipartisan document designed to endure for ages. Its words have meaning that cannot be wished away.
This is a reminder to the President that he can't trample on the Constitution to score political points.
MOORE: I wish Democrats...
LEMON: That is by the Kellyanne Conway, Senior Adviser to the President.
BRUNI: Fascinating marriage.
BEINART: You know we have a President who hasn't shown in a lot of cases that he really understands the way the American governmental system is supposed to work at all. Basic things like separation of powers and these kinds of things. So either it's just a cheap political stunt, or in some ways more frighteningly he really does think he has that power, which I think is a sign of his own autocratic... (CROSSTALK)
BRUNI: Cheap political stunt, cheap political stunt.
MOORE: I don't know. I feel like liberals don't have a lot of respect for the First Amendment, The Second Amendment...
LEMON: George Conway is a conservative.
MOORE: I mean freedom of speech is pretty clear, isn't it?
LEMON: George Conway is a conservative.
LEMON: George Conway is a conservative.
MOORE: So what's your point?
LEMON: You said liberals don't believe in the constitution that we were talking about.
MOORE: No, but I am saying, you know, what they were saying is that the exact words of the constitution matter. I absolutely agree with that. That's why I believe in the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms, and that, you know, all rights are reserved for the states and those have...
BRUNI: The President's attacks on the press suggest to me that freedom of speech is not high on his list.
MOORE: (Inaudible) to go after Jeff Bezos of "The Washington Post."
MOORE: I go to college campuses, and I can guarantee you, they don't believe in free speech there.
LEMON: Next time we need drinks with this conversation. Thank you, all. We'll be right back.
[22:40:00] LEMON: Today, President Trump claims he can end birthright citizenship guaranteed in the 14th Amendment with an executive order, he says. He cannot. He also claims that the U.S. is the only country that has birthright citizenship. It is not. So what does all of this say about the President's closing argument heading into the midterms just one week from today?
Joining me now is Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Thank you, sir, for joining us.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Don. LEMON: What does this say about the closing arguments to the
JEFFRIES: Well, I think, you know, these are desperate acts from a desperate man who's part of a desperate political party that understands they're on the verge of being rebuked by the American people, will likely lose the House of Representatives, will lose several governorships across the country, and have failed to persuade the American people that total control of government by the Republican Party over the last two years with the presidency, the House, or the Senate has made their life better.
In fact, there are many Americans, particularly throughout suburban communities in the battleground districts that are playing themselves out and the race for control of the House who have concluded that our future is uncertain, because all of the chaos, crisis, and confusion that the Trump administration and their wholly owned subsidiaries in the House and the Senate on the Republican side of the aisle have visited upon the American people.
LEMON: You sound extremely confident, but the polls are not necessarily as confident -- you understand what I mean, as you are because they're closing. The blue wave that everyone said now maybe a trickle or a...
[22:45:09] JEFFRIES: Well, we'll see. It will be up to the American people. But I am confident that the American people have concluded that divided government in this context is a better option because House Democrats will be able to be a check and balance on an out of control executive.
LEMON: What do you think of Speaker Ryan shutting down the whole birthright citizenship today, saying that the President cannot defy the constitution, especially with the stroke of a pen?
JEFFRIES: Well, he's correct. I mean the notion that Donald Trump would throw this out there, it's unclear whether he actually believes it or whether this is part of a concerted strategy to distract the American people from the issues that we as Democrats, have been talking about. We've made clear we're going to fight for the people. We're going to lower healthcare costs. We're going to increase pay of everyday Americans.
We want to clean up corruption. He clearly wants to talk about Kavanaugh, caravans, birthright citizenship. Who knows? In a day or two, he'll be back attacking NFL players again, because he's desperate to try to change the topic. We're not going to let that happen.
LEMON: You know what I find interesting when I go to different cities around the country. I'll see these ads for Republicans saying that they want to protect pre-existing conditions. And the first thing that comes to my mind is that isn't that the Affordable Care Act? Isn't that Obamacare? What do you think of that because it's a complete 180?
Do you think they really want to do it or it's just they realize that that was -- that's a bad move to not protect that pre-existing condition?
JEFFRIES: You know it's unclear whether they really want to do it. But the fact that they are airing millions of dollars of ads all across the country, I think suggests to me that they should be held accountable for their public statements and representations to the American people. Now, I think that the American people largely are not buying this.
This is the Republican Party that has taken something like 60-plus votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions. That's something that we're committed to fight for. And I think the American people understand that we are the party of affordable and accessible healthcare for the American people.
LEMON: So when I see these ads and I hear that, I think about the people who were questioned by reporters, and they would say, do you like Obamacare? And they'd say, no. And they say do you like the Affordable Care Act? And they said, yes, absolutely. They're the same thing. Do you think people are savvy enough or up enough on the issues to realize what Republicans have done when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, or do you think they'll just fall for political ads?
JEFFRIES: Well, I think in this case, after about two years of active debate and discussion about it, the American people have a much clearer perspective on what the stakes are as it relates to Democratic control of the House of Representatives versus Republican control. Now, understand the other side of the aisle are masters of misdirection, manipulation, and misappropriation of actual facts, because for them facts don't matter.
Hypocrisy is not a constraint to behavior. That's why that we're seeing them now have the nerve to run as if they are the guardians of pre-existing conditions. Nothing can be further from the truth. Because we've had such an active debate, because the American people have seen them attempt to take away healthcare from tens of millions of Americans and impose an age tax, I don't think that their trickery is going to work in the closing days of the election.
LEMON: Congressman Jeffries, thank you for your time.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Appreciate it. Remember Kanye West's Oval Office meeting with the President earlier this month? Well, tonight, Kanye says he's done with politics. Wait until you hear why.
[22:50:00] LEMON: So just weeks after visiting the White House, Kanye West now says he is done with politics. He tweeted today my eyes are now wide open, and now realize I have been used to spread messages I don't believe in. I am distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative. That's a big change from what we heard in the Oval Office just a little while back. Here to discuss, Symone Sanders and David Swerdlick. Good evening.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Don.
LEMON: Symone, I see your face.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Greetings, Don. Time is a but a (Inaudible).
LEMON: Go on, what did you want to say to this.
SANDERS: You know I think -- so one, I think -- one, I really believe that Kanye's latest CD's that came out two days ago at this point still haven't sold out. So he realized that there are economic implications for the political positions that he has taken. But I also believe that this is a bigger thing. This is about the fact that, you know, Kanye -- let's just set aside Kanye himself for a second.
But this movement that he said he was espousing and leading and being a part of. And I think he took -- I think there are many people that will look at Kanye West and look at the back and forth on this, look at the way the Trump administration in my opinion kind of capitalized on him and, you know, trotted him out there a couple weeks ago to be a distraction, and see that is this really -- and think, is this really the free thinking Kanye was preaching about? Is this really the future? And I would venture to say no.
LEMON: So -- but David, you know, he -- I want to know how you feel about this. But recently, Kanye has been associated with a campaign led by a right wing activist of Candace Owens that encourages black voters to leave the Democratic Party. What did you say, Symone?
SANDERS: I just said who.
[22:54:51] LEMON: Yeah, right, right. But tonight, Kanye said that he had nothing to do with it, right? He said after everything Kanye has said and done politically, I am wondering if that's a bridge too far. He said I had nothing to do with it. Somebody else wanted to use the name. He wouldn't let them. So she used it, whatever. So what does all this mean? He didn't directly go and denounce Trump, by the way. He just said he's done with politics. But go on.
SWERDLICK: No, and I am not sure he directly denounced Candace Owens. But it sure sort of a brush back or a stiff arm to her trying to hug tight to him and sort of piggyback her movement, this blexit movement off of Kanye West's clear celebrity, which is the same thing that President Trump has done. That's that second (Inaudible) down for your viewers, Don, in his timeline right now.
The tragedy of Kanye, there's more than one tragedy of Kanye, but the tragedy in this case is that he's a musical genius. You know Flashing Lights, Jesus Walks, Stronger, Diamonds from Sierra Leone. We all know these songs. He put it all out there. But over the last couple of years in the Trump era, Don, he has waded out into this political arena in a way that was uninformed, half baked, and, you know, made people suspect, leading to what Symone was saying a moment ago, that some of this was about just raising his own profile.
There is a discussion to be had about the relationship between black people and both major political parties, but the discussion that he was having that Candace Owens is having is not a serious discussion.
LEMON: Perhaps we should be doing something on who is Candace Owens because I think...
LEMON: Thank you, both.
SWERDLICK: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Good to see you. Local officials asked the President not to go to Pittsburgh today but he went anyway, and was met with streets swarming with peaceful protesters. Was his visit the right thing to do?