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President Trump Addresses Immigration Issues; Drugs and Criminals Show Up at all Ports of Entry?; Donald Trump Says There is a Crisis When it Comes to Immigration; Trump's Border Wall. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 8, 2019 - 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] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: There was no charges against Manafort for this behavior, at least not yet.
That's it for us. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You know why he wants to talk about the wall? Because I heard that, because he is -- he's losing the argument and he has to continue to talk about it. But did you notice that he didn't mention the wall until like almost halfway down --
LEMON: -- in his speech. So --
CUOMO: It came last in his list of wants. And I don't know why he did this, but he said it's not going to be a concrete wall, it's going to be a steel wall, because that's what the Democrats want.
CUOMO: That is demonstrably false, but it's important to note, Don, you see an evolution with the president. We've talked about this before.
LEMON: You're right on that. That was my next thing.
CUOMO: That concrete wall, Don, and he is morphing it to be what is there already. We see that.
LEMON: But, Chris, we have been reporting about -- for years on CNN, about bollard fence and the different between a bollard fence and about and a wall and all of that. And that's already there.
LEMON: And I think you're right-on and I had a similar assessment.
CUOMO: And they need more of it.
LEMON: Yes. And I had a similar assessment that he's going to try to make everyone believe that that's all he's doing, even the things that were there.
CUOMO: I think that --
LEMON: And that were paid for in commission under the Obama administration, that was all his. Go ahead, sorry.
CUOMO: If he could start again tonight, Don, he might be in good shape with this. You know, if it couldn't be that he forced a shutdown to get us to this point, if he could say, I want more of what's there because that's what the people in charge say that we need, instead of I'm building a new concrete wall, you know, on top of what else is there, he'd be in better shape.
If he would start talking about the humanitarian nature of our cause in dealing with migrants, you know, what he called tonight a crisis of the heart and soul --
CUOMO: -- if he owned that instead of demonizing the people coming into the country, he would have been on higher ground because it would be tough for Democrats to deny the needs of this resourcing that he's asking for, but he just started this tonight.
LEMON: Well, it's hard to say that you have empathy for one group of people and you don't have empathy for another. You have empathy for the people who are coming over and who are on this very dangerous journey and you want to take care of them, while you have a government shutdown and you're not taking care of the people who are already here. I mean, that is a tough row to hoe right there because you're saying I care about one group, but I don't care about another group.
LEMON: That's what it feels like to me.
CUOMO: Then also because he's made a choice in terms of what he wants to call a crisis. Interestingly tonight, he was heavy on crisis, but he didn't go near national emergency. If you really think it's a crisis, why don't you call it a national emergency?
CUOMO: That was a political point.
CUOMO: But if you call it a crisis, when then you should see the crises on how those people who are living in Tijuana right now.
LEMON: Here's what I --
CUOMO: And that's where your eye and your heart should go, and it doesn't for this president. LEMON: Here's what I thought, I almost texted you today with that. I thought, because he asked just for eight minutes, that he's going to come on and say, good evening, my fellow Americans, I am going to declare a national emergency --
CUOMO: Oh, you did?
LEMON: -- on the border. Yes, I thought, because it's only eight minutes he asked for. And I said, it's not his venue, he's only asking for eight minutes. I think he's going to do that and then have it end up with the Congress fighting it and then it going to the courts and the court denying it, and then he could say, listen, they obstructed me, I tried all I can, and that's his way out. That's what I thought.
CUOMO: I thought it was eight minutes because he wasn't that into doing it. I don't think he needed. I don't think he feels he needed the speech.
LEMON: It's not his venue.
CUOMO: I think he feels that he's winning. I was at lunch with the president today in an off the record session, but I can tell you this, I've never seen him more confident. I've never seen him more secure in his arguments. He thinks that he wins on border security. Interestingly, that's a new phrase for him.
CUOMO: Because he's always said wall, wall, wall, wall, and now he's expanding it into an area that are ironically, certainly needed. Anybody who goes to the border and talks to those in charge can tell you that, but Republicans traditionally voted against some of the things that he's asking for right now.
CUOMO: But it's new for him. He's always been all about the wall. But he was very confident. He was sure that the shutdown would go his way optically in terms of politics and he was in good shape on all of this.
LEMON: He was sure the shutdown is going to go his way? I mean, is he --
CUOMO: I said confident, not competent.
LEMON: Wait a second, you said what?
CUOMO: I said confident, not competent in terms of his rationale.
LEMON: I said, sure, confident, no -- oh, now, I get what you're saying. That was -- that was a little sneaky there, Chris. Who's he getting advice from, then? Because all you have to do is listen to the people who are out there, who -- you know, the federal workers who are telling you about their lives and how hard it is right now. The polling doesn't show that. He's the only one who seems to believe that. I don't -- are you sure he believes that? Because I don't think -- who would believe that?
CUOMO: One hundred percent he believes he wins on the idea of keeping the border secure and keeping Americans safe. His vehicle for doing that which is demonizing the people who want to come into the country, that's his choice that, I think, puts him on very precarious ground.
But I think he had the Democrats in terms of, do you want to keep us safe or not? Are you for safety or not? That was a good angle for him.
[22:04:59] CUOMO: But he went farther than that by demonizing and coming up with a very simple solution, which is vintage Trump, but is not our type of politics for something as complex as our immigration system.
LEMON: This is what happens and we've been saying it all the time and you know, being called fake for it, is when you compromise your credibility by telling so many mistruths. So tonight, is there a credibility gap? Is there a credibility problem? Are people going to believe what he said, because he tells so many lies?
CUOMO: That's a problem.
LEMON: That's a huge problem.
CUOMO: It's a problem.
LEMON: I don't know of any other president, Republican or Democrat, where people would have been wondering, wow, do we have to fact check this president in real-time? How much do we have to fact check him? Do we get the best people on board? Why? Not because it's Donald -- well, it's because he's Donald Trump, but because he -- because Donald Trump lies so much. And the people who are surrounding him, they do the same thing as well, even having today --
CUOMO: But look how low the bar is for this president. You know, God love him, my friend, former Senator Rick Santorum, the president gives a speech that's prepared, he gets through it, he doesn't make a major gaffe, whoa, good night for the president.
You know, that is the standard that we have with this particular president.
CUOMO: The more that he reads what's given to him, the better off we all are. But here's the problem. Politics is persuasion. It's passion, it's connecting with people. It's evoking their imagination to do something together that they couldn't do individually. This president has that mandate on an issue that screams out for it. It's the first time I've seen an issue where you have so many people hurting so badly and all of that is ignored in terms of demonizing the victims.
CUOMO: I've never seen it work. We'll see how this plays out.
LEMON: You know what I would love to see? And I thought about it too late. I would love to see the local news coverage from the towns that are at the border tonight, right? Because I'm sure they're going strong. They're all live at the border and I would love to have had some live pictures to show you, because from this administration, you would think that people are, you know, coming over the wall like it's -- what's that HBO show again, the one with the wall?
CUOMO: "Game of Thrones"?
LEMON: The "Game of Thrones." That's what you would think it is. And there's not like that.
CUOMO: But here you have the brown walkers. You can't have the white walkers like in "Game of Thrones". It's not scary enough.
LEMON: They didn't know the wall failed in "Game of Thrones." I mean, it failed and those, you know, I'm not an avid watcher.
CUOMO: Don't give away the plot, Don.
LEMON: I'm not an avid watcher.
CUOMO: It's not even over yet.
LEMON: Oh, please.
CUOMO: Don't ruin for people. You make a good point about the local coverage. You know, you have to think, if the crisis were as profound. If the serious were as perverse the scenario as the president lays out, don't you think the local leaders would be with him on it?
LEMON: Of course.
CUOMO: Don't you think you'd be hearing from governors and officials on the border saying, you've got to help us. You got to help us. Wouldn't we be there, because it was a crisis, they were being overrun?
CUOMO: You know, there is something manufactured about this.
CUOMO: The president made choices early on, and let's be real, Don, they worked for him in the primaries.
CUOMO: And that's why he's sticking. You know the old expression, you've got to dance with who brung you.
CUOMO: But sometimes you got to change your partner and that looks like the time is now.
LEMON: Dance with the one who brung you. Listen, I have a lot of show to get to you, I have a bunch of fact checks and I hope that, you know, that I have everything that I need to talk about this, because there were -- listen, he didn't -- I don't think he -- to give him some credit, he didn't lie as much as people thought.
CUOMO: It's a low bar, Don.
LEMON: I know. And the one thing, when he tried to pit brown people --
CUOMO: It's like you and me, when we go to dinner, if you even bring a wallet, I feel like I'm ahead of the game, forget about you're paying for anything. It's a low bar, Don, low bar. He didn't lie that much.
LEMON: The better-looking one never has to pay. So, you should always pay.
CUOMO: That makes perfect sense.
LEMON: The part that stuck out to me initially right away and I heard people sort of gasp when people were e-mailing and texting me is about when he tried to pit black against brown. This affects black people, African-Americans --
LEMON: -- and Hispanics more than -- so, that was -- but anyway, next dinner on you, again. Thank you, sir.
CUOMO: Divide, divide. Absolutely.
LEMON: Nice job.
CUOMO: Absolutely. Don't forget the Mueller story. Don't forget the Mueller story.
LEMON: I got it.
CUOMO: The president got lucky tonight by giving this address on the same day that this Mueller news broke. Unlike Ana and Luis, I don't believe that there was anything constructed about this. I don't think they knew about the Mueller news, but it's important.
We've never seen a suggestion of coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian interference as we did today.
LEMON: Yes. Twenty-four hour news agency here, we've got the Mueller story and a lot more. Thank you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, brother.
LEMON: Safe travels back. This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Here is our breaking news right now. President Trump's address to the nation from the Oval Office. You heard the president. Here's my question. Are you convinced? Did his last-ditch effort to persuade Americans that there is a crisis at the Southern border, did it work?
After all, this is a crisis that he wants you to believe is worth shutting down, a manufactured crisis, worth shutting down huge swaths of the federal government, leaving 800,000 employees without pay. And don't forget, this is what he said about the shutdown just last month. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:09:59] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So much for proud. Now, speaking directly to you, the American people, is the last best tool President Trump has left to get himself out of a shutdown mess of his own making. And he's determined to convince you there is a crisis at the border. Even though an intelligence official tells CNN, quote, "no one is saying this is a crisis except them."
They're playing the public, you, for suckers. It's exactly what he used -- it's exactly what used car dealers do. Frankly, that's the problem here. So little of what this president says is true. And tonight, no exception.
As we always say around here, facts do matter. So here are some of those facts that I said -- I told Chris I have to get to, OK? I want you to listen to the president, how he started this address tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My fellow Americans, tonight, I am speaking to you because there is a growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. Everyday, Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK, so here's the fact. The fact is while border apprehensions were up in October and November, that's not unusual. They didn't surge in an unprecedented way. In fact, they're much lower than the early 2000.
Now, I want you to listen to the president's claim tonight about drugs coming across the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our southern border is a pipeline for vast quantities of illegal drugs, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, the fact is the majority of hard drugs seized by Customs and Border Protection come through ports of entry, either in packages, in cargo, or with people who attempt to enter this country legally. A wall would not stop that.
And the majority of the heroin coming into this country across the southern border is driven across at legal points of entry in private vehicles or in tractor trailers and a wall wouldn't do anything to stop that, either. Remember when he told you this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So, we have a concrete wall, but you can't see anything, right? A hundred pounds of drugs, they throw it over the wall and it lands and it hits somebody on the head. So, you need to have a great wall, but it has to be see-through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And what about those ports of entry? The fact is that there are 314 of them all across the country. Only 48 are on our southern border. That leaves 266 other ports of entry, including 80 international airports, ports on our northern border with Canada, and CBP offices across the country.
There's also the president's claim of thousands of violent people crossing the border illegally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In the last two years, ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of aliens with criminal records, including those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes, and 4,000 violent killings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, the fact is large numbers of those immigrants committed non-violent crimes, non-violent crimes including illegal entry and driving under the influence. They are not all the dangerous killers the president claims. And here's an important point for you, OK? "The New York Times" is reporting that the White House strategy sent to Congress just last month to stop movement of terrorists included zero references to barriers, fences, or walls. Kind of seems that if you're so convinced you need a wall to keep dangerous people from crossing our southern border, you'd mention that in your terror strategy.
So back to the original question, OK, my original question. Did the president convince you? About 57 percent of Americans oppose Trump's wall compared with 38 percent in favor. That's according to a December CNN poll. Those numbers are similar to where they were just after Trump took office in 2017.
So, despite all of his endless claims, the president hasn't managed to move the needle on the wall since he took office. And let's not forget the real reason for all of the urgency tonight. As much as the president would like you to focus on the wall and nothing else, this is about the shutdown.
[22:15:06] The clock is ticking. There isn't a deal -- if there is ant isn't a deal by midnight, and let's face it, the chances are slim to none that the government won't be able to make its next payroll, and 800,000 federal workers will find themselves running out of money to pay their rent, to buy food, to do all the things that a lot of us take for granted.
And despite what the president may think, they're not all a bunch of Washington bureaucrats. Outside the D.C. area, the states where workers were affected by the shutdown are most concentrated are Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Idaho, not D.C. insiders and bureaucrats.
Half of the affected workers do not have college degrees. Tens of thousands are blue collar workers. Nearly 111,000 make less than $50,000 a year. The question is, are these really the people who should be paying the price for the president's border wall, for a shutdown of the government?
I want to bring in now CNN's Jim Acosta. Jim is at the White House.
Jim, thank you very much for joining us. You were there. You heard the president's speech. The wall was a central campaign promise of this president. You know, you're on the campaign trail. He's holding the government essentially hostage in the shutdown over it. Yet, he didn't talk about the wall that much in his speech. He called it a barrier and said that it was law enforcement professional and Democrats who were asking for it. Why?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Don. And that is one of the several falsehoods that the president managed to jam into a very brief eight-minute Oval Office address. He said the Democrats requested the steel barrier that he wants down on the border.
I talked to a senior Democratic aide up on Capitol Hill this evening who said, no, we did not request a steel barrier. It's the president who moved from a concrete wall to a steel barrier. As you've been mentioning and we've all been mentioning throughout the evening since the president's speech, there were other falsehoods.
He, once again, said that the new trade agreement between the U.S. and Mexico would help pay for this wall. That's not how that trade deal works. He continued, as you just mentioned, Don, to paint immigrants coming into this country as criminals, when we know that the vast majority of undocumented and even legal immigrants coming into this country don't commit any crimes and live very peaceful lives and contribute to American society.
And so, what we saw, Don, tonight, was just a recycling of the president's rhetoric on immigration that we've seen over the last few years, stuff that he has been saying all the way back to when he launched his campaign for president.
And I'll tell you, Don, you were talking about those federal employees and all of those states all around the country. One thing that the president may not have taken into consideration is that some of the people who protect him here at the White House are also paid by the federal government.
I talked to a Secret Service agent earlier this evening who said, please tell everybody on CNN that we want to get paid. And so the president -- even the people who protect the president want this shutdown to end, Don.
But, you know, just after the president's speech, White House officials were going around saying that this was a big success for the president, that he's presenting common sense solutions to the American people. They're using this term common sense, you heard the president mention that in his speech tonight, that he feels like he's using common sense.
My guess is that -- my sense is, you know, going into this speech, they were using terms like crisis and emergency. I think moving forward after tonight, Don, you're going to hear terms like common sense as the president meets with Democrats and Republicans tomorrow here at the White House, when he goes down to the border with Mexico, down to McCallan, Texas on Thursday.
But make no mistake, Don. It almost felt as though the president was trying, you know, his basic last chance here -- basically, his last chance here to get that wall that he promised his reporters so many times out on the campaign trail.
And I talked to a Trump adviser earlier this evening, who said, listen, if the president does not get his wall, this is going to be a problem for the 2020 re-election campaign. They sold this promise to his base over and over again, and if he doesn't get it, there's going to be a sense of desperation that they just let one of these key campaign promises get away.
So, the stakes were high for the president tonight, but he sort of gave us the same old, same old when it came down to his immigration rhetoric and that wall on the border that he so desperately wants, Don.
LEMON: And he can't lose conservative media like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, maybe even more so than his base, because his base might be prone to believe anything he says. I couldn't get it, they were obstructionists, OK, fine. That may even galvanize support more. But if he doesn't do this, the Rush Limbaughs, the Ann Coulters and the other conservative media will go nuts and he can't afford to lose them. Jim Acosta.
ACOSTA: Yes, you bet. And Don, hey, Don, I will say though. One thing we should look at for, just very briefly, he did not mention this national security or national emergency declaration that we have been talking about so much. There's still a chance he may do that. I've been told by a couple of his advisers --
[22:20:01] LEMON: How can he do that after this? Wouldn't this have been the moment to do it?
ACOSTA: This would have been the moment to do it, and they built up this possibility that this could happen before this speech and then it didn't happen and it sort of let all of the air out of the room and all of the news out of this address.
But, you know, listen, Don, if he decides to go ahead and declare a state of emergency down on the border, it's going to be immediately challenged in the courts. And the president has been reaching out to his aides and advisers over the last few days, trying to, you know, sound out these people in terms of what he should do about that.
And he was told just recently by a lot of these folks that it's probably not going to work.
ACOSTA: And so, my guess is, Don, is that that is probably why we did not hear that in the president's speech tonight --
LEMON: All right.
ACOSTA: -- because there's a realization that he can't go that route, either, Don.
LEMON: All right. I got to go. I hear you've got to get off the lawn. Get off my lawn.
ACOSTA: That's right.
LEMON: Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. I appreciate that.
So, what do people on the border think of what the president had to say? I'm going to ask a Republican -- the Republican whose district includes more miles of the U.S.-Mexico border than any other congressman. There he is. Congressman Will Hurd. He's here, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: So, we're back now. How do people on the border wall -- near the border wall feel about the president's wall -- on the border, I should say, feel about the president's wall? Tonight, we're going to speak with two congressmen who between them represent districts that make up half of the entire border between the U.S. and Mexico. You see their pictures up there.
The majority of the border between Texas and Mexico runs along Texas' 23rd congressional district, a district so big that it's larger than 29 states. Can you believe that? It makes up one third of the entire U.S./Mexico border.
President Trump's proposed border wall would cover some 820 miles in the 23rd. My point is, just about no one in Washington is as familiar with the truth about the border than my next guest.
That is Congressman Will Hurd, the only Republican member of Congress serving in a Southern border district. So, he voiced his opinion to the president's planned wall and he joins me now. Good evening.
I know you could have gone on any show and we're so happy that you chose this one to come on and talk to us about this. So, let's discuss, Congressman Hurd.
REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Sure.
LEMON: I would like to get your reaction to the president's speech and whether he told the truth about the so-called crisis at the border and the proposed solution of a border wall.
[22:25:01] HURD: Well, if this is a crisis, the person -- the people that are dealing with this crisis should get paid.
I was just on the border. I was in a town in Del Rio talking to a number of members of border patrol. They were concerned about having to work without getting paid. I was going to the airport in San Antonio and TSA officials are worried about getting paid. I think in your earlier segment you talked about how important our airports are in defending our nation.
And so, I think tonight, we didn't see anything new that we haven't already seen. And unfortunately, I don't think either side put forward any initiatives that are going to move the ball forward.
There was a bright spot, though. He didn't -- the president did not announce that he was going to call a national crisis or this was a national crisis. Because had he done that, it would have been a gross abuse of power.
LEMON: OK. And listen, I don't think anyone disagrees with you. I think afterwards, everyone said, what was accomplished? They said the same thing that they have been saying all along. I think you're right about that.
Just overall, before I move on, what did you think of what the president said and how he handled the situation tonight? HURD: Here's the bottom line. I've been very clear that building a 30-foot-high concrete structure from sea to shining sea is the most expensive and the least-effective way to do border security. Yes, there are a lot of drugs coming into our country, almost $66 billion worth of drugs, and that's a very conservative estimate that is coming through -- that are coming into our country.
A lot of that is coming in through our ports of entry. A lot of that is coming from our coast. The coast guard is only able to action 25 percent of the intelligence that they have on drugs coming in through our country. That's an outrageous number.
We should be making sure that we have more resources in the hands of the men and women in the coast guard in order to do their job. Technology, the only they we're going to -- it is 2019. We don't have operational control of the border. We don't know everything that's coming back and forth.
The only way we're going to accomplish this is by looking at all 2,000 miles of border at the same time. The only way to do that is with technology. We should have more border patrol, but there's 2,000 positions already within border patrol that haven't -- they haven't been filled. And one of the reasons they haven't been filled is there's retention problems within border patrol that needs to be addressed.
So, I would love to take some of that money and make sure that we give the men and women in border patrol that are doing a hard job more salary.
LEMON: Yes. And so, you think, open the government back up and then continue to negotiate how you handle border security?
HURD: Look, we can open the government, we can solve this problem. You know, there's a number of ways we can deal with this. Let's go back to the president's state of the union address when he talked about, you know, having a permanent legislative fix for 1.2 million DACA recipients and having smart border security solutions. You know, we can do that. We can add TPS in that. I mean, we should be looking at --
LEMON: Is that frustrating to you because none of that happened? DACA was presented and then you had a deal before Christmas. None of that happened. That's got to be frustrating, especially as a Republican.
HURD: Look, it's absolutely frustrating. We have 3.9 percent unemployment in this country. What does that mean? Whether it's from agriculture or artificial intelligence, you need workers. You know, this is an opportunity, these young men and women that are in the DACA category, 95 percent of them are working or in school.
This is a way to solve a problem. TPS, the temporary protected status in Houston alone, there are 50,000 men and women in the TPS category in construction that are helping to rebuild Houston. LEMON: Yes.
HURD: Those are people that are here illegally. Let's make that permanent.
LEMON: I just want to say, there's this idea that immigrants are a strain on the economy. But just so -- you know, listen, there's no firm data on, specifically, about a lot of this.
But a 2017 analysis noted that undocumented immigrants make considerable tax contributions to the country. So if you get them in, as you say, we need workers, you get them to start paying taxes and they're on the record, it could actually be a help to the economy.
HURD: Don, you're 100 percent correct about that. These are where some of the solutions of what we should be talking about. It doesn't require weeks of negotiations. This is something that can be done. We just need to make sure that the people in the room understand the nuance of this thing. A lot of people talk about the border. They've never been down there.
LEMON: OK. That's a good point. Good point.
LEMON: Because you know. Everyone has strong opinions about the border and the wall. Can you talk to people who don't live there, may never have been there, about what it's like along the border right now? What does it look like? What is the security situation?
HURD: Look, some of the communities along the border are some of the safest communities in the United States of America. And that's been the case for an exceptionally long time. There are parts of the border where border patrol's response time is measured in hours to days. If your response time is measured in hours to days, then a wall is actually not a physical barrier, it's a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars.
[22:30:02] You have people that are coming back and forth that live in one part come together. You know, we can be -- make sure that we're facilitating goods and services across our border and making sure that we're protecting all at the same time. This is a place that is -- everyone tries to act like this is some scary, you know, drug cartel movie back in the day.
The reality is that, yes, there are people that are sneaking into our country. We can stop that if we have smart solutions, and that's ultimately going to be relying on technology.
LEMON: Well, let's hope you guys come up with something that's going to work, and seriously, get the government back open because people are hurting, as you have relayed to our viewers tonight. Thank you.
HURD: Don, it's scary, right? Because if we don't have this done -- it's not going to get done tonight, that January 11th is the next pay period -- LEMON: Payroll.
HURD: -- payroll for these folks. And there's going to be a lot of men and women that are not going to be able to pay their bills.
LEMON: Thank you, Representative Hurd. Please come back anytime. We love having you.
HURD: Would love to.
LEMON: I appreciate your honesty and your candor. Thank you so much.
HURD: Thank you.
LEMON: Now, let's turn to another Congressman from the region. His state, California, shares just over 140 miles of U.S. border with Mexico. All of that falls within California's 51st Congressional District, which starts on the southern edge of San Diego, extending all the way to Arizona. Congressman Juan Vargas, a Democrat, has represented that district for the past five years.
And he joins me now. Congressman, I am so happy to have you on, as well. Thank you so much. Are you doing OK?
REP. JUAN VARGAS (R), CALIFORNIA: I am doing great. Thank you.
LEMON: So the President claimed that law enforcement had requested some $5.7 billion for the wall. He also claimed that Democrats requested it to be a steel barrier instead of a concrete wall. Is that true?
VARGAS: No, it's not true at all. In fact, it's interesting listening to all the rhetoric. I live along the border, about a little over 10 miles from the border. It's San Diego. I mean it's basically paradise. It's one of the safest places in the country. And the notion that we have a crisis there, a security crisis, is absolute nonsense.
We do have a crisis of sewage. I can tell you that for a fact. I mean if they want to invest a lot of money, $5.7 billion, let's fix all the sewage issues. Let's fix all the environmental issues. But the notion that somehow we're insecure -- I mean, I have two daughters. I have a wife. You know I come to D.C. I flew, you know, from San Diego today. I can tell you. They are safe. They are safe in San Diego, much safer than they would be here in D.C.
LEMON: Is it -- you get the impression if you're watching from home, right, that there are hoards of people pouring over the border, jumping over walls, you know, at every moment. What do you say? What do you think?
VARGAS: I think that's ridiculous. I mean that's some sort of --
LEMON: Is that a fair assessment, you think, just from --
VARGAS: No. I mean that's the thing that's kind of funny. I mean, you go to the border and you see long lines of people waiting to come in. But also -- that's through the land ports of entry. So we do have a problem of having huge wait lines to come in. But the notion that people are just jumping --
LEMON: And enough resources to handle it, right?
VARGAS: Yeah. We have plenty of resources. The reality is that we have never had -- so few people coming across the border as undocumented people. The reality is that it was back in 2000 or before that that we had a lot of people. The numbers are way down.
VARGAS: We do have now a lot of young people, a lot of children, and women that are showing up from Central America in ways that they're very susceptible, and I think we need to help them. But the notion that, you know, that they're some sort of menace and we've got to watch out for them in San Diego is absolutely ridiculous, and I mean ridiculous.
LEMON: OK, you know, remember the mantra, the call and the repeat. Who's going to pay for the wall, right, at the rallies, Mexico, that's what they said all along, this President. And tonight, he said that a border wall would pay for itself and that it would be paid for indirectly by a new trade deal. But everyone in the entire country remembers him saying that Mexico would pay for the wall, right?
By the way, the new trade deal, nothing has been signed. Nothing has been earmarked for this. But every -- do you think people remember, or do they care that he said Mexico was going to pay for it?
VARGAS: I think people do care. Everyone always says why don't you mention that there but he said that Mexico would pay for it. Mexico would pay for it. And then -- remember the wall just got 10 feet higher every time Mexico says --
LEMON: It was concrete with a beautiful door.
VARGAS: They're concrete. They got bigger and bigger. It's ridiculous. Mexico will never pay for this wall. This was actually never going to be built. I mean it is ridiculous.
LEMON: You don't think it's going to be built?
VARGAS: No, no, absolutely not.
LEMON: Why do you say that?
VARGAS: You know there is fencing already there, to be honest with you. There are places where we already have fencing where it made sense for some security. But now, they want to build out in areas that make no sense at all.
LEMON: But it's interesting, because when he talks about -- you have a good point -- when he talks about it's already there. There could be areas of improvement. There could be some areas that are added. But that's already been in the works. What -- part of that was cleared during the Obama administration, wasn't it?
VARGAS: That's right. I mean the notion that somehow they're going to create these new fences in areas where, you know, people are crossing now. Well, that's the mountains. That's the desert. That's areas where really a fence or a giant wall would absolutely do no good, no good at all. And that's why I don't think it will ever be built. I think it is fantasy.
[22:35:00] This was a political rant that he had. This was a campaign rant, and so he's trying to make good on it, on the backs of these 800,000 people that he's taken hostage. And now a lot of other people --
LEMON: How far do you think he'll go with it?
VARGAS: Well, I don't know how far. I mean it's not going to be months or years, I can tell you that. I think at the end of the day, he's going to try to say, OK, well, I fixed it, and the wall's there, you know? Well, yeah, OK, there is a wall there in some areas. There are fences there. But the reality is it's already there. He's not putting anything new.
He'll claim victory and walk away. There's a crisis, all right, but it's in his poor mind. I mean the reality is there's a crisis of things that he keeps bringing up. I mean it seems like reality in his mind don't have a lot to dance with. They seem to be off in two different sections.
LEMON: Congressman Vargas, we loved having you. Don't be a stranger.
VARGAS: OK, thank you.
LEMON: I appreciate it. Did the President's Oval Office address tonight move the needle on his wall at all? We're going to dig into that next.
LEMON: So the President claiming tonight there is a growing crisis at the border and arguing a wall will take care of it. But this is a crisis really of his own making. Let's bring in now former Republican Congressman, Charlie Dent, as well as David Gergen, Symone Sanders, and Amanda Carpenter, the author of "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us."
Good evening. What a night, again. I know you guys have heard me say that when you were on the show before, but what a night. David, I am going to start with you.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure. LEMON: An Oval Office address, the most -- probably the most powerful tool in the President's arsenal when it comes to -- in his tool box when it comes to speaking to the American people. It's the hammer, right? Did it work?
GERGEN: I may be wrong, Don, but I don't think it moved the needle. The speech was too short to be persuasive. And it was too long on questionable facts to escape scrutiny after the speech.
[22:40:04] I would have -- the speech had a hurried quality to it. It was like thrown together. It didn't really -- it wasn't -- it didn't move you. It didn't move the audience, I think, emotionally or rationally.
I would have thought, for example, some very simple thing. They could have had the people in the White House compare -- compose a factsheet on every fact that was in the speech, verifying it, putting it out, before the speech was over, so that when you and I sat down and you have sat down with others and parse what he said, and was he accurate and not accurate, you would have to take account of what the White House said here's why it's accurate. Instead, they just let the President float out there, and I don't think he made the sale.
LEMON: Interesting. Charlie, let's talk about some of the things that were in there, all right? The President claimed that more Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.
Part of the problem with that argument is that the wall won't stop how those drugs get here. Is there a single, credible public health official or organization that says that the solution to the opioid and the fentanyl crisis is to build a wall?
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I don't believe there is. Although, he's correct that, you know, there is a terrible drug crisis in our country and it's affecting people on both sides of the border.
I'll tell you, Don, my reaction to this speech tonight was one of relief. I was relieved that the President did not declare -- he did not declare an emergency, did not demand the use of military construction funds for a non-military barrier. That would have set off a political and a legal crisis. I think the President missed a golden opportunity to make a case to the American people for border security.
LEMON: Why did he stop short of that then?
DENT: Why did he stop short of declaring emergency?
DENT: I'm not -- I think his advisers must have gotten to him and told him this would have been a catastrophe. And I think even more importantly, he missed an opportunity to explain to the American people what he needs. How many detention centers does he need? How many detention beds? How many border patrol agents? How many miles of road? How do you --
LEMON: You've been saying that, yes. And I thought he would do that. You have been saying that all along.
DENT: That's quantifiable. That's quantifiable. And he can get -- and he can actually, you know, put dollar figures to that. I mean he didn't make any of that type of a case tonight. I mean where is the coherent plan to establish operational control of the border? He has not articulated it. He needs to do this.
LEMON: Amanda, go ahead.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I think Donald Trump had one goal with this speech. It wasn't an actual negotiating tactic, as Representative Dent pointed out. There was no new information brought here. Donald Trump wanted to drag the Democrats into this fight. And so, what we have is no new information from Trump. That's to be expected. But you also had no new information from the Democrats as well.
And so, I think a lot of people are shaking their heads. I want to know who feels better about the state of affairs in Washington, D.C. after watching that mess from both Republicans and the Democrats tonight. There was no new information from it. And if you look at the Internet now, all people are comparing is who looked dumber in the screen shots.
We're not getting anywhere. And this is the classic Trump trap, where he drags people into his terrain. There was no reason for the Democrats to go on national television and try to respond to nonsense, because they responded with nonsense. Everybody needs to take a minute and find a way to get out of this mess in a logical way instead of trying to compete on Trump's nonsensical terms.
LEMON: Symone's dying to get in. Go ahead, Symone.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Amanda, I love you, but you showed both sides of what we saw earlier tonight.
CARPENTER: I kind of hope.
SANDERS: And it's not the same thing -- Well, one, I am someone that believes that the networks should not have allowed the President time for what was essentially a campaign rally speech with no new information, no news, and actually misinformation.
But what we saw -- I am frustrated by this entire conversation because what the President is doing is throwing a temper tantrum and the government is now shut down, and 800,000 Americans are being affected by the temper tantrum.
This is a manufactured crisis. If they -- if the President and Republicans truly thought this border wall was necessary or funding for this border wall, actually -- because even if funding was allocated, it will take years to build a border wall -- if they thought it was necessary, why did they not do it two years ago when the President first came into office?
This is something that the President made up and said he wanted, said he needed, thinks he needs to do, and Republicans are going along with it for the get along, not because it's good for the American people. So this is just -- there's no both sides to this. The Democrats came out and didn't say anything new tonight, because there's nothing new to say.
CARPENTER: Well, you know what? I think what would have been a really --
LEMON: Listen, guys, can you hold it until the other side? I've got to get to the break. But just because we are about facts here -- listen, the figures about drugs, the -- he didn't distinguish between -- the figures do not distinguish between the deaths caused by drugs smuggled into the country and those prescribed by U.S. doctors, and on and on.
He's doing overall -- he's not talking about just the ones that come in on the southern border, there is a big distinction in that. Listen, the President also said that black people and brown people were most affected by what's happening at the southern border.
[22:45:06] Is he trying to pit blacks and browns against each other? Is he accurate? We'll talk about that right after this.
LEMON: Charlie, David, Symone, Amanda are back with me. Did you guys hear the part tonight where the President said he got confirmation from Mexico that they're going to pay for the wall?
CARPENTER: Indirectly, right?
LEMON: No, I'm just trying to lighten the tension a little bit. So listen. Symone, I want to start with you. What's your reaction to this statement from the President? Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration. It strains public resources and drives down jobs and wages. Among those hardest hit are African- Americans and Hispanic Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What do you think there? What is he doing? Is he pitting black against brown or what, Symone?
SANDERS: He is absolutely pitting, attempting to pit black folks against brown folks in this country. And this is not something new. This is something we have heard over and over again. And I think it's important to note that it is absolutely incorrect. Overall -- and there are studies after studies after studies that folks can Google and to research that supports this.
[22:49:59] Immigration, whether it is of undocumented folks or legal, quote/ unquote, "legal immigration," does not take jobs away from African-Americans in America. Oftentimes, the jobs that folks are willing to do are jobs -- are lower skill jobs that are currently going unfilled. And doesn't the President like to tout his job numbers and the record number of jobs that we currently have, quote/unquote, in America?
Well, there are jobs that are currently not filled. And so I just don't know how he squares that argument. I think it is a sad attempt to pit folks against one another. And I hope people understand that it's just -- it's a flat-out lie.
LEMON: David, she spoke of numbers. Let me give you some numbers. Because there is also this, this is according to CNN analysis, OK?
LEMON: Nearly 40,000 people died by guns in the United States in 2017, an increase of more than 10,000 deaths since 1999. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of death by firearm in the developed world. That's according to the World Health Organization data.
And then if you just look at overall numbers, more people are in danger from their fellow Americans from these issues than from people who cross the border illegally or legally. Isn't that a crisis?
GERGEN: Sure, absolutely. And the drug crisis is, of course, is even graver now. It's killing more people. And I think the President could have made some excellent points. It is no question that Mexico manufactures a lot of drugs and they do come in here. But he ought to have been realistic enough, as you've been pounding home tonight, to say, look, most of these drugs are coming through legal points of entry. You know, there -- and that the real problem is there. It's not in these migrant camps.
But let me just say one other thing, Don, about the Democrats that I thought it was quite interesting. You know, their response will never go down in the books of oratory. But they did something true tonight. They gave a speech that did not focus on rebutting the President about the immigration issue.
They knew that the press would be so outraged by some of the things the press was going to -- that Trump was going to say that all the rebuttals were going to come from the press. They didn't have to do that. And instead, they went over very shrewdly, I think, to look at the Americans who are getting so hurt by this, the 800,000 who are furloughed, who can't pay their -- many of whom can't pay their rent, and won't have the checks, and everything like that.
I thought that was smart, because there are a lot of Americans who care more what's happening in America than they are about this so- called manufactured crisis.
CARPENTER: On that point, though, there was a little bit of a good cop-bad cop in that dynamic there with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer.
LEMON: You caught that, huh?
CARPENTER: Yeah. I think -- why didn't they just have Leader Pelosi give the message that David outlined, talking about the furloughed workers because it was sort of an odd note for Schumer to end it on we're not negotiating, we're not giving anything. To me, that sort of was a hard edge that I think would frustrate people who want to see the government get back open.
But on the terrorism stuff, you know, a lot of people are worried about domestic terrorism, somebody coming to a gun with their schools or whatever. What happened to the terrorism -- national security discussion in these remarks tonight? He completely abandoned it and entirely tried to shift this discussion to the threat of drugs coming over the border.
And yes, we can be worried about this, but this gets to the central credibility problem that President Trump has. He never sticks to the facts. You never know the story. He changes it to suit whatever, you know, whims he has that day. And that's the problem with this shutdown. It's not clear what it is over, what the goal is, or what the real threats are as perceived by this White House.
LEMON: And that's also a problem --
SANDERS: Well, Amanda that's what happens when you throw a temper tantrum. I've been saying --
LEMON: When you don't tell the truth all the time, when you go to the Oval Office, which is, you know, you give an address from the Oval Office and all the networks are carrying it. People don't know what to believe because you lie so much. And even the people who support him, they know that. They just don't care.
I have got to ask you this, Charlie. I found this really interesting. And this is a tweet from President Historian Jon Meacham. And it says, quote, he says, "America should build a wall of steel, a wall as high as heaven against the flow of immigrants. Georgia Governor Clifford Walker at a 1924 convention of the Ku Klux Klan, then a powerful force at a time of strain for the white working class." Past is prologue, that's the hashtag there.
Charlie, past is prologue, your reaction?
DENT: Yeah, we've had no nothing movements in this country before. We've had, you know, nativism, isolationism, protectionism, this is nothing new. But I think what's really sad about this whole discussion is there's a crisis in leadership. I mean it is imperative right now that there's a solution to what we're facing. Clearly, the Senate, I think has to lead.
The Senate needs to reopen the government and then they need to pass a bill. They can do this in a bipartisan way in the Senate. They won't be able to do it in the House. Pass a bill, $2 billion or $3 billion for border security. Take care of the DREAMers and the TPS population and that will put pressure on Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump to say no. I mean I think we really have to get to a resolution.
[22:55:02] LEMON: He's meeting with senators -- Republican senators at the White House tomorrow, by the way.
LEMON: I don't know how much that will help.
DENT: He's going to be bleeding support from some of them pretty soon, too.
LEMON: So OK, that's a good question, then. Go on, why do you say that?
DENT: Well, yeah, I mean look. Martha McSally, all these Republicans -- this is -- you know, Republicans are losing on this shutdown issue. We can't -- I feel like there's a Monty Python and the Holy Grail moment here. People pretend they're winning when they're having their arms and legs hacked off.
LEMON: I asked Jim Acosta that. I said what -- I am sorry. Chris says he was at an off the record meeting and he said he couldn't be more confident about his position. And I said who is advising him. Is he in reality? Because there's no way, if he is --
CARPENTER: Drugs from the border.
LEMON: He just --
DENT: They're losing on this. I saw it in 2013. I remember standing up there, 10 days into the shutdown, saying we're winning. And I said they're like the knight at the bridge. You know, it's just a mere flesh wound. My arm's been hacked off. It's OK. It's not OK.
LEMON: David, I know you want to get in. Did the President allay any Republican concerns tonight about the length of the shutdown or anything like that? I got to go, though. You have got to do it fast.
DENT: No, no, no, no. I don't think so at all. I just can't -- this is the first speech he's made from the Oval Office. And you would have thought that a lot of imagination would have gone into this, a lot of thought would go into it. They would have something fresh to say so that we would be talking about something fresh, instead of rehashing all of the old misleading statements.
You know, he could have gone down to the border today, for example, and interviewed and talked to people. Come back with film clips and gone on Thursday night with a much more interesting speech than this short little thing that was just -- it seemed to be a blown opportunity --
GERGEN: -- for him. He does have some views that people want to hear about. And I just don't think it was compelling.
LEMON: I think he'd have more credibility, might win more people over if he actually did the border walk with me, you know.
LEMON: I'll go.
SANDERS: Plug, plug.
LEMON: I am not joking. Thank you, all. I appreciate it. A crisis on the border or a crisis of credibility, the falsehoods and mistruths coming from the Oval Office and the damage they're doing. That's next.