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Another Shutdown Coming?; Racism Floated Among Politicians; President Trump Doubling Down His Racist Tweets; In the Aftermath of Virginia's Blackface Controversy; Virginia's Lieutenant Governor Recently Accused of Harassing Two Women; Interview with Rep. Donald Mceachin (D-VA); A Proposal to Avoid Another Government Shutdown. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired February 11, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Now, we only have one and his name is the Don - Don Lemon. And I give to him now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Thank you for that. I do have to say was watching -- I couldn't have been prouder of Alicia Keys. And I don't know if you knew that she was doing that to memorial -- to pay tribute to the late, great, Hazel Scott.
LEMON: That was her thing. She invented that, playing two pianos.
CUOMO: And she laid it beautifully for the entire audience.
LEMON: She laid it out beautifully. I'm so glad she did that because I like to look at these things just because I'm weird, right, and I like to go on the internet and search things. But Hazel Scott was the first woman -- black woman to have her own television show. It was called the Hazel Scott show, and it was on the Dumont network, remember that, years ago. So that was before my time, even before your time.
So, she was the first -- but then she got -- she fought for civil rights, but then she got caught up with the whole, you know, red scare, being called a communist. She denied doing that, but her TV show was canceled, and in many ways her career went down because of that. But Hazel Scott was a legend and a genius, and I think Alicia Keys paid -- couldn't have paid a better tribute to her.
CUOMO: She checked every box. You know, I was thinking about why she was so amazing and why she's not -- more people aren't saying that, but I think maybe it's one of the few times we've ever seen a star hosting an award show that was an equal caliber star to the other stars who were getting awards in the show. You know you don't get better than Alicia Keys.
But I just thought she was so perfect, and that's not an easy job. You and I do it all the time, emceeing events, let alone one of that scale and scope. And she just did it in a way I've never seen before, and that was better than was anything before and I felt the same way about Diana Ross. Put up the picture of Don and Diana Ross, the first lady of soul now.
LEMON: Well, it's not -- it's not me. This was -- this is as close to -- listen, I'm not zooming. I got this close to Diana Ross at a party two summers ago, and I cannot --
CUOMO: Did you get arrested?
CUOMO: You were supposed to be there?
LEMON: I was screaming like kids used to scream over the Beatles, right? I was like, my gosh, it's Diana Ross, Miss Ross. She's amazing. She's still got it. She is about the same age as my mother, and that generation, no one does it better.
CUOMO: I mean she redefines the age.
CUOMO: Her voice, in the beginning I was like nervous. I was like that's the hardest thing. I remember when Aretha had to do Nessun Dorma.
CUOMO: Remember that when Pavarotti dropped out or whatever happen and she came in, I was like, boy, that must have been the hardest thing. She had spoken about that as nobody is listening and how do you get the crowd and the acoustics are off and this, you know, there is vibration in your ears.
LEMON: It's hard.
CUOMO: She was awesome --
CUOMO: -- last night. How about her grandson?
LEMON: Amazing. Her grandson is amazing.
CUOMO: Nine years old.
LEMON: I've got this special soft spot in my heart for Tracee Ellis Ross. I think she's amazing. I think she's to me, she's like the spitting image of her mom.
LEMON: Actress, jazz, comedic actress, serious, dramatic actress. I don't think there's anything that -- she's a fashion icon. She's also an activist.
CUOMO: What a message last night.
LEMON: I know.
CUOMO: For the masses.
LEMON: For the masses. So, I just have to -- you know, when you were talking about that, I -- don't get me wrong. I love me some rap and hip-hop, but I also love to hear some people sing. And I think we lost that for a while. I think it's coming back, especially being in L.A. and going to this --
CUOMO: We had it all last night. I mean, Musgraves is a crooner.
CUOMO: You had Gaga doing that kiss.
LEMON: You're making my point. I love to hear all of it. I think it should be inclusive. I want to hear rap, I want to hear hip hop, but I also want to hear someone who can, who doesn't need to be auto tuned, right?
LEMON: Who can actually sing.
CUOMO: Like Cardi B. When you talk about like Cardi --
LEMON: But Cardi is the -- yes.
CUOMO: -- has put on women and music for her to come up truly hard. She doesn't have to pretend it.
CUOMO: You know, she doesn't have to make it up. She came up hard, kept her dignity. And for her to win female -- for not female.
LEMON: Go Cardi. There she is.
CUOMO: For her to be rap album of the year, first female winner --
CUOMO: -- that is not an easy genre to get into. You talk about where women are marginalized.
CUOMO: But she owned it. And the woman playing the piano down at the beginning of the show just stole it there for a moment. She was amazing.
LEMON: Yes. So, I think it was a great night for women. It was a great night for rap and hip-hop and especially for Cardi B. And it was also a great night for country -- for country music. At the parties before the country folks were performing, such -- I mean the music is just so beautiful. It makes me want to go and start listening to country again because I had stopped for a while, right? And I was just listening to rap and hip-hop.
But I want to go back and listen to country again and I want to hear some great soul singers and R&B singers like Alicia Keys again, and I want to, of course, I want to hear Cardi B. So, I think it was right. I think it was great. I think the ratings proved that out last night.
CUOMO: Did they do well?
LEMON: Yes, they do.
CUOMO: I didn't even check.
LEMON: And I don't even care. You're talking about it's hard for Diana Ross. I don't care. Diana Ross is the best talk singer that -- if you ever need me, just call me. She doesn't have to sing. She can just talk. She is Miss Ross.
CUOMO: She can do it all.
CUOMO: She's amazing. She looks great. Her family all singing along. Everything about her is perfect.
[22:05:01] LEMON: Seventy-five.
CUOMO: I loved everything about it last night. I was surprised at the count. I think there are 80-something categories. Women won 30- something of them, but it felt like they dominated.
CUOMO: I mean, I especially think, you know, at the top of the categories, I think we saw women so well represented. You know, even J. Lo had a star turn there doing the Motown stuff. I know there's some controversy surrounding that.
CUOMO: But for her that was a big, that was a big deal.
LEMON: Yes. Mrs. Obama. Listen, I got to go. I've got a bunch news.
CUOMO: It was good. It was positive stuff.
LEMON: Good stuff.
CUOMO: And that's nice. LEMON: Everybody came together and it was great, and that's how it should be. This is America. Thank you, Chris. I'll see you soon. I got to get to the news.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
Here is our breaking news and it's important. Because negotiators are reaching an agreement in principle, they say to avoid another government shutdown. That is indeed a big deal. I want to give some of what we learned. These are just some of the details that we're hearing. Of course, we're going to see if this all bears out.
The agreement calls for $1.75 billion for physical barriers, physical barriers on the border, specifically, though -- don't say wall. It says bollard fencing. But keep that $1.735 billion in your head. Keep that number in your head.
It also calls for 55 miles of new barrier, including in the Rio Grande Valley, and a limit on funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention beds. Money for 40,520 beds, OK? So if ICE can find more money, they can use it for more beds. But the big question in all of this, the big question is of course, will the president sign on? Is he going to allow this? Is he going to sign it? We're going to have more on that in just a moment.
This is all happening as the president is on the border tonight as a matter of fact. And we're keeping a close eye on his rally which, so far, is his standard stump speech, nothing different. That's what he's doing, just a stump speech. So, nothing is here, we move along until he makes news or he talks about this.
But we've got a lot to talk about why he's there, to get his wall, to blatantly attempt to stir up fear of people of color, of brown people, as my colleague Chris calls it, the brown menace that he's trying to scare you with.
The president lied when he said the wall has made El Paso -- has made El Paso safer because, look, these are the facts. The FBI says violent crime in El Paso peaked in 1993. It fell long before border fence construction even began in 2008. We all know what this is about. Yes, the president is determined to keep his promise to his base. But this is about more than a campaign promise.
This is a campaign promise that depends on stirring up fear of people of color. Nobody is talking about bringing a wall on our northern border, the border with Canada, even though more -- get this. More non-U.S. citizens on the terror watch list tried to cross the northern border through legal ports of entry than the Southern border last year. You wouldn't know that if you listened to the president and his supporters.
That is according to an administration official. But the president is harping on his wall, doubling down on the racist stereotype that migrants trying to cross our Southern border are bringing crime. They're bringing crime, they're bringing drugs. They're rapists. Some of them, I would imagine, are good people, right? All right. He can say it. Remember, this is what he said, day one of his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And some, I imagine, are good people. And now we live in an America where racism is out in the open, right out in your face, right in front of you, where hate speech isn't whispered. It's said out loud. And this kind of hateful speech is definitely not confined to the right.
Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar apologized today for perpetuating one of the oldest hateful stereotypes in the book, the anti-Semitic claim that Jews control politics and money -- with money.
The congresswoman drew a firestorm of criticism when she replied to a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald by implying that politicians including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy support Israel for campaign donations, tweeting, quote, "It's all about the Benjamins, baby."
The congresswoman putting out an apology today, quote, "Anti-Semitism is real, and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleague who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. This is why I unequivocally apologize." She's absolutely right to apologize.
But it's interesting to note that even though she apologized, Congressman Kevin McCarthy never did for this tweet before the midterms, saying, quote, "we cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to buy this election."
[22:10:08] He deleted the tweet but never apologized for it. Deleted the tweet but never apologized. And tonight, McCarthy is still threatening to take action against Omar saying he's still not satisfied since she's still on the foreign affairs committee while the president is saying he doesn't think her apology was adequate. So, he has different rules.
Basically, you just call that hypocrisy. He's a hypocrite for saying that because he's had similar behavior. Delete it, never apologize. But we've got to talk about President Trump's attacks on Elizabeth Warren as well. Repeating the racist slur Pocahontas. Doubling down with this tweet over the weekend, quote, "see you on the campaign trail, Liz."
Trail in all caps which sounds, you know, a lot like that not at all subtle reference to the brutal trail of tears, the forced migration of Native Americans from Mississippi to Oklahoma, a really shameful chapter in American history.
And in a case of like father, like son, there's Donald Trump, Jr.'s Instagram, also not at all subtle, quote, "savage. I love my president." But there's more. Fox's Brit Hume tweeting, 'Well, let's call it an
interesting defense of the president, suggests his knowledge of American history is so lacking he's probably never heard of the trail of tears."
But he sure heard the president who forced all those Native Americans off their land. He hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson right in the Oval Office.
So that's a pretty clear indication of where the president stands on all of this. This is all happening as the state of Virginia and the country at large grappling with racism blackface scandals. Thirty-four percent of Americans in the latest Pew poll say blackface can be acceptable as part of a Halloween costume.
But Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who has ignored calls to resign over the blackface scandal, is speaking out, telling Gayle King of CBS that he didn't understand why blackface is so offensive. And he only understands now that he was born into white privilege.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: I was born in white privilege, and that has implications to it. It is much different the way a white person such as myself is treated in this country --
GAYLE KING, CO-ANCHOR, CBS: Did you not know that you were born into white privilege?
NORTHAM: I knew I was, Ms. King, but I didn't realize really the powerful implications of that. And, again, talking to a lot of friends, that has come crystal clear to me this week. I've also learned why the use of blackface is so offensive. And, yes, I knew it in the past, but reality has really set in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I want to keep my job, so I'm not going to say anything. I like being able to pay my mortgage. It remains to be seen how Governor Northam's story will end, bringing racism, anti-Semitism, hate speech out in the open is a double-edged sword.
So here we go. It's disturbing. It's dangerous, but it also gives the rest of us the opportunity to speak out against it, to condemn it. To -- I mean, what took you so long, man? And everybody is trying to like make an excuse, that's OK. It's a Halloween costume. Why are black people costumes? What took you so long? You didn't realize that this is America?
Whiteface is not an issue. Duh. It might give us a chance to heal our divisions, but we'll see. I'm going to remain optimistic and open. I may have been born yesterday, but it wasn't last night.
More breaking news tonight on that deal that could avert another shutdown, a deal the White House has not yet agreed to. But the president is talking about it tonight. Will he take it? [22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, here's our breaking news tonight. An agreement in principle to avoid another shutdown, but it's an agreement that the White House is reportedly still digesting. So, anything could happen, everyone. Stay tuned.
CNN's Manu Raju is live for us on Capitol Hill. Kaitlan Collins is in El Paso where the president is holding a campaign-style rally tonight. We'll try to get to both of them. I know it's very loud where Kaitlan is, so why don't we start with Manu. Good evening to both of you, by the way.
Manu, negotiates -- negotiators have reached a deal to avoid another government shutdown. Here's the key question. Is this something that the president is willing to sign because he -- a very similar deal was on the table before, and he refused to sign that. What do you know?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that is the big question here on Capitol Hill tonight. Even Richard Shelby, the lead Senate Republican negotiator who emerged and said that they had a deal in principle, said he couldn't say for sure that the president would sign it. He said he thought the president could. He hoped he could. But no one really knows.
What we do know is that it's not anywhere near what the president has been demanding for some time in terms of funding for his border wall. He had asked for $5.7 billion to fund for his border wall. We're hearing that it's going to be about $1.375 billion for barriers. It will not say concrete wall. It will not be allowed to be spent on concrete wall.
It will include money for fencing, including 55 miles in the Rio Grande valley, but will fall short of what the president has been calling for. It also will say that up to about 40,000 or so beds could be used for individuals and undocumented immigrant who are under ICE custody.
Democrats had wanted that number lower, but it appears to be it's going to be around the 40,000-bed range. But nevertheless, Don, the question is, does the president accept this deal? It will probably be signed off on among the four leaders, key leaders in Congress.
[22:19:59] What does the president do because in the past, as we know, the president has changed his mind only to throw things into disarray on Capitol Hill. Will he do that again? We just don't know yet.
LEMON: OK. So, Manu, you've been covering this. Can we talk about this? You said it's $1.375 billion. He wanted $5 billion, correct?
RAJU: That's right.
LEMON: But didn't he have better deals on the table before this? So technically he's going in reverse as to the amount of money and what he's actually getting. I don't understand the art of this deal. RAJU: Yes, there are a lot of questions still. This is going to be --
we don't -- we have not seen the details of this yet. They are actually furiously drafting this proposal right now. They only have an agreement in principle. This is going to be a massive deal because it would, if it passes, keep the government open. A quarter of the federal government.
Of course, 20 -- 800,000 federal workers, more contractors that would be affected. So, this is not just dealing with border security but all aspects of the federal government that has not been fully funded for the rest of this fiscal year.
But, Don, that's the ultimate question. How much does the president get to ultimately fund his wall after his furious battle with Congress, the government shutdown that lasted 35 days, the longest in history? Will he get anything better than what he would have gotten late last year? At this point, it doesn't appear that way.
LEMON: Yes. Let's go to Kaitlan Collins now. Kaitlan, hello to you. The president touched on this potential deal at his rally this evening. Let's listen in. Then we'll talk.
TRUMP: As I was walking up to the stage, they said that progress is being made with this committee. Just so you know, we're building the wall anyway. They say that progress has been made with this committee.
LEMON: What are you hearing, Kaitlan?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, you see the president there. His essentially his aides are telling him about this deal as he was going onstage. But we're building the wall anyway was an interesting remark there at the end.
Because actually, Don, we know that one idea that's been floated inside the White House in recent days as they've been talking about what they would do if those congressional negotiators couldn't come to a deal that they liked.
And they thought there was one option, and now this isn't for sure, but this is something that has been floated. But that is that if they could -- the president would sign whatever agreement they come to.
If it didn't have enough money for the wall that he though or had that cap on ICE detention, but the president would sign that deal, avoid a government shutdown, but still use some of those federal funds to build additional barriers on the Southern border.
Now we know that he's directed Mick Mulvaney the chief of staff to look through funding in recent days, try to find ways that they could use it lawfully where they wouldn't pay some kind of court battle. So that's definitely something that's being floated.
Don, what you got to watch for tonight is what the president's reaction is going to be if there's a lot of conservative criticism of this deal. We already know that Sean Hannity, one of the president's favorite Fox News hosts, was criticizing the deal earlier in his show tonight.
And also, the question is going to be is that something you continue to hear because there could be a complaint that just because there's over $1 billion for barrier funding here, that may not be worth the reduction in ICE detention beds. And if the conservatives don't like that, that is certainly something that's affected the president before when making decisions about this.
So that's something we'll be looking for in the president's reaction in the hours after he gets offstage here in El Paso.
LEMON: That's why I said, stay tuned, Kaitlan Collins. Thank you very much. And Manu Raju as well. We'll get back to them as we get more information. A deal in principle they're saying, much more on our breaking news, the agreement. Agreement in principle to avert another shutdown.
We've also got to talk about the racist blackface scandals, anti- Semitism, hate speech out in the open. Why all this is happening in America and what happens next.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, here's our breaking news tonight. Negotiators on Capitol Hill saying that they've reached an agreement in principle. In principle that could avoid another government shutdown on Friday.
Let's bring in now Frank Bruni, also Max Boot, the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Michael Higginbotham is with us as well. He's the author of "Ghost of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post Racial America." Also here, Tara Setmayer. Hi, Tara Setmayer.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hello.
LEMON: Good to see you. I haven't spoken to you in a long time, so it's good to see you.
SETMAYER: I know, you forgot who I was.
LEMON: No, I could never forget you. Max, let's get into this breaking news. So, in principle, this agreement. You think the president's going to sign it? Because if you look at the details, we were talking about this earlier.
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right.
LEMON: What's the difference in what he had before?
BOOT: That's a great question. I mean, we all thought he was going to sign the deal in December, which is pretty much the same deal that is on offer now. I just don't see how he's going to get a better deal. But I think we still have to wait for president Coulter and president Limbaugh to weigh in to see what his base thinks about this.
I mean, he is erratic. But he clearly ought to sign it because he should realize that going back to a government shutdown is not a good option because he was suffering major damage politically as a result of that shutdown.
He was even losing part of his base. He's not going to accomplish anything more with another shutdown after the failed 35-day shutdown. So, he doesn't really have a choice, but I don't know if he understands that.
LEMON: With every shutdown, it seems like he gets less, right?
LEMON: But seriously, let's talk, Frank, this is according to a Democratic source, $1.375 billion for physical barrier, for bollard fencing. This is the real -- the test of the president is, you know, he's down at the border campaigning right now. What's he saying, and how are people going to react? And is he going to sign this agreement?
FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean he may sign the agreement and then as Kaitlan was saying, he could turn around and do an emergency declaration of some kind although that would put him at great odds with his own party.
But I think what's going to be interesting is watching him describe it. So, he's down at the border telling us that El Paso is safer because of border barriers, which is demonstrably not true.
LEMON: Not true.
BRUNI: And you and everyone else has gone through the statistics and said that's not true. So, he may sign this agreement and say, look, we won, and just come out with a whole bunch of information that is completely wrong because this is remarkable.
[22:24:58] As you pointed out, he's not only not moving the ball forward, the ball has moved backwards over the last couple of months. And the guy who told us we'd all be so tired of winning must be flat- out exhausted with losing because he lost during the shutdown. He's losing during this conference committee. And he's supposed to be the great deal-maker and everything he's done belies (ph) that.
LEMON: Tara, President Trump tonight is speaking in El Paso, falsely linking the drop in crime, as Frank just mentioned, with the border wall. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been hearing a lot of things. Oh, the wall didn't make that much of a difference. You know where it made a big difference? Right here in El Paso.
I spoke to people that have been here a long time. They said when that wall went up it's a whole different ballgame.
But I don't care whether a mayor is a Republican or a Democrat. They're full of crap when they say it hasn't made a big difference. I heard the same thing from the fake news. They said, oh, crime actually stayed the same, didn't stay the same, went way down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: It defies logic. The person who is running the city of El Paso, who is the mayor, who only has the citizens of El Paso's best interests at heart, who is reading facts and giving him facts, but none of that matters because it doesn't fit with his reality. This is -- I want to give the facts, Tara. And I really want you to respond to this. Violent crime in El Paso peaked in 1993.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right.
LEMON: Pay attention, everyone. I wish the people who were applauding in that crowd who are watching right now. It peaked in 1993. It fell by 34 percent between 1993 and 2006. The wall was built two years after that in 2008 and 2009.
SETMAYER: And then crime actually went up 17 percent the next year.
LEMON: So what the hell is going on?
SETMAYER: What's going on is gas-lighting. And it's the president who has backed himself into a corner with this BS line from the campaign about a border wall, and creating this narrative that we were going to build this 30-foot concrete wall to wall everybody out, and that you had people chanting for that. He boiled it down into this elementary-style, very, you know, juvenile chant where it's not even practical.
Border security experts I've spoken to and that I've worked with in the past have said to me, listen. Yes, physical barriers work where necessary, in conjunction with other things like technology, like more border patrol agents, like, you know, drones --
LEMON: Tara, wasn't that you've worked on this issue before?
SETMAYER: Yes. I worked with the (inaudible) for years.
LEMON: Wasn't that already being done from previous administrations? They were improving some of the barriers there and figuring out where to add more walls.
SETMAYER: Correct. That was the 2006 Secure Fence Act. I was working as a congressional staffer in Congress at that time.
LEMON: So this is all made up.
SETMAYER: Right. It funded 700 miles of the wall. And I've been to the border down by El Paso. When I worked on the Ramos and Compean border agent case, I saw where there wasn't fencing, where there needed to be, and then they put some there, so I mean -- in that area.
So, you know, it defies logic, and it defies facts when the president continues to spew things and tells people don't believe the mayor who lives here, who is governing these folks and lives here. Don't believe him. Believe me because I made this -- because I know better than anyone else. You know, it's the -- I know better than the generals type of thing.
And it's just asinine. And I am glad that we continue to point out the facts, and I am glad Republicans are doing the same thing. And like Will Hurd also, who is another one, who represents 800 miles of the border, who is telling the president, what you're talking about doesn't work. And by the way, this $1.3 billion that they're offering, that is supposed to be a deal, is less than what Democrats were offering before the shutdown. That was $1.6 billion.
LEMON: The art of the deal. I got to get the professor in. Professor -- and I want you to listen to this. This is something that we heard from the president today. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Not only don't they want to give us the money for the wall, they don't want to give us the space to detain murderers, criminals, drug dealers, human smugglers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: I mean the language there, Professor, that he's using, murderers, criminals, drug dealers, smugglers. The fact is the majority of the people crossing the border are seeking asylum. Are these -- is this a big dog whistle to gin up his base?
F. MICHAEL HIGGINBOTHAM, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE: It is a big dog whistle. He's used them, you know, throughout his campaign and throughout his presidency. He continues to stoke racial division. And if you looked at the Grammy's yesterday, what a contrast, the racial, the ethic, the gender diversity, and the unity that was showed in comparison to what the president is talking about with the border, the border wall, whether it's blackface or the Ku Klux Klan or Muslim ban.
It's racial division. And it's a real contrast. It's a real problem. America has come a long way in terms of race, Brown versus Board of Education in 54, anti-discrimination laws. We've taken a position that race discrimination and race prejudice is wrong. And so today in 2019, Americans have to really be clear on which side of the battle they're on.
[22:35:05] Whether they're white or black, whether they're Democrat or Republican, they've got to take a stand. And it's an easy one to do, because if history has told us anything, it's told us that when Americans are silent, racism is going to thrive.
LEMON: Racist words, racist tropes, is it in fashion now? We'll discuss that coming up.
LEMON: President Trump ramping up his racist tweets against Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is now officially running to unseat him in 2020. Back with me now, Frank Bruni, Max Boot, Michael Higginbotham, and Tara Setmayer.
Professor Higginbotham, I want to ask you about this tweet of the president's directed at Senator Elizabeth Warren.
[22:39:54] See you on the trail, in caps, Liz, seemingly, you know, referring to the trail of tears or referencing the trail of tears that forced the relocation of Native-Americans that killed thousands. And if it wasn't clear enough, here's what Don Jr. added. Savage, love my president, racist plain and simple? What do you think?
HIGGINBOTHAM: Yes, it is. And it's sad. President Trump has a picture of Andrew Jackson up in the White House. Andrew Jackson was the president at the time. He championed the Indian Relocation Act, which resulted in the march of Cherokee-Indians on a thousand-mile march in cold weather without food and clothing, proper clothing. And many, many died in the trail of tears.
It's -- the reference is racist. It's a sad one. It's inappropriate. And the president needs to take a higher ground here. This is -- the references to Pocahontas, it's denigrating to American-Indians. And I think you have to look at what American Indians have to say. It's problematic. They know it's racist. He should stop doing it. And I think most Americans recognize that and are going to say stop it.
LEMON: Max, are these views and using these tropes becoming mainstream in the Republican Party from all the racist stuff people are re-tweeting during the campaign?
BOOT: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it's sad. And you don't see Republicans, for example, calling out President Trump when he uses this racist name of Pocahontas or he makes fun of the trail of tears. You don't see Republicans calling him out on it.
In fact, Liz Cheney, one of the senior Republicans in the House, was asked about it on Sunday. And she resorted to attacking Senator Warren instead of attacking President Trump. I mean there has to be some kind of policing. And I was very glad today to see that House Democrats were calling out Representative Omar for engaging in classic anti-Semitic tropes that suggest that the Jews, with their money, were in charge of Washington.
And the Democratic leadership came down very hard on her, and she apologized. We need to have that same kind of standard applied by Republicans. And not just to Steve King belatedly, but to President Trump, who is the chief culprit here in using this kind of vile, racist language that has no place in American public life.
LEMON: You want to jump in here, don't you? BRUNI: No. I am just nodding. I mean you mentioned Steve King, which is I think is a really important thing. How many years and how many racist tweets and how many racist comments did it take before Republicans said anything about Steve King? Ilhan Omar, Democrats dealt with it right away. Al Franken, Democrats dealt with that so quickly. There were questions about whether they dealt with it too quickly.
Democrats immediately started talking about what happened with the Virginia governor. We can go down that tributary but that's a whole different story. Democrats, there's accountability. There's self- examination, and there's contrition. And the Republican Party, there's none of that right now. And the silence in terms of Donald Trump is not just deafening. It's its own -- it's complicity. It's collaboration. It renders everyone else as guilty as Donald Trump and the things he's saying.
LEMON: Before all the reaction -- because I know people will say because of what you said and what you said about Democrats, they will say -- I know it will happen. They will say, oh, you're defending what Ilhan Omar said, not at all.
BRUNI: Not at all.
LEMON: Not at all.
BRUNI: I think what she said was disgusting.
LEMON: But that's where we are in society. If you can say the Democrats are showing contrition, it doesn't mean what she did was right. They should do the same thing with Trump, does not mean you're condoning her behavior.
BRUNI: Not at all.
BRUNI: And Democrats are --
LEMON: That's where we are right now.
BOOT: I mean I am praising Nancy Pelosi for calling out Congressman Omar. And Republicans need to have that same sense of responsibility.
BRUNI: And not just Nancy Pelosi, but many, many, many of her colleague.
LEMON: Go ahead, Tara.
SETMAYER: No, I was going to say that that's a by-product of how negligent the Republican Party has been by not policing their own, that Democrats recognize that if we're going to condemn Republicans for these things, there is no room for error for us. So if there's anything positive coming out of the despicable way that Republicans have handled Donald Trump, it's at least there's another party that's saying, you know what?
We can't stand by and allow our party to become what they have done. We can't become what we despise. That used to be what conservatives said. And look at what's gone on here. It's really disheartening. And that's been partially my problem with the Republican Party through the era of Trump, is just the amount of hypocrisy and the enabling, to Frank's point.
I had this conversation today with a fellow conservative, never-Trump friend of mine, about, you know, we can't attack Trump supporters. And I said I am sorry. I am over that. I gave them a pass in the beginning. But after two years of this president and his bigotry and his incompetence, his lying, his BS-ing, his con-artist game, if people are still standing there and saying, well, we don't like that, but we support this. No. In order for you to support this, you're enabling that. And that's very selfish.
[22:45:00] And until the Republican Party starts to recognize the damage this is doing, not only to the party but to the country as a whole, to our constitutional republic, Trump's going to get away with it.
SETMAYER: But, you know, I am not going to hold our breath about when people are finally going to hold him accountable.
LEMON: Professor, you know, Tara said something that was very important there. She said the Trump era. And I am wondering -- I hate to say if any good will come out of this -- but if there is something to be learned or gained from this, will the Trump era be marked by an examination of racism and bigotry in our society? At least, we're having these conversations out in the open.
HIGGINBOTHAM: I think it will be. And the good thing is that it gives Americans an opportunity to take a stand, to take a position. As I said, it's important to be on the right side of this battle, to take the moral high ground. And so it's an opportunity. I mean unfortunately the president is the spokesperson for the country.
But it's time for all Americans, whether they be Democrat or Republican, to stand up to racism and bigotry when the president speaks language that is racist or bigoted.
LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate it. Tara, don't be a stranger.
SETMAYER: Never that, Don.
LEMON: It's good to see you. It's good to see you all of you.
LEMON: It's good to see you, Tara. I haven't seen you in a long time.
Governor Northam says he is, quote, "not going anywhere" in the wake of his blackface scandal. But should he? A Virginia Congressman, Don McEachin, there he is right there, is here, and he's going to tell us what he thinks next.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: In the wake of the blackface controversy, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says he is not going anywhere, and that, as a medical doctor, he's the right one to heal the state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: Right now Virginia needs someone that can heal. There is no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who is courage, and who has a moral compass. And that's why I'm not going anywhere. I have learned from this. I have a lot more to learn. But we're in a unique opportunity now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Virginia's attorney general has also admitted to putting on blackface. Virginia's lieutenant governor has been accused of sexual assault by two women. He denies the allegations. All of this a huge crisis for the state's Democrats.
So joining me now is Congressman Don McEachin. He is Virginia Democrat. Thank you, sir. I appreciate you coming on, especially considering what's happening in your state, and answering questions for the American people. Thank you so much, OK?
REP. DONALD MCEACHIN (D), VIRGINIA: Thanks for having me.
LEMON: So Governor Northam says that he is not going anywhere. Is he the right one to heal the state as he said? He's a medical doctor. He's the right one.
MCEACHIN: No, I don't believe he is. You know he's the one who inflicted the wounds to be sure. And he sincerely believes what he's saying to the American public and to Virginians. But we need someone who can lead us at this time. We need someone who can heal us at this time. And I am not sure the governor has that ability.
LEMON: Yeah. I just want to give you -- this is another part of that interview he did with CBS. It's got some folks attention. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORTHAM: We are now at the 400 year anniversary, just 90 miles from here in 1619, the first indenture servants from Africa, landed on our shores and Old Point Comfort, what we call now Fort Monroe, and while --
GAYLE KING, CBS HOST: Also known as slavery.
NORTHAM: Yes, yeah. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Gayle. So listen. A statement from Northam's office provided to CNN, and now it's just a moment. And here's what it says. It says during a recent event at Fort Monroe, I spoke about the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia and referred to them in my remarks as enslaved. A historian advised me that the use of indentured was more historically accurate. The fact is I am still learning and committed to getting it right. Does Virginia need a leader who gets these things right the first time?
MCEACHIN: I think so. You know these Africans were actually taken from a -- if I remember it right, in a golden slave ship. And they were destined to be slaves. The indentured servant part is a nicety, but the reality is they were slaves who were born here in chains. And every school child learns at an early age in Virginia that in 1619 a couple things happened.
One was the establishment of the House of Burgesses, which was the forerunner to the House of Delegates, which was the forerunner the Congress, and that Africans came here in chains. And why the governor decided to deviate from that, I am not entirely clear on.
LEMON: Also, I want to talk about the attorney general in Virginia, Mark Herring, also Democrat by the way, admitted to wearing a blackface to a party in college, dressing up like a rap artist. Is that as offensive or are there degrees to how bad blackface can be in your opinion?
MCEACHIN: There are degrees on how it's handled. Blackface is awful regardless, but the attorney general did not need a yearbook to come out to start talking about it. He called people -- when I spoke to him, he sounded like to me like he was on the verge of tears. He didn't come out in saying one thing one day and a different thing the next day. He's been apologetic and sorry for what he did, and he was a 19 year old child.
LEMON: Two women have accused Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. He strongly denies both those accusations, and has called for an investigation involving the FBI. Four of his staffers have resigned. You say you can no longer serve if he is still there.
MCEACHIN: I don't believe that it is appropriate for him to continue serve as --
LEMON: That he can no longer serve -- I'm sorry, that he can no longer serve. Pardon me, Congressman.
[22:55:02] MCEACHIN: No. That's quite all right. I don't believe that he can continue to serve as lieutenant governor. Look, he has an absolute right to defend himself. These women who have come forward have an absolute right to be heard.
But that's something that needs to happen for at least for the lieutenant governor as a private citizen because, again, we need to be able to move forward to do people's business. We need to focus on healing and reconciliation and what that looks like. And then I don't think he's not in the position to help us in that regard right now.
LEMON: Congressman, I appreciate your time and your perspective. Thank you. Please come back.
MCEACHIN: Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you. Late tonight, congressional leaders announcing they have an agreement and principle to avoid another government shutdown. But will the White House support it?
[22:54:52] LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon. Here is our breaking news. Negotiators in Congress reaching an agreement in principle to avoid another shutdown of the federal government, which would happen Friday if no plan is in place, the words tonight from lead negotiators from both sides of the isle.