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THE VAN JONES SHOW

Van Jones Talks With Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D), Virginia; Rep. Ro Khanna (D), California; Rep. Jahana Hayes (D), Connecticut; Rep. Lucy McBath (D), Georgia and Rep. Deb Haaland (D), New Mexico On Various Issues; Van Jones at CPAC. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 9, 2019 - 19:00   ET

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


[07:00:00] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening. I'm Van Jones. Welcome to the "Van Jones Show". Thank you for tuning in. You're going to love tonight's program. In a bit I will show you my full report from the biggest conservative gathering in the country.

It's true liberal Van Jones went to CPAC. I walked around, I talked to people. I even got up on the main stage and I may have broken Twitter at one point, but more on that later.

First, you got a rowdy crop of newly elected Democrats shaking up everything in Congress, but they're not all exactly on the same page, so we're going to talk to a cross sample to get it to deeper insight about what is actually going on inside this Democratic Party.

For the first couple weeks in Congress it was easy for them. They were united, they looked great, they were going up against the Trump shut down. Now we're dealing with a bunch of complicated polarizing issues.

Turns out conducting a thorough investigation of the Trump administration becomes harder for Democrats when some of them are already shouting for impeachment before they've even got started. Working to clean up the environment or fix a broken healthcare system, gets complicated when you have proposals getting rushed out that some are already denouncing as socialism.

And as we found out this week, Democrats strongly denouncing and calling out stereotyping becomes a bit more complicated when the controversial words are coming from a Democratic Congresswoman and not from Donald Trump or Steve King.

So I applaud the Democrats for ultimately forcing a big vote condemning hatred and bigotry. I'm a little bit concerned about the 23 Republicans who voted no on that resolution. But I think it's fair to say Democrats are fighting out. That while diversity is really awesome, wrangling diverse backgrounds and opinions into a cohesive party is very, very difficult.

Now on the positive side, I'm happy some progress is being made. You got House Democrats who've already passed meaningful legislation on common-sense, gun violence prevention. They're pushing to expand voting rights and they are keeping the spotlight on those shameful family separations, and we need answers on that. That crisis it's still going forward let's not forget those babies. But we got some big issues to deal with and the one group that's got to sort all this stuff out, all these newcomers in Congress who are in the middle of this all this confusion trying to do the right thing, so let's bring them out and see what they have to say about this whole big mess.

Please welcome to the Van Jones Show Congressional Democrats Abigail Spanberger from Virginia, Ro Khanna from California, Jahana Hayes from Connecticut, Lucy McBath from Georgia and Debby (ph) Haaland from New Mexico. Welcome to "Van Jones Show". It's so awesome, look at this.

You guys look amazing. You look so beautiful. Look like the rainbow colors. And I think the country is excited about this new energy, this new diversity. But do you think you guys might have too much diversity? I mean you got so many different issues and camps going on.

I mean tell me tell the truth, is it good to have this much diversity or is like a big old train wreck?

REP. LUCY MCBATH (D), GEORGIA: We represent demographics that are existing in the country. This is what democracy looks like.

REP. DEB HAALAND (D), NEW MEXICO: And people who have never had a voice in in our politics before, so that's the most important.

JONES: You are one of the first Native Americans ever elected to the Congress. So let's give a big round of applause for that. That's a big deal. I know I know there's a good part to it, but there's also when you have that many different kind of people, you have different kinds of opinions.

And this past week you had a big controversy when it came to Representative Ilhan Omar, her comments to took a big vote this week. How many people felt that the resolution you voted on denouncing hatred and bigotry would have been better if it was just focused on the anti-Jewish part.

You're getting criticized for not focusing on anti-Jewish part, making the resolution too big. Does anybody agree with that criticism? I mean, we would you rather had a chance to just a vote on the anti- Jewish part.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hate is hate.

REP. RO KHANNA (D), CALIFORNIA: And we're not talking about actually the positive of this class. Look, Rashida Tlaib and Andy Levin both were in Michigan -- Jewish-American, Muslim-American and they were running on the Levin-Tlaib peace plan for the Middle East. Right.

Our diversity is going to be ultimately a huge source of strength as we're going to hear perspectives. It's going to actually make our foreign policy more empathetic, more informed. And these folks are freshmen, they're going to grow. It's the first three months in office.

[07:05:00] REP. JAHANA HAYES (D), CONNECTICUT: But I hope we don't change. I hope this freshman class doesn't change, because we bring the perspective that has been missing, the voices, the conversations that people in our communities are having, but nobody's having internally. They're not being elevated to the point that we actually begin to address the issues and make some meaningful.

JONES: Well it's good to shake up the conversation. You actually had some words with Speaker Pelosi, I understand, this week as you guys are trying to find -- see, I do my research. Talk about that what was that conversation about from your point of view when it comes to this week's challenges.

HAYES: So I had questions. I had questions about the resolution about the process -- not the content, but the process by which we got there. And I raised the fact as a Member of Congress, because I got elected. The people in my district sent me to Congress to represent them.

As a member of Congress I should not get news that is so critically important to the work that I have to do from cable television.

JONES: Wow.

HAYES: That was my position. We have to do better than that. We have to have a space where people can have some input have some dialogue have some open conversation so that when my phone is ringing and my constituents are asking me, I have an answer better than I haven't read it. So that was what I elevated.

In this idea that stay quiet in your first term, because -- I'm only guaranteed one term. I don't know if I'm coming back in 2020, so I'm here now, people elected me and I have work to do.

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D), VIRGINIA: I think that Jahana's point is exactly right. We were elected this is this is our term. I think we can't look long-term. I took a seat that hasn't been held by a Democrat -- hasn't elected a Democrat in 50 years.

I'm here to serve central Virginia now and to act on behalf of Central Virginians now and to Ro's point we want to be working for something and we are. Last week we had an incredible first step forward on gun violence prevention, things that -- a bipartisan bill that had been stuck in Committee for years because there wasn't the leadership to bring it forward. We finally did it, we passed it.

JONES: I know that a lot more positive stuff happens in any organization, in any family than ever gets on the news, and that's true with your delegation. But you had Donald Trump now say the Democratic Party is an anti-Jewish party.

SPANBERGER: Well, let me speak to that. I'm from Virginia where we had Nazis walking in the streets shouting anti-Semitic slurs with tiki torches in their hands, threatening people who live in central Virginia, threatening Americans.

Anti-Semitic shouting. This is very clear in our district we have had vandalism on our community centers where children are at camp and at daycare anti-Semitic slurs it's happened throughout Virginia. So this is incredibly, incredibly serious and I think everyone within the delegation, within our caucus understands how incredibly serious this is and we have to be forceful and strong when we're denouncing anti-Semitism because it is poisonous and it is corrosive.

And as a Democratic Party we recognize that in addition to denouncing anti-Semitism, calling it out wherever we see it, whoever speaks those words, we also recognize that all forms of hate are corrosive in and eat away at our communities and our society.

KHANNA: And then let's look at the results because of Jahana and other interventions, we had a unanimous vote of the caucus condemning anti- Semitism and hate. The only people who voted for against the resolution were the Republicans. 23 Republicans apparently think that anti-Semitism or Islamophobia is fine.

Yes there were disagreements in the caucus and one of the results that came out is we made sure that Ilhan Omar wasn't personally named in the resolution, and that's healthy. You want to have a spirited debate. You want Jahana and the Speaker to have a conversation.

But you look at the results, I don't think what Ilhan said was appropriate, but she's apologized. She has said she should -- we should move on. Steve King has had a lifetime of racism. Ilhan Omar is not anti-Semitic. Anyone who knows her knows that about her. She is one who wants to listen, to have dialogue, she's sensitive to that.

So I think this the only people who are making these kind of moral comparisons are the Republicans who aren't even willing to vote for a clean resolution to condemn anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.

HAYES: One of the other things that that I think we see happening as a result of this class is these are the types of conversations that are happening in my community already. I had people calling my office.

The phone was ringing all day on both sides. We want you to support, we want you not to support. Advice from every community and this is how we feel and that's what my district looks like.

So when I go to --

JONES: Not new for you.

HAYES: -- caucus. It's not new.

JONES: No new for your classroom, your community.

HAYES: Exactly. So by diversifying the Congress, we're introducing the conversations that are already happening in our communities.

JONES: Well, let's move on because as much as Trump is coming after Democrats on some of this stuff, Democrats kind of coming after Trump as well, so let's talk about that. What's the plan here? Are you guys -- I mean you want to get like 81 people -- dozens of people like to come and testify. You're trying to get thousands of documents. Is this presidential harassment? [07:10:00] SPANBERGER: So we -- in Congress we have a responsibility to legislate to govern and we have a responsibility -- a constitutional responsibility for oversight.

HAALAND: Americans have been have been wanting the Congress to do something about this oversight for a long time, since the President was elected the Republicans refused. And so now that were -- we have the majority in the House, we're doing what the American people sent us to Congress to do.

And it's not presidential harassment. It is -- like Abigail said it's our duty.

MCBATH: Americans deserve the truth. No matter what comes out of these investigations, no matter what comes. I said on judiciary, so of course there's a lot that's coming before.

And I'm sure you've heard Chairman Nadler just recently say, we're going to be asking lots of questions of lots of individuals trying to get to the truth of what's happening through the Mueller investigation.

So the American people deserve the truth and that is our responsibility with congressional oversight, with this coequal branch of government to find the truth no matter what it is, we have to find --

JONES: Let me ask you a question. Who here, right now has seen enough truth and read enough truth to be ready for impeachment right now? Let's show hand. Nobody? Nobody is ready for impeachment?

HAYES: We're waiting for -- I'm waiting personally for the results of the investigation. And even through all of these conversations, it's not about Donald Trump. This is the office of the President, this is upholding the Constitution.

If these were Barack Obama and we had seen everything that we're seeing, I want some answers. I want the judiciary and Congressman Nadler to demand that we get this information. It doesn't matter who the person is.

JONES: So what do you think about Representative Tlaib, you think she's premature?

HAYES: If she ran on that platform.

MCBATH: Yes. Everyone has the ability to decide for them what's most important. We're all -- I think we're very highly opinionated.

JONES: Yes, I've noticed.

MCBATH: Very much so. But each and every one is -- one of us has decided what we believe is important. Impeachment is a very serious process and it's not to be taken lightly. There's -- no one wants to be able to say in the United States of America, well, we're going forward to impeach the President -- The Commander-in-Chief, that's not what we want to have to do.

So it we have to weigh very critically and balance very critically the information that's being put forth. We've got to be able to substantiate it if it is to be we deserve to make sure that we're finding the truth.

HAYES: But there are people who in this country who want impeachment and those people -- elected representatives who felt the same way. So she -- Congresswoman Tlaib had been unapologetic in her stance on this. She hasn't tried to hide it. She was crystal clear through the campaign.

JONES: She ran on it.

HAYES: She ran on it, and people elected her. So she has -- she's carrying forward the people in the district that she represents.

KHANNA: I never thought the thing I miss most about President Obama is he didn't -- he wasn't surrounded with people who were indicted and the bar and it has been set to so low.

HAYES: The times so seems so trivial.

JONES: All right. Up next, we're going to talking about 2020 and what is the issues, who's going to determine who gets the Democratic Party's nomination the next time. And who does this group want to see on the ticket. Stay tuned and find out when we get back

[07:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: All right. "Van Jones Show" I am here with this great group of House Democrats, give another round of applause. All right. Let's get down to it. I want to talk about 2020.

Now Ro Khanna -- you're already going team Bernie Sanders, and how can you representing Silicon Valley with all the rich people, people with the big accounts, who's after the billionaire's. You got more billionaires than anybody Congress.

KHANNA: That's exactly why I'm for Bernie Sanders. He understands the income inequality and a lot of folks in Silicon Valley understand that there have been communities left out in communities of color rural America and we have to deal with the wealth divide. He also wants to stop unconstitutional wars.

But the biggest thing that I'm going to take away from this is he wants a woman as a running mate and I'm going to say they're four people right here he can choose from.

JONES: Well, said. But, like, I'm not going to let you off the hot seat that easy. I mean Silicon Valley has a lot of wealthy people who you represent. You now have Elizabeth Warren who's saying she wants to break up Amazon, break up Facebook, break up Google. Is this the right direction for the Democratic Party be going according to you?

KHANNA: I think the focus needs to be how do we get more people to participate in the technology economy. How do we get more of rural America, communities of color? In terms of antitrust enforcement, I think we need stronger antitrust enforcement, but it has to be on a case-by-case basis.

JONES: Well, let's go case-by-case. Can we break up Google?

KHANNA: The point is -- it's for the FTC and the Justice Department to look at the facts. There's certain places we need to make sure that Google isn't being anti-competitive. But do you want Ways no longer to tell you if there's an accident on Google Maps, I don't know? I think that's probably valuable.

There's no doubt in my mind the technology in Silicon Valley have done an extraordinary amount of good for this country and the world. That said, there have been excesses, there have been excesses with foreign interference on these platforms. There have been excesses of hate speech, there have been excesses on privacy issues.

JONES: Let me ask you for a show of hands on some of these issues, I do think it's going to be important. Who here is for Medicare-for-All? Three. Not you two. OK. Who here is for -- what's the other, Green New Deal. Who here is for the Green New Deal? And not at all. That looks like a split to me. Let's --

MCBATH: It's not that I'm not for it. But it's just -- there's just certain parts of it that we need to -- I believe we need to weigh and so my team and I are still considering it. But it's not that I'm not for it. I am for clean renewable energy and infrastructure like that within the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.

Trust me I'm in an area that really suffers economically and also with the climate there. So, yes, it's not that I'm not for. We're just still weighing.

HAYES: But none of us are naive. It's written, it's a resolution that has everything in it. I think the idea that we think that we need to address issues with our environment and how they impact our communities. That's what I'm for, that's what I stand for. And we need to do something about it, something meaningful and really begin to work on this challenge.

I know we're not going to be in 10 years a emissions free. I know that. So it has to be broken apart and we deal with what we can tackle.

[07:20:00] SPANBERGER: From my perspective I think what we have in common is, is a shared set of observations and things that we want to change. I think we can all agree that the fact that there are Americans who are choosing between putting food on the table and taking their kids to the doctor is horrific, and something we need to change.

People are rationing their medicine for their chronic diseases, because they can't afford their prescription drugs, that's something we have to change. And the approach and the ideas of how it is that we address those problems, that's what varies. I support a public option. I support a bill that creates a public option that allows people to buy into a Medicare like program, knowing that we want to have the goal of having more people with quality affordable healthcare.

MCBATH: And at the end of the day we really are responsible to our constituents, the people that put us in office. And I know, in particular with health care, I'm a two-time breast cancer survivor. And so I have a lot of people in my district, a lot of children with pre-existing conditions, things of that nature. So I have to really take into consideration what they're asking of me.

JONES: Yes. Well, what are they asking?

MCBATH: They're asking for a public option.

JONES: Public option. That's where you are. Those of who are for Medicare-for-all, how are you going to pay for Medicare?

HAALAND: Well, like right now if -- when you get Medicare -- I mean there's money that is taken out of every single American's check when they get paid, there's money that goes into Medicare Medicaid and whatever else they take taxes for, right? It's -- they act like we're not like nobody's paying into anything and that all this money is just going to be free.

First of all, I was not supporting the Republican tax plan that put us into debt for the tax breaks that they gave to the richest people in this country. I don't think we should be doing that. I think we should make people --

JONES: You want to roll those back?

HAALAND: -- pay their fair share. Thank you. They should pay their fair share, because that's what goes to pay for things in this country. There's plenty of money to pay for the things we need for every child to have a quality public education, for everyone to have health care, but we just blow the money in so many ways that shouldn't be blown.

JONES: We're talking about issues and we're getting nuanced. But a lot of this stuff is going to come down to two demographics. I mean you got a chance for a woman, you got a chance for a person of color, you got a chance for all these different things.

What is the role in 2020 from your point of view? Is it time for us to have a woman that forget Joe Biden, forget Bernie Sanders, we need a woman. I mean, how do you guys factor that stuff? I want to hear from you.

HAYES: I would never vote for someone just because of their gender. I would love to see a female President, but I would not -- if we didn't have a good woman, I wouldn't want to put forth someone who I didn't think was good.

JONES: But we've got four or five. HAYES: Fortunately, we do. I think Kamala Harris is whip-smart. I think she is.

JONES: Oh, look at that smile.

HAYES: I watched her during the Senate, some of the hearings, and I -- she's asking the questions that I want to know the answer to. She's measured, she was tempered and I was excited. I'm excited about this crop of women, it's been great.

JONES: I think I heard a little low-key Kamala endorsement there. But I don't push it. But what about Biden? I threw his name out there and I don't want to dismiss. I mean there is this dual hunger. On the one hand we want to return to normalcy and I think Biden represents that stability and that tradition. Also people want something new. How is that going to play out in your district?

SPANBERGER: I think when we've started having conversations people have started talking to me about what 2020 is going to look like in our district, and the answer is I have no idea. I have no idea.

JONES: What kind of candidate you want though?

SPANBERGER: What I'm looking for in a candidate is somebody who is focused on moving this country forward. Sometimes that's a leap and a jump and sometimes it's a little bit of a shuffle. I'm looking for someone who's going to be pragmatic and honest with the American people about what's possible and honest about what it is that they are working to achieve on our behalf.

JONES: More pragmatic than idealistic for your voters.

SPANBERGER: You can be both. You can be both. You have to believe very, very deeply in what is possible to make it happen. But you also have to be realistic in order to make progress.

KHANNA: We're going to have the most talented field, I think, that we have had in decades. With all due respect to John Kerry and John Edwards, look at that field, this field puts that to shame. This field is talented, it's passionate. It's got -- I mean we're going to have an incredible field and we're going to emerge out with a very strong nominee.

JONES: OK. Listen I wish we could talk more about all this stuff. But up next from gun violence prevention to campaign ethics reform, we're going to get into the legislation that Democrats are pushing, is their work going to be stopped and stymied by the Senate Republicans.

Also, I hear it's like being back in the high school. We're going to break down all the congressional cliques when we get back.

[07:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: Welcome back to "Van Jones Show" I'm back here with Congressional Democrats. I've got Abigail Spanberger, we got Ro Khanna, Jahana Hayes, Lucy McBath and Deb Haaland. I want to just touch on some of this of personal stuff. I mean you guys ran for very personal reasons -- many of you. How did it feel given what happened in your family with gun violence to have that vote on the House floor?

MCBATH: It is something I never expected I would ever have the ability to really kind of help to usher in the very policies that I'd been working on as an advocate, sitting on the other side of the dais and all the Committee bill markups and judiciary hearings.

And to actually be there to help usher through that very policy H.R. 8 Federal Background checks for all gun sales, H.R. 1112 closing the "Charleston Loophole" was -- it was very bittersweet, because I know that not only that I have a great loss under the extremist culture of gun violence that we have in America, but there were so many others like me that had been depending and waiting for years on some sensible legislation put forth to keep us safe.

JONES: Yes. I mean, you're -- I think your son could not be honored more by what you've done. Just another round of applause for you.

[07:30:00] You got a chance to be the first Native American woman to ever sit in the Speaker's chair when you were doing the voting rights piece, how did that feel? Talk about that.

HAALAND: Well, of course, voting rights is dear to me. I'm an organizer and that's what I've done for close to the last 20 years in my state of New Mexico, getting out underrepresented communities, getting them registered and to vote.

Native Americans couldn't vote in New Mexico until 1948. There have been Indian tribes across our country who haven't been able to vote since 1965 or until 1965, and I mean look, we're still fighting that.

In this last election there was voter oppression happening across our country with people of color in Georgia, in Kansas, in Florida. It's a travesty. We have to put a stop to it. I am passionate about this issue. I got to be in the Speaker's chair again when my colleague John Lewis came to speak on the full bill H.R. 1., and that was extremely power.

JONES: Beautiful, beautiful.

HAALAND: Yes.

HAYES: We all came here for reasons that were deeply personal. I am an educator and assigned to the Committee on education and labor. In the first two weeks that of Committee assignments we did raised the minimum wage, voted out of Committee. We did a $100 billion school Infrastructure Bill, voted out of Committee. We did Paycheck Fairness to close that gender equity gap, voted out of Committee. I was a part of that.

Next week I'm going to put forth a bill that says we will not use federal funds to arm teachers. That was my absolute. I was willing to lose the election over it. JONES: Its beautiful. And you're on the cover of Rolling Stone

Magazine --

HAYES: And there's that.

JONES: That's amazing. We always said you're a rock star. Now you're a legitimate rock star. So what does that mean?

HAYES: So that was one my students who has tweeted, "My 10th grade teacher is on the cover Rolling Stone". And we laughed and we joked, but what does it mean for other young women who were in your circumstances? And listen, you were 17 years old, you were homeless, you had a baby to deal with. What does it mean for people in those circumstances right now for you to be where you are right now?

HAYES: It means everything. I mean, we talked about -- I'm from the State of Connecticut I'm the first African-American woman to represent the State of Connecticut. There's so much power and so much shame in just that sentence.

And I am the other side of it. I'm the promise of what could happen. I am what I've told kids, if you do this, if you are steadfast, if you work hard -- don't worry about the situation you're in, you can work your way out of this.

But I also recognize that life happens. This idea that all you have to do is work hard it's a misnomer it's a false choice. And I have to remind my colleagues on the other side of the aisle of that every single day. We need access to opportunities and for as long as I hold the seat I'm going to make sure that no kid ever has to face the same challenges that I faced.

JONES: That's beautiful. You also are here for personal reasons. You've been somebody who's been a part of the military. You're in the Gang of 9, is it what's called?

SPANBERGER: I learned about this title when I read it in the paper.

JONES: What's it like to be a part of this click, this this camp of military smart Democrats?

SPANBERGER: Yes. So there's who -- there's a group of us who -- our background is in service military veterans, there's two CIA folks, and we decided to run for office because we wanted to continue serving. We saw that there were challenges facing this country and we wanted to be a part of finding the solution.

And so it's tremendous commonality. We faced some of the same challenges in Congress like the fact that nobody's ever on time that bothers some of us. Little things. Some of us were united over passion and some of us are united over experience.

And I think that's what makes this class so incredible, because we can get together with these different groups and sort of move the marker for we're on a variety of things. And we jump back and forth and some of the groups have names and some don't. JONES: Yes. You're kind of like -- you're the only one I know is like -- you're not in some -- or some group.

KHANNA: I will tell you my passion came -- is in human rights. My grandfather spent four years in jail with Gandhi and Gandhi's independence movement, and what I was most proud of is on Yemen and it doesn't get a lot of attention. But we passed the first War Powers Resolution to stop the Saudi bombing in Yemen, the greatest --

JONES: Help me understand, though, "The Squad". Is it frustrating for you guys that this -- that these four young women gets so much attention when you guys are working just as hard. [07:35:00] How does that feel to have "The Squad" now --

HAALAND: Let her live.

MCBATH: We are all working on our own lanes.

HAALAND: And what matters to me is what the people in my district think about the job I'm doing.

KHANNA: You know what, I love about them, because I was here the previous term and all anyone talked about was the Senate. Now when they're talking about --

MCBATH: I mean, when they are talking about these women they're talking about the excitement that's being generated, they're talking about the fact that we are willing to step up and to critically just get some stuff done.

JONES: They're kind of talking about that. They're also talking about socialism. Are they a gift of Fox News? I mean, is it going to hurt the Democratic Party going forward in purplish, reddish -- bright reddish districts. I mean how do you deal with it?

SPANBERGER: I have had to say I'm not a socialist a few times back in my district.

KHANNA: They called Barack Obama a socialist, they called Hillary Clinton the socialist. They called you a socialist. They called FDR a socialist --

JONES: Listen. You talk about opening up opportunity. I appreciate you guys for opening up your hearts to your constituents, to the American people, to the folks here at "The Van Jones Show". Thank you for being here.

Coming up I went to the biggest conservative gathering in the country. Yes, it was my first trip to CPAC. I was pretty surprised by how some people reacted to seeing me there. I'm going to take you behind the scenes when we get back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:40:00] JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". As I have said before, I will work with or against anybody to help people who are behind bars and to shine the light on prison reform. In that spirit I participated in a panel at CPAC last week. That is the biggest gathering of conservatives in the country, and yes it was a little bit intimidating to walk into a massive conference of my political opponents.

But I saw an opportunity to engage with people there with an open heart and an open mind, so take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: I'm always saying that we've got to get out of our camps, get out of our bubbles, talk to each other even when it's hard and so I am here walking the talk at CPAC. This is the biggest conservative gathering in the country, probably in the history of humanity, and I'm going to talk to a whole bunch of people here and we'll see how it goes.

Your young folks -- I mean, a lot of young people they're moving toward AOC, they're moving toward Bernie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

JONES: I mean how do you stand up to that Bernie AOC tidal wave?

GRAYSON, STUDENT & CPAC ATTENDEE: I think we're doing great things as far as voter outreach.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We going to --

JONES: Nearly 10,000 people here at CPAC. Now the Republicans in Congress are mostly white men, but the crowd here spans the spectrum of age, race, ethnicity and gender. Why are you wearing that hat?

DIANA, CPAC ATTENDEE: I'm wearing this hat, because I want to show my favorite President Trump.

SONIA, CPAC ATTENDEE: My President Mr. Trump is the best thing that's happened to this country, because actually you don't believe that.

JONES: I don't believe that.

SONIA: You don't believe that.

JONES: No.

SONIA: I adore, I love this country. I'm an immigrant.

JONES: Let me ask you a question. Why do you like Donald Trump so much when Donald Trump does say very harsh things about immigrants, very hard things about so many people?

SONIA: He's true. Do you think -- there's a lot of immigrants who made in this country, they don't want those people to come in here and take advantage?

JONES: Why are the Conservatives doing so badly in recruiting women candidates?

MADELEINE, STUDENT & CPAC ATTENDEE: I think Republicans are open to women more and more like we had Carly Fiorina running primary. We had Sarah Palin running. I never looked at Hillary Clinton as a woman. I looked at her as a politician, and I think that's largely how Republicans views people, so they don't feel a need to push people to tokenize them, because I never want to be viewed as a woman. I want to be viewed as a person.

JONES: I'm mostly received with well wishes and words of support, still political tensions are high and a couple of people here are not so happy to see me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You still think the election was a whitelash, you think that we're all a bunch of racists? Is that what you were saying when you said the election was whitelash.

JONES: Hold on a second you want the answer? Why not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked you, yes .

JONES: So here is my answer. I said it's been whitelash in part and it was. It was a part of your coalition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My coalition. Don't you include me with this coalition that you think we are, that's wrong.

JONES: No big surprise here, but most people at CPAC do not blame Trump for the divisiveness that now characterizes our politics.

MOISES, US VETERAN & CPAC ATTENDEE: That's been starting since the middle of Obama's campaign -- Obama presidency, I mean, and ever since Trayvon Martin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: You know if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: What do you think about the Trayvon Martin and Black Lives Matter and all that kind of stuff?

MOISES, US VETERAN & CPAC ATTENDEE: It's a shame. But it's also two sides of that story. Me being a former law enforcement you have to think about what they're going through as well. There's families of ICE and families of Border Patrol being threatened. So everybody has a role to play and to unify and also be responsible with their rhetoric, everyone.

JONES: What do you think you can do to bring people together while you're wearing that hat. How does wearing that hat, which seems to be on one side of the divide, how's it going to help you bring people together? GREG, CPAC ATTENDEE: Well my experience -- I mean, I can't walk down the street with a back home. I'm from Boston and get yelled at, stuff thrown at me, you get the middle finger. I can't even walk into a store without getting ridiculed for.

I mean, if I walk by somebody -- and they weren't a Hillary Clinton happen, I wouldn't flip out over. It's crazy how a hat that has a presidential slogan could just cause somebody to want to just basically harm.

JONES: But do you understand why if you were from a community where Trump has entered psyches that it might be an offensive hat. In other words, suppose your cousin is an undocumented immigrant, can you see how that hat might seem like a middle finger from you?

GREG: In a way to -- on their behalf like, if your undocumented immigrant, I honestly understand why you don't like Trump, because he's trying to get you deported, because you came here and broke the law. But I mean, I could -- yes I could say that.

[07:45:00] JONES: Conservatives are watching pretty closely as a Democrats exert congressional oversight.

DENNIS, CPAC ATTENDEE: I will tell you, that crap -- all that was going on up here in the last few days with these hearings, he owes me, because they're wasting in time doing that instead of figuring out ways and get the money and the infrastructure and the environmental stuff squirted out, so we can get the bootstrap work done.

JONES: So you're mad that Congress got Michael Cohen there. Aren't you outraged though by what Michael Cohen is saying? I mean, he is tough stuff.

DENNIS: I am but --

JONES: I mean, he is tough stuff.

DENNIS: -- yes, I do to a certain extent, but actually no. I want the government to take care of our bootstrap issues.

JONES: Why do you think a Michael Cohen who was so close to the President for 10 years when he does come out and he says these negative things, why don't conservatives then turn on the President?

DENNIS: I don't believe him for one and if I do believe parts of it, I think, it's really very shaded. And I'm looking at what the President has accomplished for the issues that I'm looking for and he's been pretty good with all the stuff against him, with all the negative stuff. He's done a pretty good job on the issues that I care about.

JONES: As you know, wherever I am, I looked to build bridges and try to find some common ground. Do you think that climate change is real and caused by human activity?

BENJI BACKER, AMERICAN CONSERVATION COALITION: Yes.

JONES: Well, what are you doing in the conservative party? You should be in my party.

BACKER: Well, I think that our answers could be better, because I think the market and better incentives and limited government could be helpful and limited government policies could be helpful if we actually propose them. We need to create a policy nationally that fits economically and environmentally and that's what I'm looking to do.

JONES: Man, where you been my whole life? New Orleans Saint linebacker Demario Davis is also here to speak on criminal justice.

DEMARIO DAVIS, NFL LINEBACKER & CPAC SPEAKER: we have a huge issue in our country mass incarceration, that's a really scary thing when you think about it where most of the country and world. And when you look at our system and 40% of the people that are in jail in our country are there on a pretrial basis. Meaning, they have not been convicted of a crime, that's a tragedy in itself. So we got to fix that.

JONES: Do you see yourself as more of a conservative, more of a progressive?

DAVIS: I'm just a person for people. I grew up in extreme poverty and then to be able to make it to the League and my lifestyle changed I've been able to see the good and bad of both worlds. And so I think I'm able to speak from a place of understanding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They want to replace individual rights with total government domination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: And while watching this event can at times be disturbing, being here did remind me that not everyone and everything is like what you see on TV.

Dennis: Very simple treat each other with respect. We're not doing that on both sides. We're not doing that. It's a wonderful opportunity for me to talk to you and hopefully people will see us talking and you know what we come up with some solutions.

JONES: I'm ready. All right.

Dennis: All right.

JONES: Let's keep doing it. I appreciate --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: And Now you may have heard part of my speech at CPAC caused a little bit of controversy, I usually don't respond stuff like that, but I will when we get back. See in a minute.

[07:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: All right. Now we live in the Digital Age where we can all communicate with each other pretty much at any time from any place and yet somehow it seems harder to be heard and understood and easier to be misheard and misunderstood than ever before.

And I ran to this problem myself last week when I praised conservatives who are finally embracing criminal justice reform and I think I broke Twitter, OK. You would have thought I said I was joining the Klan, please don't respond to people -- "What is he thinking".

So I'm going to tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking about the pain of the 2 million people who are locked up in U.S. jails and prisons right now. We got the biggest prison population in the world and they need champions in both parties.

I was thinking about the bad old days in 1990s when Republicans and Democrats like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden were all cheerleading for building and filling up more prisons. Don't believe the lie, by the way, at the start of the prison boom that all the conservatives were for the prisons and the Liberals were against the prisons, that's not true.

The Democratic Party supported the 1994 Clinton Crime Bill three strikes and you're out, and many other mass incarceration policies. The first convention where Democrats finally adopted a major criminal justice reform plank was 2016, OK? So don't believe the hype.

I was also thinking about the fact that both parties have finally started getting smarter and doing better even in red states like Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Republican governors have realized that prisons cost too much money, gobble up too many rights and violate Christian values of redemption and second chances.

Last year the Republican Congress passed and Donald Trump signed into law a major criminal justice bill the FIRST STEP Act and I worked on that personally. And I saw with my own eyes many conservatives are actually waking up and starting to get it.

So I'm happy about that. And with a little humor and hyperbole I said this at the conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: The conservative movement in this country, unfortunately from my point of view, is now the leader on this issue of reform. And my problem is I now have a conservative movement that for libertarian reasons, for Christian conservative reasons and for fiscally conservative reasons is actually doing a great job on what should be my issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: So I summed up appropriately there. But I thought it was good to acknowledge the good, encourage them to keep moving forward.

[07:55:00] Here was what I was not thinking about. I was not thinking about the impact of my words to conservatives on the Liberals. See the Republicans have been so terrible on so many things, including snatching babies for mothers at the border, everything else that any praise over here can feel like a betrayal over there.

And Republicans also, they're not the only ones that are right and the wrongs of criminal justice, far from it. Black Lives Matter, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the ACLU, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Brennan Center, so many other progressive groups have been fighting hard for years on this. And now practically every Democratic candidate backs reforms even the Clintons apologize.

So the truth is no one side is the leader, and honestly we should probably stop talking about sides anyway on this. The rise of the incarceration industry it's not a democratic tragedy, it's not a Republican tragedy it's an American tragedy and fixing it should not be about right versus left. It should be about right versus wrong.

So that everybody in both parties working hard to make a difference, I see you. Let's stick together, let's pass more bills and let's get more people free. I'm Van Jones. This is "The Van Jones Show" peace and love for one another.