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Senator Cory Booker Delivers Presidential Campaign Speech in New Jersey; Tornadoes Hit Parts of Texas and Other Southern States; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) is Interviewed about Trump Administration's Possible Policy of Transporting Detained Immigrants Awaiting Hearings to Sanctuary Cities; "Vogue" Editor Anna Wintour Explains Choosing which First Ladies to Feature on Magazine Cover; President Trump Tweets Controversial Images of Ilhan Omar and 9/11 Attacks. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 13, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D-NJ) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- don't have the privilege to wait for what fits into someone else's narrow view of what it means to be a progressive.
BOOKER: Our first priority must be to make people's lives better.
BOOKER: Right now, to move the ball forward, how best we can, as fast as we can, and to ensure that the closest -- that those folks that are closest to the pain and closest to the struggle have an active hand in defining how we confront it. A real progressive movement refuses to stall out in righteous indignation. It channels that indignation into the work that actually improves people's lives. A real progressive movement does not hold progress for communities like mine hostage today for promises that perfection will come tomorrow.
BOOKER: We are the inheritors of those kind of movements. Movements of committed Americans who came together gathering just like we are now. This has been the truth of generations of people in our country who in moments of great moral crisis and great moral challenge summoned great moral imagination. They did not surrender to the seduction of hatred. They fought with a defiant love. And when they rose, our nation rose with them. I'm here today, we are here today because of those kinds of movements.
As many of you know, I wasn't born here in Newark. When I was a baby, my mom who you saw with my dad, they tried to move into a neighborhood in Harrington Park, New Jersey, about 20 miles up the road from here. They moved there attracted by the public schools, it's proximity to New York. But real estate agents, they refused to sell us a home because of the color of our skin. And what would have been that, us denied housing, didn't happen because of a group of activists that came together. A young black activist who was the head of the Fair Housing Council and a group of white volunteers and lawyers who had watched and been inspired by the courage of civil rights marchers, they worked to help black families in their community come together, and they stood up against the illegal housing discrimination that my parents faced, and they won. And they changed the course of my entire life.
BOOKER: And so when you grow up with a mom like mine, they made sure that my brother and I never forget what it took to get us to where we are. They said like all of us in this generation that we could never pay back what has been done for us, but we could and we had to pay it forward.
BOOKER: What my parents wanted us to do was to understand the urgency of the work still left to do in our country. They wanted us to understand that in the face of injustice, there is no wait. There must be work. There is no wait. There must be struggle. There is no wait, because all of us stand on the shoulders of giants, generations before who did not wait.
BOOKER: And so here we are. Fifth-six years ago this very morning, a young preacher woke up in a jail cell in Alabama because he and so many other young people had joined together to take on the toughest challenges of their day, a fight others called impossible to win. They joined with local activists and eventually folks from all around the country to confront a city where injustice and division were literally written into the law.
He was arrested on Good Friday morning while demonstrating against segregation. And on this very date, this very date, Saturday, April 13th in 1963, Martin Luther King woke up in that jail cell in Birmingham, that same jail cell where he wrote on the margins of a newspaper that had been smuggled in to him, he wrote this letter, these words. "For years now, I have heard the word "wait." This wait has almost always meant never. We come to see that justice too long delayed is justice denied."
BOOKER: Martin Luther King on this date in history, he spoke to the possibility of what we could achieve when we realize our own power and when we refuse to wait. The children of Birmingham and a man named King joining arms with others showed what was possible when they refused to wait and confronted dogs and firehoses when they confronted and defeated Bull Connor and brought down segregation in their city.
America, America, we know our history. It is a perpetual testimony to impatient, demanding, unrelenting people who in every generation with love stood up for justice.
(APPLAUSE) BOOKER: Generations of Americans have shown us what was possible when they refused to wait, and now it is our turn. And we have work to do. America, we can't wait. America, we will not wait. Together we will run at the tough challenges. Together we will do the things that other people say are impossible. Together we will fulfill our pledge to be a nation of liberty and justice for all.
BOOKER: Together we will win. And together, America, we will rise!
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, New Jersey, U.S. Senator Cory Booker there at his first big rally since announcing his candidacy two months ago. Quite the contrast in front of a huge crowd there in Newark, New Jersey, what's become his home for the last 20 years, in contrast to when he announced his candidacy standing outside of his home, just a few cameras there.
And you heard him talk about standing on the shoulders of giants from his mom, who helped raise him and set an example of what it is to fight, to that of Martin Luther King. He talked about what Martin Luther King made reference to, not being able to wait any longer. You heard that thread coming from Cory Booker throughout his speech there, saying can't wait for unity, can't wait for equal justice, equal pay. He looks forward to as commander in chief if elected, he wants to help build education and infrastructure.
Rebecca Buck has been following Cory Booker and his candidacy, and they are at the rally. And so, Rebecca, let's talk about a full gamut. He talked about equality for all Americans and even talking about if as commander in chief trying to create a pathway for citizenship for Dreamers and beyond.
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right. So Booker here laying out his vision, really, for the campaign moving forward. This is his mission statement for this campaign. And of course, he's been laying out some of these themes over the past few weeks since his launch on February 1st here in Newark.
But this is the first time that he's really presented these themes altogether in a big rally sort of atmosphere. And so his team is viewing this really as his first big speech of the campaign. And you heard from him that urgency to achieve justice for all. Justice for all is the theme we are going to hear from Booker over the next few weeks. He is embarking now on a two-week national tour, going to some states he's been to before, like Iowa and Nevada. Others he hasn't visited yet as a presidential candidate, like Georgia, Florida, Texas, California. And so he's looking to try to pick up the pace now of his campaign.
Since his launch he's been relatively quiet, but now we're seeing him trying to step into the spotlight and have a breakthrough moment in his campaign. His team believes that they're in a good place, but there is mounting pressure with this competitive field, with this new Democratic field. For Booker to make his mark and really establish a narrative, so this rally today, the beginning of that process. Of course, we'll see if it does resonate. He is still lagging in the polls not only nationally but in these key early states, so he does have his work cut out for him, Fred.
WHITFIELD: And Rebecca, I know it's difficult competing with the ambient noise around you there, but lots of messages I know you just went over from Cory Book, but among them, this candidate did not refrain from using the words "President Trump." He went directly at President Trump as he also said, and used President Trump as an example of dividing people.
[14:10:01] But, you know, the point of view that Cory Booker was having is now is the time for people to be more unified, come together. And it is love which was a thought that he had, that will help bring divisiveness or end divisiveness, bring people together.
BUCK: That's right. And so he mentions President Trump, but he has tried very hard, Cory Booker, not to make President Trump the focus of his campaign. He's seen some candidates really eager to fight President Trump, to take him on directly. Booker is not one of those candidates. He is trying to call his supporters to a higher purpose, as he likes to say, and so consistently that is what we're hearing from him. There is a question among some Democrats, can he sustain that. Of course, we'll see over the next few weeks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Rebecca Buck, thank you so much there in a very boisterous Newark, New Jersey, where this rally is still under way. Cory Booker is still there working the crowd on the stage there. Thank you so much.
We're going to talk further about that right now, though. I'm joined now by "New York Times" national reporter Astead Herndon. So Steve, talk to me about what you heard out of the content of Cory Booker. This was one of inspiration, of unity, of saying if elected as commander in chief, his first priorities would be, and he ticked off a huge list, saying he as a citizen, he if elected, could not wait for reform on so many levels.
ASTEAD HERNDON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes, that's where he's trying to position his campaign. This is a person who has oscillated between the progressive big structural change questions of the Democratic Party and the more pragmatic liberal side. And he sees himself as that coalition candidate, someone who can stand on that dividing line and bring people together.
But I think one of the things that sets Senator Booker apart is that message of unity, that message of love. He's not going to be one of the candidates who goes tit for tat with President Trump or his fellow Democratic opponents. He tries to use that aspirational language, reminiscent of the former first lady's, when they go low, we go high, type of rhetoric. And that's where he sees himself as a real standard bearer.
And you hear this out on the trail in places like Iowa and South Carolina, New Hampshire, that people want someone who's going to bring this country together. Democrats feel that the president has rolled back some of the American unity that they want to see. And Cory Booker sees himself as someone who can tie those binds again.
WHITFIELD: Also joining us, White House reporter for "The Washington Post" Toluse Olorunnipa. So Toluse, the senator there also said he wants to be a fixer. He says there are lots of things that are broken among their health care system, but it would be his ambition to help make the affordable care better, improve upon it, which is a departure from some of the other Democratic candidates who are talking about starting over again, health care for everyone, free health care, Medicare for everyone. You heard Senator Booker kind of distinguish himself as perhaps more of a realist. What did you hear?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": That's right. He said that he wanted to stop the sabotage of the Affordable Care Act. Democrats are very unified when it comes to protecting the Affordable Care Act from the onslaught from the Republican administration, from the Trump administration that wants to go to court to basically nullify the entire law. But they're not unified when it comes to deciding whether or not they should move forward with things like Medicare for all.
So Cory Booker was able to stake out a little bit of ground for himself saying he wants to focus on the area where Democrats are unified, which is protecting the Affordable Care Act and not necessarily talk as much about the next step, which is do you go for Medicare for all, do you decide to get rid of the entire private insurance industry. Those are things that are a little bit more divisive on the Democratic side. And Cory Booker seems to be staking out some ground in the area where there's unity.
Obviously he's going to be pressed on that over time as the primary runs his course, and he's to have to explain not only what he wants to do to protect the Affordable Care Act but what he wants to do in terms of moving forward with the next step and whether he does continue to support Bernie Sanders' Medicare for all bill which he is a co-sponsor of and whether he supports getting rid of the private insurance industry. Those are things that are going to have to be fleshed out over the course of the next few months.
WHITFIELD: And Toluse, did you see him distinguishing himself among other things where he talks about equal justice, equal pay, wanting to build education infrastructure, also wanting to better support U.S. vets. He had an incredible litany, like a to-do list, of things that he said we simply cannot wait. Making college affordable, wanting to, as we mentioned, fix the health care system.
[14:15:06] Was that what helped set him apart from now a field of 18 candidates, by having this to-do list and saying I'm ready to put check marks on them right away, we can't wait.
OLORUNNIPA: He's trying and he has been trying for the past few weeks to set himself apart from a pretty large field. It's been difficult to do that when you're not Bernie Sanders with the most progressive policies, when you're not someone like Mayor Pete Buttigieg who is coming out of nowhere as a newcomer in Washington. So Cory Booker is trying to rely on what he did as a mayor of Newark and say I have a track record of bringing Republicans and Democrats together and solving problems and not bloviating in Washington but actually getting things done. And that's part of the reason he put together this long list of things that he hopes to do, and he's going to be drawing on his history and his background as the mayor of Newark to try to say that I have a track record of being an executive, of getting things done, of not just talking in Washington but actually taking care of business and taking action to get things done.
And that history is actually more of a centrist, of working across the aisle, working with corporations and big banks and charter schools to actually move things forward. And that may make it difficult for him to win in a Democratic primary, but he's trying to cast that history as something that should make him electable and make him more strong in the general election.
WHITFIELD: Astead real quick, do you think it was important, pivotal for Senator Cory Booker, even though he has a household name as a U.S. senator, his track record as the mayor of Newark, got an awful lot of publicity while he was mayor and beyond, but this forum allows him to reintroduce himself to the masses, even two months after he started his run?
HERNDON: Exactly. This is a second chance of introduction for this presidential campaign to the rest of the country. I think we should remember there's a reason Cory Booker was the next big thing in politics a while ago. He is someone who in a campaign and in a setting like those small rooms in Iowa that become so important for these elections, that people generally leave with a fairly good impression of on the Democratic side. And so he's going to hope that that kind of retail campaign, that type of aspirational message is what breaks him out for the pack.
But like you said, this is a chance to tell the country again the story of the presidential campaign as you have people breaking out, as you have people who are trying to make a name for themselves in what is such a crowded and wide-open field.
WHITFIELD: OK, Astead Herndon, Toluse Olorunnipa, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.
OLORUNNIPA: Thank you.
HERNDON: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: And don't miss 2020 presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke as he sits down on "The Axe Files" with David Axelrod. That's tonight at 7:00 eastern only on CNN.
[14:21:6] WHITFIELD: Breaking news out of Texas. Reports of multiple people injured in a large and extremely dangerous tornado as it passed through the town of Franklin. That's about 45 minutes north of College Station. Our affiliate KWTX reporting uprooted trees, as you see there, multiple power lines down, roofs ripped off, homes, businesses, mobile homes that are crushed, and trailers have been displaced from their foundations. A local reporter says emergency vehicles are struggling to actually get through all of the debris. And many people had ample warning apparently, time to seek shelter.
Let's bring in meteorologist Ivan Cabrera in the CNN Weather Center. So Ivan, tell us more about the warnings and now the damage.
IVAN CABRERA, METEOROLOGIST: Ongoing threat, Fredricka, here, and we're going to continue this right through the evening hours. That one tornado you mentioned, a violent tornado likely on the upper scale. We're seeing significant damage. That was in Franklin. Franklin is done as far as the severe weather. We're moving further east now because this particularly area, Fredricka, you also talked about Alto here. Alto also got struck by a tornado, likely tornado.
Now we have a new one, actually. The National Weather Service urging people to get out of the way if they're trying to assess the damage because we have another tornado possible coming in, and that's going to be within the next 15 to 20 minutes. So if you know anyone in this area let them know the danger is not over. That's what we've been trying to really highlight throughout the morning and afternoon at this point here.
So now five tornadoes confirmed. We've got another five. That's an outbreak. I think we're going to get well past that by later this evening. Eleven severe wind reports and 19 large hail reports.
Let's break this down as far as the timing here. Until 7:00 central, this is where eve the tornado watch. That means conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. Obviously, they have been forming. And under that watch we've been seeing numerous tornado warnings, again, multiple in Texas. And Louisiana, I think you're next. Right now Shreveport under a severe thunderstorm warning, but it's just the beginning of it. We're not into the heart, I think, of this system as it heads into tonight. That's when we're likely going to see strong tornadoes, a potential for violent tornadoes in Louisiana and into western Mississippi. These are, again, on the higher end scale.
So the timing will go this way as it continues to push off toward the east. Strong long track tornadoes possible right through 8:00 and thereafter. We'll talk more about that in just a few minutes.
WHITFIELD: Dangerous conditions. And of course, it's not over. Ivan Cabrera, thank you so much.
Still ahead, President Trump under fire after he admits he is considering dropping off undocumented migrants in sanctuary cities. Democrats calling it political retribution. The mayor of Atlanta responding to President Trump. She joins me live right here in studio, next.
[14:29:05] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Yet another reversal from the White House on immigration, a move that has sparked massive backlash from the Democratic Party. Just after a White House official downplayed an idea as quickly rejected, President Trump confirmed that his administration is in fact considering transporting undocumented migrants to sanctuary cities. Trump in what critics are calling revenge politics says if Democrats want to open their arms to immigrants, they should do it in their own cities.
Joining me right now is Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Good to see you. It was a year ago when you signed an executive order as a result of this administration's family separation policy where you said, no, you're not going to send people here, families that have been separated. Now today you hear this conflicting messaging coming from the White House and the president. Do you expect that this will be a city that the president could potentially target?
[14:30:03] MAYOR KEISHA LANCE BOTTOMS, ATLANTA: I have to assume that Atlanta will be, although we are not designated as a sanctuary city because Georgia law doesn't allow us to have that designation. We are what we consider a welcoming city. So when Vice President Pence was here a few weeks ago, he singled me out for signing the executive order that ended our relationship with ICE. So we have to assume that we are on the radar of the White House and that we are one of the cities that he referred to.
WHITFIELD: So in response to the president's messaging, you had said, and I'm just quoting in part, "To turn the clock back on an era that certain segments of the society would be singled out is immoral." What are your thoughts about even the conflicting messaging that's coming from the White House? The White House would say, no, we dare not do that. And then the president says, well, yes, that kind of is in my arsenal. I could consider it.
BOTTOMS: I think the one thing the president has perfected is being the master of distraction. And I think this is just another attempt to distract from what the real issues are in this country. What I would say is that when you refer to people, when you use people as pawns, when you use people as property, then certainly that takes us back to a very dangerous era in our nation's history. And the biggest concern is that the president, the leader of our nation, does not care about our cities.
Now, that being said, Atlanta will be ready. We are a welcoming city. It's in our DNA to be a welcoming city. But to put cities in this position, in a very difficult position, I think really speaks to the lack of leadership that we have in the White House.
WHITFIELD: And what does it say to you about -- as a leader of a major American city, what does it say to you that the leader of the country will then say I am using this to really target my political opponents, because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district of San Francisco was among those cities, sanctuary cities, that would be in the view of the president?
BOTTOMS: I think, again, it speaks to the president only being concerned about politics and his reelection. We know that his base is not likely found in urban cities, so he's speaking to a different demographic other than those that are normally found in urban cities. But I think the most disturbing part, again, is that this is about his
reelection. He doesn't care anything about families. He doesn't care anything about separating parents from their children. What he cares about is being able to say that he has done something about immigration. And we know that it really is built on nothingness.
That being said, mayors get things done. It's the reason that we just saw Senator Cory Booker announcing that he is running for president, because mayors are used to having to resolve issues. So if this becomes an issue in Atlanta, then we will certainly be prepared to address it. But I think at the core is this bigger issue that we have, that we have a president who doesn't care about people, and he doesn't care about our cities.
WHITFIELD: How does any city prepare for, particularly border cities, but how does any city prepare for the president's approach on immigration? He is sending messages that may be very different from the White House, the administration, but at the same time he's changed homeland security, there have been people who have been dismissed because they're not carrying out, allegedly, his policies. How does a city plan for what could be on the horizon?
BOTTOMS: The unfortunate part is that we are living in a time where cities have had to be prepared to stand in the gap for things that our federal partners normally lead on. So this is really just another issue in a long line of issues. We can't look to our president for leadership, so mayors across this country are having to lead.
That being said, we stay prepared in Atlanta through our welcoming Atlanta office. We already provide resources and access to resources for those seeking to call Atlanta home. So we certainly would have to look at expanding programs that we already have in place.
WHITFIELD: What would those programs be?
BOTTOMS: Well, one, we make sure that we try to partner those who are seeking asylum with people who can represent them pro bono. But what we also know, in Atlanta, our immigration court in Atlanta has one of the highest denial rates for people seeking asylum. So we are already having to stand in the gap and provide resources. Even when I signed the executive order, we provided through our partner with Uber transportation for families to see family members who were being held in other parts of the state. And so we try and make sure that we have access to resources that allow them to apply for jobs, that allow them to learn English as a second language. And we certainly will look to expand those programs and those resources if necessary. But I think, again, this is a reminder that elections matter.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, good to see you.
BOTTOMS: Good to see you, too.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
Still ahead, politics and fashion collide in an exclusive interview with "Vogue's" Anna Wintour. Why some say she disrespected the first lady, Melania Trump.
WHITFIELD: The first lady's spokeswoman is hitting back at "Vogue" editor Anna Wintour's suggestion that Melania Trump would likely not be featured on the cover of the magazine. In an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour Wintour talked about the importance of taking a stand on issues you believe in. She also addressed the fact that many of the political figures profiled in "Vogue" are Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[14:40:08] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It is noticeable that there are more Democratic women from the Democratic Party in your magazine and profile than there are Republican. I wonder whether there's a reason for that. Is there?
ANNA WINTOUR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "VOGUE": As I said, I think it's very, very important to have a point of view. And we believe -- we profile women in the magazine that we believe in the stand that they're taking on issues. We take -- we support them in the fact that we feel that they are leaders, that particularly after the defeat of Secretary Clinton in 2016, that we believe that women should have a leadership position, and that we intend to support them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: In response, Melania Trump's spokeswoman had this to say. I'm quoting now. "To be on the cover of "Vogue" doesn't define Mrs. Trump. She's been there, done that long before she was first lady. Her role as first lady of the United States and all that she does is much more important than some superficial photo shoot and cover."
Wintour said "Vogue" has a tradition of photographing first ladies when they first come into office. Both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have graced covers. But it's important to note that the last time Melania Trump was featured was in 2005 when she married President Trump. Well, married Donald Trump. He wasn't president then.
Kate Anderson Brower is with us. She is the author of "First Women, The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies." OK, well, what do you make, then, of Wintour's comments and even the comments coming from the First Lady's office?
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I thought it was interesting that Stephanie Grisham, Melania's spokeswoman, said this is the kind of divisive rhetoric that we're used to from, and she doesn't say this, but it's kind of the idea that the coastal elites don't really accept the Trump administration, don't want to embrace Melania Trump in the same way they did with Michelle Obama.
But as you said earlier, Laura Bush and Barbara Bush were inside the magazine. They never had covers. And Anna Wintour was a bundler, she was a fundraiser for President Obama. And there was always talk about her being named ambassador to Great Britain or France. And so she's somebody who's been known to be a Democrat, so I don't think it's terribly surprising that she wouldn't want to put Melania Trump on the cover.
WHITFIELD: So when Wintour says I don't think it's a moment not to take a stand, do you think she's talking about the first lady, and whether she believes that Melania Trump is outspoken enough, or is she talking more about herself and taking a stand in making these choices?
BROWER: I think she's talking about wanting to feature women like Kamala Harris and Democrats, especially after Hillary Clinton's defeat. She's talking about making sure that these more liberal women are being featured. And I think at the beginning of the Trump administration there was always this thought that maybe Melania Trump wasn't supportive of her husband's policies. But as we've seen her interviewed more and more, we see that there's really not a lot of daylight between her and her husband in terms of her thoughts, although she did talk about immigration and the border wall. She was concerned about what was going on at the border with the child separations at the time. So she --
WHITFIELD: You wouldn't have gotten that impression by that jacket.
BROWER: I know. The jacket, yes.
WHITFIELD: Yes. For someone whose life and career -- her professional choices, right, before marrying Donald Trump was a model, and the statement would say a superficial thing to be in a picture with a magazine. But then she knows and she is selective about her wardrobe and how her wardrobe makes a statement. So I think it's very hard for people to forget that she wasn't making a statement about that policy with that jacket.
BROWER: That jacket is totally inexplicable. I still don't really understand it. And it totally defeated the purpose of her going down to the border, right? It made no sense. I think at the same time if she had been asked to go on the cover of "Vogue" they would have happily accepted the offer. So it has to sting a little bit.
WHITFIELD: All right, Kate Anderson Brower, good to see you. Thank you so much.
BROWER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.
[14:47:36] WHITFIELD: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling out the president today, saying he's wrong for his recent attack on freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Pelosi is coming to Omar's defense after Trump tweeted a video showing snippets of a recent speech Omar gave to the Council for American-Islamic Relations an put images from the September 11th attacks in it as well. Trump is seizing on the moment Omar referenced 9/11 when she said some people did something. "The New York Post" also criticizing her comments with this cover. It's the context of her words that are being challenged. Back in March Omar made the comments while discussing how terrorism has led to a rise in Islamophobia. But Democrats say Trump is using her words to incite violence. Here's a portion of her remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ILHAN OMAR, (D) MINNESOTA: Muslims for a really long time in this country have been told that there is a privilege, that there is a privilege that we are given, and it might be taken away. We are told that we should be appropriate. We should go to school, get an education, raise our children, and not bother anyone, not make any kind of noise, don't make anyone uncomfortable, be a good Muslim.
But no matter how much we have tried to be the best neighbor, people have always worked on finding a way to not allow for every single civil liberty to be extended to us. You can clap for that.
OMAR: So the truth is, you can go to school and be a good student. You can listen to your dad and mom and become a doctor. You can have that beautiful wedding that makes mom and dad happy. You can buy that beautiful house.
[14:50:00] But none of that stuff matters if you one day show up to the hospital and your wife or maybe yourself is having a baby, and you can't have the access that you need because someone doesn't recognize you as fully human. It doesn't matter how good you were if you can't have your prayer mat and take your 15-minute break to go pray in a country that was founded on religious liberty.
OMAR: It doesn't matter how good you are if you one day find yourself in a school where other religions are talked about, but when Islam is mentioned, we are only talking about terrorists. And if you say something, you are sent to the principal's office.
So to me I say raise hell. Make people uncomfortable.
OMAR: Because here's the truth. Here's the truth. Far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen. And frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties. So you can't just say that today someone is looking at me strange, that I am going to try to make myself look pleasant. You have to say this person is looking at me strange. I am not comfortable with it. I am going to go talk to them and ask them why, because that is a right you have.
(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: Again, that was a portion from the Congresswoman Ilhan Omar's, speech in March. It's a 20-minute speech, and she talked about CAIR being founded after 9/11. It was founded in 1994, but a portion of that speech has now been part of that tweet that the president sent out saying -- and then now she has a response now. She's tweeting out saying "No one person -- no matter how corrupt, inept, or vicious -- can threaten my unwavering love for America. I stand undeterred to continue fighting for equal opportunity in our pursuit of happiness for all Americans." This is her first response now coming after the president tweeted out her words interspersed with video from 9/11.
Let's talk about all this now and the context in which what was said and how it's also being used. I want to bring in Hussam Ayloush, he is the executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR. Thank you so much for being with us. You attended that banquet in March. You heard her entire 20-minute speech. What was your response to her remarks? What was the message that you received? What were you hearing that day? And this also came, by the way, after the terror attacks on the mosques in New Zealand, which she made reference to in her speech, but continue.
HUSSAM AYLOUSH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Very correct. Thank you for having me on the show. Yes, I was there at the event along with over 450 people inside, mostly Muslims, but a lot of our other Jewish, Christian, and other friends were there. All of us listened to the speech. Ironically the speech was live streamed by various media outlets, including FOX News, the entire speech. Over a million and a half people listened to it. No one had a problem, because, let's be clear, this is not about what she said. This is not about what the Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said or did not say about the terrorist attack, because anyone who could spend a couple of minutes to listen to the speech would recognize that she is actually not speaking about the terrorist attack. She was talking about how Muslims had to deal with being marginalized and blamed for something they did not do.
The truth is, what we're dealing with is, this is not about the speech. This is about a failed, irresponsible, white nationalist president who wants to intimidate, bully one of his most vocal critics in Congress, someone who has been challenging his anti-immigrant, his racist, his Islamophobic rhetoric and policies. This is about a white man, a privileged white man, who is not used to being challenged by a black refugee Muslim woman. And he wants to silence her.
[14:55:05] And enough is enough, because like Ilhan said in the speech, I'm sick and tired, we are sick and tired being treated like second-class citizens where we as American Muslims have to prove our patriotism just because a word is taken out of context. Enough is enough. And this is time for all of us, Republicans as well as Democrats, to stand up and defend all Americans against hate.
WHITFIELD: And at the time of this speech in March, did you feel that anyone took offense to what she was saying? She was speaking about her personal experience and the experiences, that of Muslim Americans, who feel like they are second-class citizens, as she put it, particularly after 9/11, and that the actions of a few demonized the very existence of masses of people who are Muslim in America.
AYLOUSH: No one took offense, because we understood what she was speaking about. She's talking about her experience and our experience as a community that continues to be targeted. What we're dealing with today is a textbook case example, again, of how we are being unfairly targeted.
If anything, that speech is a textbook case of patriotism in which Ilhan was talking about how her parents and herself chose to be Americans. Her nationality, her patriotism did not come to her on a silver platter. She chose to be an American, escaping warfare. She chose not to pursue a career in medicine or any other thing. She chose to take a career in public service to help empower her district, workers, poor, unprivileged people.
WHITFIELD: And as you reflect and as you see how now her words were used in the president's tweet, is it your feeling that she should have used her words differently?
AYLOUSH: Absolutely not. We all engage in conversation. If this was about the terrorist attack of 9/11, I have no doubt she would be talking about it in the right terms. Actually in the same speech itself, she did refer to the terrorists, and she said we don't want to live in the shadow of these terrorists, we don't want to dignify them. But the portion that was taken out of context was clearly about how Muslims are dealing with civil rights challenges.
So this is the same way anybody talks, George W. Bush, myself, everybody when we talk about it, we define it when it's necessary. It is terrorism, we all suffered from it. We all know people who perished in this horrific attack. But when we're talking about civil rights and not blaming an entire community of the act of a few irresponsible criminals, this is exactly what she was referring to.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there. Hussam Ayloush, thank you so much for your time and your perspective. Really appreciate it.
AYLOUSH: Thank you for having me.
WHITFIELD: And thank you so much for being with us today. We'll be back here tomorrow. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The Newsroom continues right after this.