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White House Says No To Subpoena Requests; Women of Color Plays A Key Role During Election; 2020 Race: Do Voters Only Care About Age If The Candidate Is A Woman?; All The President's Lies; Tax Bill Jumps For Gold Star Family. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired April 24, 2019 - 23:00   ET




No two ways about it. A constitutional crisis is brewing between the Trump administration and Congress. President Trump vowing to fight all subpoenas requesting documents, as well as testimony from administration officials.

The latest, the White House declaring tonight that Stephen Miller will not testify before the House Oversight Committee on immigration policies. Democrats calling the subpoena battle, quote, "massive, unprecedented and growing pattern of obstruction."


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're fighting all the subpoenas. Look, these aren't like impartial people. The Democrats are trying to win 2020. The only way they can luck out is by constantly going after me on nonsense.


LEMON: So, he mentioned the Democrats, Democrats say they're going to turn to the courts to get the information they want for their multiple investigations into President Trump and this administration.

And it looks like it will be a long, drawn out battle. Today, the Justice Department told the House committee it's refusing to comply with the subpoena demanding testimony from a top official about the citizenship question on the upcoming census.

One source telling CNN this move has the full support of Attorney General William Barr. And that's exactly the position the president wants from his DOJ.

Also, tonight, Trump vowing to go to the Supreme Court if he's impeached by House Democrats. He apparently doesn't understand that only Congress has the constitutional power to impeach. And the high court president says it has no power to intervene.

I want to talk about this now. Susan Hennessey is here, Harry Litman, and Michael Kruse, a senior staff writer for Politico, at Politico. Thank you all for joining us, a lot to discuss.

So, Harry, President Trump says he's fighting all subpoenas, listen to this.


TRUMP: Well, the subpoena is ridiculous. We have been -- I have been the most transparent president and administration in the history of our country by far. We're fighting all the subpoenas.


LEMON: So, it seems like he is getting a green light from the Justice Department because they're also saying that they comply with a House subpoena. Does the president finally have the Justice Department he always wanted?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yikes. Where do you start? Starting with the claim that he's been the most transparent president of all time who wouldn't speak with Mueller who continually try to obstruct the probe. Does he have the Justice Department that he always wanted? You know, I think he does.

I don't if he constructed it of Trump loyalist. But what he's gotten is really, really strong and even dogmatic executive power types. So, Bill Barr won't blink at the notion of completely stiff-arming Congress fighting and then the courts and saying you can't do this to the executive.

And they're going to be certain claims, certain kinds of people that he'll have a strong argument on. And you made the good point, Don, it could take so long. Others ought to be short and they ought to lose. But many of these will be protracted and time is not on Congress's side.

LEMON: Harry, before I bring the other folks in, I just want to get you to the respond to this new reporting that we had tonight, the White House has informed the House Oversight Committee that Stephen Miller will not testify over his role and President Trump's immigration policies.

I mean, Congress is going to have to figure out about what they are going to do about all of this. This is again, unprecedented.

LITMAN: Unprecedented and it's just a reflexive stance, no, no, no. You know, one thing they can do. The Millers and the Mnuchins of the world ought to be careful. It's been a very long time since impeachment proceedings were done against senior officials who aren't the president. But if you of that sort of crash their election, that could happen. It could be impeachable and they could move on people like Miller if they are really being completely intransigent.

LEMON: All right. We got to talk about a lot of refusals for subpoenas here. So, Susan, let's go back to the Justice Department now protecting the president. I just want your view on this, too. Because we all remember President Trump attacking Jeff Sessions, he felt that Sessions wasn't protecting him. Is Barr protecting him?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I think a lot of people came into sort of, Bill Barr's tenure of wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt, wanting to view him as a DOJ institutionalist as supposed to sort of, you know, a Trump-est supporter.

[23:05:01] I think any of -- any sort of goodwill was really effectively washed away. Particularly by that press conference he gave the morning that the Mueller report was released. You know, Bill Barr, might not have technically lied but he walked right up to the line.

And so that is what's going to make his testimony on May 1st in front of Congress incredibly interesting. It's actually going to let members of Congress holdup the selective excerpts that he took from the Mueller report and put it besides his letter and really press him on the question about whether or not he views himself as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States or the president's personal sort of attack dog/publicity officer.

LEMON: So, Michael, you've been standing by patiently or sitting patiently there waiting to jump in. You see Trump fighting every attempt. We all see it every attempt at oversight or investigations.

You wrote a story awhile back for Politico about how Trump battles with the -- how he battles with the DOJ and the FBI, that it's not new. Talk to me about that.

MICHAEL KRUSE, SENIOR STAFF WRITER, POLITICO: Definitely not new. So, if you look at long public life of Donald Trump, which is half a century at this point. There is what we are looking at right now that is the current bookend. And the first bookend goes all the way back to October of 1973.

That starts when the Department of Justice sues Donald Trump, Fred Trump, his father and Trump's management for racist rental practices in their many apartment buildings in Brooklyn, Queens in Staten Island. And he has put in a position a young not-yet 30-year-old Donald Trump is put in a position where he has to fight that. He hasn't done much.

He's still known at that time as the son of Fred Trump. So, that case in the worse possible case for Donald Trump could have sort of killed him in the crib before he even started doing what he did with the Commodore Hotel in Grand Hyatt, with Trump tower.

So, what does he do to fight against that case? He hires notorious attorney, Roy Cohn, who not only mounts a defense for the trump's and for Donald Trump in particular, but kind of gives Donald Trump a young impressionable Donald Trump a tutorial on how to fight the Department of Justice and really how to fight any entity any institution that is attacking you, that is getting in your way from going where you want to go and doing what you want to do.

So, the Cohn's play book, deny, delay, counter attack, use shamelessness as a weapon. And so here we are almost 50 years later, and we see a lot of Roy Cohn and how Donald Trump in the White House are acting this week, and really throughout his presidency.

LEMON: Harry, am I reading too much. And when he mentioned Roy Cohn you had a reaction there?

LITMAN: Well, yes. I mean, Roy Cohn, that's exactly is, as you say, that's who he is, these attack dogs. Law is completely apart from it. Morals are completely apart from it. And he always said famously that's what he wants in an attorney general.

Now to go back to your last question, I don't think that's what he's got in Bill Barr. But I don't think it really matters that much because he's got someone who will be fighting reflexively anyway. He got a fighter whether or not it's of this kind of variety like Cohn.

LEMON: Susan, you know, the president sent out a flurry of tweets this morning. I just want to read just one line. It says "If the partisan Dems ever tried to impeach, I would first head to the U.S. Supreme Court." I mean, that seems like an empty threat considering the Supreme Court ruled in 1993 that the Congress is the body that deals with impeachments, not the courts.

HENNESSEY: Yes. So, this is actually a settled question, right? The founders consider whether or not they should commit trying impeachment to the Supreme Court, they decided not to. And there is a Supreme Court president the case called U.S. v. Nixon. In that case not President Nixon but a judge called named Walter Nixon.

That's a case that went to the Supreme Court really consider the question of whatever individuals alleging that he's been impeach for reasons that are outside the Constitution -- is the Supreme Court allowed to step in? The court was really clear in that case. That, no, this is a political question. This is a power that has committed exclusively to Congress that we do not have the authorities to step in.

Now President Trump might, and certainly individuals like Alan Dershowitz have suggested that he should attempt to relitigate that before the court. That said, this is a relatively well settled matter of law. And I think it's a real long shot to think that he could get anyone's mind on the current court to change on that proposition.

LEMON: So, Michael, this was a surprise to most people. Hillary Clinton's op-ed. I want to talk about that now. She talks next steps after the Mueller report.

[23:10:00] She acknowledges that while many won't view her as the right messenger here. She points out that her unique position as the target of Russia's election interference that her experience as a Hill lawyer during Watergate, as first lady during her husband's impeachment, as a New York senator during 9/11, and as a secretary of state, she says well, I'm relying on that experience and here is why I'm writing it.

She says, "Congress should hold substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up or down vote on impeachment." So, she says it doesn't have -- have to be immediate impeachment, Michael, or immediate impeachment or nothing that Congress should still investigate. What do you think?

KRUSE: I think that's, you know, who am I to say whether that's the right thing to do here or not. What I will say though, is that the delay tactics here for Trump I think are going to be very helpful. And Trump is at his most effective. This has always been the case.

Trump he's been at his most effective when he's fighting and if he doesn't have a legitimate fight, he creates a fight. He doesn't have to create a fight here. It's coming to him. It has been on him for the entirety of his administration.

But now more than ever before, he has been very adept at using fights as fuel. And so, I think the political calculations are what they are. But know what you are dealing with here and a fight has never not been a good thing for Donald Trump.

LEMON: Michael, Susan, Harry, thank you much.

Are women of color the key to winning the Democratic nomination. We're going to tell you what the leading candidate said today, that's next.


LEMON: So, listen to this, women of color could be the key in the battle for the 2020 Democratic nomination. And today, eight of the candidates took part in she the people presidential forum. Here is what some of them said about those voters.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Women of color are the heart and soul of the Democratic Party, and heart and soul of our nation. They're critically important.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question you are going to hear is why I pledge to have a woman running mate. I will have a woman running mate. To me, it's really clear that we do that.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Women alone in this country are paid 86 cents on average what a man is paid for the same job, but African-American women 61 cents of what a man is paid. Latinas, 53 cents of what a man is paid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why should women of color choose you as the nominee for president?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Because of my track record, my entire life of focusing on women of color, be it in terms of health care. I am a leader on the issue of maternal mortality.


LEMON: So, let's discuss all of this now. Mia Love is here. She is a former Republican congresswoman from Utah. Joe Trippi is a Democratic consultant, and Helaine Olen, an opinion contributor for "|The Washington Post." Why did I just sound like I was introducing a prize award. But here we are.

Thank you -- thank you, all.

Listen, I thought it was fascinating listening to all of those sound bites. Good evening one and all. Mia, I'm going to start with you. I know you're a Republican. But clearly at this forum, these candidates are showing that they know that women and women of color, in particular are key to winning the nomination.

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I think that this is one of the things that I have been pushing Republicans to do. Get out and speak to the black community, talk about you polices and why they're good for black Americans.

You know, it's one of the things I really wish that more Republicans would do. But it was really interesting to see their take on this. Listening to Cory Booker saying I vow to have a woman as my number two. I don't know but that didn't rub me, it didn't rub me the right way.

I always, you know, I see him as saying, hey, look, we can look at women, and they could be number two. I think Kamala Harris is doing a decent job speaking to women of color. Obviously, all of her policies have spoken to women of color.

I think one of the people that I thought was really that we should watch out for is Tulsi Gabbard. Tulsi is really well-liked on both sides of the aisle. She has great friends. I mean, I've spoken to her, she's a great friend of mine. I really like her policies. I like the fact that she's worked with people. She's pretty reasonable.

If that can translate to the broader America then I think that she has a really good chance of doing well. But I think that that's going to be key obviously --


LOVE: -- when it comes to the Democrat nominees for president.

LEMON: So, Helaine, I know you feel a certain kind of way about people saying, you know, promise that my, person on my ticket is going to be a woman.

HELAINE OLEN, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: I can't stand that. It's so condescending. And I know people don't mean to be condescending. I know that's not how Cory Booker meant it to come off. But it's like, OK, little lady, we'll make sure you get number two. It just feels like don't do that. Let's see who gets the nomination first and then let's see who's going to be the best vice-presidential bet.

LEMON: So, let me ask you then. So, Joe, let me ask you this. Because I know you had really great success working with Doug Jones, now Senator Jones from Alabama galvanizing the support of black women to win the seat and deep reds out.

You should never underestimate the power of this voting bloc. But they are all also pragmatic group -- a very pragmatic group of voters. And the reason I say that, is because I think Democrats realize what's on the line here and especially black women. Do you think they're saying well, it's got to be a woman, it's got to be this, it's got to be that, or does it just have to be the two people who can beat Donald Trump?

[23:20:01] JOE TRIPPI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think their energy is really important and winning them would be important. You can't be the nominee in our party, I don't think without getting really strong support within communities of color and particularly women of color because there's a lot of the core activist in terms of getting out the vote and working.

But I think that one of the things that's different about this field is aside from Biden and maybe Bernie, most of the candidates in this field are not known nationally in these communities.

I mean, they may have standing in their states or in the Senate for things they've done but they're not really well-known. They're not known nationally among anybody. And so, these opportunities like today are really important to make that first impression to start getting out there to start building.

In 1992, when we had a field that wasn't well-known in communities of color, Bill Clinton, actually started to connect in a way with empathy and with hope in a way that really connected. And he started to win the minority communities over across the country. And that's really what propelled him to the nomination.

I think it's going to be very decisive. I don't think yet that anybody can claim strength there. Biden, I think has the doors opened because he was Barack Obama's vice president and he has history. I think Bernie may as well. But they've got to make themselves relevant.


TRIPPI: They just can't rely on past.

LEMON: We're going to keep you guys around so that we can get more input from everyone here. So, everyone, stay with me. We got a lot to talk about. Helaine's article that getting a lot of attention about why Americans are ageist except when it comes to the president.


LEMON: Candidates in the crowded 2020 Democratic pack were ranging in age from late 30s to early 70s. We meet 70s, right? Late 70s.

OLEN: Late 70s.

LEMON: But age doesn't seem to matter to voters. That was Helaine Olen on the air because she wrote an article about it. Joe Trippi is back. Mia Love. That's right. So Helaine, I'm going to start with you. Because in your latest piece for the Washington Post is called "Why don't voters care if presidential -- if a presidential candidate is old?" And you write this. You said, "President Trump is turning 73 this

spring, on the other side of the isle, the two leading contenders to challenge Trump are Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, and former Vice President Joe Biden, 76. When the issues of infirmities of age are even hinted, voters across the board seemingly dismiss them."

So, I mean, I think it's surprising. I think living in a society that discriminates against people who are older that they, you know, the top candidates, the one who is in office now, the top Democratic candidates are older. What is that -- what is that doesn't matter?

OLEN: I think it's fascinating because age discrimination is such a problem. I think it's a combination of things. I think it's in part because the baby boomers have been ascended culturally now for decades and they continue to be so. They are still, if you combine them with the members of the silent generation, the largest voting cohort, they control the most wealth.

But I think it's also particular things about the particular candidates. And so, I think Bernie Sanders who has a platform that appeals to young people also is frankly the type of older person, young people really like.

He kind of doesn't pretend to be cool, he doesn't pretend to be their friend, he tells it like it is. He's really, you know, sort of the Methuselah coming down from the mountain. He's going to tell you how it's going to be.

And this is something that repeats itself in our culture over and over again. Trump and Biden, on the other hand both appeal to kind of, you know, the better days of hard work have occurred and we can return to that with Biden, it's obviously the Obama administration, with Trump it's just imagined past somewhat our races past, frankly.

And in fact, he's running ads for people over 65 about immigration on Facebook right now.

LEMON: Well,

OLEN: But can I say one more thing? There is one group that does not appeal apply to? And that's women. Elizabeth Warren is in her late 60s and she is not getting the benefit of any of this despite the fact that she's got a platform that really is like should be millennials cat net between universal child care and her student loan debt wipeout program.

LEMON: Yes. But I do see a shift, especially if you read social media, after the debate, after some of her performances out on the campaign trail, I see people now sort of, and even black women who are saying wow, she's really the only one who's speaking for me. It's interesting to watch that.

Because at first, they say she doesn't really have a chance and now she's really -- I think she's gaining some sting and someone to watch.

OLEN: She was amazing today at she the people. She got two standing ovations.


OLEN: She spoke about the African-American mortality rate and came up with a plan to try to address it.

LEMON: OK. I want -- Mia, I want -- let's bring you in and talk about that because during her campaign, you heard what Helaine just said. This applies to every group -- this applies -- this doesn't apply to women, right, this whole not ageist thing.

During her campaign Hillary Clinton was attacked unfounded rumors about her poor health, other insinuations about her age. Do you think that this doesn't apply to women that Helaine wrote about?

LOVE: I think that Helaine actually hit on something that was really crucial here. Because this only applies, it does only apply to men.

[23:29:59] I mean, I remember when I was running. It was oh, well, she's not experienced enough even though I had been on the city council, I was a mayor of a thriving city, even after passing bill after bill and working across the aisle. It was like well, people were always so incredibly surprised when surprised when you would just rise to the occasion.

So I don't think that really applies when it comes to women. That's unfortunate because I think that you got a large -- the majority of voters out there, the people that run the economy are really women. I mean, they're working and they're trying to take care of families. I mean, there are things that are really disproportionately affecting them.

So, everybody always want a grown up in the room. I think that's why older men do so well. But that does not apply when it comes to women. When it comes to women, age is always a factor and they're never experienced enough or can do well enough.

LEMON: When you said the economy at the end, I was saying go Beyonce because you know what she says? Who runs the world? Girls, right?


LEMON: That's what she said.

LOVE: Yeah.


LEMON: So Joe, listen, Helaine points out in her piece that in American culture and in employment, ageism is really common. We know that. That's no secret. Why do older voters have so much more power? Is it simply because they vote and younger voters don't vote as much?

TRIPPI: Yeah. Well, that's a big piece of it. They vote particularly in primaries. Primaries, lower turn out affairs, it is really older voters that turn out and particularly by the way in some of these early states. Iowa is one of the oldest states in the country. In fact, I think it may be the eldest in terms of the average age of caucus attenders.

So you start to see that. We are seeing an increase in millennial participation. I think that's going to happen this time around. But the other thing that gets into this is that the older you are, like when you look at data, the more they -- the more all this -- the race and other biases take in in a way that don't happen with millennials. Millennials don't care about gender or age or race or color, a lot less so.

And so part of it is the older goat (ph) that comes out is, yeah, I think tends to be more oriented towards male candidates and more oriented towards older candidates.


TRIPPI: Experience matters to them.

LEMON: Listen, I got to run. I'm overtime. I just want to get your response to this because he mentioned the older folks versus younger folks. Pete Buttigieg is in the race now surging in the polls. He's 37 years old. He will be the youngest president ever. I wonder if he can be the one to buck the trend of the older candidates, especially considering openly gay, married, and on and on.

OLEN: I think this is still to be determined. The polling is showing that the issue of his sexuality does not seem to matter as much as people are afraid of, but it is still early days and we still really don't know a lot about all of his positions, and we don't know a lot about his life, frankly. I think it is still up to be a determined question.

LEMON: Joe, you got to go quick.

TRIPPI: Well, Don, what I was going to say is that look, I think a lot of people think this is going to be an ideological left centrist, progressive centrist kind of race. I think it is very likely to be a generational fight, old-new. One of these younger candidates might emerge against Bernie or Biden in a lot of ways that Gary Hart did against Vice President Mondale in 1984.

LEMON: All right.

TRIPPI: I know that's ancient history but --

LEMON: Joe --

TRIPPI: -- it reminds me a lot of that.

LEMON: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I'm out of time. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Joe. Thank you, Helaine. Thank you, Mia. I'll see you guys next time. Please come back.

My next guest tracks all the president's lies, and he says the president's imagination is really running wild this week. We'll fact- check, next.


LEMON: So President Trump is well on his way to a new milestone tonight. He is at 4,913 false statements since he took office. That's according to the Toronto Star. But some of his latest are not just false. They are actually imaginary.

Let's bring in Daniel Dale, the Washington bureau chief for the Toronto Star. He has been here before. He has tallied a total of 55 false claims from President Trump over the two weeks ending Sunday, and he probably has the most job security of anyone being a fact- checker here.

Daniel, welcome. You tweeted that the list of recent false claims including an imaginary caterpillar machine, an imaginary approval rating, and imaginary Latin-American migrant conspiracy, you know, it is one thing to twist the truth or fudge about facts, but making up imaginary things?

DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, TORONTO STAR: It is worse. I mean, what distinguishes Trump from other politicians is that while most politicians stretch and twist and exaggerate, Trump is often making things up whole cloth. These are epic whoppers of lies. And so, yeah, he is different qualitatively from everyone else we have seen in public life.

LEMON: Let's start with the imaginary caterpillar machine.

DALE: Sure. So Trump was --

LEMON: Hold on. Stand by.


[23:39:57] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A special thanks to the chair of this evening's dinner. I have agreed to go to the Caterpillar place where they make those beautiful D10s. I said, "Are they making the D12 yet?" "No, they make that in a different location." I said, "Well, Darin, I want to go there then. I want to see what a D12 looks like."


LEMON: So, explain the problem there, Daniel.

DALE: So Caterpillar does not make a D12. It makes D10 and D11. Trump was told this by Caterpillar former CEO two years ago. He asked them, "Do you make a D12 yet?" The guy said, "No, we make a D11." And so the president, you know, just invented this machine for reasons unknown, whether intentionally or out of confusion.

LEMON: Because it sounds he could -- who knows (ph).

DALE: Yes. Yes, we have no idea. LEMON: Let's talk about the imaginary approval rating because he tweeted a screen graph from Lou Dobbs's segment on Fox Business Network with inaccurate polling data that showed him at an approval rating of 55 percent. That poll actually found his approval rating was at 43 percent. To their credit, Fox did issue a correction.

Yet the president, you know, he tweets about it and it is still up. Does he even attempt to provide evidence for his falsehoods?

DALE: He doesn't and he never corrects. We know he has this (INAUDIBLE) of never apologizing. In this case, Fox Business, you know, ran a respectable correction saying, look, we misstated this poll. The president of course did not.

You know, whatever shred of alleged evidence to bolster his supposed popularity, he will use. And if it proves wrong or if he utters the wrong thing himself, you know, you will never get him to admit that he has been inaccurate.

LEMON: Let's talk about his imaginary Latin-American migrant conspiracy. Here it is.


TRUMP: They were saying that the people coming from much further away, they're sending the real killers, including MS-13, because they don't want them in Honduras and El Salvador. They don't want the gangs, so they're sending them to our country. They probably are the ones that run out of water and run out of food.


LEMON: So, this is part of a long history of him making things up about the caravan and the border crisis.

DALE: It is indeed. And if it sounds familiar, this was the baseless conspiracy theory that he offered about Mexico to launch his campaign. You remember his launch speech, he said Mexico is sending their finest, they are sending rapists, they are sending criminals. He explained he literally meant the Mexican government was intentionally sending bad people to the United States.

Now, he temporarily abandoned the accusations against Mexico and baselessly making it against Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These migrants come at their own free will. They are making a decision to leave their countries and try to claim asylum or otherwise enter the United States. They are not being sent by the governments of their countries in attempt to rid their countries of bad apples. There simply no evidence for this whatsoever.

LEMON: You know, I say sometimes on the show that if you lie about anything, you will lie about everything. This is just another example. This one is from today. He is quibbling with a tweet from Washington reporter Robert Costa. Trump says, "I didn't call Bob Costa of the Washington Post. He called me. Returned his call. Just more fake news." Robert Costa actually tweeted exactly that. So, why - what was the point of that?

DALE: Well, he makes an effort to malign the media baselessly all the time. We have this extensive history now of the president accusing the media of so-called fake news when everything that said is exactly accurate.

So, independent of the comedy of him saying, "I didn't call him," it was a returned phone call, that's also a phone call. Bob Costa said, "The president returned my call." There is nothing fake whatsoever. So, the president is seizing this opportunity to go after the Post once again.

LEMON: Daniel Dale, I always appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

DALE: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: The president's -- I want you to sit for this next segment, OK? The president's tax reform is having some serious unintended consequences for a community that he promised to take care of. A gold star widow tells me about the major jump in her young son's tax bill on his survivor's benefits, next.


LEMON: This is a story of unintended consequences. Unintended consequences that are hurting America's gold star families. Families every American owes a debt of gratitude.

Michael Braden was a captain in the army who lost his life in April of 2012 during his 15th tour duty in the Middle East. Three months prior to his death, he and his wife, Jessica, adopted a son, James, who is now nine years old.

Since his father passed in 2012, James has been receiving money as part of the survivor's benefit plan. Every year since his father's death, James paid roughly $1,100 in taxes. This year as a result of the changes in the tax code pushed through by the president, President Trump and Republicans and Congress, it has jumped to almost $4,500.

And Jessica and her son, James, well, they are not alone. The military publication Task and Purpose found that there are among several gold star families who are now facing an unexpected tax burden. Jessica Rogers joins me now to talk about this. Jessica, thank you so much. I really appreciate you joining us.

JESSICA BRADEN-ROGERS, SON AFFECTED BY TAX BURDEN ON GOLD STAR FAMILIES: Thank you for having me, Don. I appreciate the opportunity.

LEMON: And we appreciate the sacrifices family like yours make for our country. So, you got a phone call, I understand, from your accountant saying that your son owed a lot more money in taxes. How was it explained to you and what was your reaction?

BRADEN-ROGERS: Well, it's a long story. It has been going on for about two months now.

[23:50:01] We got a call from our tax preparer and he explained to me that due to the new tax laws they implemented, instead of the previous amount that we have been paying in taxes, it had more than quadrupled.


BRADEN-ROGERS: It was a huge shock.

LEMON: Yeah, I mean, it is, I can only imagine. So listen, let's do some math here and then I will talk to you about it because we double checked the tax return that you sent us, OK? And so in 2017, your son paid $1,135. This year, he owes $4,471. That is almost four times as much. This is the same rate which would apply to a trust or an estate, 37 percent. How are families like yours dealing because this is a massive tax increase?

BRADEN-ROGERS: It is. It's huge. And, I mean, I've been talking to other fellow military surviving families and a lot of them are struggling for various reasons. A lot of them aren't employed, have different circumstances. So, it's definitely difficult. I mean, in some cases, it's meaning, you know, choosing between paying your taxes or paying for your car or food. I mean, it's that dire in many cases.

LEMON: You know, President Trump's 2017 tax cuts and jobs act was pushed through quickly by congressional Republicans who wanted -- they wanted it passed ahead of the midterm elections. Does it seem to you like this is just an unintended consequence of a bill that was rushed through?

BRADEN-ROGERS: I would probably have to say yes, in all honesty, yeah.

LEMON: Yeah. And when you talk to other families like yours, what do they say?

BRADEN-ROGERS: The same frustration, anger, shock. None of us were made aware of this at all. None of us found out until we were filing our taxes. We were finding all of these out. And we have all contacted -- I personally have contacted all 100 U.S. senators, probably close to -- I'd say 20 representatives. I have contacted the White House.

LEMON: Yeah.

BRADEN-ROGERS: Comment line. I was hung up on by them. And I have received no responses and so have many of the military widows that I've spoken to.

LEMON: You also reached out to Representative Mike Doyle, senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey, and have you heard from them or gotten no response?

BRADEN-ROGERS: I have gotten no response at all.

LEMON: From anyone, yeah.


LEMON: And as you said, you know, I asked you what other families saying and you said the way that you're dealing with it is that you have to decide between -- some of them between taxes and a car and everyone is sort of feeling exactly --


LEMON: -- what you're doing. So even if -- Jessica, even if legislation is passed to fix what seems like an unintentional mistake, gold star families like yours still face this very sizable tax bill. Is there a chance that you'll get any relief on those bills?

BRADEN-ROGERS: I honestly don't know. We've all been trying to contact our representatives and have not had any success. I'm here just to try and help all the gold star families universally. And if we can even reach one representative who might listen to our stories and be able to help, I think it would be a huge difference.

LEMON: What do you want to say if they -- you know, if they're listening because you said no one has gotten back to you, even the White House, you were hung up on, what would you say to them?

BRADEN-ROGERS: I would say that we feel that it's very unfair that children are being taxed at the 37 percent estate rate and that they need to immediately rethink that and think about the impact that it's having on gold star children and their families who have already -- we've already sacrificed enough. And this is just even more sacrifice.

LEMON: Well, Jessica, we hope that you get some help. And, again, I'll say it again, we are grateful for your husband and your family's sacrifice to our nation. Thanks again.

BRADEN-ROGERS: Thank you so much, Don.

LEMON: And thank you for watching.

[23:54:57] Before we leave you tonight, here's a look at an all-new season of "United Shades of America" with W. Kamau Bell. It starts Sunday night at 10:00 Eastern right here on CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Your Christianity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not have some kind of influence that is righteous?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): His ability to protest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a never ending process.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Her voice to the voiceless. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoever voice I have to be, I will be that voice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Their courage to fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He will tell you not to be angry. You see -- and you better be angry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): My mission. This season on "United Shades of America," it all comes down to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get off my ass and do something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): You don't look like a Nazi fighter.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kamau, you're so funny.

BELL: Thanks.

What was the time you said I got to get involved?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My children and every other child at this table.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you ask questions, sometimes it effectuates change.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's no point of hating people. We should all just get along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): "United Shades of America" with W. Kamau Bell returns Sunday at 10:00 on CNN.