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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) Is Interviewed About Senate Republicans' Possible Questions To Donald Trump Jr.; Farmers Are Hit Hard By The U.S.-China Trade War; Pentagon Prepares To Send Troops To The Middle East; Putin Praises 'Objective' Mueller Investigation; Rising Tension Between The U.S. And Iran; Trump's History Of Bigotry; Hate Crimes Against Houses Of Worship On The Rise. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 14, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The White House is in chaos with the president shooting from the hip and making decisions that could put us in peril. We're now the middle of an escalating trade war with China and more and more Americans are feeling the pain.

But here's how the president described it today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're having a little squabble with China. We've been treated very unfairly for many, many decades for actually a long time. And it should have been handled a long time ago, and it wasn't. Then we'll handle it now.

I think it's going to be -- I think it's going to turn out extremely well. We're in a very strong position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A very strong position, yet sources tell CNN trade talks with China have come to a halt after China slapped tariffs on $60 billion in American exports yesterday in retaliation for Trump raising existing tariffs on Chinese goods.

The Washington Post reporting tonight that the president is telling advisors he's not backing down because a trade fight with China is popular with his base and will help him win reelection despite any damage to the economy.

And then there are increasing tensions with Iran. Are the President and his top aides looking for a fight with America's longest longtime enemy?

Well, "The New York Times" reporting the Pentagon has a plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if hostilities break out with Iran.

President Trump said there is no plan, but then he said he'd send a lot more troops than that. Well, tonight we're looking at the big picture for you. Does the president know what he is doing? Or is he just going with this gut as he likes to say.

So, let's discuss now. Juliette Kayyem is here, Ryan Lizza, as well April Ryan. April is the author of "Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House."

Good evening to one and all. So, Ryan -- I have to say Ryan Lizza and April Ryan when I speak with you guys, all right? So, Ryan Lizza, you first. I want to talk about this new piece from Eugene Robinson. And it is entitled, it says, "Trump has no idea what he is doing."

And he writes in part, "I know that he can be clever politically in a tactical sense. I know that his lies are often both deliberate and effective. I know that his utter shamelessness can sometimes come off as a kind of warped genius. But the only thing that's profound about Trump is the truly spectacular depth of this ignorance."

So, we've seen this ignorance on immigration, on Russia, on Iran and North Korea, tariffs and the list goes on. Do you think President Trump has it correct?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, just take one example and that is that the tariff situation. This trade war with China. So, at a fundamental level the president keeps saying that it's China that pays these tariffs rather than American companies paying -- passing them on to consumers. And American consumers paying what is essentially a tax.

There's been a lot of reporting about this. Axios had a very good piece about this.

LEMON: Yes.

LIZZA: Quoting former advisers, noting that this is genuinely what he believes it's not just for public consumption. So, if that is the case, we have a president who is engaging in negotiations that have now precipitated a trade war who doesn't understand the most basic facts about tariffs.

[23:05:07] Who pays them what they are. That's not good, right. So that's a -- it's not great to have foreign policy run when a basic understanding of your key trade tool isn't understood by the president of the United States.

LEMON: Yes.

LIZZA: So, I agree with Eugene in a lot of ways about that.

LEMON: Yes. April, you know, you cover this White House each and every day. Is there a method to the madness or is President Trump just winging it?

APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He's winging it without the advice, without really taking the advice of national security advisors. I mean, there are ripple effects, there are tentacles into, you know, what just Chris just said about, you know, the China tariffs this trade war with China, and also with Iran.

This president feels that he knows a lot with his bullet points that he may get every day from the national security advisers but here is the big issue. Beyond being in a constitutional crisis there is potential for war with Iran. A nation that we do not have significant intelligence on.

We know that they are capable of making a nuclear weapon. We don't know all that's going on. The present has not talked to Nancy Pelosi as of yet after her request for a conversation about Iran and before he goes into dealing with these 120,000 troops he needs to talk to Congress. He hasn't done that as of yet.

This is the president going off on his own and now with these China tariffs. I mean, you know, he talks about the great economy while the American public is going to feel the effects and that's at least $800 a year for the average citizen. And that's just talking about China. That's not talking about the tariffs in Mexico that's affecting the domestic car dealers that that price is trickling down into the American consumers as well.

This President is going by what he thinks versus being analytical in his approach.

LEMON: All right. So, Juliette, from a national security perspective, what are the consequences that the president repeatedly ignoring experts going and going with his gut?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Death and more. I mean, mean it honestly at this stage. The -- I think picking up on Eugene Robinson's point and this great column. I think what is sort of scary for me is not something that the president sometimes doesn't know everything. That seems fine. You can't know everything.

Is his utter lack of curiosity about learning about things. So, think about Iran right now, the idea that you would think that 100,000 plus troops for, you know, aerial bombardment for a few days in Iran is the shocking odd that's going to being Iran to the bargaining table. It's like let's rewind a little bit. Let's remember some history that doesn't work very often, and it's scary at this stage. So that lack of curiosity.

You know, presidents, leaders, you know are often having a balance. You know, do I want to be feared or do I want to be respected, right? And somehow Donald Trump has managed in a very short period of time at least a national security to be neither, right, where he's neither feared, I mean in terms of people thinking that we're for real.

So, China. China is cracking up at us because he is such a self-owned because all the burden of this is following -- is fallen on us and the farmers and we're not -- and we're not respected by our allies, by even our enemies.

And that to me is sort of, whether it's madness, lack of curiosity, inability to pay attention, lack of interest in history. We are neither feared, nor respected and we're seeing the consequences of this from policy to policy.

LEMON: Ryan, the markets are freaking out over the president's trade war with China.

LIZZA: Yes.

LEMON: Americans are worried about their livelihood. But I just want to play again how Trump describes it. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We're having a little squabble with China. Because we've been treated very unfairly for many, many decades. I think it's going to be -- I think it's going to out extremely well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Listen, he says a little squabble. I mean, I spoke to a farmer from Ohio last night who said --

LIZZA: Yes.

LEMON: -- that he knows farmers who are committing suicide because they can't make a living.

LIZZA: My God.

LEMON: I mean, does the president just fundamentally not -- I mean, he said that. I ran the sound bit earlier.

LIZZA: Yes.

LEMON: He said that the long-term effects are unbelievable and not only he said there are mental effects, financial effects are being inundated now with rain, they can't sell their soybeans and their crops.

LIZZA: Yes.

LEMON: Does the president just fundamentally not get it?

LIZZA: Well, I don't think he does. If you saw one of his tweets, I think it was today, about how, you know, our great patriotic farmers are going to benefit from this in the long run.

[23:10:01] It's just you know, this kind of like, you're living in a in a different world. He -- and this is been going on a while. I remember being in northwestern Iowa last year and that's all the farmers there we're talking about is the Trump's immigration policy, it was harming their ability to hire people and his trade policy was harming their ability to sell their products abroad.

Now, in a lot of those communities you know there is still pretty strong support for Trump because of other issues. But the longer this goes on the more you are going to start hearing from the folks like you had on your program, Don, who are -- and who are not going to tolerate it.

And look, let's be honest, this president is overseeing a pretty good economy right now, very low unemployment, pretty good growth rate, and most presidents who preside over an economy this strong, they win reelection.

And this is the, probably the most important policy he has that could jeopardize that and that could hurt him, you know, both politically with a lot of important base voters, rural farmers, and just more generally with swing voters who, you know, are very sensitive to economic conditions.

LEMON: Yes.

LIZZA: So, he's got to be careful here. This is -- this could jeopardize his political fortunes going into 2020.

LEMON: April, President Trump also addressed his negotiations with China today. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: But we had a deal that was very close and then they broke it. They really did. I mean, more than just -- more than renegotiate, they're really broken. So, we can't have that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, they broke it. Is this vintage Trump always having to blame someone else?

RYAN: Yes. He -- yes. I mean, it's just him. This president does not understand how to finesse a situation. You know, the "Art of the Deal" was a book. Is it reality now? No. What this president is doing is causing a chasm between the United States and China.

There's already been a complicated delicate relationship that was somewhat workable. Yes, there is a big trade issue, Don. We know that we consume more from China than they consume of our products. We understand that.

But how do you come up with a solution where all sides can win, particularly your farmers those middle America people that you basically said you were the champion for. How do you help them when a lot of people are saying they are going to go bankrupt?

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: I mean, you have soybean farmers who say they -- you know, about 80 percent, 80 to 90 percent of soybean farmers basically sold all their goods to China, and now where are they?

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: And they won't even get in subsidies.

LEMON: Yes.

RYAN: So, they're in trouble. This president has to learn how to finesse the situation and he has to learn --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Well, Julia --I saw Julia -- I saw you shaking your head there because and you heard what Ryan said earlier, he said he's got to be careful of this. Do you think it is also possible that the president is really worried and sensing that this could against him?

KAYYEM: Yes. I actually thought he seem to slightly humbled in that clip that you showed earlier that he realized that these tweets were completely out of control. And China called our bluff. Let's just make this clear.

China is not showing up to the negotiations. Because what's the point? They're having these negotiations, this delicate negotiation. We -- Donald Trump had bipartisan support because everyone for decades has known that China was abusing parts of the trade system, was -- and that this was a moment to remedy that.

And so, he seemed a little chat a little bit sort of saying well, it's not a problem, we're going to get back to the table because China called the bluff. I often think just to quote Frank Zappa here who had a great line at one station. It was a like, trying to cure a dandruff with decapitation.

This is what Donald Trump does every single time. He sees a problem, there's a problem with the trade deals with China and he just sort of laps of the head and you're thinking well, that makes everyone worse off than sort of trying to figure out how you get to a resolution.

And so, you know, I just -- I think he's just constantly decapitating us in -- you know, we're the United States of America. We can handle trade negotiations.

LIZZA: And --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's got -- I've got to run, Ryan. I'm sorry. I'm out of time.

LIZZA: No, I was just going to say, there a lot of big issues we have with China.

LEMON: Yes.

LIZZA: They are imprisoning Uighurs.

KAYYEM: Yes.

LIZZA: They are expanding their influence in the South China Sea.

LEMON: I got to go. LIZZA: And this is the issue he elevates and it's just a misuse of priorities.

LEMON: Thank you, all. I appreciate your time.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: The president's son Don Jr. d reversing course today and agreeing to comply with subpoena from the Senate Intel Committee. I'm going to ask Congressman Eric Swalwell if he thinks his Senate colleagues can get to the bottom of what happened in that Trump Tower meeting with Russians. That's next.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Donald Trump, Jr. has struck a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee to testify next month. This comes after Don Jr. threaten to defy a subpoena from Republican Chairman Richard Burr.

I want to bring in now Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He sits on the House intel committee. Congressman, I appreciate you joining us.

So, let's talk about Don Jr.. He's now going to testify, two to four hours, five to six hours topics only and when it comes to Trump Tower Moscow in 2016, Trump Tower meeting, only follow-up questions. Does that seem like a good deal to you?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. But it sounds like a tromp but made of a little bit more, I would say courage probably than his father who refuse to come in to meet with Bob Mueller. But we know why they want Donald Trump, Jr. to come in.

He took a meeting with Russians offering dirt on his father's opponent, and he has lied about it.

[23:19:56] And you know, credit to Richard Burr and the Republicans for pressing him on this, but I wouldn't let him set the terms of what he comes in and says.

You know, they are in control. They set the parameters. And I wouldn't give him an inch. He's a witness who it looks like has lied to them. Why let him dictate the terms.

LEMON: Do you think it was tough for him to say no because it was -- it's a Republican-led committee.

SWALWELL: You know he was up against the law and the law is on the side of the Senate here. And so as lawless as this President and his family have been, they were going to lose in court. And so, you know, and they lost it looks like that they're about to lose today on a subpoena case in court.

So, I think it's a recognition that, you know, they're outnumbered.

LEMON: Yes. Well, so many Republicans including Lindsey Graham came out in defense of Don Jr., and now a source close to Junior says he will return the favor come 2020, the 2020 campaign. What does that mean to you?

SWALWELL: Yes. That's aiding and abetting lawlessness by Senator Graham. But this is the new Washington that I see, Don. My Republican friends privately tell me people who know better that they're afraid of speaking up because as one of them said to me when he tweets, he wins. And in many cases, they're right.

You've seen, you know, Republicans primary and they've lost. But what frustrates me, these are members of Congress or members of the Senate. I would hope that they are otherwise employable and that this wasn't the only job they could get. And maybe doing the right thing would be rewarded or if they were not reelected at least they went to bed knowing that they did the right thing.

LEMON: So, Don Jr. told lawmakers that he was only peripherally aware of the Trump Tower Moscow deal. But Michael Cohen testified under oath that he briefed Don Jr. and Ivanka about 10 times. The committee is only allowed to ask follow-up questions as I mention on this topic. Do you think that they'll be able to get to the bottom of this by only being able to ask follow up questions?

SWALWELL: Well, if you did nothing wrong, and you're 100 percent exonerated as the president has claimed, and his son has claimed, then it should be a pretty short interview.

But again, we've seen Don Jr.'s prior exclamations on this work where he's been twisted like a pretzel. And again, Don, like we just take a step back. Our country was under attack by the Russians. The president's foreign policy aide overseas was offered a preview of what the Russians were doing. That's George Papadopoulos.

Then the president's son takes this meeting with her offering dirt against his opponent and they don't tell anybody and then his father asked for them to keep doing it.

It's pretty clear. They welcomed this. They wanted this. And now they should have to answer for this so this doesn't happen.

LEMON: With the 2016 Trump Tower meeting Don Jr. said that he told only Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort about that meeting. But the deputy campaign chairman Rick Gates told Mueller that Don Jr. brought it up to top campaign staff and family as well.

If you are asking questions how would you get to the truth?

SWALWELL: Well, you would establish the relationship that Don Jr. has with his father and we know from our investigation they were extremely close, that Don Jr. regularly would check in with his father on the most minute details of the campaign.

He didn't really have decision-making authority on anything big in the campaign or the business we learn. So, it would be out of character for him to meet with one of his friends, associates and not tell his father. But again, we should just expect more obstruction from them because that is there go-to move, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct, never produce.

LEMON: OK. Well, then your committee, the House until committee has asked lawyers for the Trump organization, the president, Ivanka Trump, Don Jr. to hand over records, submit to interviews over their role in Michael Cohen's false testimony to Congress.

Chairman Schiff says that he wants to find out whether anyone told Cohen to lie to the committee. Could this possibly lead to more charges.

SWALWELL: Well, it's going to lead to those lawyers being held accountable for what they did. And you know, our interest is, you know, getting to the root of this obstruction and understanding if they were obstructing because they were guilty. People who are innocent don't obstruct. They don't lie. They don't tamper.

They don't try and influence the outcome of an investigation and they certainly don't refuse to testify to the special counsel. And our evidence in the Mueller report laid out a team of obstructers, a double-digit obstructer and the President. And we think that the lawyers were in coordination with that.

LEMON: Congressman, thank you.

SWALWELL: My pleasure, Don. Thanks.

LEMON: Vladimir Putin had a few things to say today about the Mueller report. Hear for yourself, next.

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Russian President Vladimir Putin is praising yes, praising the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the same investigation that found Russia interfered with the 2016 election, in a quote, "sweeping and systematic fashion with the goal of electing Donald Trump."

This is what Putin said during a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): However, exotic the word go for a special counsel, Mueller was, I have to say that on the whole he had a very objective investigation, and he confirmed that there are no traces whatsoever of collusion between Russia and the incoming administration which we said was absolutely fake, and as we said before there was no collusion from our government officials.

[23:30:00] And it could not be there.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: So joining me now is a former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Nick Burns. Ambassador, thank you for joining us. I want to get your reaction to that because he is praising the special counsel's work and to me, you can tell me if I'm wrong, it seems he is conflating the whole collusion thing with Russian interference in trying to absolve Russia of everything saying that that's what the report did. Am I wrong with that?

NICK BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: No, I think you're right, Don. In fact, President Putin statement today sounded eerily like what we have been hearing from the White House for the last year or two.

I think you have to give Secretary Mike Pompeo credit. He did raise this issue with Putin today. He raised it forthrightly in the press conference with Foreign Minister Lavrov and Mike Pompeo called out the Russians for having interfered in our 2016 election.

But it doesn't -- it won't matter unless President Trump does the same thing, and that's what Putin is going to be watching for when they meet next month in Japan. Will President Trump come out and say what he hasn't been willing to say for well over two years that Russia assaulted us in 2016, again in the midterms? And look what the president has done in reaction.

LEMON: Yes.

BURNS: He hasn't mobilized our states. He hasn't helped them raise their defenses, our state electoral commissions here in the U.S. He hasn't mobilized NATO because the NATO countries have been attacked, too. And the first responsibility of any American president is to defend the country and the president has not done that.

LEMON: Let me ask you, ambassador, because as you said, you know, he told Putin and Sergey Lavrov that Pompeo did. Why can't the president say that himself, like do not interfere in U.S. elections?

BURNS: Well, that's the question of the hour. It has been the question since the president was inaugurated. It seems that he feels it will diminish his victory, his electoral victory in 2016. He can't get beyond that. He can't think of the greater good which is all of us, the 325 million Americans.

Russia is in many ways along with China our strongest adversary in the world, and you can believe that the Russians are continuing to try to diminish our democracy by flooding social media with millions of bits of false information and by attacking our electoral system, so we need the president to stand up here.

His secretary of state will do it. The president doesn't seem capable of doing that. He wants to make friends with Putin and Putin is an adversary of the United States. We don't need to be friends with him.

LEMON: Yeah. Ambassador Burns, I just want to get your reaction and talk about the tensions with Iran. "The New York Times" reports that the Trump administration has prepared a plan to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran attacks American troops or restarts its nuclear program. This is what the president said about that. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we are not going to have to plan for that. If we did that, we would send a hell of a lot more troops than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It sounds at least like they thought about it. I mean, that's a strange sort of denial.

BURNS: It is, and I think the president would be well advised to remember what happened to us in Iraq, our bitter history, the 4,500 Americans dead, tens of thousands of Americans wounded, the incredible sacrifice of our military.

We do not need to go to war with Iran. We are so far stronger than Iran. And certainly in alliance with Israel, in alliance with some of the Sunni Arab states, we can contain Iranian power in the Middle East.

Iran is a troublemaker. Iran is a force of instability in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza, and Lebanon, but we can contain them. And the idea that somehow we would be planning to put 120,000 American troops into the Middle East to in effect go to war with Iran, remember our history, don't make that same mistake again and be smart about how we contain Iranian power.

LEMON: As you know, Iran has been a bad actor for decades. I mean, you're saying so as much now. How come all of a sudden it seems like we're on the brink of war with them?

BURNS: I think there's an ideological agenda upon some in the Trump administration, at the upper levels of the administration. You see it in the statements of John Bolton, the national security advisor. You see it in the statements frankly of Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state. You know, they are looking for regime change in Iran.

It's very clear the president made a major miscalculation in taking the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. It wasn't a perfect deal, but we had shut down the true roots to a nuclear weapon by the Iranians, plutonian processing or uranium enrichment.

We had Russia, China, the Europeans, the entire United Nations behind us, and suddenly the president pulled this out, and we have no one to defend us anymore. No one will align with us on Iran. And the president is scrambling to try to figure out what to do.

[23:35:01] So you take these two issues with Iran. It's conventional threat to the region, and now the nuclear issue. And the administration seemed to think that planning for a war, at least talking about that is a good thing. I think it is nonsensical to do that. We know how to contain Iranian power conventionally. We know how to limit them in the nuclear realm and that is to go back to the nuclear deal. I hope our next president in 2021 will go back to the nuclear deal and contain them again.

LEMON: Ambassador Burns, always appreciate your time and your wisdom. Thank you so much.

BURNS: Thank you, Don. Thank you very much.

LEMON: My next guest is laying up President Trump's history of bigotry and it goes back decades and spends more incidents than you may know about. It is pretty stunning. You will hear more, next.

[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: For years, President Trump has insisted that he is not a racist. Listen to what he told me. This was during the 2016 campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: I am the least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.

LEMON (on camera): Are you bigoted in any way?

TRUMP: I don't think so. No, I don't think so.

LEMON (on camera): Islamophobic?

TRUMP: I am a person -- no, not at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: But when you look at Donald Trump's history, going all the way back to the early 1970s, you will see that's just not true. My next guest was part of the team at the Atlantic that did just that. So joining me now is Adrienne Green. She is the managing editor of "The Atlantic" and is a co-author of the piece, "An Oral History of Trump's Bigotry," and you got to listen to it. It is amazing. Thank you, Adrienne. I appreciate you joining us.

ADRIENNE GREEN, MANAGING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: So your piece spans 50 years of history of Trump and racism. These are seven incidents that you highlight.

You said the 1973 housing discrimination lawsuit filed by the DOJ against Trump and his father, the Central Park Five incident, his efforts to block the development of Native American-owned casinos and idea of pitting teams of all-black and all-white contestants against each other on "The Apprentice," pushing birtherism, his response to the violent alt-right rally in Charlottesville and calling African- American countries "shithole."

What do you want to do with this piece?

GREEN: We pretty much had to do two things. We wanted to lay out the facts, to document Donald Trump's history with discrimination through his actions and through his statements. And then secondly, we wanted to elevate the voices of, you know, the folks that were really impacted.

So we spoke to Richard Spencer. We spoke to Yusef Salaam, who is one of the so-called Central Park Five. We spoke to folks who were involved in his housing discrimination cases. We really wanted to hear about those experiences through their eyes and through their stories.

LEMON: Again, it's fascinating. You got to listen to it. It's on The Atlantic website. Let's start with Trump pushing birtherism, OK, the birtherism conspiracy theory. It's really what gave him political prominence, some of his very first comments from 2011. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP (voice-over): He doesn't have a birth certificate, or if he does, there's something on that certificate that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me -- and I have no idea whether this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be -- that where it says 'religion,' it might have 'Muslim.'"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Where did this idea originate? How did Trump help it grow?

GREEN: I mean there is no Trump presidency without the birtherism move. Obviously, you can recall Seth Meyers and all of the jokes that he made during the correspondents' dinner and that really incites Donald Trump to kind of double and triple and quadruple down on the idea that President Barack Obama wasn't a real American citizen or that his birth certificate was false.

That really kind of gave him the pathway to, you know, come up with these outlandish views in public and be heard and be listened to have folks gather around that.

LEMON: You also read about what led Trump to pursue birtherism and his stance against the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque." Here he is with David Letterman. This is in 2010. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: As far as the mosque is concerned, I think it is very insensitive to build it there. I think it is not appropriate.

DAVID LETTERMAN, CBS HOST: Does this suggest that we are in fact officially at war with Muslims? Is that what this suggests?

TRUMP: Well, somebody knocked down the World Trade Center.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Does that consistent with Trump? I mean, maybe not speaking racism directly but leaving no doubt what he means.

GREEN: Absolutely. I would say that, you know, the piece sought out to track Donald Trump's history and his comments that dealt with communities of color in a really kind of transactional and harmful nature, and this is only, you know, one of many examples over the course of 40 years where he did that.

LEMON: Yeah. You know, you mentioned that you talked to Richard Spencer, the man who coined the phrase alt-right and the key organizer of the violent "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. This is what he told you.

He said, "There is no question that Charlottesville wouldn't have occurred without Trump. It really was because of his campaign and this new potential for a nationalist candidate who was resonating with the public in a very intense way. The alt-right found something in Trump."

What does that say about the president?

GREEN: You know, to hearken back to the Andrew Gillum quote that, you know, I'm probably misquoting, it's not about whether or not Donald Trump thinks that he's racist, it is whether the racists think he's racist, right?

LEMON: All the racists think he's racist, yeah.

GREEN: Yeah.

LEMON: Yeah. Let's listen again to one of the most infamous moments of the Trump presidency.

[23:45:00] Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. This is what Richard Spencer told you about that. He said, "Trump in his own way was being honest and calling it like he saw it. I was proud of him at that moment." White nationalists are proud sort of in the vein of what you said. White nationalists are proud of President Trump.

GREEN: That's what he said, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

GREEN: I don't think he could say -- I mean, I don't think that he could draw the relationship in the private they -- that group feels and Donald Trump's words and his actions and the rhetoric and the results that that rhetoric has caused in the culture.

They're proud. I think that says a lot. I think throughout talking to people for this project, you talk to people like Richard Spencer who expresses this spry (ph), you talk to folks like Yusef Salaam who is one of the men involved in the Central Park Five case, and he says things like, you know, Trump by taking out the ad against --

LEMON: His ad ran in May. The crime happened in April 19th. They haven't even started a trial yet. Go on.

GREEN: They haven't even started trial yet and so as Salaam puts it, he kind of says that Trump put the nail in their coffin, that they kind of ensured that they couldn't have access to a fair trial.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, Adrienne, again, this is a fascinating piece. Adrienne Green, a fascinating piece in The Atlantic. I would suggest that all of you go and click on. It is really fascinating to listen to. Thank you, Adrienne. I appreciate it.

GREEN: Thank you.

LEMON: Hate crime is on the rise. Religious leaders are taking notice what's behind the pattern of violence, hatred, and how people are trying to combat it. That's next.

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LEMON: The 19-year-old man accused of opening fire inside a synagogue near San Diego, killing one woman, went to federal court today to face more than 100 charges. The deadly attack is the latest assault on a house of worship in America, evidence that hate crimes are on the rise. More tonight from CNN's Sara Sidner.

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NOYA DAHAN, INJURED AT POWAY CHABAD: The synagogue is always a safe place to be. We're not supposed to be worried about anything.

SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But Noya Dahan will always worry now. She was a victim in a deadly attack at her California synagogue. Her father who witnessed the attack wanted to send this message to the president.

ISRAEL DAHAN, POWAY CHABAD CONGREGANT: I know Donald Trump is supporting Israel but there is more problem in the U.S. than anywhere in the world. Instead of looking for a problem outside of the country, it's better to look inside the country.

SIDNER (voice-over): Over the past seven years, deadly attacks by mass shooters on places of worship have been a reoccurring nightmare in the U.S. In 2012, six people are gunned down at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. That same year, a prayer leader is killed at a church College Park, Georgia. In 2015, nine worshippers are slaughtered at a predominantly black church in Charleston.

In 2017, 26 killed in Sutherland Springs, Texas. And in Antioch, Tennessee, another person is gunned down at church. In 2018, 11 are murdered in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Six months later, one person is killed at a synagogue in Poway, California.

Police say four of the attacks were perpetrated by men with white supremacy turned Neo-Nazi ideals, targeting their victims because of their skin color or religion. This pattern of deadly extremism is forcing religious leaders like Poway's Rabbi Goldstein to confront their new reality.

YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, RABBI, POWAY CHABAD: After the Pittsburgh event, the Poway Sheriff's Department hosted an active shooting workshop which we attended.

SIDNER (voice-over): In his synagogue, everyone but one congregant survived the shooting. He was injured. But he said that if it wasn't for the shooter's gun jamming, a congregant who charged him, and an armed off-duty border patrol agent who fired at the suspect, it could have been a bloodbath.

GOLDSTEIN: If we would have had an armed security guard at the door, there's a very good chance the shooter would have been neutralized. Why didn't we? The answer is simple.

SIDNER (on camera): You couldn't afford security.

GOLDSTEIN: There's no budget for it.

SIDNER (voice-over): After that shooting, California's governor pledged $15 million in grants to help religious and community-based non-profits to strengthen security.

After the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history, Pennsylvania's governor is working with the legislature to increase funding for security for more than $3.6 million in grants the state secured from DHS since 2014 for Jewish groups.

In 2019, the federal government set aside $60 million in security grants for non-profit organizations, but they must be able to demonstrate they're at high risk of a terror attack.

CARLY PILDIS, AUTHOR, TABLET MAGAZINE: I cried so hard that day. I cried so hard.

SIDNER (voice-over): Carly Pildis writes for "Tablet" magazine, which concentrates on Jewish news and culture.

PILDIS: You know, I feel a sense of loss of what it used to be like for Jews here.

SIDNER (voice-over): As hate crimes rise, the sense of safety is being stripped away.

PILDIS: Anti-Semitism is a real threat. It's a threat to you even if you're not Jewish. Anti-Semitism has a history of breaking democracies.

SIDNER (voice-over): Experts who track anti-Semitism say, "We probably have not reached the pinnacle of the hatred yet."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[23:55:05] LEMON: And Sara Sidner joins me now. Sara, is it the government's role to provide security considering the separation of church and state?

SIDNER: It is an interesting conundrum but basically they deal with this with grants. The Department of Homeland Security has tens of millions of dollars it sets aside for security, for places that are non-profit organizations, which of course includes temples and churches and synagogues.

The problem is there's only so much money to go around. There are a lot of places of worship in this country and a lot of people wondering, especially the smaller places, the places that are not in big cities, that don't have big funds to help them out, those places are really wondering how they are going to be able to go to their place of worship and pray in safety and peace. Don?

LEMON: Unbelievable time we're living in. Sara, thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.

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