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Voice Mail Between Lawyers Could Shine a New Light to the Mueller Report; President Trump Announced New Merit-Based Immigration System; White House Ping Pong Leadership on the Iran Issue; Trump's New Immigration Proposal Does Not Provide A Plan For Dreamers; Interview With Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) About Climate Change; CNN's Champions For Change. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 16, 2019 - 22:00   ET



CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Let's bring in D. Lemon. But also, we need to remind everybody, Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern for a Champions for Change special, Saturday, 8 p.m., you get to see all the pieces, all at once here on CNN.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Great pieces.

CUOMO: D. Lemon, what a beautiful thing you did there by joining the board, what a great program.

LEMON: Well, I mean, I didn't do it. Well, thank you. And listen, we have so little time, right, two hours of TV. You do an hour, and you do radio. So little time, I actually called them up, Chris, and said this program is amazing after I did the original story and spoke at one of their fundraisers and got to meet the kids.

I said, this is so amazing I want to be a part of this and they said, Yes, we'll take you on. Whatever I can be, I don't know if I can be the traditional trustee or board member, but whatever way I can do it, I'll do it.

Let me tell you, the program obviously needs money. So sometimes when you don't see me here and I'm away on vacation I'm actually doing speaking engagements. And the money that I get from those speaking engagements I give to them because I think that this is the best way, and you and I have these conversations, the best way to level the playing field in this country, to bridge the gap between wealth and race and class.

When you have the opportunity to go to an Ivy League or an independent school, one of these great institutions, an opportunity that you wouldn't have had before it changes not only the trajectory of the students' life but the family's life as well.

Think about, quickly, think about what we're talking about here, we're talking about the college admissions scandal. Right? These are kids opposite; they don't have privilege.

And the reason I wanted to do this, is because all -- a lot of the stories that we do, and most of them are about people who impress us, people who are overcoming challenges, this story is about that, but it's also about people who are on the other sides -- other side who realize that they have privilege and they're trying to help those who have challenges. It's just I can't tell you how much I love this program.

CUOMO: And, look, the beautiful thing of it is you know it works.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: So, it's not just charity, it's not just being nice.


CUOMO: There is something very pragmatic about it and it makes a difference. You wind up elevating people in the income strata. They can give back. They can do different things. I mean, it really checks every box of the society we're supposed to be trying to build.

LEMON: Every single box. So, congratulations to Sue Haiti her first year --


LEMON: Labiba (Ph), who is at her first year -- she is at Middlebury. Labiba who is at her first year Yale. I couldn't even get her. She was in the middle of finals. And then Kevin Pepin (Ph) who's at Riverdale now doing a great job, and Ariana Jacobs (Ph) graduated Barnard last year. Just amazing stuff, Chris.


LEMON: Yes, really good. Thank you, my friend. I'll see a little bit later on --


CUOMO: The pleasure is mine.

LEMON: I'll see you later on in the show and we're going to talk about your champions for change in just a bit.

CUOMO: Beautiful.

LEMON: Chris Cuomo, see you in a little bit.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

We got to talk about these newly unsealed records in Michael Flynn's criminal case. Well, they revealed details of what he told Robert Mueller, including telling the special that people connected to the Trump administration or Congress contacted him potentially attempting to obstruct the investigation.

And we're learning that Michael Flynn, that Flynn gave Mueller a voice mail of one of the conversations. And we're going to have more details tonight on that. Stay tuned.

All of this is happening as the Attorney General William Barr says he won't stop Mueller from testifying before Congress. But as we have seen over and over in Barr's short tenure, very short tenure, he won't do anything this president doesn't want. So, we'll see what happens here.

We're also learning that the Justice Department is finally agreeing to let all the members of the House intel committee see a less redacted version of Mueller's report.

But a lot of what we're hearing from the White House today just goes to show you that if there's anything that will really get under this president's skin it's the idea that somebody else might be getting the credit for running things. That somebody else is pulling the strings and he's just following along.

So, he's not going to be happy that there are questions tonight about whether it's his advisers who are actually running the show on a lot of big issues, from immigration to the threat of war with Iran.

Well, today the president announced a plan on immigration, one that was pretty short on specifics and said nothing at all about DACA.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our proposal is pro- American, pro-immigrant, and pro-worker. It's just common sense. It will help all of our people, including millions of devoted immigrants to achieve the American dream.


[22:05:01] LEMON: The president's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner getting the credit for spearheading the plan, which is unlikely to convince any Democrats to get on board and could very well freak out his base even if there's -- if there's even a whiff of compromise on letting any undocumented immigrants stay here.

A senior GOP source tells CNN that there's White House infighting on this. Kushner reportedly willing to talk DACA to get a deal while immigration hard liner Stephen Miller is all about the border battle.

But with all of this infighting let's not lose sight of the fact that the system is clearly broken, people are suffering.

A two-year-old boy from Guatemala died of pneumonia this week, a month after he and his mother were captured as they crossed the border. He is the fourth child to have died after traveling here in recent months from Guatemala.

This is no time to be playing politics on immigration, no time at all, no matter who is pulling the strings. And then there's the threat of war with Iran. Sarah Sanders was sent out today to insist that the president is taking the lead on Iran.


SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There isn't division in the White House and, again, there's only one agenda here and it's the president's.


LEMON: And the president tweeted, of course he tweeted that he'll make the decision, the decisive and final decision. But a lot of people in Washington think it's actually John Bolton who is leading the march to a war with Iran.

Sources telling CNN the president himself has been calling outside advisers to complain about Bolton. Allowing the situation to reach a point where it seems like war is a real possibility. He doesn't like that.

And the New York Times reports that Trump told his acting defense secretary he doesn't want to go to war. Now, the fact is Iran is a bad actor and certainly not blameless in all of this. But let's remember this. Donald Trump ran on his opposition to wars.


TRUMP: I was against the war in Iraq. OK, I am not a fast trigger, I am exactly the opposite of that. We should have never gone in it. It destabilize the Middle East. We should have never been in the war.

Hillary Clinton is trigger happy. She really is. She's trigger-happy. She's just too quick to intervene, invade or to push for regime change with people we don't even know who they are.

Obama was spending much less but our military was being depleted. He was fighting an endless war, they never end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your risk of military confrontation, sir?

TRUMP: I guess you could say that always, right, isn't it? I mean, you know, always. I don't want to say no.

Would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we're not going to have to plan for that and if we did that, we'd send a hell of a lot more troops than that.


LEMON: A threat like that, to send a hell of a lot more than 120,000 American troops to the Middle East is not going to play well with the president's base as he gears up for 2020. And he knows it.

Trump telling members of his team that a large-scale military intervention would amount to breaking his campaign promises. But the chaos and the infighting over all this, well they aren't doing him any favors right now. Even Trump supporters like Lindsey Graham complaining. They don't know what's going on.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I think there are a lot of senators who feel like they're in the dark and they dropped the ball on this.


LEMON: Well, the administration promising a briefing for senators next Tuesday. And speaking of briefings, or the lack thereof, this is definitely not a good look right now.

Did you see who was at the podium in the Pentagon briefing room today? Take a good look. Yes. KISS's front man, Gene Simmons, addressing Defense Department personnel.

Seems like there could be more important things to be doing, especially at those very important podiums, that important podium these days, like maybe briefing reporters on the threat of war with Iran and briefing Americans answering questions as to what's going on in this country with Iran and beyond.

I told you about those new details on a voice mail Michael Flynn, that he gave to Robert Mueller. Is it evidence of an attempt to obstruct justice? Lots to discuss. Laura Coates is here, David Axelrod, Kirsten Powers, next.


LEMON: Newly unsealed court documents giving us insight into former national security adviser Michael Flynn's cooperation with Robert Mueller's investigation and there are new details about a voice mail recording from Trump's attorney to Flynn's lawyer while Flynn was cooperating.

Was it an attempt to obstruct justice? I want to talk about this, and more new developments with Laura Coates, David Axelrod and Kirsten Powers. I told you they'd be here and here they are. Good evening to all of you.

So, Laura, let's get right to it, a little bit of this information was in the Mueller report but we're learning more now. When you hear about this voice mail recording that's provided by Flynn to the special counsel and a transcript has now been ordered released to the public by the end of this month, what questions does that raise for you?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, one of the questions it raises is why has Congress not been able to have access to the underlying evidence and documents and transcripts outside of the actual Mueller report?

This is additional fodder to support the argument that because there is underlying information, because there are things that may have been touched upon in the Mueller report but not given full context and not given additional details it's simply for them to do so for their oversight accountability function.

But also, one of the questions I have is why, if this was another indication of somebody close in the Trump orbit or the administration or a personal attorney or otherwise, trying to influence or impede the investigation, and Flynn himself has said that it may have had some influence on his willingness to continue to cooperate, knowing how important it was, then it makes that needle go again in the direction of why was this not found to be obstructive conduct by the attorney general?

[22:14:58] LEMON: We do know, David, about a quote from the Mueller report, part of a voice mail message that was left from one of the president's personal attorneys to Flynn's attorney.

On the day Flynn withdrew from the joint defense agreement and the president's lawyers had been told Flynn could no longer talk to the White House or the president.

Let me just read the quote to you and then get your response. It says "It wouldn't surprise me if you've gone on to make a deal with the government. If there's information that implicates the president, then we've got a national security issue. So, you know, we need some kind of heads up just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can. Remember, what we've always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and that still remains."

Does that sound like obstruction?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it certainly -- it certainly does but, you know, one of the things that occurs to me is why wasn't this one of the instances that Mueller -- that Mueller listed? And shouldn't Mueller be asked in a public forum these questions about what Flynn said? And perhaps Flynn himself.

So, you know, this is just putting another log on the fire. I think that the administration and Republicans in Congress have made a judgment that they have sufficiently muddied the waters here, and made this look like a big political food fight that they can kind of bogart their way through this --


AXELROD: -- and not have to submit to any of this.


LEMON: Do you think we'll actually hear the voice mail?

AXELROD: Congress has a responsibility to do this.

LEMON: Do you think we'll hear the voice mail, David? Sorry about the cross talk.

AXELROD: Yes, well, the judge has asked them to produce the voice mail. There's some resistance to that, perhaps, but, you know, I suspect that ultimately, we will hear it.

LEMON: Yes. They asked for the transcript, but do you think they will actually ever hear the actual voice mail? Well, hopefully we will. Listen, Kirsten, we may also learn more about who Flynn spoke to about

his conversations with the former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. How significant do you think is that?

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, I think any more information that we can get about the contacts, you know, of the campaign and the Russians is significant.

I mean, I think that -- but I think it's also very significant what we're already talking about, I mean, that you have a voice mail of somebody who's clearly trying to interfere in the investigation and this, and a lawyer for the president who's saying himself that he thinks there could be something that could implicate the president.

Now, why would you think there could be something that could implicate the president unless maybe there was something that could implicate the president. And I just continue to be struck by how not only have we never had a campaign that's had so many contacts with a foreign government that's an adversary of the United States, but never have we had anybody who's gone to such lengths to cover up nothing, right.

I mean that they say there's nothing here, that this is a witch hunt and there's nothing to see here, and yet over and over we see these attempts on the behalf of people aligned with the president to try to impede people from sharing information.

LEMON: Laura, according to these memos there were multiple contacts, like this voice mail, and that was a big part of Mueller's obstruction investigation which many believe he intended to go to Congress. They're going to have a lot more questions about this, right?

COATES: They should and, of course one of the things last looming and revealed from this newly unredacted portion is the idea that it wasn't just people who are associates of, say, Trump or personal attorneys.

I don't recall the Mueller report being explicit about somebody who was affiliated with Congress being part of the communications as well. That's one thing that was revealed in this particular report -- as I understand.

And so, the idea that there is not a mention of it and Congress has oversight authority on this matter and of course you've got that looming I word of potential impeachment or at least the big I, the capital I, investigation in this case, you have to wonder Congress must want to know what these other communications were and if they have been pointing the finger towards the White House or the Trump orbit when three-pointed back to Capitol Hill they're going to have more questions.

LEMON: Yes. David, you know, CNN obtained a Justice Department letter to House intel chairman Adam Schiff and we're learning that they offered to let all House intel members and six staff members, they're allowing them to see the less redacted version of the Mueller report.

Do you think that this is going to fly given Democrats want to -- they want to see everything, completely unredacted? AXELROD: Yes. And I think revelations like today will probably add

momentum to it. There's a political calculation which is looking reasonable and do they want -- you know, is there an opportunity if they don't accept this deal to look less reasonable and add to this notion that this is a big political food fight?

[22:20:00] But for good reason they want all of the documentation and I suspect they're going to continue to demand it.

LEMON: I want to switch gears now, Kirsten, I want to talk about tensions with Iran and I want to talk about immigration. Who is in charge here? Is the president or is there a void in leadership here? Or is it the competing centers of leadership? Because Kushner versus Stephen Miller or, you know, who knows what they're doing now? Who is in charge here?

POWERS: Well, I mean, ultimately the president is the one who, you know, makes the decisions but he does have a lot of people that he has hired. I mean, I think it's very interesting if you look at the Iran situation, where he's hired, you know, John Bolton who is -- I don't know if he's ever seen a conflict that he doesn't think requires an invasion.

And, you know, or some sort of military intervention and it's a completely at odds, the clips you played earlier at really the view of Donald Trump that I think he's been, you know, fairly consistent on at least in recent memory that he thinks that we should stay out of these foreign endeavors and going into other countries.

It was a major campaign promise and it seems to be something that he's pretty passionate about and yet he chose to lead his foreign policy --


POWERS: -- somebody who has completely different world view. So, you know, I'm not sure if it's just because he saw John Bolton on TV and thought he was really good on Fox News and so therefore, you know, put him in power. Or if he is kind of getting played by people around him who have a different agenda.


LEMON: A Google search would suffice.


LEMON: Or even, you know, Twitter, right? David, I see you want to get in on this. Because you tweeted this today.


LEMON: You said "I can't decide if this Iranian confrontation is more Dr. Strange love or wag the dog. In either case John Bolton would play the lead." Yikes.

AXELROD: Yes. I mean, I agree with Kirsten completely. Donald Trump, you know, saw John Bolton on Fox News and thought he was a robust character on TV who he should hire. If he did any reading, he would know that John Bolton in writing was advocating the bombing of Tehran.

I mean, this is not a new thing for him. And Bolton clearly has helped move vents -- events along to take us to this point. You know, there are a lot of people who said several weeks ago when they took the step of designating the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization that Iran would retaliate.

And that was, you know, so there was this -- there were a series of provocations that have led us to this point. Now the president who seemed oblivious to all this is saying, I don't want to go to war. Well, don't hire people who do want to go to war to be your main national security adviser if you don't want to go to war.

LEMON: Laura, I'll give you the last word.

COATES: Well, I think your question really is the most concerning for members of this electorate, the question of who's really in control when only one of those people as the commander in chief, that does not bode well for the American people or in terms of international diplomacy for there to be that question looming and to have that question unanswered. We are talking about the word war in the same sentence.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you all. I appreciate your time. See you next time.

The president unveiling his big immigration plan today but no one seems to be on board with it. Not even his most fervent supporters and this is his campaign's key issue, seems like that could be a problem gearing up for 2020.


LEMON: The president's immigration plan got a Rose Garden rollout today, a plan short on details, a plan even his supporters aren't likely to get on board with. So, without buy-in from Republicans in Congress, let alone Democrats is the whole thing DOA?

Let's discuss now. Ana Navarro is here, Rob Astorino. Good evening. Thank you. Welcome to my new home.

ROB ASTORINO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's beautiful. I like it.

LEMON: Thank you.


LEMON: Thank you very much.

ASTORINO: I should make a grand entrance down here.

LEMON: We'll discuss that. Let's discuss immigration now. Ana, the immigration -- this is central to Trump's presidency and now he is trying to sell a plan that not even his -- everyone in his party is buying. So how is this possible? NAVARRO: Well, there's not much of a plan. Right. It's like a four-

page cliff notes or something, missing ginormous -- you know, having great gaps of policy and issues that need to be addressed. I frankly don't get it.

I mean, look, there is no doubt that immigration is a huge problem. We are seeing it pop up as a crisis on the border. We are seeing it pop up as a crisis through asylum claims. I live in Miami. I can tell you that there is an immigration problem and that we need to address immigration reform comprehensively.

What we just did doesn't even amount to smoke and mirrors, it's like a half baked -- LEMON: Yes.

NAVARRO: -- pie plan that doesn't pass any muster.

LEMON: OK. But you said it's short on details, there are some details in there. OK? Rob, this is for you. This is what the proposed ban would do away with the current lottery system and institute a merit- based system favoring financial independent and highly skilled immigrants.

It would also require them to learn English. Let's listen to the president explain it and then we'll talk.


TRUMP: Random selection is contrary to American values. Under the senseless rules of the current system we're not able to give preference to a doctor, a researcher, a student who graduated number one in his class from the finest colleges in the world. We discriminate against genius. We discriminate against brilliance. We won't anymore once we get this passed.


LEMON: OK, so he said that. But listen, his base wants a wall. You know that.

ASTORINO: Among other things.

LEMON: You've said that, he wants a wall.


LEMON: They don't want merit-based immigration. Is that wrong.


[22:30:01] ASTORINO: I don't think that's wrong.

LEMON: And he also he doesn't restrict legal immigration. I don't know. Do you think his supporters are even satisfied with this or unsatisfied? ASTORINO: You know, here's the way I see this. I think you don't put

your final and best offer forward first. Right? You get to that at the end. This I think and I hope is the opening for the Democrats to the come to the table and say -- specifically DACA was not in there, right. So, he is getting criticized. If he had put DACA in there was nothing to give and take.

LEMON: So, let me ask you this, without DACA in there -- because remember there was another immigration plan that Democrats wanted DACA and that also gave him money for the wall.

ASTORINO: Money for the wall.

LEMON: And he said, no.

ASTORINO: But I think at this point, look, both sides I can't imagine are going to come to an agreement at this point in really the presidential cycle. However, there's a door open now, if the Democrats are very serious about this, they can go to him and say, OK, look, if we can talk about DACA, we'll even extend to you some courtesies and maybe give you a little more money for your wall and then you can have real negotiations.

I think it's a starting point, because clearly it's not a thick document which came out today. It is pretty thin, but I think as Ana said too, and now everybody is saying we do have a crisis. So, it's good that everyone's admitting we have a crisis.

LEMON: Just real question, let me ask you one more question real quick, so, there are all these plans on the table, remember the government shut down and all of that and so, if he puts a new plan on the table that is even more restrictive and further away from what the plan that both Democrats and Republicans wanted, then why should the other side move closer towards him? That seems like your logic.

ASTORINO: Well, I think one thing he is doing is trying to bring us closer to what the rest of the world is doing with regard to immigration. I mean, we are overly generous. We have the biggest heart and we should have a heart.

LEMON: (Inaudible) as well, I mean, he is modeling it on Canada and Canada is taking it more.

ASTORINO: But Canada is more skills based, just like Australia has moved to that and many other countries are doing that and in many countries in the world you can't get in. They don't let you become a citizen.

LEMON: Ana, a couple things, but should he have put Jared in charge of this?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I guess when you put your son-in-law and the White House to fix everything that needs to be fixed you've got to then, you know, pretend that this is a real plan. Jared Kushner is, you know, not a policy genius. This takes a lot of certainly non-immigration policy expert, this takes a lot of expertise, people who know a lot more about this, you know, have not been able to come up with a solution for many, many years now.

Part of the thing I, you know, always question about Trump's base is how they stick with him through the nauseating hypocrisy and inconsistency. This is a man who time after time has now been found to have undocumented workers working in his properties. This is a man who rambles on against chain migration and is now talking about merit based. Well, what do you think Melania's parents who are all the sudden U.S. citizens and living in the United States are, you think they're genius visas, you think they came here because they're so financially solvable?

LEMON: So, what are you saying? You don't think --

NAVARRO: I'm saying he's a hypocrite. I'm saying he is an absolute hypocrite. I'm saying he has got undocumented workers working in his golf courses, building his buildings. Working in his restaurants. They have been found time and time again to be part of the Trump organization and let's pretend that is not happening.

LEMON: OK. Quickly, I still have to get to the break, that may be the case, because it has been reported and it shows that she is right on those issues. There are undocumented -- her parents came over on what is called chain migration, which is family reunification. Whatever they call it. Is he -- is she right? Is Trump just a means to an end as we are seeing when it comes to abortion and all of that?

ASTORINO: Even if Ana's correct on that, and say he is hypocritical, at least we have a president now who is not turning a blind eye to a crisis that has been brewing for a long time and is trying to hit this on where it is on our southern border.

You may disagree with his rhetoric, but you cannot disagree anymore and we've heard the media and we've heard the left say there was no crisis. Now everyone's coming around saying, OK, we understand there's a crisis, but what are we going to do about it? At least he's pushing this issue and keeping it front and center.

LEMON: I think --

NAVARRO: There's a humanitarian crisis, there's babies dying --

LEMON: I think everyone has always said it's a humanitarian crisis. I have to go, but I think people were saying it wasn't a crisis that would lead you to national emergency. There is context in that. Emergency and there's not a crisis, it wasn't enough of a crisis to call a national emergency to shut the government down.


ASTORINO: OK, but a million people coming in apprehended is a crisis.

LEMON: Yes. All right, I got to go. Thank you. We will having this conversation over and over, I appreciate both of you.

NAVARRO: Over and over and over again.

LEMON: Good to see both of you.

Governor Jay Inslee, man, look, this is his plan and we're going to talk about it coming up.


LEMON: Washington Governor Jay Inslee is one of 23 people vying for the Democratic nomination for president, he has carved out a lane for himself by making climate change the top issue of his campaign. Today he unveiled a $3 trillion jobs plan centered on clean energy and green infrastructure. And guess what? He is here to discuss.

I have the whole plan here. The whole thing, the unredacted version. So, listen, we'll talk about that in just a little bit, but I want to talk to you about this new abortion law that is just passed in Alabama, because you called it a return to the dark ages. What do you think the Supreme Court will do?

GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We don't know, but certainly since the Republicans stole essentially two seats from the American people it gives us great concern and frankly it's maddening to me and I'll just tell you why.

[22:40:00] This is a situation where male politicians in Alabama think they've got the right to tell females in Alabama what to do with their lives and their bodies. To me that is just outrageous.

LEMON: Woman governor signed it though and I think it didn't a woman help to write it.

INSLEE: You can be sure that men were right there standing by to take away this inherent right. And we have got to be aggressive. I have in my state where we passed the reproductive parody act to make sure women get access to health care. We're fighting back in the state of Washington.

LEMON: So, tell me about this. What do you think of your plan, what is it -- $8 trillion jobs plan, or 8 million jobs and then $9 trillion over the next decade? Is that correct, am I getting it right?

INSLEE: Yes, you got it right.

LEMON: Key points to your plan here.

INSLEE: Key points, this is a big, bold ambitious plan, because we're a big, bold ambitious nation and we have the last chance to rescue our nation from the monster of the climate crisis and we know we can grow jobs because we're doing it today, clean energy jobs are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy and we need a plan that says not only we're going to the moon, but designs a rocket ship and this plan you just held up there is the design for an ability to grow a new clean energy economy with jobs across the United States.

And it is the most robust, comprehensive and detailed plan. You can go to my site and take a look at the comments of the people who know what they're talking about. This is the full deal, and that were we knew -- no half measures here.

LEMON: Well, it was interesting, because when I saw it today, it was like, he has a plan already, because a lot of people don't really have their policies up there. So, I think at least you --

INSLEE: I've been working on this for over a decade and a half. And what we have to realize is that, its kind a like beating fascism and World War II.

LEMON: Right.

INSLEE: We can't have a half win here, we have to get a full win.


INSLEE: We have to get no middle ground, we got to make sure people get to high ground.

LEMON: I juts, listen, the reason CNN poll finds that 82 percent of Democrats for Democrats find climate change a very important issue ahead of universal health care, tighter gun control and so on and you called out Joe Biden for saying that he wanted to make a middle ground approach to climate change. Why do you think -- what is wrong with a middle ground approach now?

INSLEE: You know, I was in Davenport, Iowa yesterday where the floods are hurting so many businesses. Men and woman who lost their nonprofit. When you look in her eyes and see her crying, you know that when they're looking for high ground in Iowa, because of the floods, a middle ground approach won't cut it. Half measures just will not -- will not defeat climate change. We need the full meal deal.

And so I hope other leaders will follow me in saying that we have to get off coal in the next 10 years. We have to have a non-fossil fuel- based electrical system in the next 15 or so. These are things required by science. And my plan is the only one that is been offered to date that follows the science and the economic opportunity. It is based on an optimistic can do spirit for the American people.

LEMON: Let's talk health care quickly if you can. Because earlier this week you signed into law a public options health care plan for Washington State, the first in the country to do so. Explain how that is going to work.

INSLEE: Well, you know, we have great progress under Obamacare, we have 800,000 people insured, but we've got to take the next step toward universal care. So, the next step is what I've done, is a public option that will provide a state sanctioned ability to make sure people can get reasonably priced health care in every county in my state.

And I'm proud that it is the first. I hope it will open a window of opportunity for other states to follow. And we know that it is not the end of the game, but it is a big, big state forward and my state has led in so many things. We have the best gun safety, we have the best voting rights. We have the best net neutrality. Now we're leading in health care, I'd like to lead the nation as well.

LEMON: Well, I have said, that this next election is going to be about policy more so than personality. So, I commend you for getting this out early and as this moves along we invite you back.

INSLEE: Thank you.

LEMON: It's always a pleasure to have you.

INSLEE: Don't forget to vote.

LEMON: Thank you, Governor. Thank you very much. Chris Cuomo is back with me next.


LEMON: This week we are revisiting stories of remarkable people changing our world as part of our series champions for change. For Chris Cuomo that person is a 13-year-old poet named Mattie Stepanek. Chris met him in 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11. His message of peace and hope was sad for our country and his words have stayed with Chris to this day.


MATTIE STEPANEK, 13-YEAR-OLD POET: If we choose to make peace a reality and spread it throughout the world, and get involved we will have peace.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Never met anybody like Mattie Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek. We were reeling after 9/11, we were desperate for wisdom and then there was this kid, a kid in a wheelchair with a rare disease, a disease that claimed his three older siblings, and he is deep and he is dying. And he caught fire with a message that we all needed.

I was at ABC News at the time and we couldn't get enough Mattie.

Where does this all wisdom come from, Mattie, you're an 11-year-old kid.

STEPANEK: From inside of me. It's my heart song. Thank you all for coming tonight.

CUOMO: Mattie poured his heart songs as he called them into five books of poetry and peace essays selling millions of copy. His uplifting spirit attracted a worldwide following including fellow poet and President Jimmy Carter. He joined us on the set at ABC for a chance to meet the boy poet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of all the people I've met in my life he was the most remarkable human being, I think, that has lived in my lifetime.

[22:50:00] CUOMO: I broke a very important rule as a journalist. I let Mattie in. I couldn't help it. I loved that kid. And when he was finally gone, I could not handle it. STEPANEK: I need a hope, a new hope, a hope that reaches for the


CUOMO: Hello. How are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm good, thank you. We've missed you.

CUOMO: It has been 15 years. Mattie's mom Jeni is battling the same rare disease that claimed her kids. Her days are devoted to her role as chief peace officer of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. Nobody has ever affected me the way your son did.

JENI STEPANEK, CHIEF PEACE OFFICER, MATTIE J.T. STEPANEK FOUNDATION: When he said god places messages in my heart, I never didn't believe him, but I didn't understand nor did I understand the impact, the ripple effect that was having on people in the world.

CUOMO: How important is it to you? To have your message get out?

STEPANEK: I think it's very important so that we can stop fighting and talk. Our war on terrorism should be won with words, not with bombs.

J. STEPANEK: On September 11th, Mattie watched the events unfold, and he said I don't know how to pray, I don't know what to do. And I said just start speaking. And he spoke what became the poem for our world.

STEPANEK: In so many ways, we are the same. Our differences are unique treasures. We have, we are a mosaic of gifts.

J. STEPANEK: And it became an international passage for peace. It's part prayer, part poem, part plea.

CUOMO: So it started with a poem.


CUOMO: Became a book.


CUOMO: And now it is a platform.


CUOMO: The platform is the just peace summit, a global teen leaders mentorship program inspired by Mattie and organized by the We Are Family Foundation.

NANCY HUNT, PRESIDENT, WE ARE FAMILY FOUNDATION: I said to his mom what if we find young people like Mattie, teenagers between 13 and 19 years old who literally are making the world a more peaceful place.

CUOMO: How many kids have you put out there now?

J. STEPANEK: Three hundred thirty two global teen leaders. CUOMO: We gathered these teens in a room. Like Mattie, they had a

lot to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The message that I really take away most from Mattie and what he embodied was the idea that peace comes just as much in the form of a crippled young boy as it does in a world leader.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He spoke to us about the reality of what it feels like to be alive, and he didn't let his disease limit that. Mattie said unity is strength. We may have differing opinions, but that unity, to be able to have that positive discourse is so important.

CUOMO: Young lady, to the people at home, your decision to come here and to be about this, what did it mean for them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that I am here because I am a change maker, because we believe that we are the change that the world needs. So that is why I'm crying. Because --

CUOMO: These kids, this would have never happened without you and without him.

J. STEPANEK: It empowers me and gives my purpose amplification. I'm living with this sense of urgency. I want to develop sustainability for Mattie's Foundation so that if my stopwatch went done, that Mattie's Foundation survives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think everybody that knows about him have been inspired to look at him and say I make the decision about what kind of person I'm going to be. I shape my own charity, and we use Mattie as an inspirational example of what each one of us can do to live a better life.

J. STEPANEK: He has now been gone longer than he was here, which for me as a mom is very, very difficult. What a beautiful gift to look out in the world and see that what he left for us, his legacy is continuing to grow. I want this message to be reaching billions of people.

STEPANEK: And if I could offer our world a wish, it would be a spirit of peace so that we can be together.


LEMON: And Chris Cuomo joins me now. You know, Chris, we meet so many people in this business, it's rare that we get to go back to those things when the news moves on. What did revisiting Mattie's legacy mean to you?

CUOMO: You are totally right. And very often these opportunities kind of remind us of what it was then and how things have changed. My situation was different, because I never forgot this kid. I have never been affected by anybody in this business, in my life as I was by Mattie Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek and his mom Jeni. So we had stayed in touch. And to go back and remember 15 years, it's so sad, because I still miss him on a regular basis.

[22:55:00] LEMON: Wow. And you got to -- I mean, your heart just goes out to the families, all the families who are involved. And really, I mean watching that, it takes you back really to a time which was just a terrible time for our country.

CUOMO: We learned through that kid that we have to be our best during the worst of circumstances. And if a kid who knew he had a death sentence could be optimistic about what life is about, you know, that expression out of the (inaudible) of babes.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: He was the best manifestation of that I've ever seen.

LEMON: Chris Cuomo, thank you, sir. I appreciate it. Nice job on that. You know, we're going to be sharing this inspiring stories all this week. And make sure you tune in this Saturday night at 8:00 Eastern for an hour-long champions for change special. We'll be right back.