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CNN TONIGHT

Rep. Al Green (D-TX) Was Interviewed About The Reason Why He Wants President Trump To Be Impeached; Fresno Grizzlies Posted An Unvetted Video; Amash Greeted With Standing Ovation At Town Hall; Tornadoes And Floods Ravage Nation's Heartland; Fighting Climate Justice In Communities Of Color; Texas Official Who Led Attempted Voter Purge Resigns; Posthumous Pulitzer Prize Awarded To Aretha Franklin. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 28, 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] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us.

Congress is in recess this week. But the calls to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump, those calls are growing louder and louder by the day, as a matter of fact.

"The Washington Post" reporting that in the House alone 39 Democrats are already on board. The report by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller outlines at least 10 areas where Trump may have committed obstruction of justice and it did not exonerate the president as he falsely claims.

But for Democrats impeachment is not just about the Mueller report. There's mounting frustration with the stonewalling by the White House which is refusing to honor subpoenas for documents and congressional testimony.

Last week, the former White House Counsel, Don McGahn at the president's urging, ignored a subpoena to appear before the House Judiciary Committee. Then the president's strategy on going abroad, going around Congress, I should say when he doesn't get what he wants, like he did when he declared a national emergency after Congress refuse to fund his border wall.

Not to mention the fact that with 2020 looming Democrats may be running out of time for impeachment. So far, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is resisting pressure to begin impeachment proceedings. But she is saying this about the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: In plain sight in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and he's engaged in cover up, and that could be an impeachable offence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, she insists that Congress gather evidence before it takes any action against President Trump. One Democrat though, who strongly believes the Mueller report lays out a case for impeachment is Congressman Al Green of Texas. But he has other reasons as well. And he joins me now to talk about them.

Congressman, good to see you. Thank you so much for coming on this evening.

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: It's my honor to be on with you, sir. Thank you so much.

LEMON: So, you have made the case to impeach President Trump after seeing the Mueller report. But you say the strongest case to impeach President Trump is his bigotry and policy. Tell me about that. Why is that?

GREEN: Well, thank you. I've heard on your program and many others that we need have this discussion about race. The race question. I think that we need to go beyond talking. We have to make it an action item.

We have a president who has infused bigotry into policy. When he was contemplating his immigration policy, he made the s-hole countries remark and he was in the White House at that time. He went on to talk of policy that would eliminate diversity visas, these are the visas that many persons in Africa have benefited from.

He has a policy still currently that is not what I would call something that I'm proud of. And I don't think the country is and that's not reuniting families after having separated them at the border. It hurts my heart when I see that picture of that baby crying being separated from her parents.

I think that this would not happen but for the fact that these are people of color. I also believe that the president having said that there were some very fine people among the bigots, the racist, the homophobes, the xenophobes, and Islamophobes in Charlottesville where a woman lost her life fighting bigotry.

I think all of these things when combined would cause us to conclude that these are impeachable offenses and if we want to get beyond talking about the race question, I think we can make the action item. I plan to do so.

LEMON: OK. So, listen, you mention the separation of families, you mention the s-hole countries. You also point to the Muslim travel ban. You just mention the Charlottesville. You talk about transgender people in the military. That's one of the reasons. I'm just wondering how do these rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors though?

[23:05:01] GREEN: Well, if you would go to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson in 1868, articles 10 of those articles of impeachment dealt with a high misdemeanor. We too often confuse what the law really says with what we think it says, Mr. Lemon.

Andrew Johnson was impeached for speaking ill of Congress in article 10 of those articles. And it was for a misdeed. A misdeed is a misdemeanor. So, the president can be impeached for his racist and his bigotry.

Unfortunately, however, he is a beneficial bigot. Meaning, he benefits of good many people. And I unfortunately have to tell you that I'm so saddened when I see people who have built their reputations fighting bigotry allowing this to persist to the extent that it has.

There are organizations that they are going to be shamed in history because they didn't fulfill their missions as they have said they with would with reference to bigotry. I'm not going to be a party to this. I do believe he can be impeached for his bigotry and he should be.

I would also add this. Congress is at the crossroads of accountability. Either we will hold the president accountable or we will be held accountable. This is not a time when we're going to stand on the fence. We all will have to take sides and the only way to accomplish this is to have votes in the House and in the Senate.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, though, Congressman.

GREEN: Please.

LEMON: All but one House Republican, all but one is opposed to impeachment based on the Mueller report as you know. So, what make you think that they would go along with impeaching Trump for bigotry when they essentially ignore or defend the president's behavior and his policies and they're going along with what the attorney general and the president have spun about the Mueller report. Why do you think that they would go along with this?

GREEN: Well, I don't think that we have to set the standard such that we have to have the Republicans on board with us. If you'll recall when President Clinton was impeached, only a handful of Democrats in the House voted to impeach the president and it was party line vote in the Senate, meaning all of the Democrats voted not to impeach President Clinton.

So, I think we're expecting more of others than we ourselves have delivered. I don't think it has to be something that we have bipartisanship on. I'd love to have it but the framers of the Constitution in federalist 65 point out clearly that impeachment would be divisive. That the party line votes may be taken.

They were very clear that this is not going to be a walk in the park but it was necessary to maintain the democracy and protect the republic.

It's not something that I want to do. I didn't come to Congress to impeach a president. I came to work on issues related to housing, the homeless, criminal justice. But this president has committed impeachable acts and we have to act or history will hold us accountable and so will our primary voters.

LEMON: Congressman, we appreciate your time. Thank you so much.

GREEN: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

LEMON: Absolutely.

I want to bring in Mike Shields, Ana Navarro, and Angela Rye right now. Good evening to all of you. Thank you. You heard my conversation. Mike, I'm going to start with you. Can the president be impeached for bigotry?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think it's a vote in the House and the Democrats are absolutely obsessed with getting the president and impeaching him. And so, my guess is if they wanted to, they could impeach him on anything they want to.

I mean it's a vote in the House of Representatives and that's a -- there's a trial in the House in the judiciary committee and then it goes to the floor and they take a vote on it. And what you are seeing is that even after the Mueller report came out and said there is no collusion, they're not stopping. They're issuing subpoenas.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's out there.

SHIELDS: They're investigating, they're doing everything they possibly can. Now you have people saying we should just -- we should just impeach him over his policy. And look, I can't believe I'm saying this but go for it.

I mean, Al Green, thank you. Thank you for articulating to the American people what the Democratic Party actually stands for which is no policy to help the American people that elected them. They are simply the get Trump party and that is actually pretty beneficial politically for Republicans.

LEMON: Angela, you want to jump in. I know that you agree with what Congressman Green said. But go on.

RYE: Yes. Thank you, and thank you for calling him Congressman Al Green. I just think it's really important that we understand the framing of that conversation. I think that Congressman Green is grounding this conversation and one that I think is frankly sobering for all of us.

And that is, what is history going to say about this congress? This Congress was elected to do something different not to go along to get along with Donald Trump and his abusive power, frankly. Something that is an impeachable offense.

And so, while we're throwing bigotry aside as if it doesn't matter, as if it's not significant, I think that what Congressman Green is arguing is that bigotry if infused in policy is an impeachable offense because it's an abuse of power.

[23:10:01] Not to mention that the Mueller report doesn't talk about there not being any collusion. He gives you 10 pathways to get to obstruction of justice. So, I think that we also need to be careful with that framing. I know that it's a popular conservative talking point but it is inaccurate.

I think also we have to be clear about this one thing. And so tired of saying it, Don, but I think you probably where I'm going. And I just wonder what the Republicans would do if the shoes were on the other feet.

If Barack Hussein Obama had done any of what Donald Trump had done this far, would this even be a point of conversation? And I think that that's -- frankly, how we can frame this, and frankly how Democrats should move? There's enough to go forward with at least an impeachment inquiry and I wish at least they would go forward with that so that Mueller could be heard on public platforms everywhere talking about this report.

LEMON: Ana, what's your view?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think there's plenty of basis for impeachable offences. There's at least 10 instances that were laid out by Robert Mueller. But I also think many Americans voted for Donald Trump knowing exactly who he was.

If after he questioned Barack Obama's birth citizenship, the first black president. If after he claimed Judge Curiel was incapable of doing his job because he was Mexican. If after he called Mexicans rapists and criminals who brought problems and brought crime to this country, if after all that, Americans still voted for him, they knew who they were voting for.

They were voting for a disgusting bigot. He might be morally and characteristically unfit to be president, which is what I think but that does not rise to high crimes and misdemeanors. What does is the fact that he has obstructed justice. And there is plenty of evidence of that. So, I wish we would focus on the serious basis. I think we should focus on what he really has done as president now. We, you know --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But Ana, your argument sounds a bit like the Trump supporter who come on to defend his behavior. They were saying, listen, it was baked into the sauce. We knew that's why we -- we knew that and we voted for him anyway. So why does it all matter?

NAVARRO: Yes. They voted for him with a little help from the Russians. It all matters now because after getting voted, there's been at least 10 instances of obstruction of justice that Robert Mueller laid out.

Don, it is no surprise to you or me or Angela and I think to many, many Americans that there is racism in this country and that there are people who looked beyond what we knew of Donald Trump to vote for him. Some of us didn't, but some of us did. And that is the reality of America.

Racism is not something that began with Donald Trump. But some people did vote for Donald Trump knowing exactly who he was. He is a birther who questioned the first black president's citizenship in this country, and it was all based on racism. LEMON: Well, Mike, you know, you worked in the House in the 90s and

you say Republicans made a similar mistake that Democrats like Congressman Al Green that they're making now. And what is that mistake?

SHIELDS: The mistake -- they made a few mistakes. First was we started investigations and that turned up nothing and we told the American people Bill Clinton is guilty.

Then we couldn't sort of get him on something so then we moved on to the next thing, then we moved on to the next thing, then we moved on to the next thing and pretty soon every good idea that the Republican Party had, welfare reform, tax cuts, balanced budget were being drowned out for the -- with the American people who voted for us to do those things and all they heard was we are the get Bill Clinton party.

that's all we stand for as we just got to get him at any cost. And the Democrats have made the exact same mistake. We're way past the 100-day mark of their new Congress. Can anyone tell us anything they've done other than investigate the president and that's not what they ran on, and certainly what the 30-odd --

RYE: Yes.

SHIELDS: -- members who are sitting in Trump districts told their constituents they were going to do. They are now in peril.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: They have passed numerous bills, though, that Mitch McConnell won't bring up.

SHIELDS: When your stance is to investigate and you have members like Congressman Green coming out and saying we should just impeach him because we disagree with him, to hell with what the voters said.

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: That's not what he said.

SHIELDS: We just don't like him or we're going to --

LEMON: But the other Congress --

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: That's not what he said.

SHIELDS: We don't like what he says and we're going to get rid of him.

LEMON: Others have been able to --

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: I reject -- SHIELDS: Ahead of an election, Don, that is what he's saying. What he's saying is I don't like him and I don't like what he says.

RYE: I reject that conversation. That's not what he said.

SHIELDS: He said impeach him for policies.

RYE: No. He said impeach him because bigotry has been infused in his policies. So, we are talking about a Muslim ban --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Right. So, he don't like his policies.

RYE: You're talking about a trend -- no, no, no.

SHIELDS: And so, we're just going to get rid of him.

RYE: Wait, wait, wait, Mike.

SHIELDS: Forget the voters. Let's just --

(CROSSTALK)

RYE: Wait, wait, wait.

SHIELDS: No, Angela, you interrupted me. I'm not going to wait. You interrupted.

LEMON: One at a time, please.

RYE: Because you're lying on a member of Congress which I find disrespectful.

SHIELDS: OK.

RYE: So, what I'm telling you is this.

SHIELDS: I find interrupting me disrespectful. But, go ahead.

RYE: OK. Well, you know what, unfortunately, I'm not going to let you lie on one of my former bosses. So, here's the reality of what's going on here.

(CROSSTALK)

[23:15:02] SHIELDS: OK.

RYE: The reality of it is, a transgender ban in the military is not just disrespectful or not, just about not liking something, it is about bigotry being implemented in policy.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: Right. But you're making my point.

RYE: Hey. No, no, no.

SHIELDS: So, what you're saying is impeach him over the policy.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Let him finish, Mike. Let her finish.

SHIELDS: Impeach him over policy.

RYE: No. What I am saying -- what I am saying to you, Mike, that you can -- you can make it that simple but we're talking about people who are children of mothers and fathers in this country, we're talking about kids who have been separated from their parents at the border, we're talking about causing trauma.

So, we can talk about it as a simple disagreement or we can talk about what is the moral right thing to do. And I will be dammed if I stand on the wrong side of history with that and that is exactly what Congressman Green is saying and the other 30 plus Democrats on the House and Senate.

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: The American people like to make their decisions in elections.

NAVARRO: But here's the thing.

LEMON: OK. Ana.

RYE: Well, the American people didn't make this decision.

NAVARRO: No, no.

LEMON: I got to go, Ana, but quick. Quick, quick, please.

NAVARRO: But let me just say this. People voted for Donald Trump knowing he was a sexual harasser over a dozen women had accused him of that. Having heard him --

RYE: Twenty-three.

NAVARRO: -- claim grabbing a woman they knew he was a racist, they knew he was a birther and they still voted for him. So, let us focus not on the moral grounds because those we can debate. Let us focus on the legal grounds. He has obstructed --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIELDS: That's not what Al Green is saying, Ana.

NAVARRO: -- justice as president. Exactly. That's not what he's saying. So, I'm not -- I don't think you impeach somebody because you disagree on policy. I think you impeach a president because he has committed high crimes --

LEMON: OK. I got to go.

NAVARRO: -- and obstruction of justice is a high crime.

LEMON: We'll be right back. Thank you all.

[23:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: A minor league baseball team is apologizing to freshman Congresswoman -- to the freshman Congresswoman. The Fresno Grizzlies of the Tripe-A of the Washington Nationals issued an apology to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after showing a video at a game on Memorial Day featuring a speech from former President Ronald Reagan.

So, what was wrong with that? Was Reagan is heard referencing the enemies of the freedom. The video shows Ocasio-Cortez, Kim Jong-un, and Fidel Castro.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, the team said in a statement that they chose the video without seeing it in its entirety first. Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter saying, in part, "words matter and can have consequences for safety."

So, joining me now to discuss is Aisha Moodie-Mills and Douglas Brinkley. Good evening. Wow.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Good evening.

LEMON: Wow.

AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.

LEMON: So, the Fresno Grizzlies didn't edit the video themselves, Aisha. They pulled it from YouTube. But why would someone lump AOC in with dictators like Kim Jong-un and Fidel Castro. And it's -- I mean, listen, they say they didn't but that was someone should have watched the video. But go on.

MOODIE-MILLS: Exactly. First of all, somebody should have watched the video. How does this even happen where you just go post something and don't even take a look at it? But you know, we can talk about AOC in a minute. But one thing I want to remind us that when she says that these kinds of things have consequences, she's right.

Remember, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords had a similar situation where there was a Web site that had Democrats in the crosshairs, Sarah Palin actually put this Web site up and said go after the Democrats in the crosshairs politically. And someone actually came out and shot Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Inciting violence is exactly what this type of propaganda does. And so, I'm thankful that she came out and said wait a minute, this isn't just fun and games. People get hurt when this kind of propaganda is pushed that is essentially saying like these people are enemies and it's getting folks to go after those people who are deemed as enemies.

So, the whole thing is just problematic. But the fact that they didn't even look at the video is ridiculous.

LEMON: Yes. That was the same web site. But there's no evidence that Sarah Palin thing incited that. But you know, the crosshair, I remember that story.

MOODIE-MILLS: The correlation is real.

LEMON: But there was a correlation between. And some made that correlation but they're saying that there's no evidence that it actually did that. But Douglas, doesn't AOC is a hero to many on the left. Target to many

on the right.

As a matter of fact, you know, she's a regular feature on Fox News. What is it about her that makes such a polarizing figure and to be, that would want someone to include her in a video with dictators?

BRINKLEY: Well, the Grizzlies the fact that they didn't vet that is just ridiculous and they better do an internal review very quickly. Although their apology was fairly fast. So hopefully this will be a warning that -- you can't -- you know, AOC gets death threats regularly.

That she has become the person the right in America wants to pin as the face of the modern Democratic Party.

You were talking earlier, Don, how Donald Trump's worried about Joe Biden. What the Trump people want to do is paint the Democrats as AOC and I think there's bigotry involved with that. The fact that she's of Puerto Rican heritage.

The Trump administration's record in Puerto Rico is just abysmal and they keep treating Puerto Rico not as American territory but something outside and a kind of otherness about it.

So, you know, it was just another indication of the partisan divide. But for Triple-A balls is pretty high up there. Those Grizzly payers could be going to the Washington National be called up to the majors from a minor league franchise to allow such a hack job to be put in a video between a double on Memorial Day when we're taking our attention away from our veterans. It was very sad.

LEMON: Yes. Interesting thing to witness as an American.

[23:24:55] Listen, Aisha, Ocasio-Cortez and some of her progressive freshman they've been very outspoken. They've had some really tough questions at these hearings, they've showed themselves to be prepared for these tough questions and for these big hearings and prepared on big issues. Is that the reason for some of the backlash?

MOODIE-MILLS: It's part of the reason. But let's be clear. There are lot of freshmen who have been really tough with this administration. There are a lot of members of Congress who have been really tough with this administration.

Here's the thing. AOC represents and reflects --

LEMON: Just say it.

MOODIE-MILLS: -- the America that Trump's base is afraid of. We are literally witnessing --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Brown folks.

MOODIE-MILLS: -- brown folks. the demographic revolution is underway. We are witnessing the rise of the new American majority right now. And it is people of color who are ultimately one day going to be the majority of the population and most of the new American majorities also more progressive than center.

And so, you have the Trump base and thus Trump, who really look at AOC as a reflection of what they don't want America to be and what they don't deem to be American. It is because she is a woman, it is because she is a person of color, it's also because she is young and she's urban. So, it's all of those things together that insight that rage in them.

LEMON: I wasn't sure where you were going. Thank you, Douglas. Thank you, Aisha. I appreciate your time.

BRINKLEY: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: The lone Republican congressman who called for President Trump's impeachment is stepping up his attacks tonight. He says that he was appalled by what he saw in the Mueller report.

[23:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, the only Congressional Republican to call for impeachment proceedings against President Trump held a town hall in his home district tonight. One supporter stood up to thank the Congressman for his courage in taking on Trump, prompting a standing ovation.

And Congressman Amash, telling attendees that reading the full Mueller report led him to call for impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): I'm confident that if you read volume two, you'll be appalled at much of the conduct. And I was appalled by it. And that is why stated what I stated. That is why I came to that conclusion. Because I think we can't go -- we can't let conduct like that go unchecked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Let's discuss now. Elie Honig is here, and Max Boot, as well. He is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

Good evening gentlemen

So the town hall follows, Elie, a series off tweets about the president and Attorney General and he begins by saying Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented key aspects of Mueller report and decisions in the investigation which has helped further the president's false narrative about the investigation and he continues step by step laying out the ways that the Attorney General help the president by pushing a false narrative about the investigation. I mean, this is a Congressman, he is not only taking on the president and the Attorney General, but he is also a Republican.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, Don, first of all he's got guts. Right? It's hard to be the first one out there. First one from the Republican Party to say this about the president. He also happens to be right. He is right about obstruction. It's really hard to -- I think it's impossible to read the Mueller report and come away with any conclusion other than this is just not obstruction, this is obstruction on a massive scale.

LEMON: So, where did the Attorney General assessment come from -- where other Republican are saying that --

HONIG: Yes, I think the Attorney General is doing the political hitch hog. I think he is' doing the president's bidding. I think he is given away his own independence. I think he's compromised DOJ's independence. I'm one of almost a thousand former federal prosecutors now who signed this letter saying that the facts in the Mueller report make out a strong case for obstruction and if not for that DOJ policy against indicting a sitting president, I believe President Trump -- Donald J. Trump would have been indicted.

LEMON: Max, Amash challenged everyone to read as we had been during on this program, Max, to read the full Mueller report and he said this, he said, Barr has so far successfully used his position to sell the president's false narrative to the American people. This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing back on his misrepresentations and share the truth. Is the danger here that this point that many people have already made up -- at this point that many people have already made up their minds?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: The danger, Don, is that people make up their minds regardless of the facts. They don't read the report, as Congressman Amash suggested. They just decide based on whether they have D or R after their name what they think about the charges against the president.

And that is where Congressman Amash really stands out, because in Washington today, he is an almost unique creature who is somebody who is willing to rise up beyond party allegiance and act on a larger allegiance to the constitution and to the United States. And what he is doing is just incredibly brave, calling out a president of his own party based on the facts that are contained in the Mueller report which anybody can read and all the other Republicans know what's in there.

But they're all pretending that Mueller did not say what Mueller actually said, because it's a huge act of political courage to admit that the president of United States or Republican has committed high crimes and misdemeanors. And there's a widespread expectations that Amash could wind up paying for that.

He already has a primary challenger. The DeVos family, these massive Republican donors of Michigan have pulled their funding from Amash and so he is putting his job on the line to hold the president to account. But that's exactly what every member of Congress should be willing to do and he's the only one with the guts to do it.

LEMON: I was just going to say, don't we need more of that? People are not beholden to money and just keeping in jobs just because of that? But there should be some principle there, but, you know, (inaudible), it's quaint and old-fashioned.

The president and his supporters are calling to investigate the investigators, Elie, Congressman Amash says that he is -- he has no problem investigating the FBI, but he knows as he said, the findings should not be selectively withheld and to mislead anyone as William Barr did with the Mueller report. Do you see a DOJ with Bill Barr at the helm?

HONIG: I share the same skepticism. I mean, fool me once, fool me twice, right? Bill Barr had a copy of the Mueller report before anyone else, he held it back from the public for three and a half weeks. I mean, misrepresented to all of us, to the public and to Congress what was in it. And you know how we know that? Because Robert Mueller said so.

[23:35:10] We found out afterwards. Robert Mueller wrote that letter to Bill Barr saying, you misrepresented, you misstated the content, substance of my findings. Right. So, yes, I don't trust him and I think this move to investigate the investigators is over kill. And it's potentially dangerous and it could oust sensitive methods. I don't trust Bill Barr to do the right thing. I think he'll put politics first.

LEMON: Elie, Max, thank you so much.

HONIG: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

BOOT: Thank you.

[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Powerful storms are wreaking havoc throughout the plains and Midwest regions tonight. Earlier this evening a tornado warning was issued for Kansas City, Missouri and its western suburbs, that's after at least one person was killed and dozens more injured in western Ohio as severe storm and tornadoes left a trail of devastation. Report of nearly 50 tornadoes across the Plains and into the Midwest over the last 24 hours. So let's discuss now. CNN's Chief Climate Correspondent, Bill Weir in here.

Bill, thank you so much. So, can we say that these storms are becoming more and more as if, because of climate change and what does the science say?

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the direct link between tornadoes is little thin right now. There's none of data there. But you can look at 500-year floods that are now happening every couple of years. You can look at hurricane seasons that we are having, you can look at the predictions, climate models from years gone by that turn out to be more conservative than what is actually happening right now. So, yes, more heat means more moisture, means more unpredictability.

LEMON: Yes. So, listen, "The New York Times" is reporting that the Trump administration is they're -- how they're trying to change. How scientist report potentially damaging affected climate change. What are they doing? What's happening?

WEIR: It is -- for about 15 years or so the line from conservatives of that (inaudible) was -- it's not happening. That we're in a pause, on a global pause, but now you can't deny it anymore. You can talk to lobsterman in Maine or Bass fisherman in Louisiana. You can, you know, see it from satellites as the arctic melts at a staggering rate. So now it comes down to what's going to happen next and what the Trump administration wants to do is the way these national climate assessment works, they look at what it's going to be like at 2100.

And say, what's bringing that back, let's talk about what's going to happen in 2040. The most dramatic stuff is going to happen after the next 20 years or so and so one analogy of climate scientist views, is like, going to the doctor and he says, Don, if you smoke three cartons a day and eat 12 cheeseburgers, here's what your life is going to look like. And then you cut them off at age 40, when the most damage is going to happen beyond that. So you can't discuss this things.

So Scott Pruitt, the former EPA commissioner tried to poke holes in the science. He comes at it really from a religious point of view. As an Evangelical believes that humans don't have the power to alter god's creation in this way. And that oil and gas is the fruit of the earth given to man. And so those who are now fighting against the overwhelming evidence, everyone from the Pentagon, NASA, Noah, Smithsonian says this is happening and it's more serious than we're talking about.

LEMON: Yes, but there are real-life issues with this.

WEIR: Yes.

LEMON: And especially in our country and there are some folks who were vulnerable, the most vulnerable. WEIR: Exactly, I mean --

LEMON: Even looking into that.

WEIR: Ultimately this is going to affect all living life, all creatures on earth, but as we've seen from history, some people are more equal than others and the folks that are feeling it are subsistence fisherman or farmers and people with color, neighborhoods of color here in the richest land on earth. And I went to visit one such place.

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WEIR: It is the great paradox off a man-made climate crisis, the fuels that built the modern world are the same ones now destroying it. And while a dirty energy addiction will eventually effect everyone, the folks with the smallest carbon foot prints are the ones that will feel the most pain.

HILTON KELLEY, FOUNDER, COMMUNITY IN POWER AND DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION: On one hand I'm fighting to push these refineries to lower their emission levels and they're fighting and pushing back saying, we can't lower it any more than what we've already done without shutting down and losing our business.

And then I have some of the residents coming to me saying, well, you know, with what you're doing, you are going to push these industries away and we need these industries for our jobs, Hilton. Our livelihood depends on them. You know, we'll die quicker from starvation than we will pollution. So back off.

WEIR: Hilton Kelley, was born amidst these sprawling refineries of Port Arthur, Texas. Where the working poor live with a carbon burning double whammy. The toxic air that comes with processing millions of barrels of oil a week and the supercharge storms that increase in frequency and power with every barrel burned.

KELLEY: So, we're getting a storm like every other year every three years or so. Not just a little storm, but storms that cost you to have to rebuild your house over and over and over again.

WEIR: For almost 20 years he has been the kind of concerned citizen that grabs a camera when the toxic clouds get bad and has air quality officials on speed dial.

KELLEY: What do you need to see it for? Who are you again?

WEIR: He has a stack of complaints and a few wins.

KELLEY: And we're constantly fighting those kind off battles. So, I'm forever the guard if this gate and as you can see from my place right here, there go the dragon right there.

WEIR: That is the dragon. You are constantly watching it.

[23:45:00] What Hilton calls the dragon is actually the biggest oil refinery in America and it's owned by a Saudi Arabian company that made $111 billion profit last year. Almost twice as much as Apple. Meanwhile their neighbor who lives here was driven out by the flood waters of hurricane Harvey and almost two years later, can't afford the repairs to move back in.

This is why communities of color are worried that the gap between polluting haves and storm-surviving have not is only going to get wider. After Harvey flooded Motiva and other refineries, the Trump administration fast-tracked almost $4 billion to build storm barriers, specifically to protect oil and gas facilities, but they predominantly block Houston neighborhoods flooded by Harvey, can't even get government funding to upgrade their storm drains.

BRIDGETTE MURRAY, PRESIDENT, PLEASANTVILLE SUPER NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL 57: Because she was on the back of the dread site as well as the water not being able to drain off, her house got about four feet of water.

WEIR: Is that right? Right here.

MURRAY: Right.

WEIR: Residents say they are invisible to disaster planners while insurance premiums sky rocket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those communities that get hit first worsen hardest should receive the aid, the assistance first. Shouldn't be in the back of the line, but right now, it's the back of the line, back of the bus.

WEIR: And so a generations after the fight for civil war rights, they now call for climate justice. And they fight their dragons. One fire at time.

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WEIR: You will hear those words "climate justice" wrapped up in plans like the Green New Deal and as we brace for a new normal when it comes to weather, those folk who are next to the places that you don't want to live deserve a break, deserve some sort of climate justice.

LEMON: I relate to that. Because I grew up in Louisiana along that you know, chemical row or whatever you call it with all the chemical plants and it used to rain dust down on our homes and cars. It would take the paint off the cars, but we were breathing that and it looked like that.

WEIR: Exactly. You don't want that dust to your lungs. Asthma rates, measurably (inaudible) higher.

LEMON: Crazy. And it was African-American folks. Mostly African- Americans. Thank you, Bill Weir.

WEIR: You're welcome.

LEMON: I really appreciate it. The Texas Secretary of State is out after just six months on the job

and a failed attempt to purge the states voter rolls. Many of those targeted voters were Hispanic.

[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: I just want to call your attention to a story that otherwise may have passed on a holiday weekend. On this show, we talk a lot about elections having consequences, and the importance of having your vote counted. We also call out clear attempts to add voter suppression. This is one of those stories.

In Texas, the governor there, Greg Abbott accepted the resignation of the acting Secretary of State, his name is David Whitley, did that yesterday. He filled the job for less than six months. Well, Whitley quit just after failing confirmation in the Texas Senate. Whitley began his short-lived term, launching a botched investigation into what he claimed was rampant voter fraud. He then set out to purge thousands of voters from the states rolls. His office claimed some 95,000 non-citizens were on voter rolls and out of those, nearly two- thirds had voted at least in one Texas election in the past 18 years.

Many of the targeted voters were Hispanic. Here's the problem. It was not true. No matter to President Trump, because he seized on the claim as if it were true there. Well, our colleague Philip Bump at "The Washington Post" points out the president singling out a handful of false voter fraud claims often in states where he lost the popular vote. Trump's own commission investigating supposed voter fraud nationally disbanded after finding no evidence to back up that claim.

Texas press forward, though, sending letters to suspected non- citizens, threatening that they must either prove their citizenship or be disenfranchised. They were given 30 days to comply. Whitley turned those names over to the Texas A.G. Ken Paxton, whose office could potentially prosecute individuals for voter fraud. Well, just four days after announcing the purge, David Whitley's office realized almost a quarter of people on their list had been misidentified, because of a mix-up with the department of public safety.

Three different federal lawsuits and a congressional investigation quickly followed that. A federal judge ordered Texas to stop purging its rolls of names it flags, citing no credible evidence of voter fraud. He wrote of Whitley's attempted purge that it exemplifies the power of government to strikes fear and anxiety and to intimidate the least powerful among us.

And David Whitley's resignation, none of this was mentioned. Governor Abbott even thanks his former aid for miss moral character and integrity. And while Texas was forced to abandon the voter purge effort, taxpayers are left with the $450,000 bill for legal fees and related costs.

Before we leave you tonight, I want to tell you about a touching tribute for the queen of soul. A woman who I was lucky enough to have called a friend. Today at an event to honor this year's Pulitzer Prize winners, Aretha Franklin was honored with a posthumously award. Franklin is the first African-American woman to receive a special Pulitzer citation prize, which was awarded for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.

[23:55:03] And look at this, to celebrate, Franklin's name was put up in lights at the Apollo Theater in Harlem and at the event, there was a surprise performance. Jennifer Hudson, everyone. Take a listen.

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(JENNIFER HUDSON SINGING)

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