Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Getting Into President Trump's Skin; New Tariffs For Mexico On Hold; Trump Hurling Insults At Pelosi, Who's Not Taking The Bait; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Presidential Candidate, Is Interviewed About Joe Biden's Stand On The Hyde Amendment; Interview With Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA); Inside Joe Biden's Abortion Stance Reversal. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 7, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: That is a path we must all march down together, now more than ever. Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You're making too much sense. And listen, I think what -- I feel similarly -- as you know, I'm gay, right?

CUOMO: What?

LEMON: I know, news flash. You didn't know that?

CUOMO: No, I'm surprised, you don't dress well.

LEMON: I thought you were, as much time as you spend in the gym, and putting it on social media. Geez.

CUOMO: Obviously watching.

LEMON: You don't want to go there. So, the whole studio is cracking up, by the way. So listen, ask yourself if you -- it only became legal as you know, I just got this. It only became legal for me, people like me to be married in June of 2015, not so long ago.

People can still lose their job because of their sexual orientation. People still get killed because of it. You know, I don't know if people walk up -- many people, I'm sure it does happen, so you're straight and therefore I want to get rid of you, I'm going to kill you, if you look at some of the toxic things that are said online about people, members of the LGBTQ community, if you look at the criticism of me, go on any social media site, any criticism, a lot of it is rooted in homophobia.

That's the first thing they talk about and they say. Also, your interactions with people, we have an implicit bias. People expect gay people to be, you know, in some instances --

CUOMO: Whatever stereotype.

LEMON: Whatever stereotype. Predators, effeminate, on and on and on. Many heterosexual men, you don't think that, from our friendship, think that every gay man wants them or in some way is trying to entice them or is going to --

CUOMO: It's ignorance.

LEMON: Ignorance. It's based attitudes. Have you been to -- have you seen gay men in a gay bar, straight guys?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: They're all jacked and ripped and -- we don't all want you.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Not all of them. Not all of them.

LEMON: You bet. Well --

CUOMO: Not all of them.

LEMON: You haven't seen.

CUOMO: Quid pro demonstrato --

LEMON: Some people don't have that much to prove, you know what I'm saying? Yes. So, listen, I think it's -- march if you want on your straight pride parade.

CUOMO: No. No, no. Not on this one. No straight pride.

LEMON: But know that you're being ignorant.

CUOMO: Straight pride, at best you're being ignorant, at best you're being ignorant if you join.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And bigoted.

CUOMO: But let's be honest. You know what you're doing you're trying to say that you don't like what you see as its opposite. There is no need for straight pride. This is about recognizing minorities, recognizing people that need a come-up, not about saying that we're all equal, we can all do it, that's the same thing as saying all lives matter.

LEMON: Do you really think that -- let's just be honest. Do you really think that straight people are aggrieved and oppressed? I'm always -- I am so shocked by young men -- I was just talking about this with one of my guests coming up, Michael D'Antonio, young men, 20 something and 30 something-year-old men, many heterosexual men, they're so aggrieved right now and I don't understand what's going on in this culture.

CUOMO: I think that there is a perception and frankly I think the president did a good job of connecting with this angst, real or not, people can feel things. Right? Emotions aren't always based on fact and it's that multiculturalism, the push for diversity, the push to have more of mixed situations means naturally and mathematically a diminution or reduction in how many white males you have.

They take that as a threat instead of seeing it as a boosting of all of the different types of perspectives we can have empowering this society. They see it as them being marginalized and the talk and what they want us to say and call each other, that all this political correctness is threatening what they identify with as our culture.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: That's where it comes from.

LEMON: Where does the threatening part -- when we talked -- when we talked about implicit bias and the threatening part. Because you know I'm the same way with everyone, I treat --

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: -- the straight guys, gay guys, whatever, all the same. Same interactions, hang out, go to the bar, whatever, you're jocular with each other. But when a gay man does it, it is perceived as somehow threatening and sexual.

CUOMO: Right. When it depends on who the guy is. Look, I had to deal with this a lot growing up, you know and I'll tell you two different ways. One, when I was in college I would see how guys would act differently to guys who were openly gay and I went to Yale, OK, and it was meant as a joke but it was also true.

You know, they'd say one in four, maybe more and that was a way of making fun of the fact that you had a big and robust gay population back in the 80s. Even at Yale University. And I would see how white guys would feel that it was a mark on their masculinity if they were friendly with gay men or affectionate with gay men, but that was out of ignorance.

[22:05:03] And once they were exposed to them and they understood it, it was fine. Then when I was a single man, and I became as Mario's son an eligible bachelor people would ask me, hey, you know, I heard, you spend a lot of time, you've got gay friends around. Are you gay or straight? I wouldn't answer it.

And it became a little disturbing for people. They're like, what do you mean you won't answer? Well, if I say I'm not gay, I'm straight, you'll go, he's normal, he's like the rest of us.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I don't want that because I see what that does to my gay friends.

LEMON: Yes. And if I say I am gay, that's how you're going to define me for the rest of my life so I'm not giving you that. And I've seen it and I've seen people like you and frankly, Anderson, and other people in the media have to struggle with it and deal with it and be judged by it. And we're trying to get better and that's why something like straight pride, you've got to stomp on it. LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Because it's all the instinct.

LEMON: I got to tell you. We need some -- we need education on that. Again --

CUOMO: And exposure.

LEMON: And exposure, I agree with you. And I knew that story. We've talked about that story a number of times that you just shared.

And so, I appreciate your courage and I appreciate you being so evolved. There are other things that you can get better with. But we'll work on those, and we'll talk about all of this when I see you on Sunday at the 92nd Street --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: I love it, I tell people all the time when they say how can you be friends with that guy, I said look, the problem is not that he's gay.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Don't think that he's gay. He's got a lot of other flaws in his character it's makes more impossible to be around him. I love you. I'll see you tomorrow.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: One of them -- one of them does not have a low self-esteem like the person on --

CUOMO: I know. I mean, look, I attack you because I'm insecure.

LEMON: All right. See you. I'll see you Sunday, have a good one.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

We have some breaking news to tell you about. After talks with Mexico go down to the wire the president announces a last-minute agreement and suspends tariffs that he threatened to impose on Monday. Tariffs that, according to one report, could have cost some 400,000 American jobs and it may be no coincidence that that agreement comes on the day a weak jobs report raised a red flag on this economy. A lot more to come on that tonight. You really want to stay tuned for that.

And then there's the news of a lawsuit brought by CNN, as a matter of fact, a federal judge ruling that the FBI will have to reveal more of former FBI director James Comey's memos about his meetings with president Trump, specifically the names of countries and world leaders mentioned in the conversations between the president and Comey.

And remember that mystery company that was fighting a subpoena in the Mueller investigation for months, well a judge in that case appears to have -- to have let the company off the hook. Now, we still don't know its identity or the country that owns it. But there are intriguing hints that it could involve a foreign country's Central Bank.

All of that, all of that as the president is back home, on his home turf tonight, leaving behind the pomp and pageantry of his visit with the queen and his turn on the world stage at the D-Day anniversary in France. But getting back to the Donald Trump that we have come to expect, escalating his feud with Nancy Pelosi.

You know, it seems as if the president just couldn't resist tweeting a fresh attack on the speaker and doubling down on his latest nickname for her. And there that nickname is, "Nervous Nancy," while complaining that Pelosi reportedly told senior Democrats behind closed doors that she'd like to see him in prison. He didn't like that.

I hate even saying the nickname then we repeat it and it sticks and then it does what exactly what he does -- what he wants. The president objecting to that, the speaker reportedly made the comment while he was on the state visit in the U.K.

Well, he's apparently referring there to the tradition that you don't criticize a president while he's on foreign soil. But let's remember the president said this, not only on foreign soil, but just steps away from the graves of the fallen American heroes of D-Day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: People like Nancy Pelosi that honestly they don't know what the hell they're talking about. Nancy Pelosi, I call her nervous Nancy, I think she's a disgrace, she's incapable of doing deals, she's a nasty, vindictive horrible person. Because she's a disaster.

Angry people like Nancy Pelosi -- they don't know what it takes. They don't know what's going on. They get angry. She is a terrible person and I'll tell you, her name, it's nervous Nancy, because she's a nervous wreck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This is a president who always seems to be spoiling for a fight, responding to pressure by attacking his perceived enemies. And there's no greater pressure on the president than the debate in Congress over starting an impeachment inquiry.

Ironically, Pelosi is the one holding the line against impeachment while Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler is reportedly arguing for opening proceedings against the president.

But let's take a look at another one of the president's tweets today. One that is really blowing up. And we just talked about it and I want to, so, I'm going to go through it a little bit more here.

[22:09:56] Quote, "For all the money we are spending, NASA should not be talking about going to the moon. We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on much bigger things we are doing, including Mars, of which the moon is a part. Defense and science."

Look, I think we know what the president was getting at here, OK, but just in case there's any question in anybody's mind, the moon is not a part of Mars. Not a part of Mars. The moon, as any school child could tell you, orbits our planet, Mars has its own moons, two of them, right, neither of those moons is one of -- is the one American astronauts landed on 50 years ago.

Now it is pretty clear that what the president meant was that going back to the moon would be part of a mission to Mars. But he also says, I'm not quoting here, NASA should not be -- and I'm quoting here, I should say, "NASA should not be talking about going to the moon," which is the opposite, the very opposite of what the vice president said back in March.

And here's a quote. "It is the stated policy of this administration, the United States of America, to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years." And then he also, he's also has to ignore his own White House state policy directive which he signed two years ago. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So you might think that we should just ignore the president's tweets? But remember that in the early days of this administration the press secretary Sean Spicer told us the president's tweets are official statements. So should we take them seriously?

Our breaking news tonight is the president says tariffs on Mexico are indefinitely suspended after reaching a last-minute deal tonight. So is the president bluffing all along or is this the art of the deal? That's the question for former Congressman Charlie Dent, Susan Glasser here as well, Michael D'Antonio, they're all next.

[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Here's our breaking news tonight, President Trump announcing his threatened tariffs on goods from Mexico are indefinitely suspended after reaching an agreement with Mexico to stem the flow of migrants at the border.

Senator Chuck Schumer is tweeting "this is an historic night. Donald Trump has announced that he has cut a deal to greatly reduce or eliminate illegal immigration coming from Mexico into the United States. Now that that problem is solved I'm sure we won't be hearing about any more -- I'm sure we won't be hearing any more about it in the future."

So I want to talk about this now with former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, Susan Glasser and Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump." Good evening to all of you. I'm sure you recognize there, Charlie

Dent, that, you know, the sarcasm in the senator's tweet because we will be hearing about it. He didn't solve the problem. Correct?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, we'll be hearing about this ad nauseam. I just thought this latest exercise with Mexico was just one where the president -- you know, he's talking about open what, second front in the trade war. I never thought he was going to go through with this.

Polling just came in from in Texas showing that he's losing to Joe Biden there and probably no state has more to lose than a trade war with Mexico than Texas given the level of integration between Texas and the Mexican economy. Of course the corn growers, and the cattle growers were also very much alarmed by this.

So, I don't really -- I don't know what the deal is right now. Nobody really knows what the deal is but I thought this was a little bit more bluster than anything else.

LEMON: OK.

DENT: He just wanted to be able to stand up there and say he got something from the Mexicans.

LEMON: OK. And which is what we have been saying here that, remember we said it's going to be some minuscule or minor or minor things that happens and then he'll claim credit for it.

But let me just tell you what this deal is going to do. Mexico will deploy their National Guard throughout Mexico with priority along their southern border, migrants with asylum claims will have to return to Mexico to await adjudication there and both countries will work to address the underlying issues in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Susan, what is your read on this?

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: My read on this is that Trump was going to claim victory no matter what because it was, you know, essentially -- we're all sort of props in this fake game of, you know, let's stick up the neighbors and demand things. It's not at all clear what kind of results this would produce.

You know, we haven't seen the full details of it and to me, it's such a predictable play here because we've seen President Trump run it so many times before. You know, at the beginning of the week, how many people in Washington thought this is exactly where we would be on Friday night? It's just --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I think everybody did. But Susan, I got to say this --

GLASSER: This is his go to place.

LEMON: Let's do a fact check then I'll let you finish your statement there. Because I've got to tell you, and I mentioned this earlier, Mexico has been doing -- they have been ramping up their efforts to stop the flow.

And a statement released, this is on Monday, OK, Susan? Mexico says they deported over 80,000 people since December, that is a 33 percent increase from the previous six months and a 54 percent increase from the same time last year. So when the president has said that Mexico is not doing enough they were doing something.

GLASSER: Well, of course they were doing something. Look, there are two important things here. Number one, the number of arrests at the U.S. southern border, the number of people crossing the border, if you look at the graphic, right, it is a spike upwards in a way that is clearly alarming to President Trump since he staked part of his presidency on the idea that he was going to be the guy getting tough on the border.

Instead, for a variety of complex reasons, he's the guy who's failed to control the border and that's the bottom line and you can, you know, obscure it with all the tweets and all the shouting you want in the world. You can point fingers and blame but Donald Trump came to office and he promised his voters that he was going to control the border.

In fact, he's failed completely to do so and the number of arrests has gone up dramatically. So he does have a genuine political problem at this point, number one.

Number two, I do think this last week underscores the complete lack of anything like a normal policy process. The president announced this trade war and threat against Mexico in a tweet right before he left for a week-long European vacation essentially, cavorting with the Queen of England, speaking at a commemorative ceremony in Normandy.

[22:20:00] And his only standards for this trade war and what Mexico can do to avert it was he said they should stop all illegal immigration and illegal drugs coming into the United States. Well, that's not exactly a very rational demand.

LEMON: Yes.

GLASSER: So, you know, the whole thing was sort of a theater.

LEMON: I've got to ask you, while we have you here, "The Truth About Trump," Michael D'Antonio, was this, I don't know, was this bluffing, was this tough negotiation tactic, was it the art of the deal, what are we seeing here?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, there is no art of the deal. Donald Trump is notoriously bad negotiator, so this myth about him making great deals. What he does is he proposes a thousand deals, he makes two or three and declares himself a winner. In this case, I think what Susan observed was that he created this drama on Monday or Tuesday and then --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That only he could fix. D'ANTONIO: Well, that only he could fix. And I swear they must have

locked the Mexican delegation in the State Department to keep them there for nine or 10 hours and then fed them well and they all had a laugh and they let them out and they said well the problem was solved.

There was no problem the beginning of the week to solve that was extraordinary. And now we just have this solution that nobody understands and that won't produce what the president actually promised which was a big beautiful wall that Mexico would pay for.

LEMON: Is this all about reelection?

D'ANTONIO: Well, of course it is. Of course it is. And if he wants to negotiate give us that wall that Mexico is going to pay for.

LEMON: I just wonder if it's -- you know, if this jobs report, Charlie, 75,000, that's surprisingly low number of jobs added in May. Do you think that that may have weighed on the president's decision to make a deal, maybe any deal here?

DENT: I do. I mean, the jobs report clearly was not what anybody wanted and again, I keep coming back to the State of Texas. I can't imagine any state that would be more impacted by a trade war in Mexico than Texas. And the president's poll numbers in Texas are just not very good. Biden defeating him there.

So I think the broader issue, too, the president's trade policy clearly is having negative implications for economic growth, it's creating a sense of instability, and, you know, really, I think the president's greatest vulnerability on the economy is his own trade policy, or lack of one that's coherent.

LEMON: Everybody stay with me. The president is lashing out at the house speaker in a big way, what's behind the sudden spike in vitriol.

[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump ramping up his attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she reportedly said that she wants to see him in prison.

Back now Charlie Dent, Susan Glasser, Michael D'Antonio.

So, Susan, the president's feud with Nancy Pelosi, I mean, it's really heating up. A few days ago she privately told her colleagues that she wanted to see the president in prison and now he is lashing out. Here it is again. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: People like Nancy Pelosi that honestly they don't know what the hell they're talking about. Nancy Pelosi, I call her nervous Nancy. I think she's a disgrace. She's incapable of doing deals. She's a nasty, vindictive, horrible person. Because she's a disaster.

Angry people like Nancy Pelosi who don't have what it takes. They don't know what's going on. They get angry. She's a terrible person and I'll tell you, her name, it's nervous Nancy because she's a nervous wreck.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I mean, honestly, that is some vitriol. Where is that coming from?

GLASSER: You know, I know it's been much commented on, Don, but I just -- I can't get over the location and the venue and the timing for those comments and the level of, you know, personal animus being expressed, not only right there in the American cemetery in Normandy at D-Day but literally minutes before the president went up and spoke to an audience of veteran invasion in a speech where he read off the teleprompter where he was praised.

He was praised on this network and on other networks for being most presidential and statesman-like, literally minutes before he was making those comments about the speaker of the house. It's just so -- of course he's permanently upset. I mean, you know, what is he upset about?

LEMON: I rarely see you at a loss of words, Susan, and there you are.

GLASSER: It's just horrifying. I'm sorry. It's horrifying.

LEMON: Yes.

GLASSER: Right?

LEMON: Yes. Michael, you know, they used to have this cordial relationship. He's attacked her before but he's also said some nice things. Let's watch this and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I would think Speaker Nancy Pelosi and I give her a lot of credit. She works very hard and she's worked long and hard. I give her a great deal of credit for what she's done and what she's accomplished.

I also believe that Nancy Pelosi and I can work together and get a lot of things done.

David, I like Nancy Pelosi. I mean, she's tough and she's smart, but she deserves to be a speaker.

I just want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected Speaker of the House. It's a very, very great achievement. And hopefully we're going to work together and we're going to get lots of things done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So that was then. This is now. What is it about her that she really gets to the president?

D'ANTONIO: I think we should call him the petrified president now. She really has frightened him. This talk of prison, which is a thing that he threw around about Hillary Clinton hundreds of times has come back to bite him and I think it's very upsetting for him to hear that there's this kind of talk going on, on Capitol Hill.

Now, of course, he has to come back and insult her and do it in this awful way, in this setting that -- where he really defiled sacred ground by going so low and then delivering this speech which as Susan said was probably the best performance, presidential performance of his term in office.

So she's obviously frightened him, I think impeachment proceedings frighten him. The inquiry they're talking about terrifies him. This is a man who's frightened and lashing out.

[22:30:03] LEMON: Charlie, I mean, if the president really thought about this, wouldn't he realize that at least in the short term? And Nany Pelosi is helping him by tamping down this impeachment talk?

DENT: Yes, I think that is right, Don, but you have to think of it this way though. I think that the president feels a bit threatened by Nancy Pelosi. She outmaneuvered him during the government shutdown. Frankly, it wasn't a very hard thing to do and the president, of course, if you notice how he launches into these at homonym attacks, this name calling, I think the president just is incapable of talking about policy in a substantive way.

So he'd rather talk about process and name calling and homonym attacks. It's easier for him to do that. So he is going to try to demonize her and congressional Democrats and the election call them socialists and of course, he is also going to try to destroy his opponent, whoever that is. So, I think this is also part of a political strategy. But she threatens him, and she can deny him what he wants and she refuses to flatter him. So, I think that all, you know, kind of led up to this incident.

LEMON: So Susan, how much of this fight is about needing a foil here, because Nancy Pelosi is one of the people he pulls out when he needs a foil, you know, rolling up -- royaling up, I should say, his party ahead of the 2020 election.

GLASSER: Absolutely. I think that almost everything Trump is doing at this point we should be looking at in a pretty explicitly political context. You know, the Congressman is right, the president doesn't really engage in substantive policy debate or discussion and so he is rarely motivated by that in terms of his commentary.

You know, he is seen -- you've seen with the Mexico trade war, he can launch that out there and then it can be gone within a few days so one constant for him is needing not only a set of enemies at any given moment but, you know, a cast of characters and an enemy foil over time, right. This is a show that is being constructed for us throughout the 2020 election.

And so right now when there's a bewildering field of 23 Democrats running against him, most of whom people don't know their names, it's much more useful for the president to elevate Nancy Pelosi as one particular enemy who will be a long running character on this show, but, you know, it's -- I also want to say you did catch me at a loss for words that, you know, it's -- I think what it is that is so remarkable to me and that can get lost because here we are trying to impose our rational framework of analysis on something that fundamentally is more in the realm of psychology than it is in the realm of politics.

The thing that I think I'm responding to, is the fact that the president of the United States would never speak about our enemies and our national adversaries in a way that he is speaking about public officials in the United States and that is the thing that is so striking about it. You've never heard him talk about any of our enemies in this way.

LEMON: That is a really astute assessment there. I've got to ask you, Michael, I mean, because the last time we heard, you know, he got this upset is when Nancy Pelosi used the word cover up and then now, you know, the trigger word seems to be prison. Do you think that is something he is actually worried about or he just doesn't like her.

D'ANTONIO: I think, he doesn't like this kind of talk. You know, this was reserved for him. He was the tough guy. He was the one who would talk about people being traitors or treasonous. He is the one who talks about locking people up, investigating people and now the tables are turned a bit for him and there's another thing that I think is worth noting is that this president goes to the word disgrace and disgraceful when he is at a loss for actual criticisms of policy ideas.

He's called the pope disgraceful. He is called the state of Florida disgraceful, Justice Department, the FBI. Just about all of the great institutions in America, he's called disgraceful at one point or another. This is a man who's desperately trying to deflect attention from himself and create this personal narrative, which as Susan mentioned is going to be a show. This is going to be a recurring show for the next 18 months.

LEMON: Kim Jong-un is a great leader and they fell in love.

D'ANTONIO: Of course. Of course.

LEMON: To Susan's point.

D'ANTONIO: What kind of deal did he get for us from Kim? Nothing.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you all, I appreciate it.

The presidential race is heating up with candidates something in Iowa ahead of the first debates. One of those candidates joins me next, make sure you stay with us for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Democratic front runner Joe Biden this week changed his long held position on the Hyde Amendment, the decades old ban on federal dollars being used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is in danger. He had another increasing pressure for his support of the amendment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I make no apologies for my last position and I make no apologies for what I'm about to say. I can't justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right. If I believe health care is a right as I do I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone's zip code.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So joining me now to discuss is Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Thank you so much. As we can she, she is at a pride event in Des Moines, Iowa and we'll talk about that in a moment. But I have to get your reaction to the -- good evening, by the way. I have to get your reaction to the vice president changing his mind multiple times on the Hyde amendment before coming to say that he can't support it. What do you think, flip-flop or evolution?

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he was wrong and I'm glad that he listened. For me, as the presidential candidate and as president of the United States I would definitely repeal Hyde, but I would also codify Roe v. Wade and I wouldn't appoint a justice or a judge who didn't believe that Roe v. Wade was settled precedent.

[22:40:00] And I would make sure no matter what states someone lived in, that they would access -- they would have access to reproductive care, including abortion services. I've led on this issue for a long time and I will continue to do so.

LEMON: You said he changed his mind and candidates often do, people in positions of power or who hold positions of politics often do. You've changed your mind on positions on issues too.

GILLIBRAND: Yes.

LEMON: Recently, you've been, you know, very critical of the NRA, but they released a letter, you wrote to them in 2008 saying that you looked forward to working with them for many years in Congress. So, what do you think, is that OK? Is that considered a flip-flop, or is that an evolution on your position?

GILLIBRAND: Well, let me ask you, would you rather have a president like President Trump who has never admitted they're wrong, who has never changed his mind and keeps doing the same old thing even if he is wrong or someone like me who has the humility and sense to admit when they're wrong and then be for the right thing and then spend the last decade fighting for the right thing.

LEMON: Well, I think -- listen, I think is when you can admit that you're wrong I think that is very important and people should take note of that. Because as you said, the current person in the White House rarely, if ever, does that.

Listen, let's talk more about reproductive rights. You said reproductive rights are human rights and that they should be non- negotiable for Democrats. Abortion is a hugely divisive issue. Could the argument be made that Biden's previous position supporting Hyde was more in line with Americans' views on abortion funding?

GILLIBRAND: No. About 70 percent of Americans overwhelmingly support Roe v. Wade as settled law and settled precedent and women's rights and the ability to access abortion services are basic human rights. They are civil rights. And it is what's necessary to have agency over your own body and your health.

Women should always be able to decide when they're having children, how many they're having and under what circumstance they're having and for these male legislatures around the country in 30 states to try to undermine our reproductive freedom with the sole purpose of trying to upend Roe and overturn Roe v. Wade it's an all-out assault on women's reproductive freedom and our basic constitutional rights.

LEMON: Senator, you know, two senior state department officials told CNN today that the Trump administration denied permission for multiple U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow flag to commemorate LGBT pride. I mean, this comes after a pair of tweets from the president in support of pride. You're, again, as I mentioned here, you're at a pride event. What's your reaction to this story?

GILLIBRAND: It's bigoted and President Trump has shown time and time again that he wants to divide America. He wants to divide us on every racial, religious, socioeconomic line he can find. He's demonized the vulnerable, he is somebody who actually punches down and he has demeaned our LGBTQ community members, he has demeaned our transgender service members in our military.

As president I will restore the rights of men and women to serve regardless of their gender identity. I led the charge in repealing don't ask, don't tell to make sure LGBTQ members of the military could serve and not be denied based on who they love and I just announced a broad based agenda on making sure we have equality in America for LGBTQ Americans.

LEMON: So, as you're there, at that pride event in Des Moines what does pride mean to you, Senator?

GILLIBRAND: Pride to me means being proud of who you are and who you love and being able to identify as exactly the person that you are. It's one of the reasons why, as president, I will make sure that if you would like to identify as an ex-gender on your federal I.D.s, you can. I don't think that is a decision the state should be making. So pride is about being who you are and loving who you love, love is brave.

LEMON: So let's talk about marijuana now, shall we, because you rolled out a plan this week to legalize marijuana nationwide, calling it a top priority for your presidency. Why is it so important, Senator? GILLIBRAND: There's a couple of reasons. I believe that marijuana

should be de-scheduled. It should be decriminalized and it should be legalized for recreational use and it's for a number of reasons.

First, for all the patients in this country who desperately need access to cannabis and marijuana products. Our vets who have PTSD should be able to walk into any D.A. and be able to get access to marijuana to treat their PTSD and other anxiety and chronic pain.

Second, the criminal justice issues are real, the facts that if you are a black or brown man in this country you are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white man. It's just not acceptable.

And so my platform on making marijuana legal is to also invest in equity, not only in the industry, to make sure that black and brown people can have access to producing marijuana, to growing marijuana, to being distributors of marijuana, but also making sure communities that have been disproportionately affected by racist criminal justice policies will get investment. It's one of the reasons why I also want to make sure anyone who has a criminal conviction for marijuana, that their records are expunged.

[22:45:26] LEMON: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thank you for your time and happy pride to you.

GILLIBRAND: Happy pride to you.

LEMON: Joe Biden's campaign is speaking out about why he is changing his mind on the Hyde Amendment. The co-chair of his campaign, which is Congressman Cedric Richmond explains. Here he is next.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Joe Biden's about face on abortion funding caught some people off guard really, even some members of his own campaign like the one who joins me now. Here's Congressman Cedric Richmond, he is a national co chairman off the Biden campaign.

Congressman, thank you so much.

You know, you were -- before we get into this, you were defending Biden on Wednesday night with my colleague Chris Cuomo, I want you to watch this and then we will talk about it.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D), LOUISIANA: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHMOND: He is a deeply religious man and he is guided by his faith and his position on the Hyde amendment has been consistent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Barely 24 hours after that, you said that Biden, you know, Biden announcing that he is changing his position. So what happened? RICHMOND: Well, also on that episode talking to Chris, I reaffirmed

that he is a strong supporter of Roe versus Wade and a woman's right to choose. And he was wrestling with this internally because now that right to choose, a meaningful right to choose is under attack everywhere in this country from my home state of Louisiana to Georgia to other places.

So when you look at the attacks on Planned Parenthood for example that will provide those types of procedures and services to especially poor women. So, if you look at today's climate, today's circumstances, I think it's a natural evolution and I think that it shows that he listens.

He doesn't think he is always right, but that he will change when the climate changes and he needs to adjust. But remember, he is a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade. He took down a Supreme Court nominee Justice -- I mean Judge Robert Bork, because of his views on his opposition to Roe v. Wade, it is the law of the land and the president strong supporter -- at Vice President, a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade.

LEMON: He also involve on -- from civil unions to -- for same-sex marriage rights and helped the former president do that as well. But listen, that aside, I understand, but that aside what Joe Biden's appeal to the American people is that people believe that they need and want a steady hand. And that he is that steady hand or could be that steady hands come 2020. Does that -- him changing his mind on issues like the Hyde amendment, does he contradict that?

RICHMOND: No. I think the thing people want. One is a steady hand, but two they want authenticity. And his authentic, and I think that people who watched him deliver his statement yesterday could tell that it was from the heart and that he is deeply troubled by the assault on women's rights to choose.

And so a leader -- I think it's a real profile encourage for what he did. Because he had to change a position that he's held for the last 40 years. And for those people out there, down ad I just want to be very clear on this, for those people out there that want to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, first off all we have to win back the Senate.

And what helps us win back the Senate is Vice President Biden's nomination as the Democratic nominee. He is five points up in Texas, that means he'll have curtails there, he's 12 points up in North Carolina over Donald Trump. So he had curtails there. Choosing Arizona so --

LEMON: I get what you are saying, you know, it's early on. Listen, he is way ahead, no doubt in the polls, but it is early on and I got a lot of questions I want to ask. Just so if we can do -- sort of lightning round here, because I want to ask you about Symone Sanders. Campaign adviser confronted the Atlantic --

RICHMOND: Sure.

LEMON: -- that she confronted Biden about it, telling him that he was missing how much this effected poor women and women of color. The question is shouldn't he have known that?

RICHMOND: Well, look, I'll tell you this, Symone is a great senior advisor for the campaign. And you know Symone very well that Symone always speaks her mind. This was something he was wrestling with before the conversation with Symone. And I spent all day with him yesterday in Atlanta. And first thing when I saw him that morning, he expressed to me that he was wrestling with this and that thing has changed so much that he thinks that this limits a woman's right to choose.

LEMON: Well, he said, that he announced that night that he changed his mind because largely, because Republican-led states have enacted strict new abortion laws in recent months. So I got to -- do you think that Joe Biden is finding it difficult to be a centrist? Because you mentioned, you got to -- you know, the Senate that helps you, right, you said. Do you think he's finding it difficult to be a centrist in the Democratic Party where the base is -- appears to be moving further to the left?

RICHMOND: No, I actually don't think this had much to do with the base or the left? I think this had a lot to do with just his belief about a woman's right to choose and I think that he is very consistent on everything else and he will always be the same person he was when he was a Senator. And this is really consistent, I believe, with his formal position.

[22:55:17] LEMON: Congressman Richmond, always appreciate your time. I am jealous that you get to be in New Orleans tonight, but hopefully I'll get there to see you guys soon. Thank you very much.

RICHMOND: Well, Don, let me just say, we lost two great people in New Orleans. One, Leah Chase and Dr. John. And so, we are a city that is mourning, but we are happy that we had both of them to make New Orleans and the country a better place.

LEMON: I'm glad you brought that up. And yes, I agree with you. Thank you so much. Have a good weekend.

RICHMOND: OK.

LEMON: The president announcing he has made a deal with Mexico and won't follow through with his threats on tariffs. Fareed Zakaria weighs in. He's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)