Return to Transcripts main page
President Trump Officially Launches His 2020 Campaign in Florida; Patrick Shanahan Withdraws Nomination; President Trump Defending His Statements Over The Central Park Five; Donald Trump Says ICE Will Remove Millions Of Illegals; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Accused Administration Of Running 'Concentration Camps.' Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 18, 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: Characters formed over time. As clear as it is that this president was wrong about the Central Park Five and that he's clinging to his belief for flex of prejudice against them, it's clear that he's never learned from his mistakes. Strong and wrong is a dangerous combination. And one we see from this president back then and today.
Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: He always gives -- it's interesting who he gives the benefit of the doubt to. And who he doesn't? Ever notice a pattern with that?
CUOMO: Starts with himself. I'll give you that much.
LEMON: Yes. He wants to give a benefit of the doubt everyone who is connected to him who is charged with something, facing a crime. Facing a prison sentence, facing jail time. They're a good person. My son is a good person, whatever.
But whenever it comes to as you see a black or brown person, he doesn't give them the benefit of the doubt even if the evidence is overwhelming that the Central Park Five did not do what Donald Trump would like for them to have done what he said they did. The law and under the law and in the courts, they were found they were acquitted. Officially found guilty.
CUOMO: The convictions were vacated.
LEMON: Vacated. Someone else confessed. The DNA evidence shows it. What else -- what else do you have to prove?
LEMON: Even if there was video tape, he would say what you're seeing and what you're hearing is not what's happening. So, you know, it's just infuriating to even discuss this.
CUOMO: But instructive.
LEMON: It is instructive.
CUOMO: But instructive because you know why?
LEMON: Well, you got to keep doing it. I know. I know.
CUOMO: The 2016 election. Forget about just calling out what's wrong. The 2016 election wasn't the definition of one. He was changed. That was revulsion against the machine. That was disruption. That was disaffection and outrage and him connecting with it in a way that his opponent did not.
This is the definition of election. This is the one that will be a precipice of history. Because this country is going to decide who it is and what it is in a way that it has never done in my lifetime.
LEMON: And who we are as a people. And also --
CUOMO: And who we're not.
LEMON: Who we're not as a people. But we also have to, I think there's a lesson in it for all of us. If you are a Trump supporter do you continue to fall for the OK dokey. Do you continue to use as an excuse that everyone is out to get him and that everyone else is wrong ask and he's always right? And that you're right. And there's no compromise on that side.
If you're in the news media and in the jobs that we are, do we continue to allow space for propaganda and lies that we have to go back and correct and it's futile when you have to correct it because the lie is already out there and the damage is already been done.
Have we learned from that from 2016? Or do we continue to do the same thing. And if you're a person who doesn't support this president, are you going to understand, do you understand what it is that you didn't pay attention to in 2016 if you didn't go to the polls and vote, if you thought that elections don't have consequences, if you thought that, hey, you know, this person is speaking the truth, or they're not going to do everything that they said.
You're right. This is going to be the pivotal election. I think there is, I hate this, you know, this is a teachable moment. But I think there is some learning in there for every single person regardless of what side you're on and what profession.
CUOMO: I think you're going to see correction and I think you're going to see overcorrection. We see that in most social movements that when there's an appetite for change often you go too far in that direction.
The idea of what you have on TV. You know, you go too far and you start censoring what you have on TV. Because you don't like the ideas, because you think all of that is a lie. Very rarely is anybody all a lie, even this president. Does he lie a lot? Yes.
LEMON: Most of the time.
CUOMO: More than anything I've ever see.
LEMON: Most of the time. But think about --
CUOMO: But not everything he says is a lie.
LEMON: But think about the despicable people we've had in history. OK? Now I'm going to use an extreme example. Think about Hitler. Think about any of those people. Would you say that that person is allowed -- or let's put it this way?
If you could look back on in history would you say well, I'm so glad that that person was allowed a platform so that they could spread their hate and propaganda and lies? Or would say it probably wasn't the right thing to do to spread that because you knew in the moment that that was a bad person. And they were doing bad things. Not only were they hurting people. They were killing people. And so, I just think that --
CUOMO: Well, I think that the example matters. And that's a very extreme example, rhetoric that you don't like.
LEMON: But laws rhetoric and laws --
CUOMO: Could it be a slippery slope towards violence?
LEMON: -- and policy are detrimental to people.
CUOMO: Maybe or maybe not.
LEMON: And it also -- and it also -- listen, for people like me, how this president feels about the Central Park Five that can be a life or death issue for people like me. That can be especially a life or death issue for those people who spent decades, a decade, some of them, or more in prison. They didn't have a life.
He took a big part of their life away. People like him who believed it and who wanted it to be true took a part of their lives away.
[22:04:57] And people -- and for -- you know, demonizing immigrants and talking about shit hole countries and saying that there are very fine people on both sides. For people of color in this country it is a life or death issue.
Ask Mrs. Heyer, Heather Heyer's mother who I had on. That is a life or death issue. So, you know, I'm just saying we just need to be careful about having this is a standard rule. This is not standard. This is not normal.
CUOMO: I don't think that it's standard.
LEMON: This is something that (Inaudible).
CUOMO: I don't think that it's normal because he is different than what we've seen. However, we talk about this and it's good that we do, comparing anything to an extreme like a Hitler. It weakens the argument.
LEMON: Well, I think it gives you a good example.
CUOMO: Because you are now taking a guy who says things you don't like and comparing him to a genocide maniac.
LEMON: No, no. I'm not comparing him to that. I'm not comparing him to that. I'm comparing the way you would cover someone who is --
CUOMO: I know.
LEMON: -- a bad person who does that.
CUOMO: But I'm saying it's creating a false standard. The guys who says things I don't like. That's abusive of the truth. It can obnoxious for effect and pander to a group of people in this country is not necessarily a away from a genocidal maniac.
LEMON: It starts with little lies. It starts with little lies that become bigger lies. And it starts with people who become brainwashed. Ask anybody -- ask anyone who had a family member who went to Guyana. Start with a little thing. People start to buy into it. Then all of a sudden, you become, it becomes a reality to you.
Good people follow bad people. It doesn't mean that they're a bad person. It just means they were used. And that they were in some ways co-opted. Doesn't mean they're bad people. But it starts with very little things. It takes some little, some truth and then falsity. And you keep capitalizing on it. So.
CUOMO: Right. That's how cons work. But I'm just saying, a con, something that isn't true versus a cult versus a genocidal maniac. I just think you should go one step at a time.
LEMON: Yes. Well, just saying. Be careful.
CUOMO: Absolutely. That's why we do the job.
LEMON: Be careful. Yes. Be careful. Thank you. I'll see you next time.
CUOMO: All right, buddy.
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
It is official.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: The President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: There we go. President Trump kicking off his 2020 reelection campaign tonight at a rally in Florida in a classic Trump made for TV production designed to appeal to his base and take back the spotlight from his Democratic rivals.
And the president well, he didn't disappoint. Firing up his supporters. Giving them the red meat they like to chew on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's a movement made up of hard-working patriots who love their country, love their flag, love their children and who believe that a nation must care for its own citizens first.
TRUMP: This was our chance to reclaim our government from a permanent political class that enriched itself at your expense.
As I said on a wonderful beautiful day at my inauguration, we did not merely transfer power from one party to another. But we transferred power back to you, the proud citizens of the United States of the America.
TRUMP: Our radical Democratic opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you. And they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable. It's not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, no, he's the same as old Trump. Meet the new Trump, the same as the old Trump, slamming his adversaries including Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the news media.
This is by the way the 60th rally President Trump has held since taking office two and a half years ago. And his supporters turned out in force. The Orlando holds 20,000 people, arena, I should say holds 20,000 people. And the giant crowd made a day of it. Gathering outside the arena
hours before the doors opened, the president and his team choosing Florida to kick off his reelection for very specific reasons. It is his second home as we know when he's at Mar-a-Lago.
And Florida is a key battleground state that he must win in order to get four more years in the White House. Trump is not expanded his base since taking office. His approval ratings well, they're stuck in the low 40s. And that's not where a president wants to be when seeking reelection.
And although it won't be held for another year and a half, the news Quinnipiac poll just out this afternoon shows hypothetical battles in Florida between Trump and some of the Democratic candidates it's not good news for the president.
[22:10:04] Take a look. Joe Biden the Democratic front runner who is already gotten under President Trump's skin is beating him by nine points. Bernie Sanders tops Trump in Florida 48 to 42.
Now Donald Trump has never had the approval of the majority of Americans. We know that. And his candidacy in 2016 was roundly dismissed but many, yet he still won. There is no counting him out. Certainly not based on a few early poll numbers, saying it's really ruling out.
He also has a strong economy and a historically low unemployment rate on his side. And the enthusiasm for him that we saw from the crowd at tonight's rally that is real. That's real enthusiasm right there.
But the numbers already show 2020 will not be a cake walk for him. And he is rattled by it. They show he is losing to Biden and other Democratic candidates in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Those are really important states. If he wants to take back the White House, he's going to have to win those states.
He also just fired pollsters after internal campaign numbers leaked out showing him losing to Democrats. He also claims that he is leading in polls in 17 swing states. But the numbers don't support that. And Joe Biden is already signaling that if he wins the Democratic nomination, he is going to fight his way across the south.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I plan on campaigning in the south. I plan if I'm your nominee winning Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, believe it or not. And I believe we can win Texas and Florida if you look at the polling data now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And tonight, there is no doubt Trump and his supporters are concerned about Biden. Donald Trump, Jr. took the stage before the president going after Biden for vowing to work to find a cure for cancer if he's elected. Biden's son, Beau, lost his battle with brain cancer. But Donald Trump Jr. ignored that fact when he mocked Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: If government failed you, maybe you're the problem, Joe Biden.
TRUMP, JR.: It's not rocket science. What was the good one last week? Remember Joe Biden comes out, well, if you elect me president, I'm going to cure cancer. Wow. Why the hell didn't you do that over the last 50 years, Joe?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Can you imagine attacking someone for wanting to dedicate even more resources to cure cancer? Who does that? Despite his reception tonight President Trump has his campaign work cut out for him even in Orlando. The hometown newspaper there publishing an editorial under the headline "Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020" -- this is a quote, "not Donald Trump."
In scathing pros, the paper calls out the president's behavior saying enough of the chaos, division, insults, corruption, and lies.
As he was leaving the White House for Florida this afternoon the president was asked about his actions following the Central Park Five case in New York City 30 years ago. After five young men were convicted of raping a jogger in Central Park Trump took out a full- page newspaper -- full-page newspapers ads, not just one ads calling for death penalty that read "Bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police."
The men were later exonerated by DNA evidence. But Trump never apologized for the ads. Here's the exchange from earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you apologize for the Central Park Five?
TRUMP: Why do bring that question up now? It's an interesting time to bring it up. You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt. If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case. So, we'll leave it at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: People on both sides. Where have we heard that before? People on both sides. Trump's way of dismissing an issue when he doesn't want to deal with it. Just like when he didn't want to condemn white supremacist who were involved in the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia two years ago. People on both sides.
President Trump going on the attack tonight against his perceived opponents and enemies and talking about his pet peeves. Up next, we're going to discuss the -- and do some fact checking really with Daniel Dale, Susan Glasser, and Mark Caputo.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump returning to some of his greatest hits as he kicks off his bid for a second term tonight in Florida. And a full- fledged airing of grievances the president taking aim at some of his favorite targets, the news media, Hillary Clinton and especially Democrats.
A lot to discuss with one of the newest member of the CNN family, and that's Daniel Dale. Also, Susan Glasser and Marc Caputo. They're all here.
Thank you. It's good to have you on. And welcome, Daniel, by the way.
DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Thank you.
LEMON: So tonight, Trump talked about -- this is for you, Marc. Tonight, Trump talked about immigration, fake news, Hillary Clinton, deplorables, and maybe a new campaign. But has anything actually changed?
MARC CAPUTO, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO FLORIDA: Not really. Understand that Trump when he first got in office on the day of his inauguration filed for reelection in his first campaign style he had was in Florida. Now that he's ceremoniously kicking off his campaign he's once again back in Florida. It kind of emphasizes just how important the state is personally to him.
As you had mentioned he has a second home here. He's visited here this state more than any other, and also politically, he essentially needs Florida to win in order for him to retain the White House.
LEMON: Susan, you know, Trump went much harder on Clinton than any other Democrat. Why do you think he is he stuck in 2016?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, it was the greatest, most beautiful moment of his life. Right? And I did think it was a very nostalgic kind of speech, if you could term it that. That the crowd seemed most passionate chanting lock her up, lock her up, which of course was the refrain at the Republican convention in 2016 that nominated Donald Trump.
He used Hillary Clinton's name seven times I think in the first 30 minutes or so of his speech. He barely mentioned Joe Biden, only coming to him later in the program.
You know, Trump wants to run a campaign that strikes me as not forward looking so much as backward looking. This is the greatest hits of Donald Trump. He's like a record who is stuck on the same groove.
[22:19:58] And you know, it was a dark speech, though. It was almost like the live action version of American carnage, his inauguration address. It didn't feel like a celebration of America being great again, which was the theme they were trying to roll out at the rally tonight. It felt like a warning and a very scary ominous tone to set for your
reelection in which you are supposedly claiming victory over America's problems.
LEMON: And people were applauding it. Interesting. Daniel, you've been lie fact checking this rally, what's your take away. How many lies?
DALE: So, I don't have the final count yet but it's well over a dozen, Don. So, this speech was riddled with false claims. And just as it was greatest hits in terms of his broad rhetoric it was the greatest hits of false claims. These are all claims that have been fact checked before on numerous occasions.
So I should say many of them have been fact checked on numerous occasions. From the claim that he is the one who got the veteran's choice. Healthcare program passed when Barack Obama was the one who signed that bill to the claim that the Russia investigation was illegal.
There's no evidence of that, to the claim that Americans are not paying his tariffs on China. That's false. And a claim that the U.S. had never before received any revenue from tariffs on China, that's false. There's billions of dollars before the Trump era.
The claim that Hillary Clinton acid washed her e-mails, he said that over and over, didn't just delete them, but acid washed them. That's simply not a thing. That's a Trump invention.
And so, over and over again these are claims I fact check, you know, 10, 15, 20, 25 times. And one other thing that was striking, Don, was that he again exaggerated numbers that were already good for him.
So, we have the lowest unemployment rate since 1969. It's about 49 and a half years. Trump said the lowest unemployment in more than 51 years. And so even in these cases where the numbers are in his favor, he still not getting it right.
LEMON: Daniel, he also talked about the wall. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are building the wall. We'll have over 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. It's moving rapidly, moving very rapidly.
TRUMP: And you know, we couldn't get the wall approved by the Democrats. Even though they voted for it four years ago and six years ago and didn't get built. But they voted for it. All of a sudden Trump is president we don't want a wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Daniel, fact check this for me. What's true about -- what's the truth? What's actually being built? Who voted for what?
DALE: Sure. There's a lot there. So, what has been built is several dozen miles of replacement fencing. But Trump has made an argument in the last couple of months that replacement fencing renovation counts as new wall.
Because it's so much superior in his view to the old wall that we shouldn't fact check it as wrong when he says it's essentially a new wall. That's subjective.
But I think when we have thought of new wall in the past what we have thought is new miles of wall. Additional barrier that didn't exist before because that's what Trump promised in his 2016. And we don't have any of that to my knowledge.
There is one project in Texas where Customs and Border Protection says that construction has started. But when I asked them a few weeks ago whether that construction includes actual installation of wall, they said no, it was vegetation clearing and other pre -- sort of preconstruction activities.
So, I don't know if there's any -- there's been any installation in that particular segment. But to my knowledge, that is the only one where there might be even a tiny bit of wall, certainly not going up very rapidly.
LEMON: Interesting. Let's talk a little bit about Florida. OK? Not only is it a crucial swing state. It's also personal to President Trump. He called it his second home tonight. Explain the significance of Trump choosing Orlando for his campaign kickoff rally.
CAPUTO: Well, Orlando is in the heart of Florida geographically and sort of politically. It's in the middle of what's called the I-4 corridor which starts in Tampa after Interstate 4, runs through Orlando and goes up to Daytona Beach.
And Florida is sort of a bunch of states in one. But loosely speaking, the north is far more conservative than the southeast. The southwest is now becoming kind of conservative. And in the middle, you have the sort of a fulcrum on which the states elections and ideological balance rests.
And those who win the I-4 Corridor like Trump did in 2016 usually win the state. So, if you're in Orlando you're going to get a great amount of coverage, you're going to reach a far bigger number of independent swing voters, their television sets and through their local newspapers than say you are in the Panhandle.
And also, as geographically located, they want to make sure to have the biggest, baldest rally in the words of some of the Trump campaign because they want the biggest baldest campaign that the nation has ever seen. And it's an easy place to get to, Orlando, relatively speaking in the state. And they got that.
I mean, they got at least 20,000 people showing up. A lot of these people are so dedicated that they stood there in torrential rain in order to get in on time. And when Trump has these rallies, he uses them as the center piece of his campaigns. This is the center of which and around which his campaign organizes itself and projects strength and projects power, and that's what you saw tonight.
LEMON: OK. We have a lot more. So, everyone, stay with me. Lot more to talk about.
[22:24:59] The president's pick for defense secretary is taking himself out of the run -- out of running for the job. And this isn't the only major job open in this Trump administration. We'll talk about that next.
LEMON: President Trump announcing today that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has decided not to go forward with his confirmation process. The announcement comes after the Washington Post reported a domestic violence incident from 2011 in which Shanahan's son attacked his own mother.
The Post reports that Shanahan had attempted to keep allegations of domestic violence within his family and details about a contentious divorce private. Shanahan told the Post that quote, "bad things can happen to good families."
So, with Shanahan's departure there are now nine members of the president's administration who are serving in an acting capacity. And that's just how this president likes it.
So back with me now, Daniel Dale, Susan Glasser, and Marc Caputo.
So, Susan, that is a lot to chew on. Let's talk about this. The family of Patrick Shanahan's ex-wife, they have actually released a statement tonight coming to his defense. It is a tragic situation and obviously very personal.
[22:30:02] But how could this just be coming out when it was detailed in court filings and Shanahan has been acting Defense Secretary since January.
GLASSER: Well, that's right. It also makes you wonder what kind of an FBI vetting and investigation they had in advance of the confirmation that he did receive to be the Deputy Secretary of the Defense Department. And so, you know, if you really wanted to keep his family private, there are certainly lots of questions about why this is gone on for so long.
But the broader question, of course, that you've raised is, you know, are we going to have an administration or not an executive branch that's filled with Senate-confirmed leaders, these cabinet agencies. It's important to note that we have not had a defense secretary now for a record amount of time. There's just nothing ever like it in any previous administration since the position of defense secretary was created in the aftermath of World War II.
Jim Mattis resigned in December. It is now June. And we don't have a secretary. We don't even have a nominee now. President Trump announced that he would replace Acting Secretary Shanahan with Acting Secretary David. No word on if he's now the candidate potentially for permanent replacement or not. The president has chosen, in this as in variety of ways, essentially to challenge the basic checks sp balances of the system.
And not just as it's evolved but explicitly as it's laid out in the Constitution. I was really struck by one report this afternoon from (Inaudible) of The Washington Post said that he had been told by Senate sources they really didn't want the president to send up a new nominee for defense secretary, because they didn't feel that they could handle it and get it done this summer and still get out to their recess in time.
This is just extraordinary. It feels like people are falling down on the job on Capitol Hill. Of course, the administration seems to be challenging the very nature of Senate confirmation itself by not even bothering to appoint permanent people to jobs, or even White House chief of staff, which doesn't require Senate confirmation. Why is Mick Mulvaney still the acting Chief of Staff in the White House? Everyday, I wonder this question.
LEMON: Yeah. A lot of people do. Daniel, the president says that he's just heard about this yesterday. Does that really make sense?
DALE: Well, I don't want to speculate, Don, because I don't know for sure. We know that Trump has made false claims about what he does and does not know about various matters, personal matters and what's going on in the administration. And it benefits him to maintain, you know, deniability whether or not it's plausible.
But we also know Trump has approved many nominees and other appointees who have troubling things in their past. He's dismissed the alleged wrong doing. He's describes them as good people. He personally likes them, and he doesn't care about some of these things that are in their background checks. So in this case, I don't know for sure. I frankly think either way is plausible here.
LEMON: Yeah. Marc, I want to ask you about this Brookings Institute -- they did a study. Found that 69 percent turnover rate for the president's A team. That includes positions like national security adviser, the chief of staff, communications director, the White House counsel, and that was before Shanahan's departure. I mean this may not be on top of voter's priority lists, but it does have an impact, right?
CAPUTO: Well, you know, that kind of puts me on the spot. Because I admit I don't know what the turnover rate was for the prior administration. But more broadly, when Donald Trump ran, he ran as an outsider from Washington, as a change agent, and someone who's going to come in and shake it up. And he's done it. And this is what it looks like.
There have been quite a number of tell alls that have come out of the White House. They have kind of been gripping summer reading. I imagine more are going to come out. The real question I think that Susan raised is why does he not even confirm, or better said, just appoint some of the people that don't have to go through the Senate confirmation process, in this case, Mick Mulvaney.
You had another case, the Puerto Rico Fiscal Control Board, which is in charge of getting the finances of the island together. He waited five months after a court ruling, saying that these nominees were kind of not properly appointed. And then he went ahead and just reappointed them about, what, 70 days before their terms were to expire.
So the things that the president does have been kind of mystifying and in the context of trying to cover them, it's been rather difficult sometimes figuring out just what direction the White House is going. And now that we see the most recent departure of Sarah Sanders brings up the question of whether or not we're going to start seeing regular White House press briefings again or if there's just going to be kind of a wholesale change in the way which the White House is run.
LEMON: Marc, Susan, Daniel, thank you so much. See you next time. We'll be right back.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So President Trump is once again defending his actions following the Central Park Five case despite the men being exonerated. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you apologize to the Central Park Five?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why do you bring that question up now? It's an interesting time to bring it up. You have people on both sides of that. They admitted their guilt. If you look at Linda Fairstein and if you look at some of the prosecutors, they think that the city should never have settled that case. So we'll leave it at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: At the time of the case, then businessman, Donald Trump purchased full page ads that ran in several New York City newspapers that read bring back the death penalty. Bring back our police. The president says there are both sides to this case. But here are the facts, OK? The five teenagers who were accused of raping a jogger were presumed -- were pressured, excuse me, into giving false confessions.
[22:39:57] They were later exonerated when another person confessed to the crime and DNA evidence backed it up. So let's discuss now. Aisha Moodie-Mills is here, as well Errol Louis, good to have both of you on. OK Errol, you covered this case at the time, right? It was a shock to the city. Trump has never admitted that he was wrong, nor has he apologized for the Central Park Five to be executed. Why not?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It is shocking. I have to say Donald Trump is not alone in this. There are a number of people who -- it's almost like a Rorschach test. They want to cling so desperately to this narrative that a bunch of rampaging black and Latino kids had to be stopped, had to imprisoned, and that tough justice that they got was deserved. People cling to that in the face of all facts to the contrary.
No DNA evidence, the prosecutor of the case, Robert Morgenthau, legendary prosecutor, went to court and said this is all wrong. You have got to throw this out. And the convictions were vacated. Meaning the courts, you know, I mean there was a full review process. There was $41 million paid to these people, an apology from the city.
LEMON: But is it -- listen, isn't the end all be all DNA, right?
LOUIS: Yes. It was supposed to be a gang attack on a woman.
LEMON: But I am talking about any case. When there's no DNA, when the DNA doesn't match, that means what? And the DNA actually matches the person who confessed, what does that tell you?
LOUIS: What it tells you among other things is that the jury, when presented with evidence, physical evidence or a lack of physical evidence, and video tape confessions. Those video tape, coerced false confessions are very, very powerful.
LEMON: What does he mean when he says both sides? What does that mean? Do you guys have any idea?
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, yeah. What it means is that he actually agrees with one side but he doesn't want to cop to it. So he tries to pretend like there's this mythical, you know, middle that he's keeping something fair and balanced when in fact he's not fair or balanced at all. I mean this is a guy -- the fact that Donald Trump called for the execution of 14 year-olds, 15 year-olds.
No matter what they may have done or may not have done, and has zero remorse for it, and is quoted saying like yeah, I am mad. I want them dead. You should want them dead too, just tells you about the soullessness and the callousness of this character in the first place. But the fact that all the years later, when these young men actually were exonerated, even though the president hasn't been, which is a whole different conversation.
Someone who literally who last Thursday, Don, the president had, like, his third event at the White House saying look at me, criminal justice reform. Look what I am doing. I am so compassionate. I've had the First Step Act. I'm trying to help people reenter society. Even in that frame, here are folks who have been exonerated that he doesn't have that same compassion for.
That he's not telling these young men, like, well, what can I do now to help you have better lives, because you were treated so unfairly and so that your existence now at least we can make up for some of this. He's not doing any of that. LEMON: Look. I mean there's always video tape, right? And that's
part of evidence as well. In 1989, President Trump said this to Larry King about the alleged suspects in the case. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Of course, I hate these people. And let's all hate these people, because maybe hate is what we need if we're going to get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The president saw hate as the answer, Errol.
LOUIS: Maybe hate is what we need, right? I mean that's the message. That's the message then and apparently that's the message now. And it's blind hate. It's unreasoning hate. It's hate in the face of facts. It's hate in the face of compassion and reason. And it's a terrible, terrible thing when that kind of hate has behind it the awesome power of the government. And that's what ground down the kids.
LEMON: I have just a few moments left. And I want to get this in, because a new Netflix series which is changing -- a lot of people are being fired because the people are watching this, When They See United States (Inaudible). It's amazing. It dramatized the story of the Central Park Five. There's been some backlash towards the former prosecutor, in this case, Linda Fairstein. Trump mentioned her there. What is going on?
MOODIE-MILLS: Well, what's going on is that the people now are finally understanding how wicked she was. The witch hunt that she created just so that she could, like, literally get a mark for herself. And so now it's fitting that culture which, you know, often is a leading indicator, not politics or policy. That culture is getting some vindication for these young men.
LOUIS: A very powerful story. It's landing on some peoples ears for the first time. Those of us who lived through it know all of the facts. But for a new generation to discover it, people are out raged. Kids at Columbia said they wanted (Inaudible) was a lecturer up there. They wanted her off campus. She was dropped. Linda Fairstein lost her publishing book contract for much of the same reason. Society has changed. And hopefully, nothing like this could ever happen again.
LEMON: It's interesting. I was watching it on Sunday night. And you saw, you know, Chris and I are across talking about it, and it was so dark. I was getting so depressed, and this knock on the door. And I was actually glad it was Chris Cuomo at my door for a distraction, because it is tough to watch, and I haven't seen the entire -- all of the episodes.
[22:44:59] MOODIE-MILLS: The third episode is about essentially reentry and when they get out. And so it's a little bit easier to deal with. But episode four is also really tough. I encourage everyone to watch it. Shout out to (Inaudible) for putting it out.
LEMON: Nice job, Ava. Thank you, both. I appreciate it.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
LEMON: It all started, as so many things do these days, with a tweet from the president. And here is what he wrote. He said next week ICE will begin the process of removing millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States. The only problem there is no such operation, at least not right now. To join me now to discuss is Hilary Rosen, Alice Stewart, and Laura Barron-Lopez.
[22:49:56] Good evening to all of you, so good to have you on, so Laura, I will start with you. A senior administration official is telling CNN that DHS is working on a plan to step up the deportation of undocumented immigrants. But it is "not imminent." That same official also said that there were "not a lot of happy faces today at DHS." What is going on here?
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, POLITICO NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it looks like Trump got ahead of his administrations again. It is something that he is been known to do if he is aware of impending plans. And there was a bit of football between DHS and the White House today. DHS pushing questions over to the White House, and the administration pushing questions about what Trump's tweet actually meant back to DHS.
And also it is pretty unclear that if something like this is carried out, if DHS even has the full resources or the capability to implement such a program.
LEMON: Hilary Rosen, you know, our Pamela Brown asked the president about the discrepancy between what he tweeted and what his officials were saying. This was his response. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, they know. They know. And they are going to start next week. And when people come into our country, and they come in illegally, they have to go out. And everybody's seeing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So is this anything more than trying to look tough on the same day that he launches his 2020 campaign?
HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, that is what he is trying to do. And when he says they know, they know, what he is saying they know that if they don't try and do everything I want them to do, which is, you know, be tougher on the immigration than anybody ever has been, that I'm going to fire them the way I fired other people from DHS before. Because Donald Trump has in mind an immigration program that is inhumane, impractical, and unfunded.
And people who actually are responsible for carrying out these plans know this. And he can admit it, because for him it is politics. For him it's about, you know his rhetoric. But for the people who have to actually do it, it is impossible.
LEMON: Yeah, go on. What do you think of this get tough plan by the president?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look. It is either two things, red meat or real policy. And I tend to think it is red meat. He wanted to throw out there the night before his big rally today, because he knows that his base likes to see him flex his muscle and be tough on immigration and securing the border and building the big beautiful wall that we have not seen.
Or if it is real policy, I think that it is troublesome. Look, not only does this telegraph a serious policy that many people are not aware of, it is signals to those that maybe target of ICE officials to be on the lookout, and it puts the lives in danger of ICE officials that would be going out there, not to mention the fact that many members of Congress who are not aware of what he is talking about.
But either way, if this is real policy that is down the road, I think it was very ill advised for him to put it out there like he did.
STEWART: As I said, it would -- certainly, it needs to be more thought out. But if ICE officials are on the verge of going out there to round up these people, they are going to be on the lookout and it puts their lives in danger. It is not smart to telegraph such an important policy like this if it's actually going to be carried out in the first place.
ROSEN: Hilary, let's talk about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She accused President Trump's administration of running concentration camps on social media last night. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border. And that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps. I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not and never again means something. This is a crisis for ourselves. This is a crisis on if America will remain America.
It is actual principles and values or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So her critics attacked her saying that she was demeaning Jews. Is Ocasio-Cortez helping or hurting Democrats with heated language like that?
ROSEN: Well, I think she is just talking about a problem that is real. Look, what we know is that the very same camps in Oklahoma that were used in World War II for detaining Japanese-Americans are now being used to detain people to detain migrants. And, you know, we cannot sustain this. We don't have the humanity to sustain this. We don't have the resources to sustain this.
And the truth is we are creating concentration camps on the border. We have 45,000 children, you know, being detained currently. We have hundreds of thousands of adults with no hope of a court date, of, you know, a trial, of any transportation to either a relative or back home. This actually is very much like a concentration camp.
[22:55:10] LEMON: I've got to go. I've got to run. I am sorry I am out of time. But we'll talk more about it. Sorry about that. I appreciate it. President Trump kicking off the re-election campaign in Florida tonight, as a new polls shows some of the Democratic candidates could beat him in that battleground state.
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon.