Return to Transcripts main page


Ilhan Omar Calls For Impeachment Of U.S. President Donald Trump; Trump Defends His Racist Attacks On U.S. Congresswomen; Biden's Healthcare Plan Illustrates Democratic Divide. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris for CUOMO PRIME TIME. Chris?

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: Thank you, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The President likes to appeal to those who hate. Too few in his party say something. Too many justified, and they try to curry his favor, and maybe the favor of the same hateful lot. It is all sickening. We have new reaction from the Brown- and Black-skinned lawmakers he told to go back where they came from.

Is this President's penchant for division driving his ICE roundups? We have the perfect person to answer. The Acting Head of CBP is here. What happened this weekend? And why are the occurrences so secret?

And Joe Biden told me he was looking for a fight on one of the biggest dividing lines for 2020. He just teed it up today. Will he win or lose?

What do you say? Let's get after it.




CUOMO: So, the President told four lawmakers of color to leave the country, not because he thinks their criticism makes them un-American. Who has said more un-American things than he, arguably?

No one tells him to go back to where he wrongly said his father was born, right, in Germany. He said it because they are Brown and Black. And he knows saying that will work with people that he wants to like him. And the lawmakers that he targeted get that too.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I am not surprised at what he's doing.

And we won't get caught slipping because all of this is a distraction.

REP. ILHAN ABDULLAHI OMAR (D-MN): This is a President who has said "Grab women by the pussy."

This is a President who has called Black - people who come from Black and Brown countries "Shitholes."

This is the agenda of White nationalists. It's time for us to impeach this President.


CUOMO: Now look, take your politics as you like. White nationalists do support a lot of what this President says, and that should be troubling to someone who says something, right? Not to this President.


DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me, and all I'm saying, they want to leave, they can leave.


CUOMO: Look, the good news is many may agree. Many, many more disagree. So, let's start discussing how this President is putting his thoughts into action. We have the Acting CBP Head here tonight, Mark Morgan.




CUOMO: It's good to have you, Sir. I've heard good things about you. I do not envy your position tonight. But you have to deal with what is coloring the perception of your job, which are these tweets.

So, thank you for being here. You're always welcome to argue what matters to the American people. The Border security matters. Let me just put this simply, would you say what the President said?

MARK MORGAN, ACTING U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION COMMISSIONER: Look, Chris, I'm not the - the President's Press Secretary.

CUOMO: I know you're not. I know you're not.

MORGAN: But - but Chris--

CUOMO: But you're doing a job that people will say is reflective of his feelings. And I just want to print - make it straight, for you to have your own relationship with the audience.


CUOMO: Would you say it?

MORGAN: Chris, look, again, you're going to have to ask the President what he meant by his tweet. I'm not here--

CUOMO: We know what he meant.

MORGAN: But, Chris, look, I am his Customs and Border Protection Commissioner. That's what I'd like to talk about today.

I'd like to talk about the real crisis that we have, that Congress has failed to do their job, and - and to pass meaningful legislation to fix the loopholes that could end this crisis tomorrow.

CUOMO: Look, I'm with you.

MORGAN: Because that - that's what I'd like to talk to you about.

CUOMO: Congress has to act. I don't think that the way the White House is doing it with its asylum change I think they have trouble, frankly because the idea of a safe country is undermined by what the President has said about Mexico. I think he's going to create his own legal hurdle.

But just to be clear Boss, what you said about AOC and Concentration Camps, you didn't have to talk about that either, but you found it offensive. A lot of people find this stuff offensive, and I just want them to know where your head and your heart are doing the job.

MORGAN: Well, so Chris, I think that's a point. Again, I'm a Law Enforcement professional.

And when I - when I talk about the comments and the rhetoric coming from the Congress today, I talk about what's affecting the men and women of - of CBP, and the rhetoric that's coming out there about the - the work that the men and women are doing to address this crisis, it's unjust, it's unfair, it's misinformed, and it does nothing to further a solution for this crisis. That is in my lane to discuss.

CUOMO: Yes, but look, look at the fight we're having though, not you and I, but the fight in this country right now is do we treat Brown people different than we would treat White people?

Look, how many people do you have under your guide right now working down on the Border who are of Latino extract? Do you think they like hearing that if you're Brown, and you don't agree with this President, you should get out, and go somewhere else? You cannot divorce the job that you do from the man who's telling you to do it.

And if what is driving him is "I want people to know it's harsh. I want them to know bad things happen when they come here, I want them to know they'll be kept in a way that sucks, and then they won't come," is that what you--


CUOMO: --understand the policy to be?

MORGAN: No. So, Chris, look, stop asking me, please, what - what the President's intentions are. Ask me what-- CUOMO: I'm not asking you his intentions, just to be clear.

MORGAN: --ask - ask or - or what he meant, ask me--

CUOMO: I'm asking you if you agree with what he said.

[21:05:00] MORGAN: --ask me. You need to ask the President. I am not his Press Secretary. I'm here the Commissioner of CBP.

Let's talk about the crisis. Let's talk about the overcrowding that we have. And the reason why we have the overcrowding is because Congress won't do their job. Let's talk about that.

We asked Congress for months to pass a Supplemental bill to get families and kids out of the holding facilities of Border Patrol, which we have been saying we agree for months, they shouldn't be there, and Congress drug their feet, and then blamed CBP for the conditions, Chris, let's talk about that.

CUOMO: Hey, listen, first of all--

MORGAN: And now - and now because they passed a Supplemental--

CUOMO: --you got to - you got to investigate.

MORGAN: Hold on, Chris.

CUOMO: You got to investigate and make sure that none of your men and women are doing anything wrong. There are allegations. You know how I've been arguing about the Border and the need for action. And I believe--

MORGAN: And you have. You've been there.

CUOMO: --that the delay was wrong. But just to be--

MORGAN: You've been there, Chris.


MORGAN: And I appreciate it. I wish more people--

CUOMO: Listen and--

MORGAN: --like you would go down the Border.

CUOMO: --and listen--

MORGAN: We appreciate it.

CUOMO: And I will be back, although you don't have to be down there to know it for what it is. But just to be very clear, look, I don't envy your position. I don't like that you have to own his words.

But I'm going to tell you, you have to, because you can't argue with a clear conscience what you're about, and what your job, and say, "Well I'm not the Press Secretary. You ask him what he meant." I'm not asking you what he meant. We all know what he meant.

I want to know whether you agree the same with him. Would you say that about Brown lawmakers, "If you don't like it here, you should go back to wherever you're from," even though they're American?

MORGAN: Look--

CUOMO: Would you say something like that?

MORGAN: Again, Chris, you know that's not my position. I'm not going to comment on what the President says or doesn't say.

CUOMO: You don't want the American men and women of this audience and of this country who are going to watch this to know where your head is when it comes to equality?

MORGAN: I want them - yes, I want them to know where my head is at.

CUOMO: Where is it?

MORGAN: And my head is at it's about the rule of law, integrity of system, and doing that, enforcing that with humanity and compassion. That's what I want. You can ask me where I stand, what I think, Chris, absolutely, and I'll be fair and honest with exactly how I feel.

CUOMO: How do you feel about the administration separating kids and parents, and saying they like the deterrence of that harshness?

MORGAN: Look, what I will say is that when there are consequences applied, when you enforce the rule of law, and consequences are applied, history has shown as the numbers go down. And again--

CUOMO: Separation is not a consequence of law. It wasn't supposed to be meant as a punishment.

MORGAN: Correct.

CUOMO: You see what I'm saying?

MORGAN: Correct. And - and - and there is--

CUOMO: But they use that as a punishment.

MORGAN: No, no, the - the - Chris, and that's where you and I are going to have to disagree is there was never - never such thing as a family separation policy. It was a zero tolerance policy.

CUOMO: I had the paperwork of the policy.

I had the paperwork of what was submitted to Nielsen, saying here are the different options, we like this option, because if you separate kids and families, it's going to freak them out, and they won't want to come, and message will spread, "Don't go there. They're going to take your kid from you." It was in paper. It was in the papers.

MORGAN: So-- CUOMO: She signed it.

MORGAN: So - so, Chris, so I wasn't there. I wasn't part of that discussion back then. All they going to (ph) tell you is where I'm at today, where we're going forward, and what needs to be done.

And I can tell you right now, we are doing everything we can to address this issue with humanity and compassion. We are absolutely putting children first, we're putting families first.

We're developing new soft-sided facilities, costing taxpayers millions and millions of dollars to make sure we get them out of those facilities, and we care for them adequately that--

CUOMO: I think it's a strong move.

MORGAN: --temporaries can't hold them (ph).

CUOMO: I think it's a strong move--


CUOMO: --what you're doing. I wish you would have been able to do it sooner. I wish there were bit of more attention. I wish the fence debate didn't go the way it did. I wish Congress didn't play with this the way they did.

But look, we're hearing now. And you want to talk about what you have to deal with, these ICE raids. I'm not against law enforcement, all right? I'm an officer of the court, OK? I'm a lawyer.

But you are overwhelmed, you cannot handle the flow, I'm not judging you. I'm saying you can't handle it. You don't have the resources.

MORGAN: That's correct.

CUOMO: You don't have the personnel. And this is the time to do a roundup, where are you going to put them? Who's going to process them? Why now?

MORGAN: Be - Chris, look, one of the biggest - and so this is a great question. I'm glad you're asking this. The American people need to understand that this is not just an issue that you solve at this - at the Border. This is a - a continuum.

And one of the largest pull factors, for example, for people coming right now is families. You grab a kid - and Chris, you know this, because you've been there. You grab a kid, that's your passport because our laws are broke.

And once you get here, you're allowed to stay, nothing happens to you. If we don't apply consequences on the back-end, then they will keep coming. They will continue to take advantage of our loopholes, and on the back-end, they know they're going to stay.

CUOMO: I know. MORGAN: They're going to keep coming.

CUOMO: But when you're in crisis, the way I see it is attack this analogy. You're in the middle of a riot, and you're running around with a limited amount of officers to grab people who have unpaid parking tickets. That's what you're doing right now.

MORGAN: No, Chris--

CUOMO: You're running around against the million people to--


CUOMO: --round them up when you're overwhelmed at the Border. Deal with that first, and then do the round-up.

MORGAN: Chris, Chris, I disagree with the analogy, respectfully because what I'm telling--

CUOMO: How so?

MORGAN: --because if you enforce, and we've done this, we did this under the Obama administration. We - we removed families under the Obama administration.

And we would remove families, you saw the numbers go down at the Southwest border, so it had a positive impact on the crisis. You remove them on the back-end, it has a positive impact on the front- end. The numbers go down. The crisis is helped.

CUOMO: But context--

MORGAN: It's but proven.

[21:10:00] CUOMO: --context matters. Let me ask you something. There are all these secrets around what you did this weekend. Be straight with my audience. How many people did you round up? Where'd you get them? What's the deal?

MORGAN: So, first of all, I'll always be straight with the audience, and you, Chris. And so, you're talking about another agency now. I - I know I - I did just come there.

CUOMO: But you're the ICE Commissioner.

MORGAN: It's a little confusing for all of us. But--

CUOMO: Who's not going to--

MORGAN: --but - but--

CUOMO: Who's going to know if you don't?

MORGAN: Well because I'm the CBP Commissioner right now.

CUOMO: Right. MORGAN: ICE handles that. And what I would say is, is here's - here's something important for the American people, because words do matter. These aren't raids. These are targeted enforcement operations.

And let me give you just one example of what they do. These are individuals, families, for example, who have come here illegally, have received due process, Chris, more due process than any other country would give someone that come here illegally, and in the end, they received a final order of removal from a judge--

CUOMO: I get it.

MORGAN: --and they refused to go. So, Chris, what would you do? If someone comes here--

CUOMO: I'm not saying you don't enforce the law.

MORGAN: No, Chris, let me - let me--

CUOMO: But I just think time, place and matter works.

MORGAN: But that's what you're saying. That--

CUOMO: And I think that sending a message--

MORGAN: Chris, that's what you're saying.

CUOMO: --to get out to everybody.

MORGAN: What do you do? What do you do with the individuals who have come here, received due process, received a final order of removal, and they still remain here illegally, what do you do, Chris?

CUOMO: I hear it. Listen, here's the answer to the question. You enforce the law. But like I said, that's why I came up with the analogy I had. You're overwhelmed with people coming in, and that's where your kids are. 50 percent, you guys own now.

In the beginning with the President, he said, "Oh, they're all military age. They're all gang members." Now, you own, 50 percent at least are kids and families, OK.

Deal with that first. They'll still be here. You can still get them. But what I don't like is that you won't give me the numbers. Why won't you give me the numbers? You guys know the numbers.

Cuccinelli said the same thing. "Oh, well, you know--


CUOMO: --they're going to keep it inter-department." What the hell does that mean?

MORGAN: Wait, wait a minute, Chris--

CUOMO: Give us the numbers. MORGAN: --Chris, Chris, I - I never said I'll give you the numbers. I--

CUOMO: No. I'm asking you to give me the numbers.

MORGAN: Right. So, I'm telling you, I don't know the numbers. I'm not ICE.

CUOMO: But how can you not know?

MORGAN: Because--

CUOMO: You're the guy's boss.

MORGAN: I'm not the boss. I'm the Commissioner of CBP, Chris. ICE is enforcing that operation. So, you need to go--

CUOMO: I know. But you were at ICE. I can't believe--

MORGAN: Right.

CUOMO: You were there helping plan this stuff, and now they just cut you out?

MORGAN: No, they don't cut me out. It would be inappropriate for me in my current position to talk about another agency's targeted actions. I think you need to talk to the Director of ICE.

CUOMO: No, I'm with you. I'm - and I'm not trying to beat you over the head with this, Mark. Everybody should know.

MORGAN: That's OK.

CUOMO: He's not at ICE anymore. He's at CBP. I totally get it. But what I'm saying is this. The message on top of the context of the President, and I get that you don't want to talk about - I know that you don't want him coming after you, I understand. It's working throughout the whole party.

But what I'm saying is this. I know it's not your job, but you could talk about it. You didn't have to talk about the AOC stuff, but you did. That's your choice. What I'm saying is this.

MORGAN: I needed to talk about the AOC because it specifically targeted the men and women that--

CUOMO: So does this.

MORGAN: --I represent.

CUOMO: So does this.

MORGAN: And I'm not going to accept that.

CUOMO: He's coloring the perception of your men and women--

MORGAN: And no - no - his - no - he--

CUOMO: --by making them look like stormtroopers--

MORGAN: I - I - I - I - I disagree.

CUOMO: --because he keeps telling the American people--

MORGAN: I disagree.

CUOMO: --he wants to go after people.

MORGAN: If - if somebody--

CUOMO: He likes the harshness.

MORGAN: Chris, if somebody--

CUOMO: You guys have to own that.

MORGAN: --attacks the men and women of - of - of Customs and Border Protection, I'm going to go and set the record straight with truth, non-emotion, not hyperbole.

CUOMO: I have no problem with that. I have no problem with that. But all I'm saying is this.

MORGAN: Like - like saying - like saying that the men and women of CBP forced immigrants to drink out of a - of a toilet. That's absolutely a lie. It's absolutely false.

CUOMO: So what happened?

MORGAN: When that happens, I'm going to come back, and I'm going to set the record straight.

CUOMO: So what was the woman told?

MORGAN: She was absolutely not told to drink from the toilet.

CUOMO: What was she told?

MORGAN: I can tell you that. She--

CUOMO: How do you know?

MORGAN: Be - because we've actually talked to the individuals that were there. And so--

CUOMO: All right.

MORGAN: --we've talked to those agents.

CUOMO: Look, all I'm saying is this. The entire country is watching. You are not my enemy. You are doing something that is good for me, and my family, you're keeping us safe at CBP. DHS, I feel the same way.

MORGAN: Thank you.

CUOMO: We take it case by case. You do something wrong, I got to come at you, that's the job. We need everything--

MORGAN: As - as you should.

CUOMO: --to be upheld as a standard.

MORGAN: As you should.

CUOMO: But I'm saying when the President says what he says, it colors the perception of why you're rounding people up, how you're keeping people at the Border, how people are separated. That's why I have to ask. This country must do better than what we see around the world in terms of how people--

MORGAN: So, so, so Chris, can - can I--

CUOMO: --are dealt with. That's why I'm asking you Mark.


CUOMO: It's not a Gotcha game. I don't give a damn about the politics.

MORGAN: I understand. But - but Chris, can we also then talk about just as much equal airtime that Congress has failed again and again to pass meaningful legislation--

CUOMO: You got to watch this show, Mark.

MORGAN: --to close the loophole.

CUOMO: You're hurting my feelings now.

MORGAN: No, not you personally.

CUOMO: That's all I do on this show is go after Congress--

MORGAN: Yes, yes--

CUOMO: --to do more. I don't want to see their tears. I want to see their action.

MORGAN: And you do. I'm not - it's not you, personally, as well. And again, you've been down the Border. I appreciate that, wish more would.

But - but I - I think that's a key ingredient, where we don't generally talk enough about that because if they fix the Flores Settlement Agreement, and TVPRA, 85 percent of this crisis would end tomorrow.

Why don't they do, why don't they pass meaningful legislation? They - they - then RGV that we went down--

CUOMO: I have no problem with that. They should debate the rules. MORGAN: --it's going to be crowded.

CUOMO: They should figure out how they want asylum to work, with whom they want it to work. They should talk about how to keep kids, how to keep families together, how to accommodate it, all of that.

But there's a lot of different levels of culpability to go around. That's why I need you on this show, and you're always welcome. Mark Morgan--

MORGAN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: --Commissioner of CBP, thank you very much.

MORGAN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, look, you - you got to keep banging on these doors, you know. They know what the numbers are. They know where they did it.

The President's exaggerating the reach because he likes the idea of ICE going all over the place and catching everybody. They don't want to give us the numbers. You got to just stay on it. We have to.

[21:15:00] All right, so - and it extends to what the President has said. Why is he saying this, "Get out of here if you're Brown?" Because it's all part of the same message. And what is his justification? "Lot of people agree with me." Really?

So, will what he said help or hurt his re-election efforts? How about that for a Great Debate with these two, next?








CUOMO: This is a time to be counted, not to be quiet. Is it really that hard to say, "Saying racist things is wrong. Stop, Mr. President?" Doesn't feel that hard.

Still, too many in the power positions of the GOP are quiet or worse. Spinning this poison is pablum. That is the start of tonight's Great Debate with Ana Navarro and Mike Shields.



CUOMO: Ana, thank you. Mike, as always, I appreciate it. Help me, Mike, help me understand. A real conservative, how can you cotton to this kind of speech?

MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF, CONVERGENCE MEDIA PARTNER: Well I don't know what you mean by cotton. But I - I'd - look, I don't agree with the way the President said this, or using those types of words, I'll - I'll say that from the beginning.

But I think your question is why aren't Republicans speaking out about it? And I actually have three reasons, I can tell you that.

[21:20:00] First is I believe the President inart - inartfully was trying to start a conversation about whether or not people on the Left are at a place where they don't like the country.

I think conservatives love America, and think it needs to be better. And there are some people on the Left that think, as a sum, America's bad. And they would - don't kneel further - they - kneel during the National Anthem.

There was an ICE facility that attempted to be firebombed. The Left isn't speaking out against that today. There was a flag--

CUOMO: Here's the problem, Mike.

SHIELDS: --pulled down from an ICE facility, an--

CUOMO: Here's the problem. Here's - here's--

SHIELDS: --American flag.

CUOMO: I know. I know. They put up a Mexican flag, and it's wrong.


CUOMO: But here's the problem. This doesn't work anywhere in humanity, the idea of "I'm not going to say that what I did is wrong because you did something that is wrong."

SHIELDS: No, what I'm saying--

CUOMO: You cannot do that here.

SHIELDS: That's--

CUOMO: You have to say--

SHIELDS: That's not my point though.

CUOMO: --what he said--

SHIELDS: You're wondering why the Republicans aren't speaking out. CUOMO: --was wrong.

SHIELDS: And I'm telling you the reason. As a Republican, as a conservative, I can tell you. The second reason is they don't get a whole lot for it. There was a couple of Senators that criticized the President today.

CUOMO: What do you - what do you need? What do you need to say that saying racist things is wrong, Mike? What do you want? What do you want for that?

SHIELDS: Well how about a couple of Senators today criticized the President and immediately were attacked on the Left for not going far enough. So, there was an atmosphere created where it doesn't matter.

CUOMO: People are being attacked on the Right--

SHIELDS: It doesn't matter. You're asking for something that then--

CUOMO: --because you're not saying anything--

SHIELDS: --when you get it, it's not good enough.

CUOMO: --or you're spinning it.

SHIELDS: So that's--

CUOMO: Yes. But that shouldn't be.

SHIELDS: --the second reason.

CUOMO: Listen, Ana, the reward for doing the right thing is not supposed to be a pat on the head by the President or anyone else. This was your party. I grew up around real conservatives, OK? Character counts, you know, respecting humanity. That is not your party anymore.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Why don't you tell me something I don't know? Listen, it's very painful to see what's going on in the Republican Party.

It's very painful to see what's going on in the country. And I think it's particularly painful for, you know, for people like me, who get this daily, "Go back to your country."

I've been in this country for 40 years now. This is my country. This is where I live. This is where I love. This is where I've built my life.

And there are people like me all over this country who get this on a daily basis. I'm sure, Chris, your father got it all the time. I'm not sure if, you know, if your generation still gets it.

Look, here's what people need to understand. Not being racist is not a passive act. Being silent while other people are racist, and divide this country, and build up these hostilities, and fan the flames of division of "Them versus us," that is not a passive act. If you want to say that you are not racist, then really you should - you've got to go further in not enabling, not legitimizing, not empowering a racist, not looking the other way.

At the very least, you've got to be able to call a spade, a spade. You've got to be able to call a racist, a racist. Even if it is the President of the United States, even if he is of your own party, you've got to be able to have conviction, and principle, and backbone, and you've got to love this country enough--

SHIELDS: Hey, hey, Ana, are the Squad anti-Semitic?

NAVARRO: --to know that it's been built by people who've come from everywhere else.

SHIELDS: Are the Squad anti-Semitic?

NAVARRO: Are the Squad anti-Semitic?


NAVARRO: Look, let me tell you something, Mike.

When Ilhan Omar made some of those comments, I actually picked up the phone, and I texted her, and I called her, and I told her I was very uncomfortable with some of the things that she had said about Venezuela.

I told her I was very uncomfortable with the things she had said about, you know, Israel, and I explained to her why. And so, yes. And I called her out publicly. I called her out on Twitter.

So, the same way that you can call them anti-Semitic, and the same way that you can call out what you see is racism on that side--

CUOMO: Yes, I know.

NAVARRO: --you see that's where it is.

CUOMO: I just don't get the equivalency argument, Mike.

NAVARRO: Racism doesn't have a--

CUOMO: I really don't. Look, she has said things that deserve--

NAVARRO: Yes. Well yes, but - but I - I said it.

CUOMO: --deserve it.

NAVARRO: I said it to both.

CUOMO: Yes, no, I get it, Ana.

NAVARRO: You know.

CUOMO: But I'm saying I just don't get the rationale, Mike. And I got to tell you, I can't believe that you're making the argument. I can - look, and all you - here's the only tweak.

The only tweak is this. I don't know why he says this ugly stuff. He says he's not a racist, but he keeps saying this ugly stuff and it's killing us. It's killing us with the majority of this country.

And look, I get why he's upset, because the Left does this and this and this and this. That's the only tweak to the argument. But you will not inhabit the first part. And I can't believe it.

SHIELDS: No but - Chris, you asked it origin - look, I - I just told you. I don't think he should have said it. I don't agree with that.

CUOMO: No. But that's not enough.

SHIELDS: But that--

CUOMO: "Shouldn't have said it." Why shouldn't he have said it, Mike?

NAVARRO: So you're saying what he said is racist, Mike?

SHIELDS: What - what isn't - what isn't enough, Chris?

NAVARRO: Do you think what he--

SHIELDS: That's my point. I--

NAVARRO: --do you think his words - wait Mike--

SHIELDS: You actually just made my first point for me--

NAVARRO: --do you think that - do you think the tweet was racist?

SHIELDS: --which is I'm trying to agree with you.

CUOMO: You said he shouldn't have said it.

SHIELDS: And it's not enough for me to agree with you.

CUOMO: That could apply to when he--

SHIELDS: Well, of course not.


CUOMO: --gets a number wrong, when he doesn't know a country--

NAVARRO: --was - was the tweet--

CUOMO: --when he doesn't know where his father was born, he shouldn't have said that.


CUOMO: But this was racist stuff that he's doing to divide.

NAVARRO: Was that tweet - can I ask a question? CUOMO: Actually that's my job.

NAVARRO: Mike, do you think the tweet was racist?

CUOMO: But go ahead, Ana, what's your question?

NAVARRO: Do you - do you think the tweet was racist, Mike?

SHIELDS: I - yes, I do. I don't think it's the right thing to say. And I think I don't--

NAVARRO: No. I'm not asking if it's the right thing to say.

SHIELDS: --I don't think he even--

NAVARRO: Do you think it is a racist tweet--

SHIELDS: Well I just said yes, Ana.

NAVARRO: --that needs to be condemned for racism?

CUOMO: I know. But you should just start with that and then everything else you say is--

SHIELDS: But here's the thing.

CUOMO: --10 times as powerful.

[21:25:00] SHIELDS: But here's the thing. Here is the third reason why you're not seeing a lot of Republicans speak up because they're such a - the reason it is relevant to talk about them being anti-Semitic is because there were such a massive double standard that you're calling on all these Republicans to speak out, and yet Democrat leadership has done almost nothing to the Members of their Caucus.

There is a Governor in Virginia who appeared in blackface, who's still in office. There's no one picketing his office right now. If that had been a Republican, there would have been wall-to-wall coverage.

So what happens is the President says something. He, I believe, that he's now tried to correct what he said to these--

CUOMO: You know what the irony is in that, Mike?

SHIELDS: --he's - he's re-tweeted these things.

CUOMO: First of all, hold on. Hold on.

SHIELDS: Hang on, let me finish my point.

CUOMO: He - first of all--

NAVARRO: No, but listen.

SHIELDS: Let me finish my point

CUOMO: --I'm not going to let you say he's trying to correct anything.

SHIELDS: And we're going to have wall-to-wall coverage of asking--

CUOMO: He's been--


SHIELDS: --asking Republicans to come out and do something--

CUOMO: Hold on, Ana. I - I'm out of time.

SHIELDS: --that Democrats won't be asked to do.

CUOMO: But let me - let me be very clear about something.

SHIELDS: And that's why you don't hear Republicans doing.

CUOMO: This President has once again been given ample opportunity to explain, to fix, and to redo, and he has taken none of those.

SHIELDS: No, he did, he did today.

CUOMO: And the irony is that guy in Virginia--

NAVARRO: Well let me - let me--

SHIELDS: Actually he did.

CUOMO: --played by Trump's playbook.

SHIELDS: Actually Trump did today.

CUOMO: Deny that you did it.

NAVARRO: Listen--

CUOMO: Keep denying and the media will go away, and it worked for him, the same way it does for the President. I'm out of time.

NAVARRO: Democratic - Democratic leadership--

SHIELDS: Actually--

NAVARRO: --Democratic leadership, to their credit--

SHIELDS: The President did actually recast this today.

NAVARRO: --did condemn Ilhan Omar.

CUOMO: Yes. They - look, they--


NAVARRO: But let me just give you--

SHIELDS: Because I don't believe-- CUOMO: No, I got to go. I got to go.


NAVARRO: Let me give you the fourth reason--

CUOMO: I don't want to go down any rabbit holes.

NAVARRO: --let me give you the fourth reason why Republicans don't say anything. Fear, cowardice, and kissing Donald Trump's ring, because they're afraid of his mean tweets--

CUOMO: All right.

NAVARRO: --and that he will go after them, and knock them out of their--

CUOMO: But - but know this.

NAVARRO: --political career.

SHIELDS: I don't think the President meant to say what he said today. And I think he fixed it later on today.

NAVARRO: Because they put career over party.

CUOMO: He meant it. Of course, he meant to say it.

NAVARRO: They put political career over country.

CUOMO: He didn't fix it. He doesn't want to fix it because the effect is to get the people who believe it to like him.

But Mike, let me tell you this. You admitted something that's hard to admit right now, about the President, and none of us wants to say that about the President, shouldn't make anybody feel good.

SHIELDS: Look, I don't - let me be careful.

CUOMO: I respect you saying it. And I appreciate you saying it.

SHIELDS: The President is not a racist. I think that was an - the wrong words to use. They're not - they're inappropriate. They are a part of old tropes that shouldn't be used.

CUOMO: Well if you're - if you're - if you're not a racist--

SHIELDS: I don't know that he understood that. And I think he's--

NAVARRO: What do you call somebody who says racist things over and over again?

CUOMO: All right, listen, I got to go, Mike. End--

SHIELDS: --and I think he's trying to fix it.

NAVARRO: What do you call somebody who--

CUOMO: --end on a win.

NAVARRO: --does racist things--

CUOMO: Right.

NAVARRO: --for years and decades?


NAVARRO: What do you call somebody that calls Black people--

CUOMO: That's--

NAVARRO: --sons of bitches? What do you call somebody that calls for the death penalty for the - for the Central Park Five? What do you call somebody that--

SHIELDS: I think people that agree with the President's agenda of all races, he likes.

NAVARRO: --discriminates--


NAVARRO: --discrimination against Black people?

SHIELDS: And the people that don't agree with the President's agenda of all races, he dislikes.

NAVARRO: What do you call somebody that called Brown and Black countries "Shitholes"?

CUOMO: No. Now Mike, now Mike, you're - you're - you're going to fold on.

SHIELDS: That's--


SHIELDS: --not racist.

CUOMO: You're backing up so fast.

NAVARRO: People who say racist things--

CUOMO: Ana, I got to go.

NAVARRO: --are racists. People who do racist things are racists.

CUOMO: Right.

NAVARRO: Like I said before, (FOREIGN LANGUAGE).

CUOMO: So, Ana, Mike, thank you. Mike, I got to take away half the credit for saying the right thing, because you backed away from it at the end.

But what does that tell you? The only thing that makes sense is that there's just too big a price to pay right now in that party to go at this President. And you can say, "Well it's always that way." No, it's never been this way. We've never had this kind of conversation in this country in my lifetime.

Now, can anybody beat this President? I don't know. Former VP Joe Biden thinks he can, and he believes that the way to do it is going to be healthcare that that's what America will resonate, and it will be the policy thing to set up a showdown.

But can he get out of his own party? Can he beat the Medicare-for-All Champion, Bernie Sanders, or the other people who are coming for him, who believe in that program?

I'll breakdown the difference between the two policies. Let's start there, next.








CUOMO: Former VP Joe Biden knows support for the ACA has been steadily growing, especially with this President giving people nothing better.

That's why his plan is essentially what they wanted the ACA to be, more tax credits, new options for people in the mostly Republican states that resisted the ACA's expansion of Medicaid, and it brings back the individual mandate, which is that personal penalty, if you do not get health insurance.

Got to go fast, move the prompter.

Meanwhile, Medicare is also very popular, which is why folks like Bernie Sanders are running with the idea of Medicare-for-All. That would be a full overhaul of almost 20 percent of the economy. Now, that's the big picture.

The micro here is in the execution. When you stack up the plans on both extremes, OK, let's take a look.

On the far-Left of the party, you've got Sanders, Warren, Harris, OK, all Americans will be covered. Biden's plan, 97 percent. Medicare-for- All ends insurance through work. It's over 60 percent of the country. Biden's plan, keeps for most people. Sanders, no premiums. Biden does the same, but not for everyone.

Now, what's the big ticket? Paying for it. Folks like Bernie Sanders admit taxes are going to go up for the middle-class. But he says health care - care costs would come down, but not right away.

And the biggest problem for Sanders and those on the Left - far-Left is that estimates of transition costs, going from what we have now, to his plan, would be in the trillions.

Biden counters with taxing the income wealthy make off their investments. And while expensive, it's nowhere near Medicare-for-All, and scrapping private plans.

But Medicare-for-All gives the government power also that it doesn't have right now to regulate prices. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. Biden ramps up the government's negotiation power.

But high prices and deductibles are still going to be a way of life for us, about a 160 million Americans who get insurance through their jobs. Nobody's got the fix for that, it seems, because they don't want to attack costs.

The reality is neither plan's an easy sell. And how do you take on an industry, the healthcare industry that employs more people than any other business? That's the big question, and that's the fight for whomever the Democrats pick.

Now, I want to bring in someone who knows a lot about elections. And this stuff with the President, and what he's saying, this poison he's pitching, Ron Brownstein, whom I call the Professor, sees a reason behind it that could change American politics.

What is it and why, next.








CUOMO: President Trump had opportunities to fix what he did here. He could have apologized for the racist bile that he tweeted. Instead, he doubled down. Why? He sees advantage.

Let's get some perspective from Ron Brownstein. Look, you know, I keep saying this to the Mike Shields' of the world.


CUOMO: I take no pleasure in calling out what is obvious about this President. But what's just as obvious, Ron is that his party is afraid of it, so help us understand.


CUOMO: First, why would the President say this, and thinks he sees advantage?

BROWNSTEIN: Well look, I think this was the most extreme examples in Charlottesville of his basic political goal, which is to define the electorate along an axis of attitudes toward the fundamental demographic, cultural, and even economic changes remaking in America in the 21st Century.

He is building what I have called a Coalition of Restoration, focus centered on the voters in the parts of the country that are most uneasy with the way we are changing, demographically most visibly, but also the role of women culture, rights for gays and transgender, even the economic changes toward an information age economy. And that is what he believes.

Whenever he gets in trouble, whenever he - he feels that he is faltering politically, he turns back toward animating that Coalition, usually with a racially charged confrontation.

And the - Chris, the point is that this is a conscious trade that he is imposing on the Republican Party. If you divide the electorate in this manner, you are deliberately trading young voters for older voters, diverse voters for White voters, white-collar White voters for blue-collar White voters, and metro voters for non-metro voters.

[21:40:00] He is essentially putting the - the - the chips on squeezing bigger advantages, out of groups that are shrinking in society, and the Republican Party is following along with him, almost without a peep.

CUOMO: So, let's look at the second part, because even if you don't want to look at it, in terms of principle, let's just look at it in terms of pragmatism, I don't like that trade if I'm in that party.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, right.

CUOMO: And yet, we see all this silence. Is it just fear of him coming at them? Why are they buying in?

BROWNSTEIN: No, I think it's partially that, but I think there's more to it. It is self-reinforcing. The people who would be most offended and threatened by this, in many ways, have already been weeded out of the party.

Less than 10 percent - excuse me, only about 10 percent of the Republicans in the House now represent districts where immigrants exceed their share of the national population.

Less than 20 percent of the House Republicans are in districts where the minority population exceeds its share of the national population.

If you look at the Senate, the Republicans are down to eight of the 40 Senate seats in the 20 states that have the largest share of immigrants in their population. 45 of the Republicans are from the 30 states with the fewest share of immigrants in their population.

In many ways--


BROWNSTEIN: --the Republican Party has barricaded itself off from the changes remaking America. And so, it is becoming Trump's party in the sense that it is counting on the same voters, the same Coalition of Restoration that he is looking to - to re-elect him in 2020.

CUOMO: So, I don't know that you'd get canned or let alone consensus among that base. But if you could poll it, what you want to see is if you have a nexus across an annex on a pole between job approval for this President, and feelings--


CUOMO: --of a sympathetic ear to the ugly things that he says.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. No, look, if you - I mean there are - there is polling that tells us a lot about this.

You know, one of the questions the pollsters ask is, "Do you think the growing number of newcomers strengthens American society or threatens traditional American customs and values?"

60 percent of the country overall says it strengthens American society. Two-thirds of Republicans say it threatens American customs and values. And, by the way, that is about equal among college- educated and non-college Republicans.

You'll see the same thing on gender roles where substantial numbers of Republican voters, including women, aren't easy with the changing role of women in society. I mean, he basically is drawing a line in the electorate, and we were heading this way for years, but Trump has consciously, and I think, enormously accelerated this.

You know, Steve Bannon said when we - you know, when we're talking about cultural demography, we're winning. The - but the point, you know, that is their view that they can squeeze out an electoral majority by, as I say, getting bigger advantages from groups that are shrinking.

But there is a real price to this. Turnout was enormously elevated among minorities, among Millennials - Millennials in 2018, and Republicans had their weakest performance in modern times among suburban white-collar White voters--

CUOMO: I get it.

BROWNSTEIN: --who are overwhelmingly satisfied with the economy, and yet moved against--

CUOMO: I get it.

BROWNSTEIN: --Republicans in the midterm.

CUOMO: It's - it is a really clear divide he's trying to make. What will it do--


CUOMO: --we will see. Ron Brownstein, thank you. And that explains--

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks, Chris.

CUOMO: --why people like Puppy Puss over on State TV say things like "You know, paying women the same as men depresses men, shouldn't do it."

I want you to hear something that the President told D. Lemon years ago, then we're going to bring him in, what's his take on what's going on here? Are we coming the same way? Let's see.








CUOMO: This President has probably faced more claims that he's a racist than any non-racist ever. D. Lemon confronted him on it. Remember this?



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

LEMON: Are you bigoted in any way you think?

TRUMP: I don't think so, no.


CUOMO: D. Lemon, here's my argument that if he isn't racist, then his words--


CUOMO: --and deeds are even more wicked because he has no defense of ignorance. He knows what he says is wrong, but he does it anyway.

LEMON: I only know what you say and what you do. So, I don't - that "If" part does not even--

CUOMO: Well I'm saying because he said to you--

LEMON: --compute to me.

CUOMO: --he isn't. He always says he isn't.

LEMON: He - he always says he isn't. But I mean from your words and his words and his actions that there's no other way of putting it. There's no other way.

CUOMO: Do you--

LEMON: If it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it's a duck. If it walks like a racist, and it talks like a racist, then it is a racist. And so--

CUOMO: I hear you. Let me ask you something. Do you regret not saying in that interview, "I'm not going to ask you, I'm going to tell you, you are a racist, you need to own it, and here's why."

LEMON: Yes. Well that was a - one of a number of interviews where he started the whole racist thing. I confronted - so this is what you should know.

I confronted him on his racism the night that Osama bin Laden was killed. And it didn't - and we had a huge argument, and then he said he would never do an interview with me because I was racist, because I confronted him about birtherism.

And I said, "Oh my gosh, it's going to be all over the blogs. It's going to be extorted, boom, boom, boom." An hour later, Osama bin Laden was killed, and it didn't really make headlines. If you go back, you could see it.

And then, after that, I started doing interviews with him, and I would ask him if he was racist, and then - but the evidence just wasn't there yet. Plus, he was a candidate, and he was not the nominee at the point, where I did those interviews.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: So I didn't - I didn't then, but I would now, which is one of the reason he probably won't do interviews with us because he doesn't want to deal with the - the facts of that matter.

CUOMO: Only one reason.


CUOMO: I'll check back with you in just a second.

LEMON: Hey I got to tell you though before I--

CUOMO: Go ahead.

LEMON: This book, American Carnage, this guy's got an access. He knows more about this administration than any of the - Fire and Fury, Den of Vipers (ph), he's going to talk to us about why this is happening with this administration and the White House, and to answer your question as well, is he really a racist, or is he just doing this for a political expedience?

CUOMO: Thank you, brother. I'll see you in a second.

LEMON: See you.

CUOMO: The time to ask the question is over. The Closing Argument is next.









TRUMP: If you hate our country, if you're not happy here, you can leave.


CUOMO: The President's defenders are saying, see that? This isn't about dividing by race or playing on prejudices, but notice, that's not what this President is saying. Think about that.

His justification is that people agree with him. They and he cling to this dated and dotedly (ph) notion that if the President doesn't say he's a racist, well then he can't be one.

Here's their problem. Their own safe space of "If he won't own it, he ain't it," exposes him as something bad, and even worse. Here's why.

He knows his words are ugly, and untrue, and divisive, un-American even, but he does it anyway, to curry favor with those who reject diversity. That's why he always says "But a lot of people agree with me." [21:55:00] See his play. He wants to lead the mob. The Greeks had a word for that, "Demagogue," one who is popular with the masses by selling bias and prejudice. That's what he is. That's why I have called him that for a long time, and he has always been this.

Listen to him on the Central Park Five, birtherism, immigrants, listen closely.


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.

Perhaps it's going to say Hawaii. Perhaps it's going to say Kenya.


TRUMP: Perhaps it's going to say some - I'd like to see place of birth.

When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best.

They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

And you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

They got a lot of rough people in those caravans. They are not angels, they are not.


CUOMO: You should go back and look at that clip of right before he said "Very fine people." You see him think, "What do I call them? What do I call them?" He had - I've always said it, and I mean it.

He is too smart to say things that are this stupid. That's what a Demagogue does. He wants the Pinos of this country to love him. You remember Pino, from Do the Right Thing?




CUOMO: John Turturro there. Pino is an ignorant fool, limited by exposure, education, culture bias. I grew up around a slew of Pinos. I get it. This President is something far more dangerous than he, and his defenders should know it.

I keep saying this President and his defenders, intentionally, hiding in his shadow 100 percent of the time, no good, time to shine the light. Number one.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): There's a huge level of frustration across America that there are people in America that aren't proud of American, that they're always calling on the President to be impeached, they're always criticizing.


CUOMO: Representative Comer, Republican from Kentucky, how dare you empower this ignorance?

You don't tell Americans to go back to where they come from. They come from here. You know what the suggestion is that if you're Brown you are an "Other." Political frustration doesn't find its satisfaction in bigotry, not here.

And then this guy.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We all know that AOC and this crowd are a bunch of Communists. They hate Israel. They hate our own country.

They are socialists. They are anti-Semitic. They stand for all the things that most Americans disagree with.


CUOMO: What happened to Senator Lindsey Graham? You know, he once called this President a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. Look it up. But now this. The Senator swallows every serving. He does nothing but to fix himself to the Presidential posterior, and that comes with an odor, and it will remain.

My team reached out to all of these Republicans in leadership, nearly every Committee Chair or Ranking Member, plus every Republican in leadership in both Chambers of Congress, it was a big job. We needed to do it.

More than 50 offices called, all right? We emailed, called. You're looking at the GOP leaders whom we still haven't heard from, three commented to the team. By our count, 10 others spoke out elsewhere. That's it.

It's been more than 36 hours since the President tweeted. And I no longer want the off-the-record calls, the helpful people, who call to say, "Oh, you know, we basically had to add another P to GOP, it's the Grand Old Pity Party now. It's so we don't like what he says."

You get no sympathy. If you hide, your weakness is obvious. What you ignore, you empower. What you rationalize as something other than what it is, you now own.

If you don't call racist BS, like what this President said and did, what it is, then you're as bad as this President for saying it. And the worst part is you all know it. You know everything I just said, just like this President.

Now, that's the easy part of the argument. The hardest part is what to do.

Sadly, this political paroxysm does not make the most important part. The satisfying thing is calling the President out, calling out hate, calling out those who enable, all matters. There is satisfaction to the confrontation, righteous indignation indeed.

And yet, those who oppose are still playing the President's home field in that way. You got to change the game. You can't let the game change you. The solution here is not the most satisfying part. It's not calling out what's wrong.

It's doing that and, all caps, showing what's right, showing who we are at our best. Do that more than ever. Find ways to show it, pander to it. Be better than what and whom you oppose. That is the power that heals. That's what we need.

D. Lemon is also what we need. CNN TONIGHT starts right now.