Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Racism Sparks Violence; Paul Ryan's Ongoing Feud With President Trump; President Trump Doubling Down On His Racist Comments; Nancy Pelosi Calling On Democrats And Republicans. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 15, 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: 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.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, when I was coming out, you play that clip from doing the right thing people would say go back to Africa. And I would say well, you know what, I've never really been to Africa. I have only been to Louisiana which is where I am from. But people would say that all the time.

And I could not believe this weekend when I read that and I said the president of the United States is basically telling people to go back to Africa.

In all of my 50 something odd years on this earth, I never would have thought I hear that coming from the president or see it written from the president. Well, he actually said it today. I hear it coming from the president of the United States. It's just unfathomable. And if you, if people don't believe it's racist if he does it then they don't know what racism is.

CUOMO: Or they just don't want to own the reality.

LEMON: Yes. There are so much disappointment to go around here. I mean, to hear somebody come on, I don't want to just put it on shields, you know, you could replace him with anyone, shields Cortez or any of these guys. Then to say, look, you know, you got stuff on the other side, you guys don't continue call it out the same way.

LEMON: I'm always pointing out; I can't deal with that --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But you know, look, here's the thing. Sometimes it's true in politics. Sometimes you know you got to pick your outrage. However --

LEMON: There is always another side. You know that. There's on the others --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's right.

LEMON: You can always point --

CUOMO: But this is --

LEMON: Hold on, hold on, you can point to something else.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Go on. Sorry.

CUOMO: You can always point to something else. But as you like to say, you know, there is also a point of false equivalence.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And this is not but they raise taxes, too.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Or, Obama deported people also. You know what I mean? That's not what this is. There is only one answer in this country, there must only be one answer when it comes to selling hate and prejudice.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: It has to be no. It has to begin there and it has to end there then go on to something else, even Mark Morgan tonight. Look, I've heard good things about him, the guy who's now acting commissioner of CBP.

But everything that he does is colored by this president's prejudice. And you cannot say hey, man, it's not my job to answer for him. The hell it is. You're working for us.

LEMON: That was your first guest, right?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: You know, OK, so a couple of things here. The first guest I wanted to, you know, I just wanted to like run into your studio and say when he talked about, well, you know, the Democrats have been saying that this was a manufactured crisis.

What they are conflating there is that the Democrats and people with facts were saying that in the context of the president declaring a national emergency and shutting down the government that it was a manufactured crisis.

Everyone has always said that it was a humanitarian crisis at the border. Everything came after that. So, they are conflating that. And I tried to point that out every time there's an interview. Listen, there's enough blame to go around for Republicans and

Democrats, but they cannot conflate the two things. Also, Democrats offered him money for the wall, the president, they offered him money for the wall, they offered him comprehensive immigration money. But DACA was attached and he said no. And then he came back and he wanted to shut the government down. And then --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: He said yes. Then he said and the Republicans got to him.

LEMON: -- he said no.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: So, it's all a big, you know, talking out of both sides of their mouth and it doesn't make sense. Yes, everyone should get together and do something. But I cannot let the members of the administration come on and not point that out. Because that is not -- when people were saying -- when people say it's a crisis now. They're talking about humanitarian crisis.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: They're talking about people who are in those cages or who are in those facilities. The same thing they were talking about before, humanitarian crisis.

In the context of declaring a national emergency taking money from the military and shutting down the government, no, that is a manufacture crisis. And even this now, this humanitarian crisis, that's of the administration's own making because they can fix that as well. They just don't want to admit it that he wants the money for the wall.

They're trying to help him get it. The Democrats are saying I'm not going to do it. And that's where we are with this. The other thing is -- and my producer keeps telling me I have to go because we have a big show.

CUOMO: Sure. Show, D. Lemon, you do what you want to do.

LEMON: The other thing is, is that reportedly, Ilhan Omar has been a citizen of this country longer than the first lady of the United States. And most people who look like me who are from African countries, their ancestors have been here since the 1600 or soon after, longer than the Trumps who came over much later.

So, if you want to start sending people back, why don't you start with the people who got here before the dark people got here, which would be people like the drums (Ph) Trumps.

[22:05:01] CUOMO: This president wouldn't even know where to go. He doesn't even know where his father was from.

LEMON: Yes. I got to run.

CUOMO: I know you do. But you know what, look, feed the fire, man.

LEMON: It's true.

CUOMO: These are one of those things. It is not a 50-50 proposition. This is 100 percent wrong.

LEMON: And I'm going to lay it all out right now. Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: I'll be listening.

LEMON: And I'm going to start with this which is not part of what I had planned. But I'm going to start with this poem. All right? And it says, first they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionist and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me then there was no one left to speak for me. So, let me speak for some of the folks who are out there right now.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The President of the United States is a racist. His own words leave absolutely no doubt that. What he is saying is not racially charged. It is flat out racist. And that's not just what critics say. It's not a point you can argue. There are no both sides here. It is straight up blatant racism.

And he has proven it again today, doubling down on his shameful attacks on four congresswomen of color. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib. Doubling down on his tweets, lobbying the insult that a hallmark of racist -- that is a hallmark of racist. "Why don't you go back to where you came from?"

Let's leave aside the fact that only one of them, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is foreign born.

All four are United States citizens and all four are duly elected representatives of the American people. But that didn't stop this president from doubling down today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If you are not happy here, then you can leave. As far as I am concern, if you hate our country, if you are not happy here, you can leave. That's what I said all the time, that's what I said in a tweet, which I guess some people think it's controversial. A lot of people love it by the way. A lot of people love it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Did you hear that? Applause. Applause for an utterly racist attack on four congressmen and there's more.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does not it concern you that many people saw that tweet as racist and that white nationalist groups are finding common cause with you on that point.

TRUMP: It doesn't concern me because many people agree with me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It does not concern him that white nationalists agree with him. And he's happy to attack the patriotism of those four congresswomen. Even though this nation was founded on descent and what we are all about. Well, the congressman -- the congresswomen are firing back tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): He's launching a blatantly racist attack on four dually elected members of the United States of House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color.

This is the agenda of white nationalist. Whether it is happening in chat rooms or it's happening on national TV and now it's reaching the White House garden.

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): Despite the occupant of the White House attempts to marginalize us and to silent us, please note that we are more than four people, and given the size of the squad and this great nation, we cannot not, we will not be silence.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Sadly, this is not the first nor it will be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president. We know this is who he is.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): He can't look a child in a face and he can't look all Americans in the face and justify, why this country is throwing them in cages. So instead, he tells us that I should go back to the great, burrow of the Bronx and make it better. And that's what I'm here to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Just in case you didn't hear me say this, this was more than a year and a half ago. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: The president of the United States is racist. All of us already knew that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: The president is a racist and he is a demagogue. That is just a fact. Let's lay it out for you. Merriam Webster defines a demagogue as a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power. Does that sound familiar? [22:09:57] And this is from dictionary.com. It's a person, especially in order or a political leader who gains power and popularity by arousing the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the people.

Again, fact. That's exactly what the president of the United States is doing. And make no mistake. It is working for him. It is how he won the last time, even though in 2015 he told me this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Are you racist?

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?

TRUMP: I don't think so. No. I don't think so.

LEMON: Islamophobic?

TRUMP: I am a person -- no, not at all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: I come to learn that that's just not true. Donald Trump has a long-documented history of racist, Islamophobic, and misogynistic statements and actions and he has never tried to hide it.

Back in 1973, let's lay it put, the Trump's family's real estate company was sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination. They settled without admitting wrongdoing but were required to take steps to prevent discrimination.

And that was just the beginning. That's according to 1991 book "Trumped" by a former Trump casino executive John O'Donnell. Donald Trump said, quote, "Black guys counting my money, I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. Those are the kind of people I want counting my money. No one else."

In 1999, Trump took out this infamous full-page ad in four New York City newspapers demanding the death penalty for what he called, quote, "roving bands of wild criminals." That was in the wake of a rape of a white female jogger in Central Park. Five black and Latino teenagers were wrongfully convicted of that crime and later exonerated.

But the president refused to back down. Just last month he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You have people on both sides of that, they admitted their guilt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yet, he -- and listen to what he said to -- Trump told NBC, I should say, in 1989.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over well- educated white in term of the job market. And I think sometimes a black may think that they don't really have the advantage or this or that. But in actuality, today, currently, it's a -- I said on occasion and even about myself if I was starting off today, I would love to be w well-educated because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Fast forward to 2011 when Donald Trump embrace the racist birther lie that Barack Obama was not born in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: I want him to show his birth certificate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why? OK, why not, I guess.

TRUMP: There is something in that birth certificate that he doesn't like.

People have birth certificate. He doesn't have a birth certificate.

Now, he may have one but there is something on that birth certificate -- maybe religion, maybe it says he's a Muslim, I don't know. And if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility, I'm not saying it happened, I'm saying it's a real possibility, then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Weeks later President Obama released his long form birth certificate which should have been the end of it but Donald Trump continued to hark on the birther lie.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of people did not think it was an authentic certificate.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: How can you say that if --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: A lot of people. Now you won't report it, Wolf. But many people do not think it was authentic. His mother was not in the hospital. There are many things that came out. And frankly, if you would report it accurately, I think you'd probably get better ratings than you're getting.

(END VOICE CLIP) LEMON: Finally, in September of 2016, Trump said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yet he reportedly still clings to the birther lie today. And then there is this. On the day Donald Trump announced his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crimes. They're rapists.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He made a Muslim ban, the center piece of his campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He repeatedly danced around the question of whether he disavowed David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK? I don't know anything about what you are even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist. So, I don't know. I mean, I don't know -- did he endorse me or what's going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacist.

So, you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.

I have to look at the group. I mean, I don't know what group you are talking about. You would not want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly, I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong.

[22:14:59] Honestly, I don't know David Duke. I don't believe I've ever met him. I'm pretty sure I didn't meet him and I just know anything about him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He claims the federal judge hearing a case about Trump university couldn't be fair because of his Mexican heritage. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: If you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

TRUMP: I don't so at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Let's not forget Donald Trump insulted a gold star family whose son, a Muslim soldier, was killed in a car bombing in Iraq as he tried to save other troops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you look at his wife she was standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He bragged about sexually assaulting women.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. I just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He responded to deadly white supremacist violence in Charlottesville by claiming they were, his words, very fine people on both sides.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me, I saw the same picture as you did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He called black athletes to dare to protest police brutality and racial injustice sons of bitches.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects their flag to get that son of bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He called African countries, sending immigrants to this country, quote, "shit hole countries" and on and on and on. It's disgusting. It's totally unworthy of the highest office in the land.

And let's not forget this is not just talk. These are not just words. Racism has deadly consequences. The FBI Director Christopher Wray telling the audience at an anti-Semitism summit at the DOJ today, quote, "Words can quickly turn to violence, and hate can quickly become hate crimes."

And the proof of that is the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville. The man who plowed his car into that crowd killing her and injuring dozens more got a second life sentence today. He had also pleaded guilty to 29 federal hate crimes. Remember, very fine people on both sides? His racism now is disgusting.

Former Ohio Governor John Kasich tweeting "What Donald Trump said about Democratic women in Congress is deplorable and beneath the dignity of the office. We all, including Republicans need to speak out against these kinds of comments that do nothing more than divide us and create deep animosity, maybe even hatred."

I'm going to talk to the governor in just a few minutes. And then there's George Conway, the husband of counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway who says this tonight about the president in an op-ed in the Washington Post.

Quote, "By virtue of this office, he speaks for the country. What's at stake now is more important than judges or tax cuts or regulations or any policy issue of the day. What's at stake are the nation's ideals, its very sole."

He' is right. The president is dividing Americans and breeding hate. And there are Republicans tonight who are rebuking him but it is absolutely disgraceful that everybody in our government hasn't stood up against this.

And those who haven't, those who stayed silence -- silent should remember these words from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote, "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends."

As members of his own party struggle with how to respond to the president's latest racist comments, I'm going to ask the author of a new book about the GOP, "Are Republicans Afraid to Speak Up?".

[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump denies his racist tweets were racist, but why haven't more Republicans come out to condemn him?

Joining me now to discuss is Tim Alberta, he is a chief political correspondent for Politico, he is also the author of the new book "American Carnage: On the Front Lines of a Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump." So good to have you on. TIM ALBERTA, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Thank you so much.

ALBERTA: I appreciate it.

LEMON: I really appreciate it.

Before we go on -- get on the specifics on things about this book, give me your reaction today of the president's racist tweet storm against the four American congresswomen of color. Telling them to go back to where they came from?

ALBERTA: Look, I think the reaction to it within the Republican Party is pretty much emblematic of where the party has been for the 30 months or so. Which is to say that most elected officials in the GOP are sort of locked in this cage of fear as it relate to the president.

They can understand that when they look at their former colleagues, Jeff Flake, Mark Sanford, Justin Amash who just left the party and some others, if you cross Trump, it is likely a political death sentence in today's Republican Party.

And look, take a step back from this. Traditionally, Republicans versus Democrats, this was about the size of government. There were philosophical and intellectual debates to be had.

And even within the Republican Party for a very long time as I try to document in the book, this was really a manner of, you know, this outsider conservatives versus this insider establishment figures.

And there were a lot of that ideological warfare that sometimes can be very healthy for a party. What it essentially evolved into today, in today's Republican Party, Trump's Republican Party is a very different set of fault lines. It's a binary choice. Are you with Donald Trump or are you against Donald Trump?

LEMON: But this is not conservative versus liberal in the traditional sense. This is something far beyond that and far more dangerous.

He was asked if it bothered him that white supremacist find common cause when he tweeted, he said, no, and this is a quote, he said, "because many people agree with me." Is he talking about his fellow Republicans?

ALBERTA: He probably is. And look, he's probably not wrong in thinking that some of them do agree with him. I was having a conversation with somebody earlier today and we were talking about how many Republicans actually agree with Donald Trump's sentiment on this matter. And how many disagree but are afraid to speak out.

And I said, you know, it's probably about a quarter to three quarters ratio. Right? There's probably maybe a quarter of the party including members of Congress who do share those sentiments who do not mind whatsoever hearing the xenophobic nativist remarks from the president that seem to come with increasing regularity.

[22:25:02] I think the other three quarters are probably more troubling, though. Because these are individuals who many of them were outspoken during the 2016 campaign calling out Donald Trump on a regular basis whenever he would say something that was racist or misogynistic of what have you.

But they have all sort of reached the same conclusion, Don, at this point. And again, if you view politics as the art of self- preservation, which sadly most of us who have covered Congress, covered campaigns we do --

LEMON: What it is.

ALBERTA: -- you understand that these people they don't want to cross this guy or else they're going home.

LEMON: You mentioned Justin Amash and talked about how he is then, you know, disagreeing with the president and his party and has left the party.

So, some Republicans have said his tweets are racist including Will Hurd, Congressman Will Hurd, Senator Joni Ernst -- Ernst, excuse me, and one former Republican now independent congressman, Justin Amash, who says his tweets are racist and disgusting.

I just want to know what there's such a small club here. Is this about self-preservation or is it just about maybe this one will go away and I don't want to deal with it, and therefore.

ALBERTA: You know, it's interesting, Will Hurd, I take him as an example, Will Hurd universally view as one of the most effective members of Congress. This is a black Republican who represents the majority of the Hispanic district on the southern border, the biggest border district in the country.

LEMON: The biggest border district, yes.

ALBERTA: Eight hundred twenty miles, El Paso to San Antonio. The only Republican remaining who represents any of the southern border because Republicans have been wiped out down there in those small part due to some of the president's rhetoric.

The point I'm making, Will Hurd was 25 to 30 points above water fav on fav with his voters in the 2018 election and he only won reelection by fewer than a thousand vote. And that was how harmful Donald Trump was to a guy like Will Hurd.

And it's very hard to see Hurd surviving much longer in this political environment when Trump is defining the entire party in his image. And when few, so few Republicans like Will Hurd are actually pushing back against it and attempting to reframe the party in their terms rather than accept his.

LEMON: Yes. You talked about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in your book. Trump at one point became enamored with her after seeing her on TV and not much -- I want to read this. It says, "After soaking in a performance, Trump was star truck. I called her Eva Peron. He recalls. I said, that's Eva Peron. That's Evita. He places a comically exotic emphasis on the nick name Evita."

Do you think the president sees it is a politically beneficial to attack Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

ALBERTA: You know, Don, honestly, I actually found him in that moment to be complementary of her. And this goes not to any of his political instincts.

LEMON: That's what I mean, because now he attacks her.

ALBERTA: yes.

LEMON: But then he was enamored by her.

ALBERTA: No, and I think he, and honestly, if you talk to people around the president, he, I think is still enamored with her. This is reality TV guy. This is an entertainer.

LEMON: I don't mean --

(CROSSTALK)

ALBERTA: He respects the talent.

LEMON: You say something that I notice with interviewing him.

ALBERTA: Yes.

LEMON: When you interview him and when you meet him, he is not the person you see on stage at those rallies or whatever you want to call them. Not the person you see, very fine people on both sides. He's someone who is completely different.

And he's very complementary and as you said, knows talent and knows when an interview is good, knows when it's bad, knows when you've done your homework but then becomes something else which is very odd or I don't really know how to put it. Is he just a performer? Is it --

ALBERTA: Is there an alter ego politically speaking?

LEMON: Performance art?

ALBERTA: Yes. Well, but it's interesting though because Trump I think and AOC, I probably, I would assume would not be flattered by this. But Trump sees a little bit of himself in her just in that he sort of, expose the Republican establishment in the same way that she has expose the Democratic establishment. And they're both, sort of waging this asymmetrical warfare on the powers that being watch (Ph).

LEMON: Whatever it is are just as dangerous. More with Tim Alberta when we come right back.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Paul Ryan has retired from Congress but that has not ended the president's feud with him. And there are new revelations about him in Tim Alberta's book. The book is called "American Carnage." And he is back with me. OK, let's start with this. So you spoke with Paul Ryan for the book. He lived the Trump takeover speaker of the House, speaker of the House.

This is what he told you. He said those of us who are around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions all the time. We helped make him better decisions, which were contrary to the kind -- to kind what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now, I think he is making some of those -- some of these knee-jerk reactions. He's trying to take credit from moderating Trump. Is that true, do you think?

ALBERTA: Oh, look. There is no question. And I think folks will obviously focus -- when they think about this, you know, deal with the devil that Paul Ryan made. Because again, this -- there was arguably nobody in the Republican Party who was tougher on Trump during the campaign, then Paul Ryan and came out and basically called him a racist, told anybody who would listen, look, this guy is immoral. He's unethical. He's unfit for office.

LEMON: And then?

ALBERTA: And then on election night, I was there. I was in Gainesville on election night 2016. And you can see it on Ryan's face. And he had about 20 minutes that night to make it a decision. Do I stay true to myself? Do I keep hammering this guy? Do I, you know, remain immoral conscious of the party, or do I swallow this criticisms and serve as Speaker of the House, because you can't do both.

Ryan made his decision. And look, obviously the tax cuts were important to him chasing down his legislative priorities. But I've covered Paul Ryan for a very long period of time, Don. I can tell you that Ryan really viewed himself and John Kelly and Jim Mattis and Rex Tillerson a small group within as this sort of force field around Donald Trump, this protective casing.

And they would basically tell people, look. If you think it is bad now, imagine if the adults left the room. We are the guys trying to at least keep this thing from going totally off the rails. And that was sort of the justification that Ryan would use. Obviously, not everybody byes it buys it. But I think for him that was even bigger reason not to tangle with Trump.

Because once he lost his influence in Trump's inner orbit, then there was nothing he could do to try and control him.

LEMON: There was so many times when he could have stood up, right? And -- because people would ask always where is Paul Ryan's backbone. What happened to the principle conservative, you know, styled after...

ALBERTA: Jack Kemp.

LEMON: After Jack Kemp. What happened to him? ALBERTA: Yeah.

LEMON: He didn't show up after he became -- after Donald Trump became president. And then there's Mike Pence. You chronicle how he ended up on the 2016 Republican ticket as a VP candidate. Part of Mike Pence's appeal to Trump and the Republican Party is his close connection with the evangelical community. And then you report that Trump said this.

This was during the campaign. He said you know Donald Trump told one Iowa official these so-called Christians hanging around with Ted Cruz are some real pieces of shit. You reported to the National Review for years. How will that kind of remark be heard among the religious right? Will they care?

[22:35:09] ALBERTA: No, simple answer. No, they won't. And in fact, I actually reported on another scene in the book which is even more striking. The president was in a meeting with Republican lawmakers. This was back in 2018. And they were having a conversation about his approval rating sort of fluctuating and how -- no matter how low his approval rating got him on the general electorate that he was consistently strikingly strong among self- identified Republicans.

Almost always right around 90 percent, which is a very, very good figure. A matter of fact, at this point in his presidency, Don, no Republican in the last century say for George W. Bush and the aftermath of 9/11 has more popular with their party's base, not Reagan, not Clinton, nobody than Trump is right now. So he has this very solid following in the base. And he was joking about this with some Republican senators.

And he kind of leaned back and had this look of satisfaction on his face. And he said those effin evangelicals. And I talked to two senators who were in that meeting. One of them told me that he thought he was hallucinating. He said there's no way I just heard that -- and he walked out of that meeting. And before he can even say it, they all turned to each other and said he actually said that. He said those effin evangelicals.

And that anecdote was reported out of the book. And I'm telling you people might for -- you know it might bother them a little bit. But these folks who believe that Trump has given them two Supreme Court justices that he's on their side on fights about abortion and religious liberty and everything else, they're willing to tolerate these things, because he's in the arena throwing haymakers on their behalf. That is their own deal that they have made with him.

LEMON: And to tolerate -- they also tolerate racism and sexism by doing so. Tim, I want you to stick around, because I'm going you come back with me to -discussion a little bit later on the show. The book again is American Carnage. Tim will be back a little bit later on. So in the face of all this chaos, what is the GOP's breaking point? And why are a lot Republicans staying silent? That is a question for former Governor, John Kasich. That's next.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump doubling down on his racist call for four congresswomen of color to go back to where they come from or came from. The fact is every one of those congresswomen women is an American citizen. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia but she has been a citizen since the age of 17. Let's discuss. The former Governor is here, John Kasich.

Governor, thank you so much. I read this little bit earlier. And you tweeted what the president said is beneath the dignity of the office and encouraged everyone to speak out against these kinds of comments. What does that look and sound like in a practical sense to you?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I -- that's a good question, Don. I think that the whole country needs to say there are some things that are just absolutely unacceptable. Let me give on example that pops in my head. And that was when they wanted to get rid of the funding for Special Olympics. And the entire country came together and said you're not going to that.

You're not going to punish that -- those people. You are not going to hurt that group, because that's part of America. And Don, I am a believer that if people of all stripes, and not just Republicans, independents, Democrats, preachers as well begin to say this is not our country. Because as you and I chatted earlier, we are a Jewish and Christian tradition in America, Judeo-Christianity, and other religions, they basically have the same message.

And the fact is we are our brothers and sisters' keepers. We are brothers and sisters. And we are to love our neighbors as we want them to love us. And this rhetoric, this anger, this division, violates that basic covenant that America was founded upon. And that's what's so bad. So I think, you know, for Republicans to say, well, you know, I am kind of worried about a primary and all that stuff.

I mean, Don, if you don't speak out when you are in, I can tell you when you are out, which is not a long time away for all of these people. Because when you are out, you don't need a phone. No one will call you and no one will take your call. That's the way it is. And all you have is to look back and think about your legacy. And if you were silent, as you mentioned at the top of this show, if you are silent on things that are totally outrageous, you will regret it. And you will lose a piece of yourself.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: I suppose you can always get it back. You can forgive yourself, because we are all a bunch of -- we are all losers. All of us are, however, we got to try to do better.

LEMON: OK. I want to talk to you about it, because the House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, deflected saying that this was about ideology. Why do Republicans struggle to call out the president's clearly racist language? I mean there is no two ways about it. It is what it is. KASICH: I don't understand it. And, you know, Don, I served in the

Congress where -- there were things that just simply weren't tolerated. And as a group, and maybe if they are afraid, why don't they get a group of people together, because if you work in a group to say enough of this, then you have strengthened the group.

I -- honestly, I am flabbergasted, but I am equally flabbergasted at these preachers. They get up on the pulpit on Sunday and they preach love and togetherness. That's what they preach. And then when this happens, you can't find them with a search light. You don't know where they are. And what is their excuse for that? Because we got a judge, OK, you got to a judge. But look at what's happening to the fabric of the country.

And another thing, I don't tolerate this kind of name-calling from anyone, including the Democrats. You call names. You call vicious names to the president. I am against what you are doing, too. But this is the president. This is the president of the United States saying these. Go back to where you came from. I mean could you -- it is unbelievable.

LEMON: Yeah.

KASICH: It is unbelievable.

[22:44:57] LEMON: Do you think that the president is betting that most elected Republicans won't challenge him on this and maybe even part of the electorates won't challenge him. Does that embolden him?

KASICH: Oh, there is no question. I mean it's -- we're becoming numb to this in a way. You know -- I mean it's like every week I've got to say something and I -- you just get -- I don't want to be a broken record, because there are other things that happen in the world than just this, other things that we should celebrate. But I think when we remain silent, when we remain quiet, there's sort of acquiescence.

And then there is a numbing effect. And then there's -- you can do more. And you can do more. I mean he was attacked over the weekend. And then he's back out doing it again today, why, because nobody is saying anything. And he thinks that his base supports it. And there is probably some of the base out there that does support it.

But I don't think that -- look. I can't speak for the Republican Party. I can't get in their heads. But the simple fact of the matter is they ought to flat out say is that some of them have now done -- this is just wrong. Don't do it again. It hurts our country. And by the way, Don, you know, we try to teach our kids the way to behave. Do you think that anybody is raising kids today who watch this show think that their kids or their grand kids will tell to go just tell the people you don't like to go back where they came from?

That's not the way we teach our kids. It is not what we are all about. And this is -- you know, and I'll tell you another thing. Don, somebody said to me, oh, because I spoke out today, does that mean you are running for office? I mean are we that cynical? Can we not understand that there is right and wrong, realizing none of us get it right all the time? We're -- you and I, Don Lemon, we are both flawed. But we try. I hope to do better each day.

LEMON: Listen, amen -- I got to say amen to that. I got to run. But I got to tell you. It is what we used to teach our kids. I am not sure people teach their kids anymore. I would hope so. But I am not so sure after what's happened in the country over the last couple of years. John, I got to go. Thank you, sir.

KASICH: We will be OK. We'll be OK, Don. We will be OK. All right, I'll see you next time.

LEMON: All right, I will see you. We'll be right back.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling on Republicans to join Democrats in condemning the president's racist attacks. Joining me now to discuss, Neera Tanden, also the former Republican Governor nominee, Andrew Gillum, and back with us is Tim Alberta, the author of "American Carnage."

Good evening. Good to see you both of you. Did you saw something, Andrew?

ANDREW GILLUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, you said Republican nominee.

LEMON: Oh, sorry. Sorry about that. Sorry about that. It was a long weekend. It's the beginning of the week.

(CROSSTALK)

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: To clarify today.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. Well, good evening, Neera, first, your reaction when you heard the president, what he said.

TANDEN: You know, I was -- I was -- I was struck and I will say I was hurt. You know, I have heard comments like this for many, many years. They accelerated publicly in 2016 during the presidential election, people telling me to go back to India. Those comments came from white nationalists. And those comments are now parroted by the president of the United States. And that is deeply damaging.

And I think, as AOC said today, deeply damaging to people, but really most damaging to the children who will hear messages like that from a person of great authority. And so I think what's at stake now is the president is trying to redefine America as not a place, or not a place that's an idea but a place that's only for a certain group of people.

LEMON: OK.

TANDEN: And I hope -- I hope his view loses.

LEMON: For a time -- I got to get everyone in. We have a lot of ground to cover.

TANDEN: Sorry.

LEMON: What did you think, Mayor?

GILLUM: I mean, unfortunately, not surprised by the president. He has decided that the way he is going to go about this reelection campaign is to run white, and to basically otherwise the rest of Americans. If you aren't white, then you're less American, then you hate the country. If you're a Democrat and not a Republican, then you're against the American way.

This is Trump being quintessential Trump, which is he's, quite frankly, going to the gutter. And he thinks that his base is going to reward him with reelection. And I just hope that they prove him wrong this next cycle.

LEMON: Tim, you know, the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is -- wants to do this resolution condemning Trump's tweets. Vote on a resolution. This is an up-or-down vote. But I'm wondering Republican -- it's going to put Republicans on the record condemning the president's racism. Do you think that they'll stand up on the record against Trump or they'll say, no, we shouldn't do this resolution?

ALBERTA: I would be very surprised if you saw more than a handful of Republicans sign on to that resolution.

LEMON: Really? Why?

ALBERTA: Well, look. Again, as symbolic as it may be, symbolism is everything in politics, right? There is a reason that people are so concerned about this tweet coming from the president of the United States. The American presidency, Don, is so unique from other nations around the world, in that you are both the head of government and the head of state.

But for as much as Republicans might love their tax cuts, love their conservative judges, love their deregulation, all these other things. There is this moral leadership component that is associated with the American presidency, and to the point about, you know, kids looking up for role models, in the highest levels of government.

Obviously, that is the concern that some Republicans are kept awake at by night, while they remain silent on things like this. Episodes such as this, I think, give a lot of pause to Republicans. But does it give them enough pause to go to the floor and strike a symbolic blow against the president of their own party knowing that it would jeopardize their own careers.

LEMON: Probably not.

ALBERTA: Probably not.

LEMON: Neera, why do you think these four congresswomen get under the president's skin so much? [22:55:06] TANDEN: Obviously, because they criticize his horrendous

policies on the border. And he's obviously trying to ensure that, you know, they're the face of the Democrat Party. But more importantly, he is trying to (Inaudible) and not just because, you know, they're women of color, but also this, like, rhetoric from all these Republicans that they're communists. I mean, he's - its -- the level of division and divisiveness.

And I think what we've seen is the president can only win by attacking and destroying people. And that is what he's trying to do. And the question on the table for the American people is really are we going to be, or at least a majority, is going to be better than this?

LEMON: Yeah. It's interesting because I was watching the press conference today with the four congresswomen. And someone walked into the room and said, look, just look at that, the four women, all women of color. But diverse in their -- as well, standing in front of the American flag. And standing in front of, you know, the flags there and said, just look.

That is an image that you don't really see that much in this country. Usually, you see the opposite, right, of all men usually, right?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: All of the same color.

ALBERTA: You want to know what it almost reminded me of. And this is obviously a bit counterintuitive. But during the 2016 Republican primary, when Nikki Haley and Tim Scott endorsed Marco Rubio, and the three of them barnstormed the state, and all of these Republican leaders who had dreamed of diversifying the party, Reince Priebus (Inaudible) after 2012.

They dreamed of having that Republican Party, son of a Cuban immigrant, son of Sikh immigrants. The first black man to serve in both the House and the Senate, he's a Republican to have that ticket going around the state talking about broadening the appeal of the Republican Party. And, of course, that ticket lost out.

LEMON: I got to run. Thank you.

GILLUM: Well, they are as American as any one of us.

LEMON: Amen.

GILLUM: We may be from different parties. But I really value the fact that they represent the diversity, the rich diversity of this country. And I think that's a good thing.

LEMON: I agree. Thank you. Tim's book is called "American Carnage." Thank you, all. Bernie Sanders is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)