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Trump Voters Voice Out; Angry Protesters Calls For Governor Ricardo Rossello to Resign; Bernie Sanders Defends Medicare for All Plan; President Trump Says He is 'Winning' in Fight Against Four Congresswomen Of Color; Breaking News: Police Fire Tear Gas Onto Puerto Rico Protesters; American Identity In The Age Of Trump. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 17, 2019 - 23:00   ET




President Trump believes his racist attack on four Democratic congresswomen of color is a winning strategy for re-election in 2020. And he clearly laid it out tonight at a campaign rally in North Carolina, doubling down on his attacks, purposely mentioning each woman by name to rounds of boos and claiming to his base that the lawmakers don't love America.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And tonight, I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say. That's why I say, hey, if they don't like it, let them leave. Let them leave. Let them leave.


LEMON: So, let's go big picture, why don't we? Van Jones is here, Max Boot, Alice Stewart. Thank you all for joining us.

Van, you know, the president continued to go after the squad tonight in his rally. At one point, the crowd screaming, sent her back about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Why don't we play it, then we'll talk.


TRUMP: Omar has a history of launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds.



LEMON: What did you think?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I just felt like I felt like got kicked in the stomach. I mean, you have the President of the United States, the most powerful person in the world and he's surrounded by all these people and he says someone's name, an American citizen, someone who is a member of Congress, and people start chanting send her back, send her back, and I just felt like my -- I thought I got kicked in the stomach because that is a terrifying scene. That's a terrifying scene. In any country in the world that would be terrifying.

For that to be happening in the United States, it's hard to get your head wrapped around. And, listen, people don't understand what it's likes to be a Congress person. These people, they don't make a lot of money. They don't live inside of Fort Knox. They're regular people who have to get from their car and walk around.

This is beginning to promote a almost kind of potential for violence and I think the president has to be more sensitive about that kind of stuff.

I feel -- listen, Ilhan Omar has said some stuff that she herself has apologized for. If you listen to what she's talking about, she's trying to elevate her own game. She is actually taking responsibility for being more clear, more careful. She's working with Jewish people. She's doing a lot of stuff to give her credit for.

He's tearing all that away pretending it's not happening and then trying to make the country hate one person. Look, I don't have much to say about it except that it felt to me like -- I personally, I don't know what she's feeling, I don't know what these women are feeling, but just being a witness to this sort of bullying and this sort of abuse of power, I felt kicked in the stomach.

LEMON: Bigotry. I mean, it's bigotry. Bigotry. What did you want to say?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Don, if I can say I agree 100 percent with what Van is saying. Look, if send her back is going to be the new lock her up, I think that is a really bad idea for a couple of reasons.

First of all, these four women are U.S. citizens and they are elected officials and members of Congress. And if we as Republicans are really going to make this an argument on politics and on policy, which I think is a valid argument and a valid cause for us to do, let's make it about politics and let's not say send her back, let's say vote her out.

let's talk about the policies. Let's talk about what has really been the origin of where the president is coming from, their socialist policies, the Green New Deal or free college --

LEMON: Well, Alice, let me ask you something.

STEWART: Let's make it about policy, let's not make it personal.

LEMON: OK, OK, OK, I get your point. And I think that is a very fair and good point. You're saying that on TV. Why don't the people around him say that? Why don't Republicans who are in office who are in power, why aren't they saying that, Alice? STEWART: A lot of people are asking to tone the rhetoric down. In

terms of let's make the focus on policy. Let's make it about the issues that these four congressmen represent that are now really the face of the Democratic Party and are not reflective of where America wants to go, in the direction we want to go, and I think this is a valid argument. It is a great cause for the republic and let's focus on that and not make it personal.

[23:05:01] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: You know, Alice, it's pretty clear from what Donald Trump is doing he does not want to make this an argument about policy. This is not about socialism versus freedom.

There's a lot of Republicans are saying now this is clearly a racist appeal, a xenophobic appeal. That is what he is doing because he knows that he has not delivered on his promises from 2016. He is not re- opening steel mills. He is not bringing back coal mining jobs.

And this is basically a way that he can distract his blue collar supporters in swing states from his failures to deliver on his other pledges because he is basically mobilizing them against hatred of others, hatred against these women of color, hatred of Muslims, hatred of these Democrats who he's attacking not with policy arguments but with these rank racist appeals. And sadly, it is resonating.

I mean, there is a USA Today poll that just came out which showed 57 percent of Republicans endorsing Trump's attacks. His numbers among Republicans in a Reuters poll actually went up since these attacks.

And of course, you saw today this disgusting, nauseating, unthinkable spectacle happening in North Carolina where his rabid supporters are chanting send her back. That is un-American. That is vile. That is racism. That is not a disagreement on policy. That is something we should not tolerate in this country.



LEMON: On the -- yes.

STEWART: Don, if I can just say real quickly to refute that. I think Liz Cheney said it best yesterday when she said again emphatically, and it's important to remember this, this is not about the color of their skin or where they're from or their race or their gender --


BOOT: Yes, but Liz Cheney is being --

STEWART: -- this is about their policies.

BOOT: Come on, Alice.

STEWART: And she is speaking for the -- BOOT: Alice --

STEWART: That is where -- that is what this is about.

BOOT: Liz Cheney is being -- Liz Cheney is being disingenuous when she says that. She is defending a racist. She is being an accomplice to racism when she says that. She knows what this is about. She is pretending otherwise. She is being deceitful.

LEMON: Everybody, I want you to stand by because I really want you to play this. Van Jones went to Pennsylvania to talk to some swing voters. Please sit down and watch this. President Trump won this state by less than 1 percentage point. That was in 2016 of course. And it is likely going to be a must-win for him in 2020.

Van talked to these voters about the president's racist comments. Let's take a look and then we'll talk about it.


JONES: Show of hands, who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. Raise your hand. Two. So, let me focus on you two. Are you planning to vote for Donald Trump in 2020?

KURT ZUHLKE, OBAMA-TRUMP VOTER: Well, I haven't made up my mind yet whether I was going to vote for him or not. I am leaning more towards him than I am the other candidates right now. The economic situation for me and my business is going very well. So, you know, economics is a big important issue here.

JONES: Got you. And what about you?

KEVIN MARTIN, VOTED FOR TRUMP: Yes, I am. All of this -- kind of this far-left talk is kind of scaring me when it comes to the border.

JONES: So, let's just adjust the elephant in the room, you're like a young black dude with tattoos and stuff, why are you supporting Donald Trump given some of his racially inflammatory rhetoric?

MARTIN: Yes. I think, look, I mean, I was raised in a conservative family. And I'm in business. I'm a business consultant. Business is great. I don't want to lose that, you know? And I know that, you know, a lot of the rhetoric that comes out of the White House off Twitter is concerning, but putting personal feelings aside, I think that we're having a great economic boom. I mean, people are risking their lives to come here --


JONES: How do you size up this whole thing where President Trump comes out and says to these women go back to whatever country you came from?

FRANK BEHUM, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: It's a man in desperation. He's desperate.

JONES: Desperate? Why?

BEHUM: To be president. The only person he cares about is himself. He rode in on the coattails of Obama. If you think it was any other thing, you know, you believe in the Easter bunny and Santa Claus. That's the way I see it.

ZUHLKE: I don't believe in the Easter bunny or Santa Claus.

VANESSA WILLIAMS, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: Almost everyone has a story of being told go back to your country and I think that it's kind of like one of the oldest, you know, tricks in the book when it comes to phraseology. Maybe outside of the n word that comes to mind when you're talking about racist language.

ZUHLKE: I've had people when I moved into Pennsylvania say, you're a New Yorker, why don't you go back to New York where you belong? You know, those are just human emotion remarks and people are frustrated. And they are frustrated. He's frustrated from the very beginning. They have attacked him, his family, his wife, his kids, it's disgusting. It really is.

PHYLLIS ALEXANDER, DEMOCRATIC VOTER: I just go back to values. I value treating people with dignity. And if there is anything that is incongruent with those values then I'm not for that. And so, I'm not going to put profit over my values.

[23:10:01] JONES: You putting your profits over your values?

ALEXANDER: That would be a yes.

MARTIN: Look --

ALEXANDER: That would be a yes.

MARTIN: I think that this -- this go back comment hit a lot of us that support him. It hit a lot of us in the gut. And I think that the president is putting a lot of us in a very precarious situation.

I think the president has a base and he has a far right-wing base and there's a lot of white nationalists, a lot of racists, a lot of anti- Semites in that base, so what I'm going to do is I am going to have a P.R. strategy that is going to rile up the base.

And so, I feel like a lot of us feel like, wow, where do we fit in, you know, anymore. Do we -- are we still welcome in this movement? Are we -- are people of color still welcome?

So, a lot of us are still reeling from that comment. And I would tell you, a lot of my friends that are black conservatives, a lot of them have jumped off the Trump train. They've gone over to Kamala Harris' side. They've gotten involved in her campaign and also Joe Biden's. Certainly, here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


LEMON: So, stick -- I hope that guy knows that New York is still in America.

JONES: Right.

LEMON: So, stick around, everybody. I want to talk to you about what we heard from those voters and what it means for 2020. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Swing voters in Pennsylvania talking to CNN's Van Jones about the president's racist comments. Van is back with us along with Max Boot and Alice Stewart. OK. So, let's talk about this. I thought it was very interesting.


LEMON: They were very thoughtful. A bit different than the panel we saw yesterday of the women in Texas. They're from a key state, swing state -- a key state which is Pennsylvania. Give me your takeaway from this.

JONES: Well, a couple of things. One is that young African-American man very impressive, deeply involved in the Republican Party, may be an economics guy. But he is saying that this latest attack -- I don't think some people understand, we may not do a good job of explaining this. When you are a young person growing up, go back to Africa, go back to Africa, go back to Africa. This is --


LEMON: I tried to convey that last night. Please, help me.

JONES: This is something that is a traumatic thing. Sometimes the first time you realize you're different from other kids when they bring that thing out. It's not the same as saying go back to New York or go back across the street. It's not even remotely the same.

LEMON: Right.

JONES: So here you have this young guy. He's a super Trump supporter, outspoken, has been outspoken, has met the president even. And yet, this has buckled his knees, he said that go back comment, it buckled his knees. And he's saying that other young conservatives are really struggling with that.

I thought that was interesting. The other thing I thought was interesting, the older white gentleman who supported Trump had voted for Obama twice but then voted for Trump. He's going to vote for him again. He said he's afraid the economy is going --


LEMON: He said he's leaning that way. He's not sure.

JONES: Leaning that way.

LEMON: But he's not sure.

JONES: But, again, the economic success is something that is -- I asked him, you know, off camera, why did you switch? I said, did you really love Trump that much? he goes, I was trying to throw a monkey wrench at the Democrats. I thought that they were not doing the right thing to help us move forward.

So, listen, there is a reason they called this place a swing state and swing counties because people are open to moving around, but I thought it was interesting a young man who has met the president, who is passionate for Donald Trump, his knees were buckled by this go back comment.


LEMON: I don't think he realize.

JONES: It's a deep comment.

LEMON: He doesn't realize. Maybe that's why the counter is so strong. That he realizes that it does cut deep and he said something wrong but he's got to come back. And as he says --


JONES: He's doubling down.

LEMON: -- counting much. And keep doubling down. What did you --



STEWART: Don, my observation of that is, of course, leave it to Van Jones to sit five people around a table and be a perfect example of I think the pulse of America. We have really the two people that supported Trump in the past looking as though they're going to support him again.

And we have the three Democrats there who say more than likely probably, --


LEMON: Hey, Alice --

STEWART: -- definitely that they're not going to -- a lot of it is due to the tone and tenor not because of --


LEMON: I've got to go. Van -- Max, I'm sorry you didn't get in. I have breaking news. OK. So, thank you. Van is going to have more with these -- the voters you saw earlier on the Van Jones show. He's going to talk to Megan Rapinoe and the governor of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, governors of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Saturday night at 7 p.m. Make sure you tune it.

So, as I said, now I have some breaking news I want to tell you about, it's out of Puerto Rico. Crowds of demonstrators are flooding the streets of old San Juan demanding the immediate resignation of the Governor Ricardo Rossello.

Calls for Rossello to step down began after nearly 900 pages of leaks from his online chats obtained by Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism were published over the weekend.

The chats were leaked days after the FBI arrested former administration officials in a corruption scandal. So that's the backdrop. That's the story. Leyla Santiago joins us now on the phone from old San Juan. Leyla, thank you very much. What are these protests like? What's going on here?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I want to make sure you understand we were here but we're struggling with the signal. That's why I'm calling into you.

And what I'm seeing on the streets of San Juan, I'm seeing anger, just raw frustration. People who say they are fed up and things are really heating up. We've seen some pretty tense moments. I know we have some live video from our affiliates here at sort of the barricaded area right in front of the La Fortaleza, which is the mansion, the governor's mansion.


LEMON: We can see those pictures as you are talking about it, Leyla. Go on.

SANTIAGO: Great. So, you can see exactly what's happening at this hour in front of where the governor lives. This is a growing protest. This isn't the first one. We saw something similar Monday, but this is growing in number.

And I want to show you what we saw when we got right up to the barricade. I mean, such an intense moment when protesters were very angry, yelling, chanting for the governor to resign.

[23:20:05] And then there was a bit of a heated exchange where a police officer tried to grab one of the protesters. Shortly after that, batons came out and things started to get thrown.

I understand that there have been several similar moments to that this evening, and as we speak -- or shortly just a few minutes ago, we saw that debris was also being thrown and police had their shields.

So, the protests are growing. The anger is growing. And the calls from Puerto Ricans on this island and off this island are now growing. The words I am hearing repeatedly from people, disrespect, indignation, deceit, and as I've mentioned, resign.

LEMON: Leyla, talk to me about what were in those leaked texts that people were so upset about? SANTIAGO: Well, in those leaked texts you see the governor and his

inner circle, a total of 12 people going back and forth in it. They have some pretty choice words for women, words that I will not repeat. Some remarks that are homophobic. They talked about being able to fool their own people.

They made light of bodies that were essentially piling up after hurricane Maria. And I think that this is beyond the chats. That's what a lot of people here have told me.

This is about the corruption that we've seen with the federal arrests, about the chats, and that many people sort of find themselves reflected in these insults here. Many people say he spoke poorly of people in the country -- in the countryside. I'm from the countryside. He spoke poorly -- or they spoke poorly of women. I am a woman.

So, I think people here -- this goes beyond some leaked chat. This is about corruption running rampant on this island. And there is a big concern that on this island, those that are most vulnerable, those that are still rebuilding two years -- nearly two years after hurricane Maria could be affected because there is some concern of this having an impact on federal and disaster aid coming to this island.

LEMON: Are you seeing anything being thrown? As we look at these pictures from old San Juan, are you seeing -- these are live pictures we're looking at, by the way, Leyla. Are you seeing anything being thrown? Describe to us the scene again, please.

SANTIAGO: So, I had backed off a little bit for safety reasons, Don, but from when I was there and what I was saying, I mean, we saw sort of a festive environment in some locations, people singing and dancing.

But as you got closer to the mansion, to La Fortaleza, that's when things started to heat up and things became more and more tense. As we were getting closer, people were telling us careful, don't get too close because they could lash out at you.

And as we got closer, protesters there, you could see they were wearing masks. You could see they were holding up signs. You could see they were yelling. And Don, yelling, this is anger. I mean, they were yelling with passion, calling on the governor to resign.

One of the common chants that I heard was "we are not afraid. We are more than you." And those chants were directed straight at the mansion and at the police force standing guard at that very barricade, the barricade that is down the street of the gates that lead to the governor's mansion.

So, there's a bit of a back and forth. They have heated moments. I heard some of the protesters urging others not to throw things, to be peaceful, to not give them a reason to attack.

And I also saw police that -- that were talking straight to us saying, no, everyone must back up and be at this distance. So, you know, Monday there were some tensions that escalated into tear

gas. And tonight, we're seeing a bit of a repeat, but on a bit of a bigger scale, I would say, because these are very large crowds.

Tonight, we saw the celebrities of Puerto Rico show up. Ricky Martin, Presidente, Bad Bunny, and so they are putting a call to come together as one island and demand the resignation of Puerto Rico's governor, who says he will not resign. Don?

LEMON: The latest from the governor. What do we know?

SANTIAGO: He has said that -- I actually just checked in with his office a few minutes ago, actually. He is standing by that he will not resign.

[23:24:55] He says that he is elected for this position and he will continue to do the work he was elected to do despite what is happening on the streets of old San Juan and in other parts of this island and beyond.

LEMON: Leyla Santiago on top of the breaking news for us, covering this -- these live protests that are going on. As you can see, crowds of demonstrators are there remaining on the streets of -- near Puerto Rico's capital demanding the immediate resignation of their governor at this hour.

A large group faced off against police. They just overturned some barriers. They have been throwing things, we're told. Police in riot gear as you can see about 10 feet away with helmet and shields. You can see the crowds there, again, this is coming to us live from old San Juan and our Laura Santiago on top of it.

We'll continue to update you on the situation -- Leyla -- excuse me, Leyla Santiago. We'll continue to update you on the situation as we get it. Thank you, Leyla. I appreciate it. Stay safe. OK?

Senator Bernie Sanders making a pledge on health care. Will other candidates follow suit? We'll talk about that next.


LEMON: Ahead of CNN's Democratic debates July 30th and 31st, Senator Bernie Sanders gave a speech today in Washington to promote his Medicare for All plan.


[23:30:03] SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, I am calling on every Democratic candidate in this election to join me in rejecting money from the insurance and drug companies. Reject that money.


SANDERS: Candidates who are not willing to take that pledge should explain to the American people why those corporate interests and their donations are a good investment for the health care industry.


LEMON: Joining me now to discuss is Nina Turner. She is the national co-chair of the Sanders campaign. So good -- I haven't seen you in a while. It is good to see you. Are you doing OK?

NINA TURNER, NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN: I know, Don. It's good to hear you. I'm doing fine.

LEMON: So let's get right into this. Why is the senator making this pledge, and do you think the other candidates are going to follow suit?

TURNER: Oh, let's hope they do, Don. This is really the senator saying explain to the American people whose side you are on. Either you are on the side of the people or you are not there. There is no middle ground in this. Either you are in the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry and the health care industry or you are going to stand up for people. Let's go and throw it down.


LEMON: The Medicare for All plan has been criticized by Republicans and even some of Senator Sanders's Democratic rivals because it means the end of private health insurance. Are you worried that that's a bridge too far for many Americans, Nina?

TURNER: No, Don. The bridge too far is how the American people are suffering right now. The bridge too far is the fact that far too many people in this country either don't have insurance or they are underinsured, Don, about 80 million people combined in terms of people who are underinsured or just flat-out uninsured.

As you know, right now in Philadelphia, Hahnemann Hospital could close down right now because a vulture capitalist purchased this hospital, bankrupted this hospital, and now is going to close this hospital down. There are many Hahnemann all across this country, especially in rural areas.

So the time is now for the Democratic Party in particular, Don, to declare whose side that they are on. The health care system as it exists right now is failing the American people, and Senator Sanders is laying that out as he always has, that Medicare for All is the way to go.

LEMON: As a local news reporter who worked in Philadelphia, I can tell you how many live shots I did from Hahnemann Hospital.


LEMON: Your campaign put out a video today showing Vice President Joe Biden telling voters that Medicare for All will kill Medicare in its current form, and also has Senator Sanders accusing Biden of fearmongering. What did the vice president get wrong?

TURNER: Well, the vice president didn't tell the truth. So if you don't tell the truth that means you're lying. He is baiting older voters in this country to make them think that they're going to lose their Medicare for All and nothing can be further from the truth.

Under the Medicare for All plan that Senator Sanders has laid out, as a matter of fact, they will have enhanced coverage. Right now, they don't have the coverage to get hearing aids and dental and vision. Under Medicare for All, they will have that.

How dare the vice president say something like that knowing that Senator Bernie Sanders has been fighting this particular fight for a very long time, his signature issue, that it is both moral and a pocketbook issue, and then for him to fearmonger elders in this country, it's Republican-like and it's unconscionable.

LEMON: I've got get your reaction, Nina, to the president's racist attack against the squad or four progressive female congresswomen. He wants to make them the faces of the Democratic Party. Is he succeeding?

TURNER: Don, it hurts me to my core. You know, as a woman of color, as a black woman in America, it certainly hurts me to my core. You know, he is going to succeed with his base. But it is my sincere hope that this country is ready to unite and overcome a past that is ugly, that is wicked, and to stand up against President Trump who believes that these four women deserve to be treated this way.

They are a symbol for all women of color in this country. If the president is coming for them, he comes for me. If he is coming for them, he comes for all of us. We have to stand in solidarity. This is not about whose side you are in terms of being a Democrat or a Republican. This is on whose side you're on in terms of humanity and the uplift of people in this country.

So the president is wrong all day long. He always has been. And that is why we got to get this man out. He will do absolutely anything, even if it is to stoke the flames of racism and bigotry and sexism, and it is a shame before god, as my grandmother would say.

LEMON: Nina Turner, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

TURNER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: The president claims he is winning against the squad but is racism a winning strategy for anyone? I'll discuss with Fareed Zakaria next.


LEMON: The president refusing to back down from his racist comments against four congresswomen of color and slamming them again and again and again in his campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina tonight.

Let's discuss now. Fareed Zakaria is here, the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." Fareed, thank you so much. We've got to start with what you've been

hearing, what we've been hearing from the president this week. Give me your take on it.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Well, what's striking is the president's defense now. Is that he is -- this is not racist because all he is saying is that these congresswomen are radicals who hate America and constantly criticize it. And what is striking to me about that is the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump was singular, almost unique as a presidential candidate in just constantly trashing America. Donald Trump's message during the 2016 campaign was America is a terrible place.

LEMON: Wasn't great. Make it great again.

ZAKARIA: We're losing out to everybody. Everybody is treating us badly. His inaugural address talked about American carnage.

[23:40:01] LEMON: Right.

ZAKARIA: The rally he is at in Greenville that he's holding where he's talking about these things is still called "Make America Great Again."

LEMON: Right.

ZAKARIA: Meaning we're still not great. So he's allowed to do that and what that tells you, Don, is it is OK for white men to criticize America.

LEMON: Is it OK because he's white?

ZAKARIA: Right. But if you're a black, if you're a young black woman with a funny name or young brown woman with a funny name, shut up and stand in line. That seems to be the message.

LEMON: You have seen I'm sure some of the focused groups that we have been featuring here on CNN, and just the way that they -- they can't see that. They don't understand. What is going on?

ZAKARIA: I think there's a lot of stuff going on. I think that there is a certain part of the population that is very uncomfortable with all of this immigration from unusual places. There is a certain part of the population -- I don't discount the degree to which -- there is also reaction to kind of uppity women, you know?

I mean, this is a country that like much of the world was a patriarchy for a long time. Here you have these very assertive young women who are challenging the existing order.

So there is a lot of stuff going on here. What is true, I think, is that Trump in a very base way understands this and he knows how to scratch that itch.

LEMON: Right.

ZAKARIA: And that's the sad thing. That he actually -- he knows what he's doing and sadly at some level it's working.

LEMON: But it's manipulation. They can't see that they're being manipulated. Maybe they don't care. Maybe they --

ZAKARIA: I think, you know, one of the things that we have come to realize, I think, in the last 10 years is that when people feel anxious for a number of reasons, some of it economic, they go to a place of cultural anxiety.

And that the person -- and this is true in Europe, this is true in the United States -- the person who can -- who can in some way reassure them, you know, about that country, that's why his slogan is make America great again, I'm going to take you back to this world before there were these uppity women, before there were these people of color telling you what's wrong with the country.

LEMON: I want to talk Iran now. The Trump administration just announced that it's preparing to send hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia amid tensions with Iran. You sat down with the Iranian foreign minister, Zarif, who negotiated the nuclear deal with the Obama administration. Some of that interview and then we'll talk.


ZAKARIA (on camera): Do you think that with tensions being as high as they are, there is a possibility of war?

MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER OF IRAN: Well, you cannot simply disregard a possibility of a disaster, but we all need to work in order to avoid one. There is a war going on right now. It's an economic war. An economic war against Iran targets civilian population. And President Trump is on the record saying that he is not engaged in military war but in an economic war.


LEMON: See, this is before you did the interview -- before we announced that we were sending folks, but do you think that the foreign minister is naive to believe that this president doesn't want a war, a military war?

ZAKARIA: No, I think he seems to understand Trump pretty well. He -- his point is that Trump doesn't want war, but he has -- because Trump doesn't want disruption. He doesn't like the idea of oil going to $150. But there are people around Donald Trump, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who clearly at least want extreme confrontation with the regime.

And the part that I think that we all need to pay attention to is they're just amping up the pressure with no strategy in mind, and so in that circumstance, you amp up the pressure. Iran is a serious country. There are hundreds of foreign vessels in the Persian Gulf. Something can go wrong. And that kind of miscalculation then makes it very hard to back down.

And so I think in that sense, there is this kind of thoughtlessness to what Trump is doing, because Trump has never had a strategy toward Iran. You know, as the British ambassador said --

LEMON: So what does he want from Iran?

ZAKARIA: As the British ambassador said, he's only against the Iran deal because Obama signed it.

LEMON: Yeah.

ZAKARIA: So now he doesn't really know what he wants because what he really wants is just the same deal except he wants to be able to call it the Trump deal.


ZAKARIA: And so how do you -- how do you get to that place where you get the same thing that you just rejected?

LEMON: In the short time that we have left, you said he pulled out because it was Obama, we pulled out in May, right? Last May. So then what is our policy? Do we have a current policy with Iran?

ZAKARIA: This is the problem. We don't have a policy in the sense -- Pompeo and Bolton seem to want some kind of regime change. Trump seems to just want -- he keeps saying, all I want is that they don't have nuclear weapons. The Iran deal -- the first paragraph of the Iran deal is Iran says it will -- it declares it will never develop nuclear weapons.

And then there are these massive amounts of detail about how they will be inspected, there will be cameras, they will have their uranium mines inspected, everything.

[23:45:04] So, if that's what his concern is, he had it.

LEMON: Yeah.

ZAKARIA: But it's clear that the only thing that was wrong with the Iran deal was that Barack Obama negotiated it.

LEMON: Fareed Zakaria, it is always a pleasure. Thank you.

Now, I want to get back to our breaking news now. You see the pictures. They are live from San Juan in Puerto Rico. You see demonstrators on the street and also you see police countering those demonstrators.

Leyla Santiago is on the phone from Old San Juan with the breaking news on these protests. Leyla, what's going on? Fill us in.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hey there, Don. So things really escalated very quickly. All of a sudden, we saw things being thrown in both directions. Police released tear gas, as you can hear it in the background. They continue to do so and people just ran.

I mean, we saw people climbing gates trying to get out of what was just a stampede of the Puerto Ricans protesting, demanding the governor's resignation. Excuse me. And they are continuing to push back the crowd, pushing them as -- pushing them --

LEMON: Leyla, stand by. Why don't you stand by one second? Let me fill them in and then you can get some water or something. This is what's happening. So Leyla is there on the scene. She has been pushed back to a place of safety. These crowds of demonstrators flooded on to the streets of Old San Juan.

They are demanding the immediate resignation of the governor, Ricardo Rossello. They want him to step down. And it all began after 900 or so pages of leaked chats from the governor, from the private telegram messenger group, obtained by Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism, were published over the weekend. And the chats were leaked days after the FBI arrested former administration officials in the corruption scandal.

So now you have these people who are out on the streets. They are demanding that the governor step down now. And you've got Leyla, who is in the middle of all of this and again is now at a point -- a safe distance away, who is reporting for us. Leyla, take it away. What do you have?

SANTIAGO (via telephone): Let me tell you exactly where we are. We are about a block away. We have sort of taken refuge in a kind neighbor's home where even in his home we can still feel the tear gas that was just dispersed by the police that were guarding La Fortaleza, which is the governor's mansion.

Again, what we saw was a stampede of people running and yelling all sorts of profanities and anger at the police who were -- who were there. I mean, they -- the police had shields and gas masks and while many of these protesters were prepared for that and had their faces covered, they -- they were running.

And I just -- every chance I get, I want to be clear to make sure I give them a voice in what they say this is about. They say this is more than about chats being leaked or FBI arrests. This is a culmination of things brewing, years of things brewing, and they say enough with the corruption. The governor's got to go, but the governor, Ricardo Rossello, says that's not happening.

LEMON: Leyla Santiago with our breaking news coming to you from Old San Juan in Puerto Rico. We'll continue right after this break. We'll be right back.


LEMON: The president's attacks against four congresswomen of color leading some to wonder who does President Trump consider an American and what does being American mean in the age of Trump.

Joining me to discuss now is Ibram X. Kendi, the author of the new piece in The Atlantic, "Am I an American?" CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley joins us as well.

Gentlemen, good evening. I am so glad to have you on. Ibram, you write about what fuels the racism we are seeing in the president and his supporters. You said, "This blend of nativism, racism, and nationalism is central to Trumpism, to their world view. They view me as, disregard me as, an illegal alien, like those four progressive congresswomen of color. I am tolerated until I am not. I can dine on American soil until I demand a role in remaking the menu that is killing me, like those four progressive congresswomen of color."

Is the president sending a message about who he views as real Americans, Ibram?

IBRAM X. KENDI, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Without question. And I think that's what I try to sort of portray in that piece. That for him, it seems pretty apparent that to be an American is to be white and to be white is to be American. And so people who do not fit in that category, it caused them to question, you know, are they American.

And when you also look at the history in which people have been constantly told particularly people of color, to go back to Africa, to go back to their country. And now, we're told this again from the bully pulpit. It just causes us to question, are we an American?

LEMON: Douglas, you know, the president is repeating that go back message, that go back message at his rally tonight. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey, if they don't like it, let them leave. Let them leave.


TRUMP: Let them leave.


TRUMP: They are always telling us how to run it, how to do this, how to -- you know what? If they don't love it, tell them to leave it.


LEMON: Douglas, we have seen this playbook before.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, we have seen it way too many times in American history, but it's astounding this late in the 21st century to have a president of the United States telling a citizen to leave the country, playing that kind of America love it or leave it, thing that Richard Nixon tried to do in a very low keyed way compared to this. It was sort of a bumper sticker slogan in the 1970s.

Here, we have President Trump just embarrassing our country around the world. It's painful to watch a rally like that. He is xenophobic. He is a racist. He is a nationalist and supports white nationalists. And so 2020 is going to be some kind of election because for a country doubles down on that, we are in trouble.

LEMON: Ibram, in your piece, you also write this. You says, "Am I an American? Blood-red-hatted segregationists say no, never, unless we submit to slavery. Assimilationists say we can he Americans if we stop speaking Spanish, stop wearing hijabs, cut our long hair, stop acting out against them, if we follow their gradual lead."

I mean, this country is founded on the values of diversity and freedom of speech and expression. Do you fell that those values are in danger right now?

KENDI: I feel they are, and I think that's the fundamental problem. We need to really figure out as a nation what is what makes us great, what is what make us the best. To me, it is that diversity. It is for us to recognize that the problems of our society particularly the racial problems of our society is not people, is not racial groups.

LEMON: I'm out of time.

KENDI: It is not people of color.

LEMON: Yeah. I'm out of time, unfortunately, gentlemen. Thank you -- because of the breaking news. Thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us, Ibram and Douglas.

[23:55:02] Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.