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Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Presidential Candidate, Interviewed About His Statement Calling President Trump a White Supremacist; No Friends in Politics; ; Laura's Case On Eric Gardner; Political Impact Of President Donald Trump's Racist Rhetoric. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 2, 2019 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: This president wants this election to be about who is the problem, instead of how we solve our problems.

Think about it. And demand that he and all who want to lead do better than pointing out what's wrong. Hell, we can all do that. Right? We can do that all day. That's easy.

My father told me once any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a good man or woman to build one. What's the plan to improve us? To make our democracy stronger, to make us better. What does a MAGA mean after all. Where's the great in all this hate.

Thank you for watching. CNN Tonight with Laura Coates, the upgrade starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: What a compelling case, Chris, that you just made. It reminds me of the old phrase, history doesn't always repeat but sometimes it rhymes when you describe the idea of some people acting against their self-interest just so that somebody else could be beneath them.

I mean, that's the thing we've heard about from the sharecroppers and the slaves. We've heard about this notion of how we always want to pit people against each other to make sure that somebody is always less powerful. And we're not learning this lesson yet.

CUOMO: Where were you when I was writing this? I needed all that verbiage you just said. It was better than what I had.

COATES: You said it best.

CUOMO: Next time I'm going to have to call you first. Laura Coates, I look forward to the show.

COATES: Thank you.

This is CNN Tonight. I'm Laura Coates, in for Don Lemon tonight.

A new embarrassment for the White House and President Trump. And by the way, another example of the failure of the White House vetting process.

Congressman Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican who the president chose just a few days ago to be the next Director of National Intelligence. Well, he was forced to withdraw his name from consideration even before he was officially nominated.

Sources telling CNN that Trump was privately voicing concerns about whether Ratcliffe would be confirmed and with good reason. Not only were Senate Democrats lining up to oppose his nomination. But one Republican Senate source told CNN that there was no support for Ratcliffe on their side of the aisle either.

There were concerns about his lack of national security experience. And questions about whether he exaggerated his professional background. But incredibly, President Trump ignored those concerns at least publicly, instead blaming Ratcliffe's withdrawal on his target, the media, and stories that were being reported.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I said do you want to go through this for two or three months? Or would you want me to maybe do something else? And he thought about it. I said it's going to be rough. I could see exactly where the press is going. We hadn't started the process and I thought it's easier before we start. But I read thing that were just unfair.


COATES: Unfair or inaccurate or true? President Trump denying that there's an issue with the White House vetting process. But a source tells CNN that Ratcliffe was not properly vetted to lead national intelligence. And once the official flat out says there's no excuse for this mess up.

And we'll look at the big picture tonight with Sarah Westwood, Ryan Lizza, and Max Boot, who is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservativism: Why I Left the Right."

I'm so glad that you're each here. Thank you. Sara, I'll start with you. This is probably the most important position that there is in national security. So, what are you learning about how this nomination really went up in flames?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN REPORTER: Well, Laura, sources tell CNN that even though President Trump was enthusiastically continuing to back Ratcliffe this week amid that steady drum beat of concern from Republicans and Democrats alike he was privately expressing concerns about the ability to confirm Ratcliffe given that over the past few days there had been questions about his experience in the national security and intelligence. About his ability to be independent, his partisan background and even concerns about him potentially embellishing his record.

There had been virtually no vetting done at Ratcliffe. Sources said that President Trump pulled the trigger on nominating Ratcliffe after he watched his performance at the Mueller hearings last week. It's even drawing comparisons to the nomination of Ronnie Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. That's a nomination you'll well remember that went up in flames

because there was no vetting of Jackson. And so, Republicans senators even allies of President Trump had been contacting the White House expressing those worries that he would have a difficult road to confirmation.

Democrats too had vowed to block his nomination, Laura, not in no small part because of those worries about him bringing partisanship into the intelligence community.

COATES: I mean, Max, as Sarah mentioned, Ratcliffe is accused of fabricating parts of his resume. And of course, we have seen the president auditioning people before as they are -- I don't know playing up to him in some way and having that audience of one.

And top Senate -- Senate Republicans didn't even know him. So, how do you think this went so wrong, Max? Is it really about the vetting or was something else at play?

[22:05:02] MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think what it really demonstrates, Laura, is that President Trump shows an outrageous lack of interest in actually doing his job.

The director of national intelligence was a post that was created after 9/11 to prevent another attack on the American homeland. This is one of the most important jobs in the U.S. government. But Trump gave less attention and less foresight to choosing a nominee than he would to choosing an interior decorator for Mar-a-Lago.

He just kind of did it in spur of the moment last Sunday. Politico, for example, reported that he called Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee and said what do you think about Ratcliffe, and Burr said I have no idea, I don't know anything about this guy. let me get back to you.

And then half an hour later Trump tweets it out that he's nominating Ratcliffe. So, he did not give this the kind of consideration that this important job entails and now you're seeing the disaster that occurred.

There's a good reason, Laura, why in the past president's typically did their vetting before announcing a nominee not after to avoid these kinds of catastrophes.

COATES: I don't know. You are saying that he should not actually tweet before one speaks? I mean, they should actually have vetting? I don't know. Well, let's hear for a second, Ryan --


BOOT: I know, it's a novel idea, right?

COATES: It's novel. I don't know what you're talking about. It's crazy town right now, Max.

BOOT: Yes. COATES: But you know, Ryan, --

BOOT: Very old fashioned. Yes.

COATES: Listen to what the president said about his vetting process.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What does this say about the White House vetting process?

TRUMP: Well, you know, you vet for me. I like when you vet. The vetting process for the White House is very good. But you're part of the vetting process. You know. I give out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way.


COATES: Ryan, we both have kids. It's like when your kid says to you, I could tell you the answer. Why don't you give me the answer instead, knowing they haven't actually done the work here? So, Ryan, let the media do the vetting and save money. What?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, he treats this process so cavalierly. You know, look, you know, there have been White Houses that sometimes leak names to the press to see what comes back and, you know, but Trump just relishes in making this process completely public. And frankly, just doesn't care if it ends up humiliating the people who are in contention for these jobs.

So, what does that -- what does that tell you if you are someone who might at this point want to serve in his government? It tells you one, that you're going to be, you know, on your own. And at the first hint of trouble, you're going to be dropped by the president. And that he'll treat this essentially like a game show.

I mean, he doesn't treat the process seriously at all. And look, if the Senate liked this guy, Mitch McConnell will fight for someone that he likes and think is good. Right? There have been nominees who have had serious issues that Senate Republicans pushed through anyway because, you know, for ideological reasons.

But Ratcliffe had no support among Senate Republicans. I mean, forget -- obviously the Democrats. There were no Democrats that were pushing this guy. And that's the real reason that he was thrown overboard at the first hint of trouble.

You know, he exaggerated his resume. He said, you know, he claimed to be some, you know, strong fighter of terrorism when he was a prosecutor. And he exaggerated his resume on this case that dealt with undocumented immigrants and poultry.

Look, if Republicans thought he was a good nominee they would have glossed over that and pushed this guy through. But he was not qualified for the job in the eyes of most Republican senators. COATES: But you know, Max, this is not the first time we've heard

about this, in terms of a growing list -- there is a growing list of high- profile picks that have actually had their names pulled. I mean, including June withdrawal of Patrick Shanahan as Defense secretary. We'd long talk about a vetting problem here.

But why isn't the administration, look at the screen. This list of people who have forced to actually withdraw. Why isn't the administration, Max, learning from its mistakes? They're obviously aware of them.

BOOT: Well, they can't have any kind of normal policy process or vetting process, Laura, because Donald Trump is so averse to anything that smacks of regular order.

I mean, he's always run whatever he's run for most of his life, he was running the Trump organization which was a very small family run company. He's run it kind of, by the seat of his pants. Just kind of waking up one morning and saying this is what I'm going to do, then waking up the next morning and doing something else.

And he's, you know, he has completely averse to being regimented. And he's gotten rid of anybody who has tried to impose any order on him, which is something that, for example, H.R. McMaster, the former national security adviser tried to do. And as a result of that they had a big falling out between him and Trump.

And so, this, you know, it's amateur hour in the White House and it doesn't matter how long Trump stays in office. It will always be amateur hour because he will not learn, he will not change his ways. He will not professionalize. He will not do what previous presidents did.

[22:10:03] And for him kind of breaking China and destroying things is part of the fun of being president. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to pay the cost for that.

COATES: So, Sarah, I mean, Ratcliffe obviously is out now. So, who is Trump looking to nominate now as DNI?

WESTWOOD: Well, Laura, we've heard a couple of names. One of them Fred Fleitz, is the former chief of staff to national security adviser John Bolton. He has a background in the intelligence community. He served in the CIA.

Also, Pete Hoekstra, he is currently the ambassador to the Netherlands who has already been through a Senate confirmation process. There's thinking that he could perhaps be a bit of easier lift for the Senate to confirm. He was also the chairman of the House intelligence committee.

So, again, more of an intelligence backgrounds than John Ratcliffe. But really, there's no clear list of front runners for this position. Ratcliffe was a surprise pick as we've already discussed.

But President Trump has been wanting to replace DNI Coats for months now. Dating back to January, February, he started talking about wanting to see a change in the ODNI.

So, for him to not have a nominee locked and loaded to go and not seriously considering Sue Gordon, the number two at ODNI either, although he praised her earlier today. That's really perplexing a lot of allies at the White House, Laura.

COATES: And making people feel a little less safe, I suspect. Thank you, all.

LIZZA: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: You know, some of the Democratic candidates for president, well, they are trying to position themselves by criticizing the policies of former President Barack Obama, who, by the way, is still one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party. Will the tactic work, or is it a political suicide that may play right into Donald Trump's hands? We'll talk about that, next.


COATES: Criticism levelled against former President Barack Obama's legacy in this weeks' debate. Exposing a rift in the Democratic Party. And for the Republicans, you got a growing exodus which is then creating new questions about diversity. And how it's going to influence the 2020 election.

A lot to discuss tonight. I've got Will Jawando and John Avlon, author of "Washington's Farewell." Nice to see both of you here.

You know, John, I'm seeing you first thing in the morning, so nice to see you late at night as well. Now here you go.

But Will, I'll start with you. You served in the White House with Obama. What are Democrats thinking when they're going after the former president's legacy here?

WILLIAM JAWANDO, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I don't think it's a smart tactic. And I will say that they're not attacking Obama specifically, which is obviously smart when you have someone who is has a 97 percent approval rating, right?

COATES: He's popular.

JAWANDO: Within the Democratic Party. But they are attacking some of the policies.

And the real smart thing to do is to say look, we want to build on the great success of President Obama. You know, it's like we're saying when FDR passed Social Security in 1935 people would say we didn't go far enough. When LBJ passed Medicaid and Medicare in '65 that wasn't far enough.

No. We have taken great strides with the Affordable Care Act, for example. But now we need to cover more people. It's still not right that 28 million Americans don't have insurance. And here's what I want to do to build upon that work. And that's the message I think we need to have. The circular kind of,

firing squad as your lead-in says, I do not think is the right long- term strategy. And I hope that we will see that start to change over the next few debates.

COATES: I mean, John, Will is right. Obama is incredibly popular. He had a 95 percent approval rating in the last year of his presidency. So, are we taking some steps back if you're the Democratic Party? Is it political suicide to attack either Obama or even hint at attacking his legacy?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST & ANCHOR: Look, it's a big mistake for the primary reason that it plays into Donald Trump's reelection play book.


AVLON: He's depending on the narcotic and negative partisanship. He's hoping that folks will ignore what he says and does and instead, focus on the idea that Democrats are radicals, socialists, extremists.

And so, it's a mark of how much the political debate has become a little bit unmoored from the reality of governing. That you saw on the debate a lot of folks takes shots at policies that Obama backed that he advanced under great political heat.

And so, it's just a gut check moment for the Democratic Party. If you want to say that the positions that Barack Obama held are now far outside what's acceptable in the Democratic Party dismissing them as Republican talking points.

The idea that, you know, if you're going to propose a single payer as opposed to public option that even asking how much it might cost is a Republican talking point. That's not a strong sign of having an argument rooted in reality. And it's a danger sign for Democrats going forward.

COATES: Will, I want to go to the GOP now. OK. Because you got eight House Republicans who've said that they won't run for reelection in 2020, including Congressman Will Hurd who is the only black Republican in the House. What happened to the Republicans push for diversity we kept hearing about? Gone?

JAWANDO: Well, I don't know if it really ever was existed. You know, Michael Steele tried to make a push at it. You saw what happened to him. You know, I think Will Hurd and many others are just frustrated.

When you look at the tweets of this president, the silence of the Republican majority in the Senate, for example, and then those in the House. It's hard to standby if you're someone who thinks that every American has an opportunity to succeed and that we all should have the same rights in this country.

And so, I think you have people just saying I can have a bigger impact on the outside. But to the last point, I think, again, this is what we should talk about in the debates. People are trying to take away healthcare. People talking about my home state of Maryland and Baltimore being a disgusting rat-infested city, and meanwhile not giving help to those cities.

So, I think that's what the Democrats should focus on and I think that's why you're seeing Republicans start to step away. Because they are just throwing their hands up and saying, and especially in the swing districts I can't even win anyway.

COATES: So, John, I mean, can Democrats capitalize on this and strengthen their hold on the House in 2020?

AVLON: Of course, they can. All these Republican resignations are an opportunity for Democrats. But they've to be playing the politics of addition not division to do it. This is not a -- we're facing sort of a, it's a republic if you can keep it moment in this upcoming election.

[22:19:57] And so Democrats got to be careful in putting an inclusive vision out there. And for the Democrat -- for the Republican Party, I mean, George W. Bush sincerely reached out. People forget that back Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower that, you know, Ike did very well among the African-American community.

It was the party of Lincoln for a reason. But beginning in 1964 the shift really started to take place and Donald Trump is the most extreme example of that so-called southern strategy. Well, he's not even trying to hide it anymore. The problem is that when good folks leave Congress because they want to have influence on the outside. That's right up there who spend more time with your family.


AVLON: The problem is speaking their mind is a disqualifier within today's Republican Party. So, we need more Republicans to speak their mind and stand up to some of the unacceptable statements emanating from the White House. Realizing that it's a total gutting of whatever claim the Republicans had to being the party of Lincoln. It's deeply divisive. And we need more uniters in politics and less --


JAWANDO: And I don't think it's a coincidence that the four Republicans that spoke out against the president's treatment of four members of Congress all -- some of them have already announced they're resigning. Others are rumored to be resigning. And --


COATES: Quite a coincidence.

JAWANDO: -- it shows the state of the party. Yes.

COATES: I mean, it's a sad day when you have to leave government as a public servant to serve the public. Thank you, gentlemen for both of your time.


COATES: I appreciate your thoughts. My next guest has some very strong words for President Trump.


GOV. JAY INSLEE (D-WA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can no longer allow a white nationalist to be in the White House.


COATES: Presidential candidate Governor Jay Inslee has more to say right after this.


[22:24:56] COATES: As the Democratic presidential field looks to draw a clear contrast between themselves and President Trump, one candidate says the climate crisis is the most pressing issue for 2020.

Governor Jay Inslee of Washington State is offering a detailed plan on how to deal with it. And he joins me now to talk about that and other issues. Welcome, Governor, to the show. It's nice to see you.

INSLEE: Thank you. Thank you.

COATES: Well, it looks good back there in Seattle I see.

INSLEE: It's beautiful. It's gorgeous.

COATES: You know, I want to start with the clip from the debate, if we can. Here are your words.


INSLEE: I think we're missing two central statements we need to make. Number one, we can no longer allow a white nationalist to be in the White House. Number one. Number two --


INSLEE: Number two, we have to make America what it's always been, a place of refuge.


COATES: I want to talk about both of those. You didn't pull any punches with that. Tell me first, why were you compelled to call the president a white nationalist that night?

INSLEE: Well, because the white in White House is meant to stand for virtue to unite us. Rather than trying to inflame the passions of one race of one color. And we have seen this individual who currently occupies that sacred home, build his entire political career on racial animus. He started his career, the only reason he has any identity from a

political standpoint was fanning the racial flames against Barack Obama. You recall he started his political career claiming that President Obama was born in Kenya. An absolute racial smear if there ever was one.

He continued to Charlottesville. Now he's on to Baltimore. You can be assure that at any moment, when this nation could take the virtue and the hopefulness that we found from Abraham Lincoln, instead, we will have the hatred and animus and divisive rhetoric from Donald Trump. Not by accident by the way but intentionally.

This is his intentional act. And that is why it is even darker and more vile. We have to speak against it. And that's why I said what I said. And I standby it.

COATES: Now you have put a really comprehensive detailed plan to deal with the climate crisis. And I know this issue of the climate people are debating the Green New Deal. How are you going to work with Republicans who question the extent or even the existence of climate crisis?

INSLEE: Well, look, the best way to deal with the Republican at least the one in the White House is to defeat him. He has called climate change a hoax where the entire scientific community were using our tax dollars by the way, to pay for the science to show that this is a real threat to our safety.

And by the way, climate change is not just a singular issue, it's all we care about. It's our health. With more people getting Lyme disease and our kids getting asthma. It's our economy. With billions and billions of dollars we're paying through the nose for insurance premiums now because whole towns are burning down.

I went to Paradise, California, the town of 25,000, burnt right to the foundation of Midwest with billions of dollars of losses in our farms. It's our national security.

Look, the Pentagon is telling Donald Trump that we face national security threats because of mass migrations that will occur and occurring already and the climate refugees that we're already seeing.

So, this is something that impacts all of us in every state. And it's only going to get worse. But it is also a huge economic promise. So, the first order of business is to remove Donald Trump where he can't do anymore harm and we got to elect a few members of Congress as well who do not deny the climate.

Now the fact to the matter is, the entire Republican Party now is cowering. They will not stand up against Donald Trump. And if they won't, he just needs to be defeated.

COATES: Well, Governor --

INSLEE: And that the immediate plan. COATES: Well, Governor, I got to ask you, I'm glad you point that

out. People try to compartmentalize climate change and try to separate it from everything else. But it also has a very big impact on communities of color and other underserved communities. What do you propose to do to ensure that environmental injustice does not continue in America and across this globe, frankly, but particularly for communities of color?

INSLEE: Well, what we know is the first victims of the climate crisis are frequently communities of color of poverty indigenous communities. I've seen them across the country in Detroit. I met with the folks predominantly black community in zip code 48217. They live next to refineries. As a result, their kids have terrible epidemics of asthma.

I've talked to people in Florida with heat problems. I've talked to people in the west who can't breathe because of the smoke from the fires.

[22:29:58] So this is a health issue. So, I've embedded environmental justice in all of my climate plans to defeat the climate crisis. And I think this is an opportunity to restore racial equity and reducing income inequality, because we can put 8 million people to work in union jobs. Rebuilding the infrastructure of this nation. This is an economic development opportunity. It's a good news story as well.

If we seize the vision statement that I have, that is unique amongst all the candidates. It is unique and by the way, if you share my view on this. I hope you go to and make sure that if you can send in a buck to make sure I remain on the debate stage. We need to keep climate change on the debate stage in the Democratic process. I'm committed to that.

COATES: Governor Jay Inslee, thank you for your time. We'll be right back.

INSLEE: Thank you very much.


[22:35:00] COATES: It's been just over five years. Five years since Eric Garner's death. Five years since he was pulled to the ground by a police officer. Five years since he gasped for air. Five years since these final moments.


ERIC GARNER, DIED IN STATEN ISLAND: I'm minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please leave me alone. Please don't touch me.


I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COATES: Every time I see that video. I see a human being on the

ground like that. He said I can't breathe. Eleven times. Eleven times. Today, the first step toward justice for the Garner family. In a NYPD court hearing, a judge recommended Officer Daniel Pantaleo should be fired. Pantaleo is accused of using a choke hold on Mr. Eric Garner. A tactic that was prohibited by department guidelines. Now through his attorney, Pantaleo maintained today that not only did he do nothing wrong, he acted the way he was taught to act.

Pantaleo has been on desk duty since Garner's death. But, effective today, he is suspended. New York City police union president, Patrick Lynch just calling today's decision ludicrous.


PATRICK LYNCH, NEW YORK CITY POLICE UNION PRESIDENT: Today is one of the saddest and the most damaging days in the history of New York City and the New York City Police Department. I'm sorry to say that we have to tell our police officers take it a step slower. Make sure we're thinking. Make sure you're making decisions in seven seconds. Because you won't get backing.


COATES: You're sorry to say you have to tell a police officer to think? And to slow down and make a good decision? That is was ludicrous here? Well, Eric Garner's children joined CNN Brick earlier today. Here are their words.


EMERALD SNIPES-GARNER, DAUGHTER OF ERIC GARNER: Eric Garner is gone. I can never get my father back. Do us a favor as family and make this right. Justice for Eric Garner will be fired at Pantaleo. Standing with the family of Eric Garner who suffered for the past five years. Stand with the children and grandchildren of Eric Garner. Who have been suffering for five years, make the right decision. And fire this officer.


COATES: Well, the decision was made. Remember just last month. The Justice Department after years of back and forth in the civil rights division at the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney Office of New York. They announced that they would not be pursuing federal charges against Pantaleo. Now in case that stretched over not one, but two Democratic appointed attorneys general the final decision was actually reached by President Trump's Attorney General William Barr.

The family did filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of New York. And they've reached about a $5.9 million settlement. Meanwhile, Pantaleo on desk duty remained on the NYPD payroll. But this case is bigger than one tragic incident. It galvanized a movement. When the news came out that a grand jury would not indict the officer just five months after Garner died, it triggered massive protests against New York City. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: (CHANTING) I can't breathe!


COATES: That chant, the I can't breathe. It became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter Movement, all across this country. At this week's CNN democrat debates, activists called on New York City mayor and 2020 Democratic hopeful Bill De Blasio to take action.


BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY MAYOR, 2020 U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our country and to make sure it's a country that puts working people first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you Mayor De Blasio. Senator Michael Bennett.

CROWD: (CHANTING) I can't breathe!


COATES: You're hearing them say fire Pantaleo. Did he hear it? Well, he confirmed that he heard those protestors loud and clear at the debate. Saying today --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you agree that he should be fired?

[22:40:00] DE BLASIO: Again, what I'm talking about today is a fair and impartial process has occurred. That is all I have to say.


COATES: That is all you have to say? That's surprising given at the debate you demanded a straight answer from other candidate when they were asked direct questions. I consider your answer just now is straight answer. And by the way, neither does his daughter, Emerald Garner.


E. GARNER: He still hasn't said that Pantaleo has done something wrong. So, De Blasio you're talking in circles. That is just how I feel about it. A judge has said that he has done something wrong. You should be saying, I agree with that judge. And he needs to be fired. That is what I would like to hear for De Blasio to say.


COATES: So, Mr. Mayor, why won't you make a call? Or at least acknowledge that aspect of it. What's left in this long drawn out process where you're sitting idly on the sideline? As for Mr. President Trump he was also asked about the case today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it's in a process right now. I know the case very well. It's a very sad situation. It's really -- it's heartbreaking. But that is in the process right now. So, I'm not going to get involved in that process. As you know, they're going to be making a final decision against over the next 10 days. So, I won't interfere with the process.


COATES: Forgive me while I blink this through. This president says that he won't interfere with an investigative process. Well, this is coming from the president who told police officers back in 2017, don't be too nice when making arrests. The White House wrote it off as a joke at the time. Remember that? When the president said this a sad situation heartbreaking.

You have to ask, is he talking about Mr. Eric Garner? The man who was no longer alive. And told you he couldn't breathe 11 times. Or is the law and order president talking about officer Pantaleo? Now the question of Pantaleo future falls to the NYPD commissioner. As we are all awaiting his decision, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. If Eric Garner were white, would he still be alive today? Would the police maybe have interacted with him a little bit differently?

Our society continues to deal with institutional racism and implicit and explicit bias. I believe the deference that was given to Officer Pantaleo is really the embodiment of that. And it was at the expense of an African American man's life. At the expense of a human being life. Remember, Garner, unarmed. Was allegedly selling loose cigarettes outside of a beauty supply store. Before he was confronted by Officer Pantaleo. There was no allegation of a violent crime. Nobody was in danger. No one was in harm's way. I take that back.

Except for the man who told you eleven times that he could not breathe. So again, in that situation, what's wrong with taking things a step slower to deescalate that was not a violent crime or occurrence? And the police union has the audacity to have a problem with telling an officer to take it a step slower. Take it a step slower. Well, here's what slow looks like.

Slowly being deprived of oxygen to the brain. Slow is five years to just suspend an officer. Who could not be bothered to take a second to think? To slow down and acknowledge that a human being, a father, a son, a man. Was dying in an unauthorized choke hold. And now, the clock begins again. We wait for the New York City police commissioner, James O'Neil to decide officer Pantaleo's employment fate, but for Eric Garner and his family, that fate was decided five years ago.

And as for justice, it's not just Pantaleo who has been suspended. We are all still in suspense. We'll be right back.

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) COATES: Words and actions matter. President Trump continues to use

racist rhetoric in criticizing certain Americans and communities of color in general. Yet, he calls himself the least racist person in the world. So let's listen to the president in his own words.


TRUMP: 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.

Look at my African American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest?

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.

You had very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people. On both sides.


COATES: On both sides. But where do we stand when racist language flows from the highest office in the land? And how does it impact our politics? Let's discuss now with Scott Jennings, Tara Setmayer and Bakari Sellers. Good to have each and every one of you here today. Thank you. Bakari, I'll start with you.

[22:50:00] I want to read a piece from Elaina Plott in the Atlantic and it's called, "We're all tired of being called racist." She spoke with Trump supporters at the president's rally in Cincinnati just last night. Who don't like being called racist, but quote, rather than distancing them from Trump, the accusations have only seemed to strengthen their support of this president. To back down they suggested would be, to bow down to the scourge of political correctness.

So, Bakari, you've heard this now, who actually wins this argument?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, I mean, it's an unfortunate tenor and tone and it's unfortunate that we're at this place in this country at this moment. Let me say a few things. First, racism was here long before Donald Trump is going to be here long after Donald Trump. That's first. Second, Donald Trump is a racist. And third, I think that it's incumbent upon all of us and this may sound cheesy, but I find it to be true, that we have to love our neighbors, even when they don't love us. And so, I don't think every single supporter of Donald Trump or voter for Donald Trump is racist.

I do believe they're complicit and I do think that they set aside his racism, his bigotry and xenophobia and I think that is a problem. Until people stand up to this, until people say that this is not who we are or we are better than this, then yes, you are complicit. And yes, a lot of the problems that we are having in this country when it deals with the tone and tenor race, they follow the trail up as well.

COATES: So, are you saying, Bakari, that when they say, look, we were tired of being called racist, your argument is really, well, then, stop being complicit in racism and people will stop calling you that?

SELLERS: Yes. I mean, I think that we -- I mean, listen, the fact is there are many of us out here who want to appeal to the better angels of our nature to quote Lincoln. But you know, you have to stand up. This is not for me and you to call out or Tara to call out at a certain point. I mean, there have to be white people in this country, particularly the white college educated women and white women who voted 53 percent for Donald Trump and white male evangelicals who still support him and prom him up. I mean, racism has been around for a long time, we had been called all types of names, but people have to stand up, people of goodwill and good conscience have to stand up and they can do that with no regards to their tax breaks, I mean --

COATES: Well, it's that end, Bakari. It's that end, Joe Lockhart did speak up on this issue. And Scott, I want to bring you in here, because he is the former White House press secretary under Bill Clinton and he tweeted earlier this week that anyone who supports a racist or a racist strategy is a racist themselves. In 2020, he writes, is a moment of reckoning for America. Vote for Donald Trump and you are a racist, he writes. Don't hide it like a coward. Wear that racist badge proudly and see how it feels.

Scott, I'll ask you, how will this play with Trump voters, given what Bakari Sellers has just talked about the idea of complicitness at about who's obligation is to speak out?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if this is the added to the message that Democrats are going to carry in the 2020 presidential election, I think they're going to be disappointed with the results. I saw Joe's tweet and I saw him talk about it on television and I thought about, how many millions of people switched their vote from Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump in 2016.

There had been three studies on this and somewhere between six and half and 10 million people, depending on what they to say that you want to look at and I'm wondering to myself if Democrats are going to go knocking on doors in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and Michigan and saying, listen, you can stop being a racist, if you will just agree to vote Democrat today, they're going to come away with a lot of slammed doors and broken noses, because Americans don't view their elections that way, they don't view it their votes that way and they don't want to be condescended to that way. And so, yes, I think that message, as well of a lot of Democrats want to do, but I think they are going to be sorely disappointed with the results in middle America, if that is the directions they choose to go.

COATES: Well, Tara, I want to bring you expertise here. You're a strategist as well and you have a lot of experience here in this issue. I want to ask you, you know, Donald Trump Jr. was addressing a Cincinnati rally. And he said that using racism has become the easy go-to button of left-wing politics, essentially what's got his talking about the notion of, if this is your go-to, it's not going to go very far. What's your response to that?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, in the past the progressive left would throw the word racism out and a lot of times that it wasn't necessarily appropriate, right? It was kind of the way to shut down the argument. And as a Republican over the years, depending on the issue, I'd be like, come on, you are guys are really overusing the race card.

Sitting here today, I don't agree with that anymore. The fact that we're dealing with someone like Donald Trump who has clearly demonstrated blatant racism, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said that Donald Trump, textbook racism when he went after Judge Curiel. And the list is very long and has grown longer since Paul Ryan said that in June of 2016. I look at it like this. These people who are whining about they don't want to be called racist anymore, well, then maybe you shouldn't be supporting a racist and no one will accused you of that, to Bakari's point.

[22:55:04] You cannot stick here. To Scott's point, maybe back in 2015 and 16, when Donald Trump's racism wasn't as blatant to some people, even though his record was pretty clear, but even then you could say, all right, he is irreverent, he is racially insensitive, you can make excuses.

COATES: An equal opportunity offender I think was the phrase always used here.

SETMAYER: Right, in 2019, you cannot say that anymore, you cannot make excuses. So, if you don't want to be then don't associate or you don't care. You're telling people of color in this country that you don't care, that your tax break is more important, that you are whatever offense you think that Donald Trump is fighting on your behalf or all of those things are more important than the fact that there's an immoral racist in the White House.

COATES: I have to leave it there, Tara. I wish to hear from all of you again, but thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.