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CNN TONIGHT

Hate Crimes In America Rise To An Alarming Level; More Talks On Reforming Gun Laws But No Action; Julian Castro (D-TX) Is Interviewed About Gun Laws And The Recent Mass Shootings In Two Different States; President Donald Trump Commended Authorities And Law Enforcement; Donald Trump's Statements Today Rang Hollow To Many. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 5, 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: It treats people like a pestilence. And you wind up having someone like this bastard who killed these people in here used the same language. And now we wanted to say just he owns it because he never heard it anywhere else, right? He never felt empowered by any source of power, right?

So when this president says we have to speak in one voice. He's right. But that one voice should start with his own. And it should be an echo of him in all ways not just generalities about hate. Name the white nationalist. Do it often like you do with brown people.

These haters here you would give some confidence so discourage them. And your supporters should think about not calling yourselves nationalists because the term is stained with the blood of innocence over our history. That's what nationalism is.

And don't show me a dictionary entry because I will show you nearly two dozen bodies that defines the term for me and that's just here in El Paso.

You are right to say we must come together. You and our leaders in Congress must start take us to a better place. Pass the laws to protect us from these white nationalist terrorists. Do what the people call for. Make us safer from guns in the wrong hands. Come back, do your job. Keep our hearts from breaking. Please.

Thank you for watching our coverage. It continues now with Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT."

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Good message, very heartfelt message and right on the mark. And I have to say this incumbent upon lawmakers. And you always tell lawmakers, Chris, you're always calling them out and you're saying to do their damn job. Those are your words. And I think you're exactly right about that.

But we've also called on this president to say the words that he finally said today. But they ring hollow when he coddles white supremacists or domestic terrorism or those who perform those acts.

So, listen, I hope that this makes a difference, but how many times have you and I have been sitting here on television saying well, I hope this one changes things. I hope this one changes things. And then nothing happens.

CUOMO: I hear you. But I got a hope on his. Couple of reasons. One, El Paso is a special place. I've been here many times over the years. I know that it's a really hot issue right now. But whether or not the president comes, I know people are angry here because they believe the president doesn't believe in them. I get it. I feel it. I understand it.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He says he's coming.

CUOMO: But if he does come, and he sees these people and he sees how they're like this, Don. This is how they are. And each of the fingers is Hispanic, white, Christian, you know, Episcopalian Catholic, whatever. They have all come together.

If he sees that, if he sees the richness of the diversity in a place that has low crime, high commerce and incredible community. Maybe it will remind him that us versus is not worth it. It's all about we.

Because I'll tell you, this hater picked the wrong city to make an example of because it makes all the right points about what makes America great.

LEMON: And a beautiful city of immigrants. People from all over. People who are from who come from their families come from below the southern border. And they're not invaders. They're not a brown menace. They're loving people who live in a community that they love and take care of and that they cherish just like anybody else. Like white people. OK?

Let's just be honest about that. Just like the people who support him. Just like any Trump supporter, white, black, Hispanic or whatever. Those people are the same. They love their country; they love their families. They have their struggles; they go to church on Sundays.

They go out and buy school supplies, and sadly, this time they were caught in the middle of a deadly melee by a terrible person, misguided person who sadly had access to a very powerful weapon that he should not have access to.

CUOMO: Listen, the gun piece is complicated because of how politicized it's become. It needs to be negotiated. It needs buy in from both sides. That's why I was so happy to have a Republican Congress member come on tonight, Adam Kinzinger with some common sense ideas.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: He's on an island.

CUOMO: But this piece -- I know. But look, that's OK. You got to start somewhere. This piece is easy, though, Don. Treating these white nationalists as the terrorists that they are when they act out in violence in furtherance of a political agenda. That's easy. Who is going to fight the other side of that? Why are they saying

bring up the left, too. There's no right and left. They're all just haters. Treat them all as terrorists when they act this way. That's an easy start.

LEMON: Remember the conversation -- I've got to run, but remember the conversation we had about this very subject before Christopher Wray came out and you and I on television we got -- we got a lot of flak for it.

And now this is one of those things where you don't want to say I told you so. But there it is right in front of your face. Chris, you did a fantastic job. Continue to do that job and I'll see you tomorrow. You take care. I'll see you soon.

CUOMO: OK.

[22:05:01] LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

We're a nation and we're horrified by senseless violence right now. Senseless violence that has killed 31 people in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Think about that, 31 people.

Gun violence is happening over and over and over again. The president did address the daily violence today. But so did former President Barack barrack Obama whom we rarely hear from. Their responses to the violence a study in contrast and it's worth taking a look at it together.

Here's part of what President Trump who has repeatedly said racist things painted immigrants as criminals and talk about, quote, "invasions of our southern border." Here's what he said about the back to back massacres. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: This president has trafficked in racism, espoused bigotry, and resisted condemning white supremacy. Right up until the shootings he was using racism as an electoral strategy.

We have the measure of this man. We know the measure of this man. Did he own that? Of course not. The president blames the mass shootings on violence in our society where he refers to as gruesome video games and on people suffering mental health problems.

We know the suspected killer in El Paso was targeting Hispanic immigrants and Hispanic-Americans aiming to stop what he apparently refers to as the Hispanic invasion of Texas. More of the president from today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We can, and will stop this evil contagion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But one thing the president is failing to acknowledge his own divisive and racist rhetoric against undocumented immigrants.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: This is an invasion. When you see these caravans starting out with 20,000 people that's an invasion. I was badly criticized for using the word invasion. It's an invasion. And it's also an invasion of drugs coming in from Mexico. OK? It's an invasion of drugs.

These are rough, rough people, in many cases. And if they're allowed to breakthrough our borders, only larger and bigger, we have emboldened these people. It's not going to happen.

Yes, sir we have barb wire going up because you know what? We're not letting these people invade our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: It sounds like ugly and divisive rhetoric to me. Tagging all undocumented immigrants as -- at the border as criminal. But in the wake of the mass murder the president saying this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Cultural change is hard. But each of us can choose to build a culture that celebrates the inherent worth and dignity of every human life. That's what we have to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Who wrote that? Have you ever met this president? Have you ever the president? Whoever wrote that. Have you met President Trump? The President Trump who recently attacked four congresswomen of color who battles politic, his policies? Claiming they came from other countries?

Falsely it turns out in the case of three of the women who are American born. Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia but is now a naturalized American citizen.

Still he tweeted this. "Why don't they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came?" Infested. Where have we also heard Trump use that word? Right. In his attack on Congressman Elijah Cummings, an African-American who represents Baltimore.

The president tweeting and I quote again, "Cummings' district is a disgusting rat and rodent-infested mess. If he spends more time in Baltimore maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous and filthy place."

Notice the pattern here? The president repeatedly uses words such as infested, rats, rodents, broken, crime, filthy, against brown and black people. Including brown undocumented immigrants trying to come to America to escape violence and seek a better life.

[22:09:55] In his remarks today, the president also failed to acknowledge the elephant in the room, the availability of deadly weapons of war in this country.

Look at your screen. Take a look. It's the weapon used by the gunman in Dayton to kill nine people and injure many more. But the president did say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We must seek real bipartisan solutions. We have to do that in a bipartisan manner. That will truly make America safer and better for all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Ok. So, here's the -- here are the facts. It turns out the House passed what's called a Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019 back in February, designed to tighten background checks on those who buy guns.

Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican controlled Senate, won't even bring it to the floor for a vote. Did you hear that? They passed it. Mitch McConnell won't even bring it to the floor for a vote. You elected him. You have a voice. Do something. And President Trump vowed to veto it anyway.

So, we know from his words and from his deeds the value of his statement today. Well, another president gave a statement later in the day. And notice the difference in tone from former President Obama.

"Michelle and I agree with all the families in El Paso and Dayton who endure these latest mass shootings. Even if details are still emerging, there are a few things we already know to be true.

First, no other nation on earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States. No other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do.

Every time this happens, we're told that tougher gun laws won't stop all murders; that they won't stop every deranged individual from getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places.

But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings. They can save some families from heartbreak. We are not helpless here. And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening."

He's right. We are not helpless. Believe me, I know it seems that way right now. More from President Barack Obama statement. "Second, while the

motivations behind these shootings may not yet be fully known, there are indications that the El Paso shooting follows a dangerous trend. Troubled individual who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy.

Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone but they've been radicalized by white nationalist web sites that proliferate on the internet. That means that both law enforcement agencies and internet platforms need to come up with strategies to reduce the influence of these hate groups."

On that, he and Trump agree, the president saying today that he has asked the FBI to investigate and disrupt hate groups and domestic terrorism.

But then, former President Obama points his finger right in the direction of President Trump. Here's the final part of the statement.

"But just as important, all of us have to send a clarion call and behave with values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy. We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that these feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don't look like us or suggest that other people including immigrants threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as subhuman or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people.

Such language is isn't new. It has been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It has no place in our politics and in our public life.

And it's time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much - clearly and unequivocally."

[22:15:07] No doubt millions of Americans have been waiting for Barack Obama to call out President Trump's divisive and racist dangerous rhetoric. He didn't call him by name. But could anyone have any doubt who he means? Who he's talking about?

When he was in the White House, President Barack Obama was also forced to deal with mass shootings, such as the murders of children at the school in Sandy Hook.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: So, all of us need to demand the Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobbies lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Then as today, he called on Congress to pass sensible gun legislation. It did not.

President Trump denouncing racism and bigotry but pointedly ignoring any mention of his own divisive rhetoric. Kirsten Powers, Adam Serwer, Max Boot will discuss next.

[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump pointing the finger every which way but inward today as he declared that hate has no place this America. This, as the death toll climbed to 31 in this weekend's mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

The president blaming violent video games, mental illness, dark corners of the internet, and a culture promoting violence.

I want to bring in now Kirsten Powers, Adam Serwer, and Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

Good evening, one and all.

Kirsten, the president reading off of a teleprompter, condemned racism, he condemned white supremacy. But at rallies in his tweets, he says things that fuel those beliefs.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

LEMON: And people who support them. We have seen this pattern before.

POWERS: Right. I mean, it's the arsonist coming and saying they want to help put out the fire. Right? He's the one who created the fire in the first place.

I mean, the fact that El Paso is the place that he went to and demagogued and lied about this city, you know, I think at a minimum makes him feel some sort of culpability.

But if you just look at all of the, you know, the various ways he has demagogue, used racial demagoguery to dehumanize anybody really that isn't white frankly. You know, I think that there's no question that he is not in a position to be claiming, to be condemning, you know, white supremacy.

The other thing about the mental health thing is the only time Republicans bring up the issue of mental health is to use it to sort of defend a shooting. They don't ever bring it up in any other context, they don't want to do anything to help people who have mental health problems.

They want to repeal health insurance for people who have mental health problems. And whatever the role mental health may play in some of these shootings, the fundamental driver in a lot of the shootings that we have seen recently is an ideology. It's a white supremacist ideology and it's a gun.

LEMON: I'm glad you mention that because I just want everyone to know to get this clear when we talk about all of this.

There was a study, recent study shows that about 4 percent of murders are done by the mentally ill. They are more apt to harm themselves than someone else.

POWERS: Right.

LEMON: And so, I just feel it is inappropriate to make them the scapegoats. I think there are lot of -- lots of factors that go into this. We should try to study them all. But to make the mentally ill, you know, someone who is suffering some mental issue a scapegoat for the shootings I think is inappropriate at this point.

Adam, we didn't hear anything today from the president about his own rhetoric. All of this is belied by the fact that he has been pursuing a 2020 strategy based on division.

ADAM SERWER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Right. Well, he did this in 2018 and he's doing it now. And his advisers will run to the press and tell anyone who will listen that this strategy of racial division is a brilliant strategy.

Well, as long as he relies on that strategy, then he can't meaningfully condemn white nationalism. As long as his reelection strategy centers around scaring white people about the presence of people who have different ethnic backgrounds or are of different faiths in the country, then he cannot meaningfully repudiate hate in the fashion that he attempted to do this morning.

LEMON: Max, I just wanted to read from your op-ed. You end with this. You say, "You will lead our country to destruction, Mr. President, unless you act to curb gun violence and your own hateful rhetoric."

So, let's talk about that intersection that you see between the availability of assault weapons in this country and the president's rhetoric.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think that's the nexus, Don where the slaughter is happening in the American streets. We have way too many guns in this country. We have something like 400 million guns for 330 million people. We have something like 10 million assault weapons in this country, the favored gun of these shooters.

And so, you have -- you've had mass shootings in America for decades. And they have been growing in numbers, at the same time, in the last few years. you have an increase in white supremacist ideology, which is being fueled from the Oval Office.

You are seeing incitement and hate mongering from the Oval Office. And you see no desire to regulate guns from the Oval Office. So, basically, Donald Trump is responsible for spewing hatred, spewing inciteful racist rhetoric and he is also responsible for being utterly subservient into the NRA. Refusing to do anything to establish even the most common sensical gun regulations like the background checks that are supported by 90 percent of voters.

[22:25:00] And so, having, you know, Don, all these things to contribute to this problem, to contribute to the slaughters in our streets he cannot now stand back and say I condemn racism and white supremacy, I condemn racism, I condemn violence. He has not done anything to stop any of those problems. And in fact, he is making them worse.

LEMON: Kirsten, you know, we talk about the mental illness piece. And I think that, you know, I wonder if the president and his allies are conflating hate and mental illness.

But think about this. In other countries, they have mental illness.

POWERS: Right.

LEMON: That rates that are, you know, not too different than here in the United States. But they don't have access to guns. We know what happened in New Zealand. How do we fix this and why do we choose not to?

POWERS: Well, I think the why do we choose not to is a really important question. I mean, there's a real sickness in this country. That something is profoundly deeply wrong that people believe that they have a right to own weapons of war, and that people act like, and when I say people, I mean, a lot of our leaders act like -- like, this just happens everywhere. And there's nothing we can ever do about it. When in fact, the rest of the world doesn't live like this.

So, you know, we don't actually need to live this way and why people believe that they have a right to own these guns, I think it's something that really needs to be addressed. Because when you talk to people -- I mean, I even have had conversations with people that tell me that they should be able to have this because they like it because it's a toy.

And they like to go and play with their toy. And I was like, you know what. sorry, you don't get to have a toy that is going to potentially mow down, you know, a bunch of school children or a bunch of people in a mall.

And so, I think that that's something that we have to talk about. And then I think -- I think there should be a buy back.

LEMON: Yes.

POWERS: I mean, I think that there's no question that that's what should we be doing.

LEMON: Adam, really quickly, I just have a couple seconds left. Sorry about that.

There was no question who the former president was talking about today in his statement.

SERWER: I think that's probably accurate. But I think that the president was trying to walk a fine line between reminding President Trump that he has power through his bully pulpit and adhering to the tradition that presidents do not criticize their successors.

LEMON: Thank you, Adam. Thank you, Max. Thank you, Kirsten. I appreciate it.

SERWER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Presidential Candidate, Julian Castro calling out President Trump and his divisive rhetoric in the wake of this week's mass shooting and he's got more to say. And he'll be here next.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In a 10 minute prepared speech addressing the deadly mass shootings, President Trump praised law enforcement while condemning racism, bigotry, and white supremacy despite his own racist remarks. The closest he came to any sort of gun control proposal was a call to enact red flag laws, which would allow law enforcement officials to restrict firearm access to anyone believed to be a risk to public safety.

Let's discuss now. Democrat presidential candidate Julian Castro, the former Mayor of San Antonio is here.

Thank you for joining us. I appreciate it. So just a short time after President Trump's speech, the NRA tweeted out support for the president, calling out -- in calling out mental illness' role in mass shootings. What does it tell you when the nation's preeminent gun advocacy and lobbying group is on the same page as the White House?

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is just a coordinated, cheap denial by the president and by the NRA, meant as a distraction. Now, I don't doubt that in some of these instances the person had an issue with mental health. Although, I do believe that the bigger driver of these types of incidents that we have seen over the last couple of years has been white supremacy, an ideology that has been fostered by this president.

You know, this president wants to talk about mental health. He wants to talk about video games, other things, doesn't want to talk about the fact that we need common sense gun safety legislation. And he never talks, in genuine terms, about the scourge of white supremacist ideology. He mouths the words. He did that today. But you can tell just watching him that he didn't mean it.

This reminded me of his comments after what happened in Charlottesville, the second round of comments where he was trying to clean up the fact that he didn't immediately condemn those neo-Nazis. He had no feeling in it, because he doesn't really mean it. And he has based his entire political career on fanning the flames of bigotry and division and hate. And I don't think he's going to go back now. I think that's his political strategy for 2020, unfortunately. LEMON: CNN is learning new details about the Dayton shooter's social

media presence, where it appears that he re-tweeted extreme left wing posts and expressing support for Antifa. He also liked several tweets about the El Paso shooting, the El Paso shooting. Are you concerned that this is as a possible motive?

CASTRO: Yes. I mean I look forward to more information coming out on what motivated the Dayton shooter. You know, we have seen a lot of right wing extremists. We've also seen some left wing extremists. And we shouldn't be afraid to call that out. What we need to concern ourselves with in this country is extremism in all of its forms.

It's clear, though, that you have a frequency of white supremacist ideology that is manifesting itself. It's showing itself in terms of these lone gunmen shooters who carry out these types of acts, whether it's the shooter in Charleston at the Mother Emanuel AME Church or what happened in El Paso.

LEMON: Listen. You're running for president. So I have got to ask you. Let's talk policy here. You're calling for common sense gun reform. What specific actions do you want to see done?

CASTRO: This is what we need to do as a country. Number one, we need universal background checks to make sure people that who should not have a weapon don't get one. Secondly, we need to limit the capacity of magazines. That shooter in Dayton, he had a drum that I think had 100 rounds as a capacity. That's why he's able to fire off 30 shots or so in a heartbeat. We need to limit those.

[22:34:57] Third, we need to renew the Assault Weapons Ban. As many people have said, these AR15s and similar weapons should not be on the street. That's not what they're meant for. We can also do things like invest in the Department of Justice's ability to root out the extremism and to stop it before it shows itself as one of these shooting incidents. I think we need to do all of those things.

LEMON: Julian Castro, always appreciate speaking with you. Thank you so much.

CASTRO: Good to be with you, Don.

LEMON: Another presidential candidate is speaking out on CNN. Joe Biden telling Anderson Cooper that he thinks white supremacists are winning the battle for the soul for the nation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:39:54] LEMON: At times of unbelievable tragedy, Americans look to their leaders to be presidential, embracing the responsibility of assuring all of us. President Trump's words today, they rang hollow to many, in light of his use of divisive language. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat frontrunner discussing the direction of the country under President Trump in a sit down interview with Anderson Cooper.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You entered the campaign saying that this is, in your opinion, a battle for the soul of the nation. Given the violence of the last couple of days, who is winning the battle?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The white supremacists. They're winning the battle. This is domestic terrorism. Look, when those folks came out of the fields in Charlottesville and their veins bulging and I mean just coming out from under the rocks carrying torches (Inaudible) bile that was spewed in Europe and Germany in the 30s, accompanied by white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and a young woman gets killed and the president gets asked.

Well, tell us about what you think. He said there are very fine people on both sides. For God's sake, no president ever said that, and he since continued it.

COOPER: You talked about Charlottesville being the defining moment. Do you see this as another defining moment?

BIDEN: Absolutely. You know, it's a continuation. I mean this is a president who continues to speak in ways that just are completely contrary to everything who we are. I mean referring to immigrants as, you know, Mexicans, as rapists, and talking about, you know the rats in Baltimore. I mean the way he talks about people.

COOPER: Do you blame the president in part for what happened in El Paso?

BIDEN: I don't. What I do is his rhetoric contributes to this notion that it almost legitimates people coming from the under the rocks. I mean this is white nationalism. This is terrorism of a different sort. But it's still terrorism.

COOPER: Beto O'Rourke has said that he believes the president is a white nationalist. Do you?

BIDEN: Well, let me put it this way. Whether he is or not, he's sure is using the language of and contributing to the kinds of things that they say. The idea that this guy in El Paso talked about what he's going to do is going to keep -- paraphrasing, keep these folks from South America, these Latinos and Mexicans -- from polluting America, from overtaking our society, and wiping out, you know, who we are as -- it's just the kind of thing that the president contributes to.

And for the first time, today, the first time I have ever heard him say he condemns white supremacy, white terrorism.

COOPER: Do you think the president's response to El Paso would have been different, in terms of what he was calling for, if the shooter was Muslim or an undocumented immigrant.

BIDEN: Are you kidding? The fact of the matter and my guess is he would be calling for -- anyway.

COOPER: You think it would be. BIDEN: I think it would be. And I think that we're talking about

here is look at the way he talks about Muslims. Look at the way he talks about immigrants. Look at the way he talks about people of color. Look at the way he talks about them. He talks about them almost in subhuman terms. He talks about people of different races and background as if somehow we were -- look, you can't define what an American is based on ethnicity, on race, on religion, on background.

There's only one thing that unites us, only one, an agreement on the basic formation of this government, which is we hold the truths. All men are created equal. We never live up to it. But it's that notion, that notion that holds together. How else do you define an American? Other than a commitment whether they talk about it in terms of the Constitution or not, the idea that everybody has a chance.

Everybody should have an equal chance in the country. And given a chance they can do something. That's who we are as a nation. We -- America is an idea. It's an idea. It's bigger than any damn ocean, more powerful than an army. Only thing that can undermine America, defeat America is America itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Words from former Vice President, Joe Biden. Dan Rather is here. We're going to talk about all of this and more.

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: In his scripted speech after the deadly shootings, President Trump blamed the Internet, mental illness, video games, and a culture that promotes violence. What the president did not do was take any blame for anything or promise to change his heated rhetoric. Joining me now to discuss is Mr. Dan Rather. Thank you, sir.

DAN RATHER, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: Good evening.

RATHER: Good to see you. So I want to read this, because before his prepared remarks, President Trump tweeted blaming the media for the anger and rage in this country. And just after his speech -- this is what you tweeted. I've been wanting to talk about this. You said to my fellow members of the press, I suggest we refrain from quoting the president's words from prepared speeches and the headlines and tweets without context.

He sometimes says the right thing. The real questions are what he does and what he really believes. So you have been watching this all along. What does he really believe?

RATHER: He believes that fear conquers. That's his basic belief. He's all about fear. You know, Don, this moment in our history, which I want to make clear, I am here with a strong sense of compassion and grieving for all those families who suffered in these most recent shootings. But this moment in history reminds me a great deal of when I was covering the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King in the 60s. [22:50:02] It was clearly, definitively right and wrong. That was

the truth of the situation. Then and now, it's the job of journalists not to try to hide or obscure but to speak the truth. And that's where we are now. People say, well, I am not sure President Trump is racist, but racist is as racist does. I can't read President Trump's heart. But what he does -- and you said something very important earlier, and we say in the tweet.

You know, you always need to watch not what he -- not so much what he says, particularly when it's a speech written by somebody else for him, that with President Trump, anytime he tries to speak about hope or compassion, it's about as authentic as a Times Square Rolex, because we know he's about fear. Fear, to him, is power. And if you want to know what he's really about, it's not the prepared speeches that he gives from the Oval Office, somewhere around the White House.

You go to his rallies and listen and watch his rallies. You read his tweets. You listen to what he says. And you watch what he does. And what he does is all about fear.

LEMON: And it's -- you know, I hear people all the time, and you know, because -- here, because you're here and you watch. When -- it did not come lightly for me to say -- or easily for me to say the president of the United States is racist, or even before that to say the president of the United States is lying. But in journalism, journalists work with facts and with evidence.

And all one has to do is look at the evidence, how many things do you have to lay out, starting from the redlining to the Central Park Five, to the former president was not born in this country, to what else do you have to lose, to both sides, you know, there are very fine people on both sides, and on and on and on. So all one must do, if you're not an ideological person and you're looking at it objectively, is just look at the evidence.

RATHER: Well, exactly. It's speaking truth.

LEMON: Yes.

RATHER: We said it before. Racist is as racist does.

LEMON: Exactly.

RATHER: And when he does things racist, it needs to be called racist.

LEMON: Yeah. And I think we would be derelict as journalists not to do that. So listen, I want to play what the former Vice President Joe Biden told Anderson about handling grief and loss, the loss of his son, Beau. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: He said, dad. Look at me, dad. He said I am going to be OK no matter what happens. He knew he only had months to go. And he said, but promise me, dad, promise me you'll be OK. And I said, Beau, I will be OK. Find a purpose, something that matters, particularly something connect to the loss you just had. And so I get up in the morning and I think to myself every morning, is he proud of me?

Am I doing what he wants? But at a moment, there will come a time when you think of the person you lost, it takes a long while, when you get a smile before you get a tear. And that's how you know you're going to make it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Are we missing a consoler-in-chief?

RATHER: Well, this brings to mind one of the principal roles of a president, one of the hallmarks of any great president, is that at times of national tragedy, the president becomes the chief consoler for the nation. Look back over history that, you know, most of our political and civic leaders through history, the great ones, have always had the ability to last through the occasion of tragedy.

Go through the list. Washington, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Eisenhower surprised some people, Reagan. They had a sense of the poetry of our democracy. Now, in more recent years -- now, we have to keep in mind, let me pause and say, we have to keep in mind that America has never lived up to its loftiest ideals. But the whole ideal of great leadership is to keep us aspiring to do that.

And that means, among other things, that in times of tragedy, we're compassionate. We're inclusive. We grieve as a nation, as neighbors. Now, all through history, those presidents I mentioned have been able to rise to the occasion. Now, in more recent years, we've had President Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing.

President George W. Bush after 9/11, President Obama after the church shooting in South Carolina.

LEMON: And Newtown as well.

[22:54:59] RATHER: They were able to rise to the occasion and pull us together as a country, because they were able to give their own sense of the poetry of our national identity. Now, I ask you to stop. What everyone thinks of President Trump, like him or don't like him, quite not ever made up their mind. He's never, in the time he's been in office, he's never been able to do that.

And I think the basic reason, and I think it's clear, definitive truth and so we should speak it, is that he's so wrapped up in fear that fear is everything to him, his power. And fear and dividing the country is what he's about. He sees himself as the president of people who support him where the need, the ache in the country.

And I think this goes across party lines, the ache in the country is for him to behave and speak as a president of all the people, not just the people who support him. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.

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