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President Trump's Visit To Victims Not A Victorious One; The Mindset Of A Criminal; Families Torn Apart On First Day Of School; ICE Raids In Mississippi; Iowa Democrat J.D. Scholten Launches Second Bid To Defeat GOP Rep. Steve King. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 23:00   ET




Top aides to President Trump conceding tonight that the president's visits to hospitals in Dayton and El Paso to meet with survivors of the mass shootings did not go as planned. They were not successful.

The president never publicly talked about how the victims were doing, how they've recovered or they're recovering especially in El Paso where the gunman a white supremacist set out to stop what he called a Hispanic invasion of Texas echoing Trump's own racist rhetoric.

Instead, a video has come out showing the president bragging about the size of the crowd at a rally he held in El Paso back in February, where he excoriated undocumented immigrants branding them as criminals and murderers.

Is the El Paso massacre a turning point not only for Trump but for Americans? I'm going to look at the big picture now with Douglas Brinkley, Tara Setmayer, and Michael Higginbotham who is the author of "Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America."

Good evening to you all. I almost called you Sarah Tetmayer (Ph). I'm sure it has happened before as long as I've known you all these years.


LEMON: Good to see all of you. I'm going to start with you, Tara. You think that El Paso was an inflection point. Tell me why.

SETMAYER: I think because it was just so obvious what was happening there and the juxtaposition to the president's language, what he has said, all of the reports have tied how many times he's used the term invasion and Hispanic invasion and what's going on, on Fox News where they talked about this replacement theory with white people.

All of that and then what this -- what this killer wrote in his diatribe and post it. And it was clear that Hispanics were being targeted. Like words have consequence, we say this all the time, right? Words matter, words matter. Well, here we saw words it turns to action, which turned to bloodshed.

And then there was this point where it's like OK, at what point are we finally going to say enough is enough and call a spade a spade.

And that's why I think this was an inflection point because you really can't run away from it. As much as Fox News and others are trying to say that white supremacy like Tucker said is a hoax. Don't believe that. No one cares about that. That's not a problem.

Are you kidding me? Tell that to the people to the families who have lost family members and loved ones at the hands of murderers who subscribe to this ideology.


SETMAYER: It's insane. So, you know, and then you have President Trump's response to it, which I said, my God, we're looking at a Charlottesville 2.0. I mean, yesterday's display was just embarrassing.

LEMON: Yes. And I really enjoyed, by the way, the piece that you wrote for where you were talking about Tucker Carlson. So, I just wanted to mention that too since you --

SETMAYER: Thank you.

LEMON: -- since you brought it up. Doug, are we starting to look at President Trump and his racism differently now that that this is the second time after Pittsburg after the synagogue shooting that the gunman writing, you know, about invasions of immigrants has killed people?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: One would hope so. When people voted for Donald Trump, they were kind of test marketing him, kicking the tires, let's try something different. Now you know that if you're going to wear the hat spiriting Donald Trump that racism comes with it.

And, you know, you would think that El Paso may have been a wakeup call and kind of a smelling salt to this president, but he behaved shabbily, terribly they're self-promoting himself in a hospital where people were dealing with the injured and the mourning and the dying, and he's making jokes about crowd sizes and Beto O'Rourke.

And then not to call off ICE going into Mississippi on the kids' first day of school and apprehending their parents. This is a president whose callus has an empathy, you know, deficit disorder.

[23:04:57] And for him this is not a losing proposition this week. It's another way to solidify his base. Always worried about as if he angered the NRA too much by dabbling with the idea of stronger background checks with guns.

LEMON: It looks like he may have in his phone call with Wayne LaPierre, that may be a concern with his base going forward.

BRINKLEY: Yes. That's the concern of this president.

LEMON: Michael, 2020 Democrats are speaking out. The former Vice President Joe Biden campaigning at the Iowa state fair was asked if he considers Trump to be a white supremacist. Here's his answer.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why are you so hooked on that? You just want me to say the word so I sound like everybody else. He is encouraging white supremacists. You can determine what that means. You can -- I know everybody wants somebody to call somebody a liar.

When you say -- I don't call people liars. I say they don't tell the truth. OK? If you want to hear me say liar, you can put it out and say Biden called someone a liar. That's not who I am. You got the wrong guy.


LEMON: So, Michael, Biden says encouraging white supremacists. Can you be racist but not a white supremacist?

MICHAEL HIGGINBOTHAM, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE SCHOOL OF LAW: No, I don't think you -- I think if you're a white supremacist you're clearly a racist. And I think we all need to be clear about it. I mean, people have already said earlier and I agree 100 percent Donald Trump --


LEMON: But if you're racist are you clearly a white supremacist?

HIGGINBOTHAM: Yes, I believe you are. If you're racist you're a white supremacist. Absolutely.

LEMON: OK. I'm just trying to clear that. Go on, sorry.

HIGGINBOTHAM: Absolutely, there's no question about it. And I think Donald Trump is a racist. I think he's very clear in his support for white supremacy. He's made it clear from the beginning of his campaign when he said -- came down the escalator and he said Mexican immigrants are rapists and they're criminals.

He reiterated this at Charlottesville when he clearly took a stand, said there are good people on both sides. He basically sided with the KKK. He sided with white supremacists. He sided with the American Nazi party. He sided with a murderer of Heather Heyer.

And so, I think it's clear, he's a racist, he's encouraging white supremacy. He's a white supremacist. I don't think we need to equivocate at all about that clear fact. The question is what should we do about it?

And I think it's time for every American including elected Republican officials to take a clear stance, to say this is wrong. And that's why I believe that El Paso is a game changer. STEMAYER: Here's why I think people are hesitant to say Trump is

white supremacist whether definitionally maybe he is, you know, by the word. Colloquially, when we think of white supremacy we think of, you know, the KKK and people in hoods and neo-Nazis marching with tiki torches.

And it seems as though that some of the main streaming of what they believe and the language that they use has now injected white supremacy into the conversation and mainstreamed it in a way that I don't think most Americans want to admit.

And because now white supremacy doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have a tiki torch and a hood, you can be in khakis and a suit in the White House. And people are, what the label of it I think is still a bit shocking for people.

And I think there is a large group of Trump supporters that are OK with the language that he uses and they're OK with the fact that it seems to fix this narrative that they're racist-like but they don't want to admit that what they're advocating is white supremacy. They just don't want to admit that because if they do, they have to self- reflect. And I just think that's the reason why so many of these Trump supporters won't even acknowledge what we see right in front of us.

LEMON: Let's talk -- I want to talk a little bit about strategy here because, you know, whether it's -- I think people -- you have to call it for what it is. Right? I think we can all agree to that.

But I'm just wondering about the strategy here. And Anthony Scaramucci tweeted this out today. He said, "He isn't a white nationalist. If you want to beat him best, best him at the ballot box labeling him that is just further demonizing -- demonization of our leaders. It's just ingenuous and it won't."

So, Doug, I want your reaction, because the president's 2020 strategy is race baiting and at least up until this week his advisers thought it was a good strategy until they are saying now, not so sure but --

BRINKLEY: Look, if you look at U.S. presidential history, I mean, though, in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, you have a, they called it the children's crusade when Dr. Martin Luther King had kids and were arrested protesting in jail in Birmingham and we had visual imagery and it shamed the country.

What's shaming America now and what's making some of Donald Trump's supporters queasy I think are the children. The little girl screaming for her mother in Mississippi, a dead, you know, Mexican girl on the border, you know, along the Rio Grande River, looking at the separation in the cages there.

[23:10:03] And though -- no sane American wants a president that's OK with those things. So, I think attacking Trump as being cottoning the white supremacy of putting the ark of justice in the wrong direction.

John McCain didn't act with a bigoted fashion the way that Trump did -- does. Or nor did Mitt Romney, nor did, you know, Bob Dole. So, I think he's -- I think Donald Trump -- beating up on Trump on

race is a winning issue for the Democrats because of the children and the separation policy.

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it.

An update tonight on Fox News with Tucker Carlson who falsely claimed this week that white supremacy is not a real problem in America, that it's a hoax.

Well, he made that stunning statement after the mass shooting in El Paso that killed 22 people murdered by a white supremacist who wanted to stop what he called a Hispanic invasion of America. Here's what Carlson said.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: But the whole thing is a lie. If you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns, of problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia, probably. It's actually not a real problem in America.

The combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside a college football stadium? I mean, seriously. This is country where the average person is getting poor, where the suicide rate is spiking. White supremacy, that's the problem. This is hoax. Just like the Russia hoax. It's a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. That's exactly what's going on.


LEMON: It has been two days since then and the seven members of Fox corporations board of directors are still silent including company chairman Rupert Murdock. But Al Roker of The Today Show is weighing in tweeting that the former head of the KKK supports Tucker Carlson for his white supremacy hoax.

Tucker Carlson for his white supremacy hoax, Tucker Carlson must be so proud and attaching an article from Newsweek about David Duke's support. Tucker Carlson is on vacation as of tonight, due back on the 19th. Fox News has a long history of their hosts heading out on vacation after they become engulfed in controversy over inflammatory comments.

Up next, why some defendants are embracing the Trump defense. What is it? We'll find out.


LEMON: Fascinating story. In some courtrooms across the country, lawyers for some criminal defendants are saying they were influenced by President Trump's rhetoric or by far-right conspiracy theories.

Cesar Sayoc pleaded guilty this week to sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and to CNN. Anthony Commello is charged with the murder of suspected crime boss Francisco Kelly in New York. And the man in Montana has been accused of body slamming a 13-year-old boy because he wouldn't remove his hat during the national anthem at a rodeo.

Lawyers for all three say that their clients mental state made them more susceptible to outside influence.

Let's discuss this now. Mark NeJame is here, and Areva Martin. Areva is the author of "Make it Rain."

So good to have you on. I wish we were discussing something better. This is, wow, what a story.

Areva, you first. The lawyer for Curt James Brockway says that his client is disabled veteran with a severe injury, problems with impulse control in addition to being uber patriotic. The lawyer put out the statement about how Brockway feels when he hears the president speak out about things like protesting the national anthem.

And this is a quote. It said, "Curt takes that literally and views the president as the commander in chief, and when he sees it happening, he feels he needs to do something about it." Is this a viable legal defense?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, Don. Unfortunately, you know, I feel sorry for this veteran if he has the medical conditions that his lawyer says he has. Then obviously he needs help. He needs mental help assistance.

But that is no justification. That's no excuse. That's not going to be a viable legal defense for him, body slamming a 13-year-old boy simply because the boy wouldn't take his cap off at the rodeo at the request of Mr. Brockway.

A judge may look at his neurological condition, may look at some of the trauma he's experienced when he gets to the sentencing stage but we don't want to send a message to anyone out there that they can rely on these hateful statements of Trump as justification for engaging in criminal conduct. This man needs to be held accountable.

And quite frankly, I'm really perturbed that the judge released him without holding him given the condition that his lawyer says he has and given that he has a prior history. I think it's alleged in 2010 that he pulled a gun out on a family.

So, this man obviously has some history of potentially engaging in violent conduct and obviously he was violent with this young boy, but yet, he is still out on the street. And he's susceptible to what Trump says, he's a dangerous person and we should take that very seriously.

LEMON: In the case, Mark, of Cesar Sayoc, he's the one who sent the things in the mail to CNN and to, you know, and to others and prominent Democrats. His attorney said that he was a Trump super fan. And this is the quote. It said, "began to consider Democrats is not just dangerous in theory but imminently and seriously dangerous to his personal safety."

Is this exactly what the president's critics mean when they say his words are irresponsible?

MARK NEJAME, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, yes, it's what his critics claim are going to happen and these are the natural consequences of what his critics say are coming out of his mouth. The issue though is if in fact you're a defense lawyer and you're trying to create a defense, sometimes it's all that you have.

I agree completely with the position that it's really not a legal defense. Although some states recognize diminished capacity. And somebody is really susceptible to these types of messages.

[23:20:04] Then it's really could turn out to be where a judge will take consideration and would consider the point of mitigation if somebody is really mentally unbalanced and mentally unstable and they're getting these messages they believe to prove forward.

Because the commander in chief, the president of the United States is by their account so suggest that they should.

LEMON: Mark, and Anthony Commello's case, his lawyer cites Commello's belief in a deep state he says of far-right conspiracy theory as reason for killing a suspected crime boss Francisco Kelly. He thought Kelly was part of some gang against President Trump.

Are unstable people more susceptible to acting out than they would -- maybe would have been otherwise given the spread of conspiracy theories?

NEJAME: That's what's so frustrating. We all know that words matter. You say that quite often. And it states the obvious. And when have words not mattered? People go to war over words. They make peace over words. We don't communicate telepathically. Words of course matter, and they especially matter from leaders.

And the issue is that those who are saying unstable are not going to act out, they're going to be guided by their own moral compass. However, we're speaking to everybody and some significant portion of any population are going to be unbalanced and they're going to take those words literally. We've seen it.


NEJAME: Unfortunately, we're going to continue to see it if everybody on all sides do not simply monitor what comes out of their mouths.

LEMON: I got a short time left but I want to get you in. Areva, I'll give you the last word. What do you say to this?

MARTIN: I say that anyone that engages in the kind of criminal conduct that Mr. Brockway engages in they should be held accountable. And we do not want to send the message that even though the president is engaging in this kind of speech that some may think is encouraging folks to, you know, commit violent acts, that they're somehow going to get a pass.

The criminal justice system needs to hold these people accountable and, you know, prayers for this young man who was body slammed, skull fractured because he didn't take his cap off at a rodeo.

LEMON: Areva, Mark, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

NEJAME: Good to see you.

LEMON: Six hundred eighty people arrested in massive ICE raids in Mississippi. The raids happening on the first day of school there. Leaving a lot of kids worried about their parents.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need my dad. My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal.



LEMON: So, imagine the nervous excitement of a child attending their first day of school only to find that when it's time to go home and share the story of their emotional day, they can't. Their mother or father is gone, taken away from them. Detained by the government. Uncertain if and when they will be together again.

This separation of families played out for hundreds of migrants picked up in massive raids carried out by ICE throughout Mississippi yesterday.

Here's CNN's Nick Valencia.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, can I just see my mother, please.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: An emotional plea from one of the many children left behind after a massive ICE raid on undocumented workers on the outskirts of Jackson, Mississippi.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Government, please, put your heart, let my parents be free and with everybody else, please. Don't leave the child weep, crying and everything.


VALENCIA: This 11-year-old like so many others doesn't understand why her parents were taken away from her. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal.


VALENCIA: Desiree Hughes works at one of the seven plants across the six Mississippi cities targeted by ICE.


DESIREE HUGHES, EMPLOYEE, MORTON PLANT: Very hard seeing many kids cry, scream for their loved ones because they're gone, they don't know when they'll see them again.


VALENCIA: Kids who would have had to fend for themselves if not for the compassion of locals like Jordan Barnes.


JORDAN BARNES, OWNER, CLEAR CREEK BOOT CAMP: We're going to have a bed available for them and we're going to get food for them just to get through the night. And if they need transport to school in the morning, we can arrange that as well.


VALENCIA: The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi called the raids the largest single state immigration enforcement operation in American history. More than 600 ICE agents were involved.


MIKE HURST, U.S. ATTORNEY: Now, while we are a nation of immigrants, more than that, we are first and foremost a nation of laws


VALENCIA: Responding to criticism that the arrest of hundreds of undocumented immigrants fell on the first day of school as well as just after a deadly mass shooting that targeted Latinos, an ICE official with direct knowledge of the raids defending the timing as coincidental but said he understood the poor optics.

The official who was on site for the raids telling CNN the emotion is a horrible thing. I saw kids coming up crying at the gates. Some detainees have been released with ankle monitors to reunite with their families.

Still, local activists Thursday expressing outrage about the massive operation in their community, a community they say, is only here to contribute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NSOMBI LAMBRIGHT, MEMBER, NAACP MISSISSIPPI: We are ashamed about what our state is doing, but we're here to let everyone know around the world that we're going to fight back and we're going to make sure these families are supported.



LEMON: Nick Valencia joins me now. Nick, why now? I mean just days after the Latino community in El Paso was so savagely targeted and attacked? I mean, that plan has been there for years. So why do it now?

VALENCIA: And Don, it's one of the worst kept secrets in these communities that plants like the one behind me employ undocumented labor.

[23:29:57] So, the question that residents have here is how many of these bosses, these American bosses who employ undocumented immigrants are going to be prosecuted? How many of them are going to be detained and seek justice that is yet to be seen? But the question of timing is one that a lot of locals here have. I did reach out to an ICE official.

You heard that information in the piece. They said it was just purely coincidental, they called it business as usual and said that they acknowledged the optics are poor. It comes just a few days after that blatantly racist attack in El Paso that targeted the Latino community and now we are seeing one of the largest raids in the history of America here happen in Mississippi.

LEMON: So, talk to me about what it's like there in the town now? What are people you're talking outside of the plant?

VALENCIA: What happens here or is what happens -- or what's happening here is what happens to a lot of the communities that see raids like this. They become ghost towns. You know, on a typical day, it's night time right now, but on atypical day, locals tell me that you'll hear the sound of kids running around. You know, this is the first week of school back here. You hear music playing from the porches in these communities, but it's a ghost town.

I was talking earlier to some residents, Hispanic owned businesses I'm told closed early today. Latinos who weren't caught up in these raids are afraid to come out, kids are afraid to go to school. There is just this pervasive fear that exists and for months and month's undocumented immigrants in these communities really across the nation have been scared of something like this. It is something that President Trump has talked about extensively and something that became a reality here on Wednesday.

LEMON: Nick Valencia, Morton, Mississippi. Nick, thank you for your reporting, I appreciate that. We've got a lot more to talk about. Are these raids really making America safer?


LEMON: Hundreds of families still separated tonight after ICE raids at seven agricultural plants throughout Mississippi led to the detention of undocumented migrant workers on the first day of school for their children. Many have since been released. I want to bring in now Caitlin Dickerson, Elliot Williams and Alice Stewart.

Hello to all of you, thank you so much for joining me this evening.

Alice, I'm going to start with you because many of these children came home from their first day of school to empty homes and locked doors. Are we really making America safer with these arrests?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, Don, there's no dispute the emotional pull of seeing these crying children is difficult to watch, but the reality is what they're seeing is any child whose parent is being detained or whose parent is potentially in trouble with the law is going to cry.

And if we're going to use that as the reason not to enforce existing laws or to seek justice when it comes to people violating laws or immigration laws, we're going have to open up the doors on every jail and prison across the country.

What was happening here is their parents were part of a raid, a plant, someone that was under investigation by ICE and they were found to be in violation of immigration laws and by law this administration brought them into custody and gave them their due process and they will have their day in court.

LEMON: Elliot, seeing the images of sobbing kids in a parking lot looking for their parents it is heart breaking. You're a former assistant director of ICE, is this common practice?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, ICE: Yes, look, this whole idea that well, these are laws and we're just enforcing the laws is the biggest red herring that there is. Look, marijuana enforcement across the United States is it self-indicative of the fact that the government can choose not to enforce the law or can choose to enforce the law in a more humane manner.

And the simple fact is this particular investigation, this criminal investigation did not require the arrests of over 600 people. If ICE was conducting a workplace, you know, investigation, the more efficient and more effective, frankly, thing to do would be to audit the business and get their records and get their files and determine their intent in hiring people.

But what the administration has done is make a choice to frighten people and to sort of cast a very broad wide net as to how they conduct their immigration enforcement, but you know, we should just debunk the idea that the mere fact that federal law says it's impermissible to be in the country therefore every immigrant ought to be constantly living in terror of being apprehended because that is just not accurate and that is just not how the discretion that's afforded to law enforcement officers who actually work on the job. LEMON: Caitlin, the rest of the country still mourning those killed

in El Paso at the hands of a white supremacist targeting Latinos. You've covered immigration policy under the Trump administration. Does it seem as, you know, does it seem as our friend of the show Adam Sorrow wrote that he calls it -- he said cruelty is the point. Does it seem that way?

CAITLIN DICKERSON, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I think the goal of these raids is very clear, and we're talking about -- you know, your question was a good one, will they make the country safer. I think that actually what these raids are kind of an approach of going after low hanging fruit.

Because I think while you've seen the Trump administration, as you've said I've covered it from the beginning and, you know, President Trump, he ran on a platform of enforcing immigration laws and cracking down. And he's made big splashes in the area of asylum and cracking down on the border quite a lot. We can talk about that all night.

But when it comes to interior enforcement the administration's record still hasn't actually come through and met those campaign promises. Arrest numbers are low. Deportation numbers are even lower. And so, you know, there are many ways that you can enforce immigration law. You can go after people who are murderers. You can go after people who have multiple deportations or multiple criminal convictions, but when you go after a very large number of working people like you see here.

[23:40:00] I mean this is easy work in a way for ICE to do, but it's an easy way for them to make a really big splash, to send out a press release, to have these images go in the news and have a real impact on how immigrants feel in the United States.

LEMON: Alice, you know, ICE says that this was a yearlong federal criminal investigation, not immigration enforcement. The question is such drastic measures at this particularly time, was it tone-deaf?

STEWART: The timing, Don, and disputably was not good given it comes on the heels of what we experienced over the last weekend, but the truth is this has been an ongoing investigation. This has been several months in the planning. I do know that.

I've spoken with some of them, and this is something that takes time to develop, but when they have -- what they do they go to a judge, and when they find the judge determines there's probable cause to execute the search warrant, and they get all of the necessary supplies in place and people in place to execute the search warrant, then they have to seize on the appropriate time.

This was the time to do so. And the key here is they're investigating the owners of this plants. Those are the people that are being -- the subject of this investigation. And those are the people that over time will more than likely face the consequences for that. There's a similar case in Tennessee where the owner of the plant in a similar situation has been recently sentenced for this --

LEMON: But the 600 people were the ones who are facing the immediate right now -- go ahead, Elliot, sorry.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I mean, right. I mean, (inaudible) are the ones who (inaudible). And again I want to be clear as a law enforcement matter those 600 people are just not relevant to a criminal investigation. Now, if you're seeking the civil -- the civil immigration enforcement and removal of those people from the country, of course you can go ahead and arrest them and remove them from the country, but that is not what was happening here.

What they were doing is claiming to be conducting this criminal investigation when really the goal here was cracking down on individuals whose mere wrong is being unlawfully present in the country.

Now, again, they're allowed to do it. That is a policy choice they've made, but it's the wrong policy choice and it's not making the country safer. It's not doing anything -- it's apparently going to make chicken more expensive across the country. And so, it's just short of misguided and shortsighted. And works and sells really well at the president's rallies, but as a way of keeping the country safe and actually bringing integrity to the immigration system --

LEMON: before we ran out of time, I want to get Caitlin in. Caitlin, you wrote a piece in "The New York Times" you say, it feels like being hunted. Latinos across U.S. in fear after El Paso massacre. I mean this attack was so personal for Latinos all over the U.S. What is going to fix that?

DICKERSON: I think that would take a lot of work. I mean, the people that we interviewed from the story really from coast to coast, it wasn't that they said for the first time they discovered that there was racist against Latinos people in the United States.

That wasn't the case, many people told stories throughout their lives of facing, you know, attacks, facing racial slurs, and things of that nature. But obviously when you're talking about a mass shooting that is something very different and I think people who already were living in fear, many of them, that they or their family members if they have any family members or connections to people who are undocumented in any way already sort of have this concern about being targeted for immigration enforcement, already looking over your shoulder.

And now there's this added fear that you could be targeted for a hate crime. It's something that other groups have experienced, you know, throughout this country's history of course, but even more so in the last couple of years.

LEMON: Well, Alice, thank you. Elliot, you as well Caitlin, I appreciate it.

DICKERSON: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Though he mocked a Parkland shooting survivor, endorsed a white nationalist, and endorse a conspiracy theorist espouse by white supremacist, Iowa GOP Congressman Steve King managed to eke out the closest win of his career in 2018. Up next I'm going to talk to his Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten who wants to take him on again.


LEMON: While President Trump injects divisive racist rhetoric into politics he has distanced himself from GOP Congressman Steve King of Iowa who uses racist and incendiary language of his own. He narrowly won a 9th term in Congress in 2018 defeating challenger J.D. Scholten who this week declared he is a launching a second bid to unseat King in 2020. He joins me now.

J.D. good to see you. Thank you so much.

J.D. SCHOLTEN (D-IA), HOUSE CANDIDATE: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: Absolutely. You came within three percentage points in beating Steve King in 2018. What will you do differently for 2020? How are going to be different this time?

SCHOLTEN: Yes, I mean, we moved the needle 24 points, which is third most in the nation amongst all the challengers. But this time -- basically last time we just felt we ran out of time. And we're starting off right where we left off. And just this week we did some great rallies and events in the district. And about 25 percent of the people I would have to estimate who are new, and I think just success breeds success and there's just a level of excitement from day one and we're ready to go.

LEMON: Republicans stripped Steve King of his congressional committee assignments after an interview where he asked, you know, white nationalists, white supremacists, western civilization how did that language become offensive? Can a Congressman with essentially no power represent his constituents?

SCHOLTEN: Well, ultimately you look at what's happening in the fourth district. We're the second most agriculture producing district in America. And so we have 55,000 farmers who have their backs against the wall right now and we don't have a member who is on the agriculture committee fighting for our farmers, and so he is just extremely vulnerable right now. Not only am I running unopposed, but he is running with three primary challengers. And so, it's going to be really interesting to see what happens with him on the Republican side.

[23:50:08] LEMON: Because you know, Steve King has a long history of racist, white nationalist and anti-immigrant remarks. Watch this.


REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): If you go down the road a few generations or maybe centuries with the intermarriage, I'd like to see an America that is just so homogenize that we look a lot the same. For everyone who is a valedictorian, there's another hundred out there that the weigh a 130 pounds and they got calves the size of antelopes, because they are all 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.

I'd ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you're talking about. Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?


LEMON: J.D., King's racism cost him in Congress. Have Iowans had enough of it, too, do you think?

SCHOLTEN: I think so. I mean, you see that -- in the 70's we had a governor, Robert Ray, who was Republican, and he welcomed Vietnamese refugees, and that was the Iowa that I know and so many Iowans. In fact we have a t-shirt that is pretty popular here in Iowa that says, "dear America, sorry for Steve King. Sincerely, Iowa." And it just, what we saw last time and his vulnerability this time I think there is an absolute appetite for change.

LEMON: You know, he makes no apologies for his anti-immigrant remarks. He portrays them as an existential threat similar to what President Trump says. How do you see the role of immigrants in your state?

SCHOLTEN: Well, the irony of having somebody like Steve King as a representative is that we need a workforce in the fourth district. In Jefferson, Iowa, we were there just earlier this week, and the grocery store manager says he doesn't have enough folks to hire.

And in that same town two years previously, I went to the grain elevator and they were talking about the harvest and they needed 39 employees to help -- seasonal employees to help with the harvest and they didn't get one American citizen to apply for those positions.

And so it's something that I think farmers and construction folks, those -- they need a workforce and it's another of so many examples of King not understanding the district and just using his rhetoric and ideology to divide us. Where our campaign is exactly the difference.

I don't care if you're white, black or brown, we're fighting for you. And whether you're one of my biggest supporters or the guy who gave me the finger the other day, we're fighting for you.

LEMON: That did happen?

SCHOLTEN: We're bringing people together. We have a Winnebago brave R.V. that I (inaudible), city sue. And we were driving a little slow. So, I'm not sure if it was a political reason or just because we are (inaudible).

LEMON: Probably because you were driving a little slow. It does happen. Hey listen, I got to ask you about Senator Joni Ernst, one of the few Republicans to call President Trump attacks on the four Congressman of color racist. Something Steve King says it was wrong to do. If you win the seat, will you call out the president's racist rhetoric?

SCHOLTEN: Well, I mean, that is exactly what we have to do as Americans, is call it what it is, and at the same time we got to challenge it because we -- I don't want to continue to give it oxygen. Especially at a time when whether it's health care or the agriculture economy struggling, and putting oxygen to the folks that -- to the issues that matter most in the district. And that is at the heart of my campaign.

LEMON: J.D. Scholten, thank you so much.

SCHOLTEN: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: And before we leave you tonight, a special so long, not a good-bye. Constunce and Jackson. Action Jackson. Constunce, we got to come over a nickname for you. Two of the best interns we've had this summer. That was pretty good, right? You guys are smart. You're hardworking, you're dedicated, easy-going, and you're also good looking. Look at that. Look at that face.

She has a shirt that says "queen" and she is. Oh, she's wearing it. There she is right there. Don't ever change that. And I say so long because we have been lucky on this show to really pick up some really great interns throughout the summer and all the time. So -- and they inevitability coming back to work for us.

So if you choose to, you'll probably end up coming back to work for us, but I'm sure you two will be successful in whatever you decide to do. Constance and Jackson, be nice to us when you become our boss one day, all right? See you. You can come over here. Come on over. Bye. Now get out of here. See you. You made Jackson look bad. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.