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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump's New Conspiracy Theory Over Jeffrey Epstein's Death; Police Horseback Arrest Under Heavy Criticism; Trump Administration Announces Rule That Could Limit Legal Immigration; What Is It About President Trump That Has So Many Evangelicals Supporting Him?; American Gold Medalist Kneels In Protest During National Anthem. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired August 12, 2019 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

The Attorney General, William Barr, says he's angry and appalled that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide on Saturday while in federal custody in New York City.

Epstein was accused of running a sex trafficking ring involving underage girls, some as young as 14. Barr says staff at the federal lockup failed to make sure that Epstein was adequately secure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: And in the face of all that, incredibly, President Trump promoting an outrageous and completely unfounded conspiracy theory, attempting to link Epstein's death to Bill and Hillary Clinton. The big picture tonight, is President Trump degrading the Office of the Presidency?

Lots to discuss. Adam Serwer, Lanhee Chen, and also -- Lanhee Chen, and also Tim Naftali, who by the way is the author of "Impeachment in American History."

Good to see all of you. Thank you all for coming on.

Lanhee, I'm going to start with you. First, I'm going to ask you about Anthony Scaramucci. Moments ago, he told Anderson Cooper the GOP needs to move on from Trump from the 2020 election. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: When you go to bed tonight and you're thinking about your country, don't focus on your wallet or your pocketbook. Focus on what's right for America and say, is this guy normal? Is this the right way to handle things in America? And I think when you do that, you'll get to the place where I'm at.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Do you think Scaramucci is going to persuade any Republicans or swing voters?

LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I don't know that he's going to persuade a whole lot of Republicans. Let me just say this. I've known Anthony for a long time. I consider him a friend. I think it actually took a lot of courage for him to come out and do what he did.

You know, I wish his point of view were one that more Republicans would have, which is a critical examination of the president, of his record, of what he's done in arriving at a conclusion after looking at all those things.

But that's not where the Republican Party is now, Don. You know that. I know that. So while Anthony might be optimistic about this, I'm far less optimistic in terms of how people are able to think critically about what's happening in arriving at a conclusion on the president that's separate and apart from what we might say about policy, where we might have agreements with him, but really saying what is the president doing in terms of the nature of the office and the nature of the presidency? I think those are the questions that are being asked right now.

LEMON: You know, Tim, David Frum is out with an article in the Atlantic, and he says "this presidency shames and disgraces the office every minute of every hour of every day."

I mean, this is after President Trump re-tweeted a conspiracy theory implicating the Clintons in the suicide death of Jeffrey Epstein. It's shocking but yet it's just not surprising.

TIMOTHY NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, it's what's painful is that it's not surprising.

LEMON: Yes.

NAFTALI: I think for historians, years from now, they'll look at Charlottesville, and they'll see with, you know, and it's now the anniversary sadly of that moment. When the president didn't understand this was a moment for course correction, then we learned a lot about what made Donald Trump tick.

And, no, none of this is a surprise. I mean this is -- he has been trafficking in conspiracy theories his entire political life, and he's doing it again.

What he's forgotten, or maybe he never understood, is that when you're a president, you're not just another American citizen with strange and wonderful and personal ideas. You are speaking for an entire country, and I think this is what he doesn't get. He says he's playing around. His staff talks about how he's joking.

You can't joke about those things as president. Why? Because you're setting a tone in three different respects. One, you're setting a tone for the way we talk to each other as a nation, and you're representing us or not representing us.

Two, you're enabling people who may not see those ideas as jokes. I suspect the president doesn't either. You're enabling them to act and think that way. And, three, the world is watching.

The United States used to be -- I mean, arguably we weren't always living up to this ideal, but we would suggest that we were supporting liberty and freedom around the world.

You now have a president whose rhetoric is contrary to that. All those three implications come from the rhetoric a president uses. He doesn't get it. He keeps thinking he's a billionaire who gets what he wants, and he happens to have a new home in Washington, D.C. temporarily, and he can continue to say and talk the way he did before. He can't. He shouldn't. And the effect on the presidency is corrosive.

[23:05:07] LEMON: Adam, you know, it seems impossible that the bar gets any lower and lower, but there are so many examples. The treatment of migrants, caging of children, the use of race to divide. Do you think there's going to be lasting damage to the presidency?

ADAM SERWER, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: I mean, to be honest, you know, I hope so. I hope there is lasting damage to the presidency to the point where Congress asserts its traditional powers and stops allowing the executive branch to just do whatever it wants with no oversight and no check whatsoever on their power.

I mean, to be honest, this is a guy who began his political career by forcing the previous president to show his papers. So, it's not really a surprise to me that he embraced a baseless conspiracy theory implicating his previous political rivals, which by the way, would also implicate him since it's his responsibility if the Clintons killed Epstein, then he's the one who let them do it.

It's so ridiculous, and it's disgusting, but I mean in terms of causing human suffering, it's one of the least bad things that Trump has done. He's doing so many other terrible things every second of every day that, you know, it's -- I mean this is just another, you know, bale of hay in the barn.

LEMON: Lanhee, the New York Post is reporting at that exclusive Hamptons fund-raiser thrown by billionaire developer Stephen Ross on Friday night, the president also mimicked the accents of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Moon Jae-in. I mean, there are leaders at some of our -- they're are most important allies. It's beyond embarrassing.

CHEN: Well, not only is it embarrassing with respect to important relationships, you're right. The Korean and Japanese relationships are two of the most important and vital relationships we have in the world. Indeed, they're the linchpins to our Indo-Pacific strategy to a large degree.

But there's also this question, Don, of how Asian-Americans view it, how Asians in the United States who are part of the American body politic, who participate in our economy, who go to schools and are parts of communities all across the country. How do they feel about a president mimicking an accent or mimicking something which, you know, he's not a stand-up comedian as someone said earlier. He's the president of the United States.

And what may have been banter in a locker room now is broadcast around the world, and I think that is deeply troubling and deeply problematic. And so, you know, it goes beyond just the geopolitical questions to really how people in this country interpret and see what the president does, and it is damaging. It is hurtful, and it is problematic to see.

LEMON: You know, it's not --

(CROSSTALK)

SERWER: I think Tim is exactly right. You know, the president is -- his treatment of people -- of foreigners reflects on Americans who share that ancestry here in the United States, and I think it's been quite clear that the president simply does not respect in the same way Americans of color in the same way that he does white Americans, and he makes that clear whenever he talks about foreigners, whether it's Latin American migrants, whether it's Japanese people or Korean people.

It's always the same thing, which is that he does not consider them as worthy of the same kind of respect that people like him deserve.

LEMON: Interesting. You know, Tim, of course President Trump is not the only president who has said racist things. I mean, you unearth the shocking audio call in 1971 between President Nixon and California -- then-governor, right, it was Governor Ronald Reagan. Let's play that call and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

THEN-GOV. RONALD REAGAN (R-CA): Last night, I tell you, to watch that thing on television as I did.

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.

REAGAN: To see those -- those monkeys from those African countries. Damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes.

NIXON: Yes.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: The difference is unlike President Reagan, President Trump says racist things in public, and he's not one bit embarrassed about it.

NAFTALI: Let's make clear that it's not good to say racist things --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Either way. I know. But I know but he just says it in the open is my point.

NAFTALI: But this is the huge, huge difference. Richard Nixon, who was a racist -- I say this based on listening to lots of tapes. He didn't have hatred for African-Americans, but he thought them inferior.

Richard Nixon understood that as president he couldn't say this publicly. On the tapes, you hear him talking about how there are certain things he can't say. For example, he had these cockamamy weird, ridiculous theories about the relationship between I.Q. and race. He said, we can never say this publicly. He believes it, OK? This is pseudoscience.

He understands as president that this would be corrosive and damaging and poisonous for the nation to use this kind of language or even send these implications.

[23:10:01] This president doesn't understand that he has a set of responsibilities as a uniter. Now, Richard Nixon had some of the same ideas I think that Trump had. The difference is Trump doesn't realize he has a moral obligation to speak as a uniter. That's the difference.

We've never had in the modern era a president who was willing to use publicly the language this president uses on a daily basis.

LEMON: Yes. Lanhee, listen, aside from the denigrating -- from denigrating the office, is the president's behavior affecting the way Americans treat each other?

CHEN: Well, I think that's the fear. That's the million-dollar question because so much of our civil discourse is tied up in politics now. You know, the way people address each other is a function of what they believe is permissible.

If you think about what's happening in our political dialogue, it's become incredibly coarse. You know, I know there's a conversation about whether things are getting worse. And I think if you look back during the campaign, I remember when I was on this very program talking about some of the things that candidate Trump did on the campaign trail.

Those kinds of activities and that kind of language, a lot of people said, well, if he becomes president, he's going to change. He's going to be a different person. This is the same Donald Trump that's engaging in the same kind of rhetoric, and I do think it has an influence on how people talk.

I don't want to say he alone is responsible. I don't think that's true. But I do think as the president he carries a unique perch and a unique set of responsibilities.

LEMON: Lanhee, Adam, Tim, thank you so much. I appreciate it.

NAFTALI: Thank you.

LEMON: We've got a story coming up that's absolutely shocking. A handcuffed black man being led down a Galveston Street by police on horseback. I'm going to talk to the man's sister, also attorney Benjamin Crump, who is demanding the officer's body cam footage. That's next.

[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The arrest of Donald Neely made national headlines after a photo was posted to social media showing the 43-year-old being led in handcuffs by two white police officers on horseback.

Now Donald Neely's attorney is demanding answers from the police department. So, joining me now to discuss is attorney Benjamin Crump as well as Donald Neely's sister, Taranette Neely.

Good evening to both of you. I appreciate you coming on sincerely. Ben, I'm going to start with you. You're calling for the city of Galveston to release the body cam footage of the arrest of Mr. Neely. Why is it so important to get the video?

BENJAMIN CRUMP, DONALD NEELY'S ATTORNEY: Well, Don Lemon, when those two white police officers on horseback drove -- dragged this unarmed black man who suffers from mental illness down the streets of Galveston, Texas, by rope, it truly was like they were dragging our entire community down those streets with rope while they were sitting up on horses.

It hearkened back to historic memories of when slave hunters would take enslaved black people and have ropes around their necks and drag them to the slave auctions, and that was in the 1700s and 1800s.

But now it's 2019, not 1819 Galveston, Texas, and we listened to their explanation that this is their policy, Don, and that these police officers were only following policy and that they're good people, and they are of good character.

Well, if that is the case, then we are proclaiming that you should be transparent. Release the police body cam video so we can see the content of their characters for ourselves and see how they talked to and how they treated this unarmed black man who was suffering from mental illnesses.

And if you do that, the civil rights activists, the mental health advocates, all the human rights advocates, we will pack our bags and leave Galveston, Texas, and go home. But if you don't release that video, we told them that we're going to invite more civil rights activists, more mental health activists from all around America to come back in 30 days and to do a great march on Galveston.

So, Donald Neely and his family will know that they are not alone in this humiliation of how they did this young man who needed the police to be there for him, not to humiliate him. LEMON: Well, Taranette, you know, Benjamin Crump just mentioned that

your brother struggles with mental illness. You say that as well. Can you tell us about him?

TARANETTE NEELY, DONALD NEELY'S SISTER: Donald is a very loving brother. He's our protector. He always tried to guide us in the right direction when he could function right. But other than that, he's always been there for us. I mean he's sweet as gold. He'll give you his last. He doesn't have a heart -- he has no problem with sharing, loving, or just being there for you.

LEMON: Have you spoken to your brother since the incident, and how is he doing?

NEELY: He's doing a little bit better, not quite there yet. He needs his medicine. He's in and out, but we know that when he's speaking to us, we know he's trying to communicate with us.

LEMON: Why was he arrested, Taranette?

NEELY: From my understanding, for trespassing.

LEMON: Ben, do you know?

CRUMP: Don, Galveston -- yes, Galveston is a tourist town, and apparently the homeless people they are embarrassed by them.

[23:19:59] And so they had an order to arrest him on-site if he ever was in the touristy part of town. They knew who he was, Don Lemon. They had arrested him several times. They knew he suffered from mental illness, but yet they still arrested him and did him like this.

And I will tell you, Don, he is one of the most loving, kind-hearted spirits I have ever met. We spent time with him today, and it infuriated me that they would do this to him.

And so, what I really want to know is what did they say on that body cam video? How did they treat him knowing what kind of person this -- this kindhearted person who I don't think would say a bad word to anybody?

We spent a day with him, and you just said. You can tell he has the mental illness, and he has those childlike qualities. So why would you treat the least of these, as my grandmother say, like that. And the chief of police knows what's on that video. Why won't you release it if you have nothing to hide?

LEMON: Taranette, what are you hoping to see change after what happened to your brother?

NEELY: I want to see -- actually, I want to see the officers arrested and charged, and I also want to see that the city of Galveston will do something about helping with the mental illness and the homeless that's in their city because they need help.

They don't -- they don't understand what's going on. They are at their bottom. They need help, and they need to help them.

LEMON: Taranette, Benjamin, thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

CRUMP: If I could, Don --

LEMON: Yes. I've got to run. Quickly if you can.

CRUMP: I just - OK. Yes. Pamela Turner was killed in the Houston area. She was having mental illness, said I'm pregnant, and the police shot her. Danny Ray Thomas with mental illness a black man shot him.

If we don't train these police and not let them continue to humiliate minorities who are suffering mental illness, next time he won't be dragged by a rope. He'll be killed. So, we have to be there for them because they can't be there for themselves.

LEMON: Thank you both. Please keep us updated on this case.

CRUMP: Yes, sir.

LEMON: The Trump administration now going after legal immigration. What it means for those seeking green cards or visas.

Plus, the American medalists protesting during the national anthem at the Pan-American Games in Peru, and he is not the only one. He'll tell me why he did it coming up.

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The Trump administration now seeing a regulation today that would -- that could dramatically cut the number of legal immigrants allowed to enter and stay in the country. The rule means that many green card and visa applicants could be turned down if they have low incomes or little education and have used benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers.

Let's discuss now. Scott Jennings is here, as well as Maria Cardona. Good evening to one and all.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: Maria, Ken Cuccinelli is the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said today that this rule is about reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. Is he insinuating that legal immigrants can't take care of themselves?

CARDONA: Yes, that's exactly what he's insinuating. But furthermore, Don, do you remember when the president lamented why the United States had to take so many immigrants from s-hole countries? Well, this is his way of making sure that the United States doesn't have to.

There have been several studies done. This rule came out last year. It has now gotten more than 200,000 public comments, mostly people that don't believe that this is something that should be implemented, that the studies say that currently two-thirds -- more than two-thirds of current green card holders would have had negative factors against them through which they could have gotten a negative decision.

What this president and this administration is doing is that they are finding a way to circumvent Congress, to cut legal immigration by half, and to specifically cut those numbers from people that -- or for people that come from countries that are low income, that are brown, that don't speak English, and that frankly, in their eyes, will cut immigration from the types of countries of people that they don't want.

LEMON: You know, Scott, Cuccinelli was asked about the message this new rule sends. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give us your tired, your poor still operative in the United States, or should those words come down? Should the plaque come down off the Statue of Liberty?

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: I'm certainly not prepared to take anything down off the Statue of Liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Does this rule fundamentally change the idea of immigration in America?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, actually, I think it's quite consistent with the essence of our immigration system. If you go back to the late 1800s and the early 1900s during our periods of mass migration, people who were coming here had to actually promise that they weren't going to become a public charge, meaning they were coming here to work or that someone would sponsor them and they were not coming here to take advantage of the system.

It's actually been part of every immigration law we've passed for the last century in this country the idea that you're coming here to work --

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: So why is it needed?

JENNINGS: You're coming here to take care of yourself and that you're not going to come here to take advantage of the United States. And as a political matter, it's quite consistent with Donald Trump's message. He has always said --

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: That's true.

[23:29:59] JENNINGS: -- I think that people who are coming here to work and people who are coming here to do it in a legal way, he doesn't have a problem with that. And so I didn't find anything they said today to be inconsistent with the political message that they've had from the beginning.

I actually think if you look at the overall message this sends, Don, the idea that we want more people here who are coming here to work and fewer people here that might be taking advantage of us, most Americans are going to support that notion.

CARDONA: Here's the problem with what you're saying, Scott. What you are saying obviously mirrors the administration's talking points and that's fine, that's what you're expected to do, but it fundamentally misunderstand --

JENNINGS: No, I don't mirror anybody's talking points. I mirror what -- I mirror what I think. I don't come in here and say anybody's talking points, Maria. These are my views and they are the views of the great many Americans.

CARDONA: It fundamentally misunderstands the reason why people come here to begin with. People don't come here to come and get Medicaid. People don't come here to live on welfare. Those are misguided, right- wing, republican talking points, and that is a complete misunderstanding of the reason why immigrants come here.

Immigrants come here to try to give their families a better life. When they step foot on these shores, will they absolutely have a job? Will they have an inheritance? Will they be independently wealthy? Will they know English fully? No, of course not, they need time to do all of that.

But this was the country that promised them the ability, to your point, if they work hard, that they will be able to access the American dream. What this rule, this new regulation, does, Scott, and I hope that you read it, because if you say that it is consistent with what we've been doing thus far, then we wouldn't need it.

But the reason why they're trying to implement it now is because they know that they can now randomly and broadly tell somebody that they will not be given a green card because they believe with whatever wacky system --

LEMON: OK.

CARDONA: -- they've come up with, that they're going to be a public charge. That is not fair, and it's not American.

LEMON: If we are tightening up controls on immigration, both legal and illegal, what about employers, employers that employ undocumented immigrants? Are they getting a pass, Scott?

JENNINGS: Yeah, look, I think employers who break the law, people who break U.S. law. That goes for the people coming here illegally and the people who are helping them come here illegally. I think they are all ought to be treated the same. That's equal justice under the law. If you break the law, you ought to be punished and face the same consequences.

Now, in America right now, we have more job openings than Americans looking for work. So in theory under a legal immigration system where people were able to come here who wanted to work, there's a land of opportunity. What I hear the administration saying is we have a lot of people who have come here illegally, and we have some people here that may be taking advantage. Most, I don't think are, but some may be.

But right now, the economic conditions are such that if you come here legally, there is a whole land of opportunity of jobs that are available because we have more openings than people looking for work. So, what I see Donald Trump and the Republicans trying to do is to get folks into a legal system where we know you're here, we know why you're here, and we know you're here to make a better life for yourself and you're here to do it in accordance with U.S. law, period.

LEMON: Maria, quick last word please.

CARDONA: In fact, again, Scott, if what you're saying is true, then we wouldn't need this new "system." But look at the studies. The studies actually say that this will cut legal immigration in half. And then if we have so many new openings, this is going to drastically hurt our economy, the economies of states around the country, and it's going to get a lot of pushback from the courts. I can guarantee you that.

LEMON: All right. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

CARDONA: Thank you, Don.

JENNINGS: Thanks.

LEMON: Evangelicals, next.

[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It's a question that people have been asking since the early days of the 2016 campaign. What is it about Donald Trump that has so many evangelical Christians supporting him, even when what he says and does seems to go against their own faith?

Let's discuss now. Ben Howe is here. He is the author of a new book, "The Immoral Majority." Immoral, that's right. "The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Choose Political Power Over Christian Values." Good evening, sir. Good to see you. I just want to make sure because it might sound like I'm saying moral majority, but it's the immoral majority.

BEN HOWE, FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR, HOWE CREATIVE GROUP: That's right.

LEMON: I appreciate you joining us.

HOWE: Thanks for having me.

LEMON: In your book, you write about the rise of the Trump evangelical during this election. How did so many evangelicals come to support a man who doesn't seem to share their moral values at all?

HOWE: Well, you know, even worse than not sharing their moral values, we're talking about a movement that in the 1990s was built on the question of character. I mean, the evangelical movement made its bones in a lot of ways on the national scene by calling out Bill Clinton's character in a lot of the same ways that Trump did, you know, for things that Trump did.

And I think the real issue here was leadership first. The evangelical leadership found the biblical rationalizations needed to tell their flocks that it's OK to vote for the Republican. The reason they needed to do that was because these people wanted to vote for their self- interests and they wanted to feel good about it, and these leaders helped them do it.

LEMON: So is it about getting the judges and the policies they want? Is that what it's all about?

HOWE: I mean, to an extent, yes, but the issue is a lot of times evangelicals cite these religious policy issues, so religious freedom, abortion.

[23:39:54] In 2016, since I was a Republican and a Conservative and an evangelical, and I was debating, you know, a lot of my friends and allies about why they were going to support him, they were very, you know, oh, I don't want to, but abortion and, you know, religious freedom and things like that.

But there was a LifeWay poll and Pew research polls that showed that that wasn't the order of interest. The order of interest was the economy, terrorism, you know, yes, the Supreme Court. But on the same list, you would have abortion down at the bottom below immigration, religious freedom below immigration. Even when they were given the opportunity to write down what was most important to them, they still didn't put abortion very high on the list.

LEMON: You also write, you said, "Evangelical leaders have gone much further than simply attempting to excuse uncomfortable hypocrisies or rationalize bad behaviors. In the case of Donald Trump, they have gone to great lengths to paint him not merely as an ally, but as a vessel of God's will, a submissive and humble servant fulfilling God's purposes."

HOWE: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: How did they come to that conclusion?

HOWE: Well, there are a lot of great books in the bible that are intended to teach certain lessons, like, take Jonah or David or any of these flawed people, and they did something for God that God wanted them to do and they overcame it and redeemed themselves and so on. And it's like they've taken Trump, and they've come up with this romantic story about how he did the same thing. The difference being he's never exhibited the redemption they're talking about and in fact when he's asked about it, he says he doesn't ask for forgiveness. He doesn't do the things that any of these biblical characters did. But it's a good story.

LEMON: Politico is reporting that Trump upset many evangelicals after taking the lord's name in vain at a July rally. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They'll be hit so goddamn hard. If you don't support me, you're going to be so goddamn poor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So that was over the line in comparison to his treatment of women, his racist remarks, his many marriages, the affairs, all of that. That was over the line, though?

HOWE: They -- the only thing that I can figure out about a lot of these people is that what matters most is the most superficial stuff. They want to be able to defend what they really want. What they want is, you know, a good economy or whatever, the normal republican things that have to do with their lives.

When it comes to these religious issues, when it comes to feeding the poor or being kind to other nations or anything else, it's not as important to them because they're more concerned about their personal lives. So in this case, I think the issue is that breaks through a little bit and shows their underbelly. They don't like that. They want to present this idea that they do care about this stuff.

LEMON: We have been talking on the show tonight and reporting about President Trump and his supporters dislike being called racists. I just want to read. This is a bit from your book that I found fascinating.

You said, "Conservatives tend to portray the maligning of their motives as just as deeply hurtful as a liberal might portray the assumption of ethnic or gender inferiority. It's another very important aspect of this new right. Being unjustly called racist was an equal injustice to being the victim of racism. Thus, they could be utterly outraged and therefore justified in rejecting critical voices from outsiders."

Is this just another way of them justifying their support to a president who says racist things?

HOWE: I think that it is a way of turning the tables. They believe that the way to fight what they see as unfair tactics from the left for years is to fight fire with fire. This is their own form of political correctness.

LEMON: So you call me racist, I'm going to call you racist?

HOWE: Well, no. If you call me racist, I'm going to call you a snowflake. So they take the same language patterns, and they just insert their own words on top of it, but they do the same thing.

If on the left, if the stereotype would be that somebody on the left is going to call you racist, you know, somebody on the right is going to call me, like, you know, a virtue signaler or something like that. They come up with categories and words in order to make it so they don't have to actually debate the substance of an issue.

LEMON: Right.

HOWE: They can just dismiss you.

LEMON: They dismiss it by calling it something that they think is negative (ph).

HOWE: Right.

LEMON: You've been an evangelical your entire life.

HOWE: I have.

LEMON: Where does the movement go from here?

HOWE: Well, I think they need to get smaller. There are these mega churches. There are these -- you've got these mega churches and then they have satellite churches in these gigantic congregations. In my experience, the smaller these groups get, the closer they get to the actual word and the closer they get to God. They need to stop listening to national political leaders who are trying to squirm the bible into fitting their party.

You can't vote religiously. You can be a religious person who has that instruct you, but it can't be the case that one party is how you show your love for God. You can't be that way.

LEMON: Thank you. Ben's book is called "The Immoral Majority: Why Evangelicals Chose Political Power Over Christian Values."

[23:45:03] Our thanks to Ben Howe again.

HOWE: Thank you.

LEMON: An American athlete, a gold medal winner, protests racism and gun violence by taking a knee during the national anthem at the Pan American Games, and he's calling out President Trump. I'm going to talk to him, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Two American athletes, gold medalists, at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, protesting during the playing of the national anthem. Fencer Race Imboden knelt, saying he is calling out racism and gun violence among other things. Gwen Berry, winner of the gold medal in women's hammer throw competition raised her right fist, saying she is standing up to injustice happening in America and a president who is making it worse.

[23:50:04] Race Imboden is here to talk about it. Thank you so much.

RACE IMBODEN, OLYMPIC ATHLETE: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: I appreciate it. It was very courageous for you to do what you did. You tweeted out that you knelt to bring attention to racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants. You even called out the president for spreading hate. Talk to me about your decision to kneel. Why?

IMBODEN: You know, I was overseas for quite a bit of time. I was at the Pan Am Games competing. We just won gold medal. Right before I came out to the podium, I checked my phone and saw a post from my mother saying that it's time to use your voice. And I couldn't think of a better time to use my voice than when I had just succeeded and won a competition. And it was at a moment that really for me is the pinnacle of my happiness.

But then to hear my anthem come on and think about the terrible week that followed with the shootings in El Paso and the terrible things that are going on at home.

LEMON: Dayton and El Paso were tipping points for you?

IMBODEN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I just think that seeing that kind of violence happen in your own the country that you love and that you represent, it's difficult to swallow.

LEMON: How's your mom feel about what you did?

IMBODEN: She's proud of me. She definitely -- she was proud when I did it and I think now she is a little nervous and definitely worried.

LEMON: Yeah. You said that you were inspired by Colin Kaepernick's protest against social injustice and police brutality. You know Colin Kaepernick has faced a whole lot of criticism from the president, who has attacked him many times.

IMBODEN: Yes.

LEMON: Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I watched Colin Kaepernick. It was terrible. The NFL should have suspended him for one game, and he would have never done it again. I will tell you, you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem. You cannot do it.

Kneeling during the playing of our national anthem, I think, is disgraceful.

Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of the bitch off the field right now? Out! He's fired!

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: He's fired!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: What do you have to say to that? What would you tell the president?

IMBODEN: I don't think I have words for the president, but I can say that it makes me greatly disappointed to hear him talking about people that I think lead the country. I think athletes have always been leaders for people.

They have always been people that have driven people of most of the time in the right direction and given people hope in times of need, whether it's Muhammad Ali or people like John Carlos and Tommie Smith. There's always an athlete at every moment in history that has spoken up and has caused change.

LEMON: I want to put the pictures. You mentioned the 1968 Olympics.

IMBODEN: Yes.

LEMON: Tommie Smith and John Carlos. They raised their fists at the podium to protest the treatment of African-Americans. They got suspended from the team. They were ordered to leave Mexico. Are you worried about the repercussions for your career?

IMBODEN: Yeah, I'm absolutely worried. You know, fencing is what I love to do. I have grown up fencing and have been fencing 16 years now. It brings me incredible joy. To have that taken away from me would be terrible. I have my dreams of Olympic gold. Taken away would be absolutely terrible.

LEMON: The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic committees are looking into possible disciplinary actions against you. Are you concerned? Have you heard anything?

IMBODEN: I haven't. I had a meeting with USOPC and they were friendly and cordial. There was kind of just air of "we are waiting." So, I'm waiting as well.

LEMON: Yeah. You know, people often worry about even if it has a detrimental effect on your career, are you still you proud of what you did? Was it worth it? Is it worth it now? Because we don't know what is going to happen.

IMBODEN: Yes. I think that as an athlete, you face losses all the time. You know, you lose. Most of the time, it's on you and it is just on you and for what you want. It's all personal. For the first time, I can imagine, you know, a reason that losing something, losing my sport, has a purpose. And so it doesn't feel to me like I'm doing it for myself. It feels to me like it is for something bigger than me. To stand up for people who don't have voices.

LEMON: Yeah. What you think about what Gwen Berry did?

IMBODEN: I think it's fantastic. I'm always proud to see athletes especially winning athletes speak up. She did it in a non-violent way.

LEMON: I have to run here. But you no know the Olympics in Tokyo, less than a year away. Are you going continue to protest?

IMBODEN: I am definitely going to continue to spread this message and push forward.

LEMON: Race Imboden, thank you very much. I appreciate it. Good luck to you.

IMBODEN: Thank you very much.

LEMON: Continue success.

IMBODEN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you so much. And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.

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