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CUOMO PRIME TIME

Trump Walking Back Talk On Tougher Background Checks; Trump Blames Google For 2016 Popular Vote Loss; Congresswomen Omar & Tlaib Rip Trump & Israel For Barring Them. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 21:00   ET

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


[21:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: So, where does the relationship between the President and the Fox News actually go from here? I have no idea. But I got to tell you, I've already bought my ticket for that first trolley to hell and The Ridiculist.

That's it for us. The news continues. Want to hand it over to Chris, whoo-whoo, for CUOMO PRIME TIME.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST, CUOMO PRIME TIME: I was going to ask you for one of those. But the gift became even before the request. Thank you very much, my brother, I appreciate it.

All right, I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to PRIME TIME.

The President is backing away from his words of support for gun reform despite three more planned shootings being thwarted. Thank God! But now, we have a memo that may explain why this President has lost his spine.

We're going to bring in one of the biggest warriors of this battle in Congress. Does he have a counter to this newly-discovered GOP playbook on guns and White nationalism?

Another question. If this economy is the strongest ever, why does this President need another tax cut to juice it? The answer may lie in the potential of a recession on the horizon, and the reality of new poll numbers showing troubles on what should be the President's greatest strength. The Professor is here to tell us what matters and why.

I am back. You're here. What do you say? Let's get after it.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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CUOMO: So, after the back-to-back attacks in Dayton and El Paso, this President once again signaled he was open to tougher background checks to help curb gun violence. But once again, he's lost his spine.

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DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have very strong background checks right now. Just remember, we already have a lot of background checks, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Democrat David Cicilline rolled out the assault weapons ban of 2019 just earlier this year.

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TEXT: ONE ON ONE.

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CUOMO: He was able to get a single Republican in his chamber on board. I don't say that to minimize it. That's impressive in this environment. So, let's get reaction from the Congressman. Good to see you, Sir.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Good to see you.

CUOMO: He's backing off. What does it mean?

CICILLINE: Well, first of all, this is - we've seen this movie before. The President makes statements, which seem to indicate he supports some common-sense gun safety, and then he talks to the NRA, and he backpedals.

Look, we know background checks work. 3 million gun sales have been denied since the Brady law went into effect, which meant people were not allowed to buy a gun because of a criminal record or some other disqualifying information, were prevented from buying a gun, so we know they work.

The problem is--

CUOMO: His new excuse is, by the way--

CICILLINE: --one in five guns--

CUOMO: --just to factor into your argument, just to factor it in, because that's the point of your argument you're at right now. He says, "Cicilline is right. We have plenty of background laws already."

CICILLINE: Right. The problem is one in five gun sales in this country happens without a background check. So, we fixed that. We passed universal background checks.

We passed that back in February. It's been sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk. It will fix this huge loophole in the law as well as the Charleston loophole, so we know background checks work. We just want to apply it to all gun sales.

The President knows that. We should do something. We sent those bills to the Senate back in February. Mitch McConnell has been sitting on them. He ought to bring the Senate back into session and pass those two bills immediately. CUOMO: The - I just was reading a memo from the Republican Congressional Caucus that says this is just a stepping stone for you guys for a registry. You want to take all guns, dis-step the confiscation, and if they give you this, there'll be more.

Your response?

CICILLINE: Yes. This is the same argument the gun lobby has made from the very beginning. Don't agree to any common-sense proposals, the most reasonable proposals because they're the first step in taking away your guns.

It's nonsense. They know it's nonsense. The American people expect us to work together to reduce gun violence in this country, and we're not powerless to do anything about it.

We can take specific steps. We've already passed two important bills. We're going to take up three more on September 4th in the Judiciary Committee, and we have many more bills that will reduce gun violence that's because - we can do a better job keeping guns out of the hands of people who are danger to themselves and others, and - and - and our Republican colleagues need to join us in this effort.

But look, let's understand something. The Republican Party, by and large, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the gun lobby. They spent $50 million on six Senate races, and the President's election, $30 million on the President's election alone. They are a significant contributor to the Republican Party. And they dictate gun policy--

CUOMO: Well but the money is - the money is not--

CICILLINE: --to the Republicans.

CUOMO: --the money is not what does it though. It's their ability to get people to polls, because looking dollar for dollar, they're not more impressive than a lot of other lobbying groups. But they get people to the polls. And I wasn't citing gun lobby propaganda.

This is an internal memo, shared by Republicans, where they had an argument articulated when asked about assault weapons to say that you want a registry, and that's how you get away from that question, and when asked about White supremacists, don't go there, say you reject it, but then say "What about the Left?"

What do you make of that?

CICILLINE: Yes. Look, they're - first of all, the - the gun registry argument is a complete falsehood. There is nothing in the assault weapons ban that relates to a gun registry in any way. It's an assault weapons ban that bans weapons of war. These weapons were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible.

[21:05:00] I'm proud to say we have 204 co-sponsors. It's full - it's bipartisan now with Congressman King signing on.

CUOMO: Peter King. CICILLINE: When the assault weapon ban was in place--

CUOMO: Not Steve King.

CICILLINE: Peter King. Not Steve King. When the assault weapon ban was in place previously, the number of mass killings by assault weapons reduced significantly.

And we know, when assault weapons are used in mass killings, it increases deaths by 62 percent. Why? Because these guns are designed to kill as many people as fast as possible. These are killing machines.

They don't belong in the neighborhoods of our communities, in our churches, in our synagogues, and playgrounds. They don't belong in communities. They belong on the battlefield.

CUOMO: But now that you know--

CICILLINE: But look--

CUOMO: But now that you know, Congressman, that they have a playbook, and this is why we keep hearing such an echo effect among the party, I don't know if they're copying the President or the President is in lockstep with them, but they're following the same playbook, and this memo makes it very clear.

What do you think of this strategy of saying "Hey, White supremacy, say it's wrong, but then say White nationalism is no worse than these guys on the Left," what do you think about that and how do you counter it?

CICILLINE: Well look, I think we all have a responsibility to condemn White nationalism, domestic terrorism. I think they're conflating two issues here. But we're arguing for our common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence in this country.

We have a gun violence epidemic, unlike any other country in the world. And there are things we can do. We've passed two important bills that will significantly reduce the likelihood that criminals and others who shouldn't get guns can get them, universal background checks, supported by 95 percent of the American people, they ought to pass those.

And then, we're going to take up additional measures, common-sense proposals to reduce gun violence in this country, and that's our responsibility. It ought to be a bipartisan effort. Sadly, it's not with a few exceptions.

CUOMO: Well now you know why.

CICILLINE: But the American people are demanding - they're demanding--

CUOMO: Well they demanded--

CICILLINE: --that Congress take action. CUOMO: --they demanded in opinion polls, they demanded in emotion when we're on scene, they demanded at our Town Halls, they've never demanded it at the actual polls, on Election Day. If they vote on it, it will--

CICILLINE: I think that's changing.

CUOMO: --it will change. We'll see. We'll see.

CICILLINE: Yes, Chris, I think it's changing.

CUOMO: We'll have to see.

CICILLINE: I think people are going to be held accountable, absolutely.

CUOMO: We'll have to see.

One other thing, the idea of a payroll tax, yes, you can say they're juicing the economy, yes, you can say it's hypocritical if they say this is the strongest economy ever, but tax cuts are impressive to voters, especially if it's pitched as yet another middle-class tax cut.

What is your thought about the idea? What is your counter?

CICILLINE: Well, first of all, the tax cut that the Republicans passed with the President's support, a $2 trillion tax cut, which was unpaid for, 83 percent of that tax cut went to the richest Americans, and the most profitable corporations in America - in America.

It didn't go to the middle-class. And now the middle-class is being asked to pay for it. So, we ought to have had a tax cut that benefited working people that - that raised the income of middle-class families, but instead went to the richest people in this country and the biggest corporations.

So, there's going to be tax reform in order to focus on a benefit for the middle-class, but we also need to be sure we're generating sufficient revenues to do all the things we expect government to do.

You can't give away $2 trillion unpaid for because then the President and the Republicans come back and say "We need to cut Pell Grants and Social Security and Medicare and infrastructure to pay for the tax cut we gave--

CUOMO: And that's what the payroll tax--

CICILLINE: --to the richest people in this country."

CUOMO: The problem with the payroll tax is it sounds great to the working man and woman because they know what the payroll tax is very well. The problem is that money goes to pay for Medicaid and Medicare. Where are they going to get the money from? They're going to say they need offsetting cuts--

CICILLINE: Which are also very important to--

CUOMO: --that's a problem.

CICILLINE: --middle-families again.

CUOMO: A 100 percent. A 100 percent.

CICILLINE: Exactly.

CUOMO: All right, Congressman, thank you very much for coming on to make the case. Appreciate it, as always.

CICILLINE: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: All right.

CICILLINE: Thank you.

CUOMO: Now look, you have to diagnose the politics on both sides, so you understand the state of play, but you always have to keep the facts straight.

The President lost the popular vote in this election, and it burns him, and that's why he blames it away every chance he gets, most often with this illusion of voter fraud. Remember, he commissioned a panel. They had to disband it for finding nothing.

New claim, Google is why he lost. Let's test that with the OAO, the One-And-Only Fact-Finder, Mr. Daniel Dale, next.

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TEXT: CUOMO PRIME TIME.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: So, we have this week's episode of Trump-attack-ticks. After tiring of going after me, he went after his Fed Chairman, and now Google. Here's the tweet.

"Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Election!" See that, 16? 2016? Must be true! He then says, "This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!"

So, let's test it with Daniel Dale. Good to have you, brother.

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Thanks for having me.

CUOMO: So, true? Not so true?

DALE: It's - it's not true at all. I spoke to the author of this study. And the study is--

CUOMO: The Clinton supporter?

DALE: He's a Clinton supporter. So that - that part is correct.

CUOMO: That's true.

DALE: Yes. So there - there are various questions about the quality of the study. But even the study's author says that the President didn't describe the study correctly. What the study's author says is that he has no evidence that anything was manipulated, search results or votes themselves.

What he says, and this is disputed, is that Google's - Google's search results showed bias, a pro-Clinton bias during the 2016--

CUOMO: Meaning what?

DALE: --campaign.

So, what he says is that he - he got a bunch of people, basically random Americans, to Google various election-related things. And he says that the first page of the Google results were more pro-Clinton on Google than they were on other websites.

And there - there are a lot of questions about the methodology that I can get into, if you like.

CUOMO: All right. But, you know, the science aside, because nobody really believes polling is scientific anyway, even though people kill themselves to make it as accurate as they can.

Here's what's interesting to me, Daniel Dale, is that the President is now ascribing credibility to an infection that he ignores about Russia.

You messed with the type of stuff that's out there. You colored the perception on different things. You tried to infect the system. He's charging Google with that. But he and his puppets will never acknowledge that Russia doing the same thing would have been a problem.

[21:15:00] Isn't that interesting that now he's basing this on something that I understand that the people who did this study don't invest the same significance that the President is trying to ascribe to it, but the idea that someone messed with how people processed information?

He only accepts if it was bad for him, not if it was good for him.

DALE: Right. I think we've seen over and over, Chris, the President has no regard for consistent - consistency.

There are charges that he refuses to accept against himself that he will gleefully make about others, when the time is - is right for him. He will reject allegations against him, and then accept them about others in other cases. And so, yes, he - he does what he feels will help him in any given moment.

CUOMO: Now, none of that--

DALE: Regardless of what he stands for (ph).

CUOMO: --surprises me. Here's what--

DALE: Yes.

CUOMO: --surprises me is that Clinton - Hillary responded, put up the tweet.

"The debunked study you're referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that's about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted."

Is that accurate?

DALE: So, what the - what the study author did is get 95 people from around the country to rate search results for supposed pro-Clinton or pro-Trump sentiment.

Then, he took that level of supposed bias, and said, "According to my findings in studies about other elections in India, Australia, and other foreign countries, that alleged level of bias would produce this many million approximately votes affected in this election."

So, people who criticize this study say, "Well you can't just take the results in like an Indian legislative election, and apply them to the 2016 American election. If you're going to assess how votes were affected--

CUOMO: It's not apples-to-apples.

DALE: --you have to ask people." You have to ask people--

CUOMO: Yes.

DALE: --how their votes were affected. It's so--

CUOMO: Well methodologically, it's--

DALE: Yes.

CUOMO: --not apples-to-apples.

DALE: It's not.

CUOMO: But also, in terms of sample, you would have to approach the sample with whether or not they changed outcome based on that. DALE: Right. And the - the study author says that even he has no evidence that anything was deliberately manipulated. He says this might well have been unconscious bias on the part of the people who wrote Google's algorithms.

CUOMO: So interesting, I guarantee you, if it hasn't been done already, somebody is going to get people together, and do the exact same thing, showing them things that were written during the campaign that were BS from troll farms. And the President, I will bet you, lunch anywhere, will reject the methodology and the findings.

Daniel Dale, thank you very much--

DALE: Thank you.

CUOMO: --for helping us keep the facts straight. Appreciate it.

Now, you may remember everybody, the President wanted Muslim and Brown-skinned Congresswomen out of this country. Then, he helped get them banned from entering another country. Today, we heard from two of those political opponents.

Is this about unity with Israel or the darkest kind of division? That is the starting point for a Great Debate, two great debaters, I love it, next.

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TEXT: LET'S GET AFTER IT.

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CUOMO: It's not unusual to hear an American politician say that they are pro-Israel or stand with Israel. It's certainly not unusual to hear this President say it.

But in this case, with these two Democratic Congresswomen, we have to look at it a little bit more deeply, and we have to listen to what the two Democratic women said in their answer today. Listen to this.

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REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): It is unfortunate that Prime Minister Netanyahu has apparently taken a page out of Trump's book, and even direction from Trump to deny this opportunity.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): The Muslim community and the Jewish community are being othered and made into the bogeyman by this administration. (END VIDEO CLIP)

CUOMO: Now, the President says this is about being Pro, pro-Israel, pro-Jewish. These two say "No. It's all about Anti, anti-Muslim, anti- Brown people, and anti-Women."

Let's use this as a start of tonight's Great Debate with Angela Rye and Patrick Griffin.

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TEXT: THE GREAT DEBATE.

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CUOMO: It's good to have you both on the show. Patrick, what do you think of that premise that this is about the President using two people who he loves to make the face of the Democratic Party because it helps divide us and them, and that's what's motivating him going after them about Israel?

PATRICK GRIFFIN, GOP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST, FOUNDING PARTNER & CEO, MERRIMACK POTOMAC + CHARLES (MP+C): Chris, I - I - I will tell you that Donald Trump should go play the lottery.

The fact that he has drawn these two women, these four women, the Squad, if you will, and has been able to paint them as the progressive-leftist Left of the Democratic Party, the guy should play the lottery.

CUOMO: Why?

GRIFFIN: I mean you can't get luckier than this. Because this election--

CUOMO: And why is it lucky? That they're Muslim and Brown?

GRIFFIN: --because - no, Chris, not - now, come on, not at all. This has to do with the fact--

CUOMO: Come on! I mean that's the only thing that seems obvious to me.

GRIFFIN: --that the far-Left leaning things that these folks--

CUOMO: What's obvious? Go ahead.

GRIFFIN: --stand for are not going to work in swing states in this country. It's precisely why Donald Trump will cruise again to maybe a very narrow election victory. But he's going to win. This stuff doesn't sell with most people outside of Manhattan, Los Angeles, and parts of New York.

CUOMO: All right, so Patrick, let's just take a look--

GRIFFIN: It just doesn't.

CUOMO: --at this stuff, and I'll bounce it to Angela.

But just as a point of order here, in terms of wanting to posture himself as a way that shows an affinity to, or an allegiance with, and a protection of, Jewish people or Jewish-Americans, let's just put up on the screen what he hasn't talked about while he's been talking about Tlaib and Omar.

He didn't mention the guy who tried to run down a bunch of Jewish people and hurt people over the weekend.

He's downplayed the threat of White nationalism. He says it's not a big deal even though those are the people going after Jewish people in this country most, and doing the most murdering.

And he backed off gun control, which is something that would be relevant, if you are being hunted by haters, like Jewish people are, and others in this country.

But Angela, Patrick says the President's lucky because of these two, but it's because of what they are selling as policy, not how they appear. Your response?

ANGELA RYE, ATTORNEY, IMPACT STRATEGIES PRINCIPAL & CEO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Yes. I think it's an - a really unfortunate time in this country when people who just are seeking greater access to healthcare are demonized, when people who are seeking solutions to the types of climate change that have poisoned small children are deemed as radical and dangerous, a day and age where racism is - is taken, you know, head-on, and they're dealing with the types of issues that have divided this country for far too long, frankly, since its foundation.

[21:25:00] It is unfortunate that now this is about winning elections more than this is about changing the consciousness of people to ensure that we began to do the right thing.

So, I will take the Squad any day over Donald Trump where they challenge us to be our best selves, where they say occupation no more of Israel and Palestine, taking the same tone, Chris that Nelson Mandela did before his death.

So, I am hard-pressed to understand why this is about winning when the win is not a long-term solution at all. It is about appealing to the worst among us, the worst fears among us, for White folks who are afraid of becoming the minority in this country, appealing to the fears and the prejudices and the bigotry and the xenophobia and the racism of - of - in people's hearts.

CUOMO: All right.

RYE: That is problematic. So, this is - this is about winning an election at all costs, and - and consciousness and--

CUOMO: Right.

RYE: --the right thing be damned, OK, but I think we have a lot more to lose.

CUOMO: Well, but, look, I mean, you know--

RYE: And we're seeing it every single day.

CUOMO: --it's not unusual in politics for people to play to advantage because they think they're going to win. But Patrick, the idea of whom he's picking--

RYE: But at what cost?

CUOMO: --whom he's picking. There are a lot of Democrats who believe the kinds of things that these two do. They just don't look like them.

GRIFFIN: Chris, we're back to this identity politics. This is the worst kind of thing.

CUOMO: Yes. That you don't think that this is a play for him?

GRIFFIN: Trump didn't pick them. They picked themselves.

RYE: Trump is doing identity politics.

GRIFFIN: They picked themselves, Chris. The fact of the matter is these Members of Congress have decided to stand up and speak out for the Democratic Caucus. Nancy Pelosi can't even control these folks. This has nothing to do with the color of their skin.

RYE: These folks.

GRIFFIN: This has everything to do with the fact that they are supporting terrorist organizations in Israel. But nobody even knew what the BDS was before we started hearing--

RYE: Oh my God.

GRIFFIN: --about all this stuff. We need to be very, very careful here. This is unfortunately about politics.

RYE: Let's talk about terrorism.

GRIFFIN: Politics is about elections. This isn't about terrorism.

RYE: Let's talk about terrorism.

GRIFFIN: This is about the fact--

RYE: Let's talk about terrorism.

GRIFFIN: --that these four women--

RYE: You know who the greatest terrorists are in this country?

GRIFFIN: --particularly these two, have taken over the Democratic Party, hijacked it from their own Speaker.

CUOMO: You think they've taken--

RYE: That is so interesting.

CUOMO: --it over, Angela?

RYE: It's so interesting that you use the term for the two - the only two Muslim women in Congress, the term you chose to use, Sir--

GRIFFIN: Got nothing to do with whether they're Muslim or not, Angela.

RYE: --is hijacking. Oh, really?

GRIFFIN: Nothing to do with that.

RYE: You chose to use the term--

GRIFFIN: Absolutely not.

RYE: --hijacking. I beg to differ. And I absolutely condemn--

GRIFFIN: That's right. I did. Because they hijacked the party--

RYE: --your remarks.

GRIFFIN: --from their own principles.

RYE: Yes, OK. That's a real interesting word choice.

GRIFFIN: From their own principles, they've hijacked the Democratic Party.

RYE: You can talk over me all you want to.

GRIFFIN: And that's one of the reasons why--

RYE: But the bottom line is the greatest--

GRIFFIN: --Donald Trump should play the lottery.

RYE: --terrorist group in this country--

GRIFFIN: He's a lucky guy.

RYE: --are White men, White men who think like you.

GRIFFIN: Yes. You're right.

RYE: That is the greatest terrorist threat in this country.

GRIFFIN: You're absolutely right. It's all because of guys like me. That's silly rhetoric. It doesn't get its point (ph).

CUOMO: No.

RYE: No, it's not. You know what's silly?

GRIFFIN: I think this show started, which was--

RYE: The fact that you're on here knowing how dangerous times are right now, defending this nonsense, calling people "These folks," talking about--

GRIFFIN: What - what's silly--

CUOMO: All right, but hold on, hold on--

GRIFFIN: --what's silly - what's--

RYE: --they hijacked the party.

CUOMO: Hold on one second. Let's reset.

GRIFFIN: --what's silly, Angela--

CUOMO: Let's reset the table.

RYE: Come on. That's dangerous.

CUOMO: Reset the table.

RYE: It's dangerous.

CUOMO: Hold on, Angela.

GRIFFIN: What's silly is that--

CUOMO: --when you - hold on - just to be clear, Patrick--

GRIFFIN: --you don't accept the fact that someone else can--

CUOMO: --give me a second.

RYE: It's not silly.

CUOMO: Patrick? Hey?

RYE: There's nothing silly about this conversation.

CUOMO: Hello? Who's show is it?

RYE: Sorry, Chris.

CUOMO: Calm down, so we can have a rational conversation. You are not saying, Angela--

RYE: I'm very calm.

CUOMO: --that he is a terrorist. You're saying that the threat in this country is what exactly?

RYE: It's racist rhetoric. And that type of rhetoric fueling the type of hatred that is resulting in White supremacist threats, the increase in hate crimes all over this country-- CUOMO: Well but hold on. OK.

RYE: --and hate incidents and it is happening--

CUOMO: I take your point. Patrick, why are you--

RYE: OK.

CUOMO: --shaking your head on this? This is a matter of fact.

GRIFFIN: Because, Chris, this is--

CUOMO: When you look at the ADL--

GRIFFIN: Chris, it's not a matter of fact.

RYE: They don't know the facts.

CUOMO: --White nationalists, White supremacists are three-quarters--

GRIFFIN: I'm sorry, my friend, it's not.

CUOMO: Hold on, Patrick, let me finish. You can't --you can't, listen--

GRIFFIN: Go ahead.

CUOMO: --don't make a mistake I make every once in a while.

RYE: He can't handle the truth.

CUOMO: Don't come at me before I finish the point. It mitigates the strength of the rebuttal.

GRIFFIN: OK, go ahead.

CUOMO: So, the idea is this. Why would you shake your head about what you know as a matter of fact?

We are dealing with terrorism in this country that is done at the hand of White nationalists, supremacists, and extremists. We know that. They're responsible for three-quarters of it. Your own FBI Director that the President picked said the same thing, that's the big threat.

Why would you shake your head "No?" You accept all that as fact. Do you not?

GRIFFIN: Because - because - because the fact of the matter is we're talking about politics here. We're talking about the fact, you set this up, Chris, that the President has sort of used these particular opponents to define how he sees this election.

CUOMO: Yes.

GRIFFIN: This political election. And what I'm telling you is when we get into this kind of rhetoric that it's all the fault of White males, and it's all about hatred--

CUOMO: It's not all the fault of White males.

GRIFFIN: --and so on and so forth.

CUOMO: I'm saying he picked--

GRIFFIN: Chris - Chris, I'm not quoting you.

RYE: Nobody said that.

CUOMO: --these women, Patrick. He picked these, Pat--

GRIFFIN: Chris, I'm not quoting you.

CUOMO: Patrick, he picked these women.

GRIFFIN: He - Chris, he didn't pick these women.

CUOMO: He refuses to call out White nationalism unless he says--

GRIFFIN: Chris? Chris?

CUOMO: --"But don't forget about the Left." He says Antifa must be on a list of terroristic organizations.

GRIFFIN: Chris.

CUOMO: He does not say that about neo-Nazis. Why?

GRIFFIN: Chris, these women have picked themselves.

RYE: Now he says - he says mental illness, instead.

[21:30:00] GRIFFIN: They chose to hold a press conference today in Washington. They decide to drive the Democrat agenda. And it gives President Trump the material fortunately or unfortunately he leaves--

CUOMO: And you think it has nothing to do with the fact that--

GRIFFIN: --to get weeks and weeks of conversation about this.

CUOMO: --she has a hijab on her head, and that she's Muslim and Brown.

RYE: Right.

GRIFFIN: It has - I don't believe so. I do not believe that. But you may.

RYE: Well let's - let's--

GRIFFIN: I will just tell you--

RYE: Let's - let's--

GRIFFIN: --I don't need to believe that because I don't think that's it. She says outrageous things--

RYE: But you know why?

GRIFFIN: --not matter what color her skin is.

RYE: It doesn't serve you to believe it.

CUOMO: All right.

GRIFFIN: Or what her religion--

CUOMO: Last word to you, Angela.

GRIFFIN: --religious background is.

CUOMO: All right, Patrick, I take your point. Last word to you, Angela.

RYE: Patrick, and you know the challenge here is it doesn't serve you to believe it because it doesn't feel right, right? It makes you a little uncomfortable. And so, the challenge that we have here is--

GRIFFIN: Doesn't make me uncomfortable at all, Angela.

RYE: --you have the opportunity--

GRIFFIN: Not a bit.

RYE: Yes, just like "Hijacking" and "These folks."

GRIFFIN: Not a bit.

RYE: But I think the reality of it is very simple.

GRIFFIN: Come on.

RYE: You have the opportunity right now to do the right thing instead of just choosing what's politically expedient to you. And I challenge you and your colleagues and everybody else who may be afraid, watching this program, we're not your enemies. These folks are Amer - as American as you.

GRIFFIN: Who? Who - make--

RYE: They look a little different.

GRIFFIN: What makes you think that I view you as my enemy, Angela?

RYE: I'm talking about the same type of rhetoric that Donald Trump used against--

CUOMO: All right.

RYE: --President Obama when he was not from this country, right?

GRIFFIN: But - but this is one of the reasons-- RYE: This is the same toxic dangerous - dangerous rhetoric.

GRIFFIN: --that this has escalated into this kind of a--

RYE: But I'm telling you it's not right.

CUOMO: Well--

GRIFFIN: --political situation.

RYE: It's not right.

CUOMO: All right, Angela, I take the point.

RYE: It's not right.

CUOMO: Patrick, I take the point.

GRIFFIN: We get nowhere like this.

RYE: It's dangerous.

CUOMO: Just one point of order. When you say this is why it's escalated, yes, with this President, he needs to undo the reputation for using race against a sitting President when he knew it was BS. And by doing more of it, it doesn't help him outlive his own reputation.

RYE: Yes.

CUOMO: But I appreciate the arguments on both sides. Patrick, thank you, as always, Angela as well, thank you.

RYE: Thank you.

CUOMO: This President, shifting to the economy, says forget about all this recession talk. He puts out his people, many of them very competent and polished on television, "Recession? No, no, no, it's not happening." Then why push another tax cut? A payroll tax, which means you'd be taking money away from Medicare and Medicaid.

The Professor is in. We have Professor Brownstein with the reality of the economy, and what is in new poll numbers that makes this President nervous, next.

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CUOMO: All right, there are some new signs that suggest this President's greatest potential strength may become a weakness. The words "Recession, Consumer confidence, Presidential competence," are all in the air and creating a foul smell to noses in the White House.

So, just how concerned should the President be? Let's throw three questions to Professor Ron Brownstein.

Now, the White House is saying, "Oh, payroll taxes, those aren't on the table, oh but more tax cuts for the American people are," look, whichever way they want to spin it. The idea that we have the strongest economy, but we may need a tax cut to juice it, those two don't go together.

What are you seeing here?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: No. I mean, look, I mean the President said something revealing the other day. He said "The consumer, because of my tax cut, is holding up the economy."

In fact, as you recall, the principle justification for this tax cut, which gave enormous expensive benefits to business was that it would produce a surge in investment that would lead the economy. That has not really occurred.

And, at this point, it is consumer spending that is keeping, you know, the economy in high gear. He wants to juice that further with some kind of tax cut next year.

I suppose it's possible that Democrats in an election year could give him a sugar high tax cut with a trillion-dollar deficit. It's also possible I could start one of the games in the World Series, and I would look at but - both of those things at about equal odds.

CUOMO: Would you be going sidearm if you were to be taking them out?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, exactly, exactly.

CUOMO: You know, I - don't want to burn yourself out too fast. Give them the knuckle.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: So, let me ask you this though.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: How much of this is about the polls that came out from NBC/Wall Street Journal in terms of the optics of the economy? And look, it should be seen as a pretty healthy number, given what his others are, 49, 46.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes. CUOMO: But with the economy this strong, and he's still under 50, you know, reminded me in Brownstein-esque fashion, you know, Obama, back around 2012, he was at the same approval as this President, around 44 percent. But on the economy--

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: --even though he inherited a bad economy, he was getting crushed. He was like--

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: --20-something percent. This economy should have this President much higher. What does it mean to you?

BROWNSTEIN: Well look, I mean, in fact, this President has a unique problem. Every President worries about the downside of a slowing economy. That is kind of a - a whirlpool that - that tugs down anyone in the Oval Office.

But Trump already has a unique problem, which is that as your numbers on the screen show, the share of people who approve of him on the economy is consistently higher than the share who approve of him overall.

CUOMO: True.

BROWNSTEIN: And what that means is that, again, in this Wall Street Journal/NBC poll today, somewhere between roughly one-sixth to one- fifth of the people who approve of him on the economy, consistently say they still disapprove of his overall performance, either because they disagree with him on other issues, or more likely because they don't like the way he comports himself as President.

Chris, that is unprecedented. We have never seen that level of dissatisfaction with a sitting President among people who are satisfied with the economy. And it is one of the principal vulnerabilities he faced.

In - in that Wall Street Journal poll today, I believe it was 17 percent of the people who said they approve of his economic performance, still say they intend to vote for a Democrat over him in 2020. Nothing like that has happened before.

And it really is that sliver that slice of voters, the - the delta between the share of voters who approve him on the economy and approve of him overall, that is really, I think, the most - the most plausible path for him to re-election. And, right now, the vast majority of saying they do not want him for a second term.

CUOMO: And that's without them having good reason to go against him on the economy.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: If this talk about a recession is made manifest in any way, I know he's fighting with Powell. And I got to be honest with you, Ron.

I get the argument of Powell having raised rates too much and too fast. I don't think the President is wrong about that. But how he's handling it is obviously creating another layer on people's feelings about how he handles things in general.

But if Iran goes sideways--

BROWNSTEIN: Good - yes.

CUOMO: --and starts messing with oil prices in a way that shakes up the economy around election time, if the China trade deal, and let's be honest, China has so many more tools in their bag to handle any tariff situation than we do, then he may wind up having the economy get a shake at exactly the wrong time, and then, what?

BROWNSTEIN: Well right. And - and don't forget the possibility of a hard-Brexit - of a - of a Brexit - No-deal Brexit creating recession in Europe. Look, as we said, any President worries about the downside of a sinking economy.

[21:40:00] The President has a couple of unique problems. As we said, first, he is not getting as much benefit from the upside of the economy as Presidents usually do because an unusually high share of the people who are economically satisfied still disapprove of him.

And secondly, I think the downside is a unique risk for him because if it does come, if a recession does come, there will be a lot of neutral voices, who will pin it on his own policy decisions, in particular, the escalation of the Trade War--

CUOMO: Yes. I mean that's the problem.

BROWNSTEIN: --with China--

CUOMO: Is that he made the problems.

BROWNSTEIN: --as well as the failure of the tax cuts.

CUOMO: This isn't just a cyclical--

BROWNSTEIN: You--

CUOMO: --vagary that he can explain--

BROWNSTEIN: Right.

CUOMO: --away on something else. He juiced it with the tax cut.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

CUOMO: People will easily connect the dots on that because it's just economics and math. We know what the deficit is. And now, if one of his political gambits winds up creating pressure that creates a cascade event, he's going to have to answer for it.

Professor, as always, you made us better, and thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, now what should be universally accepted as good news, the NFL season is upon us, has a layer of controversy. Jay-Z just made a deal with the League. Does it make him a sellout?

Let's bring in D. Lemon to discuss, next.

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[21:45:00] CUOMO: So, Colin Kaepernick is not happy about another big name usually known for supporting him, Jay-Z. Here's what's going on.

The Rapper and Mogul announced a deal with the NFL last week. It's meant, he says, to help use music and football to inspire change, to encourage more social justice. No matter how he described it, controversy followed, so Jay-Z responded this way.

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JAY-Z, RAPPER, SONGWRITER, PRODUCER, ENTREPRENEUR: I think we've passed kneeling. Yes, I think it's time to go into actionable items.

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CUOMO: All right, Kaepernick heard it, and then tweeted this. "They have never moved past the people."

Let's bring in D. Lemon. D. Lemon, the charge from Jay-Z's side is "I'm trying to do the right thing," that it's not just about protest, it's about what he calls action items, and that's what I'm going to be working on. Do you accept?

DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: Not fully!

I can see where if - where he wants to move on, but they haven't really dealt with the initial issue yet. And the - the initial issue was the kneeling, and is the kneeling, and also that Colin Kaepernick has been somehow banned or black-balled from the NFL.

So, you don't have a leader take you on to the battlefield, and then you get rid of that leader, abandon that leader. And I think Colin Kaepernick has been a leader on this particular issue. And I don't think that they should abandon his issue. They should stand behind him.

CUOMO: Jay-Z's said--

LEMON: And they should lead with him.

CUOMO: --it was never about him having a job, Kaepernick--

LEMON: It's--

CUOMO: --that--

LEMON: It is about him having a job.

CUOMO: --that - that became about that.

LEMON: I disagree with Jay-Z on that.

CUOMO: But that's not what it was about. He was really about the protest and about getting social justice. So, that's what he should--

LEMON: But if--

CUOMO: --worry about.

LEMON: --if your leader takes you in the - your leader's taking you into battle to do something, if your leader gets injured - injured somehow, immobilized, or killed, it's not that you do run away from your leader.

It's not about your leader, and what happens to them initially, but that is all part of the equation. So, yes, it is about him not getting a job and being banned.

CUOMO: If that's a--

LEMON: And until - and until--

CUOMO: Because that's a manifestation of the problem.

LEMON: It is.

CUOMO: I don't love the metaphor of the leader because I think there are a lot of them. He started it. He was the catalyst. But there are a lot of African-Americans in the League, obviously, who share his concerns, who share his life experience, and much worse.

LEMON: But they - they're--

CUOMO: I think the problem for Jay-Z is--

LEMON: --but Chris, there's a lot - there a lot of African-Americans who share that, but they're not--

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: --not at the cost of their jobs. They're not still taking-- CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: --a knee.

CUOMO: True.

LEMON: They're not still standing up for this particular issue. And I think that un - unless he deals - unless the owners, I think the owners in some way - and I had this conversation last week on the show, when you were off, unless the own - the owners in some way, and I hate to word that because Jemele Hill took issue to that word too, you - is using Jay-Z, they're not - they're using his clout in this community--

CUOMO: Well he's selling their clout.

LEMON: --to smooth over the issue.

CUOMO: He's selling--

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: --their clout. Now, here's what Jay-Z needs. I need to understand better what this deal is. I was trying to do some research to counter you on the points about it.

I get how it's described. Maybe he's going to help pick musical talent, maybe he's going to help interface with communities, maybe that will help inspire social justice reform, I don't understand. It seems like it's "Pay me for my consultancy to get you better acts." And if that's all it is, he's going to have a problem.

LEMON: Yes. Well I think he's going to have a problem. Listen, Jay-Z has done some really great things for the community. I respect him immensely, obviously, him and what he's done, and his wife. They do really great things for the community.

But on this particular issue, I think there is people can take issue with it, and I think it's a fair subject, and I think he should be criticized for it, and I think it should be taken on, which is what you're doing now. Another issue--

CUOMO: What are you doing?

LEMON: Another issue that we should be taking on, did you see The New York Times 1619 Project that--

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: --they're doing on race?

CUOMO: In a literature section.

LEMON: We are going to talk about that because there's some controversy, the President's not happy about it. Some of his supporters saying it's a reflection of him. I don't understand how slavery - them reporting on slavery is, but we shall see. We're going to--

CUOMO: Some really painful and poignant writings in there for people to pick up on--

LEMON: It's true.

CUOMO: --regardless of the political ramifications. D. Lemon, I'll check with you in a second.

LEMON: See you in a bit.

CUOMO: All right, we got the first Closing coming up after the break. It starts with gratitude and ends with certitude about an ugly game that is clearly afoot. What do you say? Let's get after it.

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CUOMO: All right, no secret how I spent one particular afternoon on vacation, and there is nothing to add, except to say thank you.

Thank you to all who reached out in person, who sent messages, I appreciate it. That includes Mr. Hannity and Ms. Maddow. They acted as colleagues, not competitors, and I won't forget it.

In fact, I'm not going to forget, and I will use all of the feedback, because the key is for us to all be better, and that starts with me. So, let me do what we do best here, and expose an ugly reality.

Here's the argument. Republicans have been intentionally downplaying White supremacy that it is literally part of their playbook. The obvious question is why are they doing this, and we'll get to that.

But first, let me dismiss any suggestion that this argument is false. Here's the proof, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times. This is an internal memo circulated among GOP Members of Congress.

Here's a sample question. You can go online and get it for yourself. I'm going to truncate for time's sake. "Do you believe White nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently?" The answer is to give a pro-forma condemnation of White nationalism. "It's all bad."

And I say pro forma because they then effectively are told to own the White supremacists a part of their team by immediately saying but what about those people on the Left as in Nazis suck, but so do dot-dot- dot.

That "But" that qualification of the condemnation sounds like a defense because it is, especially when your "The Left is bad too" defies the facts. Now, of course there are thugs acting under many flags, and all who break the law to advance a political agenda or to be called out may be criminals, may be terrorists.

[21:55:00] These White nationalists however are among the worst, morally and statistically. The ADL says nearly three-quarters of extremist-related murders in the past decade were committed by Right- wing extremists like White nationalists.

So, why does the President say he's considering naming Antifa a terror organization, but silent about the same for White nationalists? Is this perverse notion of covering for their side fueling the resistance by Republicans to condemn White nationalist murders as acts of terror?

Not even domestic terror, just terror. I wouldn't even qualify it as domestic and international. It's all terror. Just call it that.

The President can't go after Muslims and Brown folks enough, nothing from him putting these White haters into the mix as terrorists though, plenty of going all out to mitigate their impact. Listen to this.

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TRUMP: And you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

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CUOMO: He strained. He was trying to make it OK. Why? Because clearly, he's about dividing us by race and ethnicity, echoing slurs, encouraging people to use them.

Is this memo the cement solidifying this sordid structure of the GOP campaign? If so, then the obsession with Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar makes sense, female, Brown, Muslim, it's like a toxic trifecta for those determined to divide.

No, they say this is about standing with Israel, standing with Jewish people here and there. That's why he says he tweeted that Members of the U.S. Congress hate Israel and all Jewish people?

I think he's looking to divide, not show unity. Why? Well here's the argument. If you want to support the Jewish people here, well don't both sides on White supremacy. Call White nationalists "Terrorists," especially when they are the ones targeting Jews here.

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(NEVER AGAIN ACTION/THURSDAY - AN ICE GUARD DRIVING HIS TRUCK INTO A PEACEFUL #JEWSAGAINSTICE PROTEST VIDEO)

(PROTESTORS CHANTING SHAME! SHAME!)

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CUOMO: Why was he quiet about this? The Guard at a prison that contracts with ICE, accused of running American Jews down last week, why didn't he say anything? The foiled shooting of a Jewish Center warranted at least a tweet. No?

Clearly, this President has plenty of time and inclination to tweet a lot of things that don't matter as much as that, right? And yet, silence. And now, along with it, he's moving away from trying to help control access to the weapons haters keep choosing.

Why back off background checks?

Back to the memo. Question. Do you think we should ban assault weapons? Here's the answer. The Left wants to "Create gun registries and move toward confiscating weapons and leaving law-abiding citizens vulnerable and unarmed."

They know damn well that's no proposition and no proposal anywhere in Congress right now, but it may explain why our President is once again slinking away from what he said. Remember this?

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TRUMP: Take the guns first. Go through due process second.

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CUOMO: Take the guns first, due process second. Then this.

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TRUMP: I'm also very, very concerned with the Second Amendment more so than most Presidents would be. People don't realize. We have very strong background checks right now.

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CUOMO: Yes. Except for that, about 20 - 25 percent of the sales don't go through them. You remember him talking about red flag laws? Now, he thinks the only person they should apply to was me. That was one of his tweets when he came after me.

He's literally joking about red flag laws when they could be the difference between life and death. So, what's changed?

You know, I laugh. It would be funny if we're just about cheap shots, but it's not. It's about shots with bullets that keep killing us and our kids everywhere and everyone, and he knows it, he's acknowledged it.

But it seems that there's a different plan. We see it in the memo. There's a way to keep power by motivating those of you who are so worried about some of these issues that you are susceptible to being played.

Listen to this.

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TRUMP: We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly videogames that are now commonplace.

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CUOMO: Really? You have these groups that are organizing, being empowered, being emboldened, attacking more. You want to talk about the games? Lots of places have games. They don't have this problem.

Now, is this really about the party and that he's copying this playbook? Or is it about his party, mirroring what they hear from him, and deciding "We got to go along the get along?" All we know is they're clearly on the same page.

The Playbook makes it plain. The proof is clear of what they want this election to be about, and how they want to play it. This election is truly about what we accept and what you decide to reject. What will you allow to win? That's the question.

Thank you for watching. CNN TONIGHT with D. Lemon right now.