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CNN TONIGHT

Don's Take On Trump's Return To U.S. After Chaos And Confusion At G7 Summit; Trump Sends Mixed Messages On Escalating Trade War With China; What The World Thinks Of The President's Performance At The G7 Summit; One-On-One With John Kasich About Trump's Performance At The G7 Summit; President Trump's False And Misleading Claims; Facts First; Challenging Trump. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 26, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: And yet in this context, as a leader, I don't think that a genius, because I think true genius would be defined as that application of intelligence that promotes a society's virtues. That enlightens, elevates, appeals to our better angels. Not to bring out the devil in us all. Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I'm with you on most of it, except for the economically disaffected. Some of them are. Every single study shows though, it wasn't economic anxiety. It was fear of losing place in society.

CUOMO: I think there's a conflation. I think that people have fears and I think one can feed into the other. I do not buy the idea that all Trump supporters are bigots.

LEMON: No, no, no. That is not what I said at all.

CUOMO: No, but you said, but it leads into it. They worry about their place in society. What does that mean? Who are they worried about? Who are the people replacing them? Well, who were those people? They wind up falling into categories of diversity and if you own that anxiety, you don't want to be called a bigot.

LEMON: You can call it what it is. But if you're used to having a preeminent voice. If you're used to the world being a certain way and it starts to change for whatever reason, that causes you to lose your footing and your equilibrium. You can call it racism, you call it whatever, but it is not economic anxiety. It is fear of losing your place in society.

So, if you are for this country, if you are in this country, you are an American of a certain background. You are used to having things a certain way. And when those things start to change, you become afraid, you fear that. You think, what the heck is going on. Again, you can label it whatever you want, but that is what the studies show. I'm not (inaudible) any of it.

CUOMO: We're having a -- we have a difference on some versus most. I think there is some of that within his base and I think the way he talks is encouraging it. LEMON: I mean, a lot of it.

CUOMO: I think most of the Americans who voted for him have a basket of things that have made them angry and have made them feel disaffected. And a lot of it is legitimate, not a function of any type of animus. And I think that the left has to be aware of that or they'll going to lose again.

LEMON: Yes. I don't know if I agree with you. I don't know if its animus, I am just saying it is driven by fear, I agree with you. I don't think that it takes a genius to play on people's fear. I think it is actually opposite, that's the easiest thing to do, right?

CUOMO: That's what makes a demagogue so successful.

LEMON: Most people were motivated by --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's right. And if you play on what they're scared of. That is why the Greeks created the word. You know, the person who leads the mob. And we want to be better than that. Especially in this country. This country is too fragile. What we're trying to pull off here is an experiment of having people come together that aren't found the way we have them in this country. The kind of acceptance, the kind of assimilation. It is a struggle, but if you pull at the threads of what holds us together, it gets scary fast and he should know that.

LEMON: I think it is important for us to call it -- for what it is. Again, when I look at all the studies, and what it shows, I have to say that. Because when we talk so much about fake news, when the real thing is people losing their position. That was the number one factor. I also have to say this. When I saw --

CUOMO: I don't think it's the number one factor.

LEMON: OK.

CUOMO: We agree and disagree.

LEMON: That's fine. So, Doral, I can't believe he said that. Like they should hold it at my club in Doral.

CUOMO: Yes, you can. That's a lie. Don Lemon just lied to the American people.

LEMON: Well, it's a figure of speech. But I was like, the goal, like, you know, that he would say that when -- you know there are members there who are trying to get their deposit back, right? For years, they had been trying to get their deposits back and they can't because no new members, there are so few members are joining. If you want to leave that club, four more members have to sign up.

Right? If you said, listen, I want to leave, I don't want to be a member anymore and I want my deposit back. In order to do that, you need four members to sign up in order to get one member to leave. That's not happening. I got a guy on tonight who is a member who is trying to help other members get their money back. The club is not doing well, maybe he wants some free publicity, some free promotion to try to help the club out financially, but there you go.

CUOMO: Look, the reason I come at a guy, like Matt Schlapp is because what you ignore you empower. If you tell this president and you can say whatever you want. If you think it's good for you, go for it. I'm surprise he's not going to hear what you just said. And be like, hey, you know, he's right about the Doral Club.

You know, is should pass an executive order. If you don't want to vote for me, that's fine. But four other people have to vote for me in order for you to decide not to. And you have to sign them up. You know, you can't ignore these kind of things. People should demand better of this president and I believe as a human being, he is capable of better. So, that's why we make the argument.

LEMON: Yes, hey, listen. I got to run, but I have to say amen to Andrew Luck and I wish him the best.

CUOMO: right. I think what he did was really brave. I know he has got a lot of money, but he loves the game. He's put amazing stats. He threw one of the most beautiful long balls. They were rank number four this year. He is leaving a lot and I think he's doing it for the right reasons.

[22:05:02] LEMON: We have a lot -- Amen. And we have a lot to learn from him. And I have a lot to learn from you and, as do you from me. So keep learning.

CUOMO: All right. I'm learning something right now. I didn't know a shirt like that and a tie would ever go together.

LEMON: I'm learning it's time for you to get out of here.

CUOMO: Goodbye.

LEMON: Let's get out of here. All right.

CUOMO: That is good!

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Thank you so much for joining us. And we've got to talk about this. Let's call it whip lash president. Did you really expect him to clear up anything today? Did you really? Did you expect him to maybe stick to the facts for once? Probably not. He is the master of backtracking, flip-flopping, denying the facts, expecting you to ignore what you've seen with your own eyes and what you heard with your own ears.

Well, there's what the president said about the trade war in China. You know the trade war that is forcing the administration to pay some $14.5 billion to hurting American farmers. The trade war that is sowing confusion in the world economies. The president saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The way I negotiate, it

is done very well for me over the years and it's doing even better for the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The Americans who have been hit hard by the president's trade war. They might disagree. I'm going to talk to several of them in the next hour here, but the president and his team really seem to be having trouble getting their stories straight on China. There was this on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?

TRUMP: Yes, for sure. Why not? Might as well. Might as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have second thoughts about escalating the war with China?

TRUMP: I have second thoughts about everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Second thoughts? It sure sounds like the president was thinking of backing down on his trade war. That prompting him to send out his aides to clean up the mess of one of his own making, usually, claiming that what he meant was he regrets not being tougher on China. Maybe, but that is the opposite of what he actually said. He said repeatedly. And then there is this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: China called last night. Our top trade people and said let's get back to the table so we'll be getting back to the table.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The thing is, China's foreign ministry says it unaware of any calls. And it doesn't seem like the kind of thing anyone in China would free style. Especially since two sides were already planning to meet again next month. Let's not forget about the president's insistence on trying to get Russia back into what is now the G7.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of people say having Russia, which is a power, having them inside the room is better than having them outside the room. By the way there were numerous people during the G7 that felt that way and we didn't take a vote or anything, but we did discuss it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: A lot of people? A lot of people are in favor of welcoming Russia back? Even though Russia has done nothing to deserve it? Even though Russia which was kicked out in the first place for annexing Crimea, still holds Crimea, and as this president argues for what amounts to rewarding Russia, he is determined to falsely blame his predecessor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Obama was not happy that this happened, because it was embarrassing to him, right? It was very embarrassing to him. And he wanted Russia to be out of the, what was called the G-8. And that was his determination. He was outsmarted by Putin. Who's outsmarted? President Putin outsmarted President Obama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. I'm going to have to say this one more time. Probably not the last time, but at least one more time. If Putin outsmarted anybody, it's not President Obama. And you've got to wonder why the president seems so determined to reward Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea.

Then there is the surprise visit of Iran's foreign minister to the G7 at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron. One of President Trump's aides calling the visit quote, a curveball. But I guess that characterization didn't sit well with the president who insisted today that President Macron had asked for his approval. Nothing to see here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He spoke to me. He asked me. I said if you want to do that that is OK. I don't consider that disrespectful at all. Especially when you ask me for approval.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But the big news, as we used to say in local news, but the big story tonight, the big news, the G7 today, was the meeting President Trump didn't attend.

[22:10:00] With the Amazon burning and glaciers melting in Greenland. It seems the president couldn't be bothered to attend the climate change meeting today at the G7. Take a look at this. See that empty chair right there? The one we highlighted for you? I guess we should not be surprised.

After all, sources told CNN, the president tried to skip the G7 entirely. He dropped out of the Paris Climate Accord. You probably remember he once describe climate change as a hoax, cook up the Chinese. Listen to what he said when he was asked if he attended the meeting today. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, were you able to attend the working session on climate and oceans earlier? TRUMP: Yes, we're having it in a little while.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He said that after the meeting had already taken place. The White House official claimed the president couldn't make it to the climate change session because his meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Indian Prime Minister, Nagendra Modi ran late. Odd, since both Merkel and Modi attended the climate session. Interesting. When he was asked later about climate change, the president veered way off course.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I've made that wealth come alive. And I'm not going to lose that wealth. I'm not going to lose it on dreams. On windmills. Which frankly, aren't working too well. I'm not going to lose it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Again the windmills. Again the windmills. So you probably remember in case don't, but Donald Trump battled Scottish officials over a plan to build a wind farm within sight of his golf resort in Aberdeen. And he's been complaining about wind power ever since.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You would be doing wind, windmills, in times of war, you can blow up those windmills. They fall down real quick.

You can blow up the wind mills. You know, the wind mills. Bong, bong, bong, bing! That is the end of that one.

If the birds don't kill it first. The environmentalists. We like wind mills. What about the thousands of birds they're killing?

Just like a killing field of birds.

If you have a windmill anywhere near your house. Congratulations. Your house just went down 75 percent in value.

Try going to the bottom of a windmill someday. It's not a pretty picture.

When the wind doesn't blow, they tend not to do too well. If it doesn't blow you can forget about television for that night.

Darling, is the wind blowing today? I would like to watch television, darling.

And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one. OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Let's remember, the noise does not cause cancer. The American

cancer society says so, but the president had more to say. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And I'm an environmentalist. A lot of people don't understand that. I have done more environmental impact statements, probably, than anybody, I guess I can say definitely. Because I've done many, many of them. More than anybody that has ever been president or vice president or anything even close to president. And I think I know more about the environment than most people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Just that is all of us.

The president says he is an environmentalist. In fact, he has been claiming for years that he has won awards as an environmentalist.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I've won many environmental awards, by the way. I've actually been called an environmentalist, if you can believe that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: If you can believe that. Maybe you shouldn't believe that. "The New York Times" is reporting that more than 80 environmental regulations are being rolled back under this president. And as far as his claim about environmental impact statements, our own fact checker extraordinaire Daniel Dale, who will be here in just a few minutes, points out that you do environmental impact statements for developmental projects -- for developments projects.

They have nothing to do with being an environmentalist. That as Axios is reporting that the president has repeatedly suggested looking in to the idea of using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes headed for the U.S. Nuclear bombs. The president insisting he never said that. Though it is apparently not an uncommon question.

So, let's state the facts here. Remember facts first. NOAA, which is National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration pointing out that one, a nuclear bomb might not actually have any effect on a hurricane.

[22:15:05] And two, the radioactive fallout could cause devastating problems. NOAA concluding with impressive understatement quote, needless to say, this is not a good idea. It's really not a good idea at all. They're not even sure what to say about this. The president saying, if the First Lady Melania Trump has gotten to know Kim Jong- un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un and I think she would agree with me. He is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Gotten to know -- in the sense of never having met? Melania Trump has not met Kim Jong-un. Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, it is understandable if you forgot, she's press secretary, she had never held a briefing, but I digressed.

Stephanie Grisham issuing a statement saying, President Trump confides in his wife on many issues including the detailed elements of his strong relationship with Chairman Kim. And while the first lady hasn't met him, listen to this, the president feels like she is gotten to know him too.

Is that possible? I never met him, but I've gotten to know him, too, because we talk about it. Just one more example of the members of team Trump spinning as fast as they can on try to clean up after the confusion and the chaos this president seems to spread wherever he goes. Those are the facts. Check them. It's not opinion. Those are the facts.

So what does the world think of the president's performance at the G7? Look who is here. Former Ohio Governor John Kasich. Next.

[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump returning to the White House tonight in the wake of a pretty chaotic G7 summit, but before leaving France, he made a whole lot of conflicting misleading statements, especially about the trade war with China. So, who better to discuss than John Kasich, CNN's senior political commentator, who is a former Republican governor of Ohio.

Good evening, sir. I hope you had yourself a great and special weekend. Last week we talked about President Trump acting more erratically. Well, the chaos, the flip flopping, the lies were on full display on the world stage. How would you grade his performance at the G7, please?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Probably rocky. Probably didn't really connect it. What was interesting to me, Don, is that all these people said they were going to be have these strong things to say to him in private. It is like they were tiptoeing around him. Isn't that interesting? I mean, why -- I don't know what happened in those private meetings. But there were a number of things on climate, on Iran, on trade especially.

Look, the trade problem is a worldwide problem. Why does it affect us here at home? Well, because number one, people won't buy our products because they cost more. Number two. There are companies that get inputs from overseas that they have to use to make their products. And those inputs cost more so therefore the consumers pay more for them. And thirdly, when these products come in that have tariffs on them, then consumers pay for more there.

The whole world is upset with the behavior of China. They have stolen our intellectual property and other peoples. They do not play by a level playing field. And a way to deal with this was the whole world through World Trade Organization. He chose to go unilaterally. Exactly what he did on Iran and I think it was a terrible mistake.

Now he faces an economic problem. And I think that is why they're now searching, maybe, searching for a way to get out of this. Because if the economy goes south, they know that the red lights come on and they know they have a problem.

LEMON: Yes, I just wanted to -- the first part, you know, why they seem to tiptoe around it. Maybe they're saying, listen, it's not worth it. We'll just work around him. I don't know. But listen, I got to ask you, if President Trump -- he is expressing confidence that he can reach a deal with China, I just want to get your reaction.

This is something David Axelrod tweeted out, he wrote he said, real Donald Trump will eventually cut any deal he can with China and call it a victory. He has to, he can't tank the economy headed into an election and the Chinese know it. So, is that a real possibility?

KASICH: I do. I think that's possible. Yes, and let me tell you, the NAFTA deal that is now sitting, being ratified by Congress. The new NAFTA deal, it's the same as the old NAFTA deal. There's only a few tweaks.

So, you know, what sometimes leaders can do is say, I had a great victory here and sometimes things are moving so fast that the press never kind of goes and dissects to it explain it. So do I think it is possible that he will walk away from a tough China deal? And because he is worried it could tank the economy? Yes, I completely agree with that.

But we should not have been here to begin with. We should have been taking the Chinese on with all of our friends and all of our allies. And to say to China, you need to clean it up. Because if you don't clean it up, you face the entire world. He didn't do that. I think it was a terrible mistake.

LEMON: He seemed to indicate though that he was having second thoughts on the trade war. And the White House had to jump in and clarify it, what he meant by it. This is the White House chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow. Listen to that and we will talk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: What he was intending to say is, he always has second thoughts and he actually had second thoughts about possibly a higher tariff response to China. So it was not to remove the tariff. He was thinking about a higher tariff response.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So I don't know if you can see me, but every time, like I hear you know, Kudlow and some of the people --

KASICH: I don't understand it. I know, Larry. I didn't understand that.

LEMON: OK, so, -- I'm always like looking at them, listening going, how, OK, how are they going to -- OK. So how, seriously. You just sort of answered my question. How are American businesses supposed to plan when the U.S. is all over the place? You don't know what the president is going to say, and how his spokesperson are going to try and clean it up or make excuses for him.

[22:25:07] KASICH: That is the real problem, Don. Because businesses have to plan and if they can't plan, then they don't invest. That's another problem. If they don't invest, we can't grow.

So, I mean, we've all like to see this thing kind of ratcheted down. And what I'd like to see, I wish that he was over there saying to all the countries that were there, the leaders of these countries, all right, let's do it together. Because we do need to do it together. There isn't any question about it.

But doing it unilaterally, just like what we did with Iran. So, now he is in a discussion with the French, with Macron about Iran. Now, Iran is a problem. And frankly what we should have done was to work with our European friends who wanted to work with us, and tell the Iranians, we want you to stop your ballistic missile development.

We want to you stop funding groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. We want you to stop being a menace in the region and we can work together to get that solved. That is what they said, but we walked away.

Now, I stood on the stage when I debated all these folks. I think I was the only one there who said, wait a minute. Ripping up a deal that the other side has not cheated on is a mistake. Yes, there are problems with Iran, but to just walk away and lose our leverage. And now we're talking about kind of going back. I don't know where this is going to go.

Again, unilateral action doesn't work very well. Don, I told somebody the other day. You think about this. We talk about Normandy, we talked about the struggle of all the nations of the free world who paid in blood of their people to try to protect our freedoms.

And for some reason, we now say, well, I think we can go it alone. Baloney, we are stronger when we work with those people who fought next to us and died on the battlefield to preserve freedom and free enterprise and democracy. That's how we should continue. This is not complicated.

LEMON: Before -- in our short time left, I want to ask you about former Congressman Joe Walsh announcing that he's going to run against President Trump in the Republican primaries, what do you think? Is that a good thing?

KASICH: Well, let me tell you. If you're an incumbent. You don't want that. I mean, what if somebody tries to have a candidate's night. What if you're getting broad size, no matter how small they are and whether they can beat you or not, it becomes a real irritant and it becomes a problem. No incumbent wants to have that. Do I think that he is a major problem or a major worry? No, I don't. But you know, incumbents don't want irritants. I know, I was an incumbent. I didn't want irritants. Don, you wouldn't want irritants.

LEMON: So what about you then? What about you? Are you jumping in?

KASICH: Well, I wouldn't be -- no, if I ran, wait a minute, if I ran, I wouldn't be an irritant. Because I wouldn't be running to be an irritant. I would be running to win. And we've had this conversation over and over again. And right now, you and I -- I say to you Don, let's go climb Mt. Everest. You go, how do we get up there? I say, I can't see the path. And you know what you say to me? Hey, John, we didn't climb in yet. It's a good point isn't it?

LEMON: Listen, you --

KASICH: You couldn't climb Mt. Everest under any circumstances, path or no path. Lemon, come on.

LEMON: What would make you think I would even try? I don't have that much to prove. But someone said, who was on that said they are going to know by Labor Day if they were going to run? Was that you -- that wasn't you. And I kept thinking Labor Day was actually today. I kept thinking Labor Day was today. I was a week off.

KASICH: There's going to be a time when I'm going to have to finally decide what to do, but it isn't now. I mean, I don't know what's going to happen. Not only tomorrow, but how about in the next hour? I don't know what's going to happen. So look. I love my country. I want to help my country. I'm frustrate by many of the things I see. However, I remain hopeful that America's best days are still ahead.

LEMON: All right. We all do. Thank you, sir. We're done, we are out of time.

KASICH: Thanks Don Lemon. Good to be with you. God bless.

LEMON: I'll see you soon. You as well. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:30:00] LEMON: For his environmental record to what he said -- from his environmental record to what he said about the first lady, the president made a whole lot of misleading and outright false claims in just the past few days.

Joining me now is a CNN fact-checker, fact-checker extraordinaire, as I said earlier, Daniel Dale. Daniel, hello. First, the president claims about his environmental record. Let's listen to that first.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I'm an environmentalist. A lot of people don't understand that. I have done more environmental impact statements probably than anybody. I can say definitely because I've done many, many, of them. More than anybody that has ever been president or vice president or anything even close to president. And I think I know more about the environment than most people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He said that. But what is the truth?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: The Trump administration has undertaken a systematic effort to roll back or eliminate environmental regulations. The New York Times had a piece a couple months ago where they listed 83 separate regulations the administration was trying to rescind. That is everything from mining debris and waterways to emissions in the air.

The claim that doing environmental impact statements makes you an environmentalist is laughable, Don. Those are the statements you have to do when you're a developer proposing a project that might adversely affect the environment. They're mandated by government. So doing environmental impact statements does not make you an environmentalist.

LEMON: President Trump then made this statement about the first lady's relationship with North Korea's Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un. I think she would agree with me. He is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, has Melania ever the North Korean dictator?

DALE: Melania has not met the North Korean dictator. At first, this did not seem like a fact-checkable claim like maybe they had some interaction in some secret phone call. But then the White House press secretary came out with a statement saying that the president confides in the first lady about his dealings with North Korea and that she feels like she knows him.

I think I saw you kind of chuckling about this earlier. I think that's laughable spin. I think this claim is just false.

LEMON: Yeah. Daniel Dale, fact-checker extraordinaire for CNN. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

DALE: Thank you.

LEMON: You just heard the facts. We're going to dig deeper into why this president is constantly stretching the truth.

[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Team Trump forced to clarify spin and backtrack on multiple statements made by the president with the world watching at the G7 summit. Why can't this president just stick to the truth? OK, well -- (LAUGHTER)

LEMON: How much time do we have?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Now you're talking crazy.

LEMON: Ryan Lizza and David Cay Johnston are here as well. David Kaye Johnson is the author of "It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America." And the person you're hearing talking back to me in studio is Michael D'Antonio, the author of "The Truth About Trump."

We only have so much time. So, good evening, everyone. Ryan, you just heard Daniel Dale's fact-check of Trump's claims about the G7 summit, right?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah.

LEMON: It was really just a sampling of the false claims and distortions from the president's trip. It is as if we've reached a whole new level now. I mean, have we or is it just the same old Trump?

LIZZA: It's the same old. You know, we have such a robust fact- checking of Trump because we need it and so we have a count now, right?

[22:39:58] So we're into the thousands of lies, misstatements, false statements and distortions, right? And, you know, I thought about this a lot as most journalists covering Trump have. I think there is an interesting -- I think Trump in some ways is worse than a liar.

A liar is usually aware of the distinction between what's true and what's false, right? And consciously understands that they're lying. Often with Trump, I don't think there is that recognition of the difference and sometimes what he says is truthful but merely by coincidence.

And he has no interest in telling the difference between the two. He just has a constant string of situational statements that sort of play to the moment he's a part of. Sometimes they are very conscious lies, but often they're just what one philosopher calls "bullshit."

(LAUGHTER)

LIZZA: I think there is a difference between BS and lies. I think Trump is as much as he definitely is a liar and tells a lot of lies, more so is a BSer (ph).

LEMON: You said it. You said it. And I think David Cay Johnston agrees with you because there is an affirming nod there. So David, I'll ask you the next question. He tried to claim that President Obama was outsmarted by Vladimir Putin when Russia invaded an annexed Crimea. Listen when he was called out. This is Yamiche Alcindor. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR PBS NEWSHOUR, NBC NEWS AND MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: The misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama --

TRUMP: He did.

ALCINDOR: Other countries have said that the reason why Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea. Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie?

TRUMP: Well, it was annexed during president -- I know you like President Obama but it was annexed during President Obama's term. If it was annexed during my term, I would say, "Sorry, folks. I made a mistake."

President Obama was pure and simply outsmarted. They took Crimea during his term. That was not a good thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right. There is a lot to unpack there. But, I mean, again, why stray from the truth and make this sort of claim again and again? Is he just trying to stick to it his predecessor? What's going on here?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, Donald just can't stand anything that Obama did and has to destroy it. Donald creates his own reality.

But, you know, listening to this earlier today on TV, I suddenly recalled when I raised my eight children, how each of them reached a point where, you know, they had imaginary friends, they would make up various things that all children do somewhere when they're in the low single digits, and thought about Donald in this.

It's like, you know, yes, daddy, there really is an elephant in my bedroom.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSTON: There is just no connection to reality. It is crazy --

LEMON: Michael --

JOHNSTON: It's what one of my children calls "happy go magic land."

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: There is no end in sight to this trade war with China, Michael. It has rattled the markets. He says his negotiating style has done well for him. Does this really square with reality when you look at the real picture that's going on?

D'ANTONIO: Well, it does a square root reality that he is claiming that he doesn't know it, that he's changing his mind from one day to the next or from one hour to the next. Well, it is irrational. The president has a history, as a private businessman, of trying on manipulate stocks with announcements and purchases.

He knows how the market works. Someone speculated last week that maybe he has figured that there's a way to profit from this. Today, it was reported that a lot of CEOs are selling their stock in publicly-traded companies, which is precisely what happened in 2007 and 2008 when the market really went into a tailspin.

So the president knows all of this. I think both David and Ryan are correct. I think he's BSer (ph). But I also think he is fabulous (ph). If you had a kid who did this past the ages when David's kids gave it up, you take him to be evaluated.

I mean, this is a serious problem. He seems so detached from any responsibility to tell the truth. No interest in it. It's --

LEMON: Yeah. By the way, he said he's fabulous (ph), not fabulous (ph). There's a difference that he made --

(LAUGHTER)

D'ANTONIO: Well, you know --

LIZZA: David --

JOHNSTON: He makes stuff up.

LEMON: He makes stuff up. Did you want to jump in here? Can we go to Ryan? I thought I saw you trying to get in, no?

JOHNSTON: No.

LEMON: No. OK, good. So Ryan, listen. The president said today that he does nothing for politics, right? He says, "I don't do anything for politics." I mean, that's kind of what he does based on -- and what we have seen from the president in the past few weeks. Do you think that's true, that he does nothing for politics?

(LAUGHTER)

LIZZA: Do I think that's true? No. Everything he does is political and for politics.

[22:45:00] He is president. He is a politician. He is running for reelection. I will probably say that to anyone in that office. It is a completely, you know, on its face ridiculous and absurd statement.

But the kind of thing that we just yet ad nauseam from the president to the sort of exhausting degree, I think all of us as journalists, it is one of the greatest challenges of American culture right now, is how do you process someone who takes up so much mental space in our culture and is just constantly in our faces, on our TV, on our social media streams, saying things that aren't true, distorting reality.

You know -- so yeah, that's one of about -- I was on vacation for two weeks, the last two weeks, Don. Every once in a while, I would sort of dip into the news casually. A lot of weird things happened over the last two weeks with Trump. It gave me a little bit of a sense of how a normal person who doesn't cover this stuff every day views the news.

And just the stream of statements that don't bear resemblance to reality, you know, it is hard enough to process that as a journalist covering this all the time. For normal people, it's mind-bending.

LEMON: Yeah, it is. Listen. The news cycle is so fast right now that many of these stories go past people because something else happens within a few hours or a few days or just what have you.

That some big story will happen and, you know, most people don't tune in every single second as we are, and they won't even see it because they come in recurring succession like quickly.

Thank you, gentlemen, I appreciate it.

LIZZA: Yeah.

LEMON: We will be right back.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don.

[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Republican presidential hopeful Joe Walsh saying that he regrets the racist comments and false claims he has made against President Obama. The former Illinois congressman recently announced his campaign to challenge President Trump for the 2020 republican presidential nominee. Here's what he told John Berman just tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE WALSH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everything I've tweeted, I own. And if there's a tweet that I need to apologize for, John, I will. I'll own it and regret it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: All right, let's discuss now. David Swerdlick is here, Tara Setmayer as well. Hello to both of you. Tara, I just want to show you some of what Joe Walsh tweeted before, OK? This is how he responded in January of last year to the president, referring to immigrants coming from shithole countries.

He said -- this is a quote, "To say that it's racist to call Haiti a shithole is like saying that it's racist to say Chicago has a violence problem. Haiti is a shithole, and it's run by blacks. This violence in Chicago is all black on black. Those aren't racist statements. They're just facts."

OK? That's him quoting this. This is what he said about President Obama in May of last year. "Obama got elected because he's black, not because he accomplished anything significant." So, why should voters believe Walsh is any different from President Trump?

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, at least he has apologized. LEMON: True.

SETMAYER: Donald Trump hasn't done that.

LEMON: That's true.

SETMAYER: He just triples down on things. You know, listen, if -- I've had Joe Walsh on my podcast before. We've talked about the changing of the GOP in the era of Trump and things. We didn't talk about this stuff because I didn't know he was going to run for president. If I had known, I would have asked him some questions about some of these problematic tweets.

But, listen, I just feel as though that he has a lot to atone for. And as someone who is a never-Trump Republican, who has never been supportive of the president, would love to see Donald Trump out of office, I just don't know that Joe Walsh is the best person to be primarying him.

I mean, if it damages Trump, OK, I guess. But he has a lot of baggage, and he needs to answer for it. And I don't think that just because now he's decided to run for president that we should just forget about those things. Just saying I'm sorry, I don't know if that's necessarily enough.

He sounds a lot like the racial stereotypes and tropes that Donald Trump has trafficked in, and he used it because he was a radio talk show host and he was very bombastic about it. That's partially how we got here.

LEMON: Well, that's also -- I mean, if you say it, to some degree, one would think that you had to mean it in order to say it.

SETMAYER: Right or you're disingenuous. You're just doing it for entertainment value. It is neither one of them are good.

LEMON: So full disclosure, David, you've edited some commentary pieces that Joe Walsh has written for The Washington Post. You believe he's a sincere critic of the president. Why?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he's a sincere critic and he's sincere about wanting to break from Trump partly because I worked with him first on a piece back in May of 2017. This isn't an overnight conversion for former Congressman Walsh.

In 2017, he was writing, hey, I'm a supporter of Trump, but when he's wrong, he's wrong. He wrote a piece for us criticizing the firing of Jim Comey. He's gotten more and more disenchanted with Trump --

SETMAYER: That's true.

SWERDLICK: -- as things have gone long. And so I would distinguish him from people like Anthony Scaramucci, who just all of a sudden out of the blue were saying, "We want to be away from Trump." But I agree with Tara. Former Congressman Walsh has not done a full-throated explanation or denunciation of his own comments and of his own role in perpetuating the atmosphere that led to President Trump.

LEMON: OK.

SWERDLICK: But I will say -- no, go ahead, Don.

LEMON: I want to get this in because we have a short time here. This is what he said tonight. I want you guys to respond. Go ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: I think we're all a little bit racist. We've all said racist things. I'll bet if you and I went through everybody's Twitter feed, we're going to find things that are objectionable and offensive. I think we all have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: I got 20 whole seconds here. Everyone's a little bit racist? [22:55:00] Is that a good argument?

SWERDLICK: It's like Avenue Q. Everyone is a little bit racist.

LEMON: Little bit racist.

SWERDLICK: Right, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SWERDLICK: The problem with that statement is you put up some of those tweets, Don.

LEMON: Yeah.

SWERDLICK: And what Congressman Walsh said wasn't just an accidental or casual statement, particularly his birther tweets, particularly the S-hole tweets, were deliberate.

LEMON: Yeah.

SWERDLICK: Again, I think that he can explain them and apologize for them, but he hasn't done it yet in a full-throated way.

SETMAYER: It's an easy way out.

LEMON: I've got to run, Tara. Everybody's a little bit racist?

SETMAYER: It's an easy way to try to absolve you from your sins in the past. You can't just say, well, everybody was like that. No, none of it is OK.

LEMON: Thank you, guys. I appreciate it.

SWERDLICK: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: We'll be back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)