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Don's Take On President Trump And The Strong Men; Barr Books Holiday Party At Trump Hotel; Tropical Storm Dorian Takes Aim At Puerto Rico; Joe Biden Rolling Out A New Campaign Ad About Health Care; Some 17 Million People Were Purged From Voting Places Nationwide Between 2016 and 2018. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 27, 2019 - 22:00   ET


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Stephen Miller, Emma Lazarus wrote a poem in 1883 to help raise money for the pedestal that the statue is on. It happen three years before the statue went up. Look, nobody is accusing them of having a great grasp of the facts.

But the big problem with this policy is that it's proof that they don't know where the heart of this country lies. And that is the question for this election. What do you want your country to be about? The decision is yours. Thank you for watching. "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon, the chicken king starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: My friend just called me. One of my oldest friend from -- I have known her since nursery school. She said, Don, it's great, it's crispy chicken, the bun is too die for. It's like something your grandmother cooked and you sit in the backyard and eat. So, I can't way.

CUOMO: I just said, don't believe the hype. Right? She believe it's a scarcity play, right?

LEMON: I don't know. She got a sandwich though. Listen --

CUOMO: Just enough from them out there to make everybody want them.

LEMON: Let's talk about what you just said.

CUOMO: Yes, sir.

LEMON: You're closing statement. And we've discussed this before. I know when my ancestors came over they had nothing. There's no education. There's no nothing. You know, they can't contribute to society with money or whatever. But that's really not what the immigration system in this country should be about. Obviously mine is different. With slaves not immigrants. But you, did your family have money when they came over?

CUOMO: Please.

LEMON: Were they the healthiest people? Were they the rich and had education?

CUOMO: They were people with nowhere else to go. They ran away from poor places, they came here with nothing. Except everything that was in their head and their heart that was desperate for a chance. And they did all this stupid jobs and they did everything that they could and they were desperate and it was hardship. Just as all stories that Jacob Reese catalog the people have in their families.

You know, the analyst of their family history all across this country. And it is personal to me. If this president had his way people like me wouldn't be here. And I know that's it's going to get a good (inaudible), -- from a lot of people in his base. But this us and them stuff is toxic to what this country is.

LEMON: But the people in his base are sort of going to go fall from the same thing. I don't know and very few people came over in the (inaudible), Santa Maria who were wealthy people and upper class. Most of the people who came to this country are immigrants who came from nothing.

Who were escaping harsh circumstances? Who were like the people who are coming over on the southern border? And maybe even more desperate at the time. And certainly if people could do background checks then, think those people would have been allowed to get into this country?

CUOMO: My father once wrote, you know, we were made into the most by those who had the least. And now this president is saying why can't we have more people from Norway? And we all know, I have no problem with Norway. It's a beautiful place, beautiful people, etcetera, etcetera. But we know what he is getting at. And that's what this election is about.

It's not about law and order. It's how you enforce the law and what you consider the proper order. And it's definitional and I hope people get it. It's not about which form of 15 different Medicare for all plans that you can figure out. It's about who we are and what you're willing to fight for.

LEMON: Yes, listen. You know, my Norwegian neighbors. I don't know if we want more of those guys over here. I'm kidding, Bernt, I'm joking. .


CUOMO: It's all your fault.

LEMON: I'm going to hear about that.

CUOMO: If you knew this guy, they'd know how big a mistake you just made. It ain't on my account. I'm a big fan.

LEMON: They are amazing people. Thanks, Chris. I'll see you soon.

CUOMO: I don't know you.


I don't know you and I don't want your sandwich.


LEMON: No chicken for you. You don't get the big piece of chicken, you get no chicken.

CUOMO: You are going to get burnt this weekend.

LEMON: I know Bernt is going to get me.

CUOMO: I'll talk to you later.

LEMON: Thank you, see you later.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. And the master of spin at it again. Rewriting history. Otherwise known as distracting and deflecting. President tweeting today, G7 was a great success for this country, it wasn't. Not at all. And we are only learning now just how bad things got behind closed doors. President arguing fiercely with this country's allies during a dinner Saturday night, OK? Go along with me.

What was he arguing about? Vladimir Putin of course. Putin who was kicked out of the then G8 when he illegally seized Crimea. Who he still holds. Still holds to this day. Who actively interfered in our election in 2016 and 2018 and who was plotting to do it again in 2020? That Vladimir Putin. Yes, Vladimir Putin, that guy.

The president of the United States insisting Putin should be welcome back into the group. Even though Russia has done absolutely nothing to deserve it. That according to two diplomatic officials and a senior U.S. official who tells CNN, things got especially heated when Angela Merkel, Boris Shelton and Justin Trudeau insisted that as long as Russia still holds Crimea, readmitting Putin is a none starter.

[22:05:09] Those sources say the president took every opportunity to try to make the case for Putin. Even interrupting discussions about fires in the Amazon and about Iran, to insist that Russia should be part of the conversation. And they say the president got more and mayor combative as the dinner wore on. But of course, he wasn't taking Putin's side behind closed doors. He did it in front of live cameras too.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 discussed it. My inclination is to say yes, they should be in.


LEMON: Well, of course that is his inclination. That is after all the president who seemingly never met a strong man that he didn't like. Who admires brute strength above just about anything? Who praised Kim Jong-un, the leader who starve his own people? Executed his family members and who is responsible for the brutal death of American student, Otto Warmbier. The president claiming that the first lady shares his high opinion of Kim. Even though she's never met him.


TRUMP: I also say that by the way, with respect to North Korea. Kim Jong-un, who I have gotten to know extremely well. The first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un and I think she would agree me, he is a man with a country that has tremendous potential.


LEMON: She's never met him. This is a president who defended the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The man behind the vicious murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And now he is trying to reward Vladimir Putin by bringing him back into the G7.

By the way, the president description of those discussions at G7 is surprise, not entirely truthful. It's a stretch to say that numerous leaders agree with him. In fact the president was out numbered. And he knew it. One official saying that he would have pushed for a vote on Russia by current members if he thought he could win.

Though it's interesting that one leader who did agree with the president was the outgoing Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte. Who not at all coincidentally the president praised in a tweet of course saying, he works well with the USA. Seems he works well with the president anyway, but there's more. You would think that of all people the president of the United States would be on the side of the democracy. No matter what.

Well, that was apparently not the case at the G7. "Washington Post" is reporting the leaders heated conversation turned to what should be a pretty basic question, should the assemble world leaders give any special weight to being a democracy? OK? Well, of course, they should. Right? Most of those leaders said yes. And you'd expect them to say yes.

The President Trump said no. No to democracy. And when the other leaders in the room pushed back when they refused to go along with his demand to readmit Putin. He angrily crossed his arms and became even more combative. Of course none of this should come as a surprise to anyone. This president stood next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and took his word on Russia's election interference over this country's own intelligence community.


TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said, they think its Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.


LEMON: President joked with Putin about his election interference.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

TRUMP: Yes, of course, I will. Don't meddle in the election, please.


LEMON: He's deferred to Putin. From the early days of his campaign.


TRUMP: Putin is a nicer person than I am.

I think Putin has been a very strong leader for Russia.

A very smart cookie, much smarter, much more cunning than our president.

Wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along as an example with Russia? I'm all for it.

If he says great things about me. I'm going to say great things about him. I've already said he is really very much of a leader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin is a killer.

TRUMP: A lot of killers. Why you think our country is so innocent?

Putin is the leader of Russia. Russia is a strong country.

Donald Trump is a friend of Putin. Well, actually, Putin did called me a genius and he said I'm the future of the Republican Party.

Putin is fine. He's fine. We're all fine. We're people.


[22:10:10] LEMON: So the big question is, come on think about this. Why? Why does a president of the United States consistently defer to Vladimir Putin? A big clue, here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you want President Trump to win the election? Did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATOR): Yes I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal.


TRUMP: So, the fact is the president could invite Putin to next year's summit which he is hoping will be held at his own golf resort in Florida. As a special guest. And it sounds like he would.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the G7 host next year, you're allowed to invite other countries to come. Guest countries, even though they're not necessarily part of the overall group. Would you consider inviting Vladimir Putin under those circumstances?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know he would accept. That is a tough circumstance. He was a part of G8 and all of a sudden he is not out -- or he's not in. So, I think John, actually that is a pretty tough thing for him. You know, he is a proud person. Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him.


LEMON: So, what do you expect when it comes to the president favorite strong man? This whole strong man routine could backfire on the president. When it comes to Iran. The president taking a carrot and stick approach at the G7.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you agree to meet with Mr. Rouhani?

TRUMP: If the circumstances were correct or right I would certainly agree to that. They can't do what they was saying they are going to do, because if they do that, they are going to be met with really very violent force.


LEMON: Iran's president firing back with an insult.


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANINAN PRESIDENT (through translator): If you lift off the sanctions and if you bow your head to the nation of Iran. Well, then the situation would be different.


LEMON: Well, you know, that is never going to happen. That is not going to make this president happy. Let's face it. He is only truly happy when he is talking about one thing. Real estate. His own real estate. So is it any surprise the president's own Attorney General is planning a big holiday bash at, wait for it, the Trump international hotel. Just minutes away from the White House.

"Washington Post" reports that William Barr's party could cost more than $30,000. A Justice Department official telling CNN, the party is not an official event and will be paid out of Barr's pocket. He sure knows his audience. Doesn't he? His audience of one. So we have all this chaos going on. There's a tropical storm taking aim at Puerto Rico right now. And the president has something to say about it. We are going to discuss with Nia-Malika Henderson, Ryan Lizza, next. [22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The optics on this next story look pretty bad. No matter how anyone tries to spin it. The Attorney General of the United States renting space at the president's property. President Trump's Washington D.C. hotel this upcoming holiday season for a party. And spending thousands of dollars in the process. Let's discuss now. Nia-Malika Henderson and Ryan Lizza, hello to both of you.

I mean, listen, it's true the optics are terrible. Just think about it. He is the Attorney General of the United States. Considering what this president has gone through and now he's planning reportedly planning to have a holiday party there. This is what the "Washington Post" is reporting, Ryan, the Attorney General has booked Trump's D.C. hotel for a 20 person holiday party likely to deliver $30,000 in revenue. Is this Bill Barr's Christmas present to President Trump?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, look, the amount of money isn't obviously massive. But it's a way of showing loyalty to the president. Right? And it's a way of sort of, you know, sticking his thumb in the eye of anyone, you know, outside in the legal community and outside observers who believe that the traditional separation between the White House and the Attorney General should remain and that he's already sort of crossed that line.

I mean, this guy has been in Washington a long time. You know, he knows exactly how this will be interpreted. It will be interpreted as sucking up to the boss. Showing that he is a team player. A lot of hotels in Washington D.C. with good rates. He obviously didn't have to go to the Trump hotel.

LEMON: OK. Let's go through this a little bit more, OK, Nia? Because Barr, he is paying for the event himself. It is according to justice officials speaking to the Post. They tried to book a couple of other hotels first and they weren't available. Career ethics officials were consulted and thought ethics rules didn't prohibit him from doing this, but it's not a good look is it?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, it isn't a good look. And I think Ryan is exactly right. That Barr is in some ways happy to flout the sort of not really rules, but happy to put a thumb in the eye of folks who say this is bad. It's sort of a bad perception. But it's also in keeping who Barr is, right? He is somebody who essentially campaign for the A.G. job by writing this memo about the Mueller investigation. Essentially saying it was going too far and the president had it in his power to fire Jim Comey.

That is essentially how he got the job. And he also knows how important loyalty is to this president. Right? I mean, this is a president who likes to hold cabinet meetings where everyone sort of goes around those cabinet meetings and sings Trump praise. As if Trump really is the chosen one. Right? And so I think if you're Bill Barr, this kind of $30,000 check to the boss is a way for him to show loyalty to a boss he knows a really appreciates a loyalty and values loyalty. In some ways it has some sort of a contest in some ways between a

folks in his cabinet. About who can sort of show the most loyalty and fealty to this president? So, there he is throwing this party.

[22:20:03] LEMON: Nia, let's talk G7. President Trump clashing with allies over re-inviting Putin. Why does President Trump continue to be Putin's biggest advocate on the world stage?

HENDERSON: Well, he really likes Putin, right? And this has been something that is established even before he was president. It's the idea of, you know, when he was of holding the beauty pageant there or something, this idea of maybe he could become Putin's best friend. He's long seem to admire him. He clearly likes strong men. He clearly gets along with Putin and likes the kind of pal around with him.

You know, listen, I mean, there was also a speculation about why that is Putin obviously favored him to win the presidency and put a massive effort, million dollar effort into ensuring that he would win the presidency. And so I think, you have Trump who wants to -- I think also sort of buck what Obama did, right, by showing that he's pals with Putin.

But it's certainly bizarre to have him in those meetings with those other G7 leaders pleading the case for Putin. Who it's not clear that Putin wants to get back into the G7, right? He is somebody who kind of disdains this international organizations. Disdains sort of the western style democracy. So the idea that he is, you know, begging to get back in to the G7. It's like he doesn't need to, but does he get Trump there to do it for him.

LEMON: Yes. Here's the reporting, Ryan. And then you can weigh in. Leaders are discussing issues like Iran and the fires in Amazon. And Trump interjects to ask about Russia not being there. It sound like he only cared about Putin's interest instead of the priorities of the meeting.

LIZZA: I mean, you couldn't have made it up, right? The president who is entire political career since he started his campaign has been, you know, accused of being too pro-Putin and weirdly pro-Putin. That is juts, you know, to the point where, you know, it's been investigated to death to figure out is there some kind of like, financial relationship there. You know, what is going on with this relationship?

It's just been, you know, this mystery for years now. And he has no self-awareness that that is something that seems a little suspicious. He goes into these meetings. It's not on the agenda. Russia is not asking to get back in. None of the other countries want Russia back in. They've already set down the criteria by which they would need to meet to get back in. And they haven't met it obviously. And Trump all he talks about his big priority is Putin should be here.

LEMON: That's one question, Ryan. Why?

LIZZA: I don't know. I don't know. We have not -- that mystery has not been solved. The Mueller report frankly didn't solve it. It's the question that hangs over this presidency. It might just be as simple as -- Putin didn't like Hilary, he wanted me to win. He obviously you know, helped Trump win. And that's, you know, and that is good enough for Trump.

There were not a lot of world leaders who wanted Trump to win. Putin was by far the most important one and it may be as simple as that. I don't know. I mean, that clip you played before, the breakdown where he is talking about Putin's feelings. About, if we brought him to the G7 not as an official member, you know, recreating the G8. But just as, you know, an outside guest. He might not like those circumstances. I have rarely heard Trump have so much empathy for someone. The way he was talking about Putin may not want that. It is bizarre.


LEMON: It's really unbelievable.

LIZZA: He's the only one talking about this.

LEMON: And listen, all of this is happening as, you know, there's a hurricane barreling towards Puerto Rico. He sent out some misleading tweets about -- he says that the Congress approved $92 billion in aid. We can put that up. That is not true.


LEMON: The long term cost estimate FEMA says is about $42 billion has been allocated. And its $12.6 billion spent. He's calling the amount spent, an all-time record. Again, that's not true. Approximately $100 billion is allocated for Katrina. He keeps misleading on the subject I guess because in the back of his head he knows that he whiffed the first time and now he's misleading the public on this. Thank you both. I appreciate it.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don.

HENDERSON: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Deutsche bank says they had tax returns from at least one Trump family member, but are they the president's? And will House Democrats get their hands on them. John Dean weighs in on what this could all mean. Next.


LEMON: In a new court filing, Deutsche Bank indicates that it has Trump related tax returns. The bank won't say whose. Those names are redacted, but the returns could end up in the hands of the House Democrats who have subpoenaed them. Here to talk about this on what it all means, Mr. John Dean. John, thank you so much. I appreciate you joining us here.


LEMON: House Democrats one step closer you think to seeing the president's tax returns?

DEAN: Well, they have a strong case. They have a law that actually authorizes them to get those returns. In the ways and means committee. They have other subpoenas that the finance committee. Eventually they will probably get them, but the question is will it be before the 2020 election.

LEMON: You know, that is a big question. It is the question. You know, Deutsche Bank argued to the appeals court that there are statutory contractual and privacy concerns in disclosing whose tax returns that they have that would fall under the subpoena. Are those valid reasons to withhold them?

DEAN: Well, the Trump, firm himself, the president himself is arguing that they shouldn't be turned over. And those would be the core arguments he would make. And the bank would indeed have those obligations. So, they're not illegitimate. It's just they're up against this rather unusual law that specifically authorizes two committees of Congress without any reason to have access to any taxpayers tax returns. That is the sash it was used to get Nixon's returns.

LEMON: Listen, John, Trump's businesses have borrowed more than $300 million at least from Deutsche Bank and it is one of the few big banks that had been willing to lend to the Trump organization. If the taxes are Donald Trumps, what will we likely find out?

DEAN: Well, there could be a lot trouble there for Mr. Trump. Everything from -- he could have used false inflation of his financial statements. Which could be bank fraud.

[22:30:00] He could be embarrassed by the lack of income or resources that shows him having. He could show he has collateral signatures from unsavory people who are backing up his loan promises. So we don't know. But there's something there, Don that makes him extremely nervous.

LEMON: Would the president's tax returns show Trump's connections with foreign entities?

DEAN: They could. There could be co-signers that would be guaranteeing his loans, could be Russians, could show transactions that involved in Russians and foreign entities, could be Arabs. We don't know. But yes, those could be revealing. And he, I think knows enough that you don't really mess with those, because you can get in serious trouble if you make substantial misrepresentations on your -- either your financial statements or your tax returns. So that's a dangerous area.

LEMON: So John, I want to -- the president -- I want to show what the president said yesterday about the prospect of making money from hosting next years G7 at his Doral resort. Here it is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opinion, I am not going to make any money. It don't want to make money. I don't care about making money. If I wanted to make money, I wouldn't worry about 3 billion to $5 billion, because that's what's -- I mean at some point, I'm going to detail that and will show.


LEMON: So he says, John, without evidence that he's lost 3 to $5 billion, doesn't care about making money. What are your thoughts on that?

DEAN: I don't believe, Don, we will ever see his justification for that. I am going to spell this out some day. Just like his tax returns. He doesn't want to show those either. We have no idea what this man's income is. How much he is making. We do know he is monetizing the presidency unlike any of his predecessors. My president, for example, sold all of his stocks and bought real estate and was very open about what he had on assets.

So Nixon actually, that was one of his sticking points, he really after getting caught as vice president with a slush fund learned his lesson, and never again did he mess around in that regard.

LEMON: Mr. Dean, always a pleasure, sir. Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Joe Biden releasing a new campaign ad today and he says it wasn't easy to talk about. We're going to show you the extremely personal ad. That's next.


LEMON: Joe Biden rolling out a new campaign ad in a post on Twitter. The former vice president said this ad wasn't easy for me to record. Healthcare is personal to me, deeply personal. Watch this.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was sworn into the United States Senate next to a hospital bed. My wife and daughter have been killed in a car crash, laying in that bedroom, my two surviving little boys. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like if we didn't have the healthcare they needed immediately. Forty years later, one of those little boys, my son Beau, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and given only months to live.

I can't fathom what would have happened if the insurance company said for the last six months of his life you're on your own. The fact of the matter is healthcare is personal to me. Obamacare is personal to me. When I see the president try to tear down and others propose to replace it and start over. That's personal to me, too.


LEMON: Makes you realize what's really important in life. Joining me now to discuss, Van Jones and former Congresswoman Mia Love, Van, I see you're nodding there. When you look at that, it looks -- there's nothing more important than the gift of life, right? The vice president is taking healthcare, you know, very personal, talking healthcare very personal time -- terms. Making the case that President Trump isn't the only threat to Obamacare.

He says that other candidates are too, talk to me about this. Is this ad effective? What are your feelings about the whole thing?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, it's a beautiful ad, a lot of heart, a lot of soul. It's personal. And, you know, everybody knows Joe Biden, but, you know, everybody knows what Coca-Cola is as well. But you have to remind people with each ad. You got to tell the story. And I think that, you know, this is the Joe Biden everybody knows and loves.

And it's important -- this man has buried two children. That is -- that makes him so real. That makes him so relatable. And he's still out here trying to make a difference. He's still trying -- he's out here trying to honor the legacy of his own kids.

LEMON: Are you getting emotional about this, Van?

JONES: It's emotional. It's emotional. I mean -- and I think a lot of people are burying folks. We have a lot of people where you're talking about opioids, whether you're talking gun violence, where you're talking about suicide, whether you're talking about cancer, whether you're talking about black women dying giving babies. You have a lot of funerals, man. And you got a lot of people who are suffering, who are struggling.

And to have an ad like that is so relatable. I think it's very important. I think it's very healing. I don't know if it does anything for his numbers. But I'm telling you. I'd much rather hear that from politicians than all this back and forth and technical stuff.

LEMON: Amen. Listen, I related to that. Obviously, you know that I had a death recently with my sister. And it's been tough, right? And so when you see things like that, you realize again what's really important, the gift of life is just -- it is the most important thing. You know, Mia, in his first ad, he stressed electability. Second, he's focused on healthcare.

Both are airing in Iowa. Smart move to drill down, do you think, on these issues, because according to the New York Times, Biden's team has noticed that Elizabeth Warren, you know, she is gaining in Iowa.

[22:40:03] MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. Well, I think that this is the exact ad that he needs to have. I mean, when you see Elizabeth Warren gaining on him. You see other people that are gaining on him, this is the thing that makes him relatable to, I would say, independents or relatable to so many people out there, because the entire -- you see the entire Democrat presidential candidates really running to the left.

I mean, Joe Biden was the one that said, look, if you're going to get rid of private healthcare insurance and you're going to give Medicare for All, where are you going to find the funds? So I think that this is the ad that he needed to have out there, to let people know that this is personal to him. I still -- you still have to understand how the policies are going to be implemented, because the ACA wasn't great for everybody.

So you have to -- you still have to speak to everybody and see how you're actually going to make that work. I mean, it's not -- he did what he needed to do. But you have still kind of make see what you can do to make healthcare work.

LEMON: Yeah. Let's talk about some of the reaction from the other candidates, because Bernie Sanders, Van, is reacting to this campaign -- to this new ad now, and this new Monmouth poll, I should say, that was released yesterday, showing him neck and neck with Biden and Warren. The campaign believes that this polling opens the door for an electability argument. Does it? What do you think?

JONES: Well, it could. I mean, you got to see a few more ads like this. And, of course, you have a big swing here in terms of, you know, the margin of error is pretty big on this poll. But listen, if you're Bernie Sanders, you have to look around and say when do I get some love here? I mean, I -- people have been writing me off since the Hillary Clinton campaign. Elizabeth Warren goes up a point. Everybody jumps up and down.

I am going up, you know, two, three, four points not getting any love, not getting any attention. So I do think that at this point Bernie Sanders has a case to make. Listen, if you're talking about electability on most polls, Bernie wins the match up with Donald Trump. He's now catching up to Biden. People have to deal with Bernie Sanders.

And the last time people didn't want to deal with Bernie Sanders, he got 47 percent of the vote. The Democratic Party last time and won, you know, you know, more than I think 25 states. So this is an important moment I think for Bernie Sanders. I think he is correct to say that he is viable now in the Democratic Party and the general election.

LEMON: Yeah. So Mia, you know, we should point out that yesterday's Monmouth poll had a margin of error of almost six points, and most recent poll including the poll CNN released just last week shows Joe Biden with a strong lead in the field, over the field. We're going to have to see if the latest poll is part of a trend or if it's an outlier, because I mean these -- it's kind of dizzying to me, but go on.

LOVE: Well, it should be a wake up call. Actually, that's a good poll for Joe Biden, because it's like, hey, you know, people are catching up. I have to do something, which is why I think that that the ad is good for him. Again, you have way too many people. You have got independents and you've got, I think, really the center right that is up for grabs. You can't run to the left.

You still have to make sure that it makes sense. In my district, where I am from, there are a lot of people where the ACA did not work for them. Their premiums went up. They couldn't keep private health insurance. A lot of people still want their private health insurance. They want to know who's going to get taxed, who's not going to get taxed. So this is a good wake up call for Joe Biden.

Because I think that as many people are coming in and they're coming up on him, he has got to do something a little different to divide himself from all of that.

LEMON: Mia, I have to get this in, because I know you're passionate about this. The former Republican Congressman, Joe Walsh, is launching a primary challenge on President Trump. I want you to check out. This is a New York Times.


LEMON: Joe Walsh says Trump is unfit to be president. Some say the same about him. Go for it. What do you say?

LOVE: I am out -- I am outside of my mind with this person. OK, so first of all, I am really excited that you have another Republican in the race. It's the person that says, look, I can't wake up every morning to Trump's ugly tweets. Yet, it took me an hour to do some research, and I found January 12, 2018 at approximately 2:58 p.m., that he says there's nothing wrong with saying that Haiti is an S-hole country.

He goes on to say it's run by blacks. Chicago has a black on black violence problem. So this is a person who is, I think, just as ugly. And he's not fooling anybody. I think that, you know, it's -- I have to sit there and think to myself what is this world coming to, where somebody can sit there and say I am -- defend the president -- even tweet something that's worse than what the president says.

And then comes back to say I don't believe that this person is morally fit. So I think he's either lying to everybody or he thinks that the president is just not angry enough. I don't know what it is. But this is a person that needs to stay home.

LEMON: All right, I am out of time, and she's mad, Van.


LOVE: I am mad.

JONES: Amen.

[22:44:59] LEMON: Thank you, Mia. Thank you, Van. See you next time. We'll be right back.


LEMON: Some 17 million people were purged from voting rolls nationwide between 2016 and 2018. That is according to a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice. Voters often don't realize that they've been purged until they show up to vote on Election Day. My next guest is working to ensure all eligible Americans can register, vote, and have their votes counted in 2020. Stacey Abrams was Georgia's Democratic candidate for governor in 2018.

She's the Author of "Lead from the Outside," as well the founder of Fair Fight 2020, an initiative aimed at fighting voter suppression, and she joins me now. Great cause, thank you so much, we appreciate having you on.


[22:50:06] LEMON: You're focused on fighting voter suppression now. And you say it used to be much easier to identify. What's changed and how prevalent is it?

ABRAMS: Voter suppression, from the earliest inceptions of this country, enshrined in the law who was allowed to vote and who was not. With the advent of the Voting Rights Act, everyone who is eligible was permitted to vote. And so what shifted is that it's now gone underground. These new rules look facially neutral, look racially neutral, but they have a disproportionate effect on people of color and on vulnerable communities.

Voter ID laws, purge laws, closures of precincts, the rejection of absentee ballots, and the provisional ballots, which often have to be cured by people who can't take time off of work to come back, those together create the spectrum of voter suppression.

LEMON: Part of what you're working on involves training voter protection teams, right? Because when people show up at the polls, they often don't know what to do. What are those, and how do they work, these voter protection teams, training them.

ABRAMS: So we're setting up voter protection teams in the 20 battleground states. And we define that as states where the presidential election, Senate contests, state attorneys general or secretaries of state, and down ballot races like state legislative races, which could decide redistricting for the next decade. Those are the states we're targeting. We're investing in, we're training, and we're staffing full-time permanent staff in state parties.

These teams are going to be in place so that they're looking at the laws in the state. They're looking at how those laws are implemented, and they're able to answer questions and fight back against voter suppression from the inception. And one of the reasons we're doing it now at is that we want to make certain that when there's a presidential nominee on the Democratic side, that they can scale these operations.

We're getting them started. We're not waiting until there's a nominee. But we intend for these apparatuses to be available to be available to that nominee to make certain that we're protecting the vote, not only from GOP interference but from foreign interference as well.

LEMON: Yeah. After what happened in Georgia and, you know, the situation around your campaign and your election, this is like the perfect thing. It's the obvious thing for you to do. And I am so happy that you're doing it because it really needs attention. So let's continue on and talk more because -- talk about the president's -- the census, right?

This president has not succeeded in adding a citizenship question to the upcoming census. But this doesn't feel like it's over. Listen to this, and then we'll talk about it.


TRUMP: Today, I am here to say we are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population. I stand before you to outline new steps my administration is taking to ensure that citizenship is counted so that we know how many citizens we have in the United States. Make sense?


LEMON: I am sure you have concerns about this. What worries you the most?

ABRAMS: Well, what worries me is that he's attempting to subvert the intention of the census. The census is not designed to count citizens. It's designed to count who is in the country, because the provision of services, the allocation of dollars is determined based on who is in each state.

It's not based on which citizen is in each state. More importantly, even though the bombast being used by Trump suggests that he's going to somehow overrule the opinion of the Supreme Court. I do not believe he will be successful.

LEMON: Listen, this is another important subject and one that we, you know, we discuss on this show a lot. And that is gerrymandering. And President Barack Obama has a new initiative aimed at ending partisan gerrymandering, saying in a statement, he says the movement for fair maps will determine the course of progress on every issue we care about for the next decade. And we can't wait to begin organizing when the redistricting process starts in 2021.

The Supreme Court recently acknowledged the problem of gerrymandering, but says the issue is beyond the court's reach. What do you hope this initiative will accomplish?

ABRAMS: So I will say that this is actually part of the work that we're doing. So part of how reapportionment happens -- in fact, entirely, reapportionment is based on the census count. And that's another reason it's so critical that every person be counted, because that will determine the allocation of Congressional districts for the entire nation. It then is used as the only legal mechanism to draw the lines.

But we have to think about this all of a piece. The right to vote is the right to elect your representatives. The census tells you who gets to cooperate with you to make that choice, and redistricting draws the line. Unfortunately, Chief Justice Roberts and that the Roberts court undermined, and in fact, abdicated their responsibilities for ensuring that every voice is actually heard and that we have a fair democracy.

While we can't undo what the Roberts court decided, we can do everything in our power to ensure that voters have the protection they need to cast their ballots, that the census works, and that redistricting is as fair as possible.

[22:55:08] LEMON: You know, I can't let you go without asking this. Do you see yourself as a potential running mate for any of the Democratic candidates?

ABRAMS: It is hubris to say that I am going to be chosen, but it's too coy by half to pretend that I wouldn't want the job. But my responsibility is Fair Fight 2020, making sure that no matter who the nominee is, through, that we have created an opportunity to scale and to make certain that the right to vote is protected and that whoever the running mate is -- and I'd love to have the offer.

But no matter whom the running mate is that the next president of the United States protects all Americans, and that's our mission.

LEMON:, correct?

ABRAMS: That's it.

LEMON: Stacey Abrams, always a pleasure. Thank you so much.

ABRAMS: Don, thank you for having me.

LEMON: We'll be right back.