Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

President Trump And His Signature 180; President Trump Says It Looks Like Iran Was Behind Attack On Saudi Oil Facilities, But Too Early To Tell; President Trump Attacks Obama Book And Netflix Deals; SNL Fires New Cast Member, Shane Gillis, Over Racial And Homophobic Slurs In His Comedy. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 16, 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]

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: And he was making you think and he was using offensive language in some way that have made you uncomfortable but then it made you think this was not that. This was a podcast. Basically, like me and you talking now. We were just having a conversation. Like there's no performance here. There's no whatever. We're having a conversation and he's saying these words.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Well, he and the other guy were trying to be funny in their depiction of Chinatown.

LEMON: I didn't think they were trying to be funny. I thought they were having a conversation.

CUOMO: No, no, no.

LEMON: But go on.

CUOMO: It was a comedy podcast. It's called this -- they were trying to be funny.

LEMON: OK.

CUOMO: Obviously they were failing by SNL's standards. that's why he got removed. And that's fine. Obviously, SNL has the right to do it. We're discussing whether or not it is right.

And here's why I don't like funny as a cover. Because if you say something ugly about me and people laugh, that doesn't make it OK. So, it's about what do we want to invite, and how do we want to deal with what we don't like? I believe that this culture has to hold on to the ability to offend and be offended.

You cannot be protected in this life from what people think about you or what they want to say about you, funny or not.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: So, you know, I take a shot at you, and people laugh. that happens a lot in bullying situations too. Doesn't make it OK.

LEMON: Bullies aren't comedians.

CUOMO: So, I say let them offend, let the market and let the people decide.

LEMON: OK. I think we're both in the same place on this because if you don't like it, don't watch SNL, right? I don't know if he should be -- listen, NBC made the decision.

Personally, I think that there is a bigger lesson in it for him to stay in the spotlight of an SNL and to try to deal with what he said and for him to realize that just sitting around like frat guys and saying racist things on a podcast no longer is -- was never funny, and no longer applies to the world right now.

CUOMO: Agreed. Andrew Yang, running for president obviously --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But I agree with Andrew Yang as well, who says that we -- because --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: So, he is the only classy, right?

LEMON: -- America is about redemption. Yes, but --

CUOMO: He said he wanted to give him a second chance to show we can forgive people. We're unduly punitive and vindictive about people making statements we find offensive. And he thought it was in a little bit of a gray area.

LEMON: that he was a comedian that was learning rather than someone who was bigoted. And if you listened to -- but if you do, and I went back and I listened to some of his routines, and I actually do agree with that. I didn't think that he was bigoted. I just think he was naive.

CUOMO: No. His shtick is not being a bigot.

LEMON: On purpose.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: But on --

CUOMO: that's not his act is what I'm saying. They would have never hired him.

LEMON: -- it's not on purpose, but because of perhaps his background and what people think is funny, and maybe the people who listen to him and his clientele or listeners, because they think that kind of humor is funny, he thought it was OK.

And so, because he has a routine where he talks about -- he said, I lived in, you know -- he called it a trash whatever, his neighborhood. And during the 2016 election, he moved to Philadelphia, and he talks about living in Philadelphia and living in New York and then all of a sudden being woke and he talks about the whole Trump thing and whatever.

And he talks about, I didn't know I was fat until I moved to a place where, you know, people are all thin, and they whatever. And so, I think he thought in his environment that it was actually funny. And then he's not. So, I think Yang actually is on to something when he's -- he's a growing comedian.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Again, is that an excuse for what he said about, you know, Asian people, Chinese people? I don't -- I don't think so. And I think that perhaps firing him is -- I don't know if it's -- I don't believe it's the right thing.

I think he should stay in that environment and take the scrutiny. But I understand that NBC's point of view because he represents the company, and he represents a brand. SNL has been around for a long time.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: It is, but it's comedy.

LEMON: And they have to live up to a certain thing.

CUOMO: And comedy is more than just funny. In this culture, it tests limits.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: It pushes at sacred cows. It makes us laugh at ourselves sometimes. It makes us uncomfortable. It bothers us. We have a legacy, a history of being offensive in this culture. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes it's just pushing what the normative values of a society that values freedom is all about.

LEMON: Well, when I said it's got to be funny, and it has to make you think, there's nothing about what he said in that podcast that was funny.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: There was nothing that made you think --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But I don't like that it's funny because what if he said even worse things but he found a way to do it that was really funny to people?

LEMON: Well, I don't think it's a --

CUOMO: Is that thing OK? (CROSSTALK)

LEMON: When people say -- when people say it has -- when people say it has to be funny, they just don't mean like ha-ha. that means it makes you think about something, right? I think there's - you know, it's an all-encompassing term. It's not just funny.

CUOMO: I believe it's all fair game. Say what you want to say. If people don't like it, get ready for the condemnation. You have the right to speak in this society, and you have the right to be judged for what you say.

LEMON: Agreed.

CUOMO: Keep it pure.

LEMON: I just -- I hate the whole cancel culture. I hate the whole -- and I hate going back and -- listen, think about this.

[22:05:00]

Think about if Richard Pryor or Lenny Bruce or even Eddie Murphy were coming up now. Do you remember the you know what that they would say?

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You would think the "All in the Family" would be on TV right now?

LEMON: A lot of racist stuff, a lot of homophobic stuff.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: A lot of it. They pushed the envelopes. Lenny Bruce got arrested for some of the things that he said.

CUOMO: You think "All in the Family" would be on today?

LEMON: Exactly. So, I mean, people -- so the whole --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You think "The Jeffersons" would be on --

LEMON: Exactly.

CUOMO: Do you think they would let Sherman Hemsley rest in peace?

LEMON: Sherman Hemsley say --

CUOMO: Do George Jefferson the way he did it then?

LEMON: Say, you think they would let George Jefferson say n-word please on television now? Or when Chevy Chase and Richard Pryor pushed the limits on SNL by that whole n-word sketch that they did, that would not -- that wouldn't be allowed on television right now. And something is wrong with that because those were learning moments, teachable moments.

CUOMO: Who are we?

LEMON: Who are we? Everybody is a little too --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: What we tolerate? What happens when we're tested? How do we feel about it? How do we respond? What do we embrace? What do we reject?

LEMON: Yes. I think everyone is a little too sensitive, and I think going back in the past for every little thing that someone did, nobody would have a job. Nobody. Nobody. Because everyone says stupid things. Everyone does something that's boneheaded now and then.

And so, I think we have to be forgiving, and I agree with Andrew Yang. You may not like it. There are many people I know I'm going to tick off the Twitter crowd. I'm going to tick off a lot of African- Americans who are going to say, but people always get away with the racist things and there are a bunch of white guys who are like him and can be just as funny or funnier than him. OK. Fine. But they didn't get the job on SNL.

And so, I think -- I know we're over, producers. We're having conversations. Hold on. We'll get through it. So, I think that we have to be --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Cancel culture.

LEMON: -- a little more forgiving. Yes. They want to cancel me. They want to cancel you right now. But I think we got to be a little bit more forgiving. I think we have to allow people the leeway to talk and have conversations. If we're going to come together --

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: -- instead of pushing each other apart.

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: As I always say, be more curious --

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: -- about why this person did it than judgmental.

CUOMO: Amen, amen, I say. It's part of a culture of decency.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: I know people will say, no it isn't. He was being indecent. No. But it gives people the chance to have this conversation.

LEMON: But he was being offensive. Those words were offensive.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: There was no question he was being offensive, and I think he was probably trying to be offensive.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But the point is now we get to talk about it. We get to test what's OK and what isn't.

LEMON: I got to cancel --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: You know it's out in the open.

LEMON: I got to cancel you right now.

CUOMO: It's OK.

LEMON: Before I'm canceled.

CUOMO: Sometimes people deserve it. I'm one of them.

LEMON: Good to see you. And happy birthday tomorrow.

CUOMO: Thank you, my brother. I told her already.

LEMON: Happy birthday, Mrs. Cuomo.

CUOMO: Fifty-two years old. Looking great.

LEMON: Yes. I thought she was like -- I thought she was like 51. Anyways --

CUOMO: Well done.

LEMON: Well done. I'll see you later.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And the president who just last night tweeted out what sounded like an ominous warning about being locked and loaded -- that was a quote -- locked and loaded, just waiting to hear from Saudi Arabia about who they believe was behind Saturday's drone attacks on Saudi oil fields. Well, he sounded pretty different today. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we clarify, Mr. President? So, you said you think Iran is responsible for the attack. Do you think that --

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I didn't say that. Why do you say that? I said that we think we know who it was, but I didn't say anybody.

But certainly, it would look most like it was Iran, but I did not say it the way you said. You're going to find out in great detail in the very near future. We have the exact locations of just about everything. You're going to find out at the right time, but it's too early to tell you that now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Too early to tell you that now? Sure, changed his tune there. Then there's what the president said about the idea of meeting with Iran without pre-conditions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any chance you'll meet with the Iranians without pre-conditions?

TRUMP: Well, you know, there were always conditions because the conditions, if you look at it, the sanctions are not going to be taken off. So, if the sanctions -- that's a condition. So, you know, that's why the press misreported it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: There is no -- hear my voice. There is no misreporting at all. The president now claiming he doesn't want to meet with Iran with no pre-conditions when that is exactly what he said that he'd do and exactly what members of his administration said he'd do over and over again. They've been saying it for more than a year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I'm ready to meet anytime they want to. No pre-conditions, no. They want to meet, I'll meet. Anytime they want. Anytime they want. It's good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world. No pre-conditions. If they want to meet, I'll meet.

You want to talk good, otherwise you can have a bad economy.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: No pre-conditions?

TRUMP: Not as far as I'm concerned. No pre-conditions.

MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The President of the United States has made it clear we're prepared to talk to Iran without pre-conditions.

STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: The president has made clear he's happy to take a meeting with no pre-conditions.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The president has made very clear, he's prepared to meet with no pre-conditions.

[22:09:55] LEMON: And if you're wondering why this president seems eager to jump to Saudi Arabia's defense, he's making it pretty clear. Today he did. It's about the economy. It's about jobs with 2020 looming, of course.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: that was an attack on Saudi Arabia, and that wasn't an attack on us. But we would certainly help them. They've been a great ally. They spend $400 billion in our country over the last number of years, $400 billion. that's a million and a half jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Changing his tune again. This is the same Donald Trump who tweeted in 2014 -- and I quote -- "Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won't, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth."

Remember, Arsenio (Ph) used to go, things that make you go. What could possibly be the difference between then and now? Right.

In 2014, Barack Obama was the president, and Donald Trump was totally opposed to the idea of defending Saudi Arabia.

Now, Trump is doing exactly what he said then this country shouldn't do. Part of, you know, let's call it what it is now. This president's obsession with his predecessor, the former President Barack Obama I'm talking about.

On his way to his campaign rally just tonight, he didn't address a question from CNN's Boris Sanchez about President Obama's book deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Barack Obama's book deal, sir --

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: I don't know who's going to go Mexico with me but --

SANCHEZ: -- why is it problematic?

TRUMP: I'll see you on the plane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: But he sure had a lot to say about the former president earlier, tweeting this. "Look at the Obama book deal or the ridiculous Netflix deal."

Why does he care about that? And later, just two words -- Obama, Netflix? It's not hard to figure out what this is all about.

Donald Trump is the first reality TV president. He made his name on the national stage as a caricature of a billionaire businessman on "The Apprentice." a caricature of a billionaire businessman on "The Apprentice." Caricature.

We know he spends much of his day in so-called executive time watching cable TV, cable news and tweeting about it. So, if there's anything that's going to get under this president's skin, it is the former president, Barack Obama, and his Netflix deal.

And speaking of deals, the man who claims that he wrote "The Art of the Deal" even though we know he used a ghostwriter, is not going to be happy about Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's book deals netting them a combined advance of well over $60 million.

Despite this president's repeated demands for an investigation of the Obamas' book and TV deals, demands he may be making to distract from questions about exactly who is staying at his hotels and resorts and how much he is making as a result, there's clearly no comparison.

Barack Obama is now a private citizen, not the president of the United States. He's free to make any kind of deal he wants. And why did the Obamas get those huge deals? I mean I can't believe I'm even asking this question. You know the answer. There's nothing nefarious about it. It's just how many people want to read their books and watch their tv shows. A lot of them.

But this is not a new obsession for this president. He also tweeted this about Barack Obama this morning, quoting, The New York Times about all the judges he put on the bench outstripping the former president. He said this about this just last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: President Obama gave me a beautiful birthday present when he gave me 138 judges that weren't approved, and frankly, how do you consider that being a great president when you hand to the opposition 138 slots of federal judges, including appellate court judges and one Supreme Court judge?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes. Actually, tried to blame his predecessor for leaving vacancies on the bench when, let's remember, it was Mitch McConnell who refused even to consider President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland, insisting on waiting until after the election.

Let's remember, Donald Trump launched his political career with years of repeated racist birther attacks on President Obama. And let's remember, because President Trump probably hasn't forgotten, this moment, at the 2011 White House Correspondents' dinner.

[00:04:54]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing.

(APPLAUSE)

What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Wow. Presidents with a sense of humor. The good old days. But here's the thing. The president actually does a whole lot of things that he criticized his predecessor for. Remember all the many, many times he slammed Barack Obama for playing golf?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Obama, it was reported today, played 250 rounds of golf.

Everything's executive order because he doesn't have enough time because he's playing so much golf.

Obama ought to get off the golf course and get down there.

I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf.

He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods. This guy plays more golf than people on the PGA Tour. I love golf. I think it's one of the greats, but I don't have time.

But if I were in the White House, I don't think I'd ever see Turnberry again. I don't think I'd ever see Doral again.

But I'm not going to be playing much golf, believe me. If I win this, I'm not going to be playing much golf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Do I even need to go through the list of the many, many times that he said he wouldn't be playing golf as president, right? But so far he has spent 231 days at his own golf clubs, including this weekend when he played at the Trump national golf club in Virginia.

So, yes, it looks like President Trump just cannot quit Barack Obama. I wish I knew how to quit you. He -- and as he does the very thing that he criticizes his predecessor for. Guess what? Presidents should relax. They shouldn't be hypocritical when other presidents did the same thing that they're doing.

The president tweets, "locked and loaded," and then he dials it back. Is it fire and fury, is it? Fire and fury part two? And is it irresponsible of this president?

I'm going to discuss that with former governor of Ohio John Kasich. He's next.

[22:20:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump is hinting that he believes Iran is responsible for the weekend attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, but he is dialing back his claim the U.S. is locked and loaded.

Let's discuss now with John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio.

Hello, sir. Good to see you. I first want to play something --

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: -- the president said just moments ago at a rally in New Mexico. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: America is respected again like it hasn't been for a long time.

(CROWD CHEERING)

TRUMP: And I can tell you because I meet so many of the leaders and their presidents and their kings and their queens and their prime ministers and their everything, dictators every once in a while. Every once in a while, you get a rogue dictator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, it's interesting that -- I wonder what's going on because he's putting kings and queens and prime ministers and dictators all together as if they're equal. Are dictators just fine if they don't go rogue?

KASICH: No, of course not, Don. And let me tell you this. The next president, if it's not Donald Trump, is going to have an enormous amount of work to do to repair the relationship that we have with our friends, our allies, with an enormous amount of work.

And let's -- you talk -- bring about Iran, and everybody wants to talk about where we are now. Remember, Don, our European allies begged him not to drop this deal, that they were interested in pressuring Iran in a unified way to stop developing ballistic missile technology and to stop all their funding these groups in the region, which would be Hamas and Hezbollah and other people. And he said, I don't care, and he walked away.

And now we -- you know, now we're talking, well, maybe the French, they want to offer a line of credit. Maybe we should go along with that. Well, maybe we'll have a discussion without pre-conditions. But wait a minute. I never said that.

This is -- this started all the way back when we walked out of that deal. And earlier in your monologue, you said something very interesting, something I can't figure out.

Why is he angry at Barack Obama? Donald Trump is president. I mean, I was never angry at anybody else that had the job that I then got. I don't get that. And if that anger is what drove us to walk away from this Iran agreement, that's a tragedy. Big, big mistake.

LEMON: Yes. Well, I can't -- a couple things. Look, I can figure it out. One, it's very glaring that he's jealous. Two, it plays well for his base, right? He makes Barack Obama a foe, right, the so-called boogeyman. And, three, Barack Obama has class. Money doesn't buy class. It's that simple. So, because Barack Obama has something that he will never have.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: But why is he jealous of him?

LEMON: Why is he jealous?

KASICH: Why is he jealous of him? Yes, I don't understand it.

LEMON: Because Barack Obama is smarter and more well liked than him. Barack Obama is someone who made his own way from nothing. Barack Obama wasn't given, you know, millions of dollars from his father. So, Barack Obama is very authentic. So, I just -- you know, he's a classy man. Look, and the other reasons you have to figure that out.

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: Well, I know him well.

LEMON: that's why I can say. So, listen, let's move on.

KASICH: I know. It's bizarre to me.

[22:15:00]

LEMON: Intense moments like this on the world stage now, Americans and our allies want a clear message and a steady hand. Are we getting that from this president right now?

KASICH: Sure. No, of course not. He just fired Bolton. I mean, how many? We have four or five national security advisers? And then he says -- this is the other thing he said the other day. He says, listen, we don't have to worry about who I pick because I make all the decisions myself.

When you're talking about complicated foreign policy -- and I've been involved in it. I served on the committee that was related to it for 18 years. You need to -- you make the final decision, but you have to have good advisers around you.

You know, there's actually a scriptural thing that says a wise man has many counselors. I think it's in Proverbs. A wise man has many counselors. If the only wise man you have is yourself, which means you have no counselors, it means that your thinking is not going to be what it ought to be.

And so, you know, I don't understand it. We've never seen anybody operate this way. We didn't see Clinton operate that way, Obama operate that way, Bush, the other Bush, Reagan. We never saw anything like this, ever, including JFK.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But you don't expect a president to operate the same way. You expect them to have a certain -- at least a modicum of class or respect or at least respect for the office they're serving in -- in which they're serving, I should say.

KASICH: Don, I had a call from a historian tonight. I won't say who it was. And he said many of the fundamentals that we believe in in this country today are being violated -- character and honesty and truth and responsibility, personal responsibility, not dividing, not belittling. I mean there has always been that certain set of mores.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: In that vein of what you're saying -- but in that vein of what you're saying, when the president tweets something like locked and loaded and then he dials it back, does it hurt the credibility and does it go into what you're saying right now?

KASICH: Hey, Don, if you were going to make just a business deal with somebody and they told you one thing one hour and another thing another hour -- and we're not talking about a simple business deal. We're talking about the calculations of people who have, like, lots of weapons, and they can inflict damage. And you don't want to confuse people. You want to be clear.

At one point, if they can't trust you and they don't believe you're going to keep your word and they don't believe you're going to be consistent, how can they -- how they can work with you? Of course, this is really a problem.

LEMON: So --

KASICH: And at some point, we're going to pay the price for this. I hope not, but I believe at some point we will pay a price for this kind of activity.

LEMON: So how does it make you feel that a person like --

(CROSSTALK)

KASICH: It is a kind of person that lack leadership.

LEMON: -- the he is the person that has his finger on the button?

KASICH: Well, he's the president, and he's got -- he's got some people around. Look, I'm not going to tell you he's sitting there thinking he's going to go blow up the world. What I'm saying is I think there's very little consistency. I think

there's a lack of depth among his advisers. I think he doesn't speak clearly. I think that he has separated us from our allies, which is one of our greatest strengths.

All those things lead to instability, and instability does not lead to a good place. It doesn't. And then look at the activity around North Korea. North Korea continues to move ahead and develop weapons that are very dangerous, and they just -- he just sort of dismisses it.

This is a very serious matter. Iran, North Korea, the trade war with China -- all of it done alone, by himself with his own instincts. It doesn't work.

LEMON: that's it, John Kasich. Thank you. We're out of time. I'll see you next time.

KASICH: Thanks, Don Lemon.

LEMON: Thank you. President Trump sending mixed messages about the Saudi oil attacks, and tonight Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has some harsh words for his administration. What he's -- what she's saying tonight -- excuse me. that's next.

[22:30:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: President Trump changing his tune today on responding to the attack on Saudi oil facilities, saying Iran is likely responsible, but he's not looking to get into a conflict with that country. Let's bring in now Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

Hello, sir. Good evening to you.

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, COUNCIL FOR FOREIGN RELATIONS: Good evening, Don.

LEMON: Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was on earlier tonight with Erin and talking about the news that Iran may be behind the Saudi oil attacks. And here's what she said. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): I think we need to make sure that the American people understand that this administration that lies about weather maps or crowd sizes cannot be trusted to give us the full information we need to be able to make a decision whether we should be going to war or not with Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Is she right?

BOOT: Absolutely, Don. I mean, how can you possibly trust anything that you hear from a president who has lied at least 12,000 times since coming into office?

LEMON: Is it that many now?

BOOT: It's actually, I think, above 12,000 by this point. But, you know, as Congresswoman Omar says rightly, just about a week ago they were lying about the weather. They were falsifying information about a hurricane, so how can you trust them about something that could lead us into a war with Iran?

I mean they have a credibility gap the size of the Grand Canyon, and it's coming back to haunt them, because this is precisely the kind of time where you need to be able to believe what a president says or what a Secretary of State says, and you just can't do it with these guys. You can't do it.

LEMON: The president's tweet on Sunday said that the U.S. is locked and loaded, but today he appeared more cautious. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want war with anybody. Well, we have a lot of options, but I'm not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this. We're dealing with Saudi Arabia. We're dealing with the crown prince and so many other of your neighbors, and we're all talking about it together. We'll see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[22:35:05]

LEMON: Why the shift in tone?

BOOT: That's a great question. I think which is probably better left to psychologists. I mean, Trump does this all the time, Don. You know that. He just veers between one extreme to another. He's bellicose one day, pacifistic the next. It doesn't make any sense. And as president, you want to be able to send a consistent message.

This is what we expect from our allies. This is the kind of behavior that will lead us to go to war with our enemies. And right now, Trump is so inconsistent and incoherent, nobody can figure the guy out. That makes for a very dangerous situation in a very volatile region of the world.

LEMON: Well, in that same tweet, he also says -- I'm going to quote here. He says waiting to hear from the kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack and under what terms we would proceed. So he is leaving it to the Saudis to determine what we do with our military?

BOOT: No. I remember, Don, when President Obama was in office, and he bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia as a gesture of respect. And, you know, the right wing media went nuts. Oh, you know, he's subservient to the king of Saudi Arabia. What would they be saying now about a Democratic president who was saying he is waiting for the Saudis to tell him whether the United States will go to war or not?

I mean that is offensive. We have to look out for our own national security, and the, you know, the broader issue here, Don, is that I really think we have got into this mess, because Donald Trump has contracted out our security in the Middle East to Israel and Saudi Arabia. He has let them make the decisions for us, and now he's continuing to do that. He's continuing the very mistake that has gotten us into this mess in the first place.

LEMON: Yes. Read your column -- read his column in the Washington Post today. It's called the Saudi oil attacks are signs of Trump's Mid-East fiasco, by the great Max Boot. Thank you, Max.

BOOT: Thanks for having me on.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:40:00]

LEMON: President Trump saying that former President Barack Obama's post-presidency book and TV deals should be investigated. He doesn't give a reason, but it's part of a pattern from this president, never missing a chance to mention his predecessor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They've looked into everything that we've done. They could look into the book deal that President Obama made. You saw the poll came out that I'm above Obama.

So, Russia outsmarted President Obama. Now, nobody looks at Obama getting $60 million for a book. That is OK, even though nobody in history ever got that much money for a book.

When I came in under the Obama administration, North Korea was a disaster. He doesn't have a birth certificate. Now, he may have one, but there's something on that birth -- maybe religion. Maybe it says he is a Muslim. And the deal that President Obama made was a horrible deal.

President Obama gave us a beautiful gift. He gave us 138 judges that he wasn't able to get in or didn't pick anybody or couldn't get them approved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Why is this president so fixated on the former president? Let's discuss now. Tara Setmayer is here, Michael D'Antonio, the author of the truth about Trump, and a consequential president. Thank you both.

Michael whether it is -- good evening by the way. Whether it is North Korea, federal judges, a racist birther lie about, you know, the former president not being born here, that is when I got him into the political scene. It seems like this president has an obsession with the former President Obama. What's going on?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he's really stuck, doesn't it? So, this is actually another instance of the president lying. He said, they did a poll and I'm more popular that Obama. It's actually the opposite. Pew did a poll in 2018. Obama got 44 percent of the vote for most popular president in our lifetime followed by Clinton, Reagan, and I'm not quite sure where Trump showed up.

LEMON: Obama was number one?

D'ANTONIO: He was number one.

LEMON: Wow.

D'ANTONIO: So, and this is what bothers him. I think the president sees a fairly resilient, popular president, who better-looking than Trump --

LEMON: Put the poll up.

D'ANTONIO: -- fitter than Trump. This is all stuff that he (inaudible).

LEMON: Voters with favorable opinion of President Obama, 60 percent.

D'ANTONIO: Right.

LEMON: That is higher than Trump's approval rating right now.

D'ANTONIO: It's higher than it's ever been. Already he's now below 40, so this is absurd.

LEMON: Tara, let's ask the question that everyone is that home is saying. It's because he is black, it's over Obama. I'm not saying that but I know people are saying and if you look on social media, that's what they are saying. It's because he is the first black president. Maybe he just -- in the $60 million book deal, maybe he just knows the art of the deal really, and it's not just a slogan for him, but go on.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He does not know the art of the deal. First of all, he didn't even write that book. And what deals has he made since president of United States.

LEMON: I mean Obama knows the art of the deal.

SETMAYER: Oh, Obama, yes. Definitely not Donald Trump.

LEMON: You think it's because he is the first black president?

SETMAYER: Maybe. I mean we've already established that Donald Trump is a bigot. We already know that he looks down on ethnic minorities just based on his career, the way he speaks about people of color. It's clear that he doesn't not see -- he doesn't have the same level of respect.

I think that is just obvious, but that is not the -- I don't think that is the only reason. I mean, maybe that is part of it, but also, you know, he is just incredibly insecure. He is one of the most thin- skinned, insecure men in the most powerful position in the world I've ever seen. And this manic obsession, its jealousy. It's envy. He just can't stand that someone is adored more than he is. And something else about his obsession with President Obama which I find very strange, it shows the double standard of his ability to tell lies.

[22:45:05]

He just lies about President Obama, whether it was about him putting a spy into his campaign or whether it was about, you know, Obama couldn't get -- was going to put us into war with North Korea. Like he lies about all kinds of things. He blamed the air-conditioning problems in the White House on Obama for god sakes.

(LAUGHTER)

I mean this is like a Saturday Night Live skit, but it's sad. And like, you know, Trump supporters, they don't care if he lies about Obama, but if critics of Trump, you know, point out his lies, oh, it's fake news. I mean it's a very fascinating, sad, and pathetic, you know, person that we have in the White House.

LEMON: I'm wondering, Michael, why Barack Obama's, the former president's book deals, Netflix deals, why they should be investigated. He made these deals after he left office. What's wrong with that?

D'ANTONIO: Well, part of what's wrong is that President Obama never had a scandal. So you have a completely scandal-soaked administration in Donald Trump's administration, and you have, in Obama, you know, there were investigations of people in the Obama administration. There never was a conviction for any crime, and there never really was a scandal that got any momentum because there wasn't any there-there.

LEMON: And there were a lot of made up scandals from the right.

D'ANTONIO: Right.

SETMAYER: There were a couple of scandals, like the IRS and fast and furious, things like that.

LEMON: Comparatively, Tara.

SETMAYER: But I'm saying, let's just be fair. There were some things, but, no, not compared to what's happening now.

D'ANTONIO: Well, the other thing is that Obama was a very profound man. Trump is a very profane man. These are polar opposites. One man denigrates women. The other marries the woman he loves and stays married to her and continues to love her. The difference between these people is more than black and white. It's everything. It's the essence of their humanity, and Trump knows that people see it. The last thing I want to say is the Netflix deal. Obama may win an Emmy, and Trump has been resentful about Emmys.

LEMON: He's never won an Emmy?

D'ANTONIO: He never has.

LEMON: Uh-oh. Maybe Obama will be an egot (ph) after because of his whole Netflix deal.

SETMAYER: That is true, though. That is a good point by Michael, because Trump has always been very bitter about not winning an Emmy for the Apprentice. So, it goes to show you where his priorities are.

LEMON: I got to go. I got to go. Money can't buy you class. Google that song. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:50:00]

LEMON: Saturday Night Live, SNL, inspired one of its most recent hires. Shane Gillis, is his name. Fired him just days after video of the comedian making bigoted and homophobic comments came too light. But I want you to listen to these brand new comments tonight from Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang himself. A target of Gillis' comedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW YANG, AMERICAN ENTREPRENEUR AND PHILANTHROPIST, 2020 U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I thought if I could set an example that, you know, we can forgive people. Particularly in an instance where in my mind it was in a comedic context or gray area. I thought it would be positive. But you know, obviously it's in NBC's hands and now they made the decision to make.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So, he's in the forgiving mood there. SNL was it right to fire Gillis? Was it? Or has the cancel culture gone too far. Is it the same thing? Can you compare this (inaudible) culture?

Let's discuss now, comedian, former SNL staffer Dean Obeidallah.

Dean, thank you so much. We have a little bit of a delay. Dean is in Atlantic City. So, Dean, look, the presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, you saw him. He also didn't want Gillis -- he said Gillis should not had been fired. You used to work at SNL's production staff. You say he shouldn't have been fired as well. So, how would you like to see this handled?

DEAN OBEIDALLAH, FORMER SNL STAFFER: To me, and to be clear, first of all I don't know how he got hired as part of the big thing. My friends at SNL, there's a thing called Google. You should use it. Google people you are going to hire, because the guy, his pod cast which is just from last year.

Now I think what Andrew Yang's point and my point as well, I wrote about it for CNN, is not whether he should be fired or not. It's the idea that if we say anything wrong in society today. For one comment, people want you fired. They want you ostracized from society. My big picture question here is, is that helpful?

I supposed to encouraging people to evolve for the better which was we all want. In the case of Shane Gillis, it start out as one comment that was seen as anti-Asian, then we found out his, he was sexist comments, anti-Muslim comments, and the LGBTQ comments and we learn today that two Philadelphia comedy clubs had stopped using him because of his xenophobic and racist stuff.

SNL could have easily found that out and avoided this entire situation. To take you step back, Don, the question is, are we overreacting as a society when anyone says anything that is offensive. And I think at times we do that. At times, it's appropriate, other times it's too far. Too far.

LEMON: Yes. So, you know, let's put the -- the comments -- we won't put them up. But he said some very disparaging things and used the word for Chinese people. Just so we know what people, what it was and making fun in an accent or what have you. He has also made you know, homophobic comments about Jed (inaudible) and Chris (inaudible), neither who I believe is gay.

And then on and on. And as you said, this was just last year. And SNL admitted like they are vetting process could have been better. So, there are going to be people at home we're saying, listen, Dean, you're going to call people out when they say anti-Muslim things, or anti-black things or whatever, but not this person. This person shouldn't be fired?

[22:55:00]

OBEIDALLAH: Well, he actually did say anti-Muslim stuff as I pointed out in my CNN article. And for me the question was, look at -- we're adults, right. Dom, we know when someone is being playful, we know when they are being hateful. In the case of Shane, I don't know the young man. And Andrew Yang's point two days ago was, he would sit down with him.

Let's talk to him. Let's find out if he's truly a raving bigot or someone who can be reached. And that is my big question. This guy today apparently he met with SNL. Whatever conversation they had was not enough for them at SNL. My old friends there to want him to work with them on the 17th floor.

We worked long hours together, and I could tell you, these comments he has said would have made his life extremely uncomfortable over there. So, look, they fired him, I get it. I'm telling them the bigger picture, let's take a step back sometimes.

LEMON: Dean, yes, listen, I got to say ahead this conversation earlier with Chris. I think I'm on board with what you're saying. And I know a lot of people will be upset by that. But I agree that this whole cancel culture, I really hate it.

And it's just like just -- it's just the -- a few people who are the loudest voices mostly on social media. I think every single instance has to be judged on its own merits and it shouldn't be one blanket thing, let's fire everybody. Dean, thank you. I'll see you next time. I appreciate it.

OBEIDALLAH: Exactly. And each person judge equally, exactly. Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Thank you. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)