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U.S. Now Seeing Consequences Of Leaving The Iran Nuclear Agreement; Manhattan D.A. Wants To See Trump's Tax Returns; Man Trump Called 'My African-American' Left GOP; President Trump Claims He's Done More For Inner Cities Than Any President; Elizabeth Warren Draws Thousands To New York City Rally. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired September 16, 2019 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We are going to answer five big questions in the hour ahead for you. Why is President Trump sending mixed messages about who he thinks is behind this weekend's attack on oil production facilities in Saudi Arabia?
Also, the Manhattan district attorney issuing a subpoena to get a hold of eight years of President Trump's tax returns. What is he looking for?
And I'm going to ask the man Trump infamously called my African- American at a 2016 campaign rally, why he is now leaving the Republican Party. His name is Gregory Cheadle. He says enough is enough.
Also, why is the president claiming that he's done more for inner city communities than any other president. Even after trashing Baltimore as a rat, and rodent-infested mess.
And thousands of people turn out tonight here in New York to hear Elizabeth Warren. What was the message that is behind her base? Her growing number of supporters. We' re going to find out in the hour ahead.
But we're going to begin with President Trump hinting that Iran is behind the take on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your message to Iran right now?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think I'll have a stronger message or maybe no message at all when we get the final results of what we're looking at. But right now, it's too soon to say.
There's plenty of time. You know, there's no rush. We'll all hear, we'll be here a long time. There's no rush. But I'll have a message whether it's a strong message or maybe no message at all depending on the final results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, let's get the big picture now. Big Picture with Fareed Zakaria and Nicholas Kristof.
Good evening, gentlemen. I appreciate you joining us.
Fareed, I'm going to start with you. Once again, the world is on edge over tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Tell us about the dangers of this situation. How dangerous is this?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: It's very dangerous. Because the United States has set in motion a course towards Iran which is endlessly escalating confrontation. Perhaps if we looked back on as the most fateful decision of the Trump administration to have withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal. That set Iran into a kind of trap.
And then the Trump administration essentially tried to strangle Iran by ramping up the economic sanctions. Essentially forcing the rest of the world to enforce sanctions as well.
Iran is now, presumably responding with the leverage it has. And the most particularly by either directing allies or encouraging them in Yemen or perhaps somewhere else in Iraq to attack Saudi oil facilities which has taken half of Saudi Arabia's oil off the market, which, by the way makes Iranian oil more valuable.
So, all of a sudden you have a situation where the United States, you know, really for Trump for ideology reasons, because Obama negotiated it, withdrew from the deal. This is now having serious, serious geopolitical consequences. And you can see Trump sobering up trying to, at this point, trying to figure out what do I do?
Because if that is the case, that Iran did in some way directly ordered these attacks, presumably he is faced with a quandary. Does the United States respond in some way?
But it all goes back to a decision that he made essentially to subcontract American foreign policy in the Middle East to Saudi Arabia. And to go all in with Saudi Arabia sectarian Shia versus Sunni war with Iran.
LEMON: Nicholas, why do you say that this is a predictable outcome of President Trump pulling out of -- pulling the U.S. out of the Iran deal?
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Don, I mean, I think that everybody back then knew that if we pulled out of the deal then Iran was going respond. Both by ramping up nuclear program as it has. And also, by taking measures to create pressure on us. We put maximum pressure on them. And they would in turn put maximum pressure on us and on our allies.
And there are hard liners who we are seeing in Washington and elsewhere. Who insisted back in 2015 that we could pull out of the nuclear deal and Iran would be helpless, it wouldn't be able to respond.
Well, those are the same people who now having created this crisis are insisting that we have to go ahead and strike military on Iran which would be a disaster. These are the same people who in 2003 predicted that Iraqis would welcome us with flowers. And you know, I wish they would have learned their lesson either in 2003 or in 2015. But I agree with Fareed that it's a very dangerous situation.
LEMON: Well, Fareed, the one moment, you know, the president says the U.S. is locked and loaded and then, you know, leaning towards blaming Iran. The next he is saying this. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want war with Iran?
TRUMP: Do I want war? I don't want war with anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the options, if not a military -
TRUMP: Well, we have a lot of options. But I'm not looking at options right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I mean, listen, it's policy. I mean, it's incoherent. It's all over the place. Is that making the situation worse?
ZAKARIA: Yes. In general, I think it makes it much more difficult in any of these situations because your allies don't know what you mean. Your adversaries don't know what you mean. You know, you've seen the pattern in his negotiations with China. One day he's essentially threatening some kind of a trade war. Another day he says he's making a concession. And Xi is his best friend.
A week ago, I think Mike Pompeo said the president it was ready to meet with the Iranian president with no pre-conditions then he tweeted I never said that.
You know, there's all this confusion. And a lot of it is because, you know, we know Trump doesn't have a coherent foreign policy strategy. It's a largely impulsive response to events.
But again, on this issue he has said in force events that have taken a life of their own. You know, I think it's important to understand we have gotten ourselves into this Saudi/Iranian rivalry where American interests are not involved.
The Saudis have largely initiated, though the Iranians are not without blame at all. It has created the worst humanitarian crisis in the world with millions and millions of people starving.
And in the context of all this, you have this Iranian attack or Iranian sponsored attack on Saudi Arabia. I don't quite see how America's interests are strategically involved in this. We should be trying to calm the water. We should be trying to tell everyone to step back.
And instead, Trump sometimes seems to be talking about locked and loaded and ready to go. And then, perhaps has the good sense to try and calm things down. It is policy incoherence and I think, I'm sure it must be causing enormous confusion in Saudi Arabia, in Iran. Everyone is puzzled just as you are.
LEMON: I want you to listen, Nicholas, to what he said today, meaning the president, when asked about Saudi Arabia's responsibility for defending itself. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If somebody like us which are the ones are going to help them, they -- I know that monetarily will be very much involved in paying for that. The fact is that the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something. They'll be very much involved and that includes payment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Is he suggesting that the U.S. is some sort of will be paid by the Saudis as some sort of mercenary force?
KRISTOF: This is a long-time thread in President Trump's attitude towards Saudi Arabia that they should pay for our security. I mean, I just find it kind of repulsive idea that we are saying that Saudi Arabia should hire us as mercenaries.
And look, I mean, Saudi Arabia -- my guess is that President Trump and Saudi Arabia are right, that this is probably was Iran. Probably using a proxy for us and if it was Iran, then Saudi Arabia has the right to respond.
They have fighter planes. They have missiles. They flew sorties against ISIS. Let them go ahead and respond. They don't -- we don't need to do that for them. This doesn't need to escalate and involve the U.S. in ways that create real risk throughout the region including to U.S. interests. If we get engaged then American troops will die in Iraq.
LEMON: You know, the president has a cozy relationship, Fareed, with Saudi Arabia. It was the first country he visited after he took office. Sided with the Saudis over his own intelligence officials in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
And House Democrats have claimed that White House officials push the sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia back in 2017.
Could this close ties be influencing Trump's decisions here? [23:10:07]
ZAKARIA: Well, it certainly is worrying, you know. And the most worrying part about it is, it's entirely clear why Donald Trump has chosen to subcontract American foreign policy to Saudi Arabia.
I mean, this is not historically been the way the United States has approached the Middle East. We have always tried to play some kind of a balance or broker role. And suddenly, to find ourselves all in, not just Saudi Arabia but with one particular individual in Saudi Arabia who has developed very close personal relationship with the President Trump and with Jared Kushner.
Look, I'm all for the Saudi alliance. I think they have been good allies and I think we should be supportive of them. But I think there seems to be some, you know, some kind of obsessiveness or again, some kind of something beyond the norm.
And I agree with Nick the whole way in which President Trump speaks about the Saudi relationship with the United States is demeaning to the United States and frankly, to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.
American soldiers are not mercenaries being hired by the Saudis. American soldiers put themselves in the lives on the line to serve America's national interest. It is not clear America national interest are involved. And if they're not no matter what Saudi Arabia pays and whether it pays cash as the president said or not. It makes no difference. That is not a reason to send young men American men and women into die.
LEMON: Fareed, Nicholas, thank you. I appreciate your time. Don't miss Fareed Zakaria GPS Sunday 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
President Trump has consistently refused to release his taxes but now Manhattan's district attorney has subpoenaed eight years of his returns. What he is hoping to find? And will any of this ever be public? We'll dig into it, next.
LEMON: State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed eight years of President Trump's tax returns from his long-time accounting firm.
A source telling CNN prosecutors are looking for documents related to $130,000 hush money payments -- payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels over her alleged affair with Trump, which the president denies.
Trump and the Trump Organization reimbursed his former fixer Michael Cohen for the hush money payment. Cohen is behind bars after pleading guilty to campaign finance violation. Got all that?
OK, let's discuss now. Elie Honig is here, Vicky Ward as well, the author of "Kushner Inc." Wow. Yes, here we go. Hello to both of you. How does it fall, Elie, to the Manhattan D.A. attorney to issue a subpoena and what exactly are they looking for?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So first of all, we know that the federal prosecutors office filed office in the Southern District New York is done with their hush money case. The only person they ended up charging and convicting was Michael Cohen which is a strange result.
But now the state prosecutors have picked up the ball and what seems to be increasing clear is they are trying to make a case related to that same payment, the $130,000 payment but they are approaching it from a different angle. Which is, the state law crime of falsifying business records.
Now, it's a low-level crime. It's a misdemeanor. But if they can show and I think this maybe what's going on with the subpoena. If they can show that the business records were falsified and there was a tax consequence to it, then that becomes a felony which is a higher-level crime.
LEMON: So, if they do get their hands on the tax returns what's the likelihood that they'll be made public?
VICKY WARD, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Well, according to the reporting in the Times, minimal when you say, Elie.
WARD: I mean, I think everyone I spoke to today in the sort of Trump world, the world in New York real estate, believes that the president would fear not so much any criminal implications of this. What he doesn't want is his tax returns out there because back in the 1990s, Don, he took a huge tax loss which means he likely hasn't paid any income tax.
It's not a great look for the person who is in charge of tax policy if he actually hasn't paid any income tax. It reminds people that actually his business went bust back in the day. And that perhaps he's not a hugely successful businessman that he's ridden this wave on.
LEMON: Well, doesn't it depend on what happens like during the course of discovery and all this stuff whether or not that they're made public, right?
LEMON: If it's used as evidence or something.
HONIG: It's unlikely. It shouldn't come out. Should not come out because this is a grand jury subpoena. And grand jury subpoenas are marked by secrecy and the prosecutor generally has an obligation to keep those documents secret.
LEMON: But it is still --
(CROSSTALK) HONIG: There are exceptions.
LEMON: There are still other people who are getting that like, the more it gets out the more people that the chances are --
LEMON: -- someone might possibly --
HONIG: Yes. The more pieces of paper that are out there. And the far that this case goes the more it could be, as you say, discovery. That prosecutor has to turn over evidence, the more people it goes to, the more possibilities to get out.
LEMON: There's audio tape from September of 2016, OK, of the conversation with Michael Cohen about having to pay. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I need to open up a company. for the transfer of all that info regarding our friend David. You know, so that I'm going to do that right away. I've actually come up --
TRUMP: Give it to me.
COHEN: And I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with --
TRUMP: So, what are we going to do?
COHEN: -- funding. Yes. And it's all the stuff. All the stuff. Because, you know, you never know where that company -- you never know where he's going to be.
TRUMP: You never know if he gets hit by a bus.
COHEN: Correct. So, I'm all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it. When it comes time for the financing which will be --
TRUMP: Listen, what financing?
COHEN: We'll have to pay.
TRUMP: We won't pay with cash?
COHEN: No, no, no I got -- no, no, no.
(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Yes. And then he goes on in case he gets hit by a bus.
Remember that? I mean, but on that recording, remember they had an extensive conversation there. It seems that Trump has some familiarity with the deal involving and they were talking about American Media Inc.'s publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker.
How is team Trump explained what that payment was about, Vicki? Have they explained it?
WARD: Has team Trump explained the --
LEMON: Yes. What the payment was about. Had they -- what did say about that? Because they're saying this payment to Pecker.
WARD: What have they said actually, the --
HONIG: They lied about it. I mean, Trump first lied about it. He said he didn't know what was happening.
WARD: He didn't know and he's denied the alleged affair, right --
WARD: -- with Stormy Daniels.
HONIG: And I think the problem is what the campaign, they can't deny that this money was paid to Stormy Daniels. They lied about it in their documents. They tried to say this is for legal services rendered, which it was not. It was to silence somebody. And that has different tax implications. And I think that's where the subpoena is aiming.
LEMON: Interesting. So, I remember during -- they were talking about a campaign finance violation during -- this was well, during the campaign because it was so close to the election.
LEMON: When they denied it and saying, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But then Michael Cohen is the only one who ended going to prison for it.
LEMON: No one else.
HONIG: It's a very strange result really. And again, that was the defense. They say well, these payments were made not because we were trying to influence the election by keeping these women silent. But because we were trying to spare the president and his family personal embarrassment which would defeat a criminal charge. But the timing makes that completely implausible.
LEMON: Michael Cohen claimed that the Trump Organization long-time chief bookkeeper, remember Allen Weisselberg knew about the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. And ex-Playboy model, remember, Karen McDougal was also involved. Weisselberg got immunity from federal prosecutors. As we've been saying Michael Cohen was the only one that went to jail into this investigation to Cohen's crimes.
What is Weisselberg's role in this investigation?
WARD: Well, Weisselberg clearly knows a great deal. That's why he's got immunity. Right? And I think, you know, what's being so frustrating with all the efforts to look at the Trump Organization's finances, Trump's finances, you know, until now, as you pointed out, Elie, you know, there's been the shield. And they've hidden behind what's called legislative purpose. Right?
And so, I think that what will be interesting about this state, you know, prosecution and having a grand jury is that potentially, it may take a very long time, but potentially it could bear more fruit. Probably not in time, right, for the election.
HONIG: So, Vicky knows a bit about the law, it seems, I should say. I mean, this is different.
WARD: A little bit. A little bit.
HONIG: So, we've seen battles over congressional subpoenas. This is a different ball game. This is a federal -- excuse me, a state grand jury criminal subpoena. And prosecutors have very broad discretion to serve those subpoenas.
Now I expect the Trump org to fight this as they fought everything. But all you have to show as a prosecutor is some conceivable relationship to anything relevant to the investigation. So, it's broad. They're going to fight it but the Trump org is going to fight this but they are going to lose.
LEMON: It's crazy how long this has been going on. I mean, this has been going on since the campaign.
HONIG: It's the white whale.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest? Do you know what I'm talking about? (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, the man Trump dubbed my African-American is quitting the GOP and he's going to tell me why. Next.
LEMON: So, who can forget this moment on the 2016 campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest? Do you know what I'm talking about?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Sorry. Wow. Wow. It's still good. It's still unbelievable. Now the man Donald Trump called my African-American says that he is leaving the GOP, he can't support the president anymore. That man is Gregory Cheadle and he joins me now.
He is also, by the way, running for Congress in California's first congressional district as an independent. Thank you for joining us. You have to laugh at that. You even laughed to that moment --
GREGORY CHEADLE, MAN TRUMP POINTED OUT AS 'MY AFRICAN-AMERICAN': Thanks.
LEMON: -- while it was happening, right?
CHEADLE: Of course. It was funny, you know.
LEMON: Welcome to the show.
CHEADLE: It was funny back then.
LEMON: At the time --
CHEADLE: Thank you for having me.
LEMON: At the time you said that you weren't offended by what then president -- then candidate Trump, I should say, said.
LEMON: So, what have you seen since Trump has become president? What changed your mind about him or and about the party?
CHEADLE: Well, I mean, he and the party have just shown that they have no interest in any other groups but white. You know, whites are the primary group. Everyone else may -- may get crumbs. But his whole agenda is targeted towards benefiting whites, and that for the GOP as well. The GOP is, you know, they want to slash social security. They want to
slash welfare. But they don't say diddly-squat about cutting subsidies, you know, loan guarantees, liquated government contracts and whatever else for the wealthy. And so, they're all about themselves.
LEMON: You know what folks are going to say, well, shouldn't you have known that earlier? What took you so long to get there, Gregory?
CHEADLE: Well, you know, when I -- I've been in the party for I don't know how many years. But you know, I joined the party because there were so many people who sit on the sidelines and complain. They get in front of their computer and just whine and complain and complain. I'm a doer. And so, I joined the party to try to make a difference.
CHEADLE: I fell in love with the history of the Republican Party and I just felt it within me that I could make a difference, I could bring awareness to the plight of black people and just have people, you know, join me in that and try to make a change.
CHEADLE: But the more I work toward that end, the more resistance I was met with. And so finally, I just came to the point where I just could not stomach the rejection anymore and said sayonara.
LEMON: Hey, quickly, because I just want to get to what the president said about you. You said that those go back tweets and the whole thing about Elijah Cummings is an attack against Elijah Cummings, Baltimore. You tweeted that that had a profound effect. It was the tipping point for you.
CHEADLE: Well, it was. You know, I just -- the president is --
LEMON: You didn't tweet it. You pointed out the tweet, the words tipping point. Sorry, I screwed that up. Go on.
CHEADLE: It's OK. I forgive you, Don. No, it just got to the point where enough is more than enough --
CHEADLE: -- and that was -- that was more than enough and that was it.
LEMON: Yes. This is what the president -- President Trump was asked about losing your support. Let's listen to what he said.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): The man that you called 'my African-American' at your rally in 2016, he says he's leaving the Republican Party because you're pursuing a pro-white agenda. What's your reaction to that?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go ahead. Go ahead, what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): What do you say to him? What do you say to him? He used to be a supporter of yours.
TRUMP: Go ahead. I don't know who you're talking about.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): He's the man that you pointed out at the rally and called 'my African-American.' He used to support you.
TRUMP: I don't know. We have tremendous African-American support. I would say I'm at my all-time high. We have the best numbers we have ever had for African-Americans in terms of employment and unemployment, so I think we're going to do very well.
LEMON: So Gregory, the president often pivots to black unemployment numbers when confronted with accusations of racism.
LEMON: When you hear him do that, what goes through your mind?
CHEADLE: A red herring. It's a distraction. When you look at the unemployment rate that he boasts, number one, he has not done anything specifically for blacks to change that number. Number two, that number does not include the millions of blacks who were incarcerated for various drug offenses and cannot get employed because of their record.
So it's a distraction. It's a red herring. It's nonsensical. And we all know that unfortunately the president is adept at prevarication.
LEMON: Yeah. The Republican Party's only black member in the House, Will Hurd, won't run for reelection in 2020. Former members of Congress, Mia Love --
LEMON: Carlos Curbelo lost to Democrats. Is the president's rhetoric and the party's silence about all that pushing people of color away from the GOP?
CHEADLE: Oh, without a doubt. I mean, how in the world can you think about the involved with the party that doesn't want you? I mean, since I have left the party, not a single Republican has reached out and tried to say, you know, Greg, you know, what can we do? None of that stuff. I have not been contacted by any of the quote on quote right wing media or anyone. So, the Republican Party is bent on being alt right.
LEMON: Mm-Hmm. Gregory Cheadle --
CHEADLE: Not alt right but all white. LEMON: Yeah.
LEMON: Well, yeah. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time. Best of luck to you.
CHEADLE: Thank you so much, Don. I really appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me on.
LEMON: All right. President Trump is boasting today about what he has done for inner cities, inner cities like Baltimore, that he called a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. A lot to talk about, next.
LEMON: President Trump is talking to reporters today and making a claim that might not sit well with some inner city voters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, I think what I have done for the inner cities is more than any president has done for a long time. We are having tremendous success in the inner cities because of the opportunity zones. Criminal justice reform, I was the one that got it. Nobody else.
I mean, we had people that helped, but a group of extremely liberal Democrats came to the office and they said, we cannot get it. President Obama was unable to get it, as you know. President Bush, they were all unable to get it. And I got it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Joining me now to discuss, CNN's Abby Phillip, Scott Jennings, and Angela Rye. Hello. This is a dream team as well. Every time you guys are on, you're the dream team. So it's lovely to have you. Let's start with Angela Rye.
Angela, President Trump is bragging about what he has done for inner cities, but, you know, it wasn't that long ago when he was thrashing the city of Baltimore as a disgusting and rodent infested mess. Does he understand how that sounds to black voters, you think?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The answer is no. It also isn't just Baltimore that he has attacked negatively. Of course, we know that he also has attacked Atlanta and Congressman John Lewis. It is not something that is confusing to us or something we haven't seen before. He does it all the time.
I think the challenge is that yes, Donald Trump did sign a significant piece of criminal justice reform legislation into law. Thanks to our good friend on this network, Van Jones, and many others, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries who worked tirelessly on this. And actually the only black person at the White House who I still like -- (LAUGHTER)
RYE: Is he the only one? Actually, it might just be Jerome (ph), it might be the last one left, but it was something that was --
RYE: I'm just being honest. That was important to Jerome (ph). I have known him since he worked on Capitol Hill.
RYE: And so, yeah, I'm sure that somebody can argue that in addition to he's African-American over there that has now become independent, he has done something for some black person somewhere. I'm just still checking for who they are.
LEMON: Yeah. Scott, you know, you heard what Angela said about the criminal justice reform bill that he signed. The president touted the criminal justice reform bill and the opportunity zones his administration pushed. But he also said a lot of insulting things about black and brown people. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I'll go step further. The people who went to school with him, they don't even know -- they never saw him. They don't know who he is.
You're living in poverty. Your schools are no good. You have no jobs. Fifty-eight percent of the youth is unemployed. What the hell do you have to lose?
Our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs. I will do more for African- Americans than she can ever do in ten lifetimes.
Look at my African-American over here. Look at him. Are you the greatest? Do you know what I'm talking about?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to include the Congressional Black Caucus and the --
TRUMP: Well, I would. I tell you what. You want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, no, no.
TRUMP: Are they friends of yours?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just a reporter.
TRUMP: No, set up the meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER)
LEMON: Wow. So --
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I forgot about that.
LEMON: I remember that moment. So listen --
RYE: I'll never forget that.
LEMON: Scott, criminal justice reform is important. Angela admitted that. She just said that. But, I mean, is it realistic to expect black voters to overlook all of the president's insensitive remarks? Many of those remarks are racists.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's two sides of the coin for Trump. On the one hand, he has his personal rhetoric, some of which you played, which is clearly problem. And on the other hand, he does have accomplishments, criminal justice reform and on the economy. We have low black unemployment. We have low Hispanic unemployment.
I just read the other day in The Washington Post that for the first time since they have been recording the statistics, more people of color are getting jobs than white people in this country. So that's the other side of the coin for Donald Trump.
And remember, the political onus is not on him. It's on the Democrats. In 2016, tens of thousands of African-American voters who live in urban areas who had voted for Barack Obama simply did not turn out for Hillary Clinton. The Democrats lost those voters between 12 and 16. And really the onus is on them to go get them back. Donald Trump now has some policy accomplishments to try to prevent that from happening.
So, I think we're talking about Trump tonight, but I think just as important is, what did the Democrats do to lose the inner cities between 12 and 16 and have they done anything to get them back?
LEMON: So --
RYE: Can I just clarify, Don? I'm sorry. Just for clarification, I want to be clear that there's no documented evidence that it was just a voter loss in the inner cities. I'm not sure what data you're pulling from, Scott, but it was black voters who stayed at home because they feared their votes would be suppressed, among numerous other reasons.
But if Donald Trump wanted to do something to also support this, he can ensure that felons, people who are re-entering society have the opportunity to cast a vote. People in your party are afraid of that from happening and made that more difficult including in the state of Florida. I just thought that was an important caveat to add.
LEMON: I'm glad -- JENNINGS: I would encourage you to look at the voter data in Michigan.
JENNINGS: Seventy-five thousand people who turned out for Obama in Detroit simply did not vote. Trump won Michigan by 10,000 votes. It is a categorical fact.
RYE: I'm just cautioning you about your language, inner city.
LEMON: OK. Listen, I get to Abby in. Abby, I will give you the last word. As you heard -- you heard Gregory Cheadle earlier when he mentions black unemployment rate or whatever. It's a red herring and something that began under Barack Obama and was a larger decrease in unemployment under Barack Obama. Why not just say that?
PHILLIP: Because President Trump can't explain that anything began under Obama and continued under him, even though that doesn't take anything away from the fact that unemployment did continue to fall since he has been president. President Trump has a problem with crediting President Obama for virtually anything.
So that shouldn't be much of a surprise. I also think one of the problems for Trump is that he's always talking about black people as being in poverty and destitution in inner cities. His scope for black Americans is so incredibly limited and it tells you a lot about how he sees black people in this country.
And he doesn't see the full picture, which is one of the reasons why it's hard to then turn around and say, well, he's really done more for black people in this country than any other person in the history which I think he would like to believe because he's only talking about a subsection of the population, not looking at the broader picture.
That's speaking to, I think, broader issue that are important to black voters, one of the many reasons why the Republican Party still continues to have problems here.
LEMON: Stick around, everyone. We'll be right back.
LEMON: Senator Elizabeth Warren held a rally in New York City's Washington Square Park tonight. Thousands of people packed the park in one of the largest turnouts of her campaign. She was out there taking selfies with supporters late into the night.
Back with me now are Abby Phillip, Scott Jennings, and Angela Rye. I understand she just finished. So, Abby, I mean, if you look at these crowds at Warren's rally tonight, people waited for hours there to take selfies. Is this -- there is a tangible excitement going around her campaign.
PHILLIP: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think this is her firing a warning shot at the other Democrats in this race that she has something behind her that's real and tangible and that can get our attention as people in the media, but also get the president's attention.
I do think crowds matter. We should -- even though we're in blue New York City, it does still matter that people will show up on a Monday night and wait outside for hours and hours. They are saying it's, you know, tens of thousands of people. Anything close to that, I think, would be a massive crowd worth mentioning.
LEMON: And so Warren also picking up a key endorsement today from the Working Families Party, a grassroots progressive group. Bernie Sanders got it back in 2016. Has progressive momentum shifted to the Warren campaign, do you think?
RYE: Well, I think it is split. What I think is even more significant is that progressivism, as it were, is growing throughout people who have traditionally voted democratic, and those progressive voices are rising up in real ways, saying there are values that we have that the party has been devoid of speaking to for so long because it's been targeting blue collar, white voters instead of folks who are a part of the big tent.
And one of the things that I noticed this weekend just on the other side of the CBC Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference, Elizabeth Warren was there. She got the warmest reception, I believe, by far the loudest applause for the candidates who were in the room.
And there are two CBC members who are running for president, Senator Cory Booker and Senator Kamala Harris. I think that speaks volumes about where she is on policy. I got to tell you, I slept on Elizabeth Warren. I was like, there's no way, this schoolteacher vibe, I'm not feeling it, I don't see how this -- she's shaking her head when she talks and people love it. I mean --
RYE: She is so authentic and I think that people -- it really resonates with folks. Even beyond some of the policies that she pushes that some folks would probably reject, particularly for the moderate democratic voters, her authenticity is what wins people over. I think the other candidates have a lot to learn. There's something about that people want to see real folks in this race.
LEMON: Scott, we don't know if the democratic nominee will be a moderate like Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, or a more progressive candidate like Warren or Sanders. Who do you think President Trump would rather run against?
JENNINGS: Well, first of all, no matter who gets the nomination, they won't be moderate. They've all come out for the same basic program. I agree with Angela, by the way, progressive, liberal, socialist voices are rising in the Democratic Party.
JENNINGS: The biggest crowd --
RYE: I didn't say that.
JENNINGS: -- the biggest applause came out from people who say the most --
RYE: I didn't say that.
JENNINGS: -- left wing things. Donald Trump --
RYE: When did I say socialist, Scott?
JENNINGS: -- is going to run against whoever the nominee is. They say it. This is what they say.
JENNINGS: This is their words.
RYE: No, no, no. I'm just saying -- you just said -- time out, Scott. You just said, just like Angela said.
JENNINGS: Go ahead.
RYE: I just take issue with that.
LEMON: Excuse me. Well, Scott, she's saying you misquoted her.
RYE: Because you lied on me. Don't lie. Just use -- just do it.
JENNINGS: No, no. Go ahead. By all means.
RYE: I'm done. Just don't lie on me.
JENNINGS: You said the progressive voices. You said progressive --
JENNINGS: -- voices are rising in the Democratic Party --
JENNINGS: -- and I agree with you. Progressive --
RYE: You said socialist.
JENNINGS: -- the most liberal voices are rising. And I don't know which is going to get the nomination. But all the major contenders are coming out for the same program, which means Donald Trump is going to run against whoever the nominee is, Don, the exact same way.
Biden, Buttigieg, you mentioned them as moderates. They've raised their hands for the same thing. So I don't know that it matters to Trump.
JENNINGS: I just think he's going to run against them all the same because they've got the same policies.
LEMON: All right. I got some very -- this is a very serious thing that I want to ask you about here. I can't let this one slide. The former White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, making his debut on ABC's --
RYE: Oh, god.
LEMON: -- "Dancing with the Stars" tonight.
LEMON: There he is.
LEMON: He is doing a salsa dance in a bright neon green shirt.
RYE: No way. What the hell?
LEMON: Scott, is this the guy you remember from the White House podium? Oh, my god.
RYE: What is going on?
PHILLIP: They really did him dirty on "Dancing with the Stars."
RYE: Oh, that is --
LEMON: Scott, can you -- you can see it in the screen.
RYE: Oh, my god.
LEMON: Scott, can you hear this?
RYE: Oh, my god. What is that?
JENNINGS: I've seen the clip, yeah.
LEMON: So you've seen it. So, is this the guy you remember?
RYE: I can't stop -- he looks like a fluorescent green helium balloon. What is that?
(LAUGHTER) PHILLIP: I'm ready for "SNL" this season. It's going to be great.
RYE: What is happening right now? Are we still watching this, Don?
LEMON: I'm just waiting to get a response from Scott. Obviously, he doesn't want to respond.
RYE: Reclaiming my time.
JENNINGS: I mean, you know, look, people have to make a living, OK? I mean, you know, I got to sit here and fight with Angela. Sean's got to wear a green shirt. Everybody's got to make a living.
RYE: Oh, my god. Let me tell you.
LEMON: Oh, I needed that. Well, there you go.
RYE: I am like -- he looked like a highlighter. Like what is --
LEMON: I can't wait to watch more. Thank you all.
JENNINGS: I heard that he did all right.
JENNINGS: I heard that he did OK --
LEMON: Good night.
JENNINGS: -- on the dancing.
RYE: Oh, my god, Scott's going to defend that, too.
LEMON: Thanks for watching, everyone. Our coverage continues.
JENNINGS: Yes, everything is fine.