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Whistleblower Complaint Involves Trump's Communication With Foreign Leader; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) Is Interviewed About DNI Joseph Maguire Is Now Agreeing To Publicly Testify Before Congress; Bolton Slams Trump At Closed-Door Event; Gov. Gavin Newsom Is Interviewed On Trump's War With California; Justin Trudeau Apologizes For Wearing Brownface During A School Event In 2001; Trump Doubles Down On Lie About Rep. Ilhan Omar. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 18, 2019 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Let's bring in D. Lemon, who dares not mock my pain.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: You're going to be mad at me. Never really seen it.
CUOMO: What? Just when I thought you couldn't disappoint me anymore.
LEMON: I've seen clips of it. But I've - no, it's not my thing. I mean, I prefer--
CUOMO: Not your thing?
LEMON: -- blazing saddles or history of the world or that. No, it's just not - I've never been - look, I just saw RoboCop for the first time, I think, yesterday, so I, you know, you're asking the wrong person. But I've never seen -- I shouldn't be so absolute. There are very few remakes that live up to the original.
CUOMO: I have to be honest. I stopped listening to you.
LEMON: Yes, well, that is OK.
CUOMO: You have to watch the movie.
LEMON: I'll watch it.
CUOMO: Has Tim seen it?
LEMON: I don't know. You'll have to ask him. You have his number. Call him up. Text him.
CUOMO: You have to watch the movie. You will find it hilarious.
LEMON: Ok. I'll watch it.
CUOMO: And endearing. LEMON: I asked him, I said, what is Chris talking about at the end of
the show? And they said, he is talking about the Princess Bride. I'm like, is that a Disney and then, yeah, sorry.
CUOMO: I mean, I don't know what to say. That doesn't happen very often.
LEMON: OK, well, I told you I haven't seen it. Like, I think about, like, they redid -- OK. I am an old black and white movie, turner classic movie aficionado. Like, they redid the women in 2000 something, the women from 1939. Not good. Why would you redo that?
Every time they redo a movie, I'm like, why would you redo that movie when they tried to redo A Star is Born, the only one that sort of lived up to it was the Barbra Streisand one. But, you know, remakes, not worth it. When they're classic and legendary, leave well enough alone. That is how I feel about it.
CUOMO: Watch the movie.
LEMON: You haven't heard a word I've said.
CUOMO: No. None of it makes any difference. Watch the movie.
LEMON: Hey, can I see what shoes you're wearing? Guess what?
CUOMO: How about my socks, though?
LEMON: Check this out.
CUOMO: That is an anchor. Oh, you've got my kicks. They look better on you.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you very much. I know. I complimented Chris on his shoes and they showed up in my office about two days later. Thank you. I appreciate it.
CUOMO: Anything for you. That was before I knew about this major transgression in our friendship.
LEMON: I got to go because we got some big news. It's good to see you. Thank you for the shoes. Thank you for the great show. And the interview with Chelsea, I saw that on Netflix this weekend. What she is doing is very important. It's brilliant, and I think -- I told her I saw her when she was leaving your interview. Don't stop. Don't stop no matter how much criticism she gets.
LEMON: Thank you. I'll see you soon.
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. As I just said, we got a lot of news. Some big breaking news for you tonight. And we'll get to all of it in the next two hours for you, so don't go anywhere. But the biggest story is this. It's that anonymous whistleblower. I
know there are a lot of details, but you have to go along because this is huge. The one who set off a showdown between the intelligence community and Congress with a complaint that was deemed by the I.G., Inspector General, to be credible and urgent.
That complaint reportedly involves President Trump's own communications with a foreign leader. That is according to two former U.S. officials speaking to the Washington Post. The paper has reported that the president's interaction with that foreign leader included what's being called a promise, a promise so troubling that it led the whistle-blower to file a formal complaint.
That complaint was reportedly filed on August 12th during a period of weeks when the president had interactions with at least five foreign leaders, including Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un. Again, as I said, there are so many details, I don't want your eyes to glaze over. We're going to explain it and break it down for you in -- where everyone can digest it, OK? Much more on that stunning breaking news coming up in just a moment here.
And CNN has learned that the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a meeting today, said that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski's testimony was so far beyond the pale, she thinks he should have been held in contempt right away. Where did you hear that last night? On this show, from guests on this show.
There's also the president's fired national security adviser, John Bolton, blasting his former boss while his incoming replacement is flattering the president. That as his FEMA nominee is out seven months after he was nominated. He is out. All of that to come here.
And then there's this. A picture that you've got to see, and quite frankly, one that is pretty shocking. Here it is. Justin Trudeau. See that? He is now Canada's Prime Minister in brown face at a private school party in the spring of 2001, dressed as a character from Aladdin, 2001. Not 1951, '61, '71, '81, '91, 2001. Trudeau was 29 years old at the time. He should have known better. He was old enough to know better.
Time Magazine reports the picture was taken at a so-called Arabian Night's gala or gala, at the school where Trudeau was a teacher. A teacher, not a student. The Prime Minister says he is deeply sorry. He regrets what he did, and he knows now that it was racist, but he also admits tonight that it wasn't the first time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER, CANADA: Obviously I regret that I did it. It's not about timing. It's about having done something that I shouldn't have done, and I'm really sorry I did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that the only time you've done something like this Mr. Trudeau. Is that the only time in your life you've ever done something like that?
TRUDEAU: When I was in high school, I dressed up at a talent show in Sang Deo with makeup on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, at least he is admitting it. More on that to come. We'll discuss. And then there's our big interview with the governor of California, Governor Gavin Newsome weighs in on President Trump's war on his state. The latest salvo, the president saying today he is revoking California's legal authority to set its own tough standards on auto emissions.
Not entirely surprising from a president who has demonstrated his disdain for the climate crisis by among other things, dropping out of the Paris Climate Agreement and increasing fossil fuel output with fracking on public lands and offshore drilling.
And this is important. The waiver of the 1967 Clean Air Act that allowed California to set its own standards, that waiver was granted by the Obama administration. A fact that probably did not escape this president's notice. Listen to what Governor Newsom has to say about that.
LEMON: This president, governor, is not known for his grasp of policy details, but he is known to be obsessed with the former President Barack Obama. How much of this, do you think, is about overturning Obama-era regulations?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I think you're spot-on. I mean he is hell- bent, and he is pretty clear that the EPA has been directed to look at every Obama-era rule. And this, by the way is the most consequential Obama era rule. All the others matter, but when you get into the transportation sector, that is roughly 30 percent of the greenhouse gases in the United States. It's over 40 percent in California. And the Trump administration is hell-bent on rolling back all those Obama era rules. So part of its ego, and also, let's just be honest, and one has to be honest here. It's also about doing the bidding of big oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Lots more to come from that interview, including what the governor says about Senator Kamala Harris and her presidential campaign.
But I want you to listen to this. It turns out the former President Obama is also in California. He is speaking at a tech conference in San Francisco, saying that when he was president, he relied on surrounding himself with a variety of viewpoints, also saying this, and I quote. The other thing that is helpful is not watching TV or, you know, reading social media. Imagine that.
He goes on to say, those are two things that I would advise if you're president not to do because it creates a lot of noise and clouds your judgment.
Former president not naming names, but could that possibly be a comment on the current president, who we know spends hours each day in so-called executive time, watching lots of TV and tweeting about what he is seeing on TV, especially cable television, cable news. I've said it before. This president is obsessed with Barack Obama. He has been from the very beginning when he launched his political career, pushing that racist birther lie that former President Barack Obama was not born in this country. And he goes on and on and on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack H. Obama. They don't respect Obama. He is like a cheerleader. He is jumping up and down all over the place. President Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in. President Obama. President Obama. President Obama. President Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him. We can't treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama. President Obama. So President Obama. President Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow. Like I said, obsessed. Obsessed. Let's get right to our big breaking news, at least one of those stories. The Washington Post reporting that the whistle-blower complaints that to be credible and urgent involves President Trump's interaction with a foreign leader, that interaction reportedly included a promise.
It's not clear what that promise was. This comes as acting DNI Joseph Maguire is now agreeing to publicly testify before Congress. That will happen next week after refusing to hand over the complaint. And the intelligence community's inspector general who handled that complaint will meet with lawmakers behind closed doors tomorrow.
So let's discuss now. Jackie Speier, Congresswoman Jackie Speier -- excuse me, Congresswoman -- who is on the House Intelligence Committee. She joins me now. Good evening to you. Thank you so much for joining us.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Glad to be with you, Don.
LEMON: So, help us break this down because I know it's a lot of details, and it can be a little bit complicated. But this is explosive news from the Washington Post, were you aware before their reporting that this potentially involves the president of the United States?
SPEIER: I can't comment one way or the other, Don. I can say that the inspector general -- most inspector generals -- and I interact with them all the time. When it's a close call, they always side with the agency.
When it's not a close call, they will respond as this inspector general did. So not only did he find it credible after reviewing it for 14 days, he then turned it over to the Director of National Intelligence and said that it was urgent. And when nothing happened after seven days, he communicated with the intelligence committee, because that is precisely what the Director of National Intelligence is required to do. And once again, our oversight responsibilities under the constitution are being trampled on by President Trump and his administration.
LEMON: The Washington Post is reporting White House records indicate President Trump had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the weeks leading up to the filing of the whistle- blower complaint. Those leaders include, let's see, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of Netherlands, and the Amir of Qatar. How concerning is that?
SPEIER: Well, we don't know yet, but the fact that the inspector general thinks it's urgent and is basically going over the Director of National Intelligence -- I mean the truth is the inspector general can be fired by President Trump. So this is grievous. This is truly a very serious breach, whatever it is.
And I would also say that I do think that we have got to rein in the president and his use of cell phones that aren't properly secured. Now, whether or not this was a situation like that, I don't know, but we do know that as recently as October of last year, he was using unsecured cell phones.
We also know that Israelis had surveillance equipment to detect cell phones very close to the White House. So we are not secure, and the president does not help us when he is so flagrant in his use of cell phones that aren't properly encrypted and allowing people to come into Mar-a-Lago that shouldn't be there. He is placing us in danger.
LEMON: So, Congresswoman, the acting DNI has so far refused to forward the whistle-blower complaint to the House Intelligence Committee. Knowing what we do know now, knowing what we know now, do you think the White House or the Justice Department -- do you think they were blocking him from doing so?
SPEIER: I think we'll find out more tomorrow. We can't say at this point. But, you know, everything always comes out. There are no secrets in Washington over the long term. And eventually either the whistle-blower will come forward or we will be informed one way or the other.
LEMON: Find out more tomorrow. Explain to our viewers again why you think you'll find out more tomorrow.
SPEIER: Well, because we will hear from the inspector general tomorrow. And we will be behind closed doors. It will be a closed session. So I'm sure he is coming to us in part because he is very concerned about what he has been informed about and then, of course, what he was able to confirm.
LEMON: Can you tell us -- I mean, you may not want to weigh in on this, but I have to ask you. What will you ask him? SPEIER: Well, I'm going to ask the obvious questions. I want to make
sure that this whistle-blower is protected. Retaliation is always a serious problem with whistle-blowers. I've been a huge advocate of whistle-blowers in the federal government. They're responsible for saving us billions and billions of dollars each year by coming forward courageously and trying to right wrongs and deal with abuses. So I'm going to be very concerned about this whistle-blower.
LEMON: Congresswoman Speier, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. Please come back on once you've spoken to update us on this story.
SPEIER: Thank you. All right.
LEMON: Thank you so much. Thanks. Lots more to come on this. We're going to dig in to how the administration apparently tried to hide this whistle-blower's complaint and what we may find out about it now.
LEMON: So here's our breaking news right now. It's an explosive report that is in the Washington Post that the whistle-blower complaint deemed to be credible and urgent involves President Trump's communications with a foreign leader and an unspecified promise.
So let's bring in Juliette Kayyem, Susan Hennessey, and Max Boot. Max is the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."
So, here we go Max, good evening, everyone. So, Max, this apparently -- a whistle blower, a foreign leader and they made this sort of promise that prompted an official to make a complaint that it was so egregious this was so glory thought that they had to make this complaint. Is this a big deal? What's going on here?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it's pretty clearly a big deal, Don. I've never heard of anything quite like this. I mean, of course with this administration, you can say that almost every day, that you've never heard anything quite like this, but this is truly off the charts.
The fact is that this was leaked to my colleagues at the Washington Post indicates that somebody is really worried about what's going on and is potentially willing to risk a jail sentence to get the truth out to the American people. I mean that's pretty significant.
There's also the issue of how Joe Maguire, the Director of National Intelligence, is handling this whistle-blower complaint, which so far not shared with Congress. There's a big issue there as to whether the DNI is being political, whether he is doing Trump's bidding.
And of course the really, you know, big issue, which we don't know the answer to, is what the heck is -- what did Trump say to this foreign leader? What did he allegedly promise? What is the content of this conversation? And of course the speculation centers on a July 31st call that he had with Vladimir Putin ostensibly to discuss forest fires in Siberia, but we know that Trump has often been deceptive about his dealings with Putin in the past and has, in fact, lied about the nature of his contacts with the Russians.
LEMON: Susan, you say that this latest development makes it completely impossible to believe that the DNI reasonably concluded that it was not an urgent matter and that they would try to hide this from Congress. Tell me why you think that.
SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So the question here has always been why exactly the DNI was refusing to forward this whistle blowing complaint to the intelligence committees, which is required by law. It's not optional. And so the question was what the DNI general counsel had said was that they didn't believe that this complaint met the statutory definition, that it wasn't an urgent concern related to an intelligence activity.
Now, it makes it really, really difficult to imagine that they don't believe that this is the kind of thing that Congress needs to hear, that this is the kind of thing that is supposed to be covered by the statute. If the reporting is accurate, you know, it looks more like the intelligence community is essentially very carefully attempting to parse this definition, really hang on legal technicalities, suggesting that somehow this isn't the kind of information that they're obligated to give to Congress.
You know, this is an extraordinarily serious development. It means that somebody who is an intelligence professional, reporting as accurate -- sort of an temporary assignment into the White House, heard the president say something that was so alarming to them, that they went to the inspector general of the intelligence community, the proper channels, that the inspector general independently determined that this was an urgent -- a concern.
That statutory definition means it is a flagrant and serious ongoing violation of the law or serious abuse. That now the Director of National Intelligence and the White House are getting involved and attempting to hide it from Congressional committees. And so really, you know, we don't know the substance of the complaint. We don't know who exactly the foreign leader is, but by all indications, this is an extraordinarily serious matter.
LEMON: So, here's the big question for anyone watching, Juliette. Will the American public find out what that promise was and who it was made to?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, there's a series of hearings. One is going to be closed next week. Apparently Maguire is going to speak publicly. But it's unclear whether we would know the substance of what that urgent concern is unless, of course, it's leaked as we see tonight with the Washington Post.
I just want to pick up on two quick things, one that Susan mentioned on this idea of urgent concern. I hate to, you know, disclose to the American public, most intelligence is really boring. It is not of an urgent matter. The intelligence that we get, raw intelligence tends to be thematic, things we already knew, nothing that is spectacular.
So to have something designated as urgent concern is really unique. I mean it is really -- means that whatever was done may have, you know, inhibited sources and methods, may have disclosed things that ought not to be disclosed to a foreign nation, or may have put individuals at harm who are collecting intelligence for us or other allies.
And just one second quick thing, you know, we have this mythology that the intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies will continue to do what they do and, you know, the politics is just the politics. And a lot of analysts say that. You know, oh, the FBI is just going to do what they're going to do. I think today and in other instances, they are doing what they should be doing, whistleblowing, going through the processes.
And what we've seen time and time again is that they can't get past the politics unless they go to newspapers. It's clear Barr and the Department of Justice had something to do with not disclosing this information. And I just think that's something people should think about, about whether these agencies can sustain protecting us into the years ahead, because they're being undermined by the very processes that were meant to protect them.
LEMON: How should Republicans, Max, react to this? Because the president's handling of classified information has had the intelligence community on edge. We've known that. We've heard from many people that it does. What does this latest reporting mean?
BOOT: Well, it raises a lot of questions, Don, about, you know, whether the -- you know, how the president deals with top-secret national security information, how he deals with foreign leaders. And I would hope that both Republicans and Democrats would be equally concerned and equally determined to get to the truth.
Sadly, I think our experience since 2017 has disabused me of that illusion that Republicans on Capitol Hill really care about the national security because what they seem to mainly care about, most of them, is protecting Donald Trump. So sadly this is an area where, again, Democrats have to take the lead to try to get the truth out. Otherwise, it's not going to come out, but it's sad that it's that way because Republicans should care about our national security too.
LEMON: The thing is even if it comes out -- and if we look at how egregious the Mueller report was and how the Attorney General just sort of downplayed it, right, and Republicans have downplayed the --
BOOT: Right, and you saw that even this week with the Corey Lewandowski hearing. Same thing.
LEMON: So, but if, you know, if this does come out, I'm just wondering if it's going to make a difference. Susan, I got to ask you, what sort of promise do you think that would rise to the level where an official would feel free -- I should say the need to report something like this?
HENNESSEY: Well, it's hard to imagine, right? Your mind really does go to some dark places. We don't want to get ahead of the facts. There is a little bit of a mythology though that I've developed that because the president has the ability to classify or declassify information, he can do whatever he wants related to the intelligence community, whatever he wants related to classified information. That is not true.
The president still has to comply with the laws of the United States, and even whenever he does take particular actions, he has an obligation and a duty to keep Congress fully and in real-time apprised of those decisions. And so the idea here that the president is allowed to act with absolute impunity in this space is just false, and it really does say something that somebody is willing to risk their career in order to tell Congress, hey, you need to know what happened, and you need to potentially take remedial action.
LEMON: Again, as I said, the egregious claims, the behavior of this president in the Mueller report, and then they downplayed it. I wonder if they're going to try to downplay this, and if we're going to find out what he said and what the promise was and to who.
BOOT: And even if we find out, is it isn't going to make any difference because impeachment seems to be off the table at this point.
LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.
HENNESSEY: Thank you.
LEMON: A growing scandal tonight involving Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He is apologizing for wearing brownface at a school event while he was a teacher back in 2001. So let's discuss now. David Swerdlick is here, Tara Setmayer. Good evening to both of you. Good to see you.
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Don.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hello.
LEMON: Tara, so Trudeau came out, apologized very quickly after this picture surfaced. Let's watch, and then we'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER, CANADA: In 2001, when I was a teacher out in Vancouver, I attended an end of year gala where the theme was Arabian nights, and I dressed up in an Aladdin costume and put makeup on. I shouldn't have done that. I should have known better, but I didn't, and I'm really sorry. I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn't have done it. I should have known better. It was something that I didn't think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow, a leader apologizing. It just that seems odd, doesn't it? I mean -- because we have one who doesn't, but he says he didn't think it was racist at the time. Now he knows better. What do you think of that?
SETMAYER: I think that he answered that as best as anyone possibly could give the circumstances. Justin Trudeau is in a tough re-election battle right now in Canada. They've got a political scandal going on up there with him getting involved allegedly with trying to pressure his Attorney General to back off an investigation of a major engineering firm.
They just had a major intelligence scandal up there as well. They had an intelligence officer who got caught with improper information, and there part of our five eyes intelligence apparatus, so the Canadians are important to us. So, these are scandals that have been plaguing him, and he is right now behind in the polls. So this is -- you know, he had no choice, but to come out and apologize for that.
I mean I have mixed feelings about how egregious this actually is because, you know, I don't know. I think context matters when it comes to these kinds of things. I think this is different than the Ralph Northam situation in Virginia where you had the KKK outfit --
LEMON: And blackface means something different in the United States than brownface means in Canada.
SETMAYER: Right and I just kind a feel like, you know, where do we draw the line with this? Is this something that should end his career? You know, no, but because of what things that I've just listed and other domestic issues in Canada, this is going to hurt him there, but his record has been good on civil rights there in Canada from what I understand.
LEMON: David, I know you want to weigh in, but I just want to play this because he said it wasn't his first time doing something like this. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUDEAU: When I was in high school, I dressed up at a talent show and song Deo with -- with makeup on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So what do you think, David?
SWERDLICK: So I agree with Tara, Don, that context matters and that this is not just like the Governor Northam situation. There was no one in that picture next to him in a KKK hood. That being said, I still think it is pretty egregious if for no other reason than, you know, this wasn't ancient history. This is 2001. He is the son of a politician, someone who likely had plans to be in public life. He was a teacher and yet didn't know that this was -- or didn't at the time recognize that this was an inappropriate thing to do.
I do give him credit for coming out tonight in that clip you played and saying that, you know, at the time I didn't think this was racist, but now I recognize that it is. I don't think there's really much more he can say other than sorry, which he also said. The one thing I will add, Don, about blackface here, since you played the clip of him saying he did it again, singing the song Deo in blackface.
One of the problems with blackface is that even if context matters, even if there's not the malicious intent, it's a situation where you run the risk -- and I think he did and Governor Northam did and people who do it at Halloween and at frat parties do it -- is that you reduce the ethnicity, the race, the religion that you're caricaturing to a one dimensional or two dimensional state or caricature and dehumanize in that way.
That doesn't mean that you can't dress up as someone who's your hero if they're another race. You just don't need the blackface. You don't need the makeup. It doesn't mean that, you know, Denzel Washington can't play Don Pedro in the movie much ado about nothing, and it doesn't mean that a white actor can't play a historical black figure. White people have played Martin Luther King. It means that you have to be thoughtful about it and not reduce another culture to a character.
LEMON: Tara, I know you want to get him, but that has to be the last word, I'm out of time. But I do have to say this before we go. Think about it however you want to think about it. When someone apologizes, wow. We don't -- we don't often see that here, especially a world leader who is saying, I should have known better, and I'm sorry. You can feel about it however you want, but that to me that does mean a lot. I got to go. Thank you. We'll be right back.
SETMAYER: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Oh, Governor Gavin Newsom responds to the president.
LEMON: President Trump opening up a new front in his war against California today, announcing that he is revoking the waiver that gives that state the right to set its own vehicle emissions standards. He says it's about lowering prices and creating jobs, but is the move also meant to punish the Golden State for opposing his environmental agenda?
Joining me now is Governor Gavin Newsom. Governor, I really appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much. The president says that this is going to be better for the economy and the environment. You say he is dead wrong. Why?
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): I mean just look at the math. You don't need to be an economist to look at the delta between what he is arguing for is locking in place 37 mile per gallon fuel efficiency versus roughly 50 miles per gallon. That is going to cost consumers billions and billions of dollars in oil consumption. It's going to continue to further our dependence on foreign oil, which is the height of irony considering the mess we're in in the Middle East at the moment.
And at the same time, it's going to hurt our competitiveness globally because companies like Ford, and Honda, and VW, and BMW acknowledge where the consumers are going and they acknowledge where the rest of the world is going, where China is going, India is going, where Japan is going. And that is away from the internal combustion engine.
LEMON: What have you heard from the auto manufacturers on this? They have been in favor of these higher standards.
NEWSOM: Yes, that is the great irony. Who is he helping? Who is Donald Trump actually helping? He is not helping those four companies that have voluntarily agreed to California's higher standard. By the way, there would be more than four companies, Don, had he not now used the Department of Justice to do an inquiry as it relates to antitrust. That has chilled the other companies from joining California's standards. That's the nature of the reality we're living in.
You have a president of the United States that is in a party that feigns that they support free enterprise, and they're calling CEO's to the mat and threatening them and using the Department of Justice to go after them to keep them from doing what they think is in their best interest and in their customers' best interest.
LEMON: You know, this president, governor, is not known for his grasp of policy details, but he is known to be obsessed with the former President Barack Obama. How much of this, do you think, is about overturning Obama-era regulations?
NEWSOM: I think you're spot-on. I mean he is hell-bent and he is like, pretty clear that the EPA has been directed to look at every Obama-era rule. And this, by the way, is the most consequential Obama- era rule. All the others matter, but when you get into the transportation sector, that is roughly 30 percent of the greenhouse gases in the United States. It's over 40 percent in California.
If you're going to get serious about addressing the needs of our planet, mother nature, and address the needs of consumers as it relates to reducing dependency on oil, this is the game-changer, and the Trump administration is hell-bent on rolling back all those Obama- era rules. So part of its ego, and also let's just be honest.
And one has to be honest here. It's also about doing the bidding of big oil. And that is not just conjecture. That is not just a cheap shot. That is not just an opinion. Look at what marathon petroleum and others have been doing, working very, very deliberatively to get these Obama-era rules overturned. LEMON: Of, you may have just answered part of it and may be
redundant, but I'll ask you this. The GOP has always stood -- at least they say they stood for states' rights, right? Yet this is a Republican administration exerting its authority over your state. Why do you think this is happening?
NEWSOM: Federalism be damned, state rights, 10th amendment be damned. Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon be damned. Remember the origins of this are Ronald Reagan, 1967, when he wanted to clean up the air down in Los Angeles, the smog. It led to the Clean Air Act in 1970. Richard Nixon, 1970, bipartisan, they'd be rolling in their graves right now what the Republican administration is doing and moreover what the Republican Party is doing. Complicit.
Complete silence on states' rights, but also free enterprise. I'll repeat what I just said. They're calling private sector corporations to the mat and threatening them. Again, I don't think this. I know this from the personal conversations I've had and by the actions of the Department of Justice. What happened to the Republican Party?
LEMON: Well, that is a question a lot of people have been asking. So here's the question I have for you. Now that we are here, you're here, what exactly -- what will you do? How are you going to fight this president on this?
NEWSOM: Well, the way we fought him now close to 60 times, in the court of law. And we're winning overwhelmingly. Look, California is --
LEMON: All the way to the Supreme Court if you have to?
NEWSOM: Well, to the extent that that creates its own set of risks because of how politicized the court has become. That is always a point of concern, but that is going to take years and years. Meanwhile these companies, these automobile manufacturers have to make a decision, what world are we living in?
LEMON: The president is in your backyard, he's fund-raising in California this week and raising an extraordinary amount of money, complaining that homelessness is hurting the prestige of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Do you agree that this is a real crisis in your state? Is he the one to talk about it? And does he understand the problem?
NEWSOM: Well, I don't think he understands the problem, but let me just acknowledge the problem, and let me compliment the president for identifying a problem. What so often though is the case is he is good at identifying problems and he is short with answers. Specifically we requested, if he was sincere about helping support our state's efforts, which by the way we're doubling down on in the last year.
I've been here nine months. I ran to address this issue, and this state's doing more than ever, but we need the federal government's support with vouchers, particularly for our veterans. And just today, just a few hours ago, Don, I got a letter from Ben Carson, rejecting California's request for specific support for housing vouchers to address fair market rents and to address the real crisis.
LEMON: So no vouchers?
NEWSOM: Of course. They said they're unused. Well, the reason they're unused, many of the vouchers in California, is because of the cost in California. We're asking them to address that issue and substantively address the problem, but I suspect, dare I say this, I just suspect that was not his intention. His intention was to take a cheap shot, fly into California, fly back, and use this to demagogue a progressive state that is running record surpluses, record unemployment, and has a GDP that is significantly outpacing the federal government.
Contrast that to record deficits under this president and a GDP that is struggling despite his efforts to manipulate with tax cuts and the Fed, monetary policy, and putting this country in a very difficult position when we need more tools in the toolkit to get out of a pending recession.
LEMON: Do you find it interesting that he is critical of states and cities that are run by Democrats and not necessarily critical of -- because there are states and cities and municipalities, people who supported him, and he doesn't criticize them in the same way, who have real problems as well?
NEWSOM: Every single person watching knows what this is about, but they may not know this. The GDP of this country, the economic vibrancy of this country, the reason Trump gets to lay claim to any credit, undeserving or not of the economic growth in this country, is because of these cities, because of metros that are outperforming these progressive-run cities are outperforming in economic terms, and they're providing the kind of wealth creation that he's laying credit for. It's the great irony of his critique.
LEMON: Governor, let's talk 2020. You've endorsed California Senator Kamala Harris. She has been slipping in the polls recently. What do you think she needs to do to regain some momentum in the 2020 race?
NEWSOM: Just be able to answer the question why. What motivates you? Why you? Why not others? What's your passion? What's your purpose? And what distinguishes you against the rest of the field? Stay focused. Don't get caught up in situational politics of the daily news cycles. Continue to pound away at a core message. And I think if she could recapture that why, she had that magic when she launched in Oakland, California, and she was able to advance that vision. Go back to that speech. Go back to that fundamental question, why.
LEMON: You ever think you'll throw your hat in the ring?
NEWSOM: No, absolutely not. I leave it to folks like Senator Harris.
LEMON: That was an emphatic no. You didn't dance around and say, well, you know.
NEWSOM: No. I watch those politicians on your show. I don't trust them. That is an emphatic no. Replay the tape.
LEMON: Thank you, Governor. I appreciate your time.
NEWSOM: Good to be with you.
LEMON: And up next, the anatomy of a lie. How President Trump spread an utterly false charge against Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
LEMON: The president, President Trump taking to Twitter today to double down on a lie about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She is a Minnesota Democrat, one of the four Democratic Congresswomen of color known as the squad who are outspoken opponents of President Trump and his policies. He considers them his political enemies, never misses a chance to attack them.
So I want to lay out some facts for you. OK? Last Friday was September 13th. And the date is critical here because Ilhan Omar attended an event sponsored by the congressional black caucus, a progressive activist, posted video on Twitter showing Omar and others having a great time on the dance floor. Take a look.
So nothing wrong with that. Looks like fun, but then the lying started. Abetted by the president of the United States and I just want to tip my hat to my colleague Jake Tapper for pointing this out. Jake Tapper points out that a comedian and conservative commentator named Terrence K. Johnson -- Terrence K. Williams, a big Trump supporter posted the video of Omar on his Twitter account falsely claiming that she was dancing and partying on the anniversary of 9/11, right?
That was an outright lie, but, you know, a comedian trolling on -- it's a whole different thing, right? 9/11, which is the anniversary of September 11th, right? That was last Wednesday.
The actual anniversary was last Wednesday, two days before the CBC event. And if Williams' false posting wasn't bad enough, President Trump re-tweeted it today. He re-tweeted a lie that Congresswoman Omar, a Muslim, was dancing on 9/11. This is where we are, folks. This is the toxic environment that we're living in.
Omar did call him out right away tweeting that the president of the United States spread a lie that could put her life at risk. Muslim dancing on 9/11, Muslim dancing on 9/11. Where have we heard that before? Oh, right. On the campaign trail in 2015 when then-candidate Trump claimed he watched as thousands of people in New Jersey which has a large Arab population cheered as the twin towers collapsed on September 11th. There is no credible evidence that that ever happened. Politifact rates it, pants on fire, meaning a total lie.
"The Washington Post" reporting tonight that a whistleblower's urging complaint involved the president's own communication with a foreign leader. We will bring you the latest, next.