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Colonel Vindman Consistent With His Testimony; President Trump And His Allies Attacks A Purple Heart Recipient; One-On-One With Andrew Yang; Does The Diverse 2020 Dem Field Have A Diversity Problem?; Man Who Snubbed Sen. McConnell Speaks Out. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 29, 2019 - 23:00   ET





A lot going on tonight and we're going to catch you up on five big headlines this hour.

A White House official testifying for over 10 hours on Capitol Hill today. Disputing some key parts of the transcript the President Trump's call with Ukraine's president and providing possibly the most damming testimony yet in the impeachment inquiry.

The White House official also happens to be an active duty army officer, an Iraq war vet, and a Purple Heart recipient. But in an appalling move the president and his allies are attacking him questioning his patriotism.

And then there's 2020. A new CNN poll shows there's no clear leader among the Democratic field in early primary state -- the early primary state of New Hampshire. But what is clear is in the most diverse field yet, the front runners aren't diverse. I'm going to speak with candidate Andrew Yang in just a moment.

And a close friend of Congressman Elijah Cummings going viral for refusing to shake Senator Mitch McConnell's hand at Cummings funeral. But he says there's a lot more to the story. I'm going to speak with him this hour.

But first, I want to start with Colonel Vindman's devastating testimony and the attacks that he's facing right now. House intel chairman Adam Schiff speaking up about that tonight.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I want to thank Colonel Vindman for his courage in coming forward, his willingness to follow the law to do his duty.

I want to say also how deeply appalled I was at the pernicious attacks on him last night on Fox. The suggestion that because he's of Ukrainian origin that he has some dual loyalty. This Purple Heart recipient deserved better than that scandalous attack.


LEMON: So, let's discuss now. Joining me, Frank Bruni, Mia Love, Ryan Lizza, as well. So good to have all of you on. Thank you so much.

Frank, let's start with you. Because we want to talk about this new reporting that CNN and the New York Times now that CNN -- the Times reported and CNN confirmed as well.

It says that Vindman told investigators that President Trump referenced tapes of Joe Biden talking about Ukraine corruption during that July 25th phone call. It happened at the point of the transcript that contains the third set of ellipses.

So, here's the part. "There's a lot of talk about Biden's son that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So, whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution. So, if you can look into it. It sounds horrible to me."

What do you make of that, Frank?

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean I think it's a big problem for Trump that we have someone now raising questions about the transcript. And we've always said this is a transcript that the White House provided. It was reconstructed.

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: Not a transcript, transcript. And there have been questions about how much was left out and why. And I think those questions are going to intensify. It seems the White House didn't want to show the president dwelling on Joe Biden to the extent that he did. Because if he's dwelling on Joe Biden to that extent the quid pro quo becomes all the more obvious.

LEMON: Yes. Or what I like to call the shake down.

BRUNI: It was a shakedown.


LEMON: Because most people and the rest go quid pro quo? What, you know, what exactly does that mean? Then it becomes a slogan that you can put in a campaign. The shake down is what it was.

BRUNI: Right. But remember it's not just that this witness the colonel is saying that stuff is wrong in the transcript. He's also saying that he asked for certain things to be corrected.

LEMON: Right.

BRUNI: That he noticed it and they weren't. Add to that the fact that this call the record of it the transcript was kept in such classified channels so no one would see it and it sure looks like the White House knew something wrong had happened.

LEMON: Does this add more skepticism too that the White House maybe not as forthcoming as they should be? And especially that the president, you know, was putting the pressure on Ukraine.

BRUNI: That's a rhetorical question, right?



LEMON: You're like, yes, done, you answered your question.

Ryan, I want to bring you in here. This is more from the Times reporting. OK? It says, "After the call Vindman was given a hard copy of the rough transcript to make updates and corrections according to a person familiar with the matter. Colonel Vindman went through the transcript, made changes and gave his written edits to his boss, Mr. Morrison according to the person."

This is what, you know, Frank and I were talking about. This is a little bit, but I want you to expound more. Tim Morrison is expected to testify on Thursday. He could find out if Vindman's changes weren't made. We could find out why those changes weren't made. And why do you think they weren't made?

RYAN LIZZA, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Vindman's testimony is if the Times and the CNN reporting is accurate is testimony about a cover up.


This has all of the hallmarks of what was done in Nixon's era when they tried to send incorrect transcripts of the tapes to Congress. And it was only later that they were discovered that the actual content was discovered.

You have two major bombs exploding today with Vindman's testimony. One is that he tried to add what he clearly felt was the most problematic part of the phone conversation to the official record of these calls. And that is the president's repeated mentioning of his political opponent.

And then you have, you know, his reiterating what's already been known that then the even the doctored or the incomplete version of the phone call was put in to an ultra-secure --

LEMON: Server.

LIZZA: -- server.


LIZZA: So that not that many people in the U.S. government would have access to it. So, what was presented to the American people as an official record of this phone call, this witness is saying was a lie. Or at the very least was incomplete. So, what President Trump has repeatedly said --


LEMON: Or misrepresentation of the full -- of the full thing.

Listen, I got to get Mia in here.


LEMON: Because, Mia, a senior White House official told CNN in September that the ellipsis do not indicate missing words or phrases. But clearly, according to Vindman they do. Did that senior official lie?

MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know if they lied. It's really interesting that all of these hearings, I'm glad that there's going to be a vote on the floor, I'm glad that these hearings are going to be open.

I think what is not bringing the American people fully along is the fact that all of these things have happened behind closed doors. I do understand that one of the parts of the testimony --


LEMON: But Mia, I got to tell you though --

LOVE: -- was disturbing to me was the fact --

LEMON: -- that's not -- that's not exactly accurate that has been happening behind closed doors. Republicans, 47 Republicans have access to those meetings. Some of them didn't go because they chose to have a display where all they barge into the SCIF, when many of the people, a number of the people who are there actually had access.

There have been other investigations that have happened the investigatory part then happened behind closed doors, and then they eventually opened up to the public and to the minority party. That is a talking point from Republicans and from the president's acolytes.

LOVE: No. Don --

LEMON: That's not exactly true. Republicans have that access.

LOVE: Don, I've always said that. Don, I've always said that. I agree --


LEMON: But I know you may have always said it but that's not exactly right.

LOVE: And I always --

LEMON: Maybe you were misinformed about the information but I'm here to tell you that the facts are that it is not all happening behind closed doors --

LOVE: I can --

LEMON: -- that is how the investigation happens in these situations. It's how it happened with every other impeachment that the few we have had in history. That's how it happened with Benghazi, and on and on. There's nothing --


LOVE: Well, I can tell you --

LEMON: -- there's nothing unusual about it. That is so your information is not accurate.

LOVE: No, if I want to go into a meeting, I would like to see somebody stop me from going in to that meeting. As a matter of fact, if they wanted my support or wanted my vote, I need to be able to relay that information to the people that I represent. Which is why I've always said this is important --


LEMON: But Mia, you were there. And if you're not on the committee --

LOVE: It is important.

LEMON: -- why would you have access to that -- to go into that meeting if you're not on the committee? The Republicans who was part of that committee --


LOVE: I was -- no, I went to a lot of --

LEMON: -- and had the right to be in that meeting actually could go. Some chose not to.

LOEV: Don?

LEMON: So why are you saying Republicans don't have access? That is not true. You're not giving the truth to the viewer. Republicans have access. This is not happening behind closed door and in secrecy. I'm sorry. That is just not true.

LOVE: Don, I'm happy -- I'm just saying I am happy that these meetings are going to be open and open to the public. Because all of the testimonies that we have seen so far have been pretty much testimony that have been secure testimony. They have been behind closed doors.

And when there's something as important as an impeachment there should be transparency. The American people should be able to look at it and see it so they can say I support this or I don't support this. That is what I'm saying. LEMON: But, Mia, I understand that's what you're saying. But that is

the way the process goes. The American people will have the opportunity to do it now. So, all of that talk about it being in secrecy and the American people having the right was just talk and a shiny object. There was always -- there was always going to happen if they continued on with an impeachment inquiry. Do you understand what I'm saying?

LOVE: Well, I'm just saying that I would go into hearings that I wasn't part of. I would go into all sorts of hearings that I wasn't part of. I went into Benghazi hearing, I went into several hearings. And I didn't get kicked out. I was just trying to get as much information so I can relay that information back.


That's transparency. And if we want the American people to come along, they have to know the information. We can't say hey, by the way this is what we heard from the hearing and you should just take our word for it.

LEMON: I just -- all right. Let me get the other folks in, because I just -- I just don't understand because if I walk in to Chris or Anderson's meeting they're going to go what the hell are you doing here? This is not your show? Why are you in our meeting? Get out. And I would -- and they would be perfectly right --


LOVE: Well, when you represent --

LEMON: -- within their right to do that.

LOVE: Well, when you represent 167,000 people in a district, and they want to know your opinion, they want to be able to know it firsthand. And I couldn't be able to say yay or nay unless I had that opinion. And so when there is information that I needed to tell --


LEMON: That's right, Mia. So, you tell them at this point I'm not on that committee.

LOVE: -- I would walk into those. I would walk into.

LEMON: And when I get the information, I will be able to relay it to you as a person who represents you. I'm sorry. I just can't go with that talking point. I'm just -- I'm tired of the shiny object.

LIZZA: Let me -- yes.


LEMON: Go ahead, Frank and then --

LOVE: It's not a talking point. LEMON: It is. Go ahead, Frank.

BRUNI: Does everyone please notice that Mia Love did not address the substance of Colonel Vindman's testimony at all or of Bill Taylor's? By moving to the --


LOVE: I think his substance -- I think what I know about the substance is very -- is actually good. It's good information. And this is a U.S. veteran that I respect.

BRUNI: It's good information for the president?

LOVE: It is good, it's good information for the American people.

BRUNI: Yes, it is. Because it's --


LOVE: I am not interested in defending the president or not defending the president. I am here to make sure that the American people have the information that they need.

BRUNI: But when you -- but when you --


LOVE: Open it. That is it.

BRUNI: But with all due respect --

LOVE: So, I trust the information that he put out there. I don't think he is --


BRUNI: But with all due respect --

LOVE: -- not telling the truth. I think he is -- OK, with all due respect, yes.

BRUNI: When you keep trying to -- when you keep trying to run out the clock with talk about transparency you are diverting everybody from the substance of the testimony which is way more important.



LOVE: That's not true.


LOVE: I'm not trying to run out the clock. That is not true. As a matter of fact, all I'm trying to say if you're going to do something as important as impeachment and you want Republicans to come along, people should be part of the process, they should know what's going on. And the American people have a right to know.

What's happening in this country is not a win-win for anybody. What's happening is that a president is going through an impeachment inquiry. And the American people are losing. I am not for or against this. I'm just for the American people getting the information that they need so they can make an informed decision.

LEMON: OK. All right. Ryan, that mean that you get the last word here.

LIZZA: Well, look, most of the testimony of the key witnesses the opening statements have been public. So, at the very least, Mia, we can discuss what their printed opening statements have been. And that's probably to me, at least, more important than any of the process issues.

So why not focus on that? Whynot focus on what Vindman and some of the other witnesses have said. While sure, you know, it's fine to want more transparency. As journalists we should want that too.

LOVE: Yes.

LIZZA: We all know that there's a second stage to this. But it just seems, I think, Mia, I think Don's point is that it just seems that there's an overemphasis on process issues rather than the substance that has been shared.

And that seems a little suspicious to some of us who are watching approximate thinking well maybe it's because some Republicans simply can't argue the facts.


LOVE: You're right. Which is --

LIZZA: That have been public.

LOVE: You're right. This is why I ask for a vote.

LIZZA: That they don't so they argue process.

LEMON: Yes. Well, they're going to vote on Thursday.

LOVE: You're right. And now the appearances are going to be open and that's good. That's a good thing.

LEMON: All right. We can all agree on that. Thank you all. I appreciate it. An interesting conversation.

LIZZA: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Up next, President Trump and his allies attacking Colonel Vindman, a Purple Heart recipient. We'll talk about that.



LEMON: President Trump and his allies looking to challenge today's testimony from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman by attacking the man himself. This not the first time we have seen this strategy of discrediting military men from our current commander-in-chief.

Tom Foreman explains. Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Don, smearing the name of a decorated U.S. soldier was once unthinkable a political disaster for any elected official. But that has been slowly changing and team Trump now seems intent on doing away entirely with this show of respect.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He tend to feel simpatico with the Ukraine.


FOREMAN: Trump's political army is on the move against Ukrainian born American military officer Alexander Vindman making it clear being a decorated soldier even with a Purple Heart is no protection if you criticize this commander-in-chief.


SEAN DUFFY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It seems very clear that he is incredibly concerned about Ukrainian defense.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some people might call that espionage.


FOREMAN: It's no surprise during his primary campaign and after Trump repeatedly attacked Republican Senator John McCain, another Purple Heart honoree who spent nearly six years in a north Vietnamese prison camp.




FOREMAN: When the family of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in combat lambasted Trump at the Democratic convention.


KHIZR KHAN, GOLD STAR PARENT: You have sacrificed nothing. And no one.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOREMAN: Trump went after the father.


TRUMP: Who wrote that? Did Hillary's scriptwriter's write it?


FOREMAN: The mother.


TRUMP: She was standing there, she had nothing to say. She probably maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.


FOREMAN: And their faith.


TRUMP: I'd say we have had a lot of problems with radical Islamic terrorism.


FOREMAN: President have long courted the veteran's vote avoiding even a hint of criticizing their large patriotic community. The vast majority of presidents have served in the military. Although three of the past four have not. Still, Trump is not the first to use such tactics.


GEORGE ELLIOTT, RET. U.S. NAVY: John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is lying about his record.


FOREMAN: In the 2004 election, Democrat and veteran John Kerry was savaged by commercials featuring other vets.


The swift vote ads helped reelect George W. Bush even though Bush's service in the National Guard was also criticized as a way of dodging combat.

But time and again Trump who routinely lavishes praise on the military has open fire on veterans who he sees as enemies.


TRUMP: He made such a fool out of himself. (END VIDEO CLIP)

FOREMAN: Retired Marine Robert Mueller, retired Admiral Bill McRaven, now one more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has bled for this country. he's proven his patriotism beyond far beyond me than I ever did and far beyond so many others.


FOREMAN: So why are these attacks working now? Maybe it's because everything is so polarized. Maybe it's because more veterans are getting political. But there's this. Veterans as a percentage of the population have grown smaller and smaller. So, when one is attacked it's less likely to hit so close to home as it did back when almost every family had a veteran somewhere in their midst. Don?

LEMON: Tom Foreman, thank you, sir. I appreciate that. Good question to ask. Why are this, what is it believable now? Why are so many people believing it?

Joining me now to discuss CNN Military Analyst and retired Army Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. What do you think of what Tom -- good evening, sir -- of what he said there? Maybe there are fewer veterans? But why are people, some people believing this and falling into this trap.

MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, I don't know, Don. And it's a great question. Good evening to you. It's good to see you.

You know, about 1 percent of our nation serves today. That's all. Many people don't realize that. That maybe a part of it. But there's also this sort of lack of constituency with veterans. Everyone likes to say they support the veterans and we support our troops but do they really know what that means?

This incident today with people arbitrarily attacking an individual they didn't even know. And that's Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. I don't know him truthfully.

LEMON: But even the president. Let me get this in because I know we're you're going. But even the president today calling him a never- Trumper. Right?


LEMON: And you remember last week he called never-trumps, quote, "human scum." Others are attacking his honor and his loyalty to our country. Continue on. What's your reaction?

HERTLING: Yes. My point is that we seem to have lost our values. It's a --

LEMON: Go on, general. Can you hear us? We seem to have lost him.

HERTLING: I'm still with --

LEMON: General Hertling, are you there? OK. Well, we're going to -- we'll get him back. So, in the time it takes to dial back maybe we can -- I can just sit here and talk to the guys in the studio. You want to take a break. I can talk forever. I can talk to a wall. So, if you guys want me to talk -- are you there, general?


LEMON: See? I told you. Go on.

HERTLING: I don't know what happened.


HERTLING: It's the Russians, I don't know. What I was about to say was --


LEMON: And that's why we love you.

HERTLING: What I was about to say was, we have seen seem to have forgotten our national values. Our most important national values is respect for one another no matter what your ideas are, no matter what your ideology, your race, your color, your creed, your sexual orientation.

And we increasingly are divisive and even an individual who is serving in the military is not protected from this. And when I say even someone who is serving in the military, it shouldn't be that way. It doesn't matter if a person is wearing a uniform to a testimony. They should be treated with respect. That's my view.

LEMON: You know, Vindman said that he reported his concerns over Trump's dealings with Ukraine out of a sense of duty.


LEMON: He is still active duty military and he's reporting on his commander-in-chief. How tough of a spot. Can you imagine being put in that position? What does that like?

HERTLING: Yes. You know what I'd say to that I've been thinking a lot about that today, Don. I'm glad you asked it. Because I was a colonel in 1999, the year that Vindman came into the service as a second lieutenant.

That year the U.S. army really started to put a reinforced emphasis on our seven army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. I think Colonel Vindman really took that to heart as do all soldiers now. And you can ask any soldier and they'll give you those seven letters because it gives the acronym of leadership. And it's a requirement to say I live by these values. I make decisions

based on these values. I act on these values.

And Vindman today literally did his duty. He did it with honor and integrity. And it took a great deal of personal courage for him to step forward. And he did it in order to support the oath he takes to the Constitution.


HERTLING: I wrote a piece for today that said, you know, I promoted a foreign area officer once and she told me that the oath of the United States is different than the oath of any other country in the world.


Because other countries protect their land or their president or their prime minister or their chief or their queen. But in the United States we vow to defend the Constitution. Ideas. We defend a piece of paper that represents ideas. And unfortunately, we seem to be getting away from that.

LEMON: I encourage everyone to read that piece. And it is called, it says that Vindman is living his oath to America. And it's on and it's by General Mark Hertling. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time and thank you for your service.

HERTLING: Always a pleasure, Don.


LEMON: You're also wearing your Purple Heart, aren't you?

HERTLING: I am wearing my Purple Heart, my small medallion to prove I'm part of the never-Trumpers I guess, or the scum of the earth. And that's the unfortunate part too that we should not be calling other Americans names.

LEMON: Thank you. Thank you.

HERTLING: You got it.

LEMON: Twenty-twenty candidate Andrew Yang has been warning that the impeachment inquiry might not be successful. But did today's testimony change his opinion? I'm going to ask him, next.



LEMON: Explosive testimony today from Lieutenant Colonel ALexander Vindman, the White House National Security Council official in charge of Ukraine policy. He told lawmakers he was so troubled by President Trump's July phone call with Ukraine's president that he reported his concerns to a superior. Joining me right now is Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. I am so happy to have you on. Thank you.


LEMON: It's good to see you. Let's talk about -- can we talk about impeachment, right, because that's the front of the big stories here. You said that it's the right way to go, but that it might not turn out the right way, right?

YANG: Yes.

LEMON: It may not be successful. But when you think about the president, his attempts to push Ukraine, investigate a political rival, what do you think? Does that change your thinking at all about that it may not be successful?

YANG: I've been on board with impeachment ever since it's been put forward.

LEMON: You have.

YANG: But we have to face facts where you still are looking at a republican majority in the Senate and you need a super majority for impeachment to actually be successful. So the odds are still very high that it is going to run aground in the Senate and it is going to end up being a very polarizing issue for many Americans.

LEMON: Yeah. So, Democrats are now unveiling the impeachment resolution so that witnesses can start testifying. The American people will hear directly from them. What do you think about that? Do you think that will change when people get to actually see it?

YANG: It certainly helps diffuse a republican talking point. But I'm on record saying the more we focus on Donald Trump even if it's in the context of impeaching him, it's a lost opportunity for us to present a new positive vision that Americans can get excited about, because when we're talking about Donald Trump, we are losing, even if it's talking about impeaching him.

LEMON: Yeah. So, even -- you don't think it will help change the public's opinion at all, because the president supporters seem to be with him no matter what?

YANG: Yeah. What I have been saying is, look, the thousandth verification that Donald Trump is Donald Trump is not going to change minds out there in America. So to me, the challenge is to solve the problems that got him elected in 2016, and then help the country move forward in 2020.

LEMON: It's kind of the same thing as, you know, similar to what news media faces, like how much of the shiny object do you continue to cover, he is the president, and I'm sure Democrats are thinking and you, you know, folks running for president, how much do you focus on him even if it's impeachment because then he is still getting the spotlight and is giving him attention, correct? YANG: I'm so glad you're raising that because a lot of oxygen has gotten sucked out of the room for impeachment.

And for me as someone running for president, I again need every opportunity to make my case to the American people that we can do much, much better than Donald Trump, and that we need to solve the problems that got him elected, primarily the fact that we're going through this fundamental economic transformation that blasted away millions of manufacturing jobs and is now shifting to retail jobs, call center jobs, truck driving jobs and on and on through the economy.

LEMON: Yeah. So let's talk about his supporters again because Republicans are sticking with him. His supporters are going to stick with him no matter what. Do you still think that those folks are winnable, especially even some Trump supporters?

YANG: Hundred percent because I've had now hundreds, maybe even thousands of conversations with people who voted for Donald Trump who are open to a different set of solutions. Some are disappointed in the president and you don't need 100 percent of Donald Trump supporters to win. You need 10, 20 percent. That's 100 percent gettable for the right candidate.

LEMON: So how do you do that? So you do that by going really far to the left? That's what the right is saying, you know, the candidates in there for Democrats are too far to the left. And then are you going to energize the progressive left if you are too conservative as a Democrat?

YANG: I'm happy to say, Don, one poll actually had me as one of the only candidates in the field that 10 percent or more of Donald Trump voters said they would support in the general because I'm laser focussed on solving the problems in our economy that people are seeing around them every day.

And so we can pull off, we can peel off thousands, hundreds of thousands of disaffected Trump voters as well as independents to join the Democrats and progressives to win the whole thing in 2020.

LEMON: You're (INAUDIBLE) math, so I take it that you know your numbers. You tweeted this today. You said, "This land is your land, this land is my land." What prompted you to tweet that?

YANG: It was literally an article I read that talked about how they saw my campaign as a way to help bring Americans together, and that was one of my favorite songs as a kid. I've got now two children of my own who are four and six. It is in one of their books. And so I just saw that and I thought, well, that's a sentiment we can all get behind.

LEMON: So let's talk about the New Hampshire poll, the new one we have.

[23:35:00] LEMON: You stand at five percent. Sanders and Warren are at the top of that. No clear leader. Are you happy with that? It's a really important state.

YANG: You know the great thing is that it just keeps going up and up, and you saw we raised $10 million in the last quarter and increments pulling (ph) $30 each. So this is a grassroots movement. You're going to see us continue to rise from five percent in New Hampshire. We are going to do very, very well in the granite state. I'm heading back there again very soon.

LEMON: Yeah. So in November -- you're going to be in the debate in November. This is your first qualifying poll for December.

YANG: Yup.

LEMON: So again, you're already in the November debate. How do you keep that momentum going?

YANG: You know, I'm happy to say, Don, the momentum just continued since we put up that record quarter in Q3. I'm heading to Iowa and Rivers Cuomo and Weezer are going to be performing at (INAUDIBLE).

LEMON: No relation to Chris Cuomo?

YANG: No. I don't know if Rivers is Chris's cousin.

LEMON: No, they are not related.

YANG: They don't really look in a lot like each other.


YANG: And we have a bunch of exciting announcements coming. The momentum is just going to continue to grow and grow for this campaign. We're going to make history and shock the world early next year.

LEMON: Yeah. Well, good luck, and we thank you for coming in. You're welcome back any time.

YANG: Thank you, Don. I appreciate the heck out of you.

LEMON: It was a pleasure. It is good to see you. The democratic presidential field is the most diverse yet, but the candidates with the most support so far are white. Does this diverse field have a diversity problem?




LEMON: The crowd of 2020 democratic field boasts a diverse makeup with regard to race, age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. So why with the Iowa caucuses and 100 days away are the three clear Democratic frontrunners white senior citizens?

Let's discuss now with Philip Bump and Astead Herndon. Hello. Why?


LEMON: Good evening. I want to talk because you both have written great pieces about diversity and about 2020. Your latest piece in The New York Times -- Astead, I'm going to start with you -- it's called "Democrats have the most racially diverse field ever. The top tier is all white."

And you write, "When the democratic primary contest began last winter, it featured the most racially diverse field in history, with two black senators, a Latino former cabinet secretary, an Asian-American businessman and the first American Samoan elected to Congress. But 10 months later, the democratic field has a top tier of four white candidates, three of them men."

OK. So now, why do you think this happened?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I think it a confluence of reasons. When you talk to kind of the affected candidates, specifically Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, those who have found themselves outside of the top tier, they isolated couple of things.

One is the fundraising challenges. The money has flowed to different candidates on the small liberal progressive side of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the kind of big donor side to those who are more like Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. They have not been able to find themselves kind of in a more sustainable fundraising lane.

But they also mentioned this question of electability. For the last couple of years, Democrats have kind of obsessed over the idea of who can win the white working class voter back from Donald Trump. If you are someone, if you are a voter who thinks that a minority candidate or a woman makes it more difficult to do that, that puts those candidates a little more of a disadvantage than maybe some of the ones we have seen at the top. But there is also a little more simple reason. There's name ID, which the other ones have at the top.

LEMON: Yeah.

HERNDON: There is Joe Biden's power with black voters. But there are a lot of things --

LEMON: Don't you think it is also simple demographics, a simple math? I mean -- and whether you like it or not, meaning they understood you, not you. The people who show up to the polls the most are older people, America's mostly white people.

So it should it be surprising that the top candidates are white? I mean, you know, we live in a very diverse country. But is it really that surprising when you look at the number of minorities in the country versus the number of white people?

HERNDON: Let's be clear. If black voters were backing one of the African-American candidates, they would be in the top tier.


HERNDON: This is happening because black voters, particularly the older ones that you're talking about, have decided to back Joe Biden to this point. If it changed with the way the democratic electorate is made up, it does kind of significantly run through black and Latin voters, working class voters once you get out of those early states.

LEMON: Yeah.

HERNDON: They're just not backing the black and Latino candidates.

LEMON: Philip, your latest piece is in The Washington Post. It is called "The graph that summarizes the future of American politics." I just want to show this chart in your piece. So if you are young, between zero and 20, you live in a more diverse America. So walk us through this. What is this about?

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: This is actually age. It's the distribution of race by year of age. So, people who are zero years old, my son Henry, zero years old, is white but he is actually in the only 50 percent of Americans who are zero years old are white. The other half are non-white.

But if you look at the other end of the spectrum, if you look at the much older Americans, people who are over age of say 80, they are predominantly white.

What we are seeing is that while we talk a lot about how America is growing increasingly less white, less densely white, what we're really seeing is that's happening at a younger age spectrum. So the median age or the most common age, for example, for Hispanics in the United States is 11 years old. For whites, it's over 50, right? So --


LEMON: You're articulating the point that I was making to him much better than I was when --

BUMP: I would never say that.


BUMP: The point is that the future of America is much more heavily not white. And so one of the things that Republicans --

LEMON: The younger you are.

BUMP: Exactly.

LEMON: The younger you are.

BUMP: Exactly. One of the things the Republicans are worried about is what that means for them.

LEMON: OK. So this is the vast difference in distribution between age and race related to voting habits. Is that what that explains?

BUMP: Well, this is actually on top of that. So, older and white voters do vote more often. That correlates to one of the things like income and home ownership. But one of the reasons that Republicans continue to do fairly well is because their base tends to vote more. What we are seeing looming ahead for Republicans is an electorate, which is much less densely white.

LEMON: Yeah.

BUMP: That could potentially be a problem.

LEMON: I just have a short time left. But the road to the nomination goes through black America and votes, right? Or Democrats -- for democratic --

HERNDON: For the democratic primary. You can't be a Democratic nominee without getting a significant amount in that vote. It is maybe not in majority but definitely enough of a number where you see (INAUDIBLE).

The clear example, obviously, is the last primary that just happened. Bernie Sanders was running not that bad among white voters. He got trounced when you got to south and then those delicate (ph) regions. And that's why Hillary Clinton was the nominee.

LEMON: Thank you both. Fascinating. I appreciate it. One of Congressman Elijah Cummings's close friends is making waves for snubbing Senator Mitch McConnell at Cummings's funeral, but he says there is more to the story. He is going to explain, next.




LEMON: Of the memorable moments that made up the celebration of Congressman Elijah Cummings's life, including eloquent eulogies from former presidents Clinton and Obama and the secretary of state as well, former secretary of state Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, one small moment has resonated on social media, a 16-second clip now viewed by approximately 16 million people.

That clip is of a man passing through the receiving line of political leaders honoring Cummings's last Thursday at the Capitol, walking right past Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as McConnell ready to exchange a handshake of condolences. McConnell's startled reaction to the snub has made Bobby Rankin a viral hero and unwitting internet sensation.

Bobby joins us now. Our condolences to you on the loss of Representative Cummings, but there's more to this story, so let's talk about it. OK?


LEMON: Go on.

RANKIN: First of all, Don, I want to thank you for allowing me to come on. If you got to see the funeral on Friday, I was very hurt because first and foremost, 19 years ago, I gave my brother a bone marrow transplant. And he was stationed at fort -- he was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

In 2014, President Obama came out with 15 things the V.A. was supposed to help people who were stationed there. And at the top of that list was multi-myeloma, which my brother had. Nine doctors wrote letters and said to the V.A. that my brother qualified for this. And he was turned down time after time, time after time.

And because Congressman Cummings and I were very close, I called him and I went to Baltimore. And he said, Bobby, bring me all of your brother's paperwork, which I did. He had his people in his office re- file the paperwork. After they re-filed it, the V.A. turned him down again.

He said to me -- he said, Bobby -- he said, what I got to do is reach across the party lines and see if I can get some help. Three or four weeks later, my brother got sick again. I had to give him another bone marrow transplant. I'm the only person in America that has given the same person a bone marrow transplant twice after 19 years.

My brother passed on the 25th of October last year on his birthday. We buried Congressman Cummings on the same day my brother had been dead. And when I was sitting in the rotunda, I was texting Congresswoman Beatty because she had called me because she knew and all the black Congress people knew how close the congressman and I were.

And she texted me and she said, are you all right? And I texted her back, I said I'm trying to hold on. So when I got up after his wife walked past, I walked past, and I put both of my hands on his casket. And I looked up, and I saw Congressman Cummings -- Congressman Clyburn.

And when I saw Congressman Clyburn, I walked over to him because I was in South Carolina when his wife had to be rushed to the hospital. I went to his office. He I sat in there and talked. She later died.

LEMON: Let me ask you -- sorry, it is because of the time. I've got to run soon. Did Mitch McConnell -- did he not help you with something because he hasn't commented about any role in denying veterans' benefits for your brother --


RANKIN: I'm not going to say -- I'm not going to say he did it. Somebody did not. I don't know who Congressman Cummings reached out to. But they never did it. And when I walked across -- when I walked across, I looked at Congressman Clyburn and he put his arm around me. He said, Bobby, it's going to be all right. And as I raised my head up, I looked down at Nancy Pelosi. And the reason I looked at her is because one of my best friends was her security man. And he had a massive stroke four or five years ago. And I walked straight to her because I was asking her about Dorman (ph).

LEMON: So you weren't trying to snub McConnell?

RANKIN: No, sir. I had -- I wasn't even paying him attention because if you see the video, after I finished talking to the speaker, I backed up, and I was looking for Congresswoman Beatty. She put her thumb up at me like this. I put my thumb up at her like that, and I walked away.

LEMON: You were focused on the task at hand. I thank you for clearing that up. Unfortunately, I'm out of time. Again, I'm sorry for your loss, not only the loss of your brother but also the loss of Congressman Cummings. Thank you so much, Bobby Rankin. I appreciate it.

RANKIN: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. And thank you for watching. Our coverage continues.