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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Contradicting Health Experts; White House Brags About U.S. Leading The World In Combating Coronavirus; NBA Players Hit With COVID. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 6, 2020 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[22:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: "CNN TONIGHT" with D. Lemon, the man right now. There he is.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I was back. How are you? Did you miss me?

CUOMO: I always miss you. I miss you when I'm with you.

LEMON: You're probably going to see me more.

CUOMO: I know.

LEMON: When I was off then. How are you doing?

Better than I deserve. But I'll tell you what. I had on my young friend from Shreveport, Louisiana tonight.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Because boy, is it different, D. Lemon, when they see the brothers show up with guns.

LEMON: As we call it from those of us who are from Louisiana. Not Shreveport but Shreveport.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Shreveport? I don't think there are words for me to say it in anyway.

LEMON: It is Shreveport. I saw it. And you know, a lot of people will probably be intimidated by that. We have had that conversation before. If you want to -- if you want to make any changes with the second amendment, you start getting some black folks signed up for conceal or right to carry permits. And that may change in an instant. And that segment you had on was indicative of that, I think that he is very lucky.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: But you know, it's something we have to handle delicately on one level.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And I'll tell you because already my social media is blowing up, you know. How can you endorse these guys going there looking for a fight. Who said they are looking for a fight? They saw people getting intimidated by men with guns who were there to represent a heritage of slavery.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: They took their right. Now one of them got picked up for not having a license to carry and not having a right for firearm.

LEMON: Yes. Well, --

CUOMO: They did the same thing the other guys were doing.

LEMON: There you go.

CUOMO: The president celebrates them. He says they're good people. The governor should talk to them. Remember?

LEMON: Yes. Of course.

CUOMO: But not these guys.

LEMON: Of course, I remember.

CUOMO: And I think it's at the root of what we got to deal with more.

LEMON: Here's what I have been saying, is that, and I've been noticing over the time that I've been off. The conversations that I'm having with people regarding black lives matter, regarding the tearing down of the taking down of monuments. And what, you know, erasing history, and so on and so forth.

And I try to I just sit there and I listened over the last week. Because you and I have been telling, I've been telling people you need to listen. Right? Especially white brothers and sisters. You need to listen. So, I just listen to people. And the conversations are very interesting.

I think people are concerned that this removal of monuments when they are not sanctioned by official means a government. That well, it's giving Trump a talking point. That maybe all well and good. I think the bigger talking point is that Trump has put in a position now where he's having to defend racist, treasonous people. People who turned against their country.

He's turncoats. He's put in a position that have to defend. That is a bigger narrative that people should be talking about rather than people who want to remove statues if they are giving Trump a talking point. OK, fine, I understand that.

But think about it, movements are often messy. And a lot of these young people are saying we've asked for decades. You asked old people, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, whomever for these statues to be taken put in a different context. Nobody did anything about it.

And saw, guess what? The chickens are coming home to roost. Because you haven't done it. You didn't do anything about it. So maybe the narrative around instead of why are you removing these statues? That you are erasing history. Nobody is erasing history. That is the wrong context to put it in.

No one -- you can't -- you can't erase history. You can't erase slavery. You can't erase the confederacy. That will never be erased. What people are trying to do is put it into context. And these are the conversation that -- conversations that we should be having. And yes, they are messy. And sometimes people aren't smart about which statues they take down. Fine.

If the people on the other side would think well maybe we should get involved in the conversation about which statues should be taken down, where they should be put. We should meet these people in the middle and discuss these things. These are the right conversations to be had. We're contextualizing it the wrong way. We're looking at it the wrong way.

And I think that's the issue. And we cannot fall I agree with you when you said -- what do you say, together forever as one. Is that your --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Together, forever as one.

LEMON: As ever as one. I agree with that. You cannot fall for this president trying to divide people.

[22:04:59]

So, if someone says, this is going to go way too far. Well how far is this going to go? Just say, no, we're not -- that's not what we're doing here. What we're trying to do is learn about each other. We're trying to put history in the right context. We're trying to get you to understand that a lot of what you have been taught in history has been propaganda.

And some things you need to unlearn so that you can become a better citizen and that the promise of what America is available to all. Why not have the mindset of maybe we should be taking down some of these statues.

CUOMO: Yes. Engage the --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Exactly.

CUOMO: Engage the fear.

LEMON: But people are afraid to saying it. CUOMO: So where does it end?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But that's not coming from a place of logic. Nobody is saying well, that it never ends. Yes, it does end first of all because what you are dealing with is a time in history where slavery was OK and how you reconcile that with where you want to be.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: It's not about a race. It's about proper place, and fear frustrates that effort.

LEMON: All because --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: They're coming for everything. Being white is now bad.

LEMON: But it's not -- it's not --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That's what he's preaching.

LEMON: Right. But it's not just the Trumpers, as you say. Right? It's not just the Trump apologists and the Trump supporters, it's very well-meaning liberals as well who are feeling these things. And if you are having those feelings then maybe that means that you have a conscience about it. And that's actually the right feeling to have and you should be engaged in a discussion.

But here's the thing, Jesus Christ, if you believe -- if that's what you believe in, Jesus Christ, admittedly was not perfect when he was here on this earth. So why are we defying the fathers of this country? Many of whom owned slaves and, in the Constitution, the original one, they didn't want -- they put slavery in there, that slavery should be abolished because it was the way the king wanted.

And then the Congress said, no way. And so they had to come up with an alternative about three-fifths of a man and on and on and on.

CUOMO: Well, they knew, they knew that they had an inconsistency with the logic.

LEMON: There you go. All men are not perfect.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: All men are created equal, except these men.

LEMON: They're not perfect. We have to stop defying them and saying, yes, they did some great things and they created a Constitution. And a, you know, a blueprint for us that it wasn't perfect at the time, and that's good. But they weren't perfect either. And so, as Americans, all of us should come together and have these

conversations and get together and stop letting someone divide us. No one is perfect. Nothing is perfect not even the founding fathers.

CUOMO: Nothing human is perfect.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: We are all fallible, especially people are limited by their time. There's no question about that. But here's the good news. Clarity is a good thing, OK?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And the president is worried. And he should be. Everybody who wants reelection in a tight when their numbers suck should be worried. But how do you deal with it? The irony is the most opportunity always in politics. The demagogue gets an early lead, dividing works. But a uniter is always more powerful in the end.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: That was Obama, that was Reagan, you know, people who can bring people together around a big cause is going to win. He has removed all doubt with his press secretary, echoing his sentiment that he has no position on whether a confederate flag is a good or bad thing in America.

LEMON: He's defending - he's defending, Chris.

CUOMO: You don't need to hear anything else. The only thing I say to people who support the president is, you don't get a pass. You don't say, I support him because I like the deregulation but I'm not about that, no.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: You vote for all of it. You get all of it.

LEMON: That's been since the very beginning.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: What he ignores he empowers and you own it.

LEMON: That's been since the very beginning that I think people of color realize that if you are supporting him, you are supporting a racist and you're putting racism on the backburner. And people are just not cool with that now.

The country is ready to move on, Trump is a relic when it comes to these issues, and the people who support him get on the train or get off because it's going to keep moving. And the longer there are people on earth who are like us who embrace diversity, right? Interracial couples, and on and on. It's over, buddy. It's a last gasp for bigotry and racism and they are fighting it tooth and nail. I got to run. I've already been told eight times that my show is in jeopardy because we're going on so long. But I miss talking to you.

CUOMO: This is the show.

LEMON: I love you. This is a great --

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: There is only one D. Lemon, brother. There is only one.

LEMON: It's a great show. Yes. Stop. We have to come together, don't fall for the Okeydokey. Don't. Do not fall. Do not let him divide you. When someone says that, what are you, erasing history? No, we should look at it that way. What we're doing is trying to learn the truth about our history and where we go from here as Americans. Thank you, sir.

CUOMO: I love you.

LEMON: I love you more.

This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

I've gone on a long time, but I hope you will continue to watch because we have a lot more of that coming up. We're going to dig in deep on that issue.

So, we are also going to talk about this. What is it going to take for the president to wake up and see that this country is in crisis when it comes to the raging coronavirus pandemic?

[22:10:00]

All you have to do is look at the numbers and see the stories. He is pretending it's not a big deal. Well, it is a big deal.

Let's put up the stats for you right now. The number of confirmed cases in the United States is nearly three trillion. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 130,000 Americans. And those numbers are going straight up every single day.

The virus is surging in at least 32 states. Parts of the country are seeing a shortage of hospital beds. OK? This sounds like -- this sounds like the beginning when we just started talking about this.

This is -- here's the nation's top health expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci tonight. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: We are still knee deep in the first wave of this, and I would say this would not be considered a wave. It was a surge or a resurgence of infections, superimposed upon a baseline of the European Union as an entity. It went up and then came down to baseline. Now, they're having little blips, as you might expect as they try to

reopen. We went up, never came down to baseline and now we are surging back up. So, it's a serious situation that we have to address immediately.

LEMON: I've been told, I may have said three trillion, I meant million obviously. That was a slip of the tongue, so my apologies. The number of confirmed cases.

So then, there is all of these videos that I want to show you. You know, these case numbers that aren't going to go down when you see the parties and the crowded beaches. Look at that. From the July 4th holiday weekend, no masks, no social distancing. Everything is totally normal.

We are in a nationwide health emergency, people. What are you thinking? You wouldn't know it from the president or the example that he is setting, so why would Americans think otherwise? At his two 4th of July events, masks were not required and there was no social distancing. The president even going so far on Saturday to make this false claim about coronavirus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Now, we have tested almost 40 million people. By so doing, we show cases 99 percent of which are totally harmless.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Nonsense. Let's just say it. A lie. One medical expert calling that statement ridiculous and irresponsible. But what's worse is that we can't believe anything that anyone in this administration says. No one will correct his false statement, including the head of the FDA.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Is the president wrong?

STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FOOD AND DRUGS ADMINISTRATION: So, I'm not going to get into who's right and who's wrong, what I'm going to say, Dana, is what I've said before, which is that it's a serious problem that we have.

MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: I don't even know that it's a generalization. When you start to look at the stats and look at all the numbers that we have, the amount of testing that we have, the vast majority of people are safe from this.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president isn't downplaying the severity of the virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Yes, he is. He is. He is totally downplaying it, and then there was this embarrassment of a briefing today when Kayleigh McEnany laughably makes this claim.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCENANY: I think the world is looking at us as a leader in COVID-19. Because the chart I showed you where you have mortality rate in Italy and U.K. up here and across Europe, and you have the United States on at a low case mortality rate, it's because of the extraordinary work that we've done on therapeutics and getting PPE and leading on ventilators and having access ventilators that we were able to deploy around the world and help other countries.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: The world is hardly looking at the United States as a leader, come on. This country has about one-fourth of the total coronavirus cases around the globe. Most European countries have told Americans to stay home this summer because the caseload here is so bad. We are uninvited to the party. Do not show up, you are not getting in.

So, if he is not protecting the people that he is elected to serve from a global pandemic, then what is he feeling his time with? What do you think? Right, the president's priority is ramping up the race baiting ahead of the election.

Clearly, he believes that dividing Americans on the issue of race will win him a second term. His race baiting is also a distraction from his pathetic response to the virus crisis. He was at it again this morning, going after NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace, who is black over that recent incident where a noose was found hanging in his garage at Talladega Speedway in Alabama.

You saw the pictures of it, it is a noose. It was used as a garage pole. But the FBI concluded it was not a hate crime, and it was a garage -- in the garage before Wallace was assigned to the space. But that wasn't good enough for Trump who called on Bubba to apologize.

[22:15:04]

Bubba Wallace has nothing to apologize for. Not one thing. He said to me on this program, that even though the FBI said it's not a hate crime, it was a noose. NASCAR called it a noose as well. And you know what, hats off to NASCAR for taking the incident seriously and getting the FBI involved.

But ever the race baiter he is, he is calling out NASCAR for making the bold move to ban confederate flag from all its races, races and events. Reporters peppered Kayleigh McEnany with many questions to Kayleigh McEnany about the president's apparent support for flying the confederate flag.

She blamed reporters, accusing them of taking his tweet out of context. They did not. Trump's words are there for all to see. Yet, she refuse to denounce the flag. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he think NASCAR made a mistake by banning the confederate flag.

MCENANY: So, he said I spoke to him this morning about this, and he said he was not making a judgment one way or the other.

The president said he wasn't making a judgment one way or the other, and you are focusing on one word at the very bottom of a tweet, that's completely taking out of context and neglecting the complete rush to judgment.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does the president still supportive of flying the confederate flag?

MCENANY: So, I think you are referring to a tweet this morning, is that right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct.

MCENANY: Well, I think you are mischaracterizing the tweet. The president never said that. Again, you're taking his tweet completely out of context.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president said that NASCAR saw bad ratings because they took down the confederate flag, banned the confederate flag. Does he believe NASCAR should fly the confederate flag? And why they don't fly here?

MCENANY: The whole point of the tweet was to note the incident the allege e hate crime that in fact was not a hate crime at the very end, the ban on the flag was mentioned and the broader context.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why can't this White House unambiguously state whether or not it supports displays of the confederate flag?

MCENANY: No, i said --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or confederate monuments which are much more part of this question than gun did.

MCENANY: Yes. I said that, you know, he was -- his tweet was not to indicate approval or disapproval of that particular policy over NASCAR. It was an aggregate to stand against the rush to judgment, to call something a hate crime before the facts were out. When clearly the media was wrong about this.

The president has made clear, he was not taking a position one way or the other in that tweet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Defend everything no matter what side it is even if you have said the opposite before. Defend everything and then blame someone else. It's such an easy formula, it's like mathematics, if you actually pay attention to that. It's like debate class 1010. I'm going to give you this side even if you don't believe in it, and then you can defend it.

Come on, people, right? You don't see that? When it comes to the confederate flag the White House, you're going to be shocked that I said this, may want to take some advice from Senator Lindsey Graham, who, by the way, as you know is a major Trump supporter.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): NASCAR made a decision to ban the confederate flag inside the intel (Ph) and at NASCAR arenas, they're trying to grow the sport. And I lived in South Carolina all my life, and if you are in business, the confederate flag is not a good way to grow your business.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: He's a businessman that's why I voted for him. I support him because he's a businessman. Did you hear what Lindsey Graham said? President Trump can't seem to do enough to defend confederate symbols and figures.

The president also doesn't like the fact that the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians are being pressured. They're actually thinking about doing the right thing, but they're going to do the right thing, they're going to change the names of their teams despite many Native Americans finding them offensive. Trump says they are being politically correct.

Putting Americans against one another, hoping that it is a winning strategy. Voters are going to get a chance to weigh in come November. But I have to show you this, because at least two Trump supporters took matters into their own hand over the weekend in one California town. Painting over a black lives matter mural.

Saying that they are sick of what they find the narrative of police brutality, of oppression of racism. Calling it a lie. Can you just leave that video up, because if they realize that they were painting over a black lives matter sign, black paint which kind of, makes the point for the black lives matter people because you're still going to see black lives matter written on the street, but it's just going to be in black paint.

[22:20:09]

Do they think that went through, genius. They are actually helping the people. I think they should leave it and just let it become you know, art that just transitions overtime. They are helping the black lives matter folks out, unwittingly. Maybe that's a defense for them in court. Because police are looking for them now.

As I discussed on the show over many nights, young people of all ethnicities, especially people of color in America are standing up, they are demanding to be heard. Demanding that some of the old symbols be seen in a new light. And you know what, I discussed this on my new podcast, it's called

Silence is Not an Option. And I just want to pay to play a portion of my conversation, it is with Turner Classic Movies host Jacqueline Stewart. It's about the changing college culture, right, and her new introduction to "Gone with the Wind" which is now available again streaming on HBO Max. Watch this.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

JACQUELINE STEWART, HOST, TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES: I think context is key, and if we can get people to embrace educating themselves. Rather than resisting information that can disrupt their pleasure, then I think we would really get to some actual change that we need in our society.

LEMON: That is profound.

STEWART: Yes.

LEMON: Say that one more time.

STEWART: Yes. We need to get a place where we are willing to have our pleasure disrupted if it means that we gain knowledge. If it means that we begin to dismantle some of these beliefs that have created the structural inequities, that we are, you know, some people are learning a lot about right now.

And so, you know, I don't, I would never advocate that every American, should watch "Gone With the Wind." I'm not suggesting it's required viewing, but I do think that it should be available and available in its original form. So that when we want to come to it we have the ability to do that.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: Thank you, Jacqueline Stewart. Or everybody listening out there, everyone, Trump supporter or not, liberal or conservative, she says, context is key. And if we can get people to embrace educating themselves, rather than resisting information that can disrupt their pleasure, then I think we would really get to some actual change that we need in our society.

Remember, that was the same argument that I made when Colin Kaepernick was kneeling. People said they didn't want their entertainment or their enjoyment or their pleasure interrupted. The status quo, interrupted. What you thought you had been taught in school about history, interrupted.

It's time for us, all of us to embrace knowledge and education and put it in a different context. Why shouldn't we be having these conversations about what America stands for? What monuments and statues and symbols should stand in a country that is for all. It doesn't mean that history is being erased, it just means that we are becoming a more perfect union, where there is inclusion for everyone.

Imagine, going into a courtroom having to walk past a confederate statue. And thinking that you are going to get equal justice. Many of you don't have to think about that, but for the people of color, if you live in a town or city think about it. Think about those confederate monuments.

Do you have to pass those monuments when you go into a courtroom? Do you live on a street that's called Robert E. Lee street? Or on and on and on? It is embedded in our culture. And African-Americans have to deal with all the time, it's in our face.

So that was really profound, if we are willing to have our pleasure disrupted then maybe we gain knowledge along the way. And change ourselves and society as a whole.

[22:25:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Coronavirus cases surging in at least 32 U.S. states. More than 130,000 Americans have already died from this virus. But the president is lying, falsely claiming that 99 percent of cases are totally harmless.

Let's discuss now. Our White House Correspondent is Kaitlan Collins, also with us Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health initiative -- or Institute, excuse me. Good evening to both. Thank you for joining.

Kaitlan, coronavirus cases is surging as I said. One expert warning the U.S. is in a freefall with the virus. And the president is lying about it, instead of he's digging us into -- digging it deeper on his races cultural war. Has the president given up on getting the virus under control?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think the mentality that he is adopted is this one that they are trying to push, it's not just the president on this one. It is which is that, you know, the coronavirus is here to stay for several months they believe at least, they want people to say that it's going to be part of daily life, as people get back to normal.

[22:29:57]

And I think some health experts agree that it is going to be incorporated, that there is going to have to be some kind of sense of that as you move into reopening.

But what that doesn't explain, Don, are the comments that the president has made like what he said on Saturday, about 99 percent of the cases being totally harmless, in his words, something that even his own FDA commissioner would not back up.

So when the president make comments like that, when he refuses to advocate for wearing a mask, when his own vice president and other members of his party are doing so, it's hard to really say that the president is trying to figure out how to incorporate that and move forward in a way that health officials believe is the safe way to move forward with reopening.

LEMON: Doctor, you know, Dr. Anthony Fauci is sounding the alarm here, totally different message than the White House. He says we are still knee-deep in the first wave. My question is, are you concerned that he is one of the few people at the top telling it like it really is?

ASHISH JHA, DIRECTOR, HARVARD GLOBAL HEALTH INSTITUTE: Thanks for having me on, Don. That is Dr. Fauci. He tells it like it is, he always has. It's the thing that makes him such an asset to our country, and he is of course completely right. We are still in the first wave, knee deep, waist deep, neck deep, whatever you want to say. We are deep in this.

And we're not -- I don't see an easy way out of this unless we get some very serious action from governors and ideally, from the federal government. Though, I'm not sure that there's a lot of leadership coming from the federal government any time soon.

LEMON: You know, Kaitlan, I played Kayleigh's soundbite earlier but, on another matter here, but the White House press secretary is defending the president's claim that 99 percent of cases are harmless, and she's claiming that the U.S. is leading in the coronavirus respond -- response. How can she honestly say that?

COLLINS: I think when you asked why they are making that claim, they're going to talk about how the United States has ramped up testing, even though the United States has ramped up testing significantly compared to when it was abysmal, according to health experts, but it's still is not as in high as in some areas. And of course, the question is, you know, is the United States leading on the containment of the virus?

And I think if you ask our counterparts throughout the world, a lot of them would say no. And that's precisely the reason the European Union has not allowing U.S. travelers to come into its borders. That's putting the United States in a group with Brazil and Russia, which is not exactly the group you want to be in if you are looking at how they've handled the coronavirus response and how many outbreaks that they have had.

So, of course, you know, that claim that she made about them being number one is the White House's assessment of this, though it's not clear who they believe it is that's agreeing with them on that.

LEMON: Well, you heard what Kaitlan just said, doctor. We are really behind the rest of the world when it comes to this, aren't we?

JHA: Yes. We have definitely the worst response of any high-income country in the world and we're competing the worse response of any country in the world. period. So, it is stunning to me the idea that we are leading. We are leading in the number of cases and leading in the number of deaths, but that's not where I want to be number one.

There is a we can do to turn this around, Don, but we're not doing any of those things, and that's what worries me right now.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, both. We'll continue on right after this break.

[03:35:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: As President Trump openly embrace his racist symbolism, the White House is refusing to denounce the confederate flag and it's defending his inflammatory rhetoric.

Here to discuss now is Scott Jennings. Scott, good to see you. I'm glad to see that you have your mask --

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.

LEMON: -- or your mask covering on.

JENNINGS: Yes, sir.

LEMON: Or at least you put it down for this interview.

JENNINGS: Wear a mask.

LEMON: Absolutely. OK. So, first, we have to get your reaction to the president's attack on Bubba Wallace. The president falsely claims that NASCAR's ratings are down because they banned the confederate flag. Why is it so hard for this president to denounce the confederate flag?

JENNINGS: Yes, I don't know, this is not -- this is not the right hill to die on. I think defending the founding fathers and defending, you know, the heroes of America make a lot of sense but the confederates were not our heroes. The confederates were traitors who wanted to split off from America and depart from American ideals, so I don't get it.

And I don't think the confederate flag and the confederate imagery and the idea of romanticizing the confederacy is where the president wants to be. Now he did not do this in his speech at Mount Rushmore but of course he did allude to it in his tweet that you mentioned.

So, if you're going to get on a message on taking on people who are trying to do things to statues and have other conversations, you really want to focus on our founding fathers and American heroes and not get off track on this confederate stuff, because it's not the right moral place to me and it's certainly not going to help you politically.

LEMON: Listen, it is OK to reaffirm what the founders did do for this country. Again, I should say and I think most people will agree people aren't, we shouldn't defy them no man is perfect.

But the president has sharply focused on defending confederate statues and namesakes in recent weeks. He said that he would veto any defense bill that included stripping the names of confederate generals from military bases. Why does he defend traitors and losers?

JENNINGS: Yes. The specific issue you are referencing the NDAA, this is a particular wrongheaded thing to do. The NDAA is our national defense bill. In fact, I believe it includes pay raises for the troops. And so, if you say you are going to -- you're going to veto, you know, our defense bill that gives pay raises to current American troops over the issue of dead confederate generals, I don't think a lot of people are going to understand that.

And by the way, I do think there is a risk there politically if you veto that bill over that issue, you are highly likely to be overwritten in the U.S. Congress which would then further diminish your presidency. So, my advice would be signing the NDAA and let the process play out.

I mean, you've got the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and a lot of other Republicans saying, hey, we're going to put a process in this bill that allows the military to go through the correct, thoughtful process to change these names. There's nothing wrong with that whatsoever. And this is not the issue that Americans are concerned about.

[22:40:01]

I do think they are concerned about attacks on the founding fathers and Americans founding ideals and principles, but attacks on the confederacy? This is not the top of mind thing on which you should, you know, stake your claim in this national debate we're having.

LEMON: All right. So much more to discuss, we will discuss everything that you just said, plus more. We will be right back.

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LEMON: So back with me now is Scott Jennings. The president has made it clear that his main political go to his racism, starting with the birther lie. He called for a Muslim ban, he said Mexicans are rapists, now he's calling the coronavirus a kung flu.

Last week he said black lives matter is a symbol of hate. Just today he tweeted in defense of the NFL teams who are named Redskins and Indians. Why is he dividing base on race? Why is that his main political strategy?

[22:44:59]

JENNINGS: Well, I think, look, you know, I've had lots of discussions on air about the president's views on race and some of what you say I agree with and some of what you say I don't.

I think the main consideration the president needs to use in his campaign is that Americans are smart and they can delineate between peaceful protesters who are demanding, rightfully demanding change on our policing and police brutality and race issues, and the people who aren't and the people who are trying to, in my opinion, hijack a righteous movement for other goals.

And these are the people I think that are indiscriminately tearing down statues and destroying public property. I think you can -- you need to delineate between those two groups of people, and I think you need to keep your message focused on the messages that bring people together.

And I think protecting the founding fathers and American ideals that brings people together. And I think ending the police brutality that we've seen in so many places, that brings people together.

But when you -- you can't engage in that nuance, I do think it clouds -- it clouds -- it clouds your messaging and you are not getting the moral or political juice out of it that you ought to be when you are the sitting president.

LEMON: Scott Jennings, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

I just want to make sure that you know about my new podcast, Silence is Not an Option where we talk -- we have these conversations, really tough conversations, and hard conversations about being black in America.

So, you can find it on Apple podcast or your favorite podcast app. And you want to -- the new one that drops this week is specifically about monuments and confederate imagery and so on, and so forth. I think you are going to learn a heck of a lot, so make sure you look out for that next episode, it's out on Thursday.

Meantime, the NBA season is set to resume in just a few weeks as more teams see setbacks due to coronavirus. I'm going to ask - there he is, you see there - Dwight Howard, if he thinks games will go forward. That's next.

[22:50:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: So, we are just weeks away from the restart of the NBA season, and multiple teams have been forced to shut down their practice facilities due to coronavirus. Look at this, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets have all had players test positive for the virus.

That as athletes throughout the sports world are also dealing with big questions about the role sports plays in country and their ability to help impact positive change in their communities following the death of George Floyd.

Joining me now to discuss is L.A. Lakers star Dwight Howard. Good to see you, Mr. Howard. How are you doing, sir?

DWIGHT HOWARD, NBA PLAYER, L.A. LAKERS: I'm doing pretty great. How about you, sir Don?

LEMON: I'm doing very well. Thank you. Thank you.

HOWARD: Yes, good.

LEMON: So, the season is set to resume in Orlando on July 30th. I mean, you saw what ahead of these players who are testing positive. Do you think that's going to happen?

HOWARD: You know what I do. I think that the NBA has done a really good job these last couple of weeks of, you know, trying to do the best they can to make sure that the bubble is safe as possible for, you know, all the players that will be in attendance.

You know, I know they have been working countless hours to make sure that everything is right, you know, for everybody that's down there, and the families that will be joining later on.

LEMON: So what do you think? Do you think there should be a season? What do you think of all of that?

HOWARD: Well, you know, like we talked about before, Don, you know, I have always felt strongly about anything being a distraction right now from what was going on around our world, and I don't want us to let this moment slip by.

I feel like we have an opportunity right now ahead of us still to make some real strides and changes in our nation. And I do think basketball will resume. I think that there is some great opportunities in the bubble to really cause some impact and change in our nation in our society.

I know for one, there's a lot of things that I've been -- I've had the opportunity to walk on during this break, but, you know, I know basketball will most likely resume. I feel like we have a great opportunity, the Lakers to win a title this year.

LEMON: So, let me ask you this because I want to -- I made a plain last time and I will make it plain again. You said this is not about you not wanting to play basketball.

HOWARD: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: Yes. This is --

(CROSSTALK)

HOWARD: It's not about that because, you know, Don, I have an obligation. I have a contractual obligation.

LEMON: So, you are going to play?

HOWARD: I have a contractual obligation.

LEMON: You're going to play?

HOWARD: Listen, I have a contractual obligation to my teammates, to my fans.

LEMON: Yes.

HOWARD: The Lakers, the organization and everyone, but at the same time, I also have an obligation to my family and my community. So, yes, I will be joining my team in Orlando but during that time, we will be getting a lot of work done here in Atlanta and you know, around the nation as far as, you know, making sure people don't forget about us and what's going on in our communities.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Like what? Do I --

HOWARD: you said what?

LEMON: Like what?

HOWARD: I have initiative that, you know, I'm starting, restarting, it's called breathe again. And during my time in the bubble I will use that time to talk about breathe again. And I'm going to use my salary. All the money that, you know, the paychecks.

[22:54:59]

And I will be getting from going down in a bubble to help push this breathe again, and just make sure that people don't forget about what's going on in our society.

LEMON: So here this is what, I'm just talking about what I'm the conversations that I'm having with people and that I'm hearing, sometimes I only hear people, sometimes it's by text. Sometimes people just outright saying man, I don't know about the season this year, I don't know if I'm going to watch, there is going to be all protests, and blah, blah, blah, you know what I'm saying, right?

HOWARD: I definitely understand. I definitely understand. And it can be a distraction if we allow it to. But I really feel that, you know, for myself and what I've done in this time period, I've been able to get my mind and my body and my spirit ready for whatever is going to happen. If it's the basketball season, if it's in the community push breathe again.

You know, I've had some excellent teachers, (Inaudible), Kevin Graham, Justin, Just (Inaudible), just a name a few people who have, you know, are me. Everybody who has really help me mentally and physically prepared --

LEMON: All right.

HOWARD: -- for what's coming ahead.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, I enjoy, I really love talking to you. I want you to come back. Our time is a little bit shorter than I want it to be, but I appreciate you coming on. You stay safe, and I love that you are putting your money where your mouth is.

(CROSSTALK)

HOWARD: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Literally putting money with breathe again, your breathe again initiative. Thanks, Dwight. I'll see you soon. HOWARD: Thank you.

LEMON: Be safe.

HOWARD: All right.

LEMON: The coronavirus death toll in the U.S. surpassing 130,000 as Dr. Anthony Fauci ensure -- issues, I should say, a dire warning. Yet, trump, President Trump refusing to even acknowledge that there is a problem.

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