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Don Lemon Tonight

Trump Welcomes Press To The Studio; Trump, Wall Must Be Part Of DREAMERS Deal; Judges Order NC Congressional Districts Redrawn Quickly. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired January 10, 2018 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is CNN tonight, I'm Don Lemon it is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast. We are live with new developments tonight. Welcome to tonight's episode of "The Trump reality show."


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Welcome back to the studio. Nice to have you.


LEMON: In tonight's episode, the President of the United States cast his mind back to the good old days of his TV stardom, praising his own immigration meeting yesterday as a performance.


TRUMP: Actually it was reported as incredibly good, and my performance -- some of them called it a performance. I consider it work.


LEMON: You can't write this stuff. And praising what he calls his ratings.


TRUMP: Got great reviews by everybody other than two networks who were phenomenal for about two hours. Then after that, they were called by their bosses and said, wait a minute.


LEMON: Is all of this another transparent attempt by the President to change the subject? Just another way of saying "move on, folks, nothing to see here." We'll talk about that. I want to bring in now, CNN political commentator David Swerdlick and political analyst Michael Bender. Also, Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News. Good to have all of you here. I didn't get a call or e-mail from the boss. Any of you, any of you got a call saying -- ok, just checking. No, no? Michael, welcome back to the studio. Good to have you here. What do you think of the President yesterday saying he is not performing, but is he producing?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATION CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS: I thought the immigration performance was so fascinating, particularly when he said, you know, "I'm prepared to sign whatever you people give me." this was his signature issue. This is the thing he campaigned on to sort of basically punt and say, you know, never mind what my principles were on this, never mind what were my campaign positions. Just give me a bill, and I'll sign it.

LEMON: How do you think the "build the wall" crowd will deal with it?

ISIKOFF: I don't think they're pleased at all. I think they thought, why did we elect this guy in the first place if he was going to do that? You saw McCarthy trying to pull him back and some supporters trying to do it. It really kid of shows the dichotomy between Trump the performer and Trump the policy maker and how ill-informed he is about his own basic positions.

LEMON: Right. Mr. Swerdlick, in the cabinet meeting, the President went on and talked about the "great reviews of yesterday's televised bipartisan meeting." Then he said this of the networks.


TRUMP: They probably wish they didn't send us those letters of congratulations. I'm sure their ratings were fantastic. They always are. Which is why I think the media will ultimately support Trump in the end, because they're going to say if -- if Trump doesn't win in three years, they're all out of business. You guys will be out of business. The boom holders are still going to be there, so that is good. Those are the people I like.


LEMON: The boom holders, for everyone at home if you may not know, the people who hold the big boom microphones that are on the poles so you can hear what they're saying because they don't mic them. They use the boom microphone. David, our Jim Acosta asked the White House about the letters of congratulations the President says that they received. The White House cited tweets and television coverage. Not exactly letters of praise. The President got what he wanted, don't you think so? Did he get what he wanted to change the subject from the Michael Wolff book?

DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Three points, Don. One, the first black President was big news. The first reality show President was big news. The 2020 election will be big news. The media will be just fine. There's always news. The other point about yesterday's meeting, a couple of things -- you know, it probably sounded like a good idea for the President and his staff to let the press sit in on that whole meeting. He wants to be portrayed as the CEO presiding over all this congressmen who are underlings, you know, talking about how to reach a deal DACA, the wall, the budget, et cetera. You can't be a dealmaker if you don't understand the deal points. To piggyback on what Michael just said, he was about to agree to, yeah, we'll sign a clean DACA bill, not understanding precisely what he was verbalizing until Congressman McCarthy sort of jumped in and bailed him out saying, whoa, whoa, Mr. President, we need to deal with this in conjunction with the border wall, the budget, other issues that are on the table now. It reflect the President's lack of depth on policy and the degree to which he thinks of it as a show rather than a serious negotiation.

[23:05:26:] LEMON: OK. The other Michael, Michael Bender, if yesterday was the episode of the reality show about Trump the dealmaker, tweets calling Dianne Feinstein sneaky and once again calling the Russia investigation the greatest witch-hunt in American history, what was today's episode, do you think?

MICHAEL BENDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, First, on the tweet, I don't know what was so sneaky about Dianne Feinstein asking Donald Trump pointblank if he would support a clean DACA bill which as your other guests pointed out he agreed to do it. I'd also make the point here that this is -- Trump wasn't elected, because he knows the lingo of congress or what it -- a clean DACA bill means. He got elected to essentially build a wall, and we saw him pulling back pretty quickly, we saw a bunch of clips of the news conference today. What it looks like, how that ends up in the final process is still an open question. We are far, far away from President Trump abandoning his wall and risking his base here.

LEMON: I think the sneaky Dianne Feinstein was because of him releasing the testimony from -- from --

SWERDLICK: The fusion of GPS.

LEMON: That is why he is calling her sneaky. Michael Isikoff, what do you make of the different sides that we've seen of the President yesterday and today?

ISIKOFF: I think this is Donald Trump. I mean he is a different -- he is a different person every day in some respects. What you saw yesterday was an effort in the aftermath of the Wolff book to show that he is in command, he is accommodating, he is reasonable. Pushing back on the portrait of him as a sort of -- mentally unstable leader. I don't know how convincing that, you know a single performance like that is going to be. There have been moments when he is shown that side of him in the past. There's been moments when he is given speeches that people have thought were almost statesmanlike, his state of the union, for instance. Then he lapses very quickly back into the other Donald Trump. There's a little bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde quality.

LEMON: I think the thing is yesterday -- I had a different take on that. I thought the transparency part of yesterday, David, and I don't know if you agree, I thought it was great that he sat there for so long and allowed the cameras to be there. What it also showed was that he didn't have a grasp on policy. And I don't necessarily, I didn't think that it felt like he was in control of that meeting.

SWERDLICK: No, don, he wasn't. I like what Michael said, "almost statesmanlike," that is a great book title for someone. The President in his adult life, in his late 50s, he flip-flopped on abortion, he has flip-flopped on a series of issues, on health care, the Iraq war. He is gone back and forth when it comes to the DACA issue, immigration, and the whole package together with the wall.

LEMON: David, it hasn't hurt him, but the wall is something different because people lost their minds yesterday on this wall. I'm talking a conservative media, media in the tank over on the Trump channel, on the other cable channel. They were losing their minds about this.

SWERDLICK: Sure. The Ann Coulters of the world were pointing out that this looked like the beginnings of a sellout. I think the problem for President Trump and Republicans is that it's going to be hard to walk this middle line where most Americans are polling on an issue like DACA and still please the hardest of the hard core like Ann Coulter. The challenge for Democrats in this issue is that it seems to me after yesterday they should have all huddled up and said, look, we should shut the government down over DACA. But t's not clear that the Democrats have the spine to do that. We'll see.

LEMON: Michael Bender, in the same cabinet meeting, the President attacked the country's liable laws. Here he is.


TRUMP: Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness. We'll take a strong look at that. We want fairness. You can't say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account. We're going to take a very, very strong look at that. And I think what the American people want to see is fairness.

[23:10:09] LEMON: So what is the President's motivation here? Are libel laws on the agenda for the average American? Why is he talking about this?

BENDER: Well, it's going to be a strong look at libel laws, as he said. You know, I'm at the White House quite a bit. It doesn't sound like there are any actual policies right now in the works at the White House to go after libel laws, expands them, weaken them, whatever President Trump has in his mind. Libel law is mostly in the state purview. I would be shocked to see the White House come up with a policy any time soon to change that. What we have here is -- is a threat from President Trump. As we've been talking about, the meetings yesterday, the meetings today, these are not necessarily aimed at getting an immigration deal done this week. The broader point here is a response to the "fire and fury" book. That is what he is talking about here. It does have the result here of just continuing the conversation about this book and selling more copies of it. I saw the author was quoted today saying that they've sold a million copies of this book in the first four days.

LEMON: Amazing.

BENDER: It is amazing. We'll sell more copies, just by talking about it now. I've got to say that I don't think that is at all in President Trump's mind. He is trying to defend himself, trying to push back. That is the main priority here for him. Whether or not it puts a few more bucks in Michael Wolff's pocket, I think that is secondary to the President's concerns.

LEMON: Michael Isikoff, the book clearly rattled him. That is what that comment was all about.

ISIKOFF: Of course. I want to make the point that there is virtually nothing that the President of the United States could do about the libel laws of this country. The basic law has been set by the Supreme Court of the United States as it interprets are the first amendment to the constitution. So there's no legislation that could get around what the Supreme Court has articulated as what the libel standards are.

LEMON: I read the book. In the book it partial asserts that he doesn't read, doesn't read policy, doesn't read books, he doesn't know history. He is kind of proving parts of the book true by saying "we're going to work on the libel laws," what have you. Many people are smiling as you're not telling the truth and profiting off of it, they're going, "are you talking about yourself"?

ISIKOFF: Yeah. In most White House when president articulate policies agenda is because somebody, there has been a policy shocked with the White House that is look, that is ermine and explored proposals, was preside -- White Houses when Presidents articulate agendas. There's nothing here to back up what he is saying when he says we're going to look at the libel laws in this country.

LEMON: David, why would he even go there? Why would people in the White House especially considering the meeting yesterday, the DACA thing -- you know, put the book sort of on the second page to -- wasn't in the headlines. Why would he do that? Why would they let him do that?

SWERDLICK: Well, I don't know if they can stop him, his staff can stop him from doing that. The libel laws in this country work for 99.9 percent of people. The President is saying he wants to deal with the libel laws. I agree with Michael and Michael that there's not really a lot of policy behind this, because it doesn't work for him. It's a problem for the country, it is a problem for him, because the President even after a year is still warming into or resisting the idea that as the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, the head of state, the head of government, he in a Democratic society, he is there to be criticized. He is not there to be genuflected to. He is there for the body politic for the press. To take shots at them, to extent that and he quote in Michael Wolff's book don't hold up at some point, those should be challenged by the White House communications operation. But in general, the President is there to be criticized, as was President Obama, as was whoever the next President is.

BENDER: Can I jump in?

LEMON: Quickly. BENDER: I think where this is coming from, too, is President Trump

sort of the inclination to make threats. It worked to a degree when he was in the real-estate world. The threat of bringing in lawyers could have an effect. We saw him use that on the campaign with women accusing him of sexual harassment. He threatened to sue all of them. This is not exactly a threat to sue, but talking about changing the laws so it would make it easier for him to sue. That is kind of where this comes from.

LEMON: Thank you. Fascinating conversation. I appreciate it. See you guys next time.

When we come back, a panel of federal judges demand one state go back to the drawing board to fix their hyper-partisan congressional districts.

[23:15:02] What does that mean for other states so close to the midterm elections?


LEMON: As Republicans and Democrats get ready to do battle in the midterms, a lot of people think it will all come down to the referendum on President Trump. But there is a secret weapon in this battle -- one that could undermine the will of the people. I want everyone to pay attention, because I think this is the most important segment that we'll do tonight, this and DACA. Gerrymandering has been used by both sides, but it is a serious threat to democracy. Let's discuss it. Samuel Wang is here of the Princeton Gerrymandering project, also the co-host of "politics and polls" podcast. Also the reverend Dr. William Barber is here, as well. An advocate for voting rights and President and senior lecturer of repairs of the breach. Thank you. This is a very important conversation. I'm so glad that both of you are here to talk about and educate our viewers about this. So to come to consensus about what should be done. Sam, federal Judges in a unanimous vote say North Carolina needs to quickly redraw its 13 congressional districts, because the map is unconstitutionally partisan, it says. They have about three weeks to get these done. So it's in place before the 2013 midterms. How big of a deal is this? Could this further endanger Republican-held seats in the midterms?

SAMUEL WANG, PRINCETON GERRYMANDERING PROJECT: This is a big deal. This is the first time that a federal court has track down a state map on ground of extreme partisanship. It reflects things that are in the process of the Supreme Court.

[23:20:03] And so in North Carolina alone, it could move possibly three seats or so. It's hard to tell exactly until the map is actually redrawn. And long term if that gets played out again over and over across the United States and other heavily gerrymandered states, it could add up to something like a dozen seats, a dozen seats that currently are mostly in Republican hands through gerrymandering.

LEMON: Who are the worst culprits when it comes to gerrymandering?

WANG: Gerrymandering? Broadly, legislators who want to choose their voters. Right now it still happens, because of wave elections that happened in 2010, Republicans got the lion's share of new state house control and so they had control over the redistricts pen. They had the will to go there and engaged in a festival of gerrymandering that is never been seen in the modern era.

LEMON: Dr. William Barber, are Republicans done this, because North Carolina, state wide is turning purple and Republican are trying to quash that?

WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT AND SENIOR LECTURER, REPAIRERS OF THE BREACH: Don, this is a huge deal. It's the election hacking we ought to be talking about. They've done this because it's the only way they can win. The federal courts have said this is intentional systemic racism. Remember, the courts ruled on this before, last year, in our battle to fight this. We've been fighting for over seven years. They've made it clear that this is what extreme voter suppression and cheating looks like. After the maps were in put in place, Don, a majority of north Carolinians voted for Democrats, so that puts them in congress, but 10 of the 13 seats went to an all-white Republican delegation. We have not seen this kind of blatant intentionality since Jim Crow laws of the 20th century and the deconstructionists of the 19th century. The reason they're doing, because southern strategy, the so-called solid south is breaking open.

The demographics are changing. And what has happened is these Republican state legislators are stacking, packing, bleaching, and diluting the black vote. Not to stop blacks from getting elected but to disable the power of the black vote to elect all races. If we fight and change this, what you saw in Alabama would not be an anomaly. They are afraid of a true populist vote particularly in the south where we elect 31 percent of the House of Representatives, 26 Senator, and where we have 171 electoral votes.

LEMON: Sam, you're shaking your head in agreement. You agree with him?

WANG: Yes. People like to get worked up about voter suppression, which is obviously important for the vote. But something like 40 percent or 50 percent of the seats in any state that is closely divided as North Carolina is, close to half the seats are in the hands of whoever happens to be in control.

LEMON: I want to put the map up, because you're a professor at Princeton. We pulled this graphic of North Carolina's districts from our website. And you have the headline on it -- "partisan gerrymandering pack some communities into single districts while cracking others among multiple districts." Explain to our viewers what we're looking at. We have the zoomed in version.

WANG: This is the population map of North Carolina. The yellow and purple colors indicate where the people are living. This doesn't show race. It just shows where there's high population density. What this shows how we districters achieve their jiggering, pokery by packing people. North Carolina currently only has three Democratic representatives. And that happens because Democratic voters live in more populated areas. They get packed into dense areas. On the left, that is packing, that is Raleigh-Durham and Hillsborough. On the right, that is Greenville. What happens is in the third district, people got pulled out of the third district and packed into the first district to make that as heavily Democratic as possible. The fourth district, the same. And so these are just examples of where someone can look at where the people are. And without looking at race can look and say, you know what, I'm going to draw a circle around those people and pack them in one place.

LEMON: I know you want to respond, Dr. Barber. Let me say this before you respond, Sam says that North Carolina is really ground zero for gerrymandering, and that this isn't the first time they've gotten in trouble for how they've drawn these lines.

BARBER: No, that is exactly right. What's happening here is, it is race. They tried to say it is partisan, but that is a cover for racism. Remember, the Supreme Court has had to agree that North Carolina legislators were engaged in surgical racism. Now think about this, Don, and your audience -- you have politicians from the President to the congress to state houses who would swear that they are not racist, but they have participated and been complicit in this racial lie voter suppression. What happens here is we do not have the protections of the voting rights act anymore. It's been held up by Boehner, McConnell, and them for over 1,700 days, over four years. That means these districts don't have to go through preclearance. Additionally, Don, when this happens, when they stack and pack and bleach these districts, they take a district that, say a person is winning with 40 percent minority vote, bump it up to, say, 60 percent, 70 percent, take the black voters out of the district where black and white progressives can work together to elect candidates of their choice at the very time.

[23:25:11] LEMON: Who's watching this stuff? Who's watching?

BARBER: What's happening is NAACP, the organizations -- remember, we had the first suits on this. The problem is, we had to fight for over six years, because we no longer had preclearance. And many of these things would not have passed preclearance. So what we have is this -- creating what I call apartheid districts. It's by design, because they cannot win if in fact the 30 percent of the African-American voters that are unregistered register, you hook those with progressive whites, Latino, the south changes. And the south changes, the nation changes.

WANG: Yes, but this is why even though partisan gerrymandering sounds like it is technical, obscure, a little bit geeky, this is very important, because as these racial protections go away, partisan gerrymandering becomes important, because it protects voters wherever they may be, white or black. It's a way in which the North Carolina legislators attempt to evade talk about racial gerrymandering. They say we're doing a partial gerrymander. These legal protections are going to be very important going forward in Ohio, North Carolina, and Michigan. Across the country. It could be worth as many of a dozen seats in a year like this. It will be important for all Americans.

LEMON: As you had said it is not a matter of Democrat and Republicans, as you said, I'll ask who the worst culprit, Democrats and Republicans is. It depends on who is --

WANG: Supreme Court is looking at a case in Wisconsin, a Republican gerrymander, we are looking in the case in Maryland that is a Democratic gerrymander. When people get the power of drawing - of picking their constituents, they sue that power that is human nature.

LEMON: It is a fascinating conversation, I have to go for time purposes. We'll have you back and we will continue this conversation. Thank you, Sam, thank you, Dr. Barber, I appreciate it.

When we come back, the President boasting about the historically low level of unemployment for African-Americans. We'll tell you why he is wrong to claim responsibility for those numbers.


[23:36:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: We're back. Federal Judge is ordering North Carolina to redraw its 13 congressional districts ahead of November's midterm elections ruling the map drawn by the Republican-controlled state government is unconstitutional. They call it partisan gerrymandering, and I want to bring in CNN political commentators, Bakari Sellers and Mike Shields. Let us talk about this. Thank you both for coming on. I think this is a really, really important subject. So Bakari, you're first. You're from North Carolina. You say the verdict is in -- the verdict in your home state is right. What role do you think the ruling will play in this upcoming midterms? You think it will change anything?

BAKARI SELLERS, FORMER HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: First, I'm from South Carolina, Don. But I do think that this ruling will play --

LEMON: Close enough. Sorry.

SELLERS: Thank you. It is close enough. I do think that this ruling's huge. I think the decisions that came down was monumental, not just for what we saw in North Carolina, but for what you see going on right now in Wisconsin and Maryland. This is not a partisan issue. I had a conversation earlier today with former Attorney General Eric Holder who's now championing along with Barack Obama the national Democratic redistricting committee. Some of the initiatives they're pushing for such as an independent commission to draw lines is not really a partisan issue.

We have to begin to have fair lines that reflect the will of the people, or else you'll have things like reverend Dr. Barber talked about earlier, which are bleaching, which are packing, which are things that are fundamentally unfair and ruin our democracy. That is what happened in North Carolina. That is what happened in Wisconsin. That is what happened in Maryland. That is what our courts have to address.

LEMON: Mike you said this is code for Democrats can't win because they drew the lines wrong. Explain what you mean.

MIKE SHIELDS, FORMER RNC CHIEF OF STAFF: First of all, it's amazing -- where were all these voices before 2012 when there was state after state that had lines that had been drawn by Democratic legislatures that were completely against Republicans, including in North Carolina, by the way?

SELLERS: That is not true.

SHIELDS: Where the Democrats -- yes, the Democrats controlled the state senate up until the 2010 election --

SELLERS: That is not true.

SHIELDS: Let me tell you. I'll let you respond in a second. You can say everything you want. Let's take a look at Illinois. The Illinois map drawn entirely by Democrats actually hurts Hispanic voters and Hispanic population in the Chicago area in favor of African-Americans. This happens over and over and over again. I think, Don, what you should do is get someone from the congressional black caucus to come on your show and talk about this. They don't mind as much having the representation that they have in these other states, because the case they had made before was white voters in the south will not elect black Democrats, and we need to represent the country at large, the number of African-Americans in the country in congress. To do that, we should have majority/minority districts. So they created this entire issue that the reverend was talking about that he is now saying is racist, was decisions made back in the Bush 41 administration, the congressional black caucus working together. Many of those congressional black caucus members they would defend having majority/minority districts in the south. Now what we're quibbling over is how many minority voters are there in these districts. There's a lot more to the story than what was just talked about.

LEMON: That doesn't mean it is right. That you're saying this is Democrats, they're saying Republicans do it, as well. Bakari, you said he is right about the CDC but wrong in 2012. I've been at CNN since 2006 and people have been talking about gerrymandering at least on a national level since I have been here so, I don't know.

SELLERS: Let me clarify a few things, one, Mike has an understanding that many people throughout the country have about the voting rights act, voting rights, and gerrymandering and redistricting which is fundamentally flawed. Let's go back to the fact that the census was done in 2010. Republicans took back the house in North Carolina and senate in North Carolina for the first time in 100 years in 2012. Therefore, they were responsible for the lines, not Democrats. That is first.


I'm saying before '12 they were responsible for the lines, and there was no complaints.

Second -- that is because the lines weren't drawn as they were in 2012. Second, I was actually as a state legislator.

[23:35:00] I was on the committee that went around and drew lines in South Carolina. We had three Republicans, two Democrats. I was one of the Democrats. We draw the house lines, the senate lines. And we drew the congressional lines. What you learned about the process is -- and I thought this was where Mike was going with the congressional black caucus, he went somewhere else, is, yes, throughout the country, you do have members of the congressional black caucus who work with Republicans to pack their districts. I don't think that the congressional black caucus and Democrats can go without blame in that fashion. However, Mike was wrong when he was talking about the reason we have majority/minority districts. The reason why we have the voting rights act and majority/minority districts is because African- Americans traditionally were not represented. I am of the opinion that you don't --

SHIELDS: That is what I said.

SELLERS: You don't need a district with 55, 65 percent African- American. In fact, I think you can win with 40 percent African- American and have influence districts which is what people want in this country. They want districts that are influence districts. This is way more complicated than people make it out to be. But the substance is, vote in every election.

LEMON: Ok, here's -- I want to play in. I want to move on, because we have a lot of ground to cover. I want to play President Trump's comments on African-American unemployment earlier today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very proud of this -- African-American unemployment reached its lowest level in history. Think of that. And on the campaign trail, remember I said and would constantly say "what do you have to lose," meaning, what do you have to lose if you elect President Trump. Now it was reported African- American unemployment is at its lowest level in history. I'm very proud of that.


LEMON: Bakari, I know you feel strongly about this. What's your thoughts?

SELLERS: I mean he is a condescending liar that is first. If you want a more intellectual answer, the fact is that the black unemployment rate when Barack Obama took office was about 16.8, if I'm not mistaken. When Barack Obama left office it was cut in half --

LEMON: 16.1 in 2009. It was 7.8 in January of 2007. Now it's at 6.8. It was already falling. It's just fallen like --

SELLERS: What we saw -- precipitously is the SAT word I would like to use, Don. Falling precipitously. The President of the United States, the 44th President of the United States, put in policies that actually saw the unemployment rate for people across the spectrum, black, white, and otherwise, to see the unemployment rate specifically in the African-American community decline. We also saw wages going up. For the President to take -- for the 45th President to take credit for this like he took credit for flight safety last week and the fact that we didn't have any plane crashes. That is not him. That is not his -- that is not -- he didn't do that. I mean, the next thing he is going to do is take credit for the moon and sun, you know, the sun rising and the moon circling.

LEMON: What do you think, Mike?

SHIELDS: I know this drives Democrats crazy, because the idea that a Republican President could do something for the African-American community and actually break their lock hold on them is terrifying to them. The fact of the matter is, what he said is true. We have -- you said it wasn't true. Keep in mind -- and I'll be fair about this -- we didn't record African-American and Hispanic unemployment I think until the '70s. Since that is been recorded, this is the lowest it's ever been recorded for African-Americans, for Hispanics, and I believe according to the root, the gap between white unemployment and black unemployment is the lowest since we ever start recording it.

LEMON: It's still higher for African-Americans than any other ethnic group.

SHIELDS: No question. But aren't these things to celebrate? Why can't we celebrate the fact that had is great for the African-American community?

LEMON: No one is saying that. No one is saying that.


LEMON: People are saying that the President should be factual. He said -- when I said what did you have to lose -- did you listen to the sound bite? This is what I meant by what did you have to lose? That the African-American unemployment rate in essence, taking credit for the African-American unemployment rate dropping when it has only dropped 1-point-something percent under him and dropped 8 -9 points during under Barack Obama --

SHIELDS: If he was going to be the worst American President for African-Americans --

SELLERS: He has been.

SHIELDS: The unemployment's continued to go down, the lowest in history. If you're looking for a job, things are -- things are getting better, not worse. That is a fact.

SELLERS: Actually, if you want to talk about it, you have a ton of people dropping out of the labor market, it's shrinking. I want to talk about something more important since we are on national TV. The fact is Donald Trump actually wants to do something for African- American or do something for people of color in this country, we can actually address the fact that we don't have generational wealth. CNN did a study not that long ago where it showed that if --

LEMON: Kaiser Foundation in conjunction.

SELLERS: In conjunction with the Kaiser foundation, if African- Americans were able to make the same amount of money as the white counterparts today, it would still take 200 years to accumulate the same amount of wealth.

[23:40:00] Yes, if you want to path the President on the back for doing something which was already being done, so be it. If he really wants to address something, then he can start addressing that, making sure that wages go up. We can actually break the cycle of backbreaking generational poverty that affects people of color.

LEMON: Michael we will hear you from the other side of the break.


LEMON: Back now with Bakari Sellers and Mike Shields. Let us talk about this, this is according to the labor department, Mike. African- American unemployment is at the lowest point on record, yet it is still well above the jobless rate for whites, Hispanics, or Asian Americans. A big problem with President Trump's claim is that -- claims about the jobless rate had been falling for a long time before he took office. And the declines don't appear to have picked up speed. So -- how do you answer that?

SHIELDS: I answer it by saying it is a good thing for this country that African-American unemployment is at the lowest in history. Let's first of all say that. That is an important thing for our country. And when the President was in the campaign, the other side was saying that he would be a disaster for the African-American community, he'd be harmful to them.

[23:45:03] And that is not true. Secondly, what I would tell you is look at the stock market exploding since he became President. And that is not something he just inherited. That is because investors knew they were no longer going to be harmed by a Democratic administration regulations and said now is the time to take the risk of investment. That is increased people's pensions that is increased people's retirement funds, it put $5 trillion into the economy. Now we have a tax bill that is been passed, 70 percent of filers including most of the economic lower middle class and poor who file taxes file the standard deduction. The standard deduction was doubled. All of this is happening before we put into place something that is going to stimulate more economic growth and create even more jobs. And so that number's going to keep going down. I know it drives the left crazy that he would actually brag about something being good for the African-American community instead of harmful. But the fact is he is very proud as he said that this number's there. I'm proud of it, too. I think it's a great thing for the country. We should say what a great job that is being done that this is the direction we're heading in.

LEMON: Bakari, what do you say to that?

SELLERS: Well, there's a lot. First, why I'm very proud that the African-American unemployment rate -- I think anyone you talk to is proud that the African-American unemployment rate is at the lowest it's ever been. You have to de-couple that from this belief that somehow the presidency of Donald Trump is good for African-Americans. We can actually talk about the train wreck that is the Department of Justice, the lack of diversity with Judges, attorneys, within the White House itself. We can talk about the tax bill. We can talk about the fact that they haven't reauthorized -- the list goes on and on and on of reasons why he has not been good for African-Americans. It probably starts with the department of justice and ends with the department of justice.

I want to talk about the theory that Donald Trump has mysteriously made the economy good. The S&P 500 grew 20 percent in Donald Trump's first year. That is amazing. It grew 42 percent in Barack Obama's first year. When Barack Obama inherited what was called the second great recession, the stock market was at 6,000. When he left, it was at 16,000. Let's be honest here in the numbers that we're reciting. If you want to talk about the growth of the stock market and the fact that we are in the middle of this bull market, then so be it. You also have to understand that Barack Obama rebuilt this economy, he rebuilt the economy during the height of a recession. Donald Trump is riding the wave of his predecessor.

LEMON: You have to give this President credit, the stock market has done well under him. They said the Dow's rise was more impressive under Obama if you measure at the low point on March 9, 2009, during the depths of the great recession. That day the Dow closed at 6.547, between then and January 5, a ten-month period, the Dow rose by a stunning 61 percent. There you go.

Listen, I have to go, though. Listen, you have to give this President credit, but also you have to remember he didn't just start the rallying of a stock market and good economy. He had help. He didn't inherit the worst recession since the great depression. He should at least admit that.

When we comeback what is the difference between racism and white racism. We are going to ask a professor and why he thinks the distinction is important and the response he is getting.


[23:52:20] LEMON: Florida gulf coast University offering a course this semester called white racism, reaction has been swift and severe, so, let's bring in Ted Thornhill, he is assistant professor at the school who is teaching the course and gave it the controversial title. You are causing trouble everywhere, everywhere I look. People are discussing it, you upset a lot of people, welcome to the program, and thank you for coming on. The first class was yesterday, two campus police officers were there to guard the class, and how did it go?

TED THORNHILL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: It went really well. You know, it's like the first day in most of my classes. We went over the syllabus and I explained to students briefly about the reason why the police were present and put everyone at the class at ease and we proceed to go over the syllabus and discuss the nature of the course, the assignments and the expectations and the readings that would be assigned and students selected groups that they would be in and that was about it for the first day. LEMON: Calling the class white racism turn out to be very

controversial, why not just call the class racism?

THORNHILL: That would not be precise and it would not be candid enough. The term white racism is the language of the literature, there's books with the title journal articles with the title. And I have used the phrase myself. So, I thought at this point in my career, and given the nature of our political climate, it was necessary to give it an apt and appropriate title. So I did.

LEMON: The course description says that the class will discuss ways to challenge white supremacy and examine ideologist, laws, policies and practices in this country that have allowed white racial domination over those racialized as nonwhite. What kind of material would be covered? Give us examples of that.

THORNHILL: Well, the course will begin in Ernest tomorrow morning and we will begin with an interrogation of the race concept, its origin, its persistence, it's political nature and consequences and after that, we will move on, next week after that we will discuss sociological theories of racism and racial ideologies followed by an explanations of social institutions where white racism manifests itself such as education system, criminal justice system, the legal system. Areas of housing, retail, even romantic relationships.

[23:55:03] LEMON: Think about really being honest, I mean most people would say considering the history of the country, it's not a bad, or controversial class to have if you are doing everything that you say you are doing. Why do people think its racism, because I understand you have received disturbing e-mails, voicemails, thousands of horrible comment in social media and so on?

One said cancer stage four is what you and your family deserve for spreading hate, lies and intolerance, I would ask you to stop using the name Ted and Thornhill, change it to Obango, you racist pig, I bet membership in the clan is probably skyrocketing because of you, on and on and on and on, why?

THORNHILL: Because these folks have been around always, and they have been emboldened in the last year and half for two years by the character that is currently occupies the White House. You know, people are conflating racial prejudice with racism. Racial prejudice exists in the ideation realm, and people of all you know, races she, people that have been racialized as black, Latino, native, white people of all folks can express racial prejudice towards one another. However only one group has developed a system over hundreds of years and that is, that has oppressed other groups, and that is Europeans and their descendants that were racialized as white. And so...

LEMON: Professor Thornhill, thank you so much, we will check back with you. OK?

THORNHILL: Thank you for having me, Don, I appreciate it.

LEMON: that is it for us tonight, thank you for watching, I will see right back here tomorrow. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)