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Don Lemon Tonight

President Biden Directly Calling Out His Predecessor; Former President Trump Financing January 6 Defendants; Gov. Greg Abbott Ban CRT In Schools; Donald Trump's Grip To GOP Remain Strong; Top-Secret Documents Compared To An Overdue Book. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 01, 2022 - 22:00   ET




VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: That's it for us tonight. DON LEMON TONIGHT starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: So, you know, I have Friday off, right? It's a summer Friday tomorrow.


LEMON: You do?


LEMON: So, I was just going to say, let's see if you know. I'm so glad we have this time together. Do you know --


BLACKWELL: Carol Burnett show?

LEMON: Victor.


LEMON: Yes. I like it.


LEMON: Good night, everybody.

BLACKWELL: You see you quizzing me.

LEMON: Good night, Victor Blackwell.

BLACKWELL: Quizzing me on live television. I passed.

LEMON: I thought you were going to sing it with me.


LEMON: Anyways.


LEMON: All right. See you, Vicky Lawrence. Talk to you later. Bye.

BLACKWELL: See you, Don.

LEMON: It kind of goes Victor Blackwell, Vicky Lawrence.

Thank you, everyone for joining us. This is DON LEMON TONIGHT.

And we've got two big stories tonight to tell you about. President Joe Biden in a major prime time speech. Did you see it? Saying that he is battling for the soul of America. That as the former president is battling America's institutions in court.

And we just heard from President Biden speaking in Philadelphia in a fiery 24-minute speech calling out Donald Trump by name and warning that what he calls MAGA Republicans are a threat to America while making it clear that when he says MAGA Republicans, he doesn't mean all Republicans.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Too much of what's happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represented extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republican.

Now I want to be very clear, very clear up front. Not every Republican, not even the majority Republicans are MAGA Republicans, not every Republican embraces their extreme ideology. I know because I've been able to work with these mainstream Republicans, but there's no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country.


LEMON: So, also, this is really important. The president going on to warn election deniers are gearing up for the next time.


BIDEN: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election. And they're working right now as I speak in state after state to give power, to decide elections in America, to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.


LEMON: So, obviously we have a lot more to come on all of this, but then there is team Trump fighting the Justice Department in court today over the FBI after that -- over that search of Mar-a-Lago that netted 33 boxes of material, including more than 100 classified documents.

The judge hasn't ruled yet on Trump's flee for a special master though, that could come at any time now. But this line from the hearing was really stunning. One of the former president's lawyers actually comparing the battle over classified documents to a fight over, his words, and overdue library book.

Now, I just want you to think about that for a minute. Just kind of the cynicism of that. The FBI found multiple documents marked top secret. Some with markings indicating the material came from human sources like spies or informants. He's comparing them to overdue library books.

Now I don't know about you, but I've never heard of an overdue library book putting our national security in danger or risking the lives of human sources, the cynicism. And by the way, when you compare those classified documents to overdue library books, aren't you admitting that he should have given them back? Isn't that implied in that?

But none of this comes close to answering the big question here. Why did the former president go to so much trouble to take so many documents and keep them under wraps? And with his legal team doing battle, Trump's claims today, claims today that he's financially supporting some January 6th defendants. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I met with and I'm financially supporting people that are incredible. And they were in my office actually two days ago. It's very much in my mind. It's a disgrace what they've done to them. If I decided to run, and if I win, I will be looking very, very strongly about pardons.


LEMON: So, he is saying it right out loud, considering pardons, considering pardons giving money to January 6th defendants.


Now we don't know whether that is true. We don't know exactly who or how much money, but one thing we do know for sure is you can't call yourself the party of law and order if your leader says he's financially supporting people charged with participating in a riot at the seat of our government. Right? And if he takes classified documents and he won't give them back. That's certainly not law, lawful, or orderly.

Now I want to bring in now CNN's chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins, political commentator Scott Jennings.

Good evening to both of you. Thank you so much for joining.

It is a big night. Kaitlan, let's start with you. You've been talking to your sources, the White House with how are they feeling about the president's speech tonight?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think a reaction coming out of it that the White House is pushing back on is the idea that this was a purely political speech. They're saying it's not political because he's making an argument about democracy, that he was drawing a distinction between the GOP at large and Republicans who have been stoked on by the former president and have become election deniers and whatnot.

And so, they've been making that distinction in the aftermath of the speech. But when you look at the speech, it did have a political bent to it. He was making clear that he thinks that these Republicans should not be elected into office. He was talking about come November, that he wants voters to go to the polls and reject these Republicans, reject this extremism as he framed it.

And one thing about this speech is they had been thinking about doing this for a while. This is something that we are told by sources President Biden had wanted to do since earlier this summer. It's notable they picked this timing because they said it wasn't a speech about Trump. He did name drop him a lot, which is notable for Biden. Someone who often tries not to name Trump.

But it came, you know, we're not that far away from the midterm elections. We've got a few weeks to go and they really wanted to make it a referendum in that sense, not just in the things that voters have been prioritizing, but also in the sense of what they believe is on the ballot, which Biden said tonight is democracy.

LEMON: Yes. So that is of the timing, right? That's why now he's giving this is a --

COLLINS: They say it's not -- going back to the part about Trump. You can't ignore the fact that Trump is back in the headlines, that what you just talked about there, Trump's attorneys are in court today talking about this investigation. These January 6th, defendants are also making multiple court appearances.

LEMON: Do they feel they're being overshadowed even by -- even the Trump is in the news so much, and it's bad news for Trump.

COLLINS: I don't necessarily think they're --


LEMON: Or that their message is not getting through because of that.

COLLINS: I think they think it helps fuel their message, that they feel the political headwinds are in their favor right now with the legislative victories that they've had. And so, they're using this moment as well with the Trump stuff, because they've always felt like the dynamic, the contrast between Trump and Biden is the most effective.

LEMON: Yes. Listen, we're trying to get the former governor, Ed Rendell, to join us. So, we're having some technical difficulties when we get him up, we'll have him. Because a lot of this, as you both know, Pennsylvania is going to be very big come 2022 and 2024.

COLLINS: That's right.

LEMON: And we want to hear what Ed Rendell has to say. But listen, Scott, I want to play something else what Biden said and then get your reaction to it. Here it is.


BIDEN: MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards, backwards to an America where there is no right to choose. No right to privacy. No right to contraception. No right to marry who you love. They promote authoritarian leaders and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.

They look at the mob that storm the United States Capitol on January 6th brutally attacking law enforcement, not as insurrectionist who placed a dagger at the throat of our democracy. But they're looking at them as Patriots and they see their MAGA failure to stop a peaceful transfer of power after the 2020 election as preparation for the 2022 and 2024 elections. They tried everything last time to nullify the votes of 81 million.


LEMON: Yes, Scott, did I say the governor of Pennsylvania? Did I say Philadelphia? I don't remember.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't remember, but he was a governor of Pennsylvania.


LEMON: Pennsylvania because I used to live in Philadelphia so it's always on the tip of my tongue.


LEMON: But listen, he made it clear that he's talking about not all Republicans, but MAGA Republicans. What do you think members of your party heard?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean about half of Republicans consider themselves to be, you know, Trump supporters and about half, I think consider themselves to be, you know, party type Republicans first. So that's a lot of people. That's millions of people that he's talking about and is used pretty, pretty stark, language about.

You know, for him to say, you know, with all due respect to the White House staffers who call up and spin these things. To them -- for them to say it's not a political speech when he literally ended it by saying vote, vote, vote. I mean, clearly, it was a political speech.

LEMON: He ended by saying democracy. JENNINGS: But he said, vote, vote, vote. And then he said, democracy, I mean, this was about the midterms maybe, but I just heard a lot of 2024 thematic here. We've had a number of polls have come out in the last few weeks about his standing in the Democratic Party.


USA Today this week, 56 percent of Democrats say they don't want him to run. CNN's poll this summer 75 percent. I thought it was a convention speech. The only thing we were missing was a balloon drop. He wanted to shoot,


LEMON: Well, why is it bad if it was a political speech? I mean, he is a Democrat.

JENNINGS: Well, it was billed as a non-political speech.


COLLINS: I think the reason that that became a thing is because earlier at the briefing, Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary said it's not a political speech.


COLLINS: It's an official speech.


COLLINS: And when we had asked if he would name Trump directly, officials had not said, really, they just said he'd speak very directly to the American people, but she said it wasn't a political speech.

JENNINGS: Yes. And so, and look, I don't begrudge any politician giving a political speech, but they went to great lengths to say it wasn't. But it was clearly a campaign speech. He was flanked by the military. It was a bit of an imperial setting and his message to the Republican here is, if you vote for Republicans, we can't have a democracy anymore.

And whether you consider yourself be MAGA or whatever kind of Republican, that's just going to sound ludicrous to you. That won't be persuasive.

LEMON: Listen, I don't know what Karine Jean-Pierre said, but I just, I think it's a weak argument to say that it was a political speech. The president is a Democrat. The president uses the bully pulpit. Donald Trump did the same thing. Bill Clinton did the same thing.


COLLINS: Trump did host the Republican National --

LEMON: Barack Obama did the same thing. They all used the bully pulpit.

JENNINGS: Why are they allowed --


LEMON: And they talk about the things that they want talk about. I'm not saying it's right, but that's the weakest argument to say that it's a political speech. Every president gives political speeches.


LEMON: And they're not --


JENNINGS: Why you let them off the hook when they say, this isn't about politics. This is a presidential, this is a --


LEMON: Well, I'm not letting anybody off the hook.

JENNINGS: But you're -- but you're saying I'm making a weak argument by holding them to account for their own language.

LEMON: But it is, you're making a weak argument because you're saying a, someone who is the president of the United States who is elected because of politics, that it is a political speech. That's the whole point of this. It's called politics.

Of course, he's going to use everything in his arsenal to give a speech, to try to do what? He says it's a battle for the soul of democracy. And his estimation, according to him, Republicans, MAGA Republicans are what? Hindering our democracy.

You said, I've heard you say today, and I heard you say last night, well, he didn't say vote for any Republicans. Well, what, who, what Republican would he vote for?

JENNINGS: Well, he --

LEMON: Would he vote for, does he -- should he vote for the guy in Pennsylvania?

JENNINGS: He says --

LEMON: Should he say who is saying that the election was stolen? Should he vote for the people in Georgia who are saying that? Who should he --


JENNINGS: He says in the speech, he tries to make a distinction in the speech between the MAGA Republicans that he hates and then the Republicans that he claims he could work with. But the core point of the speech is you shouldn't be voting for any Republicans. So how could you go out and say, I want to work with some Republicans and not others?

LEMON: Did you hear him say don't vote for any Republicans?

JENNINGS: I heard him say that vote --


LEMON: Did he explicitly say don't vote for any Republicans?

JENNINGS: It -- I mean, I heard him say tonight that voting Democrat is what you have to do to save the democracy. That's the -- that's the point that I took away from it. And I'm just telling you no Republican is going to be persuaded by that.


JENNINGS: And I think having a uni party state doesn't sound like much of a democracy to me.


JENNINGS: Candidly.

LEMON: I just think that everything you just said applies to Donald Trump. Everything you just said applies to Donald. I just -- anyways.

So, Governor you're in Philadelphia and you watched the president's speech live, very forceful calling out MAGA Republicans over a dozen times. Was that the right tone? Is he risking back last year?

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL (D-PA): A little bit, but it's an important message. First, it's an important message to our base. I've gotten about 25 e-mails and texts since the speech ended from people, Democrats who were just energized by speech said it was fantastic. Said it was incredible. Said it was on fire.

So, I think it's important message to our base. But secondly, I think it's an important message to the American people. Look, when you have a United States senator saying that if the decision goes against -- the legal decision goes against Donald Trump, there'll be riots in the street and blood in the street.

That's a message that ought to be dealt with by a president saying no, can't have a country like that. That's not what America stands for. And Joe Biden delivered that speech I thought brilliantly tonight.

LEMON: Did you think it was a political speech? Were you bothered by that? Should it not? Should he not have focused on politics in the way that he did?

RENDELL: No. Every president gives political speech. They may wrap it up in a nice wrapping paper, but it's all a political message. The message behind it is, we are the good guys, support us, we'll make things better.

But I think there was an extra element to the speech tonight. There was a speech to the American people saying, look, we've got to cut this out. We can't keep threatening violence. We can't keep intimidating election officials. We can't keep doing that stuff. We're better than that. We're better country than that. Whether you're a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, it's not the American way.

LEMON: So, listen, I've said, Scott and I are sitting here going back and forth about this, about the argument about it being a political speech and he should not use the levers of government and I said all presidents do that. But do you think in this particular moment, if it is so important, the soul of our country or the soul of our democracy, do you think that they should have taken extra effort not to make it political?


RENDELL: You know, I think this is an argument that there really has no substance because political speeches are delivered by presidents. But look, I think it was an important message and an important time for the American people.

Was it a message that will convince people to vote for Democrats? Maybe. But message is even more important than that. Message is if you're a good Republican and you want to vote Republican make sure that someone, your name, the names of your party, doesn't threaten the family of an election official.

LEMON: So --

RENDELL: That's an important --

LEMON: Governor, our democracy is under assault, but you know, is that what motivates working class Americans struggling with crippling inflation to get out and vote?

RENDELL: Americans are motivated by a myriad of things. I've run for office 12 times. If you can tell me what motivates voters is something exactly to that I'd love to hear it. It's different. Some people will vote based on inflation. Some people will vote based on the job rate. Some people will vote based on the environment. Some people will vote because democracy is threatened. You saw it on recent poll, but that's the second most important issue to most voters.

LEMON: Governor, thank you very much. Scott, Kaitlan, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

We are waiting for a ruling on team Trump's plea for a special master to review Mar-a-Lago documents, a ruling that could come at any time. So, what is going on behind the scenes? We'll discuss.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: The showdown in a Florida courtroom over the former

president's request for a special master ending today without a ruling from the judge. Trump's lawyers repeatedly trying to downplay the seriousness of what was found in the FBI search, comparing more than 100 classified documents to an overdue library book.

So, joining me now to discuss, CNN contributor and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean, as well as CNN counterterrorism analyst and former FBI senior intelligence advisor, Philip Mudd.

Gentlemen, thank you so much. Good to see you.

John Dean, even after we have learned about how sensitive the documents were, Trump's lawyers comparing it to, quote, "an overdue library book." We're talking about the nation's most highly guarded secrets. Is anyone going to buy that?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I don't think so. It's like comparing him to Clarence Darrow in his closing. it just doesn't -- it's not a good analogy. It's truly distorted. And I don't think anybody thinks that a document that is above top-secret that has human, human intelligence signal intelligence so sensitive that very few people are even cleared to get it. That's not a library book, Don.

LEMON: Phil, even in that analogy, the library book analogy, aren't they admitting that they shouldn't have had them and that they are at least library books. You're supposed to return them.


DEAN: Well, that's overdue.


DEAN: Excuse me.

LEMON: Yes, go ahead. Go ahead, Phil.

MUDD: I'm sorry. I find this really interesting. Let me break some news for your, Don. My graduate degree in 1984 was not a national security. I have a master's degree in English literature. I got that because I love language.

So, let's spend 30 seconds looking at language. You just mentioned one piece of language. The president gets to take documents out of the Oval Office. Those documents are just like a library book. Of course, he gets to take documents out of the Oval Office. He's the president and he can take stuff away that was part of his personal property.

We had language used early in the week where the presidents were referring to this stuff as sensitive material. Sensitive material is a Dodge. It's a use of language. This isn't sensitive material. It's top-secret material. Sensitive material might be the president's legal documents. It's not a top-secret intercept from the National Security Agency. Let me cut to the chase, watch how the Trump team tries to obscure the

fact that they can no longer escape because of the photograph we saw the other day with the words top-secret on documents on the floor. They can no longer say there's an excuse for having top-secret documents because we know they were there and we know they're in the president's desk.

So now there's a use of language to say it wasn't top-secret. It was sensitive. It wasn't top-secret to his library books. They're switching language, Don, because there's no more excuses.

LEMON: They're running -- I said, I said this last night.

MUDD: The show game.

LEMON: I said it the last night after the Trump response to the DOJ response, they're running out of excuses.

MUDD: Yes.

LEMON: What is going to be the next thing that they throw against the wall and they hope sticks. Maybe it'll stick. It may stick in the court of public opinion. It may actually do that.

MUDD: Yes.

LEMON: Now in a legal court I'm not so sure about that. I'm not an attorney, but it just, I mean, John Dean, you are, does any of this make sense to you legally?

DEAN: Well, you know, I tried to get as much information from the court proceedings today as possible. The transcript isn't out. The New York Times did a story on it, but it's hard to tell what happened in that court room today. And what I sense and for what I have gathered that this judge isn't very well versed an executive privilege and she doesn't really -- and that's not surprising. Her court is likely never to deal with that again. And it's unique that it's even in her court.

In fact, the president -- presidential records are always sent to the D.C. courts and that's where that's litigation all occurs. So, but anyway, in listening to what her questions and her pressing the Department of Justice on whether or not a special master would confuse things or delay things.

She had no real clear conception of what executive privilege is, and it doesn't apply here. You can't have one part of the government saying the other part of the government can't have access to the documents.



DEAN: So, it's just silly what -- what Trump is throwing out but it's throwing confusion.


LEMON: Does it sound like, John, that --

DEAN: He's very good at that. She is confusing.

LEMON: Since you brought up the judge issue, do -- does it sound like she's trying to educate herself? Because usually, I think that attorneys, right, through briefs and motions will try to educate the judge on their thinking and where they think this should go.

Do you think that by asking these questions, she's admitting that this is not her particular expertise and she's trying to educate herself?

DEAN: I think she is. And a very good Amicus brief was filed by a group of former Republican high-level prosecutors and Department of Justice employees that deals exclusively with the workings of executive privilege and why it doesn't apply here.

And so, hopefully she'll read that Amicus brief and it'll be a wonderful tutorial for her.

LEMON: Good. Very smart. Very smart. Thank you for that. Phil, listen, the judge says that she's considering a carve out for the intelligence review of the documents if she appoints a special master.

MUDD: How important is it to keep that process from being interrupted, Phil?

MUDD: I'm going to say the wrong thing. I don't think it's that important. I know I'm not supposed to say that, but let me explain why.

LEMON: Yes. Say whatever you want.

MUDD: First, the FBI -- the FBI has already gone through a triage process. I can tell you, and you can see that in the photograph that appeared the other day, the triage process isn't that hard. Here's a top-secret document with an orange cover. How hard is that to discern from, for example, a photograph from a Time magazine cover? Not that hard.

The Justice Department has to say we don't want this to happen because they can't say you shouldn't trust us. What does Trump have to say? I can't trust the Justice Department. We have to appoint somebody independent.

Don, 30 seconds cut to the chase. Let's say they appoint a special master who review -- who reviews the documents recovered by the FBI agents. Guaranteed. What is that special master going to say? Well, holy Toledo. There's top-secret documents in here. Those aren't presidential or executive privilege; the FBI and the Department of Justice should review it.

I don't think the president wins this one in the end, and I don't think there's much of a chance he wins.

LEMON: All right. Philip Mudd, you could say whatever you want. Not supposed to say, --

MUDD: Bring it, Don.

LEMON: Listen, we all have family members who say things and you're like, I cannot believe you say that. And that's what we're trying to achieve here. That type of conversation. So, say whatever you want.

MUDD: All right.

LEMON: Thank you. Good to see you.

MUDD: See you.

LEMON: Bye-bye. So, a tale of two speeches. President Biden warning about the MAGA threat to democracy while Kevin McCarthy is accusing the president of dividing Americans. What does John Kasich think about it all? That's someone who says whatever he thinks, whatever is on his mind, and you're going to hear it after the break.



LEMON: President Biden delivering a fiery primetime speech tonight about the threats facing our democracy and how to save it, calling out former President Trump and what he calls MAGA Republicans, explicitly saying that they thrive on chaos and warning their attempts to undermine democracy could devolve into violence. Watch.


BIDEN: We hear you've heard it, more and more talk about violence as an acceptable political tool in this country. It's not. It can never be an acceptable tool. So, I want to say this plain and simple. There is no place for political violence in America. Period. None ever.


LEMON: So, joining me now is CNN's senior commentator, John Kasich. John, your one day off. It's not casual Friday. Today is Thursday, but it's a holiday weekend so I'll give you a break. Where's your tie?

JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. Thank you, Don. Thank you. Here we go. We're starting here, somebody told me tonight, I said I'm going to go on Don Lemon. And she said to me, she said, well, watching you and Don Lemon in these segments, it's like two men going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. So, let's see how it goes tonight.

LEMON: No, I love our conversations because they're honest, you hold your own and you know --


KASICH: No, that's exactly right.

LEMON: That's great. Listen.


LEMON: And if it's -- if you're not up for a good debate, don't come on this program because that's what it's about.

KASICH: Exactly.

LEMON: So, listen, Mr. Kasich, Biden brought up the FBI being attacked, election officials, poll workers threatened. He didn't say his name, but he commented on Lindsey Graham saying that there will be violence in the streets. And the GOP has framed itself as a party of law and order, but can they really claim that anymore, especially making excuses for January 6th and on and on?

KASICH: Well, look, there's no excuse for people making excuses for January 6, Don. But look, the Republican Party has always been viewed as supporters of law enforcement. And what Lindsey said was terrible, was reprehensible. He should never have said it.

But I think we have to separate those who are extreme in the Republican Party and those who are equally extreme or in the Democratic Party, although Republicans seem to have greater numbers at this point than the Democrats do.

But of course, they've always been supporters of the police. But I'll say this. I'm glad to see that Joe Biden he's talking about issues. I mean, I like to talk about issues of crime, policing, inflation, the economy. That's where we ought to be. But, you know, when it comes to January 6th, there's no excuse for people looking the other way or saying somehow it never happened.

LEMON: Yes. So, in contrast to Biden, John, the former president was on the radio today saying that he's actually financially supporting insurrectionists. Right? You just talked about January 6.


He's supporting insurrection who attacked the capitol. And if he wins, he is looking at possible pardons for them. Two totally different messages here and not the message that you're conveying right here on this program.

KASICH: You know, Don, the time is going to come when more Republicans are going to have to be like Liz Cheney and put country over party and say, it's not acceptable. You know, at the end of the day, with everything that's going on in terms of the FBI search and everything else, I'm not really sure that, that Donald Trump will be the nominee.

I must tell you this. Before the Mar-a-Lago raid where people in the party, some people in the party got really energized and a lot of them kind of fell off. He was fading. And I had told you that before --


LEMON: You've been saying that for a while.

KASICH: -- and now he's kind of been rejuvenated.


KASICH: Yes. But I don't -- I don't know now what's going to happen because there's more and more disinformation comes out, you see more and more traditional Republicans beginning to say -- Karl Rove, you know, was attacking, Trump. How does any president take those kinds of documents?


LEMON: He said those --

KASICH: So, you're going to see more and more Republicans emerging --

LEMON: He said, let's make it clear -- he said let's make it clear those documents were not his to take, I'm paraphrasing, but go on. Sorry for interrupting.

KASICH: Of course not.


KASICH: Well, I'm just saying to you, Don, that there are more and more Republicans are beginning to say this is not acceptable. And frankly, at some point, the vast majority will get their voices. The vast majority don't support him. MAGA, those MAGA numbers are probably 20 percent of the party.

However, a lot of those people control the party apparatus. And that's why you -- you see some of these people getting elected who are really on the extreme. Extremism doesn't work in anything, in anything.

LEMON: All right, let's talk more. But then, but before we do that, I want to play this. This is Joe Biden talking about the election lies.


LEMON: And what they're doing to our democracy. Watch.


BIDEN: Democracy cannot survive when one side believes there are only two outcomes to an election, either they win or they were cheated. And that's where the MAGA Republicans are today.


LEMON: So, there's a recent Quinnipiac it found that 67 percent of Americans think our democracy is in danger of collapse. If people aren't able to accept their political losses, John, for what they are.


LEMON: Will we lose our democracy? Aren't we in danger of that?

KASICH: No, I'm not willing to say that, Don, because I think the vast majority of Americans, I mean, they know that this, the Biden won this election. And when Trump continuing to say these kinds of things out there that are so extreme and so far off base and full of baloney, Americans don't like it. They don't support it.


LEMON: OK. John, I agree with that.

KASICH: And that's why --

LEMON: I agree with that.


LEMON: I see where you're going with that. I agree most Americans don't support it. But what you just said about a small number, the -- of MAGA Republicans --


KASICH: Yes. There's some bad people out there.

LEMON: OK. But those people are being -- are maybe in control of the elections come 2022 and 2024 and get to decide, you know, who -- who's -- who wins or what happens next. That's pretty scary thing if you have election deniers in those leadership roles, in those decision- making roles.

KASICH: Yes. But here's the thing, Don. The process for how we pick people cannot be determined by one person in one office. It's extremely complicated and it's comprehensive. And if you take a look at what happened here in this election where, you know, there was a big head of steam up saying that this was not a legitimate election.

They never got anywhere because the system is built in such a way that one person can't tip it. They couldn't do it in Pennsylvania. They couldn't do it in Michigan. They couldn't do it in Arizona. They couldn't do it in Georgia because there's a pretty good system.

But those people who are the deniers, who I hope they all lose, I don't care what party they're in. If they were Democrat, we're talking Republicans now. I hope they don't win. And I think what we're going to see is the reason why the United States Senate is at risk for the terms of Republicans winning it or not winning it, is because there have been so many bad candidates.

LEMON: Right?

KASICH: And Trump is the person behind them. And so, you know, I'm not sure they're going to win in the fall.


KASICH: And I'm not for them if they're deniers like that, they're dangerous to this country.

LEMON: So, John, we've had some pretty, we've had some rouse on this thing. You and I have gone back and forth a lot.


LEMON: Tonight was good.

KASICH: Well, like on what thing? About everything?

LEMON: I mean, on the TV, on the TV, on this show.


LEMON: Listen, let me just say two things, I think you're like --

KASICH: But we're still buddies, right?

LEMON: Yes, of course.

KASICH: We're still buddies.

LEMON: Come on. Come on. As we fight like cats and dogs, but I do that with my family too.


LEMON: So, listen.

KASICH: Of course.

LEMON: Two things. I like the look, the suit, younger, hipper, I like that. And this is from my former neighbor up in Harlem and she says, her name is Debbie. She's watching. She said time for Kasich to run again. And I'm a very liberal Democrat. So, there you go.

KASICH: You know, Don, I talked to Liz Cheney the other day and I encouraged her and I said, you know, all those Democrats like you, but if you ever run, you're not going to get their votes. I think I feel the same way about how Democrats they like me, but I'm not sure they'd ever vote for me.


LEMON: You don't know unless you try nothing beats a failure. But John Kasich.

KASICH: How about a unity ticket? You and me?

LEMON: All right.

KASICH: And I'll take the second spot.

LEMON: Then we're going to -- I was going to say who's going to be at the top of the ticket. All right. Well, there you go.

KASICH: I'll take the second spot. I'm a humble man.

LEMON: All right. Get out of here. I'll see you. You owe me a beer.

KASICH: All right, my friend.

LEMON: Thank you. You take it easy.

KASICH: Thanks. It's great to be with you.

LEMON: Thank you. You as well.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott doubling down on his fight against critical race theory and he is distorting the message of Dr. King. We'll explain next.


LEMON: So, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is at it again, pushing to ban teaching of critical race theory in school. How is he doing that? By quoting a late civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Listen.



GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): To teach students to view each other through the lens of race. Well, that's contrary to what Martin Luther King Jr. taught us. And that is we're not to be judged by the color of our skin. We're to be judged by the content of our character and the United States of America.



LEMON: Here's the fact. The facts -- the fact is that critical race theory is not generally taught in grade school.

And my next guest says, Abbott is warping Dr. King's message. Peniel Joseph is the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy.

Peniel, we're so happy you're here. He's also the author, by the way of the book, "The Third Reconstruction: America's Struggle for Racial Justice in the 21st Century." It is available on September 6th.

Again, welcome. Good evening. Thank you.

So, you said that Governor Abbott is distorting the true meaning of Dr. King's message with these comments. Explain how, Peniel.

PENIEL JOSEPH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS & HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN: Well, he's taking that phrase, Don, from the I have a dream speech from August 28th, 1963. And in that speech, there's a point where King says he has a dream that his four little children will be judged not by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.

But when you listen to the full speech right before he says that, he says that Mississippi is a state sweltering with the heat of racial oppression. Right after he says that, he talks about the need for protest to and structural racism and white supremacy in the country.

So, what he meant when he said not judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character. He wasn't asking us to subscribe to color blindness. He wasn't trying to tell us to pretend that I don't see that your skin color and you don't see my skin color.

What he was saying is that we would no longer attribute any kind of negative connotations to that skin color. So, he was living in a time, Jim Crow, United States 1963, where black women and men and children were profiled, were discriminated against because of their skin color.

So, he wasn't asking us to live in some kind of colorblind world. He was just saying that we couldn't be so color conscious that when we see people have difference, we subscribe stereotypes or any kind of. Or discriminatory behavior towards them.

And by the way, really, since Dr. King has made that speech and since we've had the MLK holiday starting in 1983, conservatives have used the content of our character phrase to push back against any kind of racial justice public policy from affirmative action to voting right, to desegregation of public schools and neighborhoods.

So, they're utilizing Dr. King who's really one of the co-architects of American democracy during the second reconstruction, they're utilizing his words to contravene the direct message he sent to all of us.

LEMON: And it's, listen, when someone uses that colorblind phrase, it's just shows their ignorance and it's insulting to people of color. Right? That you are colorblind. I know what some people are trying to say, but it is insulting. So, you know, work on that.

And you point out that this, you know, type of anti-CRT legislation goes precisely against what MLK was arguing for. I understand that. So, let's -- I want to play something else that Governor Abbott said, and let's talk about it.


ABBOTT: We will not use your taxpayer dollars to fund our schools to teach our students to hate each other or to hate our country. We need to be educating our students exactly why and how the United States of America did become the greatest country in the history of the world.


LEMON: So why, why would he have gotten -- we wouldn't have gotten where we are now as a country, right, today, without the contribute -- the contributions of people of color. Why do you think he's trying so hard to stifle that part of history? JOSEPH: Well, because we're still locked in a narrative war between

what I call reconstructionist who are supporters of multiracial democracy, and redemptionists who are advocates of white supremacy. And that narrative war is about the story we tell to each other about us and really this great but very tragic country.

We can either spin a tail of mythology and say that we always got along or that we had past problems and we completely perfect the union, or we can talk about the tragedy and the beauty of the story. Langston Hughes said that black people and all people were beautiful, but they were ugly too.

And so, part of what we have to do is tell a different story. And we've -- we're trying to tell that different story, Don. The 1619 Project is part of that different story of stories of Asian-American, Pacific Islander history, Latinx stories, queer stories, the Black Lives Matter movement.


I try to do this in "Third Reconstruction" as well. We need to tell our kids a story that shows the tragedy, but also the beauty of this country that shows what it was like for racial slavery to end and how people who were enslaved became architects of American democracy. We need to uphold the white people who have been abolitionists and right now are staunch anti-racist and not just allies. More than that, they stand in solidarity with black people.

We need -- we need to tell stories about our brown sisters and brothers who stand in solidarity with us, our Asian-American Pacific Islanders, sisters and brothers, our indigenous sisters and brothers who stand with us. That's the story that can build consensus and unity.

So, I reject Governor Abbott's notion that if we tell a critical version of American history, we somehow are not patriotic. We somehow do not love the country and do not believe in the country. If anything, those of us who have strived, whether we are prisoners or politicians, preachers from the pulpit or poor people who are searching for welfare rights and ending homelessness and housing insecurity. That is the story of the United States of America.

So, if we're going to be true to the creed of the country, we have to be honest about the flaws of the country and the shortcomings of the country, but also the way in which our greatest ideals have pushed us forward together to try to create that beloved community.

So, they think telling the truth makes us weaker. I would argue that telling the truth makes us unstoppable. So, if we can tell the truth about the country, we give all of ourselves a reason to fight for democracy because we can be liberty surest guardian. We can be that beacon, that shining city on the hill, but we have to admit we haven't been that for all people.

And the whole point and the goal of America, like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, the goal of America is freedom. But Dr. King also said that America had a sickness and the sickness was racism. And he was only the physician diagnosing the disease. He didn't cause the disease.


JOSEPH: And he pushed back against conservatives who thought that his preaching and his political organizing was stirring things up.

LEMON: Peniel --

JOSEPH: He said that what he was trying to do was build the beloved community that required some truth telling in order to save the soul of America.

LEMON: Peniel, a perfect way to sum it up. Thank you, Peniel. Always a pleasure. Can we put the book up again really quick before we go? This is a Peniel's book. It's out come September and it's called "The Third Reconstruction."

Thank you, sir. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

JOSEPH: Thank you.



LEMON: OK. I got a question for you. Why were the 60s band The Monkees in the FBI files?

Micky Dolenz second from the left on the album cover is the only surviving member of the band. He is suing the FBI to gain access to the complete files on the Monkees. Now they were investigated for alleged anti-Vietnam War activities in 1967. But the FBI had files on other major celebrities as well.

Singer John Denver had one after appearing in an anti-war rally in 1971. He also admitted to drug use. John Lennon, Yoko Ono had a file. Lennon was open about his anti-war beliefs.

Now the FBI kept tabs on baseball legend Jackie Robinson for his civil rights work and suspicion of ties to a communist organization. Now, even iconic actress Marilyn Monroe had a file because the FBI suspected one of her husband's playwright Arthur Miller of being a communist.

So, there you go. A critical court hearing over Trump's request for a special master in the Mar-a-Lago investigation and Trump's team trying to compare holding classified documents to an overdue library book.