Return to Transcripts main page
The Van Jones Show
Van Jones Talks About Economy, Trump Presidency, Mueller Report; Jones Talks With Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH); Van Jones Travels to City Of Baltimore and Talks With Erricka Bridgeford, Anti-Violence Activist, Anthony Barksdale, Ret. Deputy Baltimore Police Commissioner, Devin Allen, Photographer; Van Jones Talks With Chelsea Handler. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired May 04, 2019 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Good evening. Welcome to "The Van Jones Show". I'm Van Jones. I got two great guests tonight. One is going to be President of United States and he's hoping the path to the White House this year goes through the industrial Midwest. Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan is here, going to be with us tonight, so excited. Also we got an outspoken comedian, author and activist Chelsea Handler also in the building. We are going to have a great show.
First let's talk once again the defining feature of the Trump presidency on full display this week. Our economy is coming up, but our society is coming apart. President Trump, bragging on the economy with good reason, Obama set him up for the alyou (ph), but Trump is getting credit for this slam dunk.
These numbers are unbelievable, the economy growing at a faster pace, than even the experts have been predicting - GDP up 3.2 percent, unemployment rate at its lowest in 49 years, down to 3.6 percent, hourly wages also going up 3.2 percent rise from last year.
And Americans like it, OK, you got a brand new CNN poll shows Trump's approval rating on the economy is now at an all-time high of 56 percent so that's good news, good news for the country.
But on the flipside, this week, we saw a circus or a soap opera that could easily have just been titled "Our Democracy in Danger". Attorney General Bill Barr testified before Congress on the Mueller report and once again he seemed like Trump's personal defense lawyer, not an independent lawyer for the people.
And Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that by apparently lying under oath, the number-one law enforcement official in the country had actually committed a crime. And that's not even the worst of it, in all the hubbub about the hearing, you might have missed the one big thing that Barr did this week, that's truly terrible.
He's moving to completely wipe out health care as we know it. In court filings this week, the DOJ asked a Federal Appeals Court to strike down all of Obamacare. That would leave tens of millions of Americans in jeopardy of losing their healthcare with no replacement plan at, it's especially concerning for people who have pre-existing conditions. Also Trump administration is continuing to basically get the middle finger to the Constitution, stonewalling on oversight from Congress, refusing to hand over his tax returns. Trump saying he won't let his former White House Counsel Don McGahn even testify in front of Congress. This is not good and it's getting worse.
So ultimately all this brings us back to 2020. What is this election going to be about? Now on the one hand, former Vice President Joe Biden says we are in a battle for the soul of the nation. But Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has a slightly more cynical view.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: --to hate to sound like a cliche, but are you better off than you were four years ago? It's pretty simple, right? It's the economy, stupid. I think that's easy. People will vote for somebody they don't like if they think it's good for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: That's kind of sad, so let's get some answers from somebody who's actually a part of this fight. Please welcome to "The Van Jones Show" a son of the industrial heartland, a 2020 presidential hopeful and a proud Representative from the Great State of Ohio, Congressman Tim Ryan. Man, good to see you.
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Appreciate you having me. Thank you so much. Thank you.
JONES: I'm so glad to have you here. Help me understand how you make sense of, on the one hand these incredible economic numbers, on the other hand Trump's personal performance and characteristics. How is that landing and playing in the heartland?
RYAN: Well, I think, I really don't believe those numbers. I think we've blown past the old metrics. The stock market's up, the unemployment rate, obviously is very, very low. But 40 to 50 percent of American families could not survive a $400 or $500 emergency.
I mean, that means your tire blows, somebody gets sick in your family, you don't have the proper insurance, some other tragedy happens, your economic viability goes down the tubes. And so I don't think these metrics today are actually capturing what people are really going through.
JONES: That would be economic insecurity. So Mulvaney has a case to make, though, that even the numbers themselves give people a sense of hope, will people vote for Donald Trump even though they don't like him if the numbers keep moving the way they're moving?
[19:05:00] RYAN: Well, we've got to have a good campaign, obviously, whoever the Democratic nominee is, and we've got to talk about the future. I mean, Trump is still talking about the past. He's talking about steel mills and coal mines. Coal jobs are down 30,000 in the last 10 years. As you know these statistics better than anybody, the future is in electric vehicles, solar, wind, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, these are industries that are growing at 25 percent to 30 percent a year.
The President of the United States has no industrial policy for us, no agenda to capture these markets. And quite, frankly, we're getting our clock cleaned by China. China dominates 40% of the electric vehicle market. They dominate 60% of the solar panel market. We've got to get our act together here.
JONES: What is he not doing that you would do if you had the opportunity?
RYAN: The President of the United States has the ability, the power to galvanize the economy, to catalyze around certain industries. If I was Present of the United States, within the first week or two, I would be sitting down with the big three auto companies, the next-generation electric vehicle manufacturers in the United States, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the venture capital and the business community and figure out how can we dominate the electric vehicle market.
Then I think a week later we did solar, and we do wind. We need to dominate these industries of the future, because we're falling behind right now, Van, and at some point we're not going to be able to catch back up.
JONES: That's good. No, I mean, it's good to - that somebody actually has the plan to do something, because like you said the number is going up, and sort of industry is falling behind its bad. But Joe Biden just said China is not that big a deal. You seem to be worried about.
RYAN: You know, I actually think that's stunning and I love Joe Biden. But I think that's stunningly out of touch with where we are right now. I mean, if you look at what China's doing, they've got a five- year plan, 10-year plan, 20-year plan, 50-year plan, 100 year plan.
They're building islands in the South China Sea. They've militarized them. Long-term raw material contracts in Africa. They're building bases in Africa. They have a Belt Road Initiative where they're building infrastructure projects.
I saw a picture the other day, a rail line from Northeast China all the way to Rotterdam. They are on the move. They are dominating electric vehicles. They're dominating solar. They're putting billions of dollars behind these projects and they have a 100 year plan, Van, we're in a 24-hour news cycle, and they are winning.
JONES: Yes, yes.
RYAN: That's the urgency that I'm bringing to this race.
JONES: I love your passion and I know where you come from, and I know that this is real deal to you. What can we do, though, about the robots that are coming - I mean the automation. You mentioned automation and AI, like that's a good thing. That stuff scares the crap out of me, because I don't know how we compete.
RYAN: It's scary.
JONES: But are there policies or things that you would do to help?
RYAN: Yes. I mean, here is what I would do and I'll tell you a quick story. When we lost Youngstown Sheet & Tube, which was like the world premier steel manufacturer in Youngstown in the late 70s. When that went belly-up, the technology in the steel mills was pre-world War I.
The steel industry put their head in the sand. They ignored what was happening around the globe and the competition and we're still recovering today in Youngstown and in the steel - Gary, Indiana, these steel producing areas.
I think we're at that same inflection point today with AI, with additive manufacturing and I think we have a choice. We can bury our heads in the sand like the steel industry did, and the whole country will look like the industrial Midwest, or we can grab these technologies and dominate them. And infuse them into our industries today, crank up productivity and then make sure we cut these workers in on the deal, so that we get middle-class wages up.
And, yes, they're going to displace people along the way, but that's a much better position to be in, because you'll get the benefits of what happens--
RYAN: --in the economy. Or the alternative is, you let China dominate them, and then they dominate the industries and we're going to get screwed anyway.
JONES: Part of what I'm trying to understand though is, you're trying to deal with that part, getting an economic agenda going forward, but you still have Trump and the Trump administration out there.
I mean, forget the economy policy, they don't seem to respect the Constitution in the same way that you or I might want them to do. What is your view of the proper approach for the Democrats in the face of this kind of behavior from the administration?
RYAN: I think we continue to do what we're doing. I mean, he makes the case, he makes the argument. And I think sometimes we get caught up on the 35 or 40 percent that are rock-solid with Trump and very loud on social media. They tend to have a big impact. But the reality of it is, people don't like the way he behaves.
Where I come from, people have consequences if they act out of line. He wants everyone to obey the rules, he wants China to obey the rules and not cheat, and yet he gets a subpoena from the United States Congress and he doesn't obey on. Like, is that what we're teaching our kids? [19:10:00] My wife is a first grade school teacher and she just - she goes out of her mind on some of this stuff, because it's like she's trying to do one thing at school every day. And on TV, at night, it's the Attorney General lying to Congress and the President of the United States not following the law.
I think we win that, though, at the end of the day. This is another 18 months. What's the national stress level today? I mean, for the GDP and the unemployment rate, I want the national anxiety level, and let's start building the economy around that. And I think - its people are exhausted.
JONES: Yes, that's true.
RYAN: They're exhausted and I think if we provide a good alternative that has a good economic plan, that cares about people, that's tolerant, that's big-hearted like America is, I think we'll take them out, I really do.
JONES: You don't seem exhausted, that's a good thing. You don't seem exhausted. But on the one hand, you've got this oversight challenge, on the others other side Pelosi and everybody were at the White House this week talking about a big infrastructure deal. Do you guys have enough gas in your tank to both do oversight and an infrastructure deal?
RYAN: I mean, I think, it's going to be hard quite frankly. I mean, I would love for us to do an Infrastructure Bill. We needed, it's a jobs program and I do think as the economy does soften, that's the perfect time. I think that would be really smart.
I just don't see the Republicans trying to really step up to pay for it. And we have $1 trillion deficits as far as the eye can see now. Its 1 trillion with a T every year, going on to our national debt, because of the tax cut that cost $2.3 trillion and reduced revenue coming in. So whatever we do, we got to start paying for some of this stuff at some point.
JONES: I'm as bipartisan as you can fine as a liberal Democrat. But I mean, should we even do an infrastructure deal at this point? Won't that just guarantee that Trump wins re-election if we do something? We do a big - another big economic stimulus in the first term?
RYAN: Well, I mean, it needs to happen. I mean I don't - I personally don't think it's going to happen.
JONES: So you're not worried about it.
RYAN: I'm not really worried about it, because I just don't think Mitch McConnell is going to pass a big infrastructure bill.
JONES: Well, look, I can see you've got a strategic mind about all the sort of stuff and you know strategy in the House is run by the Speaker of the House.
RYAN: Yes. JONES: You ran to be Speaker 2016. You tried to get somebody to run. It gets Pelosi in 2018. You seem to be a critic of Pelosi often. How do you think she's done these first 100 days or so?
JONES: I think she's doing a great job. I mean, it was it was never personal. I mean, we've - Trump own - the Blue Wall fell. We will completely lost our connection to the working-class people - white, black, brown, gays, straight. I just feel like the workers of this country felt like the Democrats are more of a coastal party, more focused on coastal issues. And I felt like we needed to do something to reconnect with them.
But I've always had enormous respect for Nancy Pelosi, I think actually at this moment in time she's there at the exact right time when the challenges to Article I of the Constitution, the House of Representatives, the Senate are under attack by this President. I think she's the perfect person to be there, because there's nobody that understands that world better than her.
It was a family discussion that we had, because she won the starting quarterback position and I'm the backup, then everybody--
JONES: That's good one. That's great. You're doing I think a good job of that. Hey, we got lot more to talk about with Tim Ryan when we come back. He is a part of a very crowded Democratic field. Why do we need so many candidates? This is a good thing or a bad thing to have so many people running, we're going to talk about and a bunch more when we get back.
[19:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". I'm here with democratic Congressman and 2020 presidential hopeful, Tim Ryan. So I just - I got to ask, do we need all these people running? I'm why is this happening? And how do you feel about it?
RYAN: I think some should get out. I mean--
JONES: I bet you do. I mean, is it going to hurt? Is this going to help us? I mean, what do you think about it?
RYAN: I don't think so. I know some people were kind of spooked by it, like we got to get somebody to run. This is going to play out. Let's - we're Democrats. Let's have the ideas primary, let's figure out where the country needs to go.
Clearly things aren't running well around you know around the country for a lot of people with education, agriculture - farmers aren't doing well. There's a lot of equality, criminal justice. I mean there's all of these issues, let's have a big conversation about them.
JONES: Well let's talk about that, because it does seem to be a kind of a basic split where, on the one hand, you have people like Biden. They're saying, hey, let's return to normalcy, return to decency and they're making that kind of appeal. Then you've got the Bernie Sanders and the Elizabeth Warren who are saying, "Listen, the old status quo was broken to begin with. We don't want to return anything, we want to disrupt and go for in a different direction". Who do you think has the better argument?
RYAN: I think we need reform. I think we have to be decent. We have to be respectful. That that has got to be a part of the next iteration of the country is where we get back to listening to each other, respecting each other. We can't be so divided, because no matter what the plan is, it's not going anywhere if we're divided. We've got to come together as a country.
But I'm on the reform side. I mean, I just think the government is outdated and sometimes the Democrats go out of their way defend the indefensible. I mean our education system needs totally reformed. I mean, our kids are coming into our schools, in many instances traumatized.
JONES: By what?
RYAN: Over - oh, just life. Over 50% of the people kids who go to our public school - schools are low-income.
JONES: I see.
RYAN: They live in homes that have violence. They live in communities that have violence. And what we've learned over the last 20 years is that when you're traumatized, you literally can't - you're in fight- or-flight mode. You literally can't access the part of your brain that you need to learn.
So I'm promoting reforms around social and emotional learning as a foundational component to educating our kids.
JONES: You know, this is so interesting to hear you talk about this, because one of the things I wanted to ask you is, sometimes you are so strong on the industrial working class stuff and that's often read it's white folks.
Some of the same problems and pain you're talking about in some of those declining white communities, they're right there in the black community, right there in Latino community.
JONES: Can you talk a little bit about what's in your heart and in your plan, in your playbook for African-American, Latino, Native American - for that part of the party?
RYAN: Absolutely. And I'm not the one whoever says, "Oh, Tim Ryan's just for white people". I mean, people don't understand, Youngstown, Ohio is almost 50% African-American. I mean, I've been representing these interests for a long time, and they are similar in a lot of ways.
We have to get rid of the structural racism in the criminal justice system. That has to happen, because it's limiting opportunity. I mean, that's really the - at the end of the day, the big problem. There's not opportunity in communities of color.
[19:20:00] I'm going to be proposing an urban Marshall Plan in which we go into urban communities, I think we've got to clean them up. I don't think there's any reason why we have to have the level of blight that we have. Some of these towns have thousands and thousands of homes that need to come down.
JONES: And downtown that are empty as well.
RYAN: We need to invest in our downtowns. We need to renovate theaters, River walks, clean up our rivers and entice businesses to come back to our community centers, especially in these small and mid- sized towns.
I want a robust urban agriculture program in the United States.
JONES: That's fresh.
RYAN: I want to get - it is fresh, literally.
RYAN: I want to get healthy food into these communities. We have high rates of diabetes, especially in communities of color, and it's largely based on the diets. So let's actually invest into healthy foods, clean up these towns, get schools with social and emotional learning, and vocational training. Let's get prepared to compete against China in the 21st Century.
JONES: Listen, that's awesome. I think part of the challenge - you've got great idea. I mean, one of the things I noticed with you, you talk about the "Green New Deal" without talking about the "Green New Deal". I mean, everything you're talking about electric cars and all this sort of stuff, and the infrastructure - like - I know what you're doing.
So let's talk a little bit --on the knows about the climate crisis. Is that something that you're concerned about or - ?
RYAN: I'm frightened - frightened about it, I think like we all are. I ain't talking about it, because when you talk about those people General Motors who lost your job or the truckers who lost their job, they don't have the luxury to worry about climate change. They've got a mortgage coming, they've got their kids they're trying to educate, they've got health care issues. They don't know what's happening with their retirement.
It's not that they don't care. It's not that they don't understand. It's like, they don't have the bandwidth. And so I'm trying to frame this in a way - and I want to invite people in to be a part of this broader conversation. Come to timryanforamerica.com and be a part of this conversation.
Because it is fresh, it is different. But if the Democrats aren't for reform, if we're not for the future economy, then what are we doing as a political party? It's time - it's go time for us, especially around climate.
JONES: Yes. You seem like Biden with maybe more hair and forward- leaning. Is Biden - I mean, he's got a similar passion for those. But is Biden a mistake? Is Biden kind of going back?
RYAN: The China comment worried me a little bit. But I love Joe Biden. I was just on the trail with him and I just walk up to him and I'm like I love you. Like, that's literally what came out of my mouth.
JONES: It's going to be hard to run and tag, because of the guy.
RYAN: But I do - I worry about the China comment. I think this is going to be about the future. I really do. I think it's going to be about who's the President that's going to allow us and help us dominate electric vehicles, who's going to steer that investment in the communities of color, into the Youngstown, Ohios and Akron, Ohios and Gary, Indianas of the world that have been unplugged from any benefits of globalization for the last 30 or 40 years.
I think the country is looking for a President that say, I get it and I think I fit in that, and that s why I'm running and I hope people will help me out. Help me get there.
JONES: Hey, listen, we're so glad to have you here. I'm want to thank Congressman Ryan. Good luck to you on the campaign trial.
Coming up, Baltimore's Mayor has just resigned as another step back for a City that's really been struggling. I got back in my van and I spoke to Baltimore residents about all the issues going on there. You're going to want to hear what they have to say about their city, that's next.
[19:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: Welcome back to "The Van Jones Show". Another week, another blow for the City of Baltimore. This time their Mayor is actually resigning in scandal after profiting from a no-bid book deal, as she said Baltimore deserves better. The City is already coping with a gun violence epidemic. There were 309 homicides in 2018 alone. They're also systemic issues they're like poverty and drugs.
Another struggle, the relationship between the police and the community after years of abusing power, excessive force, violating people's constitutional rights, the police were forced to make major changes as a part of a federal consent decree.
But now 75% of the police officers say, they feel restricted by the order and can't do their job. And guess what, many of the residents still don't trust the police. So I wanted to talk to the people there about all this.
I got back in my van - yes Van in a van and I went to Baltimore to find out what's going on. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: All right. So here we are in Baltimore, beautiful, affluent area, very different Baltimore than Baltimore where we are going.
Every remembers four years ago when Freddie Gray died in police custody, sparked off massive protest, riots and violence. The country was made aware of the problem of policing in policing in Baltimore, but there are so many other problems here that were not talked about then or now.
JONES: How are you?
ERRICKA BRIDGEFORD, ANTI-VIOLENCE ACTIVIST: Good morning!
ALLEN: Hey, how are you doing?
JONES: How are you? Welcome, welcome, welcome.
ANTHONY BARKSDALE, RET. DEPUTY BALTIMORE POLICE COMMISSIONER: Hello, everybody.
JONES: So why did we pick you up on that corner?
BARKSDALE: On that corner, just across the street, when I was a kid, I was walking to school, and a guy walks up to me. The guy robbed me.
BARKSDALE: At gunpoint. On the same playground, when I was a kid, some guy tried to rob us for our kites. And a plainclothes cop jumped out of his car. The guys ran away and then he put us in his police car and took his home.
[19:30:00] JONES: Didn't used to run around that same neighborhood?
DEVIN ALLEN, PHOTOGRAPHER: Yes, it was just funny when we picked him up. I was - I haven't been around in a while, like when I was late teens, early teens, I was hustling around it.
JONES: When you say hustle, what do mean hustle?
ALLEN: Hustle - I was selling drugs - weed, crack anything I can get my hands on me and my friends were so. Well, like both of my best friends that hung around me, they were murdered, so I just stopped going around there, and that's what kind of prompted me to change my life.
JONES: So you went to a lot of funerals.
ALLEN: Yes, lot of funerals. My friend was killed Sunday, another friend was murdered February. I lost six lads last year. Like - I'm 30 now, I stopped counting after 20.
BRIDGEFORD: So like you're hearing Devin, say he just stopped going in the neighborhood with people got killed, because you can feel the darkness in the space where murder has happened. And so people do that all around the city, avoiding spaces where they know somebody got killed. And just think Baltimore deserves more than have these black holes all over this city.
JONES: A lot of people know about what happened here, in part, because of your photography. I mean you took a picture that wound up on the cover of "Time Magazine". I mean really the world saw what was happening in Baltimore
in large part through your eyes and through your lens. So four years later, is it better, or is it worse?
ALLEN: There's a lot of - a lot of space for improvement. I just feel like the death of Freddie Gray gave Baltimore a platform for change. You know and I feel like now, post Freddie, people actually has eyes on Baltimore and now people are being held accountable for the things that they're doing. It has been brought to the front.
JONES: The numbers suggest that things are not much better and possibly worse. You had 300 plus murders.
BARKSDALE: Yes, sir. I mean, to be frank, we're talking about black people, that's who's suffering here. I just heard his story of how many he's lost. We're in a city that has just accepted the amount of black people dying year-after-year. And we pump money into and out, then we go with this consent decree--
JONES: What's wrong with the consent decree?
BARKSDALE: Some of the consent decree is fine. I'm talking about the parts that impact police dealing with the issues that they know can cause violence in Baltimore.
Let's pretend that I pulled up on the corner and somebody is standing there, and I'm know that they're out there hustling. So I'm going to say to you, "My man, please, let me get the corner". All right, and he can move. The foul way, the wrong way is to jump out on him, cuff him and call for a wagon.
So I do understand some of that, but we still need to give the police enough room to do their job. And the data shows specifically in Baltimore there are specific corners, communities blocks where the odds of someone dying are very high.
ALLEN: I've been in that - I've been on rough rides. I've had please hop out on me. I've had police - I was put drugs on me, just because they didn't like me. The thing is, I found is like a lot of these police also have respect for the community.
You got police officers that live like live in York, PA. They only live in the city. Drive down here and they look at it and digest these stigmas and you can see it in the way they react to the youth and other people in the community. And the thing is, like people are starving.
So when you see people hustling and stuff like that, lot of these guys - that's they have to provide - you can't protect something or police something you don't understand. JONES: How do you see it? I mean, obviously, it's not easy to be a police officer there?
BARKSDALE: No, it's not easy. And right now if we look at the homicide numbers, the shooting numbers, the robberies numbers, that's not the police that are producing those type of statistics.
BRIDGEFORD: What we don't say enough in that conversation though is when you take the homicide map and you lay over it the map where all the liquor stores are, it's the same map. If you lay the map over top of it where there's either joblessness or people who are underemployed, it's the same map. Where all the blight is in the city, it's the same map.
And so it's not like people are innately violent. To me even a question of asking what's happening in Baltimore, that question is based in oppression, because it's ignoring the fact that we're sitting in the middle of a violent system of oppression that creates all of this disparity, all of this hopelessness.
And that - that can't even say, if you do to a people what has been done to black and brown people in America, you're going to get the same results from any group of people.
BARKSDALE: You're right, it's the same map, and it's been the same map for decades. The same dope spots and we are on a multi-million dollar dope strip right now--
[19:35:00] BARKSDALE: OK. And there's going to be violence to control this strip and the police have to do something about it. And the police need to play fair with the public, not put drugs on them, don't mistreat them respect them, but they got a job to do. Because I can't - we can't get them back once they've gone.
JONES: You know there's the opioid epidemic that is usually talked about and the white rural areas. But there were almost 700 people who died of opioid overdoses here in Baltimore.
ALLEN: It always been here. You know, opioid has always been here.
BRIDGEFORD: But it wasn't called an epidemic--
BRIDGEFORD: It was always happening to black spaces.
ALLEN: To black spaces. I was popping Percocet because broke my hand and found myself selling them, then I found myself popping them more and getting some of my friends that didn't. You can't just kick that stuff. The difference is, when you get on that stuff, you really - you realize that you've really hooked and they can't get help. So you got to think about you.
You see somebody get shot, you know, or whatever the case may be, you turn to something. You might start off a weed and graduate to something else, so - because you dealing with post-traumatic stress.
JONES: How did you get off?
ALLEN: God, like I did - the universe is my family. Like, I've been through so much, my family always there and that's the difference between meaning a lot of my peers. I have a strong family.
BRIDGEFORD: That kind of pain and trauma - you only have two choices, it's either going to swallow you up whole or is you got to use it, so keep pushing you forward in some kind of way. For me it's about making sure that murder does not have the last say. Right? That the love has to have the last say.
JONES: That's beautiful, isn't it?
BRIDGEFORD: It is.
ALLEN: Don't seem like we've got long ago.
BRIDGEFORD: I know, right.
ALLEN: Everybody protested every day.
JONES: You think about his face and his image, it's a part of history now. I mean, like you --
BRIDGEFORD: Oh, absolutely.
JONES: You really cannot tell the history of America now without saying the name Freddie Gray.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And we cannot forget what's going on in Baltimore and places like Baltimore. This show is all about that. Coming up, Chelsea Handler is here. The 2016 election forced her to face some very personal pain in her life. We're going to talk about that and see who she wants to have in the White House in 2020 when we get back.
[19:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: My next guest is an outspoken comedian. She's also a political activist and an author. Her new book, "Life Will Be the Death of Me" debuted at #1 one on "The New York Times" Best-seller list. Please welcome to "The Van Jones Show" Chelsea
Handler in the house.
CHELSEA HANDLER, POLITICAL ACTIVIST AND AUTHOR: Hi, buddy.
JONES: Good to see you buddy.
JONES: Very, very good. HANDLER: You've got live audience. I love it.
JONES: I know, I know.
HANDLER: It's what I live for.
JONES: All right. So first of all, I've got the big question, everybody wants to know, are you still in love with Bob Mueller?
HANDLER: I have very strong sexual feelings for Robert Mueller, and they're not going away. My feelings are not conditional. I'm exploring them and I'm exploring the Mueller report, and as I go through it, I'll make an assessment on where I stand with him romantically. I mean, he is married, so obviously I have to respect that. But I can still pine for him.
JONES: I know that - a lot of us though were hoping that the Mueller report was going to come out, he's going to - Trump was going to get in the trouble. But do you think that we spent too much time on that - everybody kind of in the Mueller mania - I mean, afterwards kind of disappointed?
HANDLER: Yes, I mean we got - we relied on it. I certainly did. I thought that was going to be the end of this chapter. And it turns out there's just going to be more and more corruption and - but, listen, I had to get my life back.
HANDLER: You know what I mean? I want to be optimistic and I want to be positive. And I can't watch the news on a loop like I used to and I can't read the news on a loop like I used to, because I want to be in a state of action, not reaction.
HANDLER: And sometimes when we're watching it, we're just sitting there going, "Oh, I hate this. I can't believe it". So I think a lot of us you know have had a wake-up call. And I know I'm a person that that happened to, and I know millions of other people feel the same way.
So it was a good chance to take a look at myself and find out what my issues are moving forward and why Trump represents such pandemonium to me.
JONES: Yes. That's one of the things about this book. This is a different kind of a book. I mean, it's still hilarious. But you're really kind of opening up your heart. Why did the Trump election hit you so hard?
HANDLER: I think what I've been through therapy. I had to get a psychiatrist after the election, so - Republicans love to talk about that. Chelsea Handler is such a spoiled brat. And I was acting like a spoiled brat. I didn't understand that things could go this wrong. I thought adults we're supposed to take care of these - adults like you, responsible people, so that I could go on living in my blissful kind of uninformed happiness - fashion checks and being a loudmouth. I was like, "Oh this is great".
It was a wake-up call, because it represented to me - vis-a-vis my psychiatrist I realized that it was a trigger for me. It was a trigger for me to the other time in my life when things were unstable and when things - and my life became unhinged, so to speak, when my brother died.
JONES: You were nine years old.
HANDLER: I was nine my brother was 22 and he went on a hike. He's sat in the kitchen and said to me I'll be home. I'll never leave you with these people - talking about my parents. And he - I trusted him and I - he was my first kind of boyfriend. When your little girl, your big brother's everything, and for me that's who he was.
So he died after he told me that. And I never thought I had to revisit that. I never thought that's where my anger was from - it is. That's where my anger is from, because I felt rejected and at that age you don't have the articulation--
JONES: Yes, make sense of when you're kid.
HANDLER: You don't know what happened. You just feel like he left you and he lied to you. And so that was my way to go through life, like I don't need anyone, I will not rely on adults, they're unreliable.
And to - you know it's not about Trump, Trump represents to me that period of time where the unjustness of it all.
JONES: Let me - I just think that the courage to just say that - just needs a beat, because I think a lot of people got triggered and it was regressed back to earlier things, and then acted out of that for a very long time and are still in that.
And you are the first person I've heard to actually put worse that - and to write it in a book that's both funny and you know heartbreaking. Talk more about that discovery.
[19:45:00] HANDLER: I think what I learned was that - we all have - you mean, part of the human experiences that you're injured, you have trauma. That's happen to every single person, whether you're aware of it or not or what your trauma is or how great it is, is different.
But I think when you don't ring out an injury, when you don't go through it and walk the walk and talk to somebody about a pain, about grief, about a loss, it will come back and bite you in the ass. It will land on your door bigger and louder and the hole gets bigger. And then it is an injury that really needs attention.
And I think for me, a lot of us have such built up and pent up anger from something that happened in our childhood or - I mean it's natural to be angry at Donald Trump being President. It is not natural for it to take over and consume my life.
JONES: Yes. I mean listen that I've been saying a long time it's bad enough that Trump runs the White House - he shouldn't run my house, like I need to able to have some kind of peace.
JONES: But when you decided to write this book, what was that process like? Because you're going through it while you're writing it, it seems to me.
HANDLER: Yes, I mean, I started taking or going to sessions with my guy and he was telling me things about why. I said why do I end relationships if somebody pisses me off, I can't ever speak to them again. It's like scorched earth, it's over.
And he said, because that's your blueprint for how a relationship is, because your brother said goodbye - I mean, said he was kind of - he was there today one day and gone the next day. So that's how you think it goes, and I was like oh!
So like things like that that I was like - I can't be the only person who's this out of touch with themselves. So I wrote a - writing it all, it became - it was a huge catharsis, obviously, because I got to talk about my mother dying and my brother dying. And I was like I can't write a book about death. This is going to be awful. Who's going to buy this book?
JONES: But it's really powerful and funny.
HANDLER: And death is - it can be funny. You know what I mean? If we just - if we stop resisting so much when people are leaving us, are sick and just help them through their pain, and help them be comfortable. Like, it's a whole different world.
We take everything so personally. Loss is so personal. The person died - like it's not - no one's out to get you and die on you. No one's trying to disappoint you in that way.
JONES: Yes, yes.
HANDLER: So we just - I helped me slowdown, which is something I really needed, it helped me sit with myself and think about everything and what I want to contribute in this world moving forward.
JONES: Speaking of contribute. You actually went out with EMILY'S List and you tried to help people get elected to office, women in particular. What did you learn about the country that you didn't know when you went out there trying to help people get elected?
HANDLER: How easy it is to run for office. I mean it's so much easier than people think it is, and then it just - it's just like a galvanization. You get momentum and you build it and you catch people with you. And there's so much energy in it. So it's a great thing. I know you know this to be part of something like that. And so I think lots of people put - said we're going to chip in for this election and look at the results. I mean, look how many women and people of color we elected to Congress. I mean, it's a huge, huge victory.
JONES: Yes, absolutely. Speaking of women, we also now have a ton of women running to be President. Do you think it's important that we have a woman at the top of the ticket?
HANDLER: I don't know about the top of the ticket. I think we have to have a woman on the ticket. It depends who the best person is. I don't want to say put a woman in a job, because we need a woman. We need a woman representing and we have qualified women who clearly can do that.
I love it Elizabeth Warren and I love Pete Buttigieg or however - tone - however you say it, I love - I love a lot of the candidates. And I'm also happy that there are so many. Good, let's get them all, you know what I mean?
JONES: Good. Well, we got so much more to talk about when we get back. Chelsea's working on another project to raise awareness about white privilege. We're going to talk about that and other stuff when we get back.
[19:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
JONES: All right. Welcome back "The Van jones show". I'm here with Chelsea Handler. You have a very unusual and interesting, exciting project with Netflix, a documentary on white privilege. Now, that is generally not considered a funny topic. You're a comedian. Why did you pick white privilege?
HANDLER: I guess, it was part of my wakeup call you know with my book. I was starting writing my book and doing like it becoming much more self-aware about my privilege, about how my life has turned out and how kind of easy it's been.
And why maybe that happened and what would it be like for somebody of color behaved the way I do and get rewarded for drinking and just sleeping - talking about all the things that I've talked about for so many years, which I was kind of glorifying bad behavior.
So I - it struck me that I should probably talk about my own privilege. You know what I mean, and hang myself out to dry a little bit to open up the conversation. White people don't like this conversation. So people - the white people don't want to talk about privilege, because they don't want to say the wrong thing and they don't want to be part of it or feel guilty.
HANDLER: And that's what I learned doing this documentary. And it was really depressing, because it's again we're it's putting it on people of color the privileged conversation. We're making people of color decide what we should do about our white privilege, instead of white people saying, "Hey how do we become better advocates and better allies". And I can make anything funny, so there is funny in the documentary.
JONES: You had a African-American boyfriend who actually went to prison doing the same stuff that you were doing.
HANDLER: Yes, I had my boyfriend named Tyshawn in high school. We dated for about a year and a half. I got pregnant. I had to get an abortion. And his family - we got arrested - he got arrested we had a dime bag of marijuana once and we were 16 years old. He was 18. He got arrested, they let me go.
Second time we got caught, he got arrested they let me go. They're like get out of the safe road, go home. Third time, he had a full scholarship to UNLV - I mean this wasn't even a dime bag. It was like weed he was carrying around.
His whole life - he spent 14 years incarcerated after that, just because they were waiting for him to screw up. No one was waiting for me to screw up. I never once got in trouble. I missed a whole year of high school, because I was hanging out with him and partying and doing stuff, and they and they let me make it up in a summer.
They don't - our lives were different and I could just go right back to my perfect easy life - well not perfect or easy, but for whatever, comparatively. Seeing him was part of the documentary and seeing how the systemic racism and oppression that it gets in - seeps into people's lives, and it is hard to get out of that.
[19:55:00] JONES: Yes. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you for doing it, because it's sort of like hiding in plain sight. I mean, I went to Yale for Law School. I say it all the time, I saw more kids doing drugs at Yale than I ever saw in a housing project. None of those kids went to prison.
JONES: Tyshawn, how is he doing now?
HANDLER: He's good. He's out of jail.
JONES: That's good.
HANDLER: And he has - he lives with his - he lives in some place in New Jersey. And he - I met his - I saw his family again, I hadn't seen. That was really nice to see him. I mean he thought we were probably going to get back together right after that. But - so that was a little bit like - no, no, Tyshawn like that sort of failed. But I appreciate.
JONES: Poor guy.
HANDLER: I like it. I mean--
JONES: Poor guy. HANDLER: --so it was eye-opening for me. And it was and I think it'll be eye-opening for a lot of people who are kind of questioning, because I thought for a long time privilege meant one thing.
You come from a family, with a with a trust fund and you go to an Ivy League school and that's it.
HANDLER: There's a trivalent everyday life just walking around.
JONES: Well said, well said. I appreciate that was Chelsea Handler. Thank you so much for being here. Check out here new book, "Life Will Be the Death of Me". Also please watch my other show "The Redemption Project" tomorrow 9:00 p.m. here on CNN. Incredibly heartwarming, heartbreaking, powerful stuff.
I'm Van Jones. This is "The Van Jones Show." Peace and love for one another.