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Trump's Tax Plan; Clinton Super PAC Hits Trump on Women; Trump and Speaker Ryan Meet Thursday; Battle Over Bathroom Bill; West Point Cadets in Raised-Fist Photo. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired May 9, 2016 - 23:00   ET



DON LEMON, HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Voters go to the polls in West Virginia in just a few hours, as Donald Trump tries to clarify his take on taxes and debt.

This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon.

Trump says he is the "King of Debt," and he has some surprising things to say about this country's $19-trillion debt.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default, because you print the money. I hate to tell you.


LEMON: I'm going to ask the experts if that passes the truth test. Plus, hand-to-hand combat in the GOP, as Trump's race with Hillary Clinton heats up. And the Justice Department takes aim at North Carolina over the state's bathroom, as the attorney general compares it to Jim Crowe. An interesting show we have planned for you.

But Donald Trump's talk about the economy making headlines tonight. But what would his policies really mean.

Here to discuss is economy analyst Ali Velshi and CNN global economic analyst Rana Foroohar. I feel like we're back. What is this? Are we -- is this 2008 all over again?


LEMON: I think I was like anchoring the "Newsroom" in the middle of the afternoon when we had this. What happened? The Dow just went down. Rona, Ali, what's going on? It's good to see you back here, and it's good to have you on.


LEMON: Yes, you do.

OK, so let's talk about this debt issue. Donald Trump, CNBC, late last week. Here it is.


TRUMP: I've borrowed knowing that you can pay back with discounts. And I've done very well with debt.

Now, we're in a different situation with a country, but I would borrow knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal. And if the economy was good, it was good, so therefore, you can't lose.


LEMON: Knowing you could make a deal. That kicked up a whole lot of negative headlines. What do you think?

ALI VELSHI, ECONOMIC ANALYST: That's how it works in the corporate world. When interest rates go up or an industry starts to suffer -- let's say you're in the airline industry. Either your company is suffering or the entire industry is suffering. Investors -- lenders don't know if they'll get their money back.

So you say, you know what. I can -- I can give you 70 percent or 80 percent on the dollar. If you tell me you've lent me money, and you tell you, hey, suddenly I'm unemployed, you may not get your entire money back, but I'll give you 80 cents on the dollar.

LEMON: So you're saying that's not how it works in the real world?


VELSHI: In the world of government, that's not how it works. The United States is the safest bet in the world for borrowers. Just the idea that if things go bad, maybe we won't pay it back. If Donald Trump were closer to the presidency, this would have shattered markets.

LEMON: I was going to say. As the commander in chief, had he said that, what would happen to the markets?

FOROOHAR: Markets down. I mean, you know, it's amazing that he would use the faith in credit in U.S. debt as a football the way he is. I mean we are the world's reserve currency.

And as Ali said, this is junk bond market logic. You know, the point, too, is that you have to have money to borrow back to pay for that debt, even if it's 80 cents on the dollar.

Every time you do something that calls into the faith the credit of the U.S., your borrowing costs go up. That creates this terrible snowball where you're borrowing more money to get more into debt. I mean, it's just -- it's a -- it's a ridiculous cycle.

LEMON: OK. So then this morning, he said that he had been misunderstood, and here's what he said he really meant.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TRUMP: So here's the story just to have it corrected. If we have an opportunity where interest rates go up and you can buy debt back at a discount, I always like to be able to do that if you can do it. But that's all I was talking about.


LEMON: OK. So how is this better than what he said on Thursday?

VELSHI: So he's basically -- this is just circular. He is trying to get himself out of saying, I kind of misspoke or what I said didn't really make sense. He keeps trying to modify it a little bit.

None of it's 100 percent wrong. Right? He was a guy who was involved in junk bonds. He is a guy who has -- who has bought his own debt back at a discount, but now we're talking about being the President of the United States.

And when you start playing with this, I want to remind you, back one of those times when we were together, when the Congress didn't lift the debt ceiling on time --



VELSHI: -- the net effect of having done that is going to have ended up costing tax players many billions of dollars.

FOROOHAR: That's right.

VELSHI: If you play around with it, interest rates go up. This is real money we're talking about.

LEMON: Can I read this? This is Douglas Holtz-Eakin. He is a Republican economist. This is for you, Rana. He said this about Trump's debt idea. He said, "Yeah, Donald Trump might get a good deal one time, but the next president is screwed. You don't want to be the North Korea of economics." Do you agree with that?

FOROOHAR: Absolutely. I mean just think about some of the countries that have played fast and loose with their debt recently, Greece, Argentina. I mean these are pariah countries now. They can't borrow -- they have double-digit borrowing costs in some cases.

The other things is this idea that you can print more money and get yourself out of debt that way is -- again, that's what Zimbabwe does. I mean that's what the Weimar Republic did in pre-World War II Germany. This is not a club you want to be in.

It also hints at something really quite dark, which is the -- making the fed a political entity. So the Fed has to print that money. The Fed's always been independent. He's talking about saying, hey, the Fed has to do what I say. That's, again, a very worrisome comment to the market.

LEMON: That's not how it works?

FOROOHAR: That's not how it works.

VELSHI: The part that's he right about is the U.S. can print its own money. That's correct. But printing your own money to pay your own debt, I mean, what's that worth to you? Right? If you knew the U.S. was doing that, all of a sudden, the dollar would go down in value. Interest rates would go up. We'd have inflation. There are all sorts of (inaudible).


LEMON: You put the cart before the horse, because I wanted to play a sound bite first before you said that. But listen. Let's listen to that sound bite, because he was trying to clear it up and then he kicked up a fuss. Here it is.


TRUMP: This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default, because you print the money. I hate to tell you. OK? So there's never a default.


LEMON: So --

FOROOHAR: There you go.

VESLHI: On that, he's right, and there's agreement across the board. The United States is not likely to ever default on its debt. But he's conflating two issues here.

FOROOHAR: But you print money, and get runaway inflation. I mean this is just a ridiculous term. The other thing that's really interesting to me about this. Usually, when Donald Trump makes a kind of a wrong-headed, off the cuff remark about economics, there's some political gain in it. There's some EQ.

I mean he talks about trade, even though his policies aren't great. You can see why they resonate with people in the Rust Belt that have lost their jobs. I mean this --

VELSHI: Doesn't get you anywhere.

FOROOHAR: -- whole thing about the debt --

VELSHI: It's just abusive.

FOROOHAR: -- it doesn't get you anywhere. It doesn't get you voters. I mean can't figure out what this is about.


VELSHI: In fact, it has united liberals and conservatives. When you read liberal and conservative economists all day today and analysts and they're all agreed that he doesn't make any sense on this stuff.

FOROOHAR: Exactly.

LEMON: Are you reading my mind? Because I was just -- I was just going to say that.

It seems like we're, you know, this panel, right, this discussion is pretty harsh on Donald Trump.


LEMON: And we're beating up on him a bit. But this is not a partisan discussion.



LEMON: This is purely economics and how the financial system works.

FOROOHAR: That's right. That's right. I mean he's --

LEMON: Is there anything positive to say? You said, you know, he's right about that. But is there anything that --

VELSHI: I got to be on CNN again.


VELSHI: But in truth, a lot of people were very excited about the idea that we're finally getting to issues --



VELSHI: -- that we're actually going to talk about the national debt --

FOROOHAR: That's right. That's right.

VELSHI: -- which is a major issue, only to find out it is a silly circular argument.

But at some point, if we really are going to talk about this in this election, it's useful to know where everybody stands. So I'd like to know where he (inaudible).


LEMON: I want to play another interview, because he had trouble explaining his tax plan. First, he proposed slashing taxes across the board. Then this weekend, he said, taxes for the rich will go up somewhat. And then today, he says that's not the case. He was really -- that he's really just staking out a negotiating position. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: What I said -- and that really is a proposal, because we have to go to Congress. We have to go to the Senate. We have to go to our congressmen and women and we have to, you know, negotiate a deal. So it really is a proposal.


LEMON: So you said part of it you said was junk bond and then -- but this part is sort of a real estate style negotiating tactic that he wants to take to the Oval Office. Could that work? Is that workable?

VELSHI: Well, so he's got an interesting situation in that he does not want to cut entitlements. He wants to increase military spending. He wants to do all of these things that a number of people have measured will increase the debt or reduce the revenue by about $10 trillion. Right?

So "CNN Money" actually has a great write-up on why you have to look at this carefully. In the end, you would have to grow the economy at a rate of 16 percent a year to pay for everything he suggests. We're growing at two.

FOROOHAR: Right, and also there's no evidence -- and this is the -- trickle-down economics, this idea that you can have tax cuts and it's going to bolster growth, that hasn't worked in a while. You look back at the Bush tax cuts of 2001, 2003. They didn't bolster growth. The Obama tax cuts didn't really bolster growth either.

So this is actually very conventional Republican trickle-down economics that hasn't worked in a while. The basic math is if you reduce taxes across the board, unless you close a lot of loop holes, which involve very contentious wrangling in Congress, you also have to cut spending. And we don't know where those spending cuts are coming from.

LEMON: So this is a discussion that many people have been wanting to have around the issues, but yet we're seeing, you know, attack ads and, you know, your husband did this and you did that or whatever.

VELSHI: Right.

LEMON: So now we're having this discussion about how -- when people ask for specifics.

VELSHI: Right.

LEMON: Many people have been asking for specifics --

VELSHI: Right.

LEMON: -- not only from Donald Trump but also from Bernie Sanders as well.

VELSHI: Sure. LEMON: How are you going to pay for all of this? So now we're

getting down to it.

What does this say? What should Trump supporters be listening to? Should they be more open to this conversation? Because you know they're not. Most of them are not.

VELSHI: I think Rana makes a really good point. It's not clear where he gets the points on this one. So what he has done is he has developed a fiscal policy that is at once conservative and liberal. Right? It's increase military spending, increase entitlements, increase everything, lower taxes. It's like -- it's just weird.

I mean, Bernie Sanders at least is fully on one side of the equation.


VELSHI: Right? Tax rich people and banks more to make college education free and have a $15 minimum wage. It's all on. It's very progressive and very liberal.

He's all over the map. And somebody has to say, tell me how this all works.

LEMON: The last word, Rana.

FOROOHAR: He's trying to have it both ways. And what's interesting is he seems to be going to the left of Hillary Clinton on trade. He's now appearing to go to the right on taxes and attack back left again. I agree. He's all over the map, and there's no details about this.

LEMON: I am so glad we had this time together. It's so good having both of you on.

VELSHI: Nice to see you.

FOROOHAR: Thank you.

LEMON: It's really nice. Thank you very much. Great conversation.

When we come right back, you think this race has been crazy so far? Well, just wait. The general election is about to really heat up. Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton, the gloves are off.


LEMON: Donald Trump stepping up his attacks on Hillary Clinton. I want to talk about that now with Bob Cusack, editor in chief of, CNN political commentator Bob Beckel and conservative political analyst Amy Holmes.

So on Friday, we were watching as Donald Trump said Hillary Clinton was an enabler of Bill Clinton's infidelity. Amy was here. This morning, Trump told Chris Cuomo that Clinton is playing the woman's card to the hit -- to the hilt I should say. And now tonight, this web video from a Clinton super PAC. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: She came to my wedding. She ate like a pig. And I mean seriously, the wedding cake -- it was like missing in action.


TRUMP: Does she have a good body? No.


TRUMP: Does she have a fat ass? Absolutely.

Well, I just don't respect her as a journalist. I have no respect for her. I don't think she's very good. I think she's highly overrated. But when I came out -- and, you know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes -- blood coming out of her wherever.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see. So you treat women with respect?

TRUMP: I can't say that either.



LEMON: You don't like that. You don't -- what do you think of that ad, Amy? I'd say your (inaudible) eye roll.

AMY HOLMES, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, but I don't like the things that Donald Trump is saying in those ads. How effective it will be in attacking Donald Trump? I think there are two things.

We already know his disapproval ratings among women are extraordinarily high. In one last poll, it has like 7 in 10 women disapprove of him. But it's also an attack on Donald Trump's character that he's willing to use this type of language, these personal attacks, especially when it comes to women and female femininity.

He attacks men. That's true. And bizarrely, his supporters say, well, he attacks both genders on a personal basis.

I think if he wants to be effective, however, in attacking Hillary Clinton, he needs to attack her on her record as secretary of State, which is not all that sterling. Even Hillary Clinton couldn't come up with her greatest achievement when asked. So I would prefer for the politics to be about substance and not all of this gutter politics.

LEMON: Bob Beckel, what do you think? Only the beginning of what we're going to see in a Trump-Clinton matchup?

BOB BECKEL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Certainly. I hope so. I mean think it's a good ad, and I think what it does is look. Trump's going to try, I think, to try to patch things up with women. And the way to stop him from doing that is use his own words to remind people this guy's had a history of doing this. And you don't expect anything is going to change here.

And he's dealing with the majority of the voters in this country are women. So, you know, if you -- if you stick to where he is now, he's going to have to win 80 percent of the white male vote, which is not going to happen.

And the other thing I would say is that he's playing the male card very well. He gets out there and sort of throws this big macho thing around about women and then talks about how men have been abused and all that.

I mean this guy is not going to get it right with women. And if he doesn't get it right with women, he's not going to be president, and he won't be president.

LEMON: Bob Cusack, to Bob Beckel's point, the only person who keeps talking about the women's card is Trump. She is a woman. She's been the First Lady. She's a senator from New York. She's a secretary of State. I mean, by definition, she may be more qualified to run for president than anybody who's running or who has run in this particular cycle.

BOB CUSACK, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THEHILL.COM: Yes, it is both good and bad in the cycle, as this is the year of the outsider, and that's why Donald Trump and Ted Cruz did so well and Bernie Sanders is doing so well. But his numbers are very poor among women, and that's what he is going after. Whether he's using the right strategy, that remains to be seen.

And we did see these type of attacks in the Republican primary, these similar type of ads, the anti-Trump ads that went after what he had said on women. It didn't work. But, you know, the electorate is different, and I think he's got to get those numbers up.

The Democrats have used the war on women card against the Republicans very effectively over the last several years. Trump has tried to push back by going after Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton kind of as a combo deal.

We'll see. But fasten your seat belts. We're going to see a lot of this over the next six months.

HOLMES: Listen, I think that Donald Trump does need to go on the offensive, that the Democratic Party has played the women card. And Hillary Clinton herself very explicitly, when she has said that she has a deep personal commitment to having a woman in the White House, that she wants to break the highest, hardest ceiling there is in politics and that's she's tried to appeal to this female solidarity -- you remember what Madeline Albright said, that there's a special place in hell for women who don't support women.

Donald Trump is trying to push back on that. But I don't think his personal attacks are an effective strategy. I want to see conservative arguments, substantive arguments about why Hillary Clinton is not capable. And I don't think she has the track record to be an effective commander in chief. LEMON: Bob Beckel, usually, you know, you could say there's a

consensus about how Republicans feel about this. But it -- do we know how Republicans are going to react, you know, in general to this particular video?

BECKEL: Well, I mean I think that what they would react to is that they abhorred what he said, all these things. You know, when he did the Megyn Kelley thing, a lot of this stuff came out. And most Republicans, at least I talked to about this thing in Iowa and New Hampshire when it was out there, were shocked by it.

Look, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are both known and decided by, favorable, unfavorable by 95 percent of the people in this country, more than Mitt Romney was, even when he was elected -- when he ran for president in November. So it's fixed, and Trump is not going to be able to fix this. There's too much of a history of it.

And so I think, yes, it would be nice to talk about the issues. The problem with Donald Trump is that talking about the issues means he has to talk about the issues. And I don't think he knows any of them.

LEMON: Well --

BECKEL: Anybody who doesn't know the triad should not be President of the United States.

LEMON: Well, Bob Kusack, to that point, Amy Holmes said in one of the earlier panels that, you know, Donald Trump does well when he actually talks about issues. Whether you agree with those issues or not is a different story.

But you just heard my panel of expert in the -- in the segment before this break down Trump's comments on debt and taxes. I mean, why do you think voters are unphased by the things Donald Trump says and, according to the experts, how little he knows about economic policy?

CUSACK: Well, that's a great question. He has just been basically a Trump phenomenon where he has been so Teflon on a range of issues, a lot of things he's said.

You know, one of the things that Ben Carson publically said is that Donald Trump needs to show more humility. And I think to distance himself from those comments he made previously on the "Howard Stern" show, that would be a good move to say, listen, I was just trying to be an entertainer. I didn't mean anything by it.

And I do think that if he's going to win the Independent vote -- and this is going to be up for grabs between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, because a lot of people are not -- they don't like either one of them. So I think he's going to have to be a little -- he's going to have to tone it down. I think that's what Paul Ryan is going to have to say. But can Trump do that remains to be seen.

LEMON: Bob Beckel?

BECKEL: Yes? LEMON: You have the last take. You get the last word --

BECKEL: Thank you.

LEMON: -- on Trump --


BECKEL: Yes, I --


LEMON: -- statements about taxes and debt.

BECKEL: -- personally -- well, taxes and debt, I mean, it's ridiculous. You don't understand. It's going to put us trillions more in debt.

But leaving that aside, you all say that he's Teflon. He's Teflon only among that percentage of Republican primary and caucus goers who support the guy, which is a relatively small sliver of Americans. This guy -- the reason he's 67 percent negative is they -- because people have listened to the guy over the course of this pitch.

You know, Donald Trump seems to think when he speaks to these people in these rallies, that represents America. It doesn't represent America. It represents a sliver of people who are alienated, and it does not represent anywhere near the majority of the country.

LEMON: He still has a lot of people who support him and a lot of people show up at those rallies.

BECKEL: Who? Where? He's got 10 million voters.


BECKEL: Well --

LEMON: Vote --

BECKEL: I mean, I hate to correct you, but --

HOLMES: More votes than any other Republican primary contender in history.


BECKEL: But look at this. You're talking about the munchkins. I mean, are you talking about -- are you talking about --

HOLMES: Oh, Bob, I'm being fair.


LEMON: He's got more votes than John McCain and for Mitt Romney, actually, than when they had finished the election last time. He got more votes in the primaries.

BECKEL: Yes, that's right. But Mitt Romney -- Mitt Romney and John McCain went in with the Republicans rallying around them. This guy is not doing that.

HOLMES: But I think -- I think, Bob, the important point is that if Donald Trump hopes to unite the Republican Party, which is still an open question, because he said that maybe I don't need to. But he needs to if he wants to become President of the United States.

To unify the Republican Party, he needs to get right on the issues with conservatives. He needs to be more substantive, more presidential. It'll help him with the GOP. It will also help him with those Independents that Bob was mentioning.

LEMON: I tried to give you the last word, Bob Beckel, on that particular segment, but you didn't do it. So anyway, maybe the next segment.

BECKEL: Thanks.

LEMON: So stand by, everyone. We'll be right back. We'll continue our conversation. Don't go anywhere.


LEMON: Mr. Trump goes to Washington, but will his meetings with GOP leaders Thursday bring the party together? Back with me now, Bob Cusack, Bob Beckel and Amy Holmes.

OK, Bob Cusack, to you first. You know, tonight, we learned that in addition to the meeting with Paul Ryan on Thursday, Donald Trump is going to meet with Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders. What needs to happen at these meetings?

LEMON: They all have to get on the same page. That's going to be very difficult. Paul Ryan has suggested he's not a big of Donald Trump. And both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have denounced Trump's ban on Muslims.

So they've got to get in the room, and they've got to decide how are we going to get on the same page? Paul Ryan is a policy want. He likes to talk about policies. He's actually going to put out this big conservative agenda in the middle of a presidential election year, and I think that's to rebut what Trump is doing.

So, you know, this meeting could go well. Paul Ryan could get on board to some degree and offer his endorsement. But this meeting could also go badly, because I think Trump is not going to be giving much to these congressional leaders that he's won the nominee. He should be respected.


HOLMES: They have to get on the same page. They have to be in the same book. I don't even think -- I mean for goodness sakes, we have Donald Trump who is flip-flopping on taxes, taxing the rich. First, he said he would go up. Now, it'll go down.

Donald Trump making statements that he might even threaten to destabilize the US dollar. The $15-minimum wage he is considering. I mean, he is so far outside of the policy playbook for Paul Ryan and conservatives in Washington, DC There's a lot reading that needs to be done, to stretch the metaphor.

LEMON: Bob Beckel, I know you're a Democrat, but you have run campaigns before and you know strategy. CNN has learned that, you know, Dr. Ben Caron has asked for a meeting with Paul Ryan before the Trump meeting. What do you -- why would he do this? What do you think he wants?

BECKEL: Well, he's looking for some advanced work to try to get things so that they can walk out of that meeting and go before cameras and say, we've made great progress. The problem is that the progress can't be made unless somebody gives. Either Trump gives on taxes and a range of things or Ryan and the Republicans give on things that they've been united with for years. And I don't think that's going to happen.

So what do you do? What do you do at this stage of the game? Do you say, well, OK, we're going to be for him anyway, which means you're selling out your principles.

And interestingly enough, Ted Cruz today is working very hard to get people to place his delegates placed on the credentials of platform committee, because I think conservatives want to reemphasize the Republican platform has been around for years and years, and which was in essence what Donald Trump has said in many things.

LEMON: Maybe, Bob Cusack, this is why Paul Ryan said, you know, if you don't -- he told the "Milwaukee Sentinel," you know, he will step aside as the chairman of the GOP convention in July if Trump asks. What do you think is motivating him? Do you think he's saying, look, I don't want to be the fault in all of this craziness? Like what is going on here?

CUSACK: Well, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump are two very different type of politicians. And remember that Paul Ryan was on the Romney ticket, and we know what Romney thinks of Donald Trump. So Ryan respects Romney.

So this could go in any different ways. And he's saying, listen, if we can't have an agreement, I can step down as chairman of the convention. And we're seeing a fair amount of Republicans who are distancing themselves from Trump. Some are endorsing. Some are very popular in their districts.

I think Ryan is key. If you can get Ryan on the Trump bandwagon, at least to some degree, I think a lot of other politicians will follow his lead. They'll respect the fact that they had a meeting and maybe he gets some type of concessions. But, you know, that remains to be seen, though.

The bottom line is that politicians think about what they want to get. Paul Ryan needs to protect his majority, which is extremely large, the largest in 80 years in the House. And Mitch McConnell has a very narrow majority, and he wants to remain majority leader. And whatever that is going to get, that result is what they're going to do.

LEMON: So would -- Bob, do you think there could be a compromise? I mean, how long -- and if there is a comparison, how long -- how importantly -- more importantly, how long would it last?

BECKEL: Well, I don't -- I don't -- first of all, I can't imagine how you can compromise on the differences here, because you've got a big gulf here. I mean, there's some substantial difference.

LEMON: Amy said not even in the book.

BECKEL: Yes, not in the book. Good point. And I don't think -- look, Donald Trump came out. You remember when he won? He said nice things about Ted Cruz, and then all of the sudden the next day he was back to attacking him.

I don't think that Donald Trump has got a position in the Republican Party that will unify the Republican Party. Look, a number of people are already saying, as I pointed out on this show several months ago, they didn't want to be his vice-president. And there's a lot of people that are not going to show up at the convention.

And a lot of other people are going to be just -- and a lot of other people are going to be fishing when he shows up in their state. This guy is inept to most Republicans, and they can't get associated with him. He names Chris Christie -- Chris Christie as a transition guy. Are you kidding me?

HOLMES: Right. Right, well, I was telling Don during the break, I mean, there are a lot of conservatives who are still angry with Chris Christie embracing Barack Obama right before the 2012 election. So I'm not sure why Donald Trump thought that that is -- thinks that this is a good strategy to try to bring the Republican Party together.

But one of the things, perhaps, that they could agree on, you've mentioned the Republican Party platform at the convention and some, you know, key elements of that. Perhaps also for Donald Trump to take on some trusted and respected conservative economic and foreign policy advisors onto his campaign. That could be helpful to try to bring this together.

But you know what? At the end of the day, its up to Donald Trump. And he's been making remarks that seem to suggest it's not all that important to him.

LEMON: So -- Bob. Go ahead, Bob Beckel. What did you want to say?

BECKEL: I was going to say, you really think respected Republicans economists -- there are many of them -- are really going to get on board?

HOLMES: Well, there is Kudlow, for example. He's a supporter of Donald Trump. BECKEL: Yes, Larry's one of the few out leadership. But most other

Republican economists have turned on Trump viciously in the last week, saying he just can't work. Its crazy.

LEMON: Hey, Bob Cusack, I want to ask you this, because you know the speaker of the House, there -- as you -- as everyone has been saying, they are two completely different people.


LEMON: At least policy wise. And one of the things I think he took exception to were Donald Trump's comments on Muslims. And so Trump told "The New York Times" tonight that the newly London mayor, Sadiq Khan, would be an exception to his ban on Muslims. What's your reaction?

CUSACK: Well, he's pivoting, and he's pivoting -- he might be pivoting too quickly, as Amy mentioned, changing positions on taxes and minimum wage in a short amount of time. But at the same time, you know, Mitt Romney didn't pivot enough, and that's part of the reason why he lost and lost kind of big in 2012.

They talk about the Etch-a-Sketch, but they really had no strategy for getting Hispanic voters. So this -- except what -- exception to the Muslim policy? I mean, Donald Trump is a dealmaker, and whether he's talking about taxes or anything, he's open to deals. So if Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell say, hey, well, what if you take a look at this bill but make it part of your platform, I think Donald Trump is going to say yes.

But the big problem for Donald Trump is improving his numbers among women and especially Hispanics. That's going to be key. That's where -- that's why Mitt Romney lost in 2012 largely.

BECKEL: That's going to be impossible.

LEMON: Thank you, panel. Thank you. I appreciate it.

Coming up, why the attorney general compares North Carolina's so- called Bathroom Bill to Jim Crow.


The Justice Department sued North Carolina today over the state's so- called Bathroom Bill banning people from using the bathroom that does not match the gender on their birth certificates.

Governor Pat McCrory fighting back with lawsuit, a lawsuit calling the Justice Department's position a radical reinterpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

I want to discuss this now with Trisha Cotham, a Democrat who's from North Carolina's House of Representatives, and Roger Severino, Director of DeVos, the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation. Good to have both of you on. Thank you for joining us. ROGER SEVERINO, DIRECTOR, DEVOS CENTER FOR RELIGION & CIVIL SOCIETY:

You're welcome.

REP. TRICIA COTHAM (D), NC: Thank you for having me.

LEMON: I want you to listen to what Attorney General Loretta Lynch said earlier today.


LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: The legislature and the governor placed North Carolina in direct opposition to federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity. More to the point, they created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals who seek to engage in the most private of functions in a place of safety and security, a right taken for granted by most of us.


LEMON: So Roger, you've been on before. I know you disagree. You support this bill. Why is that?

SEVERINO: First, I have to say I've very disappointed with my former colleagues in the DOJ civil rights division. I litigated sex discrimination cases there for seven years, including one of a landlord who was spying on his tenants while they were showering.

So it's simply astounding to see the Department of Justice now say that North Carolina cannot prevent men from having unfettered access to women's showers, locker rooms and bathrooms. It simply doesn't make any sense, especially when North Carolina already allows accommodations for transgender people and are simply acting to protect the privacy, safety and modesty of its women and girls.

This is politics on the DOJ's parts. It's raw ideology, pure and simply.

LEMON: Trisha, you disagree, because you're leading the charge against the North Carolina bill. How did we get here? What did you make of Mr. Severino's comments?

COTHAM: Well, I completely disagree. And I'm from North Carolina, and I know what's been going on on the ground here for the last few weeks. And this bill is pure and simple about discrimination, and it is about attacking transgendered and LGBT individuals who are citizens right here in North Carolina. And it's about fear-mongering.

And I'm really disappointed to hear Roger's comments once again creating fear and trying to create this hyper sensitivity about bathrooms and locker rooms, when we know that there's really no evidence about that. There is more in danger of a child being molested at home by someone or somewhere else by someone they know. And so this whole bathroom situation is absolutely ridiculous.

And the Republicans really believe that this was going to be their political issue to help them in November. This was their wedge issue, and it has backfired on them. At the same time, hurting our economy and hurting North Carolina.

LEMON: You know -- what is your evidence, Roger? Because the people who don't support the bill would say that, you know, your comments about showering, it's a Red Herring, it's just to rile people up to -- for your position. What's your evidence?

SEVERINO: Sure. I wrote an article on it on You could check it out. Virginia, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland all have cases, including Washington as well, where people have abused access to bathrooms and showers and locker rooms, men who shouldn't be in places with women and girls and have been convicted and arrested. This is a real problem that will actually be furthered if the DOJ gets its way and says men will have unfettered access to bathrooms, showers and locker rooms.

There is another way. There can be accommodations. And people who are transgender, who actually change their birth certificates under North Carolina law will be given access to the bathroom of their choice. And their right in that way, all interests will be accommodated.

LEMON: Do you see this as people thinking that you're possibly calling transgender people -- saying that transgender people are going to somehow -- something untoward is going to happen to someone in that bathroom by bringing that up?

SEVERINO: Not at all. I've been very sensitive to that issue to make sure that we're not saying bad things about people who deal with gender dysphoria. What we're saying is there's another side to the issue.

For example, there are women victims of sexual assault who simply will be made uncomfortable and re-traumatized if they see a biological male changing in front of them in the locker room. These voices need to be heard. They need to be appreciated. This is not all one sided, and North Carolina is responding to a real issue to protect women and girls in their state.

LEMON: Tricia, the attorney general compared the law to Jim Crow Laws and says history is on their side. Do you agree with that?

COTHAM: Absolutely. And North Carolina has had a bad past, as everybody knows. And we've made tremendous progress in the last few decades. But now we're going backwards, and this is wrong.

And I completely disagree with what Roger just said and find it actually highly offensive. And if we want to talk about women and children being abused, just look at the numerous bills of legislation that the North Carolina Republicans have put forward to attack women and children.

But let's talk about real crime and child abuse and sex abuse, which is 81 percent by someone that the person knows, the victim knows. It's not some stranger in a bathroom.

And I can assure you that you've been going to bathrooms with transgender people for your whole life. And you haven't even known it, and you're doing just fine.

LEMON: Yes. The facts do show, Roger, that most people -- most children are abused by people they know. One in six abused by people they know. One in six children are abused, but most of them are by people they know.

SEVERINO: Yes, and they should be protected as well. This law doesn't change that at all.

And remember, where this came from. This came from the City of Charlotte forcing businesses to change their policies regarding bathrooms, unilaterally forcing people when it was unnecessary.

Target went down this route voluntarily, and you have 1.1 million people pledging to boycott Target, because they don't feel their children will be safe in Target stores anymore. Their stock prices tanked as a result.

People care about this. It is a popular issue. It's a divisive issue to be sure. But it can be dealt with sensitively, and North Carolina has done just that. It allows transgender people to be accommodated if they really need it, but it also protects women and children in these sensitive areas. Their interest has to be taken into account, because their privacy and modesty is at stake.

LEMON: There are a number of other businesses, too, who have pulled out and those who are threatening to pull out because of, you know, this particular law. And you can look at -- look at -- and those are big, big companies. The financial impact would be dire to North Carolina.

Governor Pat McCrory calls the DOJ's move "blatant overreach" and is defending his laws. He's saying -- he is demanding the Federal court clarify anti-discrimination laws.

Tricia, what's your reaction to that?

COTHAM: I find it just absolutely laughable that he has the audacity to talk about overreach when it was the North Carolina general assembly that completely inserted itself into the Charlotte ordinance, which they do have the right to do. But they selectively pick and choose for political reasons to help them coming up in elections.

And so to say overreach, that's absolutely ridiculous. He should do his job. He should be the leader of the state. House Bill 2 has been devastating. It's put North Carolina on the national map for something that we don't deserve. It's affecting our economy.

And instead of just passing the buck to someone else, let's actually work as leaders together and try to fix this solution. But we're not going to discriminate against people, and that's what they seem to think is the solution. We cannot discriminate against. It doesn't matter what size of a portion of society we're talking about. Discrimination is always wrong.

LEMON: Thank you, Tricia. Thank you, Roger. I appreciate it.

Coming up, as the battle over the Bathroom Bill heats up in North Carolina, a group of cadets at West Point are under fire all because of this picture.


The Justice Department and North Carolina battling over the state's so-called Bathroom Bill. Here to discuss, Ben Ferguson, host of "The Ben Ferguson Show," and Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator.

I don't know if you guys have ever met each other. I think it's the first time you've been on together. You usually agree I think. At least that's what I hear.

So Marc --


LEMON: We were just talking about this Bathroom Bill in North Carolina. It's a whole lot of drama for a law that was ultimately made where many say no problem exists.

MARC LAMONT HILL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's the it is a solution in search of a problem. There is not -- there's no -- there's no real danger here. There are no people lurking to assault children.

All of these -- all of these things are just excuses and pretext to humiliate and shame trans people who have to undergo extraordinary amounts of social burdens, social critique and abuse, exploitations, et cetera. It's sick.

LEMON: Ben Ferguson, do you agree with that?

BEN FERGUSON, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this bill was actually in response to the activist community that was pushing the issue. This was not something that came out of nowhere in any of the states that are dealing with this.

They are now having to respond to people that are wanting to push this issue, that are wanting to make this the next civil rights movement. And we saw the attorney general today take that bait and say that this is the civil rights movement, when in reality, it's not crazy to say if you're are a boy, you go to a boy's bathroom. It's not crazy to say if you're a girl, you go to the girl's bathroom. It's not crazy to make sure that the locker rooms are not co-ed when you're in high school, especially the showers. This has been --


LEMON: That was never law before.


HILL: But Ben, you're misrepresenting the problem. The debate isn't whether boys should go in boys' locker rooms or girls should go in girls' bathrooms. The debate is whether you are a trans girl is a girl or not.

Essentially, what you're saying is if you're -- if you identify as a trans girl, you should go in the boys' bathroom.

FERGUSON: And we can -- we can debate that.

HILL: No, but we shouldn't.


FERGUSON: But if a 16-year-old --

HILL: Hold on one second.

FERGUSON: -- if a 16-year-old decides to become, in his words, transgendered and wear clothes that he used to not wear, does that mean he should be able to go into the women's locker room and change and shower in there at 16?

HILL: But again --

FERGUSON: Most parents would say, no, that's inappropriate.

HILL: Well, first, studies don't show that most parents say that. You just made that up. But more importantly --

FERGUSON: I strongly disagree with you. I didn't make it up.

HILL: Which study?

FERGUSON: I mean, show me a stat that says the majority of Americans support guys going into girls' bathrooms.

HILL: Again, Ben, what you keep doing is misrepresenting the question. First, the --


LEMON: The CNN-ORC poll --

HILL: Thank you.

LEMON: -- that was taken between May 28th and May [sic] 1st says -- asking if they favor a law requiring bathroom use by gender at birth, 38 percent. Fifty-seven percent oppose it. Almost 60 percent of people oppose the law.

FERGUSON: Right, and there's a difference between a law and saying, do you think guys should go into girls' bathrooms? (CROSSTALK)

HILL: OK, Ben, let me -- two things. One, you said that studies show, and there was no study. You have no study. And if I'm wrong, feel free after the show -- because I don't want to -- you know, tweet the study that you appeal to. Because I think you just made it up.

But more importantly, here's the bigger -- here's the --

FERGUSON: What I said was --

HILL: Hold on. Ben, let me finish my -- let me finish the bigger point.

LEMON: Let him finish, Ben. Let him finish.

HILL: Let me finish my bigger point. You keep saying boys going into girls' locker room. And you also said if somebody at 16 decides that they want to be a girl. That's not what trans identity is.

These are people who make a decision at some moment that they decide to be something else willy-nilly. This is who they are. This who they are at their essence. This is what they were -- they were born in a body that might be different than their -- than their identity suggests or their body parts might not reflect their gender and identity.

But that doesn't mean that it's a boy who goes into a girls' locker room. That's simply untrue.

LEMON: You think someone is going to identify, Ben, as trans because they want to -- you think -- when you think about what happens in elementary, junior and high school, especially people who are coming out as gay or whatever, you think someone is going to say, I want to go in the girls' locker room, so I'm going to tell everybody that I'm trans, knowing the stigma that goes along with trans? Ben?

FERGUSON: I think that there are people out there -- and there's very, very, very few of them -- who are going to exploit this to their advantage for their own personal reasons. And that's my concern. I'm not concerned with someone who truly is going to change their life. They have a right to do that.

If you want to go through the steps, you want to change your birth certificate, I will respect that, and you can go to that restroom. That's called respecting a difference of opinion.

But there are people out there that do exploit these type of situations to be able to gain access to people that they do not need to be around.

HILL: This is -- this is like -- this is like --

FERGUSON: And the fact is -- it's not -- but it's not laughable. If you talk to people that have been molested, Marc --

HILL: By trans people?

FERGUSON: -- and you talk to people who have been in a situation --

HILL: Name three people -- name three people in the whole world who've been molested by trans people --


LEMON: Stand by. Stand by. Stand by. Stand by. Stand by.

FERGUSON: Let me finish.

LEMON: As someone -- let me finish. As someone, Ben -- and I've done the research. As someone who has been abused as a child, it's usually by someone you know. It's usually not by a trans person.

FERGUSON: Right, it's usually a family member.

LEMON: And it's usually be another -- trans -- all trans people are homosexual. It's usually by a heterosexual person who knows the child. So you saying, you know, otherwise is completely different than all of the research.

FERGUSON: And we know statistically -- Marc, we know that statistically that those people, and Don, that are -- that have access to children, especially those who are family members or close people with a family, it is easier for them to molest someone, because they have access. But we also know that people do cross the line in these schools, in bathrooms, and we've seen it happen before, and we've seen the arrests happen.

HILL: But none of them were trans.

LEMON: None of them were trans person.

HILL: None of them were trans though. There's no reason to believe that a trans person --


HILL: -- is more likely to do that --

FERGUSON: Are you telling --

HILL: -- nor does it mean --

FERGUSON: -- can you guarantee me, Marc -- Marc, can you guarantee me that if you make the rules and you change the rules where a grown man can go in the bathroom with young girls, are you telling me --

HILL: I'm not suggesting that.

FERGUSON: -- can you guarantee me that no one's going to exploit that?

LEMON: Then that's a false argument -- HILL: Come on.

LEMON: -- because there are no absolutes with anything.

FERGUSON: It's not a false argument.


HILL: Let me answer the question. First, Ben, again, I reject and I actually resent this idea that it's a man going into a women's bathroom. Trans women are women. They're not people dressed up in disguise. These aren't fakers. These aren't people who are pretending to be something. A trans woman is a woman, not a guy going into a woman's bathroom.

LEMON: All right, end of story, because I want to answer that. I want to turn now. I ant to talk about this photo. OK?

These are female African-American West Point graduates. OK? So they are allegedly being investigated for holding up the fists, right, which is -- they think it's -- you know, people think, oh, it has something to do with Black Lives Matter movement.

Is this a problem? It's under investigation. Should they somehow face some sort of, you know, expulsion or suspension or something for this. Marc?

HILL: It's ridiculous. Look, the fist signifies power, unity, self- determination. What West Point says is that you can't have a partisan affiliation. There's nothing partisan about holding up a black fist or any fist, white fist, black fist or whatever. It signifies unity.

And the fact that it might scare some folks is not enough to make someone go under investigation or for them to lose their position.

LEMON: Not just black people hold up fists, Ben Ferguson.

HILL: I said black or white fist, yes.


FERGUSON: It doesn't -- here's the thing. It doesn't -- it doesn't scare me, first off.

HILL: You sure?

FERGUSON: I do think that it was a political statement, and I think whether it be holding up a "Make America Great Again" sign or supporting a Republican, when you wear a uniform, you're supposed to be nonpolitical. That's the rule. It's a very clear rule. If you don't want to go to -- if you don't like rules, don't go to West Point. It's pretty clear when you go to west Point, there are a ton of rules you have to deal with.

HILL: The rules say --

LEMON: The rules say you can't partisan, Ben.

FERGUSON: The rules say you can't make statements. Right. And I think this was obviously trying to make a statement. Do you really believe that this picture was not talked about tonight, because it was a statement? Of course it was.

HILL: This is a statement. Lots of thing are a statements, Ben. And if you think there's anything --

FERGUSON: At West Point, they don't like it when it when you make statements.

HILL: If you think there's anything apolitical about putting on a uniform and fighting for a military or representing a military complex in an imperial regime. That's the most political thing you can do.


HILL: And doing this is --

FERGUSON: This is why you should not go to West Point.

HILL: OK, I won't.

FERGUSON: When you go to West Point, you agree to the rules. No one forces you to go to West Point. You agree to the rules.

HILL: That isn't one of the rules.

FERGUSON: And the rules say you don't make political statements.

HILL: Bye-bye.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

FERGUSON: See you guys.


LEMON: That's it for us tonight. I'll see you right back here tomorrow. "AC 360" starts right now.