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Clinton and Sanders Vow to Fighting Tomorrow's Primaries Despite Reports Clinton Clinched Nomination; Trump Doubles Down on Criticism of Judge; Top Republicans Upset Over Trump's Race Comments. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 6, 2016 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: CNN TONIGHT with Don Lemon starts now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: The breaking news, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders vow to fight for every last vote in tomorrow's primary despite reports she has reached the magic number to clinch the democratic nomination.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
This on the day that Donald Trump doubles down on his criticism of the judge presiding over his Trump University case, telling his top surrogates in a conference call that he won't apologize and insisting they back him up. Democrats having a field day with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump doesn't want you to pay attention to what this case is revealing so he is attacking the judge and saying outrageously that the judge who is of Mexican heritage cannot serve fairly over his case.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT) DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To attack a judge because he is of Mexican heritage, a man born in the State of Indiana, this is a candidate of one of the large political -- major political parties in this country. It is really quite incomprehensible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Meanwhile, we're learning tonight that President Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders spoke by phone on Sunday. I'll give you three guesses. I'll give you one guess as to what they talked about.
CNN's Brianna Keilar is with is with the Clinton campaign, she is in Los Angeles. So, Brianna, can you respond to this breaking news despite reports of Hillary Clinton has enough delegates, she's vowing to campaign hard tomorrow. She is speaking up in California. What is she saying?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She's walking a fine line. Actually an e-mail just went out fundraising off of this, I'll tell you, Don. But it also says that this primary isn't quite over. She's not saying mission accomplished.
In fact, it's the last event that she was in Long Beach, our very persistent, I should say, Embed producer, Dan Merica says "I asked seven times on the rope line about these reports. She heard but did not respond once."
And listen to what she said at the event not getting into it too much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment.
But we still have work to do, don't we? We have six elections tomorrow and we're going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So, you boil that down to Hillary Clinton saying this isn't over. And part of that is because very important primaries tomorrow, including California, Don, where there is a huge delegate hall of 475 delegates.
She wants to win here because if she loses, it's not exactly a way to project strength going into the general election. A statement coming out from her campaign sort of saying this middle of the road thing that we've been talking about that she's been saying this is an important milestone.
But there are six states that are voting on Tuesday with millions of people heading to the polls and Hillary Clinton is working to earn every vote.
We look forward to Tuesday night when Hillary Clinton will clinch not only a win in the popular vote but also the majority of pledged delegates. So, they are not saying it's over definitely at this point, Don.
LEMON: Yes. They don't want to affect the vote tomorrow negatively or positively. And Brianna, you know, Bernie Sanders, is he showing any signs of giving up?
KEILAR: No, not at all. In fact, this statement coming out from his campaign says, "It is unfortunate that the media in a rush to judgment are ignoring the Democratic National Committee's clear statement that it is wrong to count the votes of super delegates before they actually vote at the convention this summer."
Because these reports do take into account the super delegates, these party officials and elected officials as well as those pledged delegates which come from voters voting in the states.
So, you're looking at Bernie Sanders still vowing that he's going to the convention. That is late July. If you listen to his campaign manager, he has said this all along.
But I've also talked to other aides and advisers to Bernie Sanders. One at one point said to me he wants to allow everyone to have a chance to vote that wants to vote and that in this aide's estimation would be to go to the Washington, D.C., primary which is the last time that democrats will have a chance to vote in this primary season. That's a week from tomorrow.
LEMON: OK. Brianna, sources are telling us that President Barack Obama is poised to endorse Secretary Clinton. What do we know about that?
KEILAR: Well, the White House seems to be signaling that it could come soon but not quite yet. Today, in the White House briefing, Josh Earnest, the spokesman was asked about this. And what he said that was pretty interesting was he said, look, there are still people who are going to be casting their votes in New Jersey and California, among other states.
He said the president isn't going to weigh in until those voters have had their say but that's right around the corner. So, it's looking like it could come sooner rather than later.
[22:04:59] LEMON: Brianna Keilar in Los Angeles where it is still daylight. Thank you very much, Brianna. I appreciate it.
Now I want to bring in CNN's Sara Murray with the latest from the Trump campaign. Good evening to you, Sara, from Washington where it is dark because it is 10.05 Eastern Time.
Donald Trump is doubling down on his criticism of the judge involved in Trump University case and he is telling his reporters to do the same thing. An extraordinary phone call. What's the latest on that?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Don. Some folks were on the call and said it sort of started as a way for Donald Trump to explain why he's been going after this judge, explain the Trump University case.
But it kind of ended up to many on the call sounding more like a call for them to join Donald Trump in this criticism, to really create an echo chamber in terms of his own supporters his own supporters who would be going after this judge saying that judge he's been unfair.
And essentially supporting Donald Trump's argument that his Mexican heritage makes him unfit to preside over this trial, it gives bias over the Trump University case.
And of course this all comes at a time when many prominent republicans are particularly here in Congress are trying to distance themselves from Donald Trump over these exact remarks, Don. LEMON: Sara, you know, a number of Trump allies are speaking out
against Trump's latest attacks. Who are they and how is Trump responding to them?
MURRAY: Well, name your republican. It feels like pretty much everyone has in an elected position has been critical. Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell. Today we heard from Senator Marco Rubio who said he predicted that something like this would happen when he was running against Donald Trump.
We heard John Kasich called for an apology. But one of the really interesting criticism have come from Newt Gingrich and this seems to be one that really stung Donald Trump.
He talked about it publicly. He also talks about it privately on this call. He's campaigning have expressed the fact that he was really disappointed to see Gingrich come out and say that Donald Trump has gone too far. And this is the kind of thing that really could muddied the water.
Because Newt Gingrich is someone is we've been talking about as a potential V.P. pick for Donald Trump. But as we know, Trump really prizes loyalty above all else.
So, to see this kind of criticism coming from someone he felt like was close to him, was a supporter of him, seems to have really stung him.
LEMON: And Lindsey Graham saying this is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy. I mean, that is some stinging criticism there. Is there we haven't heard from?
MURRAY: We have not heard yet from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, which is very interesting because he's a former U.S. attorney. He's of course and one of a very prominent booster of Trump. He was one of the first really prominent republicans to throw his support behind Donald Trump early when people were still fighting through this had hard fought primary.
Now he's supposed to be doing a precedent tomorrow in New Jersey. So, we'll see if we hear something from him then when voters are heading to the polls. But as of right now it does seem like sort of an obvious silence in the mix.
LEMON: Sara Murray, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
Now I want to bring in Scottie Nell Hughes, a Trump supporter who was on that conference call today. She is a political editor of RightsAlert.com. Also Tana Goertz is a senior adviser to Donald Trump, who was also on that call.
Good evening to both of you. It's a pleasure to have you on. You know, you were, Tana, you were on this call, this conference call. We hear Trump was defiant and he instructed his supporters not to back down on his criticism of that judge. What can you tell us about that?
TANA GOERTZ, FORMER "APPRENTICE" CONTESTANT: Don, he was not defiant at all. He was actually very happy and in a great mood, very informative, as he always is. He was great. There was -- there was nothing defiant in Mr. Trump's tone, there was nothing out of character. There was -- there was -- this is a fabricated story.
LEMON: Defiant meaning that he instructed people on the call not to back down, not necessarily his tone but defiant in that he's going to stick to his guns.
GOERTZ: Oh, I mean, Mr. Trump always sticks to his guns. He's a man of his word and he's a man who stands by his beliefs and his values and the people that work for him like myself, he knows that that's the kind of we all are and we he would expect us to do the same. So, he never instructed us...
LEMON: So, did he instruct the surrogates to criticize the judge and to not back down from the story?
GOERTZ: Not at all. Not at all. This was a very informative meeting. One I was very, very happy that he did. That he held. A lot of the people on the call are not a paid staffer like myself, so I'm sure that's who ran to the press to tell the story that is getting all of these legs.
But really, the bottom line here, Don, is Mr. Trump is a man who will not back down if he is right. And this was a case that should have never went to trial or gone to trial or getting ready to go to trial. This is a situation that this is a scam. This suit is all a big scam.
GOETZ: The lady, the plaintiff who is the test...
LEMON: All right. I don't want to litigate this case. I just want to talk about the call. So, Scottie, same thing to you.
LEMON: Did he instruct people not to back down and to criticize the judge -- who continue to criticize the judge?
SCOTTIE NELL HUGHES, RIGHTALERT.COM POLITICAL EDITOR: Absolutely not. And let's talk about how this call started. This call came from days ago. I first got the e-mail last week that he was going to do this call on Monday.
A typical surrogate conference call that happens with most campaigns. We were going to have our first one with all of us on. It was under the premonition, I would say, it was to say thank you.
[22:09:57] We are about to see this week, the democrats basically have their nominee, Barack Obama endorse and I think Mr. Trump just wanted to say thank you for all of the hard work that we've taken and we've gone out there and fighting for him for the past year.
That's basically where this premonition was. And the thought that this was just based on Trump University is absolutely ludicrous.
We discussed a variety of different things. Mr. Trump did not just focus on Trump University. We talked about his urban coalition, his foreign policy and it was a lot of people just throwing in different comments, different points that they have made on various topics.
LEMON: OK. So, in the interest of time, I just want to get to this. So, let's get to the point of this, to the meat of this about this Bloomberg -- the first report.
A campaign memo went out last night urging surrogates to steer clear of talking about the judge only for Trump to say, quote, "take that order and throw it the hell out." Did he say that, Tana?
GOERTZ: Did he say throw that order out? Yes, absolutely he did. Because he is the boss and he made the decision that after the phone conversation that he had with all of us, we all had enough information to go on national television and international TV like your show is, and to educate very eloquently and very precisely say exactly what the bottom line is on the Trump University case.
LEMON: OK. Point taken. Point taken. So, Scottie, Bloomberg also reported that Governor Jan Brewer along with former Governor Scott Brown expressed frustration with Donald trump saying the campaign needs to get on the same page. Is that part true?
HUGHES: That is not true. That was not what they were frustrated at. They were frustrated that they want to talk about policy, they want to go on the offense against Hillary Clinton and it seems time and time again we're not getting asked those questions by the media and they want to go on the offense.
And I think to the point of Tana, the whole thing about Mr. Trump saying, you know what, throw that out, it was because once you look at the facts in the case, just like Newt Gingrich did, I saw Sara's report.
Tonight, Newt has already come back and said, Gina, now that I've looked at the facts of this case, he, Mr. Trump is right, this case needs to be thrown out and he's publicly go on the record and say the Trump University case has no -- should not even be tried right now.
HUGHES: So, once you actually look at the details like Newt did...
LEMON: That's up for -- that's up for the legal system to decide. But we're talking about here the allegations and what he said about this judge. So, I'm going to ask you -- and you can answer first, Scottie, the Bloomberg article quoted Trump saying this about the media. "The people asking the questions, those are the racists, I would go at them." Scottie, true?
HUGHES: Well, I would just not -- I think he was just saying, don't be afraid to call them out of it.
LEMON: Did he say that?
HUGHES: I cannot -- I cannot remember that specific comment being made about what's going on.
LEMON: Tana, do you remember that comment being made?
GOERTZ: No. But I do remember Mr. Trump -- I know Mr. Trump and I know that Mr. Trump is not a racist. And in the conversation that he had with all of us on the phone, it was very obvious that this is a man who does not see color and he does not care about color. He loves everyone.
LEMON: Was that anyone insinuate -- was is that any insinuate on the call or Donald Trump, I should say specifically that you should go after the media for asking if this was racist, that the media is, in fact, racist?
HUGHES: No. Don, I think the question was don't be afraid to call out the media. When they're sitting they're trying to paint me as being the racist. Don't be afraid to point back the points that we're giving you right now, that the fact is that this is based on a biased media.
LEMON: OK. All right. To be directly -- just for a direct answer, he never said the people who are asking the questions are racist?
GOERTZ: No, he never said that.
LEMON: OK. Great. That's all I'm asking. So, Scottie, Dr. Ben Carson tweeted out this criticism. He said, "Every human being is an individual first rather than a member of an identity group. The moment we forget that is a moment we enter into a phase of moral descent." And I want you to take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you got one sixteenth Mexican blood, then maybe you can't be a judge. One sixteenth Muslim blood, I mean, this is unbelievable. He is getting worse. Not better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes, I think it's inexcusable. He has every right to criticize a judge, and he has every right to say certain decision are right. But first of all, this judge was born in Indiana. He is an American. Period.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't disagree more with a statement like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a racist statement?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't disagree more with what he had to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. But why -- do you think it's a racist statement to say?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't agree with what he had to say.
PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: It's reasoning I don't relate to. I completely disagree with a thinking behind that.
MARCO RUBIO, U.S. SENATOR: And that judge is an American and Donald shouldn't keep saying that. It's wrong that he keeps saying it. And it's inappropriate, wrong, offensive. I hope he stops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, all of you guys come on and say there's nothing wrong with it, he should question, it's not racist. All of those people there, pretty much all of them have endorsed Donald Trump or supported him as a presumptive nominee.
So, what are they getting wrong about this and about Donald Trump? Scottie?
HUGHES: Well, like I said before, Newt Gingrich is actually we hear the same facts we heard today and he's already his course saying you're right, Donald Trump.
But you know, I think it's interesting that we're sitting here saying that judges cannot be questioned and bias cannot be questioned. I mean, you had justice...
LEMON: So, what did they -- my question was, what are they getting wrong about Donald Trump?
HUGHES: Well, they're getting wrong and sitting here and jumping in publicly saying -- and these are folks -- just outside of Newt Gingrich the rest of them are just now recently getting on the Trump train.
[22:15:06] So, these are folks -- and we don't expect them to agree 100 percent. What I do expect them to do, though, instead of going out and sitting in front of the camera, sitting there and tearing him apart, something that the democrats don't do, call Mr. Trump first and say, I don't necessarily agree with your approach of this.
Don't do it for media show to publicly try to destroy the frontrunner of the GOP. What good does that do? Maybe that in this case, Don, they need to take a lesson from the democrats and keep it all behind closed doors. LEMON: So, Tana, Michal Reagan tweeted this out today, He said, "This
most likely would be the first time if my father was alive that he would not support the nominee of the GOP." And then, you know, he, of course, Reince Priebus and the news max in there.
So, Ronald Reagan's son says his father wouldn't support Trump as a nominee. What's your response to that, Tana?
GOERTZ: Well, I do not know Ronald Reagan so I can't make any guess on that. But what I think a lot of people are getting wrong, a lot of republican leaders why they're coming out and saying all of these things that they're saying about Mr. Trump is, most politicians run from the issues, Don.
Mr. Trump does not run from the issues, especially when he knows he's right, as in the case of Trump University. And most politicians when they have all the media on them or when they should scrutiny and all these eyes on them, they will cower and they'll retreat and go, OK, OK, you won like I'll retract statement.
Mr. Trump knows he's right and he is defending himself and that is what a lot of the media and a lot of the politicians are having a hard time with, because they know in themselves they would actually back down and go, OK, you know, this is -- this is obviously causing some waves. I better back down.
Mr. Trump is a man of strength and courage and that is why the American voters are voting for him and want him so badly in the White House.
LEMON: So, I'm going to ask you a question that is similar to one that my colleague Jake Tapper asked Mr. Trump earlier.
When he says that this judge can't do his job because of race, he said is that not the definition of racism? It is the definition of racism. So, how does one defend that? How do you defend that? Scottie?
HUGHES: Because it's not...
GOERTZ: Are you asking me?
HUGHES: It's not about race. It's about activism. You know, it's this thing. And that's a wonderful thing. But it's about his activism and we've already talked about La Raza, fine, it's a different organization but he's also under Hispanic national Association, Latino judges association, National Hispanic Prosecutors.
He has a track record of activism and those are things that are also said of what some of the things that those organizations...
LEMON: OK. Scottie, so I'm going to ask you there. What is the difference between -- how -- what is the difference between being having on a woman, you know, lawyer group or part of that, a part of an African-American woman's group, I mean, African-American lawyers group or any other lawyers group that is, you know, has to do with someone's gender or race or background or some organization that they belong to in college?
There's probably a fraternity. We were fraternity brothers in college. People belong to groups of all different kinds. How is that any different?
HUGHES: Because it's the idea of perceived bias at this point and that's what we're talking about.
HUGHES: The perceive bias going into this and it's obvious at this judge has a track record of going against policies that Mr. Trump is promoting. And so, it's obviously there. I think it's an ethical standard that this judge himself is not recused. That is part of the judge's moral...
LEMON: OK. So, if it's an ethical standard why not just say that instead of saying because the person is Mexican?
HUGHES: Well, and that would have been probably a good choice of words. But Mr. Trump was a private citizen. Yes, he was in there previously. He's transitioned right now into being a public servant which actually means he has to go really private right now.
LEMON: So, Scottie, I think that...
HUGHES: He might not choose some of the most...
LEMON: ... that you're writing on that. I think that you're getting to something. So, why not just say I was in artful or inarticulate on that particular point and I apologize what I should have said was this?
HUGHES: Because there is this striving right now. I don't care what the issue, for the last nine months is to get Mr. Trump to apologize and to keep apologizing. So, like that's the goal right now to break him, so much that he apologizes.
HUGHES: And the truth if they see that on the left or whoever is against that even the Trump folks see it as a success. So, I agree. Maybe he might come down the line. The only thing I have seen Mr. Trump apologize for is the fact that of not being their first children at all or his wife and the marriages. Other than that he's standing solid.
LEMON: OK. I've got to go just because of the time. But you know the saying, it takes a big person to apologize.
HUGHES: I agree.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Scottie.
GOERTZ: He's a big person, trust me.
LEMON: Thank you. Thank you very much Tana, you're going to come back. Scottie, thank you very much. I appreciate you guys taking all the questions. I got a lot of ground covered there.
When we come right back, a top republican who said he'd rather give up the White House for the next four years than see Donald Trump elected. We'll be right back.
[22:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Many top republicans upset over Donald Trump's comments about the judge presiding over the lawsuits against Trump University.
And I want to talk about this and more Carlos Gutierrez who served as commerce secretary under President George W. bush. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I appreciate you for joining me.
CARLOS GUTIERREZ, FORMER COMMERCE SECRETARY: My pleasure, Don.
LEMON: Let's start with Donald Trump, what he said about this judge. He's doubling down and says there will be zero apologies. And you heard his two of his surrogates earlier saying he doesn't need to apologize. What's your reaction?
GUTIERREZ: Well, you know, with one statement, he shattered the essence of what this country is about, that you don't judge someone on the basis of where their parents came from or their ancestors or even them.
And I'm disappointed that more republicans have not come out. This is not about party, it's not about republican or democrat. It's about the country, it's about who we are, it's about our values and it's not a time to be silent.
And I think those republicans who come out and speak and say this is not the Republican Party are those who will be treated favorably by history and those who remain silent I think will be doing a terrible damage to the party. Donald Trump has had a tactical victory by winning the nomination.
GUTIERREZ: And this could be a terrible strategic defeat for the party.
LEMON: There are a number of republicans who are coming out and another very high profile entertainer turned republican politician as well coming out, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as you know, actually appointed Judge Curiel to the bench in the first place. GUTIERREZ: Right.
LEMON: And this what he tweeted just a couple of hours ago. He just "Judge Curiel is an American hero who stood up to the Mexican cartels. I was proud to appoint him when I was governor." Why are so many republicans do you think feeling compelled to speak out against the nominee's comments in this case?
GUTIERREZ: Well, because they are bigoted and they are racist and just -- it is not what a republican does. You know, I've been a republican...
LEMON: He's saying there -- he's saying there -- pardon me. He's saying they are not racist, his folks are saying they are not racist, they're not bigoted at all.
[22:25:01] GUTIERREZ: Of course he is. But the way, look, if I were thinking about Donald Trump, I think what we should think about, the country, two things.
What does a man like that do with power? And the second thing is, what is the collateral damage? What does a Mexican-American parent tell their little boy or girl when they ask why Donald Trump talks about Mexicans with such disdain?
What does an African-American parent tell their children when they ask why did Donald Trump call that man my African-American as if he owned him? Let's go back a little further, Don.
What does a POW tell their children who see him as a hero because he spent three years in a hell hole for his country, what does he tell his children when they said, Mr. Trump doesn't think you're a hero?
And it goes on and on. What does a mother tell her daughter when she asks what did he mean when he said that to Megyn Kelly during the debates? There's a pattern here, Don. And we need to see it and we need to grab ahold of it. This is -- this is too important to remain silent.
LEMON: There is stinging criticism coming from former South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. And as you know, they ran against each other. So, take this however you will.
But I want to read this and I don't know if you'll go this far but what you think of it. He is saying, this is a quote, he said to The New York Times, "This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy," Mr. Graham said.
"If anybody was looking for an off ramp, this is probably it." Mr. Graham added. "There will come a time when the love of country will Trump hatred of Hillary." What do you make of that?
GUTIERREZ: Look, I think Lindsey Graham is a man who speaks his heart and I agree with what he said. I think this is totally un-American. I think it's taking us back decades and decades. This is the kind of thing that, again, it's the collateral damage. Does this get...
LEMON: But McCarthy, is that too tough or you?
GUTIERREZ: Of course -- no, no. McCarthy went after one aspect. Trump has gone after women, he's gone after Hispanics, he's gone after African-Americans, he's gone after Muslims, he's gone after POWs. I don't know what's left, Don. He's insulted women. This is not the Republican Party.
LEMON: Before we go -- before we go, I want you to listen to this. I want to make sure that we get this in. This is the brother of Judge Curiel. He says Trump was speaking from ignorance. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAUL CURIEL, JUDGE GONZALO CURIEL'S BROTHER: I don't think he is strictly an outright racist like some of your Ku Klux Klan. Those kind of people are really racist and they have no redeeming qualities. Trump, I don't believe, is that caliber of person. But he is very, very uninformed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Do you agree with his brother? Is Trump uninformed or is he racist?
GUTIERREZ: Yes. I think, look, it's a wise comment. Either he's a racist or he's not just very smart.
LEMON: Or a political gain?
GUTIERREZ: But -- you mean for political gain? I don't know. I don't know. But there's a pattern and that pattern suggests racism. You know, the comment my African-American, I can't see that clip, Don.
GUTIERREZ: It hurts too much. It's too embarrassing.
LEMON: Mr. Secretary, I have to go. I have to take a break. Thank you. I appreciate you coming on.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you.
LEMON: Up next, Newt Gingrich may have just lost his chance to be on the Trump short list of running mates. We're going to tell you why.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[22:30:00] LEMON: Many GOP leaders not happy with Donald Trump's criticism over the judge presiding over the Trump University case. Back with me now is Trump supporter and adviser, Tana Goertz, and
we're joined by Michael Isikoff, now the chief investigative correspondent of Yahoo news and author of "Uncovering Clinton, A Reporter's Story," and with me here, CNN political contributor, Maria Cardona, a super delegate committed to Hillary Clinton.
So, Tana, welcome back. Let's -- I want you to listen to what Newt Gingrich said yesterday and then Donald Trump's response this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This is one of the worst mistakes Trump has made. I think it's inexcusable. This judge is born in Indiana. He's an American, period.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was surprise that Newt. I thought that it was inappropriate what he said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, how upsetting were those comments to the campaign? Did Donald Trump talk about it today on that call?
TANA GOERTZ, DONALD TRUMP'S SENIOR ADVISER: He did not, Don. I'm glad you're bringing that up because a lot of the outlets are saying that he was talking about Newt and Newt is no longer a V.P. candidate. That Newt's name never came up at all on the conference call today with Mr. Trump.
LEMON: OK. So, Michael, in an interview taped earlier this afternoon, Donald Trump told Bill O'Reilly that he didn't care about the judge, that the judge was of Mexican heritage. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, THE O'REILLY FACTOR SHOW HOST: Do you regret making it personal with the judge?
TRUMP: Look, I've had very, very unfair decisions. People said this should have gone away a long time ago in summary judgment. The defendant in the case was a horror show from the other side so they asked if the defendant get out -- you know, the plaintiff -- the plaintiff in the case was an absolute disaster for them and they asked whether or not -- they went to the judge, they asked whether or not the plaintiff could get out of the case.
I mean, she said all great things about the school. She has a tape of her saying great things and she has a written statement signed by her saying great things and the judge dismissed her from the case but left the case stand. We thought we were going to win the case.
I don't care if the judge is Mexican or not. I'm going to do great with the Mexican people because I provide jobs. So, I don't care about Mexican. But we're being treated very unfairly, Bill. Very, very unfairly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, what's going on here, Michael? Why the change in tone?
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, YAHOO NEWS CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think probably because of the criticism that you've been airing all night long here. But look, the point is that Donald Trump's lawyers had every opportunity to ask for the recusal of the judge for several times, for months now if not longer.
The judge has been on the case for a few years. And they have not done so.
[22:35:02] And as we report in Yahoo tonight, we have exclusive video, which I think you've got, of Daniel Petrocelli, Trump's chief lawyer, just a month ago, saying that the judge is doing his job, he's got no plans to ask for a recusal. He made a sound decision that actually...
LEMON: Let me play it, Michael. Let me play for you.
ISIKOFF: Please do.
LEMON: Here it is.
ISIKOFF: Yes, sure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL PETROCELLI, TRUMP'S CHIEF LAWYER: The charges against him have no merit and he will testify and he will tell the truth and the jury will decide the case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You think you have no plans to ask the judge to recuse himself. Can you talk about that?
PETROCELLI: You know, the judge is doing his job and we're not seeking to recuse the judge. We're trying to assert our rights and I think the court today has a job of trying to balance out the competing interests.
He made the decision we prefer to do trial later in time, and set it November 28th, but it was preferable before the election. So, anyway, I've got to run right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Is this - how does this affected -- this doesn't help his case, does it, Michael?
ISIKOFF: Yes. No, it's actually pretty remarkable because there's the chief lawyer for the case saying the judge is doing his job. And actually, you know, this came right after a decision by Judge Curiel just a month ago, that was a huge break for Donald Trump.
The plaintiffs in the Trump University case that asked for a trial during the summer. This is a six-year-old case. They said justice delayed is justice denied.
ISIKOFF: We want our trial now. That would have been right after the republican convention, right in the middle of the election. And Judge Curiel said, no, I'm not going to interfere with Donald Trump's plans to run for president. He set the trial for after the election. A big break that the judge gave Donald Trump.
LEMON: All right. I need to get Maria because she's been holding her tongue. But before you get to speak, I want you to listen to this. Because you know who else softened his tone? Newt Gingrich. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, THE O'REILLY FACTOR SHOW HOST: Trump get mad at you, he call you up?
GINGRICH: No. We're fine. Look, we're both big boys. He's doing a great job overall.
O'REILLY: All right.
GINGRICH: I deeply disagreed on one item.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICLA COMMENTATOR: He didn't want to be taken off that list, Don.
LEMON: From inexcusable to doing the job in less than 24 hours. That's politics.
CARDONA: He didn't want to be taken off this list, right? Clearly that is -- that is the case. But look, this whole -- these last 48 hours have just been a complete circus. And what it underscores to me is that Donald Trump has absolutely zero strategy other than responding to whatever gets at his huge ego and whatever gets under his very thin skin. That is not the qualities we want in the President of the United States.
Furthermore, what he has said in terms of accusing this judge of not being able to do his job because of his ethnicity is so corrosive and so pernicious to our American values, and that is why he's getting so much push back and why it's making -- it's doing so much damage to the GOP.
My dad came here to the United States when I was 2 years old with $10 in his pocket. And he always told me and my brothers that we could be whatever we wanted. Well, guess what Donald Trump is saying. He is saying to my first generation Latino children that they can't do that. That is not the kind of America we want to live today.
GOERTZ: No. LEMON: Tana, you can respond right after the break. We'll continue
our discussion. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Turmoil in the GOP tonight Donald Trump's criticism of the judge in the Trump University case.
Back with me now, Tana Goertz, Michael Isikoff, and Maria Cardona. I promised you first, Tana. Maria was saying, you know, this is sending a terrible signal to Latino children, especially first generation Latino children or second generation.
GOERTZ: What I was going to say, Don, is Mr. Trump is the definition of the American dream. He has employed thousands of people who are living out the American dream, working for an American icon. He has done more for more entrepreneurs than anyone that I know in the history of business.
So, this is a man who inspires people who can get followers to get behind him and learn from him and he mentors people like he mentored me. And he -- and you read his books and you learn from him. And I have numerous, numerous stories of people who went to Trump University and they are millionaires today. But we never talk about those stories.
So, the success stories of Donald Trump being the American dream is so inspiring, it inspires me every day to do better.
CARDONA: Then you know what, Tana?
CARDONA: Have him stay a businessman. He has no business running for president. Because running for president...
GOERTZ: He only wants to do this...
CARDONA: Running for is not -- does not mean spewing the kind of racist hatred that he has done from the moment he announced his presidency calling Mexican immigrants rapist and criminals. So, it's fine. He's done all of these great things in his business hiring immigrants. Let him stay in his lane.
LEMON: Michael, go ahead.
ISIKOFF: Yes. I just have a couple of points, Don.
LEMON: Go ahead, Michael.
ISIKOFF: A couple of points.
GOERTZ: He would, but he needs to help our country.
CARDONA: We don't need it. Thanks.
ISIKOFF: First of all...
LEMON: Go ahead, Michael.
ISIKOFF: I think it's worth noting that...
GOERTZ: No, we do. The American people are saying we do.
LEMON: Let Michael speak, please.
ISIKOFF: I think it's worth noting that a lot of people actually think that Judge Curiel embodies the American dream more than anybody.
ISIKOFF: Now we're talking about here's a guy who was the son of Mexican immigrants, his father was a steel worker in the mills in East Chicago. His brother grows up, fights in Vietnam. He goes to law school, becomes a federal prosecutor, risks his life prosecuting Mexican drug cartels. They put a hit on him.
He lived under federal protection for more than a year because one of the biggest drug lords in Mexico had put a -- had ordered his assassination, and he goes on to become a federal judge. That seems to many people like an American success story.
CARDONA: I could not agree more.
GOERTZ: And you know what...
[22:45:00] ISISKOFF: But just -- yes, can I just add one other point, that, you know, the point that I was trying to make before and I think a lot of people have raised here is, look, if judge -- if Donald Trump really felt that this judge was so unfair to him, he did have the remedy. He could have filed a motion for recusal and he chose not to and his lawyer chose not to.
And had he done so on the basis that Donald Trump has raised because of his ethnic background, it would have almost certainly been denied because there's legal precedent that judges are not recused because of race, religion, gender.
In fact, there's actually a case right on point in the same circuit in California, the judge Vaughn Walker, who ruled on the same-sex marriage case, the parties to that who were opposed to same-sex marriage filed a motion a few years ago to have him recused because he was gay.
And that went all the way up to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and unanimously they ruled that's not a basis for a federal judge to recuse himself.
LEMON: Go ahead, Tana.
ISIKOFF: You have to show real impartiality -- lack of impartiality.
LEMON: Tana, to Michael's point here if being on a case that involved something that has to do with Mexican or Latinos, if that was an issue, then how could he successfully prosecute Mexican drug cartel members if that was an issue, his background and his race?
GOERTZ: Bottom line, Don, Mr. Trump is going to build a wall. A wall that keeps Mexican immigrants out of the country who are not coming in the proper way. This was a man of Mexican heritage. That's the bottom line. We've covered this ground a million times. We all know -- well, I know and everybody that has gone to vote for Mr. Trump knows he is not a racist but we want to continue this circle and bring it on around and around.
CARDONA: That's summation of racism, Tana. What you just said is the summation of racism...
GOERTZ: Well, that might be your definition of racism.
CARDONA: No. It's not mine. It's frankly the majority of the American people. And by that measure, then, in Trump's world, bizarre world, a woman judge would not be able to litigate anything having to do with perhaps women not being paid equally in any one of Trump's organizations, or a disabled judge wouldn't be able to rule on anything having to do with a disabled person bringing a lawsuit. What kind of America is that? That's not the kind of America that we want to raise our...
LEMON: I think -- I think what you can do is exchange any word. You can exchange -- hang on, Tana. You can exchange black, white.
LEMON: Gay, Hispanic, for what is said.
LEMON: And just see how that fit.
LEMON: Someone can -- someone who is black should not be able to sit on this because they will rule impartially. Someone who is a woman. Someone who is Jewish. GOERTZ: He was just showing the biased.
LEMON: OK. We'll be right.
LEMON: But listen. What Donald Trump told me when I asked him explicitly if he was racist, right after this break.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Back with Tana Goertz, Michael Isikoff, and Maria Cardona. OK. So, this is what Donald Trump told me in December.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I am the least racist person you have ever met. I am the least racist.
LEMON: Are you bigoted in any way?
TRUMP: I don't think so. No, I don't think so.
TRUMP: I'm a person -- no, not at all. I'm a person who happens to be very smart and I happen to have a certain street sense and I know where things are going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Tana, how do you respond to that?
GOERTZ: I couldn't agree with him more. That's the Donald Trump that I know and I respect. I have seen him with all types of people and he does not see color, he doesn't see any of that. Mr. Trump genuinely loves people. All kinds of people. So, that's him. That's exactly him.
LEMON: OK. Maria, you said that Trump is going to know he's changing the country with his racist language. Explain what that means.
CARDONA: So, a couple years ago...
LEMON: And as to what he's saying.
LEMON: He's saying I'm not racist. I'm not bigoted. I'm not any of that.
CARDONA: So, here's the problem with what he's saying. We remember a couple of years when republicans were accusing President Obama fundamentally wanting to change America? Well, here we have a man who is such a disgrace in how he is
portraying the kind of America that he wants that he fundamentally wants to change America. He wants to flip our American values on their heads.
The fact that this country was based on values that no matter who you were, no matter where you came from, no matter the color of your skin o your economic background, if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could achieve anything and you could do anything.
Donald Trump, with his hatred -- and you know what, maybe he doesn't even know what he's doing, which is even I think a worse thing. If you're not even aware of the kind of effect that your word have on the people that you supposedly want to lead, that's even worse.
LEMON: OK. So, here's Michael, let me ask you this. And I'm not saying, you know, anything as to whether I think Donald Trump is racist. I ask him the question, he said he is not. So, I take him at that.
But, Mike, there aren't many people who would admit that they are racist unless you belong to some sort of supremacist extreme group. Do you think Donald Trump understands what racism is?
ISIKOFF: Look, I don't know and I certainly can't get into his heart and his head about how he feels. But what we can -- what we do know, it was he, who chose to raise Judge Curiel's ethnicity. It was he, who chose to raise the fact that he was of Mexican-American heritage calling him a Mexican.
Had he just stuck to the rulings in the Trump University case and raised his own objections to why he felt that they were unfair, we wouldn't be having this discussion. But he brought up race. He brought up ethnicity, and that's why there's been this ferocious blowback from so many people in the Republican Party who want to support him but find these comments like Newt Gingrich said, unacceptable.
[22:55:01] LEMON: OK. So, Tana.
GOERTZ: Hey, Don.
LEMON: Getting back to the question that Maria asked and that she's not sure he knows what he's doing and then to my question again, do you think that he understands what racism is?
GOERTZ: I do. Mr. Trump is a brilliant man. He absolutely knows what racism is. This is a man who was given millions of dollars to various charities from AIDS to children of all nationalities, of all ethnicities, of all races and colors and he has donated so much money with no parameters on them.
On the "Celebrity Apprentice," he's giving money away to various charities, to the veterans, as we know, he doesn't care if you're white, black, yellow. He doesn't care what your color is. He is a man who wants to help make America great again. And America does need to be great again. We're $19 trillion debt. CARDONA: We are great.
GOERTZ: This is a man -- we need to be greater because we are in debt. And we are drowning. We are doing down. And Mr. Trump is the businessman that can turn this country around. He doesn't need to do this, trust me. He's losing money running for president.
LEMON: OK. Tana, that's -- Tana has the last word in this. So, Tana, thank you so much. I appreciate it.
GOERTZ: That's good.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, Maria. Thank you, Michael. I have all of you back.
CARDONA: Thank you.
LEMON: It was a great conversation.
When we come right back, the final Super Tuesday primary is just hours away as the race shifts to the general election.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)