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The Messy Truth with Van Jones. Aired 9-10:10p ET

Aired January 11, 2017 - 21:00   ET


[21:00:00] VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Good evening. Good evening. I'm Van Jones. Welcome to "The Messy Truth".

Now look, I don't know about you, but I have like emotional whiplash after the last 24 hours in American politics.

Last night, I got a chance to watch President Obama's speech, and it was this amazing kind of celebration of American democracy, very uplifting. Then this morning, I wake up to President Trump's first press conference, where he's attacking the press and comparing our country to Nazi Germany. So my head is completely still spinning, probably yours is too.

But to be honest, I'm actually skeptical of both of these guys for actually very similar reasons. So, let me start with Obama.

You know, he said good-bye. He said good-bye. And that farewell address, it moved millions of people, including myself, to tears again. And I say again, because if we're honest, it wasn't the first time.

Remember 2004? No black America, no white America, no red states, no blue states, just the United States of America. That was beautiful stuff. And there was hardly a dry eye in the house or in the country. But here we are 12 years later.

And the messy truth is this. All the speeches and all the tears did not bring us together. And we now enter 2017 as the divided states of America, divided by region and divided by race. So the big question, can Donald Trump succeed where Obama failed?

Now he says he wants to be the president for everybody, and that is very, very good. But then he goes and nominates for the attorney general somebody like Jeff Sessions who literally is terrifying the entire civil rights community.

So I think we might need to accept an even bigger and messier truth. Donald J. Trump cannot heal our deepest wounds, and Barack Obama could not heal our deepest wounds. George W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Wilson Reagan, none of our presidents has been able to heal these wounds and bring us together.

So maybe, just maybe, the politicians can't solve these problems. Maybe we're looking to the wrong people to bridge all these divides and to heal everything. Maybe it's going to be up to we, the people, to step up ourselves and start fixing this ourselves and start reaching out to each other. And if you think that is true, then I think we are going to have a great show.

President Obama last night said we've got to get out of these bubbles. Get out of these different tribes and start talking to people who do not look and sound exactly the way that we do.

So I want to introduce you tonight to two amazing people who are doing just that. These are extraordinary people, two people that are setting an example for all of us.

In just a minute, get this, you're going to meet an African-American female, progressive champion named Heather McGhee and her new friend, Garry Civitello. They're going to join us on stage. But before they come out here, I want you to see how they first met. Gary called in to a C-Span show, and this is what happened.


GARRY CIVITELLO, NAVY VETERAN: I'm a white male, and I am prejudiced. And the reason it is, it's something I wasn't taught, but it's kind of something that I learned. I have these different fears, and I don't want my fears to come true, you know. So I try to avoid that. And I come off as being prejudiced, but I just have fears. I don't like to be forced to like people. I like to be led to like people through example. And what can I do to change, you know, to be a better American?


HEATHER MCGHEE, DEMOS ACTION PRESIDENT: Thank you so much for being honest. And for opening up this conversation, because it's simply one of the most important ones we have to have in this country.


JONES: Now since that phone call, Heather and Garry have actually become friends, which is weird, but also awesome, and it makes them in this context, in this country, heroes.

Please give a big welcome to the stage to Heather McGhee and Gary Civitello. Wow.

So Heather, I'm going to actually start with you. You know, a lot of people would not have handled that with the grace that you did.

[21:05:00] What was it in that moment? You could have said, well, why you -- I mean, you could have done -- you could have done -- I mean, it could happened. It could have gone down. Why did you respond with such grace?

MCGHEE: You know, honestly, it was something in Garry's voice, you know. I've had my share of racist rants and call -- on call-in shows, but I could tell that he wasn't angry. He was afraid. And the way he ended his question, asking how to be a better American, and honestly, I don't think there is anything more important for us to truly walk into this destiny we're having as a country, where there is soon going to be no dominant race than for us to all actually face our fears and prejudices. So it was the most important question he could have asked, and I had to reach out a hand.

JONES: Well, it was beautiful to watch. I think 10 plus million people have seen it online. How has your life changed, you know, you have tremendous courage. You reached out. What's happened since then?

CIVITELLO: Well, I have been doing a different kind of practice and different approach to things. I actually had to start picking up a book and start to read things that are just kind of taken for granted by, from people.

JONES: Like what? What are some of the books?

CIVITELLO: I grabbed the whole bunch of books.

JOENS: Did you get -- you had a library.

MCGHEE: Cornel West.

CIVITELLO: Yeah, Cornel West. I'm a big fan of his. And but there's a plenty of books on the shelves. I just picked a bunch up, and I just started reading.

JONES: Well, how? I mean, listen, how have your friends been reacting? Because I would imagine that you have a set of friends who probably don't have a bunch of civil rights leaders and progressive leaders as their friends. How have -- how have your friends are reacting?

CIVITELLO: I think they're like a little curious. I think they're wondering, you know, what have I got myself into. You know, I just have a few friends I can count on my hand, actually, and I don't make a big thing about it. I, you know, I told them I was, you know, doing this thing and that I had this new friend here who kind of mentors me. And it wasn't like a long time ago, but, you know, it was having different kind of conversations with them.

JONES: Well, you know, on the one hand, you're mentoring him.

MCGHEE: Mm-hmm.

JONES: But, you know, President Obama said last night, we all have to get out of our liberal bubbles and our conservative bubbles. What has this meant for you? What are -- have there been prejudices that you've had or presumptions that you made that you've been challenged by and what have you learned?

MCGHEE: I think that the thing that is beautiful about living in this absurdly diverse country of ours, everyone's story is amazing. And getting to know Garry and his story and what he's overcome in his own life has blown open some stereotypes for me.

JONES: Oh, tell it all, tell it all. MCGHEE: I think -- well, I mean, I think, you know, I don't want to be public with things that have been conversations that we've gotten to know each other. But just some of the things that we think of as only experiences in certain parts of the country, as only experiences that people have when they're come from the inner city are actually ones that people have, you know, from all over the country and that a white, working class rural guy, you know, and a Republican state could have had those experiences as well.

JONES: You know, it's funny that you mention, you know, the inner city and that kind of thing. There's a young man here who I actually want to go to. His name is Malachi. And he -- you know, President Obama said we need to be getting out there, being more active, this man has been active, fighting on some of these very issues.

Give a round of applause to this young gentleman, Malachi.

Now, I want to brag on this young brother. He has been a part of President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" program, trying to get urban youth out of trouble, get them opportunities, and he has a question he wants to address to you.

MALACHI HERNANDEZ, STUDENT FROM BOSTON: Yes. So, I'm a freshman at Northeastern University, thank you. I'm a youth advocate. And I'm -- so my question is, you know, having grown-up in the tough areas of Boston, you know, more specifically, Dorchester, you know, I saw a lot of, you know, adversities growing up. And now that I'm a, you know, first generation in college, it was difficult at times, you know, to kind of, you know, do all those things in a low-income environment.

But thanks to My Brother's Keeper, you know, President Barack Obama's initiative, you know, my success has, you know, come this far. But my question to you is what do you think, you know, the new administration should bring or will bring to America, and what can they do for youth in particular? With, you know, young men who look like me, you know, who come from low-income communities or may not attend the best schooling. So what do you think should happen on that end?

[21:10:08] JONES: Before you answer, I do want to say something, you talk about the new administration. I can tell you've got some -- maybe some concern, but I will say this. Your life, you know, you've had Obama almost your whole life. Most of the time, the president is not African-American, OK? Normally that's not how it is. So we've had, you know, all kinds of presidents. We've been able to make progress under all kinds of presidents.

What do you think we can do on this new situation?

MCGHEE: Well, I think one of the things that we know for sure, and actually that President Obama probably would say immediately is that the president can provide a platform and a bully pulpit, but My Brother's Keeper for example was lifting up initiatives all over the country that in many ways were already happening. So it's going to depend on us.

Next week, on the 17th, there's a national day of racial healing around this effort that the Kellogg Foundation is doing, that Demos and other organizations are involved in to have conversations like what Garry and I are having and communities across the country.

So we're going to have to do it in our local communities, start from the grassroots. And we may not have a president who's going to lift up conversations like Garry's and mine, but we have to do it anyway.

JONES: Well, listen, I want to -- first of all, I give a round of a applause for the young man for standing up. I also want to thank both of you.

You know, if everybody just had the courage that you had to make a confession that you had, to be gracious about it, I think most of our problems would go away. So I want to thank you both very much.

And next up, we're going to break down the messy truth with a former presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina, she's going to be taking tough some questions from the audience and from me, when we get back.


[21:16:05] JONES: Welcome back to "The Messy Truth". I'm Van Jones.

Here's a messy truth. You know, I hate, hate to defend Donald Trump in any way for any reason. You all know I'm a strong Democrat, but I'm going to defend him tonight. We have had some salacious unverified allegations against Trump, now I don't know if any of this stuff is true and neither do you, but here's what I do know. Russia is deliberately trying to sow dissent and chaos to undermine American democracy.

How do you know that? Because every American intelligence agency is telling you that. Remember, WikiLeaks and the Democrats? OK. Everybody who jumped on social media and amplified that, you might have thought you were hurting Hillary Clinton, but it turned out you were mainly just helping Russia.

Now the shoe's on the other foot. And so now you see other people trying to amplify those rumors that have come out recently, thinking they're going to hurt Donald Trump, but in fact you are mainly helping Russia, and Putin does not deserve your help or your support. So please, do not jump up and down on this new pogo stick they put out there for you.

America, please just wake up. They are playing us for suckers, they are tricking us and using us against each other. And only -- you think it's funny to retreweet this stuff? The only people who are really laughing are the people in the Kremlin, that's who's laughing, and you don't want America's enemies laughing at us. So there, I got it out of the way. I had to say it.

And now I want you to recognize and welcome and give a warm round of applause to a super star from the Republican Party, former presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina is in the house. She's coming to the stage. She's coming to the stage, coming to the stage.

Oh, it's an honor.


JONES: Thank you.

FIORINA: Good to see you.

JONES: It's an honor. Please grab a seat.

FIORINA: Thank you.

JONES: Now listen, the audience has a ton of questions for you, but I got a question for you first.

FIORINA: Well, of course you do. Good to see you, by the way.

JONES: Good to see you too. We've been together for a long time.

Look, you saw me, I stood up for the guy. I stood up for the president and said let's stop all this nonsense, but don't you think that he does himself some harm by creating an atmosphere where we haven't seen his tax returns, we really don't know if he has interests over there? Wouldn't you advise him at this point to go ahead and get the tax returns out there so everybody can have more trust and confidence?

FIORINA: Well, certainly, I said during the presidential campaign season that I thought all candidates ought to release their tax returns. I released mine. On the other hand, I think it's important to remember that he got elected anyway.

And so, I actually think a whole bunch of people who knew very well that he had a complex business empire, who knew very well that he hadn't released his tax returns, were willing to vote for him anyway, and I think they were willing to vote for him, because they wanted change.

JONES: Yeah. And they like what he brings to the table, but he's already got those people, but for the other people, I just think, at some point I would love to see him do it. But, you know what? I don't want it. There's so many people who got questions for you.

I want to bring to the microphone, she's already waiting for us, a doctor, her name is Emline Aviki. And she is a Democrat from New York. She got a question for you.

FIORINA: Hello, Doctor.


FIORINA: Good, how are you?

AVIKI: Wonderful. So my question is simple. We've been hearing so much in the news about Russia's interference in the past election, regardless of what's verified or not. Is it really in our country's best interest to have a president-elect and his Cabinet picks have close ties with Russian leaders?

FIORINA: Well, first, it depends what you define as close. But let's just be clear. We have known for some time that Russia as well as China as well as North Korea have had a stated interest in hacking our nation, our government entities, our commercial entities.

[21:20:02] I served as the chairman of the Advisory Board at the Central Intelligence Agency and so I've seen the evidence. And that's way back almost 8 or 10 years now. So yes, of course, they're hacking us. Yes, of course they are enemies.

Look, Russia is a big country, and a lot of people do business in Russia. As the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, I did business in Russia. That doesn't mean I don't understand that Russia is an adversary, and they are an increasingly dangerous adversary, and we better be clear about that. And so I actually applaud the president-elect for saying among other things that in the next 90 days he's going to direct his team to come up with a cyber security program to try and keep our nation safe, because the last time --

JONES: Please speak of that.

FIORINA: -- we had a cyber security strategy was five years ago. And in the technology world, five years is five generations, and we are way behind.

JONES: Nobody knows that better than you, Carly, given your role in the whole Silicon Valley technology world. But, you know, you just mentioned something about the need for us to be safer. What do you think about President Trump, you know, blasting often our intelligence agencies? You've actually served on committees. You know the importance. You know how hard those people work. Do you worry when you see a president-elect doing that kind of stuff?

FIORINA: Well, I think Clapper, the outgoing head of DNI, said it very well. It's one thing to be skeptical and to question. Because the thing is about intelligence, if you read an intelligence report, there is lots of conflicting evidence. And frequently, the summary to an intelligence report, the thing that drives headlines has been written by committee, and it's filled with agendas, some of which are political. And so you actually have to get into the details of the report.

So when Clapper said skepticism is one thing, disparagement is another, I agree with him. And I think when it's bordering on disparagement that is not healthy and not helpful.

JONES: Well, and we've got another person who I think has something important to ask. Cherie is -- I'm sorry, Cherie Corso.

Now, Cherie Corso is one of the big, big Trump supporters who worked hard to elect him. She got question for you.


FIORINA: Hi, Sharee. CORSO: Very nice to meet you.

FIORINA: Nice you meet you.

CORSO: Donald Trump is a world class businessman. Why are his successes as a business person being treated so negatively? We should be honored to have him run this country and get things back on track.

FIORINA: Well, treated negatively by whom? I think, remember, if you set aside New York and California, which are obviously huge and populous states, they are also reliably blue states. If you set -- yes.

CORSO: Why is his business contacts being treated so negative.

FIORINA: Well, if you set those states aside, Donald Trump won 3 million more votes than Hillary Clinton. He won --

JONES: Come on.

FIORINA: No, no, no. It's important to say --

JONES: Well.

FIORINA: No. Because --

CORSO: He did.

FIORINA: Because -- the reason that's important to point out is because New York and California --

JONES: Come on.

FIORINA: -- are not necessarily representative. No, it's not ridiculous.

JONES: That's not fair. We're all Americans. You know, we're all Americans. You're from California.

FIORINA: Yes, we are. Yes, we are.

JONES: You want to be a governor of California.

FIORINA: We're all -- no, actually, Senate and I moved home to Virginia. But my point is this, to try and answer your question. The reason a Donald Trump wins a Michigan or a Pennsylvania or a Wisconsin or a maybe more traditionally a Georgia or an Alabama or a North Carolina or a Florida is because Americans who voted for him actually believe that his business accomplishments are relevant. That's why they voted for him.

CORSO: Right. That's his Cabinet. Do you like his Cabinet?

FIORINA: Yes, I think his Cabinet is filled with some very interesting picks. Some of them are politicians. Some of them are business people. JONES: Let me ask you something.

FIORINA: Here's the thing. Having been in business and politics --

CORSO: Right, it's a blessing that we have --

FIORINA: -- they're different, but there's a lot that's relevant from business to apply to politics.

JONES: Well, first of all, thank you so much for your question. And I think it's actually important to have you here, because you've been in both. I actually -- I'm going to surprise you. I actually believe that we should have more people with a business background and other backgrounds in our government. I just think it just makes for a more rich conversation and better decision making, but I think you would have to admit that there are -- it's a sticky pickle.

And you can wind up with all kinds of conflicts of interest or the appearance thereof, don't you have to meet a higher standard if you're going to jump that wall. And do you -- it seems to me that when you got people going through hearings, and we haven't even seen all the paperwork, doesn't that worry you? Don't you think that might make people feel less confident in the good parts if they weren't about the bad parts?

FIORINA: You know, I think there are politicians on both sides of the aisle who have tremendous conflicts of interests, with lobbyists, with special interest groups, with a whole set of things.

And in fact, here's a statistic that might surprise you. Gallup has been polling Americans about sort of big questions for a long time.

[21:25:05] Eighty percent of the American people believe the federal government has grown incompetent, corrupt, and allows problems to fester, and 80 percent of the American people also believe that we have a professional political class of both parties --

JONES: I don't think anybody would argue with you on that.

FIORINA: -- that cares more about its own power, prestige and privilege than getting the people's work done. My point is this, the vast majority of Americans, Democrats, independents, young, old, Republicans, men, women, believe that politics itself is corrupt.

JONES: So listen --

FIORINA: They don't believe business is necessarily more corrupt than politics.

JONES: Listen. In my party, we had 47 percent of people vote for Bernie Sanders because they feel the same way. Nobody's arguing that point. What they're saying is, if you want to be the Mr. Fixer Upper, if you're going to come in and clean it up, and you got to bring in some transparency, shouldn't you have some transparency? Shouldn't you actually do what you're saying? I just think you're going to have a problem, I think your party's going to have a problem, if you have a bunch of hearings, and you're voting on people, and you don't know what's in their closet, how is that good government? How is that better? How is that draining the swamp?

FIORINA: Well, as the Cabinet confirmation process is going on, every single one of the people up for confirmation has provided all of the information they've been asked for, including their tax return. It's an exhaustive process for Cabinet officials.

President-elect Trump has taken a different standard than his Cabinet officers have, but those who are being elected or nominated to Cabinet positions have turned in vast amounts of information.

JONES: Well, there's still some that people want more information from. I got to let other people talk. We can go back and forth. We love doing this, but I now want to hear from Nermeen Arastu. She is an immigration attorney with an important question.



ARASTU: So you've endorsed Senator Sessions for A.G., calling him a principled leader, right? But Senator Sessions has been one of the harshest critics of our immigration system, upon which our very success as a nation was built. He has sought to criminalize undocumented persons. He has called immigrants lamed them inaccurately for taking American jobs. He has sought to lessen protections for immigrant victims of crime.

As an immigration attorney, I've seen first hand how his rhetoric and how his policies have traumatized families and communities. Now, I ask you, what in his immigration track record do you see, and why did you endorse him? And on top of that, what advice do you have for him if he is to become our A.G.? How would you like to see him treat immigrant communities?

FIORINA: Well, first, let me say you are correct, of course, and I agree with you fully when you say immigration is a source of great success and vibrancy in this country and economic growth. That's clearly true. It is also true that our immigration system is broken. It's broken in so many ways.

For example, we have 16 different visa programs in this country. Half of the people who are here illegally now just overstayed a visa. We actually don't know when people come in and when they leave. That's a broken system. It's an inefficient system.

I spent 12 years in the state of California. Agriculture can't bring enough farm workers in. That's a broken immigration system. So there are many aspects about our immigration system that are broken. And of course most Americans --

JONES: That stuff is great. FIORINA: -- want the border secure.

JONES: But do you -- are you -- how does that, fixing all that good stuff, which I think we should fix, relate to scaring the bejeebers out of millions of people, you got dreamers that turned in their names thinking they're going to be able to stay here, now they can't sleep at night.

There's a difference between the smart stuff you're saying and some of the scaremongerings. Aren't you concerned about the scaremongering?

FIORINA: And I think -- of course I'm concerned about the scaremongering. And I think scaremongering on both sides is harmful to our democracy. One of the things that I hope very much is that we as citizens, because we can't throw it all on our elected officials' laps. I hope that we as citizens can learn to be more respectful of one another. That we can tone down the hyperbole, but let us be honest.

The habit of tarring one's political opponents with a lot of adjectives and insults didn't start with Donald Trump. He may do it differently. He may tweet about it and let's face it, 140 characters means you got a lot of hyperbole and a lot of adjectives in there, but he is not the first person to insult a political opponent.

I have to say that I understand that you don't agree with Jeff Sessions, some of his policy positions. That's your right as a citizen. I understand that Cory Booker doesn't agree with Jeff Sessions. That's his right, but it's a very different thing for Cory Booker to say he's unqualified. He's clearly qualified. He has overseen the Judiciary Committee. He's been an Attorney General.

[21:30:08] JONES: Listen. I've got to stop you. I've got to stop you.

FIORINA: He's worked in the Justice Department.

JONES: I've got to pay my bills.

FIORINA: He is qualified.

JONES: OK. Thank you very much. So I've got to pay my bills. Listen, Carly. Now, we don't get it on when we get back, because she's talking about Cory Booker. So please stick around. When we come back, more questions from the audience, and now, from me, too, and also our guests. We'll see you when we get back.


[21:35:01] JONES: Welcome back to "The Messy Truth". I'm Van Jones. We've got former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. She's back with us and she's taking questions from the audience. We're going to go right to Sharon Mahn who is an attorney here in New York.


FIORINA: Hi, Sharon.

MAHN: My question is this. I've been open-minded and supportive about the Trump presidency. I have been grappling there with some of the issues of his candidacy. Trump has been criticized, largely by the media for his alleged mistreatment of women. My question to you is, as a successful businesswoman and role model to many, can you reconcile some of Trump's --- President-elect Trump's past behavior and support him moving forward?

FIORINA: Well, I have been clear when I felt his behavior was hurtful and objectionable, and I've been public about that. But I also look at a man who obviously has extremely highly qualified women in his cabinet, extremely highly qualified women in his business. And so this appears to me, to be a man who recognizes talent, no matter what shape or size it comes in. And I think that's important.

JONES: Look, I think that you're probably one of the most talented people we have in our country in business and in politics. Everybody knows that. You guys had real conflict, you and Trump, and it got personal even at times, and yet you've somehow been able to make that journey. I think you want other people to make that journey. How did you go from being in such a conflict with him, even over gender issues, to where you are now?

FIORINA: Well, he is our president. He won this election, and so I think just as with President Obama. I didn't vote for President Obama, but I wished him every success.

And so I think all Americans, for the sake of our country, for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, we want to hope he succeeds. That doesn't mean that we don't hold him accountable. That doesn't mean that we don't stand up and say when we disagree with him. It does mean we got to give him a shot. So let's give him a shot.

JONES: Sure. Well, I think you're going to wind up being a kind of a Trump translator for a lot of people, because I think you were able to make that bridge.

But there's somebody else I want you to hear from, a young father with a young son named Marc Ross. Give a round of -- I want you to meet this young man. Give a round of applause to this young guy here. He came all the way from Atlanta to be here with us. Thank you for being here.

I have a son that's about your age, and your dad wants to ask a very important question.

FIORINA: Can I come down there, too?

JONES: Well, you can stay up there.

FIORINA: Oh, OK. That was a no.

JONES: We've got two cameras.

FIORINA: Maybe you can come up here.

JONES: We've got two cameras.

FIORINA: All right. Yes, sir.


FIORINA: Good evening.

ROSS: My son was born in 2007, and he was born extremely premature. And, as a result, he has some preexisting conditions that he will live with for the rest of his life due to no fault of his own.

In the past with high-risk insurance pools, the premiums on those things were incredibly high, and this was before Obama or Obamacare. Going forward, I know that the Republican Party would like to increase high-risk insurance pools. Donald Trump has talked a lot about accessibility. But I would like to talk a little bit more about what the Republican Party can do to not only increase accessibility for things that have already been done before, but affordability so that my son will be able to obtain health insurance when his time comes.

FIORINA: Yes. Well, first I understand your son is also lucky enough to be here visiting his great grandmother. You're a lucky boy.

I have a preexisting condition. I'm a cancer survivor. So I understand at a really personal level that no one can be denied affordable health care because of a preexisting condition. Not your son, not anyone else. And I think it's one of the reasons why there's so much discussion now inside the Republican Party about what to replace Obamacare with. Because while repeal, I believe, is absolutely necessary, it's not working. It doesn't help some if you're punishing even more, which is what's going on now. Everybody's premiums are raising.

I think it's why there's so much discussion about how to replace it, so that people with preexisting conditions can be covered. And everyone can have quality, affordable health care.

JONES: You know, you actually can afford quality health care, everybody can't. Don't you think at this point, it's almost irresponsible for the Republican Party not to be able to say what they're going to replace Obamacare with? It's not perfect, but they're saying they're going to repeal it. They still haven't said what they're going to replace it with,

FIORINA: Well, actually --.

JONES: You could not have let H.P. say they're going to eliminate a product line, you know what he's going to do.

FIORINA: Actually, there are several plans on how to replace it, at least six that I'm aware of. And all of them have certain common elements, for example, the portability of health care, so that you're not beholden to an employer for your health insurance. Boy, that makes sense. [21:40:01] The fact that anyone can compete for your health insurance and you get to pick the kind of health insurance you want to buy. Gee, that makes sense. By the way, we got into this mess because government regulated health insurance. It used to be on a state level, now it's on a federal level. Government has been part of the problem here for a really long time.

So I think there are multiple plans, and now the party has to come together and harmonize those plans. But on this, I think everyone agrees. You cannot prevent someone from getting access to quality, affordable health care, simply because they have been sick in the past. And let us be honest.

JONES: Well, thank you for saying that, because I when I tell you --.

FIORINA: Government allowed that to go on for decades.

JONES: And Obamacare put an end to it. And first of all, you have been such a champion. And nobody in your party has been clear as a personal story and a champion for real reform. I appreciate you. Please give her a big round of applause for being here.

FIORINA: Thank you all. Thanks for having me. Thank you.


JONES: Now, when we get back, we're going to have one of my favorite Democrats and one of my favorite republican. The governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm is going to be here. Her state went Republican in November, but she still gives me hope. We'll see when she gets back.


[21:45:33] JONES: Welcome back. Now here's a messy truth. When it comes to fighting poverty, poverty, both political parties suck and I'm going to tell you why.

Number one, poor folks in rural America have been voting for Republicans for generations, but when it comes to joblessness and the opioid crisis that is actually just tearing small-town America apart, the Republicans have delivered NADA. True story. The Democrats are in the same situation, though. Poor urban Americans have been voting for Democrats for years, for decades, for generations, and when it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty, of violence, of drugs, the Democrats have been delivering NADA, OK?

So that is something that both parties are going to have to start dealing with, and we've got to stop pretending like only one or the other has fallen short, both are. But that said, only one political party got punished at the ballot box in 2016 over this issue. The Democratic Party establishment was stunned when hundreds of thousands of urban voters stayed home, the base for the Democratic Party just stayed home on Election Day, so I wanted to get some answers.

For instance, why did so many black voters in Detroit sit out the election? So I went to Michigan, which Hillary Clinton only lost by half of one percent, and I asked four mothers what they thought about the situation, what they said surprised me. Listen to this.


JONES: Detroit, Michigan, with over 80 percent of its resident is African-American. It's the blackest big city in the country. Hillary lost the state by just 10,000 votes. So, what happened? I begin my search for answers here at church.

All four of these mothers lost their sons to violence.

Why didn't Detroit, with all the pain and suffering here, with all Obama did for the auto industry, why didn't Detroit come out for Hillary Clinton?

ALDEANA GOODSPEED, HILLARY CLINTON VOTER: Maybe because people thought it would just be a landslide. You know, especially after watching the debate. It's like, Hillary, she won the debate, and it's like, well, why do it? You know? She's going to win anyway. So I think it was a little complacency.

ANDREA CLARK, HILLAR CLINTON VOTER: I think the party failed us, period. I think that the Democratic Party failed us, because they were so sure that Trump could not become the president. That they didn't put in the work.

JONES: Trump did come to Detroit, and he, you know, he got many speeches where he stood up and said, "I care about black people, after all, what the hell do you have to lose?" When he said that, how did that land with you guys?

GOODSPEED: Arrogance.

CLARK: Ignorance.


GOODSPED: No compassion.

MOTLEY: I clapped.


MOTLEY: What do we have -- because it's the truth, and truth hurts. It's like a sore. What do we have to lose? We've been ran by Democrat for 40 years. Has anything really changed? So what do we have to lose? Let's try something different. Let's try something new because what we're going with is not working. It's obvious, it's not working.

JONES: But you didn't vote for him.

MOTLEY: Right. You know, I was relating to his campaign.

JONES: When he said what the hell do you have to lose, did you feel insulted?

CLARK: I absolutely did.


CLARK: Because you got me down here. You have no thoughts about who we are as a people or I am as a person. When you say what do you have to lose, that means you're saying I don't have anything to begin with.

GOODSPEED: Right. That's right.

CLARK: And we have a lot. Our capacity is huge.

JONES: Obviously, if Hillary Clinton had won, she would have been the first female president coming after the first black president, but all of you didn't support Hillary Clinton.

MOTLEY: I didn't, per se, support her on a personal level just because she was a female. I am a female. I just don't think a female is ready to run the most powerful country in the world. You know emotionally, we've got too much going on within our DNA.

CLARK: So now you got emotional Trump who has tweets on Twitter.

GOODSPEED: I think that it is not -- definitely not a gender thing, you know. Because, equally, one could do it, that one could do it as well.

[21:50:06] I think Hillary was running the country when Clinton was in office.

CLARK: Clinton, yes. Thank you. She would.

GOODSPEED: And Obama, I think that Michelle, you know, who does he go to to consult with, to console him, yeah, we are very emotional, but men are just as emotional.

CLARK: Yes, yeah.

GOODSPEED: OK, just as emotional.


JONES: And that was deep. So, look, we got to talk about that. And I want to bring a woman who knows the people of Detroit and the people of Michigan very well, the former Governor Jennifer Granholm. Give her a big round of applause.



JONES: It's good to see you.

GRANHOLM: All right.

JONES: All right.

GRANHOLM: What was up with that?

JONES: We got to talk.


JONES: We got to talk. So that was --.

GRANHOLM: Did that surprise you? Did that surprise you when she said a woman shouldn't -- I mean, really, as between Hillary and Bill, which one do you think is the most emotional? I'm just saying.

JONES: Well, that's a good point. But, listen, we were told that we had this big blue wall that deal everything was on lock and the women were coming to come out. Were you surprised that we had this outcome?

GRANHOLM: Oh, my gosh.

JONES: And what happened?

GRANHOLM: I'm not giving you. I was on the shows in the morning going, "Yes, it's going to be a great day. I knew we were going to win." I was like, "Look." And then it wasn't until at the jettison (ph) of that night when it was clear as if these were coming in. This was not going to happen. Totally shocked.

JONES: What have you --.

GRANHOLM: Totally shocked.

JONES: So you've had -- before we got to the audience, you've had six, seven weeks now to reflect on it. What did we do wrong in the Rust Belt? Because you won in the Rust Belt.

GRANHOLM: Yeah. No, no. I won in the Rust Belt. And honestly, Democrats took working people for granted I think. I mean Hillary Clinton had all of these great policies, believe me. I knew they were fantastic but there were so many of them. It was -- you couldn't -- if I ask you, you know, name one, you might not be able to. Whereas Donald Trump build a wall, re-negotiate NAFTA, you know, trade, et cetera. That trade issue was the issue. It is the issue.

When I ran for governor, I was like, "NAFTA and CAFTA have given us the SHAFTA," and everyone knows that that's true, because everybody has seen it in every community across Michigan.

JONES: I wish Hillary had stolen that line. But anyway I guess, we got to get other people in here.

Listen, Jineea Butler is a Republican from New York. And she was at nod the whole time. So what are you going to say, Jineea?

JINEEA BUTLER, NEW YORK REPUBLICAN: I'm a compassionate hip-hop Republican, first.

GRANHOLM: Oh, well --


GRANHOLM: That's a lot of --

BUTLER: Yeah, absolutely.

GRANHOLM: -- stuff in there.

BUTLER: So there's a lot of pressure in the African-American community to obstruct President-elect Trump in favor of President Obama's legacy. President Trump -- President-elect Trump is promising jobs, new education, and economic independence. Shouldn't we be looking for President-elect Trump to be the change that we need? The necessary change that we need instead of saying that, you know, we've got to hold on to President Obama's legacy?

GRANHOLM: Yeah. I mean -- here's what I think. And it's a great, great, great question, because everybody wants jobs in this country. There's nobody here, Democrat, Republican, independent, I don't care. You don't want good-paying jobs in America, right? So have at it is what I say. And it can't be just this, you know, one-off phone calls to the head of Carrier, because that's not going to do it, right? It has to follow -- policy has to follow.

So what is he going to do, right, that brings jobs in? Now, he said he's going to re-negotiate the trade agreements. I'm all about that. Good for him. I hope the Republican Party goes along with it. I hope we -- he beats up enforcement of these trade agreements. We need a tiger at the World Trade Organization and not a pussy cat.


GRANHOLM: So I hope he does that.

JONES: Now, you got to get beat up on Twitter, because -- move on now. Because you're actually saying that there are some things we can do together. He talked about --


GRANHOLM: I'm all about that.

JONES: You're saying nothing.

GRANHOLM: If he invests in infrastructure. I'm all about that. It puts people to work. The question is, what is the policy going to be that he can get through the Republican Congress? And if he does infrastructure, for example, bridges, roads, et cetera, is he going to do it by making you pay for toll roads or toll bridges? Or is there going to be a major investment that doesn't cost you all money as you drive down the road? That's a good question. So those kinds of debates are going to happen.

JONES: That's a good question.

GRANHOLM: But it's about jobs. I'm all about it.

JONES: That's a good question. We're going to have more questions when we get back. I want you to stick around.

GRANHOLM: It's so fast.

JONES: Listen, when we come back, you got to get more questions from me and from the audience, when we get back.

[21:55:03] GRANHOLM: All right.


JONES: Welcome back to "The Messy Truth". I'm Van Jones. We've got former Michigan Governor Granholm here and we're taking questions from our town hall audience.

And the first question is from the guy who's had two big nights in a row. He was in Chicago last night with President Obama and now he's here. Jahmal Cole, runs a non-for-profit, he's got a question.

JAHMAL COLE, FOUNDER, MY HOOD, MY BLACK, MY CITY: How you doing this afternoon --

GRANHOLM: Hey, Jahmal.

COLE: -- tonight? You're good?

GRANHOLM: I'm good. How are you?

COLE: OK. I'm doing better than some, worse than others. I can't complain.

Listen, the national news story about Chicago is always about gun violence, right? And as often time it's explained in terms of gangs and guns, very rarely than even has it been a national discussion about the root causes of violence, which are poverty, joblessness, under-resourced schools, divested communities of color. I mean you literally got teenagers that orders food to three-inched bullet-proof glass windows in the day, right?

[21:59:58] Our president last night asked us to show up and organize. And organizations like My Block, My Hood, My City are doing this positive work everyday. It's not just us, you know, there's Asiaha Butler in Englewood, (inaudible), Father Pfleger in Auburn-Gresham. There's --


JONES: What's your question, brother?

COLE: Well, my question, I'm getting to it.

GRANHOLM: I Hear it.

COLE: What can the new, what will the new administration do specifically to reduce gun violence in Chicago? And I'm talking beyond 140 characters and a hash tag, because there is serious mistrust for government employees not only in Chicago but countrywide.

JONES: Governor?

GRANHOLM: Yes. I mean, I don't know what the Trump administration is going to do but your point about the gun violence being more of a symptom rather than the cause is so critical. So what is the cause?

High crime occurs in high poverty areas. What is poverty due to? Poverty due to a lack of jobs, right? So, there is, I don't know if any of you read George Bush's biography called, "Decision Points" he didn't read. All right.

And he tells a story about a question that he would ask every leader. And the question that he would ask as an ice breaker is what keeps you up at night? And when he -- and what kept George Bush up at night was terrorism, right.

But when he asked that question to the premier of China, the President of China, Hu Jintao. Hu Jintao said to him, what keeps me up at night is creating 25 million jobs a year for my people.

Do you not want leader to are kept up at night about how to create jobs, good paying jobs and high unemployment areas, right?


JONES: Well, hold on a second. Democrats...

GRANHOLM: The dignity of a job will stop -- will stop violence.

JONES: Hold on a second. Democrats don't call that sounds great. I love it, I'm all for it. But when you're talking about this epidemic of violence...


JONES: ... don't we first before you start talking about the 25 million jobs and all that, don't we have to acknowledge that democrats have thot treated this like a national emergency?


GRANHOLM: I totally agree with you on that. I totally agree with you on that. But do you not agree that if somebody has a job not they are not going to be joining a gang if they a dignity.


JONES: Nothing stops -- nothing stops a bullet like a job. I'm with you on that one.

GRANHOLM: Hello, hello, hello.

JONES: So, yes, that's all right. GRANHOLM: And that means -- but just you see, in Chicago, it's urban areas but it's also in those high poverty rural areas, too.

JONES: That's true.

GRANHOLM: Both areas you have opioid addiction, et cetera, in rural areas as you were describing, you need to bring, you need to have a strategy to bring jobs and create...


JONES: I want us bring one more...

GRANHOLM: .. bring good jobs in America in a global economy. And that's what I want to see from Donald Trump. What is the strategy for doing this?

JONES: You're a good politician and got it all out.

GRANHOLM: I'm just saying it.

JONES: But I want you to hear from the next generation.


JONES: We got -- we got -- where is my young man, Kyle Tierney? There you are.


JONES: Kyle is a young man, he is a republican who goes to my alma mater Yale, so, boola, boola. What's your question?

KYLE TIERNEY, TRUMP VOTER: Again, back to jobs for a second.


TIERNEY: Trump has promised to bring back manufacturing jobs.


TIERNEY: How do you see the Trump -- how do you see the Trump administration distancing itself from continuing crony capitalism -- or capitalist policies and making sure that the government isn't picking winners and losers in a tweet or press conference like pulling out of specific company today?

GRANHOLM: Right. So, you see that he has been doing that, right? And frankly, every governor in the country does it, uses tax credits, et cetera, to lure jobs. And that's all -- it's the only tools we have.

So, the way you get jobs in America is to have a strategy where you were thinking about every policy you have, how does this create jobs in this country? And yes, maybe tax reform is portion of it but there's nothing wrong with a region deciding, hey, we have got these assets and we're going to be great at making this advanced manufacturing product.

We're not going to get all of manufacturing back but you better believe we can get an awful lot of it back if we compete like Germany has done.

So, I was moderating this round table of CEO's from the business round table, and I said to them, all right, which country does it best? Which country makes it irresistible for you to decide to go there and what are they doing? And you know what they said what country does it best, and they said Singapore.

And I said, well, what is it about Singapore, what are they doing that we're not doing? And they said it's not just about taxes, it's the fact that they are assembling land for us to locate our factories there. It's that they are training people for specifically the jobs that are coming out of that factory, it's because they are providing us access to capital, they have a whole wraparound strategy for how they become irresistible.

We have got to be irresistible to advanced manufacturers in the globe or we are going to lose out. And that's what I would like to see as a comprehensive plan from the Trump administration.

JONES: Well, listen. There's one place that we know we need those advance manufacturing jobs. And it's Ohio. And we have a young man here from Ohio.

GRANHOLM: Ohio, the Midwest represented again.

JONES: Yes. Jake Tuckerman, a Clinton voter, what's your question?

JAKE TUCKERMAN, CLINTON VOTER: Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question. It seems that over the past few weeks and months that Trump's relationship with the media is becoming increasingly confrontational.

I'm curious how do you think this will affect Americans as they try to search for real truth in the media and also how the repercussions of this will be specifically with the effects this will have on his views against the credibility of the media.

[22:05:08] GRANHOLM: Well, I mean, this is such an important question and I hope that you all who are here and the folks who are watching at home understand and see what is happening with an effort to create an alternative channel of media to define which media is good and which media is bad by the Trump administration -- the Trump incoming administration, the press conference today was an example of that a bit.

We should all be alarmed if there is no transparency. Because the media can't do their job if there's no transparency. You, the media is an arm of democracy. You cannot be informed citizen if you don't have an active media that has access to the arms of government, including the presidency.

So, this, you know, Jahmal, you were saying the president called last night, President Obama called to everybody to stand up. This is an issue that people should be on the edge of their seat about. There has to be transparency.

Yes, people have to release their tax returns, it's a basic thing. We have to know what the decisions are that are being made and do they -- is our foreign policy for sale? Maybe it's not. But the only way we can be confident about that is if the media have access. We have access. The media is you, you are -- they are your voice.

JONES: Governor?

GRANHOLM: So, the bottom line is something that everybody should be concerned about. Yes, sir?

JONES: Thank you. Well, first of all, your passion for democracy is unrivalled. Give her a big round of applause.


GRANHOLM: Are we done already? I'm telling you.

JONES: It goes fast. It goes fast. Look, I want to thank all my guests tonight and the audience and you at home. Look, we had an honest conversation here. It's your turn around the kitchen table, around the water cooler, we want you to keep the conversation going, stay human.

I'm going to be back on the 25th of January for the next MESSY TRUTH and I'm going to have a special guest named Whoopi Goldberg. That's right. Coming to MESSY TRUTH.

But tonight, CNN TONIGHT starts with Don Lemon right now.