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Chris Collins Appear On A Town Hall; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar On Travel Ban: It's A Mean-Spirited Effort. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 16, 2017 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:01] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Listen, Comey is very tight lipped as you know but on this issue, there is expectation that it will make some public comments saying there is no evidence of these wiretap claims by the president.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.
"The Messy Truth with Van Jones" starts now.
VAN JONES, HOST, "THE MESSY TRUTH": Welcome to "The Messy Truth." Welcome to "The Messy Truth." I'm Van Jones.
Now, look, today was a crazy day even by Trump's crazy standards. OK. We had Sean Spicer in the briefing in a scene that really just could have been "Saturday Night Live." I mean, you just take it, tape it, play it on Saturday. We had a Senate Intelligence Committee where basically they called the President of the United States a liar over his wiretapping claims, which apparently are totally phony. And then we got our first look at the Trump budget, which basically just drops a bomb financially and economically on Trump's own supporters.
So, look, tonight you're going to need some inspiration and some love and so you're going to get it because later tonight we're going to have on this stage a living legend. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be here later tonight. So, don't worry. It's going to be all right.
But, first, we're going to welcome to the stage one of President Trump's top supporters in Congress. We got a long list of issues we want to grill him on and we got this wonderful live audience to help us do the grilling, so that should be fun.
But, look, let's just take a step back, big picture. When you look at this horror show of a budget, and you combine that with the health care plan, there's really only one conclusion I can come to you, the messy truth for Donald Trump's voters is that Donald Trump has already been captured and co-opted by the very same D.C. insiders that he ran against. He doesn't seem to know it yet, but that's what happened.
Now, don't forget, Donald Trump actually ran against the conservative establishment. He ran against the Republican establishment. He ran against the same old, same old Washington D.C. conservative orthodoxy and he did crazy stuff. Look, he said, "I'm not going to touch any popular programs." He even said kind words about Planned Parenthood. He was tough on "Wall Street." He promised insurance for everybody, all right?
Now, that's the Trump I was terrified of, OK? That's the guy that had me screaming to the Democrats, "This dude can win," because he's going against the orthodoxy. And guess what? The Republican voters actually loved it. They helped this guy run over 16 or 17 establishment Republicans, because they wanted the new populist stuff. Well, guess what Trump voters? I got bad news for you. That same orthodoxy that Trump ran against today, that is Trump's only agenda in the White House, 100 percent.
What am I talking about? Let's just look at the Republican health care plan, which basically Speaker Paul Ryan had now stapled to Donald Trump's forehead, but Donald Trump didn't run promising he was going to push 20 million people out of the health care system. That's what Paul Ryan's bill does. Trump didn't say that.
Trump said, "I'm going to take care of everyone." Remember that? "I'm going to take care of everyone. I'm going to make sure everyone has insurance." But the establishment has said, "Uh-uh, no way." So, they flattered Trump. They went golfing with Trump. And then they switched his populist agenda for theirs.
Now, you look at that health care plan, you look at that budget, every heartless brutal idea from these establishment Washington, D.C. think tanks, which are completely cut off from real life, they just cut and pasted all their bad ideas, put it in one document and said, "Here's your budget, sir. We're going to cut federal funding for Meals on Wheels and everybody is going to love it, right?" And Trump's falling for this.
So, they basically have put this guy in Air Force One. He's flying over the red states and he's dropping hand grenades and meat cleavers and chainsaws onto the heads of his own voters. Mr. Trump, here's the truth. You can either please your party's insiders or you can please your actual voters. Many of whom cannot bear these cuts, but you can't do both. And that's the messy truth.
Now, look, to help us figure out what's really going on here, I want you to welcome to the stage the guy -- actually, the first person in Congress who got on the Trump train, the president's best supporter, his best defender in Congress, he's going to help us understand this whole thing, Representative Chris Collins. Give him a big round of applause on the stage.
[21:05:01] REP. CHRIS COLLINS, (R) NEW YORK: That's quite the intro.
JONES: That's quite the intro. Grab a seat. Grab a seat. Glad to have you here.
COLLINS: Hi, everybody.
JONES: Give him a round of applause.
Thank you for being here on "The Messy Truth". COLLINS: Glad to be with you.
JONES: Look, it's been a crazy week. A lot of bad stuff has been going on. But, I'm very, very concerned about the poor folks, the vulnerable poor folks, the people who can't deal with these types of cuts. Where is the populism? This is just a complete conservative attack, isn't it?
COLLINS: Now, hat we're looking at is President Trump doing everything he promised on his campaign. We suffered through eight years of Barack Obama. Our children and grandchildren today have $20 trillion of debt hanging over their backs.
We've lost any wiggle room we had in Washington with $20 trillion of debt. We've had the weakest economic recovery in history coming off of depression, give or take 1 percent GDP growth. We need to get the economy moving. We need to secure our borders. We need to make sure that the failed Obamacare, because failed in --
JONES: Congressman, you guys have been doing this now for seven years, almost eight years. You just jump up and down on the anti- Obama pogo stick. I hate to tell you this, you guys are now the governing party.
COLLINS: You got it.
JONES: You're the governing party --
JONES: -- a budget that destroys a program like Meals on Wheels. I just actually want to ask you personally. You got a good heart, a big heart. When you look at some of these programs that are being cut back for people who need help, those voters who voted for Trump, they're voting for jobs. There's no jobs package. They were voting for, you know, trade -- you guys have anything on trade but you come up with the health care bill that's going to push 20 people off to health care? Didn't that terrible?
COLLINS: Well, let's start with trade. We pulled out of the Trans- Pacific Partnership, TPP
JONES: That's a negative action, but you haven't renegotiated one trade deal, not one.
COLLINS: Well, that's going to be coming. I mean, he's been in office like two months. Let's remember, two months. We are accomplishing everything we promised, to repeal and replacement of Obamacare and you have to say it is failed. People lost their doctors, they lost their insurance.
One-third of the countries in the United States today have one offering. It's a bronze plan with $10,000 deductible. I don't know how many people in the audience have $10,000 in the cookie jar to cover their deductibles. They don't -- JONES: They also don't have $10,000 for those health savings plan you guys want people put out (ph) money into. So, your plans have some challenges, as well.
COLLINS: We're always going to have challenges, because we're such a diverse country. We are going to give choice back to the American public and the companies. The biggest thing we're doing by removing the employer mandate are all the small businesses in America that want to grow beyond 49 employees and get our economy moving. They can do it. They can go to 60 employees, 70 employees. People that were working a part-time job of their choice at 39 hours a week were cut to 26 hours under Obamacare.
JONES: Well, listen, I want to bring somebody in here --
COLLINS: These people have to work two jobs instead of one.
JONES: Listen, I can sit up here and tell you great stories about people whose lives were saved by Obamacare, but let's actually hear it. You got real people here chomping at the bit. Let's bring Bob in. And he's a Trump voter.
COLLINS: Bob, how are you?
JONES: He's got real concerns.
BOB RUSCOE, TRUMP VOTER FOR FLORIDA: Hi. My name is Bob Ruscoe. I'm 57 years old, married, one daughter, three grandkids. Before Obamacare, we were on insurance for five years, about, and I've been on the ACA since it began.
Having the coverage just allowed us to get regular checkups, preventative care and even some nutrition advice. And I also have a colon cancer in the family history. This has offered some peace of mind and allowed us to have a good quality of life.
I noticed with the plan coming up that people in my age group is going to be seeing a substantial premium increase. I'm a little concerned about having to make the decision of coverage or no coverage, again, due to costs.
JONES: So you have a Trump voter who was in a negative situation. Obamacare helped this guy and he's concerned he's now going to be back in the bad situation who is going to choose between coverage or no coverage. What do you say to a Trump voter?
And by the way, these older Trump voters are the ones that are getting hammered. Younger voters actually not getting hammered. You're hammering your own constituents.
COLLINS: Well, first of all it goes back to state's choice. Let me talk about New York. We're in New York. You're not going to pay -- are you from New York?
RUSCOE: No, sir, from Florida. COLLINS: OK. Well, in New York under our state insurance commissioner, we have what we call a one-to-one. You cannot charge an older person even $1 more than a younger person. Now, under Obamacare, it was three-to-one. You could charge an older person three times --
JONES: Look, that's for New York, but what about everybody else? We got a national audience here. What about everybody else?
COLLINS: So, now, what we're doing is we're leaving it up to the states to decide what number works for them. The fact to the matter is an older person is more expensive to an insurance company. The insurance companies have been leaving because they do have to pay their bills.
[21:10:06] So we're leaving it up to the states. We are putting in refundable tax credits at a higher dollar level for yourself, a much higher dollar amount than there is for a younger person to level that playing field and we're still tweaking that even as we speak now. The final plan is not yet finalized continuing to tweet --
JONES: Bob, do you feel comforted by the idea of a refundable tax credit?
COLLINS: That cash is going to you to buy your plan.
RUSCOE: I'm hopeful that a plan will be available that we can fit in to our needs so we still get the preventative care. That's really a big issue of concern.
COLLINS: We have not changed the essential benefit package at all. Whatever you've heard from the Democrats, we have not changed the essential benefit package. One iota (ph) and I'm comfortable, Bob, that you will have with higher -- it's cash in your hand. It's a refundable tax credit. Whether you're paying taxes or not, you're getting the cash to buy a plan that works for you, which is different than buying a plan that works for someone else. You make the choice. You're in charge.
JONES: Thank you very much. And, Bob, thank you.
Congressman, let me tell you something that you are changing. You are cutting back on some community, backgrounds (ph) that are needed and you're hitting programs like Meals on Wheels. And then when I heard that, it made me very, very concerned though. What we -- what I just like to do, rather just argue with you about it and other pundits, I actually went out in the streets of New York --
JONES: -- and I talked to a real person whose actually benefitting from this program and here's what happened when I knocked on her door.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Boy, some serious steps. CHRISTA PATTON, MEALS ON THE WHEELS RECIPIENT: Come in.
PATTON: Hello. Come on in.
JONES: Hi. I'm Van. Oh, it's so good to see you. I brought you some --
JONES: I brought you some groceries.
PATTON: Oh my goodness.
JONES: I brought you some gifts.
PATTON: Oh, thank you.
JONES: God blessed to see you.
So, I've got a very important congressman on tonight. If you could tell him anything, what would you say to that congressperson?
PATTON: I think you should try to put yourself in my situation and what would you do? I am -- as they indicated, I'm on a fixed income. I am basically homebound. I haven't been out of this apartment in like seven years. How else would I eat? I don't know. I really don't know how I would receive healthy food. And, yeah, I used to laugh about the jokes about senior citizens eating dog food. I can understand now exactly what they are talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Yeah. You got 2.4 million people just like her. She can't get down in those stairs. She hasn't been down in those stairs in seven years. They are keep sick and shut in. You know what that means. You're a person. Sick and shut in, and you got people who are every day climb in those stairs helping people. You want to take 30 percent of their money away from them. How can you justify that?
COLLINS: I'm not going to try to justify it, because that's not my plan. What you have right now is a top line blueprint from President Obama -- Trump and his supporters or his advisors. That's not the congressional budget.
JONES: So you disagree with --
COLLINS: I do disagree with that.
JONES: -- with Meals on Wheels. Well, just give him around of applause because I'm glad some Republicans is going to tell some (inaudible). You can't have grandma eating cat food as your economic policy.
COLLINS: Van, my mother-in-law prior to her passing on, she had Meals on Wheels at her apartment five days a week, it's not seven days a week, but they bring that extra meal for on the weekends and it was her way also to know she was safe. She lived alone.
So, I absolutely, and as a county executive, an Erie County, Meals on Wheels was part of my job to oversee as a county executive. I would go to the senior centers where the senior centers where dispatched the Meals on Wheels. We could volunteer.
JONES: So why would Trump then drop a bomb on that program?
COLLINS: I mean, this is the president's budget. I'm not sure where the details came from, but I can pretty much assure America, the congressional budget -- and when we get into appropriations, Meals on Wheels is a wonderful program. It is one I would never --
JONES: That's good to hear.
COLLINS: -- vote to cut even $1.
JONES: I hope the president is watching. That's very, very good.
You know, listen, I really want you to stick around. When we come back, I want you to hear from somebody in our audience tonight who actually fears being deported. She's going to tell her story to the Congressman. We'll see how he deals with that story when we get back.
[21:18:50] JONES: Welcome back to "The Messy Truth." I'm Van Jones. We're here with Congressman Chris Collins, a top Trump supporter.
Listen, I want to bring into this conversation somebody who's got a serious thing she wants to talk with you about. Her name is Paola. Paola came to the United States when she was 6 years old from Honduras. So she's what we call in the United States a Dreamer.
And first of all, I'm so glad that you're here. America is better because you are here. But I think you may want to have something to say to (inaudible).
PAOLA BENITEZ MARQUEZ, DREAMER' WHO CAME TO U.S. WHEN SHE WAS 6 YEARS OLD: Good evening. My question for you tonight was what goals or future do you see for Dreamers like me who have provided to your economy? And what ways can you help us?
COLLINS: Well, first of all, welcome to America. I am personally very glad that you are here. We're all a nation of immigrants. You notice my tie here, I'm of Irish descent. Tomorrow happens to be our big holiday.
COLLINS: -- from Ireland. So, what I will say to you is we welcome our immigrants. We are a nation of laws and we want to make sure those that are coming here are following the laws. Now, we also know today we have 12 million undocumented workers, which remind folks, half of those people came here legally on visas, but then didn't go home, they did not sneak across our borders.
[21:20:11] That doesn't mean they're here legally, because they should have gone home. We have another 6 million who came here jumping ahead of the line for one reason, to make a better life for their family. I understand this. So we need to reform all of our immigration laws. We need to work together to get that done in fairness.
But for someone like yourself that's here, we're going to have to come up, and I would say this year, with a program that would give, and I don't know what your parents' status is, whether they're undocumented or not, but legal work status.
JONES: Listen, what you're saying right now sounds great and I think everybody in this room, and a lot of people in the country would agree with it. But, that's not what's happening right now.
You have Dreamers like this who have gone to meetings like this to spoke now publicly and are now being deported. I'm not talking about people doing negative things. Have you been hearing about that? And are you afraid that as a Dreamer you are a threat and arrest?
MARQUEZ: Yes. Like you mentioned like you said they do illegal crimes, but most of us don't. When we get the Dream Act, do we have a background check? And my parents are not here, so I'm here with my grandma who is here legally and we -- I just wouldn't want to be afraid anymore that so many kids who have fought to be here and like have a future to be deported just because --
COLLINS: If you're here legally, first of all, you have nothing to worry about, but even those that undocumented. In my district, we have a lot of dairy farms. Many of the dairy farm workers are undocumented who came here illegally. We need those workers to milk our cows. We need to get them legal work status, which is something I firmly believe.
JONES: Congressman, I agree with you on that, but how can you say that a young Dreamer should not be worried? Listen, I have names of people. I'm just going to read you some names of people.
There's a 22-year-old Dreamer in Mississippi named Daniela Vargas. She was detained for two weeks by ICE after she spoke out against ICE rates. The 24-year-old Dreamer named Daniel Ramirez Medina who is still in federal custody, a Dreamer, hadn't done anything wrong. Plus, in Chicago, Francisca Lino, a 50-year-old matter of six, resident of the United States told she's going to be deported. I got a whole list of people.
So, on the one end, I love it when Republicans do what you should be doing, which is honoring the great contribution of immigrants. But at the same time, you have a Republican president who is unleashing hell on this community and nobody says anything about it.
COLLINS: President Trump is focused first, securing our borders, secondly on deporting the criminal element, those who have --
JONES: But these are not criminals. I just read you a list of people who are not criminals.
COLLINS: There is no deportation force going door-to-door to deport Dreamers or undocumented workers. It's not happening. It's fiction. They are going after the criminal element --
JONES: These names are not fiction, sir.
COLLINS: You do not need to worry. And I would say those that are abiding by our laws today, we will be at some point, my hope is this year, figuring out a compromise to make them -- give them legal work status in this country, so no one has to worry. They can go home and visit with their friends and family.
JONES: Do you feel better now knowing that no Dreamers in this country are under threat in any way?
JONES: You feel better and you believe that's true, that there's no Dreamers are being deported?
MARQUEZ: Well, I hope so.
JONES: OK, you hope so. Well, very good.
COLLINS: Thank you.
JONES: All right.
COLLINS: We wish you a very bright future.
MARQUEZ: Thank you.
COLLINS: In America.
JONES: Yes, thank you. Give her a round of applause. It takes a lot of courage, again, to do what she just did. Thank you very much.
Congressman, as you know, I hated practically everything that Donald Trump said on the campaign trail, but when we come up, we're going to discuss one of the only issues we actually agreed on and how we might be able to work together to get something done, when we get back.
Also, stick around, the legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is going to join me on the stage with some much-need inspiration, so stick around.
[21:28:32] JONES: Welcome back to "The Messy Truth." I'm Van Jones. Now, we all know, I hated practically everything Donald Trump said on the campaign trail. Don't get me start, it (inaudible) all night with that. But there was one issue he spoke about that I fully supported.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: We will help all of those people so seriously addicted. We'll get them assistance.
We're going to work with people. We're going to set up programs. We're going to try everything we can to get them unaddicted.
And we're going to work with the people who are so addicted and we're going to try like hell to get them off that addiction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: Well, amen. You know, I feel you, sir. And it wasn't just Trump, as the primary campaign rolled through places like West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Ohio, every single Republican candidate got religion and spoke out against this opioid crisis.
Now, I wish those same Republicans that showed the same empathy for some of that urban victims of addiction like, you know, crack cocaine, well, guess what, I'm fine with it because at least they got on board with this epidemic.
You got highly-addictive painkillers that are killing more Americans than die in car crashes. You got nearly as many people dying every year with this stuff as died from HIV and AIDS at the height of crisis in the '90s. That's the level of carnage. Millions of Americans, myself included have lost the loved one. So, I just knew, I just knew the Republicans would get busy and do something but not really, because it turns out the Republicans actually want to eliminate the Obamacare rule that makes insurance companies help people with addictions.
[21:30:16] They actually want to rollback the Medicaid expansion, which is going to make it harder for some poor folks to get treatment and it looks like this new $500 million they're bragging about is actually probably money that Obama had already set aside.
So, what the what? I'm just -- I'm so frustrated. It's just like police misconduct. They talk and they talk, but then the action doesn't ever happen. I think we got a lot of politicians that think if they talked about it, they did it. But on this issue, America does not need talk, we need treatment.
So, Congressman, I know this is bothering you. It's hurting your district. Why aren't Republicans really going all out to fix this thing? Some of the stuff they're doing is actually going to put us in a worst position with opioids.
COLLINS: Well, I serve on the House Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce, which would be the Committee of Jurisdiction we're talking about. And last year right at the end we -- with Obama, we passed 21st century cures. The biggest piece we did was an incredible increase in funding for the NIH, looking for things like treatments for opioids, for a -- and addiction that is one of the worst there is because it messes with the brain --
COLLINS: -- and people -- you can't say well, just stop taking it, you can't. And they're switching to heroin, because it's hard to imagine, but it's cheaper than the opioids.
JONES: And I appreciate your work on that. But I would have expected, again, I'm looking at your budget. I'm looking at your president's budget. I don't see a lot of the stuff that he talked about. I don't see a big commitment on opioids. Don't you think Republicans are letting down their constituency if they don't do a lot more that what we're seeing?
COLLINS: No, I don't because we view this as the crisis that's facing our nation --
JONES: Why not make the insurance companies help people who are addicted, right? The Obamacare did that and that was positive and you're taking that away from us, why?
COLLINS: No, we have not changed. This is the missed number. We have not changed any essential benefit, not one in our plan that's going forward. What you're speaking about is a Medicaid expansion piece, but we are not changing any essential benefit at all, right?
JONES: Another question. You're going to spend billions and billions of dollars on a wall to try to keep out drugs and people are actually getting addicted based on stuff in their medicine cabinet. Would you -- if you really want to do something about this, should you take some of those billions of dollars and put that on the table for this?
COLLINS: Well --
JONES: We got billions for the walls.
COLLINS: Well, we have to stop the flow of drugs coming in. That's number one. We also have to deal with this. We can do both. We need to do both. And, again, within 21st century cures, we put the money, billions of extra dollars just added to -- through the FDA --
JONES: That was very good.
COLLINS: -- to get some treatments through --
JONES: Sounds very good.
COLLINS: -- because we know how debilitating this particular situation is.
JONES: I get passion about this, because it's personal to me, but we got other people for whom it's personal. Let's bring Dean into the conversation.
DEAN LUCAS, HIS SON DIED AFTER BATTLING ADDICTION FOR 6 YEARS: Hi. My name is Dean Lucas and December 23rd, I lost my son to a heroin overdose. He's 27 years old. His name was Lee Lucas. He left his mom and I here, his younger brother and more importantly a 10-year-old beautiful daughter. He tried over and over to get into inpatient. So, what you just said, you're not changing anything, that doesn't really make me feel warm and fuzzy.
He tried over and over. I've got a list here. He would call daily trying to get in and nothing would come for him. And when he finally did get into an inpatient, he was in there for two weeks. And from what I understand, if he was under 18 he could have been in there longer, maybe up to six months. Not changing doesn't really -- it's not doing it for me.
COLLINS: Well, certainly, Dean, you know, my daughter is 26, my son is 24 and I cannot imagine what you're going through. I truly cannot. I don't think anyone here can. So, we're so sorry for your loss and that's the tragic piece of opioid addiction is it is claiming the lives of our young.
In a lot of cases, its individuals that took painkillers that they weren't informed of how addictive they are and then all of a sudden being addicted but they're not -- they don't have a prescription, they switch to heroin.
And in some cases, this heroin is laced with other synthetics that are way more powerful. So, we are doing what we can. I can't speak to your individual situation with either your insurance carrier or the hospital --
JONES: But what are you -- but -- I'm serious, man. I don't -- people are sitting on a white hat stove on this issue.
COLLINS: And I know.
JONES: People are calling folks right now trying to get help. They call all over the county, sometimes they call over the state and they cannot get help when they're asking for it and I don't see the urgency.
[21:35:02] What are you guys going to do? I appreciate you passing the other thing. But what are you going to do now to get this -- you got so much urgency for a wall, but people who are on this side of that wall need help.
COLLINS: Well, I will also say I am going to say that these are typically state issues. The treatment is by the state.
LUCAS: I live in New York. I do. You represent New York.
COLLINS: At the federal level, but at the state level, there's a lot that has to be done. The commissioners of health that drive a lot of these -- you know, I'm not trying to pass the buck here, but these are state level issues.
What we've done at the federal level is providing the funding to get treatments and get other things out there. There's so much we can do at the federal level and then you've got to look to your health commissioners within a state to drive that through the state.
JONES: Dean, when you go home tonight, is this answer going to give you much comfort?
LUCAS: No, not at all.
JONES: Why not?
LUCAS: It sounds like we're going on the same road that my son went through. And he tried -- he was for two years trying to quit this addiction and he worked for me. So I saw him daily on the phone trying to get in, trying to quit. And there was no help. I have a list right here. I brought his list. And it showed what everybody he called, it's just like an 8 by 10 with everybody on there, no answers.
COLLINS: And I believe you and I think you need to deal with your county health commissioner. You should call the governor, Andrew Cuomo, there are governor and say, "Governor, you got to step it up in New York. We've got to do it."
JONES: Well, speaking at people stepping it up in New York, we have actually one of your constituents from your put neck of the woods (ph), Renee is here. What do you have to say?
RENEE SUTTON, LIVES IN REP. CHRIS COLLINS' DISTRICT: Hi. I'm in the 27th District (inaudible) New York, and I've been among those --
COLLINS: Oh, in the Finger Lakes.
SUTTON: That's right, in the beautiful Finger Lakes. And I've been among those writing letters and demonstrating, demanding that you hold a public town hall in our district so we can meet with you and share with you and have you listen to us of our stories like Dean's about how your legislative agenda impacts our families and our lives.
So, how do you justify your appearance here tonight, national audience, here in CNN outside of our district with an audience not consisting entirely of your constituents when the actual people you represent are asking to meet with you and you're refusing to do it?
JONES: Let him answer.
COLLINS: Welcome to New York. What I was saying is I meet with hundreds of my constituents every week, thousands of my constituents. I meet with them in my office, in Lancaster, my office in Geneseo. I meet with them in Washington. I go to, you know, various agricultural events. I meet with educators. I meet with health professionals --
JONES: Congressman, that's great. But have you had a town hall in your district? I think that's what she's asking.
JONES: And why not?
COLLINS: I've held elected office four years as the county executive at the largest upstate county, four years now in Congress. I have never seen the value of the time commitment for a town hall when, in fact, I can spend my time with a group of dairy farmers, with a group of health care professionals for a half an hour or an hour, have a real give and take, because what's happening now -- so for eight years, no one ever raised this issue with me. I was reelected with 68 percent of the vote, so I must be doing something right.
I feel like by meeting with and talking to literally tens of thousands of my constituents in the course of the year in different gatherings and going to high schools, I have a give and take that's a true give and take. What's happened today is there are a group of individuals, I'm not saying you in particular, but they're protesting and shouting and these aren't productive.
JONES: Hold on now.
COLLINS: I would invite you --
JONES: Let her respond.
COLLINS: -- to make an appointment. Let's sit down in my office and talk about any issues that you have and I can promise you that will happen.
JONES: Very good invitation, but Renee is not protesting or shouting.
JONES: Respond, and then I want to be able to move on, but --
SUTTON: I appreciate that you meet a lot of constituents across the district. I'm not interested in protesting or disrupting or crashing one of your appearances at a fire department or a centenarian's birthday party. I don't want to do that. I want --
COLLINS: You've been tracking me.
SUTTON: And that's really sweet.
SUTTON: That's a nice thing to do, Congressman. But, I want a setting where you will listen to me, just because I didn't vote for you, just because I don't agree with your legislative agenda, am I any less entitled to your representation in Congress?
COLLINS: No, come meet with me.
SUTTON: Then please respond to my e-mails requesting that.
JONES: Good enough.
COLLINS: I can assure you we will and I look forward to meeting with you.
JONES: Look, I hope that she will get a chance to meet with you.
COLLINS: Oh, we absolutely will.
JONES: I will tell you this, you guys, Republicans now are saying you don't like the town halls but when the town halls were going down with Obama, a lot of that stuff, and I think you guys actually thought that was a good thing about democracy.
[21:40:02] If I wish that they would pay protesters, because they paid protesters, (inaudible), I'd have a yacht. I'd have like a plane.
COLLINS: There you go.
JONES: But let me ask you one last question.
JONES: How would you grade President Trump at this point of his presidency?
COLLINS: A solid A. He's doing everything that he promised that he would do, working to secure our borders, took us out of the TPP. He has the best Cabinet that's ever been assembled in history.
JONES: So do you mean like A, like if it's one A, like to 10 As? Like one A out of 10 or do you mean like ABC?
COLLINS: I mean, the A in math that you never got.
JONES: Exactly, exactly.
Well, listen, Congressman, I want to thank you for being here. I don't agree with you --
JONES: -- but I respect you and you're one of Trump's best supporters --
COLLINS: I am.
JONES: -- and defenders and everybody says it. Listen, thank you for taking our questions. Thank you for showing up.
Next, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the man, the legend is going to join us on this stage right here tonight. There he is.
[21:45:19] JONES: Welcome back to "The Messy Truth." I'm Van Jones. Now, the Trump administration is, again, trying to ban people, this time from six Muslim countries. You got two different federal judges that already jumped in to block it for now.
But here with me tonight, America's most beloved Muslim, a physical giant, a moral giant, a true living legend, forget about Kobe and Jordan and LeBron and Steph Curry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is still the best scorer ever here to take on Trump. Bring him to the stage, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in the house.
Here we go. Let it on, let it on. Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.
I was just saying I wish my dad was still alive, because he loves you. And he would want to know the same thing everybody else would want to know, which is as a Muslim, as our most prominent Muslim, as our most beloved Muslim, what does it feel like 50 plus days into the Trump administration?
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, NBA'S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER: Well, I was very disappointed with just the whole mean spirited effort that's been made. I understand how increased and more efficient vetting is going to protect us. No problem with that. But to pick one group and just say that their problem -- they are the problem, it's a lie, and it's trying to market in fear.
ABDUL-JABBAR: And making people afraid is not going to do anything to make our country better.
JONES: Well, I think you can give him a round of applause for that. That's been very well said.
I want to bring a young Muslim into this conversation right off the top. Sumer?
SUMER ELGANBAIHY, COLLEGE STUDENT FROM BAYONNE, NEW JERSEY: (Foreign language). My name is Sumer, and I'm a college student who lives in Bayonne, New Jersey.
So last week, (inaudible) Bayonne denied the application of a mosque. And we, it's been over a year. There was multiple hearings on it. The reason for the denial was that it would have too many variances in regards of like density and parking and traffic, so that was understandable.
What wasn't understandable was the hateful and hurtful rhetoric that was made from the Bayonne community, some members of it, to the Bayonne Muslims. There was flyers passed around that said that we were tied to the Muslim brotherhood, signs that hung in houses that said, "Save Bayonne and stop the mosque." And hate speech at these meetings that accused Islam of being a backwards religion.
So my question for you, Mr. Jabbar, is as a person who has time and time again how to defend why you chose Islam as your faith and how do you feel that your fellow Muslims should respond to what's going on in my community?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, thank you for your question. And I think what's going on in your committee is just an outward manifestation of bigotry and you have to go against that and use the law. So there are laws against discrimination and by bringing up false issues like parking and traffic congestion, they are able to frustrate your legitimate needs. So you have to go and just pursue your legitimate, what you have a legitimate right to desire, which is a place of worship. There's nothing wrong with that. So you just have to use the laws that are there and contest these people and fight them in court and make it so expensive for them that they'll have to give up, because you guys aren't doing anything wrong.
JONES: You know, I think you're encouraging her to be active and to be activists and you have good reason to do so, because you've been an activist your whole life.
I want to show you a photo of yourself. My favorite photo of you is not on the basketball court, it's this photograph with --
ABDUL-JABBAR: Who is that guy with hair?
JONES: I know, with hair, with the young Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown and all these guys. Why were you such an activist? You didn't have to speak out. Why did you?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I spoke out because I just starting with the death of Emmett Till. I didn't understand it. My parents couldn't explain it to me. So I was just looking for information.
JONES: A young man that was murdered by racist.
ABDUL-JABBAR: He was murdered in Mississippi because they thought he said something that was insulting, basically, that what was what it was all about.
ABDUL-JABBAR: And I couldn't understand it. My parents couldn't explain it to me, so I was just looking for information. I watched Walter Cronkite every night during the civil rights movement, you know, for years.
[21:50:05] You know, I saw what was going on and I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to help. I wanted not to have that fear that I could be murdered just because of the color of my skin.
JONES: And so you used that platform to speak up. Well, we have a young guy here who is a basketball star hopeful. His is name Dylan. And he's got a question.
ABDUL-JABBAR: How you doing, Dylan?
DYLAN SPRUILL, ASPIRING BASKETBALL START FROM NEW YORK: Good, how are you?
ABDUL-JABBAR: Fine, thank you.
SPRUILL: You are a very active member in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Recently, there's been a lot of protests about like how our country is moving. How would you suggest a junior schooler to voice their opinions to adults? ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I have to say that what you want to try to do would make bridges. You want to be able to communicate with people what your concerns are. And there are things that are happening that make you angry. But don't let your anger dominate your ability to communicate, because if you're communicating anger, you're just going to turn people off.
If you can tell people what concerns you and why and you can be articulate about that, you can build a bridge to them. They can understand you. And in understanding you, they can make themselves understood to you.
So, this bridge is about back and forth communication with people that you disagree with or you might have, just a simple difference of opinion. Be patient. Learn how to communicate. Learn how to listen. And you'll be able to solve your problem.
JONES: Well, look, I wish you could go to the White House and explain that whole process because that's really been missing. It really has been missing. You know, and -- you know, you are such a beautiful young man. Do you have any questions for the great hero?
SPRUILL: My dad has the same birthday as you, April 16th. That's all I have to say.
ABDUL-JABBAR: Happy birthday.
SPRUILL: Thank you.
JONES: Look, I know that in real life (inaudible) -- the question we had is he want to have (inaudible) and get a picture with you. So I'm going to -- give him a round of applause as he comes up here.
And we're going to have another set of question with you. But --so you stay with us. When we come back, we're going to have one final question for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and we're going to go deep with it so.
JONES: It's the legend.
[12:56:42] JONES: All right. Welcome back to "The Messy Truth." I'm Van here -- Van Jones. I'm here with my special guest, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar. I want -- we're just going to go right to the first question. Go right ahead.
WILLIE STANDLEY, LIVES IN YORK, PENNSYLVANIA: Hi, Kareem. How you doing?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I'm doing very well.
STANDLEY: That's good. Just to be honest, I was prepared but I'm nervous when I'm here with you. JONES: It's all right.
STANDLEY: You're the greatest.
ABDUL-JABBAR: Don't be nervous. Don't be nervous.
STANDLEY: OK, thanks.
ABDUL-JABBAR: It will all work out.
STANDLEY: I've been a fan for many years on and off the court. Your career wasn't easy, but you're awesome. You played and you fought during some of the toughest and most competitive times in history, especially when you played the Boston Celtics.
The competition and the battles were intense. I myself and the owner of a clothing store have lost the clothing store in a fire. And I'm just happy to be here with you, and to take some inspiration from you. And to -- bear with me, and to be in the presence of one of the most respected and intelligent figures in sports.
JONES: Give this brother around of applause.
STANDLEY: Thank you.
JONES: He wants -- I know what he's gone through. His store burned to the ground just this past week and wants to get some inspiration from you. How do you get through tough times? You've been through tough battles. How do you get through tough times? We're all going through it right now. Help him.
ABDUL-JABBAR: Well, I think the thing you have to do is just remember why you're here. And I'm going to make a wild guess and say you're all about family.
STANDLEY: Yes, sir.
ABDUL-JABBAR: People -- that's what I thought. So, you just got to figure out what you can do for your family and get back on track. You know, it might take you more time, but they're worth it, and you're worth it. And don't ever let anybody dissuade you from knowing that. And since you know that, go out and do the best you can for them, because this is a place where if you work hard and you do the right things, you can succeed. So, success is not going to be denied to you.
STANDLEY: Thank you very much.
JONES: In the short time we have left, why did you become a Muslim? Some people are afraid of Muslims. What do you say to them about your faith?
ABDUL-JABBAR: I would say to them that our faith is based on the same Judeo-Christian tradition as Christianity or Judaism.
JONES: Abraham. ABDUL-JABBAR: Abraham. The Prophet Mohammed was a descendant from Abraham. People don't know that. People don't know that we have basically the same laws and understanding of what's important.
ABDUL-JABBAR: So, I would say that the crazy people over in the Middle East that that are cowards and murderers, they don't represent Islam. Islam is represented by people like this.
JONES: Thank you so much. Thank you so much. I want to thank you and all my other guests tonight. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chris Collins, everybody in the audience, everybody watching at home. We've had a great conversation.
You have heard words of inspiration from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about how to build bridges, about how to listen, about how to stand in faith and stand for family. Talk about that, don't talk about tweets, talk about that.
[22:00:05] I'm going to be back here, Wednesday, April the 5th for the next special "Messy Truth" with Arnold Schwarzenegger live from Los Angeles, Arnold.