Return to Transcripts main page
Trump, If Congress Doesn't Legalized DACA, I Will Revisit This Issue; Hurricane Irma Now Category Five; Irma Now Strongest Storm In A Decade. Aired Midnight ET
Aired September 5, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:42] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: So we're back now with my panel and we're talking about what's happening with the administration and why some believe it's sending a clear message to people of color in this country, Americans of color. John you actually said why does everything have to be about race? We cover a lot on this show but these issues that we are talking about happen to effect people of color, DACA. The white supremacists in Charlottesville. Sheriff Joe Arpaio and David Clark and on and on. Everything doesn't have to be about race but the question is why can't it be about race? What is the big issue if it is about race? What's wrong with that?
JOHN FREDERICKS, HOST, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO: Because Don, there are millions and millions of people today they are trying to figure out how to get through the weekend. They're taking their children --
LEMON: So are 800,000 people who are affected by DACA.
FREDERICKS: There are a lot of people trying to figure this out and what this whole case is --
LEMON: So are those people more important than the people --
FREDERICKS: Don, I didn't say it is more important.
LEMON: Hold on, I know people think I cut you off. But the reason I do that is because when you give a statement that is not a fact on this show, I have to stop it right, nip it in the butt, because people believe that you are telling the truth. And I got to stop it right away because you will go on and you'll spout off three or four other things that are not the truth and it will just get lost. Let me tell you, do you think the other people who you say these people are concerned about their families. You don't think people of color are not concerned as well? Are they not high enough priority for us to be discussing and the president to understand what the plight of people of color in this country, -- are we not Americans as well and not deserved of the full rights and privileges of this country and to be discussed on a national news cast?
FREDERICKS: Don, we're all important, all Americans are important. President Trump got one of the highest percentage of the black vote in history since 2000. LEMON: John, please.
FREDERICKS: Everything is not about race.
LEMON: Everything is not about race but this is about race.
FREDERICKS: Nothing to do about race. It's about the rule of law. And the program the President laid out gives everything -- there's 690,000 people effected by DACA right now. That is the real number. Not 850, 690. They all have a two year period to get out.
LEMON: Van, go on.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I wish that what you were saying is true. If this were strictly a question of rule of law and race had nothing to do with it, I would be comforted and very happy. Unfortunately it's hard for you to make that case. Listen, rule of law would mean that Sheriff Arpaio wouldn't be pardoned. But he was pardoned. Why doesn't Trump just pardon the 800,000 dreamers? But he won't do that because he has a base of people -- you say dreamers, what they think is Latinos. When they hear Latinos, they feel very uncomfortable with this. If all the dreamers were Swedish models, we wouldn't have this problem. I don't think it's honest to say race has nothing to do with it. And what makes me sad for this whole situation is for the younger people in this country they are baffled and confused as to why we continue to have the President of the United States doing things that they were taught were wrong. We teach our young people white supremacists are bad, Nazis are bad. We're supposed to give people an honest break and chance and the President's not doing that and you have people like yourself that pretend he is not doing what he is doing. And he does seem to single out people of color over and over again.
LEMON: And you had people look Javier who wanted to work with the administration and then said this is the final straw. There seems to be a lot of breaking points happening when it comes to people willing to work with this administration. Javier this is not about color? I mean don't people of color in this country, shouldn't we be concerned about the actions of this administration?
[23:05:00] JAVIER PALOMAREZ, PRESIDENT AND CEO, UNITED STATES HISPANICS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: Absolutely we should and to the gentleman's point if you don't buy that argument, what it really boils down to is this is about the sanctity of the American presidency. This is about the moral authority of the leader of the greatest nation on the globe. When a man says he is going to do something and he is the President of the United States and less than four months later completely reverses himself. That sends a message. I understand people having a different viewpoint. I understand different political ideologies and my job is to try to argue from a fact based, data based perspective and try to make my point through economic argument. But the reality of it is we've got a President that doesn't want to listen to reason, doesn't want to hear the economic argument. He wants to rule through fear. And through intimidation and that simply isn't Presidential. That is not American. That is not what this country is about. We are a country of broad shoulders and big hearts. We welcome the stranger. We put people to work. These individuals were vetted not once, not twice but three times. None of them have committed a crime. They have done nothing but contribute to the greatest country in the world. They willingly came forward and gave their information to the government and this President betrayed them. It doesn't need to get any fancier. We're not splitting atoms here guys.
FREDERICKS: This is an unbelievable conversation.
LEMON: You got to wait because Patty hasn't had a chance to speak yet. I said this is no long dog whistle, it's a bull horn now.
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, POLITICAL CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I think the argument this is a legal issue is completely disingenuous by this administration. The other policy that was legally challenged was the Muslim ban but that didn't stop Donald Trump from vigorously defending it and going all out to fight for it up to the Supreme Court. So the idea that he thinks the dreamers are great and he loves them but he is not going to fight for them is disingenuous at best and look his past actions, his history, everything that he has done and has said has shown us who he is. I don't see why we don't believe him and as for the issue of we make everything about race. No, sir. Donald Trump makes everything about race. We are covering his policies, his agenda and what he says. He is the President of the United States.
LEMON: Go ahead, John.
FREDERICKS: Patti, Donald Trump ordered a peanut butter sandwich for lunch you would say it was racist.
SOLIS DOYLE: No.
FREDERICKS: This conversation --
SOLIS DOYLE: No, I would not.
FREDERICKS: And Javier, I really appreciate your passion and appreciate you're doing what you believe in but this President is not racist. He had a policy on DACA. He campaigned for two years and said the same thing over and over. I will --
LEMON: Not on DACA.
FREDERICKS: He said he would protect those 800,000 people but eliminate DACA and follow the rule of law.
LEMON: All right stop right there John. That is not true. Van explain and I'll let you go. Van.
JONES: No. Honestly and I'm trying to listen to you really carefully. If he had had come out from the very beginning and said these dreamers got to go. I am going to build a wall and build the dream with you, then you would be on very solid grounds there. The reality is that is not what he said. He said I'm building a wall that is for sure, but on DACA he was all over the place and that is a big part of the problem. He continued to send signals to the young people he would look out for them and he is not.
LEMON: John I got to go quickly, but you got to be fact based and I'll let you have the last point. If you're not --
FREDERICKS: The program in place is not kicking out the 690,000 DACA recipients. They have a two-year period to figure this out and congress has an opportunity to pass a law that might impact them.
LEMON: An opportunity to.
FREDERICKS: To do that. The dreamers have a two-year period to figure it out.
LEMON: Listen. Trump could just tell congress to do it without terrifying and scaring all these kids. In other words there's a cruelty there. He is much kinder to Arpaio or people who want confederate flags than he is to these kids and that is wrong.
JONES: He literally said rest easy. We're going to focus on the criminals. He said that.
FREDERICKS: They are focusing on the criminals.
[23:10:00] LEMON: And by the way if the president ordered a peanut butter and jelly sandwich we would say racist. What we would say maybe he should do whole wheat toast or watch his diet because it's a lot of sugar and the white bread is not great. All right. Thank you both. Thank you all. You got my point. You all know what I'm saying.
When we come back, Hurricane Irma is now a category 5 storm. Emergency are being declared for Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We're going to tell you everything you need to know about where it's going and how hard it will hit and when, that is next.
LEMON: Now we return to our breaking news tonight. The monster category five hurricane barreling through the Caribbean and potentially threatening South Florida. CNN Pedram Javaheri is in the weather center with the latest on hurricane Irma. It's gotten even bigger since we spoke about this last night. The president has declared an emergency for Florida, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, hurricane Irma currently category 5. Forecast for the next few days?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's a remarkable storm too. We're seeing a storm that is essentially at the theoretical limit of how strong storms can get on our planet when you consider oceanic conditions, atmospheric conditions. Typically those numbers are 190 to 195 miles per hour. This is 185 miles per hour. And incredibly it could get up to that point of 190 to 195 across this region, it is because the atmosphere condition are dynamic as it gets. You look at this feature. If you've got any friends or family or going to bed tonight, a good idea to keep folks across the British islands, these islands in the direct path of the storm system inside the next 24 hours. Among the strongest tropical systems we've ever seen on our planet. We are talking category five of course top of the food chain, anything beyond a four or five, damage estimate typically are catastrophic.
[23:15:17] The National Hurricane Center, the verbiage they use is power outages across this areas could last weeks to months and communication completely lost on landfall and most of the area could be uninhabitable for months as well. The storm moves across the region but beyond Thursday the Turks and Caicos in the direct path of the storm system. Beyond Friday, this is where it gets very interesting. Once it begins to interact with Cuba and a lot of people fall in love with the middle of the track and think that is where the storm is forecast to go. It could go anywhere on the utter periphery of this, it could go on the outer periphery, which is the gulf and this is the most consensus zone of where the storm could end up.
Keep in mind, anywhere along the cone could get direct impact. You see how the cone is created and highest concentration just south of Bahamas Thursday into Friday and some of the models say it will not interact with Cuba, it will go the north and potentially move up, much like hurricane Matthew did on the east of Florida. And then about half of the other models want to take it in for southwestern Florida. But notice outliers take it to the gulf. A decent number want to bring it up that coastline. Because of the nature of the land mass is how the U.S. bends to the east. They will probably interact with the U.S. at some point with the storm system. So the steering environment is a little different than hurricane Harvey because there was very little steering. This particular motion will want to keep them to the south. At this point, the air we watch for the storm typically four to five days out. You think four to five days out Saturday to Sunday it could be 200 miles in any direction but either way Florida looks the most likely to be impacted.
LEMON: I still had the chance. It's always better to leave it. Thank you so much. I want to go to CNN's Leyla Santiago in San Juan for us tonight. Thank you so much and as I go to you I want to show our viewers. Look at the eye of this thing. It is enormous and that is what's barreling towards -- what's in the Caribbean and barreling towards the United States. Leyla Santiago is down in Puerto Rico for us. What is the weather like now? What can you tell us?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, certainly the winds have picked up in the last few hours and people are getting ready for the unknown. Not knowing what is coming with hurricane Irma. But the governor is saying he expects this to be possibly catastrophic and of a magnitude Puerto Rico has never experienced before. And this is an island used to as much as one can be tropical storms and hurricanes, especially this time of year. But as we were out and about today we saw people who were boarding up the windows. People at the stores who were buying water that was hard to come by, hard to find water on the shelves. But the conversation I keep talking about because it set the tone for how people are feeling. I talked to one of the clerks and I said tell me what the products are in demand for this hurricane and she stopped me right there and said hurricane, no. This is not a hurricane. This is a beast. A beast is how it was described today to me, Don.
LEMON: You're from Puerto Rico, correct?
SANTIAGO: Right, right, I am.
LEMON: You talked about going to the store and what they're preparing for. How are they preparing for this? And my question really is, is there real fear about this?
SANTIAGO: There's fear on a few levels. I think the governor today was asked a very telling question at his press conference. There's the fear of the devastation, the damage, the power outages all of that that comes with hurricanes. There's certainly that. But there's also fear of can they rebuild if this truly is that devastating? Remember this is an island that is in an economic crisis. That is another storm they're dealing with. $70 billion in debt right now and when it comes to the federal government because this is U.S. territory, these are U.S. Citizens. There was a bit of a sigh of relief today when President Trump declared a state of emergency, meaning they will get more resources to help deal with this. But there's not just fear of devastation, there's also a fear of who's going to pay if we have to rebuild.
[23:20:24] LEMON: Right on Leyla. You be careful down there. We'll be getting to you a lot over the coming days here on CNN. When we come right back how Florida is preparing for Irma. Major City officials and a storm chaser who plans to hunker down for the storm will all join me next. I'm going to ask them what they expect from this growing storm. Look at this thing.
LEMON: People across south Florida preparing tonight for the possibility of being slammed by hurricane Irma. Right now the giant category five storm turning towards the Caribbean and it could turn towards Florida over the weekend. I want to bring in Mayor Philip Levine of Miami Beach and also Mayor Barbara Sharief of Broward County. Mayor good evening to both of you. An evacuation goes into effect for Miami Dade County tomorrow. Why haven't you decide stood evacuate Broward county?
MAYOR BARBARA SHARIEF, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: At this time Miami Dade county is standing a greater chance of having more of the effects of the storm than Broward and so right now with the trajectory and the path it's on, we haven't issued an evacuation as of yet but that may come based on information we received through the evening tonight and tomorrow morning.
[23:25:09] LEMON: Mayor Levine, you've urged residents to evacuate ahead of the storm.
MAYOR PHILIP LEVINE, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: We think it is an incredibly serious storm. This is a monster and we are not taking any chances. At this point right now, the county has not issued an evacuation order. The only one is for folks with special needs. I had a press conference this afternoon and said I'm recommending the resident and tourist of Miami Beach to leave the city. If you have a plan, get on that plan now and start moving towards out of the city. You can wait obviously a day but we're recommending because as you know Miami Dade is a barrier island and only a few cause ways. I want to get people the opportunity to get out of Miami Beach with advance notice as possible and that is what we are recommending, myself personally at this time.
LEMON: How are these preparations coming? What more needs happen to Broward County before Irma arrives?
SHARIEF: So first thing we're advising people is they need to get their supplies and be prepared for three to five days and stay off the road until the storm comes. We will experience some flooding in some areas, there could be power outages and downed power lines. We want to make sure they're safe and sheltered in place and that only essential personnel are on the street after the storm hits. The second thing is as Mayor Levine has said we're trying to make preparations to move those with medical needs to the shelters where they belong and also get the children with medically complex needs hospital where they belong. Our last shelters we have 43 available. We have pet friendly shelters and we're telling people if they really need shelter we have accommodations up to 33,000 at this point and we can have more as needed. But we're hoping that with the messages we're sending today that people are going to shelter with family and friends because that is probably the best and most comfortable place to be during a storm.
LEMON: Mayor Levine, as we saw with Harvey and that is the most recent example we saw the elderly people who -- our senior population were affected by it greatly. You mentioned disabled people mandatory evacuations. What's the plan for the senior people in Miami Beach?
LEVINE: We've begun outreaching to our seniors, making sure they understand that we understand the opportunities to have them removed from the island. When the mandatory evacuation goes into effect, we have buses to pick them up, we will be bringing them to shelter if they don't have a place to stay with families or friends, we gone out and identified the very segments of our population, as a matter of fact our team's been on the ground working with homeless people on Miami beach to make sure they have the opportunity to get out of the City but there's many things we're doing. Portable pumps, portable generators. Stopping all construction projects on the city to make sure there's no debris out there, it's communicating with our residents and our visitors. It's the storm surge that can come. You saw it in Houston. Miami Beach will experience, god forbid with a big hit, major storm surge.
LEMON: Mayor Levine, Sharief, thank you both. I appreciate it. Good luck to you. I'm sure we'll be seeing you here in the coming days. Now I want to bring in a Mike Thiess he is a hurricane chaser in Key Largo, Florida. He joins us by phone. We get great information for you. So please be safe out there. Let's talk about the images we're seeing of Irma. Evan at this early stage, they are incredible, we're looking at pictures now from a Noah aircraft that flew into the eye of Irma. This is at the top of the scale when it comes to severity of the power of the hurricane. MIKE THEISS, HURRICANE CHASER: This is off the charts. If there's
possibly a category 6. This is extremely scary, we came we have seen this with high winds. There's a few other examples but we don't see this very often. The outer islands I'm extremely concerned for them right now. They're going to take a direct hit with 185 mile-per-hour type winds. That is going to catastrophic. We still have time. Start evacuating, following the orders from your officials. Now is the time to act and get to your safe place.
LEMON: So I got to ask you about riding out the storm. You're going to do it from your home in Key Largo. You must be expecting to -- who knows what you're going to encounter. But it could be pretty bad, Mike.
THEISS: It could be very bad. I knew a lot of locations I've been eyeing for years, god forbid this ever happen. So I've got some ideas I'm working out right now. But this tract is still unpredictable where I'm going to go myself with the hurricane truck to get data. And the way the forecasting is, it's going to hit Miami Beach, the east coast, all the way up to Tampa or just over the middle of the Florida Keys and really cause a lot of damage. So this is extremely concerning.
LEMON: I asked you because the keys are exposed, so my question is what kind of preparation are we seeing from our neighbors?
THEISS: Everybody is preparing, the local businesses were boarding up today. Tomorrow we're going to see that in hyper drive. But it always ramps up to this. And I notice this time people started preparing much earlier. And I think it's probably because of what happened in Houston and it's fresh in everybody's minds in how bad this can be. They're evacuating. And I just hope everybody gets to a safe place.
LEMON: Mike Theiss, please be safe. We'll check in with you. Ok. Thank you.
THEISS: Yes, thank you.
LEMON: When we come back the President ending DACA and calling on congress to pass immigration legislation instead the congress has yet to pass any of these legislative priorities. So what happened to Trump the deal maker?
[23:3535] LEMON: the Trump administration are pulling the plug on DACA, the program that protects young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, protection from being deported. The president kicking the problem over to Capitol Hill. I want to talk about this with CNN Contributor Michael D'Antonio, the author of Truth about the truth about Trump and senior economic analyst Steven Moore former senior economic advisor to the Trump campaign. Gentlemen good evening to you. President Trump is telling congress Michael that they have to do their jobs. Find a solution to DACA. Remember when he said I alone can fix this. He is supposed to be there great deal maker, isn't he?
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: He is never been a great deal maker. The great deal makers tell you that you need three elements. One is truthfulness, the second is trust worthiness and the third is respect. And he told me he doesn't respect most people because they don't deserve it. He has lied hundreds of times since taking office. And he is not a person other people have any trust in, because he went bankrupts so many times. So this idea he was a deal maker to begin with was wrong.
LEMON: He said in "the art of the deal" he was a deal maker.
D'ANTONIO: He is a promoter, he is a deal maker as much as he is a writer. The problem for the country is that we need him to succeed and he seems to be abdicating leadership and that is a serious problem.
LEMON: I had Fareed Zakaria sitting in that very chair that you are sitting in now and he said we have a President who is not governing. Do you think of him outsourcing president, should we start to think of that?
D'ANTONIO: He is struggling for sure to govern and he doesn't have anyone in congress he hasn't insulted to do business with. So if you start off by telling everyone off, how do you do a deal with them? This is really mind boggling. But I think the American people are very generous. They'll give them a reset at some point.
LEMON: Can you tell us how you really feel? That was sarcasm. I hear you in the background, Steven. President Trump hasn't had much success getting congress to pass any of his legislative items. Why does he think he is going to have success with this one? That this one will be different.
STEPHEN MOORE, SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST, CNN: Well, look, by the way he is got to be a pretty good deal maker because he is a billionaire and he has made a lot of amazing real estate deals over his lifetime. But he is going to be put to the test. We've got a full legislative agenda, not just DACA, the tax plan, the debt ceiling, putting a budget together to fund all the government programs' a little difficult to put together a deal when you're dealing with a priority that has said we're against anything you want to do. We're against building the wall, reforming Obamacare or repealing it, tax cut. I mean Democrats have laid down the line and said we're against everything that you're for. So that means he has to deal all by himself.
LEMON: Steven, to be honest, he doesn't really need the Democrats that much. It's the Republicans he is having problem. We're talking about legislation here.
MOORE: But you know that is a little unfair. It's true the Republicans have a fairly big majority in the house but 52 in the senate. And it takes 60 to pass most pieces of legislation. Not all, but most and if you've got virtually all Democrats saying we're opposed to these things, you can't get to 60. It's just math. And even on the things that only require 50 votes, he can only lose two Republicans out of 52, I mean Republican are not that united. He is got to prove himself this fall that he can deliver on these big ticket items that are so critical for the country.
LEMON: You said Republicans are not that united. Why aren't they united around this President and his agenda because even when the former President didn't have a majority, he started off with one, they still got behind Obamacare. Why aren't Republicans falling in line?
[23:40:04] MOORE: That is a god question, I think Republicans are more free agents than the Democrats, the Democrats do tend a lot run lock step in one direction. They're a much more disciplined Party than the Republican.
LEMON: They fall in line behind Bush, the war.
MOORE: Do they?
LEMON: They voted -- they all voted and supported this President.
MOORE: Sometimes they do but a lot of times they don't. A big one is going to be this tax cut package. They can probably get it passed with 50 votes in the senate. We saw what happened with Obamacare.
LEMON: I don't want to get too far field. I want to talk about DACA. John McCain wrote on op-ed on the Washington Post calling for congress to return to regular order. He says we must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must where we can, cooperate with him but we're not his subordinates, we don't answer to him. We answer to the American people. Is Trump's bad blood with John McCain and certain others in congress, is that coming back to bite him right now?
D'ANTONIO: I think it is. He is got bad blood all around and the only people he doesn't have blood with is the people shouting blood and soil in Charlottesville.
LEMON: That is outrageous. Wow.
D'ANTONIO: It's absolutely true. The people he can't seem to organize are the people in his own party and these are people who were united against President Obama. So the idea that Republican incapable of being united is speeches. These people are very good at resisting when they want to resist.
LEMON: You must admit that was a hyperbolic statement about the blood and soil.
MOORE: It's a lot easier -- I've been in politics for 35 years or so. It's a lot easier to play defense than offense. And when you're the opposition Party it's easy to hold together. Republicans held together pretty well.
LEMON: You don't want to respond specifically to the blood and soil thing?
MOORE: I think problem with that kind of rhetoric is when Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters deplorables. I do think they think anyone who supports Trump is deplorable and that is just --
D'ANTONIO: I do think that is deplorable what he did in Charlottesville. This is pandering to people who don't deserve to be pandered to and to call them your base is a big mistake.
MOORE: It is interesting you bring this up because last time I was on the show I made the point that there were bad actors on both sides of the aisle and you challenged me on that and now we have very strong video evidence. There was an amazing article in Politico about the violent left that turned out in Charlottesville and I wonder if you're willing to now say maybe I was wrong. There were certainly terrible people -- these Ku Klux Klan members but there's pretty bad people on the left there too inspiring violence and that led to this kind of (inaudible) in Charlottesville.
LEMON: You talking about me or Michael?
MOORE: I am talking to you Don, because we have this discussion --
LEMON: No, it's not the same thing. And as I have said every single time. The actions of violence is never good by anyone but comparing white supremacists to a group who may not be right to a group battling fascism, there shouldn't be any comparison. It's a strong man's argument.
MOORE: The problem is this are the Marxist killed more people --
LEMON: But when you're the President of the United States and neither of us is, and you're trying to bring the country together and get people to understand the awfulness that happened in Charlottesville, you do not compare white supremacists Nazis to people who are fighting fascism. It is not the moment. At another time you may not call them out and you do not say people Marching with swastikas and people who may have marched with hoods in a time gone by that there were very good people out there. There are no very good Nazis --
MOORE: Except that the people -- some of the people on the left were people who instigated the violence there?
LEMON: The people on the left would not be there if it wasn't white supremacist, racist, and Ku Klux Klan people marching in the streets for the wrong thing.
MOORE: There's no question about that.
LEMON: The only people who killed anybody in Charlottesville was on the white supremacist side. Antifa did not kill anyone.
MOORE: Don --
[23:45:00] LEMON: They should not be having violent acts. I do not condone it. I don't think anybody condones that. But they're not the same as racist KKK, white supremacist neo-Nazis.
MOORE: So you don't think Marxism are the same as KKK people and Marxism killed a millions of people?
LEMON: I have to run. We are going around in circles. It is an important point, both deserves being debated but when the President of the United States -- the President of the United States a clear assessment of what went on and he did not have a clear assessment and there were not good people on both sides. There were not good people on both sides.
MOORE: We have evidence he was right. There were really bad people on both sides.
LEMON: I got to go. Thank you. Michael, sorry you didn't get part of that. When we come back President Obama speaking out about DACA and he is not holding back, we are going to tell what he is saying next.
[23:50:17] LEMON: Former President Barack Obama weighing in today on President Trump's DACA decision saying, to target these young people is wrong, because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love, and it is cruel." that is just a part of the statement. Here to discuss, CNN political commentators Peter Beinart, Scott Jennings and Symone Sanders, also CNN legal commentator Matthew Whitaker. Good evening one and all. Matt, the former President says the move by President Trump is wrong, self-defeating, and cruel, is he right?
MATTHEW WHITAKER, LEGAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I don't think he is right. And remember, he is the one that kind of started this whole ball rolling. The President was faced with enforcing an illegal executive order that really was leading to nowhere. And ultimately the decision has to be made by congress as to what to do. Because if you look at the immigration naturalization act on what you find is that categories of folks for immigration status are very clearly handled. And the dreamers, the folks that were here, brought as young children by their parents, through no fault of their own, are in a status that does not allow them and does not allow the President to create a status and give them status. So congress has to address this. I'm encouraged that I see members of congress and the senate saying that they're going to address this. But I think a lot of folks are disappointed that it hasn't been addressed already by the folks we elected and sent to Washington.
LEMON: Peter "The New York Times" is reporting President Trump had been looking for a way out of DACA, the DACA dilemma. First he promised to deport those impacted. Then he said he would treat them with heart. Do you think what he did today was what he really wanted to do, Peter?
PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, as on many policy issues, my strong suspicion is Donald Trump doesn't actually know the details here very much at all. And would be hard-pressed. This is why I think he can't offer any leadership towards congress, because just as on health care, he doesn't understand the issue well enough, I think, in fact to chart a path forward. Congress could have acted anyway, right? There's nothing stopping congress from passing comprehensive immigration reform, for instance, and actually putting this within a larger foundation. What Donald Trump -- and Donald Trump was not forced to do this. The court had not ruled this unconstitutional --
LEMON: It hasn't been ruled unconstitutional. I heard Matt said it was illegal. Still, it hasn't been challenged in court.
BEINART: It hadn't. When Donald Trump cares about something, like the Muslim ban, he actually fights it in the courts because he believes it in. What's clear is he has people like Jeff Sessions, Steve Miller, in his administration who want these people deported because they believe, I think entirely incorrectly, that somehow other Americans are going to benefit if these people's lives are ruined. And that is just not true.
LEMON: So Scott, do you say it would be shameful to leave these kids hung out to dry, but isn't that essentially what the President did today by deflecting to congress? They're not sure?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No I don't think so, Don. Here's why. I think the President had a series of bad options and he picked the best one. He could have done nothing and let litigation about go forward and there's a great chance of executive order would have been ruled illegal as Matt said. Number two, he could have ended the program immediately, and that is a terrible option. Nobody wants that. That would have been cruel. So he comes up with this third option which gives congress a six-month window to get this right. These dreamers deserve certainty. The executive order was not certainty for them. But a law passed by the congress and signed by the President would give them certainty. So actually I think the President did something that need to be done here and that is put congress on a deadline. This congress, congress lately in recent history, does not seem to act without deadlines and cliffs and up against it. So that is what the President's done. And I hope they get on it.
BEINART: There's no easy -- congress could have done this anyway. The President could have shown leadership and tried to actually get congress to pass a law. There's no evidence given the extreme dysfunction of this congress that the Republican -- and given the Republican Party faces deep hostility to doing anything that -- for people who are undocumented people in the United States, to suggest that they can actually handle --
LEMON: Simone, does this give them certainty, as Scott says?
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Absolutely not. This is -- so one, this was a cruel, inhumane, and unnecessary move that the Trump administration did today. I keep hearing folks mention that these Attorney Generals could have used and this would have been ruled illegal and unconstitutional. There's no basis for that claim. No one knows what could have happened. And we cannot operate policy in the United States off could have, would have, should haves, makes. So what happened today is that the Trump administration put 800,000 young people who have signed up to serve their country, people who are teachers, folks who we interact with every single day and we don't even know they're undocumented, we put them in the crosshairs. For no other reason but to serve some part of the political base.
[23:55:18] So I think folks have to remember what congress were working with here. I don't know what congress you all are talking about but the congress I know hasn't got anything done this year. I don't know what makes anybody think another imaginary deadline but the Trump administration is going to move congress to act when the Republican congress cannot get it together.
LEMON: Did you just say I don't know which one you all are talking about? That is hilarious.
SANDERS: I don't know what congress you all are talking about, I have not met them.
LEMON: Matt, you take exception to what she said -- I have 20 seconds left -- about could have, would have, should haves, we can't operate the United States on that?
WHITAKER: Yeah, you know what, the legal analysis is very sound. It was unconstitutional, the executive order --
SANDERS: Who said it was?
WHITAKER: It is going to --
SANDERS: Who said DACA is unconstitutional?
WHITAKER: It is simple agency law --
SANDERS: It's simple, there was no litigation that --
WHITAKER: The Supreme Court as it currently stands and the precedent --
SANDERS: Deferred action for childhood arrivals --
WHITAKER: We can argue about this but the law --
SANDERS: I'm speaking of fact, actual and factual --
WHITAKER: The law is what it is.
SANDERS: Don, I want to know, slavery was legal. Women not being able to vote was legal. When people want to purport that the law is the law, we have to uphold the law. The law is not always just. This is not just. What the Trump administration did today was not just. Don't keep throwing out suggestions --
LEMON: I've got to go, the computer is going to cut us off in seven seconds. That is it for us, thanks for watching us, I'll see you right back here tomorrow, good night.