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President Trump, GOP Celebrate Passing Tax Cut Bill; Trump, People Are Saying Merry Christmas Again. Aired 11-Midnight ET

Aired December 20, 2017 - 23:00   ET



[23:01:25] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This CNN Tonight, I am Don Lemon. It's a little past 11:00 here on the east coast and we are live with new developments tonight. Victory for President Trump he is hailing the passage of massive $1.5 trillion tax cut which fulfills a cornerstone campaign promise and he celebrate it with the congressional Republican at the White House insisting that major changes in the tax code will stimulate the economy and create jobs. They in turn praise Mr. Trump for his leadership on this legislation, but the President and the GOP now need to convince skeptical Americans that the bill is right for them. Also its Christmas time and President Trump insisting Americans say merry Christmas again. Did we ever stop? His predecessor never did. By the way. Merry Christmas everyone. Want to bring in our CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover former White House staff member for President George W. Bush also with me CNN political analyst John Avlon editor in chief of the daily beast, author of Washington farewell. You guys know each other?

JOHN AVLON, POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: We're acquainted and have children.


LEMON: And you are married.

HOOVER: The book you showed is dedicated to me and our children. For you America. Clearly I didn't plan this.

HOOVER: Awesome turtleneck.

LEMON: Thank you very much it was your advice. You made me wear it. So this was a victory. Not one Republican voted against him even his harshest critics were with this. You think this would create momentum for the GOP?

HOOVER: The way this tax bill is structured to the extent Americans see money in their pocket, because of this tax bill, that will be in the next two or three years rather than the course of ten years. Many of those sort of gains people get in their pocket are designed to hit up front, so they will be diminished out of the next ten years, but that is right in time for the 2018 election cycle. This is a political win. Not a policy win for conservatives, for Republican. None of the things Republicans have been saying for decades we want in a real tax over haul came to fruition here, but a political win no doubt.

LEMON: And the President needed it and Republicans needed it because they go home with no major legislative achievements.

HOOVER: And now they have it and in the form of Obamacare mandate repeal so they can say they did the best they could on health care and tax reform and they will say they have to regulatory reform. They have actually something they want.

LEMON: Let give you an in here because the problem is the voters don't like the bill.

AVLON: Right.

LEMON: The poll shows 33 Americans support it. 56 percent want Democratic for congress. Only 38 percent prefer Republican. That was interesting to me. Does a win like this recalibrate the Trump presidency?

AVLON: It gives Trump a win which he desperately needed. Haven't been much winning on capitol hill for Republicans but now they can say they passed a major tax cut, good for them. Here is the problem, they sold it as a middle class tax cut. This is not that. What it is, is a big corporate tax cut that doubles down on the President's reputation for business and is a massive busts open the deficit and the debt. They gave up the ghost. Won't wave the white flag. I think it's very political.

HOOVER: I just find it very cute that, I mean you are not a Democrats, you are an independent and I find it very cute that all the Democrats from the left are attacking the deficit. During the Obama presidency supported legislation and after legislation that added a trillion dollars.

[23:05:08] LEMON: Did Paul Ryan did concede today that he didn't know that the cuts would pay for itself.

HOOVER: I don't like that either. I'm a deficit (inaudible) that is why I didn't like this bill.

AVLON: Republicans got to confront the fact some evidently at this point. They only really care about the deficit when Democrats in the White House. That is the principle.

LEMON: Last time budget was balance was?

AVLON: Clinton.

LEMON: A Democrats.


HOOVER: And the Republican and the House of representative.

LEMON: My thing is, listen, the trickledown economics has it ever worked? AVLON: It has. Reagan cutting the top rate from 72 stimulated the


HOOVER: That is the marginal taxes was at 70 percent at the time and you take if from 70 percent down to 40 percent you will get a growth in the economy.

AVLON: You will get a senior fellowship in the Brooklyn institution pretty soon.

HOOVER: Stop it don't go.


AVLON: But the point is it did work under Reagan that cut the top rate, but this is basically trickle down for corporate and didn't bother to close the loopholes, because it was too difficult for the lobbyist and that is why you will have massive growth in the deficit. This may be good for politics, it is lousy policy.

LEMON: Listen there's a ton of praise poured on the President today at the ceremony. Let's just watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're one heck of a leader.

PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER: Could not have been done without exquisite Presidential leadership.

ORRIN HATCH, SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We're going to make this the greatest presidency we've seen not only in a generation but maybe ever.

DIANE BLACK, HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIR AND REGISTERED NURSE: Thank you President Trump for allowing us to have you as a President and to make America great again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump delivered. Great victory for the American people.



AVLON: I mean -- I mean, come on. This is like, cabinet meeting Washington Post calculated that Vice President Pence, they praised him once every twelve seconds for three minutes that is not normal human behavior folks that is a hostage video. I mean what is going on?

LEMON: Come on conservative Margaret Hoover.

HOOVER: Look, this is sad. This is really, really sad.

LEMON: It is embarrassing isn't it? HOOVER: It is sad and, you know there was a time where conservatives

like me who really supported people like Paul Ryan and the center right and believed that they were getting their supporting President Trump in order to deliver on their principles, right? So in order to get the kind of tax reform done that we talked about 30 years, you know they had to cooperate with the Republican President in order to -- so it was harder for them. This just undermine the fact that they totally sold out their principles.

LEMON: Why would they do that?

HOOVER: Because they lost all hope.


LEMON: All right. Stop it. When people do that don't you say come on stop it, this is a team effort, and it took all of us. We all got it done.

HOOVER: This President demands something very different from the people.

AVLON: It is creepy to see Senators give the President a tongue bath on national television, it is odd. It is just weird.

HOOVER: I don't even know what that is.


AVLON: It's like what cats do.

LEMON: Did you just say that.

AVLON: Yeah, sure that just happened.

LEMON: President Trump also reignited his war on Christmas today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We can say Merry Christmas again. People are saying Merry Christmas again and we like the sound.


LEMON: War on Christmas rhetoric, not war on Christmas. So let us remember President Trump is not the only President who said Merry Christmas. President Obama, the first lady Michelle Obama said it many, many times.



Merry Christmas everybody. I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas.

And I want to wish all of you a very, very merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas everybody, happy holidays.


LEMON: Ok. So Margaret is this is a line we heard from Donald Trump many times. This a dog whistle to the base. No one ever stop the saying Merry Christmas.

HOOVER: Except if you turn on some of our competitive cable networks they have entire hours of programming about the war on Christmas and it is intended to go to the cultural base that others feel people are taking their America away from you. That is the job of make America great again. Great from what? The people who are taking Christmas away from you, the people who are taking - people who are taking, you know all of your Teddy bears whatever it is. We're going to make it great and bring Christmas back. It's disingenuous. It's not true. You have to understand there's a truth to the cultural resentment.

AVLON: politics culture is all about narrative, right? When confronted with facts things fall apart, because things emotionally true whether literally true, problem is that it is a bad base for policy, its lousy base for trying to unite the nation.

LEMON: And you two looking like, like I said --

[23:10:00] AVLON: Merry Christmas.

[HOOVER: Trying to unite the nation here.


AVLON: Merry Christmas.

HOOVER: Merry Christmas.

AVLON: And Happy Holidays too.

LEMON: President Trump was so merry that when he thank Congressman Steve Scalise, he made light of the fact Scalise was shot and almost killed by a gunman at the Congressional baseball game. Watch this.


TRUMP: Steve Scalise is braver than all of us. He is brave. Where is he? Oh, boy I don't know. He had a rougher year than most of us. It's a hell of a way to lose weight, Steve.


AVLON: I kind of like that, honestly. That is actually just a good sense of humor. It's a little weird and outside the box but I dig it. I think Steve Scalise took it in the spirit it was meant. AVLON: I mean the Congressman almost lost his life in a shooting.

AVLON: And everything not taking that away from it. It's Donald Trump's version of charm. It is not for everybody.

LEMON: here is what I am going to say to you. I understand what you are saying. We have humor. We're friends off camera. That is something you say to me when we are having dinner. But if we were in front of cameras I would say it, if you - hell of a way to lose weight. I would say that to you privately. Joking around with you but not in front of everybody.

AVLON: President Trump has no filter, Don, breaking news, right.


LEMON: Duh, really?

VANCE: So you know, better or worst. I think they're examples of more filters that are more damaging to the republic than that comment.

LEMON: Happy holidays.

AVLON: Merry Christmas.

HOOVER: Merry Christmas Don.

AVLON: The whole deal.

LEMON: Feliz Navidad.

Thank you guys. Just ahead feeling extra stress, because the state of national politics are not alone, we are going to talk about that. That is next.


[23:15:19] LEMON: Donald Trump promised to shake up America if elected President now he is in office for nearly a year most would agree that he has, many like what he is doing, others find it too disruptive, I want to talk about that with Bryant Wetch, a critical psychologist and Lara Brown the Director of graduate school of political management at George Washington University and the author of jockeying for the American presidency. Good evening to both of you. Thank you for coming on. Brian, I'm going to start with you. Listen, I don't think we've ever witnessed such an animosity and passion for any other President than Donald Trump, why do you think that is?

BRYANT WETCH, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think last election day the American people got a very startling view of what's happened to the American mind over the last two or three decades. For those of us who have been following it, I don't think it was quite as big a shot. But this country has been plague by terrible paranoia and vulnerable to paranoia but from 9/11 we never really addressed that from the psychological fall out of it. At the same time our whole national sense of sexuality and gender identity has been quite ugly and we also had been plagued with this run away greed and envy and put those three things inside the human mind and the mind doesn't function so well. So all of the sudden people were hit by the fact we had a President playing to our paranoia, exploiting misogyny and greed and envy. So it was quite a shock to the mind.

LEMON: To the psyche, to the system as they say.

WETCH: The whole nervous system.

LEMON: I want to bring Dr. Brown in. Lara, if seems every day there's a new crisis. All of the turmoil in the country may be extremely stressful here. Is it jolting some Americans from political complacency, do you think?

LARA BROWN, DIRECTOR, GRADUATE SCHOOL OF POLITICAL MANAGEMENT AT GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: It's an interesting time. I think it is true that Americans are on edge watching politics very closely. I think obviously all of the media have seen this in their numbers of viewers and readers. They've gone off the charts. But I look at this and what I believe is that Americans are watching politics kind of the way that many of us tuned in to the car chase with the white ford broncos with O.J. Simpson on it going on the freeway. You know we are looking and watching but we are very fearful about what the end would be is. Most of us knew it would not end well.

LEMON: Every time there's an announcement or something is coming up, you know people will stop in public, text me or call me and say oh, my gosh I can't take much more of this. What's going to happen? People tell me all of the time that they are exhausted, Brian, that it's overwhelming the pace of the news and President's constant tweets and responses is there a risk become numb and don't pay close attention to what's happening.

WETCH: That is the risk but I've been down so long I don't know what's up. But I'm seeing signs of America's psychological resurrection. You look at Alabama, not just the result but intensity and focus of the people who worked on that race in Alabama and once its minds begins to focus in a vibrant and live way that is self- healing and wonderful antidote to paranoia that is why mindfulness crazy is so apparent in this country. If you look at the inability to appreciate the difference between masculinity and femininity that was a huge upheaval and Donald Trump has called it to our attention in a major way. Same thing with greed. We're all looking at this tax bill, but my god it reminds me of Sanjay Gupta last week showing the President drink 12 diet cokes has multiple big macs, fried chicken and multiple shakes we got this greed and piggishness that is now on display and we can turn those things around. I think so in a funny sort of way Donald Trump may be calling attention to the ugly side of ourselves that if we confront we can change it.

[23:20:07] LEMON: Yeah.

WETCH: So I think in the last month we've had the human, American mind has had probably its best month in several years.

LEMON: Well that is a lot of food, a lot of big macs and whatever. If he ate that much I'm sure he would just roll on out of the White House. Lara many Americans especially women can't get past what the President said about grabbing women genitals but was elected anyway and now we're seeing a wave of sexual harassment allegations, prominent men losing their positions because of it, do you think that is a permanent change what's acceptable and what's not.

BROWN: Well I do think it's a permanent change but not one that happened just overnight. I think it is a culmination of these sort of situations and allegations really for the last 25 years in many ways beginning with Anita Hill and I think what you saw was that over time and in many different cases it appeared as though the men who were responsible for these alleged acts were essentially exonerated and given a pass in our public life. So I see the situation with President Trump as being the last straw. It was Harvey Weinstein's case that pushed it over the edge and changed the conversation. This is where I would also argue that Donald Trump is to me is much more the omega of this conversation rather than the alpha. In other words we have been really talking about this kind of paranoia not just in 9/11, but going back to Watergate and going back in the Vietnam War, the revelations of long held secrets in the Pentagon papers, about Vietnam. The country in so many ways I think is adjudicating the 70s much more so the 21st century.

LEMON: It's interesting to watch. I have to tell you it's much more interesting to have a front row to it as well. I wonder what, in ten years, if I make it that long, looking back I will say at least I survived this. Thank you Dr. Wetch, thank you Dr. Brown. Merry Christmas to both of you. I appreciate it.

WETCH: Thank you.

BROWN: Thanks.

LEMON: When we come back, Republican Senator Tim Scott who helped write the tax cut bill force to defend himself today, because of a tweet, we'll see what was said.


[23:26:45] LEMON: Congressional Republicans joining President Trump at the White House today to celebrate the passage of a sweeping tax bill, President saying it's always a lot of fun when you win. Here to discuss, CNN political commentator Angela Rye and Syndicated Talk Radio Host John Fredericks. Hello to both of you. Angela let's take a look at the victory lap with the passage of the tax cut bill no doubt it's a major moment for the President and for the GOP, right.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's definitely the biggest moment they've had, I think, unfortunately for the American people and all of the empty promises Donald Trump gave during his campaign is frankly more of the same. Donald Trump says he wouldn't benefit from this tax bill we know there's a real estate loophole that he will directly benefit from. You think of the 83 percent of the tax benefits in this bill going to the top one percent of income earners in this country. You think of the 86 million families who will be impacted adversely by this tax bill. It's not a tax reform that we should be celebrating if it is a tax increase for 86 million families.

LEMON: But they are celebrating. It's a win for them.

RYE: No it's a win for them. But I think wins should be celebrated when they benefit the American people that is not what we have here.

LEMON: John, let's take a closer look at this group. There's noticeably one person of color in this picture, one black person in this picture and it is Senator Tim Scott do you think it would have been better if the GOP group had a little bit more diversity. That was a criticism and Tim Scott responded it to it, we will talk about that later.

JOHN FREDERICKS, HOST, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO: I think the Republicans need to elect more people in diversity in their Party across all offices across America, no question about that. But let's get it to this tax cut. This is a tremendous win for the American people. The only loser in this tax cut is the Democratic national committee who went crazy, they spent weeks lying to the American people about what this tax cut is and got the legacy media, like the new York Times and Washington Post behind them and now you have the biggest middle class tax cut in the history that went down today, over 85 percent of every American will see a benefit from this tax cut starting in February to get more money in their average family making $80,000 is going to save $2,000.

LEMON: Yes, John I don't know if those facts bear out, listen I let you go on because I let Angela go on in the beginning but let's get back to --

FREDERICKS: Angela is not telling the truth. You got to tell the truth.

LEMON: We are talking about diversity and Senator Tim Scott who is the only black Republican in the senate, played integral parts in writing this bill and getting it pass, he deserves to be standing in front and center. However he got into a twitter spat when a blogger tweeted this, what a shocker, there is one black person there and sure enough they had him standing right next to the mic like a manipulated prop. Way to go Senator Tim Scott. #Trump, #taxscambill. Scott fired back he said, oh, probably because I help write the bill for the pass year, had multiple revisions included, got multiple senators on board over the last week and have work on tax reform my entire time in congress, but if you rather just see my skin color, please feel free. What is your reaction Angela?

RYE: I think he raises fair points if he worked on the bill he should be standing there that doesn't negate the reality of this photo opportunity or negate the reality of the dismal diversity record of Trump's cabinet, Trump's White House or judicial picks nomination. The reality of it, this is avenue individual who struggles with diversity, recognizing it, appointing it, and hiring it throughout the duration of his career way before politics were even in play.

LEMON: John the President has talked about moving on an infrastructure next. However Paul Ryan and many Republicans would love to reform Medicare and social security the President had promise several times that he wouldn't touch it what happens if he breaks his campaign promise.

JOHN FREDERICKS, HOST, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO: If Paul Ryan does the most moronic move in political history and defies this president's campaign promise of not touching entitlements and not throwing grandma off the cliff, the guy should be voted out as speaker and the President should veto the bill. This President campaign vigorously on protecting the entitlement package for Americans for this time and he said he will make the country so rich and prosperous by tax cuts and other things that we're going to be able to pay for this, so to come out of the tax cut and be talking about entitlement reform and cuts in Medicaid and social security is the stupid most asinine thing in politics that I ever heard.

Look, Paul Ryan had a shot in 2012 and got his clock cleaned by Joe Biden and Barack Obama so I don't care what he has to say. The President needs the to take control of the agenda and move forward with infrastructure that is what he promised so we can build on our roads and bridges and tunnels and infrastructure.

RYE: OK. So here's a little challenge with that. There's a provision now that exists in congress called pay go. That is pay as you go meaning this huge tax bill that you are celebrating has to be paid four. One of the things absolutely in play is Medicare funding. That also means Medicaid fund is also at risk and that also means the social security is at risk. Entitlements are on the chopping block because this $1.5 trillion has to be paid for, you could shake your head, but that is the law.

FREDERICKS: It will be paid for by the economic growth Angela, I mean.

RYE: I am sorry, maybe you don't know what pay as you go means.


FREDERICKS: You pay for by economic growth.

LEMON: Paul Ryan today said he is not sure that will happen John.

RYAN: I don't think you understand what I mean. Pay go means that whatever is on the books something has to get hit there is some cut that has to incur as a result of you spending more government money. That is a Republican-led agenda item that is on the books. We're not talking about an infrastructure package, I'm talking about how they will pay for this tax reform bill those are the facts.

FREDERICKS: Hold that thought, John. On the other sides of the break we'll be right back.


[23:37:23] LEMON: All right. Back now with my panel, with my experts, Angela Rye and John Fredericks so President Trump and GOP notching a big legislative win to their tax bill, a big change coming for Obamacare. Let us talk about that, Angela I just want to play something from the president today after this tax bill passed. Here is what he told reporters.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate to say this but we essentially repealed Obamacare, because we got rid of the individual mandate which was terrible and that was a primary source of funding for Obamacare.


LEMON: So Angela the president sees to thinks that stripping away the law individuals mandate amounts to the repeal of the whole law.

RYE: Yeah that is not true, but here is the challenge is it is a linchpin of Obamacare, of the affordable care act and that is by forcing an individual mandate it ensures that healthier people are helping to ensure premiums are lower for the American people. What he really did is he sacrificed healthcare for a least 13 million Americans by agreeing to sign this bill into law he hasn't signed it into law yet. Bit that is the main challenge with this tax reform measure. You are creating a situation it's more difficult for people to have not just health care but affordable health care something he was saying he was for.

LEMON: John, millions of Americans will lose their insurance as a result of this. Is this really something to celebrate you think?

FREDERICKS: Totally false Don, we have millions of Americans right now paying a thousand dollars or upwards tax on them because if they don't buy the insurance they have to pay the tax. Here is what happens, OK.

LEMON: They're going to lose their health care.

FREDERICKS: But Don, how about the people who are paying $1,000 month premiums and have $7,000 a month deductible. Don, they have to spend $19,000 before they get a dime back this was a redistribution of income that is all it was, it was a tax to make people to buy something they don't need, don't want, can't do anything with.

LEMON: People don't need health care insurance?

FREDERICKS: Now they're going to opt out of the program and put it in a health savings account or buy something else this program made no sense it was a tax on people that were made to buy insurance that didn't do anything for their families that is why they are getting out of it.

LEMON: OK I will let Angela respond, go ahead.

RYE: First that is not true, what's happened over time and hopefully you'll be willing to admit this, Republicans have made it abundantly challenging to keep Obamacare in place. You have Republican governors who opted out of exchanges making insurance premiums also rise. That was an intentional sabotage of Obamacare, so in what state is a premium a thousand dollars a month where is that exist? And the $750 deductible you're talking about, where is that?

[23:40:15] FREDERICKS: Well, no, the deductible.

RYE: The thousand dollar premium that you talked about.

FREDERICKS: When I left Obamacare my family of 3 went from $500 a month up to $1,000 and my deductible went to $10,000 which means I have to pay $22,000 before I get a dime back, the alternative that was paying the fine getting a dollar back.

LEMON: You have a family of three. Taking care of three people.

FREDERICKS: I'm an average American that got hammered by this thing and my wife had to find an alternative to this in the share market in order to keep my child in catholic school this is the reality people are facing.

LEMON: Are you arguing in favor of single payer or universal health care?

FREDERICKS: I am arguing in favor of not making people pay something that doesn't makes any sense for them and hurts their families. They have no insurance.

RYE: Now your insurance is going to triple. Initially you are paying $300 per person which I can be honestly my insurance monthly payment is $350. So we're about the same. Technically you're a little bit less. Now you're looking at tripling that payment with less coverage.

FREDERICKS: You have no idea what the premiums are going to be. Look --

RYE: Well we know for sure they're going to be higher.

FREDERICKS: They keep going up. Obamacare has not done anything to bring the cost down.

RYE: That is not true.

FREDERICKS: Wait a minute Angela, Obama came on TV said you're going to save $2500, lie, false, nobody said that. Obama came on TV and said you're going to be able to keep your doctor. Lie. False.

RYE: I kept my doctor.

FREDERICKS: False it's all lies.

RYE: It is not a lie. Just because in person, you personally did not witness this, you also started this conversation by talking about person with a $1000 payment every month, and then you admit it later it is for three people, that is $300 a month per person.

FREDERICKS: Family of three in America is within the mean. Right. RYE: Now the challenge that you're going to experience is that you're

going to be paying more than that -- you're going to be paying more for less that is the reality of this. When you have healthy people that are no longer forced to have to pay for insurance you're going to have sick people only who opt into those plans and sick people now preexisting conditions is on the chopping block whether or not they can get the doctor or prescriptions they need all of that is at risk, because of greed that is what this tax bill is about, greed.

FREDERICKS: Greed, what are you talking about.

LEMON: Let me just say this John, listen to me. Let me just say this. As a single person who pays a lot for health insurance you say for three people you pay $1,000, I understand but as a single person I probably paid that much or close to that amount for health insurance in this country. If we wants to insure a lot of people we have to make sacrifices. So why are you complaining. We would all like it to come down. I would like to pay less. I see you, quite frankly I see you as paying a lot less than me and I'm happy you are doing it.

FREDERICKS: Well Don when your premium is $1,000 and deductible of $10,000 you have to spend $22,000 before you get a dime back from your insurance company. I don't have $22,000 lying around.

LEMON: Most people don't have that much money lying around. But do you understand what I'm saying? A lot of people pay a lot of money -- there are a lot of healthy people like us who pay a lot of money for people who are not healthy. I understand if we want to be real Americans and help our brothers and sisters like we will pay more taxes under this new plan that is what we do as Americans. Maybe we don't buy another pair of shoes or don't shop at whole foods or buy less Christmas presents. Maybe don't get a new car every year. Maybe you understand you have to help to take care of the least of these instead of thinking selfishly of your own needs.

FREDERICKS: It's not selfish Don, but at least you're being honest to say I want you to pay into a system that doesn't benefit you or your family and might put you at risk to help everybody else.

LEMON: If I have to pay more money I'm happy to as a healthy person.

LEMON: I got to run.

FREDERICKS: Are you going to dispute Obama said average American will save $2500.

RYE: I save money under Obamacare.

FREDERICKS: Let's stop lying.

LEMON: We have to take a break. Guess who is here. I'm so excited, Neil Degrasse Tyson is in the house. The famed astrophysicist is here to tell me why he is happy someone is looking into what this flying object is. He has a lot to say about it. Don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [23:29:01] LEMON: Also look to this recording of a navy pilot

checking out an unidentified object.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a whole fleet of them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My god. They're going against the wind. The wind is 120 miles an hour to the west.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that thing, dude.

That is not (inaudible) is it?

Look at that thing, it is rotating.


LEMON: So we now know the government is studying aerospace threats, in other words UFO's does this mean there really is something out there, want to talk about this now with my favorite astrophysicist. Neil Degrasse Tyson author of astrophysics for people in a hurry and I said.

NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON, AMERICAN ASTROPHYSICIST: How many astrophysicists do you know?


[23:50:00] LEMON: You're the only one. Did you see everyone in the studio when that was playing?


LEMON: It is fascinating. What is that?

DEGRASSE TYSON: That is unidentified. That is what the "u" stands for in UFO. I'm just saying. That is why it's called -- if you knew what it was, it would be an IFO. That is how it works.

LEMON: Come on, now. It is fascinating.

DEGRASSE TYSON: Anything you don't know, flying in the sky --

LEMON: Is unidentified.

DEGRASSE TYSON: If it's unidentified, it's a fascinating thing. If you put all of them in a box, you go, ok, how many could be known to someone who has extensive knowledge of what happens in the sky? That would take away most of this. They would be IFO's to me and UFO's to many others. And there's some that nobody knows what it is. This one looks like nobody knows what it is.

LEMON: We had scientists come on and they said they have never seen anything like that and I wonder I have someone last night, I wonder it could be --

DEGRASSE TYSON: I'm not your first scientist?

LEMON: It was an investigative journalist. I'm just wondering, could it be -- could it be from another country? Could they be doing some sort of reconnaissance?

DEGRASSE TYSON: I don't know. And I'm glad the Pentagon looked into it. That is what made it a story. There's some video, some fuzzy video of an object in the sky that people can't identify. YouTube is full of those. What got the media attention, is that the Pentagon spent $22 million investigating just this kind of thing. You pause for a minute and say, I'm glad they're investigating unknown things that could pose an airborne security threat. Yes. Definitely check it out.

LEMON: You see this, you're not surprised by it. You know these programs are going on.

DEGRASSE TYSON: It's not so much that I'm not surprised. It's just, I'm glad to learn that the Pentagon looked into it. And they did look into it. The project is over. And on to other things. By the way, $22 million, it feels like a lot of money, relative to the federal budget. 0.001 percent.

LEMON: I am glad you said that. The defense department annual budget is $600 billion. They stopped this in 2012, this funding.

DEGRASSE TYSON: It was over a five-year thing.

LEMON: Was that a mistake?

DEGRASSE TYSON: If they study what that is, or what it could be. And recognize it's not a threat, I'm cool with that. I'm good. Yes.

LEMON: I want to play this. This is the head of the program. His name is Luis Elizondo. A military intelligence officer. He sat down with Erin Burnett earlier this week. And this is what he had to say.


LUIS ELIZONDO, FORMER PENTAGON UFO OFFICIAL: I can't speak on behalf of the government. I'm not in the U.S. Government anymore. My personal belief is there is compelling evidence that we may not be alone.


DEGRASSE TYSON: Ok. So, the threshold for when one invokes the world compelling, in reference to evidence is very different for different people. To a scientist, compelling evidence would be an alien walks into a bar with you. You have the craft. The alien is there on something other than fuzzy video. And so, everybody has a high- definition video camera on their hip right now. So, what I'd like to see is an increase in high-definition imagery of actual aliens or the interior of an alien craft. Look at the stories we've heard of people having been abducted. I'm just waiting for that. And go get abducted. Invite yourself to get abducted and then come back. You'll be famous, rich and more power to you.


LEMON: You do that.

DEGRASSE TYSON: I'm just saying. Just because it's something you can't explain, doing things that you don't understand is not equal to that thing being intelligent aliens visiting from outer space.

LEMON: I'm sure you look at every administration's --

DEGRASSE TYSON: One other thing about that video. It's infrared. And you can flip the contrast to go negative or positive on those images. It's infrared. Just to be careful what you're saying. They didn't see an object. Their detector detected something.


DEGRASSE TYSON: Whatever that thing is. That is actually different from them seeing something out there on window. Their sensors detected something. Could there be something wrong with the sensors? These are things you would have to investigate if you want to fully recognize what is going on there.

LEMON: What do you think of the funding of NASA or the space program?

DEGRASSE TYSON: The space program is our future, our survival of our civilization. It will pivot on how wisely we think about the exploration of space. Ingredients called rare earth elements on earth.

[23:55:07] LEMON: Quickly, because I want to get your book out.

DEGRASSE TYSON: In space they are not rare.

LEMON: Let us talk about your book now, we have a short time. Your book is really important, I want to ask you about it. It is called "astrophysics for people in a hurry." Why did you write that book? I saw you on "The View" talking about it. That is my morning show. I'm late. It's almost midnight. How did you write it?


DEGRASSE TYSON: I just noticed that anytime I talked about the universe, if I sort of hand curated certain mind-blowing things about the universe and shared it with people, they would never let me go. They would keep listening and following down the street. Let me write a book so I can keep walking. It's a hand-picked set of some of the most extraordinary things we have come to discover about this universe in which we all live.

LEMON: It's a best seller.

DEGRASSE TYSON: It's still on the best seller list. An appetite out there for the universe. .

LEMON: Astro physics for people in a hurry. I'm honored that people have made me part of that. By the only astrophysicist I know. Thank you. I appreciate it. I'm not going to do that because I have a cold. That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.