Return to Transcripts main page

CNN TONIGHT

Let ****hole People Go back to Their Shithole Countries; One Trump Surrogate Versus Four; Insults, Racism, and Bigotry Flying Out from President Trump's Mouth. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 11, 2018 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, HOST, CNN: ... be rock them sock them. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

The President of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that. Today, President Trump talking with lawmakers in the Oval Office about immigrants from Haiti, from El Salvador and Africa and said, and I quote. "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"

But you know who he did say he would welcome here? He said, the U.S. should bring in people from more countries like Norway.

And CNN is told that he went on to say, "Why do we need more Haitians, take them out?" Those comments are frankly disgusting. There's other language I'd like to use, but we are on television. But you know what, they're not shocking. Not even really surprising, because this is who Donald Trump is. This is what he thinks.

Apparently, we have to go through this repertoire every time he says something like this or exhibits some racist behavior. This is a man who in the Oval Office meeting last year said Nigerian immigrants should, in his words, "go back to their huts." Who in that same meeting said "all Haitian immigrants have AIDS."

The man who based his entire political career for years on the racist birther lie that President Barack Obama was born in Africa. A man who reportedly still believes that to this day.

The man who started his campaign trashing Mexicans, and then made the Muslim ban a centerpiece of his bid. The man who responded to white supremacists who killed a young woman in Charlottesville by claiming there were, in his words, "very fine people on both sides."

The man who responded to protests by black NFL players by calling them, quote, "sons of bitches." Do I need to go with all of this? I get tired of saying it.

This is a man who today complained about immigrants who, quote, "are from shithole countries." Tonight, a White House official told CNN that they're not worried,

they think this is good for them, and the president's comments will actually resonate with his base. Jesus.

Admitting that for all their talk about making America great, the president is playing to a base that welcomes his racism and will enjoy it. And that is disgraceful. With that said, here's what's worse and probably the most important point.

So, gather around the television, everyone. And this is for anyone who may be taken aback by my comments. I want to be very clear here, I don't really care if you are. I hope you are.

For years now, it has been, you know, two and a half years since he officially entered the political arena, for years, I, and others have been trying to tell you, the American people that this man was exhibiting bigoted behavior.

I asked him about it a number of times but he denied it, but kept up the racist rhetoric and behavior throughout the campaign and now while he's in the White House. His supporters made excuses, continue to make excuses for him. Some of them people I personally know. Some of his friends as his friends as a matter of fact and I can hear them telling me, Don, Donald didn't mean that. Donald isn't a racist. Or just people who don't know. I don't know. I think he was taken out of context, I'm not sure.

How many examples do you need of this? But he is a racist. And for all of you who have uttered that tired, lazy, uninformed, uneducated ignorant response of calling me and others who playing out racist behaviors racist. You know what you can go do? I can't say that, but you can read a book, a history book, because you might learn that people from some of those shithole countries were slaves who were brought here by force to build this country.

And then start your learning process from there. You also might want to do some self-examination. What does it say about you that no matter what, no matter what, you continue to make excuses for this man, for his vile behavior. This sort of vile behavior, doesn't that make you just as bad if not worse than him?

And I have to be honest. I was -- I was not shocked that Donald Trump reportedly called the majority of black and Hispanic countries or continents shitholes, I wasn't shocked, I'm not. I'm really not outraged by it. I'm not outraged. I'm tired of being outraged as a matter of fact. I've been outraged too many times.

So it's more important to be strategic than to be outraged. Some people can be outraged but it's more important for level headed people to be strategic rather than outraged. Otherwise it becomes a sky is falling situation every time he says something dumb or stupid or racist.

[22:04:56] Here's why I'm not outraged, because people of color warned you, you called us racists, or race baiters. I'm not mad that you called me those things, because I'm not one of them. So why are you mad if someone calls you a racist if you know you're not one?

Think about that. If you know you're not a racist, then why are you mad about it when someone calls out racism? What does that say about you? You know what those black and brown folks who you call racists are saying now? They're saying you bought, you own it. And as we say in the south, bless your heart.

I want to bring in now CNN political commentators Charles Blow and Maria Cardona, republican strategist Rick Wilson, and talk radio host, John Fredericks, former co-chair of the Trump campaign in Virginia. Maria, what do you think?

MARIA CARDONA, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: My goodness, Don. Amen to everything that you just said because you're right. I am tired of being outraged. This is nothing new for those of us who knew that this man was completely unfit to be president of the United States.

And frankly, that goes for the majority of the American people who did not vote for him. The words that have come out of the president's mouth tonight are racist, are bigoted, are anti-immigrant, and they are xenophobic. And they are those things, Don, because this president is a racist. He is anti-immigrant, he is xenophobic, and he's a bigot.

And there is nothing that will convince me and so many other Americans who have seen this president denigrate our pure American values of equality, of a level playing field, of understanding that you can come to this great country seeking a better life, and lift yourself up from the bootstraps, that's a republican ideal, by the way. And become an American and live the American dream.

That is why my parents came here, that is why they brought me as a 2- year-old immigrant from Colombia, who I'm sure this president also sees as a shithole country. My father came here with not a cent in his pocket. And he sent all of his three children to school.

One is an engineer, one an entrepreneur, and I'm here tonight speaking to you on national television. Not one year ago, Don, my children were on with you on the set during the inauguration, and you asked them, a 13-year-old, or back then a 12-year-old, and a 9-year-old, a 12-year- old boy and a 9-year-old girl and you asked them what they thought about the election of Trump.

And they told you they were afraid. They were afraid for themselves, and they were afraid for their friends who are in -- they're in a bilingual school, and most of them are Latino and most are African- American.

LEMON: Yes.

CARDONA: And this president is proving these children right every single day. And that is a sad day for America.

LEMON: I want to play, I want to bring the other panelists in here. But before I do I want to play some of the offensive things we have heard from this president in the past. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would like to have him show his birth certificate. And can I be honest with you. I hope he can. Because if he can't, if he can't, and if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility. I'm not saying it happen -- I'm saying, it's a real possibility.

Much greater than I thought two or three weeks ago. Then he's pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.

They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists, and some, I assume are good people.

Look at my African-American over here, look at him. Are you the greatest?

We're building a wall, he's a Mexican, we're building a wall between here and Mexico.

JAKE TAPPER, HOST, CNN: If you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

TRUMP: I don't think so at all.

His wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say, she probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.

You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, John Fredericks, the reality is, that these racist xenophobic views are one of the most consistent opinions that this president has.

JOHN FREDERICKS, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO HOST: Well, Don, it's not about race, as you like to make it, because that's easy and lazy, it's about economics, my comment back to Maria is, your children are going to have a much better economic future and a better chance for future job that they are going to have under other president. Now, let me -- let me -- you called on me. So let me finish. Truer words...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You know what, you know what, John Fredericks?

FREDERICKS: have you notice...

LEMON: You know what -- you know what, John Fredericks? John, until that last comment...

(CROSSTALK)

FREDERICKS: Are you just going to cut me off, Don? LEMON: Yes, I'm going to cut you off. Can we please cut him off? Can we take him off the screen? Can we take him -- can we get rid of John Fredericks? Thank you.

First of all, I was going to let him speak until you doubly insulted me. I don't even need to respond to the lazy comment. I laid a lot of thing. We can have this conversation, and we don't need to have someone who is going to make excuses for racism. So, Charles, go on, what do you think of this?

[22:10:00] CHARLES BLOW, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: I think that it is impossible to live your life under the microscope of the presidency and not have your true nature revealed. And what we are seeing, is that he continuously over and over reveals the true nature of himself.

And what makes me doubly sure that it is who he is, is that he has never once apologized for it. He's never repented. He has never asked for absolution, and in fact, the exact opposite is true, which is that he has doubled down and defended it.

That means that this is who he is, and not only does he believe he is right in what he's saying, he believe that he has the right to say it, even as the leader of this country. And I think that once we establish that fact, you don't have to argue about -- this is not -- an ambiguous fact, this is a real thing.

Once you establish that, you have to turn the lens, and you look at, everybody who is part of the administration, who's salaries we are paying, who are making excuses for this, and deflecting from it, and you say, what does that say about you, you need to look at every member of Congress who comes out, some of them come out and say, this is bad, and they turn right back around and go back to the White House and say, this is the greatest guy ever.

What does that say about you, you look at his supporters and you say, this is happening, you keep going back to supporting him, what does that say about you? You look at the people that come on the air with us, and defend this man, even though you have evidence -- you're hearing the exact same things that I am. You have evidence that he has a hostility towards black and brown people and you continue to defend and support.

That says to me that you are part of that hostility, because there is no daylight between them. And let me say this one last thing. Racial animus is a violence on to itself because it softens the ground for racist policies, and racist policies soften the ground for actual physical violence.

And I believe that every time he says something, it is softening the ground. And every time someone defends it, they are softening the ground. I'm not offended personally, I'm a big boy. But I'm offended by the people kind of insulting my intelligence by pretending that they're not seeing what I'm seeing.

LEMON: Exactly. There you go. So, Rick Wilson, you tweeted some stuff today, and you talked about some issues, but I just want to get your take before I read what you -- what you tweeted.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Sure. This is, Don, I mean, I think what we saw with John tonight, who, I kind of wish you had left on the air because I was hoping you stop this...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: No, we're going to bring him back. We're going to bring him back. But I just wanted to -- I just needed a moment.

WILSON: But I got to tell you, what the double -- the double horror of this whole thing, is not only is this a president who is morally and mentally unfit to hold this office, and he demonstrates it more and more every day.

But the thin veneer on this guy, that he wasn't the exact same flavor of racist that his racist father was, who was involved in the Klan is stripped bare by this sort of statement, the sort of accusation. You know, the Republican Party has fought for years, to try to -- to get out from under the shadow of being considered to be accommodating to racists, and this is a man who is singlehandedly destroying the party of Lincoln.

You know, Richard Nixon met with Martin Luther King when he was the vice president of this country to talk about civil rights. Republicans supported the Civil Rights Act. We -- this is -- this country with a million flaws about our history with race, but we have in general arced towards something better than we started.

But Donald Trump seems determined to turn that around. He seems determined to become an avatar for these alt-right jack holes and to turn this country into a, you know, moral shithole, because he can't resist giving into the impulses that drive him. And they are repulsive and they are -- they are, like I said, they make him morally unfit to hold this office.

LEMON: Yes. So, John, hopefully you've calmed down, because I invited you to come on. I like hearing from you sometimes, but I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here and let you insult me. So if you would care to apologize for calling me lazy and making an adnominal attack against me. I didn't call you names, I didn't call you lazy. So, if you want to have a conversation with me and be smart about it, then we can do so. But if you're not going to do that, then I do not want to hear from you.

FREDERICKS: Don, I apologize, I meant no offense.

LEMON: Go on.

FREDERICKS: Truer words today in the Oval Office have never been said, this is what people say around their kitchen table, right? This is what you guys have to understand that you don't really get, and this is not about race. It's about economics.

[22:14:58] Donald Trump is not the president of Haiti. He's the president of Africa. He is the President of the United States. His job is to protect and secure and to increase the prosperity of Americans.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: What does that have to do with calling -- so can we put everyone up on the screen because I want people to see the reaction here. What does that have to do with calling countries -- black and brown countries shitholes, and just because you say it around your kitchen table -- that was the point, maybe you didn't hear my opening monologue. That was the whole point is that...

(CROSSTALK)

FREDERICKS: I heard your opening.

LEMON: ... it doesn't necessarily make -- it doesn't necessarily make it true, and you said, truer words have never been spoken. So, do you, in fact yourself believe that these countries are shitholes.

FREDERICKS: What I believe is, look, there's two issues here.

LEMON: Do you, in fact, believe -- because you said to me, that truer words have never been spoken. Do you think these countries are shitholes?

FREDERICKS: I believe that taking in lottery visa scam immigrants from countries that have low education and low skilled workers...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: You're not answering my question. You're not answering my question, John.

FREDERICKS: ... who come to the country -- I don't know, I've not been to the country, Don. I'm trying -- I'm trying to give you a substantive answer...

LEMON: Can you just be honest enough to answer my question. But if you're going to -- but if you're going to come on and make a claim, and say truer words have never been spoken, then give me the evidence that it's true. Do you believe it or not.

(CROSSTALK)

FREDERICKS: You're not letting me, Don. If you just cut me off, there's no conversation.

LEMON: Answer my question, and I'll let you go. Do you believe it's true?

FREDERICKS: I believe that the immigrants from these countries that are coming in under the scam visa lottery system are uneducated and very low skilled, and so here's what happens. They come to the United States and they do nothing to increase the prosperity of the American workers.

(CROSSTALK) CARDONA: My god, I cannot believe those words are coming out of your mouth.

LEMON: Let him finish. Let him finish.

FREDERICKS: The lower wages or they go on welfare and extend our entitlement system. I mean, this is the economic reality that you people have not grasped and understand...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: I'm sorry, who do you...

LEMON: OK. May I...

FREDERICKS: Uneducated workers coming into the -- look, Australia and Canada have a merit based system.

CARDONA: Wow.

FREDERICKS: They're run by liberal labor governments. You know what they do that? Because they want to bring people into their country who are going to enhance the prosperity of the system.

CARDONA: I'm sorry. Who do you think...

(CROSSTALK)

FREDERICKS: There has nothing to do with that.

LEMON: Let other people...

BLOW: I just want to say...

CARDONA: Who do you think...

FREDERICKS: Not of Haiti or Africa or these other countries.

LEMON: Maria. OK. Maria first.

CARDONA: Who do you think picks the vegetables and the fruits that end up on your plate and in your belly? Who do you think cleans the hotel rooms that you go when you stay at five star resort hotels? Who do you think buses your tables and cooks your food? I am sorry, that is the most offensive thing that I have heard this night in addition to what Donald Trump said.

FREDERICKS: Really?

CARDONA: Immigrants come to this country, even though...

(CROSSTALK)

FREDERICKS: What is...

CARDONA: ... let me finish. Even though they are low skilled, but they give everything they have to this country. They give an incredible work ethic, that frankly is better than a lot of native born Americans, and they focus on making a better life for themselves and their kids.

Do you think that they wake up one day and think, it will be fun to go to a country that I don't know, that I don't know the language, and I don't know the culture, and it's a very different culture than mine, I'm going to leave my family because I think it's fun, and I just want to live off the government.

LEMON: Go ahead. Let Charles get in.

CARDONA: This is because think want a better life, and this country, up until now, has promised them that, if they work hard and they play by the rules.

BLOW: I want America to understand how intellectually...

(CROSSTALK)

FREDERICKS: Maria try to...

LEMON: Hold on, John. Hold on, John. John, hold on! John, be respectful. I'm telling people, everyone else, follows the rules when they come on. If I tell them, I said, Maria, let Charles get in. She stopped and she let Charles get in.

You cannot bulldoze everyone, and then expect to get respect on this show. So let other people say their peace, and then you'll get your time. Charles, go ahead.

BLOW: I want America to understand how intellectually bereft John's argument was, right. He says that...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: Thank you.

BLOW: He says that Donald Trump is not the president of Haiti, and not the president of Africa. First of all, no one can be the president of Africa, it's a continent and not a country.

Number two, he's also not the president of Norway, which he said he would prefer more people from there, right. So, he's not -- that's not American interests. It has nothing to do with that.

You always -- you also said that they come here and they offered nothing, they do nothing. The only black female republican representative in Congress is Mia Love, who is a Haitian immigrant. And she is a republican. And she is -- I would argue giving back to this country in abundance.

I think that what -- you twist yourself into a knot by trying to make this be something other than what it is. You twist the argument around because you cannot make it make sense. Other than to be what it is. [22:19:58] Racism will behave the way racism behaves, it always has

and it always will. And nothing that you can say, or that anyone else who is an apologist for Trump can say is going to make that difference.

As James Waldo (Ph) said, I cannot believe what you say, because I see what you do. I see you come on television, and make this argument in defense of the indefensible. We cannot trust what is coming out of your mouth. Your argument is not intellectually sound and it's not morally grounded.

LEMON: OK, we'll be right back and we'll hear from our other panelists, don't go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: All right. Back now with my panel. We're having an important conversation. Charles Blow, Maria Cardona, Rick Wilson, and John Fredericks. It's your turn, Rick Wilson. What did you want to say?

WILSON: You know, hearing John's defense of Trump, you know, and of this overtly racist aspect of it, it shocks me that we still have people in this country -- you know, don't bother calling yourself a conservative, if you don't believe that there's a way where people who come and embrace the proposition of this country can become Americans.

Because we've worked very hard in this country to accept people from around the world, and of varying backgrounds. And you know what, John, I'm sure your ancestors here weren't descended from the mayflower in some cloud of heavenly light.

I'm sure they came here from Ireland, Germany, or Italy or somewhere else. And you know what back then, they were the shithole people, back then they were the people who were looked down upon. And you know what? If this is a country that's based on a proposition that we have an American system, an American dream, an American framework that allows people to come here and work hard, and raise their families, and engage in society, and contribute to society.

[22:25:01] CARDONA: Yes.

WILSON: Then your idea that these people should be bounded out of here, because they happen to come from the shithole countries is absurdly American, absurdly unconstitutional and not conservative in any way whatsoever.

And if you believe that, go on Amazon, order yourself a pointy white hat, head down to Home Depot and get the wood to build a burning cross. Because that's what you're talking about. That's where your attitude leads to.

LEMON: John?

FREDERICKS: Well, it's about economics, Rick. And you can throw all the insults you want, and I appreciate it. But look, at the end of the day... (CROSSTALK)

WILSON: No, you don't appreciate it, you are a weak -- you are a weak impotent person who can't handle the fact that there are people who don't look like you, who want to come to this country because our system is awesome. You hate that, you hate it so much, because you're so weak inside.

FREDERICKS: So that's your substantive argument to me, Rick Wilson, who backed every losing candidate...

(CROSSTALK)

WILSON: John, I will gut you like a fish on this show, if you want to keep this up.

LEMON: All right, guys. OK, guys.

WILSON: Your argument is based entirely on the fact that those people are brown.

FREDERICKS: Let me respond -- let me respond with a substantive answer. You can insult me all you want, I could really care less. So, Rick, so go ahead and do what you can -- tweet it out for your 500 followers.

Here's the bottom line, this is not about race. The president said for two years, he is going to curtail immigration into this country which drives down wages for the American worker. And he wants to go to...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: That's just not true.

WILSON: Hey, John, do you...

LEMON: Let him finish, let him finish, let him finish. I promise you you'll get a chance. Go ahead, John. John, you finish your point.

FREDERICKS: You know, when you allow people -- when you allow people under a scam lottery visa program to come into the United States that do not contribute to the economic wellbeing of the country, you're either driving down wages. And I'm telling you Rick and Maria, and Don and Charles. This is the unholy alliance of all time, between democrats that want open borders and free immigration.

CARDONA: Please.

FREDERICKS: So they can get cheap votes and...

LEMON: OK. So we're getting away from -- so hang on. Hold on, guys. Hold on, guys. Hold on, guys.

FREDERICKS: Let me finish. Let me finish. And Rick Wilson make it...

(CROSSTALK) LEMON: So, John, you're getting away from actually what the president said today.

WILSON: John?

FREDERICKS: That's what this whole thing is about. You're trying to turn it into race and it's not. It's about the economics...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: The president did that.

FREDERICKS: ... for American workers.

WILSON: John, john, john the president today said he wants people from places like Norway. Those are people who were highly educated and skilled. They're going to come here. Are you cool with them coming here to take highly skilled and educated jobs from Americans? Is that what you're saying? Or is it just brown people who are willing to go and work in restaurant kitchens and hotels...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Or be congresswomen.

WILSON: ... in Trump golf courses and unacceptable to you?

LEMON: Or be congresswomen.

CARDONA: Yes.

LEMON: Or become astronauts.

WILSON: Or OK (Inaudible) people from Norway to go.

CARDONA: Of course they're OK with people from Norway, because they're white. But Don, can I make one point. I want to back up what Rick Wilson said, OK. This is a democrat backing up what a republican conservative is saying. Strategically...

(CROSSTALK)

FREDERICKS: A never Trumper republican.

CARDONA: He is absolutely right.

WILSON: Yes, because I'm actual conservative unlike...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: Because conservatives -- conservatives and democrats are on the same page on this. Let me read a couple of quotes, Don. Who said this, you can go live in France, but you can't become a Frenchmen. You can live in Germany but you can't become German. Go live in Japan and Turkey and you cannot become Japanese or Turkish.

But anyone from any corner of the world can come to the United States and become an American. Ronald Reagan said that, OK?

Here's one from Mitt Romney, "we're all a nation of immigrants, we are children and grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life. The driven ones, the ones who woke up in the middle of the night, hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called America could be better."

For God's sake, Donald Trump, if you call yourself a republican, then you need to follow the lead of these real leaders when it comes to immigration or get out.

LEMON: Charles Blow?

BLOW: I don't know how to follow that. Rick says he's going to gut him like a fish.

LEMON: He meant intellectually.

WILSON: And that's not hard.

BLOW: Right, so I don't buy the economic argument at all, and I do believe that John is...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Actually, the studies show that it's not about economics.

CARDONA: Yes.

BLOW: It's not about...

LEMON: There was a whole thing during the election; the election of this president was not about economics.

BLOW: It is cultural anxiety built around race and immigration, yes. But in addition to that, I mean, the idea that, you know, John seems to my ear be conflating visa lottery program, which both democrats and republicans have talked about either getting rid of or revamping with comprehensive immigration, which I believe is what they were talking about in the Oval Office today.

And when you talk about comprehensive immigration and trying to protect people who may be coming from vulnerable places, that is -- that's an American ideal.

[22:30:05] CARDONA: Yes.

BLOW: We took the dregs of Europe, if I may say that, for decades. And in fact that was kind of the mantra of America, send us your poor, send us your tired. I mean, we did that because that was -- America was the young scrappy place.

DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Well, that's part -- that's part of immigration and what immigration is.

BLOW: Exactly. LEMON: Right.

CARDONA: Yes.

BLOW: But what we're seeing is that white America now -- and not all white people, but I'm just saying, people who subscribe to this kind of philosophy, seem to want to lock in the games, right?

Like, America is built now -- we want to lock in the demographics of how it looks now, we want to lock in the power structure as it exists now, and not let it continue to be the dynamic place that it always was.

LEMON: OK. Stand by, are these guys coming back? Because I think we changed a little bit. They're going to come back.

Can we stop pretending? Put everyone up. Can we all please stop pretending that this is about economics? If you do some research, if you read a book, if you do some homework, you will know it's not about economics, it's about race. We'll be right back.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: That's right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And we're back now. Charles Blow is here. Maria Cardona, Rick Wilson, and John Fredericks.

So, if you, as I said before the break, if you do your homework and you read, then you will understand that this election and immigration is about race and racist behavior, rather than economics, as many Trump supporters would like to believe. Some republicans who say it is, right?

[22:35:05] BLOW: By the way, do your homework and read is two things apparently the president does not do. I just have to say that. I'm sorry.

LEMON: All right. You're being petty. And I would encourage -- I would encourage all of you, there is a piece in the Atlantic that is it called, I think it's called the nationalist delusion. The nationalist delusion that you should read. And it goes through point by point about everything we're talking about tonight, and how it is not based on economics.

That's a talking point, that's for racist deniers, they would like you to believe that.

CARDONA: Yes.

LEMON: And that's the talking point that they used. So with that said, John Fredericks, how do you respond to that, this is about race. How can you say immigration which is about people from different countries, different nationalities coming in has nothing to do with race and it's only about economics. JOHN FREDERICKS, SYNDICATED TALK RADIO HOST: Well, I love you to

death and I respect your opinion and you know that. I've been with you a very long time.

LEMON: It's not opinion, it's fact.

FREDERICKS: We're good friends. But that's -- well, you can you give your facts, but the -- that's your opinion, Don.

LEMON: No, it's facts. I am telling people to read.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: It's not his opinion.

LEMON: I'm telling people to read the statistics and the information and the study.

FREDERICKS: You're telling them to read -- you're telling them to read opinion pieces, Don. What the president did today is let's just cut to the chase and cut out the nonsense and all the sanctimonious stuff that's going on here.

What happened today is they had a meeting at the White House and Dick Durbin came in and they have 50,000 lottery visas of people that come in from countries that bring in uneducated and very low skilled people that don't assimilate into the society and bring skills.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: John, I'm going to let you finish. So let me make one thing here.

FREDERICKS: So, let me just finish.

LEMON: I just want to ask you something. No, no, I'm going to let you finish. I want to ask you a question and I promise I'm going to let you finish. I'm going to let you finish, John, hold on, OK. calm down.

FREDERICKS: I believe you.

LEMON: OK. So, why do you keep bringing up uneducated people? Because many immigrants, including yours I'm sure were not educated. So what does it have to do with the price of tea? And many of these immigrants are educated. Where does that talking point come from, what you're saying is not true, it's a fallacy.

FREDERICKS: First of all, it's not a talking point. Second of all, we don't have full employment. Third of all, wages are...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: We are as close to full employment as we have ever been.

FREDERICKS: What? We are at full employment. FREDERICKS: These are the fact. So, if you bring, if you keep -- if

you keep increasing the labor pool of low skilled workers, you drive down wages for Americans.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: That's just not true.

FREDERICKS: This campaign, the Trump camp -- it is true.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But the lie with this -- the lie with this...

LEMON: Let him finish, let him finish and I'll give you guys.

FREDERICKS: Wages have not gone up in 30 years, and your kids are better off...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: That's not immigrant's faults.

FREDERICKS: ... with Trump as president because they have a better economic future. You have a better job.

CARDONA: Absolutely not. Thanks to Obama.

FREDERICKS: If you look at Australia and Canada. Two of our neighbors with liberal labor governments. Both of them have an immigration system that is based on merit. A system that says these were the types of people we need to bring into our country...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: OK. Let others respond, please.

FREDERICKS: ... in order to increase our prosperity so that everybody can make more money and be prosperous...

LEMON: Maria, go ahead and respond.

FREDERICKS: ... and not drive down your income, Maria.

CARDONA: Then go move to Canada, John. I think that there would be a lot of people that would applaud that. But you're wrong, your premises are completely are just based on fallacy, they are based on anti- immigrant well-known talking points. But that are simply not true.

Immigrants do not come here to lower wages. In fact, immigrants come here, and if we were to pass laws that would actually increase the minimum wage, that would increase wages for all Americans. This is -- that is just economics 101. So you just need to go read, and make yourself educated on that.

LEMON: OK. Rick? CARDONA: But the point -- but the point here is, Don, that this is

something that is -- it's not just a racist sentiment. This is a dangerous place for the Republican Party to be, to go back to Rick's point, which is why I'm sure he's so pissed off here, because the multicultural society in this country is only going to grow.

I'm sorry, John, but there are going to be more black and brown babies born than white babies born, you know, very soon here.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And you're getting at -- Maria, you're getting at the crux of it.

CARDONA: And in many -- and in many -- that is exactly -- exactly.

LEMON: That is what people are worried about the demographics of the country changing.

CARDONA: And in many cities, that is already happening.

LEMON: That is nothing you can do about it. Rick, go on.

WILSON: It's also, you know, I go back to this again, I'm curious that John doesn't have any objection to Norwegian workers coming here to take high school high paying jobs.

CARDONA: Because they are white.

WILSON: Or other workers from with a mysterious demographic characteristic I can't put my finger on.

CARDONA: Right.

WILSON: But, you know, it goes back to a broader question, America is not a Volk, we are not Narad (Ph), we are not a race of people. We are a proposition, we are an idea. We are a Constitution and a set of laws and principles and objectives that when you come here, if you buy into that system and play by the rules in that system, you are part of it.

[22:40:04] It is the American system. We are -- we are not based on a single demographic mix. And no matter what your flimsy economic excuses are about it, because there have been a lot more changes in the economy of the jobs being lost to automation than they are to immigration.

LEMON: Yes.

CARDONA: Yes.

LEMON: OK.

WILSON: So, you know, it really comes down to that point where, if you believe in this country and you believe in the proposition of this country, then you're color-blind to where people are coming from, if they come to this country, follow the law, play by the rules and enter the society to work hard and raise their families and embrace the American dream.

These are things that I know cause problems for people, like John, and for Donald Trump. And I know that they're looking for many, many ways they -- as many ways as they can tonight to excuse and lie over as why he says this thing. You know, about shithole countries. But you know, it's inexcusable.

LEMON: Yes.

WILSON: It's indefensible.

LEMON: We'll get to you sometime, Charles. I have to say that. A lot of people have responded to me saying, I don't know how you do it. People ask me all the time, but overwhelmingly now, because John, what they considered what you say to me doubly insulting. And you apologized, I accepted your apology. I do it because I think it's important for you to know so I'm not going to get on my higher horse here, but it's not easy.

(CROSSTALK)

CARDONA: You love this country.

LEMON: And I love -- and I love this country.

CARDONA: Yes.

LEMON: But it's not easy, but it's not easy to sit here every night hearing someone call an apple a banana. And we had that ad saying, you know, an apple is an apple and then you -- and then bite someone on...

CARDONA: Yes.

LEMON: ... who says an apple is a banana. It's frustrating, because you know it's not true, you know they know it's not true, and you know they're making excuses for it. And as a black person, you know it's racist. And I have been telling you that for two and a half years now. So don't be shocked when someone shows you who they are, believe them.

CARDONA: Yes.

LEMON: When we come back, the White House responding to a shithole controversy saying it's just the president's way of fighting for the American people. Which people are those? We're going to ask a former White House senior adviser just how effectively a president can govern by playing only to his base, David Axelrod joins me next.

[22:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The White House pointedly not denying President Trump's racist remarks about immigrants coming from shithole countries such as Haiti and nations in Africa. One official telling CNN it will resonate with Trump's base.

I want to bring in now CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Obama. Thank you. It's important to have you on. Good evening, David. We appreciate it.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Hi, Don.

LEMON: People accused President Obama being divisive on race. And on a day like today, what do you say? How do you feel?

AXELROD: Well, look, you know, one thing I think we ought to is, we ought to acknowledge. We can be outraged, but we shouldn't be surprised. This is who Donald Trump is. I mean, this is how he ran his campaign, this is how he's handled himself throughout his life, I think this is maybe what he believes.

So, you know, the issue isn't that, nor is it that this is a new thing in our society. You know, I was listening to John Frederick. And it reminded me of something I read recently which was a speech by Henry Cabot Lodge, he was a senator in the 1890s and after a prominent senator arguing for restrictions on immigration.

"So the injury of unrestricted immigration to American wages and American standard of living is sufficiently plain and is bad enough, but the danger of which this immigration threatens to the equality of our citizenship is far worse."

And he was talking about the immigration of Pols, Italians, of Eastern Europeans, we've heard this before. My father, Don, was a refugee. From one of these broken places that Donald Trump might have called in another time a shithole, and this country opened its arms to him.

And I would like to think that he returned the favor by serving in the military and contributing to this country. So the question really isn't about who Donald Trump is, that's been asked and answered.

The question is, who are we? And what makes me sad, I hear all of the shouting and screaming, but what makes me sad is, America does represent something special.

LEMON: Right.

AXELROD: It did to my family, it's done to generations and of immigrants who have come here and who have made America great. It is those waves of immigrants who work hard and have dreams for their families that make America great.

So, I know that's not the political question that you asked me, but I really feel strongly that tonight we ought to -- we ought to think about who we are as a country. Forget -- the president is who he is.

LEMON: Right.

AXELROD: The question is, who are we?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And that's what...

AXELROD: And everyone should speak to that. LEMON: Well, that was part of my monologue.

AXELROD: Yes. Yes.

LEMON: I asked in the opening, I said, what does that say about you? Because we know what this president is, we know the history, the evidence is there. But then doubling down, the White House issuing a statement, or saying that they believe that the base is enjoying that, David? What do you think of that?

AXELROD: Yes. No, look, I don't doubt that in the cold hard calculus of their politics, that they believe this will resonate with the base, and if you look online and on social media, you can see in fact that there is that reaction.

You heard John Frederick articulate it a little bit earlier on your show here. But you know, the thing is, and this is -- I'm beyond hoping that this will change.

The President of the United States is the trustee of something much larger than their own political base. The President of the United States is the president of the entire country. And that's a role that Donald Trump simply is ill equipped to accept. He just won't see himself that way.

They can say what they want about Barack Obama, I knew him very well, I served with him he's been my friend for years, he had a deep, deep warm feeling for what America is. All America -- all of America, and what it represents, and he tried to speak to that, and speak to the better angels of our nature.

You can either try and rally the country to those values and concerns that unite us. Or you can try and exploit our differences for your own political gain. And I think what you've seen in this presidency, is that is going to be the answer to every question.

LEMON: Yes. David Axelrod, I always appreciate your expertise. Thank you so much.

AXELROD: Thank you.

LEMON: Don't miss the Axe Files with David Axelrod. This weeks' special guest special guest is Condoleezza Rice. I can't wait to see that. Here's some of what she had to say about Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[22:49:57] CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: Nuclear war is a very serious deal, I think people would be mistaken to think that because the president has an ill-advised tweet we're about to have nuclear war with the North.

AXELROD: Do you have any concerns about misinterpretations or provocations?

RICE: I think Kim Jong-un is turning out much more so than I thought to be actually pretty clever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: You can catch the rest of the interview on Saturday night at 7 p.m. right here on CNN.

Now I want to talk more about the president's racist comments today about immigrants. So joining me now is CNN counterterrorism analyst, Philip Mudd, a former CIA counter terrorism official, and Louise Radnofsky who is a -- has a big interview with President Trump on the Wall Street journal. I'm so glad to have both of you on. Thank you so much.

LOUISE RADNOFSKY , WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Thank you.

LEMON: So, are you shocked or surprised by this?

PHILIP MUDD, COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST, CNN: I'm not surprised. In one way I'm proud. I am a proud shitholer. My family was called wops and macro leaders. I'm proud of that. We came when people from Ireland and Italy were seen as dirty people. Dirty Catholics who didn't belong in a Protestant country.

Shitholers built this country 110 years ago, they are called slow person slant eyes, Chinese people who built this country, shitholers from Japanese internment camps stayed in those camps as American citizens and that's a legacy that we bear shame for today.

Shitholers who escaped Guatemala and El Salvador, Civil Wars that we participated in built this country. I worked for shitholers who's protected this country after 9/11.

George Tenet is a first generation Greek. I guess he's a shitholer. Jose Rodriguez was the head of counter terrorism at CIA, he is a Puerto Rican. I guess he's not welcome.

I'm proud today, I'm proud to be a shitholer and I want a t-shirt hash tag, I am them, it's us. I'm proud, yes, let's stand against this and say it's not about black people, and it's not about white people from Norway, it's about the people who built America and he who denigrated until we became ashamed and we realize that's inappropriate and we're learning a lesson again today.

LEMON: I got to tell you, you know. I said that and I'm not outraged by this and others should be. Everyone can be outrage. It's not my position to be outrage.

MUDD: Yes.

LEMON: But what you said brought tears to my eyes because it's just so offensive. And first, I can't see how anyone can make excuses for that. This is about pure racism. That's -- that's all it is. And to say otherwise is either being in deep denial or being cunningly, cunningly deceiving, deceptive. MUDD: I have seen this conversation that this is economic so let's be

clear. A white honky from Norway can come here but a black dude from Haiti can't. What does that tell you in America that one -- that in one generation called you a Nigger? What does that tell you, Don?

I can tell you that what that tells a honky like me we're no different than we were a generation ago, and we're learning the same lessons that we learned when we called Chinese man a slant eye, when we called the man from Guatemala a stick and a whip back, and we call the black men a Nigger. That's what it tells me.

We got a ways to learn but we can step back and say we're proud because I spoke this on CNN. Thirty to one the e-mails I got were saying you speak for us, and we're not from Africa and we're not Norway. We're from Italy, we're from Ireland, we're from Greece, every single one of them was from a place they would say hey, hash tag, I'm one of them.

LEMON: I want to bring in Louise now. Your interview with President Trump for the Wall Street Journal is making a lot of news tonight, particularly his comments about North Korea which we're going to get to in a minute. But he also addressed immigration in your interview. And here's what he said.

He says, "I'm not doing it because of the base or anything else. I'm doing it from the standpoint of heart. I'm doing it from the standpoint of common sense. I'm doing it from another standpoint, too. I have a lot of people of those 800 they work hard. They have jobs. We need workers in this country. We need people to come in and work because I have a lot of companies moving in."

So, he is welcoming immigration there because the country needs workers. Is that at all consistent with what he said during the immigration meeting today?

RADNOFSKY: Well, certainly is strikingly different in some ways. To clarify a little bit what he was talking about specifically in that instance was focused in the DACA program, the younger immigrants brought to the United States illegally. And he was very specific because we pressed him on this point about whether he was going to extend the same thinking to a broader comprehensive immigration reform which is commonly understood to include the path for citizenship for 11 million.

People currently in the United States settle without authorization. He said he wasn't committing to that. He was committing to discussing it but he did not hold that much hope for these negotiations.

But then he also did have these comments that he made clear, he was referring very specifically for young immigrants but then seemed to be something in contrast to what he went on to say or to suggest later in the day.

[22:55:06] Now to us he made very clear that in exchange for reaching a permanent deal on DACA he expected an end to the visa lottery and some sort of reduction he wasn't as clear on this in family-based migration to the United States as well.

So there's some sort of foreshadowing there, but obviously the tone was different, and in some ways the sentiment was different too. He specifically said that he believes his base would support him. We heard the word base again, but his base will support him in making permanent the DACA program.

LEMON: He made another claim that many are finding hard to believe. And here's what he said. He said, "I probably had a very good relationship with Kim Jong-un. I have relationships with people I think you people are surprised."

Can you set the scene for us, Louise, here what did Trump mean when he said that he probably has a good relationship with Kim Jong-un.

RADNOFSKY: Well, we asked him a little bit more about that, for example, whether they spoke and he declined to comment on that. He said he wouldn't say one way or the other. But we continued the conversation and you can read the full transcript on WSJ.com.

But you'll see as he continues the conversation that he explains himself, we said, well, you know, you tweet some fairly strong language, add him, and he says, you know, I tweet a lot of strong language to a lot of people. That's not an exact phrase. I'm a very flexible person, you can probably find 20 or 30 examples where I do publicly spar with somebody but we this good relationship and our relationship may change over time as well.

LEMON: Yes. Philip, President Trump has engaged in the war of words with Kim Jong-un, we know about that ever since he took office practically. Calling him little rocket man, called him short and fat, he called him a mad man who doesn't mind starving or killing his people.

Are we really surprise to believe that they have a good relationship. Or are we supposed to believe that they have a good relationship?

MUDD: Well, you know, you got to look at this from CNN and say let's look at the facts here. I can't agree with what the president is doing for simple foreign policy reason, if you are dealing with a foreign adversary and you don't understand their intentions. Intentions are the most difficult thing to understand in the intel business and then you stir the pot.

Let me stir the pot by calling him little rocket man. How can you believe or how can you assume that he will interpret that message as you think he will interpret. That's what we call mirror imaging in intelligence. I think if I call you look at the rocket man you might be intimidated.

What if that persuades him that development of a missile and nuclear program is legitimate because you just threatened him. I think the problem with the president's statement are that he is playing with an audience he doesn't understand and I think that audience is going to look at his message and say that's the validation for me to develop a nuclear program. LEMON: Yes. Thank you and I appreciate your honesty.

MUDD: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you so much. Louise, thank you for coming on. We'll see -- we'll see you next time. So, this is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon. You're watching I'm a descendent of the people from a shithole country and I'm sitting here on international television and I get to hold the President of the United States speech to the fire.

God bless America. Top of the hour next. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)