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Americans Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King; Racial Issue a Difficult Topic for Black and Whites. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired January 15, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: But as I thought about it today, there is also this from a sermon, it was preached in 1956. And here's the quote. It says, "Let no man pull you so low as to hate him." Those words are just as powerful. I know it is hard. I posted it on social media today. And many of you responded by saying, Don, I needed to hear that message today, but it is really, really hard to do that with what's going on.
"Let no man pull you so low as to hate him." That's the essence of Dr. King's entire message, appealing to what Abraham Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. It is a high ideal to live up to. It's a lot easier to answer hate with hate, to answer harsh words with more harsh words.
Especially when some of the harshest words are coming from the President of the United States degrading immigrants and their countries of origin with vulgar language, playing semantic games and trying to distract from exactly which derogatory term he used.
Was it holes or was it a house? Belittling the senator who confirmed that the president used that vulgar language. Either word, it's in the same spirit. None of that is worthy of the highest office in the land. None of that is worthy of America.
Ironically, we were talking about immigration, but none of that is worthy of America. None of that is worthy of the man that we honor today.
So, here's how you honor Dr. King, by speaking out for what you know is right because Dr. King also said this. He said "There comes a time when silence is betrayal."
So, I want you to think about this. Who is betraying you right now by not speaking out? By being silent? Or by playing semantic games? That's not speaking out as well because it's not telling the truth. Yes, you honor Dr. King by speaking up, by fighting for liberty and justice for all. But never, ever stooping to hate.
As you watch this broadcast, keep those words in mind and here we go. I want to bring in now Gloria Borger, our CNN chief political analyst, and April Ryan, CNN political analyst.
Good evening. Happy Dr. King Day. Thank you for coming on in this very special holiday. Gloria, when the president signed the MLK Jr. proclamation on Friday, he encourage Americans to engage in acts of civic work and community service today. But he chose not to lead by example. He hit the links instead. Historically what have other presidents done today?
GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: Well, other presidents have done exactly what president Trump advised. They spent the day in service, a combination of that and reflection.
I mean, we all know how President Obama used to take his entire family to a soup kitchen for mural painting at a homeless shelter. George W. Bush invited African-American clergy to the White House for lunch, attended church services. And Bill Clinton did the same thing.
And, of course, he was the one who signed the legislation, but he painted walls in D.C. He spent the day with senior citizens. So, you know, the former presidents have really spent the day in honor of Dr. King. I mean, the president did something late last week, but today he played golf.
LEMON: Yes. April, the White House did release a video statement by the president, but he spent his day golfing and attacking the senator, senator on Twitter. How does the president screw up MLK, Jr. Day? I mean, really how that's an easy one.
APRIL RYAN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, CNN: How does he screw it up? Just by what he's done. Don, it's not just about the day. I look back over the year. It's almost a year, January 20th, at 12.01, you know, it will be a year. And the bottom line, when you think of Dr. King, Dr. King was a person who fought for first class citizenship for the underserved.
Not just black people but for the underserved, to include the poor, wanting everyone to be on equal footing.
But I went back and looked at the black agenda or lack thereof, from this year and, you know, even if the rhetoric is there, the action is not. And I mean, we talk about the day.
So, it's just the day is consistent with what has been going on for the last year. I'm very interested to see what happens for black history month. So, you know, he's at least true to himself. He's true to who he's been.
[22:05:02] You know, granted he says service for the day. He's on the links. But he's the same person yesterday as he is today.
LEMON: Yes. April, I asked the president if he was racist back in 2015 and the question keeps coming up. I want you to watch this.
LEMON: Are you racist?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.
LEMON: Are you bigoted in any way?
TRUMP: I don't think so. No, I don't think so.
I'm not a racist.
I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed. That I can tell you.
LEMON: It's kind of like maybe he's practicing. He says it, did you notice that in the exact same cadence, he answered something from 2015 to 2018...
RYAN: Exact words, yes.
LEMON: ... the same thing.
LEMON: You know, and you tried to ask the president that last week. He ignored you. What does it say that it keeps coming up?
RYAN: There is a pattern of words, of rhetoric, of lack of action on different things. Charlottesville did not help. There are questions out there. And, again, I'm going back to what the NAACP says. And I'm not even talking about that they are calling him a racist.
But we hear that term so much and we have to be careful in how we label people that. So, I said, what is the definition? I asked the oldest civil rights organization in the nation, what is the definition of racist?
And they said when racial prejudice and power meet, where there is an intersection of racial prejudice and power. So, if you were to look at President Trump, they have ascribed that definition to him and that's what they're saying. And the vast majority of Americans are saying.
When you are complacent or you say both sides are fine people when clearly one side is a group to try to thwart racial hate or cultural hate, when you want to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus and not take the action to fulfill your promises and want to have another meeting and you just -- there are so many different things.
LEMON: It's either just lip service or it's a photo op... (CROSSTALK)
RYAN: I'm not going to describe it...
LEMON: Yes. But I've got to get to Gloria. Because, Gloria, as I understand, this is very important. You have some new reporting just now tonight on the president's thinking about that meeting last week...
LEMON: ... last week whether it was either house or hole.
BORGER: Right. Whatever it was. I spoke with a source who is familiar with the president's thinking who said to me this evening that, in fact, the president hasn't changed his mind about what he said. He had no regrets about it. He believes that it would help him with his political base.
And that the bill that he was being presented with in that meeting was something that he could not live with. And that he did not like.
So, despite all the uproar about this in lots of communities around the country, the president seems to think that it was fine.
LEMON: So, Gloria, then why the denial, then?
BORGER: Well, I mean, I think there were people inside that meeting who were -- are playing a semantic game here, as you point out.
BORGER: And I think that the president's point probably -- and I have no way of looking directly into his mind -- is that whatever he said, the meaning of what he meant was that this was a measure that he didn't want and he wants merit-based immigration. You know, et cetera, et cetera.
LEMON: Yes. Well, let's listen. I'm going to let you finish. But let's listen to this.
LEMON: Because this is and I'll let you finish after this. This is Senators Tom Cotton and David Purdue now saying that the president didn't say it or it was a misrepresentation after initially saying that he -- they didn't recall. Here's what some are hearing, what they're saying.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Are you saying the president did not use the word that has been so widely reported?
DAVID PERDUE, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I'm telling you he did not use that word, George. And I'm telling you, it's a gross misrepresentation. How many times did you want me to say that?
TOM COTTON, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: I didn't hear that word either. I certainly didn't hear what Senator Durbin has said repeatedly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was an impassioned conversation, I don't recall that specific phrase being used. That's all I can say about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So there you go, Gloria. Is this gas lighting?
BORGER: I don't know what...
LEMON: Because Durbin stands by it.
BORGER: You know, I don't know what it is. What I think we need to do and we're all trying to do this is get to every person in the room to describe the conversation. The Washington Post has some reporting tonight talking about how heated this conversation became.
And you'll recall that Lindsey Graham said that he spoke his piece to the president, and apparently, according to the Post when he left the meeting, he was very upset.
So, I think this was quite contentious. And I think we all have to figure out a way to try and get people to talk directly about what was said in that meeting.
[22:10:02] Now, I understand that there may be some concerns from people who were in that meeting that if they quoted verbatim, they will ruin any potential deal on DREAMers and on DACA and that the greater issue here is trying to get some deal on those 800,000 DREAMers. And they don't want to get involved in this back and forth, and that's why -- that's why they're not talking.
LEMON: And you...
BORGER: There may be no way to finally resolve this.
LEMON: Yes. You are -- you've made my -- the transition to this next question very easy I want to ask April. So the president is tweeting against Senator Dick Durbin who confirmed the president's vulgar remarks. Writing this, "Senator Dicky Durbin totally misrepresented what was said at the DACA meeting. Deals can't get made when there is no trust. Durbin blew DACA and is hurting our military."
LEMON: So, April, is it possible that one reason why the DACA deal is in jeopardy is because the president's racist remarks went public?
RYAN: Yes. How can someone operate in good faith or you believe someone is operating in good faith when they're basic -- and I'm not even worrying about the s-hole or s-house issue. I'm dealing with Norway white and Haiti and Africa and El Salvador, those countries versus the white country.
That's what I'm looking at. And if you look at that piece, because we just keep talking about this, this s-hole, s-house. That's not even the issue. The issue is one race against another group of people that the president feels is more economically sound than the other which is not necessarily the case as we are finding out from the Center for American Progress that talks about the education as well as job potential of black immigrants.
So, the bottom line is these, these republicans and democrats have really got to wonder how can they really formulate a really good deal wondering if there is something else in the back of the president's mind, not just on the issues that were originally said to be on the table. This is now racial, yes, they're putting economics into it. When you bore down into the weeds, it's racial, white versus black and brown.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
LEMON: Again, happy Dr. King Day. And I appreciate you coming on this holiday. When we come back, I'm going to talk to Dr. King's nephew. He says president Trump is, quote, "racially ignorant and racially uninformed." But is that any excuse for his words?
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Dr. King's son, Martin Luther King III with some strong words today about president Trump. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING III, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.'S SONE: These are evil days when the President of the United States doesn't seem to understand that Africa is a continent, not a state. And who refers to countries such as Nigeria and Haiti and El Salvador as, you all know that word.
The problem is that you have a president who says things, but has the power to execute and create racism. That's a dangerous power and a dangerous position. And we cannot tolerate that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, that was his son, that was his namesake. Now we are joined by his nephew, Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. Isaac, thank you for joining us. Those are very powerful words. You know that man, the son of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
ISAAC NEWTON FARRIS, JR., MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.'S NEPHEW: Yes.
LEMON: What do you think, are we in evil days? FARRIS: Evil day -- we certainly are in challenging days, no question
about it. And there was a great deal of wisdom and truth in what we just heard Martin say.
LEMON: And so he doesn't -- it doesn't seem to lineup with what you're saying. I think that's a disconnect for people.
FARRIS: Well, it does if you listen to what he said. He said that, you know, he was -- called himself I think informing the president that Africa is a continent, not a country. And so, you know, I use the word ignorance and I think I'd rather say uninformed because ignorance has more of a negative connotation to it.
FARRIS: But the president, I do not think, is a racist as we have traditionally known in this country.
LEMON: If you're racially uninformed and you're ignorant, what does it matter whether -- doesn't that make you racist by -- and maybe you're just ignorant, you don't know that you're racist?
FARRIS: No, what it means, Don, is maybe you have said or done some racist things unknowingly. And so, that does -- that does...
LEMON: That's what I said. That makes you a racist.
FARRIS: Well, no, that -- no, that -- well, no, it makes maybe what you said or done a racist act, but it's not an act of -- it's not racism in your heart, you know.
You can do some things and not be aware that you are doing them. And I think that that's largely the case with President Trump.
Now, you can say with his genius and his great wealth and his accomplishments over the years he should be better informed, you know. That's a legitimate argument. But the man apparently is not informed.
You can just listen to some of the things that he's said. I mean, for instance, you know, he and John Lewis have had some back and forth, and he, you know, constantly is saying to John Lewis that, you know, his district is broken down and whatnot. Well, John Lewis's district is the city of Atlanta. Black entrepreneurship and city of Atlanta are synonymous.
LEMON: It seems like you're negating your own argument then because he believes it. In his ignorance he believes what he says, and, therefore, it means that's what's in his heart.
FARRIS: Well, no. I wouldn't go as far as to say that because he thinks he knows something that's what's in his heart. You know, he can be misinformed from a source that he considers credible.
LEMON: Isaac. FARRIS: Yes.
LEMON: He's the president. He has an obligation to be informed. And you know what? Ask a very similar question. George Wallace said he wasn't racist. He's unaware. So, that doesn't make you less racist because you're aware or you deny your racism.
[22:19:59] You're saying what he said to John Lewis, and you're saying, well, maybe over the years he's done some things, he was -- he promoted the whole racist birther movement. Mexicans are rapist. He wanted to shut down Muslims from entering the country. There are...
FARRIS: OK. Well, let's...
LEMON: Give me examples I can go through.
LEMON: How much more evidence do you need?
FARRIS: Well, let's...
LEMON: Because even some Klan members don't think they're racist.
LEMON: There is a list up. You can look at the list. There it is right there.
FARRIS: Well, let's take those. The Mexican comment, if you remember, and the media to their credit did start after their initial run of it, right after that he said -- and I'm sure they're some good people, right.
LEMON: He said, I'm sure some of them are...
FARRIS: Are good people.
LEMON: ... I assume, he said, I assume.
LEMON: It doesn't mean he knows. He said, I assume some of them are good people.
FARRIS: OK. But a racist...
LEMON: But I can't -- well, I wouldn't assume, I'm not going to assume that some whites are good people. I'm not going to assume that some blacks are good people. I know that some whites are good people.
(CROSSTALK) FARRIS: But Don, if you -- Don...
LEMON: I know that some blacks are good people.
FARRIS: But Don, if you're a racist, you're assuming that all people who are not like you are bad people.
LEMON: No, no, no.
FARRIS: Or subhuman. Don, that's what -- and that's why I felt the need to speak out because we can't have shifting definitions because we really are approaching a transformation point in America. It's no longer the economy, stupid. It's the demographics, dummy. And there is a lot of white anxiety out there about -- and legitimate anxiety, not the...
LEMON: About the changing demographics of the country?
FARRIS: Yes, because we live in a country...
LEMON: Because -- no, no, let's go through that. So we live in a country where the demographics are changing, it's becoming less white.
LEMON: OK. You're making my point. So, then, if you're a white person who is afraid of that, or that is concerning to you, what is that saying, that you are losing power in some sense? You're losing an advantage in some sense?
FARRIS: I think, I think it says a number of things to a number of different white Americans. And the genius that Donald Trump tapped -- well, the genius of Donald Trump is that he tapped into that. Now, some people say...
LEMON: He tapped into that fear which is based in racism. But go on.
FARRIS: Some people would say that's, you know, that's worse than being a racist because he knows better and he's manipulating people, OK. But the genius marketer that he is tapped into what's happening in this country, Don.
And part of what's happening in this country is that particularly white Americans -- I mean, we all acknowledge that the conversation on race is a difficult conversation to have. It's certainly difficult for white Americans because the paradigm starts out that, you know, whites have committed what they've done and that they're all racist. That's the bottom line. And so I'm saying...
(CROSSTALK) LEMON: That all whites are racist?
FARRIS: No, no, no. I'm saying that a lot of whites don't feel having -- comfortable having the conversation because they feel like they're all type cast as racist.
LEMON: I have this conversation with my white friends all the time and I don't think that they're racist.
LEMON: I have it with white folks in the studio. I don't think that they're racist.
FARRIS: Well, let me say, Don -- let me say that this affects, you know, white Americans in different ways. OK? And so, let me...
LEMON: OK. Hold on. You seem to be making excuses for -- go on.
FARRIS: I'm not making -- I'm not making excuses. I'm not making excuses, Don. What I'm trying to say is there is a real conversation that needs to take place in America based on the change in demographics, OK.
LEMON: OK. Can I get in here?
FARRIS: And we have to be careful -- we have to be careful before we just -- you know, I just heard April Ryan say it and she's correct -- before we just throw the label of racism out there, OK. Because we can't have the conversation...
LEMON: But does that start with the president?
FARRIS: One thing before you say -- one thing before you say. Let me just give you something. Just let me say something and I will be quiet. You know, you all -- you know, the cameras didn't show the ceremony Friday, but the cameras weren't privy to the close to 30- minute private meeting that I had with the president, the vice- president, and Ben Carson.
And not to just get into the specifics of the conversation because I think that would not be totally appropriate, but just to give you a little flavor of it, you know, I discovered that I was racially ignorant of a fact, you know, because I was not in there just talking, you know, or just playing up to the president.
[22:25:02] We were having a real conversation. And one of the things that came out of that...
LEMON: I have time (Inaudible) but go on. FARRIS: ... I was not aware of, that I was not aware of, is that supposedly the highest educated group of immigrants in this country are Nigerians. Were you aware of that, Don?
LEMON: Yes, I was aware of that.
FARRIS: I was not -- I was not aware of that.
FARRIS: I was like...
LEMON: Why do you think I've been sitting here. Isaac, you have been proving my point the entire time you have been talking. Listen, I don't want to be rude to you because I know you from Atlanta.
LEMON: You know my family.
LEMON: I got some....
FARRIS: What is your point? Maybe I'm not hearing you. What is your -- what is your point?
LEMON: Look, because you're saying that you're ignorant of a point and people who are telling you and others of your ignorance, making you aware of them, not in a rude way, but aware of your ignorance of a subject, then you say that we're uninformed.
But we are informed and we're trying to tell you that you're not informed. We're telling you that Nigerians and many people who come here from the so-called whatever he said shit house or shit hole countries are better educated than native-born Americans. We have been telling you that.
So, in essence, it doesn't matter which country someone comes from. And someone who comes from those countries may be even more prone to trying to make it. They may -- they may -- they may want to make it and they have -- they are motivated to make it even more so than someone who is given everything who comes from countries who are privileged -- privileged countries. So, you didn't know that, and the president just because the president...
FARRIS: Well, no, I didn't know...
LEMON: Isaac, you said you'd let me talk.
FARRIS: Yes, I did. LEMON: Just because the president is not aware of his racism doesn't
make him not a racist. It just makes him racist and ignorant of the fact that he is racist.
LEMON: And it is -- it is very -- and I want to be honest, it is tough to sit here and call the President of the United States a liar. It is tough to sit here and call the President of the United States a racist. But you have to do that as a journalist.
And guess what? You do it because you realize the person who is in that position has less respect for the office than you do, because if he respected the office and if he expected -- respected all of America and all of American people then he would listen to the majority of black people and brown people in this country who are trying to educate him and tell him he is exhibiting racist behavior.
He's not listening. He keeps doubling down on it. You keep -- you keep doubling down on it. The minority, the small minute minority of African-Americans who for whatever reason, whatever it is that is in it for them, they are sitting there and being manipulated by this man.
And I have to say that's one question I wanted to ask you because Bernice is not out here. Martin III is not out here. Dexter is not out here defending this president, but you're out here.
FARRIS: I'm not -- I'm not....
LEMON: You're not even part of the immediate family and people are wondering if what is in it for you, are you capitalizing off of Dr. King because you cannot believe that this president is not racist if you listen to what he says. And if you look at the history of his behavior.
FARRIS: Yes. But first off, Don, I think to characterize me as defending the president is just certainly not the case. What I'm defending is the principle. OK.
For instance, let me give you the difference between the reason why I don't think that President Trump is the 1960s Jim Crow racist. You referenced George Wallace.
LEMON: It's not 1960s. It cannot be 1960's. It's not 1960s. It doesn't matter. That doesn't matter, Isaac. It's 2018. He is a 2018 racist, which is probably a racist denial or ignorant of racism.
FARRIS: But Don, you see you just put the point on the problem, what you just said, 2018 racist. That is a reason why we cannot have the conversation that we need to have, because you're unwilling to accept the fact that someone who does not look like you, who does not have your history can't relate to your history.
LEMON: That is not true. FARRIS: OK.
LEMON: That is not true.
FARRIS: Let me finish. Let me finish.
LEMON: That is not true at all.
FARRIS: Because what you -- OK, well, let me finish. Now, the way that you -- what you have said is correct, but the way that you get someone to relate to your history is, first off, not by starting off calling them a racist. We have made great progress in this country...
LEMON: OK. Isaac, I've got to go. No one started off by calling Donald Trump a racist. Donald Trump exhibited behavior...
FARRIS: That was racist.
LEMON: ... which the 1970's...
FARRIS: That was racist.
LEMON: ... that was racist.
LEMON: And so as you continue to do that, then what does that mean? So, no one has called...
FARRIS: It means, it means, it means a couple of things, and I was trying to tell you.
LEMON: I've got to go because everyone is telling me. Make your point.
FARRIS: George Wallace said, remember he threw down the gauntlet, segregation now, segregation forever?
[22:30:02] LEMON: Yes.
FARRIS: OK. Donald Trump says, hey, black people, your community is wrecked, you know, your black leaders have abandoned you. Give me a chance, is what he's saying. He did not...
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
[22:30:00] ISAAC NEWTON FARRIS, JR., MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.'S NEPHEW: ... segregation now, segregation forever?
DON LEMON, HOST, CNN: Yes. FARRIS: OK. Donald Trump says, hey, black people, your community is
wrecked, you know, your black leaders have abandoned you. Give me a chance, is what he's saying.
FARRIS: He did not say, blacks, your community is wrecked and you're subhuman and you don't deserve a chance.
LEMON: You don't have to say that.
FARRIS: He did not say that.
LEMON: That's not what racism is.
LEMON: You're talking about degrees of racism now. So, listen, I got to say, also George Wallace regret what he did and apologized.
FARRIS: That's because -- Don, that's because...
LEMON: Donald Trump has not.
FARRIS: That's because people like me and others wrapped our arms around George Wallace and schooled him on his racism.
LEMON: That's because George Wallace...
FARRIS: The same thing needs to happen with the president.
LEMON: He realized he did something wrong and he needed to listen to other people.
FARRIS: After, Don, after people took the time with him and approached him.
LEMON: Yes, OK.
FARRIS: And sat with him.
LEMON: We have gone about 10 minutes over on this interview.
FARRIS: That needs to happen with the president.
LEMON: We'll continue it. We're cutting into larger territory. Sponsors and all that that is beyond my pay grade. Thank you. Happy King Day. I appreciate you coming on.
FARRIS: And thank you.
LEMON: When we come back, President Trump's allies tying themselves up in knots trying to convince you that he didn't call African nations shit hole countries or shit house countries. They claim the word he used was shit house and they are totally missing the point. We'll discuss that next.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Back now live, I had no idea that conversation was going to go that way. I did not invite that man on to argue, but that is just where the conversation went, so that was real.
President Trump insisting he is not a racist, but the fire storm he created with his shithole or shithouse remarks not going anywhere any time soon.
I want to bring in now CNN political commentators Symone Sanders and Mike Shields, and republican strategist Rick Wilson. Hello to you, happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to all of you.
SYMONE SANDERS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Happy MLK day to you. That was a travesty. But happy MLK Day.
MIKE SHIELDS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, CNN: Happy MLK Day.
LEMON: Thank you, both. So, Rick, the fallout from President Trump's comments last week, where he referred to some countries in Africa, you know what he said, it's continuing. And even some of the president's closest allies are speaking out. Watch now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About who said what, Lindsey Graham came out and said he confirmed that they did say it, he told it to Tim Scott who said t. These guys said they didn't hear it, but it took them 15 hours to say it. Even took the president 15 hours to deny it.
Bottom line is, unfortunately, commentary were exchanged behind closed doors where you thought it would might stay if you're a negotiator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Unfortunate comments. Paul Ryan said the same thing. I mean, those were strong words. But I mean pardon my sarcasm there. But this -- I mean, this was too much -- it was even -- it was too much for one member, and for Fox and Friends which is the show that show that he watches every single morning. Rick, can you hear me?
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I'm sorry, I thought we were cutting to another video clip there. Don, it became too much for even Fox because, you know, shithole versus shithouse doesn't make it better. It's the shit part that's the problem. And it's the belief that countries that are genetically inferior or whatever the reasoning behind this thing is.
And even these folks that are having to sort of, paper this over and pretend that it didn't happen, they run an existential risk of Trump just one day saying, yes, I said it, so what? Because, you know, he's always got a tendency to go and chase what he thinks his base wants.
And that's what he's been reported now from at least two sources have now talked to friends of Trump who he called after this meeting and said, this is great. It plays to the base. Isn't this awesome?
You know, I just think it's a dark moment for us, an unbelievably disappointing moment, you know, for these republicans who are out there playing defense on this thing when the people in the room, I'm pretty sure, all heard the same thing and I think they're covering and equivocation and multiple stories, they're not covering themselves in glory in this case.
LEMON: Well, Mike, even according to our very own Gloria Borger's reporting tonight he's not backing down. He seems to be happy with the comments.
SHIELDS: Yes, Don, I just want to start off by saying one thing. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been 89 years old today. Actually his birthday was 15th of January. So, on the 15th he would have been 89.
We are still within one man's lifetime of the things that he fought for. So, when people wonder why the struggle isn't finished, why it is that people still focus on these issues, we're still within one man's lifetime of what it was that he was fighting in the '50s and '60s.
This is not ancient history, it's modern history and it's still something we have to keep talking about. So just on MLK there I wanted to make that point.
Look, as to what the president said in that meeting, and I guess I would give some advice. First of all, he shouldn't use language like that. Secondly, he should apologize for it. If he just said, look, I was speaking in a way that wasn't appropriate but let's talk about the bigger issues.
It is a legitimate issue to talk about what countries and where and what type of immigration we have. That's a part of the conversation and negotiation. That's fine.
I think if you really care about the DREAMers, if you care about people in DACA, you also shouldn't come out and use this bad language to take shots at the president because if you're one of the people that's worried about getting deported and you're watching this debate, you're looking at Senator Durbin and others in the room going, thanks a lot, guys. I guess you've decided this is over and we're just going to be political fodder for you to score points with the president. So, I'm not -- I absolutely...
LEMON: Why don't you look in the president and instead of Lindsey Graham... SHIELDS: I started off saying that. He should not have said that. He
should not have said that. But I also think that there's a lot of negotiations on Capitol Hill that happen every day. Democrat on democrat, republican and democrat, where people say things that are maybe not the right thing to say.
And you wait until maybe after the negotiation is over when you're trying to reach a goal rather than using it to take shots. And I don't think democrats can help themselves in these circumstances.
LEMON: I got to get Symone in.
SHIELDS: And that's what they do. And they put those people in jeopardy when they do that.
LEMON: Symone, what do you say to what Mike is saying? Because, listen, Lindsey Graham, Dick Durbin stand by their claims.
SANDERS: Look, what I say to that is that this is -- this is about what President Trump said and the nature of the negotiations. This is really important because what we heard him say was, look, this isn't -- this particular piece was not about the DREAMers. Remember, they were talking about folks -- some of these folks do qualify as DREAMers actually.
[022:40:02] But people with temporary protected status, a lot of folks from, again, those countries he named, Haiti, El Salvador, so on and so forth. And what President Trump has said is indicative of probably how he feels about the bigger immigration debate as well as saying that look, why can't we just have white people from Norway? Why do we have to keep having these black and brown immigrants that are clearly not this good?
That's what folks like me and a lot of people out there heard. And so it's important that we have this conversation because it's indicative of how the president really feels and what he's probably really ready to agree to.
So, yes, we can have a fix on the DREAMers, but what about folks for protected temporary status? So this is just snow balls into something else. But this is absolutely not on the onus of Senator Durbin or Senator Lindsey Graham. This is all on Donald Trump and his egregious, negative, nasty racist comments.
LEMON: So, here's a concern and the larger picture here, 2018 and 2020, the president's words, his behavior. Let's get to the midterms first. What effect will they have in 2018 if any? We'll discuss that when we come right back.
LEMON: I'm back now with Symone, Mike and Rick. Brevity, everyone, because Isaac took a lot of your time up. Sorry about that.
So Mike, let's talk about the 2018 midterm elections looming. Republicans have got to be feeling uneasy about another controversy that was caused by this president.
At a speech today republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers received boos for standing by President Trump at an event today. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley also faced some tough questioning at a town hall event. That was on Friday. Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why have you not interviewed Manafort or Kushner yet?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because it leads me to assume that you're protecting the current president and not meeting the best interests of Iowa.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Wow. Are you worried about the GOP heading into the midterms, Mike?
SHIELDS: Well, look, I think every republican -- every president loses seats in the midterm. Bu I think an important thing -- my advice for republicans and my advice for the president is to speak softly and carry a big stick, right?
His policies are popular. The travel ban is popular. Where he is with immigration is popular with his base. The tax cuts are popular.
[22:45:01] If we stick to the policy proposals that we're talking about we're doing well. When it comes to rhetoric and sort of image and the tone that's where we have a problem. Hardly any democrats after the Virginia election, were talking about what Ralph Northam stood for. They didn't even know what he stood for I think, which for things like sanctuary cities. They're talking about tones and rhetoric. That is...
SANDERS: There are no sanctuary all there. There is no sanctuary cities in Virginia.
SHIELDS: But I'm saying what Northam actually agreed with the president on that. My point is that when you -- the thing that is motivating the left and the anger that they are bringing into the midterms is about tone and rhetoric. When we focus on policies and actually have a policy fight with Nancy Pelosi...
SHIELDS: ... we're on very, very good ground.
WILSON: Unfortunately, mike, your point is only partially correct. Unfortunately, what a lot of people are focused on right now, it's not just the left. It's also independents in large numbers right now. And it's also women republicans starting to break off in the numbers.
What they're seeing is that the tone of Donald Trump and a lot of the things, particularly on the racial issues, has started to divide off people in the middle and we can't win the majority, we can't hold the majority in the House of Representatives just with the base.
SHIELDS: We have in the past.
WILSON: We have 35 seats, as you know -- as you know, that right now the people in those districts who are not hard core Trump supporters, that 18 percent, those people will crawl over broken glass to vote against Donald Trump's message.
And if republicans are not iconoclastic and that will break out a little bit and show some independence in some -- in some decisiveness about where they disagree with this president, we're going to end up with a lot more folks like our friend Ed Gillespie who cannot possibly get far enough into the middle because of the stink of Trumpism is all over them.
SANDERS: Well, and I want to be clear, so.
WILSON: We're going to lose seats and we're going to lose a lot of them if we're not very careful to have some people who had the moral courage to stand up and say things like, hey, don't say these kind of things, Mr. President. Right now they're too afraid of him having a mean tweet against them or a something.
SANDERS: But, Ed Gillespie...
SHIELDS: Right. Say something not his power.
LEMON: Symone, 30 seconds.
SANDERS: Ed Gillespie is a good example. Because he was someone that fell into the Trump trap. Folks are saying that this is what the kind campaign that Ed Gillespie ran in Virginia if not who he is, but he tells as though that's what he needed to do to win.
I think in the midterms we're going to see republicans run away from Donald Trump. Look, I worked the gubernatorial in 2014 where we couldn't even utter the word Obama, let alone Obamacare. And the last thing I'd say about the left as the person on the left, is folks are actually running on policy.
It's not just Donald Trump's rhetoric and the fact that he's bad on everything. It's that this tax bill is actually not popular. That folks do not like what's going on. And republicans are literally in charge of Washington right now and they can't get much done.
LEMON: Thank you all.
SANDERS: But that's for the wealthy.
LEMON: I appreciate it. When we come back, beating the president at his own game. Why one man's first ever tweet about President Obama's respect went viral. Just who is Gary Lee? Well, you're going to find out.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: A former staff in President Obama's White House send out his first-ever tweet and it went viral. His first one. Gary Lee is Korean- American. He's a son of a Korean, of Korean immigrants and says he was inspired to tweet his personal story this weekend due to what he calls president Trump's upsetting remarks.
His tweet has gotten 160,000 likes and growing. And Gary Lee joins me now. Hey, Gary, how are you?
GARY LEE, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Hey, Don, I'm doing well, how are you?
LEMON: Doing well, thank you for coming on. I want to put up this moment now. This is from the White House photographer Pete Souza, he captured this moment on your last day of work for President Obama, so tell us what led to this picture, Gary.
LEE: Yes, the day before my last day, we were coming back from a domestic trip. And Pete Souza once again really helping me out. There's only so many seats on marine one, which is the helicopter that takes the president from Andrews Air Force base to the White House. And Pete volunteered to go back in the vans because he knew it was my last time to ride on anything, and so he gave me an opportunity to ride in marine one.
And so, I'm on the helicopter with the president. And senior aides. And the president saying, you know, the young people that I work with are so extraordinary, when I was younger, I just goofed off, and asked me about what I was going to do for the full bright.
And I told him that I was going because as my parents get older, I wanted to be able to speak better with them. Because some words just don't translate. And so, he knew I was going to learn more about the culture, he knew I was going to learn more about the language.
And then the following day I'm outside of the outer Oval Office in the lobby. I'm with Pete Rouse and Phil Schiliro, two of my mentors. And I hear, "Gary, come on in." And I go in there, and his arms are outstretched. And he says (Inaudible) it was just hello in Korean, and then he bows to me and shakes my hand. Pete got the exact moment that that happened.
LEMON: Yes, that's pretty classic. You have had...
LEE: It was...
LEMON: Go on.
LEE: It was incredible. We go in -- the problem with, for me at least, when you're around President Obama, is that he has this arresting aura that you just cannot -- you go into a fugue state. You just black out. So you forget everything that's happened.
And as I was walking out of the Oval and into the lobby I saw my friend Kal Penn. And Kal -- I recounted everything that just happened. And he said -- or I told him everything that happened, then he started to tear up.
And I said, why are you crying? And he said, think about how incredible this is that your parents, your parents that are Korean immigrants that came from Korea, sacrificed all this stuff so that you and your brother could have all the opportunities that they never had. And you went into the Oval Office and saw the first African-American president, and he greeted you in your parents' native language.
What kind of -- this is the American dream. And so we're both crying. And Secret Service is looking at us in the West Wing lobby like, let's wrap it up. It's an incredible moment.
LEMON: Everybody in the studio is laughing.
LEE: The craziest part about it...
LEMON: Go on. I want to ask you another question but I'm fascinated by your story. The craziest part about it is what?
[22:54:59] LEE: The craziest part about it is it's the most normal thing for the Obama White House. That a lot of people were really touched, I think, by -- that my parents came from Korea. When, in fact -- go ahead.
LEMON: That's what I want to ask you about. Because you've had a private Twitter account for some time now but you didn't really use it. You saw an NBC report which detailed President Trump describing a Korean intelligence analyst as a pretty Korean lady, asking her where she was from, and then you tweeted this.
You said, "President Trump made a lot of upsetting remarks this the week, including this one, where are you from? It's a question that many Asian-Americans dread." Explain that to people.
LEE: I think, Don, that if somebody says what's your name and where are you from, then that is innocuous and totally harmless. But when somebody says, no but where are you really from? I think -- I think that is a micro-aggression, that that is just veiled interest, that if you call them out on it the interest is, I'm just curious where you're actually from, but what they're veiling is what they -- the predetermined answer that they have.
This view of a default American looks a certain way, and it doesn't compute if you say that you, as this career analyst said, well, I'm from New York, I'm from Manhattan, just like you. And so it doesn't compute for some people, so then they want to say, OK, well, where are you really from? And so, that is a form, like I said, of this famed interest in you.
LEMON: Well, you're talking about basically what -- you're describing the situation you said President Trump interrupted an intel briefing to ask a Korean intelligence officer, where are you from? When she said New York, he basically asked, no, where are you really from?
And when she said, she was from Manhattan just like the president, he was still unsatisfied he wanted to know where your people are from. And after the analyst revealed that her parents are Korean, Trump turned to an adviser in the room and seemed to suggest her ethnicity should determine her career path, asking why the pretty Korean lady isn't negotiating with North Korea on his administration's behalf. That's what the official said. That's the report that you saw.
LEE: That's exactly right. And luckily you got a pretty Korean man in front of you, but nobody's ever said that. And I think that the reality of all of this -- the reason I tweeted this, Don, is because in contrast, in the Obama family, in the Obama White House, we really celebrated diversity.
And like I said, it's not just that my parents were from Korea. The person who sat right outside the Oval, her parents were from Iran. And there were parents from India, and Ethiopia, Bolivia, and Mexico. And as well as these people that have rich histories in Kansas, in Illinois, in Minnesota, in Maryland, in Massachusetts.
And we all came together because President Obama inspired this generation of people for this common good. And then we could celebrate our diversities and that made us so much stronger.
I'm -- it should be -- I want to make clear of that. I am really humbled to be a representative for those people because that's my family.
LEMON: And that's what -- that's what America is about. And I see you're broken up about that. I'm sure our audience is the same. That's what -- that's really what the American dream is all about, right? That's what immigration is all about.
LEE: Yes. I think that we are all living proof, not just my tweets, but we are all living proof that the American dream is possible. That you could -- I'm emotional because I haven't slept in two days and I've been trying to read everybody's tweets which have been so beautiful and emotional to me.
Not just I wanted to work at the White House or I wanted to be in public service, all my friends wanted to be in public service. And I'm so thankful to all of them and to President Obama and I can't believe that we did it, that we got to achieve our dreams at such an early age, you know.
LEMON: How does your family feel about that? About you? LEE: They are proud. And it is -- I think they're confused by
Twitter. They don't really -- they don't know what's happening but they certainly, you know -- they could see that there's a lot of interest in it. My dad is a part of a text chain with his elementary school friends and somebody texted him Saturday night and said, hey, is this your son on Twitter?
[23:00:06] And he was so, so, so proud to get into share that experience with everybody. That's been really special.