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CNN TONIGHT

Another Cabinet Shakeup; Trump Wants To Go After Amazon; Is President Trump Governing By Vendetta?; Another Day Of Chaos In Trump Administration; Family Mourns After Unarmed 22-Year-Old Stephon Clark Was Killed By Police In Grandmother's Backyard; Fatal Police Shooting. Aired 11-12a ET

Aired March 28, 2018 - 23:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. Live with new developments tonight on another cabinet shakeup. The president firing Veteran's Affairs Secretary, David Shulkin, and replacing him with White House Physician, Ronny Jackson, so, another member of the administration is out after weeks of rumors he was on the chopping block. Following on the footsteps of fired FBI Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe.

Fired Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. Fired National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, and so many others. Just look at the screen. And inside the Trump White House tonight, they've got to be wondering who is next? I think that is a very good question. I want to bring in now, CNN political analyst, John Avlon, author of "Washington's farewell." And CNN's political commentator, Margaret Hoover. Do you guys have any tips? Do you know who is next? Anybody?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I just, you know, don't buy green bananas.

LEMON: Let -- this is just the latest in this series of --

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: All right. The V.A. Secretary Shulkin out. Last week, it was McMaster. Everyone is talking about that, the week before was Tillerson. It's a constant revolving door, John, in this administration.

AVLON: Yes. It averages around every nine days there is a major firing or resignation. And March has been particularly bloody. I mean, you went through the litany. But these are core members, the cabinet ran. A quarter of his core cabinet is gone a year and a quarter in. That's not normal, it's not a sign of stability. And you know, all -- only the best people doesn't seem to be shaking out. Trump is out of the field.

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't know -- in the case of Secretary Shulkin, it seems as though there was a real policy battle going on underneath the surface rather than just seeing a personality thing. There are some real questions about Shulkin's interest in privatizing the V.A. Now, that is a very perilous word, if you're on the left. Bernie Sanders is delighted that Shulkin gone, because he was working to his privatizing it too much. And there are some conservative in the White House, who thought Shulkin maybe wasn't moving in the direction of competitive Health Care Systems in the V.A. and being able to offer private healthcare to veterans as quickly as maybe to the Trump administration wants. So, I actually really sort of like that there's policy tussle. That --

LEMON: You know, it's good. I understand what you're saying.

HOOVER: There is some like an agenda and there's some reasons behind it.

LEMON: We're not arguing that you're talking about the merits, whether or not he deserves to be fired and I'm talking about the succession of people in this White House. I mean, there -- are policy issues and I'm sure they are legitimate ones that they can debate back and forth. But, I mean, you know, we have coined now Friday, as fire day. Usually people get fired, but today it was Wednesday. Wednesday was fire day.

AVLON: He had been dangling for almost a week.

LEMON: And he had some issues too, with traveling expenses.

AVLON: He did.

HOOVER: Which also he rounded up used -- being used as an excuse.

AVLON: But, Ronnie Jackson, you know, was a good advocate for the president after --

LEMON: Does he have the experience to be?

AVLON: There's no reason to think he does. Look, this is an agency with $186 billion budget, management experience usually applies.

LEMON: Just talking about, Margaret, can we talk about Hope Hicks? Last day at the White House, according to the CNN sources was today. This was a person that was with the President for day one. He absolutely trusted her, out the door.

HOOVER: Yes. My understanding from under -- visiting with folks who are familiar with the press operation and communication operation at the White House is that, this is -- it's a disconcerting day for many in the press White House shop and communications shop, because Trump trusted Hope Hicks so much.

LEMON: Yes.

HOOVER: he also gave -- she gave him a sense of stability and continuity in the daily operations. And so, it is that -- I mean talk about a turning wheel, a revolving door and chaos in the White House, removing somebody that the President trusts and relies upon for continuity actually creates more chaos. I mean, that is -- that is a place where you really are going to feel it, if you're in the West Wing. AVLON: Yes, I mean, you know, is it possible to be less stable than

the West Wing right now? I mean, if she was giving stability, she was the glue that is holding it all together, I mean, watch out America.

LEMON: They needed some -- they need some gorilla glue or something.

AVLON: Self crazy glue.

LEMON: Listen, the way the President handles these things, John, he lets rumors that Shulkin was out -- hang out there for a while. And then for Tillerson for example, I want to you read, this is the detail from the "Washington Post." As Trump wanted to fire Tillerson via tweet while he was travelling in Africa to maximize the humiliation, the adviser say, but Chief of Staff John F. Kelly convinced him otherwise. Maximize the humiliation? He likes to embarrassed people, is that his M.O., you think?

AVLON: I mean, just take a step back for a second. This is a member of his own team, his owned cabinet and if your M.O. is to maximize humiliation, I mean, you know, this isn't what would Lincoln do? This is, you know, what would a Roman emperor do on a bad day? This is not consistent with American tradition.

LEMON: Is this pay back for more -- for F-ing more on --

AVLON: It may be. I mean, it's certainly some kind of pay back, but again, it gets nothing, he just likes to insult and humiliate and bully almost anybody not named Vladimir Putin.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Like your wife, she is --

AVLON: I like my wife.

LEMON: -- very civil, what did she say?

HOOVER: Yes.

[23:05:00] LEMON: Yes, Axios today reported, Margaret, that President Trump was -- has it out for Amazon, that's according to five sources who had discussed it with him. And in part -- here is part of the reporting. He says, Trump's wealthy friends telling Amazon is destroying their businesses. His real estate buddies telling him and he agrees that Amazon is killing shopping malls and brick and mortar retailers. I mean, pair that with Trump, you know, how he fires people, you get the sense of the president.

HOOVER: Come on.

LEMON: Is he governing by vendetta?

HOOVER: All the more reason to go after Jeff Bezos. What he really doesn't like about Jeff Bezos is that he owns the "Washington Post" and the "Washington Post," prints negative things about him. So, it's actually really about not being able to control the first amendment and the freedom of the press.

But, all the more reason to pile on Jeff Bezos, but is he governing by vendetta, yes, and that's how this -- look, if that is not a good, that's not the best traditions or character of our nation or the governing -- the governing of the presidency or the executive branch, but that is what we knew about Trump.

LEMON: Yes.

HOOVER: That is how he is -- he is a vindictive, you know, real estate mogul from New York. That is his character. That is his DNA. We shouldn't expect that he would govern in the presidency any differently than he has in New York.

LEMON: Shouldn't we jealous --

HOOVER: By the way, some people will find this refreshing.

LEMON: Shouldn't we be -- he shouldn't -- he be better than that?

AVLON: Well, yes. Yes!

LEMON: The answer is yes. Bit also, I mean, when you think about Amazon, isn't Amazon really helping out the U.S. Post Office right now, because -- I mean seriously. I order a ton of it -- and comes, you know, some of it comes via the U.S. Post Office.

HOOVER: I mean, single-handedly keeping the Post service in business.

AVLON: There is a pony in there somewhere, but, yes, I mean, look the government by vendetta is just -- it's obviously true. But he has given, you know, our country and frankly his home city not a great reputation here. This is an ugly way to govern as an executive.

LEMON: Yes. There are so many examples about the deputy FBI Director, Andrew McCabe, months before he was fired by Sessions barely over a day before his retirement Trump publicly pressured Sessions to fire him and then we saw the tweets like this. FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, is racing the clock to retire with full benefits, 90 days to go. And then McCabe wrote in an op-ed about that, but what do you think of -- again --

2HOOVER: And then he gets fired within hours of reaching that 90 days -- his time where he gets his full pension. Right, so that, I mean, yes, to your point, I think, you just cited four very clear examples of a man who has a vendetta and who has an agenda and not just an agenda, but makes his political battles incredibly personal.

AVLON: And look traditionally what we bet on is that the office itself nobles, that people are -- that people are flawed human beings, they go to White House and it brings out their better angels. Trump didn't seem to be looking for his better angels that need to be curious about them, he just seems to want to humiliate people across --

LEMON: I wanted to -- I didn't have enough time, but I think it's a discussion I want to have with Dan rather earlier. If we are going to reevaluate the power that we give a U.S. president, because -- and what do you think?

AVLON: Look, we're not going to -- you know, we have a constitutional system. I think one of the things about Trump that is particularly troubling is that this is the culmination of two trends. Culture of celebrity and imperial presidency. Colliding into Donald Trump. That is not a good thing. Now we can recount -- the congress should grow a spine and -- act like a coequal branch of government.

LEMON: Good luck with that.

AVLON: Yes. Good luck. You know, courts should also be less partisan and polarized.

LEMON: Right.

AVLON: But, you know, we are not going to institutionalized change the power of the presidency, but what we can do is recalibrate.

LEMON: Let me stay this -- about another story and I'll let you respond, this is about the NFL, that there is a feeling among the NFL owners that, you know, with Trump did with the NFL that sort of payback and vendetta, for his personal feelings, because he wanted to buy a team. Ultimately he could not.

HOOVER: He was not allowed to buy a team.

LEMON: He is not allowed to buy a team.

HOOVER: Made an alternative football league in order to compete with the NFL and that didn't go over well.

LEMON: This is payback, so go on. Imperial President.

HOOVER: No, look -- I just think for as much -- as much hurt and pain as Trump's behavior and the presidency causes so many Americans, myself included, you know, the point is that if that founder designed this system that would be full of checks and balances and that would contain an executive. I mean, they had somebody much worse. I mean, they had sort of, you know, -- think of the worst monsters in history. And they tried to design -- no, no, stop, to design a system that would be able to sustain the worst leaders and the worst impulses of man they knew human nature was and they were trying to protect against it. So, while we don't -- you may not like Donald Trump, you may not like his behavior in the presidency and many people don't, the brilliance of the founders and the system many people do.

AVLON: Yes.

HOOVER: About a third of the country or the a third of the electorate. And a strong third of the Republican Party maybe 90 percent of the Republican Party that voted for him. But the point is this -- this constitutional system and designed by the founders was intended to contain human nature and to sustain any one occupant in the office. LEMON: So, you are saying there is a chance.

(LAUGHTER)

HOOVER: I'm saying there is a chance.

AVLON: I just kind a want to go back to football for a second, because at some point, he going to bring Hershel Walker into the cabinet, and I think that would be a great moment.

LEMON: I mean, it also reveals how this President feels about putting, you know, people he likes in -- you know, who are loyal to him in places if you look at.

[23:10:06] HOOVER: No, look at his personal doctor. His personal doctor now, is going to run an agency of 360,000 employees that administer health care to 20 million veterans. I mean, and apparently one of the people he considered for the job was a Fox News morning weekend host, who happens to be a veteran, because what do we know? He sees people are good on TV and he likes them. I mean, that is what we're dealing with.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Well, didn't he want to hire his personal pilot to head the --

HOOVER: The Air Force One?

LEMON: The FAA.

AVLON: I mean, yes, there will be at some point a chauffeur running the transportation bureau.

LEMON: I just think.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: I missed that. A chauffeur.

AVLON: Nobody is going to hire his personal chauffeur to run the Transportation Department. I mean, you know, that is where it's going.

LEMON: Oh my gosh, well, you know, it's painful to a lot of people. But sometimes we just, you know, just see the humor. I agree with you, we are strong enough to survive anything and the country will survive a Trump presidency.

HOOVER: My husband often says that Lincoln was buttressed by our two worst Presidents, Bucannon and Johnson, OK, we sustained that our worst moments.

AVLON: Civic stress test.

LEMON: Somewhere in all of this there is something good that will come out of it. AVLON: There is a pony in there somewhere.

LEMON: So, you're saying there is a chance.

HOOVER: We have a chance, Don.

LEMON: Thank you both. When we come back, the White House claiming credit for the surprise meeting between North Korea and China this week, but is President Trump really the winner or is this a case of China flexing its muscles?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[23:15:00] LEMON: Another day of chaos in the Trump administration. Allegations of pardon offers to Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. Turmoil over China's surprise meeting with North Korea. What is next? I want to bring in "New York Times" columnist, Nicholas Kristof. It is -- what is next, you can answer that question, right, and you wouldn't have to be sitting here talking to me.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": That would be interesting.

LEMON: Very wealthy man, let's talk about this idea pardons and the President's former attorney floating the idea of pardons. This is a story that was first reported in your paper, "The New York Times" what questions does that raise for you?

KRISTOF: An obvious question is obstruction of justice. I mean, clearly, a President does have the right to pardon. But it's also pretty clear that if a President offered to pardon 1,000 people for highest bidder, that even though that was a legal thing that he was doing, there would be illegal conduct surrounding it. And so likewise, if a pardon is being used in a way to obstruct justice that -- there is debate, but that may well raise questions about obstruction of justice.

LEMON: And I want to get to something that you cover that you're an expert on. And that is North Korea. I want to talk about North Korea.

KRISTOF: An expert on North Korea is an oxymoron.

(LAUGHTER)

LEMON: Well, I mean, and you have traveled. You have traveled.

KRISTOF: I have traveled there.

LEMON: Yes, you traveled there.

KRISTOF: And back which is even better.

LEMON: Yes. The meeting between Kim Jong-un and China's leader. All sides are trying to project strength here. Do you think it's a win for Kim Jong-un that it was President Xi in command here, as Trump going to claim victory? Who is really holding the cards, Nick?

KRISTOF: I think that, Kim Jong-un has played a really bad hand extraordinarily well. And I think he leveraged anxiety in the Korean peninsula into more diplomacy with South Korea. Leveraged that diplomacy into a long sought meeting with an American President. And now his leveraged the prospect of the meeting with the American President into this meeting with President Xi Jinping. And which he has wanted for a long time with the Chinese and held off on. But the Chinese I think, felt kind of irrelevant. They wanted to make themselves relevant again. And so now, we have Kim Jong-un making his first meeting as far as we know over the foreign leader.

LEMON: Was there a message in this for the U.S.?

KRISTOF: So, I think, they divergent messages, I think each side is trying to manipulate everybody else. I think that, the message from China to Washington and to the rest of the world is, we count, we matter, were an important player in the area. You have to include us. And maybe indeed you want to have the Trump-Kim meeting actually in Beijing. We don't know exactly where it's going to be.

LEMON: Let me, speaking of that, I just -- this is what the President tweeted. He said received a message last night from Xi Jinping of China that his meeting with Kim Jong-un went very well and that Kim looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime and unfortunately maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all costs. Trump says his campaign against Kim is working. Is that how you see it?

KRISTOF: Well, it's certainly better to be talking about meeting than to be talking about war.

LEMON: Yes.

KRISTOF: But there is no -- I mean our goal is denuclearization. And there is no indication that -- that is in the pipeline, that that is going to happen. And in fact "The New York Times" reported today that there is now another nuclear power plant that is coming online in North Korea that in Yongbeon (ph) that can produce more plutonium each day. And -- so, that is going to be one more challenge for these negotiations. So, it's certainly a win for Kim Jong-un. I'm always happier with diplomacy than war, but I think it's really hard to see how we get a deal between the U.S. and North Korea that satisfies the things that President Trump is talking about.

LEMON: Yes. So President Trump tweeted also today, for years and through many administrations everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the North Korean peninsula -- the Korean Peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong-un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting. I mean, North Korea has lied. So should we believe that nuclear -- denuclearization is a real possibility? You mention the plant coming online.

KRISTOF: I don't think that it is a real possibility. And I think President Trump is deluding himself if he thinks it really is. LEMON: Is Kim playing games, because this is different Kim that we've

seen this year -- the last year. Is he playing games?

KRISTOF: They're essentially playing the same game. When they talk about denuclearization and they have over the years. What they mean is that, if you and the U.S. pull your troops out of South Korea, if you end the nuclear umbrella over South Korea and Japan, then we don't have a threat anymore and that we're willing to -- we don't need our nuclear weapons anymore.

[23:20:00] And the Chinese news media quoted him this time as talking about a phased and synchronized process and I think that is what he means. I think, he is talking about one thing, right, denuclearization and the U.S. is talking about something completely different.

LEMON: The President Trump keeps having his upcoming talks with North Korea. The Pyongyang has yet to acknowledge even extending an invitation to the President. What are your thoughts? You think this meeting is going to happen?

KRISTOF: My guess is that it will happen, because I think, President Trump wants it to. He is invested in it with his tweets. But one of the problems is that -- is that meetings like this always work best when you have a lot of Sherpas (ph) who prepared for it, who enable a lot of magic to suddenly happen at the last minute. And that preparation requires a lot of experts in a State Department that isn't staffed and the NSC that isn't fully staffed.

And what I'm afraid of is that we're going to end up with a poorly prepared Summit in which the North Korean plan -- and I think this is what they are planning on, is to get some kind of vague declaration about denuclearization down the road and then have this drag on months after month year after year.

And I think that is their plan. If President Trump doesn't go for that and everything is, you know, background certainly, John Bolton suggests he won't, then you have a real risk of a catastrophic failure that then becomes harder to remedy when it's failed at the top. You can't try another route.

LEMON: That Kim Jong-un is playing long chess game here, saying, well you're going to legitimize me, because I'll possibly meet with you and you'll put me on a world stage, but I'm really not going to do anything 2differently, I'm just going to think that I'm doing something differently.

KRISTOF: I think we're.

LEMON: Is this stage craft.

KRISTOF: Yes, I mean, I think, we're beginning to see the North Korean strategy which is to talk about denuclearization in the long run as a strategy that not something immediate and kind of drag this process out. Bring China along, bring South Korea along. Make it a regional issue. LEMON: Yes. Do you think John Bolton -- he is hawkish on North

Korea, will that influence -- how will he influenced the administration of the President?

KRISTOF: John Bolton is realty a --

LEMON: He is the incoming National Security Adviser.

KRISTOF: Exactly. And, I mean, he is really scary on this issue. He is very smart. He is -- he is a very good bureaucratic player. He knows North Korea well. He helped -- he helped kill the 2002 North Korea deal which was problematic, which North Korea was cheating on, but it didn't have to be killed. And it resulted in no nuclear weapons being added to the North Korean stockpile in the Clinton administration. It was killed. And that led to where we are now.

John Bolton also was partly responsible for the Iraq War and for killing an Iran nuclear deal and recipients. So Iraq, Iran, North Korea, I'd say he's batted zero, for three cases. And the idea of him being in charge of the North Korea relationship which is maybe the -- the greatest single risk we have in international relations, I think that is frightening.

LEMON: Yes. Yet here we are. Thank you Nick Kristof. I appreciate it. When we come back protests in Sacramento after an unarmed black man is killed by police in his grandmother's backyard. His brother telling protesters in city of Sacramento has failed them.

Stevante Clark, he's going to join me next. And I'm going to ask him, if he thinks there will be justice for his brother. Don't go anywhere.

[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Sacramento, California, a city on edge right now. Protesters taking to the streets. They're angry and they are demanding some answers right now after the fatal police shooting of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, that was 10 days ago. Police coming upon Clark while responding to reports of someone breaking car windows, firing 20 shots at him in his grandmother's backyard. Officers saying that they thought he had a gun, but Clark was unarmed. Only his cell phone was found at the scene. Joining me now is Stephon's brother, Stevante Clark, thank you so much for joining us. I know it's tough, but we appreciate you joining us on this day. Today, I know it's even tougher, because there was a wake held for your brother Stephon. First let me express again, my sympathy here, how is your family holding up? How are you holding up?

(BELL RINGS)

LEMON: What does that mean?

STEVANTE CLARK, STEPHON CLARK'S BROTHER: Next question.

LEMON: OK. Obviously you are in grief right now and listen --

CLARK: I'm not in grief.

LEMON: All right.

CLARK: We haven't slept, we haven't ate. The media keeps following us everywhere we go. The only person that got the message and that was just before we came on the air was the mayor. He has called me and said he is going to help us build a library and recreational center that is 24 hours. I am -- I am.

LEMON: So the mayor said he is going to help you build a library?

CLARK: And a 24-hour Recreational Center for the kids.

LEMON: Yes.

CLARK: For everybody. We love everybody. He is going to help me, he's going to be part of it. You know, he is going to walk out you know -- I'm not even address anymore. You know, just know that I'm going to be real connected. We're working with each other. We're going to work with each other. I love my city. I'm sack strong, I did all of this for my city. We are the example of how to do it right. And what the media does, they wait until the loved ones dies, they found out the tragedy, they swarm that person. They put them in grief. They ruin their lives forever.

Their lives are never the same, Don, let me talk to my people, OK. You, black on black, let's make black now, don't you do that now Don Lemon, don't start.

LEMON: No. I just want to tell that, maybe --

CLARK: Hold on, hold on, hold on. I'm not blaming the media. I'm not blaming, but the way you guys treat us, you guys I told you I stopped calling -- we have -- how many phones do we have? The family? Seven?

LEMON: Can you let me get a word in please, because -- listen, I have to manage the time here so that we can get something out of this interview, because a lot of people are watching and your -- through the media, whether you like it or not, , your brother's story will be told. The media is giving you a platform.

CLARK: We love Stephon. I am. Don Lemon, say his name.

LEMON: So tell me about your brother, please.

CLARK: Don Lemon, say his name.

LEMON: Stevante, listen, you're in grief, I'm sorry for that.

CLARK: He is not going to say his name.

LEMON: I know how it is.

CLARK: You messed up on our name.

LEMON: Thank you so much for joining us and my heart goes out for you. Thank you.

CLARK: We love CNN. Thank you, guys.

LEMON: Thank you, brother. All right. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: And we're back now to talk about the story of Stephon Clark. Joining me are political commentators. Keith Boykin, a Democratic strategist. Steve Cortes, a former Trump campaign adviser. And Shermichael Singleton, a Republican strategist.

So just put me on camera here for a minute before we talk to those guys. Listen, we invited Stevante here to talk about his brother, to share what he wanted for the story. I understand that he is in grief.

[23:35:00] I just went through something similar with a loved one passing away about a month ago. Sometimes when you go through these things, you don't know how you are going to react and maybe it was just a little bit too soon for him to be on television. I don't know. But my heart goes out to him and his family and I hope that they get the justice that they want in this story. Whenever he wants to come back, he is welcome to come back any time on CNN.

So let's talk about this now. Keith, you heard him say that he is not going to -- they're not going to rest because they're upset about this. They think his brother unjustly killed. What did you think?

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean obviously it's a very emotional situation right now for a lot of people involved. The attorney general in California is now getting involved, Xavier Bacerra, in terms of the investigation. This is a case that illustrates why it's important to have the police on the side of the community. And Donald Trump -- I hate to bring his name into it but we're on the national show.

Donald Trump today through his White House spokesman Sarah Sanders says it's a local issue. But this is a national issue that is affecting communities all across this country. And it's important that we have leadership from the top that demonstrates why policing must be considerate, responsible, and respectful of the people that they police.

LEMON: Steve Cortes, I want to bring you in now. At the White House briefing today, April Ryan asked Sarah Sanders what the president had to say about the shootings of Alton Sterling, about Stephon Clark. And she responded similar to what Keith said. Let's watch and we'll discuss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Certainly a terrible incident. This is something that is a local matter and that's something that we feel should be left to local authorities at this point. Certainly we want to make sure that all law enforcement is carrying out the letter of the law. The president is very supportive of law enforcement. But at the same time in these specific cases, in these specific instances, those would be left up to local authorities to make that determination and not something for the federal government to weigh into.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So the White House is calling the shooting of a black man a local matter. A lot of people were outraged by that. Are you?

STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Don, I'm not outraged by that because I do think this is a local matter. At least for now. We don't know all the facts in this case. I don't want to comment on this case specifically, but I'll say more generally what is a national issue is that we minorities in particular minority men are being slaughtered in the streets and it's not by cops, it's by each other.

And in my hometown of Chicago, black on black crime is by far the preponderance of the crime, not cop on black or cop on civilian crime. For example, Don, to give you stats, in 2017, there were 3,500 people shot in the city of Chicago. Twenty-three of them were shot by police. Eleven were killed by police. Six hundred twenty-five were killed by assailants. Almost all of the dead, young black men. So focusing on supposedly --

BOYKIN: Steve, can I interrupt for one second?

CORTES: -- cops picking on minorities is a red herring. And by the way is missing the forest for the trees --

BOYKIN: Steve.

CORTES: -- because do we have a problem in this country of violence? Of course we do.

BOYKIN: Let me ask you a question. You do realize though when African-Americans kill other African-Americans or white people kill other white people or anybody who is a civilian is engaged in a crime, typically the police are involved, they investigate, and somebody goes to jail.

The problem is not just that there is crime taking place. Crime will take place for the eternity of our existence. But the problem is that there is no accountability when the crime takes place involving police officers. That's the issue here. It's not about black on black crime. It's about accountability.

CORTES: OK. Now to that point too, let me give you -- let's talk stats instead of generalities. Another stat, according to The Chicago Tribune, which is an organization, no fan of President Trump or Republicans or cops for that matter. They said that over a six-year period 2010 to 2016, half of the police shooters, the police shooters, half of them were either Hispanic or black. So there is not a systemic bias. LEMON: Steve, I don't want to waste -- let's not waste -- let's not waste time here. My question, Steve, was about how the White House responded. And you said that it was a -- you said that you think it's a local matter when these incidences are investigated by the federal government all the time.

As a matter of fact, President Trump has weighed in on the murder of Kate Steinle who happens to be white. And saying oh, it was a horrible verdict. Kate Steinle, it was terrible. So why is the killing of an unarmed black man any different than that? Let's let Shermichael talk.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, Don --

CORTES: No, listen --

SINGLETON: Can I continue?

LEMON: Yes. Steve, you can go in after. Go ahead.

SINGLETON: OK. Thank you. Don, look, I would say first of all to -- if I could rebut some of Steve's statements, number one, people typically will commit crimes against other individuals they live in close proximity to.

[23:39:58] So if you live around other African-Americans and you're African-Americans, then the logical thing would be to presume that you are going to commit crimes that impact other African-Americans. The same thing for white Americans, number one.

Number two, the president has spoken out on instances that play to his base, that play to his political agenda as it pertains to immigration. This is a national issue. There are African-Americans across this country that do feel marginalized, that do feel targeted and rightfully so. And I would ask the president -- I would ask the press secretary, talk to some of your African-American friends and ask them how they feel about this.

Perhaps if the president spent some time visiting those communities, actually listening to the concerns of those individuals, that he is supposed to also represent as the leader of the country, he would perhaps have a different idea of what people are going through instead of saying this is just not a national issue because it most certainly is --

CORTES: No, no.

SINGLETON: The country is divided and it is further divided, Don, because of Donald Trump's rhetoric.

CORTES: I'm glad you brought up that issue of -- we normally commit crimes against people we're closest to. You're exactly right. I'll tell you this. As a Hispanic-American, one of the reasons that I'm so against illegal immigration and so against so-called sanctuary cities is because the victims by crimes by dangerous illegal aliens are normally Hispanics themselves. So Kate Steinle, you're right, Don, I think there is too much focus on her. That was a horrible tragedy. But I would like to talk about Sandra Duran in Los Angeles, a Hispanic mother who was also killed by a criminal illegal alien who was five times --

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Steve, you're going down a rabbit hole. Stop, stop, stop. You're going down a rabbit hole. We're not here to discuss black on black crime. We are not here to discuss Hispanic on Hispanic crime. We are not here to discuss white on white crime. People who live in close proximity of each other kill each other, whether you're black, white, green or purple.

I'm talking about the president and -- I'm talking about the press secretary today saying that they couldn't weigh in on this particular issue because it's a local issue.

Here is what the president said. A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case. No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration.

That certainly wasn't a local issue.

The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over a weakly-protected Obama border, always committing crimes, being violent and so on. Build that wall.

So, then if that -- why is that something that can be weighed on -- weighed in on by the president of the United States and is not considered a local issue but this one is? You don't see hypocrisy in that?

CORTES: I don't, Don. I'll tell you why, because it's apples and oranges. Again, we don't know --

SINGLETON: No, it's not. It's not apples and oranges.

CORTES: I think a cop --

SINGLETON: Steve, the fact of the matter is, right, the president is the president of the entire country. You don't pick and choose what things you want to talk about and what things you don't want to talk about.

(CROSSTALK)

SINGLETON: Wait a minute. The constitution guarantees that all citizens, all citizens, all citizens should be able to have due process. That guy should have had due process.

CORTES: Absolutely.

SINGLETON: He should not have been shot 20 times. First they said it was a crowbar. Then they said it was a gun. Then finally it was a cell phone. How do you confuse a cell phone from a crowbar to a gun? There is something obviously wrong here, Steve. It's OK to admit that hey, we have a problem. We need to address this issue. You can admit that. It's OK.

LEMON: let him talk, Shermichael.

CORTES: Hold on. Here is the difference. This may very well be a problem. I'm not dismissing that. Again, we don't know enough. I don't think about Sacramento to tell. It may very well be a problem. But here is the key difference because you cannot equate the killer of Kate Steinle who was an illegal immigrant known criminal.

LEMON: We're not equating the killer. You're missing the point.

CORTES: With a cop who may have acted inappropriately.

LEMON: You're missing the entire point.

CORTES: I'm not.

LEMON: We're talking about the president of the United States giving --

CORTES: I give cops the benefit of the doubt and so does the president.

LEMON: No, no, no. You're missing the point. The president of the United States is giving one story -- one group of people attention while choosing not to give another group of people attention. Each of them happening in a city in the United States of America.

BOYKIN: Steve, can I tell you why this bothers me? Because when Donald Trump ran for office, he went to one black community and said that the previous administration, Democrats had ignored them, and he wasn't going to do that. He was telling black people that they should vote for him because they have been betrayed by Democrats.

And what do you got to lose? When he got elected, on inauguration day, he stood up there and he said that this American carnage ends right now and ends right here. Speaking about the crime in this country. And now when there is a criminal case involving an African-American who is a victim of a police shooting, he has nothing to say about it. There is an inconsistency in his behavior and the president should know -- White House should know.

CORTES: You know what he has done for we black and brown Americans? He has delivered economic prosperity, something that hasn't happened --

BOYKIN: We are not talking about that, Steve. We are talking about police shootings. We can't deflect the talking points every time we talk about this.

[23:45:02] LEMON: Hold on. I appreciate that Steve was going to pay tribute to the former president, Barack Obama, for lowering the unemployment rate.

SINGLETON: President Trump perhaps sustained it, but let's not be ridiculous man. He sustained what Barack Obama did.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: That's not what we're here to talk about.

CORTES: The disparity between minority and white household family wealth grew under President Obama and that is a fact.

LEMON: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: We are talking about, you know, we are talking about Stephon Clark, by the way, not employment or unemployment.

SINGLETON: Thank you, Don.

LEMON: So let's keep to the subject.

CORTES: But --

LEMON: And whether this president treats all Americans equally. We are not here to talk about any of that other stuff. That is a shiny thing that you want to use when you can't explain this administration's hypocrisy. We'll continue the conversation on the other side of this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Back now with Keith Boykin, Steve Cortes, and Shermichael Singleton.

[23:49:58] We're talking about the issues in Washington and talking about Stephon Clark and whether or not this administration treats different people of different ethnicities equally or the same.

The Congressional Black Caucus has put out a statement in response to Sarah Sander's response today. In part, they say, this White House continues to stun Americans with its ignorance concerning matters of racial justice.

Injustice anywhere is injustice anywhere. All Americans should be concerned about the epidemic of state inflicted violence imposed on black bodies at the hands of some police officers. Unarmed black people are killed by police in enough states with enough frequency for this to be examined at the federal level.

Steve, I'll ask you. Do you think the president is tone deaf on these issues? Is there anything that in his staff -- does he have someone around him in his staff who can educate him on how hurtful some of the comments or the silence is?

CORTES: Don, again, I think the default position of this president, he has been clear about it, and it is certainly my default position too, in general, we default to the side of the cops and we believe them. That doesn't mean we always do. That doesn't mean there aren't bad actors and bad apples among the police force.

At times, they commit horrific crimes. When they do, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And if they did in this case, that should be the result here. That doesn't mean that we should somehow ignore to me the far bigger issue, which is not cop violence against minorities. It is minorities, violence upon each other.

LEMON: What does that have to do with Stephon Clark? You can explain to me what that has to do with Stephon Clark who wasn't in a black on black, as you call it, stand-off. He was shot. He was unarmed and shot by police. Are you going to say the cop was black or it is still a police issue? I don't understand why you keep bringing that up. It has nothing to do with this story. Absolutely nothing.

CORTES: No. What I'm saying is, again, I'm not talking about the particulars of this case because we just don't know.

LEMON: That's what we're here to talk about. That's why we invited you on to talk about this. We didn't invite you to talk about that.

SINGLETON: I don't understand why we -- I don't understand why -- I get that we have to have opposing sides of the arguments. I'm a conservative. I get it. But I don't know why we bring people on these networks who say the most utterly ridiculous things like everything Steve has said since we started this discussion.

It is obvious. It is blatantly obvious that the president, the White House has a difficult time discussing race. It's obvious. This president talked about murders of a white young lady from an illegal immigrant, why? Because it suited his political agenda.

When it comes to talking about black men being killed in this country, this president and his White House stays away it from. How many more African-American men have to be killed before we consider this an epidemic? We really need to begin to look at this.

CORTES: Listen, the epidemic is here. I'll be the first to say. I would turn this on you. How many decades does the Democratic Party need to exploit minorities? Hispanic or black?

LEMON: Steve, what are you talking -- you're going back to -- OK. This has nothing to do with what you're saying. Nothing at all.

(CROSSTALK)

BOYKIN: Steve (ph) is talking to a fellow Republican. Shermichael, you're not talking to me.

SINGLETON: Kevin. Kevin.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Shermichael is a Republican (INAUDIBLE).

SINGLETON: I could use you same analogy.

LEMON: It's Steve. It' Steve. Shermichael, Steve.

SINGLETON: A couple weeks ago about poverty in rural areas. I can use your same analogy and say why do poor whites continue to vote for Republicans when they've done nothing for them? If you want to use that analogy, let's get real. That has nothing to do with what we are discussing.

The fact of the matter is this guy was shot 20 times and all he had was cell phone. You cannot look in the camera and talk to millions of people watching the show right now and tell them there is nothing wrong that. Please tell me that's not what you're saying right now.

CORTES: I am not for one second saying there's nothing wrong with that and this may have been very well a cop acting very badly. But I will say this --

SINGLETON: So say that.

CORTES: My default -- my default position generally, not in this case, generally, is to back the cops.

LEMON: Why is that? Why is that?

CORTES: Why? Because we had a dangerous situation in this country under the previous president where the cops were made into the predators, largely in the public realm.

LEMON: What's your evidence of that? What is your evidence of that? Violence happens every where. Listen. And police officers have a very dangerous job but that is a job they signed up for. Most police officers -- I don't even have to say that, are good police officers but there are some bad ones. Why do you always default to the side of the police officer instead of being equal and wondering what happened?

Maybe this unarmed black man, maybe he's innocent. Maybe he's guilty. Who knows? Maybe the police officer is innocent. Maybe the police officers are guilty. Why do you have to default to the cop's position?

[23:55:00] Isn't that the problem?

CORTES: I'll tell you. First of all, because all cops are not white, clearly. I cited in the last segment about in Chicago. Half of police officers --

LEMON: Again, what does that have to do with anything?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Stop. Shermichael, stop.

LEMON: Nobody mentioned anything about police officers being white. You just said that. What does that have to do with anything, Steve? I don't understand what's going on in your head.

CORTES: What it has to do with, Don, it has to get to the idea that there's systemic racism within police, and I just don't believe that. BOYKIN: Oh, no, no, no.

CORTES: Certainly I don't believe that in my hometown of Chicago.

BOYKIN: Stop, stop, stop. Steve, there's systemic racism in every institution in society. The police are not immune from the rest of biases that infiltrate the rest of society. The problem is, this attitude you have that Don pointed out, that you automatically default to accepting the police point of view, is not healthy, especially for African-Americans like myself who -- I'm targeted by police.

Even as an African-American with a job and a degree, I'm still viewed as a threat to the police. Yes, there is racial discrimination. Every poll that's been conducted. Every study that's conducted has demonstrated that discrimination as well.

But the problem is that the president of the United States last year or earlier this year went out and told police officers to go rough up suspects. To hit them on the head and that kind of thing. That's not healthy behavior. We need better leadership.

LEMON: I got to go. I'm literally out of time. I'm not ending because I don't want to hear what you're saying. I'm out of time and I'm out of patience. Good night.

[24:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)