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Ivanka Trump Granted Seven New Trademarks In China Amid Trade Talks; Racism In America In The Trump Era. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 30, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:32:52] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: China awarded Ivanka Trump seven new trademarks for her businesses this month. At the same time, President Trump vowed to save the controversial Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. Any coincidence?

Let's discuss with CNN contributor Walter Shaub. He's the former director of the Office of Government Ethics and is currently the senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center.

Walter, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: So, when President Trump sent out a tweet saying that he wanted to save jobs at ZTE it raised a lot of eyebrows, including that of even his arch supporters. Here was his tweet.

"President Xi of China, and I are working together to give massive Chinese phone company ZTE a way to get back into business fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Congress Department has been instructed to get it done!" Exclamation point.

Everybody at the time said, huh? What is that about? Why is the president saving jobs in China?

And then we learn about Ivanka's trademarks that have come through from China. Here's the time line.

May seventh, China says it approves five of Ivanka's trademarks. May 13th, six days later, President Trump says he's working to save those jobs with that tweet. May 21st, a week later, China awards Ivanka Trump two more trademarks.

What am I missing in terms of these dots seeming awfully connected?

SHAUB: I think what we're all missing is a whole lot of transparency from the White House. This situation has created a lot of smoke.

And keep in mind that around the same time, China also agreed to back loans in the amount of about a half a billion dollars for a project in Indonesia that's going to protect the president. So we have a situation where both the president and his daughter stand to benefit from the Chinese government's actions at a time when all of a sudden he's reversing policy on a Chinese company that has involvement from the Chinese government.

It looks terrible and it's part of the continuing problem of the president and his daughter retaining conflicting financial interests.

[07:35:03] CAMEROTA: Yes.

SHAUB: It's just the gift that keeps on giving.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, this one -- this one -- you don't need to be an expert in the Emoluments Clause to be able to connect these dots.

I mean, particularly, the Indonesia one that you're talking about. China gives a half-billion dollars to this Indonesia project that involves part of the Trump real estate empire that they've been wanting to build there.

I mean, I understand that not everything is always exactly as it seems --

SHAUB: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- but the timing is so fishy here. What can be done about it?

So Democrats -- OK, let me read you what Democrats -- Democrats have issued a strongly-worded letter. Let me read it.

"We believe that these events raise several potential constitutional and ethical violations. The extremely short time period between the Chinese government's loan" -- that half a billion dollars -- "and President Trump's order to roll back penalties on ZTE warrants a review of any applicable federal ethics regulations."

Walter, what can be done about this?

SHAUB: Right. Well, I think first of all, we have to acknowledge there's a remote possibility that both of these things are coincidental and perfectly innocent.

The problem is that the president has a duty not only to use the power that we give him solely for our benefit, but a duty to demonstrate that that's what he's doing. And he's possibly failing in both areas but we know for sure he's failing in the second area.

He's not giving us the answers, he's not giving us the information, and he's just not being transparent enough for us to be able to say oh, OK, this is fine. So I understand why these members of Congress have issued a strongly-worded letter.

In any past administration you can guarantee Congress would have been demanding answers. The majority in Congress would have been sending over letters signed by chairmen of committees that you have to respond to in the Executive Branch, and if they didn't get satisfactory information they'd wind up holding hearings.

That just isn't happening and that's the problem because the mechanism for overseeing the Executive Branch established by our constitution is that Congress has to do the job of oversight. And this Congress, at least its leadership, has made 100 percent clear that they have zero interest in upholding their constitutional responsibility to do that oversight.

And as a result, I think we're going to keep seeing more and more brazen things that look worse and worse. Some of them might be innocent and some of them won't be, but we won't have any way of knowing which one. And as the people of a representative democracy we're entitled to those kinds of answers.

CAMEROTA: I mean, brazen is the word. The timing is brazen here --


CAMEROTA: -- regardless of if maybe there's an innocent explanation, as you say. We'll give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment because we have no choice because Congress isn't holding --

SHAUB: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- any hearings. But it is hard to see how this is draining the swamp.

SHAUB: Yes. He's also made clear that he has no understanding of the separation between the public and the private.

He's got public responsibilities and private financial interests and he broke with the tradition by keeping them and then by engaging in nepotism that past presidents hadn't done, and allowing his daughter to keep financial interests that White House appointees don't normally keep.

And so the burden is on him to go further to reassure us and he's just not interested in doing that.

CAMEROTA: Right. It just smells swampy.


CAMEROTA: Walter Shaub, thank you --

SHAUB: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: -- very much -- John.


Roseanne Barr fired after going on a racist and anti-Semitic Twitter rampage. What does the reaction to her words say about the state of race in America? We'll discuss, next.


So, Roseanne Barr is apologizing after -- and trying to defend herself after this racist Twitter post that led to ABC canceling her hit show. It was actually a tweetstorm.

But her story is not the only one involving race that made headlines yesterday. Starbucks also shut its doors early to conduct mandatory training on racial bias with its employees. That was weeks after two black men were arrested, you'll remember, at this Philadelphia Starbucks while they waited for a friend.

Joining us to discuss are cultural critic and writer Michaela Angela Davis, and author of "Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America," Michael Eric Dyson.

Michael, I'll start with you. How do you see everything that's unfolded with Roseanne in these past 12 hours?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "TEARS WE CANNOT STOP: A SERMON TO WHITE AMERICA": Well, it's an index of the Trump era of race where bigotry substitutes for insight, where conspiracy substitutes for knowledge.

This is an era in which white resentment has coupled with white power to produce an ugly mix -- a cocktail if you will of tremendous ignorance about the history of race and about the degree to which people of color and others have suffered.

And on the other hand, the empowered weaponized ignorance that continues to pass for knowledge in Washington, D.C. and beyond because in the era of Trump lies becomes truths, truths become lies. There's no distinction or borders between them. And as a result, whatever you feel is what you project.

And this indicates what people of color have been saying for a couple of centuries now -- that things are not good. That the way in which everyday racism undermines the capacity of people of color to live normal lives without the interference or interruptions that no other people are subject to suggests that America has to do some serious work here.

And I think that it's a beginning for Starbucks to do what it did in terms of implicit bias.

But we've got to look at the wellspring of bigotry in this country and as long as it is sustained politically, socially, and economically, it will be a problem.

That's why Roseanne's cancelation was indicative of the fact that even corporate America where the bottom line seems to be the ultimate litmus test of what's acceptable and not, got Trumped by a moral consideration that puts things in perspective.

I think we're on a path, at least, to try and wrestle with these problems. BERMAN: And to that last point, Michaela, you look at all of this, even with all the problems that Michael laid out there -- you look at this as primarily a hopeful moment.

[07:45:05] MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CRITIC AND WRITER: I have to because it's so complicated and hurtful. But at least we're having a public conversation about it, right?

Our parents and our grandparents suffered indignities that are unspeakable and corporations and CEOs weren't having conversations, right?

We have monuments to nameless people killed by other Americans with no justice.

So we're start -- this is a good start and it's worth a start. It's worth Starbucks, it's worth ABC to at least try.

So I have to find some hope in it because this is new, right? This idea of having town halls and shutting down doors has been -- it's been needed for generations and centuries. But it is -- it's a step and it's on us.

Are we going to keep the pressure on? Are we going to keep having these kind of conversations because what we realize is that white comfort has -- is more important than black lives. People are calling people and the police because they're uncomfortable.

And people's lives are at stake. We saw a 12-year-old boy gunned down because someone was uncomfortable with him in a playground. And what's difficult sometimes to understand is you know that most of America knows the story of Tamir Rice.

Most of America knows what happens or what can happen when police are called on black folks and still, they do it because they can't say excuse me, are you waiting for someone? They can't have a conversation with a black person. They'd rather risk their lives.

So we're -- that's what we're negotiating, right? Like you would rather risk the life of a Yale student -- risk her life because you're not sure why she's sleeping on the couch.

So we have to have these constant conversations publicly and have white folks be ready to be uncomfortable for a little while. Imagine what it's like walking around in a black body. We've been uncomfortable for hundreds of years so you can be uncomfortable with me for 30 minutes.

CAMEROTA: Michael, you know, there is this paradox that we've been talking about this morning which is that corporate America seems to be having a much lower threshold in terms of their tolerance for even when one of their biggest stars, OK -- one of their biggest moneymakers says something really gross or really racist or really inappropriate.

We see it with the MeToo movement, we see it with racism. At the same time, the President of the United States seems to have -- there seems to be no penalty for retweeting conspiracy theories, for saying things like Muslims celebrated on 9/11 when that was completely erroneous. There is no penalty.

And so, do you think these two things are -- how are these two things connected because I hear all sorts of people say it makes no sense when we're politically correct in one way and yet, the president is so politically incorrect?

DYSON: Right. Well, you used the correct word there, paradox.

Look, there's a parallel between Obama and Trump in this sense. Obama couldn't be gotten by those who were conspiracy theorists, those who were birther theorists, those who suggested he wasn't truly American so there was an uptick in racial violence against black people on the street.

He was the symbol of black progress. We were his proxies.

In many ways, this is a proxy conversation because we can't get Donald Trump. We can't hold him accountable.

But we are going to hold accountable the people in everyday existence in corporate America, on the streets of the society, in commerce, in art, in television. There is a way in which we're trying to wrestle with and negotiate our limits -- our tolerance for what is an egregious offense against our own common humanity.

When Michaela was speaking about the fact that can we just ask a black person a question -- and even that is a microaggression. Microaggressions are bite-sized bigotry reduced to consumption, like vitamin A every day -- something that happens but it seems small. A papercut is small but it can really cause tremendous hurt, pain, and agony.

So what we're seeing here is that it is true that the President of the United States, accused of sexual assault, accused of being a racist, accused of being highly intolerant of other human beings, and enacting those practices before our very eyes, is held to a different standard, even as we're trying to negotiate beneath his presidency a tremendous terrain of enormous conflict.

And this is where, as Michaela said, we have to be hopeful. Not optimistic, which is a shallow virtue, but hope as a deeper investment in the fact that we have to confront this head-on. And when we confront his head-on we can begin to hold each other accountable and hopefully and ultimately, the President of the United States of America has to be held accountable as well.

BERMAN: How do you countenance, Michaela, the argument that some people are making that Roseanne Barr maybe felt empowered to talk like this because of President Trump even though -- I mean, look, she's got a history of saying things like this completely on her own that have gone back before this administration.

How do you countenance that with the rapid-ish response from ABC?

[07:50:03] DAVIS: Yes. Well, they made a connection together, right, when he -- when Trump said that -- you know, touted her ratings and almost took credit for them. Said it was about us. So they made the relationship clear.

And he's made it more popular, I think, to be openly racist. And I think it's important that we don't make Trump seem this untouchable thing that everyone gets -- no one gets to be Trump but Trump.

Tens of millions of people voted for him after he showed his cards for years.

BERMAN: What are you suggesting? Are you suggesting that they're racist or they're --

DAVIS: Yes, yes.

BERMAN: That the people who voted -- all of the people who voted for Donald Trump are racist?

DAVIS: Yes, but they may not -- they may not be violently racist. They may not be -- he's targeted. He's very clear and strategic.

Look, anti-blackness is a strategy that has been the foundation of part of the American process --


DAVIS: -- project. So if you -- you have to -- we have to grapple with the idea that if you heard someone call -- at the rally say build the wall, kill them all. If you heard someone say that the current sitting president said the "N" word --

CAMEROTA: Yes, but we know that people -- listen, you know that people interpret this differently and to paint with as broad a brush as you are --

DAVIS: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- saying that everybody who voted for him is racist, you know how people operate.

DAVIS: But --

CAMEROTA: They compartmentalize and they'll say that people compartmentalized during Bill Clinton --

DAVIS: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- and you overlook the things that you're uncomfortable with because you like the policy.

DAVIS: Well, here's -- here's what we --

CAMEROTA: And so you can't paint with that broad a brushstroke. DAVIS: But racism isn't broad so what you're not hearing is that there are so many different levels of racism and how it works itself out --


DAVIS: -- right?

CAMEROTA: I hear you. I appreciate that.

DAVIS: So there's -- and there's levels to how it is interpreted and it's levels to how it is -- it is acted out. And most of the time we are operating in racist structures. So you, as an individual, may not be -- may not understand that you are racist but you are working in a racist structure.

So that's how policemen of color can be participatory, right?

So it's not -- it is so complicated and that's why we have to have sustained, complicated, nuanced conversations that ground themselves in history.

CAMEROTA: You're saying the structure is racist.

DAVIS: Right, and --

CAMEROTA: And, you know -- look, it's just comfortable because we interview, obviously, Trump supporters all the time --

DAVIS: What do you -- what do you call some -- but what do you call --

CAMEROTA: -- who would never in their real life say that they -- or even act racist.

DAVIS: That's the part. That's the part. People do not want to say that they are racist.

CAMEROTA: OK, or even act --

DAVIS: They wouldn't --

CAMEROTA: I mean, you know, they're in multiethnic marriages --

DAVIS: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- they've adopted children of color. I mean, there's just -- look, America is a big melting pot.

DAVIS: Right.

CAMEROTA: There's all sorts of people with different motivations. But I hear you --

DAVIS: But that's part of the --

CAMEROTA: -- about the system --

DAVIS: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- and that that's why we're having this conversation.

DAVIS: And it takes a lot of work because you can be racist and married to a Muslim.

BERMAN: Right. But, you know, when --

DAVIS: It is possible so we have to --

BERMAN: -- the 50 million -- we're talking about 50 million people --


BERMAN: Ninety percent are Republicans who will say we voted for taxes, we voted for Supreme Court justices. We voted for all of these things.

DAVIS: Right.

BERMAN: This was not a vote because we wanted to pick the most racist guy.

DAVIS: Well, that was the candidate, right? But what we have to have the courage and the moral stamina to do is to really unlook at what you were voting for, right?

So all those taxes and policies, how do they work out on people of color? How do they work out on --

DYSON: Can I -- can I say this, too?

DAVIS: -- poor people? And also, the -- at the same time --

DYSON: Can I say --

DAVIS: -- we got -- we got Stacey Abrams, right? That happened in Georgia.

So what we're doing is we're seeing us unravel a very complicated American project.

CAMEROTA: For sure, for sure.

DYSON: But can I say this? Can I jump in right quick?

The reality is when Martin Luther King, Jr. was at his height most Americans did not believe that what he was doing was morally --

DAVIS: That's right.

DYSON: -- compelling.

So the reality is this. They've always said we're not against Martin Luther King, Jr. and integration. We're just against the races mixing because the bible tells us that interracial mixture is a sin.

So when you talk about a moral framework I think what's important here is to talk about the relationship between a structure of social injustice that perpetuates itself doesn't need your participation in order for it to be unequal, and people's own bigotry and bias.

So we have to -- we have to desegregate all that data. There is racial bigotry, there is racial bias, there is racial structures that perpetuate inequality.

And true, of course, people can say look, I'm not for a guy -- if you -- if you poll them they'll say I'm against racism, I'm against anti- blackness. But then, they are attracted to Donald Trump.

So the question you haven't asked here -- are you putting your consideration for taxes and the constitution --

DAVIS: That's right.

DYSON: -- and your understanding of conservative life above the reality that along with that comes a vicious repudiation of a large segment of the American population? That's where we began to clash with the ideals of our self and who we truly are.

So American maintains a kind of collective delusion about its own reality. And at the same time, there's the truth beneath. So what we've got to do is to argue with each other and have conversations with each other so this stuff becomes explicit so we can put the poison outside of us and begin to negotiate in good faith.

[07:55:03] BERMAN: What this does sound like, though, is what got Hillary Clinton into so much trouble during the campaign where she made the comment about the basket of deplorables who vote for Donald Trump. That that is why people would pick him. That you are racist if you --

DYSON: No, we don't have to demonize everybody. No, I disagree with --


DYSON: We don't have to demonize everybody. Look, I -- if we got to a point where we can honestly say on the other side is an opponent that I don't demonize -- what we're missing here is the degree to which even the white working-class, which has been seen as the valuable commodity in this last election, what they don't get.

It's a couple of things. First of all, a rich billionaire is not your friend.


DYSON: Secondly, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was in jail and his jailers came to him and said you know what, Dr. King, integration is wrong and segregation is right, he said no, it's not. Then he asked them how much money do you make, and when they told him he said you need to be out here marching with us.

Racism has hurt not only people of color but poor, white people who don't understand if they tossed in with black, and brown, and red, and yellow people they would have a greater aggregate and a greater force for social justice than being divided.

The viciousness of white supremacy is that it blocks the ability of even working-class white people from seeing an ally in a person of color.

CAMEROTA: All right.

BERMAN: Yes. This obviously only scratches the surface --


BERMAN: -- of this discussion right now. I mean, to be sure.

CAMEROTA: But we really appreciate you guys having this conversation on NEW DAY.

DYSON: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We really appreciate you always coming on and being willing to talk about these really tough issues.

Michaela Angela Davis, Michael Eric Dyson, thank you both very much.

BERMAN: We'll be right back.



VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Red-state America can have a better representative than Roseanne Barr.

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The tone does start at the top but it's up to all of us to push back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ABC knew what they were getting into when they signed up Roseanne.