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Mueller Accuses Manafort Of Witness Tampering; President Trump Un-Invites Super Bowl Champ Philadelphia Eagles; Are There Similarities Between Trump And Clinton?; The Cake Case. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired June 4, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT, I am Don Lemon, 11:00 p.m. here on the East Coast. Live with all the breaking news for you tonight.
Robert Mueller accusing Paul Manafort of witness tampering and wants to revoke or revise Manafort's house arrest, which could send him to jail. More on that in just a moment.
Plus, President Trump disinvites the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles who were supposed to attend the White House ceremony tomorrow. The President has repeatedly and publicly criticized players for not standing for the anthem. He is called them, sons of bitches. He aggressively lobbied NFL owners to force players to stand for the anthem. He is gone so far saying the owners should fire players who protest.
Now the President is falsely claiming the Eagles players don't want to stand for the anthem. That is right, falsely claiming they don't want to stand. I'll explain that. Joining me now on the phone is the mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney.
Mayor, thank you so much for joining us.
JIM KENNEY, MAYOR, PHILADELPHIA: My pleasure Don, how are you doing?
LEMON: I am doing OK, listen, the President just tweeted this, he said, the Philadelphia Eagles football team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately only a small number of players decided to come and we cancel the event. Staying in the locker room for the playing of our national anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling, sorry.
So here's the thing. None of the Philadelphia Eagles players stayed in the locker room. None of them took a knee for the season. So what he is talking about, that is, in fact, a lie as well.
KENNEY: Well, there's no one more disrespectful to this country than the President of the United States, which is a sad thing to say, but it's true.
LEMON: You say that -- and it's tough to say that. Before what you said about, you said it's embarrassing, he didn't want to be embarrassed. Don't you think it's tough to say the words that you just said, but you have to because they're true? It's true?
KENNEY: Well, first of all, I'm glad he disinvited us. Or disinvited the team, because we won't have any lingering issues coming into next season. So I think it's very important. Didn't want some players to show up and others not to. And have it enter into the locker room and, you know, keep us back from repeating a Super Bowl champion. So, I don't really care what he does.
That guy talks about being patriotic. He avoid the draft five times. In Vietnam. And Philadelphia has -- it's a City that has two high schools. One is Thomas Edison High School who lost 64 members of their class in Vietnam and the other is Father Judd High School that lost 27 members of their class in Vietnam.
If he want to be patriotic, he could have been patriotic back then as opposed to this sham of an issue relative to the national anthem. I stand for the national anthem and cover my heart, because I'm a privileged white male and I have a reason to stand. There are other people in this country who have not experienced the same level of fairness and same level of issues that I have. And they have a right to show their displeasure. And that is what the first amendment is all about. And if he doesn't want to accept the first amendment or other amendments, that is on him.
But I'm proud of our players. They're extremely -- they're wonderful athletes and they are great in the community. They volunteer, they raise money. They're all of them, I mean, Malcolm and Nathan and Chris Long and Carson Wentz. They are all contributing to the community, so, I'm very happy that they're Super Bowl champions that they are players and they don't have to go to the White House.
LEMON: OK. I was asking you, this is the question I want to ask you. You had some tough words, your first answer here. And you released a statement just as tough, saying disinviting them from the White House only proves that our President is not a true patriot. But a fragile ego maniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend. Tell me about that.
KENNEY: Well, the truth hurts. I mean, that is the case. It's been happening since he was sworn in. And every day is a new adventure in dysfunction. And I hope we can recover from it and I'm looking forward to when he is not there to get our country back to where it should be. That could be 2018, 19, it could be 2020. Hopefully it won't be 2024. But, it's just an embarrassment. I'm proud of our Eagles and I'm proud that they're not going.
LEMON: Mayor Kenney, thank you for your time.
KENNEY: OK. Take care, Don. And Don, you're not a former Philadelphian, you're always a Philadelphian.
LEMON: Always, I love that city. I bought my first home in that city and I will never forget it. Monroe between second and third. So thank you very much. KENNEDY: Queen Village. Take care, man. Take care.
[23:05:00] LEMON: Yes, absolutely. I want to bring in CNN Contributor, Frank Bruni, of "The New York Times," also CNN Political Commentator, Joe Lockhart, the former NFL executive Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs and former U.S. Attorney, Harry Litman, and CNN Political Commentator, Amanda Carpenter, author of "Gaslighting America: Why We Love It When Trump Lies to Us."
Let me start with you, Joe and Frank. You're the former chief communications officer for the NFL. The mayor did not hold back. What do you think?
JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They are famously booed Santa Claus one year. So they don't pull their punches there. It's hard to know where to start with this. But, let me try to be positive. The Eagles represent the best of the NFL. Malcolm Jenkins has been the leader of this group that will now have $150, $200 million at their disposal to help do criminal justice reform and social justice.
Chris Long donated every paycheck, 16 game checks to charity as a way of making a statement. Carson Wentz, $500,000 for Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake. And to them, to Donald Trump, they're sons of bitches. And they're that because they don't kneel to him. This is an imperial presidency that is putting our democracy at risk and this is just -- this evening's citing today's example. We got four of them today, just this evening as an example.
LEMON: What do you think, Frank?
FRANK BRUNI, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": You know, I think the major was really eloquent and speaks for a lot of Americans, and I think Joe is right, there's only one metric that Donald Trump uses above all others to Judge people. And that is how readily and how expansively could you genuflect to drop Donald Trump. Some of these players, when they are genuflecting to him, shocker. I mean he is so demonized NFL players and done so, you know, in such an indiscriminate and gratuitous way.
Some of them didn't want to come. And his response is OK, none of you come. I keep waiting for the President of the United States to be the biggest person in the room, not the smallest person in the room. And Donald Trump scuttles that expectation every day every way.
LEMON: Don't hold your breath. Don't hold your breath.
BRUNI: I am not good in holding my breath.
LEMON: So I want to -- let's talk Bill Clinton. The guy you work for. In the news he is trying to clarify his tone deaf comments about his affair to Monica Lewinsky tonight. Here's what he originally said to NBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looking back in what happen then, through the lens of #Metoo now, do you think differently? Or feel more responsibility?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: No. I felt terrible then. And I'm paying for the grips with it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever apologize to her?
CLINTON: No. Yes. Nobody believes that I got out of that for free. I left the White House $16 million in debt. But you typically have ignored dating facts in this and I bet you don't even know them. This was litigated 20 years ago. 2/3 of the American people sided with me. They were not interested in that. I had a sexual harassment policy when I was governor in the '80s. I had two women chief of staff when I was governor. Women were overrepresented in the Attorney General's office in the '70s. For their percentage of the bar. I've had nothing, but women leaders in my office since I left.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't apologize to her?
CLINTON: I have not talked to her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel like you owe her an apology?
CLINTON: No. I -- I do not -- I've never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry. That is very different. The apology was public.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Not good.
LOCKHART: No, I think he made a mistake there that he doesn't make that often. And it's one that we see our President doing all the time. Which was not separating the two things. He was treated unfairly by the Republicans. It was a partisan attack to remove him from office. Newt Gingrich famously said when asked, why are you doing this? He said because we can. But he conflated that with the underlying thing that he did apologize for at the time. And in doing that, he undermined the apology. It was a mistake. And I think he did try to clean it up a little bit later in the day.
LEMON: I was shocked that he was not prepared for that question. And maybe that is him thinking he was prepared. It is such an easy answer. I have live with this regret every single day of my life. I'm sorry to Monica Lewinsky and her family. If she is listening right now, I would like to apologize to her and I would love to reach out to her, but I haven't done it out of respect or something. He should have reach out to her, but it's so easy to answer that question.
[23:10:02] LOCKHART: Again, I think, you know, as we've talked about, that answer is diametrically opposed to at the time what the President did as President. Which was not focus on himself, not focus on the victimization of the President and focus on the country's work. And you can see why, you know, when the answer comes out that way it's not effective at all. LEMON: That is why, I was just stunned by it, so, you were stunned by
it as well, but I want you, listen to what he said. He's clarification tonight, then I will get your response, Frank.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: The truth is, I got hot her under the collar, because of the way the questions were asked. And I think what was lost were the two points that I made that are important to me. The suggestion was that I had never apologized for what caused all the trouble for me 20 years ago. So the first point is, I did. I meant it then and I meant it now. I apologize to my family, to Monica Lewinsky and her family and to the American people, before panel of ministers in the White House which is why they reported. So I was, I did that. I benefited. And I meant it today. I live with it all the time. The second is that I support the #Metoo movement and I think it's long overdue. And I have always tried to support it in the decisions and policies that I've advanced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Is that clarification enough?
BRUNI: I me, he cleaned it up a little, but you know what I heard, in -- I heard a lot of interview, I heard a lot "I," "I," "I." The question was about someone who was a 21-year-old White House intern at the time. I found it to be astounding interview because let's -- I mean, he attached the reporter, right? He cited public opinion polls, 2/3 of Americans were with me and he had a little self-pity party, who does that remind of you, Don?
LEMON: Donald Trump.
BRUNI: Yes, I don't need to be reminded of Donald Trump by a president who might have much more respect for, but who did not have his best day today.
LEMON: Amanda, I want to hear from you now, what do you think?
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, a great complete with Frank that Bill Clinton still thinks it's all about him. And there's no compassion for what he put, not only Monica Lewinsky through, but his entire Party through. And I think we need spend --
LEMON: And the country.
CARPENTER: And the country, it reflects, typically and what Monica Lewinsky was put through. She was gas lit, she was depicted as a narcissistic, obsessive loony toon, because of something that happened with President Clinton. They had an affair. He gave her gifts. He invited her to the Oval Office. And still to this day, people will say well, Monica Lewinsky chased around that President and made him do it.
No. He was the most powerful, arguably person in America. She was at her first job. And then when she left the White House she got manipulated by a whole group of other people, starting with Linda Tripp and all the Republican who did want to pin something on President Clinton.
So, I want a retelling of Monica Lewinsky's story. You know, she may be a victim. She is not innocent. She was a grown woman. She did know what she was doing, but everything that happened to her after, think about it. She was 21 years old. And Linda Tripp lured her into the Ritz Carlton in Arlington, Virginia, where FBI agents were waiting to lure her into a hotel room and threaten her mother with jail time.
She has a story that she has never fully gotten to tell. Because as she wrote in the "Vanity Fair" article, she is still processing this. She has 2PTSD. She went into hiding. And Bill Clinton still got to keep on being the President. Yes, he was impeached in the house, yes, he did suffer some consequences, but man, I think Monica suffered a lot more.
LEMON: Listen, I agree. And you say, HARRIGAN: was a grown woman, but there is a huge power imbalance, you know that right?
CARPENTER: Yes. That is why I mentioned, he was commander-in-chief. She was an intern on her first job.
LEMON: So, Harry, you had been sitting by patiently to this, thank you very much for that. We have two living Presidents who have been investigated for obstruction of justice, both have also been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, are they more alike than both Democrats and Republicans would like to admit?
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It's really interesting. I mean I think, Clinton, I recognize when he was like, when he was tired of office games. But he also missed the basic lesson of the #Metoo movement. You know, oh, I had two women chiefs of staff when in -- when I was Attorney General. It is kind of like Harvey Weinstein gave a lot of money to women's causes. It just misses the point of the real sin. But I actually -- I hear the similarities from frank and others, but I see a kind of contrast here.
[23:15:03] To me, Clinton was caught off-guard and was a little bit trying to have it both ways in the way he sometimes does, it was sort of talking in half measures. And you compare that to the pedal to the metal, total sense of grievance and defiance that you get from Trump who, all his supporters know, for example, that of course, he had sexual relations with multiple women.
But he is chosen to play it in such a pugnacious way that he is kind of retained his base. And you wonder if that is more effective. Neither is a great model for American youth or America. But I was struck that Clinton tried to tiptoe a little where Trump has been a real bull about it. And has in some ways succeeded on his terms.
LEMON: Joe, I know you want to respond. Go ahead.
LOCKHART: Yes, listen. I don't disagree that it was not a good interview and it was not a good performance and that he messed up. But the comparison falls here, which is the President felt very strongly at the time that he was being unfairly treated. He never fired an FBI Director. He never publicly shamed his Attorney General. He never ridiculed the entire intelligence community. He never tried to undermine vast swaths of the government in order to protect himself. He did just the opposite. He kept his mouth shut and he went about doing his job. So, I don't think the comparisons hold up.
CARPENTER: Let me just push back just a little bit. I do agree with you, Joe, that when it came to the investigation, Bill Clinton did conduct himself more honorably, but I can't forget about things like, you know, bimbo eruptions. James Carville saying well, if you drag a dollar through a trailer park, who knows what you'll find. Hillary Clinton dismissing questions as a vast right-wing conspiracy. And so I do think some of the precedent that happens with denying these accusations from women during the Clinton administration, did provide some of the frame work that is being used today.
LEMON: Go ahead.
LITMAN: Don, can I make a quick point? In general, look, both Nixon and Clinton felt constrained by a sense of the dignity and the importance of the institution of the office. Trump has zero of that. Besides agreeing with the whole litany of the, you know, really singular sins he has committed. He is shown in his whole approach no respect at all or worry about the status of the presidency. Even Nixon and certainly Clinton were different that way.
LEMON: Listen, we talked about this longer than we were going to. But I want to thank you, it was a fascinating conversation and deserved to be talked about.
I want to get to your piece, harry that you wrote, it is called President Trump thinks he is a king. And if you want to read it, go to "The New York Times." It is a fascinating piece. I wanted to spend more time on it, but unfortunately we're out of time. Thank you all. I appreciate it.
LOCKHART: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: We have some more developments tonight to tell you about the White House. First lady Melania Trump who had not been seen publicly for the past 24 days, attended an official White House event with President Trump today. The event was a private East Room reception for more than 40 Gold Star Military Families. A person inside the room told CNN the President made a light hearted joke about the first lady's extended absence from public view saying the media was asking where's Melania.
In a statement, the first lady said it was a privilege to welcome the military families to the White House. And she thanked them and military members more broadly for their service. I am glad she did that. But it is a legitimate question. We have not seen the first lady in 24 days. It's not just the media. It would be common sense to ask how she is doing. Where is she? After all, she is the first lady of the United States. When we comeback, Robert Mueller accuses Paul Manafort of witness
tampering. And that could send him to jail. More on that in just a moment.
[23:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: We have some breaking news on the Russian investigation. Robert Mueller's team is accusing former Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort of witness tampering. The Special Counsel is now asking the court to revoke Manafort's bond and house arrest.
Here to discuss CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, and former FBI Special Agent, Clint Watts. He is the author of "Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians and Fake News."
Juliette, good evening, everyone. How significant is Mueller's allegation that Paul Manafort is witness tampering?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Oh, it's incredibly significant. Four just some very quick point here. I mean, the first is obviously encrypted messages don't work if the receiving participant is going to go the prosecutors. Second, surely, Donald Trump's campaign manager is guilty and I think his activities show that. Remember he is Trump campaign's manager. Third, Manafort clearly knew he was being surveyed. He knew that from before and yet he still continued to try to disrupt witnesses, to try to get them to testify in his favor.
So, he made a calculation, which suggests to me that the truth is scarier for him than the possibility that he may be put away for obstruction of justice. And I think, fourth, the big question now is, will he plead facing now? Clear jail time. And is that plea agreeing or is that plea offer still available to him? Because we just -- we just simply don't know if Mueller would be willing to take it at this stage. So that is my quick takeaways.
LEMON: OK, Clint, according to today's filing, Manafort repeatedly contacted two people who worked and previously assisted in his lobbying efforts for Ukrainian politicians. He called and texted one of the people encrypted messages. The text said we should talk. I have made clear that they worked in Europe. Do you think this -- do you think that this means that Mueller's team has been able to decipher encrypted messages? Or that the recipient of the text shared them with the Special Counsel?
CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I would go with the latter. It's got to be coming from the recipient and what I think is so illustrative of this moment is this is how Manafort business and operations must have been running for years and to think that he wouldn't stop this after all that is happened and after all the people that has come forward. Having watched person a, which is to be declared maybe as a known agent of Russia, and having his side kicks, Gates also go ahead and start to work with the Special Counsel. It's just stunning that he would continue to take these actions, he would continue to message him this way. [23:20:03] When he is been met at every single challenge. I think the
important thing to note here is, every time we've seen an increase in the President talking about maybe I can pardon myself or maybe I'll just close down the investigation, we see an increase in pressure on people all the way around him. And you know, it's not surprising to me that we see this pop-up here today with Manafort in terms of the Mueller team actually taking action.
LEMON: So, Clint, I have to ask you then, does this -- does it make it more likely that Paul Manafort will or could flip?
WATTS: I don't think so. It seems that Paul Manafort has a lot more to lose outside of confinement than inside of confinement. I don't know what is holding him to where he thinks he should fight this all the way out. But he seems to see that there's no real way going back at this point.
And I can't imagine him flipping now that he is fought it all in this direction. One thing, I think that is really important is as this trial is coming up here this summer. And as we see the President who seems to not want to do an interview, the pressure is going to pick up on everyone that is connected to the Trump team, going all the way back to 2016. They are going to push for more indictments. Going to push on more witnesses, they are going to do more evidence gathering to build up a stronger and stronger case. So while the President says, we need to wrap up this investigation, he is the one that is delaying the investigation. And he is also the one that is going to add fuel to the fire, if they want to push this investigation forward.
LEMON: Juliette, the President tweeted twice yesterday about Manafort. Oh, he arrived late, he didn't stay a long time. He just completely down played it. He doesn't tweet about Manafort often. Which is not true, I mean, he was very essential to the campaign. Do you think he knew this was coming?
KAYYEM: I think, he may have in terms of whether his lawyers got some sort of information regarding Mueller's investigation of the Trump team. And I do think, we often say that Mueller doesn't talk, right? Which is exactly what he should not do. He should not talk. But I actually think that Trump speaks for him, that Trump has some idea who's being talked to. Maybe he talks to those people. He certainly knows his friends are being communicated with.
He knows this tweet, like a week ago about pretty young people, you know, one might think that that has to do with Hope Hicks and what he might know about Hope Hicks. So I do think that in a weird way that Trump sort of channels Mueller's case in ways that Mueller is unwilling to, because he is a professional prosecutor. And it does say something about Trump at this stage. You know, Trump has one job right now, right. In terms of this investigation which is be quiet, right? I mean, just essentially be quiet.
LEMON: Good luck with that.
KAYYEM: And he can't do that. And that is why he is not, I just can't imagine that he will ever talk to Mueller. I mean, "The Washington Post" is reporting today that his prep is not ideal, I guess is the right way to say it. He can't control himself.
LEMON: I want to get something -- I want to get your new book in here, Clint. It's called messing with the enemy. And you write about how terrorists and criminals can use social media to identify our vulnerabilities. I mean, the president of United States constantly use social media. Does this aid our adversaries?
WATTS: Yes. It is what I called quick play populism, and really the central tenner of the book is how social populism has really overtaken the establishment. When I looked back after the past decade, when I've been tracking all sorts of adversaries online, it's remarkable how the social media powered populist movements have taken over the establishment, whether it's the Islamic state really taking over Al Qaeda establish terrorist group or if you look at the political context now, we see the Trump train really overtaking the GOP establishment.
And maybe the resistance in another social media populist movement which is overtaking the political establishment -- political group and the Democrats. It is how they used this. If you win the crowd, if you enforce your base and you continue to do this, which the President was doing today, he is setting the agenda. He is trying to win in public, rather than win in the courts. And if he can win that and state that narrative, he'll capitalize in bullet points basically what his talking points are, how he is going to try to undermine this investigation.
If he can do that successfully, he thinks he can win. And so, what's been fascinating is how this populist movement on social media has really empowered people and really restored in them a new set of powers that transcends even a physical nation. It's a social media nation that they're looking to rule as much as the real world one.
LEMON: Juliette Kayyem, Clint Watts, thank you very much. Clint's book is "Messing with the Enemy." Make sure you pick up a copy. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
When we comeback. Is the President's cancellation of the Philadelphia Eagles big White House visit under false pretenses, just another example of how the President Trump is dividing us by race? We'll discuss after this.
[23:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump canceling tomorrow's White House visit by the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles. Just the latest example of how he may be dividing us on race.
I want to bring in now "ew York Times" National Correspondent, John Eligon, who wrote an analysis of how President Trump and Obama tackled race. You can read that on the Time's race-related newsletter.
John, I'm so happy to have you here. Good evening. Today, President Trump canceled the Philadelphia Eagles visit to the White House due to the controversy of the NFL players kneeling during the anthem. The president continues to spread this false narrative that the players are kneeling to disrespect the flag when they're actually protesting police brutality. Is the president's handling of this an example of how he's using race to divide?
JOHN ELIGON, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, certainly, Don. I mean, when you look at how the president has handled race since he has been in office, it's about equivocating, right? It's about taking it and spinning the narrative the way that he wants it to.
So in this case, you have players who kneel or do other forms of protest during the national anthem. And what they say is, hey, we are doing this to protest police brutality, to protest injustices against African-Americans. But then obviously there's a lot of Trump supporters who see this as disrespect of the flag and disrespect to the military.
[23:35:02] So what he then does is he often takes these instances to say, hey, look at these players, they're disrespecting our country. And he's the one standing up for America.
So essentially you get this -- again, with the Philadelphia Eagles, you know, this is an event that they've been planning for a while. And obviously on the eve of it, Trump puts out a very strong statement about questioning the nationalism of the player, questioning their respect for America.
And then in that way, he avoids talking directly about the racial issue that people want to talk about, that the players want to talk about when it comes to police brutality. And instead he makes it more of a red meat issue, more of a political issue, something that plays to his base.
LEMON: John, I want to point to your piece. Fascinating piece in New York Times. It is called "Obama Soothed. Trump Stirs. How Two Presidents Have Tacked Racial Flare-Ups." You talk about the NFL players kneeling.
You said, "Mr. Trump has emerged as a leading critic of the practice by some NFL players of kneeling during the national anthem as a way to protest racial discrimination in policing. Mr. Trump personally and successfully lobbied some team owners, who earlier this month created a new anti-kneeling rule. He said his objection to the protests had nothing to do with race. It was rather about respect for our country and respect for for our flag."
So the president says it's nothing to do with race. But it has nothing to do with race. Does it?
ELIGON: Well, that's the thing. I mean, the underlying issue here is definitely about race because that's what players were initially doing it for. This is one thing, you know, you look at the NFL, you look at other pro-sports, you have sometimes this kind of incongruence (ph) because you have predominantly African-American players. You have a lot of fans, a lot of the super fans who are not if you look in the stands that are whites. You know, you kind of have this imbalance. You have in the NFL -- you have 32 white owners and then you have, you know, a lot of rich, young black men.
And so naturally, that issue of race kind of stands out there where you have the owners trying to say one thing and then you have the players, you know, saying another thing. And a lot of them are African-Americans. So I think it definitely plays into it.
And again, as I was mentioning before, you know, Trump really tries to say it's not about that but, you know, at the end of the day, it really does -- it does speak to that issue, whether or not he wants to speak to that issue or not.
LEMON: I want to get this in before we run out of time. Your piece did receive some criticism for putting President Obama and President Trump on the same plane. One is a first black president, one is actively dividing the country. What is your response to that?
ELIGON: Well, they both hold the same office, the office of the presidency. And the office of the presidency has a role in responding to things. And I think it's interesting when you compare Obama, you compare it in the sense that Obama is someone who has lived experience when it comes to racial issues.
He was someone who obviously had to go through racism, some of it from President Trump with the birtherism issue in order to get into office. So when he came into office and he would handle issues of race, then you know he would be coming from a very personal experience.
Sometimes, the very facts of him being black, his blackness was often looked at by some people who did not necessarily agree with him as saying, that's divisive. And then just one quick example, I mean, when Trayvon Martin was shot, the president said, if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.
And I remember Newt Gingrich specifically have said that that was disgraceful, that he was making it about race, when a lot of African- Americans see that. They see a president personal and speaking to them. So, in many ways, President Obama's blackness in of itself created this divisive wedge.
And then just one thing I'll say, Don, is that it's kind of -- you know, for any president, it's somewhat of a lose-lose proposition. There was a poll that you all did at CNN that showed 54 percent of the country believed that relations between black and white people in America got worse under President Obama.
There was a Pugh research survey last year that said that 60 percent of the country believes that race relations have gotten worse under President Trump. You kind of have a situation where the way that the country reacts to how the president believes on race almost speaks to the divisions that we have on race nationally as a country.
LEMON: Thank you, John. At least President Obama knew who Frederick Douglass was.
LEMON: Thank you. I appreciate it.
ELIGON: Thank you.
LEMON: We'll be right back.
[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump tonight canceling the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles White House visit which was supposed to happen tomorrow. Let's bring in our CNN political commentators Angela Rye and Ben Ferguson. Hello to both of you. OK, we have a lot of ground to cover. Angela, give me your reaction to this latest thing with the White House and the Eagles.
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, Don, nothing surprises me anymore. From the man who called NFL players in a hypothetical situation, sons of bitches -- excuse me, my French mom and dad, I know you're watching.
I think the reality of it is that he doesn't have respect for protests. He doesn't have respect for the black lives who have been lost. We've seen it in his lack of response to any racial tension that's been stoked by police who used excessive force in killing black men and women in this country.
And the fact of the matter is these players have every right to protest and more importantly, Don, that's not even what this is about. Folks just have a lack of respect for Donald Trump. His lack of decency in this office and the shame he's brought to this space. I think they have every right to sit out and move on.
LEMON: What do you think, Ben?
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I agree. They have the right to sit out and move on. I think the president has a right to say, let's not fake this, you don't want to be here, you don't want to come, I don't want you to come here, let's not waste time on a photo op and let's move on about our days.
That's what I love about this country. I think the reality is here by saying, well, Mr. President, you shouldn't cancel on them. If someone is throwing shade at you and saying they don't want to be there, then let's just be men about it and say we're not going to do this. We're not going to fake it and take a picture which clearly both sides don't really want to be a part of.
And that's OK. You can agree to disagree. They have a difference of opinion. They have a difference of ideas in this country on issues of national anthem and what it means. And that also is OK. It's just unfortunate that we try to blame the president when the initial reaction was from the team and players on the team saying I'm not going to show up.
LEMON: Do you understand why -- do you understand --
[23:45:00] OK, do you understand, because last year a similar thing happened with the Golden State Warriors.
LEMON: But this isn't the first time. In 2012, Tim Thomas didn't go -- I guess he disagreed with President Obama. There was someone else on the Denver Broncos who disagreed with President Obama, didn't go. Tom Brady and a number of people didn't go last year, 2017. But what I'm saying is -- there were other presidents before that. Nobody canceled it. They just said those who want to come, come. We are all Americans. If you disagree with me, then I still represent you as well.
FERGUSON: But I think it's very clear there's more than one player. You're talking about instance where you literally have to go back and find who the one player was.
LEMON: I have a list of different players here.
LEMON: The thing is -- I'm trying to help you make your point here. I want to help you make your point here. The Washington Post is reporting that last -- I think last week they promised as many as 70 players and then by this week now, it got down to like 10, so --
LEMON: According to --
FERGUSON: Here is the thing. If they do the photo op then, then Donald Trump only had 10 players show up.
FERGUSON: What a disaster PR wise.
LEMON: I got to let Angela respond. Go ahead, Angela. Sorry. We are running out of time.
RYE: I think the reality of this is that at some point, a leader needs to look at himself and say, what is wrong that so many people do not want to be in my presence, do not want to come to a ceremony where I'm commemorating you? You can laugh, Ben, but this is not funny.
FERGUSON: Their leaders show up --
LEMON: By the way --
LEMON: The Eagles all stood last year, all season, by the way, so they didn't kneel.
FERGUSON: I guess. Be a leader. If you want to be a leader, then show up and meet with the president and have a conversation with the president.
LEMON: I got to go. We will be right back.
RYE: It's on the commander-in-chief, Ben. Do better.
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LEMON: The Supreme Court ruling with a Colorado baker tonight who refused to bake a cake to celebrate the marriage of a same-sex couple because of his own religious objection. The ruling was seven to two.
The court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility towards the baker based on his religious beliefs. But the ruling leaves broader constitutional questions of civil rights and religious liberty unsettled.
Justice Anthony Kennedy who is the author of four landmark cases protecting LGBT rights wrote in today's majority ruling. Here is what it says. "The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market."
So let's discuss now. Joining me are the couple at the center of this case, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig. Thank you so much, gentlemen, for joining us this evening. We really appreciate it. So, Charlie, you first. What was your reaction when the case came down, when you heard about this? You must have been disappointed, I'm sure, in the result.
CHARLIE CRAIG, CLIENT IN MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP CASE: Yeah, thanks, Don, for asking. You know, this morning, we were not expecting the case to have a decision, but we were watching the SCOTUS blog and all of a sudden it showed up masterpiece. Immediately we saw the seven to two decision and Kennedy wrote it.
And, you know, at that point you just don't know what the decision says or how to decipher it. You know, we are not exactly lawyers even though we've been going through this for six years. So, you know, we had a lot of -- you know, we ran around for two hours being very confused and sad and worried. As the day has progressed, we found little gold nuggets, like, you know, the Colorado anti-discrimination law is still intact.
LEMON: And the governor of Colorado just put out a statement addressing the ruling and the state body who initially handled your complaint. Here is what the governor said. "While we are disappointed with the decision, we take seriously the court's admonition that the state must apply its laws and regulations in a manner that is neutral toward religion." He says, "we have no doubt that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will meet that standard as they listen, respectfully, to all sides of the matter that come before it and issue decisions that uphold the protections afforded under Colorado law."
So, the court's verdict did not rule the cake maker's refusal to make a cake for you constitutional but criticized the way the state handled his religious objections. So is that one of the nuggets that you're encouraged about?
CRAIG: Yeah, absolutely. We actually just got back from a rally at the state capitol. The governor spoke on our behalf and he gave us a giant hug and said that he supported us. So, I mean, that felt good.
LEMON: Yeah. Dave, Jack Phillips did offer to bake other goods for you but refused the wedding cake. What would you say to people who asked, why not just go to a cake maker who didn't object to same-sex marriage? I know it's an obvious question but I have to ask.
DAVE MULLINS, CLIENT IN MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP CASE: Well, I mean, the point of this case, you know, wasn't whether or not there was someone else out there who could bake a cake for us. The reason we brought this case was because we didn't want another loving couple to have to be turned away from a business just for who they are.
LEMON: So, you know, Dave, you said earlier today that no one should be turned away from a business open to the public because of who you are, as you just said. But the court agreed with you on some level.
Here's what it says. "Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth. For that reason, the laws and the constitution can and in some instances must protect them in the exercise of their civil rights. At the same time, the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression."
So, do you see any middle ground here? It's interesting that they also said protected because I don't think gay people are part of a protected class.
CRAIG: I feel like, in Colorado, in about half the states, sexual orientation is protected underneath a lot of the civil rights laws.
[23:54:59] Six years ago when this actually happened to us, we had no idea about that law. We have since learned that. And, you know, I think the compromise really is any business can choose what they want to sell to people. They just can't choose who to sell it to.
LEMON: Yeah. You know, we have come, this is bride (ph) month, it begins now, this month in June, and the LGBTQ community and rights -- I mean, it has come a long way in the last 10 years. Do you see any hope in this ruling or is it simply a reminder of how far we have to go? Do you see it as a setback? How do you see this?
MULLINS: Well, I think the main thing we want people to know about this ruling is that it has fully left Colorado's anti-discrimination act intact. It hasn't changed the law.
LEMON: So Charlie and Dave, what's next for you, guys?
CRAIG: Well, we're just trying to survive today.
CRAIG: To be honest. And then we will plan for the future. I mean, you know, we've been doing this for six years and we'll probably want to take a small vacation away from the world and then come back and, you know, keep fighting for the rights of our people.
LEMON: Well, good luck, guys. Thank you for coming on. I appreciate it.
CRAIG: Thank you for having us.
MULLINS: Thank you.
LEMON: That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.
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