Return to Transcripts main page


What Really Came Out Of The Trump-Kim Summit; Was Trump Outfoxed By Kim?; Bill Clinton: Norms Have Changed In Terms Of What You Can Do To Somebody Against Their Will; Bill Clinton Defends Al Franken; Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy; SCOTUS Upholds Ohio "Use It Or Lose It" Vote Law; "What Truth Sounds Like." Aired 11-12a ET

Aired June 12, 2018 - 23:00   ET



[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Sure it was a photo-op for the ages. Something no other president chose to do. Yes, talking face-to-face is better than threatening it us, but will Kim Jong-un ever really give up his nuclear weapons? Even President Trump doesn't seem 100 percent certain what all this will amount to.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I may be wrong. I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong. I don't know that I'll ever admit that, but I'll find some kind of an excuse.


LEMON: And is it any surprise that the President who thinks of himself as above all, a showman, would pitch his message with a movie trailer-style video, one created by the National Security Council?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two leaders, one destiny. A story about a special moment in time, when a man is presented with one chance that may never be repeated. What will he choose? To show vision and leadership? Or not?


LEMON: Let's bring in now Republican Strategist, John Brabender, our CNN Political Analyst, Ryan Lizza, and propaganda expert, Kevin Kosar, vice president of policy at R Street Institute.

So glad to have all of you on. So, Kevin, since you're the propaganda expert here, let's talk to you first. What is your reaction to this Hollywood style pitch to North Korea? Is this old fashioned propaganda or is it smart persuasion maybe?

KEVIN KOSAR, VICE PRESIDENT OF POLICY, R STREET INSTITUTE: It was strange to be honest. I've never seen anything like this in a diplomatic setting. And I can't tell whether the President is crazy or crazy like a fox. This film was really something because the whole thing seemed to be playing on the vanity of Kim Jong-un. I mean, it emphasized that there are very few world historical actors amongst the billions of people who are on this earth, and that he had a moment to make a choice to make himself a man of history.

It dangled this beautiful vision of what his country could become. Again, I've never seen anything like this. And yes, it was clearly propaganda aimed at persuading the North Korean dictator.

LEMON: I think the question did not work? All right. Before you answer that, let's just play a little bit more of this movie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new world can begin today. One of friendship, respect and good will. Be part of that world, where the doors of opportunity are ready to be opened, investment from around the world, where you can have medical breakthroughs, an abundance of resources, innovative technology and new discoveries. What if? Can history be changed? Will the world embrace this change, and when could this moment in history begin?

It comes down to a choice. On this day in this time at this moment, the world will be watching, listening, anticipating, hoping. Will this leader choose to advance his country and be part of a new world, be the hero of his people? Will he shake the hand of peace and enjoy prosperity like he has never seen? A great life or more isolation? Which path will be chosen?


LEMON: So I'll take the boat and the water slide. I mean, my goodness that just seems odd. Is this ever played at a summit? Have you ever heard of that?

JOHN BRABENDER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I haven't. But I think everybody's missing the big story. Because I think the President said he played this as a cassette on his iPad or something like that. So, this was a strange way to announce the new retro iPad out there. No, the truth of the matter is you have to separate the video from the narrative, because there are two different or the execution from the narrative.

The narrative of what he is done and this whole thing actually was pretty smart. What he did is -- he didn't do like we did in Iran and make a mistake and say, basically you slow down your nuclear process and we'll give you all sorts of money. He played to this sort of arrogance to some degree, where the insecurities --

LEMON: The vanity.

BRABENDER: The vanity of the North Korean leader and said, look, this is moments in history. You can make your mark, you can make your destiny.

LEMON: (inaudible) the video? BRABENDER: Look, if it was two of them sitting there, he said, look,

here is something I want to show you about. What your country can be, if I was advising the President or they called me and I would looked twice, he did not this afternoon, I would advise him not to make it public. Because then it goes to a P.R. campaign if you want to make it public.

LEMON: OK, Ryan, you've got two voices on either side of this. Was this smart? Maybe it was. I don't know.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, look, I think it was strange. And I think the power of a propaganda video like that is extremely overrated. And if the President believes that a video like that could persuade the leader of North Korea to make a fundamental decision about whether he needs nuclear weapons for his regime to survive or not, I think that is worrying.

[23:05:14] Look, I think on the plus side of this summit we ratcheted down the really, really frightening rhetoric of a year ago when it seemed like we were -- we were closer to, you know, hostilities than ever before with North Korea since the war. On the down side, though, it doesn't seem like this summit was well thought out in terms of what we were gaining while giving up quite a bit. I mean, you can't get back what we gave, right? No president -- American President for a reason gave Kim or his predecessors this kind of world stage to be on par with an American President.

LEMON: You're giving the big picture, but can I just stick to this video?

LIZZA: It was absurd.

LEMON: I thought I was watching was -- yes, like in a world gone mad where only Kim Jong-un --


BRABENDER: People are saying, you know, this is not how President Obama or President Bush would have done it. Why doesn't everybody understand it's never going to happen that way? This is different time with a different style by the President --

LEMON: That is not -- maybe that is what they're saying. That is not what I'm saying. I'm just questioning someone who's the leader of the free world and to have staffers -- this was produced by staffers on the National Security Council, the NSC is very high level group, they include people like the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dunford, Secretary of State, Pompeo, Defense Secretary, Mattis and others when appropriate. So I'm just surprised that people of this stature would produce something that is so ridiculous.

BRABENDER: Well, but again --

LEMON: Even if it was done by their staffers --

BRABENDER: You would have to sit there and say despite all this sort of nontraditional ways Donald Trump does things, he did get North Korea to the table.

LEMON: I'm not saying Donald Trump did this. I'm saying the staffers --

BRABENDER: I know that. But, Don, getting North Korea to the tables --

LEMON: OK let him finish Ryan.

BRABENDER: I was going to say he was very proud of this. I mean, to him this was a pitch book. You know this is going back --

LEMON: John, aren't they smarter than that?

BRABENDER: First of all, they're not the boss. So let's put this in perspective as well. That video would not have appeared in public if Donald Trump did not want it to be public.

LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Ryan.

LIZZA: Look, like anyone else we all hope -- look, it's always better to talk. Right? Its better these guys are talking rather than what was going on last year. And everyone has to hope that seems like the thing this leads to some kind of breakthrough. But I don't see how -- it seems like the thing that was prepared more than anything else was this video. We didn't have any -- we did not have any tangible gains in this meeting.

I mean, we -- Kim agreed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula something he first agreed to or his predecessors agreed to in 1992. So, you know, the idea it seems like from all what's been public the most preparation at this summit, more work went into a video to show him than anything else. And if that is our whole strategy we're in some trouble.

LEMON: All right, so but maybe -- look, it could have been smart. Kim Jong-un's father a movie buff. And as we know he loves pop culture. I mean, this movie-style video actually could be effective in winning over Kim. What do you think, Kevin? Because I would move to that place. It looked beautiful to me.

KOSAR: The horses running on the water that did look kind of nice.


KOSAR: It's hard to say because Kim is a black box. I mean there's so little intelligence on how this guy thinks. He is been brought up in this bizarre world, and it is just -- who knows if he is going to be the least bit persuaded by this or if he is just going to turn around and pump Donald Trump. I mean the thing I thought that was really odd about the video and its mere existence was that, it wasn't just focusing on denuclearization, which was a subject of what the agreement was.

It was talking about complete westernization of North Korea. And I think if history's shown anything is that very rarely do communist dictators just liberalize, open up the country for investments, start building hotels and, you know, gently let go of power. They tend not to do that. And Kim himself, he is living pretty large. I mean if he wants cognac, if he wants video, if he wants Dennis Rodman to come, he snaps his fingers and gets it. It's not clear how much he would gain other than the, you know, the image of historical actor, but maybe that would prove compelling, Don.

BRABENDER: Wasn't that a big part of the video, was to make the point this is generational shift for North Korea? And we do have somebody who is an NBA fan. And in fact, actually this video sounded like something the Chicago Bulls might come out too, a new world king.

[23:10:12] LEMON: In today, one of friendship, respect and good will. Be part of that world where the doors of opportunity are ready to be opened. Investment from around the world where you can have medical breakthroughs and an abundance of resources.

LIZZA: It looked like some of the leftovers on a cutting room floor for a pitch for Trump University. I mean, it was literally this kind of, you know, join -- like a multilevel marketing scam or something. Join the program, this is what you get.

Look, if we take it seriously, right, if this is what Trump presented to Kim rather than a sort of clear detailed piece of writing or letter saying, do x, y and z and you will get a, b, and c, I mean what is he saying in that video, right? He is basically saying choose this path or else, right. That is a sort for subtle or maybe not so subtle message to that.

LEMON: All of that they mentioned though is not part of the dictatorship. Remember, because there's so many people -- there are millions of people starving in North Korea.

LIZZA: The video itself uses images from the propaganda arm of the regime.

LEMON: yes, you know, it sound a little (inaudible) to me, but listen. Just take a listen real quick to what President Trump said about North 2Korea after the summit.


TRUMP: They have great beaches. You see that whenever they're exploding their canons into the ocean, right. I said boy, look at that view, wouldn't that make a great condo behind. And explain and I said, you know, instead of doing that you could have the best hotels in the world, right there. Think of it from a real estate perspective.


LEMON: Beach condos, I mean, listen, maybe to John's point, maybe that is priority for Kim. I don't know.

LIZZA: I mean -- look, it's absurd, right, the American President talking about beaches and condos, but to give him a very big benefit of the doubt, what he is saying, he is trying to make this case that opening up the to the world will be beneficial to North Korea, right? He is trying to make the case that he has a decision to make here. You know, truly go down the path of denuclearization and it will bring a lot of benefits to his regime.

LEMON: OK. I just wondered if you guys got a DVD of dinettics (ph) you'd know exactly what I'm talking about. Thank you.

BRABENDER: 100 percent.

LEMON: When we come back, my next guest says President Trump was outfox by Kim Jong-un. And we will play and discuss the surprisingly candid self-assessment by the president.


LEMON: President Trump thanking Kim Jong-un tonight for a summit he calls historic. But what really came of it, and who came out ahead? Joining me now is "The New York Times" columnist, Nicholas Kristoff, thank you for joining us, good to have you on.


LEMON: Your last column is called "Trump Was Outfoxed in Singapore." how so?

KRISTOF: Well, President Trump has emphasized that, I mean, I think he sees this as milestone toward North Korea giving up nuclear weapons. But, you know, in fact for anybody who's followed North Korea over the years, North Korea has simply promised what it's promised regularly since way back in 1992 which is denuclearization. And there's a reason they use that word and not disarmament. Denuclearization to them means it starts with the U.S. cutting off South Korea from its alliance. And so North Korea gave up nothing, and, you know, we gave out -- we gave securities guarantees to North Korea. We provided the summit itself and lavish praise to Kim Jong- un, and we canceled military exercises which are a substantial thing.

LEMON: So we gave up a lot. So how is this different? How does this -- I don't know, I guess we can call it an agreement seems to be the same --

KRISTOF: Joint statement.

LEMON: Joint statement. How does it compare to other failed agreement from past administrations?

KRISTOF: Well, I mean, first, I think it's worth pointing out that even if an agreement doesn't lead to eliminating nuclear weapons it can still be worthwhile. And so like in 1994 agreed framework, it failed in the end in 2002. But for eight years it did prevent development of new plutonium weapons.

But this -- this is far below the standard reach in the past. For example, in 1994 there were international inspectors who were on site at the Yangon military complex in North Korea. There was a hold in new production of plutonium for weapons. In 2005 North Korea promised to rejoin the NPT, the Nuclear Nonproliferation treaty, not a word of about that this time.

LEMON: So, Pompeo is going to try to work all this out now that the summit has happened, right, instead of trying to get this before. In some sort of agreements or standards or whatever before, they are going to try to do it afterwards. Is that -- will he have success? Is that a possibility?

KRISTOF: So I think that it's possible that there will be some genuine progress. So it may well be North Korea will promise not to have new missile tests, no new nuclear tests. They may have a freeze on production on plutonium, possibly on enriching plutonium. But, what's a little weird is that we gave the concessions up front and concessions may or may not arrive from North Korea down the road.

And it was also, frankly, kind of troubling to have President Trump emerge and use lines that we associate with North Korea propaganda. President Trump criticized the U.S. military exercises as very provocative. I mean that is a standard North Korean line.

LEMON: Well, he adopted that line and also sort of adopted the language and the way Kim Jong-un feels about it by saying that when we suspending military actions that we were actually saving United States money, because it cost money and then say, it was provocative, that is Kim Jong-un's --

KRISTOF: That is Kim Jong-un's line and that is China's line and likewise on human rights. So, President Trump acknowledged that Kim Jong-un is rough, and lots of other countries are rough, too. But, you know, look, there's no country in the world that is remotely like North Korea on human rights. For him to defend North Korea, that has just left -- I flinched at that.

LEMON: Yes, so listen, this is what the CNN analysts and I don't know if you agree with that, I think you do, CNN analyst point out that while the agreement is said to be very comprehensive, the North does not go beyond pass budgets. Do you agree with that?

[23:20:05] KRISTOF: I agree with that.

LEMON: OK. Further there are no details on the timeline or verification process, these things may come up later, but now on the issue of timetable Trump said only that he would push for North Korea to denuclearization as fast as it can mechanically, but acknowledges it could take a long time. So basically, saying that there is no there-there, but you are saying, be optimistic, but it does not really say anything.

KRISTOF: Yes, I mean, there's no -- not only timetable but there is even a sense of what the timetable would be towards, because we know promise that, yes, at some point in the future we will have no nuclear weapons.

LEMON: So what was it? KRISTOF: It was great pageantry. President Trump would say that it

was a meeting of the minds and establishment of good will. But, you know, I think he watched too many -- too much television where these great men walk into the room and suddenly they resolve some long historical problem. That is basically not how these issues are resolved.

And in the meantime -- look, I mean, the problems with this agreement are an awful lot better than the problems we had six months ago where we were concerned about a war breaking out. So there has been progress in that sense. But the progress comes largely from concessions not made by Kim Jong-un, but by concessions made by President Trump. Who is essentially diffuse the crisis that he himself made.

LEMON: So, you had been on this game for long, so you know, usually when there's a summit like that and they're trying to do something like that, there's a stack of pages, right?


LEMON: This is --

KRISTOF: That is it. These bare bones and even within that one page.

LEMON: One single page.

KRISTOF: And there's no writ there, there is no real content there. And in the meantime we gave up a lot for --

LEMON: And spent a lot of money to have him go all the way over there and the news organizations spent money and we spent a lot of time. Let's listen -- I get it. Let us listen to the reaction. This is from the President. He made this admission.


TRUMP: I think honestly, I think Kim is going to do these things. I may be wrong. But I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong. I don't know I'll ever admit that, but I'll find some kind of excuse.


LEMON: That was one of the most honest admissions statements that I've ever heard him say.

KRISTOF: That is right. And essentially what is striking about it is it's a leap of faith. It reminds me of what Bush was talking about looking into Putin's eyes and you know, finding hope there, look, saying he trusts Kim Jong-un, he likes Kim Jong-un. And this is total triumph of hope over experience.

I don't know of any North Korea expert who really anticipates North Korea is going to surrender its nuclear weapons. And yet President Trump seems to believe that he emerged from Singapore, Trump, and you know, his narrative is that his sanctions force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. The North Korean narrative is that, North Korea is leadership used nuclear tests, missile tests, intimidated the United States of America, forced President Trump to go to Asia to meet their leader and then to surrender military exercises and they feel triumphant.

LEMON: Putting him on a level with the President of the United States, a dictator. But -- I juts -- I done want people to lose what you said, I think in that statement, very clear, you said, you don't think they will ever completely denuclearize.

KRISTOF: I don't believe so.

LEMON: Thank you, Nick. I appreciate it.

KRISTOF: Good to be with you.

LEMON: When we come back President Bill Clinton stepping in to in an all over again, saying the rules, on quote, what you can do to someone against their will, has changed. We are going to talk to a long time Clinton ally about that next.


LEMON: Former President Bill Clinton setting off a new controversy with this answer to a question about former Senator Al Franken who resigned following sexual harassment allegations.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: I think the norms have really changed in terms of what you can do to somebody against their will, how much you can crowd their space, make them look miserable at work, where you don't have to physically assault somebody to make them, you know, uncomfortable at work or at home or in their other -- just walking around. That I think is good.


LEMON: So let's bring in now Lanny Davis. He is a former White House special counsel for President Clinton who is the author of "The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency," and also with me CNN Political Commentators, Angela Rye and Alice Stewart. Good evening everyone.




LEMON: Rye, it has never been OK to do something to someone against their will and that is a fact that, what do you think Bill Clinton's -- what do you think of his comments? RYE: I think he was stumbling. Don, I think the reality of it is the

rules have changed and that is a good thing. I think it would have been great for Bill Clinton to be able to pull that sentence off distinctly and he just didn't nail it. And I think the challenge is given his history, people are looking for him to say the wrong thing here. And frankly, this is not the right thing. As a father of a daughter, as a grandfather of a granddaughter, he just has to do better and he has to, quickly. He does not have the luxury of Donald Trump to misspeak with great regularity. He has to be precise and right on point and he wasn't.

LEMON: OK. Here's what a spokesman for Bill Clinton said, Lanny, he said it was clear from the context, he is not suggesting there was ever a time that it was acceptable to do something against someone's will. He is saying that norms have changed in a variety of ways and how we interact with each another -- with one another and that is all for the good. So is this a word choice problem or is there more to it? What do you think of that statement?

DAVIS: Well, for sure it's a word choice problem. I agree with the former commenter. He was asked about Senator Franken. There was a process issue. He is very close with Senator Franken who immediately resigned. I do think he would never support anybody being forced to do something against their will. And I do agree that the words chosen weren't the best choices. But I think that -- that is exactly what he meant, he would never support somebody at any time in our history. Norms should never change about doing something against people's will.

LEMON: Did it sound like he was implying, though, that Senator Franken's accuser was doing something wrong? Did any of you --

DAVIS: If you're asking me, I think 27 women on "Saturday Night Live" attested on that particular program to Senator Franken being a good person and never showing those indications. Other women disagreed. I just think that President Clinton got caught up in the wrong context and misspoke.

LEMON: All right. Alice --

DAVIS: Earlier speaker said.

LEMON: All right. Alice, let me hear from you.

STEWART: Don, I think to Angela's point, I think Bill Clinton just didn't explain himself properly here. You don't have to look too far to hear that he just doesn't really understand. Sexual harassment cannot be conflated with crowding someone's personal space. And that's the way a lot of people heard what he said.

And the good thing, the way that norms have changed is that we have created things to the "Me Too" movement and an environment for women to be able to come out and not fear losing their jobs, not fear being persecuted, not fear being looked down upon because they are explaining, look, my boss or the president of the United States or a U.S. senator sexually harassed me. Fortunately, the norms now are creating an environment where women can come forward and do have the courage. Fortunately, they have other women that have blazed the trail and enabled them to come forward. And unfortunately what former President Clinton is doing is he is stepping in it once again. You know, just the other day, he said he doesn't owe Monica Lewinsky an apology. And he does.

DAVIS: He did not say that.

STEWART: He owes her a personal apology. He owes a lot of women personal apology.

DAVIS: Excuse me. Excuse me. I agree with what you said until you misspoke yourself. He said he publicly apologized to the American people, to Monica Lewinsky and her family --

LEMON: Lanny, let's listen to it and then I'll let you finish. Go on. Here it is.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I felt terrible then, and I came to grips with it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever apologize to her?

CLINTON: No, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you didn't apologize to her?

CLINTON: I have not talked to her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel you owe her an apology?

CLINTON: I've never talked to her. But I did say publicly on more than one occasion I was sorry.


LEMON: Go ahead, Lanny.

DAVIS: You clipped it. The next sentence was I said I was sorry to the American people -- and nothing funny here. Sorry.

RYE: I'm sorry.

DAVIS: He said -- the next sentence -- the next sentence right after that sentence was, I apologize to the American people, I apologize to Monica Lewinsky and her family publicly, and I apologize to my family. And as to whether he picked up the phone personally and called, I don't think that that would have been appropriate. But he did exactly say what I said.

LEMON: Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: Lanny, I appreciate -- STEWART: I've known you for a long time and, Lanny, I know you worked really, really hard to defend your friend Bill Clinton. But the fact of the matter is that he has not picked up the phone and he hasn't reached out to her personally.

He has not issued a personal apology to Monica Lewinsky. Saying it to the public and saying it out in open is one thing. But personally apologizing to someone who you did something like this to, it's important to issue that apology.

And I think he should do it. And I think it's important for all of America to understand that he took the internal fortitude to do make that apology. I'm sorry, Angela.

LEMON: No, it's OK. Before I get to the break, I will get to Angela. Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: Really quick, Lanny, I did laugh because Bill Clinton again was struggling. So he said, no, yes. Yes, no. I mean, so it's like you can piece together the narrative that you want. But the reality of it is he did not issue a direct apology to Monica Lewinsky. I do not think he should be dialing her seven or 10 digits. I don't think he should. I don't think that would be smart on his part.


RYE: But I do think -- hold on, Lanny, hold on.

DAVIS: Sure, sorry.

RYE: I do think it's very important to understand there's another issue here. It is the elephant in the room. Whoever is responsible for the PR surrounding Bill Clinton and Stephen King's book needs to get it together. 2These questions are going to come.

LEMON: James Patterson.

RYE: They don't care enough about the book. They want to know what happened.

DAVIS: Quick response. Thank you. And I'm sorry to interrupt you. I respect your opinion --

LEMON: Lanny, can you hold that to the other side of the break? Let me just get to the break here, and then I will come back.

DAVIS: I respect your opinion.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

RYE: Thank you, Lanny.



LEMON: Back now with our conversation with Angela, Alice, and Lanny. Lanny, you were saying?

DAVIS: I just wanted to say we all have our own views. Apologizing to 250 million people publicly and mentioning Monica by name and her family is appropriate for me. But also in Andrew Morton's book, "Monica's Story," authorized by Ms. Lewinsky, there is a quote from Nicole Seligman during Monica Lewinsky's deposition in which Nicole Seligman, President Clinton's personal lawyer, said on behalf of President Clinton, we wish to apologize to Monica Lewinsky.

Whether -- we differ in our opinion. Whether he should pick up a telephone in that circumstance or not is just a difference of opinion.

LEMON: Right.

DAVIS: I do want to say that he did his very best to apologize to everyone.

LEMON: Yeah.

DAVIS: And especially the pain that he suffered for his mistakes --


DAVIS: -- he will live with for the rest of his life.

LEMON: I got it, I got it, I got it.

DAVIS: You got it.

LEMON: Here is what is an honest truth. He should say that. He should be the one saying that, not you.

DAVIS: But he has said that.

LEMON: I know Nicole Seligman. I loved her. But there is a difference between Nicole Seligman saying something and Bill Clinton apologizing.

DAVIS: Don, it's just a difference of opinion. He said it to 250 million people. I apologize to Monica Lewinsky.

LEMON: OK. I want to move on. I get your point. But Bill Clinton should be saying those things.

DAVIS: He did say that.

LEMON: Instead of everyone around him saying that.

DAVIS: He said it publicly.

LEMON: He should have said it first.

[23:40:00] He didn't say that first.

DAVIS: He did. In the clip you played, he did say it.

LEMON: OK. So, the Trump administration ramping up its zero-tolerance policy for undocumented immigrants caught crossing American southern border, referring those who are caught for federal prosecution. Public defenders in Texas say the policy has resulted in hundreds of children being separated from their parents.

So Angela, this is McClatchy's report, the Trump administration is looking for possibly building tent cities at military posts in Texas. Unaccompanied migrant children being held in detention in HHS administration for Child and Family Services.

It says that, we are currently in the site assessment phase, so no decisions have been made on locations, let alone construction materials. What are your thoughts on this possible move, Angela?

RYE: I think it's atrocious. It's inhumane. The idea that we're talking about children being separated from their families and housed in tent cities in 2018 is beyond me. I don't care what race they are, how old they are. This is like insane at this point.

And I'm just trying to figure out at what point the American people as a collective are going to wake up and see that this is going to get progressively worse if we won't raise our voices and call out inhumane treatment when we see it. This is one of those moments for us to wake up, to speak up, and to show up on behalf of these kids.

LEMON: OK. Alice, you say that you applaud the administration for giving kids a safe place to stay while they are -- they are victims of their parents' actions. I mean, separating them from their family, I mean, do you think that's necessary?

STEWART: Look, clearly, Don, the thought of children being housed in tent cities is disturbing, but keep in mind this is a plan that is being considered because of the influx of these kids.

Look, this is the part of President Trump's campaign on being strong on the border. He campaigned on being strong on immigration. And this is a consequence of an administration that has a zero-tolerance policy with regard to illegal immigrants coming into this country.

And if you come into this country illegally, and if you have children, then this is the consequence of your action. It is awful, it is disturbing, it is heartbreaking --

LEMON: Shouldn't the administration know if they're proposing this as part of their plan, Alice, they're proposing this as part of their plan, shouldn't they know the conditions and exactly where they're going to be housed and how they're going to do it before announcing it, and having everyone say it is inhumane?

DAVIS: Can we also all agree that --

LEMON: This is for Alice. Go ahead, Alice.

DAVIS: I'm sorry.

STEWART: Look, this is one of many proposals they're looking at. Right now they're doing all they can to accommodate the children coming here through foster parents and through more stable conditions, more stable housing.

But right now that is something they're looking at long-term because these people continue to come here against the law. And this is one thing that the administration is doing to adhere to their policies that everyone knew was going to be part of this administration.

LEMON: All right. Lanny, your turn.

RYE: No. Everyone should stand up and fight then. This is crazy.

DAVIS: I have friends who voted for Donald Trump. I can assure you if the question on the ballot when they voted is whether they would support tent cities with children separated from their parents as a consequence of anything that stands for America, that word consequence is a pretty harsh word, but when we're talking about children, nobody voted for that.

LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Angela.

RYE: I just think that the idea that we're saying, a consequence. Who's suffering the consequence? They are kids who had no choice. Right? And so I think the moment that we begin to, again, take the barriers and blinders of bigotry off and realize that these are kids who had nothing to do with an election, nothing to do with their parents' decision, nobody deserves that treatment.

The thing that I continue to think about when I was reading this piece, Don, are kids who were separated from their families during slavery. How dare we go back to that time. No one deserves that kind of treatment. I don't care what --

LEMON: Angela, what about Alice's point? There are a lot of people in this country and people who voted for this president, they will tell you, the parents should know better. It's the parents' responsibilities. If the parents don't want their children in tent cities, then they shouldn't come across the border. What do you say to that?

RYE: Shame on them, because because some of them are evangelical Christians who have overwhelming continue to support Donald Trump, and I want to know what Bible they are reading.


RYE: Shame on you. Seriously, you are heartless human beings. I'm praying for you because you're sick.

LEMON: Thank you all. I appreciate the conversation. When we come back, the Supreme Court voting to uphold Ohio's push to purge its voter rolls. Why critics charge it's an effort to prevent minorities from voting. Michael Eric Dyson joins me next.


LEMON: Well, there was a major Supreme Court decision on voting rights yesterday that could have nationwide implications. It got less news coverage than it would have due to the Singapore summit. But we are talking about it tonight because it is so important. The court upholding Ohio's use it or lose it voter registration law.

I want to talk about this now with Michael Eric Dyson. He is a professor of sociology at Georgetown University who is also the author of "What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America." Good evening, Michael Eric Dyson. Good to see you.

So, Ohio's law, it works like this, if you don't vote within two years, the state sends a letter to check if you are still registered and your information is up-to-date. If the voter skips a few elections or doesn't respond to the notice within four years, they're kicked off the roster. What's the problem with this law?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Well, the problem is, Don, that it discourages people from exercising their right to vote when they see fit, when the burden of proof should be on a government to provide a slate of candidates who are compelling.

What about if you say, OK, for the last election that was kind of whack, this next election so, so. But the next one after it, yes, I want to vote. And only in America do we have this kind of insanity where we don't have universal registration saying that we don't have a special day, a holiday to celebrate so that everyone can vote so they won't have to take off from their work and other barriers and obstacles that are there.

[23:50:04] So this clearly is designed to be targeted toward especially African-American, Latino voters, and those who are disproportionately impacted by what is essentially a voter suppression support from Supreme Court. Shame on them for doing that and shame on them for not understanding that there is no proof.

Those who support these kinds of practices have not provided any empirical evidence to substantiate the claim that there is broad voter

misconduct going on. It is a mythology, it's out of air.

LEMON: So let's talk about the ruling then. Because, Michael, the ruling was 5-4.

DYSON: Right.

LEMON: The difference was -- it was made by having Justice Neil Gorsuch instead of Justice Merrick Garland. I mean, even after President Trump is out of office, what kind of impact is he making on judicial branch of government? That is a very important story that I think is not getting enough play as well.

DYSON: That's a great point, Don. A huge impact. Because long beyond the (INAUDIBLE) of this president and his out of box, you know, statesmen and his phantasmagorical projection and how narcissistic he is, beyond all that madness is the reality that he is shaping in a profound way the federal bench, but especially the Supreme Court of the United States of America. A youngish person who will have years and years and perhaps decades and decades ahead of him to shake fundamental policy decisions that are put forward by the Supreme Court that will sway it (INAUDIBLE) a conservative majority and that spells trouble and trauma for people of color and other minorities in this country who look to the Supreme Court to defend them, not to undermine and subvert them.

LEMON: So, Senator Robert Kennedy said this back in 1966. He said, we must create a society in which Negroes will be as free as other Americans, free to vote and to learn and to earn their way and to share in the decisions of government, which in turn shapes their lives.

You have this new book out. It is called "What Truth Sounds Like: RFK, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America." Are we moving closer or further away from Bobby Kennedy's vision?

DYSON: Another great point. We're moving further away. Bobby Kennedy was a tough politician. He was no milquetoast weak-kneed politician. He was tough. He looked into the eyes of possibility in American politics and said hey, we can do this. This is tough, but we can get over.

But he believed fundamentally in the politics of empathy. He evolved to a point where he saw, I must understand walking in the shoes of another person who's vulnerable.

And what he said in that statement that you read there is understanding the degree to which these policy decisions, these Supreme Court decisions, these court rulings must reflect our best angel, so to speak, and the attempt to make things equal for everybody.

And if the Supreme Court can't support the very people who are the constituents of this nation, then it does a horrible job. And Donald Trump is shaping the Supreme Court in exactly the opposite fashion that Bobby Kennedy spoke about.

Bobby Kennedy, by the way, before he was a United States senator was the attorney general of the United States. He was the chief law giver, so to speak, of this nation. And he understood the critical role that law must play. The linchpin of legal rulings to defend the most vulnerable. And we have moved so far away from that.

Jeff Sessions as the head of the Department of Justice, the president of the United States of America stocking the federal bench with conservative people, some of whom who aren't even competent as we've seen in some of their discussions before the Senate, but let's not be mistaken, this is a deliberate attempt to sway this court in a very conservative direction that really spells trouble for minorities in this country.

LEMON: I want to take you back again for a moment and talk about Dr. King and also Robert Kennedy. After the assassination of Dr. King, Robert Kennedy broke the news to some of his own supporters in Indianapolis. Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT KENNEDY, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: What we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but love and wisdom and compassion toward one another. Feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.


LEMON: I got to tell you, it doesn't sound much like America today. How do we move this closer to this unfinished conversation about race in America, so to speak?

DYSON: You're absolutely right. I mean, what a sharp contrast between Bobby Kennedy, looking at the great Greek classics and evoking a sense of grief and of the epic tides of suffering that those communities endured, and yet he's saying we can do something about it and we can move toward a world where black and white people equally share to now where we have bigotry unleashed, where we have the unvarnished prejudice against vulnerable people.

[23:55:02] So what we have to do, we, the people, out of many one, we have to come together, we have to foster connections, we have to forge alliances between ourselves to make certain that the government is ours. Look, we support the government, not an administration.

We can be bitterly opposed to one particular administration because it does not exhaust what American government is. Administrations come and go. The government remains. What we must do is reinvest our energy in making certain that A, we go get out and vote, B, that we encourage others to do the same, and C, that we understand that we still have the power.

This is not the worst moment in American history. Only when we have a narrow vision of who we are as an American people do we not understand that we have weathered slavery, we have weathered Jim Crow, we have weathered the retaliation against people of color and civil rights and women's issues and gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual issues.

We are an American nation of different others. If those different others come together, we have the collective power to will our way into a better America. And it can be done. We can't reduce our visions to where we are now. We've got to look beyond them.

LEMON: At the very time I thought I was lost, my dungeon shook and my chains fell off. Goodnight, brother. Thank you.

DYSON: God bless, my brother.

LEMON: Michael Eric Dyson. The book again is called "What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America."

That is it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I will see you right back here tomorrow. [24:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)