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Mueller And Trump Team Disagree On In-Person Follow-up Questions; Prosecutor's Detail Manafort's Lavish Spending. Aired 11- 12p ET
Aired August 1, 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 TONIGHT NEWS SHOW HOST: This is "CNN Tonight." I'm Don Lemon. A little l past is 11:00 here on the East Coast. Live with breaking news for you. New details on what the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller has proposed to the Trump legal team about the scope and format of an interview with the President and of team Trump's response. More on that in just a moment. So stay tuned.
And it comes just as the President's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort's trial wraps up its second day. Prosecutors painting a picture detailing not simply Manafort's extravagant spending, but how he allegedly paid for everything from homes to luxury cars. Overseas wire transfers with accounts based in Cyprus. A country about which the U.S. State department says this. The biggest vulnerability for money laundering in Cyprus is primarily for international criminal networks that use Cyprus as an intermediary.
The trial unfolding as the President questioned why Manafort was being prosecuted to begin with. While neglecting to mention that Paul Manafort managed his campaign for five critical months. I want to begin our conversation with former U.S. Attorney, Michael Moore, former U.S. Assistant attorney, Glenn Kirschner and also CNN legal analyst, Jennifer Rogers, also an assistant U.S. Attorney.
So we have lots of attorneys here to take us through this legal case. Thank you all for joining us. Good evening. Michael, you're first. Negotiations for the possible Trump/Robert Mueller interview moving ahead. Here's what "The New York Times" is reporting that the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani sent his latest proposal last night and he write this, they say "investigators stood firm on the scope of and topics for their questions to Mr. Trump, possible coordination between his associates and Russia's election interference and whether he tried to obstruct the investigation."
Adding this, "they did shift slightly on format agreeing to accept some written answers including matters in which they want to preserve the ability to have Mr. Trump answer follow-ups in person." Do you think that is going to be enough to get the President to sit down for an interview?
MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR GEORGIA: I think he is playing a public relations game now. He tells the public that he wants to sit down, he wants to talk. He is said that for some period of time, but his lawyers clearly don't want him to. What's interesting is basically they're asking that he get a take-home test so he can practice his answers and give something in writing. And I think it's the followed up questions that concern him the most. Possibly the obstruction questions.
And so it's odd to have this negotiation back and forth. You know, I'd be interested to see if Rudy Giuliani, I'd love to know if he ever gave a grand jury witness the opportunity to negotiate what he would say when he would say it, whether or not he was going to do it in written format for telling them. My guess was when he was prosecuting all the mob bosses up in New York, that wasn't the case.
And so this is a little bit of an odd thing. I recognize he is the President of the United States. The fear is Trump just cannot make it through an interview and tell the complete truth without feeling the need to go off. And I think he can't stick to the story. I think that is what scares his lawyers to death.
LEMON: I think Giuliani would have some sort of answer that we'd all be sitting here going, wait, what did that mean? Since you mentioned him, here's what Giuliani said about the negotiations. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GUILIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: He is always been interested in testifying. It's us, meaning the team of lawyer the, including me, that have the most reservations about that. We're still -- I'm not going to give you a lot of hope it's going to happen, but we're still negotiating. We haven't stopped negotiating with them. The most recent letter they sent us a proposal. We responded to their proposal. They took about ten days. Yesterday we got a letter back from them. Now we're in the process of responding to their proposal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Ok, but on Monday, Glen, Giuliani said he hadn't heard from Mueller in 10 days and they were acting in bad faith. So, what's going on here?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, D.C.: First of all, Don, I think it's difficult to credit anything Mr. Giuliani says unless we have corroboration for it.
[23:05:05] But I have to tell you, I think it extraordinarily unlikely the President will ever sit down for an interview with Bob Mueller's investigators. Look, Bob Mueller has conducted what we can be sure is a very far-reaching, broad investigation, and he knows the answers to the questions that he is going to ask. He knows that if the President sits down and answers truthfully, Bob will know, if he answers untruthfully, Mr. Mueller will know.
And I really have to believe that Mr. Trump's lawyers are not going to expose him to a five-year offense under 18 USC-1001 for each lie the President tells. I mean, we see the President contradict himself frequently in tweets. In public appearances. And I really think that if there's one smart tactical decision that Mr. Giuliani and his team will make, it is to not let their client sit down with Bob Mueller.
LEMON: All right. Thank you for that. Jennifer, the "Times" is also reporting the President's lawyers are unwilling to agree to follow-ups in person. They cite concerns that Trump will increases his legal exposure. Team Trump is apparently pushing to continue negotiating. What does that tell you?
JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it just tells me they want to keep this narrative alive that he is willing to speak to the special counsel. You know, I really don't believe it. I don't think he want to sit down with the special counsel. I think his lawyers have impressed upon him the risks of doing that. But I think they want to keep it out there in the public eye, we're not afraid, we have nothing to hide, we're willing to sit down. And then going on about this back and forth and this negotiation allows them to continue to claim that is true.
LEMON: So, Michael, sources are telling our Gloria Borger that Mueller's team is willing to reduce the number of questions they'd ask about potential obstruction by nearly half? Is that -- what do you think of that, is that smart?
MOORE: Well, I think, you know, Glenn makes a good point and a good lawyer when you go in and you're talking to somebody of who is either of interest to you in an investigation, you know the answers. I mean, you're just basically pushing them to see what response you get. Whether you ask him 10 questions about it or five questions about it, they already got witnesses on record, they already got testimony on record for other people. They're just going to see if he tells -- when he says of his side of the story.
MOORE: And I think the narrative is, he wants to act like he want to come talk. He is been saying that so he keep kind of gins up his base about it.
LEMON: You think its public relations.
MOORE: I think it is all P.R. He cannot tell the truth in a two-word tweet.
LEMON: Let me put this out also, "The New York Times" is also reporting that the President's lawyers have told him he has no personal legal exposure and that the only threat to him would be impeachment proceedings if the Democrats win control of the House in November. You think it is more -- he is probably more worried about impeachment, I don't know, than the law?
MOORE: Yes, I mean, he may be thinking about impeachment. I mean, the question is whether or not you can indict a sitting President. There's a lot of legal debate on that. But, I mean, any time a lawyer tells you you've got no legal jeopardy, especially in a case like this, I might look for another lawyer at least for second opinion.
LEMON: Glenn, let's talk about the trial of Trump's ex-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. A parade of witnesses detailed Manafort's extravagant spending today. Including home improvements costing $1.13 million in 2013. Men's clothing costing over $400,000 from one boutique that same year. And the manager testified that Manafort was the only client to pay by international wire transfer and buying a Mercedes-Benzes for $123,000. Partly in cash. Wired from Cyprus.
I just want to -- listen, it's not illegal to spend your money frivolously. A lot of people do and a lot of people lose it. But how is that important here, are they trying to show a pattern that he is using money, that he somehow, you know, had illegally from somewhere else, to do business? What's going on?
KIRSCHNER: Don, I agree that the way you spend your money doesn't prove that the way you acquired your money was illegal, but you know what, we do have to prove, excuse me, not we, the government, has to prove that he had this money and that he spent this money and one of the ways to show that is to show the jury what he spent it on. Now, is there some emotional appeal to the prosecution's case by letting the jurors know that he is got seven homes, he is got waterfall ponds, he is got putting greens installed in his homes, he is got ostrich jackets, for goodness sake.
That definitely can help win the hearts and minds of the jurors, because when they are presented with a case, where they see, you know, opulence meets arrogance, they tend to sit up and take note. I mean, I can tell you a very quick story, Don, where I had a case like this where we executed a search warrant out on one of our co co- conspirator's homes in a big Rico case. We went in to his walk in closet, there were custom made suits as far as the eye can see. Now that was not the impressive part.
[23:10:05] As the FBI agents were taking those suits as evidence, they opened up the jackets, and in each breast pocket of each suit, $10,000 grand cash here. $10,000 grand cash here. And no matter what suit that conspirator put on for the night, he was ready for a $20,000 night on the town. That kind of evidence really grabs a jury.
LEMON: Wow. Interesting. I wish I had magic suits like that in my closet, where the money just magically appears I'm saying. But Jennifer, Judge Ellis blocked prosecutors from showing the jury pictures that document Manafort's opulent lifestyle saying that it is not relevant. The photos that were later entered into evidence for the jury to show, and released to the public. What is the evidence, other than someone, you know, is questionable about their fashion sense or how -- that they spend their money frivolously.
RODGERS: Yes, I think Judge Ellis is trying to do two things, one just to move the trial along. He is very interested in getting this finished as quickly as possible, so, you know, the more things you show to the jury the longer it takes. But I think also, he is trying to avoid prejudicing the defendant. You know, if there's a conviction here, there will be an appeal. And the Judge will have wanted to be careful about overdoing, about allowing the prosecutors to guild the lily by, you know, not only putting all of this into evidence, but showing the jury every single picture and really emphasizing that the way he spent his money was frivolous and showed greed. So, I think the judge is being careful. You know we have to keep an eye on this, but that is part of what they are trying to do.
LEMON: Greed. You said a good word. Trying to show greed. Ding, ding, ding, ding. I just got it. Thank you. Thank yup. Great answer there, Jennifer. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate it.
When we come back, President Trump's strategy is to discredit anyone and anything associated with the Mueller investigation, but is that a strategy that is damaging to the country?
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump increasingly under pressure over the Mueller investigation with the midterms looming, and Rudy Giuliani, the President's defender in chief, says this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUILIANI: I say this in my role, not as a lawyer, but as a concerned citizen and Republican, but this election is going to be about impeachment or no impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: CNN's senior legal analyst is David Gergen, he is here. Also CNN political commentators -- oh, political analyst. Joan Walsh and Alice Stewart are here as well. Thank you so much for joining us, everyone.
JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hi, Don.
LEMON: David, I want to start with you.
DAVID GERGEN, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYT: Sure.
LEMON: Rudy Giuliani says the upcoming midterms are going to be -- or the upcoming elections probably going to be on impeachment or not impeachment. Do you agree with that?
GERGEN: I think they're fundamentally going to be a referendum on Donald Trump as President more than about impeachment, per se. For example, I can imagine a great number of people, especially Democrats, voting for -- to take the House back, but saying, let's go slow on this impeachment business. You know, maybe the voters ought to decide that.
There's a big group of people in the Democratic Party who feel that the Party would be a lot healthier if it let voters ultimately decide in 2020 whether they want Donald Trump in or out.
LEMON: I've heard supporters and conservative broadcasters say, oh, they think it's just the tactic by Democrats who say, oh, we don't want to look at impeachment now, because, but then once, if they do take over the House, they're going to want to impeach him. I would think that lawmakers would take that seriously, because it is very dangerous, I think, to try to remove a sitting President from office, right? WALSH: Sure. It's very difficult.
LEMON: And it's very difficult. The better precedent to be set is to vote him out, where people -- where the people decide on the presidency rather than impeachment.
WALSH: Impeachment is there for a reason, Don. So, I don't think I can go there. I mean, I don't know, I'm not ready to say he should be impeached. But I don't think the Democrats should take it off the table, because then they're not doing their jobs.
I mean, I'm very interested, if they take the House back, we see Jerry Nadler as the chair of judiciary, we see Adam Schiff as the chair of House Intelligence. They get subpoena power. They learn more. I'm not predicting they're going to do it, but it's got to be a possibility. That is why it's there.
LEMON: And Alice is here as well. We won't forget about you, Alice. Don't worry about it.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Don --
GERGEN: It's a possibility. But listen, if you don't have 67 votes in the Senate, it's a futile exercise and the country -- you're going after him for the sake of making headlines or do really have something to say? You know, it may be better to wait.
LEMON: Alice, I know you want to weigh in. But also the question about Giuliani. Go on.
STEWART: I think, it's a mistake to think those election would be about impeachment. It's actually about employment.
LEMON: My question was, you think it's ultimately a political question, no?
STEWART: I don't see -- I see voters are looking more at employment and jobs than the economy. And I think Republicans, and Democrats, at this stage of the game, to even be discussing impeachment with regard to how we're going to approach the midterm is a huge mistake. We should all sit back, we should let Mueller do the investigation and let the chips fall where they may. I think Democrats are doing a tremendous disservice if they use that as talking point leading into the midterms and that is not really what people are concern with.
WALSH: Alice, they're not.
STEWART: That is what I'm saying, if that is where they go.
WALSH: But I think the point today is, Rudy Giuliani used it as a talking point. That is what's interesting. Because he thinks it gets out Trump's base. He says they're going to take this President away, they are going to treat him badly, they're going to get rid of him and he thinks that mobilizes his base. But it could also -- it could just be to mobilize a Democratic base. Because there is a strong anti- Trump vote. I'll call it that. I won't call it pro-impeachment. I'll go with David.
GERGEN: There's a difference.
WALSH: There's a strong anti-Trump vote. When Giuliani does that, he is the one playing politics with it, actually.
LEMON: Alice said, you know, we should all I'm paraphrasing here, we should let the Mueller investigation play out and not it's the wrong strategy to bring it in now, but then the President tweets, it's time for, you know, the Attorney General to end the investigation.
[23:20:07] GERGEN: Exactly. You know, this notion that they're trying to have it both ways. I think most people are, you know, see through that. I think that there's a degree to which overall the Trump administration, to use a George W. Bush as a miss underestimates the intelligence of the American people. They're playing us as fools. People see through that.
STEWART: Don, I think to reiterate, I want to make it clear, I think it'd be wrong for Democrats and Republicans, I'm including the Trump administration as well, to use this as a wedge issue leading into this election, it should be -- it certainly should be off the table, and I think to quote Trey Gowdy, if you're innocent, act like it. And I think a lot of what we saw today with the tweets and what Giuliani has said, these are not, in my view, the actions of someone who, you know, truly have a clear conscience in this regard. And I think we're better served as they have said, if they're truly cooperating with this investigation, it's important to do it in word and in deed.
LEMON: I think you were clear about both sides should use it and I'm glad you said that. I was going to ask you what you'd say to the President and I think you would say exactly what you just said there on air to the President if he was sitting here.
STEWART: Yes, I think what we're seeing today in that tweet, in my view, I think the President is a little up in arms over a face to face with Mueller, and things are getting closer and the investigation is narrowing in, and it's causing a concern, but at the end of the day, the real issue here is Russian interference in our election. We don't know if there was any influence, the vote, we don't know if there was any collusion, but that is what we need to do as Americans and as an administration, let's find out about Russian interference in our election.
LEMON: Well, Joan, you look at the President, his fiery tweets over the last 48 hours, he is clearly feeling the pressure from the Mueller investigation --
LEMON: -- from Manafort. From Cohen.
WALSH: I mean, Manafort, Cohen, Rudy Giuliani put on the table a new piece of information that there might have been a planning meeting for the June 9th meeting that Rick Gates was at. They now know more -- they appear to know more about what Mueller has from Rick Gates and that is scaring them.
So, you know, people all day were guessing, you know, is it that he got the news about Mueller? He wants to ask about obstruction of justice, is it Cohen? Is it -- Cohen's gone into the background, I can't believe it. But Cohen is sort of the least of our conversation right now.
LEMON: It will come back around.
WALSH: It will definitely come back around, you know, or is it something that Rick Gates has said? And so, and watching the Manafort trial. I mean, all of this is closing in on him. And those are the tweets of a crazy person. Those are very, very deranged tweets.
GERGEN: Don, I've been sitting here most the time looking at Don's threads and wondering how is it possible to spend $1 million on clothing over five years?
WALSH: I know, Don dresses so well. I don't think he is spending that much money. There's no ostrich. There's not a stitch of ostrich on him.
LEMON: I don't have pockets that have $10,000.
WALSH: I love that.
STEWART: I want a magic coat, too, Don.
LEMON: Right, don't we all? But we want to do -- we want it legal.
WALSH: Yes, we do, Alice, right.
STEWART: Not be greedy.
LEMON: Yes. We have a lot to talk about, and we'll do that when we come back. Don't go anywhere.
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So as President Trump hits the campaign trail ahead of the midterms, he could be facing more pressure than ever in the coming months. Back with me now, David Gergen, Joan Walsh, and Alice Stewart. So let me explain that. OK, so, imagine this. This is what the reporting is.
CNN is reporting that President Trump is nervous that Democrats are going to take the House in the upcoming midterms. So he is going to step out, step up the number of rallies that he is participating in, that he is doing, but I want you to take a look at this, all of these major events. I want to get them. Can you imagine, this all coming right before, right during the midterms, right?
So if you have a Manafort trial, right? Because this is the first one. There's another one this summer. The Mueller investigation. Possible government shutdown. You have confirmation hearings going on for Supreme Court justice pick. So, can you imagine, and then so, right in the midterms, can you imagine what voters are going to be facing?
GERGEN: Can you imagine what we're going to be facing on the news?
LEMON: Can you imagine what voters are going to be facing as they go to vote?
WALSH: They're going to have a very clear choice. It's going to be very clear. There's going to be chaos in the administration.
LEMON: You don't think that will be exhausting and so overwhelming that they'll be flooded with so much information that they really won't be certain?
WALSH: I don't think so. I mean, you know, I covered the Virginia race in 2017, and things have been crazy for a while. We're the frogs in the boiling water. We don't quite realize it. I don't think so, I think it's motivating to people on both sides, but I think more so for Democrats.
GERGEN: I think it's time for everybody to get a rest in August.
GERGEN: because you have to buckle your seat belts for the fall. We're going to have one hell of a fall. There has been a lot of going on. But I do think that most voters right now, have a pretty clear view in their own mind about whether they approve or disapprove of Donald Trump.
You know, he has a base that has been very strong. It's almost like a cult, but he also has a ton of people out there who hate him and think he is the worst thing that ever happened. And, you know, I think a lot of things are going to come up this fall that may jolt you one way or another, but I actually think we're pretty well settled in what camp most people find themselves in. I don't think they're going to change camps.
LEMON: Even with the outcomes of all of these things happening --
GERGEN: What could really jolt it possibly is, if Mueller comes up with a smoking gun, if there's something there as there was with Nixon when you have a tape, which convinced everybody he has to go. On both sides of the aisle, but so far, there's -- we see no evidence that that is what's coming.
LEMON: Alice Stewart, this is what the -- President Trump said today about possibly forcing a government shutdown. Watch this please.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here you are are suggesting that you'd be willing to maybe -- you'd be talk about -- shutting down the government if that's what it took to get this wall built.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (voice over): It's like pulling teeth, though, getting these guys to -- to get it done is -- and you have to idea how tough I've been. And I say, hey, if you have a shutdown, you have a shutdown, but whether it's before or after. But I actually think it's a great campaign issue. I think it would be great before.
LEMON: Wait, wait, Alice, hold on. I wish you guys could have seen David's expression. David, why are you so exasperated by this?
GERGEN: I don't understand why the question will he shut down the government or not is a good campaign issue or bad campaign issue. He's president of the United States. He ought to govern on the merits. That's what we elect him for.
We don't send him in there to take a joyride about his politics. And whether he's up or down, everything like it, to see everything through that prism I think demeans the presidency and makes him less effective as a president.
LEMON: Alice, do you agree? Do k you think it's a good idea or bad idea?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a terrible idea. I think clearly if he wants to throw red meat at his base, sure, go out there and talk about building the wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. That didn't happen. But clearly that is an issue of reinforcing his immigration policies. That's going to help generate support amongst his base which is great.
If you notice when he talked about this the other day, he was emphatic with he's OK and open with the government shutdown, but then when it was followed up with a question, he said, well, listen, I'm open for negotiation, that's not a red line.
I think this is a way of him once again putting that issue back on the table, and he has walked that back a little bit. He's saying, look, you know, we can wait and push this back not in September but maybe consider this --
JOAN WALSH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
STEWART: -- possibly in December. So this is -- this is clearly him flexing his muscle on this issue. I don't see that happening before the midterm. He understands the consequences of that and Republicans aren't going to let that happen.
LEMON: And also he's on Rush Limbaugh, right?
LEMON: He knows the audience there.
WALSH: Right. Rush wants --
LEMON: You know, we did a segment the other night, I said the midterms are clearly all -- it's all about him.
WALSH: Well, he's making it that way. He thinks that's good for him but that's really about his ego and what feels good. He's not going to shut down the government. He's going to totally cave to McConnell and Ryan. He's just talking tough (ph). And, you know, he's talking to his friend, Rush Limbaugh. It was frightening to listen to. But I don't think he has the courage to do it. I don't think --
STEWART: Don, you also have to consider the fact that he's got the House and the Senate in his control right now. And if he wants money for that wall, now is the time to do it. I'll admit, there is a slight possibility we could lose the House and if that's the case, he is never going to get his money for that wall. So now's a good time to push that issue --
LEMON: The Democrats would say you didn't get the wall and maybe some of his supporters will say you promised us the wall and you didn't get it. So --
WALSH: Also you promised Mexico would pay. Let's never forget that as he's demanding to shut down our government over something Mexico is supposed to pay for.
LEMON: President Obama came out with a list of over 80 candidates he's supporting for the midterms. Surprisingly, Obama did not endorse Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. What do you think was behind that, David?
GERGEN: I was surprised.
LEMON: You were?
GERGEN: I was surprised because --
LEMON: You think it's this whole socialist --
GERGEN: Yeah, the backlash -- it does suggest that President Obama is going to be much more in favor of someone who is a center left candidate than a left-left candidate. I think he's going to be -- I mean, this is a clear move toward more toward the left center when he didn't embrace this young woman.
But, you know, the fact is she does represent a voice in the party that is very, very important. And I would think, Joan, that she -- the only way Democrats are going to win is have -- win in 2020 is to have two wings.
GERGEN: A modern wing and liberal wing.
WALSH: In her district, she's a woman. I don't make a big deal about it. He didn't actually endorse Dianne Feinstein. So, you know, what I see on that list is a lot of people who need his boost. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is going to win. Dianne Feinstein --
LEMON: I just want to read this before we run out of time. This is a tweet by the former president. It appears that he's jabbing, taking a jab at Trump.
He said, "I'm confident that, together, they'll strengthen this country we love by restoring opportunity, repairing our alliances and standing in the world, and upholding our fundamental commitment to justice, fairness, responsibility, and the rule of law. But first, they need our votes."
STEWART: Well, let's hope he's a little more successful in his endorsement this time. You have to remember, during his administration, Democrats lost 1,000 seats. So let's hope his support for these candidates is a lot more helpful. I think as he said, this is the first wave of his endorsement.
STEWART: I think that some of these, especially Cortez, may possibly get in the second wave. She's made a few missteps.
[23:35:00] There's a huge learning curve with regard to foreign policy. I think if she shows that she's doing her homework, she may get on the second list.
LEMON: Yeah. You think she's a clear winner, you think?
WALSH: Absolutely. I have no doubt.
GERGEN: She's a winner. But is that wing -- is the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party a winner?
LEMON: That's a question we'll have to ponder. Thank you, all.
WALSH: My mouth is open.
LEMON: Alice, thanks. Joan, thanks. David, I appreciate it. When we come back, a surprising prediction from this African-American pastor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is probably going to be the -- I'm going to say this at this table, the most pro-black president that we've had in our lifetime. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Oh, as we say, down in Louisiana, there's Mo.
[23:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump meeting at the White House today with a group of inner city pastors. Pastor Darrell Scott, a vocal Trump supporter, saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARRELL SCOTT, PASTOR, CEO, NATIONAL DIVERSITY COALITION FOR TRUMP: This is probably going to be the -- and I'm going to say this at this table -- the most pro-black president that we've had in our lifetime because -- and I try to, you know, analyze the people that I encounter.
This president actually wants to prove something to our community, our faith-based community and our ethnic community. The last president didn't feel like he had to. He felt like he didn't have to prove it. He got a pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Here to discuss, CNN political commentator Symone Sanders, also Quentin James, founder and executive director of Collective PAC, and Joseph Pinion, a Republican strategist and community activist. OK, good evening, guys.
JOSEPH PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Good to be here.
LEMON: Good to have you, Symone.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good evening.
LEMON: Symone, safe to say you don't agree with Pastor Scott.
SANDERS: Oh, my goodness. First of all, you know, I know folks from Ohio, which I do believe Pastor Scott (INAUDIBLE), and they don't know him. So I'm just wondering what Pastor Scott is, in fact, a pastor of. But nevertheless, Don, I just -- I think that flawed just does not accurately describe Pastor Scott's comments, but flawed is what they were.
LEMON: And that's --
SANDERS: And incorrect.
LEMON: And you'll leave it at that.
SANDERS: I'll leave it there.
LEMON: So, Joseph, what do you make of his criticism of a former president, Barack Obama, saying that he didn't feel that he had to work for the black community? PINION: Look, I think that that's a kind of colloquialism that is kind of the go-to, how people assume it, again, in some cases, rightfully so, that Democrats don't necessarily have to work for the votes of African-Americans. Having said that, you know, I think that, you know, perhaps in many ways, more so than the actual message of the administration, the messengers that surround the administration.
I say these are not people that are actually supporters of President Trump, but more almost like trumportunists, people who are not really actually in line with the Trump administration but willing to kind of ride this Trump thing out and see where it takes them and their bank accounts. And so I think ultimately, I remember that old Malcolm X phrase, sincerity is my credential.
The reality is that you have to have a will to have actually have an impact in communities of colors and actually the trust to actually impact those communities. And you're not going to have that trust when you have individuals who are more content to see what's in it for them than to actually have credibility with the communities they claim to want to serve.
LEMON: Yeah. Listen, there's also, I mean, I think, one, what did you say, flawed, Symone, is that what you said?
SANDERS: Flawed. That's my word of the night, Don.
LEMON: I think that the one thing that is missing from that is that the former president faced headwinds that this president and other presidents didn't face because as the first black president, he would get criticized when he did things specifically or targeted the black community and they'd say he's not the president of black America, he's the president of all Americans.
Then they said, well, he, you know, they criticized him for tackling race issues. They called him a race baiter. So, some different issues there. This president, you know, doesn't have to deal with some of that.
So, Quentin, I want to talk about this new investigation. This is by the Center for Public Integrity. They find that on a list of top political donors, this is since 2009, there's only one black person. Why do you think there is? Why are there no Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson? No black Koch brother or Sheldon Adelson?
QUENTIN JAMES, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COLLECTIVE PAC: Don, wealth works differently in our community. A lot of black high net worth donors are focused on education, focused on family. I think --we just saw yesterday Lebron James opening an amazing school here in Akron, Ohio.
But I think the challenge that we have to speak up about is this reality that, look, we need people of high net worth, African- Americans, to understand power in this country. You know, really amazing that, again, we have this amazing new school in Akron, but, you know, the Akron Public School System has an annual budget of $300 million. And so the opportunity to impact public policy through contributing, politically contributing the candidates to organizations like ours and others, can have a much bigger impact. And so I think for so long, many people haven't seen politics as a way to build wealth in our community. And unfortunately, people like the Koch brothers and others see government as an opportunity to build more wealth for themselves.
JAMES: That really isn't what government is for, but it's really the tradition that many of us folks who are, you know, so vested in politics have really benefited from.
LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned Lebron because I spent some time there this week. I have to commend him, put up the video of him and his school. But, listen, there it is. I look like --
LEMON: By the way, I am six feet tall, I look like I'm 5'2" there standing next to him. So, he's just really tall.
[23:44:59] But, listen, there are, Symone, he's doing a great thing. I'm wondering if this is a lesson for, you know, wealthy African- Americans or wealthy people of color, that they should do similar things.
But there's no shortage of black celebrities willing to give them an endorsement or appear at rallies for them like Jay-Z, Beyonce, Oprah. And they donate to political causes as well, but not to the extent that the larger culture does. How much does that really help, though?
SANDERS: Well, so I think that the contributions of folks like Lebron James, Oprah, Beyonce, Jay-Z, folks on down the line that we
haven't even mentioned that they've made are, in fact, significant contributions. I do think that's something to Quentin's point about folks seen engaging politically as a way to build wealth.
What the Koch brothers, for example, have done, they've built large entities around in the political sphere focused on, frankly, moving legislators, whether they be state-elected officials, governors, on up to members of Congress to, in fact, do their bidding and advocate for things that benefit their bottom lines and other areas.
And in the African-American community, I would even say maybe in some of the Latin communities, if you will, other communities of color, we have not necessarily gotten to that place for a number of reasons that Quentin mentioned. The black wealth gap and the white wealth gap are extremely large, folks with the same exact educational attainment, jobs, so on and so forth.
And so I think that there is still work to be done to close the wealth gap in communities but also there has to be some education around, you know, what engaging politically can mean for our communities as a whole. Some people don't feel as thought getting engaged in the political arena, having their name on a disclosure is in fact their way to get in the game. I am here to tell them, get in the game, you all, we need you.
LEMON: There's example after example of people who are putting their money where their mouths are on both sides of the aisle and they're getting -- they get things from the president, from the administration, from lawmakers, when they do donate them large sums of money.
So I want you to ponder this question. Can you imagine -- a black president of the United States, a black speaker of the house? Could happen. We'll talk about it.
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LEMON: So, blue wave in the midterms could give Democrats the chance to take back the house. Nancy Pelosi says that she will run for speaker again, but some in her party, well, they want some change. And Politico speculates that could pave the way for the first black speaker.
Back with me now, Symone Sanders, Quentin James, and Joseph Pinion. A lot to discuss, guys. So let's go to this quickly. This is what Politico said about possible black representatives who could replace Pelosi.
Here they are. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, currently number three House democrat, Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, Elijah Cummings from Maryland, and Marcia Fudge of Ohio. How realistic do you think this is, and who would be your pick, Symone?
SANDERS: So, I am fans of all the folks equally, so I am not in the position to comment on that, Don, but what I will say is, I think it's extremely realistic. There has been some decent in the caucus around leader Pelosi now.
What I have always said is look, one could argue that's the case for new leadership in the democratic caucus, but someone needs to demonstrate that they can raise the type of money that Nancy Pelosi has been able to raise and keep the caucus together the way she has. If someone comes along to do that, I think there could be an appetite for perhaps a challenge.
LEMON: So, Quentin, I said before the break, we had a black president, yet to have a black speaker. You think it can be done?
JAMES: Not only, you know, can it be done, I think it probably will be done. So, this year in the midterms, talking about the possibility of moving the black caucus from 48 members to 52, 54 even, depending on how the elections go.
And so there's no way to get to 218 votes in the caucus without the CBC. And so, I think they're in a great position to determine if the leader will be one of their own members or who the leader will be for the entire caucus. So, I'm really excited about the chance to see the first black speaker of the House.
LEMON: So Joseph, you know, this president attacks black people in power all the time. Kneeling NFL players, congressional members like John Lewis and Maxine Waters. How do you think he'd react to a black speaker of the House?
PINION: I think that the reality of this administration is that we have demonstrated instances where the president has lashed out at individuals. I think that's just in his nature. I don't think he's going to lash out anymore at a black speaker of the House than he would at Nancy Pelosi.
But I will say that I think part of this issue is kind of wound up in the fact of how recent history is when it comes to the realities of black and brown people in America. So even the last topic, we were talking about, you know, why don't black people donate more is because we haven't been rich that long. The reality is that Oprah was not -- she has only been wealthy for about 10 years, only been rich for 20 years.
LEMON: With all due respect, people call it new money, right?
PINION: Yeah. It's not generational.
LEMON: It's not generational.
PINION: It's not generational wealth. When you start talking about why, number one, there are people of color who want to see something like this, it's because of the fact that the scars are so recent.
And so I think part of the messaging issue that we've had with this administration is dealing with the fact that people need to understand that what happened didn't happen too long ago. I think that's something we can focus on moving forward and seeing how we can have something that makes sense moving forward.
LEMON: Symone, remember Roy Moore, defeated in Alabama? Remember that? It was because, in large part, because of black community --
SANDERS: Black women.
LEMON: -- black women in particular showed up. Should their influence be recognized in Congress?
SANDERS: Absolutely. But I think the problem, Don, has been that black women have continually had to make their case to not just the Democratic Party, but I think everyone, about why we are so important. The influence that we have and how vital we are, not only to the conversation, but the movement.
[23:55:01] Luckily, within, you know, recent times, if you will, unfortunately, people have just now started to wake up to the influence and the importance of black women.
SANDERS: So I hope that we codify that recognition in the leadership throughout the democratic caucus.
LEMON: Quentin, I'm up against the clock here, but Nancy Pelosi says, I am not going anywhere. Do you see an ugly battle shaping up?
JAMES: I don't think it will be ugly. I think when you call the kind of leading black woman in Congress un-American, you kind of, you know, put your foot in your mouth a little bit. And so, again, I'm excited about the chances to see the first black speaker of the House and I think we're going to see it after November.
LEMON: All right. Thank you all. Have a good evening. Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.
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