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CNN TONIGHT

Trump's Legal Team Disagrees to be Interviewed by Mueller; Devin Nunes Caught on Tape Saying that They, the Republicans, Must Protect President Trump Against Mueller No Matter What It Takes; Laura Ingraham Accused of Peddling White Nationalism on TV; NFL Players' Protests. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 9, 2018 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: To turn a phrase back on our - us versus them friends, if you don't like what America is, you leave. America does not need to become great again. She will only become greater by being more of what she already is.

Thank you for watching the show and getting after it with me again on my birthday.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon starts right now.

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Enlisting the truth. That's what I'm going to do at the very top of this show. So I want the audience to bear with me. But what you were talking about, that term, chain migration it's used as a negative, you know, making people think you can just bring everybody in. It's called family reunification is what it is.

And I just think the hypocrisy of the president and the administration to speak so horribly about family reunification when the first lady did the same thing. It's really unbelievable.

CUOMO: Two of his wives.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Two of the three came into this country this way, visas that he now wants to limit. People he says are unworthy. His own in-laws. The people where he grew up. We grew up in the same place, Don. It's all immigrants.

LEMON: Yes. Unbelievable. Enlisting the truth. Enlisting the truth. Thank you, my friend. We're going to do that right now. Happy birthday.

CUOMO: Thanks, bud.

LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

And he is at it again. For a man who claims he wants the Russia investigation to go away, well, this president can't seem to stop talking about it. Today, from his working vacation in New Jersey, he tweeted an angry

message with an ominous final statement. I don't usually like to do too much with these tweets but this one is notable for the sheer number of lies packed into it. Ok. So, bear with me. I'm going to take my time here.

Take a look at this. "This is an illegally brought rigged witch-hunt run by people who are totally corrupt and/or conflicted. It was started and paid for by crooked Hillary and the Democrats. Phony dossier. FISA disgrace. And so many lying and dishonest people already fired. Seventeen angry Dems. Stay tuned."

The tweets riddled with lies, inaccuracies, distortions and smears. So we're going to correct the record right here. This is enlisting the truth.

So, and it gets exhausting, by the way. Number one, Robert Mueller's Russia investigation is not a rigged witch-hunt. It has resulted in 191 charges, five guilty pleas, and a trial that is going on as we speak involving the former head of the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort.

And number two, it is certainly not illegal. Here's deputy attorney generals -- Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's charging order from May of 2017 appointing Mueller as special counsel.

And here's what it says. Paragraph b. It states, "He's authorized to conduct the investigation originally begun by former FBI director James Comey. Sub headings one, two, and three authorize him to look into any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign including any matters that arise from the investigation."

And then paragraph c is a key line. "If the special counsel believes it's appropriate, he's authorized to prosecute any federal crimes that arise from the investigation." Not illegal.

Number three, the president also wrongly claims the investigation is run by corrupted or conflicted people. Mueller, Rosenstein, and FBI director Christopher Wray are three of the straightest arrows in Washington. And all are Republicans. They're the ones who are running the investigation.

FBI agent Peter Strzok, a frequent target of the president due to his biased text messages, was removed from Mueller's team a year ago. You would think he's still on it now, right, if you listen to him. A year ago.

And inspector general's report found that while the texts were inappropriate to say the least, they did not impact the investigation. Number four, started and paid for by crooked Hillary and the Democrats. Not true.

Even the president's Republican allies on the House intelligence committee concede that the Russia investigation into the Trump campaign began in July of 2016 when U.S. officials were notified by Australia that Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos had told an Australian diplomat that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Number five, he's referring to the Steele dossier which did not start the investigation and he calls that dossier phony. It is not. Parts of it have been confirmed by U.S. intelligence.

Number six, FISA disgrace. OK. Despite a misleading memo issued earlier in the year by House intel chair Devin Nunes implying that the FISA warrant on another former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter age was inappropriately obtained.

[22:05:04] The FISA warrant application was released last month by the DOJ and those top secret documents reveal that many of the Nunes demo claims were downright misleading.

Number seven, so many lying and dishonest people already fired. It seems like the president may be referring here to former FBI director, deputy director, Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. But without more than this vague charge, it's hard to say.

And then number eight, 17 angry Dems. This refers to the investigators on Mueller's team, and the president has coined this term, brand them as politically biased. To brand them as politically biased. Pressuming -- presumably because they have donated to Democrats or registered as democrats.

Well, you know who else was previously registered as a Democrat and donated to Democrats? You guessed it. President Donald Trump. So that brings us to his key -- his reality show tease. Warning. Stay tuned. Stay tuned. Exclamation point.

Is the president going to try to shut down the probe by firing Mueller or Rosenstein? Will he sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller's team? He's been all over the board on that one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it, actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, would you still like to testify to special counsel Robert Mueller, sir?

TRUMP: Thank you. Sure, I would like to.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would like to--

TRUMP: I would like to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you changed your mind at all about being willing to sit with Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: I would love to speak. I would love to. Nobody wants to speak more than me, in fact, against my lawyers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Undermining the investigation, likely that's part of a master plan, create lots of doubt so no one knows what to believe. That's probably why the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said this on Fox. No surprise there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I think if it isn't over by September, then we have a very, very serious violation of the Justice Department rules that you shouldn't be conducting one of these investigations in the 60-day period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: That is absolutely false. It's hard to believe Giuliani ever worked for the Justice Department. There is no 60-day rule. It doesn't exist on the books. There's a long-standing custom at the department requiring caution around elections, but that's it.

Mueller is free to keep his investigation going but the real point is, Giuliani is already made his bogus claim public, muddying the waters. He's also trying to tell Mueller how to do his job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: The reality is, he doesn't need to ask a single question on obstruction. He has all the answers. They're not going to change. The president is not going to change his testimony, to stop the nonsense. You are trying to trap him into perjury because you don't have a case.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Team Trump trying to limit potential questions from Mueller about possible obstruction of justice. But they should remember that the president is not above the law. And that makes comments from Congressman Devin Nunes so interesting.

Nunes is the chairman of the House Intel Committee who scuttled the House Russia investigation. He's close to the White House. So that's the reason why. In an audio recording, he tells supporters it's imperative that Republicans keep control of the House to protect Trump from Mueller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If sessions won't un-recuse and Mueller won't clear the president, we're the only ones which is really a danger. That's why I keep --thank you for saying it, by the way. I mean, we have to keep all of this. We have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Well, you kind of knew it, but now it's right out of his own mouth. Protect the president. Not to do his duty as a congressman.

So I want to begin now with CNN's National Security Analyst, James Clapper. The former director of national intelligence. And the author of "Facts and Fears: Hard Truths From Life in Intelligence." Man, director, good evening to you. What do you think of my opening remarks there?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, hard to know where to start. I mean, I -- I find myself in line with agreement with everything you said which is usually the case, by the way.

First, the tweet I thought had more, as you said, more distortions and untruths crammed into it. He may have set a record with that one tweet with all the distortions and lies that are in it.

Secondly is, of course, Rudy Giuliani who know appears to be setting conditions for when the Mueller investigation is supposed to end, and also I find it incredulous this notion that they will determine what the president will answer questions about or not.

[22:10:08] And what a surprise. They don't want any questions asked about obstruction, which I thought was a duh. If I were the president's team given the president's rather distant relationship with the truth, I think I'd be leery of that.

I would imagine the investigation is going to ask questions they already know the answers to which is very appropriate. And as for Devin Nunes, well, he has already been seen, I think, as a tool of the White House and this recording just kind of proves that and this is extremely irregular where you have here's a chairman of the House intelligence committee who's supposed to be seeing to the oversight of the executive branch, not aligning himself in some sort of conspiracy.

The objective of which is to protect the president from the Mueller investigation.

So, you know, this is kind of a microcosm of, you know, what you put together here, Don, in your opening statement. I think representative microcosm of this administration from its beginning.

LEMON: Well, let me ask you about this, because this seems to be ramping up and I'm wondering if you think it is, because it's not the first time we've talked about the strategy behind the web of lies and conspiracy theories coming from the president and Rudy Giuliani, his attorney, when it comes to the Russia investigation. Do you think it's ramping up?

CLAPPER: I do. And I think it's -- this is a manifestation of, frankly, the anxiety about this whole thing coming to a head. And what the -- what the implications could be for the president. And I think that is -- I think an explanation for this unbelievable tweet.

LEMON: Director Clapper, I want to play some of what we heard from Rudy Giuliani who spoke to Hannity, an example of Giuliani muddying the waters. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: He knows the answers to every question that he wants to ask. He's going to ask him, did you tell Comey to go easy on Flynn? The president is going to say, no, I didn't. Hey, Bob, you know it. Why do you want to get him under oath? You think we're fools? You want to get him under oath because you want to trap him into perjury. We're not going to let you do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Does it strike you that even the president's lawyers seem to know that he can't keep himself from lying under oath?

CLAPPER: No, I think, exactly. And I think that's why -- I think in the end, by the way, I don't think the president will ever sit down with Mueller to talk about anything. For exactly that reason. I just don't see that happening. I think this is a lot of theater and posturing right now so that later on, somebody can point fingers. This is just kind of a theatrical sit-up for that.

LEMON: Does stalling help the president you think? Is this all about the electoral chances in the midterms and minimizing damage?

CLAPPER: Well, that's a great question, Don, and I honestly don't know. I think whatever comes out of the Mueller investigation is simply going to harden the positions that people already have. Whatever comes out. It's not going to change anybody's mind in the rabid base, certainly, and those who are not big fans of the president, it will certainly, I would guess, reinforce their reservations about him.

So I -- what impact that would have on the midterms is, for me, very difficult to say.

LEMON: I got to ask you something, director. You can answer it if you want. It's a bit personal so I understand if you won't. You and I are both in the same club.

The president has attacked both of us on Twitter and said things publicly about me, at least, that were not so nice. And I'm not sure about you. When we take a step back from this, is it unbelievable a person in the most powerful office in the world spends his time making personal attacks?

CLAPPER: Well, it is. It is -- it is amazing that he would single out private citizens, you or me or anyone else, that are critical of him. And to me, this is unprecedented and I just -- although I've begun to get a little jaded about it, at least, you know, when he says something negative about me. I thought his comments about you were absolutely -- and LeBron James were absolutely reprehensible.

That was a very classy interview, and I thought reflected what very classy people both you and LeBron James are, who's a great citizen of this country. And for him to say what he -- what the president said, I thought was despicable.

[22:15:04] And by the way, it's an honor to be interviewed by one of the smartest people I know on television.

LEMON: Thank you for that, director. I appreciate it. And I love interviewing very smart people like you. One of the smartest people I know.

But I have to say, those -- you said you're getting jaded about it. Those insults or jabs, whatever, it doesn't make me feel bad. It just makes me feel sad for the country when I say this is--

(CROSSTALK)

CLAPPER: Well, exactly.

LEMON: This is where we've come, to this? It's embarrassing.

CLAPPER: It is.

LEMON: Not for me, but for him.

CLAPPER: It's embarrassing. It's embarrassing around the world. You know, I watched Jim Acosta on Stephen Colbert last night and I thought Jim in his exchange in the White House pressroom there, showed the passion that I hope actually the passion that reflects how all of us care and when I say jaded about the remarks, they don't bother me, but I think it -- we have to keep speaking up about them.

LEMON: Yes. Thank you, director. You know, money doesn't buy class. Thank you, sir. I appreciate it.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Don.

LEMON: Up next, is Donald Trump the president the founding fathers feared? One prominent writer says, yes. Is he right? We'll talk about that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:20:00] LEMON: President Trump railing against the Mueller investigation, calling it an illegal and rigged witch-hunt.

This as the Republican chair of the House intelligence committee is caught on tape talking about how Congress needs to save the president from Mueller.

I want to bring in now CNN Contributor, Frank Bruni, and Senior Political Commentator, David Axelrod. Good evening to both of you. The Nunes thing is just unbelievable.

FRANK BRUNI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.

LEMON: We will talk about that. But I just want to talk about this Washington Post article by Richard Cohen. And it's an opinion piece and the headline is, "Trump is the president the founding fathers feared." OK? And it talks about his ignorance, his dishonesty, his contempt for civil liberties and on and on and on. Is there some truth to that? BRUNI: I think there's a lot of truth to that. I thought it was -- it

was a fascinating op-ed because it pulled back in a way that we sometimes don't and sort of listed the whole laundry list of what Donald Trump has done as president, how he's debased the presidency.

And when you pull back and you look at it, you realize we're not, you know, talking in too frightened a fashion, you know, when we're here at this table tonight. If anything, we're not alarmed enough because he really has been a sustained and profound insult to the presidency.

As far as the founding fathers, I think what Richard was getting at there was they set up a government with checks and balances. They set up institutions meant to retrain any sort of kingly impulses in a president.

And I think he's saying that Donald Trump is just knocking up against all those restraints. I think one of the big narratives of this presidency is the test it is giving to our institutions. To the way the government's setup, to checks and balances and how will we're doing on that test.

You know, are we now, and as we go through the Trump presidency, however long it lasts, are we going to be able to contain, you know, his autocratic impulses in the way the founding fathers wanted us to be able to when someone like him was in the job?

LEMON: David, you -- you know, you worked in -- you helped elect a lot of people. You know a lot of mayors, governors, presidents. And you know how they normally behave. We have a chief executive now who lies, bullies, stokes racial tension. How much does Trump's divide and conquer strategy, how much is it testing the limits of our democratic institution, as Frank says?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, this has been my concern from the beginning. We should say parenthetically, everything you're describing was on display in the campaign, Don. So he got elected that way and he, I think, felt affirmed by that. That he succeed that way. And that's the way he's continued to govern.

But he has no regard for democratic institutions. He considers them a nuisance. I think it's one of the reasons why he's so fond of autocrats around the world and so disdainful of our allies.

You know, he, I think, has some envy for people who can cast aside all of the encumbrances of democracy and rule as they -- and rule as they please.

But I want to make one point here because I agree with everything that Frank said, including the last point, our founding fathers set up a system because they had thrown off a monarchy and they didn't want another one.

And so they set up a system of checks and balances understanding that human frailty and failings and weaknesses were such that you could have a situation like this and one of those checks was the Congress. The Congress was supposed to keep -- to provide oversight over the

executive and now we have, you know, an admission of something that we already knew which is that Congressman Nunes is in a very sensitive position, believes that it's his responsibility to protect the president, not the country. To block oversight rather than provide oversight. And he's making a mockery of what our founding fathers had in mind. And the Constitution to which he's sworn an oath.

LEMON: I'm glad you mentioned that because I just want to play a part. This is what we about Devin Nunes, a leaked video. MSNBC got it. Devin Nunes of course is the House intelligence committee chairman. He is speaking at a fund-raiser. Listen.

(BEGIN VOICE CLIP)

NUNES: If Sessions won't un-recuse and Mueller won't clear the president, we're the only ones, which is really the danger. That's why I keep -- thank you for saying it, by the way. I mean, we have to keep all this, we have to keep the majority. If we do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.

(END VOICE CLIP)

LEMON: All of this goes away. It's remarkable to hear a congressman, the chairman of the House Intel Committee, Frank, saying that it's their job to shield the president.

BRUNI: Right.

LEMON: Like this. Is that their job? I mean, what the hell is going on here?

BRUNI: No, what David said is absolutely correct, the job of Congress is to provide oversight. There's a separation of powers. Checks and balances. Congress is supposed to be a balance on the executive branch. And what Devin Nunes is saying in the tape, we defend the president at all costs regardless of anything.

[22:25:01] What's so scary about what he says, is he says if Mueller won't clear the president. There's no concern in his statement about what Mueller finds. It's like regardless of what Mueller finds, regardless of what Donald Trump did or didn't do, they are going to protect the president because they see their function, he sees his function as purely tribal.

LEMON: Does this seem, as a party, do you think the party is buying this hook line, and sinker, David, because I remember when conservatives were strict constitutionalists. Let's go by the Constitution. The Constitution doesn't say protect the president. It says you protect the Constitution.

AXELROD: No. You know, you're absolutely right. But, you know, let's -- let's be honest, I mean, the partisanship has been a strong, and now it's been a growing element of governance in recent years. I mean, we've had episodes in our history of that. But I will recall Watergate when there were people like Devin Nunes

who were defending Richard Nixon to the last -- to the last degree. But ultimately, it was leaders of his own party who went down to the White House and told them that he had to resign. I'll tell you what the difference is between now and then, and it's really concerning.

There was no Fox News then rallying the base. There was no social media spreading -- spreading lies and misinformation and propaganda. I often wonder whether Richard Nixon would have been forced from office if he -- if he had -- if he hadn't -- if he had those kind of tools.

So, I think what you see is a Republican Party that's deeply in the thrall of this president. You can see in the elections Tuesday and as we've seen throughout this campaign season. What he says goes in the Republican Party right now.

While I think there are many who may be privately troubled by what hes doing, I think they're also concerned about keeping their jobs and keeping their jobs at this point within the Republican Party means not stepping out of line relative to Donald Trump.

LEMON: Thank you, frank. Thank you, David. I appreciate it. And David's last comments bring us to our next thing that we're going to talk about here.

When we come back, the racist stereotypes being propagated by Fox News that are so absurd that they're even reportedly being endorsed by former KKK grand wizard. We're breaking down what's becoming a troubling pattern, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:30:00] LEMON: Fox News Host Laura Ingraham firing up white fright, doling out fresh fears, saying quote, the America we know and love doesn't exist anymore. And tonight, she is responding. So I want to bring in now CNN's Senior Media Correspondent, Brian Stelter, Brian, good evening. First, I want to take a look at what she said last night on her show.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: OK.

LEMON: Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they're changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed. Now, much of this is related to both illegal and in some cases legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Well, Brian, you broke it down for us. So let's take a look and then we're going to discuss her response which is just in. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: The America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No nation, no society, has ever changed this much this fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is Fox News peddling here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Demographic replacement.

INGRAHAM: Massive demographic changes.

STELTER: Fox is peddling fear, white Christian America's fear of change, of losing power. It's one of the same veins that President Trump tacks.

PRES. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember the attack on Merry Christmas? They're not attacking it anymore. Everyone's happy to say Merry Christmas, right?

STELTER: Experts sometimes call it white anxiety as America becomes more multicultural.

INGRAHAM: The America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore.

STELTER: Laura Ingraham is now trending on Twitter, because on Wednesday, she channeled her audience's concern in that widely- criticized clip.

INGRAHAM: Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people. And they're changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like.

STELTER: She explicitly cites both illegal and legal immigration.

INGRAHAM: There is something slipping away in this country, and it's not about race or ethnicity.

STELTER: Not about race? Critics scoffed at that claim. Democratic Senator, Tammy Duckworth, said the racist comments shouldn't have been aired by Fox News.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What they are doing really consistently is promoting ideas that derive from white nationalist places.

STELTER: Angelo Carusone runs Media Matters, a liberal group that campaigns against Fox. He points to that clip as a reason why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I think it is well beyond a wink and a nod. Now I think its full-throated promotion. STELTER: He claims Fox stars echo the rhetoric of racists like David

Duke who gave kudos to Ingraham for her quote, important, truthful monologue. Duke has complimented Tucker Carlson in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hazleton's population was 2 percent Hispanic. Just 16 years later, Hazleton is majority Hispanic. This is more change than human beings are designed to digest. This pace of change makes societies volatile, really volatile, just as ours has become volatile.

STELTER: Segments on his show are frequently about the feeling of whiteness being under threat. Ingraham covers this, too. Fox's fan base, almost 100 percent white is incredibly loyal. So the ultimate winners here are Rupert Murdoch and his sons, who run Fox's parent company, profiting from this right-wing rhetoric.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: And the profits are huge, but what's going on here is pretty clear. As traditional, old-fashioned, white Christian America is in decline, as the country becomes more and more diverse, Don, as multiculturalism becomes more and more pronounced. Fox is appealing to people who are deeply concerned about that. And they're doing so in, unfortunately, really effective ways.

LEMON: It's interesting to watch, even watch the transformation, especially over the -- especially over the last couple of years.

[22:35:12] STELTER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Right. They've gone from conservative to being the Trump channel, and to really saying more outlandish things than they usually say, and standing by conspiracy theories on some occasions or at least promoting them, I should say. Not standing by them, but promoting some conspiracy theories. But let's play her response.

STELTER: Yes. Think about the way Ingraham, you know, she said we, our America. Now she's came out tonight. She's trying to walk it back a little bit. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

INGRAHAM: I want to start tonight by addressing my commentary at the top of last night's show. A message to those who are distorting my views, including all white nationalists and especially one racist freak whose name I will not even mention. You do not have my support. You don't represent my views. And you are about antithetical to the beliefs I hold dear.

The purpose of last night's angle was to point out that the rule of law, meaning secure borders, is something that used to bind our country together. And despite what some may be contending. I made explicitly clear that my commentary had nothing to do with race or ethnicity, but rather a shared goal of keeping America safe and her citizens safe and prosperous.

Furthermore, as I have said repeatedly on this show, merit-based immigration does wonders for our country's economy, our way of life, and how we define our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STELTER: Always interesting to think about how President Trump loves these shows on Fox News, how he learns ideas from Fox. Fox learns ideas from him, this idea of concern about -- about the changing status of whites in America, this idea of white anxiety. It's something he tapped into and it's something these hosts on Fox tap into.

No matter what Ingraham says now, she was talking about changing demographics in the country being disturbing to her and to her audience. She can't take that back.

LEMON: It's out there. It's clear as day. It's on tape.

STELTER: Yes.

LEMON: And it's, you know and people can replay it and replay it and listen to it. But the interesting thing to me is that there is also a very big issue, if not a bigger issue, with immigration, with people who come over from countries, many of them European countries, who overstay their visas. That is a huge immigration problem. I don't hear it discussed that much.

STELTER: No, the focus is...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: In that circle.

STELTER: -- the southern border focus (Inaudible) on what they call an invasion from the south. And like you said, it is white scare tactics.

LEMON: Thank you, Brian.

STELTER: Thanks.

LEMON: We'll be right back. And when we come back, we're going to dig into this further, the President mimicking a lot of this language. So where did this sort of talk originate, him or Fox?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[22:40:00] LEMON: So critics accusing Fox News Host, Laura Ingraham, of peddling white nationalism on TV, Ingraham telling her viewers that the America we know and love doesn't exist anymore. She blames demographic changes from both illegal and legal immigration. So let's discuss now, CNN Political Commentators, Van Jones, Scott Jennings, and Amanda Carpenter. Amanda is the author of "Gaslighting: Why We Love It when Trump Lies to Us." Good evening. So, Van, you first, when she speaks about -- when she

says the America we know and love, let's be clear, that America has not existed historically or even today for a lot of people.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, not for a lot of people. Listen, I was appalled by her comments, and I am more appalled by her attempt to try to walk them back today as if we didn't hear what she said. If she wanted to do what they usually do, and what they usually do is they say we don't like undocumented immigrants or illegal immigrants, or how they want to say it, because it's not safe for the country.

It's about the rule of law. She did not say that. I was shocked because she dropped all the pretenses last night. And she said this is about demographic changes. I am sorry. That means race and ethnicity. Look it up. So for the first time in a while, she came with no kind of pretense and she said her problem with the changes is race.

Then it blew up in her face, and now she goes, oh, never mind. I am actually talking about the normal stuff. No, you dropped the dog whistle. You went with the megaphone, and now you're trying to pick up the dog whistle again. It's not going to look.

LEMON: So listen, Scott, she's saying this has nothing to do with race or ethnicity as Van said. Do you believe that?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. I mean her comments initially were clearly about the demographic changes in communities. And unfortunately, I think she's misinformed. I thought a lot about this today about what communities have seen demographic changes. A lot of them are in Trump country. A lot of them are right out here in the middle of the country where I am, and they're in very important sectors.

You look at who is taking care of us in health care, in the highest poverty areas in America, a lot of which heavily voted for Trump. It's minority. Its foreign-born doctors taking care of us at huge percentages, who is taking care of our agriculture labor. It's immigrant labor. We have more jobs in this economy right now than workers to fill them.

Who will fill them? In many cases, it will be immigrant labor, and a lot of those jobs are in Trump country. I agree with her that we have to fix the border. I agree with her that people who come here to commit crimes are a problem. But to ignore the impact that immigration, the positive impact it's having on people in Trump country and important sectors that supported this President is just wrong.

LEMON: Amanda, as a Republican woman, you say Laura Ingraham used to be a role model. What do you think now?

[22:44:53] AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. This is something with -- during the era of Trump I thought about a lot. I came to Washington 2005, and you know, when you get here as a young Republican woman, these sort of women are paraded. They come to conferences. Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Kellyanne Conway. You know these are the ideal. These are women who are bold and courageous, great in the media, quick on their feet. You know you should be like them.

And just the mean-spirited -- I mean obviously, that was racist and terrible to say, but just the everyday arrogance and mean- spiritedness, I just -- I know I am not the only youngish Republican woman who feels disillusioned. And here's what really grates me about Laura's comments last night. Her favorite thing to do is go on the air and lecture people about how liberals hate America.

I have a lot of policy difference with liberals like Van. I know he loves America. I know we can agree that America's ideals are based on anybody can come here if you share our values, work hard, and get ahead. She said the opposite last night. It's based on demographics. And so Laura, I want to know who is the one who really hates America.

LEMON: You know, as Brian Stelter pointed out, other Fox News hosts like Tucker Carlson have made similar comments. And Van, I want you to respond to this. The Fox News audience, 94 percent white, three percent Hispanic, two percent Asian, and barely registering 1 percent black, right? And now look at that compared to CNN and MSNBC. Is there any doubt in your mind that Fox News is actively pushing some sort of agenda, maybe white nationalism?

JONES: Well, I mean, here -- you have to begin to assume that something like that's happening, because look, people never want to talk about is you got a lot of black people who are conservative. You go to a black church. You go to a black barbershop.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Conservative -- socially conservative.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Even economically conservative, and yet even...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Traditionally they have.

JONES: Traditionally. But even conservative African-Americans are no longer comfortable with what's happening on Fox News. Why? Because there's this constant drumbeat that, you know, what's wrong with America is people of color. And that's unfortunate because, frankly, I think -- I like ideological competition.

I like the fact that we have black conservatives. But you can't have a network where every single time you talk about people of color. It's usually something insulting and negative.

LEMON: More on the lie of the immigrant criminal. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [22:50:00] LEMON: So we're back and this is new. It's just in. Some players renewed national anthem protests during NFL preseason games. And there, you're looking at the video there. How's the President going to respond to that? Van is back, Scott, as well as Amanda. And this is -- these are preseason games. Several NFL players took a knee, raised fists, and did not take the field while the national anthem was played Thursday night before preseason games.

And it goes on. That was Miami. But there are other games, the Dolphins, the Eagles, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Some people didn't come out. Some people raised their fists. Some took knees. How do you think the President is going to respond to that, Scott?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean I think he's going to respond the way he's responded all along. And I think he -- you know, he's obviously helped provoke this. I mean he had some comments after the NFL set its rules. I think clearly his comments about Lebron James probably provoked some of this tonight. I mean we're living in Groundhog Day. We're all waking up, new season, same stuff.

And it's going to go on all season, and the President's going to react the way he has reacted from the beginning. And he has a right to react that way. And these players have a right to kneel. And, you know, we're going to have this conversation I guess for six more months.

LEMON: Amanda?

CARPENTER: Yes. I am just thinking why does this sound familiar, because yes, Scott's right. We have been through it and we've also been with confederate memorials in the aftermath of Charlottesville. And we're facing the one year anniversary of that. And as hard as this is, the President relishes these sorts of cultural fights that stoke a divide. And so I fully expect the President to weigh in, but I wish he wouldn't.

This is for the NFL to decide. And I think a lot of this. The NFL didn't have good leadership on this issue in terms of having productive discussion and encouraging their players to express their beliefs in a positive way. And let the President take control of it. And so honestly, I wish the NFL had some better leadership that could channel this in a productive manner, rather than just letting it spew out into a political fight.

LEMON: Van, you know the NFL said that it was going to fine teams with protesting players directly, who in turn would have it in their discretion to enforce pre-game anthem observations. So there was a penalty. The NFL came up with a penalty for that, but what do you think?

JONES: Well, I mean they're trying to split the baby, punch the team, but not the players -- a whole bunch of nonsense. Here's what I would say. I am actually proud of these players because it's -- you see them doing their, I think, very respectful protests, but something else is happening within the league. A lot of these young guys are trying to figure out ways to be better involved in their communities. They're giving more money than ever. They're becoming more

politically involved. They're actually taking on the work, not just on the field, but off the field, of sticking up for good values. And I think the President and the country should be proud of these young guys for caring enough to try to speak up.

LEMON: And Van, I've spoken to a number of them on this show. And I spoke to Lebron James who was doing the same thing and, of course, the President then tweets out something disparaging about him doing a great thing.

(CROSSTALK)

JONES: Which, by the way, I haven't seen you since then. I got to say...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: I didn't bring...

(CROSSTALK)

[22:54:59] JONES: I got to say this. You attack these athletes when they are on the field and trying to speak out, and you say, you guys are just a bunch of rich brats. Then Lebron James comes up and he actually spends his own money to help kids. President Trump is putting kids in prison, putting babies in cells. Lebron James is putting young people in classrooms and you still attack him and you attack Don Lemon.

At a certain point, I think it's very hard for ordinary people to look at this and say, this is anything other than some sort of vendetta against African-American public figures. And it's always attacking the IQ. This person's dumb. This person's stupid. This person is low IQ. I know you don't want me to bring this up. But I've got to say there's a reason that these young athletes are now even more bold, and part of it had to do with how you were treated and how Lebron James was treated.

I talked with some of these people. They said they're tired of it and they're going to continue moving forward because they respect you. They respect Lebron and they respect the tradition of people speaking up in this country.

LEMON: I was going to stay...

(CROSSTALK)

CARPENTER: I just want to say...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hold on, I'll let you talk. I am proud of them as well because people used to be worried about their endorsements.

JONES: That's right. LEMON: Or not selling tickets or (Inaudible). And sometimes you just

have to stand up for the right thing. I am not in their shoes. I am not paying their bills. I don't know what they have or what obligations. But at a certain point, you have to say enough is enough. And I am not disrespecting the flag. I am not disrespecting soldiers. I am drawing attention in the most peaceful way to something that needs to be addressed and corrected.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Go ahead, Amanda.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Go ahead, Amanda.

CARPENTER: To a point, my frustration with the league isn't that I think they should be coming down with heavy penalties and fines. I see a lot of these men. They're leaders in their community. They are heroes in their community. I went to school in Indiana when Lebron James was coming up as a high school player. And, you know, bus full of kids went to go to his last game just to be in the area with him because they knew he was going to be great.

And so I don't want to see the President smear these people when they have voices that can be channeled off the field in such productive ways. And so that's where my frustration comes from.

LEMON: We didn't finish our conversation about immigration. Sorry about that. But we will get to it, I promise. It is ongoing. It is ongoing. Thank you, all. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)