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Trump Flouts Norms, Speaks from White House to Accept GOP Nomination; Trump Speech Had 20+ False or Misleading Claims; Trump Defends Coronavirus Record in Front of Crowd Not Wearing Maska. Aired 12:33-1a ET

Aired August 28, 2020 - 00:33   ET




CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Chris Cuomo, along with Don Lemon. The president has accepted his party's renomination in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 on the South Lawn of the White House.

The scene was probably the most honest representation of this convention, as to the truth of Trump's approach to the pandemic. No social distancing, hardly a mask in sight, and the people were not tested.

And that's why the carnage that he promised to stop is worse than ever on his watch. More than 180,000 Americans dead from this pandemic. Violence and unrest in America's cities.

But the president told you tonight all of that is Joe Biden's fault. But who's the president? He wants you to see the reaction to systemic inequality as the problem that should scare you, that you should not be scared by his failure to even acknowledge the problem of systemic inequality that is driving all of these black and white people into the streets all over this country, Don.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: It's as if the real problems that we're dealing with, Chris, don't exist. There were very few of these, masks, social distancing, acknowledgment, as you said, of the real problem in America when it comes to policing and racism.

Little knowledge. There was a picture painted of this president of a false reality. I call it Earth 1 and Earth 2.

On Earth 1, we're dealing with a pandemic and a president who is not actually -- a president who is downplaying it. On Earth 2, everything is fine.

But this is, as you said earlier, but who's the president? This is Donald Trump's America. And if you were waiting for this president to say something about racial injustice, feeling the protests that we've seen in places like Kenosha, if you were waiting for him to condemn the shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of two protesters, what you got was not that at all. What you got was exactly what you'd expect from the president who said

that there were very fine people on both sides in Charlottesville, who gassed peaceful protesters across from the White House so that he could have a photo op holding a Bible in front of St. John's Church.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When there is police misconduct, the justice system must hold wrongdoers fully and completely accountable. And it will. But when we can never have a situation where things are going on as they are today, we must never allow mob rule. We can never allow mob rule.


In the strongest possible terms, the Republican Party condemns the rioting, looting, arson, and violence we have seen in Democrat-run cities, all. Like Kenosha, Minneapolis, Portland, Chicago, and New York, and many others, Democrat-run. There is violence and danger in the streets of many Democrat-run cities throughout America.


LEMON: It was a poorly-written speech, I have to say. And it was poorly delivered. The, you know, Trump that we usually see, the animated Trump, quite honestly, we didn't see it. And poorly delivered and grammatically incorrect. It's not -- I always say it's Democratic and not Democrat, but that's not going to change, because they use it as a pejorative.

But I thought the speech was the worst thing of the evening. There were some very -- I think it was extremely well-produced. Reality show production, I'm talking about. Reality show production, but the worst thing in the evening was the president's speech and his delivery.

CUOMO: Well, look, he didn't write the speech. He is not known for being able to deliver a speech. And be very clear: The message in there is not what matters to him.

His theory of the case about why he should be reelected is very clear. In fact, his party has succumbed to it months and months ago, which is, is he a liar, yes. Does he deceive and distract; does he deny and defy reality?


CUOMO: Yes. But Joe Biden will be worse.

So the answer to all of you, when you say, but how do these supporters of Trump get comfortable with the fact that he did, fill in the blank, of countless things that would make you slap your child, leave your spouse, and not talk to family or friends for the rest of your life? How do they forgive it? Because they believe that Joe Biden would be worse.

So this president paints the current reality as if it's not of his responsibility. Because he doesn't have to account to his base for anything. They are voting for him for one reason. At the end of the day, Don, animus and specific agendas aside, because as bad as he is -- and that's an easy case to make --


CUOMO: -- they believe the alternative would be worse. I've got to tell you, that's not easy to take on in a campaign.

LEMON: I think you're letting them off easy. I don't believe that it's just because they think Joe Biden would be worse. I think it's because they like it on a -- not on a certain level, on many levels. They like what he presents. They like the lies. One would have to. If you don't like the lies, then you're not a supporter.

They like the shiny objects. They like the racism. They like the misogyny. They like all of it, because if they didn't, they wouldn't support him.

I actually think you're letting them off easy. Because you're telling me that someone you know is a liar, someone you know is a racist, someone you know is a bigot, someone you know deceives, someone you can never believe the truth that comes out of their mouth, someone who downplays a deadly pandemic, someone who thinks it's no big deal that 180,000 people have died. You're telling me that the alternative is worse? What is worse than that? There is nothing worse than that.

So I think you're letting people off easy who say, Well, Joe Biden would be worse. There is no evidence that Joe Biden would be worse. There is no evidence that there would be lawlessness on the streets of America if Joe Biden was president. He's not the president. This is happening on Donald Trump's watch.

So there is either a disconnect or a cognitive dissonance going on, where you have to -- where you have to believe that you made the right choice, because you just can't somehow, in your mind, admit that you made the wrong choice.


LEMON: That this is a bad person, that he is a liar. And so -- that you overlooked all of those things --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- because of what? Maybe you're not digging deep enough in yourself. It's not Donald Trump's issue. It's yours.

CUOMO: Maybe. But one --

LEMON: Not maybe. It is yours. Because you made the choice. You're making the choice here, and to go to the polls.


LEMON: And to believe it. CUOMO: I have heard your case, Counselor. And I will gladly rebut it

for the edification of the audience, not because I agree with it, but I think that it is going to be what we will experience in large measure in this country on November 3.

We should each, at this point, take our IFBs out, because they will certainly want to wrap us to go to material that will not be as compelling as what is about to happen right now.

LEMON: Don't start that.

CUOMO: Which is this -- First, is what you are saying true for some? Yes. There are some who like what he sells in the negative, in the darkness, in the lies, in the ugliness. Yes.


But there are far more than that slice of his base. There are those who do have cognitive dissonance. And what does that mean here? It means that, when they hear something like what I'm about to play you -- not Don, because he's heard it already -- from the president about COVID, they will decide to accept a rationale that they know is lacking. Here's the example.


TRUMP: If we had listened to Joe, hundreds of thousands more Americans would have died. Instead of following the science, Joe Biden wants to inflict a painful shutdown on the entire country. His shutdown would inflict unthinkable and lasting harm on our nation's children's families, and citizens of all backgrounds.

The costs of the Biden shutdown would be measured in increased drug overdoses, depression, alcohol addiction, suicides, heart attacks, economic devastation, job loss, and much more. Joe Biden's plan is not a solution to the virus, but rather, it's a surrender to the virus.


CUOMO: Now, factually, there is no plan that would have surrendered more to this virus than what the president chose to do, which was lie to you and ignore its existence. To literally shame you for doing the only thing that we know for sure can keep you safe, which is socially distancing and wearing a mask. But that's a matter of fact.

Cognitive dissonance is about willfully ignoring fact, and why? Because you want to not blame yourself for choosing this man in the first place, and you want to justify your fear that it would be worse if it were the other guy. Because in order to accept that, you would have to accept that Joe Biden has anything to do with our response to --

LEMON: I just said that five minutes ago, Chris.

CUOMO: This is better, and here's why.

LEMON: Because you did like this (POINTS FINGER).

CUOMO: Here's why. Finger helps.

You have the people that Don pointed out, who actually enjoy the ugliness. It feeds something in them. That's one slice.

Then you have those who will vote for this president, because they believe it would have been worse otherwise. But that has to be a disconnect from what you know to be true, because you know he rejected the science.

LEMON: Right.

CUOMO: You know he asked you to inject bleach and shine light inside the body, and take hydroxychloroquine.

LEMON: He never did that.

CUOMO: And not push for it to be tested.

LEMON: He never did that.

CUOMO: He did all of those.

LEMON: I know, but that's what I hear on the Trump channel and on --

CUOMO: But that is cognitive dissonance.

LEMON: -- certain media, that he never said that. OK, so then you're proving my point, then, Chris. Because --

CUOMO: Everything -- I am improving your point.

LEMON: OK, fine. All right. So he is -- everything he said in the soundbite we just played, and what you're saying is a hypothetical.

CUOMO: Well, it's also -- it's also all false.

LEMON: Or hypotheticals, right. This is how it would be. This is how it would play out. This is how it would be measured.

Well, those same things are being measured now, in reality.

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: Under this president.


LEMON: On his watch.


LEMON: And as you talked about the whole coronavirus thing, you have people sitting there -- I think it was 1,500 guests, 1,500 to two -- 1,500 to 2,000 guests sitting there, most of them not wearing masks. CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Chairs all pushed together.


LEMON: They're all crowded on each other. And then, in this week, you have had 38 -- I'm giving you facts now -- 3,810 Americans have died of COVID so far this week during the GOP convention where they pretended it was over, and they minimized it. Those numbers are coming from Johns Hopkins University.

More than 180,000 deaths in the U.S. More than 5.8 million cases in the United States. And when you look at -- Let me get the response from the White House, because -- because Jim Acosta mentioned this.

Senior White House official brushed off concerns about the lack of social distancing at Trump's speech, saying, "Everyone is going to catch this thing eventually." That is the reality. That's where we are right now.

That's not cognitive dissonance. That is not hypothetical. Those are not hypotheticals. Those are real. So what I am saying is, if you are allowing yourself to fall for the okey-doke, that says more about you then it says about Trump. That you need a savior, or someone to come in --

CUOMO: Right.

LEMON: -- and help you deal with whatever it is you're dealing with, rather than choosing fact. You're choosing falsity, hypotheticals, and real fake news over the truth.

CUOMO: And you also want to add that the big stroke, the genius stroke for Trump against the pandemic was closing down travel to China. Now, there are two problems with that. One -- first of all, it was a good move, period.


LEMON: To do what?

CUOMO: To restrict access to this country at that time was a good move. However, two qualifiers that they will never tell you and that I tell you all the time, and either you choose to believe it or not.

One, he did it partially. He did not completely close off travel from China. Here was the order -- not a ban -- exempted citizens, permanent and family members, in that policy. As a result, you had 40,000-plus people come into the U.S. from China after the restrictions. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. I'm saying that's the fact. So it wasn't a complete ban.

LEMON: Where did the strain -- where did the COVID strain come from, into this country? Europe. CUOMO: First, but -- first, it emanated from China, but by the time

that he did this partial ban, right, it had moved to Europe. So the China part was not only incomplete, it was largely ineffectual, because the virus had already moved.

But don't forget the third group, those who like the lies, because they want to believe ugly things, one. Two, those who are engaging in the cognitive dissonance that you lay out very well, which may speak to some type of inner conflict within themselves. We're not psychologists, but we don't need to be. We're covering an election, not people's therapy sessions.

But three is the group that I think is the biggest threat to the Democrats, where they look at what's going on, and they accept everything that's bad about Trump, because they expect nothing good from politics or politicians. And they believe that they will take his sell on all this Biden talk, because they are worried that Biden would be worse.

Now, you say, well, but that's a hypothetical, but they say no, no, no. Because the riots in the streets are because of the left: Antifa, BLM. These are all lefties.

LEMON: And the militia.

CUOMO: And the pandemic.


CUOMO: This is all the left pushing stuff that's hysterical and closing down.

Well, the militia? They had -- so they had to close down the country, because the left is crazy and killed our economy, which they did on purpose to hurt Trump. Now, the militia?


CUOMO: The militia's the good guys, Don.

LEMON: Again, what you just said --

CUOMO: When you -- when you lefties --

LEMON: The lefties had to close down the country because --

CUOMO: When you lefties destroy the cities.

LEMON: That's not reality, but go on.

CUOMO: You destroy the cities with your terrible leadership. You scare the cops and punish them for doing their jobs, so now they won't. So who's going to stop all these crazy black people from roaming around the streets and coming and running through my garden?

LEMON: Yes. You don't -- you don't have a card. CUOMO: I can't have you messing up my tomato plants. I can't have you crazy people with the tomato plants. And your crazy white allies.


CUOMO: You can't come into my house.

LEMON: Yes. You know, that --

CUOMO: I don't have enough bullets.

LEMON: Yes, and most people don't even live where it is.

CUOMO: So it will only get worse.

LEMON: And you know what was right?

CUOMO: But I'll tell you, that's hard to rebut, Don.

LEMON: It is.

CUOMO: It's hard to rebut.

LEMON: It is, but again, it's not reality. And if you look at what's happening on the streets, most of the time, it's in, as I have said, downtown areas, and it's usually a block or two. In some cities, I would imagine it's a bit bigger. But --

CUOMO: But they're coming. They're coming.

LEMON: Right. I know that you're being -- you're being facetious.

CUOMO: Look at the McCloskeys. Look at the McCloskeys.

LEMON: They were walking by the property.

CUOMO: They were just sitting at home, in front of their palace.

LEMON: OK. They weren't going to the McCloskeys' house.

CUOMO: Eating their cucumber sandwiches. And here came the marauding horde.

LEMON: Yes. Well, if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you.

CUOMO: I'm telling you, and there are a lot of people getting ready to walk across that bridge they're about to buy.

LEMON: I think you're right. I think you're right that it's easy for people to fall for, and I think that people are in denial. And they want to believe something else. And they want things the way that they used to have them, that it's always been.

But guess what? It's never, ever going to be that way. You're fighting a losing battle.

And let's see if I can bring some folks in who can either tell me I'm right or you're right. That's Ron Brownstein. Ron Brownstein is a --

CUOMO: If they say you're right, they're just being polite, Don.

LEMON: -- senior editor at "The Atlantic." Political analyst Kirsten Powers and political commentator Mike Shields. Good evening one at all. It's so good to have you here.


LEMON: Welcome to the Thunderdome.

So Ron, President Trump started his presidency vowing to end what he calls American carnage. And then you fast forward to 2020: 180,000 Americans are dead, and there's chaos. And the president wants voters to believe that Biden will be worse; wants voters to believe that Biden is now the president, when all of this chaos is going on, and he's going to be worse. How is that -- how do you square that circle?

BROWNSTEIN: That is the core conundrum of this entire week, of the entire convention.

I mean, one thing that was clear tonight, and they put all other chips on this idea that, if you elect Biden, you will get anarchy and chaos. Well, have you turned on the news lately? I mean, you know, Donald Trump is president, and people's lives are disrupted in every possible way, from coast to coast, because of coronavirus. And obviously, we have enormous unrest in our cities that his approach has been making more volatile.

So I think your word of hypothetical is really important here. Because basically, what they are saying is that they convince -- they can convince people to be more concerned about potential disorder, under Biden, than the actual disorder and chaos they are living through now.

Democrats can't sleep on this argument. I mean, there is an -- look, he has shown there is an argument, there is an audience for kind of racial resentment and racially-infused concerns like this.

LEMON: And that's what Chris was pointing out. You're right; you're both right.

BROWNSTEIN: But -- but real quick, he -- you know, it is hard to change the subject when people are living through this pandemic.

And one thing about tonight is he sent an unmistakable signal to voters who are uncertain about his response to this, that he simply will not take it seriously. And I frankly just cannot understand, from many political calculation, how that helps him.


LEMON: Yes, go on.

BROWNSTEIN: It's your show.

CUOMO: Mike -- Mike, will you help me out for a second? MIKE SHIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.

CUOMO: Whose fault are the riots that are going on in these cities? Donald Trump's or the left that whips up people on the fringe into a frenzy and motivates groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter to use violence as an instruction for their own political beliefs?

BROWNSTEIN: Chris -- Chris, if you're asking me --

CUOMO: Not you, Ron.

LEMON: Mike. Mike, Mike, Mike.

CUOMO: I'm asking Mike. I don't want -- you're not helpful to me here, Ron.

SHIELDS: Whose fault -- whose fault --

CUOMO: Mike, who's to blame? President Trump?

SHIELDS: Whose fault --

CUOMO: Or the left?

SHIELDS: Whose fault was it -- whose fault was it when there was riots in Ferguson when Barack Obama was president?

When Colin Kaepernick kneeled to bring social justice to a highlight, it was during the Obama administration. It was literally four years ago, yesterday. So this is a problem that has been going on. How you deal with it is what matters.

LEMON: Well, let's just say -- Mike, let me answer -- let me answer your question.

SHIELDS: And Democrats are not calling out --

LEMON: Let me answer your question. So let's just say that, during the Obama administration, that the rioting in Ferguson was Obama's fault, because it happened on his watch.

SHIELDS: I'm not saying -- I'm not accusing President Obama or President Trump --

LEMON: No, I'm saying it was, because it did happen on his watch.

SHIELDS: -- of being responsible for rioting that happens in a city somewhere. When you have a riot, the local police need to come and stop it and not give up a single city block, and restore law and order so that peaceful protesters can go out, sharing their views peacefully without being caught up in something that is burning properties --

CUOMO: So are you blaming the local police?

SHIELDS: -- and scaring the hell out of people. Both of those things can be true. CUOMO: Are you blaming the local police?

SHIELDS: I'm blaming local leaders that won't let the police go in. And that's why the New York City, for instance, police union endorsed President Trump. Because people like Mayor de Blasio tell them, No, just let them smash those windows. Let them ruin those black-owned businesses. Just stand back three blocks away and don't do anything, because if I send you in, I'm going to be called a racist by the left. And I'd rather the city burned than hurt my political chances.

And the president is trying to send the National Guard, and guess what happens? Democratic governors and mayors say, No president -- we can't have President Trump send the National Guard in.

So to hold him accountable when he's trying to help with the National Guard --

CUOMO: You can't find me a lot of history, Mike, of the National Guard making things better.

SHIELDS: -- is absurd.

CUOMO: But Kirsten, why don't you get in.

LEMON: I know. Kirsten wants to get in. Kirsten, before you get in, I just want to say two things.

CUOMO: I tried.

LEMON: I know. I'm going to let Kirsten talk next.

No. 1, I don't know Bill de Blasio. Listen, I'm not defending him about black-owned businesses. Because the looting and rioting that happened here happened on Fifth Avenue. I don't know a lot of black folks that own Gucci stores and Chanel stores and what have you. OK?

The second thing is --

SHIELDS: That's fair. There were black-owned businesses in other cities --


SHIELDS: -- that were being destroyed. That's my point.

LEMON: Yes. OK, fine, I will give you that.

The other point is, is when you talked about what happened in Ferguson, I don't know if it's Obama's fault. But did it happen on Barack Obama's watch? Yes. Did it happen in Barack Obama's America? Yes.

So now, this is Donald Trump's America. And it's happening on Donald Trump's watch. He may not be directly responsible. He's not out there looting and doing whatever, but it is his America. And he has to take responsibility for what happens on his watch, just as Barack Obama had to take responsibility for what happened on his watch.

CUOMO: And remember, Don --

LEMON: So you can't say it's --

CUOMO: -- Obama sent in the DOJ to investigate the whole thing and the police department.


CUOMO: We haven't seen any of that.

LEMON: None of that. And so he cannot say that this is Joe Biden's America, because Joe Biden is not president. I rest my case.

BROWNSTEIN: There's another dimension. I know Chris is going to get in.



BROWNSTEIN: You talk, and then I'll talk.

CUOMO: I came to you, first.

LEMON: Go ahead, Kirsten.

POWERS: First of all, the Republicans did blame Barack Obama all the time --


POWERS: -- for things that happened in cities. For example, they talked about Chicago nonstop the entire time that he was president. So -- and yet, I don't think Chicago has actually really changed that much under Donald Trump.

So, you know, I do tend to think that these are more local issues, and the issues that are causing them aren't things, necessarily, I mean, in Chicago, for example, the guns that are being, you know, brought in from other states. And, you know, there's gun laws and things like that. There's not a lot of president could particularly do about that.

I do think rhetoric, obviously, matters. But I think ultimately, the reason that these -- the protests are happening, and let's be honest. And Don, you do make this point -- and it's important -- over and over. There's very little rioting. Like, that's actually -- There's very little violence.