CNN host Don Lemon ripped into President Donald Trump on Thursday night for promoting the blatantly false claim that Sen. Kamala Harris isn’t eligible to run for vice president, noting it’s the “same dirty racist tactic he used to try to derail Barack Obama.”
Lemon also said Harris’ GOP colleagues in the Senate are “complicit” in Trump’s “disgusting” attack, after CNN producers contacted all 53 of them, but none of them had anything to say about what some have called Birtherism 2.0.
Earlier Thursday, Trump was asked about an op-ed — shamefully published by Newsweek — questioning Harris’ eligibility. The op-ed was shared on Twitter by Jenna Ellis, one of Trump’s senior legal advisers, who also told ABC News that Harris’ eligibility is an “open question.”
“I heard it today that [Harris] doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump told reporters. “And, by the way, the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer. I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out.”
“Every single day, another lie, another conspiracy theory, another racist dog whistle,” Lemon said at the start of his program. “Every day. It’s like the Groundhog’s Day for alternative realities. It is clear that this president will stop at nothing to try to win re-election, using everything at his disposal to achieve his goal.
“He’s using the podium in the White House briefing room, that you pay for, to lie to you,” Lemon added. “And he’s starting with birtherism. Can you believe it? Is it 2011 all over again? What is going on? Birtherism now against Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s vice presidential nominee who is a Black woman. Does that ring a bell to you?”
After playing a clip of Trump’s comments from the briefing, Lemon said, “This man is so full of it, y’all.”
“He’s the president of the United States. Shouldn’t he have a modicum of decency and class and just say: ‘C’mon, let’s talk about something real. A a lot of people have died from the the coronavirus. That’s serious. Kamala Harris is on the vice presidential ticket, move along.’ No, he’s got to go for these racist dog whistles.”
Lemon said he often struggles with the question of whether he wants to amplify “dumb, stupid conspiracy theories” such as Thursday’s “ugliness and disgusting display from the president” — and whether to “allow this man and his apologists and minions to spread garbage.”
“The answer that I come up with is no, I don’t,” Lemon said. “But then I ask myself, what is the alternative? Is it to let it go, let the ugliness go unchallenged? Let more hate and and more garbage seep into the seams that are barely holding this country together already? Should I give it light, or do I just ignore it because it’s so ridiculous, and that’s exactly what they want, is to elevate it so people are talking about it.
“I want you to know I don’t repeat what this president said about this lightly,” Lemon added. “A white man questioning a black woman’s birthplace in America in 2020. No other words but disgusting, racist, and purposely so. … Here’s why it’s even more disturbing: Same dirty racist tactic he used to try to derail Barack Obama.”
He then played clips of Trump talking about Obama’s birth certificate, before noting that the president has also launched misogynistic attacks on Harris, calling her “nasty” and a “mad woman.”
“Kamala Harris is a member of the senate. Will any of her colleagues have the decency to stand up to Trump’s birtherism attack against here? Surely, upstanding American lawmakers would have the decency to stand up for her,” Lemon said.
“My producers spent the evening reaching out to all 53 of Kamala Harris Republican colleagues in the senate. Remember, they are co-workers right now.”
Lemon said only one Republican, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, responded. Kennedy’s staff claimed he hadn’t heard about the story and didn’t have anything to share.
“Even if you hadn’t heard, wouldn’t you have a better answer than that?” Lemon said. “The other 52 didn’t respond at all. Their silence speaks volumes. Their silence is complicit.”
Watch it below.