HH: If you had told me a year ago that General James Mattis would be the Secretary of Defense, that Donald Trump would be the President-elect, and that a Supreme Court appointment would be coming, and that Van Jones would be airing The Messy Truth on CNN, a year ago I was doing the CNN/Salem Media Group debate at the Reagan Library, all right? I was doing the CNN/Salem Media Group debate in Las Vegas. Nobody thought this would happen. But one of the great things of the last year is I got to know Van Jones, who’s really a wonderful guy. He’s always wrong. He’s just not rotten. Van, how are you, my friend?
VJ: (laughing) I’m fine. Good to hear your voice, sir.
HH: You know, Van, ever since I left CNN and went over to NBC, people have been dressing you in lavender shirts and purple ties. And I’ve got to get into the green room. I saw the clip of The View yesterday, and we’ve got to stop this.
VJ: Why? No, it’s, first of all, nobody dresses me. I may look young, but I’m old enough to dress myself. But it’s in honor of my friend, Prince, who died earlier this year. He and I were very close, and I got a chance to work together for not quite ten years on…
HH: Oh, I didn’t know that.
HH: Well, that’s then cool. I will forgive the fashion error then. This is a Prince tribute.
HH: Oh, that’s very cool. Van, tell us about The Messy Truth, then let’s get to the headlines from last night. What is The Messy Truth about that airs on Tuesday night?
VJ: It is about dialogue. I went to Trump country during the campaign. I didn’t wait until after the campaign, during the campaign, went into the homes of Trump voters. As you know, I’m a very strong Democrat. But I felt that we were in big danger that on the Wednesday after the election, we wouldn’t have a country, we’d be so divided. So I talked with Trump voters, including Trump voters in Ohio who voted for Obama twice and then voted…
HH: Where did you go in Ohio? I’m from the Buckeye State. Where did you go?
VJ: Oh, look, we went all over. We went all over.
HH: Did you go to Trumbull County? Did you go to Warren or Youngstown up in the Mahoning Valley?
VJ: Yes, we went to Trumbull County. We went to Warren.
HH: Oh, that’s my hometown, dude.
HH: Congratulations. You hit the gold mine of Trump land.
VJ: Yeah, well, it’s crazy, you know, because Trumbull County’s been blue since 1972 in the presidential…
HH: And before that, 1928. It’s deep, it’s deep blue. I’m a Warren guy. I know that. You betcha.
VJ: Yeah. So anyway, so if people want to see real, honest debate, not really even debate, but really honest dialogue, heart to heart between, you know, people who voted differently, not the screaming, not the yelling, but you know, people talking from their heart about why they made the choice they did, Tuesday, 9pm East Coast, CNN, check it out.
HH: I’m going to watch it. Now let’s play a little bit of the dialogue that’s going on in America. This happened last night at Harvard, my alma mater, when Kellyanne Conway and Jenn Palmieri got together to talk about the election. Play that clip.
JP: Bannon is providing a platform for white supremacists. It may be brilliant tactician. I am glad to have lost. And when Hillary, give me a minute, David, I am more proud of Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech than any other moment on the campaign…
JP: Because she had the courage to stand up. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.
KC: No, you wouldn’t. No, you wouldn’t.
JP: Yes, yes, yes.
KC: That’s very clear to me. No, wouldn’t, respectfully. I’m sorry, how exactly did we win? No, go for it, Jenn. How exactly did we win? I’d like to know, because I sacrificed the last four months of my life to do it.
JP: I said I…
KC: Excuse me, and we did it. And Jenn, do you think, excuse me, she said white supremacist. I’m sorry.
JP: I would actually like to follow up…
KC: No, sorry, I know it’s mentioned a lot on your website, too. Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?
JP: It did. Kellyanne, it did. It did.
KC: Do you think you could have just had a decent message for the white working-class voters?
HH: Talk about the messy truth, Van Jones. Have you seen this, yet?
VJ: I have not seen it, yet, but this is the conversation going on in the country. Let me say what I think that the truth is from my point of view. I think both political parties have real problems, and they won’t admit them. So the Democrats love to see ourselves as the champion of the working-class and the downtrodden. But the truth is that we also have allowed a home for some of the most elitist, snobbiest, obnoxious, condescending people ever born in our party.
VJ: And we won’t talk about it. Meanwhile…
HH: Van, let me ask you, though, this is the key question. You went to my hometown for The Messy Truth. When you talked to Trump supporters, do you think they’re white supremacists? Do you really believe…you and I sit together in green rooms. We’re friendly. We would be friends if we spent more time together. Do you really believe those people in Trumbull County are white supremacists who voted for Trump?
VJ: Let me finish my point. I’m going someplace. I told you both parties had problems they won’t admit, and you just did it. The Democrats will not admit to their elitism and their failure to address the working-class in this country in terms that make sense. The Republicans are the party of colorblind meritocracy. That’s their party.
HH: That’s true.
VJ: And that’s beautiful. But they have also created a space for a bunch of bigots to come in the back door, and they won’t admit it.
HH: That is not true. Van…
VJ: Hold on.
HH: What percentage, what percentage do you believe of the Trump vote is white supremacist? What percentage?
VJ: Like outright, we hate black people?
VJ: Probably less than 1%.
HH: Thank you.
VJ: So, but…
HH: It’s way less than 1%.
VJ: No, no, but here, you’re doing, I’m so, you’re doing exactly what the Democrats do. The Democrats, when I tell them as an honest person I know your values, but you have some people in your party who are betraying those values, they will not listen. And then with Republicans, I know your values. I know your heart, and I know you. But as an outsider looking at it, you do have a problem where the vast majority of Republicans are not racists. But you have racists have come into your party. And you’re more angry at people like me for pointing it out than you are at these alt-right…
HH: No, I’m not. Van, I’m 60. I’ve spent my whole life with Ronald Reagan and the party of Lincoln driving those people out, and we will continue to drive those people out. But if they cling like barnacles to your party, all you can do is denounce them. And when Jenn Palmieri says to Kellyanne Conway last night you ran a white supremacist race, I would get…
VJ: She didn’t say that.
HH: I would get crazy.
VJ: She did not say that. She said you provided a platform. Donald Trump retweeted white supremacist organizations 50-60 times. That happened. Is that why people voted for him? That’s not the point. The point is he did things that gave some aid and some comfort to some of the worst people in the country. And we can’t say that, it’s totally unfair to the Trump voters to say that all of them support that toxic crap. But it’s unfair to the rest of Americans to say that none of that crap was going on? That was going on.
HH: 99.9% of the Republican Party despises them, despises them.
VJ: But you’re minimizing, hey, well, hold on a second, you’re minimizing it. And the Democrats, listen, this is why people say both parties suck, because you’re minimizing it. Listen, if we had 1% of our party going around saying we hate all white people, you would be saying, Van…
HH: Van, you’ve got 1% of your party, more than 1%, praising Fidel Castro. Will you agree with me he was a tyrannical dictator, mass murderer? Will you agree with me, Van?
VJ: Can we talk about our own country first?
HH: But, no, Van, this is why…
VJ: Hold on a second.
HH: The 1% rule with the Democrats is a problem, and it’s not a problem. There are real Fidel lovers in your party. There aren’t a real number of racists in our party.
VJ: I don’t know any Fidel lovers in my party who are going around killing black people. And what we’ve had in this country, see, we live in different bubbles. Don’t forget in this country in the past, you know, 12 to 18 months, a white supremacist went and killed 9 black people in Church.
HH: That’s true.
VJ: And that was a major blow in our community.
HH: That’s true.
VJ: And when that happened, and then you have a major party candidate retweeting white supremacists, that lands huge for us. It lands huge for us. And then you guys minimize it. Please stop doing that.
HH: Dylan Roof is an evil man, and I can’t say that enough. I was on with the late Gwen Ifill the Sunday after that massacre occurred at Mother Emmanuel, and everybody agrees about that. But not everybody agrees. Everybody who is normal agrees with you and I on that. But not everyone agrees that Fidel Castro is a murdering tyrant dictator.
VJ: Why are we talking about somebody else?
HH: Because it goes to the moral compass of the parties. Mine is fine. Yours is broken.
VJ: Listen, I don’t know, I’ve never been, listen, here’s the problem that we’ve got. The Trump voters are going to be here tomorrow. Hillary’s voters are going to be here tomorrow. Sanders voters, black lives matter, the police, we’re all here in one country. And if the only thing people want to do on the Democratic side is attack Republicans and not deal with the elitism in their party, then we’re not going to get anywhere. And you guys, for you, it’s not that big a deal that only 1% of the people in your party…
HH: Less than 1%, way, way less than 1%.
VJ: Okay, listen….
HH: There are not, that’s 600,000 people out of 60 million people that voted for Donald Trump.
VJ: Then why is that so important to you? Why is it more important for you to say that? Now you’ve said that six times, sir, and I’m trying to tell you something, and you’re not listening to me.
HH: Because it’s not factually predicated. There is not, there are not 600,000 white racists in America. They put on a party at the Reagan building, got 200 people, Van.
VJ: No, no, well, first of all, that’s just factually incorrect what you just said, not about the Reagan Library, but the Southern Poverty Law Center is pointing out, please stop doing what you’re doing, sir. The Southern Poverty Law Center is screaming, saying there is a big rise now in these neo-Nazi groups, and not just in the United States, but across the West.
HH: Van, the Southern Poverty Law Center almost got people killed. They are themselves a hate-sponsoring group.
HH: They almost got people killed in Washington, D.C.
VJ: What are you talking about?
HH: The Southern Poverty Law Center is an extremist group. When they targeted the Family Research Council, they had a killer go there who would have done the same thing that happened at Mother Emmanuel, except he was incompetent. Van, The Messy Truth, I’m going to watch, but you’ve got to come back early and often when I come back to talk about it. The Messy Truth, Tuesday night, 9pm on CNN. I love Van Jones. He’s just wrong. He’s just wrong, America.
End of interview.