"They got the green light from the White House," Lee said regarding racists.
Cooper asked, "You think it filters down from the top that way?"
"From the top runs down," Lee responded. "'All Mexicans are rapists.' We'd be here for three hours just doing research and saying all the statements -- the hateful statements -- he's said since he's been there."
Cooper asked Lee, who has many films that focus on race in America, if he was surprised about the Charlotesville white supremacy rallies from last year and how "blatant it was." Because of Trump's presidency thus far, Lee said that he wasn't surprised at all.
"No, you know why?" he said. "Since [President Trump] has gotten into the White House it is not even a dog whistle, it's a bullhorn. We've seen a rise to the right. It's not just America, it's worldwide."
Cooper also brought up, during the chat, fellow CNN host Don Lemon's interview with LeBron James from earlier this week, where the NBA star said that he believes the president has created an environment where people who hold "toxic views" feel more "empowered" to give the "voice to them." Lee agreed with James' words, saying that these people have been given this power from Trump's administration.
Lee's new film, "BlacKkKlansman," follows the true story of an African-American Colorado Springs police officer, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who infiltrated the KKK without ever getting caught. Although the events took place in the '70s, Lee was motivated to "connect the past to the present," by having the Blumhouse period drama be released only one day shy of the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville riots from August 2017.
The film also features archival footage from the white national rallies from the '70s.
"We did not want this to just be a history lesson, even though it took place in the '70s, we still wanted it contemporary," Lee added. "A lot of things, phrases, things like that, said way before the '70s were they was saying them and you hear them today in the lexicon of politics and guys in office."
One thing that upset Lee the most after the horrific events last summer was that the president didn't denounce the hatred and instead said "there were good people on both sides."
Lee, who calls Trump "Agent Orange," told Cooper that if given the chance he would not sit down with the president.
"Here's the thing for me," Lee said. "The president had a chance, Anderson, to denounce hate, hate groups. The whole world saw what happened and he didn't do it."