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GOP Race Tightens; Cruz Surging; No One Indicted in Sandra Bland's Death. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired December 22, 2015 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT SHOW HOST: Can you believe it's less than six weeks until the votes are cast. Did the republican race just get a lot tighter?
This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.
Trump still tops the GOP field. But one new national poll has Ted Cruz only four points behind him and making a confident prediction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TED CRUZ, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that it could easily end up being a two-man race between Donald Trump and me. And I think that presents a good choice to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And Hillary Clinton campaigning in Iowa says America should stand up to bullies wherever they are. I wonder who she could be talking about. Maybe Donald Trump? A lot to get to this hour, it's going to be good. I promise you.
I'm joined now by Ron Nehring, the California chairman for Senator Ted Cruz. He should be happy be right now. Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona; and Bob Cusack, editor-in-chief of The Hill. What a great group we've assembled here.
Ron, to the happy man, at least you should be, Ted Cruz now 4.2 points behind Donald Trump in a new national poll just out today. That is within the margin of error and at 8-point jump for your candidate since November 2nd. You're a Cruz guy, so go ahead and tell me how happy you are about this.
RON NEHRING, SENATOR TED CRUZ'S CALIFORNIA CHAIRMAN: Well, we're very encourage by this of course. It shows that Senator Cruz has great deal of momentum as we go into the final weeks before Iowans head to the polls on February 1st. But we're not taking it for granted.
Senator Cruz today is flying around all the various states that are going to vote on March 1st, recognize and this is a long ball game, that this is not only a -- the election outcomes how could be determined just by who is ahead in a national poll but this is a state by state process, 56 different elections, states and territories voting over a 19-week period. And that's the type of campaign that Senator Cruz has constructed to win that contest.
LEMON: Yes. And it is early on. But, you know, Bob, to you, the same Quinnipiac poll found that 58 percent of republicans, 58 percent said that they still might change their minds. Do you think that gives some sort of hope to the other candidates who aren't doing so well in the polls to stick it out maybe a little bit longer?
BOB CUSACK, THE HILL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Yes. No, I do. I think that the candidates who are in the single digits and that is also Jeb Bush and John Kasich, Chris Christie, who is doing better in New Hampshire, it does give them hope because this -- the stats show that whether in Iowa or New Hampshire, a lot of those voters change their minds and make up their mind at the last second.
But however, when you do have to look at the polls, Don, and certainly Cruz is surging. But Donald Trump has been winning for four months. So, he has to be feeling pretty good where he is right now.
LEMON: OK. So, Maria, let's talk more about Donald Trump, he said some things that really raised some eyebrows last night.
MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What?
LEMON: People call vulgar...
CARDONA: No way.
LEMON: ... about Hillary Clinton, but to be fair, the crowd cheered. Here's what he tweeted tonight. He said, "Once again, hash tag MSM, or mainstream media is dishonest. 'Schlonged' is not vulgar."
When I said Hillary Clinton got schlonged that meant beaten badly. So, the question is, is that what schlonged means?
CARDONA: You know, whenever he tries to excuse one of his atrocities that he has said with blaming it on the media and telling that you guys are the ones that are reporting it wrong, I remember my -- one of my icons, Judge Judy who used to always say don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.
We all know what that meant. Every woman who heard that knows what that meant and that is where I think that Donald Trump, whether he's the republican nominee or not and I think he has a very, very good possibility that he will be that nominee, or whoever it is in the Republican Party is going to find out that you can't insult the majority of voters in this country, which are represented by women and get away with it.
LEMON: OK. Maria, let me just say this. And I'm just playing devil's advocate, everyone, OK? So, calm down. What if he just used the wrong word and he meant she lacked or something like that but schlonged came out. That's not a possibility to you?
CARDONA: Well, then he should say that if that's the case. But that's not what he said.
LEMON: All right, guys. You heard what Maria said. The two guys next to you are both shaking their heads that, you know. So, Ron, do you think he meant that? Do you use -- when she said do you is probably going to be the nominee. You said, no way. But do you think that every woman in the country who heard was offended by that?
NEHRING: Well, what I know is that you're not going the hear language like that come from Senator Cruz and I think that that's important. I think the republicans right now are looking for not only who is going to be the leader of our party but who is going to be the leader of the United States of America and the free world.
And it's in that area that Senator Cruz continues to excel. I think that's part of the reason why as voters think who do I want to be in the White House at a time of a crisis, as well as negotiating with trading partners on foreign policy and military matters around the world, who do I want to be in that seat. I think that every day, Senator Cruz proves that he is that person and others candidates prove they're not that person.
[22:05:04] LEMON: OK. I'm going to talk more about Cruz. Let's do in order, though, because I want to play Hillary Clinton. We will talk more about Cruz and not commenting and whether that's his strategy sort of similar to what you said, Ron. But, Bob, before we go on, do you want to comment on this or we take a pass, are you good?
CUSACK: I'll take a pass. I'm good.
LEMON: OK. So, we've talked a lot about the GOP 2012, the autopsy report, it's called to be more inclusive to minorities. If you can weigh in this, Bob, and to women.
LEMON: How is that working out?
CUSACK: Well, it's amazing, when you look at the 2012 report and just looking at it tonight you forget that that report called for comprehensive immigration reform and it hit Mitt Romney because he went too far right and did not appeal to women -- enough women and to Hispanics.
And when you look at where the party is now and we are in the primary. So, you're appealing to the base, I think it's a big problem for the Republican Party. Because if you look at the democrats, they are very confident they are going to win the general election. Because they are starting at -- unless something bizarre happens, really 242 electoral votes, maybe 247 if you count New Mexico.
Because they have dominated, have attracted so many Hispanic voters over the last couple elections. So, I think that's one of the things the republicans have to worry about. Now the one thing about Mitt Romney is he didn't move back to the middle. He went far right on immigration reform did not move back to the middle. I think it's going to be a challenge for the GOP to attract Hispanic voters after this primary. It doesn't mean it's impossible.
LEMON: But could you say that Ted Cruz, that you know, Ted Cruz guy is here, Ron is here. Can you say Ted Cruz is far right when it comes to immigration? He's not in the middle. Certainly, he says he doesn't believe in a legal pass.
CARDONA: Yes, he is far right.
LEMON: Ron, do you think he is far right?
NEHRING: Well, here is, look, there are so many points -- let me just respond to one thing.
LEMON: Go ahead, go ahead. Take your time.
NEHRING: The conventional wisdom in this election cycle has consistently been proven wrong. They kind of poly-sci 101 view of the world is consistently been disapprove. For example, it doesn't explain how a Susanna Martinez becomes a Governor of New Mexico, how Chris Christie becomes the Governor of New Jersey, how Kevin Faulkner, a republican becomes the mayor of this city of San Diego.
The democrats outnumbered the republicans heavily on all of these areas, and yet, the republican candidates won and the conventional wisdom couldn't explain it.
But in every one of those case what we see is what makes a candidate strong is not only their philosophy but it's also their narrative, their story, their record, and also their skill both on the stump as a candidate and a constructing an effective campaign.
And then all three of these areas we see Senator Cruz excelling. And that's part of the reason why he has the momentum that he has now.
LEMON: And conventional wisdom though, has been wrong about the front runner time and time again, Donald Trump as well. Because some of you who are here now didn't think he would still be here, and I said don't underestimate him.
So, listen, Ron, let's move on and continue talking about Hillary Clinton and then your candidate's strategy. Hillary Clinton was asked today about a fifth grader, Hanna Tandy about what she would do about bullying. Here is part of her answer. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need more love and kindness in our country. I think we are not treating each other with the respect and the...
CLINTON: ... and the care that we should show toward each other. And that's why it's important to stand up to bullies wherever they are and why we shouldn't let anybody bully his way into the presidency. Because that is not who we are as Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Hillary is calling Trump a bully, Jeb bush has called Trump a bully. What do you think?
NEHRING: Well, I think that what you see here is a very sloppy example of pivoting on the part of Hillary Clinton. You know, if the issue is bullying in schools, the answer to that is to make sure the parents have the right to send their kids to a different school if they are not satisfied with the quality of education, if they believe that there is bullying or a lack of discipline in that school. Let's actually do something about it and give parents a choice to send their kids to a different school.
Instead, Hillary Clinton wants to turn this take this young child's question about bullying and make it into a political issue which is, you know, just bizarre and just weird on her part. You know, Hillary Clinton comes from the party and will likely be the nominee of the party...
LEMON: But what about the treating...
NEHRING: ... that doesn't think...
LEMON: ... what about the treating other people with respect part? And another part of her answer she did talk about those things, but what about the treating people with respect part?
CARDONA: Can I jump in here, Don, because that...
LEMON: Let him finish and then you certainly can, Maria.
NEHRING: Well, I can't wait to see what Hillary Clinton says to all the union officials who will wind up, you know, supporting her candidacy. Will, she give all of them the lecture about treating everyone with kindness and so on and so forth. Everyone I've talk to a couple of union officials who are very involved in politics in the state, and these are not exactly people who have been quite skilled in the art of etiquette. So, it will be a very interesting to see if this applies and even a handed manner or just ward republicans.
LEMON: Go ahead, Maria. Quickly, because I want to get to some other stuff.
[22:09:58] CARDONA: Sure. I actually think --I actually think it was a deaf answer. Because guess what? What our leaders talk about and the way that they handle the national discourse in this country is very important. Our young people are listening to our leaders. And that's why I think the GOP really is in big trouble by having the
front runner be so indecent in the way that he is carrying on his political discourse. We need leaders who actually value our principles not those who devalue our -- what we stand for. And that's exactly what's happening.
LEMON: I want to get this -- I want to get the sound bite of Chris Christie. And today, he refused to comment on Trump's language towards Hillary Clinton. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, THE LEAD SHOW HOST: Last night Donald Trump did something like that. He said that what Clinton did during a debate bathroom break was, quote, "too disgusting to talk about," and then he said she got, quote, "schlonged" by Barack Obama in 2008. Thoughts?
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: None. None. I'm not going to respond to everything that comes out of Donald's mouth.
TAPPER: Is it appropriate for a presidential candidate to use the word "schlonged" in that way?
CHRISTIE: I am not going to respond to everything that comes out of Donald's mouth. It may fascinate all of you, it is of absolutely of no interest to me. I am running for President of the United States, Jake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. So, Christie has taken this I'm above the freight, sort of approach. Ron, you have said that you won't see Ted Cruz using that kind of language. I'm wondering if is it the a campaign strategy to let Donald Trump sort of hang himself with his own words which doesn't seem to be happening because no matter what he says he still climbs in the polls? What's your strategy when it comes to that?
NEHRING: Well, we're working really hard to change. A couple of things. First, Senator Cruz was the first candidate to get into this race. And as every other candidate got in, he issued a press release praising that candidates and positive things, and he has kept positive, you know, all throughout -- all throughout this process toward all of the candidates. And he's worked very hard to limit those disagreements to areas of policy rather than allowing it to be personal.
That's his strategy that's working for Senator Cruz. I think it's the exact right one. And let's remember, the higher the office the more likely the voters are going to see these candidates for who they truly are.
A couple months ago, when people didn't know who all of the 17 republican candidates were, it was a name I.D. race. So, we can understand why Donald Trump with the greatest name in that I.D. would have had such a commanding lead early on. But, that's changed. It's not a name I.D. race any more. It's not an
name I.D. race in Iowa or New Hampshire or in South Carolina or in Iowa or in the super Tuesday states.
NEHRING: People getting to know who these candidates are. And as they do, Senator Cruz has gone up. And those who have attack him recently like Marco Rubio have only gone down or not succeeded.
LEMON: Bob, what do you think of that strategy, battled up, is that a working strategy for the candidates? Is Ron right?
CUSACK: Well, it's an interesting one because Senator Cruz has not adopted that strategy when he's talking about congressional leaders. He is very critical of former Speaker Boehner, basically called majority leader Mitch McConnell a liar.
So, he has adopted a different type of strategy on the campaign trail. But he has gone after members of his own party pretty hard on Capitol Hill.
LEMON: Al right. Thank you, everyone. Thanks for coming on.
CARDONA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Merry Christmas.
CUSACK: Thanks. Merry Christmas.
NEHRING: Thank you.
LEMON: Up next, Ted Cruz talks about a two-man republican race with Donald Trump but not everybody is happy with the GOP front runner.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The latest national poll shows the gap is narrowing at the top of the republican field. That's good news for Ted Cruz certainly. Not so much for Donald Trump or P.J. O'Rourke, a political satirist and research fellow at the Cato Institute who joins me now. No, you said -- why is it not good news for you?
P.J. O'ROUKE, POLITICAL SATIRIST: Because Cruz could actually get elected and -- no, I mean, he could get nominated. I'm assuming that Trump will finally be exposed as a double agent and will have to be stuck in a Chappaqua safe house or wherever Hillary is got bill stash.
But Cruz could actually get the nomination and that would be a disaster for the Republican Party. And he is dragging in all these tired, sick old social issues, get out of here. Stop it with the stuff about the gay marriage and stop it with the -- I'm a 68-year-old guy with three kids, I'm supposed to raise my own children. Come on, I need immigration.
LEMON: So, you're not a fan. You're not a fan of the front runners because you think the issues are bringing up or tired, because the front runners are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at this point.
O'ROUKE: Yes, and I personally am horrified. I mean, bring in a boring guy. OK. Republican candidates are supposed to be boring. We've got several little dudes just fine, there's Jeb, Kasich is a perfect example of a good boring governor of a purple state, very popular governor of purple state. A lot of experience in the House of Representatives and he's polling at like no percent. I mean, what is going on here...
LEMON: So, you're a fan of the low energy candidates?
O'ROUKE: ... or the Republican Party? I am. Yes, I mean, that's what being a republican is all about is low energy. We want a smaller government, a more efficient government, a government that doesn't poke its nose into everybody's business. We would like the government to go not away but to go back to the other end of the room and sit down.
LEMON: OK. I want to ask you because in your column you call what's going on in the 2016 race a case of, and this is a quote, "mass psychosis." But, I mean, is it more like a case of mutiny because it is base versus the establishment?
O'ROUKE: Worse. Well, I don't know about -- I just think every -- I just think all of the people my age have gone crazy. You know, and it's like -- it's worse than the Salem witch trials. I mean, because what kind of witch trial leaves Hillary not with her ankles in the stocks. You know, I mean, I don't get it.
They have gone crazy for Trump who is just a bad man. I mean, that kind of language, I mean, honestly, you know, it's like talking to some drunk guy in a bar at midnight. You know, and people are going for it. I just don't understand.
LEMON: Well, it seems to be working.
O'ROUKE: I'll tell you my example.
LEMON: Go ahead.
O'ROUKE: I guess so. But I mean, I was born and bred a republican. I mean, my grandmother was born near Springfield, Illinois. The only democrat anybody had ever heard of around there was John Wilkes Booth, OK? I am an ethnic republican.
[22:19:56] And looking at Donald Trump, for me, it's like an ethnic Scot, someone who is born and raised in Scotland looking at Mike Myers playing fat bastard in the Austin powers movies. I mean, that's how I feel about Donald Trump.
LEMON: What am I supposed to say to that?
O'ROUKE: Why didn't Chris Christie come out and say it. Come on, Chris Christie, you're a prosecutor. Draw the line. LEMON: Well, I have to ask, though, since you said that you are born
and bred a republican, right?
LEMON: Are you on the wrong side of this republican civil war, so to speak. Is it like the establishment is saying tax cuts, balance the budget, cut social security and the rank and follower are saying I'm getting hosed, build a wall, and stop being politically correct all the time?
O'ROUKE: Yes. I am on the wrong side of this. You know, I realized the other day, I said, I thought there was a republican establishment that were supposed to keep things like Trump or for that matter or Cruz from happening. And then I realized, no, they're all dead. I'm the republican establishment now. And it was a sad and burdensome thing to find out. And I wish I knew what to do.
LEMON: So, if it is a Donald Trump...
O'ROUKE: I mean, I hate it with this...
LEMON: Well, what were you going to say?
O'ROUKE: Oh, I was just going to say -- I really do hate it with this immigration stuff. I mean, O'Rourke, was that a tribe in the Dakotas somewhere? I don't think so. You know, we are a nation of immigrants. What's keeping us ahead of the Europeans and other economies is our welcoming of immigrants. That's what keeps our age down, you know, I mean, everybody's got to support me, soon. With social security. We need some young folks, you know.
LEMON: So, in your column, I want to get to that, because you really call on young people. You said, you believe that young people can make the difference in this election and that you call on that.
O'ROUKE: I did.
LEMON: You said, "Just pick any regular duffs republican polling below 13 percent, Rubio, Paul, Kasich, Fiorina, Pataki, the Jebster, whatever. They're most likely harmless."
But isn't that exactly what the primary voters are rejecting, this sort of run of the more republicans backed by big money donors?
O'ROUKE: Yes, they seem to do, and I want to go into the -- they want to go into that primary booth and do actual harm, you know. And this race started off scary enough. You know, I thought at first of course like most people did that it would be Bush and Clinton and voters will go go in there and they go Bush, Clinton, getting so forgetful, I did this already. And leave the ballot unmarked and voter turnout out to be 6 percent. But now the situation -- and I tell you, if Donald Trump gets the
nomination, if Donald Trump makes me vote for Hillary Clinton I'm coming after him with the two weapons he is most frightened of, a building inspector and Kobe Bryant's barber.
LEMON: You should hear the people laughing in the studio. What do you say except thank you, P.J. O'Rourke. Happy holidays to you. Happy New York.
O'ROUKE: You're welcome.
LEMON: Come back.
O'ROUKE: Happy holidays to you, too.
LEMON: Up next, Donald Trump, it's becoming a hot issue in this primary. My next guest is one of the first people to voice concerns on this very show about Trump's talking racial attention.
He is one of the original "Apprentice" contestants. So, how does he feel right now?
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Since Donald Trump first entered the republican race critics have accused him of being divisive and using harsh language particularly when it comes to question of race and ethnicity. But he says we should all stop being so politically correct and he is drawing large crowds to his campaign rallies with a lot of people who agree to him obviously.
And I want to talk about this now Kwame Jackson. Kwame Jackson, he is a former contestant on the "Apprentice," and Carl Higbie is a Trump supporter.
CARL HIGBIE, AUTHOR & FORMER NAVY SEAL: Hello.
KWAME JACKSON, FORMER "APPRENTICE" CONTESTANT: Hello. Happy holidays.
LEMON: So, you know, there is this certain thing that, you know, I don't know if we call it videotape or digital. But anyway, we have it saved. Last time you were here you had some pretty harsh things to say...
JACKSON: Pressing remarks.
LEMON: ... OK. About Donald Trump some pretty heavy accusations.
LEMON: Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JACKSON: What I say is look, everyone is entitled to their opinion in America and that's what we all celebrate and under flag, you know, continue to promote. But what you're not entitled to do is create a toxic environment that creates, you know, this whole poisonous ecosystem where people hear this whistles up Mexicans are taking over, they are all rapist.
Black people are out to get your money, your jobs, whatever it may be. You know, gay people are ruining our traditional marriage. All of those things are of course of dog whistles that create this toxic ecosystem that weak-minded people act on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. So, that was only a month after he entered the race since you've made those comments.
LEMON: Some people are saying similar things Jeb bush has said that. And so, now how do you feel?
JACKSON: When I said them, they were ahead of the curve and now they proved to be true. You've seen that many people have some on board and said, hey, you know, Donald Trump has now jumped the shark has crossed the Rubicon and in this period of stars when he has gone to the dark side of the force on race.
And what I mean by that is he has now started what I call kind of a make America hate again campaign. And that is all about appealing to two things that America loves, is intoxicating cocktail, one is celebrity and one is fear.
And when you put those in the same drink people will drink and drink over and over again. And using those to bait on people's racial issues, to bait on people's fear of immigration that has been a course in American history over and over again, whether it was the Japanese concentration camps or whether it was McCarthyism and Donald Trump is continuing to play in that chorus.
LEMON: OK. What do you think, Carl, is Kwame wrong?
HIGBIE: Well, I think so. And I think, you know Donald Trump is not playing to divisive, I mean, he is playing to what the American people think. I mean, the American people have this fear especially when it comes to like the Syrian refugees, they has a -- they have a fear in their gut. I don't think he's playing for race.
LEMON: But he just said they're playing to fear -- he's playing to fear and you said that there is a fear in the gut.
HIGNIE: Yes. But, well, there is a fear in the gut. And he is not making a divisive claim here, all he is simply doing is saying these are real issues that real Americans care about regardless of race. It's not a race game. But regardless of race, this is what we care about as a nation. And you know, black, white, blue or green, he doesn't care. He just
wants to make America great again. And if he has to really say some offensive things that some people don't like, that a loud minority doesn't like he's going to say them. He's not afraid to do it.
LEMON: I'll give you points because you got the campaign slogan in there, make America great again. Listen, I have to say we have discussed this. And I talked to Donald Trump about this and I asked him twice in two different interviews flat out if he is racist. He denied it in the strongest terms here. Watch this.
HIGBIE: What's he's going to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:30:00] LEMON: Are you racist?
TRUMP: I am the least racist person that you have ever met. I am the least racist person.
LEMON: Are you bigoted in any way?
TRUMP: I don't think so. No, I don't think so.
TRUMP: I'm a person -- no, not at all? I'm a person who happens to be smart and I happen to have a certain street sense and I know where things are going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, your fellow contestant, Kwame, Amarosa...
KWAME JACKSON, FORMER "APPRENTICE" CONTESTANT: Oh, yes. I love it.
LEMON: ... is a Trump supporter. I have interviewed a number of black pastors who are Trump supporters, he claims that he is going to get a lot of the African-Americans voters, he says African-American love him. Do you think he is going to get?
JACKSON: I think that's unrealistic. I think -- let's talk about the litmus test for racism in America. It's no longer simply, hey, do I use the "n" word when I see someone...
LEMON: It is President Obama who said in the interview.
JACKSON: Yes. It's no longer do I wave, you know, a Confederate Flag on my front lawn, it's no longer, hey, I have to lynch someone to be a racist in America. We have to talk about that it's not binary. It's not 100 percent racist or 100 percent not racist. There are lot of microaggressions along the way in that spectrum. And
you also have an ability for people to do things that are perceived as racist that we all have to start to understand based on our history and where we're trying to go as a nation.
So, I'm not saying there is a racist police or anything like that, but what I am saying is let's realize that, you know, you don't have to go to the extreme to be someone who is kind of fermenting racism in America.
CARL HIGBIE, AUTHOR & FORMER NAVY SEAL: I think America is just way too sensitive over this whole thing. I mean, like you can't -- you can't say anything now as, oh, he's racist, he's racist. Look, I have to...
LEMON: For you to say, bud, listen, I want to ask you this and you can respond.
HIGBIE: Yes, I'm leaving.
JACKSON: Yes, I stand on that.
LEMON: I'm the only white guy.
LEMON: So, listen, this is from the Washington Post, it came over an article about how the white supremacist movement is seizing on Donald Trump's appeal. Again, a Washington Post...
LEMON: ... a conservative paper, right? Am I wrong? OK. Here's what they say. They said "The national organizer for the Knight's Party a standard bearer for the Ku Klux Klan told the Washington Post that the KKK for one, has a new conversation starter at its disposal. It involves, say, walking into a coffee shop or sitting on a train while carrying a newspaper with a Donald Trump headline providing separatists with an easy way to start a conversation about issues that are important to the dying white supremacist movement. They like an overall momentum of his rallies and his campaign," Pendergraft said. And this is from Rachel Pendergra, excuse me, Pendergraft. "Then they like that he is not willing to back down. He says what he believes and he stands on that."
So, the same piece, the founder of the Neo-Nazi storm front web site calls Trump the great white hope. Does it disturb you that you know, you have a supporter of that, I mean, is an ally?
HIGBIE: But the thing is that there are nut jobs on both sides that may happen to a particular candidate. I mean, look, you have Louis Farrakhan is like, well, actually, President Obama sat in the Pews for years with him. You have Al Sharpton, I mean, these are all people that Obama has been associated with...
LEMON: Accused with...
HIGBIE: At some point in the -- were not being accused.
JACKSON: I think he means Reverend...
HIGBIE: My mistake there.
LEMON: There are people who say he is a Muslim.
HIGBIE: Well, there are, you know, President Obama has associated with all these people throughout history or through his history and nobody called too much to that. It's like you have some nut jobs that like Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not meeting with this guy. He is not having lunch with him. He is not inviting him to his tower.
LEMON: Do you think it's fair to blame Donald Trump for, you know, someone storm front or KKK liking him?
JACKSON: I think the pool of hate in America works like this, call it, you know, a swamp. You're either draining the swamp or you're adding to the swamp. And I think his language is adding to that swamp, he's adding to, you know, that fever that comes on in America that creates a hatred of immigrants that plays off of people's fears. And that's a dangerous place.
Those are the people who wants him in, listen to those dog whistles. And if Donald Trump says that it makes it OK for me to go out and, you now, bomb a federal building like Timothy McVeigh. Because if you read, you know, mind comes and decided that, hey, you know, we needed to form a race war in America that people are going to stand behind by me bombing a day care in a federal building.
JACKSON: That happens, and so I'm not directly linking those, but you're creating that chorus that creates dangerous actions.
LEMON: OK. So, here is the interesting thing for me. Because I already know, like I don't have to go on social media. I know what's going to be said. Like you have people here just discussing this, they are going to say, oh, my gosh, Don Lemon, I can't believe you're having that conversation about Donald Trump, you racist. And it's like...
HIGBIE: You're racist. Yes.
LEMON: I'm racist to have the discussion because it's already in the Washington Post, people are saying it. It's out there and, you know, in the atmosphere. It's part of the conversation.
HIGBIE: Bring it on. I mean, one of my favorite...
LEMON: So, what's going on here? It's going to be from Trump supporters, by the way.
HIGBIE: The thing is, this is an overly sensitive -- well, I don't know. This is an overly sensitive topic and race is always sensitive especially when whites I talk about. I mean, you look at guys like Dave Chappelle, he break down the walls. Everybody loves him. He was one of my favorite comedians, just because he will break down the walls for me on anybody.
LEMON: You lost it.
JACKSON: He was funny but do you remember why Dave Chappelle left? He left because he felt like people were laughing at him and not with him.
[22:35:01] LEMON: At him.
JACKSON: So, once again it crossed -- it crossed the spectrum where it's like, hey, you know, this is not a racial we are all in this together.
HIGBIE: Everybody likes this guy.
JACKSON: I like him.
HIGBIE: He was just breaking down the walls. And that's what Donald Trump is doing here, he's breaking down the traditional walls of understanding the race topics. He is letting people say and he is saying what people are thinking.
LEMON: I thought he was building a wall.
HIGBIE: Yes, he's going to -- Mexico's going to pay for it.
JACKSON: I think -- I think channeling the old-school Archie bunker, you know, that type of discontentness (ph) in America. A lot of people see America changing as sand beneath their feet.
JACKSON: You know, demographics in California becoming majority of Hispanics, we have African-American president, you have people who feel left behind who are working-class whites who are non-college educated who are the majority of his supporters and they feel like the world is changing too fast. And so, Donald Trump for them represents a grab to the past, he represents happy days. It represents, you know, a time when America was much more home homogenous and now you see a world that maybe leaving you behind so you gravitate towards fear.
LEMON: What we did not talk about, though, is class as well. And I think that plays a big role, even though Donald Trump is a billionaire.
JACKSON: That's my point on class.
LEMON: But people see him as a... (CROSSTALK)
JACKSON: You got white working-class people who don't have college diplomas...
LEMON: yes, I got it.
JACKSON: ... celebrating a billionaire who wins the war who celebrates the fact that he is more educated than other people.
LEMON: I've got to go. I've got to go but that's the first time I've ever heard anybody compared Donald Trump to Dave Chappelle. That was the first.
JACKSON: This is a big one. Thank you for your service.
LEMON: All right. Coming up, she was arrested in a traffic stop and found dead in her jail cell leading to a national -- national outrage here. Now, a grand jury says no indictment in the case of Sandra Bland. Her sister is here to react to that and tell us what is next in this case. That's right after the break.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Tonight, Sandra Bland's family says it has no faith in the justice system after a grand jury in Texas decided not to indict anyone in her death.
Bland died in police custody in July after being arrested during a traffic incident. Officials say she hanged herself but her family disputes that.
I'm joined by Sandra Bland's sister, Sharon Cooper and Cannon Lambert, attorney for the Bland family. Good evening.
SHARON COOPER, SANDRA BLAND'S SISTER: Good evening, Don. How are you?
LEMON: Doing better than you, I'm sure, Sharon. How is the family? How are you guys doing?
COOPER: Quite frankly, it's been a challenging year for us overall, and I think the holiday season brings much more of a challenge than we imagined, especially in light of the recent grand jury's decision not to bring forth any indictments with regard to Sandra's in custody death.
LEMON: What was your reaction when you -- when you heard about the decision not to indict anyone?
COOPER: Quite frankly, it's a range of emotions. I think what's most imperative to note on the family's behalf is that there is a little bit of disheartening there are a little bit disappointment, but quite frankly, not surprise based off of the fact that we don't have much faith in the grand jury process due to the secretive nature of that process.
And the fact that it is historically been seen to be viewed as a prosecutorial tool, which in most cases, specifically in the favor of a prosecutor. And to be quite honest, if a prosecutor wants an indictment they know very well what evidence they need to present to get that indictment, and if they don't, conversely they know what evidence to withhold to ensure that there's no indictment set forth. So, that's how we're feeling at this time.
LEMON: So, Cannon, you called it a sham -- sham of a proceeding. Is that why, for what Sharon just voiced there?
CANNON LAMBERT, SANDRA BLAND'S FAMILY ATTORNEY: Here's the reality of it. What we understand is that the five special prosecutors that were appointed, one of them, Paul Looney, actually is quoted as saying two months before they came back with this result. That they weren't even investigating whether or not Waller County jailers did anything wrong or instead even committed any criminal acts.
But instead, they were just looking prospectively forward to see if there were some suggestions they could make in the future as to how they might conduct themselves.
So, when you have a situation like that it begs the question why and what were they doing in the first place? As you well know, these proceedings are secretive. We're not able to be present. We're not able to know what evidence is submitted, it's sealed. We're not able to know what witnesses were called.
We're not able to -- you know, the prosecutor has an opportunity to submit whatever evidence that they want, they can hold that whatever evidence that they want. There is not a judge that's there that oversees the proceeding. Instead, it's the prosecutor that oversees.
LEMON: So, for you it's about transparency you think and that there should be more transparency. And since you are talking about the prosecutor, Cannon, Darrell Jordan, who is the special prosecutor at this, state to your family last night. I want you to listen and respond to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARRELL JORDAN, PROSECUTOR: We would love to speak with the family. I've never heard of any situation in all my years of a prosecutor not speaking to the victim's family. We reached out to the family. I offered to fly to Chicago on my own dime to go meet with the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, why haven't you and the prosecution spoken?
LAMBERT: Because of him. The reality of it is that when he was initially appointed as a special prosecutor he called me and letting me know that he was going to be coming to Indianapolis and then he was going to some wedding or some sort of family function.
At the time he called he asked whether he could meet with us the next day. We were in Houston. I told him we were happy to meet with him but we wouldn't be back in Chicago until several days thereafter. But to contact us again because we would be happy to do that. He never did.
By the way, I wasn't just there talking to him, so, too was the family, they are fully aware of the fact. He is the investigator, right, isn't it his responsibility? Yet, he never contacted us ever again. The first time we hear from him saying I'd love to talk to the family is after they come up with the result? That's strange, isn't that putting -- isn't that booty backwards?
LEMON: yes. I know what you wanted to say. I mean, you can say that word on the show because it is after 10 p.m. Eastern and we would understand that. But listen, I want to ask you...
LAMBERT: I mean, but the bottom line is that you have to be -- you have to honest with people.
LEMON: This is an important question, Cannon, before we run out of time, I want to ask you this.
LEMON: Lawyers representing Waller County say that if the family had paid Sandra Bland's bail, reportedly $515 that she be alive today. I mean, what do you say to that?
LAMBERT: It's ridiculous and it's preposterous. They also say that if Mr. Mosley had answered the phone that she would be alive today.
[22:45:01] What really is the case is, if they had done what they were supposed to do she would be alive today. They had two booking documents that were diametrically opposed that they did nothing to try and figure out why that was the case.
They put things in her cell and they shouldn't have been there. They didn't attend to her and check in with her the way they were supposed to. They knew that she wasn't eating. They did nothing. I mean, the reality of it is, is that when people are responsible they often look to shirk the responsibility by pointing the fingers somewhere else.
LEMON: And, Sharon, the prosecutor's says that this case is still open that they plan to investigate the arrest. I saw your mom on television today, she said, you know, you just have to patient in this process. Is that hopeful news for you that there will be a more satisfying outcome?
COOPER; I will you that the hope is dimming with regard to the aspect of any charges being brought against the officer. And the reason I say that, Don, is simply this. It's been five months since this senseless accident -- since this incident occurred. And what is crystal clear and what is the easiest thing in this case is that Sandra should never have been arrested in the first place.
The same dash cam video that you have access to, and that I have access to and that the world has access to is what the opposing side and special prosecutors have had access to for the five last months.
So, the fact that is even a notion that there is more time prolonging the grieving process of this family, dragging it out through the holidays to say that they need more time to bring charges on the officer. They in the 52 minutes in Sandra's encounter with Sandra is very clear that her civil rights were violated and that the officer acted in gross professional misconduct.
LEMON: Well, I thank you for coming on regardless of the circumstances behind your sister's death, it is -- it is tough when you lose anyone. And I know it's going to be a tough holiday season for you and your family and our thoughts and prayers are with you. Thank you, Sharon. Thank you, Cannon.
LAMBERT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
COOPER: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Coming up, can it really be that nobody is legally responsible for Sandra Bland's death? We'll talk about that. That's next.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Sandra Bland would never have been in that Texas jail cell if it weren't for this traffic stop when she was pulled over by a Texas state trooper, Brian Encinia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN ENCINIA, TEXAS STATE TROOPER: Get out or I will remove you.
SANDRA BLAND, ARRESTED FOR TRAFFIC: I'm getting removed for a failure to do?
ENCINIA: Step out or I will remove you. I'm giving you a lawful order. Get out of the car now. Or I'm going to remove you.
BLAND: And I'm calling my lawyer.
ENCINIA: I'm going to yank you out of here.
BLAND: OK. You're going to yank me out of my car?
ENCINIA: Get out.
BLAND: OK. All right. ENCINIA: Twenty-five (Inaudible).
BLAND: Let's do this.
ENCINIA: Yes, we're going to.
ENCINIA: I say get out of the car.
BLAND: Why am I being apprehended?
ENCINIA: I'm giving you a lawful order.
BLAND: You opened my car door. You just opened my car door.
ENCINIA: I'm going to drag you out of here.
BLAND: So, are you going -- you threatening to drag me out of my own car?
ENCINIA: Get out of the car! I will light you up.
BLAND: Indeed, you're going to drag me?
ENCINIA: Get out!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Now her family is calling for charges against her arresting officer.
Joining me now, Mark O'Mara, criminal defense attorney; Areva Martin, legal commentator, and Harry Houck, retired New York Police Department detective. Good evening, everyone.
HARRY HOUCK, RETIRED NEW YORK POLICE DETECTIVE: Good evening.
LEMON: You can understand the family's grieving right now.
LEMON: But, Mark, how can this be no one's fault?
MARK O'MARA, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It really isn't. It is a gross insensitivity and I know Harry is not going to like this. But I think it was an abuse of his authority, abuse of his power. We have got to start realizing that cops if they are going to maintain their respect they have to maintain and therefore be able to do their job simply cannot act like this. What really happened in this case, first of all, she was pulled over
because she got out of the way of this officer but didn't put her blinker on, that is absurd in and of itself. But what really happened was he didn't like the fact that she said I'm not going to put out my cigarette when he told her to.
And that is not a lawful command of a police officer. And that was the moment that this thing changed. It became his testosterone and his ego against her. She never think of getting out of that car.
LEMON: So, Mark, did anyone break the law here, Mark?
O'MARA: Well, when he took her out of the car without probably cause for an arrest, yes. I think he violated his conditions of being a police officer because he doesn't have the independent right to just arrest anyone he wants. He has to arrest only based upon probable cause. Where was the crime there? He made up the crime because she didn't comply with his request to put out a cigarette. That is not a lawful demand.
LEMON: Go ahead, Harry.
O'MARA: I'm sorry?
HOUCK: You know at some he did some lieu of arrest, so he did a probable cause to make an arrest because, you know...
O'MARA: Summons for what?
HOUCK: ... it's an officer's choice whether or not he wants to make an arrest or if she wants summons.
O'MARA: For what event? For what event? For the blinker?
HOUCK: Yes. Well, I mean, that's not what he...
O'MARA: No. He cannot arrest for a blinker.
HOUCK: That's not what he -- that's not what he -- no, but that's not what he arrested her for at that time.
HOUCK: He asked her to get out of the vehicle, she wouldn't get out of the vehicle. Of course...
O'MARA: No, no, no. He arrested her for contempt of cop. He arrested her and that is not a crime in any state. He arrested her for completive cop stating the fact that she wouldn't put out that cigarette.
LEMON: But you did say -- you did say that she disobeyed, you said, did you say it became criminal or whatever when she disobeyed a lawful order when he said to get out of the car, no?
O'MARA: Well, but the lawful order was get out of the car because I'm arresting you because you didn't comply with my order to take -- to put out the cigarette. You can't boot strap. I can't say to you as a cop, do something that I have no legal authority to do, and then when I tell you to do it and you don't do it I arrest you for not doing what you have to do to begin with.
HOUCK: Yes. Do you know legally, Mark, I don't know if he can ask somebody to get out of the vehicle. Legally, they can't do that and you know that. Ans what happened is when he asked her, one second I'll let you speak.
And when he asked her to get out of the vehicle and she does not and he opens the door and he tries trying to pull it, that's when she allegedly assaulted him. She had assaulted him trying to get him out of the vehicle. You can actually see it through the window there.
And then when he -- when she finally got out, it just kept on escalating and escalating and escalating. And he told her inside the vehicle that she was under arrest.
LEMON: OK. Areva, none of this explains how she ended up dead.
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: None of this have anything to do with how she died in that cell.
HOUCK: I agree.
MARTIN: And listening to this -- the piece before with her family and the attorney and hearing that the prosecutors, these five prosecutors that were appointed never spoke to this family. That is so troubling to me, Don.
[22:55:02] The prosecutors told us that this young woman committed suicide. So, wouldn't they want to talk to her family and learn about what her mental condition was like before she took this lonely road trip by herself? Wouldn't they want to know what her condition was like leading up to these incidents?
So, not having had any conversation with her family begs the question to me whether there has been a thorough investigation and what that grand jury presentation looked like. And I can understand the family's frustration.
We're now learning that they have to go into January...
HOUCK: Why didn't the family called the jury? MARTIN: ... even though this videotape with all this of this evidence apparently has been available for five months, it doesn't make a lot of sense.
LEMON: Yes. I only -- I literally only have 20 seconds left which -- so, anyway, Areva, my question is, is the officer off the hook? Can the officer possibly face charges? If you can do in 20 seconds.
MARTIN: Well, they're telling us that he is not off the hook that they are still investigating and there is a possibility that charges are going to be brought against the officer. They pulled her out of the car and I agree with Mark wholeheartedly without any justification.
O'MARA: That was the cop's fault, not Ms. Bland's fault.
HOUCK: It might be some department regulations he might have violated here, but there is no criminality at all in the police officer's actions.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, guys.
O'MARA: Yet, she's dead.
LEMON: Thank you, guys. We'll be right back.
LEMON: I really appreciate you joining us this evening. I'll be back here tomorrow night at 10 p.m. Eastern.
[23:00:01] In the meantime, AC360 starts right now.